Monday, 26 September 2016

Autumn Arrived

Summer turned to Autumn last week - now the nights are going to be longer than the days, although the signs have been appearing for a few weeks now.
 Some of the plants have shown a recent spurt of new growth as it's been a reasonably warm September.
We're still eating plenty from the plot and I'm not yet bored of roast vegetables but Jamie has been for a while now. Sadly, for him, the courgettes and Patty Pans just keep on producing :-) He's happy that it's Hungerford Food Festival at the weekend because he's got the excuse of saving veg for the HAHA stand - not all the veg though!  
This little trayful includes our first Kohl Rabi of the year - it was very tasty just roasted along with the other vegetables and those are some Silverskin onions which failed to produce enough for a jar of pickled onions because of the sluggy start to the year.
We had an allotment holders skittles night at the weekend - it was really good fun. Not so many people turned out as they did in January, but there were plenty of us to have a good entertaining competition.
HAHA versus the Royal British Legion and HAHA won :-) And not just because I was recording the scores - with a little help from my friends!!
Thanks for the photo, Kerry

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Making Tracks

These interesting marks are left by a snail (or a slug) that enjoyed eating the red algae that had formed on one of our outdoor storage bins. And while reading about this I also discovered that mollusks have kidneys (as well as most other mammalian organs) - ha, who knew? well, obviously!
The bargain hibiscus plant that I bought earlier in the year finally flowered - such a pretty shrub! There were 3 buds but two dropped off - possibly eaten :-( Maybe next year there will be a few more...
This was the first of this year's sweetcorn that we shared yesterday - so sweet! After the fretting that they weren't going to cob-up they're doing well - a couple of cobs on each stalk.
Shhh, the magpies don't seem to have found the sweeetcorn under the Jack-Be-Little pumpkin growth so far! But the pumpkin leaves are beginning to die back, so we're having to have a cob each tonight and probably every night..
Look! We've found a second loofah. It's not as big as the other one, but still not sure how we managed to miss it! 
There were large flocks of house martins overhead throughout the afternoon. They weren't sitting on the wires, just flitting and flying around. Amazing numbers and very impressive - clearly miles better than this photo shows, hence the fancy effects! They're preparing to head South, so maybe we'll see them in Tenerife in a few weeks time!

At one point they were joined by a kestrel. We haven't seen one on site all year, so were pleased to see its return - as long as it leaves all our friendly little robins and the wrens alone!
Today was grey but last week we had a sweltering start to the week (when this little cirrus cloud appeared), followed by torrential rain (21mm) and a huge thunderstorm that reached Newbury but just managed to miss Hungerford. I wonder if that marked the end of Summer...?

Monday, 12 September 2016

In the Mood

I cooked again yesterday! Two days in a row doesn't happen very often. I had a vegetable omelet/frittata for dinner. With chard (stems and leaves), tomatoes, onion and courgette with cheddar cheese on top - so tasty.
The frittata could have contained potatoes as we emptied the last potato bag yesterday - one Orla produced a lot of large potatoes and they are in good condition. I hope they are suitable for baking.
A couple of the carrots had sprouted extra legs and they joined the onion and some spices to make my lunch soup that I'm eating as I type.
In fact, it was so tasty that I've had to heat up a second mugful - well, it's a small mug (honest!)
We had a nice couple of hours on the plot. Jamie spent time weeding the brassicas (Brussels Sprouts and Kohl Rabi) and I weeded and deadheaded all over the place.
The plants look much happier now that they aren't competing with weeds and they have a higher net so they aren't feeling restricted. We had to get the new net on quickly as there were a lot of white butterflies trying to lay eggs everywhere!
The loofah is getting longer each time we visit, but no sign of the foliage dying back yet so we'll leave it on the vine for now. I'm a little concerned it may fall off and break - that will be very disappointing as it's the one and only!

Saturday, 10 September 2016

September - Cooking and Growing

Mmmm, if you could only smell this cooking!
French bean chutney, one of our favourites! We use the same recipe each time we make it. Only once did we make it with runner beans, that were a bit old. Eurgh, we won't make that mistake again! Stringy bits in your Christmas chutney are most disappointing!
Turmeric, mustard, cornflour in vinegar
We went to the allotment earlier - it was pouring with rain, but we wanted the onions and Speedy Dwarf beans for the chutney and the other veg for the halloumi meal tonight.
I'm pleased that the peppers changed colour as intended. The red one is halfway there, but just the orange and yellow ones for tonight.
The Indigo Rose black tomatoes haven't had enough sunshine to completely turn. Their green backs have turned reddish. They're not as tasty as the red plum Aviditas tomatoes, which would be my tomato of choice next year. It's prolific and delicious!
Talking of prolific... the Disco Patty Pan have come into their own. These two were particularly beautiful! Several have grown huge so I've been taking them to work - but even my colleagues can't face any more Summer squashes! They are delicious stuffed.
Our largest sunflower is now seeding up. I may take some of the seeds for nibbling, but most we'll leave for the birds. Our cucumbers have also had their day, but Rocky performed brilliantly as always.
And soon it'll be time for the Winter squashes....
Jack Be Little
Jack of All Trades
We picked one of the Lark sweetcorn cobs yesterday. The kernels were very small and not quite ready, but we ate a lot of it raw as it was so sweet. Looking forward to them in probably a week's time...

Organ Donation Week 2016

As it's Organ Donation Week (previously known as National Transplant Week) I was thinking about what my life would be like if I hadn't been fortunate enough to have my kidney transplant in 2008.

I would have been on dialysis for 12 years. Dialysis options have improved significantly in 8 years so some of these thoughts may be unfounded. Also, at the time, I had some good friends at the hospital who made the sessions a little more bearable. And you have to make the best of whatever life throws at you.
No allotment - Eurgh! Imagine that. As a dialysis patient the idea of digging an allotment would not have entered my head! Everything we've learned, grown, seen on the plot over the last 7 years wouldn't have happened!

Blogging - I only started the blog as a record of what we were doing on the allotment. Now if I ever have to return to dialysis (fingers crossed that never happens) I might blog about it, but it would be a bit dull, with no nice photos (like this post!)
Food - the strict dialysis diet makes food rather dull and kidney failure impacts on appetite anyway. My (slightly)  increased interest in cooking has only been as a result of growing our own.
Vegetables Only small amounts were advised - a bit tricky when you're a vegetarian, but my appetite was so small anyway. Fresh vegetables are too high in potassium so kidney patients have to over-over-cook them. For example, potatoes had to be double-boiled and the boiled-out nutrients washed down the sink.
Buglife - we've always enjoyed nature but having the allotment and the energy to work on it has provided the close access to interesting creatures that was missing from our lives since we moved to the flat without a garden.
Social life - we wouldn't have met and made friends with our lovely fellow plotholders. The allotment has opened up this side of our life in Hungerford. We'd probably still be more into computers and gaming. Of course, there's nothing with that, but real world is good too.
Sleeping - All the hours we spend on the plot would probably be spent sleeping. Dialysis cleans the blood but the tiredness remains.
Time off - I always treated dialsysis sessions (4 hours at the hospital every other day) like a job - but a job with no annual leave and no extended Christmas or Bank Holidays. And no sick days.
Holidays away - we first visited Tenerife while I was on haemodialysis, so it's definitely possible, but I certainly don't think we'd be having an annual holiday. It's more involved to arrange dialysis sessions away, locations are restricted and it's more expensive for insurance
Lethargy I'm certain that I wouldn't be learning spanish and wouldn't have taken on my new job. The inspiration to do new things isn't there when you're waiting for your next dialysis session, waiting for a hospital appointment, waiting for the call..
These are a few of my reasons why I see organ donation as 'a gift of life'. I wouldn't be dead without a new kidney but my life would be significantly limited.
Please have the conversation with your loved ones.


Friday, 2 September 2016

Bank Holiday Tuesday

I'm not sure why we get an extra day off for the August Bank Holiday, but I'm glad we do! It was a beautiful sunny and hot day so Jamie and I had a barbecue on the plot.
We had a nice plate of heart-shaped cucumber, mayonnaise-y carrots and pickled garlic-tomatoes while we waited for our Quorn burgers and onions to cook on the little bbq. The garlic is still rather strong - not to be eaten at lunchtimes at work!
The tomatoes were all Orange Paruche. Very tasty but split too quickly to be used in anything where you want to keep them whole, or for cooking with where they fall apart.
I'm still managing to pass on plenty of courgettes and cucumbers at work so they aren't going to waste and we cooked one of the patty pans on the barbecue - it was quite tasty, but better cooked as part of a meal at home to be honest - like we had last night; baked and stuffed with a Bhuna curry, yum!
The Speedy dwarf beans (sown on 2nd July) are just getting big enough to harvest. We hope to make some chutney with the first crop at the weekend. They have timed really well this year as the runner beans have just about had their day (and we've had enough of them).