Wednesday 31 July 2013

Joie de Vivre (part 2)

So where did we leave off yesterday? Ahh yes, sweet little Rylee's Birthday party was all finished (nap time) and we were returning to the plots.....

Mamma G and Anne arrived shortly after, with their own empty bags, hahaha - time to get some of our potatoes; we love to share our bounty. The whole bed was dug up and honestly we have never had a better yield from potatoes ever! The Red Duke of York were lovely, all knobbly and such a gorgeous colour; remember they were super cheap from a discount store so - result! But oh my the Sharp's Express were a knockout, I have never seen such prolific spuds, large ones too, suitable for baking, but really they are suitable for everything (we like them roasted, simply boiled and pan fried or mashed. They're the best all rounder spud out there in my humble opinion (and I don't even like potatoes that much!)

all from 2 plants!
We were also able to give away some Scallions, garlic, peas and lettuce, spinach...

Whilst we had visitors Cecil turned up at the plot next door - we has done for a huge 3 bag harvest himself, he was going to be able to share it all with his daughter and daughter in law. We chatted briefly about how damn good that feels - to give good honest home grown vegetables to those you love.

Then all was quiet again on the plots, it was just myself and Andrew getting on with our tasks. The sun had gotten so strong that little Maggie had to go home to cool off, for us two there was a different solution - a cheeky ice cold beer to refresh us and give us the energy to carry on for a few more hours. Ahhh beer....

So I finally managed to clear 'the corner of shame', oh it felt a little like Christmas only better, lol. I loved taking on this area of utter mess and dumping that which can not be used, drying out animal feed bags which we use for collecting manure, drying out those ground sheets that were so important during all that snow and frost earlier in the year and throwing out dead, beyond dead, plants! I even met a frog :), saw one of the few ladybirds we have had this year and built a lovely slate bug resort :) Though as my camera battery was dying, there aren't any photos :(
the before and after
Andrew dug up the garlic - great bulbs again as always and planted 2 more squash plants in the now empty potato bed. Again, I need to take more photos but this was the best I could get. I had to turn the camera off and and on a few times to trick it into giving me a photo at all!
the garlic harvest
Lastly there was my awesomely terrible Pinterest fail of a sign for plot 14b. Lucky I can laugh at myself but this was horrendous, I giggled until I hiccuped...
top left:   top right:
We left the plot that night at 8.20pm, utterly aching and exhausted. I had to have a shower the second I got into the house and but not before I quickly scribbled down that it had been a good day. By the time that shower was over my depression had returned and I had the worst panic attack ever. I'd overdone it. But at least I have those memories and the knowledge that it is possible to lose oneself in Nature, let her take over my worries and insecurities for a while and just be at one with myself, my breath and earth on my hands and the sun on my back...


Tuesday 30 July 2013

Joie de Vivre (part 1)

Let's just forget all the posts I was meant to write and wrote many times over in my head whilst I was ill there. I had another mental breakdown - so boring!

But dear friends this last weekend was a true celebration of life, nature and love. So I think we ought to just start from there, okay? Maybe one day soon I will do a big post of photos from all the harvests Andrew brought home but for now we are drifting back in our minds to Saturday *insert waving lines here*.......

The noise of the birds, the rustle of trees, still air, deep breathing and the rhythmic sound of Andrew's scythe. I stood for a moment in the brightness and warmth of the sunshine and the world seemed to disappear and there were only these moments and a feeling of contentment and love. In this place, in this peace, I found I was smiling, genuinely at ease - all was a dream. Having been so mentally ill it was as though Nature was holding me in her arms, cooling my burnt out soul and giving me a sense of purpose.

I took upon a task -' the corner of shame' was going to be tackled and I was the one to do it. I had energy I had foresight to see the finished results and the relief for both myself and Andrew; we both had been ignoring it :) Really, we had it ignored it to the point where things were missing in there, the climbing rose was dead and goodness knows the majority of it was rubbish *blush*

Andrew did great work on the paths which had started to become dangerously long and I had fallen more than once already (look at how it is just past our plot). The council is meant to keep these under control but they don't - I guess they haven't the time, resources or the interest. Pity as it takes up most of a good days work, particularly when it has to be done by hand...

I found Alan II - I was sure he was lost for good, in fact I secretly thought he had been killed and disposed off in my absence, hahaha. He raises once again as guardian of the plot :)

 But then, guess what?! A timely phone call came reminding us it was Rylee's 1st Birthday and there were cuddles to give and cake to eat :) How can you say no to that?? Though darn and blast it I forget my camera so I have had to steal this from Mamma G's Facebook page....though I had to add a birthday frame :)

After the party we went back to the plot and Mamma G and Anne followed behind but I think that is a good place to pause in this post...more soon from Super Saturday...

Friday 19 July 2013

Guerrilla gardening with Prezzy Box

Sometimes cool little things happen when you've been writing a blog for a while, in that PR people will contact you so see if you'd like to review one of their products. This has happened a few times to me and this week, it happened again. An online gift website called asked if I would check out something from their range of gardening gifts - look a gift horse in the mouth? no, not I. I said yes.

What I was sent?  ....  Flower Grenades for guerrilla gardening.

Well first they arrived in no time and by courier which I liked - care and attention had been put into this. The packaging was good too; a nice cardboard box with bubble packets inside to absorb any knocks.

When I opened the package I was more than happy that it was flower bomb time and the presentation package was really stylish. Though I didn't like the look of the 3 grenades that lay inside - surely that was a joke...

But no, I was rather disappointed to see that they were in fact quite realistic grenades, though made of clay. As a huge pacifist I was dumbfounded that these would even exist. How can I be seen with a replica small bomb here in Northern Ireland without feeling awful and embarrassed?

I lifted one out and lo the whole contents spilled into the box. All the poppy, ryegrass and buttercup seed mix was only held in place inside that clay receptacle with a tiny sticker :(  Instantly I felt this gift was style (or indeed gimmick) over substance.

So this weekend ( Happy Friday Everyone!) I shall try to guerrilla garden a little, somewhere very private down an abandoned laneway.  I shall report back to let you know how it worked out :)

May I say that I still hold fast to the packet of native wildflower seed mix in the old pocket whilst out for a walk and just sprinkling a few as you hike?? That's what I've done in the past....

Friday 12 July 2013

Exciting Garden Update

Over the past couple of weekends my hubby, yes my hubby handmade 2 amazing chairs for the back garden. He looked at many photos online and found some simplified instructions but basically he was just awesome and I am so proud. He made them primed them and then, cause he loves me, he let me pick the final colour and buy little cushions.

They're called Adirondack chairs and they're so huge and armchair like, perfect for the day and with a blanket in the evenings. He is also going to make me a curved footstool and a wee table - eek! Brilliant.

So while I was taking photos of them to blatantly show off to the world, I thought I would document how the garden has taken a real growth spurt and is really starting to become the place we hoped for. Maggie helped - any photo she's in is her ' taking you on the tour' on the rest, well she was standing at my feet.

The beech hedging is beginning to settle and grow well but it's the Christmas box below that is really surprising me, especially after it was given a little trim. Finally the bare bones of the garden are showing signs of vigour and in the end this will completely mask the bins and storage unit behind it :)

Could not be happier at the rate the Boston ivy is growing, everyday one can see a change and now there are tension wires up it's starting to go in all directions :D 
The stained glass window with mirror behind is an absolute triumph if you ask me - I adore it.
The slate plaque there says 'tea-ism' and is just a geeky (and sweet way) of saying the tea garden is this way..

 The tea garden; a raised platform completely enclosed and private with lots of verdant greens and a pergola roof which one day will be covered in that very healthy Wisteria - heaven. At night we also light the Chimenea and get the candles out

Snippets of the rest of the garden with that Wisteria, more bright red in the form of Geraniums, the hedgehog on my cushions, delightful Jasmine buds, Acer, bronze Maple (A. will kill me for not remembering it's name) the evidence of our new outside tap (hurrah) and my favourite - the washing which recently has been drying within minutes :) 

 Hope you enjoyed the tour - now to get out there and enjoy it whilst sewing and chatting with my hubby (public holiday here today so he's off - yay!!) Maggie wishes you a very happy weekend to come xx


P.S. Thank you so much for all the comments, emails and tweets that I have recently been receiving - you dear readers make my heart glow xx

Friday 5 July 2013

Gooseberries and Goosepimples

You would not believe me if I didn't have photographic evidence, in fact I would not believe me unless I had taken my camera but today I went to the allotment on my own! I can barely explain the feeling other than terror at being out by myself, paranoia about all the people that passed me, unquenchable stubbornness and focused on the now when I was picking fruit and weeding. It's an odd mix.

Here is our beautiful plot 24a

and with a few highlights I noticed....

Over on 14b I got my hands ripped to pieces as I fought the sawfly caterpillars for my Gooseberries. It was war out there and I have wounds oh yes, I was bleeding as they pushed the thorns into my hands (they are small but a mighty force) but I got MY fruit!! Plus, although I should have, I didn't kill any of the blighters....

Arrrrghhh, tell me please, how am I meant to cope with all these abandoned plots around me!! My hay fever has reached fever pitch even with medication from the Dr. Oh Zeus Almighty, my eyes are on fire, the roof of my mouth is so itchy and down inside my ear canals! Why there, I can't get to there and have a satisfying scratch!!?? Why :'(

Home with a little posey of Sweet Peas, so many gooseberries I seriously don't know what I'm going to do with them and a happy smile  :D

Happ(bee) Weekend

Thursday 4 July 2013

Furtling for Dinner

We had our first lottie dinner last week!!!

The potatoes were ready so my favourite thing happened on the plot - furtling for spuds. Oh it just brings me right back to my Papa's back garden and Nana saying we ought to go get some veg for dinner...Papa just pulled a plant out of the ground and to my shock and wonderment there they were - potatoes!!! It was like magic. I was tiny and started grabbing spuds and furtling in the fresh soil for more; it was a treasure hunt. And I still feel that way to this day.

Andrew lifted a potato plant and lo, there they were and even better.. they were a pinky purple! Which brings me to a good point ~ these tasty and healthy tubers came from a discount store. Yep, we usually go a nursery and buy our seed potatoes but this year we only bought one variety this way and the others (just for fun) were bought in our local pound shop. So far I see no difference, other than price that is and they tasted so good!

We also picked some gorgeous green garlic, perpetual spinach, mint and a few little turnips - 'purple topped Milan' ones - my all time fave, I just love that heat, that pepperiness.

I had all this very simply boiled and mashed up together and plonked on my plate like a carbohydrate feast. Andrew, being a real man, had to have meat too :) We were in heaven - nothing, simply nothing beats eating your own grown food 20 mins after you have harvested it with your own hands - oh I'm feeling all giggly and excited for more.

And more there shall be as tomorrow I shall share a few photos of other plants really ripening up and getting ready to meet my tummy :)

Tuesday 2 July 2013

A linky party

I'd really like to invite everyone to take part in this Monday morning blues destroyer :) It's over on my other arty blog here....

'A Movement of Appreciation 
I would like to start a little movement, a place where we come together on a Monday and instead of the dreary things we all usually feel and hear about 'back to the grindstone' etc, I want us to take 5 minutes to sit and think of 5 simple little pleasures we experienced over the weekend.

It's not that hard, surely!

As someone who suffers from Chronic Depression amongst over destructive mood disorders I was struck by the simplicity of this little book I found only yesterday and had to buy. I do believe that we forget how incredibly lucky we are on a daily basis and that there is a part of us that tends to remember the negatives instead of fully celebrating the good stuff (or even the normal stuff).'

Please click the link above to learn more.
If you have your own blog you can write your wee 5 little pleasures post on your on page and share it by using the Add your Link button, at the bottom of my post on my blog = more visitors/ new visitors etc to both our blogs...

Monday 1 July 2013

On the Plots (16th June)

Okay, okay, I get it, no more dilly dally-ing from me - I am on a new rota of blogging and you shall hear from me more often, whether you like it or not. Loads is happening at the plots and I simply haven't been bothered to take photos - shameful I know.

This post is going back in time *insert wavy lines here*...back to June 16th, the day before our Weeding  Wedding Anniversary (do you see what I did there?? oh I am funny!) So that was 2 Saturday's ago and the next post on the allotments will be from last Saturday so we can see the incredible changes one week made to our lottie.

We start with a bright a cheery picture of loading up the car with scallions, broccoli, celeriac and leeks..

 Wow, literally 3 minutes up the road and the clouds roll in!! Luckily these were just nice fluffy, friendly clouds and they didn't rain on us until we were just leaving anyway :) I like that sort of cloud, plus you know the plants are all getting a darn good soaking....

These are the first 2 beds on either side of Plot 24a looking great, if I may be so bold (all Andrew's work anyway so I'm just bigging him up!) Look at the those spuds :D on the left I'm starting to get excited about my various peas and beans - yummy.

 The 2 middle beds are full of  beans, spinach, lettuce, chard and broccoli (left bed)
and Roots galore plus Sweetcorn in the right bed (scallions, parsnips, carrots, turnips, beetroot)

Up at the back on the left of the tree arch we have 3 bushes of Blueberries coming (again with the fight with the birds will start in earnest soon - really, after 5 years we ought to get the fruit cage sorted!) Beside them are my Sweet Peas - oh for a lovely bunch....hurry up!

14b is more of a miss in terms of this post (I have tried to fix it up but it's still embarrassing) so you are only getting to see this little part because of the good job I did, hahaha.... It round by the now over Purple Sprouting Broccoli and the boundary line between us and the neighbour 14b.

The bees were loving the flowers there and the bed was humming with merriment so they were left for now..

Now we need your help - this is what's happening to one of our plum tree fruits. This was them on Saturday, in the past weeks they have been a lime colour with touches of this creaminess..

Can you tell us what the heck is going on??...we can't find it in any of our books.