Sunday, 20 December 2009

Flowers still.

This is the latest I've seen this shrub flowering in my garden. I was impressed the year before last when it was still flowering all through October. Flowers in December!!

This Erysium 'Bowles Mauve' is an amazing flowerer - it seems to carry one the whole year round.

I was in my slippers so didn't get very close to this plant. It's called Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii 'Profusion' and the berries are an unusual purple. It's not all purple in my garden now honest! There are red berries on the cotoneaster but I couldn't get a decent angle on them. The red looks gorgeous -has a hint of orange.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Snow pictures

I took all these photos just five minutes walk from where I live on the edge of London. I feel very fortunate I can easily get into central London but also enjoy this. It was really peaceful wandering about in the sun scrunching snow and taking these pictures.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

allotment pictures and friend's bonfire

I know you're supposed to chop off the fennel seed heads otherwise you end up with loads of seedling growing all over the place but they just looked too pretty to cut so I left them along with the sunflower. I did collect some of the sunflower seeds and gave some to my god daughter who can't wait to have sunflowers next year.

Here's a bit of digging I did the other week. Very enjoyable being out in the sun working.

My friends built this lovely fire. The kids were hypnotised by it.
They gave us a lovely lunch too - felt like body and soul fed. Bonfires bring back memories of fires made with my mum.

Fire behind mahonia.

Monday, 30 November 2009

I've done it!!!!

Apologies for my absence from the blog but as you can see I have been busy doing Nanowrimo. It's been a brilliant experience. Before doing it I was struggling to write 200 words a day but somehow I managed to keep to the 1667 words a day. Of course the house is a complete tip, my eyes are red and sore like I've been living in a cave with no daylight for a month but I am relatively sane. The allotment has been neglected but is very forgiving. Now that it is over I am continuing to write but at a more modest pace of 500 words a day. After Christmas is over I will raise that to 1000.
Saturday thankfully was sunny so hubby and I finally re-felted the allotment shed roof and made a smashing job of it. It was our first attempt so we were very pleased. It was great coz the other allotmenteers were there to give advice when we got stuck. I did a bit of digging today - it was good to be out in the sun. I was a bit distracted by our car which has been unwell. I don't like thinking about cars and secretly look forward to the day they are banned (no I'm not brave enough to give it up though I don't use it that much coz hubby has it to drive to work). I wrote a couple of poems this week. How do people cope with writing personal stuff that other family members might not want aired.
Now nanowrimo is finished I am slumping a bit into my usual seasonal misery. This is the time of year my mum died (five days before Christmas) and last month was her birthday. I think now the writing has slowed down the emotions are coming to the top. I used to get down this time of year before my mum died but it was worse after. Each year it changes a bit. Sometimes bringing new sadness like when I had my son and knowing he'd never know his grandparents on my side. But then we get the Christmas tree and I fill it with all the decorations that have their own stories and I'm happy.

Sunday, 1 November 2009


This is the first time I have done this and it feels great to have some focus and goals to meet. Hurrah I've got 2,146 words so far - mean to get 3334 by midnight to stay on target. Am dodging kids and husband to keep on course but it's hard. They've disappered now and Blogger has sucked me in. Oh no!

I wasn't going to go to the allotment this am as I had all these words to write but after I dropped the kids the sun and the autumn leaves wouldn't let me stay in so I went to my plot. I planted three rows of Japanese onions - unfortunately I kept forgetting to buy garlic but I can always plant some of the garlic I grew last year. I did a bit of hoeing. The chickweed has gone mad-luckily it's shallow rooted so not hard to get up. There's loads of forget-me-nots and I can't leave them all as would lose half a plot to them so have relocated some to flower bed next to shed and will take rest home to put on top of tulips filled pots- hopefully will be a lovely combination. Keep forgetting to take my camera- real shame as there were two pheasants strutting their stuff at the allotment. Back to me writing now. Happy Nanomonth to all undertaking it.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Poetry and potatoes.

I'd put potatoes on my new plot as they involve a lot of digging opportunities to come across and pull out bindweed. It always amazes me how bindweed can regrow from any tiny bit of root left in the ground. My potatoes did have more scab than I've ever seen but it was a dry summer and i didn't water them . One of the old hands told me that there often is a lot of scab in ground uncultivated for ages. As the scab is only skin deep and does not affect the potato I'm not too concerned. Have not been to allotment for few days as son's birthday party preps took over and the accompanying panic over somehow inviting 17 kids to our small roomed house. it passed very well thanks to my sister. The kids loved it. I loved their dancing.
I went to a poetry reading locally which involved 4 published poets reading from the floor then people were invited to read from the floor. This was the second time I had read from the floor and it was worse than the first time. I could hear my voice tremble and had to slow down which was good as I often race through my poems wanting to finish asap. I got a great round of applause and two of the published poets said what a v good poem it was. Members of the audience also gave me very positive feedback. I have been walking on air.

Monday, 12 October 2009

More harvest and autumn planting

My carrots and parsnips have done pretty well this year. My first year my carrots were tiny - once you peeled them there was nothing left to eat! Parsnips take ages to germinate and I thought I'd keep the weeds down while waiting for them. Unfortunately I weeded the only two that germinated as I didn't know what their leaves would look like. My friend had told me they look nothing like carrots but not what they look like.

Autumn is not normally thought of as a time to plant but there are some things that can go in now. I've bought Japanese onions sets, broad beans and peas from the allotment shop. I haven't tried growing onions from seed yet - I just buy the sets(tiny onions that grow into big ones) but maybe next year. The onions that you plant in autumn have to be used pretty quickly as they don't store well-unlike the ones planted in spring which store well. The broad beans can go in up till beginning of November. Last year the birds had most of mine -very upsetting as I was looking forward to the boiled beans being fried with garlic and onion. A fellow allotmenteer recommended letting the weeds grow up round them once the pods start to form as the birds don't see the beans. Peas - now I don't really know a lot about them so will let you know how I get on with them.
Today I had a whole morning at the allotment- first time in ages. It was a perfect day for it -sunny and not too hot. Lots of bonfires - I love the smell of bonfires- makes me smile. I drew a plan of my plot as I need to rotate the types of veg to stop a build up of pests and diseases. Lucky for us the allotment gets free deliveries of houshold compost recycled by the council and manure from the local stables. I did a bit of hoeing -trying to cut down the weeds before they get big and cause more of a problem. Then I dug a trench lined it with compost then filled it with soil from the ground next to it making another trench then so on till whole row had compost added to it. I do a bit each time i go so I don't wear my joints out too much. I feel so much calmer for spending time working there working.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

My produce

This tomato (yes it is just one tomato sliced up!) grew outside in my garden. It's called Big Boy and I will definately grow it again next year as it's so tasty. The onion's from my allotment. I put a few golden marjoram (yes from the garden-oh dear sounds like I'm showing off.) leaves on it and drizzled some olive oil over it all.

Sexy photos of my borlotti beans. Can eat pods lightly boiled when young or when get to this stage can shell and put beans in soup casserole etc. Or dry them and store. If you want to cook them from dry you need to soak them overnight covered with an inch of water. The next day boil till tender.

Some of my desiree potatoes harvested from the allotment. My father-in-law planted them as my arm was in plaster. They have a bit of scab due to dry weather. It's not serious - you can just peel it off and cook as normal.

Monday, 28 September 2009

thanks - I've been tagged!!

It's a great honour to be tagged by Leatherdykeuk

I've never been tagged before.

The "Your Blog is Fabulous!" Award stands for: Integrity. Commitment to Excellence. Stubbornly Optimistic.

The Rules:List five current obsessions:

1. My allotment - digging and weeding. I get excited when I pull a bundle of bindweed roots out of the earth.
2. Writing. I have many poems at different stages of completion. I have lots of notebooks but for some reason seem to end up writing on the back of old envelopes. I also have a novel in progress that i've ignored for a while but it's not going away.
3.Tea - I'm drinking an awful lot of it out of my favourite mug (I have 2nd and 3rd favourites too incase 1st not available)
4. China or porcelain plates. Even the kids eat off them- visiting mums look anxious but if they break they break.
5. Crystal glasses. I love the way they sound when you ping them and how they look as delicate as slivers of ice.

I love all the blogs I follow so please take up this tag if you wish.

Elderberries, starting school and harvesting

Sorry have not posted for a while have been going through the trauma of my youngest starting school. It is like taking off a plaster slowly as she started for one hour, then a couple, then morning, then staying for lunch then finally fulltime. I am amazed I have picked her up at the right times. I can't understand why a four year old needs to be at school all day though I'm sure I will savour the hours when she is. But I'm not sure it's for her good really. Anyway will see how it goes and if she needs to go part time longer at least I am lucky enough to be able to do that. We have loads of elderberries growing at the end of our garden and this is the first year I've managed to do anything with them. The berries made me feel quite errie as I pulled them off their stems. I could imagine generations of women doing it and cooking them for a cold remedy. And long ago some of those women being seen as witches. I was on the edge of society cooking. I do get a bit dramatic sometimes but pick those berries and have a good look at them - they have a silver glint on them that is quite mesmorizing. I tried to make cordial but heated it too long- now have a jar of delicious goo. As recommended by fellow blogger Rachel I put a spoon of it in hot water with honey for a delicious drink to sore sore throats. I also just eat a spoon of it when I feel like it.

This is an allium seedhead from my front garden. In spring I will try and grow some plants from seed. I wonder if you need to soak the seeds first - they look very hard and dark.

I have been getting quite a lot done at the allotment. I'v dug up most of my potatoes. As I dug them out I dug in some compost so that the ground is ready for spring next year.
If you really stare at the picture on the left you should be able to see the very start of brussel sprouts forming on the thick stem. There's a lot of white fly on them - the butterflies have been busy.

The sunny weather has given the courgette another burst of life. My friend grew one in her garden. I think they are great as have lovely floers and produce a lot of veg per plant(you only really need one -maybe two as back up).
My climbing purple beans and lovely and tender even when I leave them too long. Any runner beans that have been left to grow too long(and are still green) and hence are tough - I recommended shelling them and using the beans in casseroles. Or you can boil them till tender then drain and fry with onion and garlic in olive oil.

Thursday, 10 September 2009


Haven't made it to the allotment for a while - hopefully go soon and dig up the rest of my potatoes and see how the leeks are getting on. I love the silvery green of the leeks' leaves - I also love eating them though they are still a bit small for that. My youngest starts school on Thursday and I feel a bit sad though she seems very happy.

Above are photos of my beloved Echeveria coming into flower. I keep it outside in the summer but bring it in when it gets cold as it cannot cope with frost.
I need to get to the allotment shop soon and stock up on Japanese onions, aquadulce broad beans and maybe peas as these can all go in the ground in Autumn for earlier crop in spring. I need to start digging horse manure into the ground soon - except where I'm putting carrots and parsnips next year as they hate fertile ground- it makes them fork.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Ukrainian dancing

Driving to a 60th anniversary celebration of a Ukrainian old people's home I suddenly remembered lying in the hot sun next to a field of potatoes turning my 11 year old legs red. I was pleased with my sunburn as we were in those days till someone pointed out my white ankle socks. It was a lovely day - the home had put on free food and entertainment which was very nice of them. I wanted to show my son some of his roots. He says he is English. I waiver between envying his certainty of his identity and grief that he feels disconnected from his ancestors. Many of the people at the celebrations are bringing up their kids speaking Ukrainian(they are third generation) but I have taught my children a few words. I speak to them in Ukrainian sometimes but more to stop me losing it. I do find the whole concept of identity confusing. My son watched the concerts - he said he liked the dancing a little bit. The blokes get the best dance moves and boy did they dance well.

I loved the yellow of my son's fried egg sandwich we had at Ally Pally by the boating lake. I pedalled him around in a pedalo boat - not been in one since childhood.

Have had loads more tomatoes - so wet today did not pick them. Used the ones we picked the other day to make delicious pasta sauce.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Holiday and coming home

We have just spent three days in Dorset and have had a brilliant time. We managed to erect our tent for the first time ever with only minor arguments. The kids loved running up and down the hill we were pitched on. For some reason sleeping in tents makes me wide awake. I never have trouble normally falling asleep but put me in a tent I'm like one of those dolls without the moving eyelids. The upside of the insomnia was that I went outside late at night and the sky looked wonderful. I haven't seen so many stars in years. The light pollution in London means that hardly any stars are visible.

My son and his friend were as pleased as punch when they caught this crab. I didn't realise till my husband pointed it out that their reflections are in the bucket with the crab.

This is Durdle Door - I thought it was called doodle doo I think I may have watched too many kids programmes. The arch has been worn away naturally and is made of portland stone. I swam right under it. Until this holiday I had never swum in the sea before. It was invigorating as you can imagine - this being England.

On the way home we stopped at Stonehenge. The most I've seen of it is a glimpse out of the car window on the way back from Cornwall I think. The size of the stones was amazing. You can't get anywhere near them unfortunately. I really wanted to stand in the middle of them and watch the sun rise. They act as a calendar as well as maybe a temple or to chart the stars.
We came home to lots of tomatoes - these are the one's left after I made a pasta sauce. The courgettes at the allotment turned into marrows ARGGHH Desperately searching for recipes to use them.
I entered my beetroots at the local Show and got second place- was very pleased as it's the first time I have entered. Very nice that I one with a veg very important to my Ukrainian heritage.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Sunflowers and sword fighting oh and a bit of veg talk.

Left are my parsnips. Then carrots and on right lettuce.

This swiss chard sprouted itself from last year. It looks lovely but we don't like it so the next door neighbours guinea pig gets it.

This picture is from my garden. When I was growing up we had hundreds of them all down the right side of our garden. During July and August would have our own constant sunshine from the river of yellow. I think they are perennial sunflowers. They would die back in the autumn leaving loads of sticks that me, my sister and friends would use to sword fight.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Recharging my batteries

Spent five days with my family at my in-laws. Very relaxing no cooking, cleaning just relaxing. Have been back home for a few days and have managed not to run around like a headless chicken. Son seems to have warmed greatly to the allotment and is happy to spend hours digging one great big hole. Though he wasn't quite so happy today when his sister started trying to fill it. I'm glad I understand now that the role of the little sister is to irritate. Harvested loads of french beans today. I will blanche them for two minutes,drain, put cold water on them,drain again and spread them on baking trays to put in freezer. Once they are frozen I will bag them. I spread them on trays first as otherwise they end up all stuck together and difficult to use. We have loads of courgettes too so they are finding their way into all sorts of dishes. Neighbour at allotment let our kids harvest their blackberries. They had great fun getting their fingers all red and sticky and they got a fair amount of fruit too! I made a apple and blackberry crumble - yum. Harvested some more onions and garlic and have more potatoes to dig up. The potatoes - called Charlotte are delicious yellow waxy ones. The cucumbers have done well and the kids love them we have long ones and round yellow ones. I must take some photos. We've had a few tomatoes but most of them are still green though some are bright yellow. I didn't buy any yellow ones but it must have the wrong label as they don't look like they'll ever go red. Lettuce is good too as is my lone kale plant. It's a busy and happy time at the allotment.

Thursday, 23 July 2009


I had a fantastic time at the Latitude festival. We put a tent up for the first time in sixteen years with no mishaps-. It was very middle class - the acts far more diverse than the audience. I loved the poetry. Simon Armitage was very good. Jackie Kay was brilliant such a bubbly person and really funny. Kate Tempest rapped her poems and actually got the audience on their feet. Great to see the poetry tent so energized. She's going to be big. Grace Jones was brilliant - hula hooping through slave to the rhythm. Her costumes were amazing -magnificent ridged head-dress. She changed between each song. Lisa Hannigan who I'd never heard of before was very good. What was great about the festival was the variety of stuff to do - theatre, film, comedy, poetry, literature and ballet by the lake. The site itself was lovely. The lake cut the site in two and had giant delicate fabric lilys floating on it. The lake set off the ballet on its bank beautifully. Later in the day a cube was floated on the lake with a quartet playing inside. In the evening jets of water acted as a projector screen for giant cupcakes rising and falling in the sky. It was a really chilled out festival. A tent tucked away in the woods held the mellow tunes of The Boy trapped by the Sun - very good. I love Nick Cave but the sound wasn't very good - the music was too loud and kind of buzzing. I don't mind loud music - in fact that's the only way to do justice to most songs but it just didn't sound right. Oh and the compost toilets in the woods were the best festival toilets I've ever been too.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

sunshine and rain

It's so exciting going to the allotment this time of year as things grow so quickly. Spring you spend time waiting for seeds to germinate then protecting the seedlings- everything seems slow then bam in the summer it all takes off. The courgettes are growing on the tails of their flowers, coming quicker than you can eat them. I have lovely cucumbers -variety Passandra that my friend recommended - they never go bitter. I picked some of the beetroot as they are growing too close together. I will boil them in their skins for an hour or two till soft and then eat them. Dug up some more potatoes and garlic too. I need to sow some more carrot as half a row did not germinate. The other row of carrots looks great but not big enough to harvest yet. I started to dig up my broad beans as between the black fly and the squirrels there's nothing left. I am going to put in some more dwarf french beans instead as I love them and that means I'll be able to harvest some later. There's loads of black fly this year (dry weather) but on the plus side less slugs. The ladybird larvae are starting to eat their way through the flies. So nice to see so many ladybirds. The rain held out while I was at the allotment then drenched me completely on the way home. Me and the plants were well watered. (I like the rain)
My friend T came over on Monday and let me take some photos on her camera and emailed them to me. What a treat! After she's gone I realised I'd taken pics of the plants but none of my child but she'd taken some.
Chilean potato climber still flowering months later along with second flush of roses.

Tomatoes yipee!!!


Clematis has turned into wonderful fluffy seed heads

White lavender.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Chatting with like minds

I had such a lovely day today. Saw some people I hadn't seen for years. We talked about how it's taken us decades to realise that mistakes are necessary and how much you lose when you avoid doing things for fear you'll do them wrong. One of the people is the person who started me writing poetry in a determined way. I spent six years churning out fetuses of poems and till this year could not bear to go back to them to see if they could be fully fledged poems. I now have four poems I am pretty happy with. One of the poems was born from some prose I showed to that person years ago to which she replied that it was poetic and had I tried poetry. So today I got the chance to thank her. Tina one of the other people has helped me by reading the poems and encouraging me. Her mum gave me amazing feedback too. Oh and Tina has offered to lend me a camera till the insurance gets sorted. I can't believe how much I've missed taking photos. My garden has white lavender coming into flower. I really love white flowers and I know it probably sounds really weird to not just have purple lavender but there's something so delicate about the tiny white flakes of petals. The broom has gone to seed and they rattle in their pods like a kid's toy. Baby tomatoes growing -yipee.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Beginning to harvest

Yesterday I harvested some more lettuce- I have grown three different kinds. The red ones look gorgeous against the lime coloured ones. There was one solitary tiny cucumber so I ate it - delicious. Currants aren't very plentiful but we did treat them badly when they were given to us so are grateful that they are alive and have produced anything. Picked our first courgettes - forgot to tell hubby. The baby ones are lovely can even eat them raw. Today I found out I'd won a pair of tickets for the Latitude festival- very excited. The last thing I'd won before that was an egg rack. Have been picking and using onions from allotment and also more potatoes. Am digging up potatoes as I need them. When all their foliage dies back it will be time to dig them all out as otherwise the slugs might get them. Carrots are still tiny and will need thinning out to let the remaining ones have enough room to grow bigger. Had meeting last night to find out daughters first teacher's name. So it's real my baby's going to school.Boo hoo.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

A new day

Hello I will paint my garden with words as no photos for now. The penstemon is full of deep pink flowers. They are deep throated flowers like foxgloves but they have a frill at the end of each flower. Their throats have speckled run ways for bees to follow to the nectar. The leaves are narrow and pointed. The white roses have finished their first glorious display and prepare for their next performance. Bending their climbing limbs horizontal has been a great success as it sent off many new shoots along its length each bearing triple blooms.
I went to the allotment yesterday.It really helped to steady my mind. I love weeding - isn't that handy. My lettuces were big enough to do my first salad. Took some baby leaves off the beetroot to add to flavour to the salad. The dwarf french beans are growing well as are the runner beans. The courgettes have started to look better after their shock of being moved from a pot into the ground. I grew them from seed so am glad they are looking happier. Leeks look ok and onions may be ready soon.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

A day of two halves

I had a lovely afternoon at my poetry workshop. It's brilliant for getting feedback on work. It's a really good group as they don't just say 'that's lovely' but point out bits that don't work and offer solutions. Unfortunately I returned home to find out someone had nicked our ipod and cameras while I was out (kids and hubby in house at the time-they saw nothing which is good). On the course the tutor had by coincidence said that when stuff was taken from her she always rationalised that the thief needed the things more than her. Well I hope they put it to good use. Anyway that's why there are no photos - plus can't work out how to attach existing ones on new laptop. I took some friends to the allotment the other day - one friend hates all creepy crawlies but she did well. But then she did say she was going to shower and change all her clothes when she got home. At least she stayed an hour - it's progress.

My dwarf french beans have germinated -hurrah - I love them! I put in my leeks last week - can't remember if I've told you already. They had all sprouted like blades of grass in a pot -the next stage is to plant them out. You make a hole 15cm deep and about 10cm apart with a fat dibber then drop a blade of leek in each hole. Even at this tiny size the leeks give off their instantly recognisable pungent smell. You don't fill soil in around them but instead fill each hole with water.
While we were sulking around in the garden my daughter found stag beetle. Amazing creatures-took a photo on my phone but have no idea how to download from it. A nice gift.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Poem on Everyday Poets

My poem is up on Pay a visit if you fancy. Enjoy the rest of the sunny day!!

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Poetry, digging and sunny day out

Yipppeee my poem is finally coming up on Everyday poets on the 4th June. It's called British Museum - there's a bit where people can score the poem out of five so that's going to be nerve racking.

Sunday we went to Kew Gardens. These Alium's buds look amazing and they haven't opened yet. Makes me smile to think they are in the same family as onions and leeks.

These Aliums were in the bed next door to the ones above. You can get months of flowering Aliums by choosing different types.

.This bridge is so deceptively simple and beautiful. I like the way people's shadows walk beside them along the bridge.

Me and hubby had a whole afternoon and day while my sister had the kids and we spent it at the allotment. It was hard earthing up the potaoes in the hot sun but we did it! We also built a structure for the beans to grow up - must take a photo of it. The my sickly tomatoes I repotted look great now. I think my friend was right that by overwatering I had leached all the nutriants out of the soil.