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 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Hennebique ,it is then

Why do people get so steamed up about plans to build new houses ? 
Go ahead Allams , provide us with new homes around the Caroline Street site , it seems a small price to pay for the preservation of the only remaining building made using the  Hennebique construction , in the whole of Britain . so  what are the hidden agendas here?
  •  Will Rosedown and Thompsons be re-located to India , so what . Its no longer a Hull firm , and all the up and coming service industries employing people, are going to need houses within a walking distance from their offices in the newly regenerating City Centre. Why can't a wider picture be seen ?
  • Does our 'socialist' city still think that incomers on the rich list , and those not on the rich list but living in big houses in Sutton do not contribute to our City in any way , because they are rich . 
  • Are we too parochial anyway ? Thank you for your positive input for those who are refugees and migrants  Helena Spencer. The poor will always be with us , but the rich may be able to help . Information and balance  needed. 
I had no idea that reinforced concrete was discovered by Francois Hennebique , I always thought the Romans had discovered it , but have looked it up now and found it was Joseph Monier  . Perhaps Hennebique was the first to use reinforced concrete  for BUILDINGS. Since Hennebique's first Building in the UK , in Swansea has now been demolished  we surely need to keep our one . 

I was watching Time Team yesterday , where the Channel 4  team were excavating the very first Manchester Cotton Mill , which marked the start of Manchester as the worlds "first industrial city". Maybe a Hennebique concrete industrial building still standing , is well worth the preservation then , even at the cost of transformation . 

Salts Mill in Saltaire is one of my favourite places the visit in Yorkshire, preserved thanks to one very rich Yorkshire man the late  Jonathan Silver,   and now a homage to Burmantofts pottery and the work of David Hockney  . The difference here is that Salts mill is surrounded by the model village Saltaire , making it a World Heritage Site, thanks to Sir Titus Salt (rich Victorian business man ). 
 For the preservation of the Rose Downs and Thompson building for the history of Architecture the surrounding proposed housing development must be worthy of its neighbour. So then , ecological building systems , energy efficient and sustainable design ought to be insisted on by the Town Planners.  The proportion of affordable housing for LOCAL people should be maximized .The Joseph Rowntree Foundation  Thinktank has much valuable insight and research on this subject ;  this foundation  also sprung out of the work of another very rich Yorkshire man .

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Progress on my Hay Meadow

St Nicks Centre for Green Living YORK

I was blown away by the info that at the National Botanic Gardens of Wales they are able to use DNA barcoding to determine the identity of the pollen and nectar that bees foraged for their honey making. In fact to widen all the scientific data, the NBGW is inviting beekeepers throughout the UK to send a sample of their honey for testing . I found this out by chance as I was watching last Fridays edition of BBC Gardeners World , see on iplayer Episode 15 of 2017. Of further and for me , and more important info, is that the preliminary results show that bees have a preference for UK Native hedgerow and woodland species . They prefer Hawthorn , Gorse and Dandelions , and of the cultivated plants like Peonies, Skimmias and Muscari. If ever there was a reason to let Dandelions grow on my Allotment that is it . I've watched scores of Bees on My Echium plants , now I think a few Gorse bushes need to be planted. (can also eat Gorse buds).and I'll not agonize over my Dandelions.

Last week I went on a training course in York for the National Plant Monitoring Scheme to learn more good practice for my Plant Surveys in Filey. In this hidden green heart of York are about 10 acres of woodland and meadow and a Study Centre. It is here that if I ever turn more of my allotment into a Hay meadow I could get Scything Lessons, but for now , on  my Meadow which is 1m by 5m I think a pair of shears will suffice . I never thought that what I'd read of in Lark Rise to Candleford  or Far from the madding Crowd could be a reality . My family think Im fast becoming even more of a nerd, and now that I have been given Jennys Spinning wheel and a bag of sheepswool I imagine that the idyll will be furthered by their dreading homespun scarves as well as hay filled pillows. Worry not family!

My own meadow is doing nicely , since I  seeded it in October last. I have to keep referring to the species list in the Seed Catalogue, and weed out all the self seeded weeds. Here the irony is not lost on me. Shepherds Purse, Sow thistles and Common Knotgrass are the main culprits and easy to spot and remove , though doing this takes a lot of time on my already precious time . All the grasses look the same to me as they are growing , I need a course on Grasses and Sedges alone . There is no sign of the Darling of the Hay Meadow , Yellow Rattle as yet, but I've done a belt and braces here and bought a couple a packets of it alone ,to re sow backend .  I shall be cutting my very own Hay Meadow in a week or too when the seeds are set . 

June 17

July1st 2017
Lots of the Nectar rich plants in the Seed mix are beginning to flower now so I can identify them . Ive let the masses of Scarlet Pimpernel remain as ground cover as next year it won't stand a chance except at the plot edges . Ive already spotted the Wild Carrot, Bird Foot Trefoil , Oxe-eye Daisy and Yarrow. Im secretly hoping for some Orchids to find their way to my meadow . Filey is full of them at the moment and not just in the secret places that Botanists keep to themselves, but on lay-bys near Primrose valley, behind Filey yacht club, and best of all in peoples lawns. 

I was delighted when a friend messaged me to say she had spotted some in a neglected garden where the lawn was uncut . I took a trip up to look today, and was delighted to see them .The former owner of the garden would have been delighted too. If the house comes on the market the announcement should include that the lawn contained Wild Orchids . I would buy it .

Monday, June 12, 2017

Homage to Congleton and Angie Lewin

For years now I have always bought the porridge oats milled in Congleton, and not just because my sister has lived there for over 40 years and our mother was born in Cheshire. Congleton is a delightful and formerly heavily industrial town. We have got to know it over the years 
  • its green and lush countryside and views of the Cloud
  • the walk by the canal
  • the outlying picturesque villages and Rudyard lake
  • the pagan Maypole dancing ,embraced by church school at Astbury and made its own
  • the trips to nearby silk town Macclesfield
I love Mornflake oats for another reason . For many years now I have enjoyed the ARTWORK on the packet . It reminds me of the work of the artists at St Jude's Gallery and is just as good , stylised representations of plants very much 50s and yet right up to date.
I am peeved that this week I had to buy Quaker Oats , as Spar and Herons were right out of Mornflake  Oats, and for the first time in over 10 years . I hope the Mill in Congleton is OK and its just that their lorry is having its MOT, and its nothing to do with Brexit or the amount of rainfall on Scottish Oats last year. This is personal , I shall have to buy them online direct from their website if Filey shops don't get over the hiccup. 
I have a sweetener. We are going to the Ravilous exhibition in Eastbourne tomorrow as we are on a Royal Progress to Brighton for our youngest child's 40th birthday . He ticks the ARTWORK box in me as well , with Edward Bawden .

 Please don't change your packaging Mornflake Oats! Or use Angie Lewin , she was born in Cheshire. .

Sunday, May 07, 2017

The Scientific Approach

Alkaline ,OK then!
I'm trying to be more scientific and methodical on my plot. 
I know Dave was scientific and methodical ,innovative, and ordered, so the  legacy he bequeathed to me needs to be well used and stewarded. 
I have never been methodical and scientific before on other plots I have tended over my  years of horticulture. My new plot is such a fantastic inheritance that I'm trying my best to make sure I do everything well. Apart from the neatness that is. Bernard my allotment partner on the adjacent plot politely accepts that I hoe weeds but don't remove them , leave a trail of mud wherever I go and grow odd things that he considers weeds, like my patches of nettles for Peacock butterflies, and the wiggly edges of my side of the path. 
This growing season I have PLANNED. I have a notebook with my 3year rotation diagram, I sit in the greenhouse with a Cup of Ginger tea and write up my notes just before I go home . I am NO DIG CULTIVATOR. I am trying to garden by mulch and by not walking on the beds , efficiently laid out by Dave. 

It is the first year ever that I have had a designated Brassica Bed. 
I have some lovely plants which were sown in September and are now sturdy and ready for their very own bed. The label has washed off over winter, so they are either Purple Sprouting Broccoli or Calabrase. Now I enjoy my walk home with the chance to check out all the other plots and see how  others  have planted out their Brassica plants. I see that many have scattered a white powder around each plant, and I'm now checking that out. I seem to remember  Mr Wiles (of Lime Tree Avenue, Sutton)  our gardener  when I was a small child using Lime to improve the soil. I used to watch him all the time, poor man , and ask him questions. He used to tell me that one had to puddle in Cabbages so I do the same now correct or not stamping the plants firmly in. Just incase it was lime that I should put around my little plants I did a pH test. Here I am a reckless spender. I was carried away using the Marshall's catalogue buying seed potatoes that I spent £6 on a pH kit  . Yes it was fun to use, it brought me back to my A level Chemistry days in the lab, with the micro tubes when doing substance analysis.  It was only later that I also  remembered Litmus Paper, selling on Amazon for 99p for loads , which does just the same job.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

The boys and my potatoes

Its 7 years since I managed a photo of all the Family boys together . I got a great surprise a few weeks ago whilst I was  quietly potting on my Italian Plum Tomato seedlings (San Marzano). First my son and partner  arrived, a surprise from Brighton,  then spouse, then grandsons on bikes and then son in law. I realised I had not enough seats for holding a salon on the allotment , I had not enough mugs and the kettle was too small. 

That has all been rectified, I have brought more mugs and Ikea plastic beakers from home and Bernard my allotment partner has  brought us a garden table and chairs , thoughtfully weighed down against the very strong Filey winds.
 I wonder what else Bernard will be bringing . He marries Queenie in a few weeks and will be moving into her flat .  I see that pieces of wood are arriving , and a new assortment of Flower Pots. Bernard and Queenie are over 80 , and we are all delighted that he is going to have  a new partner in life. We've been Boxing and Coxing together on the allotment for over 4 years now in true G and S efficiency . We occasionally meet over the tea tray.  I follow his every direction and copy everything he does in the cultivation of Potatoes. I have never before been able to grow them on my part of our shared plot , they have always been ruined by slugs, but this year as I have taken over Dave's new plot to add to our empire  I have managed small rows of First earlies, Arran Pilot, Main Crop , Charlotte, and a row of Pink Fir Apple salad potatoes. I have adapted Bernard's method , sand and manure BUT I've done   the addition of a layer of comfrey leaves under the chitted potatoes prior to making the trench . Thanks go to Dave here for the fantastic bed of Comfrey. I'm also trying potatoes in Gro-sacks,  from the Marshalls Catalogue.  I am fascinated by the instruction  booklet, and keep looking at it, hoping that I'm adding the compost in the right way as I worry that I've covered up some of the foliage in a rough way . Common sense  is taking over, they are only potatoes for goodness sake! 

Addendum . I publish this post and see that it has crossed with Michaels post about their visit to Yorkshire too

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A walk up River

View from Scale Lane Pedestrian Bridge

I was peeved that I actually clicked on one of those Facebook quiz things this morning  which resulted in a Word Cloud with MOST USED words. I had to delete it immediately as my most used word was HTML. The algorithm  used for the calculation did not know anything about me as I never use the abbreviation , let alone remember how to do coding without a handbook . I know that I am out of touch and old fashioned now. Blogging is not the new black , but it is my black. I don't want to be a vlogger and although my young grandsons are vlogging away hoping to earning millions I have put myself at last in a box saying CONTENT , IT SUITS ME. I'M not getting maudlin either. Ive just reached my three score years and ten  and a calm and satisfied Peace has descended upon me. I have reached that I shall wear purple and spit in the street stage.  
I've not had time to share here recently , as Family Commitments  have come first , followed by my Sanctuary from them called the ALLOTMENT .

I completely muddled up my diary and so did not get to use my tickets for THE HYPOCRITE at the HULL TRUCK THEATRE , but did get to LA BOHEME at the Hull City Hall on the 21st March . Spouse was not well enough to come with me, but my Hull Sister  stepped in and accompanied me.  We did some great reminiscing about all the concerts we had seen over the years, of how even a City Of Culture could not support a Coffee shop nearby for us to meet at 7pm, and that although the New Theatre, the usual Cultural venue was not refurbished yet, the City Hall did a grand job . We loved the lack of curtains and watching the Scenery changes during the intervals, and remarked that the ancient Lavatory  facilities in the basement had not changed much in 60 years.
I spent the night at the Premier Inn near the Deep, as usual for Hull Trips. Pre Opera I managed to get a table for an excellent Homemade Curry at the Lion and Key in Scale Lane . Sister and I also remarked that we are strangers really to the pubs of the OLD TOWN, we were brought up never to go in a PUB without an accompanying man , Yes really!!

Crowle House 1664
Going back to Filey after a sound sleep in a room with spectacular morning views I planned a walk up river to discover more of the City which moulded me.  The evening before I had already discovered an old house I had never seen before, Crowle House . Here I stop and explain to readers who do not know Kingston Upon Hull. Hull was the most severely bombed City in Britain during WW2, and 95% of its buildings were destroyed or damaged.   I thought I knew all the Old buildings in the Old Town , but found this gem of a facade remaining in an alleyway just off the High Street and thus the River Hull . I left home in 1965 so my explorations then were limited.
I walked along the River looking its muddy best on a beautiful day with Magritte breadstick clouds, past the two bridges that once defined ones day , on time or late, dependant on a bridge remaining open for traffic.
So to Drypool Bridge, and looking for the DryPool which must have given the name, and the metal plaque of 1888 on the bridge which reminded me of my school badge which bore the same ship with the logo of the three crowns of Kingston upon Hull.
I  walked on past the well known and documented Georgian houses of Hull and Dock Offices until I reached one that looked old, and seemed to be occupied in part , but only Google Earth pinpointed its name for me - North Bridge House, Charlotte Street.

North Bridge House looks as if it was once warehouses, its certainly Victorian and all I can find out at present is that its a listed Grade2 former Ship Supplies Warehouse, a Chandlers. I'm so glad it didn't get pulled down , its very ugly in an endearing way, Ive always had a soft spot for a Mansard roof, and way away from the Humber.

I found Charterhouse, Andrew Marvels home, a redundant graveyard once the overspill(!) for St

Scott St bridge 
Mary's Lowgate and walked up the river to the closed Scott Street Bridge . I'm hoping some of the City of Culture bounty will fall on Scott Street Bridge . A restoration would bring the  Old industrial area of Wincolmlee back into prominence . I started thinking of my grandfather , a ships Engineer with Wilson Line, and remembered his Indenture agreement  as he served time on land learning his trade. He was an engineer all his life,  working with Hull Corporation Transport in charge of Tram engineering   , and in his old Age till his death in 1960 still maintaining his 1930 Alvis , known as Wilfred . I also remember him running the old Singer Sewing machine with a bullet shaped spool running up Cotton  bedding sheets .

Still thinking about Grandpa Bruce I started looking up at the factories still around. Here the Bridge of Sighs across Wincolmlee of  Maizecor, still milling maize into Polenta and maizeflour  for snacks .

 I'm into the Industrial thing now , and turning away from the river back to Paragon . Firstly joy of joy ,
I see the start of Barmy (Barmston) Drain ! Friend at Barmston on the coast took me to Barmston Drain as it enters the North sea, well I presume its come all the way from Hull in a land draining scheme. I saw much more of it when I went with Hull sister to  Dunelm Mill in Clough Road on a new home buying spree. I now wonder if Great Grandfather the Chief Waterworks engineer for Hull In 1870s  to 90s  worked here on plans . He would have loved the nerd in me I'm sure.

Just one more old treat before heading back to the station . I found, just alone amongst Old garages and sheds this wonderful early Victorian house. I presume its listed, as otherwise why is it still there amongst the engineering works ?
Cooper Street, could move right in !

Im away from the river now, past Rose Downs and Thompsons and 
Prize for best Smokers Corner goes to Smiths 

Parkinsons engineering

Next time in Kingston upon Hull I'm going  to Neptune Street and finding Amos and Smith , where my grandfather learned his trade .