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Showing posts from November, 2007

Alas...

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...I'm having to pop out for a few days, so there will be no posts until early next week. In the meantime, Daisy and Maisie are here to keep you amused. Failing that, there's plenty to see and do by looking my Blog and Link sections to the right of this page. Doooo check this out, courtesy of my cyberpal Marilyn in California. She sent me the perfect blend of altruism and quiz a couple of days ago - you can merrily test your vocabulary whilst donating some much needed rice by clicking here. I'll see you in December complete with some traveller's tales!

Read All About It

This is an ocassional series about some of the carefully selected Links on my page to show you why they're there. First up is the purveyor of all the news local to where I live, the Gazette & Herald (G&H). I've been a regular reader of this award winning newspaper since NAH and I moved down here over 23 years ago. I'm sure it's typical of most local newspapers - the usual mix of local events and festivals, that all important first day at school, local sports fixtures etc. etc. There's also plenty of campaigning and fundraising on local issues, such as the current Kev's Van Appeal (target reached this week - hurrah!). Wherever possible, it also comments on international and national events, as long as there is that all important local angle of course. It manages to do all of this in a quirky style that I find most endearing and most importantly, keeps me reading. We've even made our own minor contributions in the past, me as a "Fed up Commuter&q…

Ahoy there!

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I loved the article on this morning's Breakfast News about the tanker training school at Southampton. About 200 senior shipping personnel take to the 10 acre tidal boating lake each year to hone their skills using 1:25 scale models of the real thing.Students say it provides far better training than the computer simulations available. I bet they find it much more fun too! A senior lecturer, Captain Chris Clarke said: "You cannot turn up at Fawley oil refinery in a '150,000-tonner' and say I just want to do a few practice turns." Quite.However, I don't think Fawley has the same problems with the 'iceberg simulating' swans as they had on the TV this morning!Thanks to the Warsash Maritime Academy for the image used for this posting.

Guerrilla Gardening

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I was surprised to find whilst watching Gardeners' World earlier this year, that I've been practising Guerrilla Gardening for a number of years. You can see my highly dangerous equipment in the picture.
My local garden centre usually gives away a free bag of daffodils each year and although my garden is stuffed to the gills with them, I just cannot resist such an offer. As a result, I've extended my planting onto the public land next to the house. This little lot went under some trees today and I'm looking forward to them brightening up my walk back home from town next spring.

Urghhh!

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Having bought my greasebands on Thursday, I have now used them for the purpose they're intended for - protecting my fruit trees against Winter Moth.

I really hate this job as I'm sure that more of the grease gets all over my hands than gets applied to the tree. I always manage to get the timing wrong too - after the allotment's water's been turned off for the winter, so I have to wait until I get home to get cleaned up.

This assumes I haven't stuck myself my clothes, to the shed or the car in the meantime. It's only visions of perfect fruit next year that helps to keep me going. Here's an example of the finished result - now try and crawl up that Mrs Moth!

A Good Read

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This week's mainly awful weather has meant very little Veg or Garden plotting of a practical nature has taken place. Instead, I've been able to turn my attention to my 'Booklog' (i.e. book backlog), which has swollen to enormous proportions due to recent purchases - about 30 books in fact.Not books strictly speaking I know, but I've also taken the opportunity to peruse the numerous seed catalogues sent to me in recent weeks. Aha I hear you cry, you could call that veg plotting of a theoretical nature. OK I confess, I've been planning what's needed next year whilst imagining that elusive perfect plot of no weeds, bumper crops and easily tilled soil (dream on!).Back with the Booklog, I've managed to finish reading Beth Chatto's Garden Notebook this week. It's always illuminating to read the thoughts of one of our great plantswomen - I particularly enjoyed her accounts of the garden nursery part of her business. However, I did find some of her plan…

Naked Voices

It's Chippenham Festival this week and in spite of the crazy decision to sell tickets only in Corsham, I trolled over there on Tuesday to buy one to see Naked Voicesat the Neeld Hall last night. As you know, I've joined a Community Choir and it just so happens that Chris, our choir maestro is a member of this group. I thought it would be a good idea to see how the professionals do things and what we should be aspiring to.
It was a stunning display of varied voices, music and choreography. I particularly enjoyed the StarFlashThunder medley (Startrek, Flash Gordon and Thunderbirds), especially Chris' role as the Brian Blessed character ('Gordon's alive!') and the superhero posing at the back during the Flash section. Another highlight was the Pearl & Dean music (always a favourite when I go to the cinema), cheekily arranged to form the group's own advertisement for their merchandise. A spooky coincidence was the performance of Leiber & Stoller's

Grace Brothers revisited

Today saw my regular monthly expedition to Bristol to catch up with friends and colleagues whilst I'm on my career break. As well as catching up on all the gossip, it gave me the chance to visit one of my favourite stores, that veritable Bristolian institution, Gardiner Haskins.

The Gardiner's part was founded in 1823, supplying ironmongery and metal work, why even Brunel shopped there during his time in Bristol. Now it describes itself as a Homestore, and I particularly love it there as it sits in its own timewarp, harking back to the days of 'Are you Being Served?'. The basement alone is worth a visit as there's always a number of bargain bins to rifle through, often stuffed to the gills with totally unexpected goods - for example, snowman covered miniature hot water bottles. They've proved to be a rich seam to mine for (un)suitable gifts for the annual office Secret Santa.

As usual, the woman hovering in the entrance didn't give me one of her 'Get your…

A tip for our American cousins...

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Your dinner will be the talk of the TOWN!!
You should try this! Sure to bring smiles from your guests! Here is a new way to prepare your Thanksgiving Turkey. 1. Cut out aluminum foil in desired shapes. 2. Arrange the turkey in the roasting pan, position the foil carefully. (see picture for details) 3. Roast according to your own recipe and serve. 4. Watch your guests' faces...

May your stuffing be tasty May your turkey plump, May your potatoes and gravy Have never a lump. May your yams be delicious And your pies take the prize, And may your Thanksgiving dinner Stay off your thighs! Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Many thanks to my good friend Linda, for sending this to me ages ago - I've been saving it up for today's Post!

What - having another go at poetry?

Tried writing Haiku
No inspiration for me
Found this site instead

All tanked up

I've just had the rather unusual sight of an Armoured Personnel Carrier hurtling towards me on the A4 between Corsham and Chippenham. It made one hell of a clatter on the road and isn't the kind of thing I normally expect to see round here - Hercules lumbering overhead from RAF Lyneham are the more usual fare. I suspect it must have escaped from the loverly mud of Salisbury Plain and is missing its playmates terribly.

Has anyone else tracked its progress through the county today? Looking at the APC link above, I think it was a Warrior...

Winter Veg Care

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I managed to beat last week's frosts and wrap the leeks up warmly for winter. This is my lazy way of blanching the stems without having to earth them up. There's also less soil to get out when I come to the preparation stage, thus saving much cussing and swearing from me in the kitchen, much to the relief of NAH!As you can see the leeks aren't that large this year. I'm telling myself that baby veg are the in thing! Luckily allotment warden Pete had some spare plants earlier in the year and donated them to me, so I'm growing double my usual crop.You can also just see a teensy bit of the giant willow wigwam I made at evening class at Lackham College in the spring. I've been doing a bit of light coppicing of the hazel trees in the ancient ditch alongside the allotment, so there'll be more to show you next year when I swing into mass production for my beans.

Shoptastic - or is it?

I'm now within walking distance of some shiny new DIY, pet and electrical stores. Sounds great, as long as I don't have anything too heavy to lug home. However, it got me thinking about how the face of Chippenham's shopping has changed over the past 2-3 years. We seem to have reached a demographic tipping point that's beginning to make the town look like a smaller clone of Swindon. There's now a couple of shopping sites on the town's borders replete with national chain DIY, home furnishing and electrical stores, plus the odd fast food outlet to keep the kids happy. I don't understand how a town the size of Chippenham can sustain no less than 4 DIY outlets.

I'm glad that the town's high street is continuing to bustle and look busy, but I'm worried about the growing number of coffee shops and mobile phone outlets to be found there. If we don't have a decent, wide-ranging choice of shops to attract customers, that and the recent loss of free car…

This Winter, the best dressed pots are wearing...

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... a lovely wine-red Cyclamen

Time to get composting!

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Yesterday saw the annual leaf mould garden competition and distribution - this year's winner was the top terrace bed, which is now gratefully snuggled up for the winter under the lovely, crumbly stuff you see in the picture. I don't understand how most of the footpath's gravel got in there though. I know the leaf blower did suck up a few bits n bobs last year, but I think they must have bred in the bin over the summer.

Now I must get cracking with collecting this year's leaves before it rains this weekend, otherwise they'll turn into a soggy, sticky, stubbornly unshifting mass all over the garden and front drive. It's the same kind of stuff which forms the annual leaves on the line problem on the railways - nice (not).

Brrr - it's chilly!

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I found myself frantically running around the garden this morning trying to capture the effects of last night's hoar frost before the sun melted it all away. This Clematis is still bravely flowering in spite of the icy chills it's been receiving all week. It was a magical time to be in the garden - the sunshine outlined everything with golden rings; there was a steady background drip, drip, drip as the frost melted away, accompanied by the soft falling of the few remaining leaves off the trees onto the ground below.

The strangest crop?

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No, I don't mean the crop circles that Wiltshire's so famous for.My allotment pal Sarah's been emptying out her loft and gave all this to me, plus loads more tapestry wool - half a bin bag in fact! Whoopeeeeee!Thanks very much Sarah!

A Dilemma

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One last lovely apple a-hanging on our tree,Shall I let NAH have it, or will it be for me?Note to self - DO NOT give up the day job and become a poet!BTW it's a Fiesta aka Red Pippin

Courgette, tarragon & lemon bread

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I'm a recent bread machine convert, but finding lots of scrummy recipes like this one leaves me eagerly awaiting my next warm, fresh bread fix. It's like magic - all the ingredients get thrown into the machine, press a few buttons and hey presto! A couple of hours later out comes something like you see above. I get the same kind of wonder when a photographic image appears in my darkroom tray.
This recipe is taken from "The Bread Book" by Sara Lewis and is another cunning way of using up some of that courgette glut.
To keep things (relatively) short, I'll just post the bread machine recipe. Do post me a comment if you'd like the hand-made version.
Ingredients
150g (5oz, heaping half cup) courgette - grated & patted dry with kitchen paper500g (1lb, 4.5 cups) strong white flour1 lemon, grated rind only1 tablespoon fresh chopped French tarragon (don't bother with Russian unless you really don't like the aniseed flavour)1 teaspoon caster sugar2 teaspoon…

Supermice? Part Deux

Not content with giving us mice that can outrun most of us, scientists in Japan have found a "brainswitch" which can turn off their sense of danger. As a result a fearless mouse "Delta D" has been seen cuddling up to its arch enemy, the cat. The poor feline is so surprised, it has declined to gobble up the snack temptingly on offer under its nose.

That's not all. Apparently it's been happening for ages via the toxoplasma parasite - it makes rodents suicidally attracted to cat urine. It can also affect humans, so if you see me exhibiting a "sex kitten effect" in future, you'll know I've been got whilst emptying out the litter tray...

Hello Boys!

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In case you're worried that this site is getting a teensy bit girly, I'd thought I'd put some hot gadget action into the mix.

This is a Terrex Autospade. It really does take the backache out of autumn digging and was devised by a guy who lost a leg during World War II who wanted to continue to tend his garden.

I'm well ahead this year on my plot preparation as this spade lets me do 3x more than when I use my usual border spade. That plus no aching limbs requiring a hot bath and a quick rub down with Deep Heat later - sorted!

They're no longer available as new, but you can pick one up from eBay fairly easily. That's how I got mine last year, and the proceeds went to charity - yippee! You need to be careful though as prices can vary wildly. Or you could get lucky like Fred, my allotment pal and find one locally for just a fiver - hrumph.
There, all dug over - that's better. Now Mr Jack Frost - get working on those lumps of clay for me please.

News hot off the pre…

Alas...

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... there was almost a complete failure of this year's Rocket crop.
So...

... hurrah! The raspberries are still producing - these are Autumn Bliss and Fall Gold.

Seen Comet Holmes yet?

If you haven't, the ever helpful website of our local weatherman, Richard Angwin will get you there. Oh, and you'll need a cloudless night too - so tonight's out of the question I'm afraid. Sorry, better luck tomorrow - believe me, it is worth a look!

The rest is elementary, my dear Watson.

Oi! A word in your shell-like...

My allotment rent is due for an intriguingly named 10 lug plot. Isn't our language wonderful? In the interests of research - and this Blog - I fished around in Google to see what I could find.

As well as the uses more familiar to me, I was presented with a plethora of tools websites offering me all kinds of nut and bolt type thingys. Shinynuts was my favourite of these - only because of its name, I'm not endorsing anything.

If I'm feeling rather geeky, I can join a Linus User Group, (though Library and Local User Groups also vied for my attention) or even look at their radio. I can also sound very knowledgeable at academic conferences by referring to my Linear Units of Grammar. I could even start to worship a Celtic god, should I ever wish to change my religion.
For entertainment, I can bop the night away to the lively Scottish band Skelpit Lug (apparently this means "thick ear", thus exposing the Scots origin of this usage) whilst wearing my rather lovely fashion…

Advice from Ben Elton's mum

I love this comment from Ben Elton when he was talking about his writing the other day. His mum told him "Remember, the F-word is an exclamation mark, not a comma". I will strive to apply her philosophy to this Blog too, dear Reader.

It got me thinking about advice from my own mum, from many moons ago. For me, two phrases stick in my memory. "It's black over Bill's mother's", an instant weather forecast meaning "There's a terrific storm brewing way over there, so if you're going out you'd better put on your coat, otherwise you're going to get very wet dear". The other one was "You'll need to go all around The Wrekin", which roughly translates as "You'll have to take rather a circuitous route to get there, so allow plenty of extra time for your journey and whilst you're at it, you'd better take these sandwiches and flask of coffee with you". This latter pearl of wisdom was brought home to me ju…

Voxbox

I've just done a quite scary thing. I contacted the leader of a choir in Corsham this afternoon to ask if I can join in tomorrow night - luckily that's the night they practise. I haven't sung in a choir for years and only have a really good sing at the moment when NAH's out somewhere for quite a long time. I've been thinking about doing something a bit more structured for a while and learnt about Voxbox via the Pound Arts Centre's latest leaflet. It's an informal fun group - no soloists, no auditions and no need to be able to read music. As I can't do the latter this'll suit me right down to the ground. I was a bit worried that I'd be starting after everyone else, but they've just finished a concert and are starting on Christmas carols tomorrow, so it sounds like it'll be the perfect time to start.

Supermice?

It's been reported in the news lately that scientists have genetically engineered a new strain of mice - they can run for up to 5 hours at a time (where to? the lab can't be that big) and live twice as long as "normal" mice.

Hmmm, I smell a rat...

Heeeerrrrre's trouble!

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I'd like to introduce you to Jess, our black & white scamp of a cat. This pic was taken by my Non-Allotmenteering Husband, or NAH for short. I'll put a translation of this in the Glossary at the side, so you'll know who I'm talking about in future posts. Jess' favourite trick at the moment is to open the cat flap and escape during the night. She can do this when the flap is locked one way - just to keep her and her brother Skimble in at night. We have to do this if only one of them comes in for their late night supper. She's worked out that if she pulls the flap towards her, the freedom of the garden is hers for the taking! I'll pop in a companion pic of Skimble in a future post.

Accounting - aargghhhh!

Has anyone had the same trouble as me with their Profile? I go in to edit something and it always resets my occupation to Accounting - that's so not me at all! Now I'm sure there are some lovely Accountants out there, but the ones I've met at work tend to make a red mist descend over my eyes as I desperately try and understand their business requirements for the project I'm working on.

All the other bits of my profile mercifully stay the same, apart from the ones I'm editing of course. Any ideas on how I make this Accounting madness stop?

Tinseltown has departed

Sigh. I was going to show you a neat little sign that appeared at the bottom of our road a while ago. It was a eye popping shade of fluorescent lime green and emblazoned with the legend "WB LOC".

A trip to Lacock just over a week ago revealed an intriguing number of companion signs along the way, plus its sister in Lacock itself, "WB HQ". Then the penny dropped - these were signposts from the M4 telling the Harry Potter film crew where to go. Major excitement down our neck of the woods! Alas, the signs have been taken down and the machine that is Hollywood has departed for pastures new.

I tootled along to the village see what was going on - lots of people striding purposefully up and down the street talking into their walkie talkies and saying things like "I've just seen a pap - it's a woman with a child in a pushchair", and lots of brawny men in hi-vis laying down white matting and erecting barriers to keep us muggles at bay. The filming was at nig…

Pumpkin Soup

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This is what one of yesterday's pumpkins got turned into - yummy! I made up the recipe as I went along in the end - plenty of home grown garlic, onions, fresh herbs from the garden (there's a clue in the picture showing the main one used this time round), plus vegetable stock and black pepper to taste. It was simmered for 30 minutes and then whizzed together using my hand blender. Slurp - loverly. NB you can also see a tantalising, shadowy glimpse of VP in this pic!

It's psychedelic man

Oooh I like it!

Do click on the allotment photo below to look at the larger image. You get quite an artistic effect that I've spent ages in the darkroom trying to perfect on some of my black and white photos from time to time!

Any ideas on why this might be? Is it due to the image size and the puny number of pixels on my digital camera?

Here's how it all began...

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This is my "inheritance" - Plot 14, back in November 2003. Ignore the 2 sheddy bits halfway down, they're next doors'. Mine's the one down the bottom. If you're very good, I'll let you peek inside in a later post. I've got the 2 thin beds (actually it's 4, but you can't see the split half way down the plot in this pic) - the one immediately in front of my shed and the one you can see to your left. When I first went up to see Plot 14, I thought I just had the one in front of the shed. But noooo, the plot marker was on the other bed. The upside - the shed; recently in cultivation, so not too weedy and (relatively) easy to dig. The downside - there's bindwind lurking in there and it's a heavy clay...

Here's a Pic!

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Mmm, mmm, mmm... As we've just had Halloween, I thought you'd like to see these little beauties. Not bad after the summer we've had! Now where's my recipe for pumpkin soup?

Hello World!

Well, I've finally taken the plunge and decided to find out what blogging is all about :-)

Don't be fooled by the title - it was going to be Bits 'n Bobs, but that wasn't original enough for the Blogspotmeister. So, as my allotment is one of the biggest parts of my life at the moment (it's all that autumn digging & muck spreading that needs to be done, you see), Veg Plotting it will have to be from now on.

However, I'll be musing about whatever takes my fancy at the time. So watch this space. Or look at my profile - that'll give you a clue on what future posts might be about ;-0

I'm sure as a complete beginner to this lark, I'll make plenty of mistakes along the way. So doooo bear with me - or let me know via your Comments where I've gone wrong, I'll learn more quickly that way...