Looking back, looking forward

It’s that special time of year when we all do a little reflecting…

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Hoping for lots more of this sort of thing in 2016

I found the beginning of 2015 rather challenging, but life got easier as I made decisions to let some things go – university teaching and acting as a trustee for a local charity being the two main ones – and so I’m feeling quite content looking back. The other big change in 2015 was having the limery built – I’m currently finding it difficult to image life without it, as it gets so much use. Hopefully, 2016 will see it full of even more plants and supplying us with yet more food, as well as being the venue for evening games of scrabble, rainy day picnics and many many cups of coffee.

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No plastic in my tea any more

2015 was also the year that we gave up tea bags. Having discovered that our favourite unbleached, organic tea bags (Clipper) were stuck together with plastic, we took the hard decision and moved over to using loose tea. At first, I hated all the fuss of using an infuser, but over the months I’ve got used to it and it’s now second nature. It took a bit of experimentation before we settled on a preferred tea variety (China Yunnan, in case you are interested), plus we had to buy an extra couple of tins to take to the shop for refills (we buy it unpackaged), but once all that was sorted, it became quite easy to establish a new routine.

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I knitted in Norway, amongst other places

Over the year, I’ve done lots of knitting and crochet, and I’ve worked hard to make use of yarn that I already had. I’m planning to do the same in the coming year – I intend to work my way through the rest of my (now small) stash of sock yarn… it appears everyone is always happy to receive a pair of hand-knitted socks, so it’s not hard to do. And, if I have yarn that I know I’ll never use, I plan to pass it on to someone else. I need to have a look at some of my other craft supplies too. It’s time to let others make use of things that are no longer interesting to me.

Growing in the garden was disrupted in 2015 by the building work, but I am hoping to make up for that in 2016. I’ve already bought seeds and will be sowing my peppers and chillies just as soon as I have some seed compost. The window sills in the limery were made to be wide enough for a seed tray to sit on, so that’s where all the indoor germination will happen from now on. It will be lovely to have space to get lots of crops started indoors, safe from the slugs.

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Me, on top of the shed, with a hammer

My final activity in the garden this year was attaching new roofing felt to the shed this afternoon. A large section had been ripped off off in the high winds a couple of days ago and we needed to get it mended as soon as possible, so I have been up there between showers doing the necessary.

So, now I shall sign off and wish you all a very happy new year… I’ll see you in 2016.

cheers

Cheers!

Sheds

I had always understood that the place to go for a bit of peace and quiet was the shed… where, in 1970s sitcoms, a man might escape from a nagging wife (marriage being obligatory and involving two genders in those days) and enjoy… well, I’m not sure what exactly, on account of being (1) female and (2) aged three at the beginning of the 1970s. Anyway, it was always the shed: sometimes as far away as an allotment, but often in the garden.

We don’t have a very big garden and consequently, we don’t have a very big shed. So, once the plant pots, shredder, potatoes, spades, fork, spare netting, canes, and lawn mower** are in there, there is standing room only. In addition, when we bought our shed, we chose to have one without windows (the weak point in the old shed), so once the door is closed it’s both claustrophobic and dark. Call me picky, but I don’t find that combination particularly relaxing.

My greenhouse... hoping it will breed with next-door's

In the theory of 1970s sitcoms, I guess that I should be the one in the house doing the nagging and Mr Snail-of-happiness should be seeking refuge in some garden structure. However, he has his studio/workshop (formerly the spare bedroom) and I seek my respite (from scientific editing, not from Mr S-o-h) in the garden. It would be lovely simply to sit out on the bench and chat to the chickens (they always come over to see what’s going on), but this is west Wales and we are considering buying a dinghy and trading the chickens in for some ducks, so shelter is often required. And so, I often find myself spending a happy ten minutes pottering in the greenhouse, examining what has germinated, watering and generally enjoying being with growing plants. This seems to me, so much better than a shed – it’s light, there may be things to eat and when there is a little sunshine it’s lovely and warm in there. My long-term plan is to make sure that there is always something growing in my greenhouse, whatever the time of year. In this respect I have been inspired by the home-made geodesic dome up at Blaeneinion, where there seem to be salad leaves, at least, always available.

My trip out there earlier today revealed lots of bean germination – both runner and pea-beans (featured in the Guardian last weekend). None had made a bid for freedom today, but my ‘jumping bean’has not germinated, so I suspect a mouse was responsible for the earlier migration and that it might have consumed the embryo… resowing probably required. Nevertheless, the greenhouse has restorative properties for me… I think I need to put a chair out there… and possibly some gin and tonic.

Germinating beans

** A complete white elephant, since we no longer have a lawn… the chickens ate it!

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