February 2007

just to show off my babies. i’m all proud now. they’re growing!!!

sweetpea tomatoseedlings2

~sweetpeas ~ ~ tomato seedlings ~

this is also my final blog before i head south for the funeral tomorrow. I’m not entirely sure i shall be able to blog from Mom and Dad’s, i may, i may not. not making any promises. Back on Wednesday evening… after i’ve stuffed myself silly with the pancakes Michiel promised to make me…


~ home made oven chips ~

These are lovely – and if done with a low-fat cooking spray, are actually pretty healthy. People have different variations but this is how i do em.

  1. Preheat oven to gas mark 7/8.
  2. if using new potatoes, cut straight across (so you have circular disks), about 1/2 cm thick. if using old potatoes, cut into wedges. Scoop into a bowl. (cut up as many as you like, you can see how much you got, they don’t grow magically bigger or smaller. lol.)
  3. nuke on full power for either 5 or 10 minutes (depends how many you’ve cut up, if you’re feeding 2, 10 minutes, if just one, 5 minutes) then grab either the veg oil or the low-fat cooking spray, tescos (or other) BBQ seasoning and salt.
  4. if using the veg oil, carefully sprinkle a little bit of salt and a healthy slug of BBQ seasoning over the potatoes, then pour a small slug of oil over the top. then get in there with a spoon and stir well. keep stirring. if you like BBQ seasoning a lot, keep putting it in until every bit of potato at least has a few grains on it (this part is very much down to taste though.) then tip onto a baking tray.
  5. if using the low-fat cooking spray, squirt a few squirts ontop, sprinkle salt on as above, and stir well, then tip into your cooking tray. Sprinkle with the BBQ seasoning as above and do some more squirts. stir. add more BBQ seasoning to taste.
  6. put the tray on the top shelf of the oven for at least an hour, possibly more, if you’ve cut very large wedges. you may need to turn them over half way. once cooked, tip onto a plate and enjoy with mayo or/and tomato ketchup. 🙂


you can – in theory at least – mess with other flavours. I’ve read about olive oil/garlic/mixed herbs being used in this way. I guess oil with garlic and rosemary would be nice if you were serving the chips with lamb. You could flavour the oil before using on the potatos by gently heating through with the garlic and herbs in it, but i would pick the garlic out before you mix with the potatoes – burnt garlic, (and small bits burn quickly) don’t taste very nice. this is a recipe that is very open to adaptation: if you find a variation you think i’d like, please post below!

got to thinking tonight about allotments. I’ve realised that my plans are rapidly outstripping my garden, and that sooner or later, I am going to need an allotment. or a bigger garden. Allotments are available in Manchester and i seem to be living within walking distance of 3 or so, with a possible fourth (unfortunately, that one is earmarked for demolition if the council get their way: they’re trying to sell it off to developers). I’ve been told the waiting list is very long, but when i looked at the council website and the AMAS site they seemed to say that all sites had allotments available.

More to my surprise, when i mentioned it to Michiel, he thought it was a terrific idea. I thought he’d hate it.. but he said that he thought it would be a) more secure than the garden, b) more suitable c) would be good for me, as not only would it get me out of the house, but would also get me out and surrounded by people who actively share my interests.

hmmmm. he might have a point.

At the same time, however, i’m wary. I know what i’m like: in my head i frequently try to run before i can walk, and make all kinds of grandiose plans, and get over ambitious very quickly, take on more than i can cope with then let the plans fall by the wayside. I’ve lost track of the projects i’ve started and never finished. Part of me wants to make a go of the garden first, then once i’ve gotten that sorted: then move onto an allotment (and maybe just turn the garden over to flowers).

however, its the waiting list that is the problem. it could well be that there’s a year long waiting list, in which case, if i wait till next winter, i could have 2 years to wait. so.. i think i’m going to ask Michiel to call the three contact numbers i have tomorrow, and see if i can arrange a quick visit before i head south for the funeral, have a look around the sites, then make a decision while i’m down south. I can talk to my parents about this as well, although they’ve never run allotments, they are quite keen gardeners – and so will be able to provide some useful insights, i hope. There is also the issue of transport: while i can easily walk between home and the allotments i have earmarked, what if i need to carry seedlings down? heavy equipment? all this has to be thought about.

On the plus side today: my other tomato seedlings sprouted up, the moneymaker ones, and a couple of sweetpeas have sprouted too – the first ones, the ones that i mistakenly planted in a seed tray. I’m going to have to move them before long, i just hope they survive the transplantation (have to wait and see).

for now though i’m going to crawl into bed with one of my allotment/gardening books and think about this some more.

i woke up this morning to seedlings. Well.. not quite woke up. more like woke up, struggled out of bed, went to the loo, rubbed my eyes, flushed the loo, then peeked at the tomato tray and realised i had seedlings. But you didn’t really need to know all that, did you? (tough. you got it now.)

tomatoseedlings1and as a friend of mine pointed out last week… that first seedling of the season gets you all excited. well, it does me. doesn’t take a lot to get me excited and happy! so i ran for the camera and yes i had to take a picture of it. couple of pictures. not very good ones but you can see something vaguely green smudged. i did go to see if there were any other seedlings too but.. nothing doing yet. Oh, and the variety that grew first were the gardener’s delight ones. no sign of anything from moneymaker yet. maybe tomorrow.

I’m also posting pics of my effort to plant some seeds yesterday. Those are toilet rolls,toilet tubes 1

believe it or not – you can plant them, the whole thing, in the earth, the roots just grow through it as it decomposes – works very well for the kind of plant that doesn’t like root disturbance. and of course its nice and long – i planted dwarf french beans and sweetpeas in these, but i’ll probably do some more when i get back next tuesday (more on that below). the tray is an old tray that i was given when i bought a huge box of mushrooms from my regular veg stall up at Ashton under Lyne market (if you’re interested in buying veg from there, its the one on the corner of the outdoor market, nearest to marks n sparks, they’re very good) so, apart from the compost, its all recycled stuff. i got a huge bag of loo rolls, been saving them up since christmas. I’ll post here how it works.

i was going to do some digging today. hand on heart, i pwomise, i was. [ask Michiel if you don’t believe me]. but i didn’t sleep very well last night [period pains] and i’m still creaking like the door in an abandoned mining town with a ghost that’s swinging in the wind… and when i sat down at the puter to nurse my morning coffee to read an email from mum that the funeral had been set for this weekend, i decided that was it. no more digging till i get back. The reason is that the local kids are taking far too unhealthy an interest in my vegetable bed to be (still so tempted to tell them its a grave for them) and with me not being home, Michiel won’t be able to keep an eye on the garden all the time, and i really don’t want to come home to a bed thats either a) scattered all over the garden or b) so compacted i’ve got to dig it again. so the less there is for them to interfere with, the better.

wood2I did get outside though. there was a big pile of wood that was dropped off last night from freecycle (thanks Vince!) for me to build my raised beds out of, so i set about stacking those up a bit more neatly (and hopefully the local kids will be less inclined to try to nick it to burn). once this was neatly stacked i pottered around some, half heartedly forked some of the grass bits that i’d dug up a few days before over to the fence with the fork, but my heart wasn’t in it (and my tummy was aching,neatandtidy1 period pain) so i tidied up a bit more outside, finding old plastic plant pots, and some ceramic pots in the pile underneath the bedroom window, making a note of some plants i wanted to dig up and move (couple small lavenders, a small bay tree. must look those up, when best to move) as they’re where i want to put the greenhouse. i guess the kind of afternoon every gardener has once in a while. fun, though!

tomorrow is shopping day so i doubt i’ll get much done outside. might see if i can plant up some herbs for the kitchen though. I’m rapidly running out of space on windowsills so i’m going to have to give some thought to being productive and doing the best i can. March arrives next week and with luck, i can start getting direct sow things in the ground. That’s a point actually, something to do before i leave: find out about that compost!

I saw a programme tonight on the TV about a teenager who’s 34 stone. 34 stone and 3 pounds at her heaviest, in fact. Her BMI was 79. The first part of the programme really listened to the effect that the weight has had on Bethany (her name), the bullying, the constant ridicule and vitriol that she faced on the streets, on the bus, and how (incredibly, for me), she tried to get on with her life as best she could. She went to college. she tried to achieve her dreams to work in fashion or design. she only wanted what other 19 year olds do: to go out without being stared at (for the wrong reasons), to be able to go into a bar without worrying you won’t fit on the chairs, to go clothes shopping.


as you might’ve guessed from the title.. I’ve been digging!! got all dressed up in my gardening clothes today and headed out into the cold … and dug myself a 1 x 3 meter bed.

[this entry is photo intensive so.. click the more for .. more!]


Further to this post: i had a reply from the bus company that i wrote to (Stagecoach). Apparently i’d sent it to the wrong branch, so my email had bounced around a bit (still better than GMPTE, who I’ve yet to hear from.)

I don’t think i can copy and paste the whole thing here. there’s a clause at the bottom of the email about being private and confidential, yadda yadda.

the important part: they are reviewing the whole necessity to produce a ticket when someone comes on board with a free/concessionary pass. I was right in that the initial cause of it was down to the bus companies needing the drivers to record the passenger getting on with the pass, as the companies get funding from GMPTE for each passenger that does travel that way. They also know from experience with their own week passes that the drivers don’t always record the passengers with those, mostly because of busy times, i would imagine.

however, they are aware that non-collection of these tickets is an issue and are discussing this with other bus companies in the area so that they present a unified front in the matter. YAY!

I also asked what the company was doing about the environment. the gentleman who wrote to me also kindly pointed out that the buses do use a kind of biodiesel (5% bio, 95% diesel), but can’t use electric buses due to the difficulties of recharging and the range of which the buses need to drive. They are looking at instituting some electric buses on routes which are shorter, which is good news. At least they’re thinking about the green option.

Lastly, i asked about the possibility of using recycled paper, or paper that would biodegrade easily. Apparently the tickets are currently printed via a thermal method, and its not possible to use recycle paper with the thermal method, and that this issue is down to their suppliers. Since i have no idea what the thermal method is, i have to accept it, but it does sound a bit like a cop out to me. might do some research into it.

At least they wrote back, and at least they’re rethinking wasting all that paper! lets just hope we hear back from GMPTE too.

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