Life carries on much as normal, given the increasingly bizarre times we live in. The weather, thankfully, has picked up and jobs that have been on hold for a couple of weeks have risen to the top of the always long list. Dave, my indispensable “odd job” man generally prefers to work alone. He doesn’t enjoy being watched whilst working (something I’m extremely good at) and he’s also supremely confident in his ability to get things done, whatever the challenge. Just occasionally though he has to (somewhat reluctantly) call on me to foot the odd ladder or pick up a sheet or two of broken glass. I’ve found that skilled men are often like that, the mundane holds no interest for them, they’d much rather be knocking in a nail without bending it, or achieving a straight cut whilst sawing a piece of two by four. Hence the quad bike and trailer, the recent high winds had brought down some large branches along the tree lined lane that borders one of the family fields. Dave wielded the chain saw while I picked up the twigs. A fair division of labour for us both and a trailer full of logs and kindling for my trouble.
We had occasion to visit Glasgow for a couple of days recently, it’s odd being in a city, the last time was when I passed through Manchester to meet fellow GP’ers but I had no time to really take in the urban atmosphere on that occasion. The mask business is strange, some people follow the “rules” slavishly, others don’t bother at all, nobody that served us, in either shop, bar or restaurant challenged me, I suppose, just like everyone else, they’re all heartily sick of the whole business by now. The city itself, or what I saw of it, is pleasant enough, if you can get past the ubiquitous rough sleepers and beggars, but it’s expensive (though not as expensive as London, at a guess); I spent a morning in The Gallery Of Modern Art, which wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste, I was asked if I had a mask, a declaration of exemption was enough to mollify the security man and I spent a pleasant couple of hours wandering around the various exhibitions. Modern art is the ultimate Curates Egg for me, whilst some of it is clever, expressive and skillfully portrayed and/or assembled, much of it is pretentious rubbish and some of it can’t even claim to be that good. Still, each to their own.
Of far more interest is the cathedral, it’s only a short walk from the city centre and it would be easy to spend a full day there, highlights include the tomb of St. Mungo, some fine stained glass, a great may bronzes, many of them created by Robert Jackson and the sheer number of plaques and other monuments to the fallen. Over the gate into The Necropolis, which adjoins the cathedral and is worth a visit in its own right, is an inscription with a quote, partially repeated on several of the monuments within the cathedral, which seems to justify death in battle as somehow more glorious than other death, who knows, maybe it is, but we don’t really need another war, do we?;
“That which is born a natural body shall be raised (as) a spiritual body. When this corruptible must put on incorruption (sic). When this mortal must put on immortality. When death is swallowed up in victory”.
Twig picking, ladder footing and getting very drunk in Glasgow aside, the work in the greenhouse also carries on apace. As promised, several weeks ago, I’ve now sown some seeds, as well as putting in ten seed potatoes (the first of around 25 or so, which I’ll stagger plant over the next four to six weeks or so). I planted my peas directly last year and although they were quite successful I wasn’t a fan of the variety. Given I’m starting them off a month earlier than last year I’m germinating in the cold frame for planting out, hopefully first week of April. The tomatoes, all forty two of them (hopefully) are in the airing cupboard, although I don’t think it’s quite warm enough to stimulate germination, hopefully I’m wrong, but if I don’t see anything coming through by Friday this week I’ll have to have a rethink. I have had something of a disaster with some of my tomato seeds though, I put them on kitchen paper to dry, but instead of waiting until they were fully dried I then put them in plastic money bags in the fridge, mouldy seeds resulted, including my large Greek variety, fortunately a neighbour, who I’d given some tomatoes to last year had saved some seed, so I should, thankfully, be able to continue with this particular variety which has become a big favourite.
I don’t know why, because I bought myself a small riddle several years ago, but I’ve never really considered sieving the soil before. With this years new plan, of planting in trenches rather than patches, I’ve found myself with a goodly supply of decent top soil, albeit a bit “cloddy”. I piled it up and allowed it to partially dry out before riddling into the trusty old barrow and mixing around 60/40 with compost. I haven’t used the finest mesh, too much like hard work for a rough gardener like me, but I’m hoping it’ll do a job in both pots and my raised beds. It’s quite enjoyable work too, repetitive but satisfying, with a hopefully decent end product.
Got the onion sets in, nothing remarkable about that apart from the fact it’s the first time I’ve spaced them in this way, also in a trench rather than a patch, which should make both weeding and harvesting. Norman used to say it was pointless growing onions, as they’re cheap to buy (which was one of his pet veg growing theories), but winning the “Red Onion” category at The Village Show, year on year, is actually priceless and entering three bought onions would be cheating.
I had to call on Dave to give me a hand with the support for the peas, I had intended buying some plastic stuff as an alternative to the usual metal, I’d fancied a tighter mush, but, as there’s rolls and rolls of fencing mesh kicking about on what’s left of the old farm, I saved myself a few quid. It isn’t ideal, but it is cheap. Getting the peas in early and freezing the ones that aren’t used fresh should allow me to use this trench for either leeks or brassica, part of the plan for extending the growing season and, in a little way, helping to offset the rising cost of food, which I’ll no doubt discuss at a later date, but I bought a steak this week, something I haven’t done for a while. I’ve noticed on restaurant menus the cost of a steak dinner has become prohibitive, especially for us pensioners, but just under £9 for a ten ounce rib-eye, albeit a lovely piece of meat, makes it a very rare treat. I doubt it’ll get any cheaper before it gets dearer.
The riddled soil and compost mix has mostly been utilised to form the strawberry beds. I’m going with the theory that an all compost bed was maybe a bit rich, certainly for the smaller plants and a mix of soil, which has had several years of farmyard manure through it, along with the feed form the compost will provide a better growing environment. We’ve had a couple of frosts lately, but the days have been warm, especially under the mostly intact glass and I’m hoping for both a better crop and fewer mouldy fruit, which I believe is mostly caused by water sitting on top of the growing medium. We’ll see what we see, but again it’s usually been mid April before I’ve got them settle in so fingers crossed for success.
Of course, it isn’t all about picking up twigs, footing ladders, uncoupling trailers, riddling soil and planting stuff, sometimes thoughts turn to weightier matters which pique my interest. As some of you are no doubt aware, I had been active on twitter for almost as long as I’ve been on Going Postal. I joined mostly to fight the “Brexit” cause against the Remainiac hordes but there’s so much more that goes on there. Twitter has a very dark side, most of it driven by brain dead leftists, sexual degenerates and weird fetishists. I rubbed along for almost 3 years with a following hovering around the thousand mark before a couple of tweets, some photography and some satirical, brought me to the attention of a wider audience. Within short order I found myself with over six thousand followers and the huge increase in mentions such numbers bring. On October 17th I replied to a tweet from Sir Lefty (once a regular contributor to this august blog) referencing some particularly odd tweet from a member of the “Trans” community. My tweet? “Crackers, they’re all crackers I tell ya'”. This got me a ban for “hateful content & targeted harassment”. I thought long and hard about opening a new account, but after consideration I did so, keeping a low(ish) profile being a priority. All well and good until I had the temerity to reply to a “caption this in three words or less” photograph of failed male swimmer and fake woman Lia Thomas. My tweet? Lia Thomas *Man. Within hours I’d received a twelve hour suspension for, you guessed it, “hateful content” along with a final warning.
Lia Thomas is a man and a cheat, but it got me wondering; what does The ICC do when a six feet four inch journeyman club pace bowler, who can regularly reach 80mph, changes his name from Ralph to Rachel and demands (on merit) a place in the England Women’s cricket team?
What do the FA and FIFA do when a six foot four inch, fifteen stone Isthmanian League centre forward, who gets £75 a game if he’s lucky, decides to change his name from Steve to Stephanie to take advantage of the £30k a year plus lucrative sponsorships available in the Womens Premier League?
I’m guessing then we’ll see some push back, but, if we don’t then females sports will be ruined as a route to a career for women and cheats will be seen to fully prosper. There’s no justification for it and, so long as we keep allowing it to happen, for the sake of “wokeness”, we’ll all be the worse for it. To be honest, it simply isn’t cricket.
I couldn’t sign off without mention of the sad passing of Alan Head (1932-2022). Alan was a man I was pleased to call my friend and this village will sadly miss both him and the “show and tell” garden gate exhibitions of his wide and eclectic collections of all manner of historical ephemera. He showed at steam rallies and the like all over the north, only ceased to deliver the Parish magazine six months ago and up until last winter, when he was stopped for “health and safety” reasons, he would clear the snow from the school playground every morning (so long as there was snow to clear). It would take me ages to describe him and his effect on those he met and knew fully, suffice to say he’ll be missed by the whole local community, one of a rare and sadly dwindling breed; RIP Alan, you’ll not be forgotten.
Next time; Germination(hopefully), Cane tripods, Feeding Plants, More Hooptedoodle…..
© Colin Cross 2022