Friday 27 April 2018

Some Rather Posh Campers.

Here's another one of my anecdotes for you to read.  

It was about ten years a go and we decided to go on holiday in Galway.  We hadn't a lot of pennies so we just put some fuel in the car and bought a cheap small tent from Argos in Killarney.

The two lads had a sleeping bag each and we took the quilt off our bed and a pillow a piece.  Then we stopped at Aldi and bought some crisps and pop and some of those "El Cheapo" little bottles of French lager.  What more would anybody need for a camping trip?

We stopped at a beautiful farm come campsite overlooking a beach and the Atlantic Ocean.  The old currant bun in the sky was actually smiling and shining on us that day, for a change.  

It didn't take long to pitch our little tent and the two lads went paddling in the sea and we sat outside our tent and drank some of the French lagers.  It was a beautiful evening.

I started to question if there was any alcohol content in the lager?  Rather like that stuff you pay for at those big concert arenas and national football stadiums.  You fork out twenty quid to put you in the mood to see your favourite group put in a naff concert or your beloved football team fails to know how to win on the day.  Been there got the T shirt and paid for the lager and burger!

After half a dozen bottles of gnats pee lager.  We noticed a big shiny posh car pull up opposite us.  Its inhabitants duly unpacked everything but the Butlers sink and erect an enormous frame tent.  They then unpacked a picnic table and chairs and began to set the table complete with crockery and cutlery.  We couldn't help people watch and the teenage daughter piped up in a upper crust English accent:

"Mother.  Where's the tablecloth?"

Her mother rolled her eyes and with a voice like the mother in the Durrell's replied:

"It's in the wicker picnic basket!"

I asked my wife:

"What's a tablecloth?"  

Thursday 26 April 2018

Zetas Nots

The Forget Me Nots are now in full bloom in the new part of the farmhouse garden we made last summer.  The nots remind of us of our four legged Border Collie (long departed) friend who use to sniff them and sneeze.  We even call them Zetas Nots.  I named her after the beautiful Catherine Zeta Jones who was starring in The Darling Buds Of May at the time.

We often said Zeta was half human.  She sneezed at flowers and sat down at Pelican crossings and waited for it to make a beeping noise.  You could hold an ice lolly in your hand and she would lick it slowly and would daintly take out crisps from a packet with her mouth, one at a time.  Zeta's party piece was when I asked her if she wanted a can of beer?  Zeta would bark three or four times and I would pour her a can of bitter into her bowl.  She had definitely been here before and she loved walking round the garden sniffing flowers.  I am always under strict orders never to weed Zeta's Nots.

Its strange how vegetables and flowers make you sad and happy.  I use to grow Parsnips for my dad and Beetroots for my mother.  When they euphemistically passed away.  I carried on growing them for a few years.  I don't think I will bother with them this year.

In the background you can see Foxgloves that have self seeded everywhere.  I let them grow.  One year a white one appeared in the front garden.  It never self seeded though and we have never had any more white ones reappear.

Forget Me Nots or their posh Latin name: Myosotis Arvensis "Mouses Ears".  Are said to have got their name in Medieval times.  A knight and a lady were walking next to a river.  He was dressed in full armoour.  They happened to be very much in love and he leaned over the side of the river to pick a large bunch of the flowers.  The weight of his armour made him fall into the swollen river.  He started to drown.  Just before he drowned he passed the lady the bunch of flowers and said:

"Forget me not!"

Don't know if its the true etymology of the meaning.  But a nice tale!

Here's an appropiate song by Foster and Allen.

Wednesday 25 April 2018


If local radio had allotment correspondents this man would write it and say something like the following:  

"The Leeks are growing in a north to south direction and my Savoy cabbages have got Finger and Toe disease.  Did I tell you I bought a new rake?"  

Mr Immaculate Allotment Holder is very methodical.  He only cares about his allotment being neat and tidy.  Every fruit and vegetable is planted in a regimental line.  It must be when he joined the Salvation Army and served his country back in the days of National Services or in his case, Services?  He use to play lead electric triangle in the band.  It was this experience that made him methodical and regimental.  Everything is planted in a straight line.  Rather like trees on a golf course fairway.  

Nature does not work in straight lines.  It likes to ebb and flow and meander and self seed in a patched quilt of a Cottage garden way.  Mr Immaculate Plot Holder lives and breathes: STRAIGHT lines.

His allotment is immaculate.  Hs garden shed wears a resplendent army green annual coat of paint.  His allotment entrance is an hardwood teak front door with a letter box and brass polished numbers 22 Acacia Avenue (Iron Maiden song) resplendently polished with Brasso ("clean your buttons with Brasso") and gleaming in the sun.

Mr Immaculate Allotment Holders allotment is organised and set like the control room of an aircraft carrier.  His anorak is grey and the same colour of a Royal Navy battleship.  Every one of his fruit and vegetables are accurately spaced between itself and the next fruit or vegetable.  Seven seeds or vegetable plants to every row.  Seven is the number.  The magic number.  Bees have seven body parts and their hive is split into seven sections.  They even fly in a number seven formation.  Everybody knows number seven is God's number and that is the number he adheres and regimen-tally sticks to.  

Mr Immaculate Allotment Holder never purchases or places any animal manure on his allotment.  He believes cow manure to be a 'cold' manure and never heats up to kill any pernicious weed seeds.  Horse manure is full of oats and they germinate and grow everywhere.  He gets very few weeds because he doesn't add manure or compost to his allotment soil.  He hoes rain or shine and shine or rain again.    His fruit and vegetables upon harvesting are always small and puny.  But they are immaculately tended.  His allotment is immaculate and he is a very boring man! 

Monday 23 April 2018

Mr And Mrs Right On Baby Decide Its Time For The Good Life And Buy Their Very Own Smallholding.

Mr and Mrs Right On Baby decide that they have had an enough of renting their municipal allotment.  They decide to buy a smallholding in the countryside. 

They are tired and fed up of living in leafy suburbia, the rat race and having normal every day things like; a corner shop, a pub, milkman, FRIENDS, libraries, kebab houses, restaurants, public transport ("what's that?"), chip-shops, newspaper delivery persons ("very PC"), football and cricket teams, footpaths, friendly neighbours, mains water and mains sewers, broadband, street lights, telephone box, post box, greengrocers, off-licence...?  Shall I go on?

Mr and Mrs Right On Baby decided to take the plunge and buy their own little smallholding in the countryside.  

"Oh wouldn't it be great to have baa lambs, piggy wigs, goats, moo cows and a Shetland pony a piece for Prudence and Tarquin?"

They know that they have all the knowledge to live the good life and become self sufficient and they do have a credit card.  

"After all we have read all of the booky wooks (just looked at the pictures really); John Seymours : The New Book Of Self Sufficiency, The Natural Way Of Farming: Masanobu Fukuaka (try pronouncing his name after you have been at the wine gums), Enid Blyton's: The Famous Five ("where's Timmy the dog?)...?  What's more is there to know?"

So they purchase an ex farm labourers cottage for a kings ransom and pay a farmer forty grand for four of his worst acres.   They have their very own little piece of Eden in the countryside.

The very next day after Pickfords the removal people moved them in.  They decide to grasp the nettles, take the bull by its horns and tackle that overgrown acre of brambles, rushes, rose-bay willow herb, couch grass and fifty years of the previous owners rubbish, detritus and very own private landfill site.

"Anyone want a gas-mask or a tin of powdered egg?"

"We will be Orgasmic ("Organic") and will not use any man made chemicals.  Just good old manual labour."

"Isn't he a Spaniard?"

"What's wrong with George our gardener and the little man from the village?"

Mr Right On Baby decides to use bloods sweat and tears and buys himself a eight cans of Special Brew (recycled radiator water) and a sack of Mars bars for his good lady wife: Mrs Right On Baby.

Two hours later.  Mr Right On Baby is walking around aimlessly and doing a wonderful impression of the hunchback of self sufficient kingdom.  He has broken a spade, tripped over some old discarded long johns and he thinks he is going through a "Dark night of the soul experience".  

Just to put a tin hat on thefirst days proceedings and nightmare in their 'Escape To The Country'.  The vicars wife will not be returning again to welcome them or deliver the parish magazine.  She seems to think that Mr Right On Baby called her:

"One of them there!" 

Mr Right on Baby attempts to stumble after her and explain it was a bramble root he was swearing at.  But its too late and she's gone off down the road with a flea in her ear.  

He stops to look round at his beautiful Potager and it looks like an hens been scratching about in the wasteland.

Mr Right On Baby sits down and begins to realize its cost a lot of blood, sweat, tears and MONEY to live in the middle of nowhere!

The End.

I sent this once to a smallholding magazine.  They told me that they would not be publishing my composition.  They didn't do humour!


Next Time: Mr Immaculate Allotment Holder.

Thursday 19 April 2018

Mr And Mrs Right On Baby The Allotment Gardeners.

These are quite a rare species of allotment gardener.  I once spotted some in Cheshire but they are more likely to dwell nearer to a trendy part of London.   They do how ever eat chips and drink lots of Champagne!

They normally come from a Middle class background and are well educated and take holidays in far off places like the south of France and backpacking down the river Orinocho.  

Their politics is 'new' Labour and their hero was/is Tory (I mean Tony) Blair.  

Suddenly one day they have a guilt crisis.  Instead of being Capitalist grabbing carrot danglers (think of donkeys chasing carrots on the end of sticks) they decide to act more proletarian and get "one's" name down for a council allotment and decide to grow some of the Autumn King carrot varieties:  Think Latin, think:

"Carot", Daucus, Pastinaca"

"Those long dangling yellow and orange fellows that Bugs Bunny adores."
How do you know carrots are good for your eyesight?   Well have you ever seen a rabbit wearing glasses?

The carrots will have to be Organic and Organically sourced?

"Of course!"

Mr and Mrs Right On Baby find it hard to believe that they grow in soil:



" You mean that they don't come ready washed and peeled in plastic bags?"

"Like the one's we get in Sainsbury's, Waitrose and Marks and Spencers!"

Mr and Mrs Right On Baby do not believe in digging over their allotment.  Their veg plot has a strictly "no dig" policy.  Digging might upset the ecosphere or kill an endangered worm species.  If needs be.  They will get their gardener, "little man from the village", 


Doffing cap, pulling forelock, curtsying:

"Yes sir.  No sir."

He will weed and tend and "dig over" the allotment when nobody is looking and apply weedkiller if any pernicious weeds persist and nobody is looking!  

Mr Right On Baby and his good lady wife believe that municipal allotments and leisure gardens should be divided up into into different social classes.  Rather like municipal cemeteries are split up into different religious denominations.  

"I would positively die if they buried me next to a member of a different denomination.  What old boy?"

Obviously middle class tenants who pay the largest council tax.  Should have the best parking spaces, best friable and weed free plots, stand pipes and the working class folk can have the hilly, stony plots next to the river.

Mr and Mrs Right On Baby probably drive an enormous gas guzzling Volvo estate.  This is only so one can transport "one's" gardening tools in it.  

"We couldn't possibly have an allotment shed."

They use a commode on the allotment and their "organic" contents are emptied on to their "Organic" fruit trees, sourced in Cyprus but with no "Carbon footprint!"  

Mr and Mrs Right On Baby read up on all the current gardening trends.  Mr Right On Baby thinks he is an all round "good egg" and is something of a vegetable growing expert!  

The fact is.  If it wasn't for George their gardener.  Mr and Mrs Right On Baby's allotment would be overgrown!

Have you ever met anybody like Mr and Mrs Right On Baby?  I have.

Next time.  Some Prospective Smallholders Buy A Place In The Countryside!  

Tuesday 17 April 2018

Escape From The Missus And Hide In My Allotment Shed Creature.

Here is another allotment creature for your perusal.  This fellow is entirely fictional but I am sure we have all met people like him.  

Mr Escape From The Missus And Hide In My Allotment Shed Creature.  His only sanctuary is his allotment castle/trusty cedar garden shed.  

It is the home of many miscellaneous items with a myriad of different uses including: one cobblers last, one empty can of WD40 lubricant spray, rusty hedge clippers, gas mask (peeling onions and extreme episodes of uncontrollable flatulence), adult magazine "big girls" weekly tucked into the outside dog eared cover of an old Amateur Gardening magazine, a mouldy bar of Caramac chocolate, one spade, a family of field mice nesting in an old copper kettle, one brown bag of lawn seed (field mice/field mouses dinner?), soil sieve, bicycle clips, grass box for a Suffolk Punch lawn mower (long deceased), ex supermarket shopping trolley (drying onions and for collecting free newspapers dumped in local canal), cobwebs, discarded beer cans, a deck chair a 1967 'Ready Steady Go' calendar.  

Do you recognise this allotment shed? 

Sunday 15 April 2018

The "Novice" Allotment Holder.

Another creature I met on my allotment saunters is the"novice" allotment holder.  Lets call him Mick the new lad.  He informed me that he was sick and tired of playing darts and he wanted:

"Summat to do."

"At the weekends."

The poor man was bored and was in need of an hobby or leisure pursuit.  Especially when it wasn't the football season.  

I informed him that I was an allotment grower.  I suggested that he got himself an allotment to show his family what an hunter, gatherer, he was or wasn't?  He was quite enthusiastic to the idea and I managed to secure him the tenancy of an half plot. 

He was duly delighted with his new plot.  Until he realised  that the four foot high plot of grass and Rose-bay willow herb was his new Potager.  He was quite taken back and expected his'new' plot to be dug over, ready for him!

"Yeah right!"

"Pull the other one.  There are bells on it!"

He soon got over his disappointment and duly rushed down to Wilkinsons in the High Street and purchased a new spade (toy) and an array of vegetable and flower seeds which he purchased in OCTOBER!  

A month or two later.  I went to see how he had been getting on with his new vegetable endeavours.  In fact he had managed to clear SIX feet square of soil.  It was just after Christmas.  I asked him how he was enjoying his new hobby?

"I don't know Dave."

He says.

"I can't understand why none of my vegetable seeds haven't come through."

The silly billy had only gone and sown his SUMMER vegetables seeds in WINTER!

Friday 13 April 2018

Tight Wad Potato Planting.

I finally managed to plant my HOMEGUARD seed potatoes yesterday.  They were first bred during WW2 and hence their name.  But in the words of Corporal Jones:

 "Don't panic.."  

We dug trenches last Sunday.  It was a bit heavy going (like my music) and soil and muck started sticking to my spade.  Any gardener worth their salt or soil.  Will tell you shouldn't turn the soil if the earth is sticking to your boots and spade.  But its April and we normally have them planted by Paddy's Day at the latest.  

Any road or any way.  The trenches and ridges worked a treat.  And the plot dried out really well in the last four days.  It also helped that the rain clouds didn't visit so often during the week.

 So what did you plant Dave?  I went to my German garden centre (Lidl) and bought two bags of seed potatoes.          


Then we did cut them in half (like the farmers and tight wad smallholders like your truly do) and placed them in a old plastic salad box I rescued from a fridge and we left them to chit for a couple of weeks.  In fact that is wrong, sorry!  We chitted them for a couple of weeks and then we cut them in half and left them to heal for a few days.

Then I barrowed some fym and forked it into the trenches and planted the cut in half seed potatoes.

Afterwards.  All covered up.  We placed dogwood cuttings for markers to show where the potatoes are.  Then I will earth them up when they start pushing their shoots Heaven wards.  Just twelve weeks and we will be eating them.  It will probably be red hot ("yeah right") and we will be saying:

"It's too hot to be eating potatoes!"

Have you planted yours yet?

Monday 9 April 2018

And Yet Another One Of My Allotment Characters: "Mr Talk" A Good Plot!

This kind fellow with his fountain of advice is usually an active member of most allotment societies.  His main purpose/vocation in life is to "TALK" a good veg allotment plot.  

He does not give a dot who you are and will think nothing of leaning on your allotment hedge/ fence (what ever you have) and smile and inform you that you're not growing vegetables and fruit correctly.  He is very much like that Harry Enfield character who is always saying: 

"You don't want to do it like that!"

"East to West is always best".

Mr "Talk a good plot" willl tell you how to sow, dig, rotovate, water, how to 'cook' your pot noodle, how to tidy your shed, even how to choose the right sized bricks and pieces of stone and concrete to hold the corrugated sheets down on you allotment shed!

One day the penny drops in your head and you decide to go have a look at Mr "Talk a good plots" potager/allotment.  You peer over the bramble covered rickity falling down pallet fence and see an overgrown vegetable plot with a few slug laced cabbages!  

Mr "Talk a good plot" if asked, would say he's created a natural habitat and allotment paradise for mankind and for all things bright and beautiful!  

Have you met this 

Wednesday 4 April 2018

Another Allotment Character For You: Mr Clockwork!

Mr Clockwork is entirely fictional.  But based on a few allotment vegetable growers I have met.  

You know the type?  Mr Clockwork will arise from bed at seven am every morning.  He will make his sandwiches and eat his breakfast.  He doesn't particularly like his ham and tomato sandwiches on white bread.  But he can't really complain.  After all its him who makes them!

Mr Clockwork sets off and walks down to his allotment Eden next to the railway lines.  He opens his shed, takes out his tools and commences his work at the very same time he started his work when he was in full-time employment.  

At Ten O'clock one one of the allotment growers shouts to him:

"Come on Tom".  There's a brew ready.  It's you're tea-break."

This is followed at twelve for Lunch or "Dinner" if you come from up North and at three O'clock for afternoon break.  

Mr Clockwork is free to do what ever wants.  But he is ruled by time and routine.  Even when he retired.  His work colleagues presented him with a CLOCK!  He'd been watching the time for the past forty years.  Poor-man he's addicted to time, even allotted (allotment) time!   

Monday 2 April 2018

Some Irish Folk Music For A Bank Holiday Monday.

Its horrible and wet here and its your typical wet and dank Bank Holiday Monday.  I wouldn't like to be in caravan or tent today.  Talk about cabin fever.  

Her'es another group who is playing Doolin Folk Festival in June.  They use to be called Lynched but they have changed there name to Lankum.  I am looking forward to seeing them.

I am thinking of putting on my waterproofs and going for an hike.  I am sure I was a dog in another life.  All I want to do is go a walk!

What We Had For Our Smallholding Tea.

 The polytunnel and veg plot keeps on giving and we seem to be eating new spudatoes every day at the moment: Snowball onion, kale and new po...