And so the new face of the garden begins….

What do you do with a beautifully sunny warm day? The answer is easy…. spend it in the garden. I’ve been very busy since I saw you last, putting together frames, and struggling with nuts and bolts. But today the real gardening has begun. Come and see…..

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Tuesday 22nd August 2017 – War of the ivy!

Today was a gorgeous day. The sun shone all day and the weather was warm (sorry if you had rain). It was the perfect weather to get in the garden and start my plan of action. I loved my allotment, but there were some things that were a little hard to deal with. Firstly the toilet facilities. Now I’m very particular when it comes to a loo. I like comfort, privacy, and dry toilet paper. It’s not much to ask for is it? There was a portaloo on the allotment site, which often didn’t work, and usually smelt bad, the loo roll was damp and the door was facing in the direction where everyone could see you go in and come out. Also, there was no shade, which is great for the plants, but when you want to sit down and have a rest, it’s always nice to grab a bit of shade. Cold drinking water on tap was also something that you couldn’t get. If you took a bottle of water down to the allotment with you, then it always warmed up in the sun, and therefore didn’t quench your thirst. At home there is lovely cool water on tap when ever you want it,  being able to just pop in the garden for about 30 minutes is so wonderful, also being able to sit in the shade and rest, and possibly pop to a lovely private loo when needed is such a joy. Needless to say I’m a very happy lady.

Today I decided I would start clearing the bed on the right hand side of the garden. When we moved in, it was half covered by the shade from the tall conifer trees in the neighbouring garden, so at the back, by the fence, not much would grow. At the front of the bed there were a variety of shrubs, which had all been left to go a little wild. Now the trees have been cut back and only the trunks are showing the full bed has been revealed. There are also lots of weeds growing in the bed, and especially thistles. The soil is covered with a thick layer of conifer needles, and there is ivy trailing everywhere. This is going to take a few days to sort. It will eventually be where the raised bed for all my soft fruits will going. This includes strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, a variety of currents and all sorts of other fruits that I have.

I worked solidly for most of the morning, then the kids and I had lunch and watched half of a film, and then I continued in the afternoon to battle some more. By the end of the day I was very hot and stinky, and while dinner was in the oven, I jumped in the shower (not literally jumped, because that’s very dangerous). I managed to get half of the bed done, which was more than I expected to get sorted, so I was very pleased. With all this exercise and hard work, I’ll hopefully sleep well, and be ready to battle the rest of the bed tomorrow.IMG_4112

 

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Oliver Stone, Chocolate Hobnobs and Japanese Knotweed

Mark Stay Writes

After months of wrangling with estate agents, solicitors, Japanese Knotweed and a very stubborn tree, my family and I have finally moved home. We’ve left the suburbs behind and headed out to the country where I won’t be watching afternoon repeats or the food I eat, but instead working on making a new life here, and writing as much as possible in my mighty man cave (with a lovely view of the washing line)…

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The latest news on the Bestseller Experiment is that we’ve finished our latest draft and have sent it to our editor. This is the first time that a fresh pair of eyes will read our work, and it’s always a slightly terrifying prospect, but we’ve worked our nuts off on this book, and when working on the final chapters over the weekend I actually found myself blubbing. That’s never happened to me before, so I…

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A day at the White Cliffs of Dover!

There were no bluebirds over them today, just a few seagulls. Today the kids and I went for a day out to a National Trust place that we’ve not visited before. So today I decided that we would visit the White Cliffs of Dover and the South Foreland Lighthouse. If you’re going to see one, you might as well see them both because they’re right next to each other. The day was sunny with a gentle breeze. You don’t really want to be up on top of a cliff in rain and gales, so we picked the perfect day. The first thing you notice when you start your walk, is the Dover port below you. The only way I can describe it, is that it’s like watching a Scalectric set, with cars and lorries whizzing along it. They just seemed to go in circles, clearly they weren’t, but it was fascinating to watch.IMG_4081

If you’re scared of heights then I wouldn’t suggest you don’t walk along the cliff edge path. It’s not fenced off, but is far enough away from the edge to feel safe. Well I thought so, but both Emily and George realised they may be a little scared of heights, and kept their distance. The views were unbelievable. We came to the conclusion that nature can be so beautiful at times, but also sometimes it can be very scary.

As we were walking along the designated path, I kept seeing some rather unusual plants. Now you would normally see these in a vegetable patch, so what they were doing all over the side of the cliffs is anyones guess. How they got there I guess will always be a mystery. What are they? Brassicas!! Yes that’s right, they actually look like Flower sprouts/ Brukale, and they were every where. Some had gone to seed, so they clearly liked it up on the Dover Cliff tops.IMG_4085

We carried on walking and sometimes the path got very close to the edge. If you wanted to look over the edge safely, the best way to do it was to lie on your tummy and pop your head over, making sure you didn’t drop your sunglasses in the process. I’m glad to say we didn’t loose anything, but it makes you wonder how many, sunglasses and mobile phones have been lost over the edge. At the bottom of the cliffs there is no beach, just lots of hard rocks below.

We then came across the Fan Bay Deep Shelter. If you ever go to the White Cliffs of Dover, you must go on the tour. It’s brilliant. A little chilly inside, but there is so much to look at. The gentleman that showed us around was superb. He knew his stuff, some from personal experience. He told us all about why the tunnels were there, who lived and worked in them, why they were built, how they were built. So much information. We must have been on the tour for about an hour, but it didn’t seem that long at all. You’ve got to experience it for yourselves, you won’t be disappointed.

Once we left the dark depths of the tunnels underground, we continued walking along the path, and finally we came to the South Foreland Lighthouse. Again it was a guided tour and another lovely elderly chap showed us around, and told us all about the Goodwin Sands where so many ships have been lost. I never knew it was there, but I won’t be going out in a boat just incase. He took us up to the very top of the lighthouse and showed us how it all worked. It’s been decommissioned now, but still works perfectly. We then went outside at the top of the lighthouse, and our guide pointed out various points of interest on the horizon. He told us some wonderful stories, some he knew to be true, others he said may not have been true. But stories are there to entertain you, and even if they weren’t true they sounded like they should have been. The view from the top was fantastic, if a little on the windy side.

There were all sorts of memorabilia in the lighthouse, and the books that the lighthouse keeper would have to record his information in. The once section of this that did make me giggle was the way weather was described. Yes you can understand: “cloudy”, “foggy”, “snow”, “thunder”. These all make sense, but what is “Ugly” weather? Apparently it’s “threatening and should be used with caution”. What ever that means.

Once we had come down from our lighthouse tour, the kids had an ice cream (well it goes without saying) and we walked all the way back along the marked route all the way back to the car park. We got back to the car exhausted, but we’d all had a really amazing day. We will definitely go back again, but this time when Mark can come with us.

 

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When to harvest your potatoes

If you haven’t started harvesting your potatoes yet, very soon you will be. If this is your first time growing potatoes you are in for such a treat. Freshly harvest potatoes taste amazing! They are so fresh and flavourful, they need only to be gently washed, then boiled in slightly salted water before being drained and then a little butter melted over the top. Perfect! Your taste buds will be buzzing with excitement and will love you forever.

There is more information in my very helpful guide on potatoes, with all the information you need, and is only 99p. There is also a lovely little recipe at the back for you to try. Click HERE for more information.

Enjoy you freshly harvested potatoes, there is nothing quite like a freshly harvest spud!

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Want to know when to harvest your fruits and vegetables?

All the information you need to know about feeding, looking after, and harvesting your plants can be found in my ebooks. Including a little recipe at the end as well for you to try. Click on the vegetable and you’ll go straight to the book: CARROTS, POTATOES, ONIONS, FRENCH BEANS and CONTAINER GARDENING.

And for the little gardeners in your family, don’t forget my series of LOTTIE and DOTTIE BOOKS. These are perfect for those learning to garden and read as well. CARROTS, SUNFLOWERS, PUMPKINS.

Happy gardening!!

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Today’s harvest.

 

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Monday 31st July 2017 – A brand new garden.

Yes we’ve finally moved, and now that the house is sorted, and all but about 2 boxes of pictures have been unpacked, I can now get in the garden. We have bought a new camera and mic which are brilliant. I know you’re going to ask me which ones we’ve got, but I can’t remember so I’ll have to ask Mark. The garden is a blank canvas, which is brilliant. I have a plan in my little brain, which only I can see at the moment, and it looks lovely. I need to get out with a tape measure and then design on some squared paper what I want to create. I’m sure there’s a way of doing it on the computer, but I like the old fashioned way. I’ll keep you updated every step of the way. We are wondering what treasures and possibly strange discoveries we’ll find on the way.  When we moved into our previous house in Surrey, I found a pot of Coleman’s mustard in the long grass and an adult video (you know they type and I didn’t watch it, just incase you’re wondering) in the conifer trees!! Yes you heard me correctly, the estate agents were very amused. I will be very surprised if we discover anything quite as strange in this garden. So here it is, the first look at my new garden. Please excuse the mess we’ve only just moved in.

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