Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Take time to look beyond your own plot, please.

I am a supporter of the Prince's Rainforest Project, headed by our very own Prince Charles, or Charlie as I like to call him. I hope you too will join in, we are losing our Rainforests not only by the day but noticeably by the minute. They are not a finite resource, the wildlife they give home to, the CO2 they take in from our pollution, the people they house and the beauty and hope that they give to this world we are all slowly destroying is measurable. Please support the cause and think out side your own garden/plot today.

The website is very informative if somewhat shocking in the statistics that it provides. I for one know more about stupid celebrity gossip than I do about this. Shameful.

My SOS message:
'Please help save the rainforest and all it's inhabitants, needlessly being made extinct from the Earth we all the same right to share. Plus, this world, well, it's the only one we have and the only source of chocolate!'

Preaching over, hugs x Plus, sorry if I don't get to visit your blog today, my broadband connection is playing up (took 4 hours to be able to write this!)

Monday, 28 September 2009

You're part Daffodil

I learnt this weekend that we all share over a third of the same genes as a daffodil. I believe the correct percentage was 36. So that means inside each and everyone of us there lies the ability to be sunny, happy, bright and cheery joy givers. 'A host of golden thirds of human beings' doesn't sound that nice but you get the idea.

Let that 36% shine within you. Mine is a very dim light, not visible to the naked eye today but tomorrow maybe conditions will be better, the clouds will lift I too shall be more cheery.

Hugs x

Friday, 25 September 2009

Pride goes before a fall (well, I hope not!)

Oh, I know the old saying but I truly am proud of what Andrew and I achieved last week. You may even be jealous...we made a Patio at the lottie!

For a long time we have wanted an area outside the shed to be able to sit and work on without the wet soil and grass making it all uncomfortable. Plus in the winter this area turns into a little quagmire and we needed to get it sorted before the blasted season returned once more. Further to that, I wanted somewhere I could walk safer (a flatter surface) and which we could put a bed for Maggie on without it getting terribly damp from the bottom up.

We had dilly dallied about this for a while and so finally it came to the crunch and we set to work, it helped greatly that we had free recycled patio slabs from a friend's brother and that pink granite stones were buy 3 bags, get one free at the local nursery. You know, we aren't made of money!!
This is what our patio area around the shed looked like before.....

(Way back in April - damp but some little slabs here and there)

Slabs lifted - work begins

After the above hard work (2 blisters on my hand!, don't go thinking I'm a lady who lets her man do all the hard grafting) - skimming off the turf (= blisters), cutting and laying weed membrane (I did that bit all alone), putting down wooden joists to hold it all together (Andrew's job), placing the slabs and spreading the granite, this is what we ended up with.

I am, as I have said, very proud. I believe it to be delightful and invite you all to come have a cup of tea on our extensive social area. It took Maggie a while but she now likes it too, the pebbles I like to think, remind her of the beach - she's a beach babe, she loves the sea side. I have also installed a new and improved bug hotel on the site and hope for many residents in the winter to come. It is a cosy little establishment and much superior to last years backpackers' hostel.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

An award? for me!!?!

I have been given a award, yes, little old me. This came from allotofveg, whose blog I read regularly and who I am glad to say won it herself and then passed it along to me, like a 'you are a good read' chain award.

I think I am supposed to write 10 things about myself and then pass it on to some people I think deserve it. So, if you will allow me to be so self indulgent I shall do just that. Incidentally I have no idea where this originally started but thank you to whoever made it up and allowed us 'winners' to be both praised by others and be completely egoistical within the one bloggette.

I shall be passing it along to Joy at GardenJoy4Me and VP at vegplotting, both 'great reads'.... Quite frankly I would pass it on to everyone on my blog roll if I didn't think that sort of went against the idea. Love to all my fellow bloggers, you're all winners in my eyes x

1 ~ I like instructions, rules to follow to the letter. That way I know where I am and where I have to go. (Shame on you Jessica for not proving detailed instructions about this award process. Are you sure I just have to write 10 random facts about myself?)

2 ~ Apart from working on my Lottie and thus getting to write about it here, my other great passion is for taking photographs. These things combined make for a happy girl. Now I just have to find a way to become filthy rich whilst doing them.

3 ~ I wish to become filthy rich as I like travelling and want/need to see more of the world. To go on holiday is like packing up your clothes etc and just leaving behind all the crap in your life at home in the wardrobe. Unfortunately it is still there when you get back but for those glorious days away you are free! Yes, the depression and anxiety do come along and somehow pass through customs unnoticed but for some reason you can kick them in the butt and make more of an impact on them when in a sunnier climate.

4 ~ I LOVE MY HUSBAND Andrew, he is lovely.

5 ~ I'd be lost without my little dog Maggie. We adopted her some years ago from a dog pound (horrid places) and I knew she was 'the one' just by the glimpse of her nose that I got before we got into the kennels properly. Love at first sight for me, though her hair was so overgrown and matted I don't think she could see, poor baby. I hope she's happy with us.

6 ~ Like most people I never got to know my idols, my paternal grandparents. My papa had a stroke when I was a young teenager and was gone in soul for a long time before he eventually died. My most cherished childhood memory is of him and I would love for him to have met my husband; I think they are alike. His back garden was an allotment. My Nana fought Cancer gallantly and was forever the lady. I was only beginning to know her as a person (not just as my nana) when she was taken, too soon. I think of them everyday and the pain of their absence never seems to ease. I guess that is love for you.

7 ~ I have permanent double vision! A real pain in the ass but I have to live with it. Yes, I see 2 of everything and one of those images moves around all the time - tiring to say the least. Also another reason why I love photography - you only need one eye to take a picture.

8 ~ My favourite vegetable to grow on the plot is the green bean - very prolific and very tasty. They just seem to want to grow and make the plot look so abundant and like I know what I'm doing, with wigwams and all. Plus, if I had to eat one veg every single day forever more I could do worse (my real favourite is Sweetcorn which is also very impressive looking to grow on the plot. I have 2 favourites) and I had loads of them in Brittany recently with steak -yummy!!

9 ~ My favourite fruit to grow on the Lottie is the Raspberry, just because they are GORGEOUS and you seem to get a nice steady crop of them, a few more everyday, rather than a glut. I love raspberries. Berries in general are a wonderful gift from mother nature and should only be eaten in season if you ask me, which I know you didn't but I'm telling you anyway. A ripe berry plucked from the plant, warm with the sunshine, popped in the mouth - joy incarnate.

10 ~ Lastly ECOTHERAPY ROCKS! That is a fact and you can take it to the bank (if you trust banks, which I don't).

Thank you for reading this, if you did in fact make it the whole way through. Happy Thursday to you all x

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

A, B and C

Can of course stand for Apple and indeed here it does; our James Grieve/Elstar tree has given up it's first fruit. They don't look great but if we nibble around the bad bits I have hope that they will taste nice. Elstar is definitely a favourite in our house so fingers crossed that the tree perks up and can go on growing and giving us more and better quality fruit in years to come. It seems to be suffering from a fungal disease, maybe scab but I'm not sure about survival rates. Send happy thoughts to our tree please!!

B is for Brambles, or Blackberries. The hedgerows around the plots are full to the brim with ripe gorgeous berries there for the taking. Plus there are many still to come and in some areas there are even flowers in bloom. I reckon we'll have brambles for some time to come. They are a little small in comparison to the blackberries you can buy as plants from the nursery. We have one, but it crops way back in the summer and the damn birds took most of them.

So Andrew and I couldn't help ourselves and we picked some, them some became addictive. A lovely past time and we have done it twice now, even in the dark, way past twilight, I swear we couldn't see, that was the only reason we stopped. We even seriously thought about using the headlights to illuminate the hedges but we wised up! It sounds silly but it was very romantic, reminiscent of what I imagine a pre-war date would be and quite frankly doing that with your beau is nicer than sitting in the cinema not talking or even looking at each other.

We, sorry Andrew, made jam. It's more like tar but it was his first time and it is great in porridge. There's another big bag in the fridge for me to make jam. I took photos of Andrew's culinary adventure. Lovely! He is a fabulous cook by the way, tonight we had a chicken and lottie veg stir fry for dinner and it was delicious. At the weekend he also made a Lottie Soup too, with our borlotti beans - uuuummmmm. No pics of either - too hungry.

Plus Blooms ~ look at Mary's glorious bunch from her plot. Really beautiful and I am more encouraged to get on with my cut flower bed.

This is exciting! We got our membership cards!!!! Look at how jolly Andrew and Austin (the secretary)are and me, I couldn't wait to photograph mine. Now we can get discounts in various nurseries, horrah!!!!

I have loads more to tell but there is apple pie to be eating and somethings have to take priority, hahaha xx

Monday, 21 September 2009

Real Green Heroes, on our Lotties!!!

I give the blog over to those who work on plot A1. I have mentioned them before, you remember, I was so excited to find out on the open day who they were. See here. Well listen to this!.....

If you don't remember (shame on you!) the Plot is owned by the Conservation Volunteers and consists of volunteers from 2 charities; Mindwise and the Drug and Rehabilitation Center. They work down at the plot every Wednesday and learn all about growing tasty, organic fruit and vegetables ~ as well as having a good time, they're getting gentle exercise and ecotherapy and they get to take produce home. What's not to love?

Well, the hard and valuable work they do has not gone unnoticed I am very pleased to say. Drum roll please.....They have been awarded the 'BTCV Project of the Year' in the Green Heroes Awards! Congratulations to them and may they realise just how bloomin' brilliant they are.

The Green Heroes Awards was new to me and luckily Maria (from Conservation Volunteers)explained that they are given out 'in recognition of outstanding work volunteers of all ages do across Northern Ireland to improve their local environment'. That means there were other projects from all over the country involved in this and our group won!!

On top of that the group also won an award for their Brussel Sprouts at the Gourmet Garden Competition and not any old award but, yet again, 1st prize! We have real bonified regional champs in the camp guys.
I should point out that A1 expressed it's gratitude to the N. Ireland Social Care Trust and Carrickfergus Borough Council for their valued support. Long may it continue.
Congrats again.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

You, yes I'm talking to you

This week has been a terrible week for depression and anxiety for me. I mean really bad, quite serious. But everyday when Andrew came home from work we put dinner off for a while and went straight down to the lottie. I swear, and I know that I both lambast and wax lyrical about Ecotherapy depending on the day, I felt better every single evening after spending time on the plots. Simple weeding and tidying up, ripping out old plants and thinking of the future, talking to friends and standing by my cozy wood stove - I FELT BETTER.

Okay, the depression and anxiety returned later on in the evening etc but for that time on my little piece of Eden with Andrew and Maggie I was okay. I was numb and completely involved in the task at hand and taking photos. I know 'numb' isn't perfect but believe me, it's better than sitting on the sofa hiding from the world and better than wanting to cut yourself.

Ecotherapy is a therapy and as such there are days when you hate it, days when it touches a nerve and makes you mad or so unhappy, but then those days when it sends you to a quiet, peaceful place in your mind - well, that makes up for everything.

Please, I know I go on about it but try it out for yourself, tell your friends, experience the wisdom and the empathy of plants and nature in general. I urge you with all my being, every breath.

Love C xx

Friday, 18 September 2009

lots to share

I have to tell you about the weekend and week past before a whole new one begins. I don't know where the time has gone but it is Friday! and I am exhausted as usual. I don't know what I have been writing about that could possibly be more important than all the hard work and artistry that we did on the plots!

This, as you will know by now, is my flower bed in 14b. I ripped out everything that was tired and looking awful and now I just have the permanent inhabitants left and a few sunflowers still struggling on. So that means there is space and I can see where things are and where things can be planted for next year. I have loads of bulbs (they'll probably get started this weekend) but I also had 2 birthday present windmills and three arty rock mounds that Andrew and made (we stole the idea from a lovely garden in Brittany).

Then joy, my 1st blog birthday present was able to be planted out too, a sunny Coreopsis. Poor thing has just been sitting there for a month in a pot, probably not feeling wanted. It may even have thought I had forgotten about it or maybe life was just all about living in pots and feeling cramped and terrible. Well, no, I now had the space cleared for this little beauty to go into her home and be free to spread those roots and settle into life on the plot. Isn't she a darling?

Whilst doing this Davy walked past with the most massive of cabbages this girl has ever laid her eyes on. Boy was that a good plant, very firm in the heart and hardly a nibble in sight. He was taking it over to a lady friend's house - better than flowers, eh?

Then during the week I attacked the sweetcorn bed. All done for this year and we only had 2 fresh off the plant. Though to be fair both Mamma G and my sister-in-law have lots in their freezers for us that they rescued from the plot in the bad weather Northern Ireland suffered when we were in glorious France. If frozen sweetcorn is the price you pay for going on holiday at the end of August/start of September. It's one I am willing to pay!

In France we bought an adaza, we'd been finding it very hard to get one here and the on-line shipping costs for something so heavy were nuts. So we gave it a try and oh!, it's great. Unfortunately we were in such a tizzy of work I didn't take a photo but I'll post one soon. We also bought a bell for the shed. It's for me to ring when Andrew wanders off around the fields and inevitably gets chatting for a long time. I can ring it and get him back again - that's the idea, I have my reservations about it actually working. Men (especially once they become husbands) seem to have very selective hearing!!!

The one and only harvest of Borlotti beans took place last night and the vines were cut back too. I had really enjoyed them growing up the gates, I think we'll do something similar next year and the climbing rose will be there too. As you can see I really did like them there as a good lot of them are way past their best. Our first squashes were lifted too - so cute looking, I hope they taste well. We did a 2 sisters approach with them and the sweetcorn, growing them in the same bed, it worked really well.

Then just as leaving last night we picked our first leek of the season - pretty good. And Andrew went mad collecting brambles, it was infectious and soon I was in the hedgerows too. We got quite a lot! Jam making tonight, us over the bubbly saucepan and a glass of wine, uummm. x

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Don't adjust your settings..

For a moment I must take a minor detour onto the world of public planting schemes, it's for my dear VP who is rather obsessed with the whole thing. I am cheating a little tiny bit here as these photos aren't from my neighbourhood but are instead from the beautiful city of Caen in Normandy. I took them for VP in the first place and now she is looking for September displays for the OOTS segment.

I was truly impressed by these (and an awful lot of public planting in Brittany and Normandy ~ spectactular roundabouts) in front of the City Hall. Especially with the use of kale in the planting; veggies, why not!?

I am really trying every trick in the book to stall the walk I am supposed to be going on with Maggie the wonder dog. Every time I hear someone outside make a noise or I think about the walk ahead I literally feel like being sick. I'm scared, so panicky I am shaking and all huddled up on the sofa with the blinds still closed. I HATE being out at home alone. I HATE having this intense anxiety too. I HATE me.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

The estate agent

We're waiting for the estate agent to arrive to give the house a good looking over and tell us if it's sellable! To tell the truth I'm a little nervous, who knows how much we will get for it?, what sort of mortage will the bank give us? oh it's a mine field out there. One good thing is that we got rid of all the wine bottles that were sitting about from the different birthday parties and our holidays and Andrew used them very creatively in the lottie. We always miss the recycling day - we aren't addicted to wine

Oh, sorry. Here is Andrew's art piece, beautiful, recycled and functional. We just have the other side of the path to do now, darn it, I guess that means more wine then. All for art's sake.

Please also notice our new path between the 'grave' and the raspberry bed. Very proud of that.
Have you noticed that it's hard to keep a clean and tidy house when you're an Allotmenteer? We seem to have bags and dirty work shoes and magazines and seeds etc everywhere. At least this 'agent' isn't coming to look at the house in early spring. We also have a full on nursery going in every window sill and a potting up bench in the dining room. Or would that add value to the house in these eco times?
So, the prospect of a new house and garden looms on the horizon. I'm trying to be very cool and collected about it but what if the market stays in this rut and we're here FOREVER. On the other hand - yippee!! a whole new house to paint and decorate and a new garden to start and make wonderful with all the new knowledge we have. I have some ideas, god only knows, Andrew probably has hundreds of possible gardens in his head.

Well, while we wait, let's pretend there is some muzak in the background as I tell you about some of the fab work I've been doing at the Lotties.
When we got home I told you it was a terrible sight, I didn't show you a photo then but I will now. This is the before...

Now I have ripped out all the sweet peas, runner beans, climbing french beans and dwarf french beans and loads of dead leaves from the brassicas. Andrew cut the grass and made his bottle wall. Having that first bed empty is a little sad as it yells "autumn!" at me, but at the same time we did buy loads of daffodils and tulip bulbs at the weekend so hope and bright colours are just around that dark wintery corner.

Here she is.......

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Reality hits me like a smack on the face ~ UPDATED

I feel terrible. This isn't the Samaritans website I know. I just want to talk to someone, anyone. I have so much pent up energy and so many ideas that I don't know where to begin and I feel like I may just explode instead. I realised on Holiday that I love taking photographs; I'm happy when see that I have captured a moment that I thought was beautiful and I can look at it whenever I want and share it with people. I love creativity and feel close to other arty people, potters, woodworkers, writers etc.

I just can't get over this mental block. Writing is so difficult and I want to scream because it is my usual release in life. I have stories from a really hard working weekend with Andrew at the plots. I am so proud of what we achieved but the stories won't form and everything is disjointed.

Yesterday Carrots and Kids wrote a beautiful bloggette, giving her thanks to a sunflower for just growing and giving her joy. I encourage you to read it. May Dreams Gardens is having her monthly Blooms day today and it is a delight as ever. I need to quiet my mind or I am afraid I may hurt myself, I've already started biting my hand (what's that all about?). I leave you with my some of my flower pics.

I hope you like them and just appreciate a moment looking at perfection. I'm hoping I will get some solace out of sitting here and looking at them myself. I'm just a ball at the moment, shaking and full of misplaced anger. I need ecotherapy or maybe just knocked out and allowed to sleep. x

It's all red and yellow in my border!

P.S. Spoke to Andrew and he is coming home a little early if he can. I'll hopefully get to the lottie and hopefully feel a bit better.

Andrew arrived home early. I had taken sedatives and was so sleepy so after a coffee and sugary biccie we hit the Lottie. I worked so hard and I felt good!! Can you believe it ~ ECOTHERPAY ROCKS. I really enjoyed the few hours there and was protective of my areas of work, I wanted to really see my progress. I didn't take the camera but trust me I was/am knackered now and happier. With more self-esteem I'm off to work on my photos xx

Monday, 14 September 2009

So then, Brittany and Normandy...

I want to go back! I can't get back into this world again properly ~ writing isn't coming naturally and I only just realised I hadn't been on Blogger to tell you about my holidays yet. Usually I am straight on to the old laptop and letting those fingers dance across the keyboard. It's actually quite laboured today. It's maybe because I'm waiting for my dinner at the moment, haha!

The most obvious thing a tourist will notice upon arrival to France via Roscoff is the ease of which you are soon on your way and driving on the wrong side of the road without a second thought. The second thing is the multitude of fields full of artichokes or corn and trees galore. Really as far as the eye can see, it's agriculture on a fabulous scale.

this was a harvest display in a tiny cafe!

This becomes even greater when you dander into your 'local' village or even huge supermarket. Pride, that's what is it; as a people, the Bretons seem to have pride in their food. Everything is fresh and from close by and in season and when it's cooked (if it needs cooked) it doesn't even need extra flavouring. Dinner for me on the first night was good old steak and green beans ~ WOW, plus the salads are so sweet and fresh too. Don't get me started on crepes and gallettes - to die for!

This was Andrew's, it had banana in it so healthy, ha!
The only problem I have with France is the wine, it's so reasonably priced and tasty and you really do need some everyday. I fear if I had staid any longer I would have developed a habit! Even the cider is drinkable and from me that is a huge complement. Plus, as people there seem to drink a lot less milk than us Brits, they have a tendency to use UHT milk. I can taste the difference and HATE the stuff, so all my coffee was black and strong and oh, the caffeine highs and lows!

Normandy on the other hand seems to have more of a love affair with cream. Everything was creamy and cheesy and I am very sorry indeed, but often a bit much for me. Luckily we were staying in Gites (self-catering accommodation) and could cook for ourselves.

We staid in the middle of nowhere and dandering around little lanes and past many farms and very small villages we were happy to see a multitude of private veggie gardens. Even on the outskirts of major towns and cities there were Allotments! Joy. This garden and these lotties were in Dinan, I was on the famous and fab town walls when I 'eek-ed' out loud at the sight of them down below.

We travelled around a good bit and had the best time. Andrew was so relaxed and we just had the sound of cows, chickens and crickets at night with the occasional the 'thud' of an apple falling from a tree bough - HEAVEN.

I whole heartedly urge you to give the North of France a visit. Plus VP, the municipal planting is awe inspiring, really.