Tuesday, 31 December 2013

New year, new start.

I don't do resolutions as such. I tend to forget what I had hoped to change. However for some reason 2014 seems a better prospect for me so whilst we have no resolutions Mike & I have made some promises to ensure we have a better year than last.

I do love the idea of a date night, however we still have a 12 year old at home & he would be horrified at thought of having  a baby sitter. We are getting around this by having  a date lunch as often as we can. Monday tends to be the best time for this as Harry is in school, so if Mike happens to be nights which happens from time to time & Sunday & Mondays are my days off work.

Garden shows - We are going to the Tatton Park & the Southport garden shows 2014 & I am very much looking forward to them.

Mike has promised me my chickens next year so that will be happening & I have promised myself lots more time in the garden, Mike has promised himself much more fishing so that will be a nice balance.

Mike spent some time in the garden today mainly emptying the greenhouse. I had spotted the bird seed on the greenhouse floor yesterday  morning. After Mike had emptied the pots on the compost heap he moved one of the bird seed bags. The blinking thing was full of field mice. Well they have now been deposited outside & will have to disperse elsewhere. An orgy of sorts must have been going on for ages as Mike said there were loads of the little blighters & there were lots of tiny new born mice. I did feel a little sad but not too much.

While Mike was out in the garden the postman brought me a couple of seed catalogues. I spent a few hours daydreaming as I waited for Miss Marple to start.

All the best for 2014 & as always enjoy your day.

Monday, 30 December 2013

Making a start

Today was surprisingly sunny and bright. It was nice enough to tempt Mike into the garden so we made a start on making the veg plot more respectful.

The compost heap which had spread itself over two raised beds has been turned & is in a nice neat pile. It has been topped with weeds & old plant matter, we also poured out the remains of some of the pots.

The soil was lightly dug over in the hope of giving the birds a feast. I do hope we exposed plenty of overwintering gooseberry sawfly larvae. The currants & gooseberries were infested with them last year. As well has forking the soil over weekly for the next few months I hall be investing in some of that Nemys stuff to spray over the bushes when the time is right.

I had hoped to make a start on the front garden tomorrow, however the weather doesn't look to promising though it does give a clearer out look for the afternoon. We shall see. I need to get the front cleared ready for my edible hedge. I have seen the one I want, a little too many plants but after looking at other sites it is the best value & gives me all of the varieties I was after. The lovely Mike is buying it as a valentines present, not that we tend to celebrate such things but as he wants a new fishing reel it seems a good idea for 2014.

Enjoy your day


Friday, 27 December 2013

Books

I hope you all had a fabulous Christmas, mine was lovely. I received some wonderful books. In all honesty Mike wouldn't have a clue which books to buy me. I could give him a list & he would buy them, but, it would be at full price where as I prefer a bargain. So I order them.

I got -


This really is a lovely book, right down my street. It has a lovely chatty feel to it, probably more a girlie book but that suits me fine as I live in a male dominated household. It also has some good tips in it.


This book is based on a blog of the same name, I saw it in a magazine & thought then that I would love to have it for Christmas. With having such a small plot I thought it would contain some tips. It doesn't, it is still a nice read though.



I feel the tingle in my bones that 2014 is going to be a good year for me, I have more time & money available to devote to the garden. So I would like to put my harvests to good use. Unlike the men in my life I prefer to eat less meat & this has some lovely recipes in it.



I have all of Nigel Slaters books, I love his style of writing. My very favourite books are Tender volumes I & II, I also love The Kitchen Diaries almost as much.


I have looked at these books on & off for a while. Mike went ahead & bought them as a gift off Harry. They really are very well written books. There were 10 paperback books in a strong cardboard slip case & they really are great. There are I think three more titles to buy, one of them is on Curing & Smoking which will be released in February 2014. I shall be pre ordering as well as buying the remaining two.

I love books, I have bookcases full of the things, it drives Mike mad but I couldn't give two hoots. Someone bought me a kindle & it is still empty. If it smelt like a book I might use it but it doesn't so I wont.

Enjoy your day

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Merry Christmas & other bits & bats.

Just popping on to wish you all a nearly belated Merry Christmas, I do hope you all have a lovely day. It is a great shame to read of the awful weather conditions some people are experiencing so close to Christmas.

I know you have all posted Merry Christmas messages on your blogs & I haven't left any comments. I have been in work the last couple of days & cant really log onto a blog there. I am working today also but have logged on at home.

Mike is currently wrestling the turkey & ham into the oven, that is a bit of a white lie as I am blessed with a huge range cooker so could in fact wrestle the whole lanes in if need be. He was actually trying to wrestle both meats into roasting tins. The effect is the same.

Due to the issues with my dad lately & him being in hospital & me only having Christmas day off this year Mike has been left with most of the responsibility for Christmas.

Needless to say he is writing out Christmas cards as I type, I have nothing fizzy to drink tomorrow morning & no quality streets. Who on earth heard of a Christmas without quality streets! More importantly we are all safe & secure, we have plenty of food & everyone has presents. It isn't a whinge it really isn't I know I am blessed to be in the position I am in, it is more of one of those things to talk about in years to come. Family trivia if you like. He also forgot to buy presents for our godson & his siblings so that made a shopping trip necessary last night.

2013 has just been such a unique year for us & one I don't really want repeated, it topped it off nicely last night when returning to the car in the hospital car park after visiting my dad & finding another car directly in the back of Mikes. A 30 minutes wait for the owner to return, a sight I wont forget is that poor man pointing his keyring in the direction of where he thought his car was & then suddenly seeing it in the back of ours.

No major damage but some work is necessary, so Mike is also having fun sorting that out too this morning.

Truth be told Mike is now driving me mad, he is asking the names of people in the lane to write their cards out. Roll on 5pm so I can pour a gin, I really don't think I can wait that long.

Enjoy your Christmas xx

Friday, 20 December 2013

Edible hedging?

Apart from a big tidy up the back garden will be pretty much sorted next year. When I say tidy up I really mean the paths around the vegetable garden need to be finished, one will be slightly extended & more slate chippings will be added. The one at the back will have the bark topped up one the raspberry canes started growing.

The raspberry canes will be one of the first jobs of 2014. I will cut them right back. Apart from the small growing space being the main reason for Autumn fruiting raspberries the ease of which you can look after them was another factor.

No tying them in & sorting old canes from new canes, getting yourself covered in scratches as you would with summer fruiting ones. No the autumn fruiting ones you cut down to the ground in January & they start growing again on the spring. Fabulous!

I want to turn the front garden into a more useful space next year. Not veggie orientated but fruity bits for me & the wildlife & some wildlife friendly flowers.

I'm thinking of an elder or two to go with the crab apple tree, a couple of wild ( as small as I can get) roses for rose hips, another holly, honeysuckle & a couple of hazels.

I can then add some bulbs & things at the bottom along with some wild garlic. That's the plan anyway.

As I said to Mike I couldn't give two hoots what it looks like from the lane, we live at the end of it & there is a similar looking creation not too far away which I have always been rather jealous of.

Also I think it would be lovely to take myself off for a lazy ramble at the end of the working day, old trousers, jacket hat & basket the lot.

Enjoy your day

Thursday, 19 December 2013

On a roll & a bit of fun

It has been yonks since I posted so many times over a matter of days & I'm rather enjoying myself. In between perusing sites for veggie things to grow next year I remembered Victoriana Nursery . They do such a wide selection of plants & everything seems to be a reasonable price. I have never ordered from them before though I have looked at the site often. Upon searching yesterday I cam upon these rather fun looking things -

Cauliflower Plant 'Cut 'n' Come Again'

Image of Cauliflower Cc



Brassica oleracea 'Nine Star Perennial'

  • Excellent flavour.
  • Custard yellow in colour.
  • Tennis ball size caulis.


Supplied as compost block grown plants.






Anyone have any experience? You have to order five of them which is a little too much for the space I have. I do however want to turn the front garden into a wildlife friendly space next year & these are ideal  for wildlife so I could put two or three there for that purpose. Naturally the ones for the wildlife wouldn't need to be netted, the ones for me will be as secure as Fort Knox.  The fruit bed also contains asparagus & globe artichokes so these would fit into the perennial theme quite well. 
They also do a selection of mixed sprouting broccoli & cabbage plants which I also may order, I think that would suit me down to the ground. 
Onto the fun thing, I have seen this on a few blogs over the last couple of days & it has tickled me immensely, I love all things Christmas & currently live in a house that looks like a sweet shop has exploded, I cant tell you how thrilled I am to have my own Elf name, I am also taking it into work tomorrow to find out everyone else's.

I am now known as Puddin Pickle-Pants - enjoy your day.

Elf-Name-Generator








They


Wednesday, 18 December 2013

New things



I was perusing the Moreveg site yesterday & added both the yellow & purple French beans to my basket. I also had a good look through the site & like a kid in a sweet shop I was eagerly adding more & more to my bag. By the end of it my basket total was approx £17.50, I haven't looked at the flower seeds yet so the amount may - sorry scratch that - will be a touch higher.

As well as the beans I also added some green sprouting broccoli & some white sprouting broccoli, a selection of lettuces, lots of different herbs & for something completely new - Seakale.
seakale
Allegedly it is supposed to have a nutty taste & although it grows wild by the seaside it is a protected species so no picking allowed.

You blanch it before eating so I might buy a terracotta forcer as I have seen them for around £20-£30 at a local garden centre, to me that seems a reasonable price. I could use an old bucket but if I'm going to the trouble of having coloured beans in the garden in for a penny in for a pound they say.

Anyway from what I have found out so far that a couple of spades of grit at planting time & pruning down to the ground in the autumn it seems pretty easy to care for.

Enjoy your day

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Legumes 2014

Thank you for your comments yesterday, you are all very sweet & kind people & it was very touching & quite needed. A boost if you like for the days to come.

I am now planning next years vegetables & judging  by the large amount of seeds in my two containers I am not going to get away with ordering veg plants.

I am a terrible old scrooge at heart, with myself mind, I love buying things for other people though I do like to get a bargain & never pay full price if I can help it. Mike calls me tight fisted & is not impressed by the fact I have told him to wait until after Christmas (which he wont) to buy the shoes that I like because they may be a touch cheaper. I also love getting books for Christmas, (much, much reduced from the fourteen last year, it surprised me as much as Mike the amount I opened) the three I have chosen this year from Mike I ordered myself I always do as he would pay full price where as I google & saved a wad of cash.

Anyway I have been perusing the bean seeds for next year & I am not sure if they have risen dramatically in price or I lost my mind in the previous years as they all seem so expensive. Perhaps they only seem so expensive as I only want about 5 or 6 of each. A small plot you see.

The plan I have for next year consists of Runner beans - St George or which I have in stock, Purple podded mange toute - in stock. I may grow some peas too, I dislike peas greatly but Mike rather likes them, these would be more of a nibble for him in the garden than using in the kitchen. I certainly haven't & wouldn't have the space to grow them en mass. Broad beans because I love them & have the seeds in my tubs.

Here comes my predicament I want to grow three varieties of French beans, to save space I am thinking of the climbing variety. When I say variety really I mean colour, I want a mix of purple, yellow & green. I know they pretty much turn green when cooked but I want the garden to look pretty you see.

The tight fisted part of me refuses to allow me to buy climbing green beans as I have dwarf ones - Speedy in stock (I sound like a shop) so they will be used & grown in tubs rather than the main patch.

So I need to buy two packets of seeds yellow & purple but I will need to spend approx £6 which I am not too happy about, if I had an allotment I think I would be happier about the cost but really at the moment it is about 60p per seed.

This is probably the reason why Mike buys most things as he hates my cry of "How much?" when we are out shopping. I am however more than happy to skip around at Christmas & buy everyone's presents, at a suitable price of course.

Enjoy your day

Monday, 16 December 2013

Peeved

Another extended blog absence. In part due to the lack of gardening action, the main reason being my dad is back in hospital. He fell down the stairs. There doesn't appear to be any serious damage done, however he is old & frail & we are still waiting for test results to come back. He is also refusing to leave (not that he is at discharge stage yet) anyway.

Blogland is a wonderful place & it us easy to get away from the trials & tribulations of everyday life. Mine like most that I follow are gardening blogs & while we mainly blog about gardening, there are always snippets of everyday life.

My parents dislike each other greatly & have done for pretty much of their married life. Whilst my childhood wasn't filled with the horrors that other people had, it wasn't a particularly nice one, nor for my siblings either. My parents are not interested when each other are ill & expect us to deal with any problems.

We genuinely struggle to look back & find a particularly happy time. There are plenty of ok times but we were loved with conditional love not the unconditional love that my sister & I lavish on our children, (the kind that children should be brought up with).

This isn't a post for sympathy it truly isn't needed, it is what it is, nothing more nothing less. My love of gardening & cooking came from my dad & from tales of the past one of my great grandfathers was a tailor, so perhaps that why I like sewing & crafty things.

I have spent the past four years dealing with my dads blindness & various other problems. This year has been horrendously bad with him. He is such a rude & difficult man & this has been the worse he has ever been & that is truly saying something. The waves of sympathy that we receive when we sit by his hospital bed are quite touching.

I have always strived to be the opposite of my parents which is quite sad when you think about it, though at the moment it is my sister that I feel more sorry for.

Her best friends dad is in hospital (the same as my dad) who sadly is very nearly at the end of his life. We all grew up together & this gentleman lives two doors away from my parents.  My sister would very dearly love to be there for her friend at this difficult time, however she is stuck, like me with a genuinely miserable, grouchy, rude & obnoxious man who tells everyone that he wishes he was dead. It is so sad to see someone struck down with an illness that will take his life & yet there is a man like my dad who refuses to give anything.

Social services are involved & he has refused every offer of help as he is adamant he needs to be in a home & that he shouldn't have to pay for anything. In all honesty they have been fantastic with him & offered everything they possibly could do & he has turned them down at every stage.

Anyway I could go on & on, it really isn't the place to do so, the battle between himself & social services will continue, my life will be different next year as I have pretty much wiped by hands of dealing with him which is also quite sad but needs must, I'm certainly not putting my relationship with Mike & the kids at risk, something needs to give & unfortunately it is my dad, you can't help anyone who refuses help.

Back to normal blogging & comments tomorrow about beans for next year, I'm off now to book a dentist check-up for the youngest & to pay some money into the eldest student bank account. Silly boy had a letter to say he had gone over his overdraft amount (only just) & now he has charges until it his back at the level he should be. When we enquired as to why he had spent so much, he said he didn't want to bother us for money to pay a deposit for next years student house whilst dealing with his granddad & did it himself. Like I said something has to give.

Have a good day

Friday, 6 December 2013

Over for now

Well the flood never reached the area where I live, thankfully. The river however did breach its banks & there have been some awful photographs.

The river is fairly close to where I live & from what I remember of childhood walks only about 10 minutes away on foot. I live in the same area that I grew up in you see so remember quite well.

Anyway thankfully I live at the end of the lane away from the main road, which is then separated by fields a small industrial estate & a large river bank. I have seen photographs of the fields the opposite side of the river which are completely submerged. However I don't believe any houses or businesses in the local area to be affected which is good news.

Further up the coast didn't fair too well at all & have been affected very badly.

The gales caused the most damage here. Not structurally for which I am always grateful for. However the winds were strong enough to pick up pots from the garden. These pots were filled with wet compost so would have had a fair bit of weight to them Naturally the garden furniture followed them.

Thankfully we came through it unscathed & thank you for your comments too.

Anyone else struggling with blogging about their garden at this time of year. Apart from a few parsnips in the ground & a loose compost heap to re assemble my garden is looking a little bleak.

Take care xx

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Sand bags at the ready

Goodness I do hope everyone is safe out there today & tomorrow. We had a bit of a Peter Kay moment last night. The phone rang & the three of us looked at each other & said "Who is that". The phone call was ignored but when the same number tried again a few minutes later we answered it.

We are, so the flood agency stated, at risk from flooding today due to a tidal surge. I sort of forgot about it when I woke up this morning, the sound & speed of the wind concerned me far more. Especially when I saw the majority of my loose compost heap fly past the kitchen window this morning. I soon remembered after I peered out of the sitting room window & looked at the cottage across the road. It is heavily guarded by numerous sand bags!!

Anyway "you pays your money & take your chances" so the saying goes. I have far  more pressing concerns, the lovely Mike is a lorry driver & I would far sooner have him home safe & deal with a flooded house than the alternative. I always worry when we have gales when he is out driving.

I went on a quick visit to my mums this morning. I had offered to walk Harry to the bus stop & wait with him in the wind. This was met with gasps of horror from my 12 year old, the poor boy ran when I left the house with him. I'm not sure if it was the gust of wind that nearly took me off my feet  or the sigh of relief from the boy when we took different directions. I am rather glad he had a heavy pe bag in his ruck sack this morning.

Anyway I am under my crocheted blanket (made by me) & sat by a twinkly Christmas tree drinking coffee with a splash of advocaat. Mike has phoned (the time is nearly here of the surge) to tell me not to try & save the Christmas trees if the flood does rush down the lane. I must admit I had made plans to do so.