Archive for September, 2007

Notes on a season

Sunday, September 23rd, 2007
  • The aim for the first year at the allotment was “get out more than I put in”, which I have done (with particular reference to beans). I feel quite embarrassed and driven to apologise for my weediness every time I meet Ken, who has the next plot and is immaculate, but am generally quite proud of my efforts. (And he uses slug pellets so can say Nothing to me – not that he ever does, he’s unfailingly polite and friendly. But if he kills my pet frogs I will be sad.)
  • My allotment diary is filled in conscientiously up to about July, when Tamsin switched from small baby, sleeps a lot, to four-wheel-drive bundle of energy (that is also around the time the nettles won, making it harder to take Maggie and let her run about and effectively restricting me to preschool mornings (when T does not sleep), light, dry*, summer evenings and weekends.)
  • Good

    • Potatoes, beans (broad, french, runner), mixed salads, peas
    • Jerusalem artichokes. About 15 foot high and just thinking about flowering (nobody seems to know whether this should be permitted but unpreventable without stilts). No idea what’s going on under the ground but they have certainly provided a talking point! Next year I must stake as I plant rather than trying to deal with 7-foot stems, and with something more sturdy than a bamboo cane and a bit of string.
    • Slugs. What whoppers. Shame they are inedible.
    • Frogs. Yay!


    • The “two sisters” idea of planting beans in with the sweetcorn – maybe I have unusually vigorous beans/weedy sweetcorn but the former is pulling the latter to horizontal.
    • Tomatoes (blight); courgettes and squash (slugs); carrots (didn’t germinate or, more likely, got eaten as soon as they did. I had some lovely if minute carrots in pots on the patio – 2″ max of pure carrotty yumminess – so I suppose something down the allotment munched them); garlic (rotted); spinach (bolted)
    • Borlotti beans: only one plant made it. Darn slugs.


    • Cucumbers: those fruits I got were fantastic but I never got around to potting the plants on from the 4″ pots they germinated in. Poor things died.
    • Shallots: grew well, tasted good, shame they got drenched the day I harvested so mostly rotted.
    • Sweetcorn: not ripe yet so the race is on. Could do with an indian summer, please. Brought two weeny cobs home yesterday because they were almost nearly sort of ripe if you squinted sideways at them, and they were excellent.

    Next year

    Raspberries, more herbs, a proper salad bed. Gooseberries? Flowers for cutting. Parsnips. More peas, sugarsnaps too. More muck and slug prevention. Squashes. Possibly asparagus. More time**. A shed, so I don’t have to cart all the kit about in my car. My own runner beans: I wasn’t going to grow them but Dave down the bottom had some spare plants which I found a home for. Feel a bit guilty because his beans drowned in the rain (he’s down the bottom) while mine thrived on it (up the top), so will buy my own seed next year.

    *ha ha ha.
    **any suggestions gratefully received.

    Friday night

    Friday, September 21st, 2007

    …and there’s sport on. Which will be illegal once I am in charge (and is not normal, is it). So I thought, glass of wine, get on here for a bit of a witter. Is anybody there?

    Evenings are fair drawing in – no more popping to the allotment once the kids are in bed (or at all, if this week is anything to go by). I wonder if my sweetcorn will get ripe before the frosts come? It won’t be long. I had to put the heating on this week. Cameron put it straight back off again but that is not the point.

    Tamsin did not scream through Maggie’s swimming class this week, which is progress indeed: goodbye and good riddance, separation anxiety*. And Maggie is overcoming her fear of going under thanks to some snazzy goggles.

    *for now.


    Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

    Back from a lovely girls’ holiday in sunny St Ives. We really did have sun and Maggie got to the beach every single day. Tamsin was not at all sure about sand to begin with, but soon got the hang (yum yum). A shame the adults took it in turns to get a 48(ish)-hour lurgy; bizarrely, the children were immune but it meant shifts to the beach in between lying pitifully on the sofa. My mother is now known as “normal granny” (much amused muttering under breath about relativity), which distinguishes her from great granny.

    Cameron came home from Texas with new jeans for me (hoorah), a shiny ipod for himself (hoorah also) and the inevitable jetlag (boo).

    The spider was no longer in the bath on our return so presumably the cleaner dealt with it.

    Back to normal this week: preschool, swimming, rain, good intentions that fail to be acted upon. Hey ho, we did make jam yesterday. (Preens.) Took T to get weighed today so this afternoon I am mostly sighing despairingly at the incompetence and unnecessary-ness (what word do I mean?) of health visitors.


    Thursday, September 6th, 2007

    They have come out in force, just because I said something a wee bit uncharitable about one of their friends. I didn’t hoover it (and I certainly didn’t approach with glass and card: Katy, you clearly have no idea what it is to be scared!). In fact I left it in the bath. We all had a shower last night come on girls it will be fun! I said brightly, not letting on the real reason. It’s still there (and my cleaner will have to deal in order to clean the bath tomorrow).

    However. One more behind the bathroom door this morning. One halfway along the landing – possibly the same one. Now, one on the stairs. The same one? Who knows. I feel a bit sick and have to keep saying just leave it alone Maggie, spiders won’t hurt you. Huh.

    I hate this season. Cameron is not allowed to go away (or even to work) in September ever again. I am starting to think I might have to be really brave and do the hoover thing – I can’t camp out downstairs all day, we are leaving for our holiday tonight! But we have a Dyson, what if I see it in there? I know I’m a wuss but I am getting teary just thinking about tackling it.


    The news in brief

    Wednesday, September 5th, 2007
    • It’s our wedding anniversary (yay). Cameron is in Houston (boo). They forgot to put his case on the plane (boo) but he was expecting to get it back yesterday (yay).
    • I’m taking the girls on holiday tomorrow (yay). I haven’t packed yet (boo) but I have made mental lists (yay) and done lots of washing (enough).
    • We went into town in the sunshine yesterday. Bus woes to follow in a long whingy post but we had a lovely time: the Cheshire Regiment had stands set up in front of the library – some promo thingy, I don’t know what – and a band. Not a normal military brassy marchy band, but more like a wedding one. Angels, Everybody Needs Somebody, Mustang Sally, that sort of thing. Maggie and her friend Gwen danced and danced in the sunshine, in the middle of town, in front of something like 100 people! So sweet: I wished I had my camera. (I’ll be rather less keen on her dancing with soldiers in 15 years’ time!)
    • Then she was an utter horror in Starbucks. Let this be my public apology to the people trying to have a lovely quiet coffee at the next table.
    • Today it is raining again. Of course it is. I haven’t visited my allotment for weeks, it’s always bloody raining. (I must go tomorrow, I need to pick beans to take on holiday. Beans like to see the sights.)
    • My granny’s transfer from hospital to care home did not go well. Fingers crossed she settles in soon as my dad has quite enough on his plate.
    • Tamsin has three new teeth: one a day Thursday-Friday-Saturday. It was not fun.
    • Shelob is in my bath and I don’t quite know what to do about her.  I am toying with asking my next-door neighbour to come and deal, except I would have to explain to Maggie why I haven’t done it myself and I have tried so hard not to make her scared of spiders too. But I cannot cannot go in there and pick it up; even typing that sentence made me shudder. Anybody brave passing through Chester in the next few hours before bathtime?
    • Does anyone know where I’ve put my sellotape?