Friday, 29 December 2017

Who will come with me...

To 2018...
Here's the obligatory review of the year 2017.
Starting with the playlist of the 82 song titles I selected for this year's blogposts. Unfortunately a couple of songs have since been blocked so won't play, plus there are very annoying adverts, but I hope you've enjoyed my soundtrack of the year.
It was fun finding appropriate song titles for posts and tricky at times. I haven't decided whether I'll do the same thing in 2018, I'll see how it goes...

Anyway, for my interest more than yours, are the top 5 posts of the year.
  1. Five Years - the excellent news that we had a new 5-year site lease, though it still hasn't actually been signed by the landlord (grrr). But I wonder if the David Bowie track made it the most visited link..
  2. Viva Tenerife - our home-from-holidays post. I'm sure a lot of these visitors were from the Tenerife forum and also fellow street art lovers.
  3. Pretty Vacant - there must be a lot of old punks out there who couldn't resist the title... No, I'm sure this was the interest in our new lottery-funded composting toilet.
  4. Fire Starter - such a great track but I think the mention of the glass gem corn may have been the draw to this post.
  5.  Set the Fire to the Third Bar - I only posted this 2 days ago so I expect it to get more visitors. Maybe the snowy rooftop photo was appealing or perhaps it's because people have more time to sit and read during the holiday season.
My favourite memories of 2017 include the great fun allotment holders barbecue in September, the plant sale in June and the many home-made soups and salads that I enjoyed throughout the year.
I'm looking forward to a better squash grotto this year and hopefully some successful glass gem corn cobs as well as plenty of sunshine, rain only at night and PLEASE less windy weather!

Happy New Year!

And here's the last track of the year from the oddly pleasing Kelly Family...

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Set the Fire to the Third Bar

(If you're lucky enough to still have electricity) It doesn't seem to take much to knock the power out these days, but fingers crossed that ours remains on today, as that North wind plus our first bit of post-Christmas snow is making it rather chilly.
We haven't ventured out since Christmas Eve and I don't think we will today. We've enjoyed ourselves with food, drink, films, fun, presents and food... Many of our lovely gifts involved food. Look! A cheese-making kit AND we can make halloumi with it! Can't wait to try that out and there's a real Swiss fondue pan, how lovely is that?
And, as Jamie said when he gave me his present, "it's what every girl really wants" a mole repeller! Well, maybe we won't need to buy sprouts next Christmas (I know! It felt bad doing it).
 These beautiful plates are amazing - they even make washing-up pleasing.
And they were a great addition to our Boxing Day lunch, which included the carrot lox we made the other day - delish.
We love a feast of tapas, so this book will come in very handy and my Spanish lessons start again in the new year so it's handy to keep the Spanish vegetable names in the forefront of my mind! It's got some nice quick recipes for using veg that we grow.
Of course, Tenerife is never far from our minds and we've been enjoying cactus jam breakfasts and Honey Rum tipples - now that does warm you up!
My snowman cookie cutters have come in handy a few times.
And here's another handy book. It has humour and some great little tips in it, like "Seedlings will grow stronger if you brush your hands over them a few times a day".
Well, it feels like time to eat something, I think the allotment can wait another day or two...
Snow Patrol provide the great title track.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

O Come O Come Emmanuel

Ooh, nearly time! Merry Christmas!

We had a little visit to the plot yesterday, just to pick carrots (again). This time for making carrot 'lox' for Boxing Day lunch. Lox is smoked salmon, but the veggie alternative is delicious. The washed carrots are baked in salt for about an hour and a half - this is the closest we're going to get to snow this Christmas!
Now the thinly sliced carrots will marinate for a couple of days in liquid smoke, oil and wine vinegar.
Our allotment plots are looking weedy, wet and unloved. Perhaps we'll get a chance to tidy it up during the Christmas break... The weather has turned unseasonably mild but it's very damp so not great for working the plots or for photographs, but I thought this curry plant looked quite pretty with the water droplets on it.

We had a great evening out last night for the HAHA committee Christmas meal. Such a lovely, fun group of people who we wouldn't have met if not for the allotment.
I hope you like this Sixpence None the Richer version of  'O Come O Come Emmanuel'. I love it. MERRY MERRY CHRISTMAS, see you the other side :-)

Sunday, 3 December 2017

I Feel it in My Bones

It's December. We've had a Christmas craft sale at work and I bought some pressies and we've put lovely blue lights up in our living room window so I'm feeling Christmassy already.
I had a very quick visit to the plot this afternoon to pick some carrots - I was playing safe in case I found that the last Jaune de Vert squash had gone off once I cut into it. The little robin came to see me. He must have been missing our meal worms, especially when the temperature fell to -2° in the week. Brrr, it was quite unbearable for a couple of days but today it was back up to 12°.
All the garlic is up and should appreciate the frosts we've had. And the swede look like they're getting bigger! There are a couple of huge ones growing in this raised bed. It's the first time we've managed to grow it without it bolting. I wonder if they'll last till Burns night...
The squash's skin had hardened and changed colour but I'm pleased to say the flesh was good.
I roasted the squash with a few slices of carrot and a garlic clove. I left the skin on while roasting but removed it before the next stage.
Then cooked on the hob with some cumin and paprika added to the stock. I didn't risk too much garlic as my lingering cold means I could be very unpopular in the office! It's not tasting that great at the moment - quite bland, but I'll add some more seasoning when I come to eat it - hopefully it's will be tasty.
So, although there are still signs of Summer in sheltered spots I'm glad it's a good day for the Hungerford Christmas lights switch on - this year by author, Robert Harris. I love our Christmas lights!
Christmas  - it's on its way - hooray! And thank you to The Killers for the title track ..

Saturday, 25 November 2017


"It's just a cold" - I hate that phrase, I hate colds. I have a cold. It's hanging around and now Jamie's got it. But we thought we needed to venture out today, even though there had been a frost and it didn't look inviting..
Of course, we walked up to the allotment, it was cold, but not quite as awful as I'd expected because the sun was out and the wind wasn't very strong. It was 7° and Ivan was the only other person on the site. Our plots still look unloved, but there is food there, if you know where to look :-)
The leeks are looking good and when we have the inclination I'm sure we'll be having a tasty carrot and leek bake. There are also some good looking swede on Plot 46 which should be tasty.
Future promise in the form of the purple sprouting brocolli.
And some green Brussels sprouts, but the red ones have failed - the mole caused the plant to fall over and Brussels really hate that!
The parsnips are hopefully okay under the ground. The foliage on our plants very often dies back earlier than we see on other plots, but we've had some good ones (fingers crossed for no canker).
And the transplanted strawberries look very happy, we hope they produce fruits as tasty as the parent plants were.
So that was a very quick visit to the plot. We hope to be at the workday/BBQ tomorrow - well, it's just a cold... Great video by Radiohead

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Pretty Vacant

The compost toilet from EcoToilets, paid for by a Big Lottery Fund grant, was officially opened by the mayor of Hungerford - surely one of his most esteemed events of the year!
It was good to see so many plotholders turned up on the cold, but sunny afternoon. Our Chairnan did lots of work to get the funding and to find a suitable toilet for our site and he also provided us with snacks and champers to celebrate today! THANKS GEOFF!
So, that stopped any idea of us doing any work on the plot but we do love an allotment gathering - whatever the reason!
In the morning I turned a third of the Giant Pink Banana squash into soup. I was pleased to see that only a tiny part had been affected by the frost damage.
I started by adding the chunks of squash to oak smoked rape seed oil along with a couple of garlic cloves. Then I added water, half a stock cube, a few sage leaves and left it to simmer.
The squash broke down almost completely, but I gave it a final blitz and had some for lunch. So delicious!
And I have spare chunks which I'll take to work, but I may keep one to have roasted squash later in the week.
The Sex Pistols provide the title track.

Saturday, 18 November 2017


Our first visit to the plot in nearly 4 weeks and only a fleeting one at that. So much needs to be done... But not today, because this morning we were helping tidy the Fairfields site, which HAHA also manages. The other volunteers had a great fire burning by the time we arrived.

There are plans to improve the water collection system in the new year but today was about clearing and chopping back the ivy that tries to take over the whole site - luckily we found Neal just in time 😃
Coffee and delicious home-made cakes made the morning pass quite happily and later in the afternoon we walked back to Marsh Lane to collect the one and only Giant Pink Banana squash that grew. I'm hoping there will be enough undamaged flesh to make soup - it's about the size of a rugby ball so there should be... You can see that the yellow spaghetti squash was too badly affected by the frost so that's been composted.
And here's evidence again that the glass gem corn certainly had potential if only we'd cared for it better..
So, tomorrow we have a proper allotment day planned and the GRAND OPENING of our lottery-funded composting toilet - there it is in the background. But more on that tomorrow...

The Prodigy provide the great title track..

Monday, 13 November 2017

Viva Tenerife

Home again after a lovely holiday on the north coast of Tenerife.
This was our tenth visit, our first was when I needed to dialyse there - it was two months before I received my kidney transplant. We realised then that we loved the place and now post-transplant holidays are even better, with plenty of food, drinking and walking - oh, so much walking and so many hills!
One of the reasons we return to Puerto de la Cruz is because it improves at each visit for vegetarian tourists.We go self-catering in the Casablanca Apartaments and manmage to find some excellent veggie options in the various supermarkets we shop in.
Including tofu, soya, seitan options

Of course, we had some lovely fresh vegetables too - look at the size of that pepper!
I like the way their supermarkets just sell chunks of pumpkin - I don't think ours do that. They grow a lot of different squash varieties in Tenerife. From the bus you can see them piled in the corners of fields while the fields are prepared for potato planting.
And how about these little lovelies for dessert - orange or lemon icecream, so delicious.
Anyway, I'll stop salivating with the memory and share some photos of the street art in Puerto - (I enjoyed Shaheen's street art posts from various places so I hope you enjoy these).
Probably my favourite
I love the huge paintings, but the little ones scattered around the place and on drain covers are good too - look at this little cutie!
Some are better from a distance...
 Others you need to zoom in to appreciate :-)

Outside our favourite veggie restaurant 'El Limon'

If you can't paint, why not crochet?!
I do love the white houses with terracotta roofs but why have white when there are so many other colours - and if you can't decide, well, have them all in a beautiful piece of art!
And here is a traditional song from Tenerife.