Monday, 31 October 2011


Some friends threw down the gauntlet for scariest outfits for a Halloween party ... be warned, they are a bit gruesome ... but no one was hurt, it's all makeup and paint :)

This is my practice makeup practice run. Unfortunately for the poor delivery man, I forgot I had zombie makeup on and a zombie baby eating it's way out of my fake tummy went I went to answer the door - I've never seen anyone throw a parcel and run so fast LOL. At least I hadn't added the fake blood at this stage ;)

Here we all are at the beginning of the night:

Me and OH in our final makeup. I'm a zombie and he has 'unzipped' his face:

You can't actually tell from these photos, but we shaved a wide stripe in his hair all the way around the back and painted a fake cut and stitches - as if he'd had a Lobotomy ... it was a little too effective and I'm sure that some people actually thought he'd had surgery :)

This is my final outfit with fake blood added. I drew lots of gasps and double looks when people saw zombie baby ! You wouldn't believe how many people asked if I was actually pregnant (and before anyone gives me any cheek that's half of a pillow stuffed up my top ...)

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Food Glorious Food !

I have lots of cookery books - although I seem to spend more time looking through them than actually making anything. I've been busy looking up recipes for the last of the allotment goodies and came across my 'Cranks Bible' recipe book. I was disappointed when I got it all those years ago as it doesn't have many photos, but spurred on by a tray of beetroot I decided to make beetroot risotto. OH and I are currently in heaven. It was amazing. So good we made it for friends at the weekend. They joined us in heaven - we've pretty much got that market corned ;)

It was so good we scoffed it without drawing breath and didn't manage to get any photos ... sorry :) :)

Spurred on by that success, tonight I made Chickpea Salad with Coriander, Sunblushed Tomatoes and Haloumi (a very firm Cypriot salty cheese). It was even better than the risotto.

So good I thought I should share it with you, as if (unlike me) you have had a successful season at the allotment there are quite a few ingredients that you can grow yourself.

Here's what you do - you will not be disappointed, I promise you:

Into a serving bowl put:

2 cans of rinsed & drained chickpeas, 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, 2 tablespoons each of chopped parsley, coriander & extra virgin olive oil, 1 crushed garlic clove (from the allotment - yippee), half a very finely sliced red onion - season & mix.

Now the recipe also calls for 100g of Rocket leaves ... but we didn't have any of that in our fridge, so I chopped up spinach - about 4 handfuls. Mix that with the other stuff. It also calls for a dash of tamari (but we don't know what that is) and a dash of Tabasco (but OH doesn't like that LOL).

Add sunblush tomatoes to your taste (recipe calls for 24 pieces) and then set aside to infuse.

Just before you are ready to serve, cut a 250g block of Haloumi into strips - brush with olive oil and cook for 1 mins each side on a hot griddle (to get lovely lines) - cheese should be golden & crisp on outside, hot & molten on inside - don't cook too long as it will go rubbery / tough.

Place on top of your salad and serve immediately.

We drizzled ours with Balsamic vinegar and ate it with a lovely baguette. Boy it was good :) :)

The photo doesn't do it justice, but in fairness OH was half way through eating when I suddenly demanded a photo ... hope you enjoy

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Workshop Update

Well the workshop that I attended was pretty good and very well run. Participants were surprisingly well behaved and listened to what was presented.

Highlights from the presentations !

- There are 76 council owned allotment sites in Sheffield and one private site !
- Over 3,000 tenants and 2,200 people on the waiting list. Wow.
- Issued 59 notices to quit (which doesn't seem terribly high to me) and 593 letters about cultivation etc in 2011 to date.
- The budget has been cut by 10% for next year - no actual figures revealed.
- Sheffield is the only major city not to have any self managed council sites.

Following the presentations we were asked to consider two questions: what did we think about the current Council Subsidy (75%) and Rent Levels and what were our thoughts on being Self Managed.

We had to put our responses onto post-it notes and stick them to pieces of flip chart paper. All the input is being collected and analysed and will be fed back to plot holders.

The only negative was being harassed at the end of the meeting by one of my former idiot committee colleagues ... he managed to stop short of following me into the ladies loo, settling for waiting for me and my friend outside the door. Unbelievable. Perhaps he views me as an easy target, being female. You'd think he'd have got the message by now that I resigned from the committee to escape the lunacy that is their world.

Anyway I digress, if you have an opportunity to attend, I encourage you to do so. They've had 600 responses to the questionnaire so far (current tenants & waiting list - so 5,200 people)

Monday, 17 October 2011

Sheffield Council - Allotment Workshops

Bit late I know, just getting back into the habit of blogging ... you wait for months and then get spammed with three posts in three days :)

In case you haven't seen the letter, here are the brief details:

Sheffield Council will be running 4 workshops to address key themes for the future of the Allotment service:

1 Provide an update on the workshops that were run in 2009
2 Consult and inform customers on the allotment rent review process (remember this is the proposal to rise rents quite dramatically over the next 4-5 years)
3 Identify and discuss issues facing us in the future.

Aim is to understand both current and prospective tenant's views.

Tuesday 18 October (Norfolk Heritage Park)
Wednesday 19 October (Hillsbrough)
25th October (Meersbrook) - almost full
25th October (Mosbrough)

I think all timings are 6.30pm, but as that vital piece of information (along with half of the dates) was missing from the letter (DOH !) you might want to call the office and double check.

I believe if you are interested in attending you need to call the office on: 0114 2734528 or email:

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Enough procrastinating !

So here is what I did today: dug over the onion bed, garlic bed, bean & pea bed:

Weeded the strawberry bed:

and the squash bed and the greenhouse bed:

So I've had a good appraisal today of what needs to be done, but actually, as I've dug over 50% in a day, in theory it shouldn't take long to lick into shape. I have a list (as always):

- cut down all raspberries, dig them ALL up .... dig up the bloody bindweed, replant raspberries.
- order manure and actually get it delivered .... no procrastinating now Michelle !
- take up the path between the onion & garlic bed to make a bigger bed
- relocate the greenhouse benches to the concrete and accept that my g/h is never going to get put up
- get some new pallets for the compost area that is now very dilapidated

I decided to get tough ! I've ripped up the flowering crab apple that doesn't actually produced any crab apples ... just flowers. The 'big' 'apple' tree (not that it's produced more than 3 apples in 5 years) is next on my hit list. As I nearly snapped my spade trying to dig up the crab apple (you'd think I'd learn after my last encounter) I shall be sawing it down :)

Nick arrived after a while and told me that he'd had a letter from the allotment office telling him to tidy up his plot or give it up ! Apparently the main issue was the 'grass' that was growing ... turned out to his rye ... he'd dug in most of it, leaving a little so he could collect seeds. Hmmm, not much to be said to that !

This is my Spring sown artichoke - it is still very small - I'm not sure it'll make it through the winter, so I'm debating whether to pot it up and put it in the greenhouse until March.

I seem to have a random rocket plant growing:

The jerusalem artichokes are in full flower

as they are about my only crop left on the plot, I thought I'd dig some up ... watch out, expecting the weather to change next week - maybe a little windy haha

Here is my entry for comedy vegetables - not the greatest photo, but it looks a bit like a donkey or a dog maybe :) :)

Here is my lovely hemp plant ! it'll be going on to the compost heap once I get around to digging over the brick bed.

Interesting that some things never change ! No matter what time of year, they are regular as clockwork !

Here is my compost heap, newly fed:

The last of the summer flowers:

I'm pleased to see that my pond is still nice and full - earlier in the summer I was worried it had a leak, now I now know that it was just a lack of water ! I'm determined this year to thin out those iris:

Look at the state of our car park - I'm going to complain to the Alloment Officers - it's ridiculous - there are now only two spaces to park. There are about 5 hoovers sticking out of this pile ... not quite sure how they're going to compost !

Saturday, 15 October 2011

well its sure been a while ....

... since my last visit !

I'd like to say I've been busy in the background, beavering away at my lottie, but sadly I can't claim anything of the sort. Ah well - always next season 'eh :)

So here are my excuses: first we had the rain, then we had the drought, then my OH was away for what seemed like months, in between I moved to a new job at work, then we decided to sell our house which meant finishing all those pesky jobs that we never got around to finishing (or indeed starting in some cases), then OH was rushed into emergency A&E and spent a week in hospital (kidney stone - he is fine now) and then I went on a business trip. Hmmmm is that enough :)

I have managed to harvest some things:
- had fabulous garlic late spring
- OK onions
- fabulous potatoes (still digging them - what a surprise I hear you say cheekily)
- apples (they don't look like the brambleys that the label promised, but will still make a nice apple tart)
- purple beans - managed to save some seed for next year. They are sooooo fabulous chopped up with butter
- peas - enough for a couple of batches of soup
- a few strawberries & raspberries - got some jam made
- a few squashes - pretty small overall, but then I haven't watered at all and have barely visited.
- jerusalem artichokes
- kohl rabi
- tomatoes
- herbs
- beetroot

What wasn't so good:
- my fabulous carrots for carrot fly AGAIN
- peppers
- cucumbers
- sweetcorn
- borlotti beans
- courgettes (gasp)
- florence fennel
- globe artichoke
- blueberries

My house looks fab tho !
Am very pleased - we've had 8 viewings and 5 offers so far ... not quite at the price that we want yet, but not far off now, so fingers crossed :)
We do live here, seriously ! hahah ... you don't even want to know what we did with all our 'stuff'

Kitchen - the rabbit pictures on the left were my birthday present last year from a fabulous English artist living in Paris. I love my kitchen - the black art deco doors are going to be very hard to find again :(

Here is our city garden - the paving is Chinese slate - it is blue and rusty coloured - looks amazing after the rain. That's a Eucalyptus tree on the left (it needs chopping in half - it's only a couple of years old gulp) and golden bamboo against the back wall on the right. The silver tubs have French lavender, lambs ears (no idea of it's proper name, but its those silky / silver leaves that look like rabbits ears - so velvety you can't stop stroking them) and a clematis called Henri - a nod to OH's dad who died a few years ago.

Here's my bathroom - is this getting weird LOL

my living room

spare room / library

and my bedroom !

Hmm, so what other excuses did I list ... oh yes - OH !

So I'm at work and my colleague interrupts a meeting to tell me there is a problem at home - oh I say, is it the cats ! no she says, I think it's your OH. Oh right LOL. So I call him and he is gasping and groaning and it's very difficult to make out anything of sense at all, but it seems he has passed out three times (chipped a tooth !), been throwing up and immobilised by dreadful pain through his kidneys. So I call an ambulance BUT I'm 30 miles away from home (1.5hour drive !!) so I call his friend who has a set of keys. Said friend runs to the house to try and beat the ambulance, but when he gets there, OH has left his key in the door, so friend can't open the door !!! oh no. S'OK he says ... I'll break in ! Managed to persuade him not to and he figured out a plan B.

In the meantime I jump into my car and drive very fast to the adult A&E department ... can you believe I got there BEFORE the ambulance ... which went past me as I was walking up the hospital driveway !!!

I find OH on a trolly, curled up in a foetus position, shaking so violently that I thought he was going to fall off. After a few tests and a scan of some sort the verdict of kidney stones is delivered (to his relief). He is dosed up with morphine, dyctytrecky-something or other, another drug that I've forgotten and a paracetamol (doctor why are you giving him a paracetamol - 'it tops the other drugs off nicely', okaaaayy !)

Finally, nearly a week week later he has 'passed' the 4mm stone (ouch) and fought off the infection and is sent home :)

Apparently kidney stones are the male equivalent of giving birth ... OH managed not to slap the grinning female nurse who delivered this gem to him haha. So my sympathy to any of you who have experienced the pain.

I've also managed to fit in a business trip to Chicago. I'm not really a fan of the US, but I LOVED Chicago and would move there tomorrow ! What an amazing place - I had a ball - even though it was a work trip :)

This is the John Hancock building:

The view looking down on Chicago at night from the 95th floor bar of the John Hancock building !!! so high, my boss was shaking and we had to leave after just a few minutes :)

Trump Towers !

The city reflected in Trump Towers:

This is Chicago's Millennium sculpture - the Bean ... it captures the city perfectly:

Sunset through the skyscrapers:

So having run out of excuses, I had my first visit this afternoon for what feels like an entire season. It's not as bad as I feared - even the weeds haven't really done much. I shall go for a proper visit tomorrow and start the big clear up. Watch this space haha !

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Well the greenhouse is pretty poor - I've barely had time to visit it to water and so it's had to fend for itself ... the strawberries were amazing - the few that I ate during fleeting visits anyway and the marigolds are rather lovely, but my aubergine is pathetic and I don't think my peppers are going to come to much.

My tomatoes are rather disappointing. Now that my OH is back from his 3 week holiday, I might have a bit more time to visit. Remember that naughty kitten mixing up all my labels ... this is supposed to be a Gardeners Delight haha ... but is obviously a Tigerella.

One greenhouse success is my mint - it's now in flower - isn't it pretty ! Typical tho .. just as the peas are ready, the mint finishes !! Sigh.

Let's not even discuss my weeds !! Where do they come from ??

Here is my pride and joy ... if only I knew what it was haha. I think it may be a Sweet Dumpling' or a 'small sugar' ... it does have a label ... if only I'd looked at it.

My Vivaldi potatoes have died down, so I've started to dig them up - fancy, in the right season haha. We've had some tonight in Jamie's 30 minute curry - along with the last of last years Winter Festival, this years garlic and some freshly podded peas. Yum !!

My beetroot germination as been very patchy, not sure why. I will try to sow some more during my next visit. My yellow ones are still very small - I think these ones were Choggia (the stripy ones) ... really must start checking labels LOL. They are sat on a bag of peas that I harvested. Still lots on the plants. The flippin' pigeons have been landing on the netting over the top of the peas and nibbling them !! Nothing is safe ... grrr

Baby carrots are progressing well ... it's really not as big as it looks in the photo. Wonder if I'll get carrot fly again this year. I've not got any fleece covering them, as that's prevented precious water reaching them in previous seasons. Guess I'll just take my chances. Maybe eating them young is the plan ...

We've had quite a lot of sunshine, so I'm not altogether surprised that my courgettes are so small ... I really really really must manure this autumn, the ground is exhausted (bit like me)

Well the spinach has well and truely gone to seed ... it's rather pretty, but I didn't actually get a crop off it .

The dry weather has also seen the florence fennel go to flower before the bulb's have formed. It has the most amazing aniseed smell and beautiful soft fern fronds ... I might cut some for the house

hey hey ! Khol Rabi :)
Doing pretty well ... they've got a pityful net over the top of them, honestly it's minute - even Nick next door laughed when he saw it - but so far so good. Wonder what you do with Kohl Rabi ... it's a wonderful colour.

Peas ! Hurrah. Bag full picked. More to come :)

It hasn't photographed very well, but my vertical squash arrangement is working very well ... well so far anyway

Baby squash - the tromboney one ... forgot its name LOL. Something about Marina di choglia ??? hahah ... MUST start to look at my labels.

My sweetcorn is still very small, but it has all developed tassels ... it could probably do with some more water.

This is what happens when you don't net !!!! grrrrr. My beautiful cauliflowers - had 5 varieties **sob**

Any ideas anyone ? this appeared in just a few days ... it's growing really vigorously ... so it's bound to be a weed or a tree. It's certainly not something I've planted. I'm curious to see what it develops into - occasionally I get the odd thing from one of the neighbouring lotties - black kale etc ... or a helpful squirrel will bury the odd acorn.

The pond was less than half full this afternoon. It had got so low that I took the decision to top it up with the hosepipe. My reasoning was better some water than no water. Hope all the wildlife is OK - my poor waterlilly had finally flowered and now it's under 1.5' of water. I'll find out next time I go up whether I have a leak, or whether it really is just evaporation. Jenny emailed to say she has newts !! I'm so jealous. Mind, you can't have newts and frogs - just one or the other. One eats the other, I can't remember which - maybe the newts are the meanies ? But still - newts !! so exciting. Will pop in to see them next time we are both up there - will try and get a photo. Just lots of baby frogs in my pond.

Another casualty of my absence - the fantastic raspberries have all but finished. This small tub is what I managed to salvage. I'm going to see if there is enough for jam. So cross - they looked amazing a couple of weeks ago, just didn't have time to stop and harvest :(

I don't think my blueberries are going to do very well this year - they haven't had enough water :)

Herbs are always beautiful in flower

This is in my wildflower garden, in front of the pond - no idea what it's called, but it's very pretty.

A cornflower has arrived in the wildgarden - it is stunningly pretty

Argh ... I've got teasels popping up everywhere !!

As usual, poppies are also appearing all over the plot - I have deep red and Nick next door has purple. They are very pretty

I've got nasturtiums - yeay !!

If you are from Sheffield, don't forget to read the post I put on this morning - next one down.