Monday, 22 November 2010

Robert de Niro's waiting...

It was a 1980's party, and we'd thought we'd go as Bananarama but got mistaken for Dexy's Midnight Runners!
I never normally wear make up, so this felt particularly weird to me. However, I felt the dungarees were strangely familiar...Berni & Penny went out to buy theirs specially, mine were already in my wardrobe!

Monday, 8 November 2010

Bad fireworks

I have never really enjoyed fireworks particularly. Apart from a few pleasant childhood memories of standing in the local churchyard with a polystyrene cup buckling under the heat of some tomato soup in my hand, my enjoyment of fireworks has not got much further than twiddling a sparkler or two.
I have always thought that fireworks are selfish as those who are letting them off have no control over who they are exposing to them.
This weekend I have been furious. We have worked really hard with Timmy (our nine year old rescue dog) over the past few months to help him decrease his anxiety levels and have really achieved some great things with him. Bang goes all of that this weekend - literally! He spent Wednesday night shaking after a couple of fireworks were let off outside the house. I had been putting a few drops of Rescue Remedy in his water, but soon realised that this was not enough. So Thursday we went off to the vet and came back with a pheramone collar and some doggy diazepam 'just in case'.
I soon realised that we were going to need the diazepam when he was actually sick with fear on Friday night, so Saturday was spent giving him plenty of exercise during the day and then it took a double dose to get him sufficiently relaxed so he could lie in front of the fire without being too troubled by all the explosions outside.
I remember a few years ago spending bonfire night in Leicester with a friend who had grown up in Derry during the 1970s. Walking back from the pub with him as fireworks were going off around us was the only time that I ever saw him shaken.
I think it is about time that we questioned our right to impose the experience of fireworks on people and animals who have no choice as to whether they want to participate or not.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

In the store cupboard

At the end of the marathon session!

Autumn feelings

I got up at 7am and went down to the allotment. The smell of autumn was everywhere - that sense of damp with just a hint of early decay. Every thing looked great despite the fact that I have not been there for two weeks.
Here is my harvest (and yes, I did have to use the dog's car bowl to collect the raspberries and strawberries):

I am now filling the kitchen with autumn smells. The chutney marathon has commenced!

Here it is at the start.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Passing time..

I can not believe how long it is since I last made a posting here. It seems that summer is almost over. I'm sitting here at just after 8pm and it is almost dark outside. I have to confess to being a lover of the autumn and the winter (and spring too) - there is nothing better for me than being wrapped up in woolies, sitting in front of the fire or the log burner after a good walk. High summer is too hot for me, I flag easily and too much heat can actually make me feel quite unwell.
The latter half of this summer has suited me once the heat wave passed. We had a great holiday in Dorset. Whilst it was wet here in Suffolk we enjoyed fine weather to explore Dorset and Somerset.

Here are my boys outside our cottage.

Sunset over the field behind the cottage.

Nigel has a little lie down at an iron age hill fort.

My plan was to get back from holiday and set to the allotment with vigour. However, fifteen minutes after driving for five hours to get home, this silly woman decided to move our bed....felt something rip in my back and spent the rest of the final week off work going between bed, the bath and the living room floor - totally unable to sit down. Nigel though came to my rescue - whilst taking every opportunity to remind me of the self inflicted nature of my injuries - he took himself off to the allotment, dug over my beds and planted my 60 or so leeks. Husband points flowed.

My back is now 90% recovered and we have just spent a fabulous weekend at the wedding of our good friends Berni and Penny. Thanks Girls! It was great.

We left them on Sunday morning and went down to Brighton for a couple of days to catch up with Callie and Alfie.

Alfie's little slug impression.

Alfie popping out!

I finally got off to the allotment last night. I harvested some overgrown courgettes ready for the Glutney making this weekend, and my borlotti beans had dried on the canes, so I now have a fantastic harvest of the beautiful beans. The raspberries I planted the day that Alfie was born are covered in fruit, so I will picking those at the weekend if the birds have not eaten them all.

It feels good to be back - in a physical and emotional sense. Proximity to the soil is definately good for my soul.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Putting my back into it

This morning Nigel banned me from going to the allotment on the basis that I have hurt my back, however I managed to negotiate a 'picking only' trip.
After harvesting the courgettes, french beans and black currants I just couldn't ignore the take over of the brassica patch by weeds so managed to get up quite a lot of them using a bizarre lying on the floor sort of technique to avoid bending. I then took to pulling up the remaining broad bean plants to give on poor struggling courgette some much needed light.
After about ten minutes I had had enough, but this made me realise just how important that allotment patch has become to me. When I was initially considering not going, I felt a genuine sadness - like not being able to get to see a close friend when you have arranged to do so.
Hopefully my back will clear up in a couple of days to enable me to get up to the allotment to tackle the weeds properly as we are off to Dorset next weekend to take Timmy for his first holiday.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Knitted single covers

These are some of the results of our labours for the knitted single covers for our friend, Jason's record label.

It was great fun trying to find wierd and wonderful yearns to knit them up in. I certainly ended up with knitting RSI after a couple of sessions though!


Garlic and peas!

Also mange tout, onions and courgettes. The raspberries are fruiting their little socks off (despite supposedly being an autumn fruiting variety). Every trip to the allotment at the  moment is a tasting session!

In the garden I've got some beautiful french beans which are growing really well. They're grown from some heritage seed that I got given last year. They are said to be purple podded. The flower is the most beautiful and delicate pinky/purple.

It is so incredibly hot but despite the soil being so sandy, everything is thriving well without requiring too much water. A good soaking once or twice a week seems to be absolutely fine at the moment for the plants. Unlike for me, when I feel like I need a good soaking once or twice an hour! Nigel, Timmy and I went down to Southwold this morning to take advantage of the lovely sea breeze and righteous paddling ensued!

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Four generations

A small boy joining three generations of formidable women!

Timmy meets the allotment

Today was Timmy's first trip to the allotment. Nigel brought him down after I had spent an hour or so clearing weeds (where had they all come from?!) and planting courgettes. He seemed to like it there.

Next weekend I am taking advantage of the 'special offer' that Nigel gave me as my wedding anniversary present - I have compost bins in urgent need of renovation and replacement with my new compost bin that was one of my birthday presents.

Yesterday Timmy had his first trip to Shingle Street - it met with his approval. We also discovered that he is definitely a water dog after he launched himself into the stinky mud of one of the lagoons there. We had to keep the car windows open on the way home because the smell was so bad!
He wasn't so sure about the sea though. I suspect that he may not have been to the seaside before.
Here are Timmy and Nigel before the entry to the mud.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Excuses for not blogging for ages!

First Alfie came to stay... (and this is the only time he cried whilst he was here) and then

we got a new dog! This is Timmy, an eight year old Bedlington Terrier X. As you can see, he has made himself at home very quickly. We are getting to know him and he is a really lovely boy who loves his walks and his food.
I have done loads at the allotment. I am going to take Timmy for his first visit later today so will post a vegetable update after that.

Saturday, 24 April 2010


I went down to the allotment this morning and was amazed to find so much change in just a week. Peas and broad beans are poking through the soil - although it looks like pigeons are pecking at the peas so I have now netted them.
Radishes and beetroot are coming up as well. I planted some carrots, harvested some leeks and did loads of hoeing.
I also mulched the rhubarb and raspberries with some well rotted manure.
I have a fondness for my two rhubarb plants. They are the only things that were in the allotment when I took it on a year ago (except mountains of weeds!) and they feel like they are the connection with what has gone on before in that space.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

..and talking of Alfie

Getting bigger!


I have had an idea for a project for ages. I really like the textures that you find in fishing nets and lobster pots, so today when Nigel and I went for a walk at Felixstowe Ferry I took loads of photos of nets and pots and gravel and drift wood and river plants. I want to try to use other mediums to recreate some of the patterns and textures that I found in them. It's still a seed of an idea at the moment, but I'm going to set it for myself as my summer project. However Callie and Nigel will probably remind me that one of my other projects (from about ten years ago) - a textured embroidery of standing stones at sunrise - is still knocking around somewhere unfinished! I'm still knitting Alfie's baby blanket because it took so long to source the wool. I think that Callie is a bit worried that he'll be a teenager before I get it done.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

First baby picture

Am I getting boring yet?! Image sneaked out from Callie's mobile phone from hospital.

Sunny sonny day!

I have planted my autumn fruiting raspberries today. A ritual act as at 6:03am today Callie gave birth to a healthy baby BOY!
He was entirely unexpected as she had been told that 'he was a she' (to quote Lou Reed) when she had her scan.
Luckily she had steered away from buying anything pink and so most of the things that she has are gender neutral.
Whenever we eat those raspberries we will always remember that they were planted on the day that baby no name was born.
A happy, beautiful day!

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Got muddy, done some sowing!

I have just got back from the allotment - aching and happy.
I have spent the last couple of hours digging in manure and mushroom compost and pulling out the never ending stream of bindweed roots.
But I got two rows of early potatoes, two rows of broad beans; three rows of peas, parsnips, radishes and beetroot in the ground, so I feel really satisfied.
Tomorrow I need to take up some more manure and get the raspberry canes planted that I have heeled in the garden here all winter.
All of this is a great distraction from worrying about Callie who is going into hospital this evening to have the baby induced.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Bye bye Magnus

We got back from a lovely weekend in Brighton on Sunday - having spent time with the gorgeous Callie and her big bump and enjoyed the gig of the year so far - Jerry Dammers' Spatial AKA orchestra (great review by Nigel on his blog).
When we got home we were struck by the confidence of Gladys, our smallest cat, but just put it down to her being pleased that her humans were back home. By the time that we went to bed, we had still not seen out 15 year old ginger boy Magnus, and my anxiety levels had risen significantly!
He still did not appear on Monday, so we spent the evening leafleting the area, ringing the Cats Protection League etc. A couple of people nearby rang up and invited us to search their gardens and sheds. Tuesday morning - still no sign of him. I was still clinging to the hope that he might have got shut in a shed somewhere, but in reality my intuition was telling me that we had lost him.
We did some more leafleting on Tuesday evening, and just as we got home, we got a phone call from someone around the corner to say that they had found him on the side of the road on Saturday morning, and whilst it was clear that nothing could be done for him, they had taken his body to the vets - which turned out to be the one that we use.
He had a character that was bigger than him! He was his own cat - fickle, unpredictable, but a really special part of our family. He had a special bond with Callie who says that should the baby turn out to be a boy, she'll call it Magnus!
The other cats? They are more relaxed certainly (as Magnus was the master of launching unprovoked attacks on all of them), and they are enjoying the increase in size of their food portions!
We'll miss him though, even if we will have a few less scars as a result of his absence!

Sunday, 28 February 2010

At last!

We made the decision to go to the allotment yesterday rather than leave it until today. What a great decision that turned out to be - given that it has been pouring with rain ever since we got up this morning.
It felt really good to get out and muddy, the birds were singing and snow drops and crocuses have finally forced their way through.
Our little mad cat Gladys certainly had the spring in her tail yesterday and was running about in a crazy fashion all day.
Nigel put together a new bed and I got two of the other beds thoroughly dug over - and even managed to plant a couple of rows of spinach! The bindweed roots were lurking ferociously but I got an entire waste bag full dug out. There is a load of sand on top of the new bed because this is where we put the soil from the pond hole. It needs a hefty amount of compost digging in.
I was intending to take a load down there today to get it worked in, but that is going to have to wait until the weather improves slightly.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Ice cold rain

I went to the allotment this morning in the hope that I might be able to do some digging. The ground was still frozen though - so were my fingers by the time that I had been there for five minutes, as the rain was ice cold.
I harvested the last of the purple sprouting broccoli and took down the brassica cage so that the pigeons can pick away at what is left. If the ground is defrosted next weekend I'll pull up what is left of the plants and dig that bed over ready to get in some broad beans.
I've got some early potatoes that are ready to go in as well, so need to get their bed well composted too.
I came home and cooked some breakfast and have just been out in the garden moving some garlic that had come up from some bulbs I didn't get out last year. I've planted each one now individually in a new bed. It was raining so hard that I have just had to come and in to change out of my clothing. I even had icy rain running down the back of my jeans!
Yesterday was a taste of things to come. We had to get up early to sort out our log delivery (thigh muscles feeling it today!). We had some great sunshine and the greenhouse was really quite warm despite the frost outside. I got chilli, aubergine and leek seeds planted.
I also put together the ladder-style outside shelving system that I'd ordered from the Organic Gardening Catalogue. It's going to be a great place for herbs and pot plants this year. The cats think it is a new place for them, and they have been climbing all over it.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Frustration - I wants

I want to get down to the allotment.
I want to get the edging on the beds finished.
I want to get the beds manured.
I want to sort out the paths.
I want to plant broad beans.
I want the ground to stop being frozen.
I want veggie toad in the hole for tea. (I can do that one!)
I want a glass of wine (..and that)
I want ... (Nigel has agreed to that)

I have been in the greenhouse and planted tomatoes and peppers so I do feel like I have done something, but I am longing for a little bit of spring to fill my soul.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Norfolk chill out

We have a strong connection with Norfolk - it is our neighbouring county; Nigel was born there; we had our honeymoon there; we've had many holidays there and I can trace my family to about 30 square miles of Norfolk for over 400 years.
So where better to go for a weekend of 'getting away from it all'. This was my Xmas present to Nigel - a weekend at Cley Windmill B&B. Lovely location, beautiful room - with a bath!! Vegetarian catering not so hot though... it amazes me that some places still think that it is acceptable to provide us veggies with a cooked breakfast, but just without the meaty bits! However, overall it was a lovely weekend with a spooky mist hanging over the marshes for nearly all day Saturday.
We detoured on our way home to stop at an animal rescue centre in Norfolk that we are considering getting a new rescue dog from. We both finally feel that it is time now for us to be able to start to think about getting another dog. We both miss Stoofer a great deal and much as we love our cats, it is not quite the same.

Baby in my baby

Sunday, 17 January 2010


I went to the allotment this morning for the first time since the snow has gone. I had to repair the brassica cage which had collapsed and harvested some leeks and some curly kale. The allotments all look very sad and brown, but there are green shoots coming through - my onions and garlic seem to have survived the frosts ok, although the tops are a little curled.
I am now sitting with my tin of seeds planning what to grow where for the coming year. As well as the allotment I have raised beds in the garden, which I didn't really use to their full potential last year. My idea is to grow the things that I will want instant access to in the garden - salads mainly, and use the allotment to grow the crops that take up more room.
I always get carried away when ordering seeds, usually duplicating things that I already have, so this time I am going to be better organised and catalogue what I have already before ordering.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Coat finally finished!

I spent this morning, feeling slightly bleary after last night's wine intake, sewing up and finishing off my coat. I'm very pleased with it and it is really warm and snuggly. It is rather comically large, partly because I over estimated what size I needed to make it (as it knits up big anyway) and also because I have taken so long to make it I have lost weight since I started!
I am looking forward to wrapping myself up in it on the sofa tonight with a good lentil dhal and glass of wine.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Scar tales

This seems like a very strange thing to be blogging about, but this is just another bit of me and I thought it make help to explain to people who know me why I suddenly grab items of cutlery or large knitting needles and suddenly ram them down the back of my neck!
A few years ago I had a number of operations on my lumbar spine which have left me with a thick scar about 8" long. I've always had quite a fondness for this as it marks part of my journey through life. When I was 40 I had the tattoo (that shows partly in the picture above) done, to celebrate my skin - scars, lumps, bumps and all. What I didn't realise at the time was that the patch of eczema below the tattoo actually wasn't eczema, and was a skin cancer.
After some failed treatments it was finally excised with the promise of a small, insignificant scar which would eventually be virtually unnoticeable. However my scarring decided to take a different course and became a keloid which basically means that my body doesn't realise that the wound has healed, and so the healing process continues which means that the scar just keeps growing and is also extremely itchy (hence the need to press cold objects against it!).
Various options have failed to make any difference, and now I am so used to it, that it is yet another part of my body history. I have some exceedingly good Aloe Vera gel that helps to ease the heat and itchiness. The biggest drawback is that I have to rely on Nigel to apply it for me as the keloid is in a position that is almost impossible for me to reach (slap bang between my shoulder blades).
So if I should grab one of your spoons, just ignore me and be assured that it is helping!

Friday, 1 January 2010

Dem bones

The high tide line was strewn with a large number of human bones. Nigel was reluctant to believe me, but my theory was that they had been dragged up carried by the winter storms from further up the coast (places like Dunwich and Covehithe) where the old churches and graveyards have long since fallen into the sea.

...and looking the same way in daylight

Shingle Street is a wild and desolate place with an ever changing landscape. The martello tower at Bawdsey (seen here in the distance) is hanging onto its continued existence by its fingernails - despite some innovative community action having earned it a reprieve for the immediate future.
Every winter storm that bashes this bit of coastline forces irrevocable change on the environment.
Every trip to Shingle Street guarantees a change - either to the shape of the vast shingle beach or to the seascape of shingle spits and islands that come and go. One of our pleasures this year was watching a family of seals bask on one of this islands, until the tide finally forced them back into the sea.

Sunset at Shingle Street

With due deference to Thomas Dolby.....this is why I love this place so much