Tag Archives: Green Care

Mornings, Magpies and Medals

Today I took some brighter pictures of the garden, including one of a Great Tit eating what appeared to be a caterpillar. You’ll have to take my word for that as it spent most of its time refusing to face me.


Great Tit at Mencap Gardens

When the Great Tits eat caterpillars. I feel that Spring is not far behind. Julia later saw a group of Long Tailed Tits on the feeders, though they flew away as she turned the camera on. They do that. Several Magpies took it in turns to contort their way into the fat ball feeder, but they also declined to pose for photographs.

Birds can be very annoying at times.

It was brighter today than it had been yesterday.


No light, no water, but we do have a heater in the cabin

The work routine is beginning to develop nicely – taking Julia to work and the driving back round the ring road to idle away my days. I went through the medal stock today, including medal-mounting accessories, foreign medals and ribbons. That took me all morning, as there was a lot of chaos to tame, and a lot of bits and pieces.

Fortunately, nothing is beyond the capabilities of a man with time on his hands and a selection of plastic bags.




Just when things seemed to be going well…

Yesterday we had a visit from Dr Jo Sempik, a leading academic in the field of Green Care and Care Farming, and five Korean visitors who were keen to know how the concept worked. I’m not sure that we actually know all the answers, or we’d be a lot better off, but we seemed to pass muster.


This morning I had a steroid injection in the joint of my arthritic finger. I was just congratulating myself on zoning out the pain of having a needle inserted into my joint when the doctor depressed the plunger. I didn’t feel so pain free after that. It’s pretty good at the moment.

I’ve also been picking more of the harvest including my mini carrot harvest. I did mean them to be fashionably small but I might try to get them a bit bigger next year.


That’s some of the group artwork in the background.

Finally, those nice people from Shipshape Arts¬†loaded up their latest piece on a 40 foot lorry – which was only just big enough to fit everything in and only just small enough to get into the yard. If you think the man in the photo with the butterflies looks familiar, take a look at the Time Traveller scarecrow. Is it clear yet? He denies all similarity but I’m not so sure…


Of course, there’s always a balance and today it came in the form of something that made my mind up about the way things have been going recently.

So if anyone knows of a job that would suit a fat man with multiple useless skills and a bad attitude to customers let me know – I’m likely to have a few days to fill in the near future.

I became self-employed because I didn’t like taking orders from idiots, but I’ll say no more. It is, after all, not a great thing to discuss in the sentence just after you’ve asked if anyone knows of any jobs going.


Green Care in Nottinghamshire, Care Farms and SEO Optimisation

Yes, it’s a dull title, but read on and all will be revealed.

Today, after helping with the breakfast for the “Breakfast and Yoga” event and ejecting a number of slugs from the polytunnels, I thought it was time to get more serious with this blogging stuff. First search was for Search Engine Optimisation.

I’d remembered it in the very early days, when I managed to get “Green Care” into the first line, but I’ve drifted off course since then. In fact, having just checked Green care Nottingham on Google, I’ve drifted so far I’ve dropped off the edge. If you offer dental care or pet care or run a care home that in any way is greenish you will be mentioned ahead of me. The farm is there on page 3 with the old website but apart from that there’s six pages of nothing to do with us.

Prepare to hear the words “green” and “care” more often.


It was a different story with care farm nottinghamshire. Top entry is the Ecocentre website, second is the old farm website, third is Chesterfield Community Care Farm which is in Derbyshire and has a Sheffield post code (though it mentions Nottinghamshire on its site). At that point I was beginning to worry. Fourth is Care Farming UK¬†and fifth is a Nottingham-based food blogging site written by the second-best blogger in the area. Modesty prohibits me naming the best one…

I am mentioned several times in the food blog, so thanks for that Marcus, you’re actually more attractive to search engines when writing about Care Farms on a food blog than I am writing about Green Care and Care Farms on a Care Farm blog. Not quite sure about this SEO malarky but repeating Green Care and Care Farm in a subtle and contextual manner is, I’m told, a good thing.

I was then offered a free lunch and some friends came to visit, so I lost interest in SEO and started thinking about gardening and life again as we drank mint tea brewed from mint that had been standing inoffensively in the garden thinking of bees and rain, or whatever they think about, less than 10 minutes earlier. It can be a hard life at times, but this wasn’t one of those times.


Sorry, just noticed an omission – I didn’t tell you that this blog is sixth on the list. Not bad, but considering we’re behind a defunct website, a Derbyshire Care Farm and a food blog, I really should do better.

Progress report

The Comfrey feed is starting to show changes – the leaves are blackening around the edges and the water is starting to look cloudy. Early days yet.

The Art of Captaincy¬†and its load of grey oyster mushroom spawn is now looking distinctly mouldy so it’s time for the fridge. The blewitt spawn isn’t showing any sign of growth.



The oil in the calendula jar is looking a good colour, but I’m going to leave it a bit.

The chive vinegar is looking good and I’ll be decanting it into new bottles this afternoon.

I have the bottle ready for the courgette, but no suitable courgette.

The bean experiment (where half of the raised bed had the soil enriched with pig muck, wood chip and paper towels) isn’t showing much result. None of the beans look particularly good, though the fat hen in the enriched area (furthest away from the camera) is¬†definitely looking better.


Note vigorous weeds at far end!

According to this page¬†fat hen (known as lamb’s quarters in America) is a good indicator of fertile soil.

We’re going to be eating garden weed salad on the Friday school visit so it’s good to know I have plenty.



Trouble in Paradise


This was the view from the “office” an hour ago.

As I’ve often said before, I’m not in this for the money or the glamour. I do it for the people and the view in spring and summer. I actually only say that to make people happy, ¬†because really I just do it for the view and the birds.

‚ÄúSolitude sometimes is best society.‚ÄĚ ¬†as Milton said.

For those of you wanting to know more about the film we saw on Tuesday night you can find the first 15 minutes for free on this link. If you would like to show it to a group they are allowing people free licences to show it in Mindful in May. I’m an old-fashioned sort of bloke and don’t go in for all this health stuff, but I ddi enjoy it and there was some good stuff in there, so even if you are a cynic you can still get something from it.

That’s the end of the advert, if they want more coverage they write their own blog.

On the downside, I have a meeting in a minute where, amongst other things, we are going to discuss the agenda for a meeting next week.

Talk about trouble in paradise.

The art of relaxation

There are going to be two posts today – there was going to be one last night but the meeting over-ran and by the time I’d had tea it was midnight. I did try to write the post but I fell asleep in my chair and the laptop fell off my lap. I took the hint and went to bed.

Bird news of the day was that we saw a lapwing displaying by the side of the A46 as we turned off and found pied wagtails at the top of the lane. There were more wagtails in the yard and during the day we noticed the swallows were back in force after a couple of weeks of showing up in ones and twos. Finally, around 5pm, I looked up and saw something unusual on the bird table – a great spotted woodpecker. I know they do visit feeding stations, but this is a first fior us, though we have seen one on trees around the yard.

However, the main part of the day was getting ready for the evening meeting. The  centre scrubbed up well and we got the 56 chairs out without a problem. The kitchen looked good too, particulalrly when we opened the double doors and set the tables up outside.



The film was mainly about people recovering from serious illness by the use of meditation. There’s obviously more to it than that, including diet and medication, but the film was centred on the relaxation response¬†so that was what was emphasised.

I’ve always believed in the power of relaxation, and in not taking things too seriously, and was grateful that the film gave me plenty of opportunity to practice. Julia actually dug me in the ribs several times when ¬†she thought I was becoming too relaxed. We also did some official meditation and a bit of Qi Gong.

It’s World Tai Chi and Qi Gong day on Saturday 25th April. If you happen to be near West Bridgford it’s at the park, opposite Fire and Ice at 10.00 am. Contact Ian for more details.

That’s it for yeasterday. Today will follow in a few hours. Who would hav ethought that blogging could be so frantic?

Spring at last!

I have to say I’m feeling a lot better after a couple of nice warm days. The soil feels better too, We’ve had the soil turned over for us and started spreading compost and there’s hope for the future. Strange how it only takes a few days to turn things round. After a couple of false starts we’ve even got the community allotment project off the ground.

That’s what I wrote on Saturday, but didn’t have time to continue. By Monday morning we’d had a cold snap, a cloudburst and I’d watched the jackdaws pulling up the newly-planted community onion sets. Now I like jackdaws, but I’m also fond of onions, and I do like cropping what I plant. It was a bit of a moral dilemma, which I resolved by taking the Josie Wales view – “Jackdaws gotta eat, same as worms.”

Anyway – to Monday. I love the smell of meetings in the morning, which is good because that’s what we had. I walked away with a page of notes, which was a bit like the curate’s egg – good in parts. The headline news is that we will be getting some help with the gardening, both in terms of labour and plants. We’ve struggled over the years and though the display gets better every year, much of it depends on one of the neighbours who gives us surplus plants.

Part of the help featured a small digger, which broke up the ground for the second keyhole bed. It was a mixed blessing as it also carved a trench for a water pipe (hooray!) by digging up our newly rotovated bed (boooo!). Still, we will have water, and the bed has benefitted from some extra digging I suppose.


We’ve also filled some tyres and planted potatoes, using a lot of compost. I’m sad to use it (do I sound like a compost miser here?) but quite proud that we’ve managed to produce so much in the last year. It’s a bit variable and included quite a lot of plastic despite all the care we took, but a lot of it is black and friable just like proper compost. The bits that aren’t so good are still good enough to throw on the ground and the bits that aren’t good enough to throw on the ground are already in another bin waiting for a second chance.

Just in case you think I’m a bit dull talkig about compost look at this club. I found it while I was looking for Be Nice to Nettles week. I’m getting a bit worried that I can’t find details for this year.


Nest boxes and planning…

It’s a crisper day today, still nice and bright but with lower temperatures and higher winds than yesterday.

It’s National Nestbox Week this week – does the cornucopia of bird-based activity never end? The group has been helping out, resiting an old nestbox that was donated to us. If you look closely you can see one of last year’s boxes on the tree to the side. We have a couple more to put up, including one for the flycatcher that lives behind the recycled bus shelter, but they are in a box near my front door, where I forgot to pick them up this morning.

We now have a volunteer to build us two kestrel nest boxes, and along with the volunteers to put them up it’s looking good. One is going to be built into the statue where they roost and we’ll have to look for somewhere to put the second. I entered the kestrel I saw yesterday in the national kestrel count. They don’t really need it because the Midlands are thick with sightings, but you have to make the effort don’t you?

Meanwhile it’s full ahead on tidying up. We have a farm talk tonight and we just realised how much the grass has grown.



Now that we’ve finished with the bird count we’re moving onto trees as a subject. They’re certainly easier to count as they don’t flit about and hide in hedges.We have the Woodland Trust coming down next month to give us some training on trees so we want to be properly prepared.

Another day, another title

I’m struggling to think up new titles for my posts. Half of me wants to become a bit tabloid (“Great tits on the table today!” is so tempting when discussing the presence of Parus Major at the bird table.) The other half of me wants to take the easy way out with a dull title such as “Tuesday”.

The problem is that I don’t think the tabloid approach helps build a quality image, and the other approach just leads to a confusing number of posts named after days of the week.

We had a group from a MENCAP gardening group. They were out our way to collect horse manure and had arranged to drop in. We had a chat and home made mince pies, sold them a hamper and a couple of penguin tree decorations and invited them back next year for National Breakfast week.

We’re planning on having a few groups out for breakfast next year, raising some cash for Mary’s Meals¬†and raising awareness of how important breakfast is. It’s a continuation of the work we’ve been doing on breakfasts , and a continuation of the National Porridge Day work we started last year.

The Bread Group raised ¬£26 for Mary’s Meals last week when they did their Christmas meal, which was kind of them (as was the food they left in the fridge for me). Hopefully we will be adding to this next month, particularly as we will have the Saturday morning cafe participating for the first time.

Jobs for the Day

1) Check electricity meter readings

2) Feed Polish chickens

3) Make beadwork Christmas wreaths for keyrings

4) Make mince pies for visitors tomorrow

5) Answer interminable boring emails

6) Make lots of cups of tea (important job!)

7) Clean bird feeders and set up new seed feeder

8) Communal reading of Farmers’ Weekly

9) Set up skittle alley in barn

10) Referee cut throat game of Noughts and Crosses

11) Plan menus for meals on Wednesday and Thursday

12) Arrange for pick up of chicken that Johno is donating to one of the group

And that’s just for starters – there’s always plenty more to do. My next job, however, is making sandwiches for lunch…