Sunday, 20 January 2008

Lights, Camera, Action....

What a week! On Friday it was tipping down with rain again, but this time we managed to get to a garden centre whose location was actually known to our driver. We bought a damson and a green gage tree---both should be magnificent for both blossom and jam-making fruit. My delight was compounded by finding that back at home my wonderful Peruvian mittens (special offer and sale, The Guardian Newspapers...), AND six Erysimum Constant Cheer had turned up. I don't know if you've heard of these. They are like wallflowers except they are hardy and they have the most magnificent flowers which turn from orange through to purple as the summer progresses. They grow just about anywhere and are as tough as boots. I got them through the shopping channel, QVC, which, I've just discovered, is not to be sniffed at when it comes to plants. Anyway, as I'm sure you all know, Saturday provided us with the most grotty weather imaginable, and I spent all day watching films that I've ordered from 'the sofa cinema'---another Guardian creation and so good for those inclined to depression during these winter months...But I had no time for depression, because today I was called to a major PR event! A hundred of us gathered in one of Cambridge's parks to advertise the fact that our charity is 100 years old, and that it supports one in four of the population that suffer from mental health problems. Guess what we did? We all dressed up in T-shirts---a quarter of which were blue and the rest white. Then we gathered on chairs arranged in the shape of one hundred, while cameramen hoisted on fireengines took our pictures (I kid you not...). It was freezing cold and everything apart from my hands (covered, of course, in my delightful Peruvian gloves) shrivelled up. We had to do it over and over again, sitting down, standing up, looking forward, looking up, hands down, hands up. I never realised how gruelling the life of a top model could be! Afterwards I swanked into one of Cambridge's top restaurants and explained to all and sundry that my slightly over-ethnic appearance was due to 'An absolutely shattering photo-shoot...' before slumping dramatically on one of their designer chairs. Then I had a delicious steak with handcut chips. Oh heaven!

Monday, 14 January 2008

The Sugar Plum Fairy

I knew normality couldn't last. This Friday is was tipping down with rain. After much discussion the group decided to go to a garden centre to pick up a plum and and a damson tree. I thought our leader was in a bit of a funny mood before we started out. As we started off, though, it became apparent he had fallen into a black pit of depression. He started 'f-ing and blinding' and the car soon filled up with a thick fog. At this point it became apparent that he didn't know where the garden centre was, and the only one who did know was sitting in the back seat (with me) and had no idea where we were. I kept asking him to turn on the demisters, but it was now apparent that he didn't know what these were. We kept skidding along, hitting the kerb occasionally. Then we went the wrong way! Our leader went into meltdown and the rest of us had to very gently get him to turn round and put him on the right track again. Finally,we got to the garden centre. The three of us jumped out and literally ran to the entrance---only to find that it was closed because of an electricity cut. Deciding not to make the entire trip a waste of time, I asked the nice man at the door if he could find out if they had plums and damson trees in stock. So he started phoning the other members of staff inside. At this very point our leader turned up and started shouting at the top of his voice, 'I'm not interested in whether they've got any bloody plums or not! Let's go home!' I think by this time all of us realised he had regressed to the level of a four year old. Anway, I got the required information (although at this point I wanted to ask, 'If you had to guess which of us is certifiably mad, who would you chose?') we got back in the car, and headed back. As we got to my house, the leader didn't exactly apologise, but did say he was angry because he'd planned to finish the Victorian hotbed and couldn't because it was raining! Is there such a thing as allotment rage? Answers please!

Friday, 4 January 2008

The Basket Case.

Thank goodness things are back to normal---a wonderful Friday spent shovelling horse manure at the allotment. To be honest, I wasn't sure this week that I didn't have the dreaded virus that is going round: I had 'the runs' and I certainly felt sick. But then, as we all know, I am a hypochondriac, so we can't be sure. Anyway, I felt a lot better after getting started on the hotbeds. I made a small one on my own using an old laundry basket (hush, we may be at the cutting edge of organic gardening here, I'll let you know of its progress.) I got started on another in an ex-compost bin, and the third, real Victorian one, was marked out with plastic posts by our leader...I'm sure you're all at the edge of your seats by now wondering how to make a Victorian Hotbed, so here goes. You basically dig a hole between two and four feet deep. You then at least half fill this hole with horse manure which you then walk on to squash down. You then put the soil back, but adding compost as you go so you end up with a 1:1 mixture. You cover the whole thing over with something transparent like glass or polythene. As you can tell from the above, I'm trying to do some small ones without the digging to see if they work. The point of it all is that you end up with a really hot, well fertilised, patch where you can grow things at least a month early. Next week some of the blokes will hopefully turn up and do a bit of digging...As for the rest of the plot...well, the broad beans are doing fine, but the onions I planted seem to have caught damping off or something (I think they knew they weren't loved, don't you?). Oh yes, in case you're wondering. The reason I had an old laundry basket was because I bought a new one in the new John Lewis's in Cambridge---reduced from £30 to £10! What a day that was. I celebrated by having a salmon and scrambled egg breakfast in their restaurant, with waitress service...Even we greens have our moments.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008


Well, Happy New Year to you all! I hope some of you will be making resolutions that go beyond the 'lose weight and get fit' variety. I thought I'd share with you the resolutions I made last year, as at that time this mighty blog did not exist. They were:
1. To turn my backgarden into a wildlife refuge, the central feature of which to be a pond.
2. To join a local charity which was involved in some environmental initiatve.
3. To insulate my loft, doubleglaze my windows and fit energy saving light bulbs.
4. To follow the Council's bin instructions to the letter.
5. To join a church that actually offered practical help to the most vulnerable instead of one that just harped on about being 'saved'.
I hope these might inspire you. As for myself, as I put on two stone last year and now waddle like a duck, I'm rejoining the gym and going on a diet...