Friday, 11 January 2008

Beetroot Bonanza

Well yesterday came and went in the blink of an eye. Needless to say, Mr Tibbs didn’t make it to the vets. I picked him up but he was just too strong and wriggly to get into the cat basket and he raced off out of the loft. Before he dived through the gap in the wall he gave me one long look that sort of said ‘but I trusted you’ and disappeared. I thought that would be the last I would see of him but thankfully he was back an hour later and even let me stroke him again. At least he won’t be having kittens so I’m going to try and persuade him to come and live downstairs before trying to get him to the vets again.

The rest of the day was taken up with collecting and preparing more wood with Ann in Regis’s prunery. We’ve more of less finished this one but there are two more larger ones to do still. Next year, the trees will only get a light prune (no pun intended) so there won’t be any burnable branches as there is this year.

The moles have been at work again. I rake the molehills over the hollows in the lawn and it all goes quiet for a time and I think they’ve gone. Then a week or so later, more molehills. Still I suppose it saves having to aerate the lawn.

After finishing the wood yesterday, Regis gave me a beetroot; a big beetroot!

So today was pickle the beetroot day.

Tomorrow Regis and Ann are coming over to help me replace the kitchen window. I need a shorter window as the one currently there goes down below the level of the work surface I will be putting in. I could get away with leaving it if this were the UK but in France, and much of the continent, the windows open inwards – easier to clean and it means that you can have the shutters closed while the window is open, essential in hot weather.

In preparation for that I’ve been moving some things out of the kitchen. This is some of the produce from last year. There are 5 large squashes, 5 spaghetti marrows and a collection of butternut squashes along with the two types of beans I grew and dried. I have to say; the beans are nothing like the commercial beans you buy. These are so soft when you cook them, I suppose it’s because they’ve not been hanging around for ages in a warehouse.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Rotation Fatigue

Having received my seed order from Suttons I’ve been trying to put together a rotation plan that works for what I want to grow and in the area I want to use. It’s not as simple as I thought it would be. I’ve read about 3-year, 4-year, 5-year 7-year and 8-year rotation plans but none of them jump out immediately as being right. I think it’s something to mull over for a few more days. The best fit so far is a 7-year rotation; potatoes, squash, root, beans/peas, tomatoes, cabbage, onions. I think that I can move the planned polytunnel up the field a bit more and that would give me space for the 7 areas and possibly enough space for a permanents bed too.

I also had a man from MSA (about registering the land for vegetable growing) round today. As I feared there is a slight problem. Until the vegetables are actually growing the land isn’t counted so it still leaves me with 3 months without health cover and not paying into a pension. I think I need to win the lottery again. Yes I did say again, I’ve had 2 wins in the last couple of months; 7€10 each time! The latest win will cover my lottery expenditure for the next 3 weeks. Now if only it could be the jackpot I wouldn’t have to worry about getting health cover.

Tomorrow I’ve an early (for me) start, if I can catch Mr. Tibbs he’s off to the vets, and then he will be allowed to be an indoor cat. Following his addition to the household I become, according to my children, an official mad cat woman, well you can’t have too many familiars can you.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

In search of sapient pearwood

There is an old saying that firewood warms you three times, when you cut it, when you carry it, and when you burn it. Today I got a taste of the first third of the saying. I’ve not been brave enough to start on my chainsaw yet but took Ann up on an offer to help her collect the burnable wood from Regis’s plum tree pruning. Suitable clad in wellies as after the previous days rain the ground here is rather squelchy and muddy we started down the orchard and spent nearly 3 hours sorting through the prunings. Sadly I didn’t come across any sapient pearwood so my dreams of owning ‘The Luggage’* will remain just that, dreams. I did however end up with a new must have.

The billhook in the foreground was brilliant at clearing off the side branches. I had remembered reading about using a billhook in the coppice management book I’ve got. It’s very good advice was to only hack off the branches that are the other side of the piece of wood from you. A blow from one of those doesn’t bear thinking about.

* From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Luggage is a fictional object that appears in several of the Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett. It is a large chest made of sapient pearwood (a magical, intelligent plant which is nearly extinct, impervious to magic, and only grows in a few places outside the Agatean Empire, generally on sites of very old magic). It can produce hundreds of little legs protruding from its underside and can move very fast if the need arises. It has been described as "half suitcase, half homicidal maniac".

Monday, 7 January 2008

Photo Catch Up

We’ve had a few of days of rain here, about an inch the first day and then half an inch the two following days. Nothing much really but it’s been grey and overcast even if we’ve been baking in a mini heat wave of 15 degrees. I think that the cats have decided to hibernate until summer again as they rarely leave the house for more than 20 mins a day. They’ve all decided to stake out their own territory and in the case of Patches she has two places. Usually she sleeps on a pillow underneath the radiator in the lounge but when I went to photograph her there she decided it was time to claim somewhere else and has moved onto the settee.

Hazel, who is usually beaten up by Patches has claimed a small chair in the lounge as her own but keeps an eye open to see where Patches is.

Cid has laid claim to the cat blanket at the bottom of the bed unless I’m on the computer when he sits on the mouse or keypad while I try to type.

Snowy has declared ownership of the table on top of one of the computer monitors where she can survey what I’m doing and jump back and forth between the desk and the monitor every couple of minutes while I try to type. And as I wrote the preceding sentence, up she came while I wasn’t looking but this time managed to knock over a cup of fizzy drink. Did it just hit the floor; I had moved it to the edge of the table away from the keyboard. No of course not, somehow she managed to kick it partially over the keyboard. This is my new AZERTY keyboard that I had to buy ( and relearn where all the keys are) as I managed to pour a cup of tea over my UK keyboard. Thankfully, this one is ‘spill proof’ and a quick wipe under the keys and it’s looking fine.

Final picture for today – the diary. Not fully flat but more than good enough.

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Tag, you're it

There is a game of tag being played on the blogs and Jamie at Jamiesmadhouse has tagged me!

The rules of the game are that I have to post a link to the person that tagged me, post the rules - "share 8 weird or random things about yourself" then tag 8 people , with links to their blogs and the game continues.

The first difficult bit is then thinking of 8 things to post but here goes:

  1. I’m reasonably ambidextrous having taught my sister to knit and crochet left-handed when we were children.
  2. I love writing with a fountain pen, I have various different coloured inks and try to get a pen to match the ink colour, sad I know.
  3. I’ve lived in 5 countries, Pakistan, UK, Switzerland, Germany and now France.
  4. I have family in the US and in Australia although when my father died we lost contact with the Australian side as they moved house and we couldn’t contact them.
  5. As a baby I once had my nappy changed by Douglas Bader’s brother – how tenuous a link can you get?
  6. I am addicted to white chocolate.
  7. I wanted to be an archaeologist working in Egypt but decided not to when I realised that it wouldn’t pay and that I would probably get badly burnt – I had carrot red hair when young and skin that burnt if you said the word sun.
  8. I have appeared naked in a Johnny Depp film and yes I did get to see him :-D

This is probably the most difficult bit, tagging 8 more people, as I’m quite new to the blog scene. But here goes in no particular order

  1. Ian and Scarlett at The chickens have escaped
  2. Welsh Girl’s Allotment
  3. Kitchenwitch
  4. Move to Portugal
  5. Musings from a Stonehead
  6. Rhonda Jean at down-to-earth
  7. Hedgewizard
  8. Debra at Us in France