1 Year allotment anniversary

Exactly 1 year ago today I took over a new allotment and a good friend took over the one next door, plots 331 + 332, we decided to work together and have it as one huge plot.

Unfortunately for us the plots hadn’t been worked/used for about five years, and before that they were owned by a gentleman in his 90’s so only a tiny patch had been used for many years before. When we arrived it looked like this …

A huge overgrown mess, many people told us we were mad, but not ones to shy away from a challenge we got stuck in. First we only had shears, hedge trimmers and a hand saw. We started but very quickly realised that is was going to take forever, so we joined the allotment association and borrowed the ‘big boys toys’

It was back breaking work but great fun. Soon we had clear ground but huge piles of brambles everywhere.IMG_3120

Unfortunately for us it was late autumn, the weather was turning and an eye operation meant I was out of action for a couple of months. But we got stuck back in a little over winter, chopping back more and more. Finally the weather started to clear and we invested in an incinerator bin.

We have spent the last month burning, chopping and burning some more, and now finally all we have left of last years brambles is a very small pile of ash.

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So in 12 months we may have only chopped and burned a few weeds, but now we can not only walk onto our plot but all the way from one end to the other without fear, scratches stings and a fight.

The plan for the next 12 months is car park area at the top, near the tree, a compost area, to complete the fencing, rotavate the land, and start growing. With the amount we have achieved this year I’m confident we can do it.

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A is for …..

Allotment and the bane of my life currently, I took over a very overgrown double plot with a very good friend almost a year ago and it’s been a battle against nature every since. I love it, it was an escape from a desk job before the redundancy and since it’s been a focus.

At some point in the next five years I hope to be growing veg again, as you can see it’s not a short term fad but a long term journey and not the x-factor kind.

The previous owner was over 90 when he died and for many years he used his ‘war stories’ to stop the council from removing him from his very overgrown plot. He obviously loved roses and gooseberries as the plot is covered in them and they have huge thorns.

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After a few sessions with shears, saw, brush cutters, a rake and a burner we have finally made a dent into the undergrowth and can see the ground but it’s still a long way from ready to plant, a dry autumn/winter and a rotavator will help us massively. Every visit we make plans for the next visit but these are often changed the second we arrive as something else needs doing/fixing or takes our attention.

A monster challenge, ongoing headache and hard work but one that’s worth it, so be prepared for more blogs and photos of this project in the future.

weekly round up # 5

This might be the last weekly round up for a little while as I’ve something else in mind and I might struggle to do everything.

This week has been a busy but fairly productive one.

Monday I spent the morning sorting my c.v. and applying for a couple of jobs, then had an interview. It was good experience, however it wasn’t a permanent position as advertised only a few months to cover maternity leave.

Tuesday I spent the day at a ‘job fair’ in St George’s Hall in Liverpool, to be honest it wasn’t really much good as most of it was training courses and apprenticeships, but I did come away with some new job sites to check and saw some old colleagues hard at work. Also met up with a couple of my fellow unemployed colleagues and had lunch and a quick look around the shops.

Wednesday was a form filling job application day again, also checked the new sites from Tuesday and got a phone call to arrange a telephone interview.

Thursday I decided to have a break from the computer and helped switch our energy supplier and tv/phone, it was funny to watch my mum have an argument with an automated phone system which actually hung up on her. I watched a couple of films and knitted, the break from forms was very welcome. I did however check my emails and reply to one job advert. The football was back on again and as usual a divided household, Oscar supporting Portugal and Eric supporting Poland.

Friday I took mum out shopping, her car was off the road so we had a mother/daughter day buying much needed essentials (clothes mostly). Oscar and I enjoyed the Wales match however hugging a child holding a handful of pringles is not a good idea, they shatter into a million pieces and go EVERYWHERE. Everyone was supporting Wales so a happy house all round.

Saturday was an at home day, Oscar and I played games, did homework and watched more football, Italy v Germany this time, once again a divided house. At least some happy faces.

Sunday it finally stopped raining and I made it back to the allotment…. it’s been a few weeks and the warm weather and rain isn’t helping as the nettles and bindweed are huge. We spent an hour or so but couldn’t use the brush cutter and manual tools didn’t make much of a dent so decided to call it a day. The weather forecast for the coming week is dry so I’m going to hire one for a week and really get stuck in, the job hunting can take a back seat. Another good match Iceland v France, I would have loved Iceland to win but always thought France would do it. I think a lot more teams (and people) need the Icelandic spirit, no matter how far behind they got they never stopped trying until the final whistle. Iceland are my team of the tournament for spirit and determination.

So more allotment blogs to follow, hopefully without weeds plus my latest idea, borrowed from another blogger but with a twist.

Have a good week folks, fingers crossed the sun shines and rain stays away.

Weekly round up #3

I’ve been a bit busy and a little rubbish at blogging this week. Sorry I’ll try and do better next week. So this week went like this…

Monday was the rescheduled PTA summer fair (due to council not granting licenses in time for our original Saturday one), the weather wasn’t fantastic so we all squished together in the school hall, ate cake, drank tea, won bottles and bottles of wine and generally had a good time. Then a quick dash home for food and drop Oscar off with grandpa and back to school for a meeting about secondary school. Scary times ahead !!

Tuesday I dropped Oscar at school and remembered the library books were in the boot of my car from last week, thankfully the fine was a little over £1 for all our books. It was also application day, a cup of tea and I started applying for jobs. A boring day really.

Wednesday I met the ladies for lunch, it was lovely to all be back together. It’s only been a couple of weeks but feels like forever, loads to catch up on (even though we whatsapp as a group almost daily). I also collected a very excited boy from school and took him to Tae Kwon do to find out that he had passed his grading and received his new yellow belt.

 

 

Thursday was another busy day and I had my forgetful head on. I had some forms to fill in first thing then I was meeting an old boss for lunch to give her a present, it didn’t arrive until after I’d left but any excuse to meet and eat. Only problem was I turned up without the gift ! So a quick dash home after lunch, washed, changed dropped the gift then on to a pre-interview interview at a local school. It was lovely, I would like to work there, time will tell.

Friday was another at home filling forms and applying for jobs day. One application was so complicated it took nearly three hours to do, I think it’s so they’ll only get genuine people apply, you need more stamina for some of the application forms than the actual position. We finally booked a holiday, yippee. A couple of weeks in Spain, can’t wait.

Saturday was a me day, Oscar is doing saturday school for the 11 plus (his choice before anyone complains), saturday school is one of his favourite days as it’s only his class in school and they get to play football or use the computers at wet play and it’s only a couple hours, and after school he was going straight to a friends house. So I went to the cinema to catch up on some films I’ve been wanting to see. I saw jungle book, which I enjoyed then Alice through the looking glass. I love these adaptations (although the white queen annoys me with her twiddly fingers) I want a cheshire cat, I already live with my little mad hatter. Unfortunately I had forgotten about the summer party/fair in the park and couldn’t park anywhere near home when I got back. Thankfully most cars had gone by 6pm so Sunday I wasn’t going anywhere.

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Sunday has been a film watching, minecraft playing, listening to the bands in the park day, one advantage of living so close. The rain didn’t dampen their spirits and the turnout seemed pretty good. Oscar has dyscalculia and Meares-Irlen syndrome, so I’ve invested a little time and money this week and bought some educational guides to help him. Over the summer we will crack this wall and hopefully get a better understanding, maths for him, and how his brain works for me. The first book arrived today, more to follow.

Oh and I’ve not been to the allotment with all this rain but I’ve watched a LOT of football this week.

Allotment update

Finally managed a few days at the allotment, it was a bit of a shock at first seeing how much the weeds and grass had grown, but a few hours of hard work paid off and soon it was looking better. Lots of burning happened again today and the wood/bramble cuttings from last year are now completely gone. Yippee …

On a positive note the bottom plot, 331, is almost completely cleared of brambles and has lots of gooseberry and blackcurrant bushes. Whilst the top half plot 332 is about three-quarters cleared, only the very back section is still seriously overgrown but it’ll have to wait until nearer winter as the priority is sorting the fencing, car area, compost space and keeping weeds down and (fingers crossed) rotavating it soon.

So much to do !

 

 

Sunshine at last

Three whole beautiful sunshine filled, child-free days could only mean one thing…. Allotment (and fire).

Finally managed to clear the cuttings and wood pile from last years bramble cull. The pile at it’s worst was roughly eight foot wide by 4 foot high. Now it’s just a small pile of ash and a small pile which will go in the next fire. Very satisfying.

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pile on the left still to burn, pile on right all gone ! 

So now last years cuttings have been dealt with it’s time to start working on this years growth and working out how/where and what we want our allotment to be. The ground hasn’t been worked for roughly five years and before that the old chap only worked very small areas, he loved roses and gooseberries apparently (we have tons), he was in  his 90’s and when the council tried to take his allotment away he appealed saying ‘he fought in WW1 and WW2 so be grateful’ it worked.

One thing is for certain the wildlife is blooming and the birds are enjoying the bugs being disturbed. The fox has decamped from our plot into next door, which has been empty for some time. He’s quite a nosy thing and was watching me through the bushes today, I think he enjoys me talking nonsense to him.

So things to do :

  1. strim/brush cut this years weeds.
  2. rotavate the land.
  3. purchase lots of black plastic to kill off weeds. Any ideas where to buy this would be helpful.
  4. remove the lower fence and move it to the top section, making a car port at the bottom.
  5. build a compost area.

All do-able by the end of this year provided the weather behaves.

The advantage of spending extra days and going at different times than usual means I’ve made a couple of new friends plus been given lots of tips and advice on what to do/not to do, oh and been offered some chickens to help clear the weeds (I declined) lovely idea but maybe sometime in the future.

So for now we’re enjoying the positives – sunshine, gooseberries, wild garlic, and wildlife. What more does anyone need ?

 

Life

I only have three weeks left before I leave work and it’s an interesting time. It’s been such a huge part of my life, over 14 years, that I feel sad to be going but am optimistic and know the future holds new challenges. Moving from my comfort zone and into the unknown, exciting and scary times ahead.

Meeting new people can be quite stressful. I’m not the most outgoing of people. I’m a warm, friendly, even sociable person but not a social person. I love my own company and often crave quiet solitude, which probably explains why I love libraries and art galleries. Not the busiest or noisiest of places. Strange really because I currently work in an office filled with hundreds of people, it’s very noisy and always busy and yet I love it. In fact thinking about it, I’ve always worked in noisy environments and generally with lots of different people. Maybe that’s why I need to solitude in my leisure time.

I am enjoying pushing myself to try new things, challenge the comfort zone and expand my boundaries. I’m learning new things about myself and even writing this has given me an insight into the weird and wonderful workings of my brain.

I am looking forward to some quality time over summer with my boy, hopefully enjoying the sunshine and maybe I’ll even get through all those weeds on the allotment and finally find the soil…

I think I’m finally starting to live life, exploring it and the more I write about it the more I realise I’m enjoying it.