Friday, 29 June 2012

A little a-lotting Part 1

Reckon this is a fab look for me

Bit clunky I know, but it's the best I can do today... I've been doing a little on the allotment which means I usually have just about enough time to get covered in mud before being summoned back home to feed baby lula. Hence the quick-change overalls. Sexy, I know.

Last year Jude and I dug over this whole patch, cleared it of weeds and then covered it up for 6 months or so. This year I uncovered, dug it over again (and abandoned it again so that more weeds have snuck back in - doh!) and then broadcast wildflower seed in the section behind me, just beyond the little clump of forget-me-nots. Now the idea is to transplant as many seedlings as possible from there into the remaining ground so that the smaller ones have a chance to grow before becoming swamped by the more vigorous.

More wildflowers waiting 
Pretty little things, but I don't know what they are!

How I wish the allotment looked (complete with help)*
How it actually looks. Wild, basically.
Bronze fennel, sweet william and crazy brassicas gone to seed

More wasteland wild meadow
As you can see the chicken wire isn't deterring the chickens much!
All I am managing to do in the rest of the allotment is get some long-suffering seedlings into the ground and yank out the odd weed here and there. The three main villains in our ground are docks, creeping buttercup and an as-yet unidentified thistle which gows from the titchiest scraps and then spreads underground in lines. There are also plenty of nettles which I'm not quite so irritated by, being fairly easy to pull up as they're so shallow-rooting. As well as providing a highly nutritious liquid feed when rotted in water, they're also very important to a large number of insects and butterflies so I'm happy to leave a few big clumps of it as long as I have the space. The young leaves can also be steamed and eaten like spinach, and the roots can be used to make a yellow dye.

The others are devils though! Creeping buttercup looks completely wonderful for about a month in early spring when it becomes a carpet of yellow blooms, so it's just a case of preventing it from taking over the whole space as it can very quickly smother huge areas of ground. Once it's got a hold it's a nightmare to pull up.

Meanwhile, in the greenhouse,

My dream greenhouse (complete with help - or hubs, as he prefers to be known as)*
No, dammit, that's not mine!

Here's what's on my bench, quietly waiting for me to do more than just chuck some water on here and then:

I had intended to not do anything this year, what with baby an' all, but sowing seeds is so damn addictive it's really hard to stop... it's always such a thrill to see those first little tender shoots poking up, knowing they have the potential to become a plant that could be taller than me! Sometimes it's not such a thrill as quite often the odd weed comes up instead (one of the downsides of using home-made compost and not sterilising it!)

Time to go make some omelettes!

Have a cracking weekend!

(*pictures of allotmenting on a grand scale were taken at Buckfast Abbey a couple of months ago)

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Callington Murals

At some point someone in this town near where I live decided to invest a lot of time and money decorating various walls around the town with wonderful murals. They're everywhere! The curious one of the Bakery is my favourite, and maybe one of the best bits of street art I've seen (and I'm quite passionate about the subject).

There's also a fantastic flying fox in the playground which the girls LOVE!

As an added bonus, there was a sale on in one of the two charity shops: all clothing £1! Jude found an ace jacket & I picked up some bits n bobs to use for patchwork. The other big expense was £2 for these five books... that should keep me going for a week or so :-)

Happy bargain-hunting all!

(the pics are all a bit jumbled themselves, sorry!)

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Sweet William

Jude's middle name is William and his mum has a special fondness for Sweet Williams because of this. So here's both my sweet Williams! The flowers I sowed from seed last year and, being biennials, completely forgot about them until they unexpectedly flowered this year. They have the most fantastic, vivid colour and the flowers last for weeks, both on the plant and when cut to bring indoors.

I rarely go up to the allotment these days, even though it's only a couple of metres from the house: there's so much that needs doing up there that I find it all quite depressing. All my time is spent with Tula, doing housework, or knitting. I feel a huge amount of guilt about seeing plants that I've grown from seed being neglected (by me), so it's enormously encouraging to see that some things are doing just fine by themselves with no help from me at all!

Jude's decided to do some work on the LandRover, having found that the bulkhead is rusted (this means NOTHING to me, except that it must equal 'not good'): the workmanlike attire should inspire confidence, but is somehow offset by the vaguely worrying frown  - seeing as he's reading the manual of the car he's already taken to pieces...

One LandRover, missing most of, well everything as far as I can see...
This is what the driver's side looks like inside! Yikes - I wouldn't even know how the steering wheel goes back on!

Although I have every confidence in Jude's abilities, I can't help but feel slightly worried that the single most expensive thing we own is currently in pieces...

So let's look at the lovely flowers again instead!!

Another little flower, quietly getting bigger!

tbc :-/

Knitted Sampler Blanket

Well, the knitting is progressing, despite some hiccups along the way...

Oops - spot the accidental knit-not-purl row!

I had hoped to get finished - haha - by the end of June for MIL's birthday, but I'm just a few squares short! Like about 80... Also the finished size will be smaller than the pattern suggests because I er, forgot to do some on the first column... at least it wasn't the third!!

All thirteen squares so far!

So it will now probably be nine squares by eight (or maybe not!)


As you might have guessed by the unusual number of pics I've posted, I'm rather pleased with my efforts! Here are some of the trickier, but very satisfying cable squares:

Cables and twists

There are a few errors in the square I'm working on, but I've just been ignoring them. Maybe there's some way of sewing it up at the end to disguise these? I found the instructions for this pattern particularly incomprehensible at first (tw2l, anyone??) and almost chose an alternative instead, but I'm so pleased with myself for just getting on with it, because it actually turned out fine, despite the mistakes, even though it seemed so weird at first.

Sea wall and Cobbles
The sampler pattern is one I'm following from Debbie Abrahams book "Blankets and Throws to Knit" and the instructions are really easy to follow except for the increase rows of both cable squares I've tried so far, which don't appear to have the right number of stitches, so I've had to make it up to the right number by just adding in random stitches!

It's a shame I don't have a knitting granny to consult; perhaps I should join a knitting group, though I find the idea slightly frightening... not sure why, maybe I just don't see myself as a Knitter, in the same way I would never call myself an Artist or Photographer: they're all different facets of my personality at different times.


Friday, 15 June 2012

Baby swallows have arrived!

Aw - look at those hungry little mouths all lined up for mum to feed!

Barn swallows feed their young up to 400 times a day! And there's me feeling a bit knackered after Tula's 3 hourly feeds... We have swallows coming back every year from their journey to Africa to breed in our sheds - one of the great benefits of living next to a farm. Our kitchen is next to this shed and as there's no insulation in the roof you can hear the constant chatter of the birds outside. This morning I stuck my head in the door to check out the nest as usual and was greeted by a raucous cheeping, followed by silence and ducked heads as they realised I wasn't their mum!

It is always a welcome sign of spring to see the returning birds frolicking in the air, they seem to have a huge capacity for play and are wonderfully agile in flight, twisting and flipping in the air to catch insects on the wing. They are also the fastest songbirds, flying as fast as 46mph!

Got to go and feed my baby now :-)


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