Month: August 2008

August 23, 2008
August 22, 2008
Further to my earlier posting on this subject, it seems my complaints to Hozelock didn’t go unnoticed.

A couple of days ago, I received another email from them, and today arrived a complementary water butt pump.

At the moment, with my rearrangement, things aren’t going to bad, so I am not going to use it yet. However, I do feel that it will be healthier to water the garden properly once or twice a day, rather than continuously trickle – one part of my garden has recently started growing fungi.

So I’ll leave it for now, but install it for next year, when I start afresh.

August 18, 2008
This book may be old news to some of you, as it has been out for a while.

It’s been on my reading pile for a while, and I picked it up last night, intending to read for half an hour before I went to sleep. I finally put the book down at 2am, read a bit more when I woke up this morning, and then finished it this evening.

A truly wonderful satirical thriller, about an ex Prime Minister of Great Britain (totally fictional, of course), who is trying to write his memoirs (with the help of his Ghost-Writer), while under the threat of being accused of war crimes. You do get the feeling that the author is settling some old scores with his depictions, but that does not detract from the novel at all. The Ghost: Robert Harris: Books

August 14, 2008
Eating Well – A Diet Blog:
August 14, 2008 6:05 P.M. Weight: 345.0 lbs.

Probably not the best move, when you are on a diet, but I have just bought myself a barbecue.

When I moved into this house, a few years ago, it had an old brick barbecue. For some time I have been planning to get the parts – tray, grill etc – to get it working again. However, it is in a bit on an inconvenient place, down the bottom of my garden.

So instead, the brick barbecue has been transformed into a potting table, and I have just bought a Weber charcoal kettle. I’ve been reading up on it, and shopping around for a month or so, and it did seem to do everything I wanted – easy to use, easy to clean, and big enough to handle things like beef joints, whole chickens, and even pizza stones. Although it’s a big barbecue, it’s easy enough to create a small cooking area for just just one or two people.

I have some friends coming over in a few weeks time, who I’ve promised barbecue. So I am about to go out there and do some experimentation.

Wish me luck!

August 14, 2008
Eating Well – A Diet Blog:
August 14, 2008 5:44 P.M. Weight: 345.0 lbs.

It’s been a little while since I posted about my garden here – part of the reason is that I have been… in the garden.

Last year, the big disappointment I had was working hard on the couple of beds I had planted, then going away for a week, and coming back to find plants drying out everywhere. Neighbours can be helpful with watering, but you still worry about what you are going to come back to.

So this year, I decided I was going to build some kind of irrigation system, starting off with two water butts, taking water off my garage roof.

I bought a HozeLock “Water Butt Border Watering Kit”, which – in my naivety – I thought would be suitable for watering my borders from a water butt. On the packaging, it showed it all connected to a butt, not more than a foot off the ground, and mine were higher than that, so it must work, no?

No chance. It worked in a fashion when the water butt was filled to the brim, but the soaker hose closest to the butt got all the water, and the beds furthest away got none. On inquiring of HoseLock, they explained how I wouldn’t get a consistent water pressure along a long soaker hose. “So why does your kit contain 15 metres of the stuff?” No answer.

So, this week, I took it all apart, and put it back together again. Whereas before, I had a length of standard hose, then some soaker when it reached the planting bed, then some more standard hose, then some more soaker, this time I laid a black semi-rigid pipe around the perimeter of the garden. Then at each planting points I inserted a T junction, connected to a small inline tap, connected to a short length of soaker hose.

Success – steady constant pressure throughout the system. Still not sure there will enough pressure when the butts are only half full, but provided the hose seeps something, I can just leave it on for longer. Longer term, I intend to put another butt by the house, which will be at the opposite end of the system, so that may improve things. If not, I buy a simple little pump to put in one of the butts.

August 9, 2008
It appears that Paris Hilton objected to her image being used in a John McCain Campaign Ad.

“Miss Hilton was neither asked, nor did she give permission, for the use of her likeness in the ad, and has no further comment,” said an official statement from her people.

But distancing herself from McCain wasn’t enough, she has come up with her own campaign ad in retaliation:

It certainly made me laugh, and it’s nice to see someone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously.

August 8, 2008
August 8, 2008
It’s been a while since I wrote about the garden, and things have moved along a bit – some good, some bad.

The brassicas suffered terribly this year from the Cabbage White butterfly. Being a novice gardener, I had no idea the effect their caterpillars could have. I lost a cabbage, all the cauliflowers, and I’m waiting to see if the brocolli will produce anything. On the brighter side, I have three cabbages still growing, which although their outer leaves are in holes, the hearts don’t look too bad.

After the main damage was done, I built a wood netted frame, which promptly fell apartthe first time I tried to move it. Version 2 is a lot better, and should survive the year. Next year, I intend to either group the plants so I can use the plastic cloches my local garden centre has, or I have seen an aluminum and plastic modular system that looks perfect, and is quite reasonable (and reusable).

The peppers, as I predicted, came to nothing. I had two very nice lettuces, but the last two bolted, so I added them to my green bin.

The new raspberry and blackberry plants haven’t produced much, but are establishing themselves nicely for next year.

The herb garden is growing well – all I need to do now is doing some cooking that will use the herbs.

Tomatoes were growing too well – I wasn’t diligent enough about keeping them under control, and they have gone all over the place. Lots of tomatoes, though, and I have cut them back a bit now, so all the plants energy should go into making nice juicy fruit.

The spinach beet has been uninspiring – it has grown ok, but not in great abundance, and I haven’t actually bothered to pick any (perhaps that is why – it is supposed to be a cut and come again crop).

The sugar snap peas – these were the big success of the summer. I have had so many peas off of these plants – as many as I can eat and more. Unfortunately, this week they fell foul to powder mildew. I missed the first signs, and when I realised what it was, the plants were covered in it. The plants probably had only a couple more weeks to go, anyway, so I picked the remaining peas (about 2 pints of peas and pods), and pulled up the plants. I have some onions I can plant in their place there for harvesting early spring.

Finally, the courgettes are in flower, and I am looking forward to seeing what I get from them. I really didn’t give them enough room this year, putting them in with the cabbages, but I will know better next year.

August 8, 2008
When electric/hybrid cars first started appearing, I said they would have to make them artificially noisy, so they wouldn’t increase the chance of road accidents.

Seems Lotus agrees with me: The Independent: Introducing the hybrid you can hear

“Lotus is developing technology that will put the roar of the traditional combustion engine under the hoods of eco-friendly vehicles, in an attempt to make the quiet cars safer for unsuspecting pedestrians – particularly the blind – and cyclists.”

August 6, 2008
A couple of years ago, I used to go to The Acoustic Sessions, a monthly acoustic music club in nearby Barnack. Unfortunately, not many other local folk I know seemed interested in going along, and after a while, you get fed up of going on your own.

Anyway, last month Mike Whitaker went along and found it a bit of a blast, so the two of us and Rika turned up there on Tuesday. Mike had said it was very quiet in July, which seemed rather strange. But this week it was full, with about a dozen performers.

Still, we all got a minimum of two songs – I played Cat Steven’s “Father and Son”, and then my own “Mind Such as Mine”.

Great fun, and hopefully we can turn it into a semi-regular thing.

August 1, 2008
Unfortunately, this part of the trip wasn’t as successful as the movie. It turned out that Birmingham’s Science Museum is a lot more kiddie oriented than I expected, and young kiddie at that – I’d say in the 8-10 year old range. As such, there was very little I found really interesting, and while their website advised a minimum of three hours for the visit, I was done in just over an hour.

However, I found that Thinktank is only 10 minutes easy walk from the Bullring, so I went shopping instead!

August 1, 2008
There’s not a lot I can say about this, that others haven’t already said. This was a Batman movie pretty much grounded in a real world Gotham City, in my opinion, unlike the fantasies that have gone before. Heath Ledger did steal the film, but there were still very good performances from the othe cast members.

The Imax scenes were wonderful, and the transition between Imax and regular scenes were smooth and non-distracting.