10 June 2011


Drouth: Scots word meaning "a terrible thirst"

And that describes my allotment plot.

It also described me the day after D and I went out for our anniversary...! Oh, it was a GOOD night. In a dress for once, as I spend my life in jeans, we went (First Class!) to Glasgow and to a wine bar for Champagne! A wine bar!!

To let you understand, D is an old rocker, long hair, tattoos, a penchant for loud rock music and so when we go out we invariably go to a rock pub where the music is good but the wine is like vinegar... And I have to say I am a terribly conservative drinker and about the only alcoholic thing I'll drink is Chardonnay and I am fairly particular (read snobby) about what kind of Chardonnay at that. Now, when we're in the USA or Canada, their range of Chardonnays is phenomenal (I discovered Okanagan Valley Chardonnays a year ago in Canada and was just blown away by how delicious they were), and so I am spoiled for choice whenever we go there. In Scotland though, unless you're in an actual wine bar, you only get offered red or white wine, or if you ask for Chardonnay, they usually just give you the house Pinot Grigio and it's pretty grim stuff.

But, sorry, enough of my drinking habits, we had Champagne! And then, after a few glasses we yomped (that is another feature of nights out with D, walking miles) to a fish restaurant where we were thrilled that our waitress was from Minnesota and chatted to her for a while about places to visit at some point, and then enjoyed a sensational meal.

Back to the wine bar for more Champagne and then train back and to bed.

A really wonderful night out, but the next day... We were droothy neeboors* indeed!

And, despite the amount of rain we've had, the allotment is still dry as dust. It's just so strange. HOWEVER, and I'll pause here for a fanfare, we have growth! Seedlings making a tentative appearance! I have resorted to plastic bottles covering as many seedlings as I can, especially the turnips and peas.

Talking of peas, have a look at this picture.

See the nibbles around the edge of it? I'm guessing it's mice. I don't really grudge them, they were there first, but you know, I'd quite like to give the seedlings a chance so at least for their first few leaves I'll cover them up.

This is how the allotment is looking just now. It's getting there but taking it's time, and I think the funny weather has a lot to do with it. It rained a LOT yesterday but I still had to water the plot because the wind was so strong it just dried the ground out again almost instantly.

Anyway, at least it's a lot less weed-y than it was thanks to hours spent after work on my hands and knees! I don't mind weeding like that actually as it gives me a chance to really see how things are doing.

We took some chard the other day for a chicken, tomato, bacon and cream dish, and it was really lovely, cooked down a treat, and added some gorgeous colour. It's chard ruby-lights so there are some of the plants that glow like a light's being shone through them.


More allotmenteering this weekend as we plan on constructing big tunnel-like structures for the brassicas so hopefully it'll stay dry and calm enough for us to put them up.

Tonight though, to celebrate Friday and the fact that D is in Glasgow to see a band, I have a bottle of wine, something lovely for dinner planned, Downton Abbey on Blu Ray, and I'm all set.

Enjoy your weekend, whatever you end up doing :-)

*Droothy neeboors - from Robert Burns' "Tam O'Shanter"

2 June 2011


There is, it seems, a Scots word appropriate for every occasion, and today's is "jiggered"! Meaning: exhausted, tired out, in need of a wee sit down and a cuppa!

And the reason for this jiggeredness? The sun, which made an appearance today (hat on and everything, hip hip hip hooray!) prompted me to get a load of laundry hung out, AND to dig out the hen run, weeding at the allotment, and in amongst all that, the paid job.

Now, digging out the hen run is bloody hard work, as it's a case of digging out the contents of the run, bagging it, and then pouring in fresh woodchip. There's an estate (as in country with big house) who process wood, make stuff out of it, and sell mulch and fresh woodchips as a by-product. And they deliver for free to local homes, for wood stoves, gardens etc but we use the unmulched woodchip for the hen run.

But it needs replaced every so often to keep things fresh, so I bit the bullet today and dug out the old and poured in the new. And doesn't it look wonderful?! All fresh and clean and pale. The hens love it because it's new things to dig through, and because when I throw bird seed and mealworm it's difficult for them to find at first, so they have to do a lot of digging. They're very industrious and diligent diggers, and take it all very seriously. Dig dig dig, step back for a second to have a scan of what has been uncovered, then dig dig dig again. I always imagine they have the theme from Chariots Of Fire playing while they dig, and slow-motion to really emphasise each powerful back-kick of the leg, woodchip flying willy-nilly behind them. They dig enormous holes each day, and backfill them the next. They are gloriously self-important about it all. Goodness knows how that rowan tree has survived without being completely dug out, but it's about 12 feet tall now after just a couple of years, so it can't mind too much.

And the beauty of the woodchip is this wonderful cycle it's part of. Starts as a tree, goes into our hen run, and once it's used it goes, along with the plentiful amount of poop produced by the hens, into the compost bins, where it rots down beautifully, or direct onto vacant plant beds to rot down gradually, and then both compost or plant beds produce beautiful and healthy plants.

Once I'd done the hen run, I had the bit between my teeth and went to the allotment to weed for a couple of hours and to lament over the dry-as-dust earth and lack of growth. Hardly any seeds are germinating, a solitary carrot or fennel, and no yellow beetroot at all. I suspect I have mice there too: there are tiny little bites out all around the edge of the pea seedlings, very neat, and I don't really grudge the mice a meal, but I'm loathe to encourage them, so I plonked cut-off plastic bottles over the inch high pea seedlings to give them a chance.

But it's not all doom and gloom there: I planted out courgette plants (Take 2, if there's another frost I will really sulk), and the potatoes are doing well. Onions are bulging beautifully, raspberry bush is, erm, spreading, and the brassicas are doing so well I'm going to have to think about concocting a Heath Robinson-esque cover as the cloche tunnels they're in are just too small now. The kale I protected with plastic bottles have re-emerged and are hopefully now big enough and ugly enough to make it on their own.

But, as you can imagine, after all that, I'm a bit wiped.

Dinner tonight (D's in Wales with work for a few days so I'm on my own and making a concerted effort to eat (usually when he's not about I forget, and you can imagine why when you see what I get up to through the day)), was Nigel Slater's Red Peppers stuffed with Pork Mince, Rosemary and Garlic. Dear reader, I urge you to try it (it was in The Guardian too): it was so sublime I'm going to have it again tomorrow too.

For now, it's Lola's time to lie beside me on the sofa and watch Springwatch. I have a glass of wine and an early night planned.

It was a good day :-)

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