Friday 27 February 2009

P.S It's Fairtrade Fortnight

I only found this out yesterday, in Starbucks, but yep, it's Fairtrade Fortnight - running until the 8th March. Go on, take part x

Of mouse and men and a pony

This jumps all over the place like a small puppy; inelegant but with a purpose - yesterday has me exhausted and concentration is poor, ummm, what??. Exactly.

Well, I was painting - "really?" you say, yes just a little bit more!! And Andrew left me alone so he could go to our house and pick up those extra plants we had, you know, for the snail and frog planters. During this time I met Aaron and his friend Jason who were having a dander around Field A. Aaron is Donald's son (I've called him Douglas/Donald since I met him - of course these guys knew that and were making fun of me! So cruel ;), the youth of today!)

Anyway, I chatted to them for quite a while, BIG news for me, as I have already mentioned, it's hard for me to socialise at the best of times.

Later, I re-paid the visit as Aaron mentioned his Dad's Hotel and Spa for wildlife was doing well. Donald was rather excited to tell me that (apart from bugs) he had a resident mouse and most recently, a frog, who didn't stay long but may come back with friends - there is hope. In the late dusk, he also has a Pheasant come over; Ricky has seen him many times (he's always last to leave the lotties) sitting proudly on his log bench. So Donald's plot seems to be the place to be! He also does burgers and bacon butties with the help of his chimena - so it's very popular indeed!!!

Donald, Aaron and Jason

I noticed some other people working hard in 'B' - this couple were putting up a new greenhouse as their old one had glass in it and that's not allowed. They seemed to be doing really well I didn't hear any shouting or arguments, so high praise for them indeed. I didn't annoy them long though for obvious reason and hence, don't even know their names.

The weekend before (I forgot about this !) I visited the newly opened Field 'D'. Unfortunately there was only 1 Allotmenteer there at the time, fortunately it was Ivan, another of those men it is a joy to meet. His plot was already coming on a pace, with loads of double digging, the man is like a machine! And I briefly noticed on Sunday on the way home, that he has a shed up now too. The first in the whole field - I salute you Ivan, for your efforts so far!

The beginning of Sunday : Field C - joy to see little pony and trap, everyone digging and loads of sheds.
And the end of Sunday : us wrecked and splattered with paint (and cow poo too).

Thursday 26 February 2009

More weekend work!!

I'm seeing a new Dr today so I'll keep this short ~ I'm very anxious.
The weekend could really be summed up in 1 word for me - painting. Yes, I spent the vast majority of my Saturday and Sunday with a paint brush in my hand. The Shed and bench got a once over and the fruit arch got a good going at too (there were some places I couldn't reach, even with a ladder, so it still needs to be completed). I tell you, one does not real attractive covered in splodges of brown wood preserver - freckles, yes they are cute, but big blobs over your face and glasses, is not so high fashion.

Andrew on the over hand got to do nice stuff, like planting up our new bare root Climbing Rose 'Queen Elizabeth' (and cutting it right back too - supposedly it's the time and the right thing to do, to me it seems sad), 3 (hopefully) beautiful red 'Orientale' Poppies and 2 Echinaceas 'Magnus ' . All my favourites and all for in and around my flower beds by the shed.

I did get one Fab job though. Bill gave us 2 hilariously kitsch planters - a huge snail and a frog. I planted them up with some primroses we had left over at home and a lovely cyclamen. I think they are brilliant and anything that can make me laugh like they do is a god send.

Wednesday 25 February 2009

Our Fruit Arch Trees - (I'm trying to learn!!)

I thought I'd write a little bloggette on the various types of trees we planted in the Arch. I hope you may be interested, but this post is mainly for me - to help me remember what's what and then I can keep up with Andrew when he blabbers on about them! You know a few years back he didn't know a tulip from a crocus and know look at him!!

There are 2 Apples, 2 Plums and 2 Pears. They are matched up opposite one another and the list goes from the back of the Arch to the Front, as you look at it from the bench.

Info on the Trees came from an RHS site. Who can you trust if not the Royal Horticultural Society, I ask you?? They have a great deal of pages I just stuck to the 'Grow You Own' section, which has great detail on soil, planting, care, harvesting etc and it's very simple to use too!

Left Side = 'Lord Lambourne'
'(pollination group 2, pick mid-autumn, store until late autumn) This early to mid-season cultivar has a good compact habit, so is ideal for a small garden. The apples possess an excellent, aromatic flavour. '

Right Side = 'Egremont Russet'
'(pollination group 2, pick mid-autumn, store until late autumn) Its intriguing flavour combines honey and nuts. The fruit is small and golden with large patches of russeting and a rough skin.'


Left side = 'Victoria'
'A popular, self-fertile, dual-purpose variety bearing heavy, regular crops. The pink, medium-sized fruits are ready in late summer. Their flavour raw is average but when cooked they make an excellent jam.'

Right side = 'Opal'
This self-fertile dessert cultivar is very hardy and produces heavy crops on vigorous, upright trees. The small, purple fruit has a good flavour and are ready to harvest in late summer.


Left side = 'Doyenne du Comice'
'(pollination group late, pick mid-autumn, store until early winter) Pick this one for its outstanding flavour and perfumed aroma. Needs a good warm, sheltered site, so train against a south-facing wall. '

Right side ='Buerre Hardy'
'(pollination group mid, pick early autumn, store until mid-autumn) Excellently flavoured, vigorous pear with no graininess in the flesh. The large, yellowish green fruit has reddish russeting on the skin.'

Funnily enough they all have Awards of Merit from the RHS, though Andrew probably knew that, didn't he, that's why he chose them. Well, that and the fact that they came from Lidl's for a great price, hehe!!
Sorry if that was the most boring bloggette in history - I just needed to learn some of that stuff so I can sound like I know what I'm on about sometimes.

Tuesday 24 February 2009

Saturday Morning at the Lottie

We spent the whole weekend at the Lottie. Got a good bit done, in amongst chatting to others - the weather was OK, even better on the Sunday, so there was a bit of activity around the plots.

Arriving not long before lunch time (we really did try to get up earlier but it just didn't happen) the best thing to do was to give all the seedlings a good looking at before getting the picnic out. It was a rather rewarding exercise, especially after the greeting we had by our 1st Daffodil proudly in flower. They always brighten a little corner of the soul, don't you think??

The cold frame also has little gifts for me - my Sweet Peas are germinating. I think I let out a squeal of excitement when I saw this - I was convinced they weren't going to do (always the pessimist), but there they were. Luckily my scarf was tied around my neck and mouth so I don't think anyone heard me getting so overexcited by seedlings :)

There are notes on this photo....

Also in the cold frame were the rest of the 'Cristo' Garlic I'd planted out and boy are they doing well. At the time I was looking at these ones, Andrew called over in glee that the ones he had planted out in the raised bed were also poking through the soil. He took the 'cat-guard' brambles off them so we could get a good look. I don't think we'll run out of garlic any time soon!

Then it was sandwich time and yes, it was cold - I had 3 jumpers and a fleece on! Thank goodness we had coffee with us too! Sitting down for a minute was almost unbearable.

Monday 23 February 2009

Surprise Trip to the Beach

My lovely Hubby surprised me by taking Friday off, making a picnic and taking me (and Maggie) to Whitepark Bay up the Antrim Coast - it's our favourite place. We stayed there all afternoon and explored caves and water pools and I got my legs very wet by a freak wave! Denim takes a long time to dry you know!

It was lovely and I took loads of photos. We really needed some quiet time away from things (even the Lottie!) and a good strong sea breeze, amazing scenery and a cheeky trip to the chippy on the way home was just the ticket.

I just want to try and think about that today and the fun we had. I feel very different this afternoon and even find it hard to remember feeling good, it's like a vague memory. But here are a couple of photos to prove that day really happened......

Saturday 21 February 2009


The ever lovely people at Allotmentality: drew Andrew and my attention to an article in the Guardian Newspaper on-line by Zoe Williams ~ 'Can we dig our way out of the recession?'

I won't say anything other than it is about Allotments and the recent National Trust land donation. I have responded in the comments section and I am rather upset. My name there is Carr1e.

Let me know what you think.

Friday 20 February 2009

Ode to Ronnie and Bobby

I wonder, does every Allotment site have its resident people who are always there, always with a cheery hello and a story or two?

On our Site, these people are Ronnie and Bobby - if one or indeed both their cars aren't there in the car park when Andrew and I arrive of a weekend we think there's something wrong. Two nicer gentlemen you could not hope to meet and I know no one down there that wouldn't have a good thing to say about them. Being in Field A with us, Andrew and I have got to know them both over the past year and on Friday I dandered over to Ronnie's shed (where Bobby had arrived for a tea break) to have a chat. You must understand, this is not something I find easy to do at the best of times but they make me feel comfortable, like the Father or Grandfather you would love to have.
They know a good deal about gardening but aren't afraid to ask questions either and they aren't pushy with their own knowledge (none of that 'oh, you shouldn't do it that way' stuff). The two of them together are like kids and it's always their plots that have people round them. It's also always their plots that look the best, the fullest and tidiest. Both their wives are Lottie widows now!!!

Last year Bobby (on the right) won the Best Kept Allotment prize, I think the competition may be fiercer this year, Ronnie (quite obviously - on the left) may fight for that crown - but it's all taken in fun.

Thursday 19 February 2009

Building the Fruit Arch

It feels wrong for me to be writing about this ~ the happiest moment in my hubby's life for some time. He has had an affair with the very idea of this arch for months and now it's done, I feel he should be telling you all about it. Suffice to say, he is VERY happy indeed. This however, is not the emotion felt as the venture began on Saturday......

About a foot and a half down into the Lottie's ground in Field A at least (I think it's the same all over) you hit a very solid stratum of large stones. We did know about this; we've been digging this ground for almost a year now, but we were not prepared to break thick posts while trying to drive them into the ground - silly really, we should have thought about it. Hence one split one and one with the bottom broken off it later Andrew was in a horrible mood and really not fun to be around. Here is a photo of him - I took it because I was so annoyed with him.
It came down to the incomparable wisdom of 'the wife' to sort this mess out. (When 'crazy' walks down the road towards you - cross the street!) Replacement posts, coffee and chocolate later, we were back at the plot refreshed. I kindly guided the hubby and calmed him into finding the carpenter within and thus magic started to happen. Those 2 posts replaced, dug into the ground good and steady. And love was once again, in the air.
Oh, but the Sunday! well, Andrew just powered on (I'm so proud); got the 2 other posts into the ground and then they were tied together with planks and long screws, which I helped with - look, the bubble never lies!

This is the bit that really got me and surprised him as well, there obviously is an inner carpenter in him after all!!! He made 2 apex pieces and used lap joints on each to make the structure very sturdy and pretty. You do this by chiseling down half way into each plank and then fitting them into one another like a jigsaw puzzle. Genius. I'm not great at explaining but it'll be easy for you find a reference to it. Here is a lovely photo of Andrew's work, he did it right first time!!

The apex pieces rest on the cross beams and get screwed in too. Apart from that thin batons were added on the sides - like roof struts. And it was done! Andrew spent some time just looking at it, and can you blame him? Sorry there aren't any good photos of it I saved the battery for these last 2...

So here is an overview of the plot as it stands now. The added height makes it feel so much bigger.

Wednesday 18 February 2009

Manure and Fruit

I'm eating cherries - yum. One day, one day in the not too distant future maybe I'll write a blogette eating our own from the Lottie. Happy days..... Also, just took the dog for a walk, by myself, for the first time this week, so I feel momentarily invincible.

The title is blunt, I know but for me the weekend truly was all about Manure (Green and Animal) and fruit bushes. I'll explain...

Andrew was driving me mad with his Fruit Arch shenanigans and the vibe on the Lottie wasn't great. When something is perfect and done in an instant, he gets very crabby. Enough said. I (to save my precious sanity) went to the other end of the plot and started to dig, turning over the green manure so it can start to rot down. Ahh, digging, thrusting your spade into the ground with force and getting a sweat going - does you the world of good when peeved off at the Hubby.

I did 3 beds in the end and it just happened to work out that it was a half and half split between Green and Animal Manure that I was turning. I have to say, so far I much prefer the cow poo (never thought I'd write that sentence!), the ground just under it was more friable and full of worms - in the Green Manure beds, it was compacted, very compacted and a pain to work with. I still have an open mind about the whole sowing a living covering for over winter but I am still to be impressed with the results. We'll see...

Actually what are you're thoughts on this???? I'd love to know.

I am not going to post a picture of 3 beds of muck to illustrate my work here. That would be very boring for all of us; have a look at this instead, much better. My Valentine's Day dinner, made by the hubby - yum.

Then I had the terrible, and I mean heartbreaking, task of cutting back the Autumn Raspberries. My goodness they've only been in there for a little while and looked sad enough as it was, i.e. 6 twigs in the ground. But now it's as if there isn't anything there at all. They get cropped right down to ground level - so harsh. (Oh, and my cherries are finished too - not fair!!)

Let's move on from this story and go to the big moment (for me) - Planting the Blackcurrant Bushes on Sunday. We were lucky a good few months back to get hold of 2 bushes a 'Ben Lomond' and a 'Baldwin' for the great price of a £1 each. This past weekend was the first time the ground was okay to plant in. I DID IT, ALL ON MY OWN. It was exciting, I did a totally text book job of it and Andrew was extremely impressed. It was in doing that job that I had a 'life- is- okay-and-so-am-I' moment and believe me they are very few and far between. After I'd tidied up after myself, I took a wee walk and there was a tear. (Think what you may of me but I didn't feel terrible and that is huge).

The before and after pictures of that will have to wait, I got the before but then the camera battery died a very untimely death - so no after shot. :(

P.S. Finally put up that new number sign, eh viola!

Update on manure debate:

My friends at Grow your own - - have decided that both types are good ffor different areas, but over all they prefer animal poo.

Those friends at Grow Veg - - also went with animal poo though again some felt green manure had it's place, especially as a weed suppressor.

The polls have only been going one night but this highly unscientific experiment seems to show (at present) that animal poo is the way to go.

Tuesday 17 February 2009

New Growth

To begin the story of the weekend, I first must explain that I did not want to be there, at the Allotments. You may remember that the weeks prior to this I hadn't been down and last week I only got as far as the car park. It wasn't the poor weather, it was my depression and anxiety.

I suppose that if this is therapy we're talking about - I have tough obstacles to overcome, it can and is rewarding but ultimately I am there to grow as a person - that, my friends ain't easy. You'll see though, as the week goes on - Ecotherapy was in action and by the Sunday afternoon it was doing good.

My recent absence was good in another way - I saw the emergence of Spring clearer and my Daffodils were looking big and strong; nearly ready to open their beautiful faces to the world and cheer the place up. The wide pot of primroses was also bursting with juicy buds and the Hellebores are blossoming; my wee plants seem to have settled in to their new homes just fine.

I took to work on this little flower bed area. I dumped that hideous excuse for a conifer (which I am allergic to anyway) first off and it felt great! I've kept the wicker pot though....I have plans for that, but I'm not telling ;) And then I planted out the little 50p bronze grass I got in B&Q, replacing the green stripy one. So now, with my gorgeous Dogwood (it is heavenly, no?) and 3 grasses the same I am happier and the ground is full of worms, hoorah. I'll be a gardener yet!

So, on top of all that, look at the 'Cristo' Garlic coming through in the cold frame (it's also peeping its head up in the raised bed but not so evidently) and my Babies -my Broad Beans. They are like little toddlers now and I have taken the cover off them so they can face the big world and all it has to throw at them. I'm optimistic, they'll be fine, won't they? Yes, they will. Won't they?

Dig for Victory!

As you may know I am big a fan of Mr Middleton's book 'Digging for Victory' and was lucky enough to get a copy from Santa last Christmas. Well, last night the Hubby showed me this wonderful website with a full instructional, war-time guide to 'Dig for Victory'. It's absolutely fab and I thought I'd share. In fact I think I'll also put a link to it on my permanent links down the right hand side.


Monday 16 February 2009

mucky puddle

Just looking at some of my photos from the weekend and this struck me as a pretty good metaphor for how Valentine's Day was for Andrew and I - it sort of looks like a heart.....I hadn't noticed at the time, I was taking the pic because I liked the reflection.

Ohh, so tired...

I have a lot to tell you about the weekend past; Valentine's weekend. (Hope you were treated well). Andrew and I worked our socks off and got loads of things done. We're rather proud of ourselves to tell you the truth ;) There was frustration, annoyance and a lack of romance for a good part of it but we got there in the end. Kisses to my Hubby x

Thing is, I didn't sleep well at all over the weekend (nightmares) and today I am quite literally exhausted. I have also just made a couple of important but nerve jiggling phone calls and my double vision is crazy today - therefore I can't really sit here and tell you all about the adventure.

All of it will make a good weeks worth of blogging though and includes - building our very own Fruit Arch (!!), planting Blackcurrants, digging in manure - the green and the extra stinky animal type, Autumn Raspberries and Ronnie & Bobby, not to mention meeting a new Allotmenteer in Field D.

I hope this has whet your appetite for more to come. Me?, I'm off to shake this panic attack I'm in the middle of and have a nice wee cup of decaff coffee. I would love to sit in silence with these poor eyes closed but next door is getting a new bathroom fitted and there appears to be a mass of school age children outside. I quite like kids - they're important to the future of the planet, but do they have to play outside my living room? They aren't my kids - shoo!

Saturday 14 February 2009

Taking part in VP's photo meme

This is part of a fun photo thing that VP is doing on her blog - Veg Plotting.
(There is a link to her website at the right hand side of this page).

So, taking the 4th photo from the 4th folder of photographs in the computer's folders. Here we go......

Oh, this is rather interesting really. This is a photo of Carrickfergus town center and the Castle's Outer Ward and Gate House from the top of the Castle Keep. This is actually the Hubby's photo, he was on the Keep roof (where mere mortals aren't aloud to go) for work reasons and took lots of photos. Brilliant seeing somewhere so familiar from a new angle.

Friday 13 February 2009

Blood Fish and Bone

I just learnt an interesting fact about the organic fertiliser Blood, Fish and Bone from the old hubby here. It is no surprise that liquid feeds work fastest, but I didn't release that between dry fertilisers, the organic type takes longer to break down in the soil. Something about microbes...I drifted off.

I may sound silly telling you this, but then again, I'd never thought about it before.


A daisy and a dicky tum

I have a tummy bug.
That is all for today.

This is to cheer me (and you) up, look at that happy face....

Thursday 12 February 2009

Second hand Books

My husband has a terrible second hand books. Actually, I believe Political Correctness has gone so far as to re-brand them as 'Pre-Loved' - when will the madness end??

There is a fabulous, cavernous place near to his office in Belfast that he can't help but go to often. He's taken me to it, as I too must confess my overwhelming love for books. This slightly dank, fusty place is fabulously Tardis-like and has books of every type, literally floor to ceiling. It's run by (as far as I can tell) an elderly gent who seems to have his mates sitting with him to keep him company and to go out and get the chips for lunch and make the many cups of tea they consume. It would be a great way to spend your retirement.

Anyway, Andrew is forever coming home with a new/old/'pre-loved' gardening book from this place (which I don't think even has a name sign above the door, so I can't tell you what it's called). He just can't help himself. But to be fair - it's full of fantastic finds. He has many out of print RHS books and famous gardener's books that you just can't get anymore or if you can, they're expensive. Recently he came home with a great one on Fruit growing with hundreds of photos and drawings - he says it's the best book he's ever had on the subject (and we have quite a few books - Amazon makes it all too easy!) and it cost a whopping £2!!!!

So just wanted to share the 'pre-loved' love, with you all. It sort of fits in with the hippy, cheap-sake, alternative viewpoint people have of us Allotmenteers - so I say embrace it. Save yourself a bundle of money and go Vintage - they're always doing it in the Fashion Magazines. And we all know Allotmenteering is far sexier than wearing someone else's old clothes - right?

Tuesday 10 February 2009

The Economy ~ another pest for the Allotmenteer

The sun is shining - well, it's really trying to. I feel like flying over to the Allotment site and erecting a magical 4-field-big greenhouse to help the whole place dry out a bit. It isn't going to happen but I can dream. That's the worst bit about the place at the moment, or make that, for the last months on end. The ground is saturated and half a spade's depth down it's like the sea is trying to escape up through the slit.

Anyway, I wanted to write a little something today because (big tease that I am) I mentioned my e-mail from the Parks & Countryside Development Officer at the Council, but failed to tell you what it said.Italic

Well firstly, the Lotties have been talked about a good bit, I am glad to report. In December a site visit was also arranged and there, with some of our Allotment Holders Association Committee 'the Councillors who attended appreciated that work on paths needed to be done'. Hoorah! The path down to the plots is going to be replaced with a ( hopefully, excellent) pedestrian path. Unfortunately, as with all bureaucracy, we have to wait to see what happens, as the e-mail states :
'With regard to funding this and other projects I cannot give you an answer until budgets are announced in March.'

But let's be hopeful, even in the current economic crisis. Fingers crossed.

Monday 9 February 2009

A visit to the Lottie (sort of)..

Well, we all know what the weather was like this past weekend; one word ~ Burr!!! On top of that, I was feeling particularly dispirited and needed to just go away from Carrick for the day.

I didn't even want to go down to my Lottie because the paths were so soggy and I've slipped on the them countless times (my anxiety levels were already through the roof that day); it just makes me miserable. Also, I knew nothing would have done that well through the bitterly cold week (and Lord help me if I saw my Broad Bean babies dead or something). All round it was just safer to stay in the car. Sometimes the best Ecotherapy is staying away and just thinking happy thoughts of Spring and sunshine.
So, this is as far as (Maggie and) I got to my Lottie.

Andrew had bought bare-root fruit trees during the week at Lidl, for £6 each and he wanted to put them down in the shed there (and have a nosey). I think it was 2 Plums and 2 Pears we got, but I couldn't tell what type to save my life and I forgot to take photos. As I said, I've been down in the dumps. I will however talk to the hubby tonight and then I can tell you all about the fruit arch master plan another day.

Okay, so this picture makes it look nice ~ believe me it wasn't. (By the way I got a path-issue update from the Council today - I've been making a nuisance of myself via e-mail)

Did however see some newbies at the site and the car park was quite full, so it's nice to know there were some crazy Allotment obsessed friends down there, keeping the side up. I am not a creepy stalker, by the way, taking pictures through the windows of my car looks dodgy, I know.

Friday 6 February 2009

Chitting away

We bought our potatoes recently - I honestly can't remember if it was last weekend, the one before that, or even the one before that. We seem to be at the nurseries every weekend and all the trips are melding into one. I think I need to get out more!!

Anyway, we got 'Maris Piper' again ~ main crop tatties. We grew them last year and they were excellent. I didn't used to eat potatoes - they make me feel very sleepy, but recently that's changed. First, your own taste so superior to any supermarket variety and Secondly, well I haven't minded feeling sleepy, better than anxious any day!

So, here they are, on the window sill of the dinning room, which is yet again off limits to humans as the radiator has been turned off in there so the potatoes don't get too warm. They are 'chitting', a word I find rather funny, say it a few times, throw it into a conversation or two - it's funny (or else I'm very easily amused, maybe that's it)! We have them sprouting side up-most in a tray lined with newspaper. They are cool, but not freezing and get lots of natural light but not direct sunlight. I gave them a squeeze this morning and yip, they are firm too.

This 'chitting' phase is very important for the humble spud. It's best to have them ready to grow before you plant them, with sturdy little green shoots on them - the number of shoots is really up to you ~

if you want lots of little potatoes keep all the shoots on the seedling spud

if you want bigger, potatoes nip the shoots down to one or two.

The idea is that the new spuds are grown on 'stolons' which come from the stems. If you have lots of stems the energy the plant has goes into all the little babies, however, fewer stems means the same energy is produced but it goes into fewer, bigger spuds. It's up to you.

Also, at this time is a great idea to feed the bed that your darling little sprouting babies will be placed. Lots of well rotted manure, compost and seaweed etc. They're hungry plants and will eat it all up in no time. Don't plant them out for a good while though - this weather just isn't pleasant, for anything (except maybe garlic - they like a good frosting) and as Mr Middleton says, they'll "just wait there, shivering and uncomfortable till the soil gets warmer, and by that time they have caught a nasty cold, and it takes them some time to get going" [Digging for Victory, pg113]

Aim for around the end of March, or even April, when our soil is more welcoming. Put yourself in the potatoes' metaphorical shoes - Burr!, they won't thank you.

Tuesday 3 February 2009

Mother Nature must have caught the bloggette earlier as She took my sad little words to her bosom and changed the weather for us here in Carrick, for a while. I was able to get Maggie the wonder Dog out for a walk and the clouds have lifted and separated (like a good bra should, hehe) so that there is a slither of sun getting through.

Of course on the other side, She has also made it possible for the road works people to come out and start digging up a newly fixed road close by!!!! But we can't have everything, can we?

Winter weather :(

This weather is crushing me - no lovely fluffy snow for us, no we get freezing winds and rain, with a bit of sleet thrown in for good measure. Carrick is under a big cloud and I personally can feel the weight of the darn thing on my head and shoulders. Ba Humbug to winter.

The Lottie was feeling rather sorry for herself on Saturday, half a spade's depth down in the raised beds and we hit a clay-y type of quick sand; a sucky, sticky mess. Water-logged. Couldn't really do anything and what I did do will have to wait for another day (where I shall surely be moaning and lamenting again) so I have something to write later in the week.

P.S. The 'value' shops have started to get in lots of gardening stuff and B&Q are selling off essentials for £1 etc. Good time to get out (under the cover of a warm shop environment!) and get yourselves some bargains!

I hope you aren't as down in the dumps as me - even seeing the potatoes chitting on the window sill is making be feel 'hummph'. I need sunshine - where's Spring????