Friday 30 October 2009

Little manly Neeps

A headless chicken, that's what I am at the minute, a feckin' hen without a head running in circles about to collapse and go bye bye. I'm having yet ANOTHER f-ing panic attack and it is killing me. I've taken a sedative but I am quite maniacal and have vacuumed the whole house in the past 10 mins and tided up and got washed myself. I am going to have a break down, I'm serious, I've been having loads for weeks and there ain't nothing any of my Dr's can do but tell me to stay calm and take sedatives if I need them. I FEEL LIKE I'M GOING MAD. I'm not afraid to say that, I am not ashamed to be ill, just desperately, totally overcome with sadness and frustration. And panick.

So, as you can turn to another wonderful blog or tut at my self pity, or get annoyed that this girl is talking about herself like this again; I can write here without worrying about upsetting anyone and without hearing the disappointment in your voice, seeing the confusion on your face, hearing your questions that I don't have answers for.

I want to talk about normal stuff and I have photos I'd like to share. It's about Turnips and Leeks, wonderful grow our own produce to boast about.

I need to take a deep breath...

Right, 'Purple Top Milan', quite possibly the prettiest, peppery-est, easy to grow turnip I know. (I don't know many, this is the one we grew last year as well as this year again; my knowledge is thus limited.) Oh it is one of those veggies that just wants to grow, they push each other out of the way just to prove some point about how 'I want to grow more than you do, get out of my way, I mean it, I'll grow round you sucker!, this bed ain't big enough for the both of us'. Thus:

Well, they were all ready, the ones that you pull out, obviously leave a little room so the ones left behind sprint on - this bed has done us proud. (I see them as feisty Italian men, with too much testestrone, just a thought.) However, too big and they aren't as tasty so it was time to harvest the lot. We didn't need them right away so, after watching Gardeners' World we decided to store some in sand. Now luckily Mamma G happened to have some sand, (so thank you to her) and we had a gorgeous wine box = turnips topped and tailed, wiped with a cloth and allowed to go to bed. Thusly:

It was pouring out of the heavens by this time - hence the soaking wet sand but it'll be fine. They're stored in the dry safety of the shed and should hopefully last us a wee while.

Thursday 29 October 2009

Embracing the Autumn

A new background to help me deal with the fact that, yes, it is the Autumn, the trees are going to sleep and it is dark and miserable. I think I need to move south of the Equator for these next few months - summer is over; I'm a big girl I have to face it. Autumn is here.

This conker feel from a tree recently and almost killed me (evil nut). Very beautiful but so violent - why?

Wednesday 28 October 2009

Feeling sorry for myself

I haven't blogged in days, I haven't read many friend's blogs in days; I haven't been one bit interested. I'm going through (and as I think about it, I must be doing better if I'm writing today) a really rough patch again. Panic attacks and severe depression are eating away at me like a cancer. I feel heavy and confused in my head, my back and shoulders ache from the stress, my blood pressure is all over the place and I can't eat. Even my arms and legs feel heavy and my fingers are not typing the way they should. Who ever invented the delete button should have been made monarch of the world. I just wish there was a delete button in the real world.
Sorry to moan, I'm just feeling so awful. Photos of our 4 hour blitz at the lottie have been uploaded as I write and there are a couple of stories to tell. My words just won't form either in my head or straight from the finger tips like usual.

Instead I leave you for today with a befittingly sad photo. This poor sunflower had been blown over and the stem torn by the storms of last week. I cut the flower head off and went to take some pictures, it began to rain and then I noticed the damn slug there, just waiting to finish her off. It just encapsulates how I feel today, down, down and down, the world conspiring against me. It's dark in this place and the ropes lowered down by my few dear friends aren't long enough for me to reach.

Saturday 24 October 2009

Mingling with the hoi poloi

Yesterday Andrew and I had lunch with the Mayor in the Town Hall. Sounds very fancy and really is was very nice. We weren't alone though (we aren't that important), instead we were part of a large group of winners and runners up in the Carrickfergus in Bloom competition. Oh, the photos in the papers and the acolade of winning Best Kept Alloment of the year 2009 wasn't enough, no, we also had a gorgeous lunch, a certificate, a gift bag, Lottie book and our fabulous vouchers for the local nursery. Then again, there were another few photos taken for the papers; our 15 mins of fame is over.

It had been a very long time since I had been in the main hall of the Town Hall. I used to do solo singing when I was wee there, for the Music Festival. I always came 4th every year ( 5th once) - which is great but I never once got a prize or a certificate. Wick. I remember one year I was the 149th (last) person to sing, everyone was so bored and it ended up with most of the audience singing the bloody song with me! Can't blame them, sitting listening to that may kids sing the same song that many times I would go insane now.

So, to me the Hall was tiny, not the huge venue it was when I was 6-11yrs old. There were people from all over the brough and the whole age range too. We had a lovely elderly couple at our table who came second in the' Container Gardens' section and the winner of the 'Childrens' Painting Competition', Gemma, and her parents.
We had a very tasty lunch and red wine (yummy) and a short speech by the Ulster Co-ordinator of Ulster in Bloom, Ken. He spoke about how he was visiting his doctor recently and she asked wheater he was still in the post, telling him that gardening wasn't just good for you physcially but mentally too. I nearly jumped out of my seat I was so happy. Had to go over to him and have a wee chat. I've said it before.....Ecotherapy Rocks!!

It was fun, we have to try really hard to at least be runners up next year and get to go back. Oh and Stephen if you're reading this.... I didn't get a name badge and my name isn't on the certificate!! Shame.
For all the winners, runners up and a chance to see Gemma's fab painting check here.

Thursday 22 October 2009

I've done a terrible thing

I have fallen for a house, no I know it's not as bad as cheating on my hubby or hiding chocolate biscuits. I haven't lied, stolen or killed anyone but I feel so terrible and wrong. Yes, I love a house and we're going to see it again tomorrow night.

I've been playing about with the estate agents brochure and changing things, all your darn blogs have me full of ideas for the quite large back garden and I think I may go mad. If I explode (as I think I may - we haven't sold our house yet and the Hubby has loads more houses he wants to see) and if I do this is my last will and testament (or at the very least, what I can think of now to put in one).

I, Carrie, of Grow Our Own, being of sound mind (hahahaa, maniacal laugh) here by leave everything to my Husband and dog (Maggie aka 'the Magster'). My body is to be cremated and put in the compost or round the roses I don't know what's best for human remains.
My lottie and all within in should stay in the name of my Husband and should be a place of happiness and fun for all. My blog shall end with a heartfelt post by my nearest and dearest with a slide show and rousing music. Jaffa Cakes must be eaten all day everyday for a month after my demise and Shiraz and/or Merlot drunk by the bucket load.
Here endth the last will and testament of Carrie.

Yes, I may explode; moving house is a scary, wonderfully exciting experience, I just don't know if I'm cut out for it. I've picked the one I want and now I am going to drink my 2nd glass of wine to ease the pain of what could be unrequited love.

N.B. to Andrew ~ please take a photo of said exploded body, could be very artistic. Get Colin to exhibit it under the Vent Collective please.

Tuesday 20 October 2009

The Duality of Autumn

It has been bloody pouring all day, the wind is up, the house has had to have the heating on, I'm wrapped in my comfort blanket and Maggie has so far refused to go out and pee (she hates bad weather). I'm going to grab her when she least expects it and throw her out! It's also dark and thus headachey, can you tell I'm not exactly chuffed with the day we're having?
Autumn. It's the season when everything dies (bit dramatic there I know, my Cyclamen are gorgeous, parsnips fat and still growing) and there is rain and muck and greyness and dark mornings and running to the car from the front door yet still getting wet; don't even mention frizzy hair! It's the season were I just want to pack up my kit and go hide out somewhere. Maybe I could be a writer or painter (photography isn't great in weather like this) and just immerse myself in my 'work' for a few months with a huge 'DO NOT DISTURB' sign on my door. My pieces would be dark, brooding and full of depth, hidden meanings and wisdom beyond my years. I would eat only chocolate biscuits and drink copious amount of (decaff) coffee, peppermint tea and the reddest of wines.

But no. I sit here in the full knowledge that I have to go out soon and face the weather-y music. We're house hunting and time waits for no wo/man at this hour. The lottie needs tended to this weekend even if it is blowing a gale and raining so hard I can't see out my glasses. Then of course there will be the usual chit chat about Christmas being just around the corner and NO I bloody well don't have my shopping done, for goodness sake.
Deep breath.
Then there is another side of Autumn that I LOVE!! The colours is an obvious thing, the leaves (dry leaves) on the ground just waiting, wanting to be kicked. The boxes of bulbs arriving on the door step, the hard work digging manure into the beds (mainly to keep you from freezing, or crying, or both), the earlier nights and cuddles on the sofa and the blue sky, that amazing azure blue that you only get on a crisp bright Autumn day with the whitest of clouds floating by.

It's also the time when you get to buy jumpers and cardigans and heavier coats and people can't see that little (or maybe not so little) belly you have and swore you'd walk off but didn't.

There's Tree Week and the possibility of sitting with friends around a wood stove outside and playing with sparklers (I like to write my name with them), maybe even apple dunking and the big fireworks displays that are put on. The scary drives into the countryside or the organised trips to old graveyards, hospitals, prisons at the witching hour! Ohhhh.

Yep, Autumn = duality of emotions. Right now though I'm firmly in the 'right Maggie, you are going out to pee' mood, which will be followed by the 'do I want to sign my life away and buy this person's house' mood - eeek! That last one is scarier than any horror movie, BIG decisions - I'd rather do some weeding, in the rain.

Thursday 15 October 2009


I'm running on empty. My battery cable for the laptop decided to give up the ghost and depart from this mortal world (damn it!). So I've got a full battery at the moment thanks to my lovely Mamma G sharing her cable with me, thank goodness we have the same computer.

Anyway, it will be less likely that I'll be able to sit here like usual and waffle away until I get a replacement; praise be for Amazon. As long as the Postal strike doesn't ruin my life I'll be blogging again in no time. For now, hugs! and may all your harvestings be delicious x

Tuesday 13 October 2009

Matron has corrupted me, guv!

I don't even like gin. Let that be known to begin with, secondly if Matron's bad influence had not been at work on us, this would not have happened, I lay the guilt of a drunken gin-soaked Christmas entirely at her feet.

Andrew got stuck in the mud last week whilst on a visit for work. Luckily he wasn't alone and his colleagues in the other car were able to go and get a tow rope and eventually pull our wee car out of the quagmire. Being a resourceful man, Andrew spent the anguish of 20 or so mins waiting for them to come back from buying the rope by picking Sloes.

We made sloe gin, it smelt terrible but I am assured that 1, my nose and palate are 'weird' and don't recognise the joy that is gin and 2 it will get fruity away.

The recipe is pretty easy to remember, 'it's basically half and half again'. The amount of gin (around 1litre), then half that (around 450g) of pricked and washed Sloes, then half that (around 225g) of caster sugar. Just the 3 ingredients. Then you have to make sure you give it a darn good shaking every month for about 2 months. The thing is that we didn't have a big bottle so we had to use the gin one = 1 litre will not fit back in again once there are lots of sloes in there.

So we had some left over and the devil on my shoulder came up with an idea, Raspberries and Blackberries are berries and why can't we put them into gin too? An alternative, a fresh approach to fancying up cheap Tesco* own brand liquor. We did the process again, unfortunately we didn't have a clear glass bottle for this batch and it's such a pretty colour too, ah well, wait til Christmas.

Like the total eejit that I am I didn't/couldn't take any photos to go with this blog as my camera's battery was/is dead. But if you look at Matron's posts on the subject Monday 5th October and the update on Wednesday 7th October you'll get the picture (literally).

*could be evil; yet to be confirmed...

I'll have a vat of that please!

Okay, shame on me for not writing much these days; I have been sick :(

Yep, mentally not good at all, not even a wee bit but on top of that an upset tummy ~ is there anything worse when the raspberries are ripe and you can't bear to eat just one!!? All I could cope with was a single berry-ette from a Raspberry. I have been puking all over the show (even in the hedgerow of the lottie, so watch out guys, I blush).

There have been a couple of up sides to this period of dicky tum. I got to sit on Sunday by the wood stove with my blanket and just watch Andrew working hard. It is lovely to watch others run around like mad and just sit there calmly. Mint tea was the order of the day, we did have lots but the pot broke with the force of all the roots and I hacked it in half and potted up two. I thought it was 'proper' to cut plants back when you did this so there are about 3 tiny mint leaves now, but hey it doesn't taste so good on the way up again anyway!

Then there is the little bit more attention you receive and the extra hugs, always nice.

And lastly there is SOUP. Oh, if only everyone could have a Hubby like mine. Well you can't have Andrew, he's mine alone and don't even think about stealing him, though I know you want to. Andrew is a whizz in the kitchen and the lottie produce does not get harvested in vain (most of the time, blush again) when he is on top cooking form. So the healing soup he made at the weekend was Wonderful! I didn't take a photo because ironically it looked like sick, ha..

Andrew's 'Lottie Root Soup' contained:
and bought in Chicken Stock

It was all cubed, simmered and mooshed ~ yum.

I ate it all and it stayed down, hoorah. I think I would like to bathe in that soup, so good and thick and gooey and yum. Can't wait for more and more and more.

Friday 9 October 2009

World Mental Health Day - don't ignore it!

I had no idea at all that today was World Mental Health Day even though I visited my psychiatrist today. I am not ashamed to say that; I have a mental health problem. I just want to say out loud that if you feel you have a mental health issue TALK TO SOMEONE YOU TRUST!!

You are NOT alone. It effects people of very age, race, creed and social class. I doesn't matter who you are, you or someone you know well will probably experience at least a period of mental un-wellness. That can be depression after losing a partner, anxiety over losing your job, or bullying at school.

I am well aware that sometimes it feels like no one cares and often there is a severe lack of professionals out there but DO NOT give up, do not feel alone, do not accept anything other than quality assistance. Make your voice heard.

Equally, prevention is better than cure ~ LOOK AFTER YOURSELF, not just physically but mentally too. You matter, honestly, you do.

And remember......Ecotherapy Rocks!

What Allotmenteering is really all about!!

Forget all the hard graft, the digging, planning, planting up, tearing down, composting. Forget the uncooperative weather, the seed catalogues, trips to the nursery or timber merchant. Forget even the committees, Fun Days, blogging and documenting everything with a million photos.
I tell you what...this is true Allotmenteering....

Eating soup made from the stuff you grew (see Squash Soup recipe below) on a slightly chilly evening with the wood stove going beside you warming you up nicely. Listening to the birds, especially the cheeky Robin standing on top of the water tap 10 meters away. Having your Hubby and your dog with you and watching the sunset.

That is why you should either get a plot, visit a friend's or spend more time at the one you're neglecting (you know who you are!)

Yes it is hard work having a lottie but nights like we had last Sunday, that makes all the mistakes, the money spent, the working in the rain and freezing winter wind, the worry about little seedlings and dreaded diseases (blight, whisper it) all seem to melt away. Enjoy this lovely harvest time, enjoy it on the plot if you can, it's wonderful in the true sense of the word.

Thursday 8 October 2009

National Poetry Day - nothing to do with allotments but what the heck

I wasn't going to do a post today, I haven't been well but the Hubby is sleeping on the sofa beside me and I've been dandering around some friends' blogs and think I will. National Poetry Day could easily have passed me by with out a care in the world but I do have a favourite and it is very important to Andrew and I, it was read on our wedding day.

Had I the Heaven's Embroidered Cloths ~ W.B Yeats.
Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
Plus I always loved Horace's :
Happy the man and he alone,
He who can call today his own,
He who save within can say,
Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.
Just my wee contribution x

Wednesday 7 October 2009

Ummmm, Squash Soup

'All pumpkins are squash, but not all squash are pumpkins' ~ direct quote from my Hubby.
Well to me, he's the authority on cucurbits (the proper family name for such things) as he managed to grow some this year, hurrah! Last year was an unmitigated disaster, nothing grew for us from that family at all, which was a real disappointment as I had 50p on the fact that we would win the biggest Pumpkin Award. Luckily the person I had that bet with doesn't remember, haha, so my 50p is safe.

This year we (notice how when things go right, I write 'we', when they go wrong it's Andrew's fault) grew Butternut Squash 'Cobnut' and little 'Sweet Dumpling'. Here they are in all their glory, a good haul, compared to last year, at least.

The Squash is one of the finest things known to allotmenteering in my eyes; the flowers are lovely you can do the 'sisters' system with them, therefore they don't take up too much room and they're bloomin' gorgeous. I like them roasted, chopped up and put in the oven for ages with olive oil and salt and pepper, no, I LOVE them, my mouth is watering like crazy. Andrew is the best cook ever and he took this one stage further with a squash soup last week. I have begged him to share his secret recipe with us all here and he has relented.....

Andrew's Squash Soup

1 leek

3 or 4 cloves of garlic, to taste

2 medium sized home-grown squash of your selection, (sliced & roasted)

1 Litre of chicken stock

Seasoning, including a dash of cumin

Sweat, simmer, muddle and serve.

Thank you Andrew x

Monday 5 October 2009

Just a thought.

I've just been thinking (and the answer is 'yes' to all you sarcastic people out there, my head does hurt now). I've just been thinking about the allotment as a whole, all the things we do down there and, when we aren't there, the time we spend thinking about all the things we have to do.

For instance this Sunday alone we:
Improved the nutrients our plants and soil have available to them ~ the best we can provide.
We protected some from harm with netting and the use of the cold frame.
Cut out dead wood and checked for problems that may be just starting.
Picked off parasites and weeded around our darlings, we don't want them to struggle in life.
Checked supports were in place and sturdy.
Appreciated them, whatever they looked like, weather they were flourishing, dying back, going to sleep or just plain had it.

I wonder, why don't we do the same for ourselves? Compared to our plants we are neglected, tired, run down, bolting, maybe succumbing to the cold, not eating well and not giving time and energy to our own well being.

Do you ever take a moment to appreciate who you are? I don't, but I'll photograph the life out of a single (dying) raspberry leaf like it's the most wonderful thing in the world. Maybe this season should be about us. Maybe we too need to hibernate, get mulched and have some more support to just live an easier life, maybe it's about time we appreciated ourselves and just. slowed. down.

Just a thought.

Friday 2 October 2009

Happier news

On a lighter note, Andrew, Maggie and I are getting our photograph taken today with Mrs Hardy of Sunnybank Nurseries. This is to mark the occasion of our being the Best Kept Allotment 2009. Horrah for us.

Politics on the plots

'Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people.'
~ Oscar Wilde.
I swear, I am fed up. The allotments are becoming a place for people to gather and moan. I can't stand it, it actually upsets me. It seems that everywhere I look, people are looking for trouble, something else to get annoyed about, and finding it, then applying the wrong remedy. What does moaning about anything do? I loath to use a statement made by Margaret Thatcher but really, if you want something to be spoken about, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman. And here, on this blog, I am that woman.
I mean, really, are we all 12? Could we actually organise a piss up in a brewery? I truly wonder what the purpose of a committee is on our plots, what is going on? Even within the association members there seems to be a complete lack of communication or indeed complete lack of action. I highlight seems for a reason, in the hope that I am wrong. The next couple of months are going to be crucial for the allotments - what is going to be done with the membership fees, where is the money we made on the open day going?
I received my copy of the new rules about fences today and my blood pressure surely went up. I don't wear a heart monitor all the time so I can't prove it, but I have a feeling it did. With it came the minutes of the last meeting, I haven't even looked it properly as so many times in the past it is just a long list of things that were talked about and not resolved or were put off for some other time. Plus there are talks of something to do with twinning up with a group in Poland - for heavens' sake why? What have we to offer anyone when we can't get ourselves off the ground?
Politics is something that is supposed to stay off the plots, like religion it can be explosive. Being brought up in Northern Ireland we know better. I know what I'm doing though ~ head down, concentrate on my plots, my plants and help any living soul who needs it while I'm down there. If you want my opinion on something I shall give it; please respect it as I will respect yours. But for goodness sake STOP MOANING. There are plenty of things in this world worth getting upset about, Eden Allotment Gardens is not one of them!