If you thought strawberry tales was boring, then I guess you’d better hold my coat (as the saying goes). Following several days of not being able to even enter the greenhouse, apart from a cursory quick look around, due to Storm Malik I’ve managed to get a start laying out my growing plan for this coming season. The only damage, so far, although we’re still seeing high winds, is one side pane out (which fell onto grass and survived the impact in one piece) and one skylight vent which needs re-hinging and replacing. I know a chap who can fix this for me, he isn’t called Jim. Being the lazy rough gardener that I am, I’ve shaken myself down and decided to try to be a little more regimented in how I approach my “growing space”. For all the time I’ve been growing I’ve never given more than a cursory thought to growing winter veg, beyond the odd leek or late blooming kale, but this year I intend to rectify that.
Rather than having random patches of produce I’m going to fertilise five “trenches”, a total growing area of around 120 square feet, and rotate crops, rather than letting them wither on the vine (as it were) I’ll remove plants once they’ve finished cropping and have seedlings ready to replace them. I’m hoping this also helps with the ongoing cabbage white butterfly problem; they don’t seem too keen on legumes, tubers and fruiting plants like tomatoes, potatoes and courgettes, but love brassica (sprouts, cabbage, kale etc.). I suppose, if I could be bothered, I could find out why this is, but whatever, I’m getting too old to be chasing butterflies up and down the greenhouse, trying to batter them with a stick. If this system works, it’ll mean I won’t feel the need to rotavate the whole house every year and the only really physical work will be re-digging trenches and barrowing in muck. Weeding should be easier to manage too, with wider paths and less spread out growing beds.
Of course, pottering about in the greenhouse, with the occasional half hour in the shed, leaves me with plenty of time to ponder the happenings of the week, both politically and culturally. This last week or so has given me plenty of food for though. The Herdwick, my smashing, quirky, stone built, freezing cold 18th century local is going to be closing again. It’s unsustainable as a tenanted house and It’ll stand there, empty for God knows how long, until the next unsuspecting victim of greedy freeholders, rapacious rate hungry local councillors, tax obsessed government functionaries and profit driven, number crunching corporate brewers is sucked in by a “rent holiday”, or some other enticement, only to leave, a couple of years later, with bags under the eyes and thousands of pounds of debt hanging over them like the sword of Damocles. I don’t have the answer, but we’re four miles from Ullswater and just off the main road into The Western Lakes, it should be a little gold mine, and probably would be for a freeholder with a bit of vision willing to put the work in. Having to take upwards of £350k a year, before even putting a loaf of bread on the table, isn’t an enticing prospect, to my mind. The next village meeting should be interesting though, I’m going to suggest we try to buy it and make it work, who knows, it may just take off.
Boris Johnson still dominates the “news” cycle, which is hardly surprising given the hatred he engenders in the Europhile “Progressive Liberal” media, but the man’s a buffoon. He had his chance to rise above the hysterical clamour over all the various “gates”, the dust was settling and even though it was obvious he had more than one “enemy” within Downing Street (no doubt all in awe of Carrie and the dog) he did have a small window of opportunity, I believe, to clear out the dross, bring in a refreshed senior team and maybe make a start on governing the country in the best interests of its citizens. Starmer is an empty suit, he’s no match for Johnson over the despatch box (Rayner makes a better fist of it) but the idiot couldn’t help himself (or maybe he could). I’ve heard all sorts of reasons and excuses for the Savile jibe; Starmer deserved it (probably true), Starmer was worse than useless as DPP (undoubtedly true), Boris was fighting for his political life and needed to land a telling blow (fair enough), but Savile FFS? It was needlessly petty, he’s up against a bloke who hasn’t an original thought or idea, who couldn’t run the proverbial brewery piss up, yet he opens another can of worms, which he must have known was going to have the media frothing at the mouth in glee. Maybe that was the plan all along, maybe he intends to follow his predecessors into ignominious but wealthy obscurity and use the media furore as the excuse. Cameron resigned because, having campaigned for Remain and being a committed Remainer, he knew his heart wasn’t in delivering our “Brexit”. May went, after trying to deliver her version of “Brexit”, which wasn’t our “Brexit” either. Maybe Boris simply hasn’t the guts to do the right thing, so he paints himself into a corner, sails off into the sunset knowing the ubiquitous “lucrative book deal” is on the table, and hands the now poisoned chalice on to the next schmuk. Leaving behind him, of course, not just the unfinished business of “Brexit”, but raging inflation, the real prospect of a global recession, an unsustainable “green” agenda, the tail end of the “pandemic”, a nation more divided now than its ever been and a citizenry which simply wanted to be responsible for governing itself, making best use of its own resources as it made its way in a global (not Globalist) world environment. Who knows? Not me, that’s for sure, but I’m sick of the lot of them, surely it can’t be as hard as they make it out to be, can it?
Rant over, it’s no secret I’ve never had time for Johnson, but I’m not alone in that view, I know. The look on Starmers’ face was a picture though. The above picture shows three of five trenches dug and the central one marked out ready. This should be completed and the muck should be in by the next time I put two fingers to keyboard, then it’s simply a question of filling back in, getting the early seedlings going and finishing the cleaning down (I’ll probably jet-wash the glass on the inside, once the repairs have been sorted) and tidying up, which I always leave to the last possible minute. I have a good feeling about this year, hope springs eternal, as they say.
Gardening, ranting about politics, media and celebrities and bemoaning the fate of my local aren’t the only things that keep me occupied; last Friday was the most recent outing with my photography group and we visited the Chapel of St. Wilfrid at Brougham Hall, somewhere I’d recommend visiting if you’re ever up this way. There’s been a place of worship on the site since 1310 but the current building was erected on the instruction of Lady Anne Clifford and completed in 1659. It’s one of only four places of worship built in England during The Cromwellian era. Now no longer in use as a church it’s fallen into a little bit of disrepair and can only be entered by request. It’s a treasure trove of wonderfully lustrous carved wood, stained glass and stone artefacts, a truly great place to visit. I hope the trustees manage to secure the funding needed to bring it back to its former glory, our history deserves to be preserved. The Vulcan, I hear you ask? On permanent exhibition at The Solway Aviation Museum, another one of those “hidden gems” that’s worth a visit if you’re ever in the area.
Next time; seeds new and old, muck (all being well), onions & other hooptedoodle…..
© Colin Cross 2022