Tuesday, 7 September 2010

The sun comes back for my week off work

I was off work all last week and the weather was gloriously sunny.  I made the most of the warm weather and enjoyed time in the garden sunbathing and reading.

I ordered 3 books off Amazon.  I got the Virgin Gardener for only £3.  I borrowed this book from the library a few months back and reluctantly returned it.  It's a lovely book full of easy gardening related projects and ideas.

I also got Graham Bell's Permaculture Garden, as I've been reading the Permaculture Way, which is very inspiring.  Permaculture makes so much sense.  I really feel we need to live more sustainably and permaculture is such a practical way of achieving this.  I also got Thoreau's 'Walden, Or Life In The Woods' which is referenced by a lot of the books I read, and seems to be one of the first books written about voluntary simplicity.

I gave the back garden a tidy up and deheaded all the flowers.  The nicotiana marshmallow plants and the three sunflowers are taller than me.  The sweet peas are still flourishing and pumping out loads of pastel coloured, fresh scented blooms.

I cooked my favourite roasted tomato, brown sugar and balsamic vinegar dish served with mozzarella for lunch.  I used the lovely Sungold cherry tomatoes which have been my favourite tomato variety by far this season.

On Tuesday morning I decided to get a couple of jobs out of the way.  I defrosted the freezer and cleaned out the fridge.  Then I gave my car a thorough clean and hoover, and got some new car mats and an air freshener.   My car had taken a beating transporting plants back and forth to the allotment, but it looks a lot better following the mega clean.

We watched a cool film called Whip It.  It was directed and written by Drew Barrymore and was about a girl taking up roller derby.  It was lots of fun, and has made me want to take up roller skating.  I've got many happy memories of going to the roller disco with my friends at weekend when I was about 10.  I'd love to go to a roller disco again and see if I can still do it.

Down at the allotment I tidied and weeded and planted 12 Hispi F1 cabbage plants in the spare patch of land where the first and second early potatoes used to be.  I'm continuing to harvest loads of tomatoes and runner and French beans.  I haven't picked any borlotti beans yet - I'm still waiting for the pods to swell.  The chillies and peppers are coming along nicely.

I brought home one of the marrows.

On Thursday I was invited for an interview at Myerscough college re the ecology foundation degree.  I drove there via the B roads through the Ribble Valley.  It took about 50 minutes, but was a lovely drive through the countryside.  I met with the course tutor for half an hour and we chatted about the course, and my reasons for wanting to study ecology.  We also looked around the facilities.  The verdict?  It sounds like a lot of work, one day a week at college and one day homework, plus one day a fortnight voluntary work – in addition to my current job.  The tutor also said there are limited job prospects for ecologists.  It also sounded like there would be lots of lab work too.  I'm not sure if it's for me after all, but I'm waiting to hear whether they’re willing to offer me a place.  I'm thinking distance learning may be another way for me to get some more qualifications.  That way I can pick and choose which subjects to study and control the amount of study time, without having to drop any days at work.  What a dilemma!  Gemma’s dilemma.  I blame it on being a Libran – I really do struggle to make decisions because I can always see the pros and cons of both options.

I planted some rudbeckia in the flower border in our front garden a few months ago.  So far, the border has mainly been dominated with the lime green nicotiana, and the rudbeckia haven't done much, however this week they have just started to flower.  The blooms follow a beautiful autumnal palette of rusty oranges and golds.  I think they'll look really look good once they're all in bloom, especially because our house faces onto a row of very tall trees at the top of the park.  These trees are currently full of green leaves, but it won't be long before they begin to turn orange too.  In fact, on my way back from the allotment I noticed the first tree of the season beginning to turn orange.  Autumn is on its way.  I can't believe it's September already.

In a panic that this might be the end of summer we decided to go for a trip to the seaside on Saturday.  First we drove to Knott End and realised there's not very much there, so we drove down to Cleveleys and had some food on the beach, an ice cream and a look around the shops.  Then we drove on to Blackpool via the prom, past the tower and the Pleasure Beach and pulled up at the sand dunes opposite the old Pontins holiday camp.  I love the sand dunes!  We walked down to the sea and had a paddle, and collected some shells and pebbles to take home.  Then we drove to St Anne's and had fish and chips and a walk on the pier.  Then I drove home (quite a long winded way), back through the Ribble Valley, and we tried to stop off at Jeffrey Hill viewpoint but I couldn't find it.  We arrived home with lots of sand in my shoes (and in my newly hoovered car!).

On Sunday we went to the flea market and I got 4 books - Flower Craft, Traditional Crafts, Creative Garden Design by AJ Hellyer and Ribble Walks.

Then I drove up to Brookside garden centre to buy some paperwhite narcissus bulbs.  I read in the Virgin Gardener that if you plant the bulbs now (indoors) they will flower in time for Christmas.  I also got 500g of Japanese onions sets for overwintering.

On Monday night we visited the new premises for the shop.  We've found a vacant shop in the town centre.  It's quite a large room, painted white with 2 large windows, perfect for displaying our stock.  So it's all go now, and I need to get the gardening product section sorted.  I've already emailed some suppliers regarding seed stock, but it's kind of the wrong time of year for sowing seeds and getting active in the garden, so I'm going to concentrate on gardening gifts until Spring.  I think eco friendly gardening gifts will be popular around Christmas time, e.g. butterfly nest boxes and bee logs.  It'll be all hands to the pump getting the shop fitted out and painting and cleaning etc.  There's also a patch of land outside the back of the new shop, which is overgrown and neglected at the moment, but it has the potential to be regenerated into a wildlife haven with wildflowers, or perhaps even grow some fruit, vegetables or herbs (and excess could be sold in the shop).

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