Thursday, 31 July 2008

Pesky insect take two...

Hi again,

Because of other reasons I decide to take myself down to my local doctors, generally doctors and I don't mix well.. Its not them, its me, I'm the same with dentists, I tend to shake. During my consultation I show the doc my insect wound, he looks at it.... and then is quite interested, so I tell him the story. He tells me it was most probably a Tick.. "A tick", I say.. "Yes a tick",,."Oh" I reply. Then he explains, that insects don't leave body parts in the wound, and from my explanation of it all (remember the removal of the body part that was causing the infection) it was most probably a tick. I'm sure its going to be just fine... :) Unless,....

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Pesky insect.

On Sunday at the plot I was bitten by an insect on my leg. I didn't think anything off it, later that night I take a couple of ibuprofen as I've found in the past that they can bring swelling from insect bites down and carry on.

Come Monday, there is a continous but very small stream of clear serum trickling down my leg. I look at the bump again, decide it is getting bigger but soon my body would take care of things..

Very early Tuesday morning, about 3 a.m. I'm woken because the bite is now starting to feel quite painful and is enough of a worry that action must be taken. I pad downstairs and look at my leg. "Oh, right!" I think. The area is now an infected, rock hard and becoming rather egg like in a Four to Five inch circle, the streaming of gunk has increased and I realise that there is a tiny black area right in the middle. It must be a body part of the insect left in it.

Hubby pads downstairs at 6 a.m. and looks at me in slightly worried tones. "My leg hurts", I tell him. He looks, then dismantles a pair of binoculars to get at the eyepiece and looks again and tells me that there does look like there is something left in it. I scrub up and try to remove the offending body part. I succeed.

I sleep alot on Tuesday and last night I slept for a solid 13 hours. Which even for me who likes her bed is unheard off. I feel much better for it, the area is now soft again, the infected area is only an inch across and the scab is dry.

It must be the weekend for insect bites, two of hubby's colleagues have suffered from insect bites this weekend, one of which, his leg has swelled so much he was unable to use it and has ended up in hospital!

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Happy 19th to our darling son.

Its our beautiful first born sons 19th birthday today. Doesn't time fly! He has spent it with friends at The Motor show in London, which from various mobile phone conversations, he has thoroughly enjoyed. I'm hoping to spend some time with him tomorrow, although as he has gone public about his new girlfriend, who is lovely, I now have (and quite properly so) competition for his affections.

What a scorcher today was. The weather person has been promising me (I take this very personally!) rain since Friday. The plot is very dry and we are desperate for a good downpour. Which as it happens is promised on Tuesday.

Fingers Crossed.

We harvested the shallots today, along with the first of the runner beans, and some very nice looking beetroot. We ate the first of our courgettes yesterday which were very tasty and our tomatoes are just starting to ripen. We were given two lovely globe artichokes which made a fine addition to this evenings meal and I also have some french beans just coming to perfection which will be part of tomorrows supper.

Friday, 25 July 2008

I'm Back.

I'm on a borrowed laptop from a good friend of mine. Thanks R. :)

I was starting to hyperventilate about being computer less for a whole week. I hadn't realised quite how bad my addiction had become. But R quickly came to my rescue and I only had to do my damsel in distress routine a tiny bit, before he quickly offered me the loan of his laptop.

On a positive note, this little laptop is soooooo speedy compared to my ten year old mac. Its a joy. Which means,, that my lovely, being made to my specifications, soon to be mine, can't wait to get my grubby little mits on, mac, will be Woooondeeerfuuul. "Sighs, with Bliss"

On a negative note, I will have lost just a little bit of stuff, the one thing I will have lost is a little video that I took of my Dad acting the fool :( Fortunately I had backed up just a few days ago, so its not as bad as it could be.

So, I'm just about to go and have a look around R's harddrive and see what he "Really" gets up to..... LOL..

Only Joking R... honest!

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Computer broke

:)


Hopefully be back next week.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

The Plot

Just to warn you, this is picture heavy.

The results came in and we gained 72 1/2 points out of 100.

I've had a couple of requests (actually only two, but thats enough.. lol) to share my plot, warts and all, as we came 5th out of 154 plots in the best kept plot competition on our allotments judged by independent judges from the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners Ltd. (which according to our allotment secretary came all the way from Essex!)

This is our second season, it won't be a full two years until February. The first three months on our allotment were spent digging the whole plot, I did rather alot of that, some days I could hardly get down the stairs my muscles were so stiff, and removed barrow loads of mares tail and other rather ugly long rooted weeds, whilst hubby dug out the footings for our second hand greenhouse, as we had hoped to get a plot for some eight months, and the second hand greenhouse had been dismantled some five months before we got the plot. I think hubby did a wonderful job at resurrecting the greenhouse as it really did come back from the dead.

He then put the footings in and built my shed. You need a shed, yes, its useful to store tools etc, make tea, store things, pot things on, but even more importantly than all of that, as a girl, you need a shed, well, and a bucket. And also a hook and eye to attach to the inside of the door and door frame to prevent a gust of wind showing tomorrows washing.. or worse!

Anyway thats the gist of it all, I had no idea we had been nominated, it was a shock, so, this is our plot. And just before we go on, I grow everything myself from seed. I'm a busy beaver come late February and am to be found sat in my shed, listening to the radio, actually its normally radio one or mercia, as my hubby is far too educated to listen to such rubbish and my boys would just look at me with pity in their eyes, in five layers of clothes, two pairs of hand knitted socks, (by me) and some gorgeous Fetchings, which are pick pocket type gloves and knitted by me. I have a kettle, various cup of soups and on a good day some hot chocolate, I must remember the Rum this winter. I feed the birds, they are wonderful, its like my very own hide.. I adore it.

The start of the plot taken from the shed. Personally I think its a good idea to put your greenhouse as close to your shed as possible. If your worried about people that are really not nice, and who isn't, I can understand putting your greenhouse as far away from the track as is possible, but why not put your shed there too. (so many have the greenhouse at the other end of their plot to the shed) When I'm planting seeds, pricking out, potting on its right, that the greenhouse is next door. Note, the greenhouse longest side is east west, to gather as much sunlight as possible.

You might note the extra chairs, its my mothers fault, just as we had rescued two lovely chairs from the tip, she gave us her old set...

Inside of the greenhouse, with my toms, seven varieties three of each, along with some aubergines, which I must pot on. Did you note my marigolds to help prevent whitefly?

Just to show you some little tricks. Hubby has built an inside bamboo cage. The toms really seem to like it.

And,,, from reading allotment sites I learnt many different ideas, one of which was to cut of the bottom of pots and plant the tomato plant in them and then into grow bags. This really aids watering. We water every single day at half strength of tomato feed.

Our compost and manure heaps. Its been a bit of worry with everything thats been going on with manure lately, (to my knitting friends I must tell you about that). We have some old straw which we use for the chickens which they seem to love and we compost that along with their waste. 3 and a half bins... (its to do with hubbys construction, dont ask me) We managed an 8 points out of 10 for this..


Runners and French beans.

Four rows of peas.

carrots, beetroot and parsnips.

leeks and globe artichokes

Onions, shallots and swede,, (the swede are the distraught looking weeds in a straight line)


red cabbage and summer cabbage, along with the start of the marigold soldiers.. Some people might think I'm daft, most of the time I would agree. This started as a thought one late summer evening as I watched the cloud of white fly having a lovely time on my brassicas as I was standing in my greenhouse. It really was bad, and I looked backwards and gave my marigolds that were stationed in my greenhouse a grateful nudge that they were looking after my toms so wonderfully. And then, it hit, me.. Well, if the marigolds have done such a wonderful job here, could they not help in the cabbage patch..

Sometimes its a long winter and thoughts travel through your brain, so, I decided to find out more about marigolds. What I found out, was that they can exhibit a strong chemical from their roots which can kill other plants,, ... not so good then... and that they attract slugs. ... Okay..

So I thought, Pots,, thats the thing, place them in pots, so ... none of that chemical root business and if the slugs make a bee line but get distracted by my cabbage plants on the way, just remove the pots to the house.

So, far the slugs have not been a problem.. I'll let you know in the autumn what the whitefly thought of them...

brussel sprouts.

Best brussel sprouts on the whole site.. (according to the judges). These are Wellington.

Strawberries, blackcurrants and raspberries.

Some very young lettuces that are suffering in the heat.

Potatoes in dustbins, we ran out of room on the site, this was the only to grow spuds.





A shot of the plot,

chilli's that I had forgotten about.

Normality returns, Mandy's shed, scruffy devil ain't she. I do so love it though.

And blackcurrants picked today and the last of the raspberries.

Monday, 21 July 2008

The judges decision is final.

The points have been counted up.

And...............


We came Fifth!!!


Which is as much as a suprise to me as it is to you. LOL

In the top twenty!

This morning I thought I would mooch along to the plot to continue with hoeing the strawberry bed, a job that was left half done yesterday. As I entered the site I saw our allotment secretary, exchanged pleasantries as you do and he said, "You have a white stick placed at the front of your allotment". "What?" says I. "You have a white stick" he repeats. The penny really isn't dropping for me and I haven't got a clue what he is on about. "Your in the top twenty". "Top twenty?" I must be sounding extremely thick by this point. "Yes, your in the top twenty of the best kept plots, the independent judges will start their final judging in about an hour" Oh Flip, I think. "I'd better go and start hoeing then" I reply to him as I quickly scamper up to the plot, Charlie in tow.

I had intended to do a little light hoeing and give Charlie a good grooming, these plans were quickly abandoned. Bearing in mind that I hadn't even thought about the competition or at least when I did, I thought never in a million years would we ever be good enough to stand any sort of chance. Well, a couple of independent judges have thought differently.

So for the next two and a half hours I worked extremely hard, weeding and hoeing and strimming and then weeding some more. I'm not completely happy, its far from weed free, if I'd known we'd been nominated I might have spent more time up the plot this weekend.

I do think we will be twentieth, but then just being in the top twenty out of 154 is not too shabby, not too shabby at all.

The judges said to me that our tomatoes were the best by far that they had seen (they had seen well over half by this point) and also our brussel sprouts were the most advanced and best they had seen.

Saint Pierre

These tomatoes are called Saint Pierre and are very much in my thoughts. As you can see, the tomatoes are becoming a very good size and I can just see that this one is starting to ripen.

Saint Pierre are a gourmet variety from France and we are looking forward to trying our first one with a little basil (home grown of course!) and a nice fresh buffalo mozzarella.

Shallots

We like shallots, unfortunately I never seem to remember that when ordering them as I only have one row. Perhaps its the price of them that puts me off. We like their flavour in cooking and we really like them pickled. Although as yet I haven't had nearly enough of a surplus to pickle any. These shallots are just starting to die back, they should be ready for picking in a couple of weeks.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

A cabbage for a King.

My Dad was discharged from hospital this morning, which I found incredible as he was still bleeding quite profusely from his wound yesterday evening.

Of course, we are all extremely glad to have him home.

So today hubby and I went to pick onions, peas and the best cabbage on our plot, just for him.

Tis indeed a cabbage for a king.

Tomatoes

We are growing seven varieties, some of which are still in flower without having set any fruit.

Lets hope we get some lovely sunshine to ripen these lovely beauties.

Friday, 18 July 2008

The worst is over, the boy did good.

Huge sighs of relief.

Mum and I went to see Dad this evening. Okay, he was not so good, he was sick several times due to the anesthetic, he was on oxygen and they recycled his blood. Which was a new process to me, as it was coming out and collected it got dripped back in, in 500ml bags.

But even with all of that going on, did he in anyway lose his humour, he did not. He cried a little bit, mainly because after all of the main men had seen him, cardiologist, knee surgeon etc, etc, the anesthatist said to him this morning, that he really shouldn't have this done. That he was probably too weak and wouldn't do this surgery unless there was a place for him in the Intensive care unit, fortunately a place opened up for him and he could go ahead with his surgery. Even better news was that he didn't need that place. His heart pumped well.

Its early days, but it is looking very, very good.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

So far so good.

Dad is in the hospital ward awaiting his knee replacement operation tomorrow. Everything is crossed that he doesn't get cancelled and most importantly everything goes well for him.

Mum says he's a happy bunny at the moment as he is in a ward full of Kenilworth folk, so they are all having a lovely time and Mum was sent home early! to let the men get on with their gossiping..

Runner Beans


Our runner beans are doing well, taken late yesterday evening, which is why the picture is so dark.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

courgettes.

Courgettes, Jemma a yellow variety, personally I can't wait until they are big enough to eat. We are looking after them well.

So much to do and..

so much to see.

So... just for a few weeks I will try and update my blog with a piccie from the plot every day! (or nearly every day). with just a few words about that particular photo.

I am still knitting and am finishing lots of little projects and I promise to update all of those soon.

Today, Spring onions..

Last year I tried to grow spring onions several times. I was hopeless, if any did germinate they were swamped by the weeds or damaged by me with a hoe and no matter how many times I tried to hand weed and I did try it was practically impossible to judge which were tiny spring onion plants and which were blades of grass.

So, this year, I thought I would try to grow them in a tray. One tray was very successful, the other tray was placed lower down on the outside rack and I believe a local rabbit or rabbits took a fancy to them as they were growing well and then were nibbled to death. Unless we have some very fat and flavoursome escargot hiding somewhere!

Monday, 14 July 2008

The allotmenteers strike again.

Although the weeds are/were sky high after all of the rain and a weekend not working on the allotment, it was good to get back to it on Sunday.

Our tomatoes are coming along well, lets hope they start to ripen soon. The marigolds are doing an excellent job standing guard against white fly in the greenhouse.


The marigolds on duty in the cabbage fields. Fingers crossed, no white fly as yet.

We have picked about 8lb of peas podded weight, with lots to come. I actually started another four trays yesterday, it will be touch and go to see if they have enough time to fully form, but I always hope for an Indian summer. Hubby's picked at least 10lb of his favourite fruit in all the world, raspberries. (he ate three bowls full of raspberries and ice cream After a Sunday lunch, oink, oink!)

The slightly strange, paddling its own canoe, blackcurrant bush had some fruit ready to pick. This is the easiest way to pick blackcurrants. There is a draw back, you do have to own the bush to start with. I will do a proper job of pruning when its lost some of its leaves. Blackcurrants will only fruit on young canes, anything over three years needs to go.

As we had a very good piece of Aberdeen Angus waiting in the fridge to cook, I thought it was an appropriate time to crack open a dustbin of potatoes. It is a little early and I was a little apprehensive, I was also getting moaned at about how early it was, although the moaning stopped when He heard that potato blight had been spotted up at the allotments. Better to eat them, than let the blight get 'em. I don't really want to spray against blight. I know the potatoes that I eat for most of the year will most probably have been sprayed for lots of things, but for me anyway, it goes against the grain to use chemicals up at the plot. (although slug pellets are an exception!)


There was one dustbin containing potato plants that had been heavily beaten about by the wind. The plants looked rather sorry for themselves and as the labels I had carefully written out had long since been lost we thought this was the best one to crack open. Sadly it was the King Edwards which are a late main crop.

There were lots and lots of small delicious looking potatoes. The tiny, tiny ones I will make into potato salad. I think about four to five pound in weight.

I then picked very small carrots and a Greyhound cabbage. An old boy we chat to gave us a lovely piece of horseradish which we thanked him with a couple of pounds of peas. I picked some mint, (I am a heathen I like mint sauce with all roast dinners, regardless of type of meat) There was a nearly blown, quite tiny cauliflower. (the only one that has survived, I think it is heading for the chickens) then I picked some Japanese onions.

And then I picked more raspberries, Sunday lunch is shaping up very nicely by this point.

Hubby put some more pea plants in the ground for me and some celery plants which my dad has requested. I did a bit of pottering and watering and potting things on.

Then homeward bound.

Son no.1 was home with his girlfriend. I shall call her L. Somewhere along the line and I'm not quite sure how, I invited her for Sunday lunch, (although it was gone 7 p.m. by this point) which she happily accepted. Then I had a full blown panic attack, (said in jovial terms) as it hit me, that it was the first Ever, entertain a girlfriend type meal. I think I went into a bit of a panic. It was a lovely dinner, roast beef, new potatoes, roast onions, peas, carrots, cabbage, mint sauce and horseradish sauce enlivened with some fresh root and some lovely gravy. Followed by raspberries and ice cream.

Was L impressed, I think she enjoyed it, was she stunned by the freshness and taste of my ingredients. She was not, (although she said she really liked the potatoes) as her father has an allotment and he has Two Plots, but at least she wasn't fazed when son no.1 found some extra protein in his raspberries (a tiny, tiny insect, you could barely see it!) and she carried on eating hers. Unlike my two wimpy sons who stopped eating, which is Why, hubby ended up with three bowls of raspberries and ice cream. 'wink'

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Our Excellent News.

At long last I can reveal our wonderful news. After two years of searching, often until long into the night, hundreds of mailshots, cold calling, many many interviews, psychometric tests, aptitude tests, understanding of mechanics type tests, working as a team type tests, and other types of tests I have long since forgotten. Our beautiful son (son no.1) has at long last secured an apprenticeship as a car technician with BMW.

:)

Friday, 4 July 2008

Charles and Camilla at The Royal Show.

I've had a wonderful day, I may never wash my right hand again. After a false start and not managing to achieve a photo that was blog worthy I repositioned myself, with the aid of a steward who verbally gave me the Royal timetable at The Royal Show. (thanks mate!)

This is the photo that I shall always treasure the most, within seconds of this photograph being taken Camilla shook my hand. Okay, well I did call her name,(as two other people had before me) did a semi almost stagger over yourself type curtsy and she had at that point just walked past me, but she came back and shook my hand. (and yes, because teenage sons have asked, I Was wearing the wig). I gave her the hugest grin possible with a "Oh My God" exclamation as she headed off. I mean, Me.. little old me (okay not so much of the little) shaking Camilla's hand. Wow! There were only three of us that shook her hand (at this point) so I felt very, very honoured.

A fellow hand shaker and I exchanged information, she found Camilla's hand cold, I just found it very, very soft and thought to myself just at that split second, that I really should start using moisteriser. Sand papery hands from digging an allotment are never good really, but its something you get used to. 'grin'


Camilla in a fit of the giggles.

Some piccies of Charles, I like the one with all of his badges which are the organisations he supports.



A rather sprightly Prince Charles.

Camilla in another fit of the giggles.

Camilla, posing for me, I was the nearest camera, a sneaky position in the Members of RASE area meant I was actually infront of security! Me!

Starting to head home after a quick walk about with the crowds.

Heading home.

Byyeeeee... me merrily waving and Camilla waved to me.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Charles and Camilla

It has recently been announced that Charles and Camilla will be at The Royal Show on Friday.

Wow!

We often only get 'minor' royals.

The Duke of Gloucester will be present on Thursday.


Mandy trundles off to put camera battery on charge...

Kung Fu Panda Widget

Although we have the Royal Show this week, we will be squeezing this in!

The boys and I think it looks fab. (A family visit to the cinema beckons, which will be very strange event!, its not often our tastes coincide)

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Great News.

Two things,

Firstly Dad's cardiologist has given him the thumbs up to have his replacement knee operation in a couple of weeks. That was such a huge relief.

And..

I can't talk about the other thing :( (yet!)

But it is Excellent, Excellent News.