Sunday 26 April 2020

The days are merging

The days are merging together in these strange times often until I have no idea of the day, never mind the date.  I'm still doing remote teaching but the uptake has been poor. I do hope they're all ok.  Everyone seems to be enjoying lovely weather and I'm seeing photos of people doing fab things in their gardens.

Going to my allotment counts as my daily exercise (and Emma's!!) and keeping busy there and in my garden is helping me stay sane.  Dad's funeral is this week.  I think once we get past it things can settle into a new normal for us.

Today I finally got my polytunnel erected on my plot.  It took me all day.  A second pair of hands would have been useful but thanks to social distancing I had to manage by myself.

Dismantling the raised bed box took much longer than I thought!!  The concrete slabs were really heavy.  And moving the rhubarb was a nightmare.

But finally the area was clear.  You can see Emma was impressed.  Not!

The frame was pretty straightforward.  Everything was numbered and the diagram was really clear.  I splashed out on one with a proper door instead of a zippy one.  And I bought hot spot tape for the frame.  It helps prolong the life of the cover.  We shall see!

The door went on first.  It took a few goes before I realised one of the poles was backwards!  To be fair the diagram didn't show the difference.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it!!!

Ta da!!!  I'm flipping knackered tonight though.

I also made Lemon and Gin marmalade this week.  It's really good!

Especially on pancakes!  Pancake recipe HERE 

My friend brought me a jigsaw.  It's been a long time since I've done a jigsaw.  It'll be a long time before I do one again!

In a flash of inspiration I moved my bookcases out of the study into the living room.  The study will become the living room area in my Air BnB next year so I was wondering what to do with all my books.  I'm loving them being closer at hand in the evenings.

And finally to finish off this rambling post, Emma got a new pink bed.  She loves it.

Hope you are all doing ok.  Stay safe and stay home everyone! 💗

Tuesday 14 April 2020

Thank you!

Thank you for all the lovely comments on my last post about my Dad.  It's a challenging time for my mum, my sister and me but we're strong women and we're just getting on with 'stuff.' No date yet for the funeral as it was the Easter weekend (official offices closed) so we've still got that to arrange.  Here in Scotland you're allowed to have just 10 people (in England I believe it's 6) and social distancing must be observed.  As much as I really really want to hug my mum I won't as I just cannot risk her getting Covid 19.

I'm keeping myself busy with getting my allotment ready for the growing season.  It really is my happy place and the weather has been ideal for being outside. So far this week, I've built a compost bin on the cleared area where there was a shed previously.

I weeded around the ancient raised bed thingy.  I think this is marjoram growing out the side.  I also have a clump of healthy chives.

Today I was working in the strawberry patch.  Emma decide to lie on them!!

I dug over the area on the left where the previous tenant removed a load of strawberry plants.  It's VERY compacted clay soil thanks to being under flood water and membrane.  I cleared away loads of dead leaves and transplanted some previously potted runners.  I'll keep the strawberries this year and see how much they produce.  I also cut back all the dead wood on the raspberries behind them.

And I made a batch of rhubarb chutney!  I subbed raisins (didn't have any) for blackcurrants (I had some in the freezer).  This really is my favourite home made chutney 😋

Stay safe and stay home everyone! 💗 xxx

Sunday 12 April 2020

My dad

Sadly on Friday night my dad passed away in hospital.  He'd been in poor health for some time and had been previously hospitalised.  We're all incredibly sad but relieved he's no longer in pain.  Because of the virus restrictions I can't even go and see my mum or be with my own children.  And because of the virus restrictions it will be a reduced funeral with no gathering afterwards.  It's all very surreal but we'll get through it and have a big family celebration of his life when this is all over 💖

Friday 10 April 2020

First week of holidays

As I'm officially on school holidays this week and the weather has been good, most of my time has been taken up with gardening stuff. So in the interests of not boring you all silly with my allotment I'll mention a few other things I've been doing to work on my 2020 goals.

Last month I discovered an eco friendly website that sells a whole range of low/zero waste products.  One of my goals this year is to reduce my impact on the environment so I'm making a start by trying some low waste hair care products and a safety razor (gulp!)  I must confess my hair didn't 'feel' clean with the powder shampoo.  You mix some powder into a paste to create the shampoo.  I'll persevere with it though. However, I thought the conditioner bar worked really well on my bleached ends.

There's loads more great eco friendly products HERE including some oxygen bleach I bought but haven't tried yet.  I normally use my home made vinegar sprays for cleaning but sometimes I need bleach for deep cleaning stuff.  I'll test it and report back.

Ok, back to allotment stuff! 😄 I moved the raised beds from the veggie patch up to my new plot.  I think I've worked out how I'll arrange everything now.

The bigger bed needed some extra pairs of hands to move it as I would have needed to completely dismantle and rebuild it by myself.  Of course, Emma supervised everything!

I also bought a wheelbarrow with my birthday money (thanks Mum and Dad!) Of course I chose a lovely bright colour!!  I just need to work out how to build it first! 😂

I also bought some new fruit bushes.  B&Q is closed to customers but you can order some things through their Click and Collect service.  They've arranged their plants into 'bundles' and you buy a bundle.  Staff choose what's in your bundle for you.  This way all the plants that have been grown ready to sell over the Easter weekend won't go to waste.  I thought this was a great idea.  I ordered 2 fruit bush bundles and was really happy with my 6 plants.  I got 2 blackcurrants, 2 blackberries, 1 gooseberry and 1 blueberry,  all nice healthy plants.  They'll be going on to the plot soon.

And to finish, here's a wee video of my allotment after a few days of hard work!  I'm having a 'rest' day today.

Stay safe and stay home everyone 💗 xxx

Tuesday 7 April 2020

Morning on the allotment

I popped down to the allotment this morning to do a bit of work.  There's a surprise in the video!! 😊

Saturday 4 April 2020

Busy day

Today I moved 1 tonne (1000 litres) of compost/soil by myself from my driveway to my back garden.  It took me about 3 hours and I'm knackered now!!!  But my new raised beds in the back garden are ready for planting.

I attached the 'thingy' across the middle of the larger bed that stops the bed bowing with the weight of soil.  I had to drill holes etc etc but felt rather pleased with myself 😊 I also topped up all the beds at the front and every single pot and planter that I own.  I am ready to get planting and sowing now!!

I pulled up all the kale, leeks and parsley and I am processing it all.  In retrospect I'm wondering if I should have let it grow for another month. Ah well, too late now.

Here are the kale shoots I was talking about.  Since I 'discovered' them I've now seen/read about them several times elsewhere!!

I also saw a video on how to use all the parts of a cauliflower.  Here is my coleslaw using the cauliflower leaves instead of cabbage.  It was amazing!!

Kale chips, not the prettiest photo but OMG they are very moreish and very tasty!!

After 18 days without visiting a supermarket, I braved a visit to Sainbury's.  It was ok.  I queued outside for 10 minutes and then got everything on my stock up list except GF flour.  I think I could now last several months without another visit if I really had to.  One impulse buy were these reduced bunches of beetroot.

I baked them and they're now pickling themselves in spicy vinegar.  Recipe HERE although I didn't have a spice sachet so I just added some mustard seeds, dried chillies, bay leaves, cloves and black peppercorns to the vinegar.

My gin club parcel arrived today.  It's my last one as it's definitely a luxury I do not need.  It contains a Hong Kong gin in a very pretty bottle.  I will enjoy that another time. Tonight I was too tired even to open the bottle so I'm just having some wine instead.

I hope you are all well and coping with this enforced lockdown.  I'm finding that living on my own without the structure of going to work is challenging.  It's giving me lots of thoughts about how I need to plan better for my retirement next year.

Please stay safe and stay home everyone 💗 xxx

Thursday 2 April 2020

Garden planning

I've been spending more time this week sorting out the allotment and my garden.  More than ever in these uncertain times, I'm convinced the way forward is to grow as much as I can myself then preserve as much as I can.

I've given my 3 raised beds at the front a good weed and sort out.  The kale is still doing well and I discovered that the flowering shoots are totally edible and delicious before they actually flower.  I'll be pulling all these plants out soon and preserving them.

And tucked in at the back under all the leaves, I found a tennis ball sized perfectly formed cauliflower.  I'm keeping an eye on it as the rest of them turned a bit black and mouldy.

In the back garden I cleared out all the pots and troughs ready to plant.  This one is full of mint starting to shoot again.  It smells amazing!

In the gap between my new bed and fence the rhubarb is beginning to grow again.  It has survived the winter and the chicken attacks!  It looks like I'll have an abundance of rhubarb between plot and home so I'll be looking for new ways to use it.  I already have a fab rhubarb chutney recipe that doesn't need to mature.  Recipe HERE  Plus I've seen a few recipes to make a BBQ sauce using rhubarb that I'm going to try.  One thing I've noticed these last 2 weeks is how much I enjoy sauce/relish/chutney with my meals.  A wee dollop can lift a very simple meal!

The chickens are enjoying their last few weeks of freedom.  You can see my patio will need a really deep clean with a power washer to de poop it.  I've ordered a few things to enrich their enclosure so hopefully they won't sulk too much about being shut in again and keep on laying eggs!

My favourite meal this week was a simple sweet and sour sauce using up freezer produce (pineapple, peppers and grated carrot) served on rice noodles with a few cashews.  Recipe HERE  although I didn't have any onions and just chucked it all in a pan.  It was really tasty!! 😋

But the best part of today was my delivery of 1 tonne of soil improver/compost (no I didn't know what 1000 litres looked like!!)  I ordered it several weeks ago from B&Q to fill up my new beds at the back and refresh the ones at the front. Then the lockdown was put in place and I thought it wouldn't be delivered any time soon.  But an email assured me it would and it came!!  The driver was a star and single handedly got the pallet up my sloping driveway just using a trolley.  Turns out he had an allotment too and we chatted (at a safe distance!!) about the best way to grow potatoes.  He recommends making nettle tea!!

So, plans for my garden and allotment are progressing.  Luckily I had ordered and received all the seeds I needed before the rest of Britain decided that they were going to 'dig for victory.'  I think it's brilliant that so many people want to grow their own produce but now seeds are in short supply due to increased demand.

Who would have thunk it?!

Stay safe and stay home everyone 💗 xxx