Friday, 27 April 2007

Allotment Gardening

I paid my allotment rent last weekend, £3 for the year for a plot that we've worked out to be about 160 square yards. Its such a bargain.

This is the 11th year I've had the plot and so by now I have had successes and failures and have settled to growing what grows well and maybe trying something new each year. My staples are leeks, parsnips, perpetual spinach for harvesting during the winter and broad beans, courgettes, butternut squash, onions, sugar snap peas and a few potatoes for the summer. I also have fruit bushes, blackcurrants, redcurrants, gooseberries and also rhubarb. That just about fills up the space.

Things I've tried and given up on include carrots as we have very gravelly soil and by the time they have split and suffered from carrot fly then there isn't much left although I have planted just a few seeds of a resistant variety this year. I also stopped growing things like purple sprouting broccoli which take up a lot of space for a long time.
This year the new things I'm trying are Pak Choi which will need netting as the pigeons are starting to eat it as soon as it germinates and dwarf french beans. I used to grow runner beans but they were either eaten by deer or the beanpoles were smashed by vandals so I'm hoping that dwarf beans might be the answer if I can just discourage the deer.
Everything is coming on well in this warm weather, now all we need is some rain.

Monday, 23 April 2007


Photographs from our Sunday morning stroll through a local bluebell wood.

The bluebells are out early this year and they looked and smelt absolutely perfect. I wish there was some way I could upload the fragrance!

Friday, 20 April 2007

busy, busy, busy...slow.

Busy, busy, busy. Isn't amazing how you can slow down for the holidays and then within a week of starting the new school term the old routines become so automatic once again that you almost forget the holiday.

In an effort to keep a little more of a relaxed lifestyle I have been doing some yoga outside of my weekly lesson. I go to a yoga class in our village hall once a week and after each lesson feel calm and relaxed and I fully intend to practice at home. However up until now this just hasn't happened, there always seems to be something I should be doing which my mind considers to be more important. During the last couple of weeks I've managed a couple of half hour yoga sessions at home usually when the rest of the family is watching TV. It is supposed to take three weeks to form a habit and already I find I am looking forward to relaxing on my own so I'm hoping that this will just become part of my routine.

I've also been reading about meditation which has always seemed a bit of a mystery to me. I read that a good way to start a meditation practice is to sit anywhere quietly for just five minutes and concentrate on breathing slowly and evenly. I decided that a place that I am always sitting for at least five minutes is in the car in the station car park waiting to collect my son from the train each school day. The car park is quiet in the late afternoon so when I arrive instead of listening to the radio, reading a book and knitting (usually all at once) I have been sitting quietly counting my breath. I've found that after about five minutes when I stop, I no longer want to read or listen to the radio, I just knit quietly letting my thoughts wander so I think it must be having a quietening effect on my mind. I hope this will become a habit too.

Monday, 16 April 2007

Weather Forcasting?

"When the oak comes before the ash,
Then be ready for a splash.
When the ash before the oak,
Then be ready for a soak."



Looks like summer will be a splash then- pity we could do with the rain.

Sunday, 15 April 2007

In the garden

We are in the middle of a heatwave here, 24C today, and we've spent most of the weekend in the garden. I am always like this when the first really warm weather starts, breakfast, lunch and dinner all eaten outside.

I spent time at my allotment yesterday and planted my potatoes. I only plant a few potatoes as I am always short of space. My allotment is actually a half plot and measures 5 pole. I've never really been sure how big a pole is but a fellow allotment holder told me yesterday that one pole is 32.5 square yards so I suppose that means I have around 160 square yards. As each plot is surrounded by a grass path and I have paths within mine to create 4ft beds the area left for planting is quite a bit less than that. Still two rows of potatoes, Estima and Isle of Jura.

Back at home I have some early potatoes planted on pots.

I haven't tried this before but it looks as if it could be successful. Three tubers per pot planted about a month ago. I've had to cover them a few times to protect them from frost but they survived that and are growing well.

Lots of other gardening jobs got completed, pruning the early flowering shrubs, taking cuttings from some of the overwintered geraniums and of course lots of weeding. After all that I felt quite justified in spending a couple of hours sat on a rug under the apple tree reading, knitting and drinking tea. A good weekend.

Thursday, 12 April 2007

Thinking Slowly

Trying to live more slowly is proving difficult for me as not rushing means doing less and then getting stressed over things left undone - not the calm situation I was hoping for.

I've been reading a bit about yoga, meditation, mindfulness and think I perhaps need to change my mental attitude to rushing. I am an enthusiastic list maker and those lists that don't get written down are always whirring around inside my head and stopping me concentrating on what I'm actually doing. So while I will still try to physically slow down a little, I am now trying to give a bit more attention to what I'm actually doing in any given moment instead of mentally organising the future.

Today I had to drive my husband into town for a business meeting at 7:30am. Our youngest son came with me and we took a short detour to a local nature reserve on the way back.

This lake is really near the motorway and there was a constant roar of traffic but in the midst of that it was still very peaceful. So this is what I'm aiming for, moments of calm within the rushing and busy-ness.

Sunday, 8 April 2007

A Spring Walk

I heard on the news that during the Easter weekend which is the busiest UK travel weekend, 2.5 million people will be flying abroad. Out of a population of 60 million that just seems a huge number - just imagine the number of flights, the number of aircraft that must exist to carry all those people over the space of just a few days. Anyway we stayed at home ( we haven't even used the car for the past two days) and have enjoyed very warm sunny spring weather.

This morning we walked on local footpaths to the nearby village of Silchester which was an important Roman Settlement. Most of the roman town walls and the amphitheatre are still standing. The modern day village stands outside the old walls but the village church is within them.

The amphitheatre - built approx 50-75 AD.

Roman town walls

Also a couple of "non-roman" photos from our walk.

A very cute alpaca

Some larch cones just because I like their colour!

Thursday, 5 April 2007

Winter knitting

During a week of some exceptionally high temperatures I have finally finished knitting a chunky aran-weight cardigan! It has been T-shirt weather here today but the evenings and nights are still cold so I will probably get an opportunity to wear it before the warm weather is here to stay.

This idea behind this project was to use up left over wool so I gathered a mixture of odd balls together and made a multicoloured cardigan. I downloaded the pattern from here.

Some of the wool was aran weight but most of it was Shetland 2ply jumper weight used double. I had quite a lot of oddments from a couple of fair isle projects.

I am reasonably pleased with the finished cardigan. Its the first top down garment I have knitted and it was good not to have to do any sewing. The one thing I would change if I knit it again would be to knit the button and buttonhole bands afterwards instead of all in one go. I used rib and it made the edges very stretchy. I haven't put any buttons on yet until I work out how to make the edges firmer and somehow tighten/shorten the edges so that the fronts are the same length as the back.

The weather is forecast to be fine and warm for the next few days so we are set for a good holiday weekend. Enjoy the holiday/Easter break.

Tuesday, 3 April 2007


I took this picture yesterday. It was a really warm summy day and all the flowers were wide open. Celandines are one of my favourite wild flowers and I allow them to take over parts of the garden. The dark leaved one and the pale cream one are cultivated varieties but they are being squeezed out by the wild ones. I have been hoping that by some miracle of cross pollination I might get a dark leaved one with pale flowers which would make me a fortune but I don't think thats going to happen!

Sunday, 1 April 2007

Slowing down

I find it very difficult to slow down as I am one of those people who likes to be doing something the whole time. This week however I am going to make a determined effort to live more slowly.

On a working day our alarm clock goes off at 6:15 and I get up and get busy. This week the boys are on school holidays and my husband is away working in the States for a week, so no alarm clock is needed and no rush to get up. The plan is to get up when we wake up and just concentrate on doing things one at a time without clock watching. Taking and picking up from school at different times on different days means I am always looking at the clock but this week there will be no imposed timetable.

To be honest teenagers are already pretty slow in school holidays anyway, in fact it seems to take quite an effort to prevent them remaining horizontal most of the day so perhaps its only me that needs to slow down!