A….

I have mixed views about social media, I use Facebook and Instagram. Mostly to keep in touch with family as most of them live far away from me so it’s an easy way to share info and see how they are doing. I hate all the ‘rubbish’ and fake news you have to endure to keep this contact.

The one I like the most, but probably use the least, is Instagram, I enjoy taking photo’s although I’m not the greatest at it, and love seeing other peoples photo’s, and what they are doing. One of the people I follow is an account set up by a lovely lady, @fatmumslim, she runs a photo a day challenge every month, and I’ve tried to complete as many as possible but never managed a whole month (yet). So every month she posts a list and anyone can join in with the #fmspad

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This month is an easier challenge as it’s alphabet based. So I thought I’d combine it with some of my posts on here. As today is the first, the letter is A and I thought I’d share my photo’s and reasons.

Two of my aunties, who have been an important part of my life, Audrey was my great-aunt and I lived with her for a time. She was a lovely person, she gave good hugs too. And my auntie Avis, who we lost earlier this year and has left a huge whole in the family. Again a lovely person who never failed to make us laugh.

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Alex, my baby brother. Always an inspiration and a fantastic role-model for Oscar. He never followed the ‘norm’ and often followed his heart but this lead not only to his dream job but also his wonderful wife.

Lastly no A could be complete without my allotment. It’s my haven and little slice of heaven on earth. Today I harvested the first, and only apple from my tiny tree.

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If you are on Instagram then why not have a look and join in. What A’s are important in your life ?

I won’t be posting all the letters on here, unless you want me too but will keep you updated with how the challenge is going.

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A cheeky weekend away

A few weeks ago we noticed an advert in the newspaper for a weekend break, which included a visit to the RHS flower show at Chatsworth. It was a really good deal, so we phoned up expecting it to be fully booked but no, they had a few spaces remaining. Oscar was all set to be away for the weekend too so it fell perfectly for us.

Early on Saturday morning we arrived at the coach stop to be greeted by a very funny driver and a lovely, comfortable coach. After a couple of stops to collect more people we were  on our way. The weather wasn’t the best, cloudy and drizzly most of the time travelling, however by the time we arrived at our scheduled visit, Stratford-upon-Avon it had stopped and the sun was trying to make an appearance. We had four hours to explore, so first we had a walk around the historic streets.

After our stroll we took a cruise along the River Avon, it was sunny and warm. We were given a map and audio guide to hear more information on the sights along the way.

Then it was back onto the coach for a short trip to the hotel for the evening, Jury’s Inn near Leicester. We were being housed in B wing, we all pointed out it sounded like prison, and judging by the look the staff gave us it wasn’t the first time they had heard this ! The room was not prison like, it was huge, we had a double bed each.

The evening meal was decent, the beds very comfortable and breakfast was lovely. Then back onto the coach for a 9am departure. Stephen, the driver, was excellent and we arrived at Chartsworth house at 10.25, five minutes early.

And then the fun and excitement began…

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We walked round all the stalls, chatting to people and getting ideas for things to make and do.

Then onto the floral marquee to find new favourites and pick up some plants and seeds to bring home. The scent in this tent was amazing, and without being there you can’t really explain it. heady, at times overwhelming, sometimes subtle. The thing that struck me most was being able to pick out the different scents from different flowers. The colours and blooms were stunning, and I took lots of photos of plant labels and have copied them into my allotment book with descriptions of the type, height and spread of each plant.

We had a look around the beekeepers tent and then sat down near the river for a glass of Pimms and listen to the band playing on the field.

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Lastly we wandered around the show gardens, they are a lot smaller than I expected, however it’s good to see what can be achieved in such a small space, as most people don’t have huge gardens and some of the ideas can easily be used on the allotment too.

I had a chat with some vegetable growers and after tasting a couple of things and seeing some interesting plants I came home with only two packets of seeds.

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I’ve already sown a couple of these and am excited to see what happens.

Quite Interesting

I follow @qikipedia on twitter, they are the people behind the TV show QI and daily they share strange and unusual facts they find. I love reading them, some are fascinating, others funny, but all educational to an extent. I thought I’d share a few of my favourite ones I’ve seen recently…

  • If you’re unmarried by age 25 in Denmark, you get cinnamon thrown on you for your birthday. (lets hope you don’t get it in your eyes) 
  • The letters Q, X and W were banned from the Turkish alphabet until 2013. (I’ve yet to discover the reason)
  • Men’s beards contain more pathogenic bacteria than dogs fur does. (one to think about !)
  • After Montenegro became independent of Yugoslavia, it’s internet domain name changed from .yu to .me (clever and cute)
  • The film ‘cloudy with a chance of meatballs’ was released in Israel as ‘It’s raining falafel’ whilst in Poland it was named ‘Meatballs and other weather phenomena’. (mmm Falafel )
  • The M’s in M&M’s stands for Mars and Murrie, the surnames of the two men who developed them.
  • The 1875 Chamber street fire released a torrent of whisky into the streets of Dublin. No-one died in the fire, but 13 people did die from alcohol poisoning.

As the name suggests it’s quite interesting.

 

 

Holidays !

We have just had a lovely two week break on the island of Fuerteventura. It was wonderful to spend a couple of weeks without alarm clocks, school, work and to do as we pleased.

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The weather was warm, around 23 degrees most days, down to 14 in the evenings. The locals walked round in jumpers and coats, whilst we wore swimwear, t-shirts and shorts.

The hotel was in a quieter resort and was a sport hotel, which was fantastic for Oscar as the pool was cold so he still had plenty to keep him entertained. We had tennis, badminton, squash and basketball courts, a football pitch, and table tennis. So plenty to keep him busy and active, whilst I could lie on my lounger reading plenty of books. Perfect.

A five minute walk down a small hill took us onto a prom and a twenty minute walk to the local town (the hotel provided a free shuttle bus), we loved this walk as it was very open stony land, full of chipmunks and tiny lizards. We started taking an apple from breakfast and feeding it to them.

We booked a couple of trips to break up the holiday and see more of our island and took a day trip over to the neighbouring island, Lanzarote. This island was very different, even though it was only a half hour boat trip away. The boat was glass-bottomed and Oscar loved watching the fish swimming around it, until we started sailing when the waves started making him feel a little sea sick so we moved to the upper deck and he was fine. Lanzarote is also a volcanic land, but this one is still active and we had a tour of it and the national park created after the last eruption. It was amazing to feel how hot the floor was, and they have created a cafe and use the heat from it to cook the food, like a giant barbecue. The beaches here where very different, black sand from the volcanic rock and popcorn stones from coral.

We also had a jeep tour of Fuerteventura, it was very bumpy and lots of fun. The guide was hilarious and very knowledgeable.

In the evenings after dinner, Oscar played football until sunset, then he joined me on the bar and we played cards and pool.

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It was lovely to get away, catch up on some reading and sleep, have lots of quality time.

 

Why ?

Why do I blog ?

It started a few years ago during a quiet spell in work, we were talking about our ages and things we wish we’d done by ‘now’ and it led to the 50 things list.

One of the things on the list was to start a blog, the original idea was that I would write about the challenges and the fun we had along the way, what I never expected was that life would throw some very difficult challenges my way, and that blogging would be one of the hardest things to do.

When I first started out it was easy, lots to write about, lots of ideas, but then life closed in and writing about it was really tough, so I found myself not doing it. However now, I’m in a better place, emotionally, and am enjoying setting myself time and routine to write about ‘me’ again.

Unfortunately the list was put on hold the last year or so, whilst I was looking for regular employment and concentrating on a stable family, and emotional life. Time is passing quite quickly so with only a few years left before the big 50 hits it’s time to get back to it.

I’ve been looking through the remaining ‘to do’ and have started making plans for some eventful experiences this year, although looking at the list I’m pretty certain some of these will never be done, so do I change the list, or leave them blank and unfinished ? and if I change them, what would I change them to ? Some of the challenges are very singular and I’d like, if possible, to make them a little more family based.

What do you think ? To change or stick ? Do I write a new list based on current circumstances, or wait until after the big birthday and start a new list ? Too many decisions… please help !

 

Allotment update August – part 1

Everything is growing ! We have been harvesting and watering for weeks, it’s fantastic.

I’ve grown lots of new veggies and had good fun learning along the way.

The ponds have really settled now and both ponds have fish, and they all seem very happy. The planting around the ponds is continuing, its looking pretty and colourful. Next year when the plants fill out and the bulbs come through it should be lovely.

The tomatoes and chilli plants in the greenhouse have gone crazy, even growing out of the windows and roof ! We have beef and cherry tomatoes at the allotment and plum tomatoes at home. We have hundreds of red and brown onions, although the shallots didn’t do well and we lost 3 patches of garlic to a greedy fox but I don’t think we’ll go hungry any time soon.

The courgettes are ridiculous, I’ve never had so many. I’ve stopped picking them and now have huge ‘marrows’ instead, but finally they’ve stopped producing new smaller ones. The pumpkins are getting bigger and I noticed a tiny butternut squash on one of the plants.

The plans are beginning for next year as I want to get a lot more fruit bushes planted and fill some of the empty beds with permanent crops, also I’m looking at getting some asparagus, artichoke and many more brassica plants in next year. The Brussels sprouts and broccoli I was given by my neighbour have done really well and I’m looking forward to planting many different ones next year. The joy of having so much space is the freedom to ‘play’ and try new things.

 

June on the allotment

The weather has been crazy, it’s hot, hot, hot and apart from about an hour of pathetic drizzly rain that soaks humans but dries before it hits soil around three weeks ago, we’ve had no rain for a couple of months and the dreaded hosepipe ban is being mentioned.

The allotment has stalled a little as it’s too hot to be digging, so the areas that I’ve not yet cleared have been covered and left until the weather cools down. The ponds have been very welcome. I used a cheap trellis, held down with a couple of tent pegs and bricks to make a ‘wildlife escape route’ and the little birds, coal tits and sparrows mostly, are using it as a ladder to drink, its lovely to see them enjoy it. I had great plans of planting around the ponds and creating a flower, shrub area but that’s on hold until the weather eases up.

The plants are loving the heat and everything has been growing well, including the weeds. We had a slight issue with pigeons pinching all the pak choi so I’ve sown some new seeds and will make sure to keep it covered.

I was given three broccoli plants and two Brussels sprouts, neither of which I have ever grown before and this week we’ve harvested from 2 of the broccoli plants and the other isn’t too far behind. The netting has kept most of the butterflies away although now the sprouts are getting bigger it will need to be moved soon. Another job for another day.

The second peas (after the pigeon raid) never grew very high but we’ve had plenty of pods already and still plenty to fatten up. It’s been the similar with the broad beans. The french beans are slowly making their way up the frame.

The courgettes are producing really well, we’ve had 3 and I’ve given a few away to neighbouring plot-holders. I have planted two pumpkins and two butternut squash, I’ve never grown these before, and all have gained new growth and the pumpkins are flowering.

The greenhouse is a nightmarish place to be as it’s ridiculously hot in there. I have opened the roof, both side windows and the door vent but it gets super hot inside, however the tomatoes and peppers are loving it and have grown really well and are fruiting nicely.

Thankfully before the very hot weather really started we managed to sort out around half of the plot and those are the beds which are being used and grown in. I’m looking forward to get the rest sorted and growing some new things next year. I would like to get some more fruit growing, raspberries, strawberries, and gooseberries.

 

Whilst I was busy weeding and watering my mum was working hard making repairs and beautifying the shed and the ‘bath’ pond.

Have you grown anything new this year ? Any suggestions, tips or ideas welcomed.

Enjoy the sunshine.