Here folks, are some pics of our allotment. We actually have 1 and a half one, but technically the half is mine.

We took over our allotment about 5 years ago now, and this is how it looked when we enthusiastically started work on it.

As you can see, it was BIG! It SEEMED endless when we rolled up, unloaded the spade, fork etc and stood looking at it, wondering what on EARTH we were doing!

It had been used as a dumping ground for a while, as you can see from the redundant pond left there.


THAT proved very useful for covering areas to get them weed free and ready to dig. But pond shaped beds don’t really work too well, so we needed to sort that out. Eventually, we did, and soon our first bed appeared, helped along by the wonderful Adrian, who dug and dug and dug.

THE most useful piece of information we were given by established allotmenteeres, was to take it slowly, dig a bit at a time, plant SOMETHING in it, and then move onto the next. It is VERY VERY daunting to see all that space waiting to be cleared and dug, and over the years we have seen SO many people come along like we did, unload all the tools, dig and weed furiously for a whole weekend, and then not come back for a few weeks, take one look at the weeds, and walk off despondently, never to be seen again.

THAT is so sad, as the allotment is one of the joys in our life. It is also one of the pains, the flaming weeds just grow and grow, as does the grass, and you HAVE to keep on top of it. The end rewards though, FRESH, untainted, no food miles fruit and veg…well once you try it you’ll never want to eat supermarket stuff again!

The other tip that we always pass on, is only grow things you KNOW you’ll eat, no point in growing a whole bed of celery if you hate the stuff.

The weather can be frustrating too, this year we got our spuds in late, mid way through April, because it was just too wet, the lottie is slightly below the water table, and though dry on top, it was mud city 6 inches down, can’t plant anything in that.

They are coming along nicely now though, and this year we hope to keep ourselves in fresh fruit and veg all year. I have a poly tunnel on my plot and we are hoping to keep quite a few things going throughout the year in there as well.

This pic isn’t from this season, but it DOES show the plot about 3 months after the pic of Adrian wielding his spade!

Having watched The 11th Hour last night, I am even more convinced that growing our own veg is the only way to go. IF we had more land, we’d have animals as well, and YES for food. We have the chooks in the garden, but we REALLY do want to be self sufficient in everything.

Until then, we will continue to work on the lottie, to grow our food, to dig and get backache, watch the weeds grow, and est THE best tasting veg we have EVER eaten!


Every year over the May Bank holiday weekend, there is a Heavy Horse show at Southsea. There has only been one year missed, due to restrictions following the Foot & Mouth outbreak. This year it was the 23rd show, and as ever, was delightful!

The picture at the top is of one of the Fullers Brewery pair, this one is Pride, and he’s JUST gorgeous! He is 18 years old now, so quite elderly, is HUGE and..he has BLUE eyes. He alos won the obstacle race, with a good time and no penalties, a steady old boy is Pride.


He also works in a pair with Griffin, they are seen below.


As well as the horses, there was a very entertaining hour spent with a shepherd and his dogs. But this was no ordinary shepherd, this guy worked his dogs and explained the method he uses to train them, it certainly works, they were VERY well trained indeed. He also used GEESE and DUCKS for them to herd rather than sheep, and that made for a few laughs along the way as well.


The chap got the dogs to herd the ducks around an obstacle course at the end, and let lots of kids join in, they and we, had a lovely time.

Apart from all the fun and frivolity though, this show raises an awful lot of money for local charities. The guys give their time, and show the horses to their very highest standard, for pride, yes, but also to raise money. Over the years, tens of thousands of pounds have been raised, this year was for the Wessex Cancer Trust, I hope they made a packet again!

Perhaps one other major point of shows like this, is the maintaining of the breeds. These horses are NOT used for working any longer, there are some breeds that no longer exist, and those that DO only exist because of dedicated people like these guys that come to shows like this.

One lady has a pair of horses from Austria, there are ony the pair in Britain, and they are NOT classed as heavy horses, as such, she could not be placed in the race, even though she took part and the horse did well. She brings them to these shows for the fun element, and to keep them in good condition, well trained and in the public eye.

The people who keep the horses and keep them trained up for ploughing shows etc, are preserving our heritage. Long may they do so I say, and long may these giants of the horse world keep us all enthralled by their might and majesty.

That’s what we have here! We USED to have a garden, it was lovely, all green and had flowers, and a pebble pool, even a little wildlife pond! We would sit out in the evening, with our chiminea it, and soak up the evenings with a glass or three of chilled wine, and talk a load of nonsense.

NOW we have something resembling a bog, NO really it IS! The pond is in dire need of cleaning out and refilling, the white gravel that had a lovely medicine wheel in the centre made of super cobbles is long gone, buried under much earth and detritus. There are now NO plants under 3 feet high, and in many places there are round holes gouged out of the earth that USED to be flower beds.

Now, you may ask what catastrophe has befallen our once blooming garden? What has happened to change all this and turn it into a bog? Well I can tell you it was no catastrophe, and the Garden Pixies didn’t get upset with us and take it all away. What happened was this…

We rehomed some ex battery hens! Folks this is by far THE best thing we have ever done! I cannot imagine life without chooks ever again. We (well I but then Adrian thought it might be a good idea as well) decided just over a year ago, that we had room for a few chooks in the postage stamp we call a garden. A coop was found, bought new from Ebay, and delivered AND put together by the guy we bought it from, and all we had to do then was wait for Rescue Day. All too soon, we were setting off and collected the first 4 girls we ever owned. OH MY! If only we knew then what we know now!

The first few days were as traumatic for us as they were for the girsl, Rosie, Daisy, Henrietta and Violet. They had no idea how to drink water from a drinker, so we had to show them, they didn’t know how to get up the ramp from the run to the roosting section, so Adrian had to crawl in there and help them up till they learned how. I worried constantly that they wouldn’t settle, that we didn’t know enough, that we would do something wrong and they would die. But they didn’t, they thrived!

Slowly their missing feathers grew back, and they started looking less oven ready by the day. Then came the day we let them out of the run to investigate the garden. OH WHAT JOY! I was nearly crying, they very gingerly stepped through the door into the outside, somewhere they had NEVER been! Then they began scratching around, nibbled the plants and started to dust bathe as well. To see them having so much fun and wonderment was TRULY magical.

I can watch my chooks for hours. Each one has a different character, and we have more now as well. We have lost 3 in recent months, and over the year, a couple only lasted a few weeks, and were replaced with more, those cages REALLY shorten their lives, and some just don’t seem able to carry on.

So we try to keep our ‘flock’ to 10, we are down to 7 at the moment, but next week 3 more will arrive to replenish the coop. There WILL be some spats, there always are, and we need to make sure that the new girls don’t get TOO bullied and get their share of the food, but after a few days, all settles down, the pecking order is sorted once more, and off they go.

Poultry keeping ISN’T for everyone, but if YOU think you have room for a couple of chooks, and trust me you CAN have them in small gardens, you won’t go wrong with rehoming some of these girls. They WILL give you hours of pleasure, AND fresh beautiful eggs EVERY day, but not from every bird every day, we average about 5-7 eggs per day from 10 birds, and we ALWAYS have a waiting list of people wanting to buy them!

So if you DO want more info, just check out this website http://www.bhwt.org.uk/ They do a FANTASTIC job, and you too can have the joys of keeping backyard hens!

I REALLY do!

Today I have had to take my car for her exhaust to be mended, and so am subjected to the delights of the public transport system here. Well I can report that it’s OK at the moment, the bus was on time, though the driver wasn’t English and communication was shall we say, interesting.

That is NOT why I’m despairing though. At the top of our road, on the corner, opposite a school, there USED to be a lovely Edwardian house which was used as a Nursing Home. Recently it was demolished, and we have been waiting, not hopefully, to see what would be put in it’s place.

Thanks to walking past it, I was able to examine the small print on the planning papers. NINE FLATS!! Nine more families in a small space, with no parking due to the school, so the rest of the road will be even more clogged up with cars.

This is happening all over Portsmouth at the moment, every available space is having flats built on it, many of the old local pubs have closed and been demolished….for flats, causing a great deal of concern with regard to jobs and general socialising facilities, not everyone likes the cold impersonal aircraft hangars of the big chains do they?

I have joked that it’s NOT global warming that will sink the city, but the weight of thousands of empty flats. DO they not realise there is a credit crunch? People CANNOT afford to buy these flats!

Then there is the issue of the local infrastructure. Schools around here are already crowded, Doctors are now refusing appointments of more than 10 minutes unless it’s soemthing very serious. NHS dentists are a rare species, and more and more of those are turning to private practise. The police and emergency services are already stretched to their limits, and the local fire station is likely to be closed due to cutbacks.

SO what will there be available for all these people they expect to buy all these flats? NOT good quality services that’s for sure, and that is no reflection on any of the services mentioned, it’s simply that they only have so much in the way of resources.

This outright rape of our country has got to stop, and stop soon, or there will be nothing left but huge sink areas, blocks of flats that no one can buy that will either be turned over to social housing (which we DO need but not at the expense of everything no matter what!), or left empty, and attracting all the crime and violence that seems to stick to those empty uncared for areas.

There are not enough jobs to keep people employed here, thus they have to commute, and we all know what that can do to the environment. Not to mention that this is an ISLAND with TWO roads off it, the congestion is bad enough as it is! Not everyone will be able to use bikes or car share to get off the island to their place of work will they?

We have already become a city of one way streets and 20mph limits, so the traffic that IS here is crawling, or the drivers become impatient which leads to more road rage and accidents. Pollution is also high, mainly in the centre of the city, but it’s not good anywhere else either. Our children are breathing in all the diesel fumes etc, every day as we walk them around in their buggies.

I despair for this city, for the people living here, and for the businesses here trying to keep ahead of the supermarkets. I HOPE there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but I fear not, and it’s a very very long tunnel as it is! No wonder so many people are trying desperately to escape!

OK, where was I? Oh yes, arriving at CJ’s. CJ had omitted one VERY important fact though, she had not told me, that she lives on the steepest steep hill in Dover!!! I was in shock, as I TRIED to parallell park without ending up rolling to the bottom of the hill and taking several cars out on the way! The guy driving the car that was coming down the hill had tears rolling down his face as he laughed at my terror stricken expression and sigh of relief when I finally parked!

Once safely settled with a cuppa, I was introduced to TWO, yes TWO more cakes! A Carrot cake, made for me by the lovely Mr CJ, and a choccie cake, YES another one, which the delightful Miss Cj had made for me. I could see the way things were going, and was despairing of my waistline. It would however have been VERY rude NOT to eat any, and I managed to devour a fair bit of both cakes!

Then I met Cj’s fur babies, and OH how delightful they all are. There are four, Scout the only boy, then there is Cluney a long haired bundle of fluff, Beast, who is REALLY caled Phoebe, who decided I was her new best friend and my lap would do for now thank you very much, and Tilly, a siamese cross with the most wonderfull personality. I have taken pics, which show how completely smitten I was with them, and I think, they with me!

There is also a visiting cat, who is as gorgeous as CJ’s and we met in the garden, he came for a big fuss and was very friendly, but Cluney had followed me out, and seemed a bit peeved that someone else was getting HER fuss. He went off about 2 feet away to complete his ablutions, at that opoint Cluney came running over and sat about 1 1/2 feet away, glaring at him as if to say “STAY there, she’s MY friend and NOT yours”. She trotted in behind me when I went in, with a very smug look on her face.

Mr Cj came home from work to find me and CJ nattering away, and we opened a bottle of wine as it was 6 pm and perfectly acceptable, he said so! He was NOT however, impressed with how CJ had iced his cake, he was mortified, but he soon calmed down when he found that it tasted lovely and I was very taken with it. Cj’s teenogres, are JUST fabulous! It’s a long time since I’ve met such polite and positively charming youngsters. CJ1, a 17 year old lad, is wonderfully friendly and approachable, holds fabulous conversations, is very very polite, and gave up his bed for me. CJ2, is a poppet, and absolutely adorable young lady, very gracious and charming, and both are a credit to CJ and Mr CJ, who should be very very proud of them indeed.

We also had a phone call from another forum friend, the Lovely Jelly B, and it was super to chat to her for a while as well.

We sat talking and laughing into the night, and Mr Cj seemed to find a new bottle of wine each time one emptied! Eventually we headed for bed, very happy, very full of cake, and veggie lasagne and wine.

In the morning, we started off with tea and a chat, then we both had a super surprise, when Brigit Strawbridge rang for a chat. It’s ages since I’ve spoken to Brigit and it was lovely to hear from her. Cj then took me off to see the cliffs.

When we arrived, I looked over the harbour and realised, that when CJ had said a walk along the cliffs, she meant just that! I thought it wise at that point, to mention my chronic vertigo!!!! As a result, Cj had to walk on the outside of me all the way. She has now found out two new things about me. I DO NOT like hill starts on VERY steep hills, and I DO NOT like cliffs! I’m glad I saw them though, and got pics, I HAVE been there, REALLY!

I didn’t leave Cj’s empty handed either, Mr CJ gave me some gifts from his Mum, a jar of Tomato Chutney, and some Runner Bean Relish, so I was laden with goodies!

All too soon it was time to meet Mr CJ for lunch, which he paid for bless him, and then head home, having discovered that the Hill start wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be, and that all the innards of my exhaust had escaped onto the ground! We said our goodbyes, and off I went, into the wide blue yonder, and the delights of Rye, Old Romney…Dymchurch etc etc tec.

Ok folks, I have been on an adventure, and to give it the name it SHOULD really have, it was the Great Cake Tour of Dover!

I set off early on Thursday morning, armed with AA directions, for Whitfield to meet The lovely Nita from Creative Living and her family. WELL…I followed all the directions, and finally arrived at the A259 heading for Folkestone, Folkestone does not exist people! It is a figment of the road sign makers imagination!

I went through Eastbourne, and I MEAN through it, YE GODS that took forever, and kept on the A259, but Folkestone NEVER arrived! I ended up on a tiny road by a golf club, in the middle of Nowhere in Kent, and gave up. Headed for the M20/A20 and eventually, came over a hill, and sae..DOVER HARBOUR! Having been through, Rye, Hythe, Dymchurch, Old Romney etc etc etc!

On entering Dover, I became the filling in a lorry sandwich, and was fearing that I would be swept onto a ferry and end up in France! I managed to avoid that fate, and negotiated several roundabouts and was safely heading for Nita. Then dear friends, the Fates intervened, and I went wrong somewhere! I ended up taking refuge outside the Rugby Club and calling for help. The Lovely Nita swiftly arrived and led me to her house….FIVE MINUTES AWAY!

LOOK what was awaiting me when I got there…

Anyway, it was THE HUGEST, most chocolatey Chocolate and malteser cake I have EVER seen! Needless to say, we ate some, but were VERY good and had some Of Nitas’ home made chicken soup first!

Nita is a lovely lady, and VERY accomplished with needles of all types, knitting, sewing, tapestry, cross stitch, you name it and she can do it, BEAUTIFULLY! Paul her hubby, is a lovely chap, and also very good at rabbitting, a huge bag of yummy wild rabbit is in mmy freezer and I’m looking forward to eating it next week sometime. He is also very clever, and makes his own nets, which he also sells at the Game fairs, so if you need one, look out for Paul and Nita, and you’ll get yourself some super nets!

Then there is James, who is an absolute Poppet and a complete livewire, he has SOOO much energy, just like a little whirlwind, but VERY polite and a charming young man.

As for the animals in the family, Tillee and Maggie May the dogs were just SO soppy and friendly, they were all over me in the nicest way and they were gorgeous. I also got to meet Bandit and Barney, two of the polecats, and although Barney IS a little smelly, he was charming, very well behaved and so sweet. I have to say though, that Bandit was my favourite, I held her and she was so soft and sweet, tiny little girl, or Gill, and lovely. I WAS tempted to smuggle her home, but I don’t think Adrian would have been very happy somehow. He WAS very happy with the big bag of jointed rabbit and the mahusive slab of cake though.

So, after a super couple of hours, it was time to head for my next port of call, the lovely CJ 5 minutes down the road, but the AA had other ideas. I asked Nita to check the directions, and guessed it wasn’t good when she burst out laughing. The good old AA had started off by sending me down a dead end road! Nita drew me a map, and off I went on the next stage of the Great Cake Tour of Dover, and I am relieved to say, that I arrived safely at my destination. BUT boy oh boy, was I in for a shock!

Hi,

Well it was my birthday yesterday, and I’ve had a lovely, if quiet time. That’s the way I like it though. We did all our usual saturday things, like the shopping, but things DID go a little haywire.

My daughter was taken ill at home on her own with Grandsmall, whilst her hubby was working over the other side of the county. SOOO the day started with a mad dash to get to her and sort out the little one and take care of daughter till he could get home.

all fine now though, daughter recovering and Grandsmall no worse the wear for Nannas ministrations.

I had the most lovley card from hubby, I shan’t post a pic though, I’ll just tuck it away as it’s one of those that deserves to be kept. Another friend had made me a beautiful card, her skill at crafts just puts me in awe of her at times. My son and his fiancee bought me a book and some roses, which are now gracing the dining room table.

Hubby and I went out for a meal yesterday evening, which was most entertaining. I chose a table out of the way as I prefer to be in a quiet spot. There were three young couples with tiny babies a little way away, but no problem. However, I did have to laugh when one of the mums began describing, in detail, what her elder boy had been doing with his, ermm Willy one day. She went ON and ON, and quite loudly, regaled the entire area with her tales. You should have seen her face when we emerged from the little section just away from them, as she had thought no one was there. She was a tad pink!

Once we were home, we disturbed my son cooking for his fiancee, or more correctly, instructing his fiancee and then diving back upstairs to his PC to continue taking over other planets! This resulted in her firmly telling him that THAT meant SHE had cooked so HE had to wash up! Honestly, you’d think they were married already!

We retreated to the lounge to let them carry on in peace. Nothing much on the TV, HOW unusual for a Saturday, but we did catch a GEM of a few minutes on one programme. I’m putting the link to YouTube here, as it is JUST amazing, and really made my day.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fH5AaA2VkoM

Today, well it looks like the lottie plans are out, the rain has appeared once more. So I shall have to find SOMETHING to occupy hubby, who WILL be like a caged bear within half an hour! Will it EVER be a dry enough day, when he has the time, to get to the allotment?

This is when we envy the other allotmenteers who are retired or semi retired. They can get there all day every day if they want, and we have to pack it all into our precious weekends.

I have seedlings coming on a treat in the conservatory, and quite a few plants in the cold frame in the garden, they NEED to go in the ground soon though.

Ah well, at least we will have SOME veg and fruit from it, but this weather…BAH!

Right I must dash, as it’s time for cleaning the bathroom, then I might make some cakes, before I have to set to on the sunday dinner. I know how to live you know, it’s the high life here alright!

Well, it’s NOT my birthday until tomorrow, but today we went to visit my friend from the Creative Living forum, Yarrow (Pony Tales and Oakmoon)! That’s her above, with one of her smalls, and Toffee, who is THE most adorable horse, he loves to give kisses and likes his cuddles too!

We had the Grand tour of the field, complete with Viney cottage, and Bramble Cottage, saw an abandoned (we think!) Pheasant egg, their lovely little meditation area, and daffodils, and..brambles!

We also met Merlin! He has a bit of a reputation, he’s only a baby still but has been getting a tad boisterous! He bit Yarrow a while back and that hasn’t helped. NOW he is having some special lessons, as is Yarrow, and all seems to be working out so far.

Here he is playing with his Jolly Ball, he quite likes it you know.

He was picking it up and mouthing at it, tossing his head up and down with it, and generally having a rare old time. He let my hubby stroke his nose, on more than one occassion, and actually seemes very pleased to have visitors!

Toffee just looked very Serene, almost as if to say “You wait, he’ll start showing off any minute now!”

Adrian and Yarrows’ hubby got on like a house on fire, Yarrow thought they would, and they were nattering away 10 to the dozen like old mates. I think there will be many happy hours spent with Mr & Mrs Yarrow. There was mention of BBQ’s at the field and real ale and camping in tents, which ksounds JUST like the sort of thing we should do…OFTEN!

Yarrow had put some lovely food together for us, we had pigs in blankets which were scrummy, and sausage rolls, and she had made some lovely sponge cake. I couldn’t take a piccie of them though,as Yarrow says they are NOT to be seen! I was also introduced to Rose Pouchong tea, and I LOVED it, so shall be looking for that tomorrow when we go shopping.

Yarrow and family, THANK YOU for such a lovely morning, it’s a shame we couldn’t stay longer, but you know, it only takes a little while to get everything we need in the back of the car poppet, and we can be up there with you in the field, with a supply of hobgoblin and a chimenea, in half an hour!

This is Violet, one of the first hens we took in from the Battery Hen Welfare Trust 14 months ago. The first pic is from when she first arrived, and shows something of the state these hens can be in, though these three were really quite good looking compared to some. The second pic was taken about a month later!

Last night my husband found her at 7.30, looking very subdued and hardly able to stand, she was obviously setting off on her last journey.

I refused point blank to leave her outside to her fate, and she came in and sat quietly cuddled up on my lap, where she stayed until it was time for her to leave around 8.15.

Goodbye Violet, I hope you enjoyed your time here, and thankyou for being such a character, showing us what glorious creatures hens are, and for all the wonderful eggs.

Safe journey my Lovely.

I like the word wistful, it has a nice ring to it. It makes me think of time, time that you have JUST for you, to sit and think!
The dictionary definition, well one anyway, is Longing; wishful; desirous. I think I must quite often look wistful then, as I can often be found looking longingly at many many things. However, the thing that really does give me most pleasure, is just sitting, on my own, and reading a good book.
Like the picture above, it would be wonderful to have a beautiful garden to do that in. However, as our garden is most definitely the domain of our chickens, it’s not QUITE like that image. So I look wistfully at other peoples’ gardens, and imagine a sunny afternoon sitting quietly reading, or just watching the world go by.
Of course, one of the great pleasures of that scene, is making pictures and shapes from the clouds. I recall about ten years ago, when I was lucky enough to be sailing around the Canary Islands on a beautiful Tall Ship, doing just that. There were a few of us on deck at sunset, the naughty crew, having a swift smoke between watches, and we started watching the clouds. Someone spotted one that looked just like a submarine, then one appeared that resembled a boat, can you guess what happened next? YUP we fell about laughing discussing whether the sub would torpedo the boat, and completely obliterate the sunset! You had to be there, but MY did we get a telling off, one of the earlier watches was trying to sleep beneath us and we’d woken them all. I often watch a sunset now, over the sea near where we live, and remember that time, and the people that I met. Yes, I look wistful then for sure, those are moments, frozen in time, that we will never forget.
Just like the moment I held each of my children for the first time, and more recently, when I held my first grandchild for the first time, I have that picture stored, but the FEELING, that is something else. I can certainly go all wistful over that one.
I think we also get wistful over the ‘What might have beens’. what would have happened if I had taken that OTHER job I was offered? would we have a nicer house if we HAD waited a bit longer before buying? Should I have gone on that trip I always wanted to instead of saving the money?
One thing I am sure of, is that life is TOO short for regrets, IF you have an opportunity to seize something, and you are able to, then DO IT. Someone once told me that the only targets you ever miss, are the ones you DON’T aim for. So I guess, you always have to take a shot, and if you miss, well, practise some more till you get it right.
Always try to remember as well, that sometimes, you may aim at the WRONG target, and THEN if you miss, you might hit the right one accidentally.
Well, time I was off, I have a bubble bath waiting for me, where I can sit in fragrant peace, and get all wistful about gardens full of Frangipane and exotic parrots, and a calm whispering breeze.
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