Monday, 26 November 2007

There I was digging this hole...

Oh dear dear dear. Woe is me! I've spent the weekend on my back---back, neck, and jaw done in---from over-exerting myself at the allotment. Let this be a lesson for you, Dear Readers. The manure didn't arrive, but I ended up digging two very deep holes for my new redcurrant bushes (RHS prizewinners again!) in what can only be described as the most penetrating, freezing cold imaginable. Our leader was planting 10 raspberry canes (why do we need raspberry canes? We already have loads at the far end of the allotment left by the last owner). And I noticed that his holes were MUCH TOO I commented on this...Quite an argument about hole digging ensued...and we all had to be reminded that violence is not permitted by the charity we work for! To make matters worse, I went out to lunch on Saturday and had a delicious bowl of mussels, only to find out later, judging by activities in my lower intestinal system, that the sauce contained flour (I'm sensitive to gluten). Oh poorly me! Anyway, I feel better today. I've added a counter on my Facebook site and have discovered I am being visited by 0.3 people a day (after much cyberspatial arm wrenching), and I am 88029 in the popularity stakes. To keep you up-to-date on bird feeding activities. The coconuts are a hit but the peanuts haven't been touched.

Monday, 19 November 2007

On the road again...

Big news from the allotment this week...we've decided to make a Victorian hotbed! It happened like this. We were all working away when an enormous Private Consignment of Horse Manure arrived for another plot (on a tractor trailer, I hasten to add, not out of the sky). I said, 'I didn't know, you could get Private Consignments of Horse Manure, and, if I had, I would have suggested making a Victorian hotbed' (I had just read about these in a magazine). Well, our leader's eyes went as wide as saucers, and the next thing I knew we had ordered the aforementioned manure and it will be delivered next week. Now, of course, I'm a little anxious, as I've not actually got any experience making Victorian hotbeds...I dealt with this anxiety by very quietly planting another row of onion sets (good advice, if you suffer in this way). The other thing I want to comment about is wild bird food. What a task buying it is these days. Every bird, evidently, demands it's own particular mix, and then there are about a million ways of displaying it in your garden. When I was young we just put out stale bread and bacon rinds...but now it is scientifically proven that this is a VERY BAD thing to do! So, getting the food at the garden centre takes at least an hour, and afterwards you have no choice but to slump into the cafe for a relaxing cup of tea (served in very boring tableware, compared to what the birds are offered). Anyway, I went for a very pretty sunflower design hanger to display my RSPB certified peanuts, and some lovely fatfilled half coconuts that were on special offer. Oh yes, I'm sure you're all wondering about my anagram friend. He turned out to be Turkish. I sent him a whoopee cushion, which he liked, but then I tried to bite him with my werewolf application and he removed himself from my Friends list! I don't seem to have lost my identity, but only time will tell....Finally, my driving license appeared. I can indeed drive anything anywhere, but only for the next three years in case I deteriorate. Of course, I'll deteriorate, I thought, doesn't everyone? Anyway, I'm not arguing, I'm just glad to be allowed out again!

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Identity Crisis!

Today has not started well. First I had a rather heated hyperspace discussion over the merits of Cox's apples (I don't rate them highly, my adversary did). Then I found that a rather cute looking guy with a Norwegian sounding name had left me a message on Facebook. I replied, only to discover that this means he can access my Profile page for a month. Now, of course, I'm worried sick he's one of those hackers and is going to steal my identity (quite a thought!). I think perhaps his name may be an anagram of something---I'll try to solve it over lunch. Two bits of good news, though, and made me feel that I might have some identity left. First, Spalding Bulbs sent me some correspondence, referring to me, of course, as their Most Valued Customer Of The Last Six Months. By simply ordering something out of their catalogue I can evidently get a free watch, so I've gone for some Chinese Lanterns, which I've always loved. They grow anywhere and can be made into superb Christmas ornaments. Then my E-cloths pack arrived, so now I not only have dishwashers but also kitchen cloths and magnificent tea-towels! Won't my friends all be delighted when they open theirs on Christmas day? And about that other Christmas gift I mentioned. It has been pointed out to me in no uncertain terms that you do not spell pyjamas with three a's. OK, got it now. IT'S THE THOUGHT THAT COUNTS.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

A Bad Wind...

Oh, Dear Readers, I'm hardly upright this morning after yesterday's events at the allotment. We had barely got to the office where we meet up where we were told that a 'promotional video' was going to be made of our activities that morning. Of course, some of us were a little unhappy about this, as, having been given no warning whatsoever, we'd had no time either to dress for the occasion or learn appropriate dance routines. We were told this wouldn't matter. When we arrived at the allotment, we were told they wanted to film a variety of activities. So all our plans of last week went out the window. I was left planting....guess what? ONION SETS!!! Imagine, dear readers, my humiliation, I'm actually filmed for posterity planting my unfavourite crop of all time...Of course, it could only go downhill from that point. After finishing planting, I was told to set up the tea things so we could be filmed having a pretend planning meeting! Oh, yes, let's go into fantasy land shall we, with a bunch of people suffering from severe mental health conditions? Good idea! Anyway, I started getting all the chairs etc out, when suddenly I saw our leader a few yards away mouthing to me, 'Me back's gone again!' He couldn't move an inch, so I went over to him and started to massage the affected area. At this point the cameraman came towards us filming the whole thing...That was the point at which I lost it. I told him our leader was in pain and needed a chair AND TO BLOODY WELL HELP ME!!! Luckily, at that point we had a new client arrive who had some paracetemol so we were able to help with the pain a bit. So then we continued with the filming of our 'meeting'. I should say at this point that there was a gale force wind blowing straight from the Arctic yesterday. You may have heard about it on the news. Then the pr people ooh'd and aah'd at their lovely photos in our shed...We eventually managed to get our leader back to his car, clear up the mess, and go home...If this doesn't stop you volunteering in your community nothing will.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Cleanliness is next to Godliness...

Please forgive me, reader chickens, but in the excitement to tell you about the allotment this week, I completely forgot my most important news. That is, I have discovered a new way of washing the dishes! To be more exact, I have started to use a washing up pad produced by E-cloth, and it's wonderful! No more nasty little spongy things clogging up endless acres of landfill sites, for me. You can actually wash this little pad in the machine and it comes out just like new...To make matters even better, today I've found their website: and a whole new world of ecological washing products...I've ordered a whole bundle, so I'll be letting you know how I get on with them. What delightful gifts they will make! Talking of which, I have seen a very nice pair of silk pajamas in the Lewis's catalogue WHICH I WOULD VERY MUCH LIKE FOR CHRISTMAS. Just imagine how delightful I would look putting out the frogs in the middle of the night with these on....And oh, my goodness, I nearly forgot to tell you the latest about the POND. On cleaning it out (with a net, not with my e-cloth, I hasten to add) I found several delightful new specimens of Aponogeton distachysos, a delightful little plant with white flowers which, up to now hadn't done very much. Now, not only has it spread, it's spread to the most shady parts of the pond where nothing else wants to grow. This is the wonder of tackling a new ecosystem---you learn new things all the time. Before this year I'd never heard of this plant, let alone seen it grow. Go on, get out there, start planning your wildlife pond!

Friday, 2 November 2007

A New Broom...

It's been a tough week. For a start there was Hallowe'en. Guess where I was at 3.00am? Yes out in the back garden (naked!) putting a screaming frog back in the pond. I'll be riding around on a broomstick next...Then there was trouble in psychology class. I've found it increasingly difficult to get my students into the classroom, so much so that I now have to go out on the street where they congregate and pull them in by their hoods. Hence,we usually start at least 15 minutes late. I just about get going on the topic on the lesson, when they're demanding a break. I'm supposed to sit there with them for two and a half hours! You'll recall that before half-term I just had the three students, well now we've been joined by two Nigerian girls. Great, it's a year long class, and they missed half a term....this is private education, where you never say no as this means loss of income all round (well, actually not for me, as I get paid the same, to do 40% more work...hey, wait a minute..). So, having had a week of disorganisation and indiscipline, I decided we'd have a 'planning meeting' with the allotment group. It's the usual muddle. The group leader wants to grow nothing but potatoes and onion sets. One of the clients wants her own plot so she can grow different varieties of beetroot. Another wants to grow nothing but carnations...Finally we had an intricate explanation about why we are not being allowed, under any circumstances, to grow peas...Oh well, I made a plan of the allotment, and stuck lots of things on it. I also wrote an article for the newsletter which I hope I can get posted up for you.