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