Wednesday, October 03, 2018

I go further up stream

The Northern Rail Strikes on Saturday have done me a favour . Needing to be in Kingston upon Hull by lunchtime and having 3 hours to use wisely before meeting Hull Sister I head off river bound from a quicker than train journey on a National Express coach .

Soon I will never again use these 50s handles .They are on a shop I have known all my life as Hammonds OKA House of Fraser whose CLOSING DOWN POSTERS have upset the windows since last night.
Hull sister has told me about a POP UP ART Gallery around Scott Street Bridge. I now know the way, my senses are responding to my hometown , 53 years since I left it. I cross FreeTown way , and see again the Albion Pub, once a lurid pink , now back to a respectable yellow , and on to Scott Street bridge , and my first glimpse of the Graf Art .
I have enjoyed Graf Art for years , but especially since Eurostar drew in to Gare du Nord in 09 and  first took real notice of the Graffiti and started looking for tags.  The difference here in Wincolmlee was that artists were openly working using spray cans and rollers and paint trays , with surprising purples and blues as if someone has found left over paint cans in the garage from the 60s. 

On to Air Street , for the next room of the gallery . I found a little graveyard, St Mary's Sculcoates, a little oasis of green amongst the rat run streets and emerging wall art. Its a timeless corner considering that everything around it is changing by the day .
Why had I never seen the fantastic bridge over the river that is Wilmington ? Now just a foot bridge , but once I'm sure the Hornsea Line must have come this way. I digress here as nostalgia kicks in , and I remember that I could see the trains from to Hornsea miles away across the the flat Holderness Countryside from our house on a small rise, Riseholme  near Sutton . How thrilled were we children when we saw our first Diesel speeding by near Swine!
Air street is as far as I went up stream today , I enjoyed the walk back even more as I kept to the Bankside, and found another bridge , Chapman Street Bridge , a swing bridge for Road Traffic this time. I would have followed my nose to Cleveland Street , a road I knew well in the 1960s, the route of the 37 bus from our village into town , past the Oil and Cake Mill and the Ropery with the eponymous name written in a vast piece of rope several metres high . Who can forget the awful smell from the Mill when the wind blew the fumes to Saltshouse Road ?

When I got back to Scott Street not an artist was around. I had met the Project Manager. It must have taken lots of RED TAPE to get the permissions in place for the Impromptu but hopefully permanent and evolving Bankside Gallery up and running in the months since my last walk . I hope it doesn't get sanitised and lose its rough edge . I hope no Chain Coffee shops or Gin Lounges will think to open near Rix Truck depot , but everyone will use the Albion and the Bankside Cafe .
Next time , I'm starting at Air Street and walking to Stoneferry, where my Great Grandfather , Benjamin John Elder Bruce , lived at the Waterworks House on the Sculcoates side of the River with his wife and children .

I saw some other Art too in Air Street , a deliberate attempt at print making , of the sort found for many thousands of years  all over the world. I liked that too .

Monday, September 17, 2018

Neptune Street

The only Old bit of Neptune Street we could find

I like it when Hull sister needs someone to accompany her to a hospital appointment . She always wants to be there in good time and we invariably have time for some positive exploring  before I get one of the very two hourly trains back home. This time we were finished  by 09.15 , we had a leisurely coffee and decided as we were so near Albert Dock we would have a stroll to find the beautifully named Neptune Street . 
In a former post  I described the day I went looking for Rose Downs and Thompsons . I had in my mind that it was where my grandfather Benjamin John Elder Bruce had served his apprenticeship in 1894 to 7. I imagined him walking to work from Stoneferry as a young man .
My mistake surfaced when back home, I realised  it was Amos and Smith not Rose, Downs and Thompsons. I found Neptune Street , the address on the indenture document on Google Maps , and I am now untangling my mess.
So sister and I passed the end of Hessle Road and under the Clive Sullivan Way underpass, by Smith and Nephews , formerly in Neptune Street , which Google Maps soon found for us. Here in heartland industrial Kingston upon Hull , once the throbbing riverside gateway to the Baltic via Wilsons  , the fishing grounds and the nearby homes of all the decky-learners  we couldn't find any trace of Amos and Smith .We did find some old walls and an empty  Victorian redbrick possibility . Hull sister and I wandered as far as we dared , the street framed on one side by Albert Dock side, behind a no-go Barrier with a man in a hut , and an embankment which promised dock water on the other side , and a derelict shuttered 70s factory on the other we knew we could go no further . Sister and I were glad when a lady in a car leaving the only industrial unit around  drew up and asked us if we were lost , 

"no "we said "but tired "

and she ran us all the way back to the City Centre when we explained we were looking for Amos and Smith which closed in 1961 . 

I've discovered that the Victorian building was the remains of the Goods Yard bringing coal to Albert Dock on the Hull and Barnsley Railway , to the Neptune Street Depot. From 1968 it had been the site of Drapers , responsible for  desolation and destruction as steam locomotives were dismantled for scrap . Of Amos and Smith we then had found NOTHING . I can't even find any pictures in Google images. A visit to the Hull History Centre would suffice, but my mind has moved on .
I've just found all Grandpas ships papers, for the Apprentice went on to be a Ships Engineer , sailing out of Albert Dock with the Wilson Line on the Baltic run and 4 times to the USA . He started on the Toledo , built in Hull in 1881 and ignobly scrapped in 1908 all 1900 tons of her .

Monday, August 20, 2018

Sound onions and Tomatilloes


'Sound onions ' used to say an advertising sign on a stall in the Northcote Road vegetable and fruit market where I did all my shopping 50 years ago on the way home from work in Belleville school in Wandsworth. 

Fresh from Teacher Training, in own rented flat in West Hill Road off the Merton Road , a 39 or 77a bus ride away from work near 'the Junction' I soon learned that I knew nothing at all about vegetables, or cooking or Afro-Caribbean culture or what 'halal' meant : all so different from my East Riding home, and my Ripon College. 

I came from a village where the bus to town came three times a day , but on time, to live in an urban village network where the buses came every 10 minutes. Sometimes three  buses had just been at  once, so there was a 20 min wait , but  one could get a train to the Festival hall on the South Bank in five minutes and so be from kitchen to Lionel Rogg or Jacques Loussier in half an hour after a busy day at school . Flatmate and I used to go about twice a week to concerts , and every Saturday to Galleries and Museums and shopping down the Kings Road . The shopping for fresh food was  done every day , and the variety of produce was as much a novelty for me as the buzz of 60s London.

Szechuan pepper tree
It is  the Northcote Road street market that I mourn most when I  travel around London now, on great buses with my Old Lady pass, to Museums and Art galleries , but no more street market now in the Northcote. 
Filey thankfully still has a Greengrocer where I buy all my fruit and veg that I don't grow on my allotment , but nothing will ever replace the  didactic experience of encountering Yams , Sweet Potatoes, Plantain and even courgettes for the first time.
In Mrs Gaskell's Cranford of 1850s , oranges were a rare novelty, the rich landowners grew them in Orangeries, in World War 2 a scarcity of bananas led to the death of our family Parrot, and a lemon was a luxury . There seem to be no fruit or vegetables  not be imported into the UK now. We get one variety of Aubergine, grown in Spain ,in our local shop, but in street markets of Leeds and Bradford I see many varieties . I see Chickpeas and Gogi  berries, we are growing both, but the highlight of spouses summer is that the Kiwi vine he planted 25 years ago is finally fruiting in the Filey windy climate after a really hot summer. We have 2 Szechuan pepper trees, one now 30cm tall ,from a 5cm plant which arrived mail order in February. This one in the back yard is doing well , better than the one in my cold frame on the plot.
Always heartened by an article from the RHS magazine of 1990 ,which I keep on my Gardening bookshelf , I am delighted that the Okra plant given me by friend Ann C is doing well in the heat. I, like the author of the article 28years ago , have never managed to bring my plants to fruit . The irony of this years success is that although I still make curry , we have gone off the taste and consistency of Okra. The rest of the article is concerned with the production of Horny cucumbers which in 1990 could be obtained as seeds from Chiltern Seeds, now no longer it seems . Though an oddity , they have not been discovered yet as a Superfood. Not so the Cucamelons, being feted online this year. Dear friend in Wensleydale gave me 2 plants. They are rampant around the greenhouse and bear marble sized mini melons. We don't rate the taste , superfruit or not , so I've pickled them with a recipe from James Wong.
Every year I write notes for the following year . last year I wrote
 'do not grow more than 3 Courgette plants' 
and so I didn't . Three have been more than enough. I will write next year, belt and braces,
'do not grow more than 2 courgette plants'
I am picking 4 every day , so Chutney production is in progress , using the tomatilloes , hot chillies, the poblano Chillies and the courgettes . My original idea was that we would eat Mexican recipes from Rick Steins BBC  TV programme . Another bright idea bites the dust , as we have not fancied lots of hot food this summer, and spouse and I tried to like the  breadcrumbed Poblano Chillies stuffed with cheese and deep fried , but they are an acquired taste . The Poblano chillies are not as exotic as they seemed on TV, and deep fried cheese is only one step away from a deep fried Mars Bar in our fat free diets.
As for sound onions, I only realised today the significance of the phrase, for this year my onions on the plot have not been sound, and neither have those of my neighbour on the next door plot . Many have saddleback ends , from watering after a period of prolonged drought . Next year I will not water at all , or will water regularly . I shall put a note in my book . 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Aunty Mary in Montevideo,Uncle Whitfield in Skeffling

Spouse and I have many favourite plants, and often because they trigger good memories. Aunty Mary Jacobs , my grandmother's cousin used to stay with us several times a year for 3 weeks at a time , just to give her daughter a break . Nothing unusual in this , its known now as respite care, but in this case Aunty Mary was in her late 90s and her daughter still working .These times are well remembered by our  3 children , who were all under 10 at the time. Aunty Mary did not have Dementia, she was just frail and very deaf and joined in with all we did , and especially loved trips to gardens, where we would push her in a borrowed wheelchair . (Sheffield Park was horrendous in those days as all the paths were gravel).

 "Plumbago Capensis" said Aunty Mary "grows wild in Montevideo!"

We have never forgotten that , she recounted her story of being sent to get over the death of her twins after 10 days of life , and later that of her husband in France in 1916, to stay with her brother William Collier who lived in South America. She told of the long voyage , and all she did after travelling from Buenos Aires to Montevideo.
We have tried to grow Plumbagos ever since as they take easily from cuttings. This year spouse is thrilled that one is in full flower . I have the mother plant in my greenhouse on my plot , it has buds, but the one on the kitchen table only 30 cm high is away first .Its an airy sprawling delicate shrub and likes warmth and light shade, just like our kitchen table then . I can't move the mother plant outside into the shade on my plot as its too windy in Filey . It will have to be protected anyway from the cold and frost and will soon be too big to move . A Greenhouse at Burton Agnes Hall has a huge one occupying a  full  10m wall .

I grow Livingstone Daisies , except this year, when I just did not have enough window sills in the cottage for them in March . The reason I love them - they remind me of childhood holidays in Sutton on Sea in Lincolnshire where they were bedded out on the bank behind our Beach hut. They open to the sun , so I think our fortnights holiday must have had sunshine every year for me to remember them . I had to dead head them last year on my plot where I put them to edge  a bed. I'm sure that the municipal gardeners of Lincolnshire just left them and they were always spectacular , nothing else on the bank , just the daisies.

Uncle Whitfield in Skeffling introduced me to Nasturtiums in the 1950s. I knew that every year they would be there in the summer , taking over the whole of the bed by his chickens at the back of his house. I love the smell, the different colours that appear, and their sheer profusion in a piece of garden with poor soil . I know my allotment partner doesn't like the way I let them self seed all over my plot and they have spread to his part . I'm always finding heaps of them pulled out on his side. They are great for bringing pollinators to the allotment and make a great sacrificial plant for brassica pests like the Cabbage white caterpillar. I never have to sow them ,they just arrive, even in the greenhouse.

On the Filey allotments there are as many different plants grown as there are plots .  In my mind there are hundreds of plants I've loved just because I've seen them grow , some are familiar friends like Potatoes,  grown in my childhood garden . Mother would send one of us out to lift some  for lunch. Geraniums and tomatoes , smells of my grandfathers greenhouse in Sutton, and the memory of green tomatoes ripening on the window sills in September. I always hated Kale , or rather   the way my Mother cooked it , done to death in lots of water . I am growing to like the Kalettes , which I grow , a cross between sprouts and kale.

Every July around the 29th, my Wedding Anniversary , 46 years this year,   we drive 3miles on to the Wolds,  to see the wild Scabious, I grow that too on my plot , and my allotment partner has the large flowered Cultivated variety . I'm watching it , dead heading it , hopeful for a vase full for St Oswald's to celebrate our day.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Wydale for R and R

I've just wandered along the track through the woods , climbed over the stile using no style and been to look at the view again .

Spouse remained in the Wydale library looking across the familiar landscaped view, he's reading yet another book on the b.... Tudors: we've both breakfasted without worrying about what to have or whether there is a mess in the sink to clear up , and there is happy background chat in the Sitting room/Hall  from a small party from  the Benefice of Bramham in Boston Spa  here for their retreat.

I wanted to do the same stroll as yesterday , as I'm still buzzing with the thrill of seeing a  Tree Creeper for the first time . I wanted to send my record to the local FBOG* Birding Whats App feed, but its only for sighting of birds in Filey. I toyed with sending it anyway but realised that hardened Birders would not be amused at the spotting of something so common for them . I hung around the same tree for ages but had no joy today . My Birder friends have cameras that can zoom in to small birds , and I'm thinking about getting one. On the other hand the people who keep Wydale so clean are using  a cordless Dyson , and I had a go . First thing to do when home is get our local sell all shop of Filey  to get me one.
My view of Wydale form the sheep track from the stile.

 Tell me this is not Giant Knotweed!
Country houses built in the 18th Century are at the opposite end of the scale from our home, an 18th C cottage built from stones off the beach . Mature and rare trees in  the once Parkland give the 14acres of Wydale Diocesan Retreat House the gravitas of the Church of England, and the sheep in the fields, the birds in the trees , the moles in the lawn and the bracket fungi on the beeches another picture of those who live and worship  in a Broad Church along with the horse flies , ticks and Dragonflies, as well as nettles and Large Japanese Knotweed ( I think it could be , see picture ).

The Lion of Judah has been a theme today . Our reading matter for this short break was lent to us by Barbara  a friend in our Church . I didn't want to read it as it written is by someone who used to annoy me 25 years ago at meetings , by encouraging us to shout our prayers out loud in tandem with dozens of others . My dear friend Margaret Corner whispered to me , 'God is not deaf ', the incident stuck . So I  read Jarrod Coopers book in a couple of hours. He mentions Keith Powells as a prophet , and it was Keith who took our two Parish weekends at Wydale in 2010 and 2012, the latter memorable for the pictures of a Lion roaring which we were given .

Rev Liz Kitching has been at Wydale today taking the Lunchtime Communion and her theme was the strength and power of the Lion (of Judah ) too and the breaking of chains .

I persuaded spouse to come for a stroll this afternoon .We do the gentle route to the walled garden , once no doubt the kitchen garden , now  a tranquil rose garden, a Hardy geranium garden , a labyrinth and a rockery , plenty of seats and small summerhouses for contemplation . We love walking round the gardens maintained by others , and Ken is still doing sterling work here with just a few volunteers. Its a massive job for one man on the staff , grounds that would have had an army of staff once . I'm going to pray for more volunteers for the gardens at Wydale , nothing like plants for me to enhance my R and R. Plenty to enjoy here, Fragrant roses, just coming to bud and flower,  Lavenders , unusual shrubs and the bed of Siberian Irises at their best this week .
The trees are a statement in themselves , my favourite being the Sweet Chestnut next to a huge oak tree on the path  over the stile south of the grounds. I'm going out again tomorrow looking for the Treecreeper. In the walled garden a couple of birds were feeding young in a nest in a crevice in the blocked up door , but too quick for me to identify , blue tit sized but brown and grey  with white flashes, and no not sparrows!

Sweet Chestnut and Oak


Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Deep asleep , Deep asleep

So long ago now , our family break to Leyburn in April . I started a post and have just found the draft -too good not to post .
I had assumed my grandchildren would be captivated  by the legend of Semerwater, but they preferred mudlarking around.
No one fancied the trip to Bainbridge either with nerd Grandmother who wanted to see the Archimedes Screw , so I  had a delightful trip on the Little White Bus.
A close view was not possible without walking into a private garden so this was the best I could do . Believe me the Archimedes Screw is in centre of picture of the Bain falls.Keep watching, slight close up at end!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The grass is riz

I know this photo was taken in June 1960. I know it was taken in the garden of Dr & Mrs Rodgers in Wawne Road , Sutton in  Holderness. I know the dark haired girl is the 13 year old me at the Book stall of our St James Parish garden Party. I can remember  books I bought and have them still 

  • Palgraves Golden Treasury, a lovely 1926 edition (now dropping to bits) with a bright turquoise cover  now bearing all the stress marks of meter , and notes from O level English Language revision of 1963
  • Chinese Poems translated By Arthur Waley this ed pub 1961 , so brand new it was and cost One shilling
I bought my mother 'How shall I study the Psalms ' and a beautiful 1671 New Testament with hand coloured plates .

I've been thinking a lot about poetry recently, about the beauty of language and the sound of the human voice reading it. Now that I am in my riper years and inclined to look back and remember the joy of discovery 58 years ago I realise that joy of discovery actually carries on and on and on . I ponder about all the children and young people who were in my Classes. 
  • Belleville JG school 1968  were fed a diet of AA Milne and Spike Milligan by a probationer Miss Bruce. Pupils would cry out again , again  for the Rice Pudding poem ,"What is the matter with Mary Jane ?" The Head Mistress ,Miss Irene Cox, caught me reading 'Today I saw a little worm wriggling on his belly' by Spike Milligan from his wonderful Silly Verse for Kids, and told me off in front of 40 children for reading such unsuitable material . So I recited it for the next 40 years to any child who would listen .
  • Wimbledon Chase Middle School 1970 were fed a diet of Ted Hughes "Meet my Folks  ", and more Spike Milligan .The textbook for the 60s was called "Happenings" , New Poems for Children , with poems by Edward Thomas, Robert Frost , Robert Graves and Walter de la Mare. I loved this text book , it had a picture of the new Coventry Cathedral on its cover , and wonderful black and white photos. I was thrilled when Hilderthorpe Primary had a cull of old books to the skip in 2001 and I retrieved a perfect copy . 
  • St Martins Primary School 1986 with Year 7 who hated Friday afternoons and were always high as kites , so before they could go home had to recite to me the poem of the week, all done fairly so some learned all verses, some only one ,according to ability and all received a mini Mars bar for trying . This blatant learning by rote would not be allowed 30 years on but I like to think there is a generation of 40 year olds in Surrey who still can say "Tyger! Tyger burning bright,"or my favourite and very hard to learn "He wishes for the cloths of heaven", some learning all the poem and some the last 3 lines, "But I being poor have only my dreams, I spread my dreams under your feet ,Tread softly , because you tread on my dreams" Sublime , Sublime 
  • Hilderthorpe Primary school to 2007. Here sadly the strict timetable for SATS did not allow the free time for reading and reciting the Poetry I chose , so I had to do it illegally , at the end of the day a  5 minute snatched settling and quieting before the final bell , and usually from Verse and Worse or Spike again . Other times my end of days would be Andersens Fairy Tales told from memory , taking the whole week to do "Big Claus and Little Claus' a great tale .Ten years ago I was beginning to worry that children could no longer sit and listen to language, let alone sit and read quietly for pleasure ,as the new media began to assault the senses. Here I record that the tide had turned DROP EVERYTHING AND READ is now successfully changing acquired habits , but I would like this to be extended to include  DROP EVERYTHING AND LISTEN TO POETRY !

So there you have it , Its time for VERSE AND WORSE. I was listening to the Dawn Chorus this morning as only Spring can do . It's better this year as the Herring Gulls are not on next doors roof. The Grass is growing on the allotment and my neighbour Vince has cut my paths and I have done the edges with my new Long handled and angled shears, so I have to check up the correct words from 

Der spring is sprung ,
Der grass is riz 
I wonder where dem boidies is?
Der little boids is on der wing,
Aint dat absoid?
Der little wings is on der boid! 

ANON (NEW YORK) according to Arnold Silcock

I'm going to read The Bleed'n Sparrer next . I know Miss Cox would have hated it.

We 'ad a bleedin' sparrer wot
Lived up a bleedin' spaht
One day the bleedin' rain came dahn

An' washed the bleeder aht.

An' as 'e layed 'arf drahnded
Dahn in the bleedin' street
'E begged that bleedin' rainstorm
To bave 'is bleedin' feet.

But then the bleedin' sun came aht

Dried up the bleedin' rain
So that bleedin' little sparrer
'E climbs up 'is spaht again.

But, Oh! - the cruel sparrer 'awk
'E spies 'im in 'is snuggery
'E sharpens up 'is bleedin' claws
An' rips 'im aht by thuggery.

Jist then a bleedin' sportin' type
Wot 'ad a bleedin' gun
'E spots that bleedin' sparrer 'awk
An' blasts 'is bleedin' fun.

The moral of the story
Is plain to everyone...
That them wot's up the bleedin' spaht
Don't get no bleedin' fun.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Fresh Air and February

 "Fresh Air"
Filey Daughter with once small boys now large boys still manages to get them out for Fresh Air every weekend , whatever the windchill in Filey . They often go to Cayton Bay or walk to Hunmanby Gap but this weekend Filey Country park was as far as they got. It was so cold. 

I am remembering how every Sunday afternoon in all seasons  our father would walk us up East Carr Lane to Fewlass's farm . At the time it seemed a monotonous dreary walk , a gravel farm lane , a few Windbreak trees only at Mr Baston's small holding  but always the promise of Sunday tea round the fire from the tea trolley.
 Sixty years later I am remembering the Yellow hammers and Skylarks, and occasionally the excitement of the tractor going past, but very rarely . Sunday was the day of rest . Sutton Golf Course was at one side of the lane as we walked over the bridge of Holderness Drain, but that held no thrall . Father walked slowly and we three girls were dutiful and polite, no running around , just a sedate stroll as we stopped occasionally to listen to the Skylark and guess where it would land . 
If one approached what one thought  was the nest site the lark could pretend it had a broken wing and hop off in a direction far a way from the nest . We could only walk in the field when the gate was left open, but we seemed to spend what seemed like hours standing and watching , trying to spot where the Lark had got her nest . 
It all seems so  magical now with hindsight . 

I am reading a delightful book which recalls all walks down the lane, and later all the walks in the Cotswolds near Cotswold Farm , where we stayed so many times with our small children in the 70s and 80s, watching Barn Owls and listening to noisy hedgehogs.
 The book , Meadowland : the private life of an English field by  John Lewis-Stempel is a delight , and responsible for my private delightful recalls . I could never describe East Carr lane to you , or Haycombe cottages nearby fields, enough to delight you the way John Lewis -Stempel does. That is why I am a humble blogger and he the 2015 winner of the Wainwright Prize . 

Grandsons will thankfully remember their fresh air walks when they are my age, beaches, cliff tops , and bracing wind:lots of it. They go home to tea too, to a log burning fire and warm beds , and like me probably late remembered Sunday Night Homework . Here I remember Your hundred Best Tunes with Alan Keith ,the BBC radio programme of Sunday evening choice for me , sitting in isolation in the dining room .with my Algebra and Latin verbs  .

Today I took a stroll to the Allotments , walking spouse to the Doctors for a  scan , I  had an hour alone before walking him back . I was glad he chose to walk, I would have taken the car , but he tried out pushing my Aged parent's Sholley on the icy pavements. I carried on with it to the plot , the Sholley being laden with heavy water bottles for hot drinks , prior to the Taps being on again. I loved being the first person to tread the snow. 
It too was a magical place. No rat footprints into the shed thankfully after my recent infestation, the Asparagus beds all snug under their straw , the temperature in the greenhouse at minus 1. 
I had hoped for the hot beds to be HOT but all my reading, planning and preparing has come to nothing . I shall have to try again . My friend Nigel has got his hot beds up to 47 degrees . I'm envious, but its Lent so I am going to learn from it.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Hot but not bothered

I wonder if anyone else is pleased with the new packing material that Amazon are are using . Hard Plastic tubes of air are just the thing as insulation in the greenhouse to go around pots during seed raising time. My greenhouse at the allotment is big but cold. I don't come from school of greenhouse heaters, I come from school of grow in pots on sitting room window until big enough to prick out, but spouse has other plans. Since he has been confined at home so much he's taken up gardening again in a big way ,  in a small space way  and taken up my space in the cottage . Ive pushed in a few , but am going to have to make contingency plans .
C has rekindled his love of indoor plants,  has redesigned and restocked our tiny back yard ,  has managed to get our Clematis armandii to flower after 5 years of just gathering bird droppings,  has cuttings from Oleanders, Myrtle and Buddleja globosa thriving .He has  even taken an interest AT LAST in the bird feeders and started refilling them and looking up birds. (RSBP Garden watch next weekend with grandson(s)). 
  Amazon have also been using paper to pack , rolls and rolls of it, and if carefully unwound , usually in one piece. I really like that, much more eco friendly , and just as useful in my allotment shed as covers for shelves to keep dust off and for lining upon staging to reduce the mess I make on the floor .
Now that Seed Catalogues, my light reading for January ,  have  all arrived  I'm about to note down  all the seeds I've already got, half packets, quarter packs , full in date packs and full out of date packs . Like most gardeners I never use a complete packet in case I have to start again because I got the conditions all wrong , mostly temperature. This year I'm trying to keep to the instructions.

 I am now trying to find a way of bringing all  seedlings on with some heat without buying propagators .For months now I've been RESEARCHING thinking of trying a HOT BED. I've got 2 bales of straw and 20 sacks of horse manure so am just waiting for Amazon to deliver a sack barrow so I can get the sacks of manure into the greenhouse . 

Ive learnt the hard way to avoid carrying anything heavy since putting my back out over 30 years ago . So for 4 days I've been waiting . I know the tracking email says it will be coming by 25th January but it also says its been dispatched , so it could arrive today !
Spouse is already planning to grow his pineapple top into a Del Monte shop on the top of my Hot Bed. I'll just be pleased if it actually gets HOT.  I can't do joinery , I make a mess, I work in a slap dash fashion, so my Hot Bed is going to be made in a huge sack that Dalby Logs uses to  deliver my kiln dried Ash logs , you know the same bag size that Jewsons deliver sand in! All the stress of beginning has been removed from me .

I am just waiting for the sack barrow to arrive, and secretly hoping it will be the 25th January , but nevertheless waiting indoors in the warm until it does, or coxing and boxing with spouse to just get the paper or post a letter or get some milk . I've had the joy of listening to Any Questions on the radio, Ive nearly finished my Library book renewed 3 times and then bought on Amazon as the Library wanted it back for someone had reserved it .
 I've got time to do a really nerdy thing, I might  through all my packs of seeds and put them on a spread sheet  with details . I will  let you know if I manage to get any seeds to germinate from a pack of Jersey Walking Stick cabbage seeds  that I bought 10 years ago  from Chiltern seeds, but now that spouse is using a third leg it would be lovely to make him one.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Hello my name is

Castle Hill Hospital Oak Tree 

 Its nearly exactly four years ago since I noticed , really noticed this tree. It was bereft of leaves , winter was in full bareness and my mother was beginning her last journey away from earthly life.

Autumn is still clinging on here in East Yorkshire this week. From the train , and from bus windows today, the sun has caught the remaining beech and alder leaves, and those on this  mighty oak . I've not been proficient enough to catch the sun playing on the leaves still aloft . I've not been alone today , as spouse has had to lean on my arm on our very slow progress around hospital grounds, and purposeful expeditions to bus stops and so I have not been able to dart and swoop with my   mobile camera and catch the sheer emphemeral gold of the last leaves.

We have been to Castle Hill Hospital many times recently , and spouse and I are so glad for all  that modern medicine and the NHS are doing for him . Setting aside all the lost letters , the constant regurgatating of Colins case histories at every meeting that is. They always believe us when we  tell of the procedures and ops of the last 25 years , and that does worry me . Do they ever check up that we have got it right. Sometimes I feel like a Ward Clerk myself , my own book of notes and timelines ready to help C answer the questions asked at the  form filling beginnings to each visit. What would happen if we made it all up ?

There has been a sea change in Bridlington Hospital, Scarborough Hospital and now in Castle Hill Hospital . Until she died I followed Dr Kate Granger
@Grangerkate  on Twitter. Twitter is for me the easiest of forums on Social Media for keeping up to date with things that interest me. I followed her day to day tweets about her terminal cancer.  I did too with John Diamond in  his  newspaper column in the Saturday Times Something for the weekend in the late 90s until his death in 2001. I've not got a morbid interest in the diaries of Cancer patients, but a familial one as  my sister battled with a rare Leukaemia for over 20 years until she was cured, YES CURED.

Kate Grangers legacy is wonderful, as you may read here in the Hello my name is website . Every health care professional in the last 6 months has introduced themselves with the simple words Hello my name is , yesterday we met Jodie first , and beloved , already anxious and apprehensive was immediately put at ease, and that continued with the next few professionals doing his pre-med . 

How simple, how cheap, how transforming and what good manners is a simple introduction. 

Thank you !

Monday, October 09, 2017

Flowers from the allotment

Nicandra physalodes Shoo Fly Plant 
A neighbour in Surrey once gave me a seed head of the Shoo Fly Plant . She told me that the plant , which would grow really easily ,should always be in ones greenhouse as it repelled White fly. Nearly 40 years later its progeny arrive wherever I'm growing something thanks to my careless cultivation methods . I noticed that one had sneaked into the artichoke bed, and 5 weeks later its flowering and promising seedheads. I am letting it grow and grow as it's the most useful addition to Christmas Flower arrangements  when its dried .
The Shoo Fly plant  a member of the Tomato family and similar in flowers and fruit to the Chinese lantern . Ive had 3attempts to grow Chinese Lanterns . They are brilliant for Flower Arranging , especially for Harvest . This year my pathetic plants , which germinated easily but then marked time for 6 months, are struggling to thrive . 
So I had to buy them from Daisy Dot this year to accompany all my offerings from the allotment for my Harvest Pedestal at St Oswalds . I hope Bernard realises just why I collected all his Leek  Seed heads from his part of our plot. I also gleaned Achillea Heads, Nigella  seedpods, Globe Artichokes , Fennel and Sedums. The red apples were windfalls from the plot next door and the Teasels from the roadside. 
I have discovered a delightful cultivated variety of the Wild Carrot Ammi visnaga. I sowed the seeds last autumn , but they are only just coming into flower. Next year they will be perfect . Ive always been fond of all the Umbellifers, and Queen Annes lace in the Yorkshire road sides in April  (this year very early ) has always heralded roadside bounty before NYCC sends the cutters in . 

Next year I'm going to grow more flowers to be used in St Oswalds. I've been up to our wonderful Reighton Nursery and bought 6 Delphinium plants , only 90p each to start me off . Blue is often the most difficult colour for Wedding arrangements  in church and this will help us as long as I stake them well enough against the very strong winds on Filey Allotments as they flower. Ive now got Scabious Plants doing well, and they flower all summer and are  still going now.

In Filey I know some serious Chrysanthemum growers. Peter used to grow them for Shows and he provides huge Blooms for Church in the autumn . He says that he's not doing so much now and a couple of years ago gave me a few stock plants. I have taken Chrysanths more seriously this year . I've been waiting for Peter to ask me how mine are doing and hoped he wouldn't last year as I didn't follow his instructions and de bud them . This year I'm feeling pleased as I got spouse to debud them and tie them up and so have grown my first blooms. Now they are nowhere near as big as they could be, but we have cracked the cultivation . They were not ready for Harvest but will be ready for the Brass vases on the Altar at St Os this week . 
My first attempt at Blooms 
Flower arrangers need to use flowers which will last and not drop bits over furniture. Beloved is always pointing to beautiful flowers in the gardens of Stately homes like our nearest Burton Agnes, and telling me we should get one for the allotment to grow for church , but I have to tactfully decline his open wallet at the plant stall unless I know its a doer. Its the same with foliage as not every bit of greenery is right for lasting power . 
I don't have to grow foliage as both our churches in Filey have plenty growing around them , and St Johns has an award winning garden around it from which we the Flower Team may cut when we need.

One of Peters Blooms
I use Chiltern Seeds mostly. Their Seed catalogue is my Christmas reading , and I just have to look for the scissor logo which announces good cut flowers. Ive plenty of space on the allotment , and Dave the previous tenant put down plastic on large areas which I just bare when I need. He and I between us have virtually eradicated  the Mares Tail which covered half the plot  . I have pulled out every little piece as it appeared and burnt it, and using the no dig mulch cultivation it is weakened. Bernard got rid of it on our shared plot by using wire wool and weedkiller, but I am trying not to use chemicals . I do worry that my 'Meadow strip' might welcome Mares tail but I'm going to be vigilant. Dandelions and Plantains I do not mind as they have benefits according to my Companion Gardening Books.

My wish list for Flowers for Cutting is growing, but I have to keep the balance with Food for Eating . This year I got it just right with the amount of beans I grew, and likewise with Courgettes, Potatoes and Tomatoes. I'm still picking Sweet Peas and the Sunflowers are just over. Its all a learning curve, its only a Plot , it doesn't matter when things go wrong as long as I keep the plot tidyish and stick to allotment rules . I am thankful for Green manure , the best way to keep down weeds in a dormant bed, but what am I saying , I don't really have any dormant beds for long. 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Back end -Coming clean

Now its getting what I call backend-ish its time for me to be real and honest . 
This  year has been really hard for me . I have struggled to keep positive , I wake up sometimes wanting not to , I want to start smoking again , I want to go and live alone on Iona , I want a holiday , I never want to cook another meal , or go to Tesco in Filey , or talk to anyone .

I have a strong Christian faith , I have a loving family, I live in a delightful cottage with my partner of 45 years who is my best friend , the father of my children and does everything he can to make me happy . 
This year as ill health has upset the equilibrium of our life together I am thanking God for my small plot of land , my dilapidated sheds , my portable gas burner ring and the freedom I have to leave my home behind when I like and just disappear to my allotment .
Ive been a gardener all my adult life. I've had in the past to share my gardens with husband and family . For the first time in my life Ive had sole control of  my very own plot . I have a dear allotment partner on my adjoining plot 57a which we have shared for 4 years , but plot 56 is all mine , I can grow what I like whatever way I like . 

This time last year I used to sit outside the greenhouse on my shared plot and look over at what Dave was doing next door on plot 56 . His plot was out of Gardeners World crossed with those of Dan Pearson and my guru Bob Flowerdew .
Bernard my allotment partner LHS , Colin my life partner RHS
My small part of plot 57a was beginning to look too small for me last back end . My 3 Asparagus beds took up all the space , and I looked around on other adjacent plots hoping that someone would give up a small plot that I could add to my small empire . I was delighted that I got the chance to take Dave's plot on last September as Dave and Jen  moved away from Filey. I told the allotment committee I would give this large plot a year to see if I could manage it .  Now a year on , I realise that tending this  beautifully organized and Margaret ready plot has been the way I  have managed to get through the year . 

Beloved does not mind at all when I leave him alone for hours , he knows I'm returning home happily tired , emotionally restored to me again , and full of plans for the future , and with plenty of his favourite beans to pod and and the prospect of a tasty dinner with all home grown ingredients . We are virtually vegetarian at present  . This was not a lifestyle choice . My beloved has so many health concerns and takes so much medication that we have to restrict sugar , fat and all purines . I am so proud that I can now make burgers with Broad Beans and vegetable curries , and soups and even pies which never taste the same twice and are always delicious he  says . 

My first pond!
People are always writing about the health benefits of gardening .
  •  In the 21st century , in Filey, gardening is another Lifestyle choice . We do not live from hand to mouth here , we do not have to grow our food to survive, we have plenty of water to sustain the growth of plants , and even those with tiny gardens may grow vegetables and fruit in containers . We do not grow our staple grains in our gardens or allotments , but may grow staple pulses, the second class protein which vegetarians depend on . Brian on the plot next to me grew enough peas to last him a year, and Vince near me grew a years supply of potatoes which he carefully stores. This year I have grown chickpeas just to see if I could . Yes I can ,and no I wont again , they are cheap enough to buy. So just knowing that we can grow our own food on an allotment is a health benefit as we know we will not starve .

  • Gardening for me helps me to learn about wildlife . I have a couple of small ponds, just old washing up bowls of rain water , and every year I get tadpoles from my friend Ann and watch them grow into frogs. My plot now has thriving small frogs which as they grow and grow will start eating the slugs I hope . This year too I have had to buy a book to identify spiders, as I'd never realised how many different species lived in a small plot . The same with Caterpillars . I now am the proud habitat for the Mullein Moth , I keep  nettles and am rewarded this week with hundreds of Red Admiral caterpillars about to start their banquet . I admit here that I'm also adept at the mass slaughter of Large white Caterpillars which I squash. I do grow Nasturtiums to entrap them , and lure them away from my brassicas , but this week even I can't keep up with the voracity of the Pieris brassicae.    Here I digress to tell the tale of a Flower Arrangement I once did at St Oswalds . I was very pleased with it , as I only used leaves , cabbage leaves, broccoli leaves and other garden leaves in all shades of green . When I returned to water to arrangement mid week I was horrified that most of the leaves had been completely destroyed by caterpillars and there were droppings all over the beautiful wooden chest where the huge arrangement sat in less than glory .
  • Gardening alone on my plot gives me time to think and reflect. I sit for long ages just looking at the plot , at the shapes , at the colours , at the progress of time through observance of the growth of the familiar .
  • Exercise is good for my mental health . Here you might think I'm always digging and using lots of energy . I'm not . I don't dig , I mulch. The most exercise I get apart from using the shears to to cut  Comfrey, or the edging tool to the grass ,is the fast walk the mile to my plot from home . I walk it as fast as I can . BUT so tired have I been keeping up with watering the greenhouse everyday in July and August that Ive often had to run the car up to the plot .
  • I've spent a whole year with a notebook and pencil . One year ago my grandsons and I mapped the whole plot and with my template done I update my notes after my visits to the plot . Ive planned the rotation for 2018 . I have mapped every 2 months and noted all the successes and failures , yields and suggestions for improvements. 
So there we have it , my back end admission , that I couldn't have got through this year without my allotment . Its been my sanctuary . Time stands still when I'm there . I return home refreshed and positive . So as summer gives way to autumn I know that that less hectic jobs will satisfy too. I shall be moving the manure around, cutting down and pruning , planting the autumn Onion sets and Broad beans again and thinking of  my winter pursuit which will be re-learning to use a Spinning wheel . I'll have to do this at home , but all the mess the carding of my newly washed wool will be better done in my shed . I'll need to get the  greenhouse heater going now . Ive got the kettle .

Addendum . Well!well! Ive just had an email from someone wanting me to advertise Flogas Greenhouse heaters! Its only because they have a Royal warranty that I thought I'd name them