Monday, 29 July 2013

Gardening part 8

The garden has taken a back seat recently due to sunny foreign festivities, therefore this is just a quick update on the progress of the contrary greenery in the sky. There was a small issue with a weekend without watering but I've been doubly nice to the plants since I got back, going up there with food and water.

Some beans today
When I say I've been 'nice', I've actually plucked, uprooted, boiled, picked and steamed the fruits of my labour. I can report the 3 smallish beetroot were extremely tasty - the beets themselves went into today's salad and the leaves accompanied our dinner last night. The mushrooms also had a few home grown radishes in the stuffing which added a hot crunch. 

The peas I continue to think of as my favourites and the best thing I've grown. They are filling out in a very satisfying way; in a couple of weeks I will be podding excitedly and they may even make up a portion of side veggies. The yellow beans have finally flourished and I've picked the first crop this evening - I honestly didn't think they would produce anything because the plants were so tiny, quite amazing really.

There are potential issues with the sprouts which had a load of white bugs on them. Perhaps they were holding a welcome party for my return? In any case, I toasted them with some seriously poisonous spray...and I hope the leaves uncrinkle. The cauliflowers have still not caulied, nor has the purple broccoli sprouted but who knows, they may surprise me.

All tidy and vacuumed
In other lettuce news, out of the 30 or so transplanted, I have 4 proper ones becoming proper ones! Still, lettuce is for decoration right? The other leaves seem good value for money and have grown again and again. The chilli and pepper plants were happy to see me and perked up with some watering - they seem to be flowering and have plenty of foliage. Whether they will have enough time to produce vegetables during August, I have no idea.

I was fed up with the flowers looking tired and dropping petals over the decking so I attacked the plants with scissors which has allowed the begonias some space and light in their busy trough. I got rid of a few geraniums giving the rosemary breathing room. So the balcony looks fresh, clean and bright again - I've also been investigating autumn colours for later in the year. So I'm being far too organised!!

Sunday, 28 July 2013

What we have learnt

Travelling is all about learning so I asked my travelling companion what he'd learnt on holiday. This is what we came up with:

1. Standing up on a kayak capsizes it
  a. T-shirts don't float
2. Naturism should only be attempted in warm countries. We will not be doing *that* on the Isle of Sheppey
3. Cycling across rivers has to be done at speed (and done by girls with sexy legs apparently)
4. When on foreign trips, don't get distracted by buns of the sweet variety
5. A cemetery is called a hareem in Bosnia - the 'protected'. Is this true?!
6. Check your snorkels BEFORE you go on holiday for leaks
7. Avoid restaurants on a Friday if you dislike seafood *snork*
8. Massages should only be done by hot men in an idyllic location
9. Fishes are curious and come to investigate where ever possible
10. Swimming in clothes feels a bit wet
11. When they say jumbo pizza, they mean it
12. British and German stereotypes are true
13. Though rude French people get called f***ers by travel agents  
14. Orange pivo is pretty damn fine
15. I can cycle and kayak further than I thought
16. A better understanding of the Yugoslavia wars in the 90s
17. Being 40 isn't that bad 
18. Croatia is, once again, a perfect place to holiday

Friday, 26 July 2013

A stitch in time...

And so the contrary holiday rumbled on. Traditionally on holidays one is awake until late then has a lazy lay in before rushing down to the hotel breakfast at the last minute. Not in my book. At 6am I was watering the garden and by 7am I'd breakfasted and started to lay out the pattern pieces I'd prepared the night before. A bit like germans doing the towel thing by the pool.

Only with scissors.

That all went swimmingly well though it did remind me that I really ought to get another cutting board and rotary cutter as it makes life an awful lot easier. The day though went swiftly and remarkably efficiently, my only break being a trip to the best shop on the planet for evening winez and a pack of hand sewing needles. Honestly, I was on an actual roll with only one mishap involving scissors and the bodice. Oops. Oh well, I really wanted to re-cut pieces and make again.

Or not.

By 5:30pm I was finished all bar the zip, strap placement and final hemming. Oh yes.

Which was why I started making pasta dough as I had both my bezzie and the boss coming round for food and wine. Which would be great except for the fact that the living room had bred actual contrary chaos with little bits of cloth and threads everywhere.

The vacuum cleaner has never been so busy so often!

This is okay. As everyone knows, making dough for lasagna sheets means you have to leave at least 30 minutes for the dough to rest which was when I ran round like a woman posessed trying to clear up the chaos. I was finished with literally moments to spend as first the bezzie and then the boss managed to breach security at the front gate and were literally buzzing my buzzer...

Any dreams of having at least started the ragu was completely lost. To make matters worse I also lost the garlic I was going to use.

Oops. Again.

See the trouble is I like to slow cook for intense flavour so it wasn't until around 8:15 that I was ready to roll the pasta sheets... Or come out with a stream of euphemisms and double-entendres to end all streams of euphemisms and double-entendres. You wouldn't think rolling pasta could be such a giggle.

Or an excuse for pervy behaviour.

Yep, the boss decided to video the process, or our cleavages and, being slightly tiddly, we might have done the whole Nigella thing. Shameless. Quite shameless.

And then it got worse.

Pasta making with #boss
picture by @PrincessOfVP
The boss decided that he would also like to try his hand at turning the roller and stepped in. Of course he then also had to unbutton his shirt to show his own (lack of) cleavage.

I don't think I'll be able to face him on Monday without giggling.

Which reminds me, I must tell my flatmate that we froze some of the resulting lasagne in case she needed to eat on her return. 45 minutes after the giggling we were ready to eat, I'd magically removed all the removed al the remaining chaos on the table so we could actually eat and the evening rolled on until eventually even I had to stop eating.

It really was a fab evening.

Contrary peas!
This morning was another early start. The big news is that we have peas! I'd not really noticed them yesterday but once I saw one I realised there were loads, very exciting. I was amazed at how fast they went from flowering to actual pea pods showing. Quite stunning.

The rest of the morning was almost a repeat of the day before, breakfast, sewing, looking at ducklings, but I did at least finish the second dress. Or at least finish for now as after wearing it for a couple of hours I decided I needed to shorten the straps a little to stop them falling off my shoulders (my hips hold the dress up) but for that I will get somebody, we'll call her my flatmate, to help by pinning them whilst I wear it.

I'm sure that won't hurt.

Finally though it was time for my little holiday to end so with a flurry of bin emptying and packing my
It fits!
weekend bag I scampered off in the general direction of Kings Cross and a trip to Norfolk.

But that's not quite where the story ends.

On the train to Cambridge a lady sat opposite me, I blurted “I've met you before”, as I had, maybe four years ago on the Cambridge to Norwich train. I think she was slightly taken aback that I remembered she was a biologist studying fruit fly fertility for her PhD. You see, I might not be able to remember names or what day of the week it is, but I do remember the story and detail of most things.

It was lovely to chat and catchup as the train roared its way to Cambridge and hence my journey beyond...

Until next time.

Passport to Bosnia

Mostar was our destination yesterday but as anyone knows it's usually the journey rather than the end point that provides the giggles. We knew it was quite a way and contrary to popular belief I'm not silly, I checked the map. So four hours, three border crossings later we finally arrived. 

Of course, somewhere along the way we were accidentally abandond in the Bosnian coastal town of Neum. Clearly our lesson for the day stated 'buns and cheap rum will be the ruin of us'. We were one minute late back for the bus and helplessly we watched it pull off, complete with our passports and suncream. As we stood there, there was that dual scream of laughter and disbelief. 

On the bright side, after a quick Google and call to the hotel, they came back. They'd already reached the next border crossing and the gruntle in the other guests was extremely dissed. The lovely guide was mortified though. Still, we had our buns to munch...

The scenery of mountain, river, plain was astonishing. A perfectly dramatic stage setting for the incredible history of this region. The beauty of the Neretva river belies the terrible crimes perpetrated against the people who lived here. I'm not going to go into the story of the creation and destruction of Yugoslavia; the senseless waste of life on all sides is well documented elsewhere. However it is clear that the effect on the collective psyche of the people continues and 'never forget' will remain with me.

It is a cliché to say that Mostar was a collection of contrasts. But it's true. An ancient town which feels like it's been newly discovered; shops which should have catered to locals, all selling the same copper trinkets; mosques celebrating the vine; and colourful tourists wandering amongst bullet riddled buildings. 

Asim our Guide took us through the Muslim way of life and we visited a 'Turkish' house. Not that it was Turkish, merely traditional Bosnian but such is the feeling of the Croats and Serbs, anything Bosnian is regarded as Turkish. I like the Bosnians; they have an innate contrariness. For instance, before they were Muslim, they had a breakaway, 'heretical' form of Christianity. This upset the pope, but he was even more upset when they converted to Islam. I wonder if this was a universal decision, or something more politically expedient?

Still, our ham, cheese and salad roll was unusual. The concept of serving food in the cafe we collapsed in was a novelty; the drinks were served by a harassed, stunning and bubbly young lady who told us she loved England. We asked about food and she promised us the best sandwich in Bosnia. Anyway she scampered down the road and came back clutching 2 bags with our sarnies. For 8 euros, we giggled with her, watched the world shimmer by and discuss the insanity of tourists. She told us that she wanted to leave the town, I hope she follows her dream because she was a massive personality and deserves so much more. 

I understand more about my Bosnian friend and I hope I never feel what she went through. But to go there and sense a town making a new start gives me hope for the people's future. I could say more but I'll save it for further ponderings at a later date. 

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Bosnia Bound

Today I'm attempting to get to Bosnia again. This time last year I was laid up with a migraine and I wasn't going anywhere so I cancelled my trip. When I had the chance to try again, I booked it immediately. The early ferry beckoned, as did the hotel packed lunch (6/10 - how the heck am I going to eat an orange without spraying half the bus with juice?!). 

I'm not sure what to expect. My vision is muddied by a montage of TV stills; war, destruction of heritage, complex politics. In a previous life I knew a Bosnian Muslim and she had suffered greatly in the mid 90s, losing friends and family. However she carved out a life - university, marriage, children, career  - for herself in the UK. Over dinners and wine she did talk matter of factly about her experiences, and it had been horrific. 

And that's the thing, despite the horror and strife, she's proud of her heritage and religion. She returns frequently to see her remaining family. Her views on most things appear entirely moderate; apart from her children who are her world. She opened my mind to what it would be like to lose everything, yet remain strongly focused on rebuilding, recreating and relating her stories. 

This strength in the face of adversity is the overwhelming sense that I get from the people in this part of the world. It sounds like a sweeping generalisation but the troubles here seem relentless. Not depressingly so, just How It Is. And the people pick themselves up, dust off the damage and continue, more determined than ever before. 

Apart from this personal connection to the history of this part of the Adriatic, I remember little detail of the wider political events so I hope to come away with an improved understanding of historical place. 

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

A very Contrary holiday

Much to the annoyance of my flatmate I've rather last my way over the last few months, and I don't mean in the way her boyfriend is incapable of getting to the Tesco in Bow with less than four attempts. That's the trouble with big life changes, they have an impact and it's rather inevitable that my changes wouldn't bring a well of goodies.

So, with Clare escaping the insanity of Contrary Towers for lots of sun, sea and I presume wild sex, I also decided to actually take a few days off to see if I could get my mind to try and join up some of the unjoinable thoughts that are rattling around...

Yep, I took a holiday.

Admittedly not one that might be recognised my normal people. I kind of started on Friday night and did something I've not been able to do in ages, I went to the cinema alone. Really this was because I needed to see something silly and not have to think about things too much, so The World's End seemed the perfect solution. Inevitably I asked for opinions on Twitter and, well, only got one and that wasn't great, so I ignored it and, after popping in to Tesco for a box of Maltesers to pig my way through, went anyway.

It was good.

Not the most comprehensive review I'll grant you, but honestly if I was to explain why I thought it was really quite clever it would be an epic spoiler to end all spoilers. So, good one liners, some references back to the previous outings of Pegg et al and a bit of a rekindled bromance to suit. Oh, and a mint cornetto.

So film done I headed back east, changing at Bank as I didn't fancy Mile End, really, who could. Trouble was the DLR was going to be a seven minute wait. SEVEN MINUTES. I blame Boris.

I'd already been toying with walking so I decided this was a sign, left at Monument and wandered towards Tower Hill. As you do. Trouble was I still couldn't decide what to do. So I did what any sensible woman would do. I sat down and presented my options to Twitter: tube, DLR, taxi, Boris bike, Bus or walk...

First response from a good friend of mine was to walk as it was cool, so walk I did. It was certainly a lovely evening for it and I only thought "what the hell was I thinking" a few times as I walked through some of the more desolate parts of Wapping and Shadwell. After all, it was now getting dark.

The next morning I was up not as early as I wanted to be so I could spend the day in the office, things I wanted to clear up. I did have a deadline though as I intended to head to Brick Lane at some point in search of fabric. And a baegel.

Oh yes.

As I was determined to do things differently, or I couldn't face the hell known as the Central Line I found a comfortable number 25 omnibus, got out my book and settled down to read as it fought its way from Oxford Street to somewhere near Aldgate. It was really quite a pleasant journey and nicely set me up for my contrary holiday as I couldn't understand a single word that people were saying.

Fortunately the journey was swift and with a flourish - read: nigh on emergency stop - I hopped off and meandered on in search of a mad fabric. Which, naturally, I found.

Trouble with holidays is they have tourists.

Baegel. Nom.
And Brick Lane really has tourists. I don't like tourists. Meandering bastards blocking the pavements in random and unpredictable ways, couldn't they see I was a woman on a mission?! Eventually I made it to the 24 hour baegel place so I could indulge in a hot salt beef filled baegel and, of course, send a picture to annoy my flatmate. So I did...

Burgers were being promised back in Contrary Towers so back I crawled though I didn't expect to see people for long as the travellers had to be up at 3am. I've not had a burger in a while and these really were quite lovely.

Sunday dawned rather early, I was wide awake long before their alarm went off and enjoyed the delicate night sounds of Poplar, such as something that was very much like a pistol shot. Next noise, after the alarm, was Clare making an almighty clatter before texting to say she could never be stealthy. If I was mean I would have said I'd been woken by it...

Good job I'm not mean!

Baby carrotz
The only worry was that I was going to be held responsible for anything that happens to the Contrary Garden. Oh dear...

I was awake nice and early to water the garden before having a day of generally sorting bits and pieces out. I had intended to start cutting fabric for dress making, but, being a ditz, hadn't remembered to pre-shrink by washing so cutting and sewing would be delayed until Monday. I could live with that and, with a an maniacal diligence proceeded to do very little all day.

Chillie putting out...
Actually, I say very little, but that's not strictly true. I did some work, made some deductions, sent emails about deductions and... Buried a ghost. I'll not say any more about that to anyone other to Clare if she wants to know, some things really aren't for public consumption.

Oh, I also made a bag. As you do.

Monday. 5am. Awake. Not just awake, up, ready and resisting the urge to head for Mile End and ultimately W1. At 0701 I was in the Fortnum and Mason of Poplar (Lidl) to stock up on, well, everything. Turns out it was the grocery shop where we need all the really heavy stuff. What was worse was the probably alcoholic gentleman - he had a trolley with many loose bottles of lager - decided to flirt. *sighs*

Sew, a needle pulling thread.
Anyway, little trolley filled I struggled home, actually struggled, and collapsed in a heap. But not for long. I spent the day pattern making, watching cranes being erected, sewing, cleaning, vacuuming and generally being busy. I even found time to poke my legs out in the sun. It was really quite an eclectic way to spend the day.

Which was nice.

Happy Birthday Clare x
The evening saw a visit by my bezzie which mostly consisted of us chatting for England, drinking teh winez, eating lasgna (the last of my frozen batch) and toasting my flatmate on her big birthday.

Tuesday was a bit weird. I needed a few bits and pieces and vaguely thought that the Waitrose/John Lewis at Canary Wharf had a haberdashery. Turns out I was wrong. Pfft. So I scooted on the Jubilee Line to Bond Street and needed supplies. And went home.

Fortunately the effect of being abroad continued, I didn't hear another english accent or, indeed, speak with
*our* crane
anyone again including until now on Wednesday night. Uh oh. Now the irony is that when abroad I do speak, at least once I re-acclimatise myself to the relevant language, but here I just saw nobody.

But that's okay, I sewed and fiddled and thought and slowly but surely switched gears.

Which brings me to Wednesday. Another early start, more sewing and twiddling. More looking at cranes and wondering what the hell the builders actually do. And more watering the garden at 6am before the sun decides to be mean.

Checking it fits!
I did though finish my dress, or at least the first one. And made a matching tote bag. And I am in the middle of getting ready to cut fabric for the next dress. So that's good.

I've also cleaned, vacuumed, done washing and eaten probably too much. I know it's not most people's idea of a holiday but, really, this is progress for me. I still can't see myself going off to sunny climes and sit by a pool alone, but at least I managed a few days. And sure it would be nice to go off and spend time somewhere with someone but, well, I don't know anyone insane enough to do that with me.

So, I'll sew.

Chin-chin darlings.

The Costa del Contrary, complete with sun and authentic building site.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Clare's Guide to a Perfect 40th

1. Rise early because you no longer need 9 hours sleep
2. All old people should take some gentle exercise; run wildly into the sea, fall in and swim as far out as possible. Warning: this may upset youthful injuries such as broken toes
3. An emotional challenge like a lady's 40th requires a varied breakfast. Take one breakfast buffet of fruits, hams, cheeses, bread and demolish thoroughly
4. Embrace your wobbly bits by hitting the nudist beach. The startling view of your white flesh in deep crystal clear water makes you realise your body is brilliant!
5. Even better get someone else to embrace wobbly bits
6. Go exploring, sensibly taking enough water, sun protection and stop for a few beers on the way. Forget the advice and arrive back sweaty, thirsty and hungry. 
7. Go for another naked swim
8. Old people need their rest so let your companion sleep while you are pummelled in a beach facing massage tent by a young man
9. Get dressed for dinner. Decide to play a lazy game of bat and ball instead. 
10. After a substantial dinner it's healthful for the elderly to go for a stroll. Round off a perfect day by heading to the nudist bay and watch the moon rise on a new night. 

Monday, 22 July 2013

A Place called Sunrise

A landmark birthday inevitably leads to introspection and reflection. To be in the geographically same place as last year enables an easier comparison of the mental healing processes. The daily routine should be a comparator but when it has more of the treadmill feeling about it, that's unhelpful and unhealthful. 

I suppose there is a sense of sunshine being conduicive to warming and lifting any sense of depression and lingering grief. However I think everyone knows it doesn't work like that. There are rocks in the soul which enable shade to reside; an impermeable, hopeless darkness. 

It's been either years or days since the death of my dad. Ten years ago on my thirtieth we were all together in the Italian sunshine, without care or thought for what would happen. It hurts deeply that he's not here for this turning decade. It's been a massive time of learning and not of the academic type.  I was once accused of coldness because of my career and university focus but that's just my way of coping. The more buried in study I am, the more I'm hurting.

As I say and write this in a village called 'Sunrise', this passage of time leads to musings and turning over of lifeless mind spaces. Sometimes it turns out sunshine is a cure and though I don't pretend that all is well all of the time, when I compare how I was last year, it is better. 

From where I'm sitting the only way I can describe it, is that the dark rock pools in my mind are slowly being refreshed with the aquamarine clarity of time. And I can live with that. 

Sunday, 21 July 2013

A day in the life...

I don't really know the person who I'm on holiday with. I do know about his inability to find supermarkets, innate capacity to find and cause trouble and generally spread chaos. But today he went international. And it was special. It turns out;

1. He can't dress. Seeing him trying to put underpants on whilst hopping around with his size 12 sandals still on his feet was either hysterical or a mind bleach moment;

2.  Clear patio windows pose a real problem. Once I could understand but twice is borderline idiocy. I'm waiting for third time, obviously;

3. However the truly special moment was the realisation that he was splashing merrily around the Adriatic with a wallet full of kunas. Silly kuna that he is. Once we'd let the money dry out we bought some proček - we aren't going to dry out;

4. Slapping himself in the sunburned face because a small bug landed on him, leading to howls of pain;

5. Chocolate flavour shower gel leaked all over his smalls. On the bright side, they are now irresistable to women, if the adverts are correct.

All these, amongst flooding the bathroom, being on permanent speedo watch and tiny crab patrol and eating his own body weight in  gorgeous hotel food leads me to believe we shouldn't do anything dangerous. 

We are planning kayaking, a cross country bike ride, a beach BBQ and a trip to Mostar. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?! 

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Gardening part 7

Sometimes gardening, like a hair cut,  can reach that tedious in between stage. It's been a cute and tidy bob but now it's just straggly whilst waiting to be put into a pretty French plait. The hair, that is not the plants. Though the spirally tendrils of the peas look very fringe like. 

This week I'm pleased to announce that the broad beans increasingly have large pods on many of the plants. I dispatched the black fly colony on their stalks hastily so I am still hopeful we can have a bean salad!

In other bean news, the slightly neglected dwarf yellow bean plants have produced the tiniest slimmest protuberances. I'm expecting at least one tuna niçoise salad from those. Not the tuna or potato, obviously. That's probably unrealistic...

The proper lettuces that we transplanted and immediately discounted as DOA seem to have Lazarus-like tendencies and perked up. Not all of them have taken but I wasn't sure what I'd have done with 30 webbs wonderful so that's probably for the best. 

Gardening should come with a mental health warning. I now find myself yelling obscenities at butterflies and frowning at weeds. Where is this going to end?

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Gardening part 6

This is rather shockingly the 6th gardening instalment I've written. It's unbelievable for a couple of circular reasons; firstly I haven't killed my plants off yet so I've still got something to write about, and secondly I haven't got bored about writing about the growth upstairs. This week's exciting events include the emergence of hairy pods, a middle class blueberry bush and enough broccoli to scare every school child between Poplar and Hammersmith.

But first the results of an unexpected visitor from the Midlands. My good friend Gill grew up in the country like me and remembers more gardening lore than I ever knew. She was very excited with my balcony flowers and impressed with the stuff grown from seed up on the roof. She warned that my peas would grow much taller so higher sticks would be required at some point. She did laugh at my sad effort at carrots though. Anyway I learnt a few things from her:

1. Carefully selected geranium leaves can be popped in a jar of water and in time they become small plants. The leaf has to be large enough to capture sunlight but not so big that it is too much for the water to keep going.
2. A small sprig of sweet William can be cultivated in the same way. As you can guess, in the greenhouse, I've now got a few jars with leaves and sprigs in them with hopes of a random planting of loud red flowers on the roof.
3. A soft sprig of rosemary was also semi stripped and popped in compost. Apparently this will grow...
4. If I dress (!)  my soil upstairs with compost it will help keep the soil moist and stop the water draining away. I've put this tip to the test tonight with my hardy brassicas and beans. I forked it over a little to. She also threatened to post me some can't help but imagine the disgust of any bad person wanting to steal anything from my post. That'd learn 'em...

All in all, the stuff on the roof is splendid. I particularly love watering the leathery leaves where the mercury-like droplets gather and wobble in the wind. Today I noticed that the broad bean flowers have produced some lovely little hairy pods so I may get 6 or 7 beans, if I'm lucky. The peas are now graduating from infant to primary school with most of them reaching the second band of string.

With care, I've planted out about 20 broccoli plants - if they all take, heaven knows what I'm going to do with them. Random radishes are still tastily popping up which is nice.

And finally the blueberry bush is enjoying the addition of Sainsbury's finest fair trade coffee grounds, Yorkshire tea leaves and a springing of white wine vinegar on a regular basis (I settled on this out of a choice of that, Sarson's or balsamic). This seems to have stopped, overnight, the wilting and bad there you go, acid soil contrary style.

On the downside, the rhubarb isn't good (will also google), the transplanted lettuce has wilted, the carrots are pathetic and one of my geraniums has frilly leaves. Still, I've had enough success to compensate. My onions are developing their second leaves but are still too small to plant out.

Given the sunshine, the roof has become a desirable place for everyone to hang out and people have shown interest in what I'm growing. They probably think I'm some crazy country person but I really hope it inspires them to start thinking about the other raised bed and start planting things. One lady this evening wanted to know how to start - easy: dig over, buy seeds, plant, water repeatedly!

Monday, 1 July 2013

Gardening part 5: Plague, famine, pestilence and peas!

Here is this week's Gardening with Clare. I am pleased to report that the weather is finally co-operating; the joint witchy nose twitching, sacrificial radishes and downright screaming at the elements has been rewarded. The sun has come out and the hurricanes have died away so my poor little plants have been given a fighting chance.

Bloom' luvverly!
That was obviously before I ravished the radishes. They were starting to get a bit big so I unearthed them, had a minor tussle with the wickies that had set up home and chopped the remains into a lettuce salad. So that is one successful crop dispatched. You know, I'm sure it would have been quicker and cheaper to pop to the supermarket...

Anyway the growing stars of the show this week have definitely been the peas and the broccoli seedlings. The peas are now toddling and reaching up their little tendrils to latch on to the pea plant. So at the weekend, we constructed a tent like structure with strings and sticks to give them a little support. This evening I've been going around asking them nicely to stretch up to reach the structure and assisting the curly bits of vine to cling. V thought I was being cruel but I think they need encouragement. 

The bed of broccoli seedlings are definitely nearing the planting out stage. I've no idea how I'm going to do this but will give it some thought at the weekend. The other brassica are also very strong, although inexplicably, one of the cauliflower plants is almost dead. There doesn't seem to be any recurrence of the leaf mining bugs from last week; too scared to return after I lobbed them off the roof. Other successful seedlings which may eventually be ready to go upstairs are the onions. 

My love of bees is quite well known so it was exciting and gratifying to spot a bumble bee paying an evening visit to the flowering broad bean plants. Nice to know that we are contributing to the local ecology. There are also yellow flowers forming on the dwarf beans so I hope to see bees on them too. I also saw a ladybird on the gooseberry bush but all these friendly visitors are welcome! Unlike the mystery radish munchers.

One thing I still need to so is to check how to make my blueberry bush happier; there is definitely wiltage which is quite sad. However the stalky blackcurrant has taken and is making friends with the rogue lettuce underneath. Even the carrots have discovered the beetroot next door and seem relatively keen to come out to play. Who knows, one of these days we may get a full meal from our roof garden. In the meantime, we'll just stay on our diet...