Archive for the ‘Sheds of Grey’ Category

Close Encounters.

Everything is suffering in this heat, especially plants. Our lawn, deliberately not mowed to help the grass conserve moisture, is showing brown patches and sinking to reveal the roots of trees in both our own and neighbouring gardens. The “wildflower island” is doing somewhat better, evening catchfly, mayweed, campions, foxgloves and hawkbit showing prettily.

Up on the allotment even determined “I-never-water-my-crops” diehards like Alan and Mrs Alan have been seen with watering cans.

Our plot is the furthest it is possible to get from the stand-pipe (though some long standing plot holders can remember a time before these taps were installed) and we have to wrestle two anaconda minded hosepipes (one pale yellow one rescued from a builder’s skip) and fiddle-faddle with in-line connectors before filling up the water butts. We can then dip in a number of watering cans and splash water onto desperate crops (especially the carrots, leeks and squashes – all in raised beds) while the butts fill up. Each of the butts has a piece of scrap wood drifting in it: a refuge for any insect (but especially bees and other pollinators that might end up “in the drink”, recognising that these often un-noticed companions need water too.

We try to do this watering at least every two days and, in truth, often end up giving everything a drink. Water butts hold enough for three heavy waterings, then it is time to pipe-up again (though, conditions being as they are, if the tap is not in-use, we fill up on any occasion we have the time to manage the task. The soil is dry, dry and dry. And our plot usually benefits from water tipped on the uphill gardens which runs down-slope to our ground. Incredible, but correct. Our ground, plied with water retaining home-made compost for the past twenty plus years soaks it up – and our plants – usually – benefit. The potato tops have keeled over so we do not bother with them. Nobody is expecting a heavy crop of spuds this year, it seems.

But animals, inevitably, are also finding it hard going. There is a mention of hedgehogs  – one of our seriously endangered species* – on the Local news programme.  No sooner have we digested the advice (leave out food, leave an untidy area in the garden where they might snooze, put out water in shallow containers) than we are resting in the cool night just after the sun has gone down, than we detect a couple of small hedgehogs, snuffling around in our back garden. They don’t seem weak, are able to climb out of the tray I have filled with water, but ignore the contents of the wormery I provide for nutrition (I know that worms are part of their diet!). My hopefully-educated guess is that these are independent explorers, perhaps the off spring of a pair I spotted earlier in the year. Their food source of slugs, beetles, worms, small frogs and minibeasts has retreated deeper into the soil, rocks, between logs – or simply expired due to the weather. I quietly wish them luck.**


Small midges that emerge from larval stages in our water butt at home attract bats each evening. But most surprising is the encounter I have one evening.

There are a number of us as the air cools down (relatively that is) to around 22 Celsius. It is about nine o’clock. We are there to water. Myself, Mr Molineux, Cool Hand Luke, Alan and The Gaffer. We have gathered for an allotment parliament (there are, after all, things in the world that only such a gathering can put right) and, having cooled down a little, I draw away to turn off the tap, before reeling in the hoses.

As I approach the stand-pipe a tall, thin fox emerges onto the path. It is walking, tongue out, along the path between Asda Dave’s plot and Jim’s.

We both pause. Look at each other. Taking stock of the situation, sizing each other up. Risk assessment on the part of the fox. It doesn’t look in great condition: fur dry and lacking in colour and shine. Ribs visible and heaving  the beast pants: it has either woken up from cover between  Asda Dave’s shed and the roadside hedge or just dodged across the road, avoiding traffic. Eyes not bright, reactions and senses not as keen as might be expected (or it would have known I was there and, simply, hidden. I am sure that, preoccupied as I was I would never have seen it.

It steps backwards, carefully. Once. Twice. Our eyes locked. Another step, then it spins and is gone. Slowly, but silently.

Now it is possible that this is a usual patrol for the fox. This time, this route; although foxes are opportunists, they also follow routines.

And none of us is – usually – on site at this time.

It is also – equally – possible – that this is a new area for the fox,; forced to explore by the period of heat, drought and, presumably, lack of food.

“Did you see that … ?” I have to ask the others, of course. Not one of them had. They were too busy, too deep in conversation. My moment of communion with wildlife had been a private affair.

* Much more detailed and useful information, advice and contacts at

**When we go away to Dorset for a break, we leave our good neighbour a note – she waters the tomatoes and pots for us – to keep the water stocked up “for the hedgehogs we have seen”. Clearly she thinks us deranged; leaving a note, when we return that says 

“Your eyes have gone! I didn’t see any hedgehogs!”


Because It Doesn’t Always Have To be Serious, Does It?


So, in this intense, busy-busy-busier season of planting out, weeding, watering, hoeing, thinning out, weeding, netting, slug-deterring (did I mention weeding?), there has to be time for a little frivolity. Surely?

A moment to stand and stare, reflect or do something just for the heck of it.

I hope so; because unless this is one of the many signs of madness I took it upon myself to reassemble a passably fake, but reliably sturdy iron “water pump” from a rotted-out and thrown away water feature half barrel. I bought a solar powered pump and some odds’n’sods and screwed a few pieces of cedar together (to conceal a plain black water bucket) and managed to create a going concern. The solar panel sits atop the back garden greenhouse roof and adds that running water melody to the area.

But I also repaired a damaged gnome, bought as a joke present for me some years ago. In fixing him (or her, who can tell with gnomes?) to a raised bed the lefty leg had, frankly,  broken off. So, a little dab of some  Acme Fixitall glue had the little feller well balanced again and able to pose for the above photo.

Happy gardening people, but don’t forget to smile every now and then eh?

Caption This:

You know, there are days when you’re walking to your plot …

… you spot something …

… and think “why haven’t I got my camera?”

I had mine slipped away in my over-shirt pocket when I spotted this,

But I’m damned if I know what more to write about it.

Any suggestions?


Elf and Softie


You may recognise the above from a recent post (pallets ferried up to the allotment with a very generous neighbour.

What a coincidence then, when, worried as I was that someone might mistakenly approach our plot (because access is possible as the neighbouring houseowner had removed his fencing panels) and climb on the assorted timber*, during a local walk the notice in the photo below was blown against my legs.



* because I wouldn’t have been able to resist – in truth might have to try it anyway. Some things are just too, too tempting, don’cha think?

Winter Mode.


The shed-at-home in winter mode. I am almost sure that I can find whatever I need …

 …most of the time!dsc03422

Remind Me …


“Now, remind me please: what was the colour of the shed you’ve been rubbing down?”

No make up required, just a sun-warmed shed, a busted step-ladder and an ancient electric sander.

Weather: Changeable!

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