Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Signs

I took myself off for a while on Saturday, as I always try to do ~ spend time out in the field and let chats happen whilst I take photos. I really am trying to be more socialable and fight my anxieties tooth and nail. Sometimes it works and I come back to my plots feeling better and a little proud at my efforts; sometimes it doesn't go well and I come back a nervous wreck and end up going home. Depends on the day.

It went well on Saturday, I did have a terrible panic attack down there, but that happened later in the day. I am rigid with fear when I can't find someone and he's just dandered off for half an hour with out telling me ~ You know who you are!!!

Anyway my trip was inspired by our new nextdoor neighbours sign (A24B). It was so beautiful and unsual that I decided to take a walk and do a personal art tour of other peoples' plot number signs. I think it turned out to quite interesting and said a lot about the people who owned that plot (arty, practical, economical, kids on site...)



Here's our 2 - what it says about me? I like colour, smashing up tiles and have too much time on my hands, hahaha.

This is my first ever attempt at a meme with the aid of Mr. Linky, which friends like VP and May Dreams Gardens use. I would love it if you joined in, bascially and honestly, because I'm dead nosey! I would love to see your plot number/house number sign. Just a close up, no worries about me coming to steal your garden, honestly!!! ;)



Mr Linky has failed me, or maybe I failed it, I didn't want to pay for his services. Everything bar this particular bloggette went missing eeekkk! So if you would like to help me be as nosey as possible and share your number please just leave a link in the comments box. If not, well we live and learn....... (shy smile)

Monday, 29 June 2009

Gooseberry Fools

Our gooseberries were ripe and ready for the picking on Saturday. I got the job, aow! darn thorny plant. It's the first time it has given us a berry and we did really rather well; I'm always surprised that these very cheap plants, bought in a discount shop (Poundstretcher) can do so well. Apart from my arms still looking all scratched and blotchy, the exercise was one of joy and pride. Though our other red gooseberry bush still resolutely refuses to bear fruit (cheeky), it gave us 1 last year which we shared, haha.


So this was our haul of berries, check out that bumper crop of Blackcurrants (I think there were 22 of them)!

Back home and as usual we can't hold our water. The gooseberries had to be used right there and then. Neither of us had ever really tasted green ones before, well Andrew did decide to eat one raw and his face was a picture I think his tongue shrink up whilst stuck to the roof of his mouth and his cheeks.

We decided to make Gooseberry Fool. Well, our own versions of it. There was a lovely recipe on Retro Food Recipes but Andrew's creative chef side came to fore and the magic began to happen.....

So here is our recipe for the gooseberry treatment:

  • 440g gooseberries + some blackcurrants (washed, topped and tailed)

  • plonk into a small saucepan with 2 tablespoons of castor sugar and 2 tablespoons of water
  • put the lid on the saucepan and heat until squishy (approx 10 mins)

  • sieve fruit, really squishing them hard through the mesh (good for anger management)

  • add more castor sugar to taste (we added 100g)

Pretty colour, no? That's the blackcurrants for you

Basically this is a runny warm gooseberry jam. I suppose if you added a little more pectin you could easily store it in a jar but, well, again, we can't hold our waters! We poured some into a bowl each and put some (low fat, may-as-well-be-good-for-you) cream on top and added some much underrated sprinkles. Andrew also had some strawberries. Eh, viola, dish number one. Gorgeous!

I like low fat cream okay!


Then we had that look at each other, you know the one ~ the slightly guilty "I want more, do you; cause I will if you will" look. We did. And so to the kitchen again for dish number two. This time (against my better judgement) I let Andrew mix the cream and the rest of the jammy mixture together to make a proper 'fool' (it wasn't broke, so why fix it?!!). It wasn't as nice, though he added muesli to his and maybe more strawberries and thought it lovely. I had just settled for sprinkles again.

So there you go, what an exciting experience. May your gooseberries be plump and juicy and may you too enjoy them, whatever you decide to do with them! xx

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Allotments are hell on earth?!

BBC Reporter Paul Reynolds takes an alternative view of Allotments. All I can say is everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
I do not share his....
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/8119428.stm

I have just written a reply in fact. Heavily, unrelentingly, biased reporting does nothing for me.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Aaaarrrgggghhhhh!!!!!

My bloody hay fever is terrible today; my face is puffy, my eyes are full of gunk and are so sore and red. I can't stop bloody sniffing and almost but never actually sneezing. The roof of my mouth is itchy darn it and I can't concentrate for a minute. I am finding it hard to see in general and can barely keep these peepers open for long. Why Mother Nature, why do this to me!!!!!!

It's taken ages to write this because I keep forgetting what I want to say and it's hard to type with your eyes all screwed up and blurry. Oh, I'm off to weep uncontrollably, inconsolably and quietly in a corner with my favourite blanket (blanky) :(

Hope you are all well and enjoying the sunshine!!! May you choke as you skip merrily in the long flowing grass chasing butterflies.....(only joking!)

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

So then, the AGM.... (plus Andrew is 30 today!)

First of...
HAPPY 30TH BIRTHDAY ANDREW!!!!
BIG HUGS AND KISSES XXX

Oh, it's such a beautiful day today, the sun is bursting and there is just the slightest comfortable breeze off the sea. Heavenly. I wish I was outside writing this in the back garden but my hay fever meds from the Dr take a week to kick in and I only got them on Monday - no fair! Plus there are people mowing their grass and making it even worse - how rude!!!

So I want to tell you about our AGM last night. Officially you could say it was the 1st one, as last year there were only a few of us and now our number has about trebled! Of course it was held on the most glorious of nights and we should all have been tending our plots but such is life.

I was both happy and as usual, disappointed at the turn out. A lot more people than usual gathered (but then again we are a bigger group) but it was still only a fraction of our number. We (after much confusion and changing of the constitution to fit our needs better) elected our new committee members. We have 16 this year as opposed the the 10 we had before. I think it's probably a good idea; little sub groups can be made to focus on certain tasks and more voices = more opinions, ideas and hopefully fair decision making.
We chose our 4 main guys:
  • Chairperson ~ Ronnie
  • Vice Chairperson ~ Mel
  • Secretary~ Austin
  • Treasurer ~ Ivan.
Then there are the other 12 (including the Hubby).
Personally I think we have a good bunch of people and I wish them all the luck in the world. Red tape is my mortal enemy and they are going to have to deal with yards of it! A spiders web.r

The meeting somewhat descended into chaos and a shouting match, reminiscent of a school playground. Many people started to get, umm, passionate and this came across as anger and almost a bullying undertone began against our allotment council official. I'm afraid to say it was all very embarrassing and quite childish. We were all there to work together and make this the best Allotments we can and sometimes passions run so high we lose sight of the joy that we have an allotment in the first place. Yes, most of the arguments and comments were valid but I believe a calm head is required at these meetings or progress will never happen. Plus, there is no excuse for bullying at any time what so ever, no matter how frustrated we may get.

Anyway, the tensions calmed down and now we have some very confusing and upsetting questions cleared up and I think everyone left the meeting feeling a bit better and maybe reassured. Mistakes have been made by the council but they excepted that and no one is being evicted as they had feared. Mistakes have been made on our part too and I think, I hope we have a clean slate now.

Next event we have to look forward to is the family fun day and I know we'll all work together for that. We all care about our plots, we all care, that's the important thing.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Gnomes ~ the Marmite of the gardening world

Love them or hate them, gnomes are everywhere and it looks like it's going to stay that way. The RHS high ranking officers and indeed all known members are likely to be feeling sick right now and many of those who have passed away will of course be spinning in their graves. I may even get hit by lightening for what I am about to say.......I like gnomes.

Yes, it is a painful truth. I find them funny, I have brought one in the past (for purely ironic reasons) and for Andrew's 30th birthday party bbq on Saturday he was given 4, yes 4 gnomes as presents. We can both see the humorous, ridiculous nature of these strange little men who guard our plants with their lives when we aren't looking, so we took the presents with the spirit they were intended - to be silly.

I do have to say though, I am rather taken with 'Gavin', he with the orange hat and leaf rake, he's staying in the back garden. By the way, we were forced by this tipsy gift giver to name the gnome before he went home; Andrew came up with a wick name, I came up with Gavin and it seemed to go down much better to the drunken mind of our friend!

Think what you will be they are there on the plot (and in the back garden), they're queer and they're proud.

The birthday bbq was scheduled to be held at the Lottie but the weather was so bad (especially the wind down there) we had to abandon ship and take the party home to the back garden. It actually turned out much better ~ we ended up with 3 bbqs going at the same time, a lot of other food stuffs and seemingly millions of bottles of wine, schloer, water, coke (in all sorts of guises - coke zero, diet coke, regular coke and a tin of Jack Daniels with coke!!) fanta and beer. I was able to have a proper moment where I got everyone together and we sang to Andrew, popped party poppers, he blew out his candles and champagne was opened. It was fun sitting in the garden under a gazebo, surrounded by tea lights in tiny terracotta pots, with balloons everywhere, wrapped in blankets and a fire going in a brazier. Especially with the Hubby sitting there wearing the big flashing badge I bought him, just to remind him he's old now, hahahaaha.

*****

Tonight is the AGM, I am not looking forward to it, I think some people may lose their cool, eeekk! Plus today is the nicest day we have had in a long time and we're going to be stuck in a meeting all night, why does that have to happen???

Friday, 19 June 2009

Super duper happy

HAPPY NEWS!!

I've been published, sort of. The fabulous people at the charity Mind have added my essay on ecotherapy to their website under 'Ecominds' and the 'Mental health and the environment' section. (You can read it here too). I can barely believe it; I don't feel like a total failure right now ~ I have been able to turn my depression and anxiety into something positive. Who knows, someone might just read it and think 'I'll give gardening a go' and it may help them too. Wow, you can't begin to understand how good this feels AND my Hubby has said how super duper proud of me, he is, he even made up a song. Hahaha

Fabulous Flower Fishy Fun

All I can say is...Fintastic!


This is on the road from Carrickfergus to Belfast in a place called Jordanstown. Way to go Newtownabbey Council. LOVE IT!!

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Half buried treasure, ahoy!

Living on the coast (well let's face it in Ireland the coast is never far away) we have the joy of going to the 'beaches' and watching the waves, looking in rock pools and getting our toes absolutely frozen by the Irish Sea whenever we feel like it. It also gives us seaweed after a storm and boy do we love that wonder stuff on the plot ~ rich fertiliser and the constant thoughts of chips when you walk around and smell the seaside in the fields.

Well of course another thing we have the benefit of is Jetsam - stuff washed ashore (as opposed to Flotsam which sinks) and boy did we strike it lucky on Tuesday night. We went to Brown's Bay, a little, popular cove not far from Carrickfergus which I am proud to say has just won a Keep Britain Tidy beach award. It was a lovely night and after a terrible day of depression, it was just the thing I needed to perk me up....seeing both my Hubby fall over on the sand and Maggie independently and very funnily tripping and getting a mouth full of sand had me in tears, this time due to laughter instead of being low. The sun as also beginning to set and it was quiet apart from the cows and sheep.

We, well I say we, it was Andrew, found this large barrel half buried in the sand. Was it half empty or half full of sand ~ you can decide. We saw and we wanted. It was bloomin' hard work but after scrapping some sand out and managing to get a little lever under the barnacled base we slowly got it out of its hole. Then Andrew had the fab idea of rolling it along the beach to loosen the sand inside and it just all poured out. Eh, Viola! We have a recycled carrot pot. Of course it smelt SO bad getting it home in the car but I reckon it will be worth it. It already has a place on 14b and the fun of getting it out will forever be associated with it. It was a good night.

Carrot fly can't fly very high so this will protect them and we may even get some of those ridiculously long specimens you see at village shows with the soil being so deep for them. Of course it can't stay in the state it's in for long. Yes I will keep the stenciled name on the side intact but it needs a few painted flowers and swirls on it and a darn good wash! But we are very happy with it - I love free things!!!!
P.S. Still working on that roar......

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Happy Anniversary

Andrew and I are married 4 years today!

To the very light of my life, the air that I breathe ~ I love you more than anything and can't believe how my heart grows bigger to accommodate the ever occurring expanse of that same love. I shall explode one day out of love (please compost me....)

June Flowers at the Lottie


My 1st attempt at a collage from Picasa. For Carol's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day (I'm a day or 2 late, ooops!) at May Dreams Gardens.
These are the Blooms on our Lotties at the moment.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

That's the ticket

A man has won the lottery £25m and one of the things he's planning to spend it on? Professional advice about his Allotment. Love it!!!!!
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manchester/8102282.stm

Field C, how I had neglected you...

With our Allotment Site now being officially the largest in the Island of Ireland, it is pretty easy to be overwhelmed and stick to what you know. I find that in walking down to my Plots and back to the car park I see Field C quite well. However, during my time at my Lotties I barely think to go and dander around it, taking in all the fabulous work that goes on there and clicking away with my camera. Well on Saturday that changed. Here is a whistle stop tour around Field C. I met a few very nice people (sorry I have a brain like a sieve when it comes to names) and saw some really good plots (and ideas I'd like to pilfer).

There are a few plots that have yet to be started, but in the main, the fellows in this field are cracking on a pace. I think the fact that most of them had been waiting for a plot and therefore had time to plan and get things gathered together has helped in that respect.

I wish them continued good luck and sorry again if I seem to ignore you. Field A is my home and I have a bias I guess.....While I'm at it ~ sorry to Field D too. :)


Self explanatory and just plain pretty and inviting


2 fabulous plots bursting with produce


Bird scarier and slug/pigeon/everything protection for precious cabbages


Is it just me or is there joy in seeing perfect, neat rows of veg?

Monday, 15 June 2009

A smack to the side of the head

A member of my extended family has committed suicide (she was a step-cousin). She was only 14. I didn't know her, we only met once. But I am numb non the less. My family has been in shock and I feel like I've been winded. I have (and probably will again) been in that darkest of places where death seems the only option, today I see it from the other side.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

I am your humble servant....

The Queen has gotten herself an allotment! It's in her back garden at Buckingham Palace. So very proud of you Mam, I curtsy a hundred times over.

Yippee and Rule Britannia/Allotments Rule!!!

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8098799.stm

Friday, 12 June 2009

A few visual nibbles of Field B and 'the Trinty' moves plots

As I've been saying, I haven't really been focused much recently and unfortunately my roar has not returned though it is slightly louder than the feeble meow of Wednesday. I've been sick, very sick and therefore not down at the Lotties with Andrew as I should and really, I should, they need watered and it takes my poor hubby ages on his own, I need to pull my weight. Though in saying that there is heavy rain forecast for this weekend...

Anywho, last week I took a dander into Field B and here are a few photos of some lovely plots over there. I am particularly jealous of the irises and rocking bench in B8 and quite intrigued by the green roof idea that B24a is obviously planning. Plus, thank goodness one of 'the plots of shame' has been tackled with weedkiller and a spade and another is just waiting to get started with all those pallets (that's a lot of raised bed material right there!). Please look and enjoy your quick tour around our neighbours' field......



I can't remember what number this plot is but it is one of my favourites, these photos are too close up to do it justice as a whole lottie though.....



Plus, of course whilst I was doing that Andrew was actually working and he moved the Trinity of compost bins and took the opportunity to give the contents a good turning and adding shredded paper etc were needed. All 3 are now in the new half plot 14b right at the far end and the space where they had been is going to be a lovely new bed to grow things in. Andrew has made a stone wall around it (looks a little unnervingly like a fresh grave) and wants to have blueberry bushes and our rhubarb in there.




I'm desperately hoping this weekend is better and I'll lots to tell you. x

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

A magical mystery photo tour of our plots

Bad, bad, bad day, so very very bad. I feel like my head is about to explode so excuse this attempt at a bloggette today. Much love x

Strawberries coming and Asparagus flowers

Broad Beans (yummy) and Bramble berry flowers


Borlotti Beans starting to climb and leeks are in

Peas reaching for the sky; a forest of carrot seedlings


White cosmos (love them) and a pea forming inside it's flower
I'll be better tomorrow, you see if I'm not; grrrr ~ I am woman, hear me roar!
(Weak, whimpering 'Meow' at the moment)

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Stuff and nonsense

It's indicative of how I'm feeling recently, I haven't any concentration, I can 't settle myself and read a book and tend to either fall asleep because my mind is flitting around so much or I end up doing a million jobs, - starting them at least. This weekend on the Lotties was the least garden-y that I think I've had so far. I ended up making things for bits for stuff laying around the shed, our house, my bag.
Thank goodness for Andrew, I haven't a clue about our crops, apart from the photos I've been taking and a few harvests. I do know that the 'bloody brassica bed is sh*t this year' but that's about it. I can't concentrate and when I do mediation/mindfulness, I just hear screaming in my head!!!?!!
So, here is what I did on our plots at the weekend.
  • Make 1 important yet over complicated sign for our new half plot
  • Paint the flower box window sill, the posts at the back of the plot and the bench we were given a couple of months ago
  • Make a great big wire and bead flower sculpture for the side of the shed (?)

The Sign


Again to tie in with the 24a sign I did ages ago in the dull and boring winter, see here. This time I used exactly the same materials but I didn't have another butterfly and instead used my Grow Veg forum keyring. Well it is pretty and it's a little advert too, so I'm pleased. Andrew made the sign supports up for me and of course I had to paint them, I had too!

Painting

I had a paint brush in my hand (or at least very close to me) all day on Sunday. If it didn't move, it got painted. I have wanted to do bits and pieces for a while but instead I did it all in the one day. The bench looks new and the self looks much more impressive than the cobbled together cut offs of rough wood that it is. And it blends in with the shed now, showing off the flowers more.

The Sculpture



Never have I tried to make a sculpture before, but I had to do something with my hands! I couldn't cope with people and had been having panic attacks talking to them. So on with the headphones and a lovingly cleared out our shed (done by Andrew on Saturday; a huge job, which involved turfing loads of stuff out and building more selves, putting up more hooks etc - great job - big kisses to my man) I set to work. Using fruit support wire (I don't know what it's called, but that's what we've used it for), nippers and my hands I created this. I did have to take it home to get it finished but I was glad for the distraction yesterday.


As words are the enemy today I shall leave it at that. Photos speak many words anywho and I've rambled enough. I'll show you some of the actual, beneficial work Andrew did tomorrow. x

Check out the photo of the folded up BBQ on it's hook in the previous blog - remembered to take a pic last night.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Homemade beer 'fridge' and a bbq

During the past weeks we had been blessed with some very nice days and on such occasions we love nothing more than a wee BBQ or picnic down the Lottie. I've mentioned this before but exciting news my friends we have a new little BBQ and Andrew worked out how to keep beer cold on a hot Lottie day...

First to the beer, it's more important. Andrew saw something about this on a science programme once and his brain is specially wired to remember important yet random pieces of information, so this idea came back to him rather quickly. For this fab foray into the world of beverages and their temperature you will need :


  • 1 bucket

  • some cold water from the outdoor tap

  • 1 terracotta pot

  • 1 large stone

  • some beer



Now, you dip the pot in the bucket of cold water and totally soak it inside and outside upside and down. Let it sit a moment, it needs to be saturated. Then take the beverage of choice (we choose beer - Chinese in this case) and place it on the ground. Take your very damp pot, run it upside down and place it over the bottles, place the stone over the drainage hole. Leave the pot to dry in the shade.



Through the magic of science which I am sure you can look up somewhere (something to do with condensation etc) the bottles are cold once the pot is dry!!!!! Ta Da ..."Whoa!!", I hear you declare in awe.

Then we move onto the new BBQ, a bucket shaped one that only cost about £6. I really need to get a photo of it all collapsed down; it folds up and just hangs on a hook in the shed. Here it is in this fiery glory and again when it was HOT!!! The heat from the wee thing was exceptional and we could have cooked enough for a small army, as it was there was only us and the lovely Mamma G present.



Also, there seems to be some love in the air - Maggie and Gus like each other, ooohhhhh!!!

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