Despite the fact that the first couple of our North Devon holiday days were wet it now seems that perhaps we did pick the best week to be away. I say “pick” meaning it is not so simple when you have to co-ordinate the working lives of all members of the family. But even so, since getting back and entertaining friends the weather has been cool (if not damned cold!) and miserably wet.

The pumpkins up on the plot have not yet turned into the big leaved bullying characters they usually grow into. The courgettes, usually rampant and doubling in size each day (like whalewort in Ted Hughes How the Whale Became) are there, but small. Big enough mind you to be added to some delicious cakes (chocolate and lemon drizzle).

We have two wines on the go and the recipe for a third sits in the “in-box” waiting for another fermentation bucket.


The currants are loaded and we have picked more than enough reds – and the cuttings that were taken from the black currants are so prolific too. Gooseberries doing that tough, secret little job that they always do and no blight – yet – on the potatoes.

Back at home there was a plan to build some sort of roofed seat on a patch of border underneath next doors fully berried holly tree. The ground there is, of course unsuitable for most plants. But as I was planning the project it became obvious that we could buy one more cheaply … and head Gardener had spotted one at a garden centre.

It was a bonus that it was actually on offer – and that we could use gardening vouchers I’d had for my latest birthday – but unfortunately none in stock. We could however order one later – and it would be delivered free of charge to our address. Brilliant.

I simply dropped in on my way home (from working in Tamworth) to place the order.

“ Can’ place orders here,” I was told … “have to put out a call …”

After the P.A. request an unenthusiastic-looking assistant approached.

“Simon’s on the end of a hose; he can’t get here.” she mumbled.

“Oh … er … Oh, of course you could ask that lady over there – Bridget. She can order things …” pointing to a lady ringing up incense burner refills on a till in what looked like the weedkillers and chemicals section of the place.

“have to check out if we’ve got any in stock,” she told me, wandering off to do just that.

When she got back lo and behold:

“We have some in stock, I can get one here for you now. That’ll be … “ and she named a price above and beyond the one we had seen in that very store a couple of days earlier – when there were none in stock.

“No,” I said they were on offer, and I named the offer price.

We went to look – to see if I had been mistaken (the very idea of it: really!)

Of course I wasn’t and the price was, credit to the company honoured.

I dragged it home, unpacked it and re packed the car with holiday luggage.

Getting back the weather has been too wet to do anything beyond paint the flat pack parts and pieces (oh, didn’t I mention? Head Gardener would like it to be Country Cream). And the rain, rain, rain has hindered even that process. That Cuprinol stuff does dry amazingly rapidly though!

And – yesterday – we got around to replacing a broken pane of glass in the roof of the home greenhouse. We don’t have a greenhouse up at the allotment, figuring we don’t visit regularly enough to water every day. So we germinate seeds at home and transfer the seedlings to the plot when ready. Somebody (guess who?) made a bit of a mistake putting the greenhouse right next to the eight foot brick wall. Debris landing on the roof over the years has built up. So much so that dandelions grow in the newly created “soil”, and cleaning it out I split the glass. Too wet to replace it – and too cold (tomatoes inside!) not to. Balancing oddly on my Swiss army nineteen combinations multi-ladder and using a screwdriver (don’t ask) we managed to manoeuvre (relieved to have got the measurements right) two new pieces into place between showers.

Now, we have a three-refuse bin collection system in operation here in South Staffordshire. The grey bin, for normal household rubbish; a green bin for garden, compostable refuse and a blue bin for recyclables. Credit to the councils for this apparently sustainable way of doing things. There is a fair range of stuff that can go into the blue bin: metal cans, glass bottles, card, newspapers, carrier bags … but not apparently window glass. It might cut the hands of those sorting the rubbish. Now bear in mind that the bottles, for example are tipped unceremoniously into the collecting wagon and almost certainly broken in the process this seems a rather ridiculous ruling. So the broken glass is taken to landfill and buried, eventually to be unearthed quite literally with the potential to … cut somebody’s skin. Think the council needs to look at this one again: however we somewhat reluctantly put the panes into the grey “landfill” bin.


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