The world turns Postaliers and life moves on apace. This time of year is fraught with many and various dangers though, as we negotiate our way from heatwave to heatwave and through the resultant “Catastrophic Climate Calumnies” which, thankfully, the “Gubmint” is now able to notify us of and of which the ever helpful ABBC is constantly reminding us. Be prepared friends, for 1.5 degrees of temperature rise, some time in the “near future” and always keep in mind the knowledge we’ve had 18 months (or less) to “Save The Planet” for the last 60 years or so. 2030 here we come!
By the time those few of you who bother to read my fortnightly ramblings will be viewing this, I’ll be at the seaside, so, rather than finishing it off the day of publication I’m getting it finished (hopefully) before I set off for the North Yorkshire coast for some well earned R&R. The capable hands of Dave will be managing the basic jobs in the greenhouse while I’m away, Hopefully any apprehensions I may have will be unfounded. As averse as I am to putting myself in the hands of the drug pushers of the NHS I recently had an over 70’s check up. Long story short, the algorithm put me 0.3% over the base threshold for “increased risk of heart disease”, even though my cholesterol is low and my blood pressure has never been a problem. It’s down to my weight, but that’s my business. Any road up, I got a phone call telling me they wanted me to take Statins. I politely asked if maybe they should be talking about lifestyle, rather than pushing pills (which didn’t go down too well) before (again politely) declining the offer of “help”. I’d done a bit of research and decided to take a more “natural” approach. Drop half a stone (not as easy as it sounds) and drink a cocktail of beetroot juice, cider vinegar, ginger, turmeric and honey every morning. It makes perfect sense to me and I don’t think it can do me any harm, apart from the shock factor of inadvertently glancing into the bowl, following the mornings ablutions!
Quick updates now, on the progress of the produce which (ostensibly) this missive is all about. Mrs. C did me the great service of giving the house a good and hard weeding, leaving the ground looking almost pristine. Whether or not it does anything for the remaining plants, apart from aesthetically, is open to conjecture, but I hate weeding, so I’ll take every bit of help I can get. The broad beans look very healthy, organic(ish) seems to be working.
The other “Dave” kindly passed on some of last years runner bean seeds. I set six and I’ve ended up with four good looking plants, all now making steady progress up the canes. Looking forward to bumper crops and maybe even doing a deal with the farm shop for a bit of country bartering.
Similarly, the peas (a short pod variety called Kelvedon Wonder) are now podding up, although one of the plants, having reached optimum height, now seems to be dying back for some reason. I’ll keep my eye on it, but the point here is the plan for planting both broad beans and peas twice in the season seems to be now something of a goer. The first short row of spuds will be ready to lift next week and I’ll put a row of main crop reds in the same place. We can but try!
Following more than several failed attempts, and a frustrating time of it, I now have fifteen chili and pepper plants (due in no small part to Dave and his propagator) in the nursery, which should be strong and hardened off enough to plant out in maybe a couple of weeks. As they’re primarily to be used for making chili jam, a late harvest won’t be a problem, again, I’m hoping any surplus will be useful for bartering against eggs and (possibly) honey, at the back end of the year.
This shot from the greenhouse door is becoming a regular addition to the “article” now, although it does clearly show the odd angle I have to work at due to me being unable to hold my phone square, it also gives an overall snapshot of the progress. The vine is sorely in need of a hard pruning, which I’ll get around to on my return and probably bore you with the process in my next piece. Although, having said that, I may take a break from diarising my misadventures in rough gardening for a week and (depending on what Whitby and its environs has to offer) provide a “postcard”. It’s “Fish and Ships” weekend, so there should be a wealth of material. A trip on the North Yorks Moors Railway and a day in Staithes are both planned. I’ll bet you can hardly contain your excitement!
Of course, life isn’t all about watering, weeding, potting on, whittling about how good the tomatoes are going to be (or not) and pruning vines, I still find time to take myself off for a walk now and again, dog and wife (sometimes Dave) in tow and ponder the mysteries of life whilst meandering along a track, up a hill, or by a stream. Force Crag mine sits above the village of Braithwaite and gets its name from the waterfalls which tumble down the crag of the same name. If you’re a fan of the Industrial landscape, the history of mining, or even waterfalls and you’re ever in the area I highly recommend this walk. The more adventurous could take in Grisedale Pike, but the undulating 3 mile (or so) track, which runs along the bottom of said fell offers excellent views without being too taxing. Low impact, high reward, as they say.
In recent weeks the clamour for slavery “reparations”, brought on (in no small part) by the “ostentatious” nature of the recent Coronation and the accusations of our nation being built on the proceeds of the traffic in human flesh has increased in both volume and vociferousness. There are plenty of people willing to jump onto this particular bandwagon and I do have more than a little empathy for those poor souls sold into slavery (almost exclusively by their fellow countrymen) and transported out of their own lands to toil at the behest of a master who “owned” them. Where I diverge from the zeitgeist is in the belief of those who seek to divide us on grounds of the colour of our skin that I, personally, am (at least in part) to blame for what happened to these people and I must “check my privilege” lest my inherent “white supremacy” continues to oppress those of a different skin colour to me. Doctor Shola Mos-Shogbamimu (activist and political commentator, according to Wikipedia, professional race-baiter and hater of “white” people to others) is one of those at the forefront of this “blame game”. Hardly a day goes by without her being on the radio or telly box, telling us all how dreadful we are for being “white” and her twitter feed (just one example) “Outrage should be wild but isn’t because Black lives don’t count or matter. Evident that racist ideology at root of slavery thrives today & negatively impacts Black lives for White benefit. There should collective intent from White people to stop it by learning from their history” leaves one under no illusion as to what she thinks of the millions of us whose ancestors toiled down mines, in factories, on the land and at sea without even having any knowledge of this trade in human flesh. I have nothing to be ashamed of, I owe nothing to anyone by way of “reparations” and I feel no responsibility for things which happened both outwith my control and long before my time. In July 2018 Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani, a Nigerian novelist, had an article entitled “My Great Grandfather, The Nigerian Slave Trader” published in The New Yorker magazine. I find it somewhat ironic that someone of Nigerian ancestry is far more likely to have ties to the trans-Atlantic slave trade, than just about anyone of my “British working class” ancestry, a group of people despised and often “Gammonised” by the “Progressive Liberal” cognoscenti, whatever the colour of their skin.
© Colin Cross 2023