Monday 31 March 2014

Hullo April :)

Much to tell this week, so much it's a little daunting but I'll get there ;) You know me, I can't help myself but write and share!

But for today I wanted to do my wee end of month poster with some inspiring words about Spring from a much more eloquent person than myself. I hope you like it and do in fact feel this way about the joy of the season at present. I am in love with our multi-headed daffs at the allotment at the minute - about 5-6 little sunshine faces on each stalk - wish I knew their name, sorry.

With love, as always

Wednesday 26 March 2014

It's all Rubbish

The wind came and ruined everything two nights ago. Well by everything I mean the wee mini greenhouse blew over and some of the newest seed trays went ass over tip and thus they all need re-sown. There were some glorious broad beans too though, looking oh so good, but now we shall have to salvage what we can and start again with them too. Oh woe, is us!!

I too have been going through a flippin' nightmare of a time with my mental health and have barely been able to string a sentence together. Lots of rest and just doing nought has been the orders of the last few days and you know I hate that, but needs must.

I have been looking at lovely recipes and pictures and posting them on my Pinterest board so I don't lose them.  This is one I think is just too cute and useful not to share... Not my work sadly, the original comes from here

Hope to be back on the blogging horse soon and we have plans, of course, for the weekend :)

* I also have some lovely ingredients at hand for another tasty recipe....

* I'm taking part in the #100happydays movement on Instagram too -


Friday 21 March 2014

Fruit Soda Farls - N. Irish bread yumminess

So here it is, my 1st ever recipe shared with you! As I said in the last post it is a muddle of a few recipes and some Carrie intuition. Oh crikey I am so nervous. I have made a recipe card, it's 6x4 so if you like you can print it out but seriously, if you do try this ~ constructive feedback only please!

Fruit Soda Farls 
Fruit Soda Farls - '' ~an allotment blog

Do remember that flour is a funny thing and the amounts you require can change on any given day due to the weather and humidity in the room or the make you buy etc...

Farl -

 Farls - Fruit Soda Bread Farls - '' - An Allotment Blog

I made it yesterday again and tried to take photos along the way but goodness it was difficult, especially when trying not to get flour or dough etc on my lovely camera and lens, nevermind the not burning my farls!

Below Left ~ Measuring
Below Right ~ Mixing the dry ingredients
measuring and mixing dry ingredients - '' ~an allotment blog

Below Left ~ The Well and the wet batter/dough
Below Right ~ By cutting into 4 you are creating 4 'farls' :) ~ Cooking 2 at at time

Creating the fruit soda bread dough - '' - An Allotment Blog

Below ~ Here they are, I like to go a deep golden and even love little burnt bits ;)
The finished fruit soda farls - '' - An Allotment Blog

Hugs and love
 Carrie x

Thursday 20 March 2014

(pt3) Three Day Weekend - Thanks St. Patrick :)

And so we come to the last day of the long weekend - the big day itself -
Public Domain Clip Art - Shamrocks - St. Patrick's Day 

I started the day off as the ultimate Northern Irish domestic goddess and baked fresh fruit soda farls for myself and my lovely hubby. I had never done it before (I know, shame on me) but I felt I really ought to something vaguely traditional. Nana used to make these and plain ones and wheaten bread etc just automatically; in fact it was hard for her to put anything into ounces for anyone, she did it all by eye :) So I took her 'recipe', plus a couple off the Internet and melded them together to make my own. I'll share it with you tomorrow xx

P.S. Unlike most St Patrick's day food stuffs you find on the net - this isn't green, it hasn't any booze in it and is actually pretty yummy.
fruit soda farls - '' - Allotment Blog

Then with full bellies and joy in our hearts we ventured forth, plotwise, not wanting to waste any of this precious bank holiday. We we sure there would be people there today and naturally you never get as much done with all the chat, but, lo and behold, only 2 people at the far side of the field and only a few in the other fields altogether :(

St. Patrick's is the traditional day to plant your potatoes here, so.... Andrew did it the lazy way this year and good on him too, none of this double digging lark etc. Ridges and furrows are the way to go, quick as you can say 'spud' and they are planted.
We have 3 types, left to right ~
* Saxon
* Kestrel
* Pentland Javelin
planting spuds- '' - Allotment Blog

This is when it really starts to feel like a new year at the plot, this is when we genuinely get excited :) Talk turns to painting the shed again and doing runs to the dump, we get giddy about crop rotations and where our permanent new plants will go. Daydream about that first ice lolly and picnics in the blazing sun...This year we have no ready access to water! Only that which falls on the roof of the community centre (between 4 fields!) and what we can get in our own water butts - I can foresee trouble ahead, but we try not to talk about that.

I was at it again with the old de-shaming of 14b...I may be slightly obsessed by now. I got rid of that damned Carex ornamental grass which had produced over 35 good babies which also needed discarded (there were more than 35 but I gave up counting and just started to go feral and rip them up, kind of like an demented lottie ninja...) aaarrrghhhh

Oh and I found a rose bush :)
attattacking the flower border - '' - Allotment Blog

Andrew planted our brand new Blackthorn hedge-lings and more Raspberry canes (Glen Ample) where I had ripped out all the dead ones.

Blackthorn and Raspberries - '' - Allotment Blog

Suddenly the rain cam in and we had to rush around gathering everything up - where did that massive cloud come from?? I guess when you have your face in the soil you don't notice the sky as much. So there aren't any good leaving photos from this day :(

But I shall give you one more - Maggie's face when she sniffed my wee dram of whiskey at the end of the day, haha..
instagram Maggie and whiskey - '' - Allotment Blog

That was one brown post! More colour next time :)
Hugs and love

Wednesday 19 March 2014

(pt2) Three day weekend - Thanks St. Patrick

Sunday 16th March ~

We've never done any of the twee and commercialised stuff to do with the St. Patrick's holiday and with an allotment now, we always have our own plans. Belfast has a crazy big St. Patrick's Day parade on today but, no thanks, it isn't even the big day. It amazes me how everyone else around the globe seems to make such a big deal of it, green everywhere (St. Patrick's colour is blue), four leaf clovers (lucky in Irish but he is identified by the three leafed, normal clover) etc. Plus where did this need, this urgent need to get drunk come from? Is it a diss on what it means to be Irish??

Ahh, sure.

We had FIRE! There was a lot of deeply rotten, moldy and diseased wood around our two plots, coming on 6 years that is bound to be the case. We really didn't want it near to the precious soil and new life we were cultivating. (Fear not, there are still piles of wood and slates etc for bugs, but this stuff was bad.) It needed to be eradicated and though it lots like a huge angry fire, that's just due to close ups and there wasn't any wind and Andrew was by it at all times and what I am trying to say is - this was needed and we were safe about it. It was also beautiful :) The middle picture shows all the dead stalks from the Jerusalem Artichokes too, so great too tidy that area up and it really bolstered the fire. (I contributed them)

Fire!! :) - '' ~ allotment blog

Along with this going on, I was on 14b and having a very emotional reaction to the cherry tree bed. That's not a sentence I ever thought I would write, haha. Maybe it was due to the horrendous low I went into late on Saturday night, maybe it was because the cherry blossom is my moniker, but this bed needed my full attention and love.

cherry tree bed, before and after- '' ~ allotment blog

Written in shed, in notebook ~ 'I can't quite explain it, it was therapy, there were too many emotions. But I suppose, chiefly amongst them was the need to get rid of that crap; clearing out, destroying it - it did something similar for my soul. I didn't want to give up'.

14b (day 2) - '' ~ allotment blog

I have a sense that turning this mess around and making something productive and beautiful with it will do me no end of good. It's going to be an 'easy maintence' half plot with fruit trees, bushes, rhubarb and asparagus in it - things that like to be left alone. Plus it is where my cut flower border is going to be and I am serious about this time, really good dahlias, roses, echinacea, sunflowers, poppies etc, flowers that make my heart sing and will brighten the home too.

take that weeds! - '' ~ allotment blog

Just a little example of what I was talking about in the last post - getting those blasted weeds out by the root and all :) Squeeee - it makes me happy.

horse manure and compost bins - '' ~ allotment blog

This is more the thing that gets Andrew to squeeee inside. A man's well rotten horse manure and compost bins are his Kingdom! Haha - Though, honestly this stuff has been fantastic and not a single whiff of anything nasty :) Is it wrong to love horse poo and kitchen scraps so much??

So this was the state of things at the end of day 2 around our plots
vignettes of day 2 - '' ~ allotment blog
Maggie in a 'I've got a bit of biscuit suck in my cheek' pose ~ 14b coming on nicely, check out the path :) ~ dead gnomes

Plus we decided to take a dander before leaving - there wasn't anyone else there, we had the place to ourselves again! The council has put in a bridge and path to connect the local community to it's community centre, just above our plots. The path isn't great but the bridge is fab - cool idea!

Another collage from day 2 - '' ~ allotment blog
The Conservation Volunteers know how to lay a hedge ~ catkins ~ hubby xxx ~ pretty flowers on a bush planted in the hedgerow ~ daffs in the hedgerow ~ me ~ the new bridge

And so endth the second day of the long weekend's gossip
love and hugs

Tuesday 18 March 2014

Three day weekend - thanks St Patrick (pt1)

Saturday 15th March -

We visited Mamma G and Maggie got a cuddle and kisses. Those are her daffs too and look at that sky = gardening weather!
Day 1, Mamma G's - ~ alloment blog

Then we went and got a few bits and bobs, such as these new flowers for 14b (and much more than this photo shows) and a new kettle for the shed - hurrah!! Hot drinks are back :) Now we can warm ourselves up after facing the N. Irish winds - bbbrrr.

* I strongly believe in buying flowers and even some vegetable seeds in these discount shops. Not everything has to come from a great nursery or a named supplier. We regularly get things for next to nothing and they turn out to be just as good. If you aren't looking for a certain type - I say go cheap and you may be very surprised. For example our spuds last year came from a nursery and some from a pound shop, different types but both extremely abundant when harvest time came.

Day 1, cheap flowers - ~ alloment blog

Look how happy Maggie is and how shiny our new wee kettle is :) The sky was blue but there's usually a nip in the air, hence the jumper and need for tea. Earl Gray for Andrew and Three Mint tea for are always welcome by the way and sometimes we even do coffee, plus you'll always find a biscuit or two :)

Day 1 - ~ alloment blog

Okay, ready to go. These are the weekend's 'Before' photos. The 24a one will not shock anyone but I have until now, resisted showing you the unbearable shame of 14b. Maybe I should explain? Blush! Last year we decided were going to give up this plot and just sort of forgot about it, thinking we shouldn't waste anymore time there. The plots around it are so terribly neglected that the weeds from them had invaded ours and simply - we were miserable. But, during the winter we had ideas flowing and not enough room in one half plot to accommodate them, so.... It's an ugly duckling ready to bloom :)

'Before' from Day 1 - ~ alloment blog

Andrew kept going on 24a, getting rid of the last of the chard and mooli which had gone over and mulching everywhere liberally with horse manure. There were a great deal of times that I could have sworn that he was just standing there, doing nought, but I am assured in my heart that he was planning, always planning ;) Haha. 

Though it is true.... Had there been anyone else down there they may have thought he was a slave driver, but there wasn't, not a one in our field and the others looked empty too, to be frank. Kind of makes you mad...

Vingettes from Day 1 - ~ alloment blog

Yes! I tackled and sort of conquered/ made a dent in 14b; got rid of the dead raspberry canes and I honestly don't know how many massive thistles and dandelion plants, not to mention the grass that had conquered the beds. Is there much better than getting the whole root of a weed out in one swift movement? :)

I did enough work to get really excited about and even lament home time; though I was exhausted and sleeping standing up. It's been a long time since I felt that strongly about the place and how we (Nature and I) were nurturing one another. I felt such love for my plots, my wee pieces (literally) of Eden.

The Allotment Gardens as a whole are a damnable shame and to my eyes, a failure. Poor infrastructure, lack of commitment, still poor access and a real need for strong leadership and rule reinforcement! I could rant for days but I shan't, instead here are the 'After' photos for Day 1 - I believe Maggie was quite happy with our progress :)

End of Day 1 - ~ alloment blog

Hugs and love
LOADS more to come :)
Carrie x

Sunday 16 March 2014

In the meantime..

I hope you like this and sense the intensity; feel the passion and let yourself go.

There's lots going on with us this Bank Holiday Weekend and music has played an important role for me; that universal art that resonates inside in the soul and knows no barrier. It calms us, elates us, taps into deep feelings such as nothing else can....

Loads of writing to come in the next week and I think you shall be surprised and proud :)

Love and hugs
Carrie xxx 

Public Domain Clip Art - Shamrocks - St. Patrick's Day
Oh, plus HAPPY ST PATRICK'S DAY for tomorrow x

Friday 14 March 2014

Treat yourself right - plus update

I feel rather like a failure today as I have no energy, none of that fight and am merely wallowing in my depression. Its pathetic but needs must; I have been pushing a lot and this weekend is a long one which I hope to enjoy.
treat yourself right - ~ an allotment blog
Rest is a good thing, right? Everywhere I turn, the glorification of busy seems to shoved in my face and I just can't live like that. Slowly, very slowly (hence the feeling of failure) I am realising what is right for me, my body, my mind, my health.

So many happy plans for the next 3 days, involving the allotment of course :) But for now..Happy weekend and remember:
Paddy not Patty - ~ an allotment blog
Hugs xxx


Well I truly am an eejit and have deeply upset myself. I just somehow deleted around 100 of my most recent comments here on the blog wherein the comments have recently given me such hope and support. Without all your kind words of encouragement I would not have achieved near half as much this year so far. I have been crying and hating myself for about 2hrs now. Idiot!!

I tried to retrieve some via my email but it's hard work and there isn't much there as I delete lots of the time.
Anyway, just incase you see your comment missing, I didn't mean to delete it!

Wednesday 12 March 2014

Something inside so strong...

...(or maybe in my case, just stubborn and foolhardy)

sunny day with Maggie - '' - Allotment Blog

I was out again, yesterday, with Maggie at a much later and busy time (2pm), with workmen all about and many cars on the road. Oh and there appeared to be a startling amount of people in the car park at the allotments too. We walked up to 'that sign' and then in a haze of terror, we walked on a few 100s of metres to the community centre. My goodness I was sweating profusely and in a not ladylike manner at all! I was so terrified I barely remember coming home. I think having a good smartphone with a camera and music saved me - it distracted me.

With me it's all push, push, push! And now I am exhausted, scared and slightly scarred. I think it shall be a while before I attempt it again.


sunny back garden - '' - Allotment Blog

What a glorious day it was! Sunshine and blue skies and washing hanging outdoors. I went out into the garden (after a shower and smelling pretty again) to take these photographs of our newest purchases, seedlings doing really well and potatoes chitting like there shall be no tomorrow :)

little greenhouse, tulips and red gooseberries - '' ~ An allotment blog

Broad beans and Dahlias -  '' ~ An allotment blog
Broad Beans (Aquadulce Claudia), there are 5 beautiful shoots so far. Two new Dahlias - 'Bishop of Llandaff' and 'Mary Evelyn'
And lastly those spuds (we added a new one too)
3 different potatoes chitting -  '' ~ An allotment blog
(Left to right) Kestrel,  Saxon, Pentland Javelin 
Well my lovelies, that's all for now. I must go now and cut Maggie's hair - she will probably hate me for the rest of the day, or until she gets a few biscuits :)

Maggie, not happy at what is to come...a hair cut! - '' ~ An allotment blog

Sunday 9 March 2014

Smug yet humble (pt 2) plus autumn raspberry tips

Reflecting on Friday....looking towards the future.... as the clocks spring forward this evening! (*edit - sugar that's only in America)

Wow, this is part 2 of my 'smug yet humble too' post. What a huge moment is was for me, yet as I commented in that post, it doesn't look like much to everyday people who don't have my particular problems (physical and mental). Never mind. I still feel good about it. And thank you for the encouraging comments, they make me feel like a champ. This was first of many walks to that sign and back and I can build on that - oh check me and my positivity out!!

I couldn't go today so the Hubby has gone off to cut back the Autumn Raspberries* alone whilst I rest here and try to gather myself up for a trip to Belfast and maybe a visit to a nursery. We need a little pop-up greenhouse and I need to get started on my cut flower bed - oh yes! buying tubers and bulbs :)

Later there is going to be some seeds sown and a clear out of the home shed...spring has arrived and we need to get into gear! 

* Those 10 celeriac seedlings from Friday have become...65!
* The 3 little daffs are in flower and ohhh yellow is such a happy colour!

teeny tiny daffs in the garden - '' ~ an allotment blog

For now let me leave me with this, one of the best poems in the world and one that sums up how I have been feeling under the reign of winter - well *blows raspberry in winter's face*...I made it and spring is here - hurrah!!

Invictus print by - An Allotment Blog

* Pruning your autumn raspberries * 
 - Be brutal, you want loads of fruit this year too so cut those old canes right down to ground level!
- You should have your canes arranged and growing with supports. We have ours in a straight line with supporting wire tied across them at regular intervals. Tie any new stems to these wires as your plants grow; do it lightly with twine so as they grow they have freedom to move a little in the wind and not snap = disaster!
- Cover the ground with fertiliser of your choice and use loads of our dear friend - well rotted manure as a mulch.
- Never let the soil dry out! Raspberries are very thirsty and need water to make them extra juicy ;) Ummm raspberries eaten from the cane in the warm Autumn sun....heavenly


Friday 7 March 2014

Smug yet humble too

I took the below photos this every day on my camera phone...which can mean only one thing....I was at the lottie today!!

Collage of smugness - 'Grow Our Own' - allotment blog

I could look back and work out exactly when I am was able to do this last but I've already spent too much of the last 2 hours in happy smugness and celebrating this huge achievement with a glass of pink lemonade :) I believe it was summer last year sometime. Anyway it isn't something I manage often and though it isn't that far to walk, I must confess that simply opening the front door has been a serious challenge over the last months. 

When one has mental health difficulties the rules and norms change and even the very simplest of actions can become great feats. So come celebrate with me - the past has taught me that this feeling won't last too long.

This is yet another amazing thing about having an allotment and indeed having a dog like Maggie - there are factors that pull you through the darkest of periods and give you something to work for. Granted I didn't get down to our plot but it had been raining all night and the ground was sodden, plus just as I arrived at the sign - it started to hail!! WHAT?? 

This was a sign for me from Mother Nature; you may think me silly. I believe that it was pushing too much to go further and nature in her wisdom confirmed it by sending down a short, but oh! stingy on the face, ice ball shower to wake me out of my smugness. Thank you.

Seriously though - 'take that Depression!' But in a humble and grateful way *blush*

Which so much love and great big bear hugs
** P.S. We have 10 celeriac seedlings :) 3 Mini Daffs in the garden, the tulips are still growing strong and the snowdrops and crocuses are continuing to give joy. Oh and spuds are chitting away. I shall update properly very soon.... **

Tuesday 4 March 2014

On the plot, off the chart

I have returned from a glorious afternoon on the plot! What a joy it is to see the weather improve just enough that some work can be undertaken :) Here's an overall picture - oh goodness it's been too long since I have been in person...

Here was my first task ~ to weed the blueberry patch which was infested with damn unwanted plants, choking my beloved fruit bushes.Why do weeds thrive when other plants must fight so hard to get through the winter? I had music in my ears thanks to replacement headphones and was even able capable of coping for 20 mins here without Andrew on site - quite proud of that...though on a serious note 20 mins was tough.

Next up for this area is nagging the hubby to build a fruit cage so that we, rather than the birds, grrr, get a bounty of blueberry goodness this year. I am getting rather fed up at not winning the battle to eat my own fruits. (I do hope you are reading this dear hubby - in front of the world, now you have to make that cage asap! xx)

Andrew dealt with this little disaster - our broken wind battered mesh fence. It's even better than before now and much more sturdy - hurrah!

Then in a fit of good moodliness (it is a word, stupid spell checker) I attacked this area and boy it felt good. I was only stopped by one side being really waterlogged and there being a visitor at the plot. He was utterly lovely but well, I was very nervous and though I smiled I couldn't cope and that was the end of the afternoon for me. It was getting very cold though too, so lets blame that instead :)

There was another super surprise hidden in our storage box under the shed window but that's for another day - oh what a tease I am!

* Now I must warn you my dear friends, as I tell a truth of harrowing villainy and complicated crime...

A black hole is within me and I am losing myself at an alarming rate into the void. You think you'll eventually get used to Depression; it'll get easier, you'll find your way out of these horrible days, learn to just doesn't work that way for me. Today, as with yesterday, I am slave to my own broken body, I can fight no more, sleep is my refuge. 

Thank goodness I had written the above post already; my blog (and Maggie) are everything to me in my loneliness. I must, with all the passion I can muster, give thanks to you... for reading and for those comments you bestow - you make my life so much more bearable xxxx