weed gun

For the past few years I’ve relied on a flame-thrower to keep weeds on patio and path under control, as bending for manual weeding is pretty much beyond me. Sadly, it died at the end of last growing season – though, as Geoff Hodge pointed out a couple of years ago – gas flame guns are not the most environmentally conscious tools to have!

So I’ve invested in an electric weed burner, which arrived yesterday. After allowing the now-usual 24 hours for it to decontaminate in the front room, today it saw use. It’s OK. Not as good as real flames, and there’s an absence of satisfying mini-explosions as steam builds up in the thicker stems, but it does the job. Two hour-long sessions with it today, either side of lunch, and the back paving down the side of the house and the patio are looking much better.

It won’t completely cure deep-rooted things like dandelions, of course, but repeated application may eventually discourage them … anything to avoid glyphosate. Although easier on my back than grovelling with sharp instruments, it was still a bit of a strain, and I’m aching this evening.

This was the patio before starting on it! An “after” photo may get posted in due course …

patio, with weeds

day 16 …

Day 16 of “restriction” – that is, a week of complete self-isolation, followed by joining the rest of the country in “not going out unless it’s essential – exercise permitted”. I went to the shop once, for milk, a week ago, and have been for some walks.

Despite sunny spells, it’s bitterly cold here, with a biting wind. Nevertheless, I managed a quick walk, prompted largely by the bathroom scales remaining stubbornly at 71.2 Kg … I don’t seem to have lost any weight for several days. Not good – my target is 65 kg, and I’m hoping to get there by Midsummer’s day! The weight was agreed with the “Pre-diabetes clinic” before they ceased operating, the timescale was not.

I chose to go at lunchtime, hoping that there would be fewer people, but in fact it was busier than tea-time has been. Anyway, down to the canal via the path by the cemetery, back up the hill. My thighs were aching a lot on the way back, which hasn’t happened on previously walks – maybe I was pushing the pace a bit ‘cos of the cold. The blackthorn in sunny places is nearly over, and that in the shade is fully open.

map of route


blackthorn twig with blossom


There was a light frost this morning, but by lunchtime it was bright sunshine, and I had lunch – in a T-shirt – on the patio. The blossom on the Worcester Black Pear is fully out now, looking great.

Then a walk this afternoon. Down to the canal, turning right up to Bilford Top Lock, then along the road past the recycling centre (closed, due to coronavirus), down and across the canal bridge, then up the hill home. Blackthorn blossom is fully out, except in the shadiest of places.

Pear blossom


map of route


blackthorn blossom against blue sky


Bilford Top Lock


sunny stroll

A very pleasant stroll in the late afternoon sunshine. I left it until after 5pm, as I’d hoped that there would be fewer people about. however, the towpath was quite busy.

Down the footpath to the graveyard, then along the muddy un-made-up path to the lock. Back along the towpath to the bridge, and up the hill to home. It came in about a mile – a bit less than I really should do (for diabetes pevention), but as it’s my first walk for a fortnight I think I’m allowed!

map of route


canal, looking away from town


Despite being chilly last night – down to about 1C – today has been glorious sunshine. A little bit of wandering in the garden, admiring the onset of spring, and for the first time this year I managed to hang washing out to dry, instead of using the tumble dryer.

washing on line

coffee table flowers

It’s that time of year when the forsythia and most of the daffodils have finished, and other flowers have yet to start. So things for the coffee table are rather scarce. Last week, I cracked and ordered a bunch of tulips with the Ocado delivery, but these have now finished.

Fortunately, the rosemary is just starting to come into flower. OK, the flowers are fairly insignificant, but the scent of the cut branches is of course glorious!

rosemary branches


So, I’m half way through a week of self-isolation (for possible COVID-19). Yes – a week: it’s only a fortnight if there’s more than one person living in the house – though I expect I’ll be on “social distancing” for the foreseeable future.
Cough gradually diminishing, slightly feverish and disturbed nights, and daytimes are half-hour spells of feeling extremely energetic followed by three or four hours of extreme exhaustion! I’m trying to use the brief energetic spells constructively – the grass got cut, and some leaflets for the Green Party printed, in yesterday’s energy spurts.
The most frustrating thing is not being able to go out for a walk! That’s an essential component of my “eat less and exercise more” programme to avoid progressing from “pre-diabetic” to actually being diabetic. And resuming a near-daily walk will be the major difference between “self-isolation” and “social distancing” for me.


A few days later than in previous years, the blue hyacinths are coming out. One group now fully out, the other group all have visible, blue, flower stems.

And I managed a walk, despite strong winds. Down to the canal, then along the towpath, to ASDA. About 7/8 mile … although I thought I’d set the walk logger, for some reason it didn’t work!

hyacinths in bloom

signs of spring

Today, there’s frogspawn in the pond – a couple of days later than last year, but we haven’t had any sunny days yet! Lack of warmth is probably hy there’s no sign of Marsh Marigold flowers yet – the plants seem healthy enough.

The first early chives are up far enough for me to have a chive omelette for lunch – all good on the weight-loss from! Today I’m at 71.9 kg,  down from 72.8 when I started a fortnight ago.

Yesterday was pricking out the Peter Pepper chilli, and the Urbikany tomatoes. The Black Russian and the Latah will probably have to wait until next week, as I’m waiting for the annual compost and growbag delivery, though I might have just enough to do them if things get desperate.