Saturday, 31 January 2009

A fleeting return

I spotted some discarded kiddie sandpit clams last week, you know the ones where you fill one half with sand and the other with water. I thought they might be useful at the lottie, so OH acquired them for me and they've been sat in the back yard all week ... with the threat of snow from Sunday evening, I decided to venture back to the lottie and take them with me.

I was really annoyed to see that the middle gates were wide open, in fact one of them was wedged with some large stones to stop it swinging shut! Honestly, what is the point in having them if they are not locked. I'm disappointed that the Allotment office / community police have not yet managed to put up signs to warn other holders that thieves are operating in the lottie. I might give them a call next week to see what the hold up is.

The car park was like a mud bath, churned by the trucks etc dropping off woodchip and with clams in hand I set off rather aprehensively for my lottie. I'd half expected the door to be kicked in and it was with some relief that everything looked to be OK.

OH is supposed to be getting me a bolt (but hasn't done it yet, grrr), so I found a couple of bricks and wedged the door shut behind me. My replacement handbag is a rucksack style, but its not terribly comfortable when digging etc, so I think when my confidence returns I'll put it further into the plot. It was a little breezy and despite having secured the door, every noise had me jumping.

I managed to clear and dig over bed no. 2 which had last years beetroot & courgettes - the salad just needed tidying and surprisingly it is still looking very heatlhy. I started to dig over the brick bed - the carrots I'd grown last year for seed looked quite magnificent, wishing now that I'd pulled them and enjoyed them - especially as the meeces have eaten all of the carrot seeds that I so lovingly dried ! But unfortunately I came across some bindweed and had to start digging very thorougly and deeply to remove it. I'd managed about 3/4 of the bed before starting to feel very nervous and so decided to call it a day.

On the way out I was pleased to see that the gates were still closed .. but then as I got closer I couldn't believe my eyes - the gates were closed but not padlocked.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Moving on ...

Well the handbag saga is slowly being sorted out, I'm trying to put the whole episode behind me and move on. So, one that note ...

... I decided to call into the pet shop on the way home from town and lo and behold their seed potatoes had arrived :) Apparently they were delivered on Monday and are selling, well, like hot potatoes !

They had about 15 varieties to choose from, but I already knew what I wanted, so choosing was easy. I got 20 x Cara (OH's absolute favourites), 10 x Pink Fur Apple, 10 x Charlotte & 10 x King Edwards. One of my colleagues from work had some spare Arron Pilots (from Wilkinsons) so I've got around 15 of those.

The Arron's will go in first, maybe couple of weeks time, depending on the weather. I need to get some manure, last year I got some bags from B&Q, but its quite expensive at £5 a pop. The other alternatives are DIY at a local park (the exotic animal enclosure) or get a tractor load delivered. I don't fancy transporting it in the car from the park, but neither do I fancy spending a couple of days barrowing it into the plot. Hmmmm ....

I'm still digging up last seasons potatoes, I think they are King Edwards. They are lovely and tasty with very little critter damage and a lovely size and no scab damage at all. Only problem is that I'm not sure how many more I've to dig up 'cos of course the foliage is long gone. We had them chipped for tea, along with some Jerusalem Artichokes ... yum :)

No photos as I've not replaced the camera yet - unfortunately I can't get the same one that I had before, so OH is trying to find one that he think's I'll like. So far on the shortlist are the Cannon G10 and a Cannon Ixus 860IS - I'm not really taken with either, but wide angled small cameras are not so plentiful, so I'll have to make a decision soon.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Crime reference anyone

I'm in shock, I still can't quite believe it. My handbag was stolen today from the allotment, whilst I was there.

I didn't get there until around 12.30 as I'be been pratting about in B&Q for over an hour (don't get me started on THAT visit). Then I'd tried to get some wood that EEH had found at a local building site, but we couldn't find security to get it, so I dropped him back at home. Called OH to say don't bother coming to help with the wood, I'll just go to the lottie for a couple of hours.

Its been an awful day. The gates at the allotment have recently been oiled, so they swing somewhat when they are opened. Today has been quite windy and as I drove through the gates, one of them was caught by the wind and you guessed it, it banged the side of my car. I think it'll T-cut out. I hope.

Went to the lottie, new door is doing very well. Too well really, its dead easy to open now and swings silently at the slightest touch, whereas my last door had to be physically lifted and pushed and was very noisy.

I put my handbag into the brick greenhouse just inside the door and took some seedling compost to the glass greenhouse. After a quick reccie around the lottie I grabbed a spade and started to dig over the bed in front of the glass greenhouse ... with my back to the main door. Once I'd dug over the bed I planted it up with strawberries and put the picket fence down on side of the bed. It looked so nice I thought I'd take a photo to share with you. Went back to the brick greenhouse to get my bag and realised it wasn't there.

With a sinking stomach I went to see if my car had gone, but it was still there .... it took me another 20 mins before I thought to look in my coat pocket - fortunately I'd put the keys into my pocket and not as normal into my bag. It took me about another 30 minutes to decide that it really had gone and that I hadn't put it elsewhere. Our lotties are all enclosed by 5ft hedges and the few people I did meet hadn't seen anyone suspicious.

Got home and started to call banks & mobile phone company. My phone was used three times (got the numbers and passed them onto the police) and two of my accounts have had money withdrawn, two others were tried, but denied. I still can't believe it. Think I've called all the banks I have accounts with and blocked my phone. I've had to try and list everything in my bag for the police and will need to call our insurance company next to see if I am covered .. although OH thinks that the excess means that I probably won't get much back.

I feel sick, but I guess at least I am OK and material things can be replaced. It has brought home just how vulnerable I am up there on my own. I think I shall get OH to put a bolt on the inside of the door for security.

... at least I have a new strawberry bed :(

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

ooooo ... a plan !

I've been thinking for a while that the potting shed needs replacing before a stray gust of breeze blows it over.

Bouyed by the success of the new lottie front door I've been thinking more seriously about drawing up some plans. I've even strayed as far as Popular Mechanics ... unknown and scarey territory indeed for girls :)

The potting shed has been especially vulnerable since the curious incident of the door in the night, but not wanting to point the finger of blame I would never reveal that it was because OH didn't secure it properly, it just wouldn't be seemly. It's also got a big hole in the roof and there is a hole in the floor which the meeces use to plan their midnight raids.

I casually mentioned my idea to the boys and it seems that the boys actually quite enjoyed themselves replacing my lottie door and I appear to have one slightly reluctant helper and one extremely enthusiastic helper, so hopefully they'll balance out nicely and become a pair of competent builders (well a girl can dream).

We are now on the look out for suitable materials - my slightly reluctant helper (to be referred to as SRH henceforth) is supposed to be going to check out the skip on our neighbouring road as one of the houses looks to be having quite a lot of work done on it and my extremely enthusiastic helper (to be referred to as EEH henceforth) has decided to visit one of the local colleges, who are currently building a huge new facility. Not only does EEH has a garage but EEH may also have access to a van soon too so I won't need to worry about squeezing anything into my nice new(ish) car (I thought the doors were going to fall off when I transported the new front door). I have been scanning Freecycle - if I decided to build it from old washing machines we'd have been able to start this weekend. SRH is even in the process of joining the local library so that we can get some books on shed / greenhouse ideas and construction.

OH is very scathing about my general ability to measure things accurately - it all stems from one little teeney mistake that I made once when trying to order some wallpaper for a box room and it turned out I'd ordered enough for the box (but not the room LOL) ... but we don't want to dwell on such things, its just misleading :) (good job I work with some excellent engineers, so I can get them to look over my plans before I share them with SRH & EEH - and if there are any mistakes, I can always say that OH prepared them hee hee).

I'm quite excited at the prospect now of having a new and improved potting shed - ooo, maybe it could have its own sun porch too.

Crikey, whoever would have thought that I'd manage to get 'henceforth' into an allotment blog :D

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Boys will be boys

My lottie entrance had a certain charm, but sadly the door has reached the end of its useful life and so as promised, OH and a friend arrived yesterday to replace it with a new one.


oh what fun they had.



I left them to it and turned my attention to a bonfire.

Having failed dismally to get fires started previously I was well prepared on this occasion. I stopped off at the Co-op to get a box of firelighters and some matches (the witty shop assistant said, "you're not going to go and set yourself on fire now are you" .... "er, no, wasn't thinking of it ...") and had plenty of newspaper. My trusty chair which has seen a few too many days of bindweed action became the internal framework for the stack.

It was fed with the old lottie door and sadly my lovely blue bench which collapsed last year when Sue sat on it. I hasten to add, it was in a pretty sorry state before and you always had to lower your buttocks rather gingerly :)


Soon it was roaring away - it kept me lovely and warm:


There appears to have been no progress on the lottie next door, so I decided to chop down the huge buddlia that is shading my plot and fed that to the fire too.


These are the artichokes from a couple of years ago that I kept for the birds:


As the fire was dying down the boys couldn't resist a bit more larking about ... not to be tried at home children (despite their claims that it is 'totally' safe)


Perhaps if they'd worked a bit harder and played a little less I might have got a photo of the new door, but unfortunately it was completely dark by the time we left - I've been freaking myself out for the last couple of days having watched a few horror movies, the latest one being 28 weeks later - when Nick said hi yesterday, I nearly jumped out of my skin, over the fence and away up the road LOL, so I was really skittish by the time we left.

Hope its still standing when I go next LOL.

Friday, 2 January 2009

Happy New Year everyone

Well, my first visit of 2009 and I have baby peas :) They have taken weeks to appear and I'd actually forgotten about them, but fortunately they've looked after themselves very nicely.

Peas copy

They are about an inch high, so I'll leave the cloches on a little longer, mainly to protect them from the meeces, but we are also having some cold weather at the moment.

Peas2 copy

The door to my lottie has either fallen apart with the weather or had a little help from a two legged vandal (more likely the latter as the lottie a couple down also had its door hanging off its hinges). Nick helped me to nail it back together, but it needs replacing pretty soon. I seem to have loads of maintenance jobs to do - hopefully OH is coming to the lottie tomorrow to help.

No sign at all of my garlic and the onion sets don't have any signs of life - might need to replace them with new sets in March.

I finally got around to clearing out the glass greenhouse. It should have only taken 30 mins to clear and lightly dig over but I discovered dreaded bindweed so had to dig over quite carefully. I've started to edge the paths with strawberry plants. I'm also thinking of growing carrots in the greenhouse this year, maybe in black buckets.

Greenhouse copy

I spent the rest of the day slashing and first job tomorrow is to have a big bonfire.

We visited Whitby and the Mumbles over Christmas - poor Loki got car sick ... I'll let your imagination think about how that was for 2.5 hours in a hot car :( Loki (on the right) is 10 months old now.

Ianto&Loki2 copy

They are happy to be home and Ianto seems to like the kitten (AKA teenage thug) a bit more since their holiday - they've even been spotted snuggling up together ... aww:

Ianto&Loki4 copy

no, we didn't make it ... it just happened to be on one of the beaches ... OH isn't quite as cute as the kitties though :)

Jeremy copy