Friday 15 March 2013

Is a very bad habit!!

Whilst stuck in the office with the sun glistening through the window - I find myself daydreaming about the allotment and just being outside.

Thankfully, here at Fircroft we have 6 acres of gardens which can satisfy my need to be outdoors.

Having a quick stroll around the gardens yesterday afternoon I was delighted to see so many signs of spring. I am not a photographer and I am pretty useless with a camera but since getting my iPad for Christmas I have been reasonably satisfied with the images that it captures...



   
This pak choi is definitely inspiration to get some crops on the grow on my own patch!!


Thankfully, I have the day off today and although it is far too chilly to go up to the allotment, I will be making a few sowings in my new pop up greenhouse!

Thanks for reading!!

Martin

Thursday 14 March 2013

I have some interesting outdoor posts coming up, but at the moment I have a terrible cold or some other virus, which is making me feel pretty unpleasant here in The Compost Bin ( I do not look good and I can't smell or breathe through my nose.) So if I were you I would leave this blog for today  and go over to The Craft Compostwoman where you can see what I have been up to, with crafting.

Wednesday 13 March 2013

(Just for Peter, the view from my Study window today - the oak trees are the ones I was talking about yesterday with the crows roosting in them.) In the top right hand corner of the photo you can see a bit of the guttering and this is where a cheeky little sparrow sits and chirps at me. He is very interested in what I am up to and makes me smile . No horizontal snow today, but we have had

Tuesday 12 March 2013

I've tried making soda bread once before, but didn't read the instructions properly and put all the ingredients in the bread maker. I realised my mistake after about an hour, and the subsequent soda bread was a little flat and heavy! The thing to realise about soda bread is, it...

Sadly, because of all this freeeeezing weather, we’ve taken a couple of hits at the Finca. Some of the more …

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Compostman and I have recently been spending a lot of time discussing the alterations and garden redesigns, earth shifting and digging we want to do here. There are trees to fell, soil to move around with the JCB, a new pond to dig and new veg beds to make and a new building is also planned to do with our forestry works . At the moment it is snowing here (horizontal snow, honestly!) and

Today I fancied doing a spot of baking, as getting to the allotment is totally out the question And I love baking when there’s nothing else to do!

I had some left over egg whites from last night dinner so rather than go to waste I thought I would knock up a Roulade to surprise the Girls when they get home today (that’s the 2 children & the wife!)

Some people think meringue is hard to do, it’s not you just have to be precise with your measurements and do a little pre cleaning. I always remember what my lecture told me the first time I made meringue at collage all them years ago, “start with a clean bowl & clean whisk” I know that sounds like common sense but what he meant was clean it again before you use it and make sure its DRY before you start. The egg whites won’t whisk up if the bowl if dirty or not clean enough.

Then you need to make sure all your measurements are accurate no guestimating. And I have always worked on 2oz of caster sugar to every egg white and it has always been successful for me.

So here’s what I did:

You need:

5 egg yolks                   10oz Caster Sugar                 200ml Double cream

2og icing sugar                   Vanilla essence or vanilla pod

Your chosen fruit (strawberries in my case)

Pre-heat oven to 200°c

In a CLEAN DRY mixing bowl add your egg whites and whisk until they form what’s called Stiff peaks that when you can form a peak with the mix and it stays there.

Then slowly add the sugar whist still whisking. Once it’s all added the mix should have a sheen to it like Gloss paint.

On a lined baking tray pour the mix in the centre and using a spoon spread the mix out evenly over the tray.

Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes at 200°c then lower the temperature to 120°c for a further 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes, then remove from tray and place upside down on a cooling rack and leave to go cold for 15 minutes.

Whisk the cream with the vanilla essence and the icing sugar until its thick and again forms stiff peaks. Cover the meringue with the cream and then scatter the sliced fruit on top.

Roll from one end using a firm hand to hold in place.

Sprinkle with icing sugar and leave in a fridge for 2 hours to chill before serving.

Then Enjoy it………..go on give it a try.

Monday 11 March 2013

Not much action down the plot this week, the family has been hit with this winter bug, my youngest daughter has had it the worst, so daddy day care comes before Allotment action.

I wanted to get the rest of the posts done I started last week but the snow today has put pay to that idea. I am really hoping that it clears up a little as I want to pay a visit tomorrow as got a load of horse Manure to take up there, its fresh stuff but I have a old compost bin that I intend to get filled asap and plan to leave it till this time next year so its had time to do its thing.

My Father has managed to get hold of some black plastic as next year we are going to cover the beds over to stop the weeds coming up over winter and to make it earlier in the spring. Covering your plot as I have found out is split into 2 camps those whom swear by it and do it every year and those whom feel it should never be covered, me I am of the opinion you don’t know until you try it so that’s what we plan to do.

My Dad found a right Bargain on eBay 50m x 2m continuous length on a roll for £20 with free postage, so we snapped that up straight away, I was a little sceptical at first as I thought that was too good to be true, but it was delivered today and it is really good stuff. So it pays to search and your find what you’re looking for.

this picture was taken last October from a bed I neglected for a wile hopefully the plastic will stop this from happening.

Saturday 09 March 2013

I had last week off work, and in between general house tidying and shopping, we decided to take a short break and drove over to Stourport for a change of scenery. We've been several times, just for a stroll by the river and to look at the canal basin. It's...

I have lots of tomatoes and peppers germinated, all the earliest varieties of tomato I grow (and grow to sell as plants) are up and thriving well. I will be potting them on into individual pots in the next week or so, burying the stems a little to encourage stem roots to form. I am now on my second wave of seed sowing of peppers and tomatoes - these are the slightly later cropping varieties (

Thursday 07 March 2013

Well, the girls are now laying regularly, so I took the opportunity to bake a couple of scrummy cakes for the weekend. I made a basic Victoria sponge (with added buttercream) and wholemeal cherry cake, now a firm favourite in this household, and generally voted "the best cake I have...

No, not the Police hit single! I was lucky enough to be invited to London yesterday by Ecover to the launch of their new campaign ‘Message in our Bottle’ - but sadly I could not attend ( my back is not yet up to a 3  hour each way train journey yet) As I was sent the press release, though, I thought I would share it with you all as it sounds really interesting. and is a positive step forward

Wednesday 06 March 2013

You may have heard of the Watercress line. This is a steam railway line which is run by volunteers. In its hay day the steam trains carried Watercress from the local farms up to London or as it probably was then - "the Big Smoke".


The train line at one point went from Winchester across country to the market town of Alton. Nowadays the trainline ends at Alresford. The trainline from Alresford to Winchester disappeared a number of years ago and is gradually being repurposed as time goes by.

This week end gone was one of their Steam gala events. People come far and wide to attend and wonder at the steam and the engines from a bygone era.


 We have a lot of fun memories of these trains. When the children were little we lived right next door to the train line

 The children were able to watch the trains from the back bedroom window and inevitably my son as a young child became a train lover.



 The steam line provided him with many years of voluntary work and gave him valuable experience as a teenager. He worked on the platforms, helped in the signal box, helped restore and even clean out the trains. Many a time he came home black with soot from head to toe!


It was this experience that sent him down the engineering route as a career.



 The teashop on the platform provided us with many an hour of entertainment when the children were small. We could sit at the tables outside and sip tea and juice and watch the hustle and bustle in the warm sunshine.



The tearooms had that damp old fashioned smell which reminded me of Lake District holidays when I was a child - but thats another story!



The Watercress line have lots of events all year round- so if you are close by why don't you pop in and take a look!


P.s Apologies for the quality of the photos- I took them on my phone which I recently dropped- hence the poor quality.

Tuesday 05 March 2013


Spring has sprung and signs of optimism have come with it. Delightful days full of sunshine and fresh air have arrived!! There are crocuses and daffodils here, there and everywhere and I may even sow some tomato and chilli seeds in pots on a windowsill tonight.

The only slightly annoying thing is that their has been a frost for the last 2 days, and that has put me off continuing my digging at the allotment. Never mind, at least it will break up the ground which has already been seen to.

Another bonus of Spring is the first bantam egg of the year (foreground). There is nothing worse than buying eggs through the winter when you are having to feed chickens at home which will not lay! I think this one is from Barbaradeux, but I am not sure. It has felt like so long since we last had one of our own hen's eggs to eat.

I hope March brings you all a tiny piece of happiness and joy! After all, more daylight hours means more time in the garden or up at the allotment. Don't forget the clocks go forward on Easter Sunday too!
Enjoy the rest of your week!
I'll be back with another update before the weekend!
Martin


I am an Agoraphobe, and I'm doing very well..

Last Winter I bought myself a T25, I was left some money by an aunt, my fathers sister, and felt I had to do something special to me, something important, something useful, my Dad would have told me to..



My intentions are to take my 'house on wheels' anywhere that I might not have gone before, doesn't matter where, just 'out ', and I am so excited to do so, which means I was right to want to own it.


Some people said 'where are you going?, and why did YOU buy this?' but they have to realise that this is very important to me, and even if it sits outside for months, it's my safe place that I can move around in, and they are rather missing the point as to why I need it.

To me this is a positive step, a few years ago I wouldn't have entertained the thought of  my van 'Bessie' although I was always envious of people who did, so this means I am pushing my boundaries, be it baby steps, doesn't matter, to me it's giant strides.



Agoraphobia presents itself in different degrees, I suppose its one of those self limiting illnesses that can get a grip on you but only if you let it..
Some people are housebound or even room bound, but for me I'm kind of comfortable in my zone which is at present a distinct and familiar radius from my home..

There are a number of fears that I have personally, I hate being in a queue in supermarkets, I hate public transport,and that includes planes and boats, I feel uncomfortable in places where I might feel trapped, like for example a cinema, or a restaurant, where I am looking for easy exits..
Being at home is  'safe', and going somewhere I haven't been before simply isn't, if all of this sounds like you then you probably have a form of Agoraphobia..
The thing with me also is I have Emetophobia too (fear of vomiting) which doesn't help me one bit because when I get anxious I feel sick, so I try to avoid doing stuff that stresses me, this is a big shame because ordinarily I feel I could have overcome the Agoraphobia much easier as I am keen to push barriers, but this added fear has made it more difficult.

There was a point about 3 years ago when I found even a walk up to the top of my road impossible, but with Cognitive Therapy I got much better, I think for this thing to not get the better of you, you have to keep pushing the boundaries otherwise they will invariably close in on you..
I am very fulfilled generally, and I manage to live a very fruitful existence even with all of my foibles, but that's because I have so much to fulfill me with my creative outlets, and my family and of course my wonderful friends  ( you know who you are )..
I think its about making sure that you don't become reclusive or depressed..
And if you think its a restriction then it most certainly is..

Monday 04 March 2013

It’s been a week since my last visit to the plot, and today I started a Project that has been a year in the making, like I have said before my Parent’s work in a factory where they dispose of lots of wood (it goes off to be re-cycled) but they are able to take it home with permission of cause, I have asked them to gather some timber for me to use as posts for my plot I needed 50 posts in total I knew they would take a while to get them and time was running out as they are both retiring this year. So after 11 months of collecting I final had them all, painted and ready to go. The plan is to put 6 posts on each bed so if I need to cover the bed to protect it all I need to do is put the netting over it and job done! This way no matter what needs protecting I just need to put the net over it no making supports with canes that last 5 minutes and need redoing and also with crop rotation the post are they if needed or not. I managed to get 2 beds done today, with help from my Father. My Parents are planning on helping me out this year a bit more as they will be both retired that way if things need a quick water they are on hand. I managed this week also to get my leaf mould sieved and ready to use it was my first attempt and making leaf mould last year and I am really pleased with the results I managed to get about 10lts from it I have put all my leaves from the garden again this year so hopefully have more this time next year. I also sowed my fist lot of seeds today, I sowed some tomatoes, Yellow pear and Alice Craig I plan to sow 1 more variety but going to leave that till mid-March I also sowed some Celeriac, Cabbage, Chives and some long Red Peppers I got from a Reader of my blog (thanks Helen) after sowing today I really feel as though the new season has begun.           Thanks for reading…






Seeing as so many of you mentioned my Snowdrops, I thought I would take you on a little walk around the garden and show you what is growing at the moment...  Snowdrops along the edge of the gravel Cassi Cat sniffing the flowers Out on the front road and more snowdrops along our verge Back inside our garden and I heard buzzing...and spotted this lovely bumble bee on the

Saturday 02 March 2013

Some time ago - early in 2012 in fact - I booked the window in our local library- for a small rental fee . It was after Christmas - in those dark and grey days when I thought why not? And to be truthful I had totally forgotten about it until the middle of February this year when someone mentioned half term.   There was that awful moment when I suddenly remembered that rash booking and I panicked thinking I had nothing to put in the window! I needn't of worried- once I started looking I had more than I thought to display!
 The end of the two weeks is nearly up and I have been delighted to see the number of people who have  stopped to take a look!
 I have been decanting again - this time Mirabelle plum brandy! I made it two summers ago using the beautiful small little yellow plums and a not very expensive brandy. It wasn't quite ready last summer - it was still a little harsh but my how smooth it is now- with lovely plummy/prune y undertones.



Delicious!- Mr H is not so fond of it - plenty more for me I say.



I think he had made a decision not to like it before he even tasted it. He is not really a fruit liker so I should't have been surprised when he pronounced his verdict.


Its still very chilly here but quite sunny this afternoon. Tomorrow is also looking good so I am looking forward to making a long awaited trip to the allotment to catch up on some digging and perhaps a little plum brandy when I return! Hoping you manage to catch some fresh air too..........

Friday 01 March 2013

Him indoors follows Moseley Rugby Club. They are not doing great this season, but there is one thing they might win; best Harlem Shake video in The Rugby Paper! Link to Rugby Paper website Scroll down past all the videos to vote. I do think the Moseley one is the...

Thursday 28 February 2013

It's been a year since we took over plot 114!!

I can't believe how fast it has gone but then on the other hand it seems like we have had it forever!!

Do you remember what it looked like on Day 1? It was a mess...



Come May it looked like this...


Late June...


And earlier this week it looked like this...


To celebrate 1 year on plot 114 I went down after work and stayed until sunset at 18:19 - in that time I managed to dig an area about 10ft x 5ft and that has released a little bit of the worry I was feeling earlier this week.

If the pleasant change in the weather extends to tomorrow then I will be there for the first allotment DAY of the year. Happy times!!

Here's to another bountiful year on Plot 114!

Martin

Omlet Cartoon