The trials and tribulations of a life of leisure...


Sunday, September 26, 2010

A-brambling I Will Go

I have been keeping an eye on the brambles in the locality. They have been very late ripening this year. Last week it looked as if it would be worth going picking but the weather and other things had got in the way.

One of those other things was digging up all my second early potatoes. The foliage had started to die back all of a sudden, and when I got back from Leeds was looking decidedly brown and withered.

The potatoes did not seem to be affected. I kept filling the carrier bags while Paul was on rubbish bag emptying duty and was in charge of weighing (he brought the bathroom scales downstairs!) and transferring potatoes into the hessian sacks I had bought earlier this year. Seventy three pound dug up (at least as I think they under weigh), making a total of over eighty six pounds...

The King Edward main crop potatoes foliage has also died right back. I may dig up a plant just to check that the potatoes themselves are okay. If any signs of problems I guess I will have to clear them all out too. I should have ordered more sacks...

I also had another afternoon of runner bean processing. Seven pounds picked resulting in another four pounds blanched and in the freezer - those that were too big for the slicing gadget were put aside. Also another pound and a quarter of dwarf purple beans processed. At this rate I think we will be completely self-sufficient in vegetables. The cabbages are now coming in to play...

But this morning I took a window of opportunity when the sun briefly broke through to at last go brambling on the hill the other side of the bridge. I think I have missed the optimum harvest time - like a lot of things this year they are not hanging about and many just squidged in my fingers. However, I did pick just over a pound including wild life and hopefully will get some more later this afternoon from the verge up the hill from Margaret's.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Izzy Wizzy

It has been a very busy week. And that without any gardening being done...

Last weekend was the NSC semis. The Scottish gang (Allan, Simon, Stu and myself) travelled down to Leeds together. Philips never turned up - nobody knew that he wasn't going...

I started well, winning the first four games and then crashed and burned for the rest of day 1. However, I thought 11 wins should still be enough to get to the final. I was right, but unfortunately it wasn't me but Mark Nyman who swept the board on day 2. We actually played each other in game 9, but the tile gods were definitely smiling on Mark in that game. I ended up 8-6, some damage to my rating but not too much. That is it for the domestic scene for me this year. Next stop JB at the start of December for the Causeway Challenge where I will be playing for the UK team.

The dogs had been put into kennels as Paul was also away that weekend playing bridge in Solihull. I retrieved them on Monday morning much to their delight. I am not sure how much Jen ate whilst away as I had never see her eat her dinner so fast. I then had to retrieve Paul from Berwick station in the afternoon.

On Tuesday evening it was the East District team secretaries meeting to arrange the fixtures for the coming bridge season. I met up with Reg and he drove us on an hour early as there was another meeting he was attending prior to mine. All I can say is that I was not prepared for the chaos. However, all the matches are now in the diary subject to cancellations/rearrangements with only one minor disaster which has now been resolved.

Wednesday and I started working on which of my team members I want to play for which matches. I just needed a couple of confirmations of availability/willingness to play (which I got last night). I now have provisional team line-ups for all the matches, hopefully keeping everyone as happy as possible with the number of 'caps' they will get - both where they want to play almost every match and where they only want to play a couple. Time will tell :)

Wednesday was also the first of the major veggie picking sessions. Given almost a week left to its own purposes with rain and sunshine the veggie patch had gone mad. Luckily I had thought ahead and stocked up on freezer bags and sent away for a blanching basket when Youngman's did not stock such an item.

So, three and a quarter pounds of dwarf purple beans picked. Some donated to Penny and the rest were washed, topped, tailed, chopped, blanched, bagged and put in the freezer.

Reg had given me a bag full of plums, apples and cooking apples on Tuesday evening. So yesterday was baking day. A quick search on the web and I decided on an apple pie (I had a couple of blocks of pastry in the freezer) and a plum cobbler. I had just over two and a half pounds of plums and that seemed perfect for Delia's recipe. I got Paul to help with removing the stones. With the left over pastry from the apple pie I made marmite rolls, which I ate hot from the oven.

In the evening I played bridge with Reg at the club . Our first ever partnership but I will be playing with him in a couple of the league fixtures so we need to get some practice in. No disasters, but none of the system changes that Paul has made for me over the summer (transfers, Michaels, unusual NT) came up. I was pleased to remember that Reg's overcall of 2C over a 1NT opener was for the majors and respond correctly. It must have exhausted me as I slept in this morning until 11.40!!!

This afternoon was the first session of runner bean processing. I had also sent away for a runner bean slicer on the recommendation of both Jean and Penny. I picked four pounds from just one of my wigwams - must have at least as many again ready on wigwam number 2 and still loads more coming. Paul was in charge of the bean slicing and me on the blanching/bagging. Two (prepared) pounds now in the freezer, some put aside for us/Margaret - those that were too fat for the gadget.

Bridge again tonight in the Borders v Edinburgh match. I am playing with Paul...

Monday, September 06, 2010

Blowing In The Wind

Today was the last day for the foreseeable future when it was not going to rain. Instead we had 30 mph winds. Luckily from the south east so I was somewhat protected from them working on the long bank extension. I was determined to finish the next section up to the top, having come in at around 7 p.m. last night with not much left to go.

After half an hour I was ready to get the last rock in place. I thought I may be able to shift it myself but soon realised I wasn't. I had excavated its hole and went and got Paul to help. Once in place I had a foothold to finish digging out the area above it. An hour later and time to have a celebratory cup of coffee and ciggie. 33.75 hours from start to finish, and I am guessing that was about a third of what I have left to do.

I treated myself for the rest of the afternoon...

The new section now has been christened with three heathers - another nine being planted in other sections of the LBE, six hostas and two gentians. This was not a simple task as the wind kept blowing the pots over while I was digging the planting holes, and then I was having to try to hang on to the pots when I had removed the plants. One pot did escape and was last seen racing towards the bridge.

Another gentian and sedum planted in the bed in front of the wall. Then I tackled splitting the liriope that has been living in a pot since we moved up from Sandhurst. Once I managed to get it out of its pot (having to firstly remove the snail population attached to the rim) a lot of effort was spent jumping up and down on a spade to split it in half. I then split one half into four, three planted and one put aside for Reg. The other half was replanted back into the pot. Then down to the bed at the top of the drive where, again with a lot of effort, I managed to dig out the day lily. This again was split into four, one replanted in its original site and the other three in the new section. Finally I managed to dig out a piece of the euphorbia Jean had given me - a decent bit of root and three good buds on it. On a roll I decided to also split a good clump of alliums into three smaller clumps. My last job was to prune my Kilmarnock willow - although much admired in May by our visitors due to its vigour this was now getting out of hand...

Whilst moving plants from one end of the garden to the other I noticed this Red Admiral butterfly posing on the high bank wall.

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