Thursday, 19 January 2017

An allotment month

Ok not technically an allotment month, there isn't much happening on the plot in January but there have still been things to harvest.

For Christmas my friend Charlotte got me a Gro Cycle mushroom kit and this bad boy is producing. Within about two days the mushrooms made an appearance, three days after that we had mushrooms we could cook with (they're delicious, seriously delicious).  

Monday, 19 December 2016

Wardrobe wishlist - Christmas edition

It has been a looooong ol' month this December and we're just past half way!  Finally I am on my hols and can turn my attentions to nice things like outfits I would buy if money were no object... (Not that the above are expensive just that I am trying to save money so have to look adoring at ASOS and the like but not click 'order now'.)

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Life lately

Where did the time go?  The last time I posted was in April and so much has happened since then, or at least a lot for my little, contained life....

  • I went to Austin, Texas!  I have wanted to go there for years and years.  I liked it, but I didn't love it - it was hot.  Like hotter than the surface of the sun hot (hyperbole much?) but the SoCo area was cool and I experienced the most intense thunder storm in my life which I loved, obviously.
  • I went to Denver, Colorado!  Flying into Denver airport took my breath away.  America does big nature and the Rockies in Denver were possibly the biggest nature I've seen for quite some time.  The backdrop to this lush city was utterly stunning and I'm so glad that my job took me to Denver, somewhere I wouldn't have thought to go had it not been a work trip.
  • I celebrated my Birthday in France with my folks and MozzyMr.  It was so nice to relax and completely get away from our everyday lives, we caught up with my relatives and went to Futuroscope which was weird frankly and not somewhere I am likely to return to.
  • I got a little promotion, I'm pretty chuffed with progress at work it has been SO difficult and so hectic but has been made so much better by having an amazing team of people around me.  
  • I was asked to participate in an expert panel at the British Council Erasmus+ conference.  That was scary but awesome, I'm so glad I had the opportunity.
  • We finally took over the whole plot at the allotment.  MoMa and I worked on it for two weeks in the summer and it looks great!  We have a pond in place with actual wildlife living in it and crops already growing ready for spring.
  • Brexit happened, that was shit and hateful.  I'm still not over it and frankly cannot believe the sheer racist stupidity of the country we live in.
  • I visited Liverpool for the first time, what an awesome city with so much to see.  I was there for a week on business so didn't see as much or it as I would have liked but did see a Francis Bacon exhibition at Tate Liverpool which was sleek.
  • We said a sad farewell to a couple of relatives this year as well as a fond hello to the babies of lovely friends.
  • I started painting again and attending the studio on a relatively regular basis
  • I stopped going to the gym.  I have mixed feelings about this, I loved exercising but lost my love for the classes I was doing.  I haven't found the class or activity I really want to do yet, the netball club I used to attend in my hometown disbanded and the nearest one was just a bit too far away to make it a viable option but when I find that new thing I'll let you know.
  • MozzyMr celebrated a significant birthday this year and our wonderful friends came to visit and celebrate with us, it was awesome.
  • I volunteered at two charity events this year, both for Hospicare and I loved both events the enthusiasm people have for helping others is inspiring.
  • I saw comedian Henning Wehn and the AWESOME Christmas Queens 2 in Cardiff with my sleek and amazing friend Mel.  
So I have one day left at work before the holidays and I cannot wait.  I'm going to hang out with Mewster and MozzyMr, work on the allotment, do some painting at the studio, get ourselves to Dartmoor for a trek across the moors, go to the beach and play computer games... all the computer games.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

An allotment month

I've abandoned this little blog, life has been filled with work, the gym, family visits and time on the allotment getting seeds in the ground and preparing for the grow season.

In March photos from the plot are typically very brown, it's all soil and not much in the way of growth (unless of course you count the grass that has taken over during the winter) but the seeds are going in and tiny plants are making an appearance.

Seeds planted in March

  • Kale: these went in a propagator on a sunny windowsill in the house.  The seedlings made their appearance really quickly and have subsequently been moved to the polytunnel and potted on (bottom left photo)
  • Brussel sprouts: these went in at the same time as the kale and made their appearance in a similar time frame.  I've never grown sprouts before, I don't have much luck with the brassica family (with the exception of purple sprouting broccoli) but Malcolm on the plot across the way from ours does really well so I'm basically going to copy anything that he does and hope for the best
  • Sunflowers: we're doing a bit of an experiment this year we've planted 12 seeds outside and 12 in the polytunnel.  The polytunnel seeds have made an appearance and look pretty strong so far (bottom right photo), nothing from the outside seeds yet...
  • Broad beans: these were planted in February not March outside in a raised bed, they've made an appearance and don't seem too munched which is good (top right photo).  I'm hoping we'll be able to start harvesting beans at the end of May
  • Purple sprouting broccoli: from a tray of seeds (approximately 30 seeds went in) I'm hoping to get four or five strong plants that will go through to harvest
  • Spring onions: we've put these in the polytunnel this year, when the soil outside starts to warm up we'll put some out there, I know everyone who grows their own veg says this but in particular with spring onions when you grow your own you can taste the difference 
  • Beetroot: we've put a couple of rows in the polytunnel and a couple of rows outside in a raised bed, so fair only golden detroits (the yellow variety)have gone in but we'll get the traditional purple ones in over the coming weeks.  You don't want to put all of your beetroots in at the same time, we like it but there is only so much you can eat in a short period of time.

Plants being harvested in March

  • Purple sprouting broccoli: (centre photo) these plants take forever to get from seed to harvest, and I do wonder sometimes if I should use precious space on the plot for them, I then see how much they cost for a small tray of about 10 stems and I am vindicated in my decision to plant them 
  • Kohlrabi: (bottom row, centre) we planted these seeds in the polytunnel bed in November and have been harvesting them since January.  There a very fresh, sharp tasting root but it's not an unpleasant flavour, we tend to add them to stir fries which add a nice crunch similar to water chestnuts

April is when things truly kick off and we start planting the flower seeds, butternut squashes, courgettes, beans, and strawberry plants.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Favourite podcasts

I was a podcast fiend over the Christmas holiday.  I typically listen to three or four a week anyway but over the holidays when the weather was so shocking I luxuriated in having the time to work my way through the back catalogues of my favourites, I thought I would share a few of my favourite episodes with you here...

Reply all

It's tough to call this a favourite episode because the content at times is hard to swallow but it was such an interesting look at social media and the role it plays in modern American campus life.

Another great episode looking at the most embarrassing emails ever sent and how we wish we could undo, undo, undo!

Were you aware that there is such a thing as a cookie advisor?  You will be after this episode.

This American Life

This episode is a jaw dropper, looking at the American education system and how people are trying to get poor minority kids performing as well as white kids, such thought provoking stuff.

Status update is a great episode, it's looking at social media which is something I find endlessly fascinating and takes us on a journey through the minefield that is commenting and liking things on Instagram to a whole town that gets a status update.

I'm going to have to straight up quote this episodes' synopsis: "When Jonathan Goldstein was a kid, his father gave him a book that promised to teach you how to shoot mental laser beams, win the lottery, move solid objects with you mind, make others obey your command [...] he revisits the book to try to unlock the secrets within."


OK straight up, every episode of Serial season one is a favourite and I'm thoroughly enjoying season two as well... just listen to them all.


This episode is the tale of a dive supervisor in Los Angeles who has been retrieving evidence from lakes and rivers to aide investigations his whole career but summer 2013 is something else entirely...

Episode one of Criminal is stellar and had me hooked on all episodes that followed it looks at the case of a woman found dead in a pool of her own blood.  Her husband was convicted but did he do it... the owls are not what they seem.

Who on earth would have thought there could be a venus flytrap crime ring?  Well there is in this episode!


I'm super new to Nerdette so can only really recommend one episode, but it's a good one, it features Caitlin Moran who is just a joy to listen to.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Are blogs still relevant?

I haven't really been blogging around here lately and I've noticed quite a few of my favourite bloggers haven't been posting much either.  I'm not talking about bloggers that blog for a living but those day-to-day folk like  me who write about the ups and downs of everyday life and I have to ask myself are blogs still relevant?  Perhaps more importantly are blogs still enjoyable to read?

I turned to blogs in 2009 because the magazines I was reading were packed with adverts and advice on cosmetic surgery, which diet was the latest fad you had to try and what make-up trends would make you more attractive.  I felt bored by the content and felt bad about myself when I read them but in contrast when I read blogs written by women (predominately women, blogging is rarely a medium chosen by men but I accept whole heartedly that I have not explored this fully so would welcome examples of readable, interesting, everyday male bloggers if you have any to share with me!) like me who explored the everydayness that was so interesting, real and honest I felt good about what I was seeing.  I felt more connected and glad to know there were examples out there of 'normal' 'ate the extra piece of bread because I wanted to' lives and they were shining examples of how to live happy lives.  

Over the years more and more posts are sponsored, bloggers and vloggers bring out books and get TV deals and all that I loved about blogging seems to have been handed over to the corporations.

Why am I bringing this up now?  Well on Facebook today there was a sponsored advert on my feed from New Look where fitness and lifestyle blogger Tasha Green was promoting their new sportswear range in preparation for the deluge of people joining the gym in January.  The advert just made me feel lacklustre and not keen to look at what products New Look had on offer Tasha had lost her 'normal-ness' that which no doubt made her so popular in the first place.  Zoella is another fine example of vlogger turned international success with book and cosmetics deals being thrown at her left right and centre.  Am I jealous of these blogger and vlogger successes?  Maybe, I know I wouldn't turn down a big fat royalty cheque if it was offered to me but it does feel that blogging, which has been a creative outlet for so many is having the shine hammered out of it, the edges are rusting and the core values/issues/everyday topics of conversation that made them so enjoyable to read are being compromised.

Essena O'Neill an Australian Instagram superstar who had in the region of 612,000 followers quit the social media platform very publicly in October 2015 stating that Instagram [and social media in general I assume] "served no real purpose other than self promotion".  Now it could easily be argued that all blogs are self promotion, we all blog to have our say and to carve out our own little piece of the internet but where do you turn for what used to be the 'real' content? estimates that 3.5 million blog posts are published everyday (statistic taken on 2nd January 2016) so there must be some out there that I'm just not finding or those everyday women are turning to other mediums to express themselves?

In my roundabout way I'm saying that blogs are turning into the magazines that made me (and many others I'm sure) seek alternative publications and writings on everyday life.  Us bloggers (although I don't feel fully qualified to call myself that) all copy one another, we provide tutorials on how to get more readers or which beauty products work best and that feels kinda regressive.  I don't have the answers to the issues I just feel the need to voice my grievances, perhaps in 2016 I will write nonsense about nonsense and see my follower numbers drop but ultimately enjoy myself more?  I hope others do the same as I can't wait to read the outcomes.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Christmas for the anxious or the introverted

So I'm quite an introvert, well to be precise an extroverted introvert.  When required I can do a presentation in front of 500 students, I can network at conferences, I can banter and socialise with the best of them but I'm happiest at home or on the allotment either on my own or with Sam.  

It's not that I don't like socialising, I do but I also find it really exhausting.  Why am I posting this?  Because Christmas is hard work for a lot of introverted people or people with anxiety; Christmas parties, Christmas shopping, travelling far and wide to make sure you see everyone you need to can be really overwhelming.

Things I do at Christmas that non-anxious people might find weird:
  • I'll always choose to text or IM you rather than talk on the phone
  • 9 times out of 10 I'm totally fine about you cancelling our plans
  • I will NEVER get super dressed up, being uncomfortable even during the office Christmas party is not an option
  • I know Amazon are evil tax dodging scum but doing my Christmas shopping with them means I don't have to deal with the busy Christmas high street and I'm prepared to sell a piece of my soul every time I click the 'submit order' button to avoid that
  • I'll do 'the big Christmas shop' at 1am at the 24 hour Tesco just to avoid the horror of dead-eyed weekend food shoppers *shudder*
  • I will sneak out of a party without saying goodbye to avoid the 'big goodbye' involved, I won't feel bad about it either
  • Socialising with friends who are fine with me bringing my slippers to their house will always be my favourite
I would love to hear from fellow introverts, I can't be the only person who does this stuff at Christmas can I??

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