Tuesday 16th September 2014 – Butternut Squashes and Pumpkins

Auntie Shirley came to the allotment with me again this morning. It was great to have someone to have a chat with as we worked. So we started by harvest all the Pumpkins that have been growing very happily in a bed with loads of manure in them. We ended up with 24 of various sizes and they fit in the boot of the car perfectly. We would have put in 25, but 1 Pumpkin had gone soft so that went in the green waste area. Still I’m really please with then all, as they’ve grown very well this year.

My 24 beauties!! I hope the table doesn't collapse under the weight of them all.

My 24 beauties!! I hope the table doesn’t collapse under the weight of them all.

When we got home, and after we’d had lunch I went to get the bathroom scales to see how heavy some of them were. I wasn’t going to weigh them all, but just the ones that I felt would be a decent weight. We weighed 9 in total, but had a guess how heavy we thought they would be. To be honest we weren’t far out in our guesses. They weighed between 9lb – 16lb. So no personal best from me as I’ve still not surpassed my 48lb giant, but not a bad weight.

The heavy weights which vary from 9lb - 16lb.

The heavy weights which vary from 9lb – 16lb.

I put sticky labels of them, then I’d remember how much they weighed, just incase you’re wondering what the white bits are on them. Yes, I know that some are a rather odd shape, but then I’ve grown them, so what do you expect! Some will be used for Scouts, others to carve for Halloween, and the rest to make soup, pies, muffins, or just to be cut up and put in the freezer to put in stews over the winter. They’ll stay on the garden table (unless it collapses) for another 4-6 weeks until frosts come, then they’ll go in the greenhouse or shed.

My heaviest one this year. At 16lbs I'm rather pleased.

My heaviest one this year. At 16lbs I’m rather pleased.

Shirley and I also finished weeding the cabbage bed, and bought some more home, we also found some rogue Potatoes, and harvested all the Butternut Squash. Again they’ve done the best I’ve every had, so I’m really pleased with them too. Some are good sized ones, and some are little baby ones. The leaves and stems had gone brown, so they wouldn’t have grown any more. So they’re also on the table in the garden. Like the Pumpkins they’ll go in a frost free place soon, and will be fine until we’re ready to eat them. So thank you Auntie Shirley for coming to help me the last few mornings, I bet you’ll be glad to leave us as you’ll need a rest.

My Butternut Squash. Some a regular shape, and others...well I grew them so what do you expect.

My Butternut Squash. Some are regular shape, and others…well I grew them so what do you expect.

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Monday 15th September 2014 – Auntie Shirley came to stay.

This is Mark’s Auntie, all the way from Australia. She’s been over for quite a while, and she is going home soon, but for the next couple of days she’s staying with us. So today I went to the allotment, and she very kindly came with me. We started to dig up one of the cabbage bed, but after just over 2 hours of digging, we’d had enough. In amongst the Cabbages were growing a few rogue Potatoes from last year, so we harvested those as well. On the way back to the car I had a little bit of space left in my basket, so decided to pop in a couple of Butternut Squash. They’ve done really well this year, in fact the best I’ve ever had, so I’ll harvest the rest tomorrow, along with anything else we can find. I’ll store the Butternut in the shed until I need them. As long as they’re in a frost free place they should keep for several months. But we do like roasted butternut, so I don’t think they’ll last that long. It was lovely to have someone to work with on my plot. I do like listening to music, but having a chat with someone whilst you’re working is much better.

My first 2 Butternut Squash. Proper looking ones!

My first 2 Butternut Squash. Proper looking ones!

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Saturday 13th September 2014 – The emotional roller coaster of walking 26 miles!!

Now I’m not being dramatic, but it really is very up and down, like most of the roads I was walking on. Today I was doing a practice walk of 26 miles, to see how long it would really take me on the night. I was hoping for anything around the 7 hour mark, give or take a bit. I left home at 9.10am to walk the 26 miles to Nymans, knowing that I’d see Mark and the kids much, much later. This time is wasn’t raining as it had been the last time I’d attempted it back in August, and I was walking a different route. So as I left I was in high spirits, with plenty of food and water to keep me going, and my music fully charged and my directions at hand. Now I knew the first 6 miles very well indeed, so had no need to look at my directions. I was so focused on what I was doing, I nearly walked past someone that I knew really well, and then a little later, came across a lady walking towards me wearing a Shine t-shirt for 2012! We gave thumbs up to each other as we passed. The first 3 and a half hours were fine. The time went very quickly, and I was feeling really great. It was not long afterwards that I hit a brick wall (not literally I have to say). You get to the 14 or 15 miles mark, and it suddenly dawns on you how much further you have to go. It seems like an up hill struggle, and at that point you just can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. You keep going on and on, but the miles just don’t seem to go down. You are obviously getting further and further, but you feel like you’re walking on the spot. It’s a very weird feeling. Then suddenly you come out the other end and when you look at your watch you realise that you’ve only got about 2 hours of walking left. This time frame makes sense, and you can justify it. So the dark time in the tunnel has gone, and you suddenly feel on top of the world again. For the next few miles, everything seems to be going really well. I went past a pub that had a sign “Food served Dailey!!” Did you spot the spelling mistake? You figure out roughly how many miles you have left to walk, and justify it to walking to a certain place. When I got to 7 miles to go, I thought “That’s from my house to my sisters, that’s not far, I can do that!” You start to map out that walk and because it’s familiar you feel at home, and are able to get your head round it. But then once you hit approximately the 20 mile mark you suddenly start to fall to pieces. Before I go on, let me remind you that the furthest I’ve walked is about 22 miles, so when you get to the 20 mile mark, you know that you’ve only got another 2 miles to go. But when you get to 20 miles and you’re walking 26 miles, well it seems like an eternity! 6 miles is at least another hour and a half walking, which is a really long time. You try to amuse yourself  by looking at interesting things as you walk past. For example, strange shaped trees, pretty front gardens, cars that don’t give you enough room when they go past you, I hope you get the picture. You get excited by the smallest things, like a foot path, and a crossing, maybe even a main road, or waving to aeroplanes flying overhead, even a sign for another county, yes you heard me correctly, I left Surrey and walked all the way into West Sussex!!

I had officially left Surrey.

I had officially left Surrey.

It was just after seeing this sign, that I became very weepy. Now I’m not a weepy sort of person, even films don’t get me going. Maybe it was the fact that I was on my own, or I was very exhausted, or I’d not seems anyone for hours, but I started to weep uncontrollably!! I was saying to myself various things like “What are you doing?”, “Keep going, you can do it!”, “Not much further!” and so forth. These bouts of crying came and went, without any warning as to when they were going to happen. I managed to compose myself before I went in a pub in Faygate to use their loo. I was bursting, and didn’t think I’d make it for the last 5 miles, and didn’t fancy finding a bush. As I entered the pub all the drinkers suddenly stopped talking to each other and looked at me. They watched me go in the direction of the loo, and then did the same as I left. I know that I was not smelling very pleasant at that time (come on neither would you after walking all that way), or maybe I looked awful or what I just don’t know. It was a little unnerving, but I was relieved to leave their in more ways than one. It was then the final hour of walking, Mark sent me a text to say that him and the kids were leaving home, so I knew they’d arrive in about 45 minutes or so and this spurred me on. My legs were getting rather painful by this point, but being so close to the end made me feel great one minute and then weepy the next. I started to question my directions saying “How am I supposed to cross the motorway?” It had not occurred to me until I arrived that I would be walking over a bridge!! For the last 2 miles I was questioning if I’d programmed in the correct place. What if I ended up somewhere else, what would I do? Then finally I came into Handcross, so I knew I was nearly home. I got a text from Mark to say they’d arrived and knew I wasn’t far behind. You know when you’re very close when you see the brown National Trust signs for Nymans, so you follow those, and those alone. I then came round the final corner and there was the entrance. I nearly collapsed on my knees with relief. When I arrived at the entrace to be honest it was a bit of a downer, but I then found the entrance and Emily and all the tears came again. I asked her to get Mark, and when he came in, I hugged him for about 5 minutes, before I composed myself. Whilst he got me an icecream, I went in the ladies and did a complete change of clothes, and when I say a complete change, I mean a complete change. I have never enjoyed an icecream so much in my life, it was Ginger and Toffee!! Just incase you’re wondering it took me exactly 7 hours to walk 26 miles, so I was very, very pleased with it. Once home (Mark drove), I went straight in the bath and then into my pj’s. We then had dinner and I fell asleep at 8.45pm. If you would still like to sponsor me, please visit my Just Giving Page. Thank you xx

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Friday 12th September 2014 – A quarter is sorted.

It’s that time of year again when, as you’re harvesting all your goodies you turn over each bed. Firstly to remove any weeds, and secondly to get some air into the soil so it’s ready for winter. Getting air into the soil  a must as it benefits not only the soil itself, but the insects as well. And it makes it much easier to dig the soil again in the spring and the frost doesn’t make the ground go as hard as a rock. Now that all the Potatoes are up (I’m sure I’ll find the odd few lurking about somewhere) that’s what I’m doing. I’ve managed to get a quarter of my area sorted. There are Carrots still in one bed, and Sprouting Broccoli in another, but I weeded those as best I could. The Leeks are growing well, and the Horse Radish has gone mad this year. I’ll have to dig some up later on and show you what to do with it. I also harvested all my Sweetcorn. It looks good, so we’ll have some for dinner in the next few days. I wonder if I can freeze the rest? I suppose I can. I’ll give it a go anyway. Also my French Beans have finished. There was the odd flower about to open, but to be honest I’ve got so many in the freezer, letting the odd one go isn’t a problem. They’ve done amazingly well this year, they did look a bit scraggly, but they produced loads of beans so I’m pleased with them. So that was 3 wheel barrow loads of green waste to put in the green waste area, so that was a good mornings work.

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Thursday 11th September 2014 – Meet my Potato Man!!

Well it was bound to happen, after all it’s my allotment, and I’m growing vegetables and fruit. Today I think I’ve finally dug up all my potatoes. I expect I’ll find some more somewhere, but at least I think that’s the bulk of them up. I got another 2 bags full, so adding that to what I’ve already dug up, I must have about 3 sacks full!! Gosh that’s a huge amount of spuds. But as I was digging them up, I came across a rather bizarrely shaped one. I think it looks like a snowman, but in potato form, so I’m calling it my “Potato Man!!” I’m rather chuffed with him. So I thought I’d let you see him in all his glory.

My Potato Man!!

My Potato Man!!

I’m not sure if I’ll boil his head first, or it might be kinder to boil him whole.

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Tuesday 9th September 2014 – Lots more Potatoes harvested!!

Today I spent a good deal of time digging up a massive bed of potatoes. I’ve still got some more to dig up, but so far I’ve got about two and a half sacks full of potatoes, so hopefully that should keep us going for a fairly long time. It took me from 10am to just before 2pm. I did stop for about 30 minutes to sit down and have my lunch, but after 2 hours of constant digging, your back starts to get a bit achy and you need a little sit down. Only a couple of potato beds left to dig up, and a few rogue potatoes to also dig up, so I think I’m nearly there. I’m working on Wednesday, so won’t be able to get down then, but the weather is staying dry for the rest of the week, so hopefully I can get loads done on Thursday and Friday. No more funny shaped potatoes to report this time, but you never know, I may find an even bigger one, or some other strange shapes. If I do, you’ll be the first to know about it.

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Sunday 7th September 2014 – Get me a cold beer ready please!!

The perfect thing waiting for you after an 18 mile walk to Shalford Mill is knowing that there will be a lovely cold beer waiting for you in the pub over the road. That was what I’d requested Mark do. I reckoned that I should arrive at the SeaHorse Inn pub at about 3pm, so Mark and the kids arrived just after 2.30pm, and were waiting for me to turn up. I wasn’t that far away, and arrive about 2.50pm. The walk was very pleasant. I’ve walked to Shalford Mill before, so I knew most of the way without looking at Google Maps. However, it did take me a slightly different way, where I had to cross over an un manned railway crossing. Don’t worry I took my earphones out, and made sure it was safe to cross, and kept looking until I was safely across. It took my 4 hours 40 minutes, which I was rather pleased with. Next weekend I’m going to go for the big one of 26 miles. I reckon it should take me 7 hours, but I’ll let you know. Once I arrived at the pub, I asked for a Budweiser, but they didn’t have any!! I was about to cry, as I’d been looking forward to a lovely cold one for the last 6 miles or so. But he offered me another very nice beer, so I was happy again. As we sat in the pub garden, George decided that he’d climb the tree, but then other much smaller kids tried it to. Now George is great at climbing, but I’m not responsible for other peoples children trying to do the same and getting stuck. We’ve always had the rule that if you get up, you get down. Mark then drove home, and I got in a well earned bath. I’ll miss all this walking when the walk has finished, maybe I can still go for wanders, but not so far.

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