Thursday 3rd September 2015 – The kids are back to school, so I’m back to the allotment!!

Over the summer holidays I just keep the allotment ticking over, mainly harvesting and watering. Because there is very little weeding that gets done at this time, the weeds have a field day and the only way to describe my allotment at the moment is “ferrel”. Still I’ll soon whip it back into shape (weather permitting). I needed to get a veggie box sorted for my friend Clair. She gets me 2 trailers full of manure every year, and as a thank you I give her a veggie box with all sorts of goodies in. I’ve just dropped this years round to her house and she was very pleased. In it I put, Rhubarb, Potatoes, French Beans, Beetroot, Radish, Cabbage, Carrots and a Swan Necked Squash. I hope her and her daughter enjoy it all.

A thank you gift for my friend Clair for all the manure she supplied me with.

A thank you gift for my friend Clair for all the manure she supplied me with.

The big question once this was done was “Where do I start?” I decided that the Rhubarb bed was as good a place as any. I harvested the last of this years Rhubarb from that bed and cleared away any dead leaves. I then started to weed and loosen up the soil. I managed to get quite a bit harvest, but my fun on my allotment was cut short by a phone call from my daughter saying she was unable to lock the front door with her key. Not sure why that was, so I had to come home just after she’d left. My key works, I’ll have to look at hers when she gets home to see if her key bent or something.

The last of the rhubarb pulled up from this bed. Just need to weed and manure and it's ready for winter.

The last of the rhubarb pulled up from this bed. Just need to weed and manure and it’s ready for the winter.

Still it was a gentle way to get back into the allotment again after the summer break.

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Tuesday 1st September 2015 – Toy’s Hill, Kent.

Both Emily and George are due back to school on Thursday, so tomorrow we’ll be busy getting all their school bits packed and ready. So today was the last day that I could take them out for the day. This morning we were waiting for a hire car to come, because several weeks ago our car was damaged and they’re now repairing the final few bits. The hire car is ok, but nothing is ever as good as your own car. Still it’s got 4 wheels and goes. I was a little disappointed that there was only minimal fuel in, so had to put in a tenner otherwise we’d have broken down on the M25 somewhere. Now we’ve been to Toy’s Hill before, but George wanted to go back again to see if he could find his “Special stick” from before.

The start of our long expedition. What will we find today?

The start of our long expedition. What will we find today?

I’m not sure if he did find it, but we all found some great walking sticks that came in very handy as we walked along the “Red Trail”. Only attempt this if you are crazy! It’s very uppy and downy, with levely bits here and there. Not for the faint hearted. George went exploring down massive dips and Emily helped him up, trying not to get dragged down with him. Wellingtons were a definite, because of all the rain we’ve had lately it was very squidgy.

A helping hand from your big sister is always helpful.

A helping hand from your big sister is always helpful.

The views are amazing, and even though it was very cloudy with occasional showers it didn’t dampen our fun. When you get down in a dip, the signal goes from your phone which is a bit worrying, but soon comes back again when you get near the top. We only saw a few other people as we walked about, and a polite “Good afternoon” was said. George suddenly got very excited because underneath the ferns and brambles he had spotted a snake slithering along. It must have been about 3 feet long, which was quite alarming. And when we got home we figured that it must have been a Grass Snake. In fact there wasn’t just one, but 2 of them slithering about. We saw it’s head and tip of it’s tail as it slithered along. I tried to take lots of photos, but it kept on moving so many of the pictures were blurred. I did get one though.

Look in the middle of the photo and behind the brambles. Have you found it?

Look in the middle of the photo and behind the brambles. Have you found it?

We found a pond that used a pump to bring water to and from Emmetts Garden, George wondered how deep it was because he wanted to stand in it. Emily told him to use his stick to see first, which was a good idea as it was much deeper than he’d expected and would have flooded his wellingtons. What a sensible girls she is…Well most of the time anyway.

Measuring the depth of the water. Too deep for a paddle George.

Measuring the depth of the water. Too deep for a paddle George.

As we wandered along we were spotting all the fungi that was growing. All sorts of wonderful shaped, sizes and colours. Then one really grabbed Georges attention. “It’s shaped like a penis!!” he said with great excitement. And sure enough there standing very proud from the leaves and pointing straight up to the sky was a fungi shaped exactly as he had described. I’m so proud of the little sentences my children come out with sometimes.

Judge for yourself what it looks like. But I think George banged the nail right on the head with this one...ouch!!

Judge for yourself what it looks like. But I think George banged the nail right on the head with this one…ouch!!

We finally managed to find our way back to the car park where we’d left the car. I think we’d walked for at least a couple of hours. It’s great to spend quality time with your kids and just go for a walk. You don’t have to do anything expensive. We’ve done loads this summer holiday, even though some things have made it a bit tricky sometimes. I just hope that when the teachers ask what their favourite thing they did in the holidays was, neither of them mention the phallic fungus.

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Chickens go crazy for cabbage! – Claire’s Allotment Part 257

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Thursday 27th August 2015 – It’s not raining!?!

The last few days have been, well crap to be honest! All it’s done, for most of the week is to pour with rain, blow a gale, thunder and lightning and be cold! I’m not impressed at all, but then I guess that’s British weather for you. But today, did start off a little on the cloudy side, but now the sun is out and the sky is blue. So this afternoon I popped to the allotment to see what I could find. I harvested some more Sarpo Mira Potatoes. I was very impressed with this little lot, and the heaviest was about 12 ounces! I cleaned them up, and now their ready for their close up.

All from one Potatoes plant. Some great sized spuds perfect for baking.

All from one Potato plant. Some great sized spuds perfect for baking.

Some of the plants are ready, but others are not quite, so at the moment, I’m digging them up as and when I need them. I only dug up 1 plant today, but was very impressed with the amount of potatoes I got from just that one. Just for fun I decided to weigh what I harvested from that one plant, and was amazed by what it came to.

If  I get 3 pound and 1 ounces from one plant think what I'll get from them all!!

If I get 3 pound and 1 ounce from one plant think what I’ll get from them all!!

Then I harvest some more Tomatoes, and other Cabbage that has split, but will still taste great, some Kale which I gave to the chickens when I got home, which they thoroughly enjoyed and ravaged in about 30 minutes, a load more French Beans, some Carrots and some more Squash. With the rain that we’ve had this week, I may not have enjoyed it, but the plants certainly did. The Pumpkins are growing really well and my biggest is getting to a very respectable size now. I won’t put any guesses on how heavy I think it could be, I want that to be a surprise when I harvest it at the end of October.

Yes I know the Carrots are a bit small, but I've got one that's trying to do the splits, so that's good enough for me.

Yes I know the Carrots are a bit small, but I’ve got one that’s trying to do the splits, so that’s good enough for me.

So that’s about it for today. We’ll have some of the Potatoes, Carrots and Beans with dinner and the rest will be sorted and frozen.

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Friday 21st August 2015 – Lots more has been harvested!

My plots are looking a little rough around the edges with the grass having grown a little longer than I would normally have it, and the weeds thinking that they’re having free range of the soil. When the kids are on summer holidays I tend to go down a little less than I usually do, and when I am on my plots, I tend to be harvesting rather than anything else. Still, it’s only a couple of weeks until they go back to school (I’m sure they don’t want to know that) and then I’ll quickly whip my plots back into shape and get the beds ready for the winter. It’ll take a little while and I won’t be able to do it systematically because each vegetable will be finished at a different time. But it’ll all get done eventually. This afternoon I harvest Potatoes, French Beans, Tomatoes, Beetroot, Radish, Cabbage, Kale, Squash and Carrots. My Pumpkins are coming on a treat, with the largest one bigger than a football at the moment. So I won’t be growing any world record sized ones this year, but some very decent sized ones if they keep going the way they are. I’ve got quite a few growing. Not as many as last year, but then I didn’t plant as many seeds.

Pumpkins are growing well. This one is about the size of a football at the moment.

Pumpkins are growing well. This one is bigger than a football at the moment. Keep growing my beauty!

The Butternut Squash are doing amazingly well also, and I’ve got loads of those growing, and mostly all decent sizes. When I harvest them I’ll let you see. All the other Squashes are growing well, and I harvested some little round green ones today. The “Swan Neck Squash” are growing well and I’ve got loads more, of varying sizes growing.

More Swan Neck Squash growing. Harvest when they're about 2 foot long!!

More Swan Neck Squash growing. Harvest when they’re about 2 foot long!!

The Sunflowers that I planted in each bed are all doing well. I plant them firstly to attract the bees, and secondly just because they look pretty. They’re all sorts of different sizes and colours, but all totally beautiful and gorgeous.  I’m sure Lottie and Dottie would be very proud.

Red Sun Sunflowers, gorgeous and unusual.

Red Sun Sunflowers, gorgeous and unusual.

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Tuesday 18th August 2015 – Nymans.

This afternoon my sister Michelle, her son Sam, Emily, George and I went to Nymans. It’s a wonderful National Trust place in West Sussex. When I was training for my Shine walk, I walked from my house to here which is 26 miles and it took me 7 hours! Today we took the car and it took about 45 minutes. We managed to get there and back without going on the motorway which was great. The Satnav wanted me to, but the fact that there had been a crash earlier in the morning between and lorry and a crane, was a huge sign to avoid it like the plague!! We only went for the afternoon which is great when you don’t have to pay to get in (if you’re a member that is). We wandered around the beautiful grounds and the kids found a play area where there were logs of all shapes and sizes. Even thought they’re 13, 14 and 15 they still like to jump around of them. It’s great when they’re all together and playing like that, it reminds Michelle and I of when they were little.

All three of them springing from log to log. I'm pleased to report no one broke their ankle.

All three of them springing from log to log. I’m pleased to report no one broke their ankle.

After they’d jumped around enough we continued on our travels around the gardens, admiring all the wonderful beds and beautiful array of flowers and plants. We found a gorgeous pergola, which was swamped in various plants. The perfect creepy place to hide, and it went on and on, and if you stood at one end and looked down, it looked unreal and a bit like “tunnel perspective”….yes it’s a word I looked it up!!

A perfect place to shelter from the blazing sun!! When we get that I don't know.

A perfect place to shelter from the blazing sun!! When we get that I don’t know.

We found little wicker huts that you could sit in, loads of bizarrely shaped trees, which had huge trunks, so must have been hundreds of years old and saw so many wonderful views across the West Sussex countryside. They had a bed of Red Hot Pokers, or Kniphofia if you want the correct naming, which the honey bees loved and would push themselves right up inside the flowers to find all the nectar.

The fabulous gardens at Nymans. Loads of little secret ones to discover.

The fabulous gardens at Nymans. Loads of little secret ones to discover.

We found a little area of lawn that they’d set up a game of croquet on. Although I misheard George when he said this and thought he’d said cocaine instead! That’s a different game all together. The kids had a go, but we wondered (as in Alice in Wonderland) where the flamingos and hedgehogs were? Once we’d looked around everything we wanted to see, Michelle bought the kids an ice cream and us sensible grown ups had a hot cup of tea. It was rather chilly that day, and very un-summery at 18 degrees. What’s that about all. It was a lovely afternoon and great to get out and do something fun with my sister.

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Film Nuts – Jon Wright and I chat to Mustapha Kseibati

clairesallotment:

This is such a brilliant short film.

Originally posted on unusually tall stories:

Jon and I took a break from writing top-secret-new-thing the other day to chat with filmmaker and all-round good guy Mustapha Kseibati for his podcast FILM NUTS.

Mus is one of the most passionate filmmakers I know, and there’s nothing he loves more than a great, heartfelt, commercial movie. Just, whatever you do, don’t get him started on BACK TO THE FUTURE:  if you think I can go on about STAR WARS, you ain’t heard Mus bang on about BTTF!

Jon and I had really good laugh chatting to Mus about how we got started and how ROBOT OVERLORDS got off the ground. You can download the podcast from iTunes here, or stream it on Soundcloud:

Oh, and if you’ve not seen Mus’s latest short, MOHAMMED, you’re missing a real treat. Watch it here!

mohammed poster

Enjoy! Oh, and Jon – who’s not a podcast listener – isn’t convinced there’s…

View original 24 more words

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