Sunday, 4 November 2012


This afternoon we took a walk in the woods...

We found jelly ears to eat.

And lots of other fungi, some very tiny and delicate.

And some that looked a bit like intestines!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012


This morning, the sun was bright red for just a few moments as it rose over the horizon. Even the bathroom looked pretty.

This evening, an allotment frog let me take its picture. I swear it actually smiled at me :)

The nights are drawing in. I'm quite enjoying the chill in the air.

Friday, 28 September 2012


Saturday, 15 September 2012


Spiderwebs and seedpods in the lovely glow of a sunny September evening...

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Siblings' adventure 2012

Instead of buying each other birthday gifts, my brothers and I decided to take quality time-out together instead. Last weekend the three of us camped near Swanage on the south coast.

Here are a few pics...

Swanage itself is nothing special, but it does have the most amazing off-licence with lots of local beer, interesting wine and cider by the barrel! I keep some (very poor) cider-tasting notes. Mark helped me out this time - he described the above, Dorset Cider Company 'Smoke Oak', as "Dry with a throaty twang, hint of autumn crabapples with wasps on them".

The next two pics are by Mark.

We spent our only full day walking, climbing, swimming, and sitting along the coast path. We saw lots of wildlife including butterflies we remember only from childhood, beetles, bugs and a slow worm. Oh and I made them both taste random plants...

We visited the Square and Compass pub at Langton Matravers for more cider. I enjoyed a half of 'Eve's Idea' (home pressed), but Mark said it was not waspy enough for him. It's a great pub, deserving of its fame. It even boasts a little museum (of very random objects)...

After packing away our little camp we drove home via Durdle Door which is very beautiful, as is that whole stretch of coastline.

There are a few more photos on my Flickr.

The siblings' adventure was great! Happy belated birthday Mark and Chris! :)

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

0518/2102 Recent things

A few photos from July (so far)...

At the beginning of the month Matt and I camped at Symonds Yat (near the Forest of Dean). It's such a beautiful place! He has written a lovely blog post about it, so I will say no more.

A week later, adventuring in Brighton, we discovered a hidden wildflower meadow right next to one of our favourite pubs. It's actually a cleared but unused building site, completely enclosed by corrugated iron fencing, but there are a few holes big enough to poke a lens through...

Last weekend we had an allotment barbeque to celebrate the end of all that rain. Whilst waiting for my meal I rediscovered the joy of plaiting with plants (I remember making corn dollies as a child).

And lastly, I was given this amazing box of fruit! Always a good idea to be helpful to greengrocers (it's a long story)!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

0502/2117 My allotment

My allotment is long and thin which makes it difficult to photograph it properly. This picture really emphasizes the middle part - there are lots of things hidden at the back and my lovely bbq area is behind the camera - but I suppose it gives an impression of the place. It's only a small plot and I've not managed to grow many new crops this year, but it's doing OK. My perennials and self-seeders are just about surviving the rain and the slugs.

I decided to write a list of all the useful plants currently growing on my plot, whether they are in season or not. Some (actually, quite a lot) are planted by mother nature but I harvest them as regularly as those I grow myself.

July 2012 flora, in no particular order:
3x apple trees (you can just see one next to the old greenhouse)
Greengage tree (in the dustbin to the right)
Rowan tree (blurry, front left, growing in a pot but I will plant it somewhere good one day)
Raspberries (planted for me by allotment creatures)
Redcurrants (cuttings from the woods if I recall correctly)
Blackcurrants (first ripe fruit today!)
Strawberries (standard and alpine varieties)
Grape vine
Hop vine (wild)
Jerusalem artichokes
Parsley (self-seeding)
Chives (self-seeding)
Bay (I thought it was dead, but a new shoot has appeared)
Mint (various types)
Lemon balm
Pot marigold (self-seeding)
Comfrey (for compost)
Nettles (wild)
Ground elder (wild)
Sorrel (wild)
Oxeye daisy (wild)
Dandelion (wild)
Horseradish (wild)
Hogweed (wild)
Hairy bittercress (wild)
American land cress (one of the few seeds that actually grew this year)
Red orache (self-seeding, originally from a fellow plot-holder)
Opium poppies (self-seeding)
Foxgloves (for decoration, they were a gift)
Parsnips (last year's in flower/seed)
Beetroot (last year's in flower/seed)
Alexanders (introduced from wild, struggling but persisting)
Leek (last year's in flower)
Walking onions (being attacked by slugs, not doing much walking)
Burdock (front left, introduced from wild)
Courgette (hanging in there)
Pumpkin (hanging in there)
A few pathetic beans (very slug-munched)
An almost-dead fig tree
An almost-dead lemon tree
An almost-dead chilli plant

I might keep this list for reference, and update it as new things appear and old ones disappear.

Considering the rubbish weather, and the fact that I do this on my own whilst also working full-time, it's not too bad really :)

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

0446/2124 In praise of mint

The weather has been wet and rubbish, the plot is waterlogged, seeds haven't germinated, plants have been munched by slugs and snails, and some pesky little critter has been nibbling off all of my unripe strawberries and hiding them under the leaves in little piles.

At least I have lots of mint. It's reliable and it's tasty, and I really should do more with it.

Last year, my friend Miriam and I held a mint-tasting event (well, we had a barbeque on my allotment and there we sampled about eight varieties of mint and were amazed by the differences between them). My favourite has always been water mint - the type that grows wild by streams and lakes. It has a sort-of smoky/earthy flavour, a bit more sophisticated than the others in my opinion. I have it on my allotment now (which is almost like a lake) and yesterday I picked a big bagful to make water mint wine, which will be interesting at the very least!

As well as growing it on my allotment, I'm guerilla-gardening some mint on a patch of ground close to my flat. This plant was originally part of a mojito from a cocktail bar in town. I rescued it, then forgot all about it and accidentally left it in my handbag for 24 hours where it got slightly crushed and a bit thirsty (oops!). Still, when I remembered I put it in water and it rooted (mint is *so* easy to propogate this way, I've never known it not to work). As you can see, it's now enjoying a healthy teetotal life outdoors with plenty of fresh air and sunshine...

Thursday, 3 May 2012


I have to admit I'm getting slightly tired of all this rain. It seems every time I go out I get soaked. Today I spent my lunchbreak dodging puddles and sheltering under trees.

In my wet weather walks, though, I've spotted rings of mushrooms and I've seen some amazing wild flowers - they can be quite dramatic when they all bloom at the same time. There are meadows full of cowslips near my home (see my previous post), and masses of garlic mustard, which I don't think I've ever seen in such lush abundance! I've also been noticing subtle differences in the way various leaves reflect the light - some give off a blue tint, others seem to glow a bright yellow-green. The contrasts in the fields and hedgerows are strong at this time of year, and even more striking after the rain.

Ground ivy



Monday, 30 April 2012


I think the cowslips were actually glowing, not just reflecting the light this evening.

Friday, 13 April 2012


I love my allotment. Today I noticed flowers on my strawberries and redcurrant bushes. I sowed a single courgette seed under a cloche. I weeded and chopped. I watched red kites soaring overhead, heard lots of scuffling and squeaking in the long grass, photographed a lizard and accidentally dug up a shiny green beetle.

Lizards are amusing little creatures. They know I'm watching - they cock their heads on one side to keep an eye on me but still let me get really close before they scuttle away. It's a pleasure to share my plot with them :)

This is my wildlife stick-heap, the lizard I saw today was sunbathing on it. For some reason I really like this photo! I know it's just a pile of sticks.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

0655/1926 Notes from today

Saw: butterflies (a peacock, a tortoiseshell, a white one). A goldfinch who lives near me.
Leaves unfurling: apples, brambles, raspberries, hops, gooseberries.
Flowering: bluebells, pak choi, alexanders, gage (nearly).
Excited about: rhubarb, strawberries, walking onions.
Might be dead: bay tree, kumquats.
Sowed: beetroot, lettuce, mini sunflowers, the contents of the bottom of my seed tin.
Re-potted: chilli. Also potted up the mint I rescued from a very alcoholic cocktail in a bar.
Picked: nettles, but left some for the ladybirds (who are in love). Also ground elder and sorrel.
Could have picked: parsley, chives, rosemary, thyme.
Tested: my foraging apron. It was a gift from the lovely and very talented Claire Smith.
Most happy about: British Summer Time :)

Tuesday, 20 March 2012


This is a solargraph. It's essentially a very long exposure pinhole photograph showing the sun's path through the sky from winter solstice (lowest) to spring equinox (highest). It's my first attempt and although it didn't quite go to plan (it was supposed to be landscape!) I'm just glad it worked - three months is a long time to wait for a result!

Monday, 12 March 2012


It's finally light enough to visit the allotment after work, and warm enough to eat my lunch outside in the sunshine.

I've just had a weekend of catching up (or attempting to at least!). I got lots of work done on the plot - it almost looks under control. I'm looking forward to a year of fruit, herbs and leaves (all low maintenance you see). There may also be the odd bean and perhaps the occasional beetroot...

All of a sudden it feels like spring, and there are plenty of wild plants to gather. I spotted some early hop shoots down by the river last week, although the ones on my allotment have yet to make an appearance. There are nettles and other green leaves in abundance now, and the first flowers are beginning to bloom. I love the plum and blackthorn blossom which is everywhere at the moment - if you see white or pink candyfloss trees remember to check them later in the year for potential harvests of fruit!

I picked some gorse flowers yesterday - I was originally considering making wine but I didn't have the motivation to pick enough for that so instead I made do with bright yellow gorse flower tea.