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Reflections 2018 w26

The problem with an allotment, especially where the soil is of the clay variety, is holidays.

And this holiday turned out to be perfectly timed with a heat wave.

One had the next plot over to water for me whilst we were away,  but my dads method of gardening is 1970’s style, a style I for one will not be doing when I get my own plot. The method is to dig in compost to “improve the soil”, this particular plot has had this done for 25 years+ by dad, and it is no better now than it was 15 years ago, and is a battle to stop it from baking hard and cracking. There are other ways, and it will be several on trial on mine to work out which works in the area one lives.

This baking of soil was what the neighbour had to deal with while I was away.

Because of the heat and dryness I was expecting a lot of items to have bolted, but only a few things have. The sweetcorn has decided, at 2ft tall to call it a day on ground clearance and grow tassels. The baby corn looks stronger thought much taller. My purple peas are ready to pick, they are that tasty even I can eat them raw, the plant however looks in poor health.

Strawberry plants are sending out runners, raspberry’s have ripened, gone past it, dried  up and yellowing. The rhubarb has stalled, so none to go down the food-bank in the morning. One did however pick my first yellow baby courgettes for lunch tomorrow.

Everything else seems ok, the greenhouses are in so much shade from the trees next door that they have been protected, luckily. But the weeds have gone berserk, there is more growth on them than anything else.

So this week will be spent trying to tidy up the plot whilst avoiding one individual and the sun/heat.

I will also be looking over a short story written for a Stoke on Trent last year, but was finished too late, adjusting it if need be, there is a 100 more words that could be used this time round, and sending it off.

If it reads the same as last year it’s a competition winner.


Reflections 2018 w25

One thinks that one can, at times, have an almost romantic view of the nature that is around me.

Only for nature to give me a quick, sharp, jab of reality.

I had in mind this week to actually take my sketch book, along with my watercolour set, outdoors! A big step for me.

The setting – a small stream flowing around several bends, long grass atop of sandy banks, small islands of pebbles scattered along the shallower parts. Serine indeed, with the soundtrack of trickling water to relax with.

The plan was for Spot and myself to nestle in on a lower part of a bank, away from the sight of passing dog walkers, and just relax. My artwork not on show, thus reducing the anxiety of publicly sketching and painting, snacks and a flask of fruity green tea to hand.

One thought it may be prudent to goto the location today – pre sunset – just to have an idea as to where one would like to be situated. Armed with my trusty Tilly hat, covered in the most repugnant anti-mosquito spray I have, just in case, one took Spot for a little walk.

The air was still and warm from the days earlier summer temperatures, the stream was low, much lower than what one remembered it from last time, but this served only to make the pebble islands have greater character, a real bonus for the artwork to come in the following week. The long grass brushed gently against bare skin of my lower legs, parting ways in front as Spot pushed through, for her, a towering forest of green. Her white tail wagging all the while.

Yes, this was a pleasant walk.

A spot was found that would be suitable for the later excursion, secluded, and a flat area large enough that a seat could be placed on the ground for Spot and myself to share, whilst being able to place the art materials around in an orderly fashion. Yes this was the spot.

We sat for a while admiring the view, then the gnats must have gotten used to the smell of the repellent, and I became a viable option for lunch, vowing to wear much more next time I stood up.

The low angle of the sun, now setting, made the gnats shine as they flew around. They shone like the droplets of water that makes up the mist, swirling in a thick mass – at head height. And yet my head height was only level with the top of the bank, I had yet to climb up into that swirling mass of glistening white, currently starting to obscure the view of the surroundings, I had no other exit. One just hoped that the stinky repellent was enough to get clear of the area – quickly! Without all exposed areas of skin bitten. One has never seen so many gnats as one did today.

The sketching trip I think will be changed to a quick visit for photo’s, as I do not think that even if the entire bottle of spray was to be used, it would be enough. Even as the memory is recalled it is making me itch.

So far I am lucky not to have bites starting to develop.

Reflections 2018 w21

There be mice up the allotment.

It may come as no surprise to have mice on an allotment plot, it is after all common, but this is a little bit more special than that. If you like mice that is.

I was moving some items around when a mouse darted from the corner of the greenhouse, I said hello, but it darted out of the small gap in the wood it rests upon. Not such an uncommon thing disturbing small creatures, however I have never unintentionally destroyed a home before.

How did I know I had now?

Well the babies, still blind, where flopping around trying to get away. They were in a place that was unsafe for them, due to the work I was doing, so I had to do the one thing you are not supposed to do; move them.

There was just the two of them so I placed paper towel in a plant pot and scooped them up, placed them near where I found them and covered it back over with the plastic bag that was originally covering. I then left therein house so the mother could return back to them.

The next day they were gone, as expected,  but today I saw three mice around the back of the greenhouse. I have not had that much damage done by mice so it is bygones for now.

However here are the two little ones.


Reflections 2018 w19

It’s nice when pleasure comes from cooperation.

Funds being the way they are at the moment day trips out to the coastline are pretty non existent. However Wednesday was different.

A couple of ladies from the groups I go to heard, through group discussion, about how I find a break – a peace – for a little while when at the coast and mountains; really it’s in the country away from the business of people.

They had been looking into the cost of going away for a day trip via either coach or train, neither suited either time spent travelling or cost for a day return ticket, and after I had been giving them lifts from one group to another for a month or two they approached me with an idea.

Would I be interested in driving to the coast with them if they paid for the petrol, there was no commitment to spending the day with them when we got there – and there was of my choice – I immediately said the deal had to include Spot – to which they said of course.

To be honest, and I said this to them, If I get to the point of being able to afford the petrol,  I would be happy to have them along the trips that were suitable at no cost as we all talked about the unburdening those day trips afford in a similar way, and it is a healthy release.

Unfortunately one lady could not make this trip and the back up K was trying to find, so she was not left ‘billy no mates’ as Spot and I had our walk, did not pan out either. As it turned out we were not going to go on our walk this time as a nerve became pinched from the exercises given to me for my disc bulges, so after discussing it with Spot we decided to wander around our destination, something that we had not done for a long time.

Llandudno was the destination I chose, due to K using crutches and having mobility issues, although I am pretty sure she wished we didn’t, as we over walked her – a lot. To combat my pain I walk at a British Army marching pace (following the rhythm helps), K walks at a quarter that speed, if I’d had to use my coping mechanism of headphones I would have left her behind several times. But we worked it out in the end.

The weather was overcast but warm in the areas out of the breeze, aired to warm in the breeze – a light fleece but no jacket required. Several spots of rain dropped onto the rucksack when we were eating our chips, but that was all. Overall it was a good day out, and K got to do the one thing she wanted to do…Paddle.

Spot got to run on a dog friendly beach at a stop-off on the way, so she was happy as well.

Reflections 2018 w18

This week I completed a present for the lady who did the poetry group, she actually left a week ago last Friday, but I only finished the gift on Tuesday.

The photo will be on the Facebook page after she has had it along with the poem on WordPress.

The poem is on a watercolour sheet of paper with a slightly coloured background, the poem printed on top. I am sure she will like it. It follows a similar leaving present done to a prior staff member. So it looks like a personalised poem is the leaving gift of choice. Cheap some may say, others see beyond the price tag.

My challenge from now on is to carry on writing the poetry  now that the group has ended. One could goto a new poetry gathering near me, but that requires meeting new people and, one is projecting now, be made to look like a fool due to not knowing the correct terminology for the poems structure, even though I seem to write it with a natural flair. Time will tell if I go or not.

Nice and short this week as one is in pain, stupid slipped discs.

New poem out on Wednesday. Hope you enjoy.




Reflections 2018 w17

Today we went to a Field to Fork event, and the best part for me was my son in the Bubble Football.

The bubble football is well…this…


The child is strapped in to just about knee high and has handles to hold onto inside.I don’t know who enjoyed this the most, me or my son. We have waited for about a year to get a second chance at this game and rolling him fully over with his bright yellow minion wellies flailing in the air was worth the wait. At other times he would roll sidewards more like an egg than a ball and for the most part I was too busy laughing to help.

He enjoyed launching himself at me to bounce off my gut and he nearly had me over more than once. The balls are surprisingly heavy and most of the children could only take a few steps before rolling off in a somewhat haphazard direction. It reminded me of a TV program, that had adults in ridiculously oversized inflatable suits, from my childhood – It’s A Knockout.

I do not think we will be able to past these again without having to have another go.

Reflections 2018 w16

Have you ever spent twenty minutes scrubbing a snail with a toothbrush?

One feels the need to firstly explain that the snail is of the aquarium variety, and secondly I thought I threw him/her out with the water change. So there was a guilt aspect to it as well.

This snail has been through a lot really, I got the horned variety to try and stop it from being a snack for the goldfish that lived in the tank, as so many others had been before. It kind of worked, it got pulled off the glass every now and then, but that was about it, an inconvenience for the snail I’m sure, but the horns seemed to put the fish off – until next time.

I wanted the snails as window cleaners and ornament caretakers of sorts, and this they did very well.

The fish got to large for the tank so had to be moved to a new home, which meant a fresh start to the aquarium. Firstly the water was largely changed and the gravel removed to allow a layer of substrate to go down first for plant growth, this is where the mishap happened.

The snail was on the front of the glass and I was scooping from the side, the bag I was filling with the wet gravel folded outwards and spilt all over the carpet, then I went into panic mode, desperately trying to hold onto the bag – finish emptying the tank – and mop up the wet gravel. I did this and proceeded to clean the glass using the remaining water then squeezing it out into a tub inside the tank. When the tub was full it went out of the window – over the lawn.

In goes the substrate, in goes the gravel, in goes the ornaments, followed by half a tank of water. One then proceeded to plant the new vegetation, I have to admit  it will be nice to be able to have living plants in the tank again, the last tenant pulled them up for fun. The water got topped up and I ask the snail what it thinks of its refurb. That is when I notice that it is not there. Outside I go, with a torch, and spend half an hour looking for it before giving up. The snail killed, not by the fish, but by me having a carless moment.

I ‘stirred’ the gravel as much as I could, trying to ‘feel’ it, whilst not uprooting the plants, and when nothing was felt I thought there was little chance unless he surfaced the next morning. That was three weeks ago.

I told my son that I think the snail might of gone with the fish to a new home, which is plausible if it survived. On Sunday morning I took my son down to Pets at Home to buy two shrimp to place into the now very ’empty’ tank. After dinner we released the shrimp he asked if that was the snail in the corner, it was hard to tell as instead of being yellow with black stripes it was a great /black colour, but the horns gave it away. I could not tell if it was dead and the water stirring had disturbed it or it was alive.

We played a little while then checked on our new tenants, the snail now half way up the glass. He must have been hiding in the gravel I said. Two weeks it took that snail to get free from the gravelly grave.

Each time I looked into the tank it was accompanied by shame. So one got the snail out and as gently as one could possibly be – brushed the algae away with an old toothbrush, before placing it back into the tank, once again yellow and black.

So…Have you ever spent twenty minutes scrubbing a snail with a toothbrush?

I have.


ps. the shrimp got out of the tank last night, quite common it seems, I found one quite dried out in the middle of the room.