Saturday, 22 April 2017

This & That

We are back from our holiday and back to work.  I have taken on a few more teaching sessions for the next six weeks until the GCSEs.  I am saving the extra money to buy a polytunnel for the allotment so that I can extend the growing season.  Apart from an abundance of rhubarb, I have had a very special harvest.  Five years ago I planted some asparagus crowns and nothing came of them.  Last year I threw a load of chive seeds into what I thought was a redundant bed.  Well, asparagus obviously like chives because this year it has begun poking its head through the soil.  Here are my first ever two asparagus spears and more will be ready later in the week.  Unfortunately, I adore asparagus but a few years ago I developed quite a violent reaction whenever I ate it, so now I am growing it just for Pete.

Easter weekend was busy preparing for teaching the following week, but we did get Easter Monday out.  All my boys, their wives and my grandchildren joined us at The East Anglian Railway Museum for a Thomas the Tank Engine Event.  It was a fabulous day and the kids loved it.  They rode on the different trains, played in the playground, walked round the very child friendly exhibits and watched Dusty and Rusty performing their daft antics.  Young Bobby was particularly taken with the model railway layouts and kept going back to watch them going round and round.  My Mum and Dad joined us for our picnic.  All in all, a fabulous day out, precious memories.

And finally a picture of my boys - Lads On Tour at Thomas the Tank Engine (how times change as they grow up!).  I am so proud of these boys and my heart swells every time I look at this picture xxx

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Dunwich & Leiston

First thing today we went to the village of Dunwich.  A very pretty little village with a population of about 100 people.  It is hard to believe but this place in Medieval times was actually a city and the capital of East Anglia.  It had a thriving fishing industry with 40-50 boats, a shipbuilding industry that supplied Richard I with 20 ships when he went to war, merchants from all over the world settled there and it had 12 churches, a fortress and a leper's hospital.  Slowly over the years, the sea claimed the land at a rate of 80 metres per century and now it is a quintessentially English village.  Such a shame.  There is a lovely little museum that tells the whole sorry tale.  Not the best picture, but the gateway to the only existing church in Dunwich.

Then we went onto Leiston Abbey which is just down the road from where we are staying.  We wouldn't have found this except for the Ordnance Survey Map, so glad we bought it.  The Abbey dates back to 1136 and must have been enormous.   Good old Henry VIII sent it into ruins and eventually a farmhouse was built alongside.  The Abbey ruins are now being preserved and you can see the magnificence of it all.  The buildings are managed by a music school and as we were walking around the very peaceful site, we could hear some beautiful music being played through an open window.

Tomorrow my son is coming to join us with his wife and my granddaughter, so we are off to Aldeburgh for some seaside fun.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Snape Maltings

After spending half a day driving around deepest Suffolk looking for a 30mm spanner, two jubilee clips and two lengths of hose, we ended up not having a lot of time for adventures.  However, we did pay a visit to Snape Maltings.  All I knew was that there was a concert hall and a lot of old buildings here.  The buildings were beautiful and have been very sympathetically restored.  They were originally barley maltings and the malt was shipped to breweries all across Europe.  The cargo ships and barges came up the Alde to collect the malt.  Today it is the main venue for the Aldeburgh Festival, which is an annual celebration of classical music.  There was also a wonderful barge moored up, which of course caught our attention.
There are also some lovely craft shops, food shops and boutiques within the complex.  Mind you, it was so expensive, very much for all the foreign tourists.  I don't care if the peanuts were grown in gold pots, I am not paying £9.50 for a jar of peanut butter!  Prices are a bit steep round here.
I popped into a bakery in Woodbridge for some bread.  The chap in front of me asked for a sliced sandwich loaf, which was actually what I wanted.  When the young lady handed it to him and asked for £2.70 my jaw hit the floor and I left.  We have a really good bakers in Tollesbury (with the oldest bread oven in England) and the exact same loaf is £1.30.  Both bakers could be considered artisan bakers but one is in a fashionable area and one isn't, I really don't know how they can justify the difference.  I ended up buying some bread in Waitrose, which was very good and nowhere near as expensive.
After a busy day we are shattered and Alfie has already taken himself off to bed.  I shall not be long behind him, but Pete is listening to the Arsenal game on the radio before he turns in.  I hope to goodness they win, I want him in a good mood tomorrow x

Spring Break

The weather has been so lovely that we decided to take ourselves off and try out our new tent.  So we headed for Suffolk, which is not too far from home but far enough away to be on holiday.  We acutually read the instructions before we attempted to put the tent up and I have to say, we were pretty impressed with how quickly it went up.

We have really made ourselves at home now.  The new camp kitchen pictured with fruit bowl and kettle, the two essentials of life.  Bunting put up, which Pete objected to and he also drew the line at my fairy lights! New sleeping bags laid out, these are heaven with their brushed cotton liners but I suspect they may be a bit warm in the summer.  Pete forgot the spanner for the gas so the new cooker try out is going to have to wait until we find somewhere that sells the right sized spanner, but we do have the Safari Chef to cook on which is a great multi purpose bit of kit.  This is camping in style, certainly not roughing it.

Today I bought an ordinance survey map of the area so later we are off on our adventures, finding all the little hidden gems.  Will report back soon.

Oh, and I have my holiday reading.  I have read this before and it is a brilliant book, worth reading again.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

More Allotment Stuff

The weather has been so beautiful and I am on Easter Holidays.  We are planning to try out our new tent next week, so I thought I had better spend some time at the allotment whilst I had the time.  So I planted up a new strawberry bed.  There are early, mid and late fruiting varieties, so hopefully we will have strawberries late into the autumn.  The broad beans and peas are also in.  There are another lot of broad beans in the allocated squash bed, I LOVE broad beans. That is garlic you can see in the background.  I found those little wellies in a skip and it seemed such a shame that they had just been discarded, so now I grow flowers in them, they seem happy.

I do a sort of planting plan each year, which always go to pot for various reasons, like a bed being ready for planting  before the one that was planned for that veg type.  But this year I am trying really hard to stick to it.  I am also going to try some more experimenting with polyculture to try to confuse those damn cabbage white butterflies and other bugs that get to eat my veg before me!  Polyculture is where you grow lots of different things in one bed, it is supposed to cut down on the weeding and keep the bugs away.  Well, that's the theory, I'll let you know if it works.  I have spent quite a lot of time over the winter reading about permaculture and polyculture, so now is the time to start putting some of it into practice.

I have planted a patio apple tree and a patio plum tree in large pots on the path to the barge.  I figured if they were close to hand, I could keep them watered.  Apparently they produce a lot of fruit for such little trees, we'll see.....

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Feeling Grateful

Until Wednesday, this week was fairly mundane.  I worked some extra hours (saving for a new polytunnel), I concentrated on healthy eating (you will gather from the pictures below that I love mushrooms!), I did a bit of babysitting (always a pleasure) and we went out for a fabulous dinner with friends to a local Gurkha restaurant.
Then on Wednesday some jumped-up criminal decided to murder several innocent people in London. People going about their everyday lives, who were just looking forward to getting home to their families.  This act of murder was personally very close to home to me, too close.  As soon as I saw what was happening at Westminster, I picked up the phone to check all was okay, thankfully I got an answer.  I feel sick to my stomach that another poor mother/wife didn't get the same answer.  The police, NHS staff and other emergency staff/civilians that rushed towards the danger to help, deserve our utmost respect, they are the heroes of the day.  The names of the victims should be remembered and broadcast, not the murderer, he was a nothing, not worthy of being remembered for anything.
I am upset and angry, but my life carries on.  I am so very thankful that my mundane world was not turned upside down like the families of the victims. I feel very blessed right now.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Spring has Sprung (and gone again!)

We had a few days of beautiful spring weather this week and what a difference it makes to how one feels.  Sunshine and some warmth in the air, suddenly makes you forget about the gloom of winter and the promise of summer seems just around the corner.  I decided that my poor neglected allotment needed a spring clean in preparation for the growing season ahead.
Unfortunately a few weeks ago I suffered from an attack of Sciatica.  I have never had it before and was in agony.  Luckily my wonderful physiotherapist friend immediately came to the rescue with her magic hands and took the pain right away.  However, she also gave me a stern talking to about not doing any heavy lifting etc for quite a few weeks and especially whilst the treatment was still ongoing.  Pete, my hero, has been doing all the vacuuming etc (do you think I can spin this out for a few months?!) and also offered to do the heavy work at the allotment.
So after a few hours of him working and me 'directing', most of the raised beds are mulched and have a fresh cover of compost, although more compost is needed yet.  The early potatoes are in, parsnips and beetroot sown and new raspberry canes planted.   Instead of flowers for Mother's Day, my boys are going to do a bit more digging and spreading woodchip over the paths between the beds, they are such good lads.
Last year I missed the main sowing and planting season as Mum was in hospital for 10 weeks and I was visiting every day, so I am looking forward to a more productive season this year.  You cannot beat freshly harvested fruit and veg, the taste is so different.
Only two more weeks until the Easter break and I cannot wait.  One of the downfalls of being a teacher is that you spend half your time wishing your life away til the next holiday :)