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Reflections 2020 w15

I did actually wonder whether to do a reflection this week, but if decided that if I miss one week – then I will miss another. Even though it is a day late, but do days count for non essential people now?

So here it is…

Went out to the allotment, took spot for a walk on the way home the (not so) long way, repeat for 6 days, went shopping one one day.

looked at projects to do along the sewing line, waiting for material. I now have the brown paper for patterns, will have some done soon.

Stay safe.


Reflections 2020 w13

Hello,I hope you are well in these strange times.

So far my family has not been affected by the virus, to be honest. If anyone is likely to get it – it will be me. I am currently doing the running around shopping for parents and neighbours. My nephew and cousin have had chickenpox at the start of this, but that is all that ails us at the moment. I’m just waiting to be viewed with suspicion when the hay fever starts.

The lady that runs the Monday group is trying to do one by email tomorrow, she is not tech savvy enough to be using a video group chat, so it is going to be interesting to see how she has altered the ‘worksheets’ to fit in with an email format. She has finally got us to do homework.

The group has been using messenger to stay in touch, well part of us, but it has a lot of poster posting thingies, affirmations, and repeats of the same info, but then it cannot be used the same as the group itself, nor is it the same as meeting for a cuppa. It just goes to show how much of the communication is non words.

For some reason my body clock has moved sleep time until after the dawn chorus has been sung for an hour, if it happens again I think I will forgo sleep that day to see if it will force a change later.

Other than that, one has had to put on hold the trial dehydrating camp meal ingredients until food is more plentiful, I don’t intend wasting any but you never know if the end result is going to be edible or not. Let alone wasting the goodness that the food contains. Kale is on the menu at the moment as it is starting to go to flower on the plot.

The greenhouse got to 40degC this week, which has sent the Pack Choi bolting, I will work out a time when that stuff grows as it should instead of having a leggy flower. As for flowers, one has bought a pack of mixed edible flower seeds, should be interesting. later in the year saffron crocus will be gotten for next year.

Still waiting to see if asparagus crowns will arrive, the area is now ready for them.

I have a couple of sewing projects to make patterns for, so that’s more indoor stuff to do. Though Spot will not be happy being the model for the clothing recycling, except the down dog sleeping bag/mat for camping — I may have to lift her off that one.


Reflections 2020 w12

The world is in the grip of a killer virus, there is panic at the food markets and the street are near deserted…Sounds like an opening line of a play, but that is what the start of 2020 has given us.

I have looked on the world map and the countries affected, and there are not many that are not, so far. It has spread fast. The last ones I can remember are the swine flu and the avian flu, this is believed to have possibly originated from bats, transferred to live animals that were slaughtered at a wet market. (A market that sells live animals/fish alongside butchered ones, sometimes even butchering in situ).

With all our communications and information on how these viruses spread, what to do to keep safe, and our sanitation methods, it does not seem to have halted it at a countries border. If we have all this and still it spreads quickly, it makes one wonder how we ever survived them centuries ago when we knew very little — or blamed some poor woman who had a knowledge of herbal remedies.

Or was it pure luck it took so long to transport anything back then as the carrier was halted in their tracks mid journey?

Not that future historians will not look back at us with rose tinted glasses, after all we may not be throwing our poop out of the window now, but we are pumping millions of gallons of oil into the sea, polluting the air, and filling the bellies of future food with plastic. And we know what we are doing, at least the Middle Ages did not fully understand.

Today I learned one of my neighbours at the plot died last week after being placed into a coma after a heart attack. He was a nice chap, we had a good banter when I was digging up 12ft metal poles and he was digging up yet another covered path as everyone else was digging up veg. And we had a laugh when we both were runners up for the best newcomer in the allotment competition. We wondered what building materials won it in the end.

RIP Derrick.

Reflections 2020 w10

Today I transferred the strawberries from last year into their new plot and dug up the asparagus from last year that did not grow at all. One has potted them up in the green house – just to make sure they are done.

It was my fault, the crowns looked lovely when they arrived, but the weather had been against me on rearranging the plot, and I fell behind. BY the time I quickly prepped the asparagus bed they had gone mouldy. I washed them off and planted, like I had found to do on the internet, and then I waited, well, sort of. One did not expect to see any growth, and one did not.

So I ordered some more to replace them, a collection of Autumn planting crowns. This would at least give me time to just do the Asparagus bed properly.

But there was a problem with the supplier and they were being delayed to this year.

I have deleted the email at some point, and the order number I wrote down cannot be found. Truth be told I think it got burned with last years diary.

I don’t think I cancelled the order. But there were a few orders that got messed about last year, so there are refunds for items. But was this order one of them?

One has not long had the strawberries plants ordered last summer. It was that kind of year.

To top it off, the company has just upgraded its computer system, catalogue and site. Did the outstanding order transfers? If at all it exists.

So now I wait for an email, sometime over the next week or so.

Before I dare to order again. I have not the space for two lots. If the crowns that did not fall apart I dug up today are alive — some are going to find themselves in unusual homes. Or kicking the little flower strip out of its bed.

But at least the plot is in front with the growing this year. A week of time and dry weather will see the painting done. Then I have all year to do the water butts.

I have all year to do ONE job.

That feels strange to write after the upheaval one gave oneself last year.

I have photos of the plot as I took it over, I’m sure of it. One will post a then and now Later in the season, if I find them.

Reflections 2020 w06

On Friday I finished the green house, it is ready for the growing season. Shelving made from the old greenhouse frames has been done, custom made for the square trays I bought for the job.

I just hope it needs no repairs after the storm that has come through last night and today. A neighbours roof has lost several tiles, they are not small ones at that, and after venturing out this morning one has seen a scattering of tiles, branches and twigs over most of the roads, the storm has left it’s mark. I hope that it has not left a trail of large destruction for others who had the brunt of it.

And why would one venture out in such weather???

Art supplies.

A new style of painting has started to be learnt, narrowboat/folk style, to be exact, and this requires new brushes and a new pad to be gessoe’d black. The brushes I have are either too soft or too stiff. To a non painter this must seem illogical, but other painters who do varying styles will know of the need. A carpenter dose not have one saw, nor does a mechanic have just one type of spanner, it works on the same principle for artist after the stroke left by the brush in hand.

Having said that…There is a slight hoarder aspect to the whole process, or rather a perfectionist quest for the perfect tool.

Some thing I think can be summed up quite well by the thought I had when overhearing a mother discussing her daughters selection of art supplies for purchasing…’You have all that?” “Yes, I am doing a large project.” “I understand that, but I don’t think you need all of that.” “Some of it is for general college use as well, I always use a lot of pads.” “I agree on the pads, and on the card for the project, but you can leave the pens behind – you have enough pens!” My mind raced to the question…

Yes, but are they the ‘right’ pens though?

I find out in a couple of days if the brushes are in fact my ‘right’ tools for the job.

Reflections 2020 w02

One entered the taste testing of the Chinese snacks this week, with an open mind and no expectations.

The pork floss was the first on the list; and it was the strangest thing ever to have crossed my tongue. The texture is like that of loft insulation, with a super absorbency of saliva. It overpowers the flavour completely, only after it has cleared the mouth do you get a subtly sweet hint of flavour.

I took my taste test in the kitchen, then I let my sister try it. She pulled the same face as me, whilst looking at me like one had tried to poison her. Dad on the other hand did not even notice, I swear his mouth sensors do not work, which is probably why he can eat tripe.

Second on the list was the honey barbecue cooked pork strips, the texture was a soft jerky/fruit leather affair, but alas the sweetness of the meat kept growing with each bite. It also is a no go for camping.

Thirdly was the original flavour crispy seaweed. This I was expecting to like as I regularly buy a brand of sea salt and soy sauce nori sheet snack. The texture of these however was more a cross of the sheets and rice crackers. Strange but not off putting. The original flavour however is too strange, there is something before the seaweed flavour that just does not do it for me, which is a shame as the Chinese version is cheaper than the other brand, and has less packaging.

So overall I’m striking three of the list.

It is the turn of the lizard fish snacks next…I have no idea of what that’s going to be like.

Allotment update…the mini greenhouse/cold frame/drying area has been glazed and two sides of the shed are painted twice. Cuprinol red Caesar is more orange than anything else. I will have the brightest shed on the plot.

I am sure I have photos of the plot in its original format. If I find them I will put up the comparison photos. One just needs to tidy up the construction site look first. And get the shed to match in colour. All whilst dodging the winter weather.

Reflections 2020 w01

One got to paint some of the shed today, the parts that were next to a fence in its old location, and boy did it soak it up. However, the preservative that is supposed to be red cedar – is definitely more… Orange.

The salad seedlings have sprouted and are looking good, nice and healthy in the greenhouse. Also the garlic and onions are looking well. The broad beans however have had something sitting in them – B’ cats.

I have to work out what I can do to keep them off the plot. If they are not pooping everywhere they are digging up and flattening. Somehow I think i would get into trouble if I located the owner and posted a photo of the cat and its poop through their door, but it is acceptable for their cat poop to get on my clothing, footwear and hands whilst I garden.

I don’t hate the cats, I hate the law that says it’s ok for them to do it, but if Spot was to wander around pooping in the neighbours yards, that would be illegal because she’s a dog.

And yes the dog owners that do do that are equally disgusting…To the point I would create a new crime called A Dirty B*****d, complete with a national newspaper mug shot when convicted. Just so the paper can print Mr/Mrs XYZ today was found to be A Dirty B*****d is such and such court. For every pet found fouling without the owners picking it up and; I would like to stress this, BINNING it.

You may have worked out I ‘found’ some more today.

On good news I have purchased some Pork Floss, it will be trialed next week with my sister, who also wants to taste it. She does not however want to try the other snacks. In fact she definitely pulled her face at the fish sticks. I am giggling as I remember her look right now. Just wait until I get the item they did not have.

Here is the haul, my impressions will be forthwith upon consumption.




Reflections 2019 w 45

Well, the plan for the leaf collecting went out of the window, we have had that much rain i would have had a swamp on the back of my car after just the one trip.

On the plus side my initial findings with the thermal battery in the greenhouse looks promising.

For those that have not heard of thermal batteries – they are just a way to collect some of the warmth the sun provides and then releases it over night time. Basically a hot water bottle…A BIG hot water bottle.

I have used an old garden wheelie bin for my storage. Simply filled with water. It took about a week before any change was to be seen on the min/max temperature, Mainly the min temp has been the focus, as one cannot theorise as to how intense the sun has been, the time available, nor the temperature variation of the outside. But one has been able to do a simple test…

What was the minimum temperature inside the greenhouse when the outside froze.

Without the thermal bank it has dropped to 2degC, with a high of 26degc.  With the thermal bank running for a week the max temp was reduced, as is expected because it partially goes to warming the water, down to around the 18-19degC. However, the Min temperature inside as the outside has froze did not drop any lower than 6degC.

This may not sound that brilliant, or that useful, and for the main part it is not. I am not likely to be growing tomatoes in it over winter. However I plan to grow winter salads, the varieties that grow outdoors over winter, indoors. My theory being that they should benefit from the extra warmth and protection, giving me a higher yield.

Well that the hypothesis anyhow…

Time will tell.




Reflections 2019 w45

It’s going to be another short blog again, eyes are closing and the room is swirling. Time for sleep one thinks.

The picture I have been doing for a friend is now done, though I will have to pass it onto her mum as she is not at group tomorrow. It is the plan B version of my idea, but I think she will like it.

As for the allotment, work continues at a winter slow pace, having to be off the plot at dusk means rain laden clouds can end work at 15:00hrs, not much time to play with in an afternoon.

However the leaf mould area has been extended and last years leaves are now in the Dalek bins for the final process. The open sided cage has done the job of exposing the leaves to the elements this year and 50 bin bags just fill one Dalek. This years leaves are having to be collected wet, as that is all the weather we are having at the moment, current count is at 40 bin bags. One should match last years amount, 50, by Wednesday, hopefully the weather will at least stay dry so more can be loaded into the car.

!00 bin bags was the target for this year. Will I do it? And will the weather stay dry enough to paint the shed?

I doubt it, that is why a tarp has been place over the first end to be painted to give it some cover. I will not be a great painting job, but it will help the shed over this winter. Bit by bit the plot is nearing the end of the building site era.

Reflections 2019 w44

The greenhouse is finished, and, after a lousy start, the replacement pains were cut.

Now anyone that has had the displeasure to have to cut used greenhouse glass will know, the normal technique that we are all taught on how to cut glass, has a high failure rate. that method being…Score, press down over a table edge where the score line is. You just end up hoping that the break is veered off to the waste side of the cut, so the glass can be nibbled away to the line.

This apparently is because the used glass has altered its structure over time, and now has micro cracks in it.

But this technique works..

I could tell you the technique, but I prefer that this chap gets the credit.

I went from 100% fail rate to 100% success on my first attempt of this method and techniques. Along with an oil filled glass cutter for £3.50.

If you ever need to cut second hand glass, give this video a  watch.