My book

I know, I know… I’ve been a bit quiet of late. Truth is, the garden is ticking along marvellously, and I’ve just been so busy… but more about that, later 🙂

A while ago I published a post all about a fairy tale. It was a jolly little story about broken trust and betrayal, written in the style of an Enid Blyton tale. Just after, I received a message saying my tblog was being investigated. Slightly puzzled, I contacted the bods up top, and that investigation still remains a mystery – it didn’t exist.

I also received another message, which was MUCH more exciting. Apparently somebody liked my style of writing – it’s quite in fashion these days. Anyway, long story short, they wanted me to share my story in much the same tone. I agreed, and I’ve only gone and got myself a book deal!

Watch this space… not sure when it will be out, as apparently publishing can be a bit of a process (hark at me, talking like an author!)

Excited is not the word 🙂

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Supermarket scavenging

We all love a good bargain, right? Well, currently I’m taking this to another level. I’ve set myself a challenge on how much we can reduce our grocery bill. But it’s not eating cheap food… it’s being creative with cut price food.

You know the stuff – the ones with yellow labels on at the end of the day in the supermarket. The stuff that attracts a milling crowd who have an overwhelming urge to touch everything before they snaffle it up and triumphantly add it to their trolley.I

I am now one of those supermarket scavengers… Oh yes! And I love it!

So as well as bringing you highlights from the garden, I’ll be sharing creative ways of transforming cut-price food into gourmet delights*

*Actually I’ll be having a bit of help with that… my chap trained as a chef so he’s pretty handy in the kitchen

The stalker

Apparently, I have a stalker.

I know this, as they sent me an anonymous text telling me as much.

This charming individual called me a ‘dumb bitch’ and proceeded to inform me that they watched all my social media accounts and reported back to certain people. They added that I could never trace them as they used different sim cards.

At first I was slightly amused. Then I was slightly on edge. I even contemplated finishing this blog – but I love wittering away on here, and there are so many plans afoot for the garden this year, I have to have somewhere to log it all.

Whoever this person is, they must have a pretty sad life to find my ramblings so intriguing. So here’s a message for them:

Watch away… knock yourself out… I refuse to stop doing something I love because of a pathetic little bully.

Chooks is back… and she’s grown a pair 🙂

Split

The last leg of our adventure took us to Split – north of Dubrovnik on the coast. Our flight was from Split back to London, and we weren’t sure if we were looking forward to it as much as the other places. We managed to rent a tiny little apartment that was five minutes from the centre.Split is inside the walls of an old palace or something – and absolutely charming. There are so many little side streets that getting lost was an everyday occurrence!

One evening we sat in the square, and enjoyed a glass of wine to the background of a live singer. Truly magical.

Another night found us inside a ruin, eating dinner in a place with no glass in the windows, and the warm wind rustling through.

I actually managed to lose my photos of Split from my phone, but here’s an image I found on the internet – aforementioned square…

Split

Hvar

After a couple of days on the beautiful island of Mijet, we boarded another ferry and were Hvar bound. Hvar sounded much livelier than Mijet – and also looked really beautiful from the pictures. Pulling into the harbour, we were not disappointed – Hvar was practically bustling with activity and had almost a cosmopolitan feel about it. We’d booked a room at Luka’s Lodge – on the basis that Luka sounded like an absolute legend – and we were not disappointed. The welcome was warm, with lots of advice about what to do in the area. Luka suggested we walk up to the castle for the view. We replied that we really could not face any more steps – Croatia is the hilliest place on the planet… to which Luka replied that he would take us in his car to the top. And so he did. What an absolute diamond!

During our stay, we caught the bus to Stari Grad, which was a really pretty little village. From there we hired bikes and cycled across beautiful vineyards to Jelsa; a round trip of about 15 miles broken up with a dip in the sea, followed by a gorgeous meal back in Stari Grad then the last bus back. All in all, a fabulous day out.

Hvar…

 

Mljet

After Dubrovnik, we took the ferry to Mljet. The ferry docked at Polace, but we’d read that Pomena was a slightly busier town. Getting off the ferry, there was a cluster of people offering accommodation. We just needed to find a taxi to take us to the next town. We asked a lady where the taxis were, and she called her son over and told us that he would take us in his car. We jumped in the back and were at Pomena in no time. No accommodation had been booked yet, so we decided to have a beer whilst finding somewhere to rest our weary heads…

Halfway through the beer, it started to rain, and instead of easing off, the rain got heavier and heavier, reaching biblical proportions, which meant we got stranded in the bar for three hours (shame!). When it finally stopped, we set off in search of a room, and spotted a lady on a balcony of a house that had a bed symbol on the wall. We shouted up to ask if they had any vacancies, and remarkably, they did! Ensuite, with a view of the sea, and right next to the national park entrance. Not only that, we got 10% off if we ate at their restaurant – and have to say, the fish platter was A-Maze-Ing!

Pics of Pomena…

Sunset in Pomena, MiJet Mussels in Pomena 20160610_124104 Fish in Pomena Fish platter for two in Pomena

Dubrovnik

Before you say it… I KNOW these next posts aren’t strictly about gardening, but I’m hoping to wing it by pretending they are foodie posts 🙂

In June my friend and I went on an adventure to Croatia. With all our holiday belongings shoved into the teeniest rucksacks in the world, we embarked on the journey. The plan was really to have no plan – all very exciting!

The big adventure actually nearly started and ended in disaster though.We had our first night at a hotel near Gatwick, so we could get up bright and early for the flight to Dubrovnik. A few pre-holiday wines in the room meant that we slept through the alarm and almost missed our taxi. Half an hour later, and it would have been curtains for the holiday!

Not having any accommodation booked (crazy cats that we are!), we downloaded the HostelWorld App and spent the time in the departure lounge merrily scrolling through potential places to stay. We decided on an ensuite room (we’re not hardcore backpackers) just outside Dubrovnik. This turned out to be a genius manoeuvre – the place was brilliant! A short bus ride from Old town, and the family who owned it couldn’t have been more welcoming – even taxi-ing us to the port on our last day there.

Here are some pics of Dubrovnik – an absolutely stunning place to visit…

 

Decking

Hello…

Helloooo….

Anyone there?….

OK. I have massively neglected the blog, and it’s been an AGE since I popped in for an update. So to all you followers who have moved on, I bid you farewell and hope you have a good life… but for all you stragglers that are still here, I welcome you with open arms, and kiss you virtually on both cheeks.

A new project is underway at Chook Cottage. And if you are into recycling/upcycling/using stuff that was heading for the bin, this will be right up your street.

I’m laying decking. Oh yes… with my collection of four saws and a workbench in the shed – complete with goggles – I’m turning my hand to man-tasks. Actually, slight elaboration of the truth. I have a willing man in tow who is helping with said man-task.

Outside the back door is a small patio with a couple of steps down to the garden – all adorned with some shabby slabs and wonky concrete at the moment. It looks fine with pots on it, but how much better will it look when it’s all kitted out with glorious decking!

The patio now

The patio now

Now here’s the magic bit. The decking will cover quite an area, but will be virtually free. Yes… FREE!

A while back I was gifted a trailer full of wood to chop up for my fire and log burner. Some of this was brilliant quality hardwood, having come out of an old attic conversion. We have used lengths of this to start constructing the wooden base for the decking to attach to.

The actual decking itself is coming from my new chap’s garden. He is in the process of having his decking completely relaid as it’s a few years old and basically looks a bit sad. So last weekend was spent merrily pulling up all the planks from his garden… and these will be moved to my garden in due course to be laid and stained. I can picture it now… upcycling at its very best!

I’ll be back with regular progress reports 🙂

 

Not quite gardening, but the start of a new era

So, I started this blog about the garden, thinking I was going to bring you tales from the veg patch, cataloging both the successes and the failures. I thought I was smug and married, and about to stay that way for a good while to come. But other plans were afoot.

Married for 23 years, no way were we swinging from chandeliers or jumping off wardrobes (who is?), but I thought we had it good. We were a great team, fab parents to our kids, and always up for a new adventures and holidays. So yes,  I thought life held great promises, and this is how it would be into our twilight years. With the finances all in order, I honestly thought we were coming into ‘our time’, where we’d be off on some wild adventures; travelling the world and sampling new cultures.

Seems we had let things slip without us knowing. Seems other half wanted more, but couldn’t or wouldn’t tell me that. The person I thought was my best friend for as long as I can remember omitted to tell me that he felt invisible in his own home and that things between us had been ‘lacking for a while’.

I did not see that coming at all…

Results in from Op slug patrol

Results just in in from Operation Slug Patrol

  1. Slugs caught in beer traps – One*
  2. Slugs stopped in tracks by blue pellets – 10
  3. Slugs killed in the salty bucket of doom – 27
  4. Effect of coffee grounds – unproven but seems to be working

*Suspect he may have fallen in by accident

 

You’ll see that the slug eradication is a slow but sure process, but I’m determined they’re not going to get the better of me. The beer traps aren’t proving a huge success, but I rather suspect my slugs have a finer palate than I gave them credit for, and I may have to replace the super-cheap beer in them for something a tad more ale-like.

This week I decided to extend the veg plot, so out I went again with the rotavator, and another big chunk of the lawn came up. The area then had a good old rake over, and I removed any twitchy bits. A trip to the garden centre (I’m sure I must qualify for a loyalty card by now)  produced trays of French beans, leeks, broccoli and cabbage. The beans went in around a wigwam of 4’ canes which I’m hoping that will be tall enough for them, as I honestly have no idea how big they’ll grow.

The leeks, broccoli and cabbage were popped in next, in neat little rows. Bonus point to self: I actually read the instructions and didn’t skimp on the planting distance. After a good water in, I scattered the obligatory slug pellets and coffee grounds around all their bases. Not wanting to speak too soon, but the damage so far has been minimal, and I’m hopeful they’ll survive and thrive.

The extra planting area is great, but since turning over all my new soil, I’ve come across another slight problem. The local cats now think my garden is their public toilet. They blatantly stroll in, dig a hole, do their business and saunter off again. Having had a yappy terrier in my old life, cats have never been an issue – in fact, I’ve never seen a cat actually in the garden. With no dog at the new pad, It would seem I’ll have to try other methods to dissuade them.

My friend gifted me a curry plant, which she hinted would be a great deterrent due to its strong aroma. Into a quiet corner of the garden it went and I felt a little smug to have stopped their little game. I kid you not, the very next day I spotted a cat crouching right beside it, brazenly squeezing one out, before casually flicking some soil over and strutting off home. Curry evidently is not the answer.

Building on the smell theory, I’ve since been sprinkling even more coffee grounds around any patches of newly dug soil, and touch wood, this actually seems to be working at the moment.

The veg garden smells like a branch of Costa (other coffee shops are available), but that’s massively preferable to the alternative aroma.