Archive for July, 2009


My plot is now filled with hoverflies, which is great because I believe they eat blackfly!

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Of neighbours, community and allotments

Unfortunately you can’t always choose your neighbours.  When I moved in, there was a small section in my paperwork about incidents with neighbours and it read “Issues with neighbour however they’ve been resolved”

I never met my neighbour when I moved in.  If I had, I might have revised my purchase.  I was somewhat blinded by the fact the allotment was a stone throw away from the allotments and whilst the area was a bit iffy, it wasn’t in the worst of the town either.

Unfortunately I live next to an alcoholic and former drug abuser.  I know he still smokes (and we’re not talking tobacco here) and think he may be on harder stuff occassionally too – but it’s all circumstantial.  The first year or so I wasn’t really bothered by him – his girlfriend at the time was a bit of a pain, but she soon left him.  About six months ago his current girlfriend moved in (now fiancee apparently!) and all hell has broken loose.   It’s gradually got worse over the past few months until now, where I find myself every other night banging on his door, calling the police to domestics (we’ve even had stabbings in the corridor).

The rest of the block are very nice – many have come from the big smoke trying to escape the inner city areas for various reasons, a couple are hard working, the others are rebuilding their lives.  I don’t have a single problem with any of the rest.

My neighbour however makes all our lives hell – but whilst he’s been on his last warning for four years now, it doesn’t ever seem to go anywhere.  As the noise and abuse gets louder, we’re gradually pulling together and everyone is offering each other support – but the housing association has been using the line ‘if he’s removed, we might have to put someone worse in his place’.  Seeing as the block next to us has actually had a teenager put in who’s drinking, smoking, music and swearing have made their lives hell – most the residents are either retired or in semi-retirement – this threat has made people think twice – better the devil you know?

I’ve been filling in an antisocial behaviour diary.  In as little as three weeks it’s full and ready to be returned.  The housing association can’t be bothered to respond to my urgent emails in a timely manner – last week I got asked when I’d like a meeting with them to discuss the situation, when I told them I worked full hours and could they make a slightly later time (say around 4:45 in the afternoon) I’ve only been met with silence.

The police are being more helpful, but unfortunately when you’re only sleeping one night in three, there’s only so much abuse you can take.  I’m considering moving out, but if I do, it feels like he’s won.  After all, it’s a free country, why shouldn’t he come home at 2am singing & swearing loudly, beat up his girlfriend or pour beer in the corridor.  What right have I as the only private tenant in the block have to moan about it.

I hope this goes someway to explain why my blogging has become somewhat erratic.

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Return to the allotment

I’ve definitely been putting off going down the allotment on the basis I knew what I’d find.  This happens after every holiday we go on because in such a short period of time everything goes mad.  Especially in July.

The grass was mown before we left, it’s now half a foot high in places.

The weeds are about 6-9 inches tall (average) whereas in places some are around 3 feet.

The broad beans have been decimated through my lack of attention.  There’s very few leaves on them, so they are now just tall thin twigs with fat pods on.  Not a total loss, but I have no idea what to do with them now I’ve got them.  I’ll be searching for recipes at lunchtime…

Squash have gone mad.  The paths are unwalkable on due to the trailing stems.

Sweetcorn seem to have generated cobs.  I’m not sure what they’ll be producing, but the beans are happily growing up them.  There is blackfly all over my beans as well though, so I’m going to have to go mad with the soap spray.

For the first year the raspberries and logan berries are looking well established.

The lettuce looks like it has bolted.  Nevermind, better sow some more.

Asparagus bed has once again fruited.  I was under the impression the season was over, but we’ve got plenty of tall healthy stems about 4ft in height!

Chillis are bushing up nicely, but our tomatoes are looking a bit ropey and small, they’ll need a fair bit of attention.

This opinion of my plot is over a five minute period this morning.  Gives you an idea how compact everything is at the moment!

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Of weddings and honeymoons

We did not have an ethical/green wedding.

Please forgive me! I wasn’t involved with the planning (god bless my wife) and to be honest it was stressful enough.

The honeymoon was originally going to be Thailand, but due to a) money and b) our striving to be green.  We visited Cornwall and stayed in a small cottage with all the mod cons.  Little Hendra was close to many attractions we wanted to visit.

One of the places my wife particularly wanted to visit was the Lost gardens of Heligan.  I was surprised by how wide ranging they were including the pineapple greenhouse and the veg gardens.  We also enjoyed the jungle valley – it was beautiful but unfortunately the lost valley at the bottom of the hill was nothing special.

The Eden project was fab as well.  It’s a shame we didn’t know about the Eden sessions or we could have attempted to book tickets for the Friday night and spend the afternoon and evening there.  It’s my second time to Eden and it’s a fantastic place.  I love the way the allotment exhibition has evolved over two years and that they use some of the produce they produce in their pizzeria (well worth visiting for that alone)

One of the first meals we had down in Cornwall was at Rick Steins ‘The Seafood Resturant’.  We both went for the taster menu which whilst expensive was incredibly delicious (though we both agreed the broth was the weak point of the menu) and cost an incredible £64 each (not including wine).  Almost all the food on the plate was local or ethical.  It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to eat there – I don’t intend to pop in again, plus I’m not a lover of seafood so being so impressed by it shows how good the fare really was.

We did several alcohol related trips, including two English vineyards – one of which was Camel Valley.  The tour was interesting and the wine quite palatable.  We ended up buying almost £70 worth!

Another must (or should that be musk?) visit is the Tamar Otter Sanctuary.  I’ve been fascinated by otters since I was a child after watching ring of bright water, though I’ve never seen them in the wild.  This is the second time I’ve seen otters, the first was during a tour of Asia, though this time I got to see both the English otter (very much bigger than the Asian) and a mix of other species.  Not only do they have otters there (very cute but also incredibly smelly) they also have wallabies and a menagerie of birds (ducks, owls, peacocks etc) and deer.

On the way back, we went via Hereford and stayed in a hotel next to an Abbey inhabited by monks.  We popped into the spread eagle for dinner – had a lovely local fresh cooked meal (locally butchered chilli sausages in Yorkshire pud followed by tiramisu) before returning to our hotel – where we met our first monk taking the evening air.

We didn’t go to bed until late as we were watching a movie until about midnight.  This wouldn’t usually be a problem because we’d arranged a late checkout, however we’d forgotten we were adjacent to an Abbey inhabited by monks, so around 7am the bells started…

We also popped into Westons cider mill.  If you want a good afternoon out I can recommend no finer place.  It really was worth the time and money.  Not only did we get to see the brewery in full (including the massive oak barrels where the cider is fermented) but you get to try a big selection of their cider.  Personally I tried them all as Helen was driving.  I believe it’s sound business practice to do this – after all, you can’t easily buy every type of Westons cider in the shops and try just a bit to see if you like it.  If you tried to drink every type side by side, you’d be more than a little ill.

After trying them, we bought a case of our favourite (a medium sweet).  I’m now pretty sure next time I see a bottle of Westons in a supermarket it’ll be top choice over the competition.

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