Saturday, 23 June 2012

No More Heroes Any More (except for my first new potatoes)

You know you're getting old when you see one of your favourite bands from your youth, performing at the Isle of Wight Festival, and you see a group of middle aged men playing instruments.  Yes I have been watching Sky Arts coverage of the legendary 'rock' festival.  The band in question was the Stranglers.  Time waiteth for no man, so goes the saying.

Like wise I got up this morning and dug my first Solanum Tuberosum (new potatoes).  Talk about there being gold in them there hills.  I  (we) planted them in the first week of March and it's seemed like an Elephants pregnancy waiting for them.  Here's some photo's for you:

The top picture is my new potatoes sitting in my old Kenwood Chef stainless steel bowl.  Bought from a car boot sale in England for £1 in 1999.  You can also see peas growing in a old bath and carrots growing in a boulder raised bed.  I really like 'untidy gardening'.  All praise be to your allotments.  We are the artists with our hoes and spades and forks for paint brushes.

Would loved to have seen England during the 'Dig For Victory' campaign, when every where was used to grow veg.  Wouldn't minded being a Spitfire pilot either or a train driver (steam of course) or writing Ealing comedy scripts.  See you next week!


  1. Looks like you've got some really good soil there, better than the clay we have here.

    The spuds look well, wish I could taste them, especially with a piece of this years lamb, fresh mint sauce and fresh peas.

    Was the £1 for the whole Kenwood, or just the bowl?
    Remember when I was first homeless, with nothing, had to start from scratch, and my first purchase was an oval enamelled roasting tin complete with lid, car boot £2, then a big stainless stock pot with lid, £1. I still have them, the stock pot gets used for wine-making regularly. The last tennant of my first rented cottage left a few bits, so I didn't have to buy much; even an enamelled oven dish, the oblong one, "Made in Poland" on the bottom, it was full of lasagne in the freezer they left (I had to buy the freezer), it takes 4 potted herring just nice.

    Hasn't rained today, looks like it though.
    Just need a couple of dry days to get the back grass civilised, the bottom bit looks ready for hay-timing, I wish new potatoes or something edible would grow as fast.

  2. Hi Cumbrian,

    Thanks for visiting. It's been quiet here with out your thoughts. I do get a fair few people who read the posts but not many who make comments.

    Yes the soil is excellent. It's old pasture full of fym and rich red juicy worms.

    The spuds tasted delicious. They are the Orla variety and are organic certified from Scotland where they don't get the blight as easily as their Irish cousins. We had them yesterday with some Sirloin steak and peas. Talk about Ambrosia for Ye Gods? All it needed was a few pints of English real ale to wash them down. So I made do with a few cans of Irish stout.

    The £1 was just for the bowl. Isn't it strange how we collect things and they have sentimental value? I collect copper kettles. They badly need their annual polish, but I don't mind them looking faded.

    It's showers and rain here. Waiting for the silage to be cut. Don't think we will get the chance to make hay this year. Everything is growing well in the garden but I don't seem to be able to tend it because of the rain. Did you go anywhere warm any sunny on your travels?

    Thanks Cumbrian.

  3. English ale, I just got a kit of Muntons Smugglers special ale, premium quality to try, should come out about 5%. Paid £23 for it, so I'll be disappointed if it doesn't taste really good, the last Muntons I brewed was excellent, just the standard kit, a real individual ale taste.
    You'll have to have a go.

    Fuertaventura, very warm high 20s / low 30s, never a drop of rain. Strange island, moonscape sand and rock, no water, no green, just good roads with nothing on them and a resort every 20 miles or so. Goats seem to thrive, dunno what they find to eat though. And goat never appears on the menu. They make a nice goats cheese, I got half a one to bring home, it's a white slightly crumbly, very nice. San Miguel on draught, not bad, suits the heat.

  4. Never heard of Munton Smugglers special ale. Will check than one out, thanks!! I will have a go. It's just that I have had a couple of attempts at home brewing in the past and I have not been happy with some of the results.

    Wish Wetherspoons (they're in the North) or somebody would open a real ale pub in Ireland. If Britain wants to export anything - it's the 'Real Ale' pub! Home brew is great though!

    I have watched holiday programmes about Fuertaventura. The moonscape sounds fascinating. I have also drank San Miguel. It's not bad. You can't beat a pint of lager or bitter shandy on a hot day. Or even a bottle of cold tea?


  5. Just put Muntons into your google, a nice site for home brewing enthusiasts.
    I'm actually surprised Wetherspoons don't have pubs in Ireland, they seem to have them eveywhere else, including airports. There must be a reason, it's a big brand here.

    Fuertaventura's different from the other Canary islands, it's bigger than you think, 196 km from end to end by the roads (Yes I clocked it) and the most Northern 25 miles are a nature reserve with a settlement at the end of 25 miles of dirt track, dunno who lives there or how they survive, there's 2 cafe / restaurant places, about 20 houses and maybe 30 caravans, don't look they've been moved in decades. There's also a museum (shut when we were there) a lighthouse and a windmill (modern)
    Haven't a clue what the wild things eat, we saw a few donkeys, the odd goat, a handful of sheep (couldn't idfentify the type) and some birds, a sign said the birds were very rare. It's just volcanic rock and sand and dust.

    The South end, 20 miles of Saharah desert landscape with sand dunes one side and the Atlantic the other, sand blowing over the tarmac all the time. Leads to the port which has a ferry to Lanzerote (we didn't go, no good for wheelchairs) only 20 minutes away.

    West side facing the Altantic is where all the resorts are, that's all there is, about 20 miles apart woth not much in between.

    East side facing Africa (Morocco I think) is mostly inaccessible.

    Mountains in the middle, roads a bit like some in the Lake District, narrow and twisting following the curves of the mountains with pretty villages occasionally.

    Breeze always there, if it drops the temperature rises fast, it gets too bloody hot in fact. (For us anyway) When it comes from Africa the breeze fetches lots of fine sand / dust with it, which settles on the windscreen and eveything else.

    There's no rivers but lots of dried-out riverbeds, so maybe there used to be. it very rarely rains so all drinking water is imported.

    Don't really know why anybody should want to live there, no water, no industry, no manufacturing, no agriculture, no forestry, no mining, guess tourism is their only or main industry. Except a bit of fishing perhaps.

    Dry again this morning, maybe get the lawn mower out later.
    Raggy cat come in, curled up on my cushion.

  6. I think Wetherspoons have pubs in Northern Ireland? There's also Asda and my favourite: Sainsbury's, but not down here, sadly. I have heard of a pub(Abbotts) in Cork city that sells ale from all over the world and there's the Franciscan brewery which actually brews their own. Will check them out in the next few weeks and report back. There are a few micro breweries sprinkled around Ireland. Wish CAMRA would campaign for more real ale and real ale festivals in Southern Ireland.

    Thanks for telling me about Muntons. Will Google it.

    Thanks for the info about Fuertaventura. You should write travel guides or travel memoirs. Where's the best place you have been on your travels Cumbrian? Where would you recommend for Brits to enjoy the sun but also sample English ale? I have heard that Benidorm is like Blackpool with the sun. Could do with a break and drink some real ale, preferably somewhere cheap and guaranteed sun. Perhaps I should buy a greenhouse and get a few bottles of Theakstons from the off licence, they normally stock SIX or SEVEN at a time!

    It's mizzle weather here, perfect for blight. Alan the cat visits every morning at seven and demands his milk and food.


  7. Yes, we have a few micro-breweries, on in Cockermouth called The Bitter End, has a glass wall so you can see the brewing happening, and a woman brewer.
    Festivals we have 2 locally, Maryport and Silloth, they seem well supported.
    Quite a few CAMRA approved pubs, since our surviving brewery makes real ales, if you ever get a chance try Jennings Cumberland ale in summer, Sneck-lifter in winter.

    Best place I liked was Bangkok, a weeks break on my own, a present to me for packing in a 40-year 60-80 cigarettes a day habit. Fantastic place. Singah beer, good but strong.

    Benidorm is just like you say, Blackpool in the sun. We like it because it has such a long stretch of promenade, 2 long crescents either side of Old Town, Poniente and Levante beaches. Levante is where all the night life is, New Town, centred about the Don Pancho hotel. Problem is, 2 streets back, you hit cardiac hill, so we need to get one of the very few hotels on the level with DAP access. Best places to stay are the Magic chain, 5 hotels scattered in Benidorm, stay in one, you can eat / drink in any. San Miguel on draft.

    Cheapest place was Bulgaria, but it's getting more expensive, they're EU now. Lovely to see the rural bits about 10 miles inland and away from the big towns, they still have horse & cart in use, on grass roads. Downside is the snow for half the year, unless you like ski-ing. Bottled beer in green botles, couldn't read the name, cryllic writing, nice but strong.

    Hottest was Mauritius, didn't I forget it's Southern hemispere, went in Febrary, it's their summer. Thankful for the universal air-con. Blue Marlin beer, very nice.

    Coldest & wettest Norway, it's the only country I know that's more expemsive than UK, they have ferry trips to come shopping to the Metro Centre. Dunno what the beer is, it was £10 a pint 10 yeras ago, so I didn't try it. They sold draft on the ferry, a strange measure of 0.41 lt, a bit like a cheap bitter.

    Never found anywhere that serves real ales as well as England, but there's Irish bars everywhere, varying degrees of quality, I think the best Guinness I ever had was in Budapest, an Irish bar with irish staff. There's a John Bull English pub not far from it, they don't speak English. Some nice draft lagers there though.

    Favourite weekend has to be Amsterdam, some good bars / cafes / coffee shops / restaurants, but getting a bit pricey since they went Euro, it was cheap enough in Guilders. They make Hienekin there, but the universal draft beer is Amstel.

    Most relaxing South East France, Langduoc - Roussilon region, a lot of rural bits, horse-riding country. Not a holiday destination for the English, but a lot of French holiday-makers in summer, we like it in quieter spring and autumn. Beer in cans or dumpies from the supersheds, the area is known for its wines, so we tend to drink them, very cheap.

    Best beers has to be Belgium, they do some lovely stuff, the standard Gimberlin on draft is 6%, they serve it little glasses, after a few you realise why. And some of the bottled stuff, if you can get Trappist beer, made by the monks, goes up to 12%, very dangerous.

  8. Thanks for that Cumbrian. Benidorm sound brilliant. Just don't want to meet groups of young lads and lasses - 'Brits on the p*ss'. I am sure there are plenty of respectable and quiet places.

    That's an incredible achievement to pack in 60 - 80 cigarettes.

    I have been looking at France. Would love to visit Paris and visit the WW1 battle fields. Every village and town in the UK and Ireland lost somebody in the Great War. So I would like to pay my respects to the fallen. More of a trip than a holiday.

    Roussilon sounds great. There's a ferry from Cork to Roscoff. Is it anywhere near Langduoc?

    Had many a great holiday in England - Scarborough and New Quay in Cornwall, not forgetting the Lakes of course and the Fylde coast.

    You've given me lots of great ideas for future holidays Cumbrian.


  9. Benidorm does have something for everyone, in winter it's like a scrap-yard with zimmer frames, wheelchairs and mobility scooters, lots of retired Brits stay there on cheap deals for a long time in the winter.
    Stag and hen parties are ever popular, but as you say there's lots of other places to go if you want to avoid them.
    Late-night entertainment is pretty raunchy, Sticky Vicky being ledgendary, Woody Brown (Roy Chubby's brother, he's even worse) along with tribute bands (Stays Quo, Abba etc, some of them very good) and full-on lesbian acts, beautiful girls, they get a poor victim out of the audience, strip themselves and him off, lie him on the floor and drip candle wax on him whilst toying with him provocatively.
    It takes forever to get the hardened candle wax out of the chest hairs next morning.
    If you like that sort of thing.

    The French really know how to look after their fallen from both wars, there's many military cemetaries, all beautifully kept and documented, I've seen a few, the biggest one at Rouen, full of our boys as well as French, and, incredibly, some German.

    Roscoff is just a little place, I think it only exists for the ferry port, but it gets you to Finnistaire, the Altantic facing part of Brittany. I think you'd like it there, very rural, lots of little hamlets and small towns, all with interesting archtecture. Best way is to stay in gite, a purpose-converted farm building usually.
    Calvados, apple brandy, is the speciallity, often home-produced in the coutryside. some of it's abit rough, but very potent.

    Langduoc-Rossilon region is actually at the opposite end of France to Brittany, Mediterranean, part of the Catalan region which encompasses North East Spain and South East France. Best way to visit is a plane to Girona (Ryanair we use) and hire a car (Hertz via Ryanair) there, much cheaper than in France, and it's only about an hour up the AP-7 to France, then 20 minuyes East to the coast. Place we go is called Argeles-sur-mer, lovely micro-climate in the lee of the mountain range that forms the border. Perpignan's nearer, but we don't have a near-by airport that flies to there.

    Must admit I liked Cornwall, was there Xmas 2006, place called Mousehole, between Penzance and Lands End, it was actually quite warm compared to Cumbria.
    The genuine Cornish pasties and clotted cream made it worth the journey.

  10. Thanks for that. I have heard of Sticky Vicky. I believe she is good for testing to see if light bulbs work. Moving swiftly on.

    I have also heard that Germany doesn't have a Remembrance Day. It's hard to comprehend that there were more people killed in one day of the first world war than there was in the whole of the second world war. Would love to visit the Somme...

    The gite idea sounds excellent. Thanks.

    I have visited Mousehole, very famous for painters. My best moment in Cornwall was flying by helicopter over Lands End to Tresco. Magical. Even if it was only for the day. Cornwall is very similar to West Cork.


  11. First time I've heard that, it does sound difficult to comprehend, I don't know the numbers, except that about 6,000,000 went into the gas chambers.

    The gites are an excellent way of discovering the rural bits, they're often on working farms, but some purpose-built. Last one I stayed in was in November, it had a walk-in fireplace with dog irons and 4' long logs. Years since I was there, but I seem to remember it was booked through Brittany Ferries.

    Mousehole's very nice at Christmas, the harbour is all done up with fairy lights in various nautical designs. On Boxing Day they have a ceromony in one of the pubs, can't remember the name, about Tom somebody (can't remember his name either) who saved the village in days gone by when they were starving due to storms preventing the fishing, he braved the elements to return with fish to save them. They sing a shanty, then have a huge star-gazey pie and dish it out to all customers.
    Think I'd like to visit West Cork, there'll be some good sea fishing I think.

    got about two-thirds of my back jungle civilsed yesterday, it was abou 15" high so I left the collector box off, thinking I'd let the cut dry then rake it up. Good idea till rain stopped play. still haven't done the bottom bit, it's about 30" high, I cut the thistles and ragwort out, but it's still awaiting its cut, a project for the next fine day.

    Weather's your mizzle today, overcast and cold.

    Sampled a bottle of Bluebird bitter last night, one of 4 given to me for Fathers Day by No 2 son, a bottle conditioned award winning English ale by the Coniston Brewery Co. Very nice, and I've still got 3 pints left.

  12. Yes it is difficult to comprehend the war casualties statistics. There are some people who even dispute the Holocost. I think it's difficult for anybody to dispute military statistics though.

    Two great British/Irish writers Tolkien and CS Lewis both fought in the first world war. Yet they still believed in God and used the power of good over evil for themes for their books.

    Talking of battle sites. I have visited Culloden near Imverness in Scotland. You instantly pick up an aura and atmosphere and realise something terrible happened there. I asked the tour guide if they ever see any ghosts? He said:

    "Oh yes. Only last year two tourists saw a manifestation and heard the sound of bag pipes."

    West Cork is beautiful but can be very expensive if you don't shop around. There is good sea fishing. I think Dingle in Kerry is the most geared up place I have visited in Ireland. West Cork is very laid back and doesn't seem to want to entice tourists. They are friendly enough but they don't put on a show. It seems to be "take us as you find us."

    Mousehole reminds you of one of those smugglers pirate places. Robin Hoods bay near Scarborough is very similar. There's a pub right next to the sea and the waves hit the windows during the winter storms. I would love to hear the sea shanties being sang. West Cork is very good for ballads. Don't expect them to get going until 10 o'clock though!

    You should get a petrol strimmer Cumbrian. I even cut the sides of my hedges with it when I can't be bothered using my petrol hedge cutter. I sspend many a hour strimming grass under the electric fence.

    Mizzle (mist and drizzle) is back again today. You can't even see the bay. Ate some more potatoes yesterday. The rain's give us a fantastic crop. The weeds are winning the show and it's like painting the Forth railway bridge at the moment.

    I love Coniston. Had many a pint in the Ship Inn and the Sun. Did you ever see Donald Campbell or Blue Bird? The bitter sounds great!!


  13. Maybe a good idea that petrol strimmer, what's the best, cord or blade? Any good / bad makes?
    I've got a little electric one, just a boys toy really, only use it on the front lawn edge, it wouldn't look at the back jungle.

    Never saw Donald Campbell or the Blue Bird, other than on film the same as everybody else.
    Never been to Culloden either, but I've read the story. I know the feeling though, it's probably similar to the ambience you feel in the French military cemetaries.

    Still mizzle.
    Raggy cat in front of the un-lit fire, looking hopeful. but it's quite warm now.

  14. I have a Tanaka petrol (unleaded and a bottle of oil) and I paid four hundred punts for it ten years ago. So you could say it's only cost forty quid a year plus fuel. You get can one with a metal head and they cut the grass a lot shorter without damaging the head when you touch the ground with the spinning head. There only about 15 quid extra. You can buy strong cord and very weak nylon. I always go for a more industrial strength. You can also get a brush cutter blade but the strong cord does the job fine. You can also get an hedge cutter attachment with it.
    Places like B & Q sell cheaper less powerful one's but you will soon burn them out. Another option is to hire one first and see if you like it. Make sure you put plastic guards round any shrubs or trees because if you ring bark them they will die.

    Ambience: what a brilliant word. Yes some places seem to have a feeling of their own, be it great sadness or holy like an ancient abbey or stone circle or fort.

    The sun's just burned off the mizzle and I can see land on the other side of the bay. Alan (the cat)calls for his breakfast every morning and plays merry hell if he doesn't get it immediately.

    Thanks Cumbrian.

  15. I think the only way I'm gonna civilise the bottom bit is with a big strimmer / brushcutter.

    Good idea to hire one first, as you say the B & Q stuff are just usually toys, and a big one's a lot of money if I can't get the hang of it.

    My little one has a cord and it's hells own job to replace it, one of those fiddly little things that require several hands, so I was hoping that a blade might be a better bet, or do the bigger ones have the heavy duty cord that doesn't snap so easy?

    I got a decent ham shank yesterday, Wiltshire cured gammon it was called by Morrisons at Carlisle, been in the slow cooker overnight, so it's lentil soup later.

    Raining again today, but warm, that close muggy type of warm.

    Alan the cat sounds like a character, does he earn his brekkie at the ratting or mouse clearance?
    Raggy cat in and preening in front of the un-lit fire.

  16. Hi Cumbrian. I would get a strimmer that is at least 25cc. Ask them to put a aluminium scalping head on it, its really easy to put 6mm twisted nylon on it. Or you can get one with a plastic/nylon 4 tooth blade.

    You could get a landscape gardener (they will recommend a good strimmer) to strim it down or perhaps somebody who you know who's got an allotment might do it for a few pints of your own brew. A cheap one from petrol B & Q is ideal for edging a lawn or not thick grass. But it's horses for courses really and the big one's last years. It's a shame I don't live near you I would gladly lend it you and show you how to work it.

    One last very important thing about strimmers (not saying you or anybody reading this are stupid!), PLEASE, Please! Make sure you wear goggles when using them. They are great for flicking stones and dog dirt in your face and eyes. The number of people I see using strimmers and hedge cutters with no eye protection. We only have one set of eyes. Sermon over. We will now sing hymn 52!

    The lentil soup with Wiltshire sounds excellent. Our Stanley Range cooks stuff really slowly.

    Cork and Belfast were badly affected by the heavy rain last night. Luckily we have the bay. So it soon drains away. Talking of Bantry Bay. If you get yourself in front of a television tonight. Watch Country House Rescue on Channel 4. It's all about Bantry House. I recently wrote a post about the allotments there.

    Alan is a real character. There is no evidence of any mice in the old farmhouse now. Alan is working outside at night at the moment. He met me at ten to 7 this morning and came with me to feed the calfs their beef nuts. Then he plays merry hell for his milk and breakfast.

    Thanks Cumbrian!!

  17. Been looking at Tanaka TBC230D strimmer, seems to be big enough at 22cc and 5 year gaurantee, comes with optional blade / cord.
    Best deal I can find it is at, £245 delivered.

    Nice of you to offer, but as you say a bit far away. Maybe you could have a look at the one I'm thinking about, I'd appreciate your comments, I beleive in listening to somebody who's done it and knows what they're talking about. Sermon noted and Psalm 52 recited. (Get some goggles) No 2 son (the 36-year-old who still speaks to me) works in hydraulic hose fitting engineering workshop, I'm sure he can scare me up a decent pair of industrial goggles as opposed to the toy ones in B&Q.

    Soups's still in slow cooker, with onion, carrot, swede and potato chopped fine and half a bag of lentils, the longer it simmers the better it tastes. Ham shank sliced (and sampled) to be served with new potatoes and butter.

    Brewing done, 23 lts in big bucket waiting to start fermenting.

    Might have a look at TV tonight Chanel 4, what time?

    Pissing down. Raggy cat asleep on my cushion.

  18. Just had a look at their site - very reasonable! The 230D looks very similar to mine. However you could pay another 15 quid and get the one with the blade. Any of them will do you fine. The best thing about the 230D is it's very light weight. The industrial one's are very heavy. I priced one the other week (just because I'm nosey) and it was 350 Euros. I would still go for the aluminium scalping head, because like it says you can cut it really short (holiday time) because the metal head touches the ground. A plastic 'easy feed' head needs to be operated a few inches off the ground or else you will damage it.

    My Tanaka doesn't have the electric easy start- just the pull cord. So I think if I was you I would find a local stockist and see if you like it(light enough and easy to start and change cord) before ordering one. The easy feeds and easy starts aren't always that easy! Do you have hedges? They also sell attachments that go on the strimmers.

    I wear a helmet with a drop down see through visor. You can often pick them up on car boot sales for less than twenty quid. Some even come complete with ear muffs.

    The soup sounds great.

    Country House Rescue is on at 8 or 9 if you watch channel 4 +

    My terrier killed two rats today near the ducks. Rewarded her with two choccy biscuits and she's getting a slap up tea tonight. Terriers and cats are worth their weight in gold on a smallholding.


  19. Thanks for that, looked for a nearby stockist, but the nearest is an hour away. I like the lightness, the bigger ones get heavy after a while. Pull-cord starts don't bother me, I've used cahin saws a lot and they're not usually any bother. Cord changing's the fiddly bit, at least on my toy one, maybe a bit easier on the better models though. I've e-mailed the supplier asking for a few details, report to follow in due course, if I don't get a reply I'll look elsewhere, my attitude is if they can' be bothered to reply to a query now, they won't be bothered later either.

    Only got about 16' of low hedge at the front, dunno what it is, but it doesn't seem to grow very fast, and I've got another toy, a little B&Q electric hedge cutter.

    Soup went down very well, it's one of our favourites, whenever I see a decent ham shank, but usually a winter dish. Sliced ham very nice as well, and enough left for a sandwich or two today. Even raggy cat gets a treat,it likes the fat from the shank.

    Nice your working pets are earning their keep, I know we've always had mice until raggy cat adopted us, they seem to have disappeared.

    Pissing down again, I'm gonna make a start on that ark. Or at least a substantial boat. Rivers's running high and brown, and a lot of the low-lying fields under water. So much firewood on the shore it makes me sad I don't have my open fire any more.

  20. Thanks for that Cumbrian. I prefer a pull cord start myself. A lot of new one's have a 'easy' push start. Think they work off a battery? Distance often puts me off buying something, especially if anything goes wrong with it. I like your attitude:

    "If they can't be bothered to reply to a query now, they won't be bothered later."

    The soup sounds delicious. We are have gone new potato mad. There are lots of different recipes for them. You can't beat stodgy stuff when the weather's terrible. I guess its not what we want, it's what we need? A good stew or soup is excellent for you.

    My Jack Russell is a brilliant ratter. But she won't harm Alan the cat. They sleep next to each other during the day in the barn. It's as though she knows Alan lives on the farm. Saw another rat yesterday. I think they must be on the move, probably going to the higher ground? I read recently that a rats tail is designed for cooling it down.

    Alan seems to have eradicated the field mice from the old farmhouse. Although you never usually see them in summer. I have seen rats eating blackberry fruit in my fields. They say rats and mice will eat anything organic.

    We are having a fair share of mixed weather also. Can you not build a big shed (allotment castle) and get one of those pot belly stoves?

    Myself and number one son have been chopping firewood and making kindling and bags of logs all week in the cow shed. Number one son sold twenty bags yesterday. Think you could make yourself some nice money selling all that driftwood Cumbrian. You will soon pay for that petrol strimmer.


  21. Nice to see a terrier and a cat getting on together, inm,y experience they usually don't. Maybe a common bond of ratting and other vermin clearance.

    Soup came out very nice, seemed appropiate given the wet miserable weather here. Not as nice as the fresh-dug new potatoes thought, the ones we buy are at least a couple of days out of the soil.

    Nothing I'd like more than a big shed and a pot-bellied stove, sad thing is we live in a private rented property (long story), so I have to be careful what I do.
    Used to sell bags of logs years ago, but the smokeless zone killed that little enterprise.

    Washing machine broke down so this morning spent replacing it with a washer/dryer due to the lack of drying weather, No 2 son assisted, he's a lot stronger than me now, so I let him show off a bit.

    Funny weather, windy not raining and muggy.

    Raggy cat fast asleep, idle little sod.

  22. Yes I couldn't believe it how well they get on together. Saying that my dogs never bark when we walk past their house, yet they go crazy if a stranger walks past. They also hate the postman. Once heard a pet psychologist say the reason dogs hate postmen/post ladies is because they never gain entry to the dwelling, they only places letters in the letterbox. So the dog thinks:

    "This must be a really bad person, grr..."

    Don't think there are smokeless area in rural areas. There's definitely a market selling kindling and logs to people who own the holiday homes/weekender's. They don't want to have to start making kindling.

    Number 2 son sounds a great help. There's nothing worse than struggling on your own.

    Showery weather here. Waiting for the silage man to arrive. Everybody is giving him ear-ache at the moment.

    Alan seems to have been asleep all day. The rats and mice must be keeping them busy.


    Yes you can't beat freshly dug vegetables. A good rule of thumb is the skin on the new potatoes. If you can't rub the skin off with your fingers, they're old!

    I know what you mean about renting property. I have lived in housing association houses. Wouldn't have my own house if I hadn't moved to Ireland. Can you not get another allotment and make yourself a big shed? No doubt allotments are very rare in Cumbrian, going off the rest of the UK. Another option would be to buy or rent a field?

  23. Smokeless area- even smokeless Zones! Sorry for the Typos!!

  24. Smokeless areas, we had the steelworks blasting out all sorts of nameless foul-smelling smoke for 150 years, any roof within wind-blown distance was affected with acid rain which rotted the slates. Blast furnaces, Bessemer converter and Coke ovens were the worst offenders. But nothing was said.

    An area riddled with coal mines, everybody had a coal fire, a lot of them burning the miners concessionary coal.

    As soon as the steelworks and pits closed (Ian McGreggor, Maggie Thatchers hit man, 1977 if I remember corectly) the local council decided that the smoke from coal fires was a health hazard and declared a smokeless zone, which they gradually expanded to include a lot of the area.

    So the demand for kindling and logs just dried up, along with the demand for coal.
    There's still a few in the more rural bits, but even most of them have gas / oil fired space and water heat.

    My last house I built a big open fireplace with dog basket to take 2' long logs, I loved it. Sadly my ex-wife and her new fiancee now have the benefit of it.

    Allotments in this area are like rocking horse shit, there's about 20 in my village of 5,000 inhabitants. waiting list for them is measured in generations, they tend to get passed from father to son.

    Buying a field, a good idea, but they don't often come up for sale in ones, and if they do, they tend to be snapped up fast by the agricultural fraternity, it's another dead mans shoes thing.

    Agree about the potatoes though, no need of a knife to scrape them, it's along time since I tasted them like that.

    Yes, No 2 son, don't see nim often, I get a 1 hour slot on Friday after noon to visit my grandson, they only live a few hundred yards away, but to his credit, if I need a hand he's happy to help. Impossible 1-man jobs are easy 2-man jobs.

    Best premium ale fermenting happily, the back room is 21 deg, ideal temperature.
    Bottle of 2 year old runner bean wine opened, very nice too, lovely and clear, dry side of medium.

    Raggy cat gone out again, it'll be back later, some days it's more trouble than a loft of pigeons.
    Dry here, breezy but warm

  25. Thanks Cumbrian. I have never understood smokeless areas. They never say anything about all the carbon monoxide coming from all the car exhausts. People have been burning, wood, coal and peat since we lived in caves. Trees are sustainable. You cut a tree down and leave a stump and it will regenerate. The green shoot of recovery and all that.

    It really annoys me how often I read and hear of people wanting allotments. Landshare and Diggers and Dreamers are two really good internet sites. Wish I could help you. Would gladly let somebody use a piece or one of the fields to grow something. May be worth your while making a few enquiries to see if any farmer wants to sell or rent a field. When I first started on the allotment gardening (about twenty years ago) there were always at least half a dozen overgrown allotments.

    Are there no farmers markets near you? Or an allotment holder who will barter some potatoes for a few pints of your home brew?

    I have spent many an hour struggling around the farm, because there was nobody to help. That's the down side of living on a smallholding.

    'More trouble than a loft of pigeons.'

    That's brilliant. Showers here. Hoping to get silage cut on Monday. We live in hope.


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    Just a copy of another advert,, can't get the pic to copy & paste, have a look, I'd appreciate your thoughts. The others never replied.

    Doubt if I'll get anywhere with a farmer, there's not many left, and the few that are getting bigger and bigger.
    Allotments in my younger days were more numerous, and tended to fall into 3 main types.
    1. Allotment nan, lived his life round his allotment.
    2. Pigeon man, a big loft of pigeons.
    3. Overgrown and un-loved.
    The council took a lot of them in the 70s and 80s for such things as car parks and bowling alleys, never to be replaced. They could probably rent them all several times over now.

    Farmers market at Cockermouth occasionally, I've never actually found a parking place near enough, No not lazy, just got a wife with a wheelchair, it's difficult.
    Best bet might be like you say to try and find allotment man then threaten him with some bottles of real ale if he dares to give me a few fresh new potatoes.

    Went to watch grandson (5) on his 50cc scrambling bike, very confident he is as well. The track's next to the shore, a popular place for junior and senior scramblers, lots of grass, mud and hills. There's enough beatifully seasoned firewood lying there in 100yards to keep a big open fire going for a year at least. Nobody seems interested, maybe because it needs carried a couple of hundred yards, no vehicle access, the council put barriers there to stop the gypsies using the area, and it stops everybody else too.

    Still hasn't rained, we're hoping to visit Silloth market and car boot tomorrow morning, so hope it keeps off. Ready for some eggs, and the egg man will have a few trays no doubt. He sells by the tray, the ones not all the identical size, shape, weight and colour that Tesco's rigorous quality control demands, so us ordinary people are allowed to buy them, in their natural state complete with bits of straw, shit and blood (a bit like the egg man), £2 a tray upwards depending on size. Also sells bags of spuds (not new) and a few other bits and pieces.

    Raggy cat's off out, gave me a disdainful look bcause there's no ham shank fat left.

    Best of luck with silage man.

  27. Hi Cumbrian. Never heard of Einhell. Been reading the Amazon reviews and other sites. Apparently they are German designed, made in China. They sound an absolute bargain. The cheaper one would be sufficient just to cut some grass. I would go for a Tanaka every time because mine's been brilliant. For that price though, how can you go wrong? If you got 2 (even 1) years out of it, you would have had your money's worth.

    There used to be a law in England that said the local council have got to provide allotments if people request them. Love your 3 allotment descriptions. There's also "the escape from the missus" allotment man. He usually dwells in a large shed and drinks endless cups of tea (or cans of ale) and does little or nothing. Yet he will always know how to 'talk' a good allotment.

    I really miss the car boot sales. We are miles from any worth going to.

    We are supposed to be buying a Shetland pony. I have they are devils and get great pleasure biting people. Will have to make some, because it can't have silage. Think it cause colic? Heard of people throwing their lawnmower clippings into fields and ponies eating them and dying!

    Will report back about the silage if the contractor arrives and the sun begins to shine on us all!!


  28. Yeah, Einhell, I've never heard of them either, but for the little money it seems a good buy, and given that I'm not using it commercially, should last a good length of time. I understand your liking for the Tanaka, you need something idustrial if you're using it often, I think the same way.
    The Germans have a good name for quality engineering and I guess they're made in China for the same reason as everything else, simply economics of cheap labour.
    I also like the idea of the freebies, i'd have to buy them as well.
    Thanks for the input, appreciated.

    Yes, the escape from the missus man, suppose he could qualify as a spieces or sub-speices of over-grown and un-loved variety, there must be as many excuses for neglect as there are neglected allotments.
    I also think the council must provide allotments, but I'm not sure how many, all they have to do is show that they've got some, dunno if it relates to population.

    Never made the car boot, Mrs was not up to it, she has constant back pain, with damp and cold making it worse; this morning was nothing if not damp and cold. Better luck next week, it's a good one for us, held on an old airfield, so it's flat, level and reasonably smooth, from spring to autumn,. Attracts a lot of support especially in summer when Silloth's full of holiday-makers.

    Best of luck with the Shetland, I've also heard they can be tempermental little sods, more ornamental than useful. But at least they won't eat that much hay?

    Not a nice morning here, damp, overcast, windy and cool.

  29. I agree it sounds an excellent bargain. I used to have a light one that was very similar to the Einhell. I had it for years, until I burned it out. Only thing I would suggest is give it a ten minutes rest if you have been using it for half an hour or longer. Their engines are only made of very thin metal.

    The freebies sound great. Sad to say it, but you can't beat German engineering. Everything seem to be made in China these days. That's why I don't think taxing the rich works. They only take it to other places that are cheaper. Read a report last week that says Ireland is the 5th most expensive country in Europe. I would say it's in the top 3. Even England seems cheap when you shop around like you do Cumbrian.

    I used to rent my council allotment in England for thirty quid a year. We grew vegetables, built a shed and we even made a lawn and borders to sit on. It was paradise. We also met lots of people and there was a great community spirit. Allotments keep you fit, feed you and give you pride in your horticultural work. I would recommend an allotment for anybody who is unemployed or depressed or somebody who wants to grow their own chemical free veg and fruit. The call them 'Community Gardens' in America and Denmark. Denmark has even legislated that their 'community gardens' are preserved for all time. I have my own smallholding but I really miss the community spirit of the allotments. There's always somebody to help you and to take the Michael.

    Sorry you never made the car boot. It's raining here and I don't think there will be any silage cut this week.



Some Pictures Around Shaftesbury and Other Hardy Country.

Gold Hill in Shaftesbury.  Remember the Hovis advert?  I remembered watching the Grumble-weeds in Scarborough many moons ago doing Joe Gl...