Thursday 22 December 2011

Warm Winter Wishes

It's really just been so unlike me. I haven't been able to string a sentence together for ages and my poor blog has been suffering so much. You will have no idea how often I open up this laptop, come to this page and just can't think of anything to say. My depression has reached an all time low this Winter and as today is the Winter Solstice I am fighting back. And would you look at this link - 2012 is going to be a good year! Though in saying that if we believe the Mayans and their calculations this is also going to be the apocalypse, erm, Yay! eek

So another year draws to it's ultimately anticlimactic end. Yes at the moment all the children are super duper excited about their presents and what Santa will bring, us grown ups are slightly nervous about the Christmas family dinner being perfect and everyone liking their gifts and then of course we'll all eat too much and feel fat and then there's New Years' Eve to consider...

I warn you now I am the original Scrooge - bah humbug to the lot of it.

As you know dear, lovely readers, I have been having a most difficult time. Christmas does not help. I am not one for the forced jollity, the socialising, the drinking and I get no sense of religious wonderment either. To me it is just a time to rub noses in the dirt, a time of 'look what we have and what you don't', spoilt children, an over abundance of food (and that gets thrown out), worry about bills, and the memory of loved ones lost. Yes, my depression and anxiety does not realise it the holidays and take itself off for a few weeks to Spain.

Andrew and I will have each other and that is all I care about. Mamma G will be cooking and hopefully not too stressed. We will all eat Lottie grown Parsnips (the bestest in the world) and I shall have a glow in my tummy because they taste so good. Our Carrots were a disaster! and we forgot to plant Sprouts (hahaha - oh dear!)

I was at the Lottie by the way. Well I couldn't actually get to it as we bounced down the crater filled road and had to park in a small lake of what looked like cold tea. Turns out that even though I haven't been well enough to go there alone, I couldn't anyway - I would be on my face, the road is so bad it is dangerous. I'm really a bit angry about it. Then, naturally there are people who refuse to listen and will drive their cars right down to their sheds and so the ground is all ruts and pits, ready to catch me out again.

Did I already say Bah Humbug?? No?! Well BAH bloomin' HUMBUG!

I am not going to end this on a sour note, oh no. I have gathered together all my resolve and I am using it to ignore Winter and focus on Spring. Spring shall once again conquer over this season and I shall be reborn. So from me, from Andrew and from Maggie - Happy Holidays and may 2012 bring with it much joy, hope, health and good growing to you all.

I thank you most humbly and most honestly with all my heart for sharing  2011 with me.

 Kisses to everyone xxxx

Wednesday 7 December 2011

The hardest post I may ever write

Yesterday was the day that was firmly written in my mental dairy as the day I was going to kill myself, I had everything planned.

I have just had a shower and tried to thoroughly scrub that day off my body, as far as is possible (pity life wasn't so simple). So it is now, sitting with my hair wrapped up in a towel that I come before you. I come to apologise for my utter selfishness, my deplorable weakness.

There are a few people out there that need proper thanks for helping me live and I shall contact you individually; terrified that I may leave someone out I shall not mention any names at all bar that of my darling, my reason for being ~ Andrew.

I promised myself at the outset of this blog that I would not shy away from the truth, that mental ill health and the stigma attached should and would be blown up on my little piece of the web. So you signed up to read my thoughts, share in the adventures and as with any relationship, you have seen me have some great days and some days I'd rather not think about. In return I have been honest, I have spoken out loud what some have feared to say. I hope that this post will also act in that way. For anyone who is low (and let's face it Christmas can be the worst of times for many) I urge you to speak out, even if it is to me, my e-mail is over there on the right. Though naturally I would prefer you talk to a professional.

You are loved and I believe in you, I believe in the beauty of people and the strength of the spirit. I have visited hell and survived.


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley

Monday 5 December 2011

So...Winter, we meet again......

I hate it, I utterly hate it, I was not meant to deal with Winter, like a bird I am supposed to fly away to a warmer climate and forever live in Spring/Summer. Yet here I am, cold, miserable, with the heating on and can you believe it - getting the sniffles again!

The lottie is just too water logged to do anything and there is an icy gale blowing through the field away = I would be dying of pneumonia within seconds and Maggie would never forgive me for taking her out there in the first place. Basically, it's just not worth it.

So I have been making flowers (seeing as I can't get to plant any), and reading lots.

Last night I didn't sleep and turned to my current novel 'The Tiger's Wife' by Téa Obreht; this is an adaption of page 92. It spoke to me so powerfully, not in the way it was intended but I thought I would share my version of what is being talked of here; a Tiger in a zoo trying to cope with the noise and confusion of war, bombs and destruction. It is just like me at the moment, trying to cope somehow with my depression.

A grey sun rises and falls each day in what seems like matter of minutes as I sit within the walls of my own private enclosure; strong steel bars seen only by me, mess everywhere that I just can't seem to get on top of. Alone but not; I have the consistent low mumble of that voice behind me urging to be to give up, give in; a deep rumble creating a kind of awareness of my own death. I can neither dismiss it nor succumb to it - it leaves me fragile and constantly exhausted. I am too weary to move, to make a sound, think clearly or react in anyway. Inside, the real me is always screaming. There is so much noise.
What is it that drives me forward everyday, what is it that says ' get up! will be will be okay'.
On a happier note, I was blessed by the gift of another book to read - 'Minding my Peas and Cucumbers', by Kay Sexton. It was sent to me by the ever beautiful Debbie (Ms J) after she had borrowed it from the oh so adorable Flighty. It was a surprise and a heart warming item to receive and I look forward to reading it. I guess that is one thing about Winter - I get to snuggle up and feel miserable joined with everyone else and drink warm drinks and read about other people's adventures. There is always a better world in a good book or at the very least, I feeling that you are never alone.

And with that I must also thank everyone for their comments and emails xxxxxx

Monday 28 November 2011

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars

....though not me.

Things have hit a new low, I'm in a bad way and at the moment I am laying here full of sleepy pills waiting for Andrew to get home and watch over me - the little voice in my head is telling me it's time to say 'goodbye cruel world!'. I may come across as glib but it isn't funny at all and is in fact very frightening.

I still haven't been to the lottie nor do I really give a damn, which when I see it written down like this is a wake up call in itself. I haven't even taken a photograph in almost 3 months. I'm just not right. Though it's not as if I get a hell of a lot of encouragement from my best pal Maggie - she doesn't do rain, hates, the cold and after 20 mins of lottie time without being tickled and fawned over she fakes shivers. Honestly - drama queen!
Oh I can talk the talk if that's what you want. I can tell you that the splendid Mamma G was here last night for dinner and we had a gorgeous meal - all non- lottie stuff though :( However she took one of our huge Jack O'lantern pumpkins home and we're getting pumpkin scones - never had those and I love a good scone, me.

I could tell you how at the market I was praising lotties and growing your own to everyone who looked at a print of mine that had something to do with our plots or produce (of which there are a good few) but it was all an act, frankly I sort of missed the fact that my voice wasn't gone anymore and I am all better from that flu.
I moved  the majority of our gardening books into another more easily accessible bookcase on Friday. I love to see all those spines and think of all the wonderful words and pictures, the effort and love that went into producing each book. I adore the older ones with detailed line drawings and some advice that all gardeners would choke over now, just as much as I love the new books, bright with computer aided design and amazing photography. But I haven't picked up a single one; I feel somehow I don't want to be here next spring anyway.

Of course I will be here next Spring, unless I get run over by a bus, struck by lightening or spontaneously combust - I'm just so bloody stubborn I don't know if I could will myself to death at all!
Andrew was at the lottie for a while yesterday and I had 3 hours on my own at the market, it was the first time I'd tried it alone and I coped :) He was really pleased to finally get the weather and some time to work on the Broad Bean bed; sowing some directly into the soil and others into modules. Maybe its that special joy of seeing seedlings poke their tiny vibrant green tips through the soil that I am in need of, a bit of hope.

Like this popular photo that makes some people cry
'Hope in his Hand' - taken at the allotment on the day of the first pea sowing last year.

I'll write again, Andrew has plans and you deserve another one of my (even though I say it myself) truly excellent plans of the plots detailing what needs to change.
Hugs xxx

Wednesday 16 November 2011

The Hubby Ventures to the Lottie pt2

So let us continue with Andrew's interview ;)

Usually at this time of year we would both be working our biceps into big powerful 'guns' by doing the soil preparation. When he was there last weekend the soil was absolutely soaking and utterly unworkable in the areas that needed improvement, plus he was too ill to be getting into the heavy work anyway. But you aren't, right? I hope not anyway! So I suggest you get out there and dig, dig, dig, adding in glorious compost and poo and maybe some seaweed if you can get your hands on it. That is what we would love to be doing right now.

He did however tend to the compost trinity ;) Here are photos to prove it! The most rotted one is great sounding and Andrew turned it and added he own special improver to it (secret recipe), so we have half a big bin full and ready to go once we can get ourselves down to work.

The middle bin is decomposting really well and is already half full too and the third bin was filled up to the brim. Composting makes me happy - who on Earth would ever think I would say that! It's true though, I love compost and manure and seaweed more than the average person walking down the street. It's free and it makes everything on the plots so much happier, plus I don't actually do the turning so I never have to smell it whilst it's rotting only after when it just smells good and earthy, hahaha. I do muck in with the manure and seaweed gathering though - much to my shame I have had to go to Tesco afterwards stinking to high heaven!

Even great compost can't guarantee great crops though. I had to ask the question, 'what didn't do so well this year?' And it hurts but you just can't fight everything. This year in particular we suffered under the Leather Jacket - oh how I HATE them. We lost all our asparagus plants to the blighters and they were our 'special treat' crop, you know, the one you grow because you love it so much but just don't want to pay the extortionate prices for it in the shops?? Really once you get Leather Jackets in your soil, say goodbye to all the little friendly worms and your crops. Grrrrr. That whole bed is going to be ripped apart and started afresh.

We also had carrot failure this year for the first time. That has really made me sad as I love carrots and it has become a fun little ritual to go to the lottie on Christmas Eve and get lots of them and some parsnips etc for the Christmas dinners. I think it was simply the horrible weather this year, we have just had rain dumped on us all summer and autumn and the ground never really has a chance to dry out so they all rotted.

Lastly, we failed our fruit bushes and trees, they fell foul to pests and disease yes but we also didn't do enough to help them. We only tried the nematodes once or twice and didn't even cover them up with netting etc.  A lot of out fruit went straight into the mouths of the birds because we simply didn't have the time to get to the plot and collect things. Shame on us, really. I have been punished enough though, not a single blueberry was eaten by me this year and the bushes were so heavy with unripe fruit every time I saw year!

Monday 14 November 2011

The hubby ventures forth to the lottie

I am still ill, this is week 4 we're into now and the phlegm just keeps on coming, the cough is really irrating and I am blooming exhausted! Saturday was a glorious Autumn day, the sort that really makes you want to be outside skipping; crisp with deep blue skies and sunshine galore. But of course I had to stay inside and fill a bin with used hankies :(

Andrew though ventured forth to the lottie alone for the first time in weeks as he too has been ill. I decided to badger him into taking photos of everything and then interogated him afterwards so I could feel I was involved. Thus the next few wee updates will come from Andrew but through me :)

Andrew went with the purpose of getting the Garlic planted and harvesting some delicious crops for dinner, we were in desperate need for a homegrown, homemade lottie soup to soothe our souls.

Here is the view of 24a when he arrived. I personally don't think it's too bad after so much neglect just a little weedy and that grass - ggrrrr. Look at those lovley leeks and the chard in the background!

Well I saw a photo of Andrew planting the garlic but I have to put my hands up - like an great big idiot I have deleted it. It was a good photo too, but here is one from after the event where Andrew got some prickily branches and placed them over the bed to try and keep the birds away. I guess it's not a huge stretch to the imagination to think there are garlic cloves under there *shy smile*

Here, this will cheer us all up - a glorious harvest (and my belly is full of these ingredients right now as we have just had our second day of amazing allomtent soup!)

1st Parsnips and Jerusalem Artichokes

 Borlotti Beans

 A beautiful Leek and a Crown Prince Squash :)

And just to make your mouth water even more there was also butter beans, garlic and beef shin - yum!

I shall return with more of the story, more photos, a wee chat about the compost and Andrew's plans and dreams for the lottie :)


Thursday 3 November 2011

Do you believe in plants?

I desperately need someone to tell me that the ionic Phoenix and the idea behind one rising from the ashes of complete annihilation is true. I am in the pits of Hades my dear reader and have been there for a few weeks now.  I can't even see a sliver of light at the end of this, the longest darkest tunnel imaginable. I'm just taking each breath as it comes.

My depression has spiralled down, almost out of control. I am sure I need not spell it out to you; I have been in the darkest of places and thinking the worst of thoughts about life and the end of it. I tell you this not because I want to shock or gain your attention and love; I tell you this because I received a beautiful email today from someone I don't know, thanking me for writing honestly about my problems. It may sound odd to you, but that email has made me feel real and something of some small value. I thank that person, wholeheartedly x

I have to be honest, it is my way. No amount of Ecotherapy can help me at present and the world outside is been just a dark, grey place, barren of life's wonder and miracles, barren of love, of hope, of purpose. Today I watch the birds with mild interest but it's only to stop me looking at the state of the house and I have taken up my (imaginary) pen to write, to communicate with the world. I hope there is someone out there. I haven't felt this scared to publish a post before.

I am just like that little cherry tree in the garden, buffeted by the wind and swaying dangerously. If it wasn't for that stake in the ground, that support it would never have lasted this long. There is one blossom on it, one little tiny dirty pink dot of hope. I missed the bigger show, my eyes blinded by my emotional disorder.

I don't know where I am going with this, my mind is very confused these days. I think I just wanted to talk, I think I just needed to write this down, write about how I could see the allotment in hell recently and damn all seeds and soil improvement and even blogs. It all sounds like nonsense, this whole Ecotherapy thing. Maybe that is what you think too, I hope, in time, we both rise from the ashes and see the bigger picture.

Until then...namaste.

Friday 28 October 2011

An Apology

Dear Readers,

I am so sorry I have not been writing this past week. I have the ear/throat infection from the depths of Hades and I am miserable. The medication has me in asleep one minute, in a dazed stupor the next and when it is running out I am in a lot of pain and feverish. I ache all over, even my eyes! Woe, dear friends, is me.

The sun has been out yesterday and today and the weekend is just there, waiting, merely hours away and I am too sore to even have a shower and get dressed. Plus I can't go outside anyway, I am meant to be 'enjoying' complete rest and I can't blasted well talk! (I would weep but it would hurt too much *shakes head sadly*)

Hoping you are well and happy. Get out there and enjoy the Autumn sun, it's such a beautiful rich tone - perfect for photography (again I weep) and get started into that soil; digging it over and getting it conditioned. Seaweed if you can get hold of it and lots of lovely horse/cow poo :)

Sending you love (but not hugs or kisses in case you catch this!)
Carrie xxxx

Friday 21 October 2011

Pumpkin vs Squash

The issue of Squashes and Pumpkins and which is what causes problems in the otherwise heavenly, perfect marriage of the Gaults. I get it wrong all the time and Andrew is, quite frankly, fed up and worse than that - he is now confused. As we all know Andrew does know his stuff, I am the mere student, so when I annoy him so much that he gets confuddled you know it's bad!

So in an attempt to recreate the harmony in the household I have looked up a few references to discover what the big mystery is..........

What I am so happy to tell you, is I am not alone!! The two are constantly being confused (yay!) due to the fact that 'the two terms have no exact botanical defination' (1). Happy me. Both they and the Gourd are members of the 'Cucurbita' family, the tricky bit comes from the existence of subgroups called pepo, maxima and moschata and differences in the stems.

Cucurbita Pepo
This my friends is the true Halloween scary Pumpkin. A real 'true' Pumpkin. They have hard orange skin that's great for carving and woody deeply ribbed stems. Confusingly this subgroup also includes some marrows, squashes, gourds and courgettes but lets not complicate things.

Cucurbita Maxima
This species 'also contains varieties that produce pumpkin-like fruit but the skin is usually more yellow than orange and the stems are soft and spongy or corky, without ridges and without an enlargement next to the fruit'. Hahaa - I maybe going mad but there are also known varieties in this group that are listed as Pumpkins but aren't really.

Cucurbita Moschata
Now thankfully these ones are easier to identify as they are generally speaking, oblong in shape and less orangy, more tan coloured, think Butternut Squash. 'The stems are deeply ridged and enlarged next to the fruit' in this case. But can you believe it - in your cans of  'Pumpkin' you will be shocked and feel cheated to learn that you are actually buying a 'moschata'. Oh for shame!!!
(Though if you are buying canned Pumpkin then I think you deserve a lie - grow your own!)

This is cute ~ 'Generally speaking a pumpkin is something you carve, a squash is something you cook and a gourd is something you look at'.

*Most of this info and quotes have come from a fabulous website called Aggie Horticulture - thank you
*The first quote comes from Vegetable Expert

Hugs - I'm off to look at Pinterest for interesting Pumpkin carvings - you can check out what I find here

Tuesday 18 October 2011

Apples and things to do with them :)

All these gorgeous photographs and recipe ideas can be found on my Pinterest mood board 'Allotment food and drink'. They are not my own, I really must stress but belong to other blogs.

To find out more about any of them you just click on the photograph, the link embedded within it will lead you to the source page! But for now, just enjoy and imagine what you can do with your apple harvest. Yum

Not much happening on the lottie these days - so sorry. The weather is just awful, so miserable! But we are still eating gorgeous squashes so that cheers the soul. Next time I'll show you some inspirational squash recipes (I do like the sound of the one above - squash and apple, looks gorgeous!)


Wednesday 12 October 2011

Hey, only me :)

I feel bad, I haven't been writing much these last days, but then again I haven't had much to say, so...

Happy (belated) World Mental Health Day! (it was on Monday). I hope you are all well and are with me in fighting the stigma of having a mental health illness - there is NOTHING to be ashamed about and we ought to talk about it as openly as say a broken arm. 1 in 4 of us will experience some poor mental health in our lives, it doesn't discriminate, oh no, it cares not what age you are, your social status, your intelligence or believes. Please, if you are experiencing problems or know someone who is - talk about it!

Rant over :)

And incidentally that is why I haven't been blogging - I had a nervous breakdown last week and I still haven't recovered. I am a bloody stubborn girl though and am fighting my way back to some semblance of 'normality', but not with out a lot of support and understanding from my loved ones.

The weather here has been a reflection of my inner turmoil ~ dull, grey, heavy and raining lots. So nothing has been achieved at the plots at all and quite frankly it's all a bit miserable. But on Sunday Andrew did go over and collected all this goodness!! He made a damn fine soup out of it all and it was healing and restorative, not least because we had that wonderful glow inside us that we grew all this!! Isn't it fabulous - garlic, rainbow chard, potato, celeriac, kale of various types, leek, borlotti beans and some of an utterly delicious, sweet pumpkin (Crown Prince). I can genuinely say there was no anti-bacterial cleaner in it though!! Sometimes photos do lie, hahah.

I have heard that it is also National Egg Week and National Chocolate Week - so if ever you needed an excuse, I think we all ought to be eating lots of chocolate sponge cake - you know, to support the cause ;)

This last photo just goes to show how close I have managed to get to any gardening since my breakdown. You have to laugh! This is a pincushion for wearing around the wrist and was made by your truly, especially for one of my bestest friends. Please do contact me if you would like one, hahaha!

Hopefully I shall speak soon xxxxx

Thursday 6 October 2011

Squished and Squashes

Tuesday night - you are so glad you weren't in my house, I had a breakdown. Uncontrollable crying for around an hour and desperate bashing of the noggin with my fist. It could not have been a pretty sight.

Wednesday - managed to get up and onto the sofa. Spent the day unable to speak or walk, think or type, read or listen. I was trapped, squished if you will,  inside a body I couldn't work with and a mind that kept telling me it was time to go. I guess you could say I was in a pretty bad way.

Today - slowly, I managed to get up, feed myself and do some housework :) Then I had a shower and did more housework :) My fingers were able to type the words that my mouth is still struggling so hard to say but at least I can express myself,  plus I did more housework :) I feel better than yesterday and this migraine is a walk in the park :) Plus the house is cleaner - yay go me!! Housewife of the week award.

Knock me down 7 times and watch me as I get up 8 times!

Look what is outside my patio doors  - isn't that a happy sight? This morning it made me smile inside, my face was frozen so you wouldn't have noticed but I was happy. Then this afternoon after all that rain it still made me smile - this time my mouth moved and I am feeling much more human :) Plus in that bed my dearest hubby has planted bulbs - those harbingers of hope!!!

We have snowdrops, crocuses and new to me - Summer Snowdrops!
"What!" you say.
"I know!" says I in return, "snowdrops in summer - yay!"

Pumpkins! (what a wonderful word, I may start using it as a curse word, I use those a lot these days) - okay 1 was stolen but look at all these babies and there are about 3 or 4 more :) I wish I had of drawn on at least one earlier in the year as a commenter mentioned 2 posts ago - genius. Just think, there could be a pumpkin out there smiling back at me, or sticking it's tongue out at me; I LOVE that idea - remind me next year!
Oh and seeds in the post from a lovely friend, Ann. She is very artistic and drew these beautiful floral packages herself! I am seriously impressed. Floral carpet seed bombing shall happen my friends - I will make this place glorious (we live just outside the limits of Eden Village- but we shall have many a bloom!)

Wednesday 5 October 2011

Have you seen this dog??

***Responds to the name MAGGIE (the wonder dog)

*** Last seen sleeping on her very own 2 seater sofa on her cosy blankie, quite like the photo above but with out the jumper on

***Cheeky little scamp who uses those big eyes to get what she whats (from everyone but me, I am savvy to her ways)

*** Has a love for biscuits, sausages, bran flakes, pretzels, cheese and fine red wine

***Loves to go for a toot toot, trip to the beach or to see her granny

***Apologises to no one for giving in to her need for loving and tickles (but then no one should)

*** Loves to make herself smell interesting by rolling in, well, crap :)

*** Desperately friendly - will cry at other dogs until they relent and let her sniff their bum

*** Hair is a little messy at the moment as she needs a good clipping though legs have been trimmed = looks fat but isn't!


Friday 30 September 2011

One Day Like This

It was supposed to be a wonderful surprise. I was going to shock you all and truth be told, shock myself. Today was the day I was going to go to Allotment alone and work for a while. Today, the last day of the month, it was a little private goal. This is my 600th post.

 Well I went. I walked up to those gates and I walked down to my shed. I opened the door (for the first time as a person there on my own) and I stepped inside. The heavens opened. I sat down; Maggie was with me of course but the rain was blowing inwards so she got my coat. It was a little cold, there were lots of people in the first field I had had to walk past and to be honest I felt trapped. But I had my headphones on and Elbow was playing; the album was 'The Seldom Seen Kid', I had thought it very appropriate for my visit in terms of the name of course but also because that album never fails to calm and uplift me at the same time.

There were 2 heavy quick downpours and the place was soaked, good for the plants I guess but not so much for me and big surprise. After the second one I picked Maggie up, grabbed my little camera and took some evidential photos; we made it home just before the real rain truly set in.

I had a shower (there was slight panic = cold sweats) and now I am sitting here, in my room strangely feeling like a... winner. I know, you thought I was going to say failure, so did I, hahaha. But honestly; I did it, I went up there and I sat on my plot for 15 mins, I said hello to 2 people (in passing) and I got home again without calling anyone for help (though I really wanted to). I didn't totally suck today! And if I have one day like this every now and then, when I can open the door and step out without shame of being seen, without fear of bumping into someone, without shaking and stuttering, without that gagging reflex kicking in, well...

I will not say 'I have seen the light' but I have given myself a little pat on the back. I tried and isn't that what life is really all about?

It is very self indulgent to write this post and to actually publish it too but I want, no I need to be able to look back on this one day, this one day, when Carrie won. Okay, it isn't over yet but I did something, which to me was huge and at the time I didn't feel scared. It makes me cry (you know, shocked not-able-to-breathe type tears) to even write that now, but it's true, I wasn't afraid of being me.

P.S. Elbow's One day Like This... official video or the BBC Concert Orchestra and choir Chantage

P.P.S - It's half 3 now, I've been home for 2 hours and I feel like crap again. Isn't it just a well I wrote this down when I felt good? Life is a little cruel, eh.

Thursday 29 September 2011

Taming nature and pilfering on the plots!

Okay so I waxed lyrical about the joys of wild flowers in my last post and how beautiful and useful they are. Yes at the sides of the road a thistle, dandelion and long grasses make me happy but in my lottie, well they are nought but weeds.  Mr Titchmarsh sort of agrees with me, he once said that 'a weed is a plant in the wrong place' and boy did we have a lot of weeds to contend with on our return from France. I swear we could have lost Maggie in there!

There aren't any before and after photos but this one below. It's only a tiny part of 24a but it's all you are getting. Yes, shame was all encompassing when we saw our dear lottie plots for the 1st time, I couldn't even bring myself to take a photo, no, it was just too terrible. So think of this, but EVERYWHERE and you will get an idea of the horror, the horror.....
Only 'after' photos will be shared here and let's us forget about the 'before' ~ we are past winners of the 'Best Kept Allotment Award' for goodness sake!

We were methodical in our attack, almost military, a 2 pronged attack, a pincher movement.... Andrew took on the right hand side, I the left, grass was cut and beds weeded like there was no tomorrow. We started on Thursday night and on Friday night we did the next 2 beds and here is the joyous aftermath - some path and 4 beds, one with very healthy celeriac, one with very healthy leeks and 2 clear ones. Thank you very much; *I hear applause in the distance as the plots themselves weep with joy*
However on our return to the Allotments on Saturday we discovered that our shears had been pilfered - shame on you, whoever you are!!! By mistake we had forgotten to put them in the shed overnight and someone took advantage yet again. I say again, as we also noted that very first night that one of our biggest and best Squashes had been taken whilst we were on holiday. Argh, the duality of allotmenteering ~ the community aspect of many people and conversely, the people, all sorts of people.

Saturday saw all the sweetcorn harvested (a mixed bag in the end) and the squash plants below them lifted; sadly no edible fruits there. Then onto the cut and come again beds where all those bolted herbs and lettuces were turfed on the compost heap. Plus Andrew bought these, my new favourite things in the world - new shears!! They are so sharp and have a cushion-y  bit and make a quick whooshing sound when they cut through the grass = happy Carrie.
All we have now up that end in the long beds is Scallions, some Rainbow Chard, Sorrel and these beauties (Pak Choi). I am hoping to get the rest of the plot finished today! Andrew has already moved over to 14b and worked hard but I haven't seen it, I've been focusing on 24a.

New plans for the space are afoot and I shall post those (with one of my fabulous drawings) and the finished plot taming story/photos next time, probably tomorrow night. x

Thank you for all the comments on Wild Flowers; so happy that many people have wild flower borders in their area and like the idea (and practice) of seed bombing :)

Tuesday 27 September 2011

On wild flowers

I've had a migraine today all day and boy does it hurt. However lying in the dark with an eye mask can only be endured for so long and thus as it is twilighting outside and the blinds and curtains are closed, the lights not switched on and my laptop screen darkened I feel I must write something or explode. The latter would be very messy and hard for the police to explain, devastating for Andrew and just too tempting for Maggie to eat (boke!), so here I am teeth gritted, plodding onwards.

Lying here today I was thinking about roundabouts and public space gardening to keep myself sane(ish) so here I shall share....
French roundabouts make me happy. That sounds very sad but it is true. The vast majority are simply beautiful, and what is so great about it is the fun and community spirit that goes into it.Many of them have art done my school kids in them or really huge fun sculptures from wood. I only have a couple of photos here - one of wild flowers which are everywhere along the sides of the roads and intersections (fabulous idea!) and one of beautiful grasses etc but there were so many more (it's just a little hard to take photos out the window of the car whilst going round the roundabout and trying to be a good navigator). Some of them even had bee hives in them - bee hives! Genius.

I adore wild flowers and did do some guerrilla gardening last year when we moved into this new house. I quickly had an accomplice on line who was doing the same thing in a different country :) I was Ms W, she Ms J and she knows who she is *wink wink*. She even helped me when I ran out of seeds! But sadly and this is really very sad indeed... the area I chose to scatter my hopes of happiness also turned out to be the area which the water and gas people dug up (more than once) and thus not one of my seeds came to anything. I have more though for this year coming! I just thought whilst laying here, that it would be such a joy to guerrilla garden roadsides and make them stunning little points of beauty for people's long travels ummmm, these photos have cemented that idea.

I have only seen 3 bees this past summer, a good few wasps and about 5 ladybirds (Andrew saw his first of the year yesterday!) and 2 varieties of butterfly, one of which was the cabbage white (ggrrr, no broccoli for us this year). I think local indigenous wild flowers - planted on that bit of ugly waste land you have near your house, could well be a good idea, not just for the beauty and pleasure but also for the insects. eh? Enough with the sculptures and loads of money spent on silly bedding plants by our councils - wild is the future! Just a though from an addled and pain filled brain....

Friday 23 September 2011

Shear Maddness

A new day literally is dawning, it's 6.30am and for some strange reason I am up and breakfasted and thinking of the allotment. Yes, it would appear I am obsessed, just a little, at the moment. I would love to asleep and tucked up in my warm cosy bed but no, here I am in the living room listening to the early morning lorries and the rain and writing to you. Mad I know.

Wednesday evening and most of yesterday was a horrendous time for me - I have suffered yet another 'episode' were life seems pointless, were I hear that voice in my head telling me I really ought to 'go', that I have outstayed my welcome at the party and that I shall never be happy again. It has been devastating and incredibly difficult, especially the periods were I just cannot speak or move and am simply rigid and elsewhere in my mind, lost. My own company has not been good for me and even now I am a little uncomfortable being up alone.

I am so fortunate that Andrew's job requires him to be out and about so he was passing the house yesterday and was able to answer my distressed phone call. Then after a meeting I was put in the car and taken with him whilst he visited a very old church site. He collected unopened ripe conkers for me; I love to prise that coat off them. We had a quick dinner on the way home and then went straight to the allotment together.

Although it was 7pm and the light was fading fast, it was the best place for me. Funny, it was cold and dull, the plots overwhelmingly overgrown and messy, but I felt more alive there than I'd done in days. I got out the hand shears and went bonkers - hacking and tearing at the long grass until I had a good sweat going (sorry ~ make that a lady-like glow of perspiration!). Large trugs of grass and weeds were removed and paths re-appeared :) Then I got down on my knees and weeded an old potato bed. This is great therapy for me - each weed removed makes me feel like a worry or a problem is being destroyed and thrown in the rubbish. It reminds me of Mary Poppins cleaning the childrens' room and settling in to her new abode, I love to really tidy up a big old mess. (Though to be honest I would rather be that gloriously eccentric man with the cannon on his roof, if I were to be any character in the film).
Admiral Boom
45 mins of good hard work and 2 paths were revealed, the bed cleaned and tidy, perimeter grass tackled and apples plucked. We have plans my friends, plans that involve us getting most of the fruit, not the birds and better use of the space we have; plans that mean I am going to push that little harder to go up alone; plans - plans make me happy.
So from frighteningly suicidal to being up at 6am thinking about those plans and wanting to go work in the dark and rain - what a difference a day makes :)

Wednesday 21 September 2011

France's never ending growing season

Something that Lawerence, the owner of our Gite in the North of Brittany, told us somewhat surprised me. He said that they don't really have a winter where they are and he cuts the grass every 2 weeks all year round! Many years there are just a few weeks were the frost comes and then it's the eternal growing season again. So that made sense of the fact that everywhere you look in Brittany there are artichokes and maize and cabbage etc in large fields, all at different stages of growth.
I fell in love with the artichoke flowers that were for sale in the florists and were often to be found in abundance in large vases outside resturants. (Far better this than eating them - yuck, personally I HATE them).

It's also no wonder that most private gardens have their own vegetable area and everything looks fabulous even though up here at home, they would be over by now. Even caravans on holiday resorts have there own tomato plants growing outside - it's inspirational.

Of course there was no getting away from the fact that it was September and thus it was apple season and cidre making time. All along the sides of roads were apples of all varieties and the supermarkets were no different. Such pride in the apple was lovely and every apple I ate was a delight (even the ones we stole!) Yep, Andrew went scrumping as it was just a shame to see so many apples potentially going to waste, especially when we were pretty sure they were Royal Gala.

Usually on holidays we love going into the local markets to see all the vegetable and fruit varieties and this time was no exception, though to be fair, the supermarkets are amazing as well in their variety and freshness. Here are a couple of gorgous displays from Quimper town market, that is one thing you will always see when it is a personal stall - attention to detail and everything lovingly was also the cool place to hang out if you were a student!

Don't want to bore you so I shall write another French piece later in the week, hugs for now xx

Tuesday 20 September 2011

1st visit back to the lottie

We went after dinner and attacked the place for about 40 mins until it literally got too dark to see ~ already I am not coping with these darker nights! What on earth am I going to be like when it's getting dark at 3pm???

Anyway after our intense weeding and grass cutting we re-found the celeriac and leeks and boy they look fabulous :) There were 4 wheelbarrows of  stuff to be composted! Plus I came across 3 of the biggest slugs in the world and I didn't even faint, haha.

Sorry but I accidentally forgot to take the camera. However, weather permitting we shall be back tomorrow and I shall take a pic before we get stuck in.

Plus I have most of my first post about France written... with a few photos for you.

And on top of that - can you believe this - I spent about half an hour out in the back garden weeding by myself! And this is with the knowledge that two new families have moved in over looking our house. Just a wee boast there for you ;)

Monday 19 September 2011

I'm back :)

Hello! and warm affectionate hugs to you all. Did you miss me? did you? I missed you.

I arrived home from lovely France yesterday and sitting here in front of my much missed laptop I can tell you...I am cold!! It wasn't exactly roasting in Brittany but I was shivering whilst inside, that's for sure; I don't think I was supposed to be a Northern Irish girl at all, ahha.

As I am sure you can all appreicate, I am exhausted! 16 hours on a Ferry (rough crossing home - I was sliding up and down my berth which was funny but meant I was awake a good bit) and 4 and half hours driving up through Ireland home = sleepy me. And on top of that, when I'm sleepy, my double vision plays up even more so I can't really see that well today. What I am getting at is I will share my photos and stories later if you don't mind too much and just dose here on my comfy sofa this afternoon before any migraine would decide to set in!

One thing though - I now utterly despise Mosquitos, bloody HATE the beasts. I have a left forearm that is all deformed with huge bites that are so frickin' itchy I could punch something. Plus one on my leg and one on my face, on my face people!!! Arrghhhh.

Anyhow I shall be in touch soon, with photos and tales of yummy food, inspiring gardens and public spaces and scrumping for delicious red apples. Plus this evening we are going to the lottie and I have been warning that it is a mess - I ain't too proud that I won't share the shame, hahahaa.

Anyway, nice to be back xx

Sunday 4 September 2011


hello everyone, I am in Benodet in France this week. Boy these non querty keyboards are impossible. Andrew and I are finally on our holidays and once again we shall miss the sweetcorn harvest. Maggie is with Mamma G and shall be spoilt rotten so don't worry about her; though there are dogs here on the same fancy campsite as us and the mini boy Maggie I see everywhere is making me feel very guilty, so don't tell her dogs are welcome.

I shall go as my double vision is going wild, I learnt to touch type a long time ago to save me from this keyboard confusion and I can't even find the exclaimation mark to show my distress.

!!! Andrew found it !

Speak soon xxx

Friday 26 August 2011

Missing in Action

Well the title is a little bit of a lie to start with, sorry. I've been Missing in Inaction. I haven't been doing too well at all and that even includes having a lovely birthday and a lovely garden party and getting some commission photography work. I go for life like a sprint when I feel ok, everything done at once and then, because it is meant to be a marathon or lets be more realistic, a nice enjoyable walk, I end up exhausted and out of the journey for days.

Here are some super lovely photos of my Birthday and the birthday party/welcome to our (very nearly) finished garden party.

At the pond with Eimear for a lovely Birthday walk - look enough wishes for everyone and the swans have recovered after the male was killed a couple of years ago :)

 I put the candle in myself, no one else was here!

out for dinner at Wagamamma :)


the party -
 Courgette and lemon cake and balloons with bunting - hurrah :)

 Hanging lanterns and a fire pit to keep us warm - plus some of my favourite people *blush*

But things at the allotment have been ignored, apart from Andrew going up and collecting dinner. I have only seen it once since I last wrote and the experience was a little upsetting as there are weeds everywhere and plants that have gone over and some lovely berries have been eaten by insects and birds. I got a little upset and then angry with myself and we had to leave.
I do have this - my 1st apple from the James Grieve tree... I shall consume it later :)
For most of this week I was going through a nervous breakdown and on Tuesday I felt suicidal. I'm only telling you this because I want to share the fact that a Suicide Prevention website (I don't know which one, I was in a pretty bad state) recommended (amongst other things) getting out into Nature. Ecotherapy saves the day yet again. I pulled some clothes on, grabbed Maggie and went out, luckily I had already spoken to Andrew on the phone and thus remembered to take my keys and take a Valium.

I don't remember much about it apart from the route I took and the panic I felt, the bag I flung over my shoulder had a camera in it (as always) and I managed to take this walking back home -
It made me smile and I think I'll make it my flavicon.
Okay, so the walk didn't exactly make the world seem like a better place and suddenly I wasn't depressed but I did feel a little stronger and a lot more tired = I fought the voice in my head, snuggled up on the sofa  in fresh cosy clothes (not soaking with panic sweat) and give myself the grace I needed. I slept until Andrew came home. It was not the finest day of my life but I made it through.

This Saturday (and if the bloody rain would stop for 5mins, tonight as well) we shall go to the lottie for a while and really try to get it into some shape. The bag of berries Andrew bought home for me at the start of the week give me a wake up call - a spider in a raspberry I was just about to eat, a caterpillar on another and a maggot, oh dear god, a maggot in a blackberry!!!!! = my lottie needs me and I shall answer her call.

***Today I shall hopefully finish the Turkish Delight company's promo photos and then once the owner sees the files I can share with you a little of what I was up to these past days when I was well enough. I swear this stuff looks and smells gorgeous but I do not like it. It's that jelly texture, so at least I haven't been found in a corner rocking and in sweats with a massive sugar overdose and a lifetimes worth of shame. I have eaten a quarter of one piece out of hundreds. Now if a chocolate shop was to ask me to do promo pics, well, I may really have to go AWOL, hahaha.***

Love and hugs to you all, don't listen to those people who say the summer is over - they lie! ;)
And a hearty THANK YOU for all the comments on the previous post, they really helped me feel connected to the world through this latest bad spell xxx