Wednesday 30 April 2014

Springing into May

April has whizzed past me in a blur to be honest, if it weren't for all the photos and blogging I would be lost to recall what happened. Today in particular, being the last of Aprils days to give, has lead to think of all the changes and the growth that one month can create. I admit I have been wasting time on the photo gallery pages just watching the transformation.

These are from yesterday...

a few of my favourite garden plants doing so well - '' ~ an allotment blog
Acer with little helicopter flowers; the birch, now growing strong; new buds all over the virginia creeper, growth from all place on the large acer, ivy creeping slowly along in the shaded area
tulips in the garden - '' ~ an allotment blog
these tulips keep giving!
I'm in a bad place today, mentality and need to rest my mind and my body before there is an implosion of sorts. The sun is shining but it isn't making me feel better; got an empty laundry basket though! Sometimes I feel as though nature is laughing at me; I'm paranoid I know, what a silly brain I have :(


May always makes me think of this quote, which I believe I have shared here before, but it gives me such hope and reassurance that I shall share it again. It is my blog after all; my rules ;)

Carrie x

Monday 28 April 2014

Allotment Undergardener

Are you aware that I don't really know much about allotmenteering? I understand the principles and even some technical stuff but I don't use my knowledge ~ I'm too scared to even plant my own seeds or pot on a healthy plant. I always, and I mean always feel I'll do something wrong, it won't be perfect, I'll fail. And conversely...I might be good at it and then, like so much in my life, I'll lose the skill or the confidence and all will be darkness in my soul.

A few gardening books - '' ~An allotment blog
Just a little selection of our gardening books
Not in a nasty way, Andrew said to me, as I was trying to take 'before' photos, that I may well be a blogger but he was a gardener and I was simply getting in his way. It made me think. I'm not a gardener, I've never thought of myself as one, I'm an under gardener and that's ok; it's how I like it.

Under gardener of the year - '' ~An allotment blog
I have too much time on my hands!
I like to weed, in fact I love to weed and tidy. I thoroughly enjoy harvesting, even the gooseberries (when I end up looking like I have been in a fight with a crazed flock of sharp taloned birds and my arms are all scratched and bleeding) or even picking all the blackberries and looking like I have just committed mass murder myself... Ah let people think want they want....It's the quiet ones you have to watch....

Weirdly, I also like to be told what to do; what's happening with this section of the plot and what I can do to help. Basically Andrew is the Allotmenteer- I'm there to take photos, do manual labour and then write about it so we can see and fully appreciate what we have been able to do, working with nature.


Well that's not entirely true. The allotment is therapy for me and just like physical therapy, it is bloody hard work and takes a lot of drive and courage. I do feel good clearing a bed, getting it ready for the real gardening to get cracking; I feel good with the sun on my back and my hands in the soil; I love bird song (butterflies terrify me - go figure that one out!) and the sound of distant chat and laughter.

evil butterfly - '' ~An allotment blog

But for me personally, there is the fear of having to socialise, of being asked advice or for help. I get myself so worked up at the very thought of having a panic attack there and embarrassing myself and Andrew that they inevitably happen. I cry a little every time I go and blame the wind in my eyes or my hay fever, often I want to hurt myself with the tools. Ecotherapy isn't easy! Yes, if no one else is there, I can sometimes really enjoy it and it feels right, so right, to be working with my hands, back to basics.

But either way - gardener or dog's body, panicky or not..
'In the Spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt'
~ Margaret Wood
and we both have been :)
Love and hugs

Friday 25 April 2014

Allotment Heartache

I lost my most favourite tree and maybe my favourite plant on the plots last week; my precious cherry tree 'Stella'. I adored it. It wasn't a great shape as Andrew had trained it into a fan but after being moved last year it was thriving, I knew it would be happy and we would get fruit this summer...

The cherry blossom image is very important to me as a sign of hope and of the fragility, the fleeting nature of life. I have one tattooed on my wrist and even called my business Cherry Blossom Tattoo (on hiatus). Just look at the abundance of blossom here...

This was the bed I attacked with such gusto that I couldn't stop until it was cleared one weekend in March. Andrew was annoyed with me as I completely burnt myself out. But as I wrote later that day I was using that clearing 'as a desperate attempt to use my negative thoughts and internal anger for a good purpose...'constructive desconstruction' is a phrase I often use, I don't know how I came up with it, but it couldn't have been more true today'.

I was trying to save that tree and give it the life it deserved and in a very literal sense (in my muddled mind) I was trying to do the same for me.

Well here she is at the bottom of the field, hacked up to bits and never to be put back together. I feel very embarrassed to say this but I sat down there and grieved a while. It was like losing a part of me and having a dream smashed into many bits. 

I guess I don't talk about things like this often, but allotmentherapy for me isn't about the rotation system of even planting seeds - it's about the wonder of watching plants grow and tending to them, protecting them and most importantly, having a connection with them. It all sounds very hippy dippy but that's me I suppose.

So here she is....missing, gone...

I am getting a new one, it must be a 'Stella' and it must live a full life where I can watch and find peace its nobbly branches, those buds and that blossom! If I'm lucky maybe in years to come it will come to fruit for me. Plus I am getting a white climber for the fruit arch - of course I ran it by Andrew but it was happening!

So for me I have to end on a note of beauty or I'll get all sad again, despite all the other glorious seedlings and plants we have and the progress made that same weekend.

I made an 'Ode to Spring' with a load of things from the hedgerow behind our shed and two glorious blossom heavy branches of my old tree....

Much love and many hugs

Thursday 24 April 2014

Book Review - Kitchen Garden Experts

My luck runneth over as Frances Lincoln Publishers has sent me May book release: Kitchen Garden Experts by Cinead McTernan, photography by Jason Ingram.

The blurb....

Kitchen Garden Experts features the chefs and gardeners at twenty of the UK’s most exciting restaurants, hotels, pubs and cafés, focusing on how they produce the best fruit and vegetables to appear on their menus. With this book you can:

* Explore the kitchens and gardens of twenty celebrated chefs, from Terence Conran and Raymond Blanc to River Cottage and L’Enclume;

* Gain extraordinary access to 20 recipe books and 40 signature dishes;
* Discover key ingredients and special growing methods that help these chefs win awards for excellence;

* Follow the simple steps from plot to plate, learning new growing skills

This is one heck of a book for real foodies, grow you own people and anyone who like to consume food! It has been by my bed and at the Lottie with me; leading to dreams of travel, of really nailing this whole allotment thing and of food, delicious artistic foody joy. I even look forward to winter as my favourite recipe is the uchi kuri squash soup.

The foreword by Raymond Blanc contains these words which I love...
'I believe it is our responsibility to embrace sustainability and to reconnect with our land.... By working qith the seasons, we can all enjoy superb tastes and textures - inexpensively'

This is not a textbook, not merely a recipe book and much more than a coffee table book - this is inspiring. Ok, I shall not be making dishes like these masters but a girl can dream (and heavily reduce the trickiness of presentation), they are do-able :)

Each section is split into the 20 gardens around Britain with each head gardener talking of their space and giving some tips. Then they go on to give detailed knowledge on two of the main elements of their associated chef's two chosen recipes. As well as this each section contains a page with that places 'kitchen garden secrets' surrounded by a collage beautiful enough to frame.

Maggie wants to own the book herself...

Kindly, for my readers there is a discount available :)

To order Kitchen Garden Experts at the discounted price of £16.00 including p&p* (RRP: £20.00), telephone 01903 828503 or email and quote the offer code APG130. 

*UK ONLY - Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.

Hugs and love

Wednesday 23 April 2014

The back garden starts to explode :)

Sometimes it takes you to go away for a while to really appreciate how much your garden grows in a week, especially in Spring. If you were to watch it everyday, waiting impatiently, these changes wouldn't be so noticeable.

Behold the back garden, beginning to explode into life...

Highlighted plants are links to the RHS website page of the variety we have..

* Oh my, I think I have found 'my' tulip! This raspberry and cream one (ahh! can't think of the name), on mass just makes me smile very big indeed - next year I want another 5 pots ;)
* The stained glass window will be covered soon by the weedy looking Virginia Creeper - it only went in last year and already it's rampant :)
* The Acer didn't take well to the house move way back when but in the last year it has really come into it's own - never seen it look so happy.
Christmas box has also responded well to the clippings it had last year and has filled out nicely = happy times
*The beech hedge, though all 5 plants are growing at very different rates, is happy and since yesterday (when I took this photos) it's even greener!!

* So many little box balls and a very happy Star Jasmine, with a Japanese Maple in the center
* Lots of seedlings in the cold frame
* The beautiful paper bark Birch and lovely bamboo, Wisteria growing around pergola
* Camellia - first flower of the year :) We got a new water butt just with this baby in mind as they can only take rain water.

* Just look how far we've come (and by that I mean Andrew, as he built the walls, the raised platform and pergola, the fountain, the cold frame and the chairs. Plus he planted everything whilst I supervised and photographed *blush*

Hugs and Love

Tuesday 22 April 2014

Bonny Scotland :)

The weather in Scotland was fabulous last week, we couldn't have been luckier. Andrew got to do some work, looking at castles etc and I got to do a little photography (when I felt up to it). We drank many different whiskies and ate terrible food (I had one good meal, one!) Then we came home exhausted and in need of a proper 'do nothing much and read a book' sort of holiday :)

Castle Edzell
Their wonderful looking box hedge garden had box blight - bad news :( It has looked much happier in the past. I believe they are going to slowly replace it all with yew hedging. Plus all those holes in the walls will have plants in them come summer. I declare that we all must have a little summer/tea house at the bottom of our own gardens.

Castle Edzell collage - '' ~ An allotment blog

This is what our 1st B&B looked over and I swear, watching the sunrise over this harbour was one of the best sights ever....

Stonehaven harbour collage - '' ~ An allotment blog

 Dunnottar Castle
Dunnottar Castle (instagram)  '' ~ An allotment blog

I have too many photos - here is a good overview, I hope... it's a stunning and huge attraction....
Dunnottar Castle collage - '' ~ An allotment blog

Glenfiddich Distillery
Glenfiddich distillery - '' ~ An allotment blog

I'm even getting bored with my own photos now, hahaha. I took so many on my phone that it's just about enough to fill a book, if I kept going.

So we also saw the Culloden Museum and Battlefield and Castle Urquhart (on Loch Ness - no bloomin monster!)

Then a glorious drive towards the ferry again ...
Lochs and Mountains - '' ~ An allotment blog

You see I have so much gardening to talk about and beauty in the garden and allotment plus a fantastic new book  which I've reviewed (out next month!) I best get writing xx

Hugs and love

Monday 21 April 2014

I need a holiday!

Technically I have just returned from a holiday in Scotland but lordy, I need another one to recover! We drove so much, fitted in so many sights and slept in a different bed each night. That, my dearest ones is not a holiday to me, not anymore, I like to have a base, a bed I get used to, go on adventures and return to a pub I like etc.. there needs to be an element of getting familiar with a place.

I have slept away the weekend (wow, I sound so old!!) and now it's time to get back into life. I have lots of photos and places I want to share with you. The garden has exploded into life whilst we were away, so you know I have photos of that, plus we are going to the allotment today...

I hope you have all had a great time over the last week and are enjoying the time off, if you are a reader with a blog, I will catch up! In the meantime thank you for the comments and the love you left for me on my last posts xx

Here's a wee photo of us in the Ben Nevis area; I can't remember all the names of the places, sorry.
Hugs and love,
Your Carrie x

Normal service shall resume soon :)

Thursday 17 April 2014

Happy days project :)

I thought I would share this for a bit of fun. On instagram there is a hashtag for 100 happy days, which, if you take part, makes you feel compelled to take a photo each day of something (no matter how small) that made you smile.

I feel it's very important for everyone to stop and truly appreciate these moments but even more so for those of us who have depression. It's all to easy to say 'nothing happened today' or 'what another awful day' etc.

So... Days 1-5

Days 6-10

There are little quips about each one if you look on my Instagram account and plenty more photos that I just didn't tag for this as they happened on the same day. Watch out for some fabulous ones of Maggie - especially 'Pirate Maggie' and 'That Cat'

Days 11-15

Days 16-20

I'll update you with the next 20 soon...including some Scotland - hurrah. We all need #happy in our lives :)

Tuesday 15 April 2014

Bee friendly plants

So here I am in Scotland for the week and what a week....RHS National Gardening Week - celebrate! Oh I know I shall just have to drink some fine local whisky to add my own merriment to the occasion ;) Click the link to see their gorgeous website.

Ahhh, Scotland, the land of raspberries and oats and whisky...sing along now ' these are a few of my favourite things'...

The RHS website has ideas for ways to celebrate ( if you have time!) But come on,if you read this blog I should like to think you love wildlife and such and shall be celebrating this week as with every week! Plus, crikey there is so much to do, so many seeds to sow :) It would be incredible if you could show a child the magic of planting a seed though (sunflowers are fab, they germinate in about 2 days) and watching the life cycle, but don't go pilfering kids without parents' consent ;)

I love to think of bees. I've had quite a few buzzing  around the allotment and then there was that one that knocked itself out flying into the patio doors whilst I was drinking coffee - scared me, what a boop! He was okay after a moment - fear not.

a (strange to me) leaf like butterfly\ a bee with lots of pollen - '' ~an allotment blog

I saw this on both Pinterest and Tumblr and thought it would be perfect to share.
ALL credit to Hannah Rosengren!

Bee friendly plants, Hannah Rosengren on '' ~an allotment blog

Found on

Much love

Monday 14 April 2014

Happy Birthday Plot 24a

In on my way to bonny Scotland - hurray!! But in bigger news 24a is 6 yrs old today!!

Eeeeekkk my baby! They grow up so quickly..

Those silly RHS people ruined the party with their National Gardening Week starting on the same day *rolls eyes* but we had a little gathering in the house on Saturday where there was obviously cake and bunting!
I shall say more about the National Gardening Week 2014 tomorrow xxxx

Boy this cupcake tasted GOOD! Maybe you ought to make some rhubarb and ginger muffins to celebrate of some rhubarb compote over ice cream would be yummy....

Love and hugs
Carrie x

Saturday 12 April 2014

Plain Rhubarb Compote

Andrew made a lot of rhubarb compote last year to help deal with the immense glut we had. His was spicy ginger and gorgeous and I shall make his and this in various other forms I'm sure before the season is over.

This recipe is just plain and came from a lovely blog called 'Simple Bites'.. from which there is a great list of things you can add it too to make dishes taste even better.

rhubarb compote recipe cards - '' ~an allotment blog

N.B. Sterilising jars:
Wash in hot soapy water and rinse thoroughly. Place in an oven that is at 140 Celsius for at least half an hour. Turn oven off and allow to cool a good bit.
Do not ever put hot jams or compotes into a cold jar - there is a risk the glass to crack! :O

sterilising jars - '' ~an allotment blog

*  Chopping rhubarb for me isn't the easiest task as I have permanent double vision. So I split my stems in two, hold them together and slice as finely as I can then finish off with a mezzaluna. 6 cups full!!

chopping flesh rhubarb - '' ~an allotment blog

* All ingredients in the pot, time to boil then simmer....
mixing up the compote - '' ~an allotment blog

* Boiled mixture, now to simmer with lid on and again with lid off
boiling up the compote - '' ~an allotment blog

* Lovely natural rhubarb compote. To add a redness to it you can put in a finely chopped beetroot (once you've grown them) or colouring!
plain rhubarb compote - '' ~an allotment blog

* The finished article - almost a litre.
plain rhubarb compote - '' ~an allotment blog

Wednesday 9 April 2014

Our little seedlings

I just don't know when to stop. Even after I wrote and hit 'publish' on my last blog post; I felt compelled to go outside and take photographs, put a load of washing on and make compote. Then in the afternoon I wrote rough drafts for the next 6 posts, and got some photos edited for them..... then 'had to read' yet ready for yoga and so......collapsed.

To be honest the rest of the day was a mystery, though I did love Forrest Gump being on. Today I have barely moved from the sofa - yay I got up out of bed though!! - and have 'just read' all day. Though my mind has been muddled and confused and I seriously look like a mad lady!

Why do I strive so vehemently when I'm obviously so ill?

Sorry. I needed to get that out, say it openly and publicly. Listen to your precious bodies and minds my friends.

** The Gault nursery as it stood yesterday..
 Andrew's homemade cold frame - housing geraniums and broad beans at the moment

 Roses - Reine de Violettes and  Silver Jubilee
 Two Beetroot types (Chiogga) and  (Golden) Celeriac, Purple Sprouting Broccoli

 On the window sill - Sunflowers (this is 2 weeks after planting!), Zinna (Jazz)
 Tiny Rudbecki (dwarf mix), our clever light reflector ;)

** The back garden in happy vignettes....
So much green and happy growth!

Hugs and love
Your Carrie

P.S. Almost all my Dahlias are sprouting now :) 'Golden Wonder', 'Bora Bora' and 'Pom Pom'

Tuesday 8 April 2014

A loveliness of Ladybirds

It's Tuesday and I'm still feeling a bit anxious with leftover panic from Sunday's visit to the Allotment. Don't get me wrong, nothing horrendous happened...there were no clowns nor a plague of locusts, a twister did not lift up my shed and deposit me in Oz etc. No, I simply took the worst panic attack and it didn't go away until, sort of, this morning.

As an advocate for Ecotherapy and in my own made up word of Allotmentherapy, I find this quite the let down. But as I remind others, so I must remind myself.... Ecotherapy is not a panacea for mental health problems.

I believe my panic began with me getting just what I allotment members in a big friends and family gathering getting an over run plot back into order. I mean, really, it was a joy to see. However it also put me on high alert...I had to talk and be friendly and it was all too much. I went into overdrive to make these (somewhat glorious warriors) feel a community spirit existed, and it was just too much.

Reminder this bed? I worked really hard to get it finished and cleared then realised I hadn't been breathing and nearly fainted.
finally cleared! - '' ~ an allotment blog

Andrew managed quite a bit with clearing our soon to be squash/asparagus area and got pooped too. Our trip home for coffee ended me shaking and terrified to go back.
tackling the back of 14b - '' ~ an allotment blog

The vast population of ladybirds couldn't even draw me back. There are so many this year, this is just 2 out of approx 8 I saw without searching for them! Pure joy :)

A loveliness of ladybirds - '' ~ an allotment blog

Today is beautiful so I'm going to take photos of how gloriously well the seedlings are doing, all over the place and share that joy with you. Plus I have designs on making a sweet rhubarb compote later.

* For now it's all about remembering to breathe and ordering my hay fever medication- why??!, cruel, merciless, sadistic pollen, why do you torture me so!???

Love and hugs
Your Carrie x

Sunday 6 April 2014

Rhubarb and Ginger Muffins

I've been baking again so prepare yourselves friends for a heck of a lot of photos and another recipe card.

It was impossible not to do something with the first rhubarb harvest of the year (I have other ideas too) so I looked through a lot of recipes and decided on this one first, though as usual I changed it from the original as I went along. This recipe card has the steps which I think would be better than the way I did it.

Rhubarb & Ginger Muffins - '' - an allotment blog

So, I really do mean it when I say you really ought to get all your ingredients measured out and chopped etc before you start because I didn't and it was a nightmare of mess and confusion. I am not a calm and collected person in the kitchen!

Getting muffin ingredients together - '' - an allotment blog


* Butter, Eggs - I use unsalted butter for all my baking, there really isn't that much in these (healthy?? hahaha). Always with the medium sized eggs too.

* Sugar, Milk - For spicy yummy things I always choose brown sugar for that more malty and warm flavour and for milk I use semi-skimmed, but you know; I think coconut milk was recommended for this recipe originally...that might be lovely.

* Vanila Essence, Rhubarb - Vanilla essence makes a difference, there I said it. I never used to use it but now it's not going to left out again; plus a bottle lasts for ages. Two cups of rhubarb is roughly the equivalent to 275g or approx 2 large stalks.

* Ginger, Flour - For this recipe I love crystallised ginger but I reckon stem ginger would be just as good but ooh so messy to chop finely! Then adding the ground ginger = yummy burny-ness. You must use self-raising flour for this or the muffins will be so heavy and dense even though you will already have added some baking soda!!

* Butter your molds or they just won't come out.

Making the muffins - '' - an allotment blog

10 mins later...

Rhubarb and Ginger muffins - '' - an allotment blog

Hugs and Love
Your Carrie