Monthly Archives: June 2015

Me, ranting again

I’ve just been reading an article on the web that reveals 5 Monday Morning Task for a Successful Week. I’ve included the link because it seems the polite thing to do, both for the author and the readers, who might like to know why I am fighting a rising tide of sarcasm. On the other hand, you may want to avoid reading it.

Get an Early Start. 

Set a New Goal

Schedule Meetings for the Week

Show Appreciation

Assess Upcoming Challenges

My replies.

All starts feel early, and all early starts end up later then I intended by the time I’ve seen to the kids, made sandwiches, gone back round the block for something I forgot and complained about how slowly I move in the mornings since old age started to bite.

You can set a new goal any time. I do it when I’m falling asleep at night – it always seems easier then and the goals always seem more grandiose.

Yes, meetings, let’s have more of them. After all they are always productive, nobody ever drones on (and on) and you never come out of one feeling like some idiot has stolen a portion of your life.

Again yes, that’s what the world needs – more shows of insincere appreciation. Say thanks to people when they do something good. Say it at the time and say it as often as necessary.

Don’t even understand the fifth one properly – what job allows you to wait until Monday to “Assess Upcoming Challenges”. Do it Friday and have a peaceful weekend.

I’m not saying it’s all wrong, but I don’t like the way it’s delivered.

This is the sort of article you get when you allow shiny, smooth, plastic child-men with degrees in management to write about management.

You don’t need a degree in something to be good at it. For proof of this show me another of these articles. I don’t have a degree in swearing, but  if I ever have to assess another of these articles you’ll see that I’m pretty good at it, even if I do lack paper qualifications in Applied Invective.

The pork is sizzling, the vegetables are browning and we have broad beans ready for steaming. I’ve also brought the tips back: you have to take them off to prevent black fly so you may as well eat them.

I would say it’s time to relax but after 25 years of marriage I know better. Just as I am ready to wind down and prepare for the coming week my wife is just winding herself up to start her week. The first stage is to give me a list of jobs for tomorrow. then she starts asking about jobs she thinks I haven’t done from last week. That’s when I go “to check the food in the kitchen”. It gives me ten minutes peace. Muttering “social media” is currently a good one too, though you do have to tap a keyboard to make it believable.

It seems like it’s time to get the begging bowl out again and start applying for grants. It will take a couple of weeks, we will spend a lot of time on it and we will eventually be told that there is a lot of competition and unfortunately we haven’t been successful in this funding round. we are, of course, welcome to waste more time and apply in the next round of funding.

Sorry about the cynicism but such is life.

I won’t bore you with a discussion of funding, or excuses about why we haven’t managed to expand or set up a retail operation or rob a bank. We just prefer gardening,working with members of the project and feeding weeds to visiting children. It’s a good life, but not a lucrative one.

So my solstice resolutions are (1) start applying for funding (2) come up with some bright ideas for raising money. If you have any ideas let me know. They have to be legal (though I’m flexible about this) and practical for a tubby middle-aged couple so no mountains and no long-distance cycling.

We’re going to be organising an autumn fair later in the year because it’s not only legal but involves cake. That’s my sort of fund-raising!

Ah well, that’s the end of my “social media” excuse – better go and check the pork.

Time for plans tomorrow…

Ramblings, art week and the first post of the day

It’s Sunday and this is just a few random thoughts to get me warmed up so don’t worry if you have a feeling that you’re trapped in an overgrown garden of rampant verbiage.

Belly pork tonight, a NIgella recipe. I made it last week and it turned out well so tonight is to test bif it was a fluke or a repeatable result. If it works again I may add it to my regular recipe selection. There is a recipe on the internet where she marinades the pork and stuff – but as this is great in its plain form why mess with tahini and lime juice? Air miles, Nigella, air miles. We’re going to be eating ours with the first broad beans of the season. I am looking froward to it.

We’ll be having radishes for lunch tomorrow – there are four of us here tomorrow so we can have a couple each. I’m not a great radish fan, but I do love stuff straight from the garden.

Sunday started, as always, at an unreasonably early hour. I then did laundry; wondered if this was what my life will be like for ever (there’s nothing like using a launderette at 7am on a Sunday to make you examine your companions, ambitions and lack of success in life); went home to tidy and make sandwiches, and then went shopping before coming to work.

I’ve used semi-colons there because it’s the right thing to do, as I recall. I’ve also had a go at sticking in an Oxford comma. It’s probably a little late in my life to start worrying about such things – particularly when my normal habit is to use commas, dashes and brackets in a manner that looks like a chimp has thrown a bucket of punctuation marks at the screen. On the other hand, what is life if it isn’t a series of attempts at self-improvement?

Well, having just had a quick look round the last day of Sherwood Art week in the Nottingham suburb of Sherwood, life might be a journey to self-improvement through the medium of novelty knitting – check out the pictures.








Out of the frying pan…

We had a booking for 16 breakfasts this morning, and I was planning on being around as back-up because 16 breakfasts is a lot to prepare and serve at one time when you have seven ingredients and only four rings.

I’ve only done the breakfasts once before and it ended badly.  Fortunately we had the regular…ah, there’s the problem. On Friday night I had a text saying “you know how we joked about me going off sick to avoid the 16 breakfasts…”. I’ll leave you to fill in the blanks. Fortunately we have a group of five cooks who take it in turns so a back-up was no problem. Well, actually it was. Two had other plans, one was already doing the pizzas at East Bridgford Show (with 25 kg of dough that I mixed on Friday night) and one hasn’t replied yet.

That all leads to one conclusion – I was in for a tough morning.

To put it in perspective, it wasn’t as bad as the start that the regular cook was experiencing, as she had texted early to tell me she was in hospital.  (I’m not being insensitive referring to the “regular cook” by the way – just respecting her privacy).

Nor was it as bad as the start they were having in East Bridgford.

No point worrying though, I had my trusty chafing dish ready, I had new fuel tins and I had the experience garnered from my last disastrous day in the kitchen.  I even had floral decorations prepared by Julia the night before. What could possibly go wrong?

As it turned out – nothing.

One of the neighbours pitched in to help with the egg cookery (not my strongest area), the party of 16 smiled and ignored the smoke and swearing that accompanies my breakfast-cooking antics.

You can tell all you need to know about my egg cookery from the fact that I dropped four poached eggs and was able to catch two when they bounced back from the floor.

They may have been slightly overdone, though, being lightly dusted with detritus from the floor, nobody had to test them out.

All in all, a successful day, though I forgot my camera so I don’t have any photos to prove it.


After the ups and downs of the past week – currently standing at two Goat Escapes and one pig escape – it was nice to get back to the even keel of a school visit.

We picked a salad from the garden, and the only traditional ingredient in it was rocket which has self-seeded itself from last year. It was fat hen, chickweed, mallow, nasturtium, rose bay willow herb, dead nettle, borage flowers, chive heads and the petals of daisies and marigold.



In the absence of a salad spinner (which seems to have fallen victim to “tidying up”  (I hate shared kitchens!) I had to use the old tea towel method. Only problem was that I’d forgotten how much water I was about to drive off…

Fortunately there was no damage done apart from a bit of mild surprise and a slippery floor.

Unlike the nettle soup I made with the same class last visit, most people seemed to try a bit of the salad, even if they didn’t all like it. I don’t mind that, it’s when they won’t try that I grow frustrated. Last time only one would try the nettle soup and only two tried the leek and potato, despite the familiar ingredients. I think it’s the fact that they see it being made that seems to put them off. It can’t be good for you if it doesn’t come from a factory…

We still have  along way to go in food education.

Looking on the bright side they were good at the difficult questions (eg why didn’t Henry VIII eat chips?) and the best class I’ve ever had for cleaning up afterwards.


The Goat Escape (apologies to Steve McQueen…)

A couple of days ago I posted a picture of our goats on Twitter (@QuercusCommy if you’ll pardon me plugging it) with the words “Our goats exist in only two states – escaping or planning to escape. These are planning.”


Last night they appear to have disabled the electric fence (we’re not quite sure how but I have a vision of one lying down while the others walked across it like a bridge) and decided to browse the trees. They aren’t very ambitious, I’d have been halfway to Skegness by now but they just chewed a few leaves and waited for us to round them up.

We used to have one that was even more annoying than an escaper. She used to wedge her head through the wire (we didn’t have electric fencing for the goats at that point) and then bleat piteously.

Several times a day we’d have people come down to the office with the words “One of your goats has got its head stuck in the fence.” Then she wouldn’t do it for a few days, you’d relax and then there would be another knock on the door…


TV and shopping, a tirade against tedium

TV and shopping. It’s hardly the Cigarettes and Alcohol you promised yourself as a young man is it? (To be honest Milk and Alcohol is probably more my sound, and era, but it didn’t have the right ring to it – such are the compromises we make…)

If you are sensible, or a woman, you may have had other ambitions. Though I’m not sure that a desire for TV and shopping really qualifies as an ambition.

What do you do if your life is so dull that even you yawn when you’re writing about it? As I just did.

Tell lies, I suppose. I did see an article a while back claiming that the top lie people tell on blogs to make themselves more interesting is the “spontaneous weekend trip” lie, when the top truthful weekend activities are – you guessed it – TV and shopping.

Going on a trip at the weekend makes you look more interesting? It’s not setting the bar very high is it? Last weekend I fulfilled an ambition by driving a Formula Ford racing car. Next month I will be participating in a “chicken dispatch course” as they call themselves these days.  It’s a course to teach people how to kill chickens and then dress or bone them.


Much more scratching in that bed and they may well end up trussed and drawn…

Both lies, of course. Last weekend I worked and shopped and watched TV. Next month I will, in all likelihood, be working, shopping and watching TV.

Not total lies, though. In 1976 I was taught how to kill and dress poultry as part of my first job and in 1978 I did drive a Formula Ford car. It wasn’t as much fun as I had thought and when I worked the foot pedals my feet lifted the nose cone in a most disconcerting manner.

I did start off with the intention of being dismissive about people who lied about going away for the weekend, but now I’ve proved that my lies are actually rooted in the 1970s (was it really that long since I did anything remotely out of the ordinary?) I’m on shaky ground. When I go on to say that I haven’t been on a trip since November last year when we had four days away to celebrate 25 years of marriage, I merely make things worse.

However, there is always a bright side. This morning I went to Melton Mowbray to collect baking supplies. It was a beautiful day in the Vale of Belvoir (pronounced Beaver, no I don’t know why), the sun was out, the cows were out eating luxurious grass to make Stilton cheese and all was right in the world.


Once I got to the office, with a list of outdoor jobs to do, including planting and cutting, I made the mistake of checking my emails. I’ve been stuck inside since then, partly coping with the emails that were there and partly coping with the ones I’d been putting off for the last week.

So that’s how a blog that should be about the great outdoors turned into one about tedium, and how a blog about life on Care Farm seems to be turning into one about my life.

Sorry about that, I will try harder in future posts, but until then this is all I have to offer. How’s your life going?



Rainy Monday

I knew there had to be a song lyric in there somewhere and sure enough the Carpenters obliged with Rainy Days and Mondays – Rainy days and Mondays always get me down.

It would have been good, but I’m not unhappy about the rain. The other choice is from Shiny Toy Guns but I’m too old to even consider clicking on the lyrics of a band that is younger than the contents of my wardrobe.

I’ll have to write my own song. Rainy Monday, it wasn’t too bad. We got some stuff done and had a laugh when the willow water exploded on the desk. It’s a start…

Now we just need someone who can do blues guitar.

The willow water experiment has started. I’ve set two pairs of mint cuttings going – one in tap water and one in willow water and will see how the roots develop.


Warning: if you make your willow water in a plastic bottle, keep the top screwed on and leave it for five days you might get a fermented foamy sort of moment when you first open it. It didn’t actually explode, but I thought the song lyric demanded more excitement than “fizzed up surprisingly and nearly caught me out” which was actually what happened.


It fizzed up  a lot more than this but I didn’t get it all on camera

Later, Jamie and Bea from Shipshape Arts showed us their wedding photos – amazing do featuring, as you may have suspected, statuary, pyrotechnics and a home-made pinata.

Amongst all the mint tea I slipped in a cup of lemon balm tea for the Wild Food section – still not keen on the sort of lemony metallic taste I get from it. So far I drink mint tea for pleasure, nettle because it’s doing me good and lemon balm because I need something to write about in the Wild Food section – though it may take a day or two before it’s ready as Julia is trying to make me do proper work.



It’s an age thing

Those of you who are my age (by which I mean you remember when 12 pennies made a shilling, young people didn’t mumble and Gerry Anderson was cutting edge technology) will probably remember a time when computers were going to save is time and we weren’t going to need paper in our offices. Well, the first bit of that is true, because we haven’t had a functioning printer in the office for 12 months and it’s amazing how little printing you really need to do.

The time-saving? It might have been true before the internet but since I’ve been able to shop on Amazon, read reams of useful stuff on Wikipedia and check links such as One man decided to explore an empty cabin…and instantly regretted it (32 photos). It wasn’t instant with me but after 6 boring photos I was starting to have second thoughts and after 32 slowly loaded and dull photos I definitely regretted it. Do not click the link, it is dull enough to kill.

I’ve just wasted half an hour trying to get my computer to type. It just stopped. I tapped harder, but nothing happened. I muttered, I checked the connections at the back (wouldn’t be the first time I’ve had a “computer malfunction” relating to the keyboard or mouse becoming unplugged!), I pressed all the buttons in turn, I started and re-started and started again…

I swore, bashed the keys, told my wife (a) I wasn’t shouting at a machine and (b) that I was perfectly capable of fixing it myself.

Finally, after neither of my assertions proved true, I bashed it harder. Finally, tiring of violence, I breathed deeply and thought peaceful thoughts. Then I noticed that the Alt key seemed lower than the rest.

In the end all it took was one swift dig from a penknife and the complex mass of…er… whatever is in a computer… was rendered functional once more.

A penknife. It’s only one step up from hitting it with a rock!


End of the week

It’s 4.30pm on Saturday (though I won’t be posting until later), or 1995 if you follow the other form of dating I’ve been using. In 1995 I’m married with kids, happy and couldn’t tell you what was happening in the outside world because I didn’t have time to notice.

Wikipedia tells me that John Major called a leadership election to confirm his leadership of the party. I mention this only because it gives me chance for a John Major anecdote. I met him once and was introduced. About an hour later I met him again and he remembered my name. There was no need for him to have done that and it struck me that a man who could remember names like that, and appear to be pleased to meet you for a second time, would probably rise high in politics. He did.

There’s probably room for a whole digression on leadership and what it takes to succeed in politics here, but it wouldn’t be as interesting as cookery and gardening. I wish I’d realised that years ago.

Here are some pictures of a Wild greens quiche with guinea fowl eggs. My wife is making me describe weeds as wild greens now. Some years ago we went through a similar process with a product I now call “manure”.

It’s onions, blanched nettles and fat hen in  a ready made pastry case. After adding the eggs and milk I dropped torn up chive blossom, calendula petals and whole borage flowers to the top. I will have to work on preserving the colour of the petals.




The water I blanched the nettles in took on a lovely green colour after just a minute or two of steeping and after removing the leaves I drank it. Much nicer than the cup I made earlier in the week, and much fresher tasting, though it did have overtones of calabrese. Compared with overtones of fox I’ll go for that.  With hindsight I should have strained the insect shaped bits out of it, but I’m not a vegetarian so no harm done.

We have another school next week, a planning session, part one of my takeover of the catering side and I’m going to do some cuttings with willow water. The comfrey plant food is decidedly murky now – you wouldn’t want to swim in a pond that colour- and the indoor salads are really getting a move on now, in contrast to the disappointing outdoor salads.

Finally, after seeing my display of Wild Salad at the Open Farm Sunday I’ve been asked if I can do one at a buffet in  a few weeks time. My weedy fame is spreading!