Sunday, 21 April 2013

21st April 2013 - Seed Growing

Earlier this month our allotment co-ordinator took me to the council nursery to sow some seeds for our allotment.

I was quite amazed how little there seemed to it and how cheap it was compared to buying plants ready to plant out.

I had a large bed out the front which needed filling and decided this would be a good way to get some colour on the cheap.

Off I went to Wilkinson'scand £15later I had trays, pots, compost and seeds. Let the fun begin.

I plant Marigolds, Salvias, Antirrhinum, Cosmos and Foxglove.

That part was easy, some were big seed which was easy to put in seed tray but foxglove was like pepper. We could not see where it had gone on the compost. Anyhow all trays were done and now came the next problem.

Where to put them. At first they need heat. I had the thermometer all over the house trying to find the place which kept the best and most constant heat. Window sills were ok but cold at night. In the end the top of the fridge/freezer in the kitchen seemed to keep a good constant temperature , especially as the nights were cold.

As it turns out this was perfect, green shoots appeared with 4 days. First the cosmos, then marigolds, salvias, antirrhinum and lastly the foxgloves. Once the green shoots showed it was then about light and plenty of it. The conservatory would have been ideal but it was still too cold in there. So the kitchen window sill was now filled with trays of green shoots.

The cosmos ran away and grew quick, however they were getting too tall and had not got their second leaves yet. The process is that once shoots have their second leaves they are ready to be pricked out and put into larger pots with more space. Anyhow they had to be pricked out, now I was either too early or did not firm them in properly. Of 27 plants pricked out only 4 survived.

Next to be pricked out were the Marigolds. These seem much stronger, mum says they are quite hardy and she never has problems with them. Indeed she is right, this time I firmed them in as I transferred them. Of 86 plants I have over 50 doing really well. They look less like seedlings and more like actually plants now. Really pleased with them.

Salvias were next, my favourite, I love the deep red flowers. I got 24 plants pricked and so far I reckon I will have 15 to plant out. They still do not look like plants but are growing.

Next we're the antirrhinum. To kinds, Monarch and Circus Clown. These were really small and fiddly but I have pricked out 166 of these and although it has only been a few days, most of them seem to have survived the process into the pots and trays. They are still very small but do look healthy.

Just today it was time for the foxgloves. I pricked out 59 and there are more in the seed trays but I have run out of compost and pots and trays to put them. I will keep them in the tray for now.

So I have loads of potential plants and for £15 have 329 plants at the moment. For the time and effort it is certainly worthwhile doing and I may have too many so some will be passed onto others.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

3rd April 2013

Signs at last that Spring is on the way. It has still been cold with a chilly easterly wind but it has even sunny and dry. Next week the temperature is expected to increase to about 9 or 10 so hopefully soon things will start to bloom in the garden.

Kirsty and me have planted some seeds to save some money on bedding plants. It is the first time that I have attempted this but so far the results look good. The marigolds and cosmos appeared after about 4 days, a few days later the antirrhinum sprouted through and just today there are signs that the foxgloves and salvias are on their way.

We have been chitting potatoes for the community allotment but despite being in a bright position they made no progress. The one I put in the dark has performed much better, maybe it is because it is in warmer conditions. The others are now in and on the window sill on the stairs, lets see how they get on there.

This morning Kirsty and I went Swimming. The pool was reasonably empty and we had good fun for over an hour and half. Trouble is today is a fasting day, part of a new diet where we fast for two days a week, and after swimming I was starving hungry, and in fact I still am. Does not help during the holidays having to prepare lunches for the children.

Craig has been going into school to work on his music tech and today Helen as gone to meet a friend in Cambridge for lunch, which is nice that they came upto meet her.

After today we have visitors descending. Carolyn and Matthew are up Thursday and Friday, then we have Kara and Evie on Saturday and Sunday, and then Marion and Bethan the following Tuesday and Wednesday, so plenty of baking to be done.

Friday, 22 March 2013

23rd March 2013

Still so very cold and no sign of any change. Really frustrating as we cannot get anything done on the allotment until the ground temperature picks up. Over the next week it will feel like -7, many parts of the country are covered with snow so we are at least lucky to survive that.

Last weekend we went to our first function up here since moving. It was a St Patricks Day event and was with Andy and Janet Moyle. I met Andy at a school event and it turned out that Helen works with his wife Janet, at Greyfriers Primary School.

Anyway we went along, a little unsure what to expect, as it was a large gathering. At first I thought it would be difficult, Kirsty was a bit whingy and it was like a party with people standing around drinking.

However once the food was served we all went and sat down in a large room and stayed there, playing games, singing songs ( I mimed of course ), and just chatting. It was really comfortable and before we knew it 4 hours had passed.

It would be nice to think that we have now made some friends up here and in fact we have been invited back for a BBQ in May.

I was over the allotment the other day. I had divided a fuschia and was taking half of it over on my bike, when I turned up I found a massive tire mark in one of our turfs. I stood looking at it for a few minutes and must have looked suspicious as I was approached by 2 policemen who were patrolling the park. Obviously I explained who I was and we chatted for a few minutes and it was nice that they investigated.

Earlier this week I was not well at all. The rest of the family have had a sick bug and I thought it had finally got me. I went to bed Monday night and was so cold that I was shaking. The night was disturbed, hot and cold, aches and pains. For the next few days this continued but I was not sick. I had no energy so house work took a back seat, but it did not last long and by Thursday I was back to normal.

The old owner of our house, Graham, was in the area Thursday and it was good to see him and hand over the post which had accumulated. We chatted for quite a while and I finally asked him how much they would have sold for. He said lowest would have been 180k, but that would have been a push. He said they had a buyer the year before but they mucked them around for 17 weeks, so took it off the market and put it back on when we were looking. Before us they had someone interested but they had not sold their house, so we timed it just right.

Whilst he was here I asked him how to get the top of the toilet off, when he asked why I mentioned the slight leak in the pipe work and without hesitation he offered to repair it free of charge. I will of course pay him something but that just shows what nice man he is.

We are off to Downham Market today to buy some dining chairs off our friend Sarah as the ones we have are just too uncomfortable.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

3rd March 2013

What a lovely day I had today. Not a great day weather wise, we woke to an overcast day but not too cold for the time of year.

We had toast for breakfast which we had in the conservatory. There was no rush we had nothing planned, so we took our time and watched the birds feeding on the bird feeder.

We then got the washing out onto the line and I then went off to the community allotment. It is starting to get to the busy time of the year, loads of digging to do but so much easier than last year when it had not been touched for a while.

I was joined by Felicity and her dog Dickens. She kept me company and we chatted whilst I dug over one of the vegetable plots. Just before I was due to leave and return for my roast dinner which Helen was cooking, Herbert arrived from church with his dog Hugo. Further chat took place and Felicity left us, Herbert went home to change and I began to tidy up.

At this point Simon and his son Sam came over and we had a brief chat before Herbert arrived again. At which point I had to go as my dinner would be ready.

I got home 5 mins late, but dinner was nice and after this we took ourselves off to Brancaster beach. It's a lovely drive up there and so relaxing. There was no car park attendant so that was a bonus. When we got to the beach we noticed the sea was a long way out. Equipped with our wellies we started walking towards it. We got halfway but the little estuaries were getting deeper. We walked for abut an hour before returning home for tea and cakes and a play in the garden.

So nice now the weather is getting warmer, I love it up here, everything is so accessible, calm and peaceful. Wish we had been able to move earlier but we are here now.

Friday, 1 March 2013

1st March 2013

It's exactly a year ago today that we met our buyer of our house in Enfield. 12 months ago they came round for their first viewing and on the 2nd March came back for second look and then put in an offer on 3rd March.

We are getting ready for Kirsty's 9th Birthday. She is very excited already and we have booked a party for her at Frankie and Benny's next Friday. She has 6 friends definitely coming, although as normal we have had to do some chasing.

On Saturday the family and Marion are coming up for the day and we are going to have fish and chips.

Have stripped the gloss paint from the hall, sanded down and waxed the wood. It looks really good and was helped by the purchase of a sander. Only found out later that I had a sander in the shed which still works.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

17th Feb 2013

Weather has turned a bit milder at last. Today is a lovely sunny day and we have brought some bedding plants which Helen planted in the front garden.

The trees are budding now and Spring cannot be far away.

It has been warm enough to sit in the conservatory for the first time since about October.

Yesterday Kirsty and I planted a cherry tree in the back garden. There was two reasons for this.

Firstly we need some shade at the front fence. It is very open there and nothing to block the sun in the summer.

The second reason is that Kirsty and I planted a cherry tree at our old house in 2009. We had to leave it behind and only saw it grow for 3 years. The blossom on them is lovely and we all liked the other one.

Yesterday will also be remembered for a lovely afternoon with old friends. Kelly, Sam, Max and Pearl got the train up and we had lunch at Prezzo followed by tea and cake back at the house.

The weather was nice enough for me to give them a tour of Kings Lynn, through the park and town and use some of recently gained knowledge of the history of the town.

Looking forward this week to mire visitors. Caroline and Matthew are up Monday and Tuesday, and then on Thursday and Friday we entertain Julie and Ellen, before a weekend in London so Kirsty can see Kara and Helen can go to book club.

A busy week ahead but should be good.

Monday, 11 February 2013

11th Feb 2013

I normally don't mind the cold but today I just could not get warm. I don't know if the wind chill is more severe here in Norfolk but just doing the school run I could feel it through my jeans. Surely milder weather is on its way, the cold seems to have been with us for ages.

Helped out at Kirsty's school today. The reception children had a trip to town to see the Chinese dragon dancing to celebrate the New Year. They needed helpers and I had nothing else planned for the day.

The children and staff went on the coach and the helpers went in 2 taxis. We got there quite quick but had to wait for the coach. When it arrived the helpers with children on the trip were given their kids to look after. I had Alfie and Jessica. Lovely children they chatted away to me and seemed quite excited by the trip, Alfie particularly liked the Bus Station.

The dragon dancing scared some of the children, others loved it. It must be tough teaching that age group. They are so young and seeing some of them crying made me realise how difficult it is for teachers.

Some of those who did not like it, did have their picture taken so they could not have been that scared.

Once we got the children back in the coach the helpers then had to wait for the taxis to pick us up.

At this point I made a wording issue with a tweet. I had mentioned the trip and also stated we had been left waiting for a taxi.

The school head saw this and asked why we had been left in town. By the time we'd got back to school the office mentioned he was on the phone to them. It seems that he did not know we were getting taxis and thought we had been left in town.

It has taught me to word my tweets better in future and I sent a message to him and an email to the office to apologise for any confusion I may have caused.

Other than that it was a good trip and I enjoyed helping.

Looking forward to the next week. Half Term will bring many visitors including on Saturday my old work colleagues - Kelly, Max, Sam and Pearl. We also have Caroline and Matthew up for a couple of days and then Julie and El at the end of the week.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

5th Feb 2013

It's 12 months since we put our house up for sale in London. This time a year ago the blog really took off and reading it back I can see what stress I put myself through, for at least 3 months.

In the end everything has worked out well. Helen had regular work, whilst still having some time off a week and not having all that awful planning and marking to do which took up so much of her free time.

The kids are settled into their schools, both have a group of friends, have joined clubs of various descriptions and both love their new bedrooms.

Me, well I could not be happier. I think I am more relaxed, less short tempered with the kids, have much more time for them and I really love the new area, the beautiful places and the quiet way of life up here.

Having lived in the house for a while it has become apparent that it had not been decorated as well as we thought.

It looks like a quick job was done to spruce it up. So I am finding little things to do.

Upstairs I have replaced all architraves and removed the gloss from door frames. The wood is now a wax finish and this will make future decorating easier.

The walls in the landing and stair well are now yellow, I hated the brown which was there.

I have put a patio in the garden to take trampoline and swimming pool, put coping stones on top of brick wall to stop any further damage.

I lost my job end of Nov 2012 so looking for something but not going back into Corporate world. Will keep looking for something appropriate.

The community allotment should take off again soon as the weather improves. I have done some work on the Compost bins though in the cold.

Otherwise I keep myself busy cleaning the house, washing, ironing and shopping. I get to do little jobs round the house when needed and when weather is good I get to explore this lovely place on my bike.

How different it was this time 12 months ago.