Alison Crowther-Smith

Archive for December, 2015

New Year on the Allotment

Thursday, December 31st, 2015

2016 will be the year of the allotment.  It’s rather awkward having a brand new obsession hobby when I barely have time for all the others, but it will have to elbow its way in.

As 2016 skids into sight, I have managed a few more allotment sessions.  I had hoped to have all the main area dug in December but something happened – oh yes, Christmas.  So I have left it with a scant 6 or 7 feet still to dig, plus a very small bit of the top border.

Before Christmas, I was suddenly and inexplicably simply exhausted.  To the point of being unable to dig for more than about 20 minutes, for example, and worse, cutting gym classes!  Maybe it was just the busy season plus there has been a lot of work.  So Mark has been helping a lot and between us we have the allotment at a state I could not of dreamed of in late October when we began.  That is barely 8 weeks ago.

Here is the main plot, showing how much is done, how little is left, and how excellent the soil is:

Also, Mark hard at work. From where the last lot of wooden planks are, I’d say Mark has dug about 80% of that to where he is in this picture.

 

In other news, the garlic is all through – a 100% germination success rate, marred only by me hoe-ing one shoot off by mistake.  I have often planted garlic in December and it always shoots within a few weeks but I have never known it to show so fast and grow so high in December before.

 

I have now been able to remove the lines of string I put out to show where I had sown the broad beans and garlic too.

At the top of the allotment, where The Great Grass Mound was, super progress has been made, largely by me as though it is messy the work here is much lighter than that in the main plot where the earth, though good, is very heavy at the moment.  To my secret relief, this coffin-shaped mound (well, maybe 3 coffins laid end-to-end) did not contain any bodies or grisly remains.  Just a bazillion roots and a massive, gorgeous cashe of loamy earth, as I had hoped.   The first dig is almost complete and next I will dig it all again for a second go at the pasture grass root systems.

The plastic compost bin will be moving; more tyres will arrive and grow new potatoes; and a new compost area will also be built at the bottom, next to the original one.  This was about 2/3 rds full of compost, but Florence and Will have transported all of this into the raised beds:

Now, one problem with the newly dug area in the main plot is that once it has been dug, weed seeds and grass roots instantly germinate, so they have to be hoed off.  But you can’t really step onto the soil.  It is very claggy at the moment, and I think it may damage its structure, plus it is just nasty and sticky so you can’t walk properly in mud-platform wellies.  So I have developed my ingenious Two Mat System (copyright, patent pending).

I knew those 2 old back door mats would come in handy.  I chuck one onto the freshly dug soil and I jump on it.  I hoe/weed as far as I can reach.  I chuck the other mat a few feet away ensuring it is in reaching distance, and I hop onto that.  When I lift mat number 1, I hoe any compacted earth that was beneath it and on I go!  This energetic device also serves to entertain and fascinate other folks who may be allotmenting, and the pygmy goats who are my constant companions in the next field.  I love jumping.  Try it!  It’s like outdoor caving.

My seed-bed area (before the raised beds) has served well for fill in beans and garlic, as it is sheltered and by the shed, with afternoon sun:

And the fill-in beans, some of which I have needed to plug gaps or replace seedlings eaten by rabbits, have come up lovely.

Yesterday, knowing Storm Frank was on its way, I sprinkled in some organic chicken poo pellets.  I swear by this stuff.  The whole Association plot is not organic, but my allotment, like my garden, will be.  I have now disturbed and re-homed at least 6 frogs and toads, moving them to cosy long grass out of the way, so I know there is lots of wild life.  I can’t bear to think of slug pellets being eaten by slugs and then by the sweet frogs, who will then also die.  If we let them live, then they will eat the slugs!  I also know some folks like to spray for weed control, and this is a choice of course – it may have eased my back had I done so.  But I would not wish to eat the food that the land then grew, so to me it is pointless.  But, each one to his or her own; at least we four all agree that organic is best, so I guess we will lose some crops, and not win any prizes for perfect-looking things, but I don’t mind – or care.

The very overgrown rhubarb plants were fiercely cut back by me about 7 weeks ago.  It has been so mild, I now have rhubarb here that is more like how it usually looks in March.

Will, Florence and I now spend many happy hours in the kitchen drawing pictures of the things we will make in the spring – the walk-in brassica cage, and most exciting of all, The Tunnel of Gourds!  I bet you can hardly wait, can you?

I also rescued 3 raspberry canes and a mass of oriental poppies, all thriving.

New Super-Powers

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

I have discovered that I have some shiny new super-powers.  In addition to these original super-powers that is.

I am The Keeper of the Tickets

Tickets for any event, outing, trip or show can only be safe-guarded by me. Apparently.  This means that I am in charge of them and therefore liable for keeping them safe, remembering their location, and of course, turning up at the event with the tickets, for everyone. This power is indeed a heavy burden. Associated with this power, I know* where All The Important Documents are.  This includes but is not limited to:  passports, licenses, NHS cards, ID cards, certificates, Boots loyalty point cards, any gift card ever received and vaccination records.  As the festive season draws to a close, I can add ‘Keeper Of All The Receipts’.

*I do not know where they all are.

Compost-Queen

This tiresome, not to say disgusting super-power relates to the emptying of the compost bin.  This is a ‘cute’ dust-bin in miniature, which is pink, obvs and has a twist off lid.  The lid is very annoying but also essential as Rupert will gorge himself on onion skins (poison for dogs), banana skins (like crack-cocaine for dogs), all peelings and associated slime, if the lid is not on tight.  It lives, handily, outside the back door.  I am the only person in the house who is licensed to schlep this vile thing to the far end of the veg garden and empty it into the main compost bin.  I love compost, you know me. But I hate emptying the bin. Sometimes, I can confer temporary compost powers upon my family but this only lasts for one trip, it seems.  Then the power reverts to me.

I See All

Not in a sinister ‘Santa Claus is watching you.  All year.  Especially when you are asleep’ sort of way. More in the sense that I am now positive I can see things which others cannot see.  Not just ghosts.  Things such as items which need to be put back where they live; things that are waiting on the 2nd stair to be elevated to the first floor; or things that have been bought and need storing.  I may have shared with you my belief that in the event of the zombie apocalypse, the safest place to ‘hide’ is the 2nd stair, because anything placed here becomes invisible. It does in our house anyway, I can’t speak for yours – try it though!  It might buy you valuable minutes after the invasion, before you de-bug (or it may be bug-out. I am not American) to your prepper-place – I suggest a locked cave by the way.

Medicine Woman

In an age-old tradition, one tribe or pack member is the medicine woman or man. This is me. I  – and only I – can minister medicines and routine treatments to Anyone or Anything.  I can appoint others as assistants but only I can re-order prescriptions or do anything ‘gross’ to the animals.  Joy!

Yes Chef!

Why my head has not exploded with the utter, unrelieved tedium of weekly menu planning I do not know.  Each week I make a menu plan (do you? Please say yes).  This only covers the evening meals.  Other ‘meals’, many of which may well be taken elsewhere, are free-style affairs and nothing to do with me.  I for example, mainly eat yoghurt, radishes and cashew nuts for non-supper meals and never tire of it.  But oy! The weekly grind of the menu planning.  It’s not that I don’t like food, I really do; and I am basically OK with being the only person who regularly cooks anything.  I make the plan because it is much better than the daily:  Oh God what shall we have for supper? dance which preceded the advent of The Plans.  It is great because I can look at it and know what I am doing, and I use it to guide my food shopping, another utterly hated activity, which would otherwise degenerate into a messy, abstract and probably costly panic-buy.  Personally, I would be quite happy to eat the same four or five meals on a sort of ‘meal roulette’ rota and just vary the sides.  Of these, three would be chicken, the rest fish.  But for the sanity and enjoyment of my people, I have a stock list of about fifteen meal-types and each week I *try* to add a new item – like a kind of test run.  But I so wish I was not Head Chef and menu planner.

Pretty Powerful Present Person

I buy 95% of all the Christmas and birthday gifts.  Is this a common feature in the kind of blatantly conventional household that I occupy – that is to say, the Lady of The House does all the present choosing, buying, schlepping and distribution?  If so then I won’t count this as a super power, just a burden.  The bizarre thing is, Mark likes shopping and I really don’t like it.  I used to have a group of gym-based ‘friends’ who liked going shopping en-masse, and as an act of kindness I suppose, they sometimes invited me to go.  It was terrible.  Bad enough to have to go to Bristol (Cabot Circus is literally hellish) but to go in a posse of about eight women and then try and get anything done was just torture and pointless.  I used to end up sitting in the ‘husband’ chairs that some nice shops place near the door, just reading while I waited for them to finish trying on things they never bought and making enough noise to wake the dead.  But anyway, once I am in gift (or anything) shopping mode, I am like a woman posessed and I can 100% guarantee that I will complete it all in one go if needs be, with incisive and swift decision-making, no dithering, no coming back after having a think – I am like a present-seeking missile.  But I still hate it.  I am available for ‘on-a-mission’ present buying hire, ditto clothes for you, or household things, very reasonable rates.  You will just need to provide me with many Costas, a list of recipients, and also accompany me with your bank card handy.

 

Smugness. Discuss. (Also, a Slightly Grumpy Post).

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

We all know how I can be proper grouchy, don’t we?  Even at Christmas?  Well, it is (more) rare but someone has made me a bit grumpy.  Get a coffee.

‘Is it just me, or does anyone find this trend of donating to charity instead of sending Xmas cards just a bit smug? And to be honest just a good way of avoiding that ‘writing cards and sending’ hassle?’

The above quote has been lifted from a social media site where I go to look at cute pictures of Dachshunds.  Or to ask Dachshund related questions. Or to help with advice for someone else if I can.  I was therefore quite surprised to read this from a woman who I do not know, and I read it all the way to the end in the expectation that it would be Dachshund related.  It isn’t.

What it is, however, is border-line nasty, judgy – and projects quite a lot, I suspect.

You may know, or have guessed by now perhaps, that I am one of the ‘smug’ people who, she judges, give money to charity instead of sending cards at Christmas, for reasons that are concerned with being lazy – too lazy to buy, write and post Christmas cards, she suggests; and/or, to make themselves feel better – the smug reference I assume; and/or want others to know how amazing they are.  The quote goes on to assert that most people can afford to do both – give to charity and buy and send cards, and that it is better to send a card as many people are lonely, but I edited it out for you. You’re welcome.

It irritated me. Partly because I fail to see how The Thoughts of Madam Miffed on Christmas cards have anything whatsoever to do with Dachshunds. And I don’t know, or want to know her, especially as she has already weighed and measured my worth and found it wanting.  But the reason it irritated me was this:  I do not care if she/you/anyone wishes to send cards.  In fact, I’d go so far as to suggest you should, if you want to.  I love getting cards, but of course, as I never send any now and haven’t for four years, we get far fewer.  I don’t open any cards we do get and think: how smug of this person to write and send cards.  Or:  how mean of them not to donate to charity instead.  I just think:  thanks!  How lovely!  (I especially like sparkly cards and robins).  And I save them all and cut them up to make gift tags for the next year, at which time I read them all again.

However, the post did make me examine my real motives.  If I am honest, I didn’t really love writing cards, but for many years I did it because at first, it made me feel all grown-up. Then it made me feel even more Christmassy (though as you may know, I start feeling Christmassy in September and then it builds into a crescendo of festive ferment for four whole months.  Yep.  Poor Mark indeed).   But for the last ten years or so it has got my nerves a bit.  I think this probably coincided with more use of email, social media and texts.

Some years ago, my father developed dementia.  Initially the progress of the disease was slow and sometimes I thought I was imagining it, because he had always been quite absent-minded, always thinking about something clever and probably mathy, that kind of thing.  But it is hard not to face the reality when you see your dad trying to make a ‘phone call with the TV remote control.  Stuff was going wrong.  Then in the last two or three years of his life, it was clearly a major and a rapidly escalating problem – and he just slipped further and further away from us.  Dementia does not come alone and take just the mind.  It wreaks havoc on the body too.  It is the real deal.

So a few years ago I started giving to The Alzheimer’s Society.  Instead of spending my Christmas card money on cards and stamps, I give it to them. One day soon, when stamps are made of gold and cost £100 each, they will be making a pretty penny from me.  (NB:  I may have to adjust my giving model).   Why do this at Christmas and not at a random time of year?  I think people (such as me) do this because it is at Christmas that you miss the people you loved so much, and have lost, the very most.  It is reaching out.  Like you used to.  When they were still alive and part of your routine, earthly life, not just your remembered and bitterly missed past life.

I do something else too.  With the time I save, I write to dad.  This year I am writing a poem.  It’s pretty poor, and I rather wish I hadn’t begun it or at least that I’d taken the non-rhyming option…anyway I’m pressing on.

Diseases like Alzheimer’s are absolute rubbish and I feel so impotent.  But when I give my festive spends, I do at least think I am sticking up an exquisitely manicured middle finger to dementia.  It helps me feel a bit better, that much is true, or a bit less hopeless about it at least.  It’d be bloody amazing if no-one else had to suffer as my dad did and I know that day is a long way away, but who knows?  I believe it will come.  One thing doing this does not make me feel is smug.

My dad always told me I had a way with words and so to prove him right, I now say:  you can stuff your nippy little Face Book post right up your tail-spout, lady, followed by a mince-pie and a nice prickly sprig of holly.  Season’s greetings!

 

The War on Weeds is Being Won!

Saturday, December 12th, 2015

There is a slow but steady progression in my digging activity.  We now have only about 8 feet left to dig over on the main plot.  This clearly shows the narrowing strip now about 2/3 rds down the main bed and about 8 feet deep, of weedy ground.  The bottom bit is basically already done as we began here back in late October.

I find I can dig properly (in fact, I am forking) for about 45 minutes and then I have to do something else.  My back aches a bit, but really I have to stop because I get so tired.  Usually I then hoe some of the ground I first dug, because it was so infested with weed roots, they are not idle or dead, they just grow back from any fragment of roots that remained. Also, it was very weedy and a lot of these had seeded before I had a chance to dead-head them.  So, I hoe for 15 minutes, then I resume digging.  But even so, I can only do up to 3 hours hard work on one session.  It is exhausting actually.  It annoys me to get so tired by it.  One thing I do have is stamina – or so I thought.  I am not a sprinter, but I can do things such as steady running or road cycling for several hours if I have to.  Or want to.  This is not true of digging.  Perhaps it is the passing of years.  Oh happy thought!

I now only go to the allotment for serious digging work on days when I do not go for a run, cycle or attend a gym class.  I run and cycle a lot, and I had been running on Sunday mornings – this would be my ‘long run day’ but this is usually only 6 – 9 miles, not a marathon.  Then after a rest and some food, I might wander down the allotment in the afternoon and dig.  But this has had to stop.  It literally brought me to grinding halt.  I still run, but I dig on other days.  Not even the allotment can stop the running!

The plot where the new seed beds are is also the site I plan to use for potato tyre towers and today, we laid down the rest of the fabric we needed and some more wood chip but then ran out of chip – again.  To the left of this picture, the Giant Grass Mound.  It is about 2 feet high and runs the entire width of the allotment.

Mark cut the grass too.  Yes, it is still growing in this mild December, but today it was really windy so the glass was fairly dry.  You have to mow the grass directly around your own plot and any grass on your plot.  It looks a lot better for this haircut. But you can’t use a petrol or power mower on Sundays, and I can hardly move our petrol mower anyway, so I need a light-weight hand-push mower, really.  I notice that a lot of people have a lot of grass on their plots – they sort of created beds with grass paths.  Usually these are the plots that grow a lot of soft fruit, and they do look very attractive. But we have only one strip of grass on our plot and I am certainly not sowing any!

I then had a happy 20 minutes or so ferreting about in the giant grass mound at the top of the plot.  This is where the previous, and original, plot holder heaped up turfs etc as he dug the plot out of the meadow.  It is easy digging, very light, no clay.

 

The grass is pasture grass, rank, coarse and with extensive fibrous root systems, but quite easy to pull out once you fork it loose.  What I am finding is top quality loam.  It is like hitting a seam of gold to the allotmenter!  It will be slow but not heavy going, and I will do a strip every now and then.  And it will be so worth while.  It is going to be fertile soil too.  We need this border for runner beans and also to site a new large compost heap which we will be making soon with some pallets we have been given.

 

Conversations With Lily: maps

Monday, December 7th, 2015

I have to tell you about this convo while it is fresh in my mind.  It is shocking!  Did you realise that (and maybe I am guilty, if anyone is, not Lily) that apparently, some *young people* never look at maps?  I was brought up and learned to drive in the pre-GPS/sat nav era, but even so, I loved maps as a child, and I still do.  I also always secretly wanted to home-educate the girls and I had an imaginary curriculum in which there was regular map reading with practical skills added on in the form of walks.  The home ed thing never happened.  Mark wouldn’t let me.  He was probably right.

On car trips to Manchester with my father to see my Grandma, I would study the car-map for hours. Well, there was only Radio 2 or reading when dad and I weren’t chatting.  Reading a book sometimes made me feel sick, but studying the map didn’t.  I pored over the huge atlas – do you remember them? Maybe your car still has one, in the pocket behind your seat, or in the boot?  First I’d trace our journey that day and dad, though he knew the way intimately and needed no navigator, would ask me to check which roads we needed – their number, where we would join them, an estimate of the number of miles outside, say, Chapel-en-le-Frith, we would be at when we reached that tricky junction.

Once I was satisfied that he would not get lost for a while, I’d explore the whole atlas.  Fascination with our UK geography gripped me.  The expanses of our country that were brown and green and had moors and mountains with close-drawn lines to denote their elevation were exciting.  These areas often had intricate folded drawings indicating the actual terrain. The torrid clutter of the south east or the west midlands with roads too numerous to count and no open spaces as far as the car atlas was concerned were exotic and alarming. I loved them all – the key to symbols, the letters, and especially the trick to get from your current page to the place where your road went next – not always the next page!  The maps however, gave you clues with a grid-reference system in  the back.

I have almost no natural sense of direction.  My instinct to turn the wrong way is legendary, especially in towns.  Or caves.  I once had to ring a friend, in London, from Trafalgar Square, to ask her where my office was.  That memory still makes me feel a sense of mild panic.  But I can, if I have a set starting point to get in the right direction from the beginning, read a map.  It has left me with a pretty intimate knowledge of the UK’s ‘face’.  I know, for example, exactly where Carlisle is, even though I have never been there.

So today, Lily was asking me about The North.  This region may as well be somewhere you’d find in Game of Thrones as far as Lily is concerned. The North is an amorphous mass of cities and mountains to her. To me, it is the place of my birth, and a significant part of my early life. It is not a single place.  I have visited and lived and worked in many parts of The North.  But the news today reported on the awful weather and floods in the north west in particular and then:

Lily:  Carlisle?  But that’s in France.

Me: (slowly appreciating that it is not a joke)

Lily:  isn’t it?

Me: no.  It is in England.

Me:  why did you think Carlisle was in France?

Lily:  well, it sounds French, doesn’t it?

Me:  not really.  Maybe you are getting mixed up with Calais?

Lily:  no mum. God.

Me:  Carlisle is in the far north of England.  Now, can you tell me – or show me with your hands if this (showing her with mine) is Taunton – where Norwich is?

Lily:  (gesturing to where the the Shetlands would be) it’s here, innit?

Me:  no.  It’s here (showing her), it’s in the east of England.  Where is Hull?

Lily: (indicating Oxford) here?

Me:  so, if I asked you to drive to Birmingham now, what would you do?

Lily:  GPS it.  But I wouldn’t drive to Birmingham in the Punto, it’d be vile.

(The Punto is my ugly but faithful orange-coloured car.  It is driven by everyone, including Lily, Florence and even Will.  Yes, it is old, a bit shabby, the locks are dodgy and it needs a mucking-out.  But it is my car and they all ought to be far more grateful than they are that I let it be the family communal car).

Me: (sighing) OK imagine you are driving a nice car.  And there is no GPS.

Lily:  um – I dunno!

Me:  what about reading a map?

Lily:  no mum, see that’s  really really dangerous, reading while driving.  Geez. 

Me:  you don’t read and drive.  You consult the map before you start and if you need to, you stop and read it again, then drive on.

Lily:  (incredulous) wow.  What a pain!  Stopping and starting.  (Shakes head in disbelief and pity).

Me:  could you read a map?

Lily:  the words?

Me:

Lily:  cos yeah, the words.

Me:  yes, the words, but really I meant the roads.  Could you find yourself, here, now and follow the roads to Birmingham?  With your finger?

Lily: (incensed by the inference that she might be too stupid to do this) Mum!  I am not thick, do you think I’d be drawing my finger along a river or summat?  Mouth-breathing and squinting?  Of course I could do it – but why would I, when we have a sat nav?

Me:  but the point is, aren’t you curious about our country and how it’s laid out?  Don’t you ever look at maps and think:  I want to go there?

Lily:  Nope.

Me:  I do! I read maps all the time when I was little, and atlases of the world!  I looked at the country I lived in and imagined travelling to all these…

Lily:  (cuts me off with a pitying look) yes but mum, you’re a sad little thing aren’t you?

Allotment Life in Winter

Saturday, December 5th, 2015

Lots of activity on the allotment!  Unfortunately, 95% of this is digging.  Get an allotment which needs a 100% dig-over to remove rank weeds and call it a fitness regime.  This is how I am making it work in my head because to be quite honest, digging and then sifting for weed roots (some of which are HUGE) is not fun.  It is fun when compared with some activities though such as train travel in winter, or colour-coding your sock drawer.  I also take my audio book and headphones down when I am solo-allotmenting.  My current book is The Kraken Wakes, by John Wyndham, beautifully read by Alex Jennings. So now when I look at the earth that has been worked I think of sea-dwelling alien space craft.  Nice.

Anyhoo, we are now 2/3rds through the main dig.  There is a large, uninterrupted plot – the main dig – which is about 75% of the whole plot.  Then at the top, is a wide grass path, then a border that was the worst in terms of weed-choke, and directly behind this, a raised up mound of what I hope will be earth, but it is literally covered with lush pasture-grass.  On the flat part, we also inherited plastic composters.  Then one day Colin left a huge pile of wood to make into seed beds or compost bins and we are using the flat part of this ‘bed’ to house three of these.  We have moved the plastic composters to the bottom end of the site.

The digging progresses:

Soon I will have to bite the bullet and start digging over this rank-grass mound, not least so that we can then use the earth underneath to fill the tyre-towers we are planning to use to grow new potatoes, also on this bed, and next to the three seed beds.  If I plunge my fork into this grass bank and find it is a huge heap of rotting weeds, I will cover it over, clip it with hand shears and call it a feature.

The grass mountain when we took the plot on:

A real bonus was finding that the main compost bin – not really a bin, as it has an open front – that we inherited was literally full of really high-grade loamy compost that the previous plot-holder had made.  Will has been barrowing this up to the top and using it to partially fill our new seed beds.

Our first two, of three, seed beds:

In the meantime, we have planted all the broad beans and they are up.  But many have been fatally nibbled.  I suspect rabbits.  It is all open land about us and I think rabbit damage will be a significant threat, which it is not in my own garden.  So I think I will sow some more, later this month, into the obvious gaps.  Usually, if you plant these early beans in late November or December, it is cold enough for rabbit activity to have ceased or declined, but it has been very warm.

I have also planted four rows (six heads, broken into cloves) of garlic, which is about forty plants potentially.  I am growing broad beans because they are delicious when harvested small, expensive and difficult to buy in the shops – and you need masses.  Plus, the pods can be used to make wine!  This is the main reason for our crop choices:  rare, expensive or significantly better tasting if home-grown.  Some crops such as broad beans, are all of these.

Bean!

Garlic isn’t, really. It is cheap, widely available and not that much better, dried, as you buy it in the shops, than if you grow and dry your own.  However, it is significantly more delicious when cooked ‘wet’, i.e., right after harvesting and cleaning.  It is still very juicy, and often pink.  You then slice off the bottom where the roots are so it sits flat, and the top to expose the cloves.  You sit this in a garlic roaster or just sturdy tin foil, drizzle liberally with olive oil, and salt, scrunch up the foil to contain it in a loose parcel or pop on the top of the roaster and slow roast it.  Once done, which is a couple of hours, you can spread the soft, sweet garlic-mash onto seared ciabatta, or toasted bread, or French bread with about half a centimeter of butter on it. You can’t buy garlic in this state – fresh and wet.  It will be like this for a few weeks, after which it dries out and is just like the supermarket product.  The garlic isn’t through yet.

Garlic going in.  See you soon.  I hope.

These two crops, plus at the bottom, the rescued strawberries, giant rhubarb patch, rescued purple sprouting and few other lame ducks we transported down here, such as celery (Mark’s most hated veg.  Fact.  And anyway, will it over-winter?  Do we care?) leave about 60% of the main plot free for now.  This is the digging we are now engaged upon.  It looks to be getting easier in that there are fewer weed-choked areas, though there are weeds everywhere we have not cleared, but harder in that is heavier earth.

In my own garden, I rarely dig unless I want to dig in compost.  I intend to use this plan at the allotment.  But for now, the plans are:  complete the digging of the main plot; dig and remove weeds from the grass-mound-mountain at the top; erect and fill the last seed-bed; scavenge tyres and store for growing new potatoes; buy a plastic bench to sit on by the shed and admire the work.

Yesterday, I went down there for the last hour and a half of day-light and a bit more was dug.  I also edged the whole main plot, but my edging shears are no match for the pasture grass despite having been sharpened.  But it does look tidier.  I also hoed the areas where, already, the weeds are showing their heads.  There was no-one else there, there rarely is.  I have been unable to go on Saturdays and Thursday due to teaching of late, but I usually go on Sunday and once or twice in the week.  I am often alone with the pygmy goats in the next field my only company.  Last evening at 4.30 as it was getting properly dark, I walked all round the allotments looking at the plots.

Several at the bottom end where we were supposed to get a plot, remember, are already so wet there is standing water in the edges and depressions.  That plot we might have inherited has now been officially surrendered by its plot-holder but nothing else has changed.  It’s just been left.  I guess if no-one wants it, we as a collective, may reduce it to the ground at least and cover it with heavy plastic to at least contain and kill many of the weeds because it is a nuisance to the lady who allotments beside this one.  She has two plots I think, and they look lovely.  Peas are thriving on one bed, all neat in rows with twiggy supports.  I never knew you could grow peas in winter.

Anyway it was nice wandering round in the dusky afternoon.  Here in this part of Somerset, this time of day with its dusky light is called ‘dimsy’. So you might say, for example, say I walked round as it was getting dimsy.

 

New 2016 Dates for Christmas and Thronchos

Friday, December 4th, 2015

I have added two new dates to the site.  There is one space now available for Christmas at Court Cottage and this is on Sunday the 27th November.  The new date is in fact Saturday 26th November but that is already full and with a bit of inept juggling on my part, I have one place free for the Sunday.  Book now, while you feel all Christmassy!   I have started designing the decorations for 2016 already.  I am going with a bit of Scandi-chic I think, maybe some felting too.

I also added a new date for Thronchos – Knit the Sewn Throw.  This is on Sunday 26th June and there are three places available.  This is a repeat date, not new Throncho designs.

Still a few spaces also for Fairisle and Steeking and the techie events.

If you are on a waiting list for a specific date, as opposed to any repeat date, I will be in touch if a space becomes free.  And if you want to go on my waiting lists or alert lists, just let me know.