Wednesday, 29 September 2010

It's my birthday!

To celebrate the autumn equinox we had a gathering at my friend Leah's house on Wednesday night.  I brought some produce from the allotment to cook.  We made a big veggie stew and had a good catch up.  We normally have a witchy gathering to celebrate the wiccan festivals/sabbats (this was Mabon).  It slightly put me off when halfway through the meal Leah said she'd been feeding the tomato plants with her menstrual blood!  Yes, you didn't read it wrong. And I know blood, fish and bone is a common plant food, but nevertheless, I felt a bit odd eating the food after she'd said that! Haha.

On Saturday morning I nipped to the allotment and Irish Mick was down with his son.  Mick hadn't visited my Dad's memorial garden as he hasn't been well, but he was fit enough to have a walk up on Saturday.  He's not very steady on his feet but he made it OK.  I gave him a bag of tomatoes.  There aren't many left now and I need to make some chutney with all the green ones that won't get chance to ripen.  I also need to pickle the chillies and take the pumpkins home.

Then I went to Brookside garden centre for some paraffin and garlic and to see what winter bedding plants they had in.  I got some paraffin, but their garlic isn't in stock yet and I wasn't overly impressed with the bedding plants so I didn't buy any.  When I read the label on the paraffin it put me off using it in the shed.  We can use it in the greenhouse instead.

On Saturday afternoon I baked a treacle and ginger traybake from Mary Berry's Baking Bible.  I wanted to make parkin, seeing as it's now officially autumn.  I went everywhere looking for oatmeal for the parkin.  Asda don't sell it anymore and Holland and Barret had sold out.  So I decided to make gingerbread.  I got all the ingredients out of the cupboard then realised there was no ginger!  Fortunately I found a ginger cake recipe that didn't need ginger powder, just preserved ginger in syrup.  So I made the treacle and ginger traybake instead.  It was good, but there was loads of it.  It wasn't as nice as parkin cake.

On Sunday morning we were down at the flea market again.  There wasn't much for me this week but I bought a pretty viola plant in a terracotta pot for the back garden.

We also got some bird feeders, seed and fat balls for the allotment.  Chris put the feeders up at the back of the allotment, hanging from the bushes which are full of sparrows.  Straight away the feeders were full of birds, including blue tits.  It'll be interesting to see how much food they've eaten come next week.

On Sunday afternoon I went up to a shop called Winfields for a camping stove so that we can make tea and coffee in the new shed.  I also bought a waterproof 3 in 1 jacket for the bargain price of £20.  I could have shopped around for a more expensive fancy one, but what difference does it make when I'll only be wearing it down the allotment and out for walks?  As long as it keeps me dry and warm then that's all that matters.   I also got a pair of black wellington boots.  Yes, I'm getting ready for a cold and wet winter.  I took the stove down the shed to try it out, but it set fire to itself!  What a nightmare. 

I also went out for a meal with my Mum on Sunday.  We went to Wellsprings Mexican restaurant on Pendle Hill.  The food was OK, but the view was amazing.  We could see all the way to the sea.

I took the day off on Monday.  I decided to return the faulty camping stove.   Seeing as I was in the area, I finally visited the Halo panoptican in Haslingden.  It was a misty damp day and a cherry picker van was replacing the lights on the panoptican.  It would've been a great view if it wasn't for the low lying cloud.  It's not as good as the singing ringing tree though.

It was my 32nd birthday on Tuesday.  We both took the day off work and went shopping in Manchester.  I think the city was a shock to our systems.  Because of the allotment and gardening we haven't been to a city since before Christmas last year, and it just felt fake, commercial and insincere.  We did buy some things though.  I got some cool smiley cupcakes items from Paperchase and a new Moomin purse.  Chris got some artists inks and drawing pads.

I got lots of cool presents for my birthday. Chris's main present was renovating my Dad's old shed at the allotment, which is like a little log cabin now.  He's made a great job of it.  It was in a very poor state to begin with.

The other shed has suffered a little and needs a good clear out!

My Mum got me some sock slippers, which will help keep my feet from freezing off in winter.  She got me a cardigan too, some sticky toffee pudding chocolates, a tomato and basil scented candle, plus some cash to treat myself with.

My sister got me Nigella's Kitchen book and some violet scented shampoo, some earrings and a gold sparkly thing for the bath.

Last night we watched the final episode of 'This is England '86' (Channel 4, four part drama series) which was difficult but unmissable viewing.  Not since Sunshine (BBC drama series) have I watched a drama like it.  Whilst watching the final episode I was worried that my emotions would cave in and I'd lose my grip on my composure and start crying.  I had to try hard to hold back the tears, I was clenching my fists at one point to try and take my mind of how harsh the scene was.  The storyline about abuse was really tricky viewing.  All in full HD, so you didn't miss an ounce of detail, even if you wanted to.  I won't say too much in case I spoil it for anyone, but if you missed it, or don't live in the UK, try and get hold of a copy because it was one of the best things I've seen this year.  Shane Meadows has made some great films.

We've also been enjoying Stephen Hawking's new TV series.  And I watched 'It's the great pumpkin, Charlie Brown'.  The girls in Charlie Brown shout too much.

The new shop is really coming together.  It's due to open next Thursday 7th October.  People have been working hard fitting shelving and painting the outside.  The shop front is painted in the fairtrade colours (turquoise and green) which looks really eye catching from the street.  I've worked on the gift and gardening orders.  The gardening section is mainly made up of wildlife products to see us through until things pick up again in the garden next spring.  I've ordered lots of bird and insect boxes from a local supplier who take waste wood from local companies and then recycle the wood into wildlife/gardening products.  They employ adults with learning disabilities to make the products.

I've also ordered some bird food and feeders, as well as some wool holders, which hold wool which birds can take to help them build nests.  I remember being sat at the dining table last year and a blue tit landed on a hanging basket in the garden and started pulling out the fluff from the basket liner to use in its nest.  Being a lover of wool and birds I couldn't resist these fluffy little things, plus once the wool has been used the holders can be used for fruit or fat balls, or you can buy wool in boxes to refill the wool holders.

It's funny, because in a way, I thought the shop wouldn't happen.  I thought it was good that a group of people wanted it to happen, but I thought maybe we wouldn't raise enough money to actually make it happen.  I'm so glad I was wrong.  So it's taught me a lesson, that if people work together they can achieve great things.  And it makes me wonder what other things local groups could work towards, it's quite inspiring.  People power!

I ordered a fair trade cookbook called 'Vegetarian main dishes from around the world'.  There's some great, easy veggie recipes in there which I can't wait to try.  It's such a relief to have a meat free cookbook.  I'm fed up of looking at recipes only to be disappointed that they have meat in.

And finally, whilst I was waiting in the car for Chris to come out of the fish and chip shop, I took some photos of the cobbled streets that are familiar to my local area, Lancashire, but may look a little unusual to people in other countries.

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