Saturday, 29 October 2011

Callous youth

As we were walking to the shop a couple of days ago, we passed an elderly car at the side of the road, with the door open, which was what caught our attention, and then we noticed glass on the pavement.

We assumed that someone had broken into the car to steal something from the inside.  Since it was parked outside some houses, we assumed that it would have been noticed, and was being dealt with.

We walked  on.  Ahead of us a couple of young men were wheeling a motor bike into the garden of a house across the road.  A few yards further along we came to a road junction, and were approached by an old lady who asked if we had a mobile phone.  She had just been in a motor accident and wanted to phone the police.

It was her car we had just passed, and the motor bike we watched being wheeled into a garden was the one that had overtaken her and smashed into the side of her car, shattering the windows and denting the door.  The young driver told her that he wasn't hurt, so there was nothing more to do, and walked off!

I dialled 999 and explained what had happened.  As we waited, the young men walked past us who had parked up their motor bike.  A police car was soon on the scene.  Since we hadn't witnessed the accident we left once the policeman was talking to the poor lady, after pointing out the house where we'd seen the bike being left.

It's hard to believe that those youths could be so callous as to simply walk away from an old lady, who was clearly somewhat shaken by her ordeal at their hands.  Thankfully the police arrived promptly, and would be able to track them down with the registration number of the bike.  I hope they are suitably punished for their terrible attitude.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Nanowrimo looms large

It's nearly November, therefore it's nearly time to write a novel in a month - yes,  you read it right - a novel in a month!

Not the finished product, but the basic, un-tweaked embrionic novel that might, one day, become a finished masterpiece.

I managed to achieve my target of 50,000 words last year - but will I be able to do the same this year?  Who knows - that's the exciting thing - there's no knowing who'll plod along to the end, and who'll fall by the wayside.

Wish me luck:)

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Crocheted flowers

My friend has been making crochet flower brooches ready for the church sale.  Hers are big and blousey affairs, very dramatic and lovely.  I was inspired by her efforts, so I decided to make some a little smaller and more delicate, and came up with the following four after a little playing around.

I could only find a couple of balls of yarn, having given most of mine away to the charity shops when I moved house - I shall have to buy some more, because, whilst winter white is fine for practising and creating designs, it's just a little boring for selling!

Now I need to do a little more thinking and practising, it's a long time since I did any crocheting, but now I remember what fun it is:)

Monday, 17 October 2011

Rocket - easy to grow, delicious to eat

The warm, slightly peppery taste of rocket, or arugula, enhances salads.  It doesn't add crunch, like a crisp cos lettuce leaf, nor bright colour, like tomatoes or radishes, but it makes its presence felt in that subtle flavour and delightful heat that is quite unique.

The good news is that it's very easy to grow - it doesn't need especially good soil, nor even full sun.  And once you've grown it once, you should never need to buy seeds again, because it's so easy to save your own:)

Allow one plant to flower, the white, star like flowers aren't particularly stunning, but they aren't unpleasing either.  As the flowers die back, you'll see tiny green pods developing.  By all means snip a few off and add to your salad plate - they also have that delicious warmth of the rocket leaves.

The pods will grow to about an inch or so in length, and as the summer progresses, they will turn brown and dry.  This is when you go out with your paper bag, and harvest the crisp seed pods.

Bring them indoors and carefully split the pods.  I say carefully because if you're rough with them the seeds will catapault all over the floor - such a waste!  I put a sheet of paper down and collect them on that, then pour them into an envelope to store them.

You'll see that some of the pods develop speckly black marks, this doesn't affect the seeds, don't worry.  You'll get more than enough seeds from one plant to see you through next year - unless you've a large family, in which case, allow a couple of plants, or even more, to set seed - keep picking the leaves on the others so that they'll continue to grow.

Successional sowing, every few weeks, will ensure that you have young, vigorous plants to enjoy.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Great Expectations

I got married over three decades ago; in those days you saved up to buy most things - credit wasn't handed out like sweeties, and you didn't undertake it lightly.  In common with most newly-weds, the only debt we had was the mortgage - and even that was restricted to a proportion of the couple's income.

We were given a second-hand fridge with a dodgy seal, and were grateful for it.  It worked.  A second-hand twin tub washing machine served us well for quite some time.  We bought the contents of the house, so we sat on second-hand chairs, at a second-hand table, with a second-hand dresser housing our china, such as it was!

We did, however, splash out a new mattress, but couldn't afford a base as well, so it laid on the floor for a couple of years until we could.  We were comfortable, and certainly didn't consider it a hardship to sleep on the floor  - it was our floor, in our house.

The only heating in the house was a gas fire in the living room, on the lower ground floor, it was a three storey terrace house.  We couldn't afford central heating for about four years!  I remember making us both a dressing gown from a thick, lightweight blankets, and we would scurry downstairs in those, put the fire on, then dress later, when the room had lost its chill.

To the younger generations, this would seem like truly Spartan conditions - and perhaps it was.  But we were just starting out on our lives together, the house needed renovating from top to bottom, rewiring etc, and we knew it would cost quite a bit of money, even though we did 95% of the work ourselves.  

We couldn't afford fripperies, but enjoyed the odd meal out, and a drink with friends.  We had no TV, and played board games or cards in the evenings, or read books.  Friends came round to visit, and we visited them.  We were happy.

Nowadays the aspirations of youngsters starting out in their first homes seems to be to start at the level at which they lived at home with their parents.  Why?  How?  Their parents have doubtless worked hard for years to achieve the standard of living they now enjoy, how can children expect to start out at that same level?

But so many of them do.  Consequently they furnish their homes with new furniture bought on credit, watch a rented TV - plasma screen, of course, and enjoy all the channels their monthly subscriptions provide.  The car on the drive is probably bought on credit, too, and the holiday paid for on the credit card.

I had friends, years ago, who lived like this - and the spectre that haunted them was that one of them might lose their job, and the repayments would be too much.  Not quite the happy carefree life that they presented to the world.

... and the reason that I've thought of this?  I belong to one of those local sites that tries to avoid landfill, by offering a place where the members can offer their unwanted items free to others, or can request items.  Somebody asked for a 3' divan bed frame for their daughter, as she is currently sleeping on a mattress on the floor of their new home.  Poor child.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Grow your own garlic - it's easy:)

I love garlic.  Those lovely bulbs of fantastic flavour which enhance so many dishes.  I eat garlic raw in dips, chew a whole raw clove if I'm getting a cold (and not planning to visit anyone!), I love to roast a whole head of garlic, then squidge out the soft, rich clove centres, and, of course, it adds so much to curries, casseroles, soups, scones (biscuits) etc.

So ... last year I planted some cloves which had started to sprout, and this autumn I harvested the results.

They're drying off in the greenhouse, but I'm really pleased with the result.

Apparently I did it all wrong, though!  I'd assumed that the bulbs should be planted their own depth down, sort of like flowering bulbs often are.  However, I've just been looking into it, ready to plant some more this year, and apparently they only need to be just below the surface of the soil, like onion sets.  Which makes sense, I suppose.  It will certainly make them easier to dig up, these were quite reluctant to leave the soil!!!!!

However, I got a harvest, and they taste good, so it was a worthwhile experiment.  And, as a bonus, I had lovely globe flowers during the summer, too.

So, if you fancy growing your own garlic, now is the time to plant out your cloves, just a few inches apart, and just below the soil's surface.  Then forget about them until they've flowered next summer, and the stems have started to go brown.  Then dig them up, dry them off and store them ready for use.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Seeing Red

I had a friend, years ago, who hated Autumn - it made him feel depressed.  All he could see was everything dying, and the promise of colder weather ahead.

I have always loved Autumn - the crispness in the air, the smell of woodsmoke, the settling down to sleep before the re-awakening in Spring, and the glorious warmth of the colours.

So I thought I'd graciously share some of the red around in my garden this October, so that you can enjoy it too:)

The berries on the hollies are spectacular.

The berberis is its usual mass of red and greenness.

The buds on the skimmia look lovely

I don’t know the name of this small tree!  But it’s lovelyJ

The peony leaves have turned a lovely red.

Probably my final strawberry of the yearL

The rub chard just glows!

The slugs and snails also enjoy the red cabbage!

The apples on my neighbour's tree still hang like Christmas decorations.

The acer palmatum is still beautiful.

How is autumn cold and boring?  How????

Saturday, 1 October 2011

did you know that October is the Vegan Month of Food 2011?  No, neither did I, but apparently it is, in the US at any rate.  So, why not be adventurous and eat a few vegan meals?  There are plenty of excellent recipes out there in blog land, not to mention cookery books, both real and virtual, nowadays!

Take a look at to see what's going on!