Monday, 29 October 2007

Jellied Brain

You might like to know that I now have 9 friends on Facebook. However, their Superfriends application has just informed me I have zero popularity and am classified as a "wallflower". There's still work to be done then...One other exciting revelation today. I got my "Everything You Need for Teaching Psychology" catalogue from Uniview ( Whoever would have thought one needed 1) Jellied Brain Sweets 2) A Thinking Cap (revealing one's head as uncovered brain tissue), and 3) sets of S-t-r-e-t-c-h Your Students exercises, to teach the subject. And I only have the textbook! I had wanted to order a model brain, but found that theirs were much too expensive. A pity really, if I had spent over £75 I could have had a free Obsessive Compulsive Disorder poster! I thought it was about time I gave you a recipe or two to help you understand just how wonderful having an allotment can be. Here's my farmer's wife winter casserole recipe: Get a medium sized casserole dish. Put one or two pork chops in the bottom. Add any seasonal veg from your allotment. This may be: garlic, onion, carrots, and cauliflower heads. Place a few leaves of sage and one bay leaf (also from the allotment) on top of the veg. Chop up and core an apple (either from the allotment, or brought at Apple Day...). Put this on top of veg. Add about a cup full of water and salt/pepper to taste. Put in oven at Gas Mark 2. Cook for 2 hours. Oh heck, I'll have to go now. I just realised I forgot to put the apple in.

Friday, 26 October 2007

As Chic as Chips

I'm still suffering from my cold this morning! Still, at least I've learned something very important from the Daily Mail---I've got what is called "Geek Chic". I think this means that I'm cute but I also look like I read books. That's me! I also have something to share with you about apples, as my brain accommodated new knowledge about these only in the last week. If you had asked me only a month ago which English apples I considered the best in the land, I would have answered without hesitation, James Grieve and Worcester Pearmain. Little did I know that these two had bred together (branches crossing across a misty orchard....oh, kissy, kissy!) and produced a noble offspring called Lord Lambourne who is even more delicious. So, if you're looking for an apple to plant, that's the one. Anyway, that's enough excitement for one morning. I have to sign off now because I have to tell the allotment crew I'm not coming. This will probably mean a cancellation as the leader is already off with a bad back. (For which his doctor has given him valium, can you believe? Whatever happened to good old Deep Heat and a hot waterbottle...)

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Almost down in the dumps

Wednesdays are always an anticlimax here, but it's worse today because I've caught a cold. This is what happens when you mix with the hoi-palloi! So why are Wednesdays such a let-down? Because the highlight of the week, bin-emptying, happens on a Tuesday in these parts. I've been surprised to hear that in other part of the country this has not developed into the passion shown it in Cambridge. The activities begin the night before when you can hear every resident carefully aligning a large bin and the correctly coloured associated plastic container on the pavement. (Failure to do this can result in non-emptying!). We used to do this on Tuesday morning, but now we've been told we must have both bins ready for inspection at 7.00 am....even if they are not emptied until three in the afternoon. At around 5.30 pm on Tuesday you can hear everyone in the street, having returned from a hard day's work, collecting their bins, rolling them back to wherever they belong, and blessing the day when all these new regulations came into place. These collection activities can be most exciting if it has been a windy day. I once found my plastic container two streets away, and most of its contents (very light, empty plastic bottles), scattered haphazardly in neighbours' front gardens. This week's bin activities were more exciting than ever, as I noticed last week that my green bin was smelling something awful. I went out to clean it, and was just about to do so, when my neighbour warned me off. Several short people like myself, she said, had tried to clean their own bins, fallen in head first, being rescued only on their way to the dump! As luck would have it, I found an ad for a bin-cleaning service attached to the bin yesterday, so now I have signed up for a monthly, professional clean. I must say the errr...newcomers to the area round here are really finding those niche markets...

Monday, 22 October 2007

An Apple A Day...

I expect you' ve been wondering what I've been doing. On Friday I went to the allotment as usual. Getting there was a bit traumatic as I discovered I couldn't turn my windscreen wipers off. To make matters worse I was just demonstrating the problem to the clients when I accidently sprayed one of them copiously with windscreen cleaner fluid (My, that stuff travels!). Anyway I finally managed to find the 'off' position and we got down to planting our Autumn broad beans (very important to plant broad beans in the Autums so that they ripen before the blackfly come out---Aquadulce is the best sort). We also got in some fine pink garlic (much milder than the white varieties) and onion sets. I don't want to say anything more about onion sets as they are tedious. If it was up to me we wouldn't plant onion sets...Anyway the next day I discovered I couldn't turn my battery operated toothbrush off. Spooky! My much toothpaste-soiled Husband and I then argued about what we would do with the day. I suggested Swaffham, as the newspaper said they were celebrating Apple Day at the eco-tech centre there. When we got there the whole place was closed, so we spent the afternoon in Swaffham. An experience not to be missed if you want to pick up some cheap agricultural implements (but not worth it otherwise!). I mustn't be too rude as I picked up a really lovely bay tree for the allotment for under £5.00. I then realised that I hadn't mentioned Apple Day to any of you, and I'd completely forgotten about Blog Action Day---a day when all of us with Blogs were supposed to unite and write something environmental. I can't remember if I did or not....Oh blast! I finally got to the Apple Day at our Botanic Gardens. The queues just to taste a bloody apple had to be seen to be believed! I could barely get near the things, and ended up taking photos of the lovely Autumn colours instead. I've included one for you to look at.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Wogan's Willy and Other Delusions

Sorry not to have communicated for a few days, but I've been in quite a delicate state. Over Terry Wogan's wardrobe malfunction, of course. I didn't see it myself, but a large photo of the event was splashed all over the Daily Mail website (which, I must hastily add, I only visit in order to download the daily Sudoku). Anyway, there it was---too tight corderoy trousers clearly revealing a large, inter-leg dong. It reminded me too much of France, I'm afraid, where I couldn't even drive to the local market without seeing men's penises all over the place. Those Gallic frogs pee anywhere I can tell you, and it doesn't matter who's around. It was enough to drive a menopausal woman mad....And, as we know, I did go mad! Trying to get off this subject I had another frog in the living room today, it didn't pee but it pooped. How interesting this foray into the wildlife world has become! I've never seen frog poop before, let alone scooped it off the carpet. Just think what joys await you if you become an eco-warrior like myself. Oh, by the way, I've just got a new friend on Facebook who thinks he's a website. I'll have to tread carefully there....I'll tell you about my delusions another day, I think. I need a coffee.

Monday, 15 October 2007

More Pills From Dr Jekyll...

I just had to share some fabulous news. I went to the doctor this morning and discovered that in this country you can drive anything you like, where-ever you like, HOWEVER MAD YOU ARE! This is quite a revelation, and will keep quite a few people off the roads from now on, I'm sure...This was good news, but I have to say the doctor himself was acting rather strangely this morning. As he ushered me into his office he muttered 'You can only use this appointment for ONE issue. The reason I'm running late, is that the last patient wanted to discuss THREE THINGS with me!' As we were more or less on time for the appointment, this seemed a slightly odd thing to say. So, I slightly tremulously handed him the results of my last smear test (which I'd had done in France), and said, 'But you said you wanted this'. He brightened up at that point and said I merely had to ask the receptionist for a photocopy so I could take the original home. 'To have it framed?' I ventured. At this point his visage darkened to the point I thought I was never going to get any drugs out of him again! But he turned back to his computer (where he feels safe), and started clicking away. Phew! At this point I squeezed in my enquiry about the driving license, and he told me it was no problem. Then he took my blood pressure which, quite amazingly considering the stressful nature of the consultation, was still normal. I wondered whether I should offer to take his, as he seemed in such a state, but thought the better of it. Came home to find my e-mail full of things for offer via freecycle. One of these being a large number of cds, which, if you've been keeping up with me all this time, you will realise can be used as fantastic garden ornaments. Also they are useful on allotments for scaring pigeons. So, get freecycling! Also, I have a serious point. If anyone else out there, suffering from any kind of mental health problem, wants help dealing with crazy doctors, get in touch. I'll do all I can to help.

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Record Breakers?

Phew!! What a day yesterday was. For the first time, I was in charge of the allotment group. What an honour! We had a ceremonial planting of three blackcurrant bushes (RHS Gold Medal Winners no less) in the new, untampered, SOFT FRUIT PLOT. I don't know if everyone really appreciated all my instructions on how to plant a bush, but we were all quite tired at the end of if all and spent most of the rest of the time setting up the tea and biscuit table. The arrival of my new pink car onto the allotment caused quite a stir---I seemed to attract every other allotment owner in the vicinity. Great Jollity and Happimosity was had by all. None of my admirers was quite Monty Don, but there's hope yet. When I got home, and after my usual viewing of Bargain Hunt, I went out and planted ALL the remaining crocuses in my garden. I don't know if so many bulbs have ever been planted in such a small patch. Perhaps I should contact the Guinness Book of Records? I went to sleep as usual dreaming of fame and instant glory. Reading my newspaper this morning (husband is here so he kindly dealt with the frogs in the living room), I noticed an article on which struck me as a very good thing to join if you want to swap leftover bulbs or any other item that you might need or have over from your gardening escapades. I joined this morning. I suggest you do too.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Don't Leave Me In The Slow Lane!

Oh dear, I see from the last posting that Google seems to have selected a colonic irrigation advertisement for its commercial spot...Well, they said they would chose appropriate sponsors! Not much news on the gardening front, as it's pouring with rain. But I did have a very exciting and eventful trip to the post office this morning---to post my application for a new drivers' license if you recall. Well, it transpires that I would have been better going to the post office in the first place and not bothered with the on-line facility at all. The counter lady explained that she could have done the whole thing for me in two minutes for £4, AND she would have happily overlooked the fact that I'd gone a bit mad since having my last licence. As it was I had to pay £9.10 to send everything off in a special envelope (guaranteed next day delivery, except under the present strike conditions when there are no guarantees at all, evidently, but the fee is the same). A friend has e-mailed me to say that Monty Don suffers severe depressions but still drives. This news comforted me until I realised that I personally have never witnessed Monty Don driving anything more powerful than a lawnmower on his shows...What if I'm limited to this for the rest of my life? Then I switched on my computer to discover I was advertising colonic irrigation to the world...

Saturday, 6 October 2007


Thank you all for the overwhelming, hyperspacial response to my plea for friends. I now have a third one. And I've just ordered a set of really nice Vincas from the Guardian newspaper. Now, I know that will upset some of you because you'll say to yourself 'Oh, no not Latin names...How can we ever hope to become gardeners if we don't know any Latin?' Well it's simple, you just associate every Latin word with something crude, and you learn in no time. Vincas is a good case in point. I first learnt about these plants from a friend who said, 'You need to put some Vincas under that tree'. As she was German and pronounced her Vs as Ws and i's as a's, I nearly fell over laughing. It doesn't help that in English they are known as periwinkles. Anyway, because I'm now putting W*nkers in all my shady places (well, perhaps not quite all...). I'm not going to need so many bulbs so these are going to the allotment. How is that going? Don't ask. Yesterday we had two major fruit tree arguments. As I said to one of the clients, gardening with others is certainly a good way to hone up on one's assertiveness skills. Anyway, I stumbled home only to find that the Post Office has gone on strike, so now I may go for months without a license and, more importantly without a residents' parking space for my new car. Yes, my NEW CAR. An absolutely adorable SMART Passion in silver and bright pink. And before you start, it's not really 'new' but heavily recycled---the paint job being an added feature so I can never lose it in a car park. (I don't know if this is a feature of bipolar disorder or just me...).

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Computer Says No...

There is one thing that no-one tells you about starting a wildlife garden---that it will bring out inner resources that you never knew you had. I would never previously have believed that I could get up, calmly clean a mountain of cat sick from my quilt cover, remove a frog suspended from the cat flap (how? you ask yourself), and return to bed with a large cup of coffee all before 7.00 a.m. How was this possible? Well, I received a consignment of seeds yesterday, and I'm still dribbling copiously over their contents (not literally, of course, it is necessary to keep seeds DRY). Next year is going to be wonderful! Actually the week has been irritating in its own way. I've been trying to change the address on my drivers' license. This used to be a simple affair---one simply filled in the new address on the back of the old license and sent the whole thing to the license agency in Wales. Now you have to supply a photo and a whole mass of paperwork. But wait, I hear you say, you can do it all online! That's what I discovered too, so I spent nearly an hour putting my information, including all my passport details, onto their website. Page after page after page...then right after I pressed the final button, it told me that it could not process the photo from my passport and I was going to have to fill in the forms and send them in with a fresh photo anyway. The other thing that got on my wick was the health page. You had to check categories of 'serious health problem' that you had suffered from since being given your license. Well, two years ago, I was diagnosed with bipolar 2, for which I take medication, but which I myself do not consider serious. So, the first time round, I didn't check anything. Then I received a warning that if I didn't declare any problems I could face two years in jail! I quickly went back to the original page and checked the 'serious mental illness' category, feeling like the mad woman in the attic. I went back and forth several times, actually, wondering if I should check anything else. For instance, I once got highly queasy in Boots---a reaction, I thought, to the garish Christmas decorations. Perhaps I had undiagnosed epilepsy? At one point I'd checked four categories (one of the symptoms of bipolar 2, incidently, is hypochondria, but this wasn't on the form...). Anyway, in the end I came clean---only to find that this will slow my application for the license even further as it has to be processed through the medical department and my doctor contacted for further information. This doesn't look good, as I've teased this man mercilessly about his inability to prescribe the right HRT treatment for me and the silliness of his own computer...So we'll have to wait, as they say. Does anyone else out there have any information on this? Do they take your driving license away if you are only slightly crazy (and only during the winter months!) as I am? If so, I'll fight to the last....