Monday 30 November 2020

Welcome To My Polytunnel Office.

 I have not had time to tend my plants in "Portugal" my plastic polytunnel friend lately.

Fortunately I employed the wife and number 2 son to occasionally water them.  

I arose this morning and thought I would take a photograph of my horticultural office for your perusal:

Notice my "Japanese" onions are doing fine in the micro climate that is the polytunnel.  The weeds quite like it too.  All the shrubs cuttings in pots of homemade compost are doing fine too. 

I might("will") throw the fish boxes of onions outside in Spring.  We've been growing on the same veg plot for nearly twenty years and I'm thinking the soil is getting a bit tired so I'm going to grow more vegetables in containers.  Maybe even make some raised beds?    It's good to think of projects for the veg plot.  

What are your garden/allotment plans for next year?  

Sunday 29 November 2020

A Little Veg Plot Next To A Building Site.

 I looked out of the door of a site cabin one Friday.  I could see cabbages growing behind the security fencing.  What a sight to gladden my heart. "Jack in the green" Jethro Tull lyrics began to play in my mental jukebox: 

"Well I don't  think so.  I saw grass growing through the pavements..."

I forgot I had been listening to the not very dulcet tones of a Kango all morning.  Chiselling limestone plaster off walls up on a planked scaffold.

Through the site security fencing.   Cabbages growing and and a bespoke homemade greenhouse.
Another photo  of the veg plot behind the bollards.

Lovely heads of winter cabbages. They look like Savoys to me.

There was a short flight of steps going down in the homemade greenhouse.  It reminded me of old Anderson air raid shelters I sometimes found growing up in Northwest England.   

I wondered why so much effort had been made to construct the steps?  I thought it was probably for raised beds and of course I was right?

Raised beds on both sides and a path in the middle.  They were over a three foot high and full of wonderful sandy and friable soil.  Imagine what root vegetables you could grow in those raised beds? Giant Parsnips, Carrots and Beetroots.

Not a bad way of spending ten minutes of your half hour dinner break exploring and photographing the nuns vegetables garden.  It was a credit to them and inspired me!

Friday 27 November 2020

"Prog On A Friday". The David Cross Band.

 I never saw King Crimson or Van Der Graaf Generator live.  But I did manage to see David Cross from King Crimson and David Jackson from Van Der Graaf Generator in the David Cross Band. David Cross plays the electric violin and David Jackson plays keyboards boards and Clarinet...

Van Der Graaf Generator were formed at Manchester University in lovely Lancashire by the banks of the river Irwell.  Or the Seine of the North.😊

Myself and a friend flew from Kerry airport to Frankfurt Hahn in July or was it August 2017.  We were on our way to  The Night Of The Prog Festival in Loreley.  It's a spectacular setting next to the river Rhine.  

The Nazis built the stone amphitheatre and now it's used for concerts.   Now we have our own Fascists in government preventing us from seeing live music.  But we can go to work or to the supermarket though.  Ok rant over!

It was a great weekend with wonderful music and weather.  We found a Swiss pub that brought your drinks to your table and outside the arena we found a log cabin pub and restaurant that served homebrew.  Cloudy stuff like homebrew but you had no ill effects from it.

Probably one of the highlights of the festival was seeing The David Cross Band.  Some kind person on You Tube filmed The David Cross Band performing King Crimson's "Starless."

Sunday 22 November 2020

Not The Wolf And The Lamb But The Cat And Dog Feeding Together.

Regular readers will remember the blog I posted of Fido our beloved Jack Russell and tripe hound and Domino our smallholding cat feeding out of the same dish.  Sadly dear old Fido went to doggy heaven and number 2 son bought Rosie a golden Retriever puppy dog.

On Thursday night we came home and threw my rucksack on the kitchen floor and we fed Rosie.  Domino decided he would try some of the dog food too:

Domino usually hisses and tries to scratch Rosie.  Not this time though.  They both tucked in happily.

Friday 20 November 2020

"Prog On A Friday": "Don't Fear The Reaper".

 I sometimes times list some of the great Prog Rock band I have seen live or would like to see.

One band I was lucky enough to see at Manchester Apollo was Blue Oyster Cult.  They have been going since the late nineteen sixties and are well worth seeing live.

Like all great Prog bands their albums and singles have themes.  

People often say they have never heard of BOC.  But when they hear their biggest hit single.  They instantly say: " Oh yeah, I like that one.

The single is about the inevitability of life and death and the Grim Reaper.  We should enjoy life.  Hope you have a great weekend.


Saturday 14 November 2020

A Sign In A West Cork Charity Shop Window.

 I was waiting for a lift home  and saw this sign in a charity shop window.  It makes the mind boggle doesn't it?  The sign could give a few people some ideas of where and how to dispose of some unwanted stuff:

"Thinking of doing a moon light flit?  Don't  bother with a removal truck or the dustbin men.  Fill your bin bags with any unwanted items and leave them in your charity shop doorway. " 

Isn't there some not very nice people?   

Friday 13 November 2020

"Prog On A Friday". Knife Edge.

 For me Emerson Lake and Palmer are up there in my all time  top five of  great bands that there have ever been.

I was lucky enough once to see them live at Manchester Apollo.  It was either late 1980s or early 1990s.  What a concert, what a band.

Just three members and what more did they need?  The band who sound like a group of lawyers were magnificent.

Especially Keith Emerson with his keyboard wizardry and like a knife thrower torturing his keyboards and organs.

Here's a classic track from 1970.

Have a good weekend.  Hopefully I am going for a hike.  I think I will need to wear my "rainy day" suit.  Have a great weekend. 

Wednesday 11 November 2020

I Feel Like Aveline Out Of Bread.

 I haven't blogged because I am like Aveline out of Bread, I have joineď an agency.  No I don't wish to be a model.  I am working  has  a Labourer on some sites.  It's  knackering but I feel good physically and mentally.

I did this via email.   Any road after asking me for ze rank and number and me Safe Pass and Manual Handling tickets and my new Covid pass.  Then they asked for a couple of referees and I said there's one  I know who never gives United a penalty against Liverpool.  They rang me on Monday and I am participating in indoor and outdoor work out and get paid for it at the same time.

I have been gutting an house for the last couple of days.  It's  good to have the craic with the lads and the best thing is it's  temporary.  Hopefully I will make a good impression like Grandad from Bread.  "Where's my pudding? Piss off."

So I probably won't  be blogging so much for a few weeks.  Don't worry "Prog on a Friday"  will still happen.  Sorry about that folks.😊🎀

I loved Bread.  A bunch of scally's  who always made their own luck. 

Here's the delightful Aveline.  Enjoy:

Monday 9 November 2020

The "Novice" Allotment Holder.

The "Novice" Allotment Holder.  

This is true dear readers:

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.    

Oh to watch a live football match, eat a potato pie and drink a cup of Bovril.  Maybe even a pint of bitter?  Something else to miss from Blighty.  Rock concerts too.  It's enough to make you put your name down for an allotment.  I have my own but it's  not the same without the characters is it?

Any road:

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 have come up"/germinated.

The silly billy had only sowed and planted his Summer vegetables in WINTER !

Sunday 8 November 2020

Mr Immaculate Allotment Holder.

Time for another allotment character folks.  Don't worry there aren't many left unless I make up some more?

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! 

Another character tomorrow.  I need to invent some more.  The blog writer perhaps?  Apparently there are over 350 million active blogs in the world.  Three hundred and fifty million writers is an incredible statistic.  

Wonder how many blog writers grow vegetables and dream about Britney Spears or Pamela Anderson swimming in Bantry Bay and walking on the beach in her swimsuit and I am collecting seaweed and I ask her if she wants to come back to our house for a brew and I will show her my polytunnel? How's that for a vivid imagination?

Saturday 7 November 2020

Mr and Mrs "Right On" Buy A 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 after all, they do have a credit card.  

" 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.  Consisting of rock, rushes and rock again.  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 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!

I sent this to a country smallholding magazine.  Hoping they would accept it for publication and they sent me a short email saying "We don't do humour".

Hmm... I thought. 

Friday 6 November 2020

"Prog On A Friday".

 The Progressive Rock band I would like to feature today is Blackpool's finest: Jethro Tull. 

Where was I?  Blackpool.  

Yes funnily enough they are the one Prog band I have seen the most.  Once at The Garden Party in Milton Keynes Bowl, once at Tutbury Castle in Staffordshire and two or is it three times at Manchester Apollo?

They are are a great band live with Folk, Blues , heavy and Prog Rock all thrown in.  Not forgetting the main front man and flautist Ian Anderson.  

Named after an English Agriculturalist and inventor of the seed drill.

In the seventies they were massive and even had their own ship to cart their gear and themselves round Europe.

Here's one of my favourite tracks.  Enjoy.

Did you ever see Tull live?  I saw Martin Barre and his new band at A New Day Festival last year in Kent.  It seems like a life time.  When you could jump in a car, fly on a plane, catch a train, go on the Tube, catch another train to Canterbury and then catch a bus to near Faversham and walk down some country lanes to Mount Ephraim gardens in beautiful Kent, the garden of England.   Have a great weekend folks.

Thursday 5 November 2020

Mr and Mrs "Right On's" Allotment.

Mr and Mrs "Right On's" Allotment.

All characters in the following blog post are entirely fictitious but I have met a few like them!  You might even say they are exaggerations of allotment characters I have met?    I once met a couple who brought their commode in the shed and used its contents  to empty on the vegetables and fruit.  Peeing on the compost heap? Well  may be but "night soil" or number twos? C'mon!  Shall I get on with it?  Writing the post,  not emptying the commode.

Mr and Mrs 'Right On.'

This is a middle class, Barbour jacket wearing couple.  They decide to get themselves  (rent)a municipal allotment and grow 'Organic' vegetables and worship Mother Earth and:

"Do one's bit".

The great day arrives and they go to see their new potager and cannot believe their "one's) eyes:


They cry.

"Vegetables don't come washed and diced in plastic bags (biodegradable of course) like the one's we get in  Marks and Spencer's?"

Mr and Mrs Right on decide that their allotmenteering efforts will prevent global warming and the depletion of the Amazon rainforests all because THEY are growing 'Organic' vegetables.

Mr Right On does not believe in digging or weeding his allotment.  He doesn't want to upset the ecosphere and anaerobic digestion of some endangered worm species ("Lesser Spotted Tunbridge Wells Elasticicus") and decides he will find an extra few hours a week for their gardener Mr Commonplace.

"Yes sir, Yes sir."

Doffing cap, tugging forelock.

Mr and Mrs 'Right On' drive an enormous gas guzzling Volvo estate.  This is however only for transportation and for carrying the 'Organic' produce and gardening equipment to the allotment shed.

Mr 'Right On' is tired of Mrs 'Right On' complaining of the allotment earth on the car carpets.

"Must get a shed for the allotment."

"Yes dear.  What kind?"

"Oh only a small thingamajig.  I think they call them Gatekeepers cottages.  Must have a look in the classifieds for one."

"Time for tea."

"With a lemon slice".

Prog On A Friday is back tomorrow.  I bet you can't wait?

Wednesday 4 November 2020

Mr "Talk" A Good Allotment.

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: "You Don't  Want  To Do It Like That."  The man 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, his own private rubbish tip and " escape from the wife and washing machine" shed!  

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 creature?

Tuesday 3 November 2020

Mr "Tick Tock". Another One Of My Allotment Characters.

Mr Tick Tock or Mr Clockwork is entirely fictional but based on a few allotment holders and vegetable growers I have met in Blighty.

You know the type?  Mr Clockwork will arise from his bed and slumber at seven am precisely every morning.

He will make his sandwiches and cook his breakfast and eat it.  He does not particularly like his ham and tomato sandwiches on white bread.  But he cannot really complain.  He makes them!

Mr Clockwork sets off and walks down the lane to his allotment next to the railway line.  He opens his gate and opens his shed door, takes out his gardening tools and commences his work.  This is at the very same time he started his work when he was in full time employment.

At ten o'clock one of his fellow allotment growers shouts:

"Come on Tom.  There's a cup of brew ready .  It's time for your tea break".

This followed at twelve for "Lunch" or "Dinner" if you come from up North.  There is also a mid afternoon break at "Three" or "Tree" if you live in Ireland.

Old Mr Tick Tock/Clockwork is retired and free to do what ever he wants and when he wants.  But alas, he is ruled by time and set routine! 

Even when he retired.  His work colleagues presented him with a (wait for it) CLOCK!  He had been watching TIME on the works clock for the last forty years.    Poor, poor man.  He's addicted to time.  Even allotted (allotment) time!

Monday 2 November 2020

One Of My Allotment Characters. "Harry Napalm".

 People who have been reading this scribble for the last ten years might know some of my allotment characters that I have met and even created with my literary vivid imagination and stupidity?  

Harry "Napalm" lived or resided in an allotment a few veg plots up from me.  I also christened him " Harry Weedkiller".  He would arrive at his allotment in the merry month of April? Months after I had toiled and slaved and "bastard" trenched and "double dug" my French potager in Northwest England.  

Harry would get out his knapsack sprayer fill it with water and mix packets of weedkiller and spray the contents on any thing flora and green that resided in his allotment jungle.

Harry was well into his sixties and he would spend the next week or so sitting on his deckchair in the midst of his wilting jungle and supping cans of cheap lager.    

When everything was completely dead looking .  Harry would crack up his leviathan of a Howard rotovator and turn his Brown frazzled vegetables and weeds into brownish looking soil/wilderness.

He would then apply agricultural rates of chemical fertilizers like a spinning Dervish and proceed to sow vegetables and plant his spudatoes.   

The rest of his summer would be spent supping cans of "el crappo" lager and sitting on his deckchair,  Whilst I sweated and toiled and weeded and swore like a trooper.  I think it's called vegetables cultivation?

Result: Harry "Napalm's" vegetables were massive, "dead big" and enormous and probably tasted crap!

Sunday 1 November 2020

The Allotment Castle Revisited.

 I first published this on here in 2012 but I think I could add a few extra thoughts and perspectives to the subject.  This is aimed at chaps, but chapesses can also have an allotment shed, but it can't  end up looking like the interior of the Ark Royal.  All spick and span and not a bottle of HP sauce any where to be seen.  Eh?πŸ€”

Please feel free to contribute with your Allotment  Castle thoughts folks!

To quote Comedian Rob Brydon: " It's only a bit of fun."

"An Englishman's home is his castle or shed or allotment or polytunnel or even "man cave".  You can be another nationality but the saying is for someone English. Not that it matters.

I would change the word castle to SHED.  There comes a time in a man's life when he decides to get himself a shed or a polytunnel.  Especially if it's a mile or so away from his dwelling and on an allotment.  

Especially now it's  getting colder in the polytunnel and you are tired of listening to the Hoover and white goods that disturb the peace and calm of every man's humble abode.   

You may also live on a wind and rain swept peninsula and you think back to when you rented allotments in Blighty and people talked and you had a laugh and a joke.  Hey that sounds like you Davy lad?

The allotment shed is akin to a very popular Northwest English seaside resort.  Who needs the sea if you have got the Golden Mile?  Or who cares about the state of your allotment if you've got an allotment shed?

There is something to be said about the untidiness (nay 'artistic chaos') of the allotment shed.  Mr Allotment Castle - Shed Man careth not about tidiness (he's not at home with his wife with the lily gilder and 'shake and vac' fanatic) and everything in it's right place.  He can never understand why his wife keeps leaving the toilet seat - 'down?'

Shall we have a look inside Mr  Allotment  Castle Shed Man's allotment shed?  Is it through the round window?  What ever happened to the characters or the windows in Play-school?  

Moving swiftly on folks.  Mr Shed Man's shed contains a spider called 'Spider' (complete with web) and lots of garden tools (awaiting instructions how to use them), a deck chair, plant pots, wireless (I'm showing my age) and a myriad of bitter and lager tins, old fish and chip papers,  and a bag of lawn seed and a nest of field mice, HP sauce bottle (preferably made of glass not plastic)  and a few magazines with pictures of scantily dressed ladies : "Big Girls Weekly" and a Tilley lamp and pot belly stove and something to play all your "Prog Records". Not forgetting "one man's  trash is another man's treasure"  If it's  useable well it's  useable.  Doesn't it sound like  Shed heaven readers?

Shed man thinks nothing of making shelves and cupboards.  Oh no!  Shed man just throws every on the floor in an heap and sits down and his " organized artistic chaos".  Well you don't think he's going to do any digging do you?

The ideal allotment shed would be Tardis like, small on the outside and an enormous interior.  Or perhaps an old railway carriage rather like Uncle Mort's (I Didn't Know You Cared) Lancashire and Yorkshire railway company.  The old girl (carriage) had previously travelled to far flung places like Miles Platting, Oldham Mumps, Halifax and Hebden Bridge.  It was a place to escape from the missus, sup fine ales and somewhere to contemplate the meaning of life.  Uncle Mort even had his own allotment flagpole (complete with Union Jack) to show when he was in residence.

Have I convinced you  yet about the joys of being an allotment castle/shed dweller?

Two Charity Shop Vases Full Of Feverfew.

"The 18th Century Aspirin Plant." I have this plant growing in my veg garden at the moment.  It is supposed to be brilliant for al...