Year: 2008

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.

August 1, 2008
At the showing of The Dark Knight, they played a trailer for Watchmen, due to be released next year. It looked utterly gorgeous, expecially on Imax. Visuals were spot on perfect, as far as I could see – it was as if the pages from the graphic novel had come to life.

July 31, 2008
Eating Well – A Diet Blog
July 31, 2008 9:15 A.M. Weight: 345.0 lbs.

Yesterday, it looked like I was going to miss my monthly goal by just 0.6lb, even allowing for my normal weight loss.

So last night, I was going to just have a salad or something, but when I got to the kitchen, I was actually quite hungry.

‘Oh well, its only a target,’ I thought, and ended up having a pretty good dinner – grilled chicken, and steamed potatoes and peas, a low-fat desert, and lots of fruit.

So today was the moment of judgement., I got up, pulled on my joggers, and, picking up the polo shirt I wore last night, stepped on the scales. I was 0.2lb over!

Then I thought – ‘this polo is actually quite a thick one’, so dumped it in the laundry basket, put on a light Cotton Traders T-shirt, and stepped on the scales again.

The scales were alternating between 344.8 and 345, so I made my goal weight! It’s a bit cheeky that my success depended on what shirt I wore, but, to be fair, the Cotton Trader shirts are what I normally wear, day to day, so it’s no foul.

July 30, 2008
Eating Well – A Diet Blog:
July 30, 2008 2:48 P.M. Weight: 345.6 lbs.

I’ve just had a bit of a shock. I can’t stand artificial sweeteners of any sort, so if I buy squash or cordial, I buy something fruit-based. Lately, I have been drinking Ribena, a popular blackcurrant drink in the UK.

However, logging my calories for lunch, I discovered – according to the Ribena figures, that 100ml diluted is 45 calories. That means the pint of Ribena I have just drunk is over 250 calories – more than the prawn and mayonnaise sandwich I ate.

Thinking about this further, a good British ale is only 180-200 calories per pint, so it would be better for my diet to replace my fruit drinks with beer. I like the sound of that!

Of course, on looking into this, I discover that it is not all as it seems. Checking the side of the bottle shows that the manufacturer’s figures are based on a dilution of 1 part Ribena to 4 parts water – essentially a syrupy kid’s drink. I reckon I dilute it 1 part to 10 of water, at least – just enough to flavour it. So it isn’t as bad as I thought.

I still like that beer idea, though!

July 29, 2008
Have just booked tickets to see The Dark Knight at IMAX in Thinktank, Birmingham. I’m not working on Friday, so I have got a ticket for their midday Planetarium show, then the afternoon looking round the science museum, and some 5-storey-high Batman in the early evening.

As my old mate Clive used to say – “If a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing to excess!”

July 29, 2008
I usually have two holidays a year – one for me alone, and another one where I take my mum away for a week.

This year, I seem to have skipped my solo holiday – I will probably end up spending it in the garden, or going out for days.

But for my holiday with mum, she said she fancied going to Dorset.

So I have managed to find a town cottage in Weymouth for a week in early September – only 4 weeks away. I googled “self-catering Dorset” and came up with Rupert – one of 7 cottages converted from stables, each named after the shire horse it used to stable, ours being Rupert.

It looks pretty nice, we have a room each, a decent lounge and modern kitchen *and* private parking; and it’s pretty central to the Old Harbour area of Weymouth, so there should be lots of local shops and pubs and restaurants we can visit without the car.

July 26, 2008
Eating Well – A Diet Blog
July 26, 2008 6:42 P.M. Weight: 345.6 lbs.

I spent most of yesterday putting my garden back to rights, and I have just spent another hour out there finishing off.

Socially, I’ve been fairly busy lately, which means things like the garden have been a little neglected. While I have been gallivanting, my cabbages and broccoli have fallen foul of the Cabbage White Butterfly – eggs and caterpillars galore, all the plants have some outer leaf damage, and a couple were beyond saving. Meanwhile, two of my beetroot plants suddenly wilted – I pulled them up to find the beet had been eaten by something.

Anyway, my cabbages and broccoli now have a net cage around them, a piece of engineering that I am proud of. I will try to get a picture of it before it falls apart. I’ve also just planted a whole tray of beet seed, to see if I can get some plants in to replace the eaten ones.

I feel that the garden and my diet are connected, not in a mystical way, but practically – when I don’t have time for the garden, I’m probably not finding time to eat well, either. Also the exercise is useful.

This week I came across an interesting little book called The Half-hour Allotment – which describes how to tend and keep an allotment in just 30 minutes a day. Of course, my garden is a fraction of the size of an allotment, so it’s got to be worth a go.