Clout Casting Commences

May 24, 2018

Signalled by a strange portent yesterday morning

Not only has the fine weather continued, but suddenly it’s gone from ‘nice and sunny and warm if you’re out of the breeze’ to ‘this is not a drill, this is summer, enjoy it while it lasts, because when it’s gone, its gone’

Unfortunately this has coincided with the crunchiest of crunchy work deadlines so I’ve mainly been enjoying it by proxy, but I have been allowing myself a snatched hour or so outside here or there. This has meant choosing between gardening and the bike …

hawthorn (may) blossom

Today the bike won, even though my seedlings are queuing up to be planted and starting to suffer in the sun. I don’t regret it though, because the may is out (and the bluebells and the gorse and everything else) and where the farmers haven’t been slurry spreading the air is positively perfumed and gorgeous, and warm with it.


Apologies for the glare…

There might even have been a bit of clout casting done.

Besides, I have pipeline news: they have finished laying and joining the big gas pipe and started to make good the enormous hole they dug to do so, so the site now looks like this. Given the talent the land round here has for growing grass, I expect it to be indistinguishable from the surrounding fields within weeks.

pipeline covered over

Or almost, because a mysterious pipe remains, sticking out of the ground, purpose only to be guessed at …

pipe sticking up

Amazingly, if the forecast is correct, this weather is set to continue after the deadline crunch has passed and I will be able to do all the binge gardening I’ve been longing to do all week. Watch this space. I might even get around to blogging about compost …


While Stocks Last

May 19, 2018

I genuinely did not have time to get out on my bike today – and I didn’t need to go and fetch the paper because the other half was going into town.

may blue skies

But it is May and the fine weather is still here, and each day brings another fleeting spring moment, and when it’s gone it’s gone. Today it’s the turn of the cow parsley, just beginning to froth in the hedgerow. We have slogged our way through the winter, living for the moment when this weather would arrive, and it would be criminal not to slip out just for an hour or so to enjoy it.

And the roads were empty, for some reason, even emptier than they normally are. Could it be that people round here were all huddled inside, watching the royal wedding? I encountered about three cars and perhaps half a dozen cyclists, one of them out stretching his legs before the cup final.

Tomorrow we have lunch guests (the greenhouse inspection committee) and we’re hoping this weather will continue long enough to wheel out the barbecue. At least we were, until the local farmer – also keen to seize the day – made the most of the fine weather by spending the afternoon spreading slurry. Hopefully the smell will have dissipated somewhat by then

Got to take the rough with the smooth, living the rural life. This is the price we pay for having hot and cold running hares in the garden, and coos for neighbours.

Sight for Sore Eyes

June 3, 2015

my own bike

After a fortnight on a borrowed bike, getting back to my own was almost as good as getting back to my own bed (in fact better, as it was so bloody freezing when I got into bed last night I found myself shivering uncontrollably even with a hot water bottle. Whose idiotic idea was it to turn off the Rayburn on the flimsy grounds that it would be June when we got back from the States?*). It felt a little skittery for the first few hundred yards – although whether that was the effect of switching from a weighty hybrid with knobbly tyres, or just general high spirits on the bike’s part after two weeks in a shed, I don’t know.

cows in the road

It was good to be back on the old papershop run too, even though the traffic was terrible (I adopted the correct procedure for allowing cows to pass me and with a bit of eye rolling they made it past), and ASBO buzzard did a few warning traverses as I crossed into its territory, although without actually attacking.

bluebell wood

Bluebells. Obviously they were about five times as lovely as they look here, but you’ll just have to imagine it

The bluebells are still going strong (the first rule of bluebell woods is you don’t try and take photographs of bluebell woods because you will be disappointed by the results but I couldn’t resist).

may / hawthorn flower

The may is out although it’s still a bit nippy for any over-enthusiastic clout casting.

And when I was riding home from Bigtown this evening I had to keep stopping to take photos because it was just so lovely.

road_home road_home_2 road_home_3

Oh all right, the fierce headwind might have had something to do with it as well…

Rather less lovely was the horrifically road-killed deer that’s festering half way down the road to the village. I did take a picture, but it’s too grim to post. Normally any deer get scooped up for venison pretty quick but this was clearly too mangled. Drivers, please slow down on rural roads, even if you don’t care about me you surely don’t want to hit Bambi…

* Mine

Build a Better Slug Trap…

May 5, 2012

The downside of the mild winter we’ve just had is that the slugs have been even more rambunctious than usual, which means it’s been long past time to get going with the anti-slug measures.

Controlling slugs is simple. Everyone has their favourite method, from eggshells or coffee grounds to copper tape, beer traps and pellets so the way to go is to ask everyone’s advice and then do ALL of it. At once. At least round here, anyway. As well as all the other measures, I’ve actually always had pretty good success with my jars full of slug beer – if you measure success in terms of the number of slugs caught, anyway – but I do have a tendency to get neglectful with keeping the traps going. The problem is that brewing the slug beer is a bit of a pain, and every time you empty the traps you have to mix up a new batch. And if you leave the traps full of slugs for longer than a few days then the resulting macerated fermenting mess of festering mollusc remains is a bit, well, exactly as you’d imagine a macerated fermenting mess of festering mollusc remains to be. So emptying and refilling the traps slips to the bottom of the list and my plants get munched.

Fortunately, technology marches on and, perusing the latest edition of the Organic Gardening Catalogue, I discovered that our nation’s finest minds were onto the problem with extra fancy slug traps complete with slug baskets to enable the slugs to be removed and fed to the chickens without having to refill the bait. However, call me cheap but I need about eight or ten traps around the garden and I was buggered if I was going to pay £13.95 for some bits of plastic when up to now a collection of old salsa jars had done the trick. So it was time to rummage around in the shed for supplies and do some inventing:

(aren’t you patenting this? the other half asked as I took this photo.)

A couple of sawn-up plastic bottles, with holes drilled in the bottom by the other half using his power tools, completed my slug baskets. However, they weren’t entirely satisfactory because, for some reason, the manufacturers of plastic bottles haven’t thought to make them exactly the right diameter to fit snugly inside the jar of our preferred brand of salsa (I know, what were they thinking?). So I cut some flaps to try and guide the slugs up and over into the basket. The other half thought they might actually keep the slugs out, so in order to test this theory I have put out four traps, two with baskets and two without, and put them around my newly planted out baby lettuces to see which was the most effective.

What could possibly go wrong?

Well, it turns out that instead of spending my afternoon inventing, what I should have been doing was checking the weather forecast and then earthing up my potatoes because, May or no May, last night we had a pretty sharp frost and the little green shoots which had just appeared got a bit nipped.

Still the frost has, at least, kept the slugs out of action for a bit…

Get Yer Clouts Off

May 22, 2009
May is Out

May is Out

And it’s actually warm too. But I’ll be keeping the thermals handy all the same … just in case.