Monday, 25 February 2008

Pond Ponderings

Didn't go to the allotment on Friday as I had a bout of TMJ (temporo-mandibular joint problem if you must know!), probably brought on by my over enthusiastic activities with the steam cleaner. But this gives me the chance to talk more about what this blog was supposed to be about in the first place: turning a tiny space into a wildlife garden as cheaply as possible. I'm now reaping the rewards of last Autumn's endeavours. You will recall that then I bought some scented narcissi and a big bag of crocuses. My careful purchasing techniques meant that in doing this I received 50 miniature narcissi free and also got a cute wooden wheelbarrow also stuffed full of free bulbs. Well the freebies have really taken off and I wash-up each morning facing a golden glow. The rest are not far behind, so Spring is full of promise. Those of you not familiar with my blog can see from the banner picture that it seems to consist of little else other than a pond. There were several reasons for this. If you read anything, anywhere about wildlife gardens you will learn that having a pond makes more difference to the numbers and variety of wildlife attracted than any other single feature. Also I visited my local Botanic Gardens and discovered that there is a fear that in the future this area will be subject to drought and that many of our native species will die out. Their suggestion for overcoming this (and saving water) was the planting of a 'dry' garden. Feeling that preserving our native wildlife is of paramount importance, I was horrified by this and decided to make a sustainable 'wet' garden: a large water-butt was my first purchase! Thirdly, most of the houses where I live are 'buy-to-let', the lettees being students. Most of the landlords, being horrified at the state the students leave the gardens, have either shingled or concreted over the back yards, thus making it impossible for any wildlife to thrive. I decided to to make my wet garden attractive yet sustainable and robust enough to withstand the worst attacks of possible student neglect! So anyway, I've been doing this for the last year, trouble is I started volunteering at the allotment, and that is a lot more entertaining to write about. So you'll have to forgive me if I sometimes get diverted onto other subjects.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

A Steamy Affair...

Little did I know when I wrote my blog yesterday how my life was about to change thanks to my new steam cleaner. What a little gem it is! Whilst the rest of the country had to endure a day of freezing fog stuck in an endless traffic jam, I was in steam heaven. With the touch of a button I removed dried frog goo, coagulated mouse parts, and clods of ingrained mud. And that was just from the dining room table...No seriously. The thing really works. I don't want to boast but when I looked at my kitchen floor this morning all I could think of was... King's College Chapel! And I received a full facial into the bargain...If any of you are thinking of turning your back garden into a wildlife haven, I'd say get one of these for the house before you start. Today I'm going to concentrate on upgrading my bird feeding/bathing facilities, as I've noticed that the people across the way, who used to provide a haven for all our feathered friends have apparently left. As I look across at their magnificent but now empty bird table I can see the puzzled birds coming and going. Bloody hell it's freezing out there! I'll make them a little jacuzzi I think and try the peanut feeder again. Perhaps now they're desperate they'll try them.

Monday, 18 February 2008

La Vie En Rose

In my haste to post on Saturday, I forgot to mention a Friday key event which may highlight for you the difficulties involved in the recyclers world. I woke up to find a large, dead mouse in the middle of the living room floor. Picking it up I realised that I didn't know which bin I should put it in. Intuitively, one might have thought that an ex-living creature should go in the Green Bin, but on the other hand, a lot of things one might thus put in the green bin, such a dog poo, do not go in the Green Bin, but must be wrapped up and put in the Black Bin. What was I to do? Yet another call to the Council's environmental officer? ('Yes, Mrs Barker, I quite understand your dilemma' said in a ravishing Irish accent). But it was late, and allotment duty called, so I threw it out in the back garden. Later that evening, as I tried to watch my sofa cinema film 'La Vie En Rose', my cats returned the mouse and appeared to play an advanced form of handball with it. It is now stuffed into the Green Bin. Life continues. Today I'm going to try out my new lightweight steam cleaner. I've already had a guy from their marketing department ring me up to ask me how happy I am with it. 'I'm as happy as anyone ever could be with a new, portable steam cleaner' I replied. I didn't tell him I'm mad. A friend has just told me he cannot receive my colourful Facebook offerings because they may be 'vectors of malware'. Is he OK, or has he gone completely paranoid? Keep reading this blog!

Saturday, 16 February 2008

True Grit

Lordy! Just got a phone call from H thinking I'd given up the ghost because I hadn't blogged for a week...I obviously need to assure you all I haven't expired, but have simply been suffering from virtual constipation. Valentine's Day on Facebook turned out to be rather hard going (choosing the most suitable icon to send to each of my 57 friends was somewhat time consuming), plus I was devastated on Friday evening when Stacey and Bradley didn't get back together. All this on top of nearly missing the bin men on Tuesday forcing me to appear on my own doorstep dressed only in a flannelette nightie! Anyway, the allotment group went well. A large team turned up, we made good headway on all fronts, and I managed not to pour milk into my hat. I've spent the rest of the week making a small mineral and gemstone garden (Wow!) in the patch behind the pond made uninhabitable by the builders (they left a great lump of concrete in it for no apparent reason). To do this I'm using all the 'free gifts' offered by the Treasures of the Earth magazine I've been collecting over the last few months, plus some left over grit, and some rather pretty mosaic making items I picked up in France. I must say it all looks rather pretty. My big night out next week is going to see a man who rose from the dead after he was stung by a jelly fish. Don't tell me I don't have an exciting life! Sorry I forgot to mention, we managed to put up a nesting box on the allotment to commemorate NATIONAL NESTING BOX WEEK. I may suffer from virtual constipation, but my devotion to duty never fails.

Friday, 1 February 2008

Arctic Monkeys

I'm sure you're all wondering what an earth has happened to me, as there was no allotment posting last week. Well, you'll just have to excuse me, but things have been quite frantic here as I now have over 50 Facebook friends to deal with plus my usual bin responsibilities, clearing up after the cats, etc etc etc. Anyway last week we went to the allotment and got on with our hotbeds. The only happening of note was that milk had leaked into my woolly hat during the journey, so that when I put the hat on the entire contents of a cow's udder dripped down over my face. This week I planted some Alstroemeria 'Planet Mixed' (free from Thompson and Morgan!) whilst my friend shovelled more shit and our revered leader found that we had a large buried tree under the section where nothing had grown last year. Unfortunately, I was also suffering from a major wardrobe malfunction which meant a large gap kept appearing between my trousers and my jacket, the consequence being I not only nearly froze to death during my planting procedures but now I need to go to the loo about every ten minutes. Let this be a warning to you: when out in Arctic Conditions always wear a full length coat. Other exciting news this week: I have been invited to join a sort of neighbourhood watch group which evidently exists to ensure that our local streets remain pristine. Their main activity seems to be taking away people's bins when they've been left out on the street too long and then making them pay to get them back. What larks!