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With the big freeze continuing there’s absolutely nothing happening on the plot apart from the odd sprout and snip harvest. So I thought I’d get all nostalgic about 2010, the highs and lows, and the obligatory next year I’m definitely going to……..
The year really got going when I attended a series of talks from expert Ray Broughton, got my soil tested and learnt a great deal about sowing seeds. I even had a go at growing long carrots which ended in disaster! I dug a new bed in April, picked my first cauliflower and broccoli in June, and by July I was lovin’ the veg, well apart from my pitiful onions. In August I took a different perspective on the plot, the beans went crazy and I picked my first ever sweetcorn. In the Autumn the greenhouse really came into its own and by October the last of the peppers had ripened finally. I also took some prizes at the local Horticultural Society Summer Show and later joined the Committee. In November I started thinking ahead to next year, and we were briefly front page news before the snow arrived and the big freeze set in!
It was a colourful year particularly in the Spring Show and the garden was in bloomin’ good form right through to October. I embraced the dark side of flower growing and became a real fan of Dahlias which I stopped, disbudded, and generally pampered all year until Jack eventually took his revenge!
Off the plot I gave something back to the Southampton General Hospital PICU and Teenage Cancer Trust and raised some money for The Stroke Association with a charity plant sale. There was also and unexpected trip to Wembley with Saints who won the Johnstone Paint Trophy. We had the odd family day out here, there and everywhere, and a nice, long break in Brittany. I cooked some curries, got my first taste of foraging and started brewing my own beer. I also completed another leg of the Pennine Way and got round to writing about it at long last. There were one or two free giveaways as well thrown into the bargain.
On the blog writing front I hit my 50th, and 100th post and Blog Anniversary this year. I’ve really enjoyed writing, reading your blogs and, of course, all your comments and kind words of encouragement.
What a year! So what do I want to do in 2011?
Firstly expanding my empire and growing more veg. Starting that composting regime I posted about 10 months ago. Encouraging more people into gardening and growing their own if I can. Getting out there and learning as much as possible. Enjoying the seasons, our beautiful countryside and wildlife. I may also have a dabble at some prize winning parnsips. If you want to see the work that goes into setting up for a go at growing prize winning veg take a look at fellow Salisbury chap Darren’s blog. Hats off to his dedication to the cause and I’m sure he’ll have some great results next summer, definitely one blog to follow.
But most of all having fun with the family and enjoying the lifestyle that comes from this hobby. Not getting too bothered about things and letting nature take its course is what it’s all about. Hopefully it’ll be a great year.
So what are your goals for next year??
Today we were at the River Bourne Community Farm Open Day in Salisbury. The girls loved all the different animals and activities.
Here’s the piglets enjoying the sun.
And the baby ducks with their own little pool.
A great day out.
38 years old today meant I’d earnt a day off work. We dropped the girls at nursery for the day and drove down to Portsmouth to do some shopping round Gunwharf Quays, take a look at the Spinnaker Tower and the Historic Dockyard. About 45 minutes from home means we don’t normally go to Portsmouth, unless we’re catching a ferry, so it was good to find quite a bit to do for a day out.
The weather was great, a lovely sunny day and Gunwharf Quays was a good place to wander round for a couple of hours with a mix of shops that both Rachel and I were interested in. We had lunch on the waterfront courtesy of Pizza Express (those Tesco Clubcard vouchers again!) and then went to visit the Spinnaker Tower.
I remember this being one of those doomed Millenium projects but I was impressed by the structure of a sail right on the water’s edge near the harbour entrance. Fraught with problems the tower finally opened in 2005 and stands at 175m high. There are 3 viewing decks the highest being the Crow’s Nest at 110m and from here you can see around 25 miles an area covering Chichester to the east, the Isle of Wight to the South and Southampton and the New Forest to the west.
Just across from the tower is this building in the shape of the funnel.
Another great day out. Now I must get back to some gardening!
This weekend I met up with friends in Cambridge and took a trip to Newmarket races for the first time. The home of horse racing Newmarket is world famous and hosts the classic races the 1000 and 2000 Guineas in early May. This meet was not quite as important but still a great day out for anyone who likes horse racing. The Rowley Mile course, named after King Charles II’s favourite horse ‘Old Rowley’, is perfectly kept and was well attended with punters for the 7 race event.
We studied the horses as they were walked round the paddock and then over to the bookies to place our bets before each race. We pooled our money and each chose a horse per race and by the end of the day we’d doubled our money which paid for the entrance fee and taxi, not enough for the beer though! One of our winners was Klammer who is now bound for Royal Ascot later in the season.
Back in Cambridge we went to the Kingston Arms a great little pub serving real ales and, by coincidence, a great Perry (7.5%) from Broadoak in Bristol which I’d first tried last weekend in Bath. We reviewed the days winners and losers over a few pints of Perry and the odd bag of Pork Scratchings. Just about able to walk by the end of the night we staggered down the road to get a taxi back home. A great day out!
We had a lovely weekend away in Bath, our first weekend together without the girls since Chloe was born nearly 3 years ago. If you’ve never been to Bath before it’s a great place to visit, a beautiful city renowned for its Georgian architecture and Roman Baths.
One of the most famous streets in Bath is The Circus.
But the premier address must be The Royal Crescent.
Pulteney Bridge is one of the few bridges in the world with shops built into it.
We stayed at the Francis Bath hotel which has a great location right in the city centre. We ate out courtesy of Tesco Clubcard points in Strada, Cafe Rouge and Pizza Express. On Saturday night we ate at Jamie’s Italian to celebrate Rachel’s birthday and had a fantastic meal. It’s the first time we’ve queued up to get into a restaurant but it was worth it. Whilst we waited for our table the cocktails went down well and then we were guided past the kitchens through to the back dining area which was really bustling with a lively atmosphere. We had the Anitpasti Meat Plank to share, Rachel had steak and I had lamb for main followed by Tirimasu and Chocalate Brownie for dessert washed down with a bottle of wine. A great evening.
There are loads of restaurants and cafes in Bath but the oldest is Sally Lunn’s where a pot of tea and a Sally Lunn bun is the done thing. We shared half of one, toasted with jam and clotted cream which was more than enough for late morning bite.
We had a fantastic weekend in Bath and being just an hour away by train I’m sure we’ll be back soon.
The plot has been a bit neglected last weekend. On Bank Holiday Monday we were in Surrey for our nephew’s birthday party at Surrey Steam Model Engineers in Leatherhead. We had a great time with lots of rides on the different trains, not sure who enjoyed it more the children or the Dads! It rekindled a few memories for all of us and the old boys who maintain and drive these minature trains where in their element. A great day out!
Another family day out today in the New Forest which started with drizzle and ended by the coast in glorious sunshine. First we went to Hythe farmer’s market. There were quite a few stalls at Hythe and it was a good market to stroll around for a while. I bought some Loosehanger cheese, ‘bustard with mustard’, ‘chilli and nettle’ and a soft cheese, which had been recommended by a friend who lives near the farm where it’s made (Lover, near Salisbury, which was probably best known for its Post Office which becomes very busy at Valentines). Also picked up some nice Lyburn cheese, ‘Winchester Mature’ and a couple of pints of ‘Easter Bunnies’ which is going down well as I type.
Lovely plant stall, I resisted buying the kiwi fruit!
Hythe is ‘famous’ for its pier which is home to the world’s longest pier train. The pier is 640 metres long and was completed in 1881, the train being introduced in 1922. Chloe and Rachel enjoyed the train while I walked with Emily in the pushchair. A very bracing walk indeed, one nice feature was the messages on the planks, you can pay and have a message engraved on them.
Eventually the train caught up with me!
Then we went off to Lepe Country Park which is on the coast opposite Cowes (IoW).
We made sandcastles on the beach and had a picnic which Chloe finished off with an ice cream.
We were in a cow jam just outside of Beaulieu.
And then we enjoyed a bag of chips overlooking Lymington harbour in glorious sunshine.
Another great day out!
There were loads of spring flowers out to add some colour to our Easter Egg Trail.
Chloe was a little young for facepainting so she had her hands done instead.
We managed to decode the egg trail and the words Peter Rabbit got Chloe her egg eventually. When we got to the exit they’d run out and there was a small crowd gathering as they rushed up to the house to get another load. The kids, and parents, were patient and a few minutes later the eggs arrived. All in all a great day out. If you’re near Mottisfont in June it’s well worth a visit for the rose garden. We went last year and the colours, and scent, are amazing. Don’t fancy de-heading that lot though!
What a lovely day we’ve had. I was up early with my youngest daughter, Emily, who woke just after 5.30. Managed to get her back to sleep after a bottle which meant I could get out and walk the dog for an hour whilst Rach had a lie in before the girls woke. I take our dog Polo on a circular walk around the village which follows an old Roman road for part of the way. I always wonder about the legions marching up the road from Winchester direction to Old Sarum, who knows what artefacts lie buried around this area beneath the fields. Got to the top of the hill and the sun was just coming up over a distant ridge, what a cracking sunrise it was and the sun was in my face all the way down the hill through the village.
Inspired by UpHillDownDale’s Weymouth post I decided to take the family down there for Mother’s Day. I hadn’t been for years, it’s just over an hours drive down the A354. They’re building a new Olympic relief road on the approach to Weymouth and apparently have unearthed a viking burial site containing 51 decapitated vikings.
We had a nice day, first at the farmer’s market which is on the 2nd Sunday of every month. Bought a few things, smoked mackerel, sausages, an Aberdeen Angus pasty and a bottle of Liberation from Suthwyk Ales which is going down well as I type. The girls tucked into some cheesy foccacia bread as we strolled up the line of stalls. Then we walked down past the marina, through the harbour, and along the sea front. The sun shone most of the time, the odd cloud here and there but very pleasant. Some fish and chips on the prom for lunch and a wander round the town. I’d recommend Weymouth plenty to see for a day out.
Mark Anderson does these sand sculptures on the beach keeping this tradition alive.
An old tall ship with the Condor ferry in the background. You can catch a ferry to the Channel Islands and St.Malo from here.