Monday, 30 April 2007

Babbling from Idiot's Corner

Oh gawd! I’m such a bad mother! I’ve just dropped Rosie off at Meithrin and another mum was reminding her child about wearing her sun hat and confirming to the staff that she had sun cream on. I had to confirm to the staff that not only had I forgotten Rosie’s sun hat, but she wasn’t wearing any sun cream either.

I shall retire to the idiot’s corner with a copy of Dr Stoppard’s book on childcare. This is especially important as I have just realised I have sent Hannah to school without hat or cream either. But, for pity’s sake, it’s April! I don’t remember Mum plastering me in creams and hats to send me to school when I was a kid. Obviously she was a Bad Mother too and it’s hereditary.

I’ve just grabbed a few child free minutes to have a quick blog and a quick read of blogs – really I should be cleaning or gardening or doing other proper housewifery things like changing the bed clothes or thinking of something nutritious for tea.

I have just made some almond balls for H and R when they return later. These originated as a treat in Carol Vorderman’s detox diet book – just ground almonds mixed with honey, rolled into balls and tossed in ground cinnamon. The girls love them and I feel they are better than sweets. Hannah has lost a lot of weight during this recent virus and looks a bit too “fashionably thin” for a five-year-old. So I’m looking for healthy but fattening food to tempt her tiny appetite with.

The garden is full of dandelion clocks. On trips through the garden I have been pausing to glare at them and crush a few, but yesterday Rosie grabbed one and had a lovely time blowing the seeds everywhere (yes, I know, ‘one year’s seeding means seven year’s weeding’). This morning I looked up out of the kitchen window to see that a flock of Goldfinches had landed on what we laughingly call the “lawn”. They were perching on the stems of the dandelions, pecking at the seeds in the clocks. Adorable birds. The dandelions will have to stay.

The sowing and planting continues apace. Over the weekend I put in more carrots. The first sowing a month ago failed to germinate, which was very disappointing. It was either the hot, dry spell or a plague of slugs (or both). I hope this next batch of seeds has better luck.

On Saturday we went to Colby Woodland Gardens down in the south of the county. These National Trust gardens are just gorgeous at this time of year. The bluebells are out, as are all the rhododendrons and azaleas. The gardens boast the tallest redwood in the UK and a maze of paths and steps just perfect for little girls to run about on. It has a babbling river, little bridges to cross and a lovely meadow to waft about on. Oh, and a fantastic restaurant where we had a delicious lunch. The whole place is very child friendly. We go as often as we can, but it really is perfect just now and I highly recommend a visit.

Thursday, 26 April 2007

Oh dear!

I'm in trouble with everyone (it seems). We have (unfortunately) very near neighbours who share our drive. In the sunny spell recently one of them did their common practice of putting plasticky stuff on their kitchen fire. It drifted stinkily in our direction. Our house filled with smoke, the children had to come in from the garden and we had to run around shutting doors and windows (on a very hot day).

I. Was. Extremely. Cross.

So I contacted the Environmental Health Department.

Who took it Very Seriously.

And Wrote A Letter.

Neighbour has just been to 'tackle' Mum over it. She said, quite rightly, it wasn't her. He thinks (therefore) it was Brian and said he will Tackle Brian about it 'later'. He said he knows it was Brian, because Brian is 'peculiar'.

Brian (who is definitely NOT peculiar, but might now be classed as 'grumpy') knows it was me, of course. So I'm now in trouble with Mum, Brian and (undoubtedly) the neighbours too when they find out.

But I'm unrepentant. The burning has stopped (save for some burning paper - presumably the council's letter). The burning of plastic is illegal - it releases carcinogenic compounds and dioxins which I didn't want my little girls to breathe. Surely we should be allowed clean air in our own home and garden? Or is that 'peculiar'?

Neighbour thinks we are 'peculiar' because we object to him blocking the driveway (owned by us) so we cannot get in and out of our property. I don't think we'll ever see eye to eye.

Hopefully, one day, all this will blow over (and I can come out of the dog house).

Chaos and courgettes

Chaos reigns – inside at least. Yesterday Mum and I trekked to IKEA in Cardiff to buy phase one of the new kitchen – three much bigger tall, slim cupboards to replace three small short, fat cupboards and a set of rickety shelves.

Brian made a good start on building it while I was out at Cylch Meithrin’s AGM last night, but it’s quite a big job. Now, instead of a moderately untidy kitchen I have complete and utter chaos and it’s only phase one! Oh well, you can’t make an omelette without cracking eggs. Not that I can make an omelette at the moment – I can’t find the pan or the eggs!

Today is a lovely sunny day. Rosie has been at Cylch Meithrin in her wellies hunting for mini beasts in the field behind the community hall. Apparently they found a ‘beekle’ or two, but couldn’t find any worms.

Hannah has been at home ‘helping’ (her description) me to pot up the courgettes (pictured). The poor thing has a virus, which means she’s mostly okay, but coughs and coughs as soon as she exerts herself. She is also off her food and has lost loads of weight, so she’s now a very skinny five-year-old which is a bit of a worry (and is my excuse for buying her chocolate, as that’s one of the things she will eat.)

While Hannah was being distracted by grandma, I managed to plant my Flamingo F1 cucumber seeds at last after delaying as long as I dared. Last year I was a bit too eager, planted them far too early and lost the lot to frost. This year I have all my fingers and toes crossed and they are in a polytunnel within the polytunnel, so they shouldn’t get frost bite this year (but I worry they’ll be too warm. Why is life never simple?) I also potted up the tomatoes. This year I’m growing trusty old Gardener’s Delight and, new to me, Brandywine, which has large pink fruits and is supposed to have the best flavour of all.

Today is a fruit day, according to my planting by the moon calendar, so this afternoon I plan to plant peas (purple, mangetout and ordinary), squashes (butter and uchiki kuri), broad beans, French beans (yellow, purple and borlotti) and sweetcorn. Well, that’s the plan…


PICTURES (left to right):

Today’s potted up courgettes. Four varieties: Dark green Nero Di Milano; light green Genovese; stripy Costa Romanesque and bright yellow Soliel.

The sheep sleeping in the shade of the old Land Rover.

Kingcups on the Moor.

Sunday, 22 April 2007

Easter part two...

Here I am! I am not sure if I’ve got this right, yet, so I’m going for short and sweet, then I can back off and see how it looks.

I just grabbed a few minutes to write this in between churning rhubarb crumble ice-cream and preparing the veg to go with slow roasted lamb for tonight’s dinner. The lamb has been cooking on the oven’s slow setting since just after breakfast and smells gorgeous. I need to pop out to the Moor garden soon and pick some purple sprouting broccoli to go with it. We’ll also have a salad – also from the garden – of pea tips, red Russian kale, mizuna, spinach and sorrel.

All this is a belated Easter dinner for Granddad Peter who had flu on Easter Sunday and decided to stay in bed with a hot toddy instead of coming over here. So we have another load of Easter eggs arriving when he has finished patrolling the Haven waterway in his rigid inflatable. Dad’s still a bit of an action man, despite being in his late 60s. He looks after the lighthouses at St Anne’s head and (occasionally) at Strumble Head near Fishguard. The rest of the time he charges about on the waterway keeping an eye on drunken yachtsmen and advising them on their behaviour (before they collide with oil tankers or the Pembroke to Rosslare ferry).

I’ve also managed to squeeze in some planting today – annual flowers around the edge of the carrots on the Moor garden. This is designed (according to Monty Don on Gardener’s World on Friday) to confuse the carrot fly. Theoretically they will see the nigellas, calendulas, Californian poppies and cornflowers and not notice the carrots hiding behind them. Time will tell. I just wish I could find something to plant that would confuse the slugs. In the meantime I’ll stick to offering them a nice drink of beer.