Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Mad Dogs and...Me!

I have just returned from a quick tour of the local green and pleasant areas with the canines. The car on the way home told me it was 21 degrees! The heavy panting in the boot told me the dogs were hot and bothered but happy. As I write, they are reposing in the cooler parts of the house - the bliss of bare floors for a hot dog cannot be underestimated! Wednesday is the day that He 'works' from home so I get to take a break in the middle of the day and head out to the fields without the small person. Sometimes I even take the dogs! Anyway, when the small person is feeling accommodating, she naps while Daddy works which is what happened today so everyone was happy.

Other exciting developments this week included the arrival of my first birthday present! Very early since my birthday isn't for a couple of weeks but since I was in charge of ordering said present I didn't feel the need to wait and surprise myself! What delightful trinket have I received, you ask? Well...what girl doesn't want a wheel barrow for her birthday? Not just any wheel barrow - a beautiful folding one in rather fetching yellow and green livery. Lovely. I really am pleased since it will come in very handy for moving mountains of chicken manure, and much more, at the allotment and will not take up too much house room in the shed. In fact, on Saturday I tidied the shed, including evicting a bunch of rather menacing and totally huge spiders, just to make sure that the barrow would feel at home.

The wonderful weather really has meant that things have been happening...I have made trips to the allotment, as I said, the seeds I planted are showing signs of development into actual plants and bears have started wearing hats, which is definitely very cute!

One other thing we discovered...Ted is a great help when attempting a small woodwork project. He acts as a kind of sawdust catcher thus making clearing up that little bit easier!

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Land of Confusion

I'm a bit of a closet Genesis fan, so this title came to mind as I was thinking about this post. The issue of land has been bothering me for a while. I would like some. I am well aware that we are lucky to have a house with a small garden and an allotment just five minutes away but I do crave more. I guess that's what happens when you discover any good thing.

Ted and (below) Monty enjoying my parents' lovely garden.
I very much enjoy gardening for aesthetic purposes - hanging baskets, nice flowers etc. I also find it surprisingly satisfying growing fruit and vegetables. I am very much at beginner level; even as we go into our fourth year on the plot, just a quick glance at other allotments bursting with veg and scarcely a weed to be seen, proves that we have a way to go. Still, I am enjoying the process of learning and it's lovely when you get to eat your successes!

In an ideal world, my wish would be to live on a larger plot of land where my veg plot and my pleasant garden could be combined and with space for dogs and babies to run, play and enjoy the summer months. I don't want a lot, a couple of acres would be more than enough and I am not looking for the kind of countryside perfection that features in lifestyle magazines. I grew up in the countryside, I know it's not perfect all the time. It gets muddy and wet and then your dogs get muddy and wet and then your sofa gets muddy and wet. Despite knowing this, I would still like my own bit of it.

It  does seem hard to come by without serious funds though. I have been perusing the property adverts in the local press, keeping an eye out for 'For Sale' signs as I drive through country lanes, and checking various websites for likely plots. No luck so far with this little project. I guess I must resign myself for now to beautifying my little back garden and taming my unruly allotment. The big 'to-do' on the list is going to take some time. But it is going to happen. There just may be a lot of smaller to-dos to sort out first. Like winning the lottery.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Sowing the Seeds

Busy, busy, busy. The last few days have been action packed! On Friday, a visit to the allotment, Saturday was spent visiting mother and grandmother (mine) for advance Mother's Day treats, Sunday lots of cleaning and a visit from the small person's Favourite Aunty. Smiles all round and plenty to show for our hard work and time well spent.

At the allotment things are just getting underway. The shed needed repairs to the guttering system so that the water butt could work more effectively and then our attention turned to weeding, digging and planting onion sets. I have to say that he did most of this work, I did a bit of weeding but was then called upon to keep the small person occupied and, as it got a bit colder, she and I headed home early leaving him to it. However, more action on this front is now planned; through freecycle, I have found a plentiful source of free chicken manure! Oh the things you can get excited about when you have an allotment! Also, a day has been planned when grandma can come and amuse the small person so that he and I can really get stuck in and more on that soon.

My revamped garden potting area has been put to use, rather than just looking nice. Over the last few days, as time allows, I have sown red onion (Florence), parsnip (Gladiator), and broad bean (unknown variety as the seed was a freebie from a friend). We also have some sun flowers that were a gift from Favourite Aunty and some petunias that I had forgotten I ordered last year that are now 'growing on'. It would be lovely to have a greenhouse but space does not allow so we mostly manage with covered seed trays.

Must go now as it's the small person's lunch time - this post is brought to you by virtue of the fact that she is napping but such snooziness cannot be allowed to go on or we will all pay for it later!

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Operation Garden

As I said last time, spring does have a way of filling me with enthusiasm. I am definitely a person who flags a bit in the winter and rejuvenates with the return of brighter days. Also, my birthday is in spring so I can start to look forward to my Day of Pudding (yes, it does need capitalisation!) More on that another time.

So, where has all this enthusiasm got me? Well, over the weekend, I pointed myself (and him) in the direction of the garden. I have to admit, things had got a bit out of hand over the winter...something to do with having a baby, two dogs and very little time. The result was a build up of 'stuff', all awaiting it's final ceremonial trip to the dump. Bits of wood, old broken plant pots, a dog guard for the car boot that had proved ineffective to say the least and several bags of rubble that were the result of our decision to cut a new doorway into the garage. It all had to go. So the car was loaded and off I went. I won't bore you with the details, but I will ask whose idea it was that rubble and hardcore has to be carried up a flight of slippery metal steps and then hefted up over the side of a metal skip? And thanks very much to the burly blokes who stood and watched with a slight air of impatience as my slow progress held up their own unloading.

Anyway, the dumping bit is not the most exciting. What I am most pleased with is the result in the garden. After a fresh coat of some lovely bright orange (light oak, yeah right) wood preserver, my revived planting table is now once again ready for action in the space created. Watch this space for seedlings' progress. Even better, the small raised bed, decimated over the winter by the onslaught of a very naughty spaniel with his own ideas on how gardening should be done, is now restored and ready for some new plants. I had to do the same restoration this time last year but I have to say it was much quicker and easier this time, I think not being pregnant helped! The spaniel in question has been warned to keep off, he responded with a smirk.

My reward to us both for all this hard work? A very tasty toad in the hole! I'm sure that will be quite concerning to those of my readers unfamiliar with British cooking but suffice to say that the 'toads' were organic and free range and the 'hole' rose beautifully, being one of things that I can cook.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Man Flu

My name is Mummy Bear and I have been a bad blogger! No posts for over a week...the reason; we have all had man flu. The actual man got it first, undoubtedly one of the less pleasant perks of working in a school is the amount of 'lurg' that manages to make it's way home with you. This time, I thought my flu jab had done the job and fended it off but just as he started to feel better it crept up on me and then the small person too. So not much has really been happening this week.

Today, feeling a bit better but not willing to inflict our germs on Baby Club, the bears and I set out for a walk instead. The sun was out, the temperature was a very tolerable 12 degrees. Arriving at the fields we frequent, I was faced with the challenge of putting on the new baby backpack solo - you really need someone to help stabilise the whole thing while you heft it onto your shoulders so as to avoid an unpleasant baby versus pavement moment. I managed by sitting the little bear in the pack and then resting her in the boot of the car while I squatted down and reversed into the whole thing...practical but not elegant.

Out and about, we explored some new territory as well as our favourite fields. One of the things I enjoy most about walking with the dogs is the opportunity to appreciate the seasons and spring is one of the loveliest to me. The colours are beautiful, the wildlife starts to become more visible again and everything seems to relax from the tense huddle adopted to survive the bite of the winter.

The canines were enthused by the new smells (and, no doubt, the prospect of wildlife). We inspected some interesting tumble down trees, Ted checked out some new holes and Monty ambled around looking for bunnies. The small person appeared to enjoy the whole trip and babbled away whilst trying to undo my hair clip. As I snapped the picture below, she was kicking me and seemed to be wanting to go faster!

So, with the worst of the lurg over, hopefully we can get back out there and get some stuff done. Things to look forward to this weekend include a trip to the household recycling centre and possibly a visit to a local DIY store. Another great thing about revives flagging enthusiasm for clearouts, cleaning and home and garden maintenance.