Category Archives: blogging

Breakfast, Bench and Bug Boxes

The day started badly, as I had passed a disturbed night and felt tired, stiff and fragile. As the first light of a non-too-rosy dawn crept through the curtains, I groaned and turned over.

This was how I slept in, set off late and was unable to accomplish my first task of the day. We had barely laid out the parts for a new garden bench when the Monday group arrived, two hours earlier than we were expecting. As I’m not allowed to be a volunteer (due to the conflict of interest thing) we had to leave.

As a consolation prize Julia bought me breakfast at Harvester, which was excellent. Fruit, yoghurt, Full English, toast, marmalade, a quick crumpet (because it was there) and refillable tea. All for 75% of the cost of two Olympic breakfasts at Little Chef. I passed on cereal.

After that we returned home to find the internet was down. BT claim we hadn’t paid the bill. They seem to do this about once a year – cutting us off for non-payment without actually sending us a bill or a reminder.

By the time it came back on we were already back at the gardens tacking a pallet bench together ready for tomorrow.

Then it was shopping, chip shop and try to get a blog post done before midnight…

Done, with 12 minutes to go. I will add photos later.

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Bug boxes made from frames out of the school skip and filled with the hollow stems of scabious

Desert Island Blogs (3)

The moment of truth. The acid test. The place where cliches come to die…

Part 1 was easy as the three bloggers have all become part of my daily life over the last few years and with eight slots that still left five. Part 2 was harder. The blogs are also part of my blogging life, but the choices had to be made against a background of declining availability. I’m happy that all the choices are good, I’m just concerned that I only have two slots left to go and more than two blogs to fit in.

From Lancashire we moved to Lincolnshire. In phonetic terms it wasn’t a great change, but in terms of weather it was a revelation. In Lincolnshire they have weeks where there is no rain.

They also had a village school that looked like it had been undisturbed since the old Queen’s jubilee. It had two rooms, dip pens, inkwells, a pot-bellied stove and a map where the Empire was still coloured red. There’s one very much like it in Retford Museum.

My penultimate choice is Beating the Bounds – a blog about walking and nature and family and the area around Lancater. I’ve just been reading one of his posts and it’s like entering a different world – lizards, damsel flies, beetles, birds, butterflies limestone pavements, bilberries, Are You Being Served? and the Song of Soloman have all featured recently.

A blog that can weave cheesy seventies comedy and the King James Bible into one story has to be one to watch. Add trips to the Lake District and Silverdale, deer in the garden and digressions into books, science, art and history…

After Lincolnshire we moved to Peterborough, which is where the family stayed. My Dad and sister are still there. There are far too many memories to even start. One of the most significant features is that the place is cluttered with Magpies now, but when we lived there we only saw Magpies when we visited Lancashire. Same with Buzzards. There are Red Kites round Peterborough now often to be seen circling over the A1 and the city tip. We had Lapwings, Yellow Wagtails, nesting Long-tailed Tits in the rough grazing around the house with newts in the back garden. As the area has been developed over the last 50 years these have all disappeared.

Final choice is difficult.

It goes, after a ecrtain amount of heart-searching, to Helen. She’s currently experimenting with bokashi (or fermented Japanese compost if you prefer it in English). She’s a couple of weeks ahead of me, which is good because I can learn from her experiences.

The blog captures the true up and down moments of growing back garden veg, making compost, learning about permaculture, earthworms and volunteering. And much, much more, as they say in the adverts. Her broccoli is currently looking skeletal after a butterfly attack, She’s taking it well, as I try to do, because let’s face it, butterflies need to eat too.

It was touch and go here, and it was hard to exclude The Snail of Happiness. So hard in fact, that she seems to have managed to get in despite my decision. When you grow veg, cook ethically, raise chickens and crochet blankets for refugees it’s always going to be tough to keep her out. So I sneaked her in.

That’s about it for now. All that remains are the bits and pieces.

I can have Shakespeare and an “appropriate cultural or philosophical work”. I don’t want The Bible because I know how it ends, so I’m going to opt for The Stripping of the Altars by Eamon Duffy. It’s the story of the Reformation, and though I’ve read and enjoyed The Voices of Morebath I’ve never tried the bigger book. It’s been on my shelves for a while but I haven’t actually opened it. When I have plenty of time to sit and wait I’ll have a good crack at it.

I intend building a tidal fish trap and digging a pit to see what meat drops into it, hopefully a pig. I’m certainly not going to run round chasing things. I’d better learn how to make a salt pan and smoke fish too. By the time I’m rescued I’m intending to be fit, well fed, brainier and, probably, sick of fish.

The book to read for pleasure is the collected version of the Chronicles of Narnia. I could probably make do with the first six, as I’ve often thought The Last Battle is a miserable piece of writing.

Finally, the luxury item.

What else could it be but another blog – I’ll go for the Nottingham Food Blog by Marcus from the Bread Group. We have baked much bread together, and managed to eat most of it, though I never did get the hang of rye bread.

It will be nice to read about the junk food of Nottingham while I’m away. He also writes about his devotion to the fast food of Chicago, so it’s never a boring blog, even though I do wonder what a blood test would reveal. I’d like to see him start testing porridge and salad to make sure he hangs around a bit longer.

And that, is that.

I’m off to look for a desert island now.

Closing music.

Desert Island Blogs (2)

I’m thinking.

On the radio programme they used to ask the subject about their early life and such stuff.

Well, my first memories are of living in the middle of a field just outside York. A local farmer had built a bungalow in the middle of the field as a home for his cowman, but had ended up selling it. That would be about 1960-61. Out of all the memories of the time, one that stands out is of someone knocking on the door and asking to use our telephone as he’d broken down. No mobiles in those days, and no fear of strangers. I have more memories, but how many do you want?

The first blog is A Suffolk Lane by Clare Pooley. Clare has been busy recently and my insights into rural Suffolk have been more limited than I would have liked this year. When she has time to post she covers a variety of subjects – church architecture, walking, flowers, East Anglia, family, art and birds. I like East Anglia, and have a whole tribe of in-laws living in Suffolk, so this is a nice relaxing read.

I don’t think I’d be overegging the pudding to call it a rural idyll.

After York, we moved to Blackburn, which wasn’t such a nice place. There was a fascinating canal at the top of our road, which I now know to be the Leeds-Liverpool Canal. It was full of sticklebacks, which I used to net and keep in jam jars. I suppose that’s considered a bad thing these days.

The next selected blog is Salmon Brook Farms, the blog of Lavinia Ross.  Based in Oregon, the foothills of the Cascades, she and her husband grow apples, blueberries, cherries plums, pears, grapes, persimmons, grapes and hazelnuts. This seems a lot of work, even before you consider the music. And the cats, though the cats do help by writing part of the blog. I’ve never had useful cats. Ours just lazed about the place, eating, killing things and looking at me with contempt. That’s an example followed by my kids, though they don’t stalk the garden killing song birds.

In this month’s post she shows us wasps in the blueberries (with an inpressive shot of the nest) and discusses visiting foxes – they have three sorts of fox compared to our one.

Meanwhile Nano the cat has posted pictures of a skull for identification.

At one post a month I will be sitting on my desert island waiting eagerly, which will give me something to look forward to apart from typhoons and another meal of fish and coconut.

After Blackburn we moved in with family in the village of Chatburn, just under Pendle Hill. I was able to go to the same school as my parents and was taught by a teacher who had taught my mother. Here is the link that refers to the bombing raid I have mentioned previously, when my mother had to shelter under her school desk.

My third selection for the day is Notes from the Hinterland by Laurie Graves, author of Maya and the Book of Everything. I’m afraid I haven’t read it as I don’t read Young Adult fiction but it has good reviews so if it’s your sort of thing you could give it a go. It’s interesting to follow her visits to libraries and other events, and to see that books are still very much alive despite digital competition.

The rest of the posts cover things like ice cream, cycling, dining, farmers’ markets, French ancestry and a circus visit.

I’ve always quite liked Maine after watching Murder She Wrote, but it turns out, on consulting Wiki, that the programme is filmed in California, and the real Maine is subject to snow, mud, winter storms and, in summer, excessive heat. There’s always something to learn from a blog…

And when I’m too hot on the Desert Island, I can read the bits of the blog that refer to snow.

Part 3 will follow soon.

 

 

Desert Island Blogs

Based on Desert Island Discs – I will be selecting 8 blogs to read on a desert island plus a book and luxury item.

Opening music.

First off, johnknifton.com. Eclectic is a good word for this blog which can cover a vast range of subjects over a space of days – slavery, bombers in WW2, true crime, Nottingham history, executions, Nottingham High School, football, birds and Nazis all feature. I’ve just spent most of the day catching up with his last few posts and following various avenues of research suggested by the reading. Some of these posts open up a whole new world, make sure you have the time to take it all in.

This is one for when you want to sit down and ponder the ways of the world, to the sound of the lapping waves as you drink from your coconut and sit under an umbrella made from palm fronds. (I’m assuming this is going to be a proper tropical island rather than an island off the west coast of Scotland).

Next, Ramblings by derrickjknight. He looks like an amiable sort when you see his picture, all twinkling eyes and avuncular whiskers, but when the time is right he can be merciless in dealing with things that displease him, which are generally things that displease me too.

As a setter of crosswords he’s quite capable of slipping the odd pun, so you need to keep your wits about you when reading.

With an excellent garden and an endless supply of nutritious meals provided by the admirable Head Gardener he would be the blog to turn to when I wanted to think of home.

Number three, and the final selection for today – Tootlepedal, of Tootlepedal’s Blog. From the Scottish borders he posts a huge selection of bird, bee, butterfly and flower photographs and still finds time to cycle immense distances, sing, cook, eat treacle scones, visit family and take (more) pictures of landscapes, livestock, churches and bridges. I’ve had to miss a few things out as there isn’t room. Yes, he’s that busy.

Something I’ve noticed about his blogs is that it’s nearly always sunny, and his garden seems to be weeks ahead of ours despite being further north. I’m starting to think this is some sort of Blandings Castle effect. Have you ever noticed that it’s always summer at Blandings?

I keep my eyes open bit so far I’ve seen no sign of a pig in the garden.

This would be the motivational reading for the island – you can’t read about Tootlepedal’s day without feeling inspired to do more work.

That’s it for now, there will be three more next time and two more plus the luxury items in the last one. Don’t worry if you haven’t been included so far, there’s time yet…

Falling behind…

I’m days behind with the washing up, weeks behind with the blog (both reading and writing) and months behind with my reading. If you want to complete the sequence I’m also years behind with the housework (though Quentin Crisp did say” There is no need to do any housework at all. After the first four years the dirt doesn’t get any worse.”), a generation behind in my thinking, and a lifetime behind with diet, dreams and ambitions.

The trouble is that you can’t wash up before you’ve dirtied the plates, can’t read until you’ve bought the books and can’t clean until the house is dirty.

I admit that you can write posts ahead of time, but I find it’s a struggle. Currently I have a few part-completed posts but nothing ready to go. Once I started researching The Kings We Never Had I found myself doing too much research and not enough writing.

The idea behind the book reviews was to give me something to do in advance, but it hasn’t worked like that. I’m behind with book reviews too. Badly behind, because when I photographed the last lot I optimistically included some books I haven’t finished. In truth, I hadn’t started them all when I took the picture.

The book on the Normans seems like easy reading but you will be waiting a while for the review of Some Desperate Glory as it’s heavy going. As there are plenty of copies available for a penny plus p&p, it’s clear that supply exceeds demand.

Poppies

Poppies

 

I’m already working on some more books, one of which will be Some Desperate Glory. Confusing isn’t it? I really can’t thing why Max Egremont used the title for his poetry book when there was already a perfectly good book of memoirs using it. I’ll cover that more fully when I write the review.

Meanwhile it’s time for tea –  belly pork with vegetables roasted with turmeric and cumin. It’s an old favourite and it’s easy.

 

 

Just Sitting…

Today’s programme of events was similar to yesterday’s, apart from cutting out the thinking.

I’m still suffering from a swollen foot, the result of spending too much time sitting. Unfortunately, as a result of the pain and swelling, I’m spending a lot of time sitting down to rest it, which makes things worse.

Despite elevation and massage it is refusing to deflate. I’ve considered jabbing it with a knife to drain it but my record of self-treatment, and the last remnants of common sense, indicate that this would be a bad idea.

I’m hoping that after the appointment tomorrow it will be full speed ahead and everything will be OK by the end of next week. Considering what happened last time I went to hospital I’m not convinced.

That’s about all I can come up with for the moment. Apart from my dignity and mobility I seem to have lost my sense of humour and my ability to put words together. This might be a good time to apologise for the limited subject matter and lack of photographs.

All I have left is my desire to post every day.

Time for an antibiotic now. I just dropped it down the side of the chair, so this might involve grumbling and bad language.

 

The District Nurse

I got up around 8.00 today, which is late but not unforgivably so for an idle town dweller with nothing much to do. It gave me plenty of time to wrestle with plumbing, socks and trousers and do a spot of gardening before breakfast.

It was sort of gardening anyway, going over the joints of the paving stones with a flame gun. It’s far better than weedkiller and easier than hand weeding. The hedge looks like it needs a tidy, which reminded me I was planning some drastic pruning. If I get it cut back in the next two days I can get all the waste in the garden bin ready for the first collection of the year on Friday. Privet really isn’t good for compost.

This time next year I’m hoping to have a new permaculture based front garden. I was hoping to start this year but I haven’t felt up to doing much so far.

Granary toast for breakfast and some uplifting reading on WordPress, including this, this and this. I usually drop in here and here too, but I’m working slowly today. Apologies to those not mentioned, I’m just finding it harder to get round these days.

It was time for a walk then, as I’m trying to get more air and exercise. With a bad leg (not sure what is causing it, but sitting down all day isn’t helping) I’m struggling to do more than a few hundred yards, but that was just right to get back in time for the district nurse.

She provided me with a few bags and the phone number to get more plus help and advice. She also took blood pressure, heart rate and temperature readings with equipment that looked decidedly old-fashioned compared to the kit in hospital. All is as it should be. Finally she accepted that I was able to monitor my own bottom for signs of pressure sores, which was good. I’m a man, not a baboon, and such display is, frankly, neither necessary nor welcome.

By then it was time for lunch, shopping and a drive home.

I’m feeling tired now. Well, I’m convalescing so it’s allowed.

A good time for quiz shows and blogging, I feel.