Sunday, 10 January 2021

Shield

Welcoming 2021 ... and I return to shielding as the whole of England is locked down with COVID infections and deaths hitting the not unexpected peaks as a result of at least one new strain, Christmas gatherings and general Winter health. Oh dear, not a great start to the new year 😔

Hungerford allotments

That photo is from when we visited the plot last weekend to get some fresh (a bit too fresh for me) air, drop some green waste into the compost bin and feed the birds.

Frozen rain gauge

We haven’t had snow, but we’ve had plenty of frost and freezing temperatures. Look at the frozen rain gauge! We really need to buy a new one but that can wait. The anemone flowers aren’t meant to flower till May, I don’t think, so I don’t know what they’re up to!

Chunky vegetable soup

I made a tasty chunky soup with swede, carrots, onion and Brussels sprouts - it made for a very tasty working-from-home lunchtime meal. Yes, I’ve been ‘back’ to work for a week after a most enjoyable Christmas break. It got busy rather quickly though!

COVID-19 awareness sign

Today we drove to site to put some COVID information signs up on the allotment notice board. We didn’t go to our plot as we had stuff to do at home and I’m not sure that sitting having a coffee in our polytunnel can really count as exercise! I had to do some HAHA (Hungerford Allotment Holders Association) admin yesterday; updating the allotment registers and waiting list before emailing all the plotholders to remind them of the restrictions. (I still need to update the website, but thought I’d write this instead). As per the previous lockdowns the site will stay open, unless the restrictions are tightened. I hope to have a bit more time on the allotment this year so that I get out of the flat a bit more - we’ll just need to time it to avoid busy times.

Hungerford Allotments

I had some good news in the week. Thompson & Morgan listed my little blog as one of their Vibrant Veg Growing Blogs 😊 I hope to include much more growing in it this year! We ordered some seed potatoes, tomato and pepper plants this weekend, so that’s a start... but we got that far last year...We need to work out which of the unused seeds from last year will still be viable and then we can start planning...
So that’s how the year has begun. I hope soon these posts will include more good news - like a vaccine date and our next site gathering - won’t that be great when the day comes!! In the meantime, here’s the title song by Deep Purple to enjoy.

Thursday, 31 December 2020

Say Hello Wave Goodbye

This is the obligatory look back over the year - a year that certainly didn’t follow any plan and I don’t suppose there are many who aren’t happy to see the back of 2020 with high hopes for 2021. Even though the year has obviously been dominated by COVID-19, horrible statistics, social distancing, lockdown tiers and face masks this post is only covering my highlights. 

I read more books than usual and I think I’ll continue to do so, rather than just reading on holiday which is how our year started (little did we realise how lucky we were with our timing). 
Carnivale

Aah, those costumes and fabulous drummers! Carnivalesque - Such a fabulous time to visit Tenerife. 

Carnival Queen
Shielding and lockdown kept me indoors for more than 70 days, working from home was enough to drive anyone stir crazy... my hair bore the brunt of the boredom.
My first trip outside was at 4am in June to see the sun rise over Freeman’s Marsh. It was worth getting up so early.
Hungerford Freeman’s Marsh

The poppy fields just up the road were well worth another walk outside and the weather was beautiful.

Pharmaceutical poppies

It seems that 2020 was a good year for flowers in and around Hungerford.

Wildflowers
Birthday trip to Chalk Hill

Sunflower fields

I was inspired to do some embroidery - the first time in decades. Loved doing it and love my sewn Plot7 but it seems that isn’t a hobby I’m going to keep doing.

Feeling creative I also did some decorative baking (after seeing it on the Veg Hog’s blog) - focaccia will definitely be made again.

Decorated focaccia

Decorated focaccia

I made a foraged blackberry and apple crumble. (Bear with me, I don’t cook much)

Blackberry and apple crumble

And even baked a cake, with a tromboncino squash donated by a fellow plotholder.

Squash cake
We did get to the allotment and enjoyed some lovely hot days, or lunch hours, up there. We even did a bit of clearing, but didn’t get much planted. Our generous allotment friends and my sister made sure we got fresh fruit and veg though.
Our sad overgrown plot
The allotments got a flurry of new plotholders and a substantial waiting list, as recognised by the local paper. (That’s our plot in the photo 😊)
Newbury Weekly News

2020 was also a good year for wildlife, particularly when the traffic was so reduced in the Spring and with the reduced air pollution because so few planes were flying. On the allotment we saw these great caterpillars - I was so pleased to find my first hawk moth and then found a second one!
Elephant Hawk moth
Elephant hawk moth
Elephant hawk moth
Elephant hawk moth
Pale Tussock moth
Pale tussock moth
So, my blog was much more of a lifestyle blog, I hope it features much more of the allotment next year. This morning, for the last time this year, I hung around by the canal while Jamie went shopping. It was cold and frosty with just a couple of men working on their narrow boats and a family feeding the ducks.
Narrow boats

So it’s goodbye to 2020 and hello to 2021, song title provided by Soft Cell.

Thankyou for visiting and we wish you all a Happy New Year 🥳 

Blog | Hungerford Allotment

Tuesday, 29 December 2020

Next

 Halfway through the Christmas break and what a lovely relaxing time we’ve had so far.

Winter sun over Hungerford allotment

Snow was threatened yesterday and we walked up the High Street through slushy ice. We saw some cars with white roofs but we didn’t see any snowfall, just cold, sleety rain.

Crochet

We received some lovely presents - there’s my fabulous crocheted cardigan from my sister, which I’m living in because it’s so cosy and such beautiful colours.

We’ve eaten lots of food. We had our Christmas roast on the night of Christmas Eve, so Christmas Day’s lunch was a delicious buffet... mmm, so many tasty morsels!

Vegetarian buffet

It’s so great having the freedom to do nothing for a week! We watched the extended editions of Lord of the Rings across three evenings (over 10 hours! It didn’t feel like a marathon as it’s just so beautiful). 

Lego
Jamie stocked our crackers with Lego figures this year, so Santa has some friends (you’re never too old for Lego, surely 😄). I made this puff pastry tart-thing, with sprouts, tomatoes, Quorn ham and cheese - so delicious.
Vegetarian puff pastry tart

We visited the allotment to cover the broad beans, to prevent them getting squashed under the forecast snow. It’s so soggy but it was nice to be out of the flat, we’re only wearing the masks for effect, we had the site to ourselves most of the time. We saw two egrets fly along the canal as well as long-tailed tits and the usual robins and magpies on site. The weeds are still growing well 😒

So, now I’m wondering what day it is and what can I eat next.... hmm, here’s a rather dubious song by the Sensational Alex Harvey Band... er, it’s not exactly Christmassy so don’t listen too closely!

Sunday, 20 December 2020

Just the Two of Us

Now we’re being watched - we’d better not be naughty! This amazing new addition to our festive flat was designed and created by my incredibly creative Cousin Jen. I texted to ask if she had an elf to go on our shelf and within a day this little chap was made and in the post - isn’t he fabulous?!

We are feeling festive. I had Friday off work and feel like I’ve stopped for Christmas, but actually it’s the first year for ages that I’m having to work on Christmas Eve - I hope it’s not busy! Friday evening we saw A Christmas Carol at the Old Vic Theatre - live streaming via Zoom, of course... 

It was great; a really good adaptation with some worthy lessons, sadly, for modern Britain. We were drawn to it because of Andrew Lincoln (The Walking Dead) but there weren’t any zombies in it.

Yesterday I podded the Gigantes beans. Some hadn’t dried out enough, so aren’t suitable for storing. They’re so smooth and white when they’re properly dried in their pods like this.
But this lot, from 4 plants, will serve me well over the next year.
From today we have moved into the new COVID tier 4 which has been specially created for Christmas in the South-East of England, which we just fall within. It’s going to upset a lot of people’s plans, though our Christmas is always enjoyed in isolation. 
It would have been better to have made the decision before everyone finalised their arrangements, but with hospitalisation and deaths increasing rapidly the main concern has to be stopping the virus from spreading/mutating and trying as hard as possible to make 2020 the only year that’s spoilt for so many 😔 So, here’s the beautiful Bill Withers providing the title track. I hope you can enjoy Christmas and look forward to a better new year x



Sunday, 13 December 2020

Gaudete

The Lockdown Wood was planted up in Hungerford last weekend - more than 850 saplings. Another year. I would have joined in, but I’ll stay away from gatherings for a few months more... Our hazel tree needs to grow at least 3 times taller than this before it can join the wood, but I was pleased to see it looks happy with new buds just appearing.

We only visited the plot to add waste to the compost bin and to store our new honeysuckle in the polytunnel until we’re ready to plant at home. We got it free from Thompson & Morgan because they’ve published a couple of entries from this blog into their Favourite Bloggers articles recently, which is always nice to see 😊

While we were there I collected up all the Gigantes beans, which have been drying out in the polytunnel. I’ll pod them for storing in a few days.

And here’s one of the tasty meals I had using last year’s stored beans and some of the veg my sister brought over (swede, carrots, fennel, peppers). I made enough to cover three meals and added gravy to make it more like a stew for one of them.

Work continues to keep me far too busy, but we’re hoping it’ll wind down a bit as we get closer to Christmas. I’ve never had such a Christmassy office setting though 🤩

For the next few lunchtimes I have this scrummy chestnut and sage soup. Mmm, I could easily eat it all in one sitting, but I’m not getting any exercise so had better not! I used the River Cottage recipe because I didn’t want to add cream, but I did sauté the onion and sage in butter.

It's Gaudete Sunday today - the third Sunday of advent apparently. I'm sure this is the only time I'd manage to crowbar this song title on the blog :-) I chose Erasure’s version.