Archive for the ‘Almanac’ Category

Worth the Wait.

9.29 a.m. I’m sitting in a car. Waiting. As patiently as I can. Outside the well-cut hedges of Sean, a man the local farmer says “messes with sheep”. I’m supposed to be meeting Little Dave at 9.30 to load up a trailer of valuable sheep manure for our muck pens. Maybe the arrangements aren’t as solid as I had believed. Maybe I was mistaken – I hate it when that happens!

There’s a smart looking Alsatian hound keeping a sentry’s eye on me from behind a house window. He may be barking too, but I can’t hear it.

At ground level there’s a rough-house wind blowing. A flock of daffodils, like the hopefuls in an early chorus line audition are throwing shapes and wobbling. On the opposite verge is a fat, glossy and definitely disinterested woodpigeon: the poet inside me has him as the casting director:

“Don’t call us, we’ll call you!”

Image result for daffodil images

I’ve exchanged text messages with the Plantation Owner’s Wife. Nothing new at her end.

Ten minutes later I’m still waiting. Definitely less patient. Looks like this is the third annoying thing – and it is still so early. A day of things-going-wrong maybe? First it was the alarm clock going off at half past stupid. I don’t remember setting it but accept that it must have been me: habit most likely. Secondly there’s the ridiculously loud tapping of the kamikaze blue tit throwing himself at the back bedroom window. Why does he (it is almost certainly a male – do that? Protecting a territory against the reflection that he thinks is a rival?

Just as I’m about to up-sticks and leave the sheep rancher and Little Dave arrive. Phew! It is wonderful that I have been given the opportunity to grab some of this rare resource: manure is droppings and bedding (in this case hay) mixed as opposed to just droppings. This anticipated treasure should fill the two freshly emptied compost bins and come in useful after a “cooking” spell. There’ll be up to forty barrow loads of the stuff, so I’m told.

But first we have to dig it out of the “lambing shed”. Filled with twenty ewes. No lambs.

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“I had my mate’s two tups over,” Sean explains, slowly.

“Looks like they was only here for the grub!”

We scrape aside the recently added looser surface layers of hay. Drive the forks into the solid foot and a half of packed, padded down “good stuff” below. It is not easy work and soon our jackets are laid aside. The dozen or so white geese penned in next door are let out and it gets suddenly quieter.The ewes keep getting underfoot, but they also have a calming effect. The skilfully backed in trailer takes just over an hour to fill. Then it’s back to the site, where there is a wonderful surprise for me when I arrive ahead of the 4X4 towing he laden trailer: the Plantation Owner’s Wife has been industrious and got the early potatoes planted.

She’s roped in to transfer the off-loaded manure to the plot. We have the use of two barrows and get a system going. Little Dave gamely staying on to lend a much-appreciated hand. Again this is solid hard work, especially as our plot is as far away from the central roadway as it is possible to get. But we get our backs into it.

The looser hay goes down first, dowsed with water. A handful of compost activating chicken pellets scattered on it, then subsequent layers added. Bit by bit the heap by the notice-board shrinks – I’ve lost count of the number of barrow loads at thirty – until we are driven to adapt an inclined plane system to get the barrows high enough.

It’s rare to be able to get sheep manure, but it is recommended. It’s not as bulky or as plentiful as horse or cattle manure (sheep droppings are so much tinier of course) but contains 0.8% Nitrogen, 0.4% phosphorus and 0.5% potassium so compares favourably*. My grandfather was known for collecting sheep droppings from the pasture, tying them into a hessian sack, submerging the sack in a water butt and using the “tea” produced to feed his crops.

Three hours after I started digging in the sheep pen we have the heaps packed and retained. We pull recycled black plastic sheeting over each of the heaps to help the processes get off to a good start. I’m planning to add worms from the back-garden wormery (it needs emptying anyway) to boost the rotting down.

Too hungry to wait – and, frankly, too knackered to cook – we retire, after a wash’n’brush up to a favourite garden centre eatery. There are times when only chips will do!

 

* Horse manure is 0.6% Nitrogen, 0.6% phosphorus and 0.4% potassium; cattle manure is 0.6% Nitrogen, 0.3% phosphorus and 0.5% potassium.

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The Edges of Spring?

 

 

“March,” so an oft-quoted proverb goes “comes in like a lion, goes out like a lamb”. Much is made by the British met Office that 1st March (also St David’s Day) is their beginning-of-spring (as opposed to the astronomical one) but certainly with two named storms around the date we have certainly had the lion roaring around us.

But strong winds, as well as bringing rain, scoot the clouds away and yesterday we had gloriously blue skies. Perfect for my assigned job of putting the second edge to the “middle plot”. We have three plots between us on the site. You might expect them to be of equal size … but the middle one is noticeably narrower. We had worked together on the first side, fixing ex-pallet planks together (using the nails taken out of said pallets), established a straight edge and with much removing of turf from the existing path, set it into place with stakes sawn from the ubiquitous pallets.

Never having been one for straight lines even I am impressed by the formality it gives to the plot … and it is a move forward, something that was not there before. Over winter we have ventured up to the site: to ritually winter-dig, to gather parsnips or check on the state of the plot, security, move things from place to place, wonder at the growth of winter sown broad beans and onions. But this – for a fine change – is real progress.

And, with the tenuous warmth of the sun pouring down it is easy to recognise the creeping-up of spring. Birds nesting well under way, bulbs pushing leaves through the soil surface, polyanthus blooming, hazel catkins blowing in winds, no frogspawn yet, but amphibians quite vocal in our back garden. Sweet pea seeds sown in pots. Potatoes – finally set into boxes to chit up. Not everyone does this: Little Dave already has his early potatoes planted* (“It might get cold,” he wisely says, “but they’m underground, won’t get affected.”)

 

Plot 4D has a make-over. The winter dug soil is raked out, levelled. The winter weather has hopefully done its task of breaking up clods, killing weed seeds, discouraging slugs and snails. Now the rake pushes and pulls it into a charming workable area, less uncouth, more welcoming. Lime gets added because the soil on this plot is really gloopy and the lime should help break it down. Strangely the nature of the soils varies from plot to adjacent plot. Let the sun begin to heat up the ground now. The weirdly shaped roots of runner beans left in the ground are rounded up and popped onto the compost heap with other debris, the serpentine white roots of couch grass go to the pile to be burned.

While working I am joined by Dr Pepper – good to see he is staying on-site**. If all goes well he will become a first-time father in around six weeks’ time. Understandably he is both nervous and excited, unsure of how much time he will be able to put in up here.

Tadpole Bob also wanders over. Thankfully I have accomplished the second edge, which is cause for good natured banter.

But, while we are talking a pair of buzzards cleaving the air above us and goldfinches assaulting what must be the last seeds remaining in a teasel seed head everything feels turned around. We are sailing towards spring, warmer weather, germination, lighter days … then summer!

And it feels like it: positive and going somewhere as opposed to just jogging on the spot.

 

* I often say “there are a hundred gardeners hereabouts, so a hundred different best ways of growing the best potatoes”. (Though I may have paraphrased a wiser gardener!)

** Rents have just been paid and it’ll be a few weeks before we know who is keeping plots on – and meet the “newbies”.

Rents ?

So, not possible to hum and ahem any longer. Time to bite the bullet, make a decision and find some money: the last scheduled day for rent collection.

Another year of allotmenteering?

Seems a wonderfully masochistic time of year to be taking on the tasks again. End of the financial year, traditional labour markets, agricultural workers seeking employment ? (there you go: more procrastination … or was it just simply playing with big words?). But also the time of year at which it may be easier to give up on a plot. You haven’t been up there over the winter, there’s been no need; you haven’t really missed it (have you?) so easier not to begin again ?

That time of year again. In our particular case, however, there is also the background tension brought on by the “boundary dispute” and the lack of definitive action on the parts of the allotments committee – and decisive action by landowners, the local parish council – either they can prove they own the land – or they cannot. (Isn’t it really that simple?). Every time we are on our plots we are confronted by the issue. And the neighbours in the house who put a very credible case. But, as simple plot holders we cannot give them an answer. It is literally out of our hands.

The allotment committee, for their part, seem to be dismissive and altogether too blasé about it all: it isn’t happening to them and it isn’t their responsibility – yaddah yaddah blah blah. Can they not see the wider ramifications of the breach: there is literally no barrier for a good ten metres, a flimsy hedge for a further thirty metres and access to anyone with the gumption/desperation/energy to hop across a lawn to what will be a wonderful picking ground (crops, machinery, vandalism)? With an opposite hedge taken out the way is clear right across to the next road. I imagine someone running away from the police. Up the Wolverhampton Road, quick dodge into Cemetery Lane, whoops a dead end ( see what I did there?), so I’ll leg it across the lawn, on to the wide rolling allotments, get lost among the shed s and compost heaps …

So, until this actual morning I am not sure we were a hundred per cent convinced that renewing the plots was the way to go.

Fast forward. We are up at the site, drive past the (now three) shipping containers that stand for shop/storage buildings at the top of the hill, park at the bottom. Three? There were two (a shop/admin space) and a store for bags of compost (bought in by an entrepreneurial committee four years ago) opposite a sectional concrete garage holding garden chemicals, bamboo canes and the like. The third is for … ? We then walk back up the slope to pay the moneys. And make the points – once again. It really is like talking to a brick wall sometimes. A brick wall? Ironic that; in a few weeks’ time it might be all we have to talk to*!

But also to catch up with those we haven’t bumped into since, er … last October-ish. A real shame the committee didn’t keep up the idea of a fire-pit, bacon sandwiches and a cuppa; which made socialising easier – and kept the hunger away.

Who isn’t paying for another year? Why are we now blessed with another container? What has happened to So-and-So ? I do a bit of horse trading: exchanging four lengths of timber for a couple of blueberry bushes. Mutual benefits there. Find out about the container: it is to store tools in; apparently we have an apple juicer, a patio heater, a strimmer, a marquee available for hire.

We bump into Tadpole Bob. He shows us photos on his phone (amazing that we now take these gadgets for granted) of the damage Storm Doris did to his greenhouse on site. Panes of glass lifted out, carried up to twenty metres away and smashed against posts and sheds: one shard was actually driven into the planking of a shed at about eye level. Good job he spotted it, it could have caused a nasty accident some time down the line. We discuss the serendipity of the lady who – sadly – was killed by flying debris in Wolverhampton during the storm. But he also has a warning about today’s storm (Ewan) which is due to hit at one o’clock. He has some work to do, since, he smiles, he was bracing the glasshouse against westerly winds and these will be from the north east; he has more glass to replace too. We beetle, non-too subtly, away.

We have digging of our own to do. Tidying up. Replanting the fruit bushes (there are three rows of them don’t you know!) that have come from the threatened “disputed ground” and I think it eminently sensible to move them now – before the real growing season starts) and raised beds to weed out. An hour (or so) later we have completed the turning over of the thick, gloopy soil on the plot. Taking out the pernicious weeds, burying the annuals (a native kind of green manure?). It will dressing with lime, and raking out flat and even, but, for the first time since harvesting it feels like we are up to speed. A lot of the plot dug, seeds ready to be planted, the challenges of anew spring heading towards us. Time to plan ahead again.

That time of year …

… and we’ve taken the plunge: still in it!*

 

 

*The house owner plans to build a high wall to replace the mixed hedgerow that currently grows between us.

A Chance to Catch Up ?

Friday morning and I’m not at work. A chance to catch up with things at home. Like getting the replacement nest boxes put up. One taken off the shed while I repainted the outside (of the shed that is, not the nest box), one on the back wall of the house that has a badly rotted roof. The need to do this swiftly was brought home to me last weekend when I noticed a blue tit popping in and out of the box on the front wall of the house. The warm winter so far is having an impact on the nest-finding season it would seem (though I still suspect, in some masochistic way that we will have a cold snap before winter gives up its ghost).

The nest boxes were put together from some old plywood left over from what is now known as the Worm Hotel (a container to keep the wormery in – and warm enough to encourage worm action in the colder weather). But inspiration came after I picked up a piece of silver birch on Cannock Chase. At first I thought I’d just slice it up for the fire pit but …

… looking at it later I decided to front the boxes with it. Just messing about with ideas, you know.

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But having painted them with a couple of coats of paint left over from the shed, they were now ready to be put up. I didn’t want to put the one back on the front of the shed: too accessible to cats. This cul-de-sac has an unhealthily high population of moggies, whose owners have, strangely seen fit to have their driveways and frontages hard landscaped, meaning our ground is toilet choice numero uno. Not pleasant in any language.

So I had been considering the idea of having a nest box in the small leaved lime tree (tilia cordata). Meaning dragging the ladder from the depths of a shed housing over wintering garden paraphernalia (benches, terra cotta pots, tables et cetera) and bending “found” metal rods over a branch and hooking the box into place. Once up the ladder, contorting my way beneath and between intervening branches, I had a brainwave.

What a great place to take a photo of the garden from, especially as soon the patio doors will be replaced with French doors: a kind of before shot to contrast with the view after the work is done. And I am unlikely to be up here again for some time. So I trick my way down the rungs, get the camera, re-scale the ladder and, as I am on my way notice that, in just those, what four minutes, there is a great tit clinging onto the box front, dipping its head in and out of the chiselled hole. Amazing! Now, our next door neighbour has a bird feeder just over the fence, but this is opportunism at its very best. Unfortunately the battery in my other camera (the one with a telescopic lens) needs charging (or there’d be attempted shots of the very bird in action. Maybe tomorrow?

Of course once the word “camera” has flashed into my brain I hear another voice;

“You could get an unusual shot of the garden from up here. Use the other camera; you never take enough photos. Stop thinking about it – do it. Now!”

Then I move the ladder. Up to the house, lever the old nest box, blimey it’s heavier than I thought – and set about putting the new one up. Of course it’s heavy: its chock-full of about eight years nests – and a grass that has literally rooted itself into the inside back wall of the box. I am able to simply break the rotting roof off and empty the contents into the compost bin (always there, that bin!). ten minutes later we spot a wasp crawling, painfully slowly up the brick wall. Far too early for queen wasps to be emerging surely? So I guess this one must have been inside the old nest box. A pity to have disturbed her I think a little guiltily … but then again that box did need replacing – and I put a new roof on the old one – just need someone to give it to now, because there doesn’t seem to be room here for another nest box.

Later, after a walk to the butcher’s we step into the kitchen to find a flock of long-tailed tits on and around the bird feeder. Add that to the tiny goldcrest we spotted earlier …

When is the RSPB Big garden Birdwatch?

Curiosity 6

Did I really see that?

Has anybody else had a similar experience?

To set the context, to begin at the beginning, so to speak:

Christmas is put away for another year: the return of Sellotaped-up boxes of tinsel, baubles and fake stockings that get on your nerves by playing a tinny version of Frosty the Snowman whenever –and it happens, at least once, every time a visitor appears – are returned to the loft. This necessitates a chair, a screwdriver and a torch as the loft hatch latch is broken.

The Christmas tree, once a wonderful, glossy specimen in its prime has been recycled (credit to South Staffs Council for this well timed service) and the holly sprigs removed on the Twelfth Day, as tradition demands. In some areas, it seems, Christmas trees are actually taken in by local zoos and put into the animal enclosures. They are fragrant, for one thing and liven up the environment at least for a short time. Elephants eat the foliage (having no problems apparently with the spiky leaves) and use the stiffer branches for grooming. I imagine a wonderful scheme where members of the public are granted free admission in this low-season (for zoos) time of year if they bring a Christmas tree to the ticket offices.

I also wonder whether the trees have to be checked for chemicals: some people may have sprayed them with something (I believe hair spray might do the job) to prevent that untidy shedding of needles.

And the New year has begun, with it’s horizons of fireworks, a glass of sherry for me outside the house and warm, damp weather (well removed from the romantic Bing Crosby White Christmas dreams).

I glance across the street after completing this putting away task I notice our resident crows on patrol. From the silver birch out at the back (they keep checking out a nest previously built by magpies) they soar to the front and land on the ridge of the houses opposite. They are animated, hopping up and down the slope, stopping occasionally and pecking at the tiles, of stabbing at something in the guttering.  I believe they may be using their tongues to get at slugs or other minibeasts – or simply moisture – that are beneath the tiles. I have seen green woodpeckers earn meals this way and these crows have demonstrated their intelligence before.

Image result for image crow on roof

But I am surprised when the larger crow dips his beak into the ridge and pulls out appears to be a worm. I have seen thrushes do this often on the back lawn, robins from freshly dug soil (even buzzards on a farmyard muck heap)  and there is that brutal moment when the body of the worm is stretched between the security of its burrow and the beak of the bird: a tug of war, a struggle for life/food competition. The bird invariably wins straightaway or tries several times and eventually succeeds. This same scenario is being played out in front of my eyes – on the topmost point of a house! The bending bird, the catch, the levering of the neck, the worm, if worm it is, stretched, then pulled free.

Now I have no doubt that there is dust up on the roof, soil even (even to give purchase for mosses certainly, and flying critters, climbing minibeasts (snails, woodlice, spiders). But earthworms?

How on earth did the worms get to the roof in the first place?

Or maybe there is a different explanation: any ideas?

Did I really see that?

 

“The Thing About Land …”

 

“That’ll be your mother,” my wife guesses. It’s this “game” we play: trying to guess who is calling when the landline ‘phone rings. It is not so difficult to guess, in point of fact as so few people use it; most sending texts, e-mails or using the mobile numbers.

But, this time she’s wrong.

It’s Margaret: sometime caller and supplier of horse dung. From the seven or more Shetland ponies that she keeps as a labour of love, now that her daughter has left home and out-grown the habit (and the ponies). Only seven now? I will ask her … and she confesses that she has “let the others go.”

I was going to nip up the allotment for a spell of winter-digging anyway, so meet her up there to open the gate. She is a hardy soul, struggling to shovel the stuff out of the trailer. She needs a hip replacement she tells me, but the first doctor said she had to lose weight … and the second is trying a course of – painful – injections before recommending the bone masonry. It’s not just her hip, its her back too … but it doesn’t stop her wielding a mean shovel.

“Is the allotment ready for winter?” she wants to know. Truth to tell, on our site there’s probably only the perennial prize-winning brothers who could truly answer yes to that one (and they probably, modestly, wouldn’t).

I haven’t quite got used to the sight of the missing fence panels at the end of the path, and alongside the Plantation owner’s Wife’s plot. This morning there is a pair of brightly painted yellow construction wagons parked in the house garden (The house owners are involved in the building trade apparently). A striking, cheerful colour, JCB yellow!

I am struck that taking something out of the landscape has a dramatic effect (power station cooling towers for example – or fence panels) as much as adding something (the aero generators springing up around and about). Speaking of which, from the top of the slope the two new “windmills” (they are definitely not mills – but pick up the name so easily) outside Penkridge are slowly turning, and to their left the chimney at Veolia’s Energy Recovery Facility that produces energy by incinerating waste is emitting fumes (doubtless monitored and safe). This is energy production in its latest form. I have a friend who believes in wind power, but reminds me that “on the coldest day of the year (when you want your kettle for a cup of tea, your electric radiators on etc.) there is zero wind.”

 

Since I last noted the “boundary dispute” the house owner and I have had a couple of friendly exchanges: him saying there is nothing personal in what is going on; me saying that I do not have a role to play in the dispute, that we just pay rent for land and want to “dig a bit and grow potatoes.” Essentially correct, though I feel the loss of the hedgerow will remove a wonderful habitat for wildlife and a corridor linking various other wildlife friendly areas. And there’s such a wonderful variety of species growing in the hedge too: shrubs and undercover plants like foxgloves and campions. A lot added by us as we repaired the hedge damaged by the fence erectors. Oh and the log pile where we found the great crested newts is in the hedgerow.

A line from a book (completely unrelated as its a New York crime story) springs into my mind:

“… thing about land, son, is they’re not makin’ any more of it …”

He’s moved his fence panels, because he can … and “my independent surveyor” (not sure if that’s an oxymoron) “has put in some posts where my land ends.”

The rest is really up to the authority I tell him. The parish council own the allotments, though it is run, on their behalf, by an elected committee of plot holders.

As I am barrowing the muck along the path, a job to warm the body and pump the heart, others arrive. Why not? It is a warm day, high, dry blue skies, little wind and a bright sun. Cold weather is predicted – and we surely cannot have many more days like this one. It is nearly December after all.

And a jaunty little robin hopping from noticeboard to fence to dung heap takes the chance to grab a take away. She (or he) sings that instantly recognisable thin tune in the sunshine; easy to become anthropomorphic and imagine that this bird is happy with the world.

We all stop at one point and stare at a massive Emirates (obvious from the logo spread across its belly) plane, gracefully curving across the skies. An Airbus A 380, either beginning its approach to Birmingham International Airport – or just leaving. It is genuinely enormous, weighing 566 tons and seats for nearly seven hundred people, but is whisper-quiet, seeming to float through the air as it gently turns and moves away, edges of the wings sparkling.

What clever creatures we are: moving from wondering how birds fly to designing and operating these machines. Aircraft never cease to amaze me: the forms, the science, the adventure, the scope. But this is a really beautiful beast of a craft: functional but stylish.

After shifting all of the muck I spend forty five minutes forking over the soil. With the few annual weeds popped into the barrow and perennials dropped onto up-turned bread trays to dry out before being burned the soil feels good; dark and fine. This is single digging this year, with a fork, then ladling garden compost over the surface so that weather and worms can work it into the ground over time. It will need some lime on it too, but that is better done in spring. I get as far as the last few leeks before deciding to call it a day.

Fall back, Spring Forward ?

As back to speed as I ever was (having been lazily absent from blogging for a while – so idle I can’t actually remember how long I’ve been away). I am now intending to write and publish more or less at the same time.

October has been a gentle and kind month, some super, warm and dry days. Whether this is something to do with climate change – long term or short term – is irrelevant when you’re in a growing season: something for the academics to debate and, maybe, something to consider when buying seeds for next year.

But now, with daylight flexing and – literally overnight the clocks changing (Daylight Saving Time) – it is time to crack on with end of season plot clearing, planning for next year, planting a few things and the task of autumn/winter digging.

Image result for harold lloyd films

It is normal, at every stage to be thinking ahead, so while I was planting the taters I was thinking, rotation wise, shouldn’t put spuds in here next year … but, once the crops are dug up I’ve always kind-of forgotten those things. We planned to put over wintering onion sets in (below the autumn fruiting raspberries where the early potatoes were this year. The ground, having been turned over to root out every Arran Pilot tuber we could find (surely; all of them?) is easy to dig so I used a fork. Ergonomic handle said to make the digging less stressful on the back. Maybe it is now I am used to the slightly different technique needed to lift it (who would have thought a slight modification would make such a difference?).

And the soil is absolutely gorgeous (in a strictly horticultural sense of course): light, friable and dark. Making turning it an absolute pleasure as well as a work out. “nothing to prove to anybody,” as my very good friend reminded me when I spent a happy day driving a dump truck for him … so I took my time, barrowing annual weeds to the compost heap, now sweating away nicely near the path, cutting a cabbage and chatting to other plot holders.

Gaffer: about football, Alan and Mrs Alan about crops, families and pets, Sailor Dee about daylight saving Time and missing pears.

Over three days we purchase Aquadulce broad bean seeds, fifty red onion sets and, the soil having been raked and firmed, with a sprinkling of chicken manure pellets for the onions and a half trench of compost for the broad beans they are duly planted and the rows marked.  Broad beans and onions, I discover, were two of the staples of Medieval life, along with cabbages (this has me wondering about parsnips).

Meanwhile I have read three of henry Williamson’s animal sagas; namely Tarka the Otter, Brock the Badger and Chak-Chek the Peregrine (thanks to my brother in law Geoff). As I expected I find each of the tales different from when I last read them. Firstly, of course they represent a way of life that simply no longer exists: a time of otter hunting and rural isolation. Secondly I noticed the absolute richness in detail and description. But, most noticeably they are just not sentimental, anthropomorphic tales but well-constructed and very credible. So glad to have originally read them (with affectionate support from my maternal grandmother and a wonderful teacher (Mrs Clarke) … but also pleased to have read them again. Only Salar the Salmon to go now.

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“Fall back, spring forward,” we remind each other in a state about which way to dial the controls of the central heating. Thinking about it “fall” is such a more resonant name for this season, is it true that this was the accepted name back in the day here in England?

My mother, while not looking forward to darker nights is somewhat stoical about it:

“Sooner we start,” she said, “sooner it’s Christmas and it starts getting lighter again.”

But, as I rise this morning, 30th October, the heating is on-time, the day is reasonable (we spend time clearing out an old brick path in the back garden. We laid it when our daughters were  so much smaller and it has been overtaken by “benign neglect”, but looks better for our efforts. The stove is in use again – boys with toys (and why not?).

And, ready for Halloween there is a muted display in the front porch: my idea of coating sprouts in melted chocolate for any trick or treaters was not taken seriously, so there is a small basket of sweets by the front door.

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Assuming we can get it unlocked; it seems to be malfunctioning – a great idea for a Halloween episode of Twilight Zone or what?

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