Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Monday Update on Tuesday

Hey, I'm getting better...only one day late and it was a bank holiday yesterday so I'm all behind with myself.

We had a busy weekend, with many car boot sales and a trip to Villa Park to watch Aston Villa beat Newcastle, so we didn't get up to the allotment until Monday. The lettuces that the Evilpixie and I planted last week are surviving, though something has had a nibble at them.

We built another veg cage and dug over another section and we planted sweetcorn. I have no photos of this as it seems I am incapable of remembering to take the camera (or even my phone) to the allotment.

Today (still with no photographic evidence) the Evilpixie and I have dug another small section and sown some lettuce, radish and beetroot seeds. We've also planted up some leeks we were given by a passing fellow allotment holder.

The Evilpixie is really enjoying the gardening, much to our surprise. She's even planning to transform the miserable plot beneath our front windows at home, currently hosting many stones, lots of ants and a couple of very straggly lavender bushes. I'll let you know how she gets on.

I am almost finished one of my secret deadline knitting projects - photos later in the week providing there are no disasters in the meantime. It's been my first foray into Intarsia since the 1970s. It was never my favourite style of knitting even then.

I am really looking forward to knitting something else but I still have to finish the MIL's waistcoat, and I really ought to do that before I knit anything for me. I'm sorely tempted though so I've been keeping off Ravelry in case I see something I can't live without.

Books update later in the week hopefully.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wednesday Update

Hey, only two days late this week. I'm getting better.

Not much happening at the allotment over the weekend as it was rather wet, but the Evilpixie and I spent most of the day there today and got a lot done.

We built a compost bin -

And we built a cage to keep the pigeons off the lettuces -

In front of the cage there you can see my newly planted courgette plants and the broad beans we planted on Sunday (in the rain). The beans were a bit of an unplanned planting as they had been doing very nicely at home in large pots with plastic bags over the top. However on Saturday we had a chicken and bean related incident which resulted in one of my pots being reduced to a few sad stalks. The chooks then started to eye up the other pot and we had to take emergency action and relocate the beans to the allotment. If they ever figure out how to open the zip on my little plastic greenhouse (home to all my tomatoes, squashes, and other types of bean) I am sunk. Given that chickens are incredibly stupid - I should be OK. I did try pointing out to them that if they wanted to avoid the pot then stuffing themselves with beans was maybe not the best way to go about it.

Dovegreyreader alerted me via her wonderful blog about a project the Poetry Society are running. They want knitters to each knit a letter which will become the world's first giant knitted poem. It sounds like a good idea to me so I've signed up. The details are here if you'd like to take part too.

I'm progressing slowly with my various deadline knitting projects. One must be finished by next week which should be OK. The other is already overdue but must wait till the first is finished before I can get going on it. More details once they are safely with their respective recipients.

I've read a bit though. I've been horribly remiss about book blogging but here's what I've been reading. Lee Child's Nothing to Lose. Jack Reacher wanders into a small town in Colorado and gets promptly run out of town again charged with vagrancy. Jack of course wonders what they have to hide and there's nothing anyone can do to stop him opening that whole can of worms. If you've read a Lee Child before then you know what to expect - crisp plotting, a conspiracy or two and a bit of love interest for old Jack. It's all good stuff and this one is no different. I wouldn't want to read too many of these close together but now and again they just hit the spot.

Then I picked up A Letter of Mary by Laurie R King, the third in her Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series. By all reckoning I ought to hate these - historical crime novels, set in England, using a fictional character created by someone else, written by an American - but I love them. Sadly some of the series are out of print in the UK but I understand that Laurie King is working on a new one so perhaps we will see the backlist reprinted. I hope so, I've been picking these up in a piecemeal fashion as they are not easy to find here but I scored mightily over that weekend in Wales and bought three. I will have to ration myself and try not to rush on and read them one after another. Anyway this one is about the strange death of an archeologist friend of Mary, just after she has been to visit Mary and Sherlock in Sussex and has given Mary a mysterious scroll of papyrus. It's good strong stuff with plenty of period detail and a really authentic feel.

Hidden Depths by Ann Cleeves is one of her Northumberland novels, which I've not read before. I'm waiting for White Nights to come out in paperback (it does seem to have been a long time coming) and this is one of my Crime Reading Group selections this month so I thought it would fill a gap for me. It took a little while to get into this, in fact I nearly put it down about 20 pages in as it just hadn't grabbed me, but if it's for reading group (or a review copy) then I usually try and persevere and I was really glad I did in this case. Once I got involved with the plot and the characters I really liked it. I thought that the main detective Vera Stanhope was wonderful and although I wasn't entirely convinced by the plotting or the resolution, overall it was a hit. Certainly I would read another of the Northumberland books, though I still think I preferred the Shetland series.

I'm struggling through The Sweet Smell of Decay by Paul Lawrence. From the jacket and an initial quick scan of the first few pages I thought I would really like this but it has been tough going. The main character Harry Lytle is an odd fish and I can't seem to quite warm to him. It's a historical novel set in 17th century London, just after Charles Stuart has claimed the throne. A woman is brutally murdered in a church and Harry Lytle gets a letter from his father to say the woman was his cousin and he must find out who killed her. I'm just over halfway through now and I'm really not at all convinced. I'm not even quite sure why I don't like it, other than that Harry is a bizarre young man with some very odd ideas. I'm still trying with it but I'm not sure if I shall get to the end.

The other reading group selection for this month was not at all a book I would have chosen otherwise. It's An Ice Cold Grave by Charlaine Harris. (I think our theme this month must be serial killers). Anyway this is about a girl, Harper, who was struck by lightening as a teenager and as a result can find dead bodies. It seems that they talk to her, so if the body is missing she can find it, or if she knows where the body is she can find out what killed them. I don't do paranormal as a rule, but one of the reasons for joining the reading group was to read different books so I've tried to approach it will an open mind. And actually, so far I'm enjoying it. Obviously it involved the suspension of a little bit of belief but the character of Harper is engaging and the relationship she has with her half-brother Tolliver is well-drawn. She is called to a small town in North Carolina by the local sheriff because several young boys have gone missing over the last few years and they're concerned that there might be a connection. Harper is attacked and injured just after finding the bodies all buried together on an abandoned property, forcing her to stick around while she recovers and so involving her in the investigation. I've not got to the end yet but so far it's been an enjoyable read and I'm looking forward to reading what happens.

Somewhere back in the mists of time just before I was ill I think, I also read Singing to the Dead by Caro Ramsay and I don't remember ever blogging about it. I did send a review over to Eurocrime though and I can report that the book was really good, that I thought the characters were all plump and well-rounded and that the plot had me fooled almost to the very end (which hardly ever happens). I believe I may have likened Caro Ramsay to Ian Rankin - she really is a good writer and I have very high hopes of this series.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Busy, Busy

I said to my self at the start of the week that I would do a regular Monday update about the allotment, which makes sense as Sunday is the day we are most likely to get a lot done. However, here we are on Thursday and I haven't written it yet so I'm off to a good start.

Progress so far - when we got the allotment 2 weeks ago it had been roughly rotovated and looked not too bad on the surface. There are 3 large tree stumps however that the association say they will take out for us. These aside, the ground was fairly clear. So we started to dig. We got one corner dug over and planted a few potatoes just to get something going while we worked on the rest.

One corner has the remains of an old greenhouse under the surface, so every spade uncovers more bits of broken glass - this will take some clearing. There's an old concrete foundation from a shed - not a problem, we'll just site our own shed there when we get it. The rest of the plot, it turns out, was a bramble patch. Rotovating this has probably cut the roots up and distributed them everywhere, but since it had already been done once, we bit the bullet and rotovated the whole plot on Sunday. The soil looks quite good but is very stony and of course it's full of roots which all need to be dug out. So now we're in the middle of digging the plot over, section by section, and pulling out all the roots and stones - backbreaking work but it will all be worth it in the end.

The first weekend we had the plot Pete and the Evilpixie dug over a small section by the back fence and I have finally got some strawberry plants in there. That's all we have planted at the moment but here at home I have some peas and beans growing on in pots, so they can go up to the lottie when the ground is ready. I also have too many courgette plants and some squashes waiting to germinate. Rain is predicted for the next few days so progress will be slow this week - the ground is a bit on the clay side so it's almost impossible to dig when it's wet. Shame, as I have three days off in a row this weekend and we could have got a lot done if it was dry.

Another update on Monday (ish) and I'll try and get some photos - though bare earth is not terribly exciting!

Monday, May 04, 2009

Not Swine Flu but Still a Pig

I have been laid low this week by a hacking cough and flu-like symptoms. I've not been to Mexico, or anywhere further than Wales recently so you can rest assured that it's just an irritating and inconvenient virus.

However said virus has robbed me of all desire to knit this week. I couldn't read either, found myself on the same sentence several times over. Over the weekend I lost my appetite (so unlike me) and, more disturbingly, my usual appreciation of a good cup of coffee (horror!).

I'm feeling better today thankfully and have managed a little light Lee Child (nothing too complicated) and some pasta bolognese. I may try some simple knitting later while the football is on.

I came round from my fuzzy state to find 53 unread posts in my Google Reader account which I am still catching up on. I am horribly behind with some of the reading I need to do this week and have some knitting with fast-approaching deadlines.

And then there's the allotment - news on this next post. Got to go - playing catch-up here.