Personal Shopper for 3 cats, a badger, 3 fox cubs and Mum, a pair of Herring Gulls & most of the bird population of SE England. Oh and lifelong fan of Dr Who with a weakness for white chocolate and Irish Whiskey.
A couple of posts ago I was wittering on about a Seed Exchange event at the weekend. Well, I gathered up 8 packets of my seeds to exchange and took them along and came home with these instead.
I’ve never grown any of these so it should be an interesting learning curve. These are a few of the seeds that were available. If you didn’t have any to swap, you could choose what you wanted and leave a donation. Very generous system.
Some general pics – I did like the Seed Swap signs – very clever.
And then there was the food! All beautifully laid out in the little pop-up cafe. I could have spent the afternoon there stuffing my face, but I controlled my cravings and went for a coffee and a raspberry and white chocolate cookie instead.
The Seed Swap people were also giving away old copies of Organic Gardening magazines so I helped myself to this little lot.
So, £2 to get in, £2.50 for eats – total of £4.50 spend and I’m putting that all down to a very nice experience and chats with some very knowledgeable people. A lovely way to spend an afternoon in Winter.
If you squint very, very hard and have also had a couple of drinks it does look vaguely like Daleks have taken up residence on my allotment.
But no, the reality (remember the Dr Who episode with the Dalek Reality Bomb?) is they are bin bags full and half full of horse manure patiently waiting for me to be brave, open them up and tip out the contents and take up muck spreading. I have to do this really quickly now to get it into the soil before the sowing season. I get little thrills now and then when I think of harvesting my own organically growing veggies and fruit instead of harvesting at my local supermarket.
However…….last night in the interests of frugality and maintaining ownership of most of the money in my purse I did do a Yellow Sticker shop at said supermarket. I came home with this little lot
All marked down with the exception of the sugar which was a regular buy. Total cost £1.87, it did come to £1.89 but because I bought 3 x veg I got the “Buy 2 and get 3rd free” offer and got 2p refunded. Sorry about quality of pic, my hand was still quivering with excitement at the price. Loads of soups and stews will be created now.
I’ve been YS shopping before and sometimes it can be a bit of a scrum, but last night was great. Just a few people waiting and no barging etc. Loads of storytelling and jokes. One lovely man who knows I’m a vegetarian was handing me out all the veggie ready meals at 2p each! My kind of shopping!
I have to dedicate this post to Ilona – it was by reading her brilliant blog I first found out about it. Her latest entry is pure frugality and practicality combined. Well worth a read.
Gong back to the Daleks, I’ve seen compost bins turned into them. Note to self – add this to the ‘weird’ list
Every so often I open my cupboard door, gaze in wonder at the craft stash contained therein and then close it shaking my head and wondering how it got so bad. A while back when I was doing this my eye fell on my knitting mill. I picked it out and sat down and had a bit of a think on how to use it – I’ve done all the usual things with it like make a coaster or embellish a sweater.
It came to me – why not use it to make garden ties? They would be strong enough to hold up even big shrubs (you could plait 3 together to make a super tie), there is enough elasticity in them so they won’t harm the plant and you could make them in green tones to blend in or go for a riot of rainbow colours to cheer up a bland winter garden.
They’ve been such a success that I’m now starting to knit a load for staking up plants on my allotment and maybe I can pass a few on to other allotment holders. It’s a great way to use up oddments of yarn and they last for ages. If you’ve got kids maybe you can get them crafting ties as well.
Daisy wasn’t available to pose this morning as she had a full diary, so here is little Poppy on her own looking cute in her sleep.
I thought I’d post the following while waiting for Spring to arrive…………
Like many 17 year old girls I used to cover my bedroom walls with posters of pop idols and the incredibly sexy Men from U.N.C.L.E but the day I heard “And in a dark brown voice she said “Lola”” they all came down and made way for the man whose words have had a lifelong influence on my life.
Those words of the now classic Lola flowed from the pen of singer songwriter Ray Davies one of the greatest social lyricists of our time.
His music influences came from the Blues, Country Jazz and his own sister who he idolised. She gave him his first guitar when he was 13 but she sadly died that same year. I think she would be proud at what he accomplished with that guitar.
He formed The Kinks with his brother Dave. He chose the name after he came across the word Kinky in an episode of The Avengers (I’d love to know what episode that was). In between famous fights on and off stage with his brother Ray penned songs that were timeless such as the iconic Waterloo Sunset and You Really Got Me. Although The Kinks had its share of screaming fans Ray never saw himself as a sex symbol although he did once have an affair with the lovely Chrissie Hynde.
Anything could spark a song from Ray, when he got annoyed with a fashion designer at a party who never stopped talking about clothes he went home and wrote Dedicated Follower of Fashion which lampooned the industry and its Carnabetian Army. It reached number 5 in the charts.
Probably one of his best known ‘social comment’ albums was Muswell Hillbillies released 45 years ago in November 1971. He wrote about the Demon Alcohol and Civil Servants in grey, both problems still relevant today. The front cover of the album featured the Kinks standing at the bar of the Archway Tavern in Hammersmith. This bar was like Mecca for me and I remember making a special trip to London to the bar to stand where my idol once stood. I expected to find several other fans all leaning nonchantly against the bar but sadly I was the only one. Still they did do a decent pint of Guinness there.
In later years Ray revisited his beloved America, the country that gave him his Blues influence. He is recorded as saying “Whenever you eat all alone, especially in New York, they give you the widower’s banquette – right in the corner all by yourself. One day I was at an Indian restaurant, and I was seated in the corner and getting no service. So I started taking notes and later told the waiter I was the restaurant critic for Time Out Magazine in London. They were very nice to me after that. If fact, I don’t think I even paid for the bill.”
That niceness was temporarily suspended when he was in New Orleans in 2004. He suffered a gunshot wound to the leg by a mugger who stole his girlfriend’s handbag. Ray chased him down the road. The mugger shot him, got in his car and drove off. Through a haze of morphine at the hospital afterwards Ray recounts how after showing him an Xray of his leg the Radiographer asked him for his autograph! Apparently celebrity trumps professionalism there.
2004 though was not all bad, leaning on a walking stick Ray went to Buckingham Palace to receive a CBE from the Queen for his services to the music industry.
And 12 years later he is still having a profound effect on the industry. Both Liam and Noel Gallagher cite him as one of their major influences as does Sting. He has collaborated with Crouch End Festival Chorus producing choral versions of his songs and created the critically well received musical ‘Sunny Afternoon’ playing currently in London and Brighton.
I’m pleased to say that I replaced the paper version of Ray with a real life sighting of the man. Living in Northern Ireland during the troubles not many bands came to perform there and it was only after I moved to England that I got the chance to see them live at our local concert venue. I couldn’t get anyone to come with me so I went alone and stood at the front 6 foot away from this eloquent musician I have idolised all my life and will continue to do so until I depart this world. No prizes for guessing what will be played at my funeral!
PS Since I wrote this post a few weeks ago the man has now been knighted!
Did I mention that as well as aiming to create a weird and wonderful allotment 2017 is also for me a “Buy Nothing But Experiences Year”. I’ve been reading loads of blogs of people who’ve successfully completed one of these years (spookily they’re usually women!).
My own self-imposed rules are –
Buy no stuff and that means clothes, books, sewing machines or 600mm prime camera lenses or Lear jets (new or secondhand).
Food is OK as without it I probably would not make it to February. I’m including coffees out as I like to write and eavesdrop in cafes.
Utilities and household running costs
No make-up, perfumes, lotions etc (I’m prepared to take the risk of scaring small children)
Experiences are allowed – I belong to a small group of friends who call ourselves The Extreme Day Trippers Club. We see how far we can get across Europe on a day return flight – we did Nice in the South of France in October and last month we got as far as Valencia in Spain (more on this in a future post).
Small experiences figure too like going to the local Seed Swap in February, attending a brilliant U3A Creative Writing course and I’m on the waiting list for a Beginners’ Watercolours Class.
I’m also not allowed to spend anything on my allotment as you’ve probably guessed.
Well, that little lot should keep me off the streets for a while.
I had a nice no spend thing at the weekend. I bitterly regret getting rid of my acoustic guitar a while back so I took a chance and asked for one on my local Freecycle network and lo and behold a lovely lady answered and I have a beautiful new guitar!
This is a pic of a little Fox cleaning up the remains left from Scavenger Cam on Simon King’s Wild Meadows nature reserve. Nothing is wasted here. Also a couple of Badgers on – you guessed it – Badger Cam!
I put a request out on my local Freecycle group for any spare flower and veggie seeds and look what a lovely generous Freecycler gave me yesterday!
I’ve never grown pumpkins but I’m definitely going to give them a try. Likewise with melons and beetroot.
The same Freecycler told me that my local allotment association holds a seed swap in early Spring so I’ll be loitering around there as well.
I’m now saving jam jars and plastic tubs for chutneys and seedlings. I’ve also just finished glueing 2 CDs back to back shiny side out and I’ve added rhinestones for extra light to bounce off it, should make a fun bird scarer unless of course they come along to admire it. Will be making a few more as soon as I beg more unwanted CDs.
I’m a big fan of Simon King’s wildlife cams at his home at Wild Meadows in Somerset. I love Scavenger Cam.
He feeds a pair of wild Buzzards with scraps from the local butcher or roadkill. I got this still from the cam on Friday.
Isn’t it a magnificent bird?
And this is Daisy trying to work out how a Buzzard got into my laptop.
My friend Stacey lent me an interesting book yesterday on crop circles.
They’re all UK based and there are some amazing intricate shapes. I wonder how they are done. I suppose if I read the book I’ll find out……or will I?
…for letting me pat and photograph their dogs. I spotted this little cutie on my walk along the beach this morning. Stunningly gorgeous in her fetching little red coat.
Love the red, white and blue trim. I reckon all the other dogs on the beach were just a tad jealous of her gear! Thank you to her owner who got her to take a minute out of romping around to stand still for a photo.
Further along the coastal path is a wooden gate with a hole cut at the side of it to allow dogs and very small ponies to pass through. I stood for ages waiting for a dog to pop through and was just beginning to give up when two ladies came along with their dogs. I explained what I was doing and they very kindly got both dogs to do a special ‘walk through’ for me.
It was such a lovely morning and there were loads of dogs being walked along the beach and plenty to pat (I am a professional dog patter you know!)
I better include a pic of my cats as I’ll get into trouble for posting so many doggie pictures. Here is a winter action shot of the pair of them.
I briefly popped over to the allotment to water my sweetpea seedlings and add some more pots to my growing collection in my little shed. My Japanese onions are growing well as well as a couple of unidentifiable shoots – possibly leeks – not sure. The soil is not hard yet so I might see if I can get that last quarter dug over before the big freeze sets in. I also want to put some manure over the plot as well, but I’ll take things easy as I don’t want to put my back out again!
Happy New 2017, to me really as I am probably the only one reading this blog!
As there is nothing really going on on my allotment I thought I would take you on a tour of the other plots. And also to show you my latest harvest which consists primarily of one hard potato dug up a couple of weeks ago! Here is the little darling – totally inedible of course.
I thought this was a brilliant shed – the ‘wheels’ are made from pie dishes with a circle painted round them. Very effective and clever.
This is fabulous too – modern art on the allotment!
Two pumpkins together on a love seat!
And here we have my Japanese Onions poking their little shoots above the soil. My first produce!
A bit more cleared – I’ve removed the rubbish from my allotment and I’m now in the process of digging the whole thing over and also getting rid of the rotting wood of the raised beds just in front of my shed. I’ve pruned (brutally, according to some other allotment owners) the two apple trees and a gooseberry bush in front of them. There was so much rubbish in front of them that until I cleared it I didn’t realise I actually had 2 apple trees and the gooseberry bush. I’m currently waiting on a pruning saw from the allotment association so I can “brutally” prune the pear tree. I’ve also discovered some rhubarb so that’s going to get moved down in front of the fruit trees at the bottom of my plot as that whole area will be for fruit. In fact I think I’m going to be more of a fruit girl than a veggie girl.
When I’ve finished the digging over and soil conditioning – that’s muck spreading in reality I’ll work out what will go where. I have to say I will buck the trend of straight lines and hope to make my plot curvaceous. The centre will be marked by a tall wigwam supporting sweetpeas of course and there will be a whirly thing of some type at the top with cds hanging off it. They’ll be glued back to back so they will be shiny on both sides and then I’ll hotfix rhinestones on to them in flower shapes. I have this idea of rescuing hub caps from the side of the road and adorning them the same way and fixing them to the bottom of my shed to give the impression of wheels. There’ll be cup and saucer bird feeders hanging from the shed as well. I’ve read the terms and conditions and I think I can only have an above the ground pond but no matter I do intend to have one near the shed with a little flat gravelled area beside it so in the summer I can put a chair (upcycled of course) on it and enjoy cool summer drinks and entertain passing allotment owners. Hopefully I’ll acquire an “eccentric” reputation.
I may be asking for cordless power tools for Christmas, it’s Black Friday tomorrow so I might have a look online first. Power drill, jigsaw, screwdriver and maybe a little lawnmower for keeping the paths trimmed. I met my immediate neighbour the other day, a lovely lady who is into eco gardening as well, her dream is to one day come down early to her plot and cook and eat breakfast there. I hope she gets to do it and I get an invite.
I’ve just sowed my Sweetpeas into cardboard toilet roll inners and popped them into an empty ice cream carton.
More to add as soon as I can use up more loo roll (gulp).
…….of this blog I will be writing about progress on my new allotment. I finally got to the top of the 2 year waiting list for one and now I have the pleasure of weeding and pruning and removing a load of rubbish!
I took these pictures on the day I signed for it.
I plan to grow a lot of Sweetpeas and if I can get permission I’d like a couple of beehives on it as well.
I’ve got a few other interests to keep me going when the weather is too grotty for working on it – they are briefly
Learning to Scuba Dive
Diving with Sharks
A love of Oceanic Wildlife
Figuring out how to customize WordPress
…..and last but not least, a good drop of Bushmills Whiskey!
I reckon that should keep me off the streets for a while!