Monthly Archives: March 2010

Giving something back.

Today was all about giving something back for me. I gave blood today. There’s a mobile unit that comes to our company for the day every 3 months or so which makes it really convenient to just pop out and give a donation. Please check out this link as 96% of us rely on the other 4% to give blood so if you don’t give regularly please consider it. I have a rare blood type , that only 2% of us have, which I know they are desperate for at the moment, so it has become an important date in my diary.

I also had the pleasure of travelling to Southampton General Hospital to present cheques for £2600 each to The Friends of PICU and the Teenage Cancer Trust charities. This was the result of the fundraising efforts of my colleagues at work over 2009. It was a proud moment for me as I am Chairman of the Charity Committee and also Friends of PICU was the charity I nominated for all their support when we needed them when Chloe was born with a heart condition. I took the opportunity to take Chloe with me to say a personal thank-you.

They’ve got some really big projects on the go at the moment. Friends of PICU have been refurbishing the family accommodation, which we stayed in, and are looking to put in washing machines and dryers so families staying longer-term can be more comfortable. They are also funding a part-time counsellor that will help support families, and staff, from a non-clinical perspective. I know from our experiences just how important this will be. The Teenage Cancer Trust are building a facility at the hospital dedicated to teenager’s cancer treatment. Teenagers often fall between two stools either put into children’s wards with very young children or on adult wards with much older people. This facility will create the most positive environment for their recovery, with internet access, ‘chill-out’ rooms etc, which has been shown to increase survival rates by 15% which is amazing. It’s great to know our money is helping in some small way to achieving all this.

All in all a great day, being able to give something back feels good!


I headed up to London today for the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Final between Southampton and Carlisle at Wembley. It was a great day out with Saints winning 4-1 in an entertaining game. Regular readers may have seen my football page charting the progress through this competition. It started as a way of keeping in touch with a couple of friends of mine on a regular basis. Little did I know as Saints scraped past Torquay United on penalties that it would lead to this day out. Following Torquay came, Charlton Athletic, Norwich all at St.Mary’s stadium and then MK Dons in the Southern Area Final over 2 legs. For the full story click here.

We were three rows from the back of the stand, pretty high up, so had a great view and the atmosphere was fantastic with both sets of fans making the most of this Wembley day out. It was Carlisle’s fifth final, they have won once, and Saints first.

For the statto’s amongst you here’s some facts. The trophy competition started in the 1983/84 season and was first won by Bournemouth. Previous winners who now reside in the Premier League are Stoke, Wigan, Birmingham and Bolton. Attendences this year are up over 50%, 235,084 people saw the matches leading up to the final with around 73,000 at Wembley. Saints hold the record for a non-Wembley tie at 29,901 and took 44,000 fans to the final.

Carlisle dominated the early exchanges until Murphy inexplicably handled a Saints cross and conceded a penalty. Saints talisman Rickie Lambert duly scored on the quarter hour mark. From then on Saints took control with Lallina scoring just before half time. Some fans keen to get ahead of the half-time queues would have missed that one and those late back missed Saints third nodded in by Papa Waigo. Antonio finished off Carlisle with a great shot from the edge of the box to make it 4-0 on the hour. A late consolation goal was conceded as Madine scored in the 84th minute. For the full match report click here.

The approach to Wembley with its famous arch.

A group of guys dressed up for the occassion.

Waiting to get in.

Inside the ground.

The teams line up.

Finally the trophy is lifted!

Spring Show……The results are in!

Today was the Winterslow & District Horticultural Society’s Spring Show and the local village hall was full of flowers and other exhibits. I couldn’t go last year and this year the entries are significantly down so I can only imagine what it would be like on a good year.

I managed to get one entry in, 5 daffodils (3 varieties), but now I’ve seen the categories I could have entered 3 or 4 more classes. I won 2nd prize! Rach entered a Victoria sponge, although had a bit of a disaster with the edge of one half breaking away slightly but she managed to patch it up and also won a 2nd prize! That will go down nicely later with a cup of tea! So not bad considering we weren’t going to enter anything just before the deadline.

My daffodil varieties were St. Keverne, Ice Follies, and an unknown variety I planted a couple of years ago.

Entries were 50% down this year due to the harsh winter putting the spring flowers back so far.

First and second prize in the flowering shrub went to a Mahonia Japonica (should have entered mine!).

Nice collections of spring flowers.

The baking section.

This flower arrangement won a first prize in the “arrangement for Easter” class.

This arrangement took second prize.

This arrangement won the “fun without flowers” class.

Last, but not least, were the children’s entries, decorated eggs, welly boots, Easter hats and bunnies!

I’ll definitely be trying some more classes next year and can’t wait for the summer show now as I did really well last year.

First though I’ve got my sights on the Salisbury Community showin early July. The schedule is out now so if you live around Salisbury why not give it a go? See you there!

A nice day off……

Had a day off work today to catch up with a few jobs round the house and garden. My last post said I was giving up on this year’s Spring Show but I’ve been talked into entering one of the classes as entries are only half what they were last year (Rach is also entering one of her lovely Victoria sponges). So first job was to get some daffs cut for the class of 5 daffodils, three varities. I’ve grown three varieties of daffs, St. Keverne, Ice Follies and Fortune plus there’s a few random ones scattered around the garden already. So now there’s a dozen cut flowers in water and I’m hoping they will be in full bloom for tomorrow.

I’m really pleased with the daffodils in the front garden, they’ve started to bloom at last!

I wanted to do a tidy up of the flower beds and noticed that I do have a hellebore growing, just the one flower, despite what I said in my previous post. Hadn’t noticed it before, I have no idea when I planted it!

I noticed the smaller of my two Japonica’s was still in flower (the larger one flowers in Autumn).

I tidied up the herb containers ready for some new arrivals in a couple of weeks.

On the veg front everything is growing on well. I planted some broad beans that I’d grown in toilet rolls and noticed that some of the ones I’d sown direct ages ago are just starting to poke through the soil. I dug over the main bed that I manured a few weeks ago so that can settle ready for some salad potatoes that I’ll put in next weekend. No sign of my exhibition carrots yet but all the salad veg I sowed under the cold frames has germinated nicely.

Strange going’s on in the onion bed though. I covered the shallots and onions with one of my mesh tunnels to stop the birds pulling them out. Now a hole has appeared at one side of the mesh tunnel and something, I presume a rat, has tunneled underneath two of the onion rows and there’s a couple of tiny carrots lying on the soil surface. So this creature must have found a couple of tiny carrots in the soil I’d dug over in one of the other beds and dragged them through it’s tunnel in my onion bed. Weird! I replaced the soil and put back the one onion that had been dug up so no damage done really.

Finally I noticed this spring bulb in one of the beds, does anyone know what it is?

Spring Show……I give up!

It turns out I don’t know my trumpets from my doubles, my multi-headed from my large cup, the list goes on! I didn’t realise that showing spring flowers was so complicated. Add the fact that only a couple of the 100 or so daffs I planted in Autumn are starting to show themselves and apparently I should have already cut them in preparation for Saturday’s show. To heap misery on the situation the tulips are weeks away and I don’t even grow hellebores or container primulas. I give up!

So I will just be a spectator come Saturday afternoon rather than in the running for a 1st or a cup. I’ll have to wait for the Summer show to take on my local rivals!

A bit of reading…..

Joined the library today, first time since I was a teenager. I picked up 3 books, “How to Grow Your Own Food – a week-by-week guide to wildlife friendly fruit and vegetable gardening” by Dirty Nails of the Blackmore Vale Magazine; “Using the Plot – tales of an Allotment Chef” by Paul Merrett; “Dahlias – the complete guide” by Philip Damp, former General Secretary of the National Dahlia Society no less. I’m sure there’ll be loads of handy hints in them and, best of all, it didn’t cost me a penny!

More free seeds!

The RHS Grow Your Own pack arrived through the door today. Nicely presented, inside were some recipe cards, a glossy pull-out poster with RHS events on one side and a handy fruit and veg planner on the other. Plus a packet of tomato and carrot seeds. Just waiting for the BBC DigIn pack to arrive now. Even if I don’t need the seeds they’re great to give to novice gardening friends to get them into growing their own too!