not really spring yet!

The forsythia brought in on New Year’s day is now fully open, and cheering the place up a bit.


Much needed – I’ve had a really shitty time since getting home on 30th December: a cold, which has settled on my chest and in my sinuses. The result is almost no voice, blurred vision, headaches, and frequent dizzy spells. I had something similar a couple of years ago, which took around six weeks to shake off, and I’m desperately hoping that this resolves itself before then!

I’m due to go to London at the weekend, for a “wake” to celebrate the existence (and impending closure) of OUT – a gay social networking site I’ve been a member of since March 2005. I’ve met a number of good friends – known mainly on line with only the occasional meeting in person – through the site, and enjoyed a lot of stimulating debate on the forums there. I’ll be deeply sorry to see it go, though there’s promise of “an app” called Gmeet, to operate in a similar social space, for which I’ve contributed to the crowdfunder. Launch date is uncertain … possibly March?

flower bits

Sunshine this morning, so I’m feeling a bit more cheerful, even if still rather groggy. The camellia outside the French windows is starting to show a flush of pink on the buds – fingers crossed, though I’ll probably lose them if there’s a heavy frost. Indoors, the dendrobium on the bathroom windowsill is in full flower.




Chinese lanterns

Chinese lantern (Physalis alkekengi) brought in to dry, while they’re still orange and haven’t got to the skeletal tracery stage. Some on stems to go with honesty as a dried flower arrangement, as there won’t be fresh flowers until I bring in forsythia at New Year.

However, this year I’m also drying individual seedpods, which I’ll hang on loops of thread on the Christmas tree, as the start of a move to plastic-free decorations.

single seedpod


many seedpods

moderately housebound

The weather yesterday was absolutely the worst for me: heavy showers interspersed with bright sunshine! Every joint in my upper body was aching, so I lit the fire and did nothing all day.

Today is a bit better, though shoulders still very stiff and unpleasant. I occupied myself with working out next year’s “cropping plan” for the garden – similar to last year, but with a few improvements from this year’s experiences.



Well, it’s gone full-on autumn! Vile weather, but laying in winter stores in full swing. Yesterday was a couple of jars of raspberry jam (which I haven’t made before – I don’t use very much jam). Today is the regular autumnal batch of green tomato chutney, to use the tomatoes that clearly won’t have a chance to ripen on the plants. A mix of Black Russian and Urbikany … the very early Latah tomatoes are already finished.

I still have a couple of jars from last year, but that’s fine: this batch will need until at least Christmas to mature in the cupboard.


that carpet thing

The roughly annual chore of shampooing the carpet in the back room. UGH! Twice-over with clean water to shift surface dirt and loosen stubborn stuff, then a good go with carpet shampoo.

Possibly the last time I do it. The carpet was here (new, I think) when I bought the place five and a half years ago, and was cheapest HMO-type crap. It just can’t cope with the six months of the year when I’m in-and-out of the garden through the French window twenty or thirty times a day, and sooner or later will have to go.

I’m in two minds about lifting it and seeing if the floorboards can be sanded and stained (a fairly vile job, as I remember from helping Mike Falconer in his house at Greaves Road!), or if it would be better to buy an expensive-but-bombproof wool carpet. Or to resign myself to cheap contract stuff every five or six years.

I suspect I’m not much good at being an adult … carpet care is beyond me!


second life

My much-loved pie plate is no more! Sadly, it’s developed a hole.

I’ve had it for well over thirty years, since just after I moved in to my flat in London. It’s seen service several days a week throughout that period: pies (of course), small roasts, oven fries, roasted veg, baked fish …

But there’s plenty of opportunity for re-use. I’ve decided that a couple of blobs of epoxy putty will fix the hole, and it can have a useful future life as a plant-pot saucer outdoors.

Bedroom bits

Decent mattresses are bloody expensive, aren’t they? Still, my current one has done just short of 14 years (it was a birthday present, to sort me out when my back gave up and I became disabled), which I suppose isn’t bad. Assorted pocket-spring mattresses duly tried – not that one can tell all that much from a couple of minutes in a shop.

John Lewis is as cheap as anywhere, delivery is free, and the extra-cost “take the old one away” claims that 98% of the materials are sold for recycling. Delivery due on Monday !

Hopefully, it will do the business. My back has been really dodgy for several weeks, and I think the elderly mattress is delaying recovery. So it was time to bite the bullet.

pic of pocket spring

Kitchen project (part 3a)

Last night, there was no water in the kitchen. Come to that, no taps, nor sink, nor worktop.

Today has seen much progress – tap is in and working (and no leaks!). Sink is in and the silicone seal is curing. However, the waste is not yet connected, though it’s usable with a bucket underneath!

Yet to do: waste, and build a decent cupboard, which may have to wait a couple of days. Even with back brace and strongest painkillers, this kind of game is right at the limit of what I’m capable of!

removed old worktop
tap in, sink not yet in
sink in worktop - but waste not yet plumbed
sink in worktop – but waste not yet plumbed