Sunday, 7 November 2010

First reading

Saturday I had my first reading of my poetry - I was the support act for a very good local poet. I had a fifteen minute spot. I was terrified then someone passed on the advice that the best way to overcome nerves is to practise. I taped and timed myself reading my poems and forced myself to slow down though another poet said that however much to try not to speed up you do end up doing so. I practised in front of a friend who had some helpful suggests about changing the order of the poems. My husband was also subjected to a read through but nerves made him giggle- I'm so glad I didn't invite him.
On the night when I was performing my poems I had that incredible buzz that I only usually get from dancing. I couldn't stop grinning at the end and the applause made it even better.
I felt so high, I'm still floating.


Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Autumn days

Had the most gorgeous day at the allotment today. The site is surrounded by mature trees and amongst mainly green were spaced firecrackers of yellowy red. I planted my red onion sets and did some weeding.
Before I started I noticed G on the other plot seemed to be trimming his artichokes worried that there was another job that needed doing I asked him. He told me that you can pull the new stalks near parent plant (use medium sized ones) and trim and pull out stringy bits then boil in water with lemon juice. Once cooked drain then roll in flour and fry in olive oil. The water you've drained off can be drunk - it''s meant to be good for your liver. I forgot to buy lemon so haven't tried making it yet.
I did a spot of digging in the old french beans ( the roots are really good for the soil as they are nitrogen fixers and the rest of the plant helps loosen the clay soil we have).
I had a cup of hot chocolate and a sandwich with bread I baked that rose really well this time.
I felt so rested from being outside all day.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Autumn planting

I don't mind digging in the rain but if the ground gets too wet then you damage it by trampling over it. Please let it stop raining for a while. I still have my onions, garlic and broad beans to put in. Japanese onions can be put in now as they can cope with winter, other onions can't.
Also I've decided not to grow runner beans next year as I really don't like them. That frees up some ground for other stuff. My strawberries didn't do so well - too little rain and I didn't water enough and too much competition from weeds. I may grow them in pots in trays next year or not bother. My carrots did well though some of them were dug up and eaten but at least they left me most of them. At the allotment we have deer, badgers, pheasants, moles and lots of squirrels. I've started some digging but I should really have tried to get more done before the weather gets worse. Crop rotation is doing my head in as some group of plants take up sore space than others or stay in the ground longer. Just need to suss out where carrots are going next year and make sure I don't manure it as they hate it and it makes them fork.
I have some broccolli (well it's calabrese really) coming and have had some nice bits. My butternut squashes are colouring nicely and my Ukrainian pumpkins are enormous- will have to wheelbarrow them home. First year for my Autumn Bliss raspberries- v nice but not loads- possibly because it's the first year.
Still have one row of potatoes to dig up. Had quite a bit of scab again this year- it does affect the flavour. Think it means the ground is too limey and needs to be more acidic.


I've just been asked to be a guest poet locally next month. I'm very excited and nervous. Strangely I'm not that nervous about my poems but about all the chatting you need to do in between. Saw Elaine Feinstein last night and she was fab - so engaging. She spoke so clearly that you didn't miss a word.
Any tips from experienced and inexperienced readers very welcome. It's lovely to have a reason to sharpen up some more of my poems.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Admitting defeat

Finally I have had to admit defeat. I will never finish this book which I won from Annie's fab blog. Annie described it as too cerebral - I now know what she meant. This book is all head and no heart. The authors dimiss us all as only ever showing kindness to children. Natural disasters summon up all sorts of support near and far -this did not seem to be addressed but then I only got half way through the book so maybe they did. As I did not finish it (it's a very slim volume too!) it would be unfair for me to comment further. I will pass the book on to the runner up and hope she fares better.
Thanks to Annie for the competition - it's always good to try something you wouldn't normally read.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010


I had a fab weekend at Latitude thanks to the local paper competition. The festival had grown since the previous year. The field we'd picniked in last year is now an additional car park.
Florence and the machine performed brilliantly though she looked tired - as though she's just performing too much or maybe she just had a late night. Empire of the Sun were spellbinding in their spandex, capes and head-dresses. We caught the end of Temper trap and wished we'd heard more. Belle and Sebastian appeared after a 4 year break in performing. They looked like they'd dressed to meet in the local pub which was actually quite sweet and refreshing. They turned the stage into the dancefloor after inviting youngsters up. It was great to hear Mumford and sons classic songs.

I wanted to stay in the poetry tent all the time but realised I needed to pull myself together. We wandered into the Film and Theatre tent and were so gripped by a soviet era silent movie- the Dying Swan that we didn't realise that the music was live. So much emotion conveyed by music and the written word that talking movies seem tame in comparison.

I've never been to the ballet so we elbowed our way to a space on the side of the Lake to watch Swan Lake. The dancers limped off, the black stage blistering hot in the sun. Still ballet virgins.

We popped out to Southwold for a fry up on Saturday morning as I have a horror of staying in an enclosure for too long. I feel like that in Ikea and in shopping centres too. It was good to eat and drink from proper crockery with the sea sparkling and heaving outside.

The poetry tent seem heavily tilted towards performance poetry or maybe I didn't get a fair view of enough poets. Having said that Kate Tempest 's rap poetry can't help but move you. She speaks to people many try to avoid making eye contact with. Laura Dockrill with her Word orchestra dressed in patterned lyra was amazing. She plays words - they are her instrument and she looks the audience in the eye wanting to see if they are enjoying it. Such young people with such passion and commitment to their art. Written word poet Jacob Polley was outstanding. I wish i'd taken more notes but someone correct me if I'm wrong - did he have a line saying the sun wrote itself across the windows. I loved that - it keeps resonating in me. It was great to hear Neruda's poems but I'm not sure that David Soul made them overdramatic with his delivery.

I danced in the woods - boy I needed that dance.

However much you do you can't do it all so for all the highlights there are the regrets for what you've missed.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Harvest and writing updates.

CORRECTION- redcurrants don't need the fruiting branches cut right off. Will update tomorrow.

First cucumber - it was delicious!

Oh and we've had courgettes- I really miss them when their season is over and can't bear to buy them as it feels so disloyal. I haven't managed to use the flowers yet.

My parsnip thinnings looking rather sexy I think.

Any recipes for courgettes gratefully received. I tend to fry them in butter (especially baby ones) or make ratatouille. Or any recipes as I keep cooking the same stuff.
When it gets busy at the allotment I don't really feel like writing about it so all my posts end up being a bit after the event. I've dug up a row of my Charlotte potatoes which are delicious but the crop is not as abundant this year I guess because of the lack of rain. My neighbour watered his but got even less potatoes so I guess you just can't beat rain. I'm putting my leeks where the potatoes were but due to long winter they are going in late. Last year I harvested my Charlottes on the 18th June. The loganberries (at least I think that what they are- I really should post a picture)I need to finish picking my redcurrants - someone recommended lopping off the fruiting branch then picking off the currants which sounds like a good idea as you need to prune the branches that have fruited and once you pick it gets harder to work out what's what.
I am forcing myself to write 1000 words a day of my novel - some days more successful than others and when I get fed up I look at a poem I've been writing that shimmers in places and trips me up in others. Once I'm in the swing of it I feel happy but always seem to subject myself to hours of prevarication and what's the meaning of it all. The meaning is to enjoy! Some days easier to say than do but I will plod on regardless. Happy plodding or maybe even skipping!!

Monday, 28 June 2010

Allotment and front garden-too hot 4 fancy title

My first globe artichoke. Not sure is I should harvest it now or wait a little longer. Once they flower you can't eat them.

As a child I ate redcurrants from the bushes in a friends garden. The sourness takes your breath away. They look like gems I think.

The potatoes are flowering beautifully and as soon as the flowers die I will be harvesting them. Due to the long winter these are going to be ready much later than last year. A fellow allotmenteer has said to plant the leeks where the potaotes were as the area has been well manured so I'll give that a go this year.

My front garden - Phlomis, Valerian and Aliums with a bit of Salvia thrown in at the back.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

A late allotment post

Here's the structure I build every year for my beans. At each corner I drive in strong posts of wood to which I attach the canes and then build up the frame. I like this shape as you can easily access beans in and out. Also you get a gorgeous green shady tunnel. I am growing runner beans and climbing french beans up it - I put string acrosss the top so they can carry on climbing across the top and form a roof.
This picture of the potatoes was taken about a month ago and it's amazing how much they have grown since. They are also flowering.
I'm having one of those days. Do you get them? It feels like you've been turned inside out and any sad news you hear feels like it is drawing blood. I know you can find reasons for wars but when you break it down to what it is, it seems so incredible that we behave in this way. I honestly hope they'll be a day when it will un-understandable.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Whey heyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Last month I posted my disappointment at leaving it too late to get Latitude Festival tickets. This afternoon I got a phone call telling me that my entry saying why I deserved Latitude tickets had won!!!!!!! My entry was a poem. And there's more. They liked my poem so much they want me to write another reviewing the festival which will also be published in the local paper. Hoorah ! Hoorah! I get tickets and I get to have poetry in the local paper.
How's your day been?

Thursday, 27 May 2010

garden shots

I'm posting this phot a bit late as this show of flowers has been over for a couple of weeks. It's my Clematis Montana and it brightened the view out of my kitchen window.

One of the Alium Christophii in my front garden which my friend named the lollipop garden what with the aliums and the valerian.

I don't know what this butterfly is called or even if it's a moth. It seemed to like my lemon balm.
This climbing rose was already in my garden when I moved in and it smells heavenly. I followed the advice on gardeners world and bent the shoots horizontally as it encourages loads of new shoots all fighting for lateral dominance and therefore loads more roses. I wanted the white roses to weave through more with the Potato climber(Solanum) but I think I should have done it earlier as they seem to have minds of their own.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Garden shots

I don't know the name of this flower but it looks like some sort of daisy. It's rising out of a cushion of Euphorbia.


The first rose of this year - it smells heavenly

One of my salvias - the leaves smell like black currant -gorgeous.

Epimedium - these love shade. The leaves gain and lose red durung the year. I love watching them change.

Clematis montana that has carpeted my fence (will post photo of the whole length of it soon) and orange honeysuckle.

Erythronium - so delicately beautiful. Shade loving. They don't last long but they are worth it.

And finally yippee the peonia that my Mum gave me from her garden that I moved to our flat and then to this house but this is the first year it's flowered here. All previous years the buds were black and dropped off. Hoorah! My five year old daughter took this photo.

Friday, 7 May 2010


Friday wasn't a really bad day but it started off not too well. First the Conservatives have ousted Labour in my area. Then I logged onto my emails and the Festival Latitude that I was about to book tickets for emailed me saying they had sold out. Am trying not to kick myself too hard but I have been stalking this festival for some time and had childcare confirmed ages ago. I was just waiting for our finances to brighten. Who was I kidding? Then my son flung himself on the floor and cried saying he doesn't want to do Big Write and cried all the way to school. Fridays he has multiplication and spelling tests and Big write - no wonder he never wants to go in on a Friday.

On the plus side BNP lost all their seats in Dagenham and Barking. My friend Tina came to visit - she always makes me laugh. I said -do you think kids age you or keep you young and she said -both, it's the keeping you young that ages you. Then I went to Rag to Riches fundraiser where I bought two beautiful cardigans (one emerald and the other moss green and a top) and had lovely cocktails and chats. People have so many stories locked inside them.

What kind of Friday did you have?

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

It's a beautiful day

My often cynical son ( yes it is possible at seven years of age) woke up marvelling at the world- at the things that weren't here a hundred years ago. He smiled the most beautiful smile and talked about how amazing electricity is and the way it comes into being. The garden makes me feel that way.
Here are some photos of the Fritillaria imperialis I mentioned in my last entry. ..

..and the Fritillaria meleagris. The heads of these flowers start to appear when the plants has hardly pushed it's way out of the ground. The petals are an anaemic version to begin with, gradually darkening to the colour here. The checked pattern is so unexpected on a flower.

The plum tree blossomed really well this year. The petals are now fading. This picture was taken last week. Frost killed most of the blossoms last year and there were hardly any plums. Hopefully the bees have done their work already and we'll have more fruit.

Following an Alan Titmarsh tip, I put forget- me-nots (free from the allotment) with tulips. I think the idea is that they hide the dying foliage of the tulip. They also look good together. I've run out of space in the garden so my tulips are mainly in pots which I think works well.

I put a line of parsnips in at the allotment. I made holes with a big dibber and filled it with multipurpose compost and sowed three seeds into each hole. I dented the top of the compost to mark the position of the hole as I went along so that I would know where to sow. I lifted and separated the strawberries as they had made lots of babies that were huddled too close together. Think I should have done it earlier but I am hoping better late than never. At the allotment we get free deliveries of the compost made from the green waste that is collected from each household. It's ok apart from it sometimes has bits of glass and plastic bags in it. Still lots more to do but I am concentrating on one particular job each time I visit.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Allotment and garden

Hubby was available for digging so I took full advantage. He dug three trenches like this one. We covered the potatoes with a generous helping of well rotted stable manure and then backfilled the trench with soil.

The following day I dug two more so now we have five rows of potatoes. I'm growing Desiree (maincrop) and Charlotte (second earlies). They are both waxy potatoes as I love that kind.

The forsythia in our garden seems brighter this year or it is just all the sunshine it is reflecting. I didn't bother trimming off the shoots from the trunk and it looks much better messier. Quivering stems shooting up and down.

Ribes has a scent of currants. These flowers will be over soon but I have some delicate tulips underneath to take over the show.

Chinodoxa I believe.

The hellebores are still flowering quietly, heads down like they do.
Finally I've managed to get fritillaria to grow in my garden- pictures soon hopefully. I have the delicate snake skin ones that have a checked pattern on them as well as the Fritillaria Imperialis which has regally raised its grand crowned head but the orange flowers have not quite opened yet.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Gardening in the rain

It was a glorious day yesterday but I didn't make it to the allotment. Today threatened rain any time we tried to make a move to take the kids out. In the end I shook my fist at the weather and set off to the allotment. To start with there was a whipping wind but no rain. My right arm has felt a bit weird so I decided not to do anything heavy. I've planted rows of onions and am putting rows of carrots amongst them as I believe the smell of onions confuses the carrot flies and keeps them away. Well it worked last year! (Not that I did an exhaustive trial but the carrots were unaffected until the onions were harvested.)
I made holes in the ground with a giant dipper, filled them with multipurpose compost and added a couple of carrot seeds to each filled hole. We have clay soil at the allotment and carrots love loose soil hence the multipurpose compost to give them a head start. Half way through, the rain started falling and a fellow allotmenteer stopped over on his way out and said, 'It takes a certain kind of person to have an allotment.' I am that person -come rain or sun.
Back at home- one lot of leek seeds haven't made it. I kept the plastic cover on too long after they had germinated. They ended up getting too damp and died. The other tray is doing fine thank goodness.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Sprouting seeds

Parsley can be sown all the year round if it is going to be grown indoors. I sowed curly parsley seeds in an old icecream carton on 2nd March. I watered them leaving the soil just moist and put the carton inside a plastic bag. I made sure the soil stayed moist not waterlogged especially as I hadn't put in any drainage holes.
I wasn't particularly hopeful as parsely is notoriously slow to germinate so it was a lovely surprise to see these seedlings.
In the coming weeks I will be pricking them out and transplanting them into pots of their own.

Here are my darling leek seeds. They look so slight it still amazes me that treated right they will grow into delicious stout leeks. I'll be charting their journey to/ and on the allotment over the coming months.

Beans can be sown indoors now as can tomato seeds. As it has been so cold. I am not in a hurry.
In the next week or so I will prepare the ground for my beans. I will dig a trench a spades depth both sides of my frame and fill it with leaves and any other organic matter that doesn't contain perenial weeds or seeds. The idea is to provide ground that is a water retentive as possible as beans are so thirsty. Then I will erect a structure for the beans. I usually build a tunnel rather than a tipee as then I can harvest from the inside and outside.
I have slowed down somewhat as I've got a nasty cold which was preceeded by a sore throat and a cough producing green stuff. I had a fab day yesterday ignoring my cold. I went to see the Wallace Collection and had lunch with a dear friend in its beautiful conservatory. Only ten minutes walk from Oxford Street it was incredibly peaceful.
Today I'm finding it hard just to rest. It's like since I turned 40 I have been overly aware that time is precious but ignorant of the dangers of pushing my body when it needs to rest. On that note I will curl up on the sofa with a blanket and watch rubbish tv.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Short cuts

Today I went to the second day of the Middlesex University Literature Festival. It was wonderful to see a panel of three very different poets (Laura Dockrill, Lizzy Dijeh and Clive Bush), but disappointing that so few students or members of the public attended. Perhaps that says a lot about poetry's reputation. Poetry seems to be a dirty word. By now I should have a good retort for the statement 'it went right over my head'. But how can I when I often felt the same way and used it as an excuse not to reread or think about what I'd read.

All three poets drew on emotional reactions to produce their work. Poetry is intense and emotional and perhaps we are scared of that. The times we can't avoid emotions are when we are dealing with love or death. Perhaps that's why weddings, courtships and funerals are times when poetry is allowed to rear its head.

What's fabulous about Laura Dockrill is that she is a great performer and really engages with her audience. She visits schools and takes poetry to children- I'm sure they are captivated by her.

Clive Bush spoke about what a difference one person can make in many lives by sharing their passion for poetry or music. Doing this can open a door to different world. His anger at how poetry is taught at schools was unmistakeable. I think he felt the door was firmly shut.

Lizzy, born in Britain with Nigerian parents told us how she takes the reader to another very different country but holds on to them by dealing with universal subjects such as family.

I felt alive talking about poetry but also aware that I have a long way to go. I have finally accepted that there are no short cuts, that poetry is a craft and I must put the hours in to get the poems I know are waiting.

Monday, 15 March 2010


Friday I had the loveliest day with my eldest. On Thursday he'd gotten into trouble for chatting and laughing. He'd said he'd been distracted and that he'd found it impossible not to laugh. Friday morning he had a stomach ache and was really wound up about what he saw as the injustice of being told off the day before. So I took him to the allotment instead of school. He wasn't well enough for school.

At the allotment we dug up potatoes. We had a fork each and I told him to feel around them to check the potatoes hadn't gone mushy and to put the good ones in the bag.

We planted raspberries then I got him to cut them down above a bud. He asked what a bud was. I told him to look up the stem and see if there were any places from which there might be signs of life emerging and he spotted the buds straight away. He pruned the raspberry canes.

He dug and found centipedes.

I've started chitting potatoes - charlotte and desiree.

Mothers Day I went back to put some manure around the newly planted raspberries and got led astray by fellow allotmenteers barbequeing chicken which they served with beautiful turkish bread and salads. I sampled various drinks- homemade cherry brandy, plum wine, whiskey and a german spirit. They seemed a bit surpeised when I went back to my digging. I was glad I hadn't cycled as I hink I was over the limit. It was so lovely standing in the sun drinking and eating.

I planted some onions but still have more to put in. One of my fellow allotmenteers has started off carrots in toilet rolls in the greenhouse which he will plant straight in the ground once the frost passes.

I feel so much better when Ive been to the allotment. Happy growing, happy spring!

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Tuesday- Walk Day

Yesterday for our walk we visited Myddleton House. The snowdrops, crocuses and snowflakes(?) were out. I'm not sure if this picture is of a snowflake but am guessing it is.

EA Bowles created the garden at Myddleton House and raised many unusual plants there. You can find various plants still for sale that he was responsible for breeding.

I love this bit that is carpeted with snowdrops this time of year. In the summer it has a blue carpet of geraniums alive with insects.

Bowles introduced many different varieties of snow drops here - the ones that stopped me had large flowers edged in green.

A pheasant joined us for our walk for a while - sorry no photo.

Then we went to Forty Hall for lunch. Perfect day!

I think this would make a lovely design for material for a skirt. Any takers?

Monday, 1 March 2010

Blogsplash for Fiona Robyn's new novel Thaw

Ruth's diary is the new novel by Fiona Robyn, called Thaw. She has decided to blog the novel in its entirety over the next few months, so you can read it for free.

Ruth's first entry is below, and you can continue reading tomorrow

These hands are ninety-three years old. They belong to Charlotte Marie Bradley Miller. She was so frail that her grand-daughter had to carry her onto the set to take this photo. It’s a close-up. Her emaciated arms emerge from the top corners of the photo and the background is black, maybe velvet, as if we’re being protected from seeing the strings. One wrist rests on the other, and her fingers hang loose, close together, a pair of folded wings. And you can see her insides.

The bones of her knuckles bulge out of the skin, which sags like plastic that has melted in the sun and is dripping off her, wrinkling and folding. Her veins look as though they’re stuck to the outside of her hands. They’re a colour that’s difficult to describe: blue, but also silver, green; her blood runs through them, close to the surface. The book says she died shortly after they took this picture. Did she even get to see it? Maybe it was the last beautiful thing she left in the world.

I’m trying to decide whether or not I want to carry on living. I’m giving myself three months of this journal to decide. You might think that sounds melodramatic, but I don’t think I’m alone in wondering whether it’s all worth it. I’ve seen the look in people’s eyes. Stiff suits travelling to work, morning after morning, on the cramped and humid tube. Tarted-up girls and gangs of boys reeking of aftershave, reeling on the pavements on a Friday night, trying to mop up the dreariness of their week with one desperate, fake-happy night. I’ve heard the weary grief in my dad’s voice.

So where do I start with all this? What do you want to know about me? I’m Ruth White, thirty-two years old, going on a hundred. I live alone with no boyfriend and no cat in a tiny flat in central London. In fact, I had a non-relationship with a man at work, Dan, for seven years. I’m sitting in my bedroom-cum-living room right now, looking up every so often at the thin rain slanting across a flat grey sky. I work in a city hospital lab as a microbiologist. My dad is an accountant and lives with his sensible second wife Julie, in a sensible second home. Mother finished dying when I was fourteen, three years after her first diagnosis. What else? What else is there?

Charlotte Marie Bradley Miller. I looked at her hands for twelve minutes. It was odd describing what I was seeing in words. Usually the picture just sits inside my head and I swish it around like tasting wine. I have huge books all over my flat; books you have to take in both hands to lift. I’ve had the photo habit for years. Mother bought me my first book, black and white landscapes by Ansel Adams. When she got really ill, I used to take it to bed with me and look at it for hours, concentrating on the huge trees, the still water, the never-ending skies. I suppose it helped me think about something other than what was happening. I learned to focus on one photo at a time rather than flicking from scene to scene in search of something to hold me. If I concentrate, then everything stands still. Although I use them to escape the world, I also think they bring me closer to it. I’ve still got that book. When I take it out, I handle the pages as though they might flake into dust.

Mother used to write a journal. When I was small, I sat by her bed in the early mornings on a hard chair and looked at her face as her pen spat out sentences in short bursts. I imagined what she might have been writing about; princesses dressed in star-patterned silk, talking horses, adventures with pirates. More likely she was writing about what she was going to cook for dinner and how irritating Dad’s snoring was.

I’ve always wanted to write my own journal, and this is my chance. Maybe my last chance. The idea is that every night for three months, I’ll take one of these heavy sheets of pure white paper, rough under my fingertips, and fill it up on both sides. If my suicide note is nearly a hundred pages long, then no-one can accuse me of not thinking it through. No-one can say; ‘It makes no sense; she was a polite, cheerful girl, had everything to live for’, before adding that I did keep myself to myself. It’ll all be here. I’m using a silver fountain pen with purple ink. A bit flamboyant for me, I know. I need these idiosyncratic rituals; they hold things in place. Like the way I make tea, squeezing the tea-bag three times, the exact amount of milk, seven stirs. My writing is small and neat; I’m striping the paper. I’m near the bottom of the page now. Only ninety-one more days to go before I’m allowed to make my decision. That’s it for today. It’s begun. Continue reading tomorrow here

Friday, 26 February 2010

Sowing seeds

The last two years I avoided sowing too many seeds early as I was worried about my lean-to being over-run with pots and trays. But when spring came around it got so very busy that I ended up with less leeks than I would have liked. Leeks are so beautiuful - their leaves a bluey green that is so calming. Also you don't have to hurry to harvest them - they can stay in the ground over winter which is very appealing when it all goes bonkers and there's so much to pick in summer and autumn(touch wood!).

Therefore am very happy that I have sown two diddy trays of leek seeds. They can be sown any time from January to March indoors. When they sprout they look like grasses and smell gorgeous (if you like leeks that is). I used an old strawberry container and a recycled half tray. The trays need to be very clean - miltons fluid will do the job well. I just washed these with washing up liquid - hopefully they'll be ok. The potting compost needs to be kept moist. The seeds are tiny and need to be planted half a centimetre deep. Now I just need to wait. The seedlings then needed to be gradually hardened off about early April, then they are teased out and the individual tiny leeks are dropped into a hole made with a big dibber (make the hole about the girth of a mature leek) and then watered. Do not fill the hole with soil. Now isn't that weird! I'll explain it again when I actually do it.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Great Wood Walk

Every Tuesday I go for a walk with my friend. We talk and walk - it's good for both of us. We are at home all day and it's amazing how easy it is to start feeling that your world ends at these four walls and to stop venturing out.

We stopped to look at patches of star shaped mosses - they twinkled with rain drops they'd caught. I feel really lucky to have this time - to not always be rushing about.

My daughter's birthday cake -second attempt - hoorah it rose this time. The one that didn't rise still tasted delicious sandwiched with whipped cream, jam and fresh strawberries.

After a period of writing little I have redrafted a poem and written bit more of my novel. I like the poem much better now but probabaly still needs more work.

Garden notes

Just the other day I was thinking that I can't post any more pictures of my garden as they will all be repeats. You see I started this blog this time last year when I broke my arm. (It was very useful at a frustrating time.) But then we went out into the garden and one of our many clematis, the winter flowering one had flowered for the first time since we planted it years ago. I ignored any suggestions that it should be pulled out and it has flowered!! I love the unpredictability about growing plants. The picture's a bit blurred but the clematis has lovely pink freckles.

My hellebore had lots of gorgeous pink buds waiting to open and shyly hang their heads.

My lovely mother in law brings us these massive containers of olive oil. Turned one into a pot which I crammed with anemones.

Colour already in the garden from the gorgeous camelia.
The winter jasmine only had a few yellow flowers and it turns out I'd missed it in full flower a few weeks before. Such a shame- I have no excuse as I am home every day.

I was so excited to see the snowdrops back again. So delicate - I love the way they tremble when you approach. (They probably tremble all the time.)

Thursday, 4 February 2010


I made it over to the allotment on Monday for the first time in weeks. I forgot my mobile and I don't wear a watch so I lost all track of time. I'm glad I did as it looks like it is going to have been the only sunny day of this week and I badly needed some rays. I dug out fists of bindweed from the compost heap on my newer plot. It was very satisfying removing them - though I can't help admiring their ability to rejuvenate. I planted some raspberry canes (Autumn Bliss)- but now I come to think of it I wonder if i was supposed to separate them. There was about 5 or 6 sticks in each pot- now is that one plant or lots? Help anyone? Either way I'm sure they are happier in the ground than in the pot. I chose those rasperries coz they sound easy to maintain-unlike other raspberries you cut the right down after fruiting and next years berries come on new growth only.
I have written a couple of short pieces but feel like I have an ingredient missing that stops them being short stories. Like bread without yeast. I want them to rise but maybe they are destined to be pitta breads-there's nothing wrong with being pittas but I was hoping for something else. Maybe I should just concentrate on making good pittas.
The novel is trawling along slowly. I think I have ten versions of the same scene and other scenes are completely absent. I keep moving bits around which is quite exciting as the tension of the story changes and yes it feels like I am kneading the dough and it's gonna rise.
All that bread talk is making me hungry. Off to lunch. Bye for now.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Happy New Year.

I can't understand why the year starts now when it it still so cold and nature dormant. Perhaps that's why it does - to break up the long cheerless winter. Yes it must be that. I'm not miserable I just like to slide into the new year, feel my way not jump in with too many expectations that I know I won't be able to fulfil while it is still so cold.
My god-daughter made this snow angel. It was lovely watching the kids wandering around in the snow as though they were exploring a foreign land

I've written a timetable. Now I am at home without the kids I find that unwatched a small task can swallow up the whole day. Not that I intend to religiously stick to the timetable - it's just there to stop my time going all flabby. I need to be stricter about writing. One day I can find it absolutely delicious coming back to an emty house and then the next day find myself wanting to go straight back out coz it feels so empty and lonely. So to fill the void I have started baking. The smell of baking bread brings the house alive.

Hubby at the allotment when it was still snowy. The water was frozen solid. The cancel don't switch off the supply till early spring (just when we need it). We used to get snow early spring so it's a hangover from then. Who knows we may have more snow in spring too!!

This plot intrigues me. It's completed enclosed and I've never seen anything growing there. Will watch this space in Spring.
Come in - we are ready to interogate you. - That's what it says to me anyway.
Have just booked our flights to Portugal in the summer yippee i need a beer. I don't tend to do grown up stuff like book flights. I'm always convinced I've got the wrong country, day or people.