..And what I had a go at today

I am no seamstress. I need a manual to know how to thread my sewing machine. In my defence it’s an old one I bought a few months ago in a charity shop and this is the first time I’ve used it. You don’t need to know any more about my sewing skills than that 🙂

However, I had a clear Sunday, good sunlight, Venus Dodge by my side and lots of potentially wonderful fabrics..

20170813_125806 ..and second hand baby clothes that I’ve been hoarding for years for the day when I would be overcome by the urge to sew something for Sasha.

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Today was that day.

I chose a baby dress, all white embossed cotton with ready made pin-tucks at the bib. I only had a day, not a week 🙂

I struggled with lining the bodice. Knowing which bits to sew together and which bits to leave open….you don’t need to know that when you’re knitting, so it doesn’t come easy. After a few flicks of the ‘quick unpick’ or seam ripper, I more or less got it right and managed to put together a very simple, sleeveless dress. Then I couldn’t find my button-holer, which I know I have somewhere (!) so I went with press-studs.

And then when they were on and it looked like a real dress I got a bit pleased with myself and probably went a bit too far and added a bit of vintage cotton lace around the neck.

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I don’t know why I did it, it’s not a style I’ve ever seen or wanted to wear, but I just had some lace,  a needle and some white cotton and I was on a roll. I might well take the collar off, but here is the finished dress, well maybe I’ll also add a petticoat because Pintucks looks to be having a Princess Diana wardrobe malfunction silhouetted against the light. Now remember I’m a novice 🙂 ……

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Unrealistically mad with power now   🙂   Next week dungarees !

 

What we did today..

 

Sasha wanted to stay in and finish her ironing  (she doesn’t get this from me) ..

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Rufus wasn’t too happy about that..

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but Joe and Pintucks were desperate to get out and play and in the sunshine. Even though they know play = work in harvest season 🙂 Today was all about picking what we grow. Some things are easy to pick..

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..and some need a bit more effort

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and team work.

 

 

The plums are delicate so Joe wheel-barrowed them to the basket for careful packing.

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The blackberries are ready too. These are the thornless ones we grow on the allotment.

20170812_140224We have plenty of apples and blackberries to make lots of pies and crumbles and jams.

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The sweetcorn isn’t quite ready

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..and the strawberries are having a final fling but they’re not ripe yet.

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..but lots of things are ready to pick and bring home to freeze and make jams and chutneys with. I hope Sasha’s finished her ironing. Look’s like she’ll have another job when we get home 🙂

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click here for their jigsaw

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When life gives you strawberries…..

It all seems very quiet in here…

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Ah, I thought it wouldn’t last long. Today is strawberry jam day. Not chasing a ball around the park day, apparently.

It smells lovely, but it takes so long…

 

…and now she needs a cuppa and a biscuit !

I won’t be too much longer……you can’t rush these things. Be a good boy and wait nicely.

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click here for a jigsaw

 

Will it ever be time for my walkie ??

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A gardener’s work is never done…

There are always a few jobs that need doing on the allotment but even more jobs occur to you when you start to look around. We often go to the veg plot to do a few quick jobs but end up staying there all day because the weather’s nice and, well, it’s a shame not to when the tools are out and you’ve got your wellies on.

 

There’s nothing quite so appealing as a freshly dug-over bed…just waiting to be filled with whatever has a chance of growing at this time of the year. It’s so irresistible that we found ourselves just having to fill up the empty space left by the potatoes with a few young leek plants that will be fine over the winter and be ready around April/May.

 

They’re very hardy and very easy to plant. Even Joe can do it. It doesn’t seem like 2 minutes since the last time he planted leeks here, with Angela

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2016

2017

This time he was the expert and showed novice Becky how to make a hole, Becky used my trowel handle,

20170729_171224 then drop in the leek and ‘puddle’ them in with water. The deeper the hole, the longer the white stem will be.

They’ve filled half of the long bed ( and left tiny little footprints all over) but we still have more space that is too tempting to leave.

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Between now and next week we’ll have a good think about what to do with it.

We’ve now filled up the space where the broad beans were too. The kids helped me plant cabbages last week and today they planted some baby broccoli/calabrese plants. They need to be netted up because there are still lots of Cabbage White butterflies about. The farmers use chemicals and powders to stop diseases and pests but we just cover them with nets and hope for the best.

20170729_165744Becky tricked Joe into going under the netting to look for butterflies and then promptly trapped him under there

20170729_165524and wouldn’t let him out until he promised to show her around the plot. Joe wasn’t too worried….. he thought he’d pretend to be a ‘cabbage zombie’

 

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Joe the Cabbage Zombie

..and Caleb would laugh at the pictures when he got home 🙂

 

Becky had a quick tour and saw the kale,

the tomatoes,

the sweetcorn the new little pumpkin, the aubergines, melons and beans and even found herself introduced to the caterpillars on the ragwort.

The tomatoes are beginning to ripen and one aubergine is big enough to pick now. That’s our first ever aubergine and we’re very proud.

The kids hung up their watering cans…

20170729_180821then helped me pick a lettuce, an aubergine, some beans and a few chillies.

We haven’t decided yet how to store the chillies. Pickle or freeze ?  We can’t eat them all but they need picking so the plant will produce more. We were very chuffed this week to see how much bigger and better our chillies are than Monty’s. Can’t say that often !

We still have lots of room to fill up so if you have any ideas as to what we can plant now, we’d love to hear your suggestions. There’s a limit to how many cabbages and leeks we can eat/freeze. Maybe swede ?

Be careful what you wish for

Joe and Kiltie survived their night under canvas on the allotment and kept guard over the tender kale and the tasty beans. I  never doubted them. I knew they’d be sensible. I found them sunbathing this morning under the apple tree. They’d both been bitten by tiny mosquitoes overnight so they were glad they’d packed the Sudocrem. More of that later.

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They showed me how they’d  put up a wire cage around the beans and the kale so now they’ll be safe from nibbling bunnies.

This should do the trick.

They wanted to pick some of the haricot and borlotti beans but we’ve already picked more than we can eat or give away and the freezer’s full so they’ll have to grow a bit more and maybe we’ll dry them this year..

Joe got very excited when he found a melon bigger than his head  🙂

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I didn’t see this yesterday !!

I know about these. I’ll leave them alone..

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Hey Mum ! This is like the poster for the film you said we can’t watch until we’re older…..’Dr. Strangepants’, isn’t it ?

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But  it’s not all messing about today. We had a few jobs to do. We dug up a sack of potatoes,

pulled up the last of the broad beans and weeded the bed ready for some winter cabbage. Kiltie wanted to plant the cabbages and tried to wield my trowel but it was a bit big for her.

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The small-sized ones are better for the kids and Joe carried one over his shoulder singing, ‘Hi ho! hi ho! It’s off to work we go..’

..and very soon they were all planted and watered and protected under netting.

Then the kids wanted to play a bit. Joe’s a bit of a photographer and he’s usually got his camera with him. Today he wanted a really close-up shot of the bees on the Marjoram. They roll in the flowers and cover themselves with pollen. It’s been flowering for months and they love it. He got himself into a good position and just planned to wait for a bee to come to him. He just had to be patient, and maybe make a wish.

Got it !!

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Kiltie found she was very close to a bee but she didn’t have a camera so she just buzzed to let it know she was friendly 🙂

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They both managed to see bees very close up, possibly a bit too close up. The bees weren’t sure what to make of them and decided to sting first and ask questions later. Luckily for the bees and the kids, their stings can’t really hurt vinyl kids so none of them was badly hurt.

The kids had superficial stings and found another use for the Sudocrem, while the bees lived to roll in more pollen.

All are a little bit wiser.

 

Back at the house….

Ben and Caleb are already feeling like all the other kids get to do exciting things in the holidays and so far they’ve just been stuck at home.

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Caleb really wants to have a game of Monopoly so he’s set up the board to tempt Ben.

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Caleb: It’s all ready, can we play now ?

But Ben’s busy watching all the kids who are going to the festival to see what it’s like to fly on a plane and stay in a hotel and watch while someone makes shoes just for you . You’ve got to see this Caleb !

20170721_09120220170721_120316I’ll show you on the globe where they’ve all gone…….it’s around the other side of the world !

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Oh look, Joe’s sent us some photos  he’s taken of the Kale-Muncher….It WAS a rabbit… I knew it !

They’re all having more fun than us. I still don’t want to play Monopoly though, it makes me feel mean if I win and fed up if I lose. Where’s the fun in that ?

I’d rather do some drawing  –

20170721_090344Look, I’ve drawn Monkey – 🐵

….and then let’s keep an eye on Curly and Gracie and Little Petal and Poppy and Vanessa and there’s one boy with no top on. It must be warm over there too 🙂

I hope they send lots of photos.

Everything’s growing nicely

All the vegetables that Joe and the kids helped me to plant earlier in the year are beginning to grow nicely now. They needed the rain after all that heat.

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The bees and the butterflies have all helped.

Remember when John and Kiltie helped to plant the tomatoes in the polytunnel ?

20170501_154716 Well just look at them now. Not ripe yet but they won’t be long.

We planted an aubergine too and weren’t very hopeful because it was the first time we tried to grow one, but even that is starting to look like a real aubergine 🙂

 

The melon we planted has grown and spread and so thoroughly entwined itself around the tomato plants that I can’t begin to prune it because it winds back on itself and I can’t see where to cut.

Joe climbed up to see if any of the melon flowers had been pollinated..and we think we can see a little melon forming behind some of the flowers.

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Kiltie found that the beans we planted under the frame of bamboo canes are looking good and they reach the top of the canes now and I’ve had to cut them off at the top. We’ve eaten some and now we’re going to leave them to grow big and then we’ll freeze them. We all love beans over the winter, in stews and cassoulet.

The sweetcorn we planted not so long ago…

20170527_120637 has flowers forming now and today we shook the pollen down onto the forming cobs.

20170716_174928Even the pumpkins are growing. We’ve already picked, eaten and given away no end of courgettes 🙂

Sadly, there’ll be no more strawberries this year, they’ve all finished, but they were delicious ! ..and so is the jam 🙂

 

Joe and Kiltie  want to sleep out on the veg patch tonight to keep watch and see who’s been nibbling the kale. We know who it is really but they just want to enjoy their summer holidays with a camp-out.

20170719_175139We know it’s not these little munchers. They only like to eat the Ragwort. We saw their mum earlier, the Cinnabar Moth.

They haven’t chosen the best night, we had thunder storms last night and we look likely to have some more rain tonight, but they’re sure their tent is waterproof so I said they could, but they have to call me if the rain starts to pour in. They both have their phones with them, and torches and snacks and books to read and Joe has his camera to record the kale-nibbler……

 

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You did remember to bring our phones didn’t you ?

I’m not sure they’re old enough for this but I’m close by and these are the memories we treasure when we grow up, so I’ve said they can be little guardspeople tonight. I’ll let you know whether or not this was a good idea…