Sunday, 17 May 2009

Normal service has been resumed.

It has been a while. Due to illness, other commitments etc I have not been able to update this for some time. The head gardener has been working away though and you will probably be ablet to see a real difference with the photos. We were all down there today! I was hung over to hell because we were "entertaining" last night. I was particularly entertaining especially with the quantities of wine I had consumed. I made my new best dish which is Ragu Napoletano, as previously mentioned, where you cook large chunks of dead pig for about a week. Or so it seems. Well I started it on Friday night and it did take a full 24 hours to cook. That was before getting the phone call from the Head Gardener who was celebrating a bit of a milestone in his day job. Celebrating took the form of vast quantities of Guinness in our favourite local pub with his colleagues. As the sum total of food he had consumed during the day was a piece of cheddar that would make even weightwatchers raise an eyebrow, he was very happy by the time he rang at 10 pm to ask if I would like to join them. I had been sampling the wine before cooking with it so was barely much better but at least I had eaten during the day. His (younger) colleagues were then going on to continue drinking in Belfast and trying to persuade him to go but we thought it wiser to give patronage to our local indian restaurant. By this stage it was almost 11 pm so, as you can imagine, they clapped and cheered when we came in!

As you can see we have dug quite a lot more beds and some of the plantings are really coming on! Roll on our first allotment food! Technically we have actually had it since I made nettle champ with nettles harvested from the plot but it was, as they say here, boggin. So I am not going to post the recipe since I wouldnt wish it on anybody. Uncle Hugh won't have to lose any sleep over me. Just yet.

There are noticeably more people there now - the fairweather farmers are there! Apparently we passed an allotment test - our Allotment Neighbour approved of the fact that we "got stuff in" rather than, as some of them have done, laying out fancy paths and "designing" it. One person last year even laid astroturf paths.. Why?

Today's japes included digging another bed, planting sweetcorn in it and doing more raised beds. The Head Gardener has been very busy improvising and building things. Our paths are made out of old roof tiles that the previous occupant of our house inexplicably left lying round the oil tank. Wood for the beds has been recycled whereever possible. Much swearing was done when the planks were being screwed together and even more was done when the octogenarian mother/assistant gardener was helping the Head Gardener put them in place. She thought they were putting them in a bed somewhere near Comber with the result that she headed off at speed and there was an almighty "Crack" because the Head Gardener, who was holding the other part, had stopped at the bed. However no damage was done and the beetroot bed was sucessfuly raised!

As you can see octogenarian mother was in fine form especially considering that she had pulled a muscle in her shoulder on Thursday after swimming her customary sixty lengths. She would put you to shame. One of my colleagues, who is incidentally a park ranger and therefore not the weakest of people, tries to avoid shaking hands with her when he meets her because he says she crushes his fingers! She has also been doing guerrilla gardening during the week - she came down to the plot and weeded.

So to sum up:

Tasks done: digging another bed and planting sweetcorn, 1 raised bed added, weeding done.

Cost of seeds nil

Value of produce -nil

socialising done - new neighbour slagged me off for "supervising".

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