Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Wednesday - long and rambly post warning

 Good morning, everyone.  Yesterday turned out beautifully with wall to wall sunshine once the early clouds had disappeared.  Perfect allotment weather with sunshine, a breeze and not too warm!

After picking Beth up and bringing her here (she went home on Monday evening because of the cats but still had to work at mine because her internet was still down - it's been repaired now), I pootled off down the allotment again.

I started by strimming around the edges but had to stop with only a quarter done because the plastic 'cord' ran out.  At least, I thought it had run out.  When I got home again I looked to see what kind I needed to get and, lo and behold, it hadn't run out, it had just got stuck.  That'll teach me!  I ordered some more anyway as it won't be wasted.  I might have the time to pop down today, just to finish that, but I will have to see as today is a bit crowded.

Having left the first task unfinished, I got on with more digging and clearing.  The rain on Monday had made the soil very heavy again so it was very slow work but it's getting there.  It's definitely loads easier than last year and the whole plot is looking considerably more respectable again.  Maybe I can cut the grass on Saturday, weather permitting, and that will make a HUGE difference to the look of the place.

We've decided on this year's layout pretty much now.  If you imagine the plot running from front to back, divided into strips going from side to side, this is the plan.

The first strip is covered with membrane and wood chippings (and weeds at the moment) and has the two apple trees, the redlove and the not-Coxes - Beth can't remember the name but I've looked around and it might be a Laxton.

The second strip is the biggest area and about two thirds of that is covered with ground cover 'plastic' as the whole bed had been invaded with nasties like ground elder and bindweed.  The first third is open and has been prepped and, from left to right will have broad beans (and then dwarf green beans as they were such a success last year - thanks, Diane, for the recommendation), tomatoes and baby corn.
We've decoded to uncover one side of the covered area, on the right, about a metre deep, maybe a bit less, and put in some bedding plants, just for a splash of colour.

Then the next strip is also covered like the front strip and has the pear and plum trees.  Both the fruit areas need a jolly good weeding and the back chippings need replacing or covering.  There's loads of chipping for free at the site so it's just a case of getting on with it.

Then another strip of soil which I started prepping yesterday.  It's pretty heavy soil and I have some sand that I want to mix in at some point, plus manure and organic compost.  At the moment here's loads of clover which makes good green manure, I gather, so I am trying to dig that back under while also taking out the nastier things that are starting to come up.
Anyway, again thinking from left to right, we will have mange tout, yellow courgettes and Charlotte potatoes - the last taking about half the space there.  

The final strip is subdivided from front to back.  The left hand side has the two smaller raised beds in front of two compost bins.  The first raised bed will have carrots, radishes and spring onions and the second, strawberries, as I mentioned yesterday.
The middle area has Autumn fruiting raspberries behind runner beans.  Then there's a chipped pathway and, finally, on the right, four rhubarb plants, enough to keep the whole cul de sac provided with rhubarb!!

There's a very old and rusty wheelbarrow behind the shed and, if I can get it up (it seems to be embedded in the ground), we might put in some soil and some water retaining granules and use it for trailing flowers, perhaps, and stick it in the middle of the covered area.  It would look - er - rustic, but might work.

Anyway, that's the plan for this year.  Thanks for bearing with me as I think it through.  We've pretty much got everything except for some strawberry plans so it's ho! for the garden centre in March sometime, seeing as they are open.

The rest of the day was lovely too.  I took Beth and Alex to pick up the car and then came home, ready for a chat with Dad.  However, he had fallen asleep so it never happened - maybe on Thursday instead.

Today is really busy.
It starts with an online Zoom funeral for a member of the Slimming World club.
Then I have personal training with Lindsey.
After that, it's my weekly chat with Val - maybe we can meet in the garden again reasonably soon.  That would be nice.
Just after four, I'm having my vaccine - yay!
And the, in the evening, I'm going to an online Thermomix demo on Zoom.
I will be tired this evening and you can see why I doubt I will get to the allotment today.   :-)

Have a great day and be safe, everyone.

Tuesday, 23 February 2021


 Good morning.  We have a good weather forecast for the next several days round here with warm days and chilly nights.  Perhaps yesterday's rain blip is the last for a while now.

As expected, yesterday was very busy, at least the morning was anyway.

I got my M&S/Aldi shopping all done and dusted and then popped along the road to Homebase.  I managed to spend a phenomenal amount on seeds, gardening gloves and seed trays but, sadly, all the Charlotte seed potatoes had gone.  At first I though I'd need to trawl around other garden centres but, after some thought, I went online and ordered some.  Hopefully they will come quickly so we can start chitting them.  Now the shed it tidy, there's room for them to go out there.

After sorting and putting away all the stuff, I set out for the allotment and spent an hour and a half doing this, that and the other.
We have two square slightly raised beds which I weeded and, to my delight, I found that three strawberry plants that I salvaged from the defunct strawberry bed have survived the winter.  As this little bed has the skeleton of a netting cover, We've decided that we will get some more plants and have a little strawberry bed there this year. (On the right and you can see the wee baby plants at the bottom - well, two of them, the third is in between and very small)
Then I set to forking and weeding an area where the runner beans will go.  It was very weedy so it was a case of down on knees to bash up the clods and remove as much weedage as I could.  It took ages but was worth it.  (bottom left).  It doesn't look all that big in the photo but there's room for four rows, two and two, with space in the middle to walk down - probably twenty plants all together.  I will be levelling off the edgep; it looks messy because the soul spread and I didn't have a broom to brush it back properly
Next, I forked over part of what I cleared on Saturday to dig in the manure, smoothing it over a bit more and getting it more ready for the broad beans.  We had planned to get the broad beans started in November but it didn't happen so it's the beginning of March instead.
Finally, I got another load of manure and spread some of it on the runner bean area and the rest around the rhubarb which is starting to come up very nicely (top left, before manure was added.  Another three weeks, maybe . . .

I had intended doing more but it started raining and continued all afternoon which is a nuisance because the grass really does need mowing and I don't want to do it wet as it really messes up the mower.

I spend the afternoon trying very hard not to go to sleep and watched the PM's address to the nation in the evening.  Cautiously optimistic, I would say, fingers crossed people don't go doolally again and take unnecessary risks.
I'm already in touch with my hairdresser!!  :-)

Today I am hoping to go allotmenteering again and get some more weeding done.  They are growing very fast right now and the sooner I start on them, the easier it will be; I can't get there on Wednesday so fingers crossed for today.  Later on in the morning, I will take Beth to the garage to get her car and I have a planned chat with Dad later on in the afternoon.

So a nice day, enough to keep me out of trouble.  I hope you are all safe and well and have nice plans for the day.  xx

Monday, 22 February 2021


 Good morning.  It's another fine start to the day and I have resumed my non-winter habit of taking an early morning saunter around the 'estate'!  The daffs are now starting to open although the hyacinths are later than usual, I think.  The weeds are starting to come up around the paving so I need to get scraping again!

Today ended up a lovely, lovely day.  The morning was busy with washing/meal prep/etc before I picked Beth and Alex up at twelve thirty and the rest of the day just flew past.

Beth and I had a good planning session over the seeds and decided where everything is going to go this year.  I need to draw up a plan/diagram so I don't forget and, before anything much can go in, I need to do some hard work on the remaining beds.  The broad beans can go in this week because I've done that bed, although I wonder if I might go over it with the electric rotavator.  It's not a heavy thing but it should break the top soil up a bit more.

Today is another busy day.  Beth and Al are still here but Beth will be going home after work and I will take her to pick up her car which should be ready later on today.
I'm doing an early morning shop in about twenty minutes or so and will stop off at Homebase on the way home in case they have seed potatoes because we ought to get them started.
Then I will go down the allotment and put in an hour or so digging, weeding and muck spreading.

The afternoon is free but I will need to tiptoe around because Beth and Alex will both be working (that's why they are staying here - their internet is on the blink).  I'll probably give the kitchen a good sort-out.

If I'm to be at the shops when they open, I need to get started.  Have a good day, be safe and enjoy the fine weather (assuming you get some)  xx

Sunday, 21 February 2021


 Good morning, everyone.  It's a bright, fine start to the day with the promise of sunshine later on and no rain - yay  - and temperatures going up to 15C.  I've opened all the bedroom windows and am hoping I can sleep with the window open this week.

Yesterday was a busier day that they have been recently.  I got three loads of washing done and dried outside on the line.  There wasn't enough daylight left for the fourth load so that's just refreshing in the machine and then it will go out.  I set to and got most of the ironing done.  There's a bit more plus today's but I'll get that done this afternoon.

Dave (son) came round to look at the paperwork that was worrying me and it turned out to be nothing.  it was one of those 'covering all eventualities' things relating to the recent pension payment plus the related P45, and none of it applied to me as it was a very simple transaction and my financial affairs are also very simple.  It looks like they may have charged me about 8% too much tax but that will sort itself out over the next year, it's not worth upsetting the apple cart for.  So that was a relief.
It is amazing how mathematical my family has turned out to be really.  I look at a page of numbers and my brain does a backward flip into panic mode.  So aren't I lucky to have Dave nearby to help and advise when necessary.

After that, I was just about to set of for the allotment when my tum went on me (post-gallbladder repercussions when I eat too much fatty stuff) so I decided to start the ironing instead and let things settle which they always do.

I got to the allotment around three.  There were others there but everyone was hard at work and disinclined to talk.  To my delight, I saw that there had been another delivery of manure and bark chippings (not together!!) so I finished digging over the front strip (much more manageable than on Monday) and then set out with wheelbarrow and spade to grab a load of smelly stuff to spread over.  Then I used some nice soil from the compost heap and spread that over too.  Next time, I will just fork that all in and that's one area ready for sowing.

What a lovely sight - soil, manure and compost!  Yuppee.
It's all a bit of a mess right now but give me a month and things will be in reasonable order again; as reasonable as allotments ever are, anyway!

Below are the fruit trees, the two apples on the left and the pear and plum on the right.  Just ignore the early spring weeds - their days are numbered!!

Then it was home for a coffee and an orange before resuming the ironing.

So - busy day!

Today, Beth and Alex are over.  Poor Beth has had a couple of 'things' recently.  Her car broke down the other day and she had to be towed back in the dark, poor love.  It's now at a local garage and should be repaired tomorrow.  It's the clutch so ouch.  And then her internet is on the blink.  It's not an outage, it's probably the router and 'they' can come on Wednesday to repair it.

The problem is that both she and Alex need internet connection to work, she for her job and Alex for his uni studies.  That being so, they are staying here overnight and through tomorrow, I will take Beth to pick up her car tomorrow when it is ready and they will be working round at mine tomorrow and Tuesday.  Alex is also staying overnight on Monday - he's lost without his internet - and he may stay Tuesday night too.  No problem; the main issue is that they have to share a room but they've done that before and it's OK with them.

It's lucky I keep that room ready and the few things on the beds are easily sorted so it really doesn't involve very much extra work, just a bit of re-arranging tomorrow when they are working. 

Well, it's time to get lunch organised.  I like to get everything prepped well in advance and today I need to as I will be picking Beth and Al up late morning too.  Being busy will stop me thinking about other stuff which is a Good Thing.  Stay safe and have a lovely day, everyone.  xx

Saturday, 20 February 2021


 Good morning, everyone.  Round here, the sun keeps trying to break through and it is so mild, it's a no dressing gown and slippers morning.  There hasn't been one of those for ages!  The forecast for the coming week is most encouraging with plenty of sunshine.  Lovely.

The rest of yesterday went more or less according to plan and things should plod on today too.

I got an email and text from my GP practice and, as a result, have changed my vaccine place and time.  It's now in town, about ten minutes' drive away and, while I don't know the second date, they will send it in due course.  Cancelling the other was so much easier than getting it in the first place.
It makes sense - the new one is much more local and it frees up the other place for someone more local to there.
And it's a couple of days earlier.

At eleven today, my financial adviser (Dave), is coming round to help me interpret some documents that I can't get my head round.  Once that's done, I plan to pop down to the old allotment and get on with a bit more digging.  Heavy or not, it needs doing and a bit at a time worked last year on an allotment that was in a far worse state than it is now. 
Beth and Alex are round for Sunday dinner again and we have planned to look at the seeds I have and what/where we can plant as well as looking at sheds (online).

I'm also looking forward to getting out the washing line and getting some outside drying done.  I have a huge pile of it waiting - a sure sign my brain hasn't been in a good place!  I don't usually let it build up like this, do I?

Well, if I don't get a move on, none of the above will get done so I'd better say goodbye and get started.  I hope everyone is well; stay safe and be careful.  xx

(I'd better add, for the sake of anyone reading for the first time:
Dave is permitted to visit to advise me financially - it is not a social visit and cannot be done any other way.
Beth and Alex are my support bubble as I live alone.
Going to an allotment is a form of exercise and permitted, providing one only works with one other person.  I will be there on my own.)

Friday, 19 February 2021


 Oooops - really sorry, would you believe I totally forgot I hadn't done this this morning.

I had decided to have a day to myself and I cancelled the things I had scheduled for today.  And then I got a 'can you come over, please, Mum' message from Beth so I went over.  All sorted now and I'm back home again to have my quiet day.

I plan to spend some time in the garden this afternoon.  Ages ago I unwisely planted a few whitebell bulbs, not realising how invasive they are.  I keep taking them out and each year they come back.  They're starting to show and I'm going to attack them with a long, thin trowel.

That's about it.  I'm feeling pretty weary so I'll stop now and will be back tomorrow.  :-)

Take care and stay well.  xx

Thursday, 18 February 2021

 Good morning!  It's a very pleasant morning today although rain is predicted for this morning and a drop in temperature this afternoon.,

It is good news time.

The first good news is that I have my vaccines booked, the first next week and both not too far away in terms of distance and so easy to get to - almost literally to the traffic lights and up the road (it's a long road).  It was worth being a bit patient and there was no way I was going into London or even up to Colchester!

The second is this . . .

Just seeing it has cheered me up no end.  There are lots more buds but this is the very first daffodil - a cute miniature one.

The third is that yesterday my neck and shoulder was aching so much I thought last year's problem had returned.  However, it is fine again this morning so it must have just been that heavy digging.  Lindsey was kind enough to give me another PT time so I am seeing her (online) today instead.

And fourthly, the pension thingy lump sum Dave helped me sort out has arrived in my bank account.  Suddenly I feel quite well off but it's going into savings, it's not for wasting.

How funny that at a time I felt so low and down, four cheer-me-up things should arrive so close together

Today's plans are firstly a chat with Chris, then personal training and finally it's the Slimming World Zoom meeting.  No allotment - it will still be very soggy.  I'm going to take a look on Saturday and see if I can do a bit more then.
Have a good day and stay safe.  xx