First Harvests

We had a minor miracle last week – an actual, real, genuine, hot and sunny bank holiday weekend! These are rare occurrences and not to be taken lightly, so we slapped on the sun screen, grabbed our hats, and spent three whole days down on the allotment ticking off some of the bigger items on the to do list.

First thing to do was get the shed painted, add the guttering, and get the water butts in place.

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The shed is looking marvellous, even if I do say so myself. The shelves in front of it were from our bathroom and are now home to some dahlias and herbs, and in front of that are two pots retrieved from behind my Mum and Dads shed (Mum had decided she doesn’t like blue pots any more!) which I’ve stuck a few of my bargain 50p anemone bulbs in. The water butts still need a bit of wiggling before they’re right (most notably, taps) and eventually we’ll hopefully put some paving slabs on the ground in front of the shed, but that’s way down the bottom of the list for now. I still can’t believe just a few months ago this corner – pretty much everything to the right of the greenhouse – was waist high with nettles!

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After the shed was painted, and while C went on a weeding and digging spree, I made use of some of the better bits of wood left over from the old shed and used them to make another raised bed. C was determined to use a whole can of paint up, so it now matches the shed nicely. C has planted a couple of pots of mint (one plant split between two pots, and we’ve planted them in the pots to stop them spreading everywhere), some more carrots, some dill, and a few flower seeds.

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We also came away with out first harvests of the year, a hat full spinach (I’d left the trug at home) and a small handfull of radish from the pots next to our front door. Both went in to a rather delicious salad for my dinner.

The rest of the plot is coming along nicely, and despite a few days of colder weather this week, when I stopped off last night to water the plants in the greenhouse everything was thriving.

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The aubergine has a couple of beautiful flowers. The cucumber has lots of fruit, including the fairly big one above, and the lupins are beginning to show signs of flowering. There’s carrots and beetroot showing green shoots, the courgettes and munchkin pumpkins are so far (touch wood) being ignored by slugs, and the big raised bed is almost completely full of greenery now – spinach, strawberries, beetroot, spring onions, radishes, and chard.

Fingers crossed for some more sunshine and warmth now!

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A trip to North Norfolk

I first visited North Norfolk with my Mum and Dad when I was a teenager. We stayed in Cley, near the windmill. There’s a few things I remember about that trip – the tomato soup I had for dinner one night, a tiny little antique shop in Stiffkey that had the loveliest garden, and the wide expanse of Holkham beach.  My parents still have a couple of photos I took that weekend on the wall in their kitchen.

That first trip to Holkham beach is one I’ll never forget – it was cold, very windy, and almost deserted. I loved it.  The short but sheltered walk through the pine forest, reaching the top of the hill, then suddenly having that huge and seemingly never ending beach laying in front of you – the sea still so far away you could barely see it.

It was quite a long time between my first trip to North Norfolk and my second – probably 10 years or so. The first holiday C and I went on together was to Wells-next-the-Sea, and since then we’ve been back a few times. We try to escape there once a year, and every year we never want to come home. Last week we had three nights at the stunning Victoria Inn – the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed in.

Walk from Holkham to Wells-next-the-sea.
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Our first day involved lots of walking. We walked from the hotel up to Holkham park, and took a slow stroll through the woods towards Wells. It was slow because I kept having to stop to take photos, and to listen out for birds, and to not scare off ducks, and to look at spiders perched on top of dandelions. Once you get out of the woods of Holkham park you reach the top photo above – a tree-lined path that’s named on the OS map as Mousehill Plantation. That leads out on to a main road in to Wells, and we took a short detour through the local allotments (of course) before a wander around the town, and a stop at The Globe for lunch and some postcard writing.  We took a route back along a bridleway through some fields and pack in to Holkham park. We walked through fields of sheep with not another human in site – we had the whole place to ourselves. We made it to Holkham hall, by which point my feet were protesting at the amount of walking, and took the buggy to the walled gardens. It’s nice to see the slow transformation of the gardens from when we visited last year, and decided we must go back in a couple of months to see it all in full bloom. On the way back out the park we came across the resident deer, and managed to get close enough to get a few photos before the cars driving past spooked them off. I’ve seen the deer at least 3 times before and this is the first time I’ve managed to get photos of them!
IMG_2234 IMG_2241 Today we ventured out to Wiveton Hall and fell in love with the kitchen garden. I would happily live in a shed in the corner of this garden, it's stunning.

The next day we visited Wiveton Hall. A long with a lot of people we saw it on the TV programme Normal for Norfolk a few weeks earlier, and as it was only about 20 minutes from Holkham and close to somewhere else we wanted to visit we decided to stop in for a walk around the woodland and to the kitchen garden. It’s a walled garden on a smaller scale than Holkham, and was full of beautiful flowers and surrounded by the unmistakably Norfolk flint pebble walls. There was a circular potting shed in one corner that I could have happily lived in!

A river running through the Wildflower Centre, so clear and covered by the shade of trees. It was so tempting to dangle my feet in.

From there we drove on to the Wildflower Centre that we’d seen signposted on our drive in, and spent most of the rest of the day wandering around their gardens, meadows and along the crystal clear stream at the bottom of the hill. I was so tempted to dip my feet in, but I saved that for our next stop.

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Holkham beach was empty. We walked up the sand dunes and took in the view, and couldn’t see a single other person around. Maybe North Norfolk was particularly deserted the weekend we were there, but it seemed like we kept getting these spectacular landscapes all to ourselves. I couldn’t resist taking off my shoes and socks and paddling in the sea, which was surprisingly warm. I splashed as far as I could up the inlet leading up the beach before we walked back to the hotel, and a massive bubble bath.

I’ve now decided my aim in life is to live somewhere surrounded by beautiful trees, not too far from the beach, with a small walled garden to potter in.  Any generous rich people willing to make that happen for me, do get in touch!

Hello Spring

There was a point not so long ago when I didn’t think Spring would ever arrive. It kept raining; the wind was fierce and relentless; we had days of hail, snow, sleet and rain. But despite that we haven’t been entirely unproductive, on the odd mild day we got down to the allotment and slowly things are starting to come together.


We have a new shed, thanks to my lovely Mum and Dad. It’s beautiful, and I can stand up in it without the risk of tetanus. We had a lot of fun ripping the old one down and burning most of it. The new one is in a new position, which has given us a lot more space on the right hand side of the plot.  I also spent a day building a huge raised bed, which I am still ridiculously proud of. The plan was to have two more of those, but the cost to fill them is a bit much at the moment. I’ll get around to making them eventually I’m sure, but my aim at the moment is to stop spending money!



Spring finally started to show it’s face a few weeks ago, my tulips started to bloom, and all of a sudden I feel like I’m running out of time. I’ve started to plant out things that have been taking over my windowsills since February (Doris is happy to get back on there for lookout duty!), and I’ve started sowing things directly. I have peas (sugar ann), beetroot (avalanche and boltardy), carrots (purple haze and romace F1) and chard (bright lights) making an appearance outside, and the greenhouse is home to tomatoes (black opal and red robin), cucumbers (beta alpha), and an aubergine plant picked up during a garden centre shopping spree. A month ago I was certain none of this would ever work, but the unfolding green is filling me with hope for the rest of the year!

A couple of weeks ago I finally sat down and started making a plan of where we were going to put everything. Until then I had a half formed plan in my head that C didn’t know much about, a large box of seeds, and a greenhouse and windowsills full of seedlings. Now The Plan has been committed to paper, and is stuck on the kitchen wall, surely we can’t go wrong?!

Back to work

Written on Saturday in a break from the digging…

As I type this I’m sitting on my allotment, a thermos of tea next to me, a cold late winter breeze leaving a chill in the air, enjoying the sun when it breaks from behind the clouds. I’ve got mud on my trousers, in my shoes, and under my finger nails.

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For my first 20 minutes here I couldn’t remember the number for the shed padlock. I had to phone C and wake him up to ask what it was. I spent those 20 minutes wondering how this plot will ever look like the ideas I have in my head. But then I finally got in to the shed, got out the tools and started digging.

I’ve lifted the last two rows of potatoes that we thought  we’d lost to blight last year. I don’t know if it’s extremely good luck, or the ridiculously mild winter, but the plants we cut down after just a month of growth have produced a bucket full of potatoes that still seem to be in good condition, though the test will be when we come to eat them. I’m calling that one beginners luck.

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The wind is picking up and I think my digging enthusiasm is waning  for the day. I’m also running low on tea, and there’s only so long I can sit here and listen to the posh people on a plot near us tell their kids off for treading on the rhubarb, constantly herding them back to their designated hole digging corner.

We have a lot to do before the plot will look anything like the plan that’s in my head, but we’re getting there slowly.  A new shed is the next big job on the list! Still, at least we have a massive sack of shit to keep us going now…

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Potato Peril!

It feels like weeks since I got a chance to do some work down on the allotment.  I’ve spent the better part of two weeks fighting off a cold that’s been going around the office, and that C has had at home too. My days have been spent just about getting through work, then coming home and falling asleep. I was determined to get down there today though, and spent a peaceful couple of hours pottering away on my own.  Not all is well on Plot 132 though.

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The first thing I noticed was something has been munching through my lettuce. I found a couple of slugs hiding away and threw them in to the nettles, I’ve pulled a couple of plants out because they were so thoroughly nibbled, and it’s given the others some room to breath (and hopefully grow). After a bit of searching later in the afternoon I came up with a slug trap – a couple of old drinks bottles with a hole cut in them, filled with a mixture of water, sugar and yeast. Fingers crossed for my lettuces please.

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I carried on with my pottering.  I’ve planted up the tulip bulbs I ordered earlier in the year.  As we’ve not decided on a firm plan for the plot yet I’ve planted them in a couple of old crates I had at home so I can move them around as needed. I’ve lined them, put stones and gravel in the bottom, and used a mixture of normal topsoil and bulb compost to plant them in.  I’ve also dotted a few ranunculus in there as well, I couldn’t resist them when we went to the garden centre last weekend. I’ve also managed to get the onions planted at last, with spacing measured out with my trusty Opinel knife.  This whole allotment is going to be measured out in Opinels eventually.

Gardeners, help! Do my potatoes have blight?! 😧

After that I got on with weeding around the potatoes, and discovered something rather unpleasant looking.  I think our potatoes have blight! One of the plants was pretty much rotten so I’ve cut it back completely, the other patches are small, but from what I’ve read once blight appears there’s not much stopping it. I fear this might be goodbye to our potato jungle, and I’m so disappointed.  I know we’ll have many more failures along the way, but these plants were looking so good and I was so proud of them!  Still, onwards and upwards. Our seed catalogue order went in last week, and C ordered a huge pile of wild flower seeds online as well, so even if we don’t have potatoes we should have a few bunches of flowers next year.

Quite Weeks

Things have been pretty quiet around here lately.  We normally have weekends full of plans – shopping in town, trips to London, visiting family, outings to go on – but the last few weekends have been plan-free and I’ve really been enjoying it.  Weekends have been spent properly relaxing, or if we have been out to do things we’ve just decided on the day what we’re going to do.  And of course, there’s been lots of time on the allotment.

Super soft bunny lace socks are finished! Oh they're so soft and so yummy and so cosy 💙💙

I finished knitting my super-soft bunny lace socks last weekend. My fourth completed knitting project of this year, which is actually pretty good going for me. I’ve not decided what the next one will be yet, but I have decided I need to buy a ball winder before I start it. I’ve also been teaching myself to crochet. I’m still at the wonky-square stage, but getting there slowly.

Potatoes are growing so quickly I swear they double in size every time I go up to the allotment.

The allotment amazes me every time I visit. The potatoes have been growing faster than I ever imagined (let’s just hope there’s something edible under all that green), we can now differentiate between spring onions and grass, lettuce has been thinned out three times now because it just keeps growing, and we harvested our first rainbow chard last Saturday!

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It was cooked up with some leeks and mushrooms and went in to a crustless quiche (crustless due to laziness more than anything else). I was so happy to eat my first allotment harvest.

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We’re still making plans for the rest of the plot. The greenhouse frame is going, we’re getting a new shed, there’s still lots of stuff to take to the tip, and I need to halve the amount of things I’ve picked out from the seed catalogue. As I type C is up there digging up a patch for us to plant some onions and garlic in. I keep thinking we’ve got loads of time to get prepared for planting next year, but in reality it’s only 2 or 3 months, and I imagine a lot of that will be too cold to do any work, so we need to start getting a move on!

An Autumn Morning

I set my alarm for 6am today. A whole 10 minutes later than it would normally go off for me to get up for work, so not exactly a long Saturday morning lay in, but every morning this week I’ve been disappointed I had to go to work rather than go and walk through the mist covered fields and enjoy the cool almost-autumn air.

So I got up, got dressed, tried not to wake C, didn’t bother brushing my hair, pulled on my walking shoes and went out.

Woke up early and walked down to the allotments in the mist. I love this time of year.
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I walked to the allotment, and the only sounds were the geese flying over head.  I did a bit of weeding and surveyed my potatoes (I’m amazed how fast the plants are growing!). I had a poke around the plot behind ours, which seems very much abandoned, and crossed my fingers that the council will say yes to our request to take it on and double the size of our plot.

Also discovered my walking shoes are not waterproof and my jeans are too long. Oops.

I realised, as I walked through the long grass, that my walking shoes aren’t waterproof. Neither are my socks, funnily enough. I walked through the fields, and thought it’s funny how unfamiliar somewhere so close to home can feel when it’s seen through a veil of mist.

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I walked along the hedge rows and spotted tiny flowers and lots of apples.

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Down at the swimming steps.

I said hello to some dogs out for a walk with their humans, then made it to the river and the swimming steps. I made a mental note to bring some food for the ducks next time. I sat on the steps for a while until the sun started to break trough the mist and I could feel it getting warmer, then I got up and walked across the rugby fields towards home whilst thinking how lucky I am to live within walking distance of all of this, and that I should go walking down here more often. And that I really need some waterproof walking boots.