Thursday, 24 December 2009

Wishing you all a very happy Christmas .... hope 2010 brings health & happiness for you and your family

... and of course a great growing season :)

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Lost & Found

As if life wasn't difficult enough at the moment, we have now acquired what appears to be a lost cat. He spent Saturday wandering up and down the street peering into windows. One of our neighbours took him in and fed him (ravenous apparently) and I'm not quite sure how, but we have ended up with him. Unfortunately he is an entire male and the RSPCA confirmed he is not chipped. They are full due to the time of year, so we've put up posters. In the meantime our kitties are not very happy at all.

He is a beautiful boy, very very friendly and lovely nature. We'll check the local vet tomorrow to see if they recognise him ... in the meantime, if anyone from Sheffield recognises him let me know !

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Saturday, 19 December 2009

here is the new robotic leg:

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Velcro Heaven

Went to fracture clinic on Friday - thank goodness Sheffield only got a light dusting of snow, it's terrifying on crutches - and am now on my third cast, so must be making some progress.

Had my lovely blue glittery cast removed and doctor has now given me a velcro 'walking cast' and I'm supposed to gradually start putting weight on it. I've been signed off until middle of January which was a bit of a shock.

This is me with my blue cast and Kinder with his blue bandage (he'd been for his chip 'n snip at the vet) ... OH thought it was very funny.

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Got a lovely purple red mark on the inside of my foot and its surprising how much pain I get if I turn it in the wrong way. It's still pretty swollen. Took the cast off when I got home and had a bath - it was heaven :) Thank goodness those filthy toes have finally had a wash.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

oh bugger !

Can't believe it, I've gone and factured my foot - my heel I believe - in two places. "oh and look there's a chip here too" the doc pronounced. Great !

We were decorating at the time - OH was painting bathroom ceiling and I was finishing off the wallpapering in the kitchen. I stepped off my chair and put my foot down to the floor and don't really know how it happened, but instead of going toe to heel, my foot went toe and then over, followed by my body. I think my frenzied screaming was more in shock at what I'd done ... how could my foot possibly still be attached after rolling so horribly - I could feel things snapping. It was horrible. I've never broken anything before, well a toe once, but toes don't count.

OH insisted that we went to A&E. I think he missed his calling, I could see him as Nurse Lawrence ... if only he could conquer his aversion to vomit and pooh, he'd be great. I hate going to A&E, you sit around for HOURS.

After hobbling into A&E (there are no available wheelchair !) and waiting for three hours to be assessed, they send me for X-rays:

Isn't it just sods law - I'd planned my remaining holidays in December so that I would be doing three day weeks and would have long weekends for my neglected lottie - but now I have a plastercast to just under my knee and am on crutches. I'm supposed to lie on the settee with my foot up ... for 6 weeks !

My boss is going to be so pleased when I call her on Monday :(

Saturday, 31 October 2009

One good turn deserves another !

When I offered mine and OH's services to help a fellow allotmenter dismantle a greenhouse he'd been lucky enough to secure, little did I know that just a couple of weeks later, he'd be returning the favour for me !!!

We saw the greenhouse offered last week and OH went to check it out - 15ft x 9ft. I didn't appreciate quite how big it was until we arrived this morning - it's huge :)

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It was a dream to dismantle and instead of the usual 'w' clips it had 'spring glazing clips' holding the glass in. They seem a little more robust than the other types and are stainless steel (so I presume won't rust).

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We've taken the first lot of glass up to to the lottie without incident and will go back tomorrow for most of the frame and the rest of the glass. Our only slight issue is how to transport the very long sections - there's not much, but we may have to hire a van ... alternatively the lottie is about 3 miles away and there was a discussion about perhaps walking them there. Hmmm ...

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So that was the easy bit .... now we have the hard work to come.

We knocked down the potting shed in the Spring (was it really that long ago !) and I hadn't got further than making plans for a replacement one - the main issue has been sourcing decent and lengthy pieces of wood. The new greenhouse is big enough to replace both the potting shed and the brick greenhouse ... which is fortunate as the brick greenhouse is in need of some serious repair and I really don't think it is going to make it through the winter. So we'll have to empty all the crap ... err, useful 'stuff' out and then carefully take down the roof - it has a huge metal girder which is currently supported on rotten roof supports and then we'll need to knock down the brick base.

Gawd, I hope it fits when we've finished pratting about. Thank you to Lynne & her mum for my lovely new greenhouse and big thanks to Rob, from a plot too far for helping us :)

We are now shattered and celebrating Halloween very quietly - here is my pumpkin (Tesco's finest, although the 'jack be little' was grown by me) that I carved last night, it's awesome (LOL, yes I do say so myself haha). Our 'trick or treaters' have been very impressed although it's taken the kitten a little while to overcome his fear of the beastie:

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oh actually, that reminds me ... I don't think you've met our new addition yet ... introducing Kinder (as in Scout, a local mountain ... because he likes to sit on your shoulders):

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Loki loves him and spends all day playing, chasing and hunting, then he curls up with Ianto to sleep, he is just the sweetest thing:

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Monday, 19 October 2009

Sharon's Green Tomato Chutney

For all those of you waiting for your tomatoes to ripen, here is a recipe for Green Tomato Chutney courtesy of a family member, I've not made it yet, but I'm assured it's great.

3 lb green tomatoes
1 lb onions - sliced finely
2 lb apples
1 pint vinegar
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 lb raisins - chopped
1 lb sugar

Place tomatoes & onions into a large dish and cover with a handful of salt. Leave for 12 hours (overnight), then drain well.

Transfer tomatoes & onions into a large pan along with apples (peeled, cored & sliced), vinegar, cayenne pepper, raisins & sugar.

Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer - simmer for 2-3 hours. until it reaches a jam like consistency.

Pour into sterilised jars & seal.

Can be eating immediately, but improves if kept a while
Enjoy !

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Duck Dinner who ...

I managed a rare trip to the lottie this week ! Mainly because I'm getting worried about frost and the weather changing. The weather was gorgeous on Saturday - the sunshine makes such a difference doesn't it.

Not surprisingly the weeds have had a party while I've been otherwise occupied, but I think once I put my mind to it, they'll soon be got rid of. I've decided to dig out the ox eye daisies - they get too big and strangle everything and then fall over and look a state.

I had a quick walk around the plot to see what's changed and was amazed to see a huge butternut squash and some smaller ones hiding in the foliage. Some of them have split, I assume that's because of the recent rain we've had. I brought them all home with me, as the foliage has already been burnt by frost.

The plot finally seems to have shrugged off the slugs and the courgettes looked brilliant - tonight for tea, we had Nigella Lawson's courgette & chick pea filo pie - it was flipping amazing, for anyone with a glut, I'd definitely recommend it.

I also dug some Pink Fur Apple & some Arron Pilots ... I'm slowly working my way across the potato bed - still got to start on the Charlottes. They went into Nigella's Cheese & Potato Pies ... ooo, they were good. It's hard work you know trying to be a Domestic Goddess.

The greenhouse gave me another large bowl of beautiful tomatoes ... and I've even got a couple of my treasured Roma's. I think they will be made into tomato soup - I've made this recipe a few times now and it's always been good. Another lovely surprise were the two very small baby aubergines hiding in the corner.

A bit further down the plot and the raspberry canes were dripping with ripe fruit. I made some raspberry jelly tonight and popped some fresh rapsberries into the moulds (that's lunch this week sorted) and then we had some with rice pudding .. still got half a bowl full left. They are beautifully sweet. I'm debating cutting down all the raspberries to a foot high over winter - might see what Nick next door thinks to that plan before I do it though.

The rubarb looks to have succumed to frost - it has all fallen over and the stems are very floppy. I was hoping to make ginger & rubarb jam, but I forgot to bring the stems home with me (doh!)

The apple tree has 5 apples on it, oh yes, 5 whole apples. A couple of them are almost bigger than walnuts :) They are obviously not ready yet, as they didn't pass the 'twist' test. If they've fallen off when I go again, I'll be so cross !

I've brought home some leeks - not sure what they'll become yet. I had a quick dig over that area of the plot and it looks so much better already.

The purple beans that we love so much are still going strong, but we've let them grow a bit big I think. I'll definitely be growing those next season. Finally my Borlotti beans are ready ... yeay ... I think they are my favourite thing from the lottie. Some of my weeds are as high as the beans - eek!

Once the potatoes are all up and I've cleared the beds, I want to take up all the paths and then smother the plot with manure (my muscles are aching at even the mention of that plan). I'm thinking that the paths will then go down the plot, echoing the central path, instead of cutting across as they do curently. I think it might work better for me next year. My mum gave me some red onions last week and I must must must put some garlic in. I think next weekend, I'll choose a bed and plant them to get them going. In November I'm planning to sow some broadbeans and sweetpeas. I'm determined next season is going to be so much better than this.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

No excuses for a visit to the lottie today, as it was our monthly committee meeting. I have been going for fleeting visits and today I was surprised to see that it is fairing better than I thought it was.

The butternut squashes have finally had a growth spurt and I noticed two VERY small butternuts - fingers crossed now for some sunshine. Hopefully we'll have at least another month without frost - fingers crossed.

I picked a carrier bag of the gorgeous purple 'french' beans. I can't remember what they are, but they taste lovely. I could do with some recipe ideas for them though ! Noticed some Borlotti beans have appeared too - they are not quite ready to be picked.

I dug up some Pink Fir Apples and some Charlottes, they are not particularly big and neither were they as plentiful as previous years, but they looked good nonetheless.

The leeks all have flower pods bobbing about, so after snapping them all off and tutting at them I dug up a couple. They and some of the potatoes have been made into soup. Not tasted it yet (it will be my lunch next week at work) but it looks lovely.

I was also surprised to see quite a few tomatoes on the vines. I thought I'd lose them all at one stage and I'd say its about 50 : 50 so far. I've made cream of tomato soup tonight, we had some for tea - cor, it was good !

The courgettes have been decimated by the slugs this year - unbelievable, I'll never moan about them again ! (haha, well until next year anyway). There were two mammoth sized 'marrows' and a couple of very small ones, so I've picked them - not sure what to do with them yet.

My beetroots are very small, so I've pulled a few and will cook them this week - can't decide whether to boil them or roast them.

I took up the last of the onions - very small, but once they are chopped up and in the pan, no-one will be any the wiser :)

The best surprise of the day was that I have a new neighbour ! I think she said her name was Linda. She is an experienced gardener and doesn't seem daunted at all, so I'm hopeful that we'll see some progress next season.

Last task of the day was to collect blackberries and elderberries. I made blackberry & apple pie for tea (oh my word, it is sooooo yummy). If I can find some energy I'll be making blackberry & apple jam later and possibly elderberry & apple jelly.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

well I've just about lost all of my tomatoes to blight. They are in the glass greenhouse and its been so cold that I've kept my door shut for the last month - I'm wondering if the soil is infected. I desperately need to find a recipe for green tomatoes before they all succumb to it.

I'm having a pretty poor season overall, my lack of attention over winter and spring is showing sadly. Then of course there are the slugs ... apparently the slug population has trippled. I can verify that FACT ... well certainly on my lottie anyway. And what the slugs have missed, the pigeons and the caterpillars have finished off. What they missed the wind got - two of my artichokes have been devastated, I hope they recover.

Of course way before any of them got a look in, the mice ate 8 packets of peas and the pigeons finished off the two rows of peas that I managed to get past the mice.

Chris Evan's will be playing 'always look on the bright side of life' shortly, you just wait.

I think my best plan is to write off this season and then in the autumn get a trailor of manure delivered and cover the lottie with it.

Even the blackberries are poor this year - I've just finished making blackberry & apple (seedless) jam. Hmmm, what's the betting it doesn't set.

At least my raspberries and blueberries have been brilliant - my silver lining :)

Friday, 31 July 2009


mmmmm, there is nothing nicer than home made pizza. The tomato sauce was made with tomatoes from my folks greenhouse - apparently they've had bag fulls already, mine are still tiny and green ! I don't know how they can be so far ahead in the season. My lottie provided the red onion & garlic. It was yummy



Thursday, 23 July 2009

Let them eat cake !

Loads of raspberries ready and now the blueberries are ripening too ... here's my latest discovery: Rapsberry, Blueberry & Lime Drizzle Cake !!




courtesy of BBC Good Food: Raspberry, Blueberry & Lime Drizzle Cake

Enjoy !

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Too tired

Solo visit to the lottie for me today. We've been dancing for the last two nights and not been home before 1am, so I was a bit zonked and didn't spend long up there.

The Germidor Garlic has finally succumed to rust and didn't look as though it was going to grow much more, so I've harvested it all. The bulbs are lovely - a little smaller than the size of my palm. They are now drying in the brick greenhouse. The Cristo Garlic has a little rust, but still has green growth so I've left them in situ.

The raspberries are still plentiful. I made some Raspberry & Chocolate Brownie cakes ... I'd forgotten how fantastic they are, especially with lightly whipped double cream ! mmmmmmmmmm yum.

I harvested two pea pods, yes thats right - two whole pea pods ... and they may well be my last for the season :(

The squashes are kicking into action, but they are still very small.

Four very small courgettes had appeared and with a view to making pizza, I also took home a red onion and some broad beans. Unfortunately I forgot to get the pizza mix after purposely going to Waitrose. Doh !

The arron pilots that I harvested last week were made into potato salad - it tasted divine, so I've dug up another plant. I must remember to plant some of those again next year, they taste lovely and are keeping their shape when cooked.

The strawberries are giving very slim pickings, but the first of the blueberries were ready - all four of them ! I'm on a promise for an authentic American pancake recipe - just need a few more blueberries :)

I had froggies jumping out at every turn and managed to get a couple of photos:





Thursday, 9 July 2009

O Mischievious one !

Loki the kitten (ahem) had a trip to the vet tonight for his booster vaccination. On the way home we stopped off at the lottie to water the greenhouse. It was Loki's first trip to the lottie - he was extremely curious and immediately went into explore mode. I don't think I've ever seen his little eyes so large and round :) We put a harness and lead on him so that we didn't lose him:

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Sunday, 5 July 2009

Some photos:

Early Potatoes - Arron Pilots, they look great :)


Red onions - some of them are huge :)

Leeks are looking good - I was a bit worried when they first went in, they were so small. Only lost a couple.

Tomatoes in the greenhouse:



Courgettes - I have planted 5 !!! what was I thinking. Managed to palm 2 off on Nick. Got one left ... hmmm what to do with it....



Nick is trying to persuade me to thin my beetroot - maybe next week:

Red cabbages:

Beans are doing quite well:

Blueberries are dripping off the plants - so far had two ripe ones.

I've had tonnes of raspberries - I've got three bowls now, think I'll be making jam later:

The strawberries are not as plentiful as last year.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

mmmm ............ Strawberry Icecream Shakes

  • 225g strawberries, hulled
  • 300ml cold milk
  • 3 large scoops vanilla ice cream
  1. Tip the hulled strawberries into a food processor with the milk and ice cream. Blend until smooth and creamy.
  2. Pour into tall glasses, top with sliced strawberries.
Enjoy !!

oh my word it is soooooooooooo hot

OK, so the heatwave has arrived in Sheffield. I can't believe how hot it is - its been like a sauna at work today, only made slightly more bearable by the '99 that I had for lunch :-p

Had my very first blueberry today and picked another bag full of raspberries. Got tonnes in the fridge, and strawberries too - what to do with them ?? Raspberry icecream sounds tempting ...

I'm hoping to spend all weekend at the lottie and try and get on top of the weeds - the raspberries are disappearing into the hedge. I've still got some beans to plant out !!!

No more distractions - its back to business

Monday, 29 June 2009

did some mention a heat wave ???

hmmmm, driving to work this morning in thick fog, with the heater on high blowing gently it sure wasn't in South or West Yorkshire.

I was only back from holiday for a day and a half and then we decided to go to Wales for the w/e ... dancing. So my poor lottie was neglected for yet another weekend ! We called in on the way home on Sunday evening and I nearly fell over with shock when I saw what's been happening whilst I've been gone.

The artichoke plants are now taller than me and absolutely covered in artichokes - there were none before I went away I'm sure !!!! I pulled my first garlic to have a little lookie - its the size of my palm, I'm very pleased :) The stems are still looking healthy and pretty green, so I'm going to leave them in situ for a while.

There were loads of strawberries and raspberries ... in fact, looks like the birds & slugs have had plenty too. I couldn't resist turning the first harvest into jam and having seen Rob's update on facebook - "spent several hours trying to get the strawberry jam to set and now it's burnt. Bugger" decided to boil it for a minimum amount of time. My jam has gone the other way and the fruit has risen to the top of the jar - darn it, but it looks gorgeous and I can't wait to try it. I found the fabulous Betty's scone recipe from an earlier post and am debating making some later ... my tongue is already hanging out !

The broad beans have appeared and the measly peas have developed a few pods. They joined the spinach, rocket and herbs in a green salad.

I finally got around to staking the tomatoes - what a state they are. I've been very remiss and allowed the side shoots to get totally out of hand - they are way too big to trim now, so I've staked everything, stripped the leaves and have my fingers crossed. I went to get some tomato feed today but Wilkinsons had sold out !! grief, don't they know when I'm thinking of making a purchase ! The marmande have already got biggish fruit on them.

The blueberry plants are covered in berries, I think another couple of weeks and they'll be ripe. Must find some recipes - apparently they are super foods.

The potatoes look like they are auditioning to become part of a jungle. One of my work colleagues' potato plants have died already, the haulms are yellow and have shrivelled - apparently his potatoes are tiny. Mine all look very green, but I shall be keeping a close eye on them.

Right, where's that scone recipe !

Sunday, 14 June 2009

A little progress

I have finally got my beans in. These are my french beans (on the long poles) and the ones at the front, I thought were canelloni beans, which don't grow very high, but now I'm actually wondering if they are Borlotti ... which would mean trouble ahead, oh well they'll have to stay like that for a week while I'm away on my hols.


These are my Jack Be Little:

Jenny's peas are flowering - I've taken the netting off and staked them. Hope the bloomin pigeons leave them alone. The peas from the greenhouse look dreadful. 2009 was obviously not meant to be a pea year for me - good job they were great last year I guess.
Jenny's peas

This year I seem to have loads of squashes, but no courgettes - I definitely sowed them. I know I've had a few univited guests in the greenhouse - the aubergine has almost been stripped too. These were donated to my by one of my work colleagues:

The beetroot is coming up quite well - some of the rows have gone a little random, but it has been very dry recently - despite the downpour that we had last week that resulted in some parts of Sheffield being totally flooded again.

Oh well thats it for a week or so - OH is now in charge, hope he remembers to water everything while I'm away.