Sunday, 25 March 2012

Allotment Geekery

So, could the weather have been any better this weekend?  The only thing to do was get on the allotment and get busy.  Plus today is MozzyMr and my 10 year anniversary, from here on in we'll probably just celebrate our wedding anniversary but 10 years can't be overlooked!

The big project this weekend was the apple tree, it needed to be cut back to encourage more fruit but also to discourage the caterpillars that have been wreaking havoc across the allotment.  This was MozzyMr's job, not because he's the man about the house but simply because almost every plant I've cut back has withered and died.  He's so precise, contemplating the tree from all angles, cutting back only the branches that created a symmetrical and perfectly formed tree.

The branches will come in really useful, for growing the peas up.

The carrots are in, both normals and rainbow mix, I was following the very precise instructions from 'Keeping an Allotment' a book my mum gave me for Christmas.  This involved digging, sieving, sieving again, planting, watering, and then covering back up under the fleece.  If this doesn't produce the best carrots I've ever eaten I'm giving up.

The strawberry patch is coming along nicely, my new watering can is making the constant shuffling back and forth to the water trough easier to bear.

Everyone in the polytunnel has been massively productive, I think we've been a little late with getting our seeds planted especially in comparison to the plots on either side of ours.  The temperature in the polytunnel was 30 degrees, yum.

The plant I'm most excited about this year is the pea, I've planted a whole tray just in case so when we turned up and they'd started poking through I was perhaps disproportionately excited *hangs head in shame*.

These planting bags aren't ours but they are a good demonstration of how keen some of the gardeners in our polytunnel are, I'm intrigued to see what they've planted.

Again, these aren't ours but shows what we will be doing with our apple branches outside on the plot when the peas are ready, they look loads better than bamboo.

Aaaaand finally, purple sprouting broccoli, it's finally making an appearance and is abundant.  I don't know what to do with it all, any one got any receipe suggestions?  I've just been steaming it so far!

Well that's me, next weekend I'll be going to the Totnes Vintage fair where my mum will be selling, I'm really looking forward to it hopefully some photos to follow..

Saturday, 24 March 2012


When I first started going out with MozzyMr he came with boxes of the weird and wonderful, for example; his dreadlocks from when he was at uni (I still find them every so often and I freak every single time thinking they're a rat), the plastic tiger heads that make the cat hiss and get all angry every time we dig them out of the depth of storage and his extensive tablecloth collection. 

The tablecloth collection sat in the laundry cupboard doing nothing for 9 years, but they came into their own at our wedding so when Mozzy came home with the following I was happy to add it to the collection, I'm sure those tablecloths will come into their own again at some point.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

New Tricks

I would love to be good at photography, I did a multitude of photography projects at university but my frustration with the ridiculously complicated and seemingly nonsensical settings ends with me reverting back to the default automatic settings and a 'I'll crop it later' attitude.  (Look I know most of you will think I'm being dumber than a rock here but I really struggle with the technicalities of taking a good quality photograph.  Give a blank canvas and some paint and I can rustle up a better than average painting, give me an embroidery ring and some thread and I can produce a pug embroidery with sparkly thread dentures, hell I have other talents!) 
 So to improve my skills I set myself a weekend project; to take a subject that was continually changing, and not to use any automatic settings or flash.  So here is the view from my bedroom, inspiring isn't it?

It was a struggle because I just don't retain this sort of knowledge but I started to get the hang of it having gone on something of a journey via the too bright:

Too dark:

All monitored by a watchful cat who just wanted me to naff off.

The learning continues...

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Allotment geekery

Sunday saw MozzyMr and I working on the allotment, so far the cabbages are going well:

The garlics are coming along a treat:

The tomato seedlings we had growing on the kitchen window sill have been re-potted and moved to the the polytunnel ready to be planted in our raised bed properly when they're a little stronger.

The first batch of potatoes are in:

And the carrot plot has been weeded, raked and fleeced to warm the soil, in a couple of weeks we'll dig it through, sieve it and plant our carrot seeds out.

We harvested our first crop of purple sprouting broccoli as well, it was a bit buggy and needed a good wash but was delicious and was well worth the 4 or so month wait.  Things are getting exciting again on the plot and I hope this year we'll expand range of veg and have a year of good eating...

Monday, 12 March 2012

The Wonderful Box of Happy

Sometimes life is rubbish, it just kicks you in the nuts and spits in your hair and I think some of our lovely friends are going through one of these times.  It came to a head when they discovered that someone had shoved a rock through their rear windscreen an expense few can afford during these lean times.  When I spoke to my friend she sounded utterly deflated and pissed off so I thought a Wonderful Box of Happy was in order....

Pigga helped with the glow bracelets, bicycle spoke beads, sweets, seeds, cat toys, 'Eat Your Greens' pencils, bubbles and tiny pom poms.  Actually she just wanted the pom poms.

All packed and ready to go...

The cardboard box was a little uninspiring so a little tarting up was in order, happily I have been building my rubber stamp and washi tape collection which came in handy.

I hope it puts a smile on their faces, it put a smile on mine collating it :)

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Postcards from middle-age

Welcome to this, my first postcard from middle-age:

MoMa and MoPa gave Sam and I a year's National Trust membership for Christmas, and today we finally got around to visiting our first property; A La Ronde near Exmouth.

We had driven past the sign for A La Ronde for years and said we would go and visit because it's supposed to be a quirky little place which it really was.  Built by a pair of second cousins; Jane and Mary the building was inspired by their grand tour of Europe (which took an impressive ten years).  A 16-sided building with amazing views of Exmouth and the sea it is filled to the brim with curiosities like these dolls:

Shell-inspired lampshades:

The main gallery area is decorated in such a way to give the impression of being under the sea.  The walls are painted to emulate being in deep water followed by fabric drapes to represent the waves breaking on the shore, just behind the railings is the shell gallery representing the beach and on the ceiling is a ceiling rose representing the sun.

There are handcrafted items throughout the house made by Jane and Mary including the shell pictures below:

Them girls did love their shells...

Silhouettes of the family are a big theme throughout the house:

And finally a fairly ace sink that I quite liked.

When visiting the lovely brummies a few weeks back we shyly admitted to having National Trust membership, at which point they got their iPhones out to show us the National Trust apps they had.  I guess we've just reached that age?  To be fair who doesn't like a good scone and gift shop?

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

I spy with my little eye....

The Lampshade of awesome....

The tulip of rad...

The blurry beetle of nightmares...

And the watch of not being told off...

So yeah, in essence this is a non-focused blog post of rambling and things I've seen this week:

  • The lampshade of awesome hangs above the formica dinning table of lush.  I bought it in Next, it was a pig to construct but works really well in the dinning room and I t'aime it.
  • The tulip of rad, found in the pub of post work Tuesday drinks, quite possibly the weirdest flower I have ever seen...
  • The blurry beetle of nightmares.  I'll grant you that this is not the best photo I've ever taken, I used a point and shoot and it just wouldn't play ball.  Anyway this little chap was a birthday present from my mum and dad to MozzyMr, he's been compiling a little collection of stuff trapped in resin and this fits in perfectly, his little round yellow eyes are a wee bit harrowing though.
  • Finally the watch of not being told off.  For years now I've just used my phone to tell the time but when I checked it in the middle of a meeting I got 'the glare' from a colleague so I thought it was best to buy a watch.  Lovely ASOS watch.
Sorry about the complete lack of focus to this post, I've had fun taking the photos though and I like talking about rubbish so this has been fun for me!

Sunday, 4 March 2012

A month of reading

Last year I made a resolution to not buy new books.  I could borrow from friends or the library, buy from car boots sales and charity shops but that was it.  A good plan I thought, especially as I do tend to spend a lot of money on books, however the problem with this plan is you only really get a certain type of book, lots of Bridget Jones' Diary, The Da Vinci code and more copies of Tony Parson's work then I care to remember.  This year I scraped that rule and here is what I've been reading this month:

1. Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy

You may well suspect this is a book aimed at 9 - 12 year olds, and well  yes you'd be absolutely right, but don't let that put you off.  Katy my friend of almost 14 years now (gulp), and ex-colleague from the Waterstone's era lent me this book.  97% of the time Katy recommends great books (End of the Affair, and Persuasion aside, sorry Katy) and this is one of them!  I seem to remember kid's books being quite patronising when I was young, so much so that it put me off reading and it wasn't until I started doing my A-Levels that this started to change so it is great to read a kid's book that is funny, sarcastic and doesn't have flaky, boring female main characters.  Skulduggery is a skeleton who happens to also be a detective and the series of books follow him on his adventures in a completely non-Harry Potter magical way. 

2. After Dark by Haruki Murakami

In my last 'month of reading' post I asked for recommendations as I was running low on inspiration and my cousin suggested anything by Haruki Murakami.  I'd already read Norwegian Wood back when I was at uni and really enjoyed it so I don't really know why it has taken me so long and a prompt from my cousin to read more.  Reading the first chapter it struck me how cinematic the writing was and how easy it was to imagine the story, as I read from chapter two onward Murakami begins to describe scenes from the camera's point of view so my first interpretation of the writing really hadn't been far off.  This isn't a happy novel, nor overly bleak just an exploration of the good and the bad, the mundane and the violent, loneliness and companionship.  I will certainly be reading more of Murakami's books now that I remember how good they are (dur).

3. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

4. Street Gang - the Complete History of Sesame Street by Michael Davis

Both of these books are completely my thing and definitely what I would choose to read (again both lent to me by Katy) but my concentration span at the moment is virtually nil.  I tried reading both of these but either the size of the novel (Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell) or the density of the text (Street Gang) put me off on this occasion.  I'm hoping when things start to calm down at work and I can relax a little bit more I'll have the time to read and enjoy them....

5. The Driver's Seat - Muriel Spark

In the spirit of nil concentration the size of this book was what I was initially drawn to when I was on the scavenge in the library, plus I'd never read any Muriel Spark before and had heard good things.  This book is weird, and confusing and I spent most of my time wondering if I'd missed something really obvious as Spark's style of writing is fractious and seemingly random.  It was only when I read the final chapter that everything slotted into place and the book went from one I just didn't get to one that I thought was brilliant!  I get this little review of it might not make you rush out and buy/borrow it but it was really good and it felt good to ponder what I had read and see how it all fitted the puzzle.  Plus if nothing else it's really short so if you really don't like it, it won't take you long to finish and move on to something else!

6. Paper Towns by John Green

You have to read this book.  Seriously.  There are two books that I tell everyone they have to read; The Book Thief by Marcus Zuzak, and How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran.  If you haven't read these books then seriously you must they're ace and I re-read them alot.  Paper Towns was recommended to Katy by another ex-Waterstone's Colleague Joe (little two's Joe if you read this) and then Katy announced to all on her Facebook page that it was great so of course being the little lambkin I am who just has to join in I hurried out and bought it.  And lo!  It is great.  A 'young adult' book this time (yeah I might get back to reading adult books, or I might not) it centres around Quentin Jacobsen and Margo Roth Spiegelman.  I don't want to give a synopsis of the plot the Wikipedia entry for it can do a better job of that than me.  Instead I'm going to rattle on about how well written it is, and how it makes me want to read all of his books and that I read it in a couple of days because I couldn't put it down.


Finally here is the reading seat, up in our bedroom low enough that people can't see me and low enough that I get to look up into the sky and sit in the odd sunbeam like the cat who usually circles me waiting for me to leave so she can steal the prime spot.

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