Tag: Gardening

Days off, huzzah!

Today is my first of five whole, glorious, non-working days! Big yay!

I’ve sorted out a bunch of videos, (all the TKD poomse -required patterns- for all of the grades to black belt) numbered them, put them in sequence, chucked them into a file with the photo’ of my badge on the front, (you still wish you had one) and now have written about it.

Sad, sad, sad.

I have also been making the most of the non-torrential moments to do a bit about the garden. Many’s the suspected weed that has felt the pitiless brutality of the dark side of my gardening. Also I collected a nosegay of sweetpeas and roses, an eye-candy of crocosmia and dahlia, and a touch of hosta and butterfly bush to make an arrangement. I call it ‘Summer in a glass’.

Nice, don’t you think?

Also I decided to try an idea I’ve been mulling over. For a while now I’ve fancied putting some plants out the front of the house, but we have no garden and the local pre-convict youth would have trashed any plant pots with their relentless football. Now however, the darling youth have mostly moved their delinquency to some other poor bugger’s domain. Mostly. It would only take one hit to knock a plant over, possibly to break the pot. Then I noticed I’ve had to start weeding in the 10" gap between the house and the pavement. It is covered in large stones, with more of the same and sandy gravel below. I thought it would be too inhospitable a terrain to support plant life. But if weeds can do it, why not try some of the hardier plants?

So today I’ve been excavating small holes in the stones/ gravel, filling them full of compost and heavy soil, then planting lavender. I had one small lavender growing independently, but the other two were just branches I’d pinned down to root (layered). They were still attached to the mother plant until today. I’ve just snipped them off, cut them right back (to encourage rooting and decrease water loss through the leaves) and stuck them in the front. Watered them in, obviously. Now we wait. If anything can take it it will be lavender. Hot, dry, and poor (to the point of non-existent) soil. Nothing lost, I’m layering another bunch of branches now.

While I was at it I potted up one of my dwarf firs and buried the pot in a whole I made in the stones. It’s a nice fir, but I can’t really find a home for it in my garden, so it’s an ideal experimental candidate.

Talking of firs, whilst we were in Scotland we were surrounded by the buggers. One particular flavour caught my eye. I went rooting around for pine cones, trying to find one bearing seeds, but they were all wide-open, dried husks (due to it being totally the wrong season). Not to be put off I ripped a few cones apart to try to find any recalcitrant seeds (ones with issues) and amongst the few runtish looking seeds I found one that was rooting! I quickly ripped it out, put it in wet bog-roll, and left if for the rest of the holiday. I brought it home and potted it, not really expecting a result, but check this out:

Oh yes! Verdant growth! To put it into perspective that is a 3" diameter pot, but still, it’s not dead.

My other gardening thing of note is that, as I predicted, the ground cover is filling out:


I’m going to sort my push bike out while I’m off and start biking to work. No more tickets, improve my stamina, strengthen my cardio/ vascular, stretch my tendons (apparently) and save us some money. All good.

I wanted to do it before, but it is about six or so miles each way, and when I was in de-kit I simply didn’t have the excess energy to waste. Now would be the perfect time to start.

Which reminds me, after getting kicked out of de-kit I put on half a stone in about two weeks. This is bad news, for, unlike Wendy, I do not have it in me to diet. I work hard, sweat buckets at Taekwondo, and eat like a pig. Dieting and further exercise are anathema to me. So I was worried. I went from around 10, 6 to 10,12 ish. The worrying thing was; would I ever stop or just balloon into the thirteen stone bloater I was when I was drinking?

I cut out the odd cream cake, weighed myself quite a bit, and over the course of a few weeks have got back down to 10, 7. That was this morning. Briefly. I had a cup of tea and was probably back up to 11 stone. But I’ve not seen 10, 7 for quite a while so I am cheered. The overall good thing is that I’ve stopped banging it on.

Sah bum nim was banging on about her flab fighters when last I was able to attend. She was saying she went for a forty mile push-bike ride before class on Sunday, had been for runs before the other classes, then when she went to flab fighters, she had lost a pound! "A POUND!" she was going on. Apparently some of the other women there had been saying things like "I went for quite a long walk" "WALK?!" "WALK!" "A POUND!"

It was quite funny, for us at least.

My other news is irksome. I have been playing with all the add-on’s you can slap on the bog-standard Firefox browser. One of them is called Lazerus. It sits quietly in the background, supposedly securely storing all the forms you fill in, in case of data loss. Supposedly you just put in your password and it will retrieve the document on which you were working. I’ve had it for weeks now, snooping on me. Then when I was three quarters through typing out my blog I lost the bloody page. The only place it happens to me, and the only reason I installed Lazerus. After ten minutes of trying to remember what password I’d set I finally got into it, only to find it doesn’t do it for My-bleeding-space!


Uninstall Lazerus? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

To finish on a positive note, I think I have a control system for my headaches. I take that nasal spray every day as a preventative and I think it decreases the frequency and severity of the headaches. As a first line of defence when I feel one coming I take ibuprofen, which helps. Then if it does kick in I take some decongestant with paracetamol pills, and, hey presto, the sick feeling goes off, the pain eases and eventually stops. Marvellous!

Happiness is the illusion of control.

Off to practise my poomse, class tonight, big lie-in tomorrow!


Carry on regardless

Hi there, I’ve had an interesting few days.

At work everyone on my shift in my department was off on Tuesday and Wednesday, except yours truly. This meant I was left, de facto, in charge, and given a couple of work-shy muppets to try and get the job done.

For one thing, I’m not a bossy sort. I prefer to do my own job, and let everyone get on and do theirs. Then there’s the calibre of muppet they send over. It seems to be the rule that if they are any good at their job, or don’t mind working, they won’t send them to our department.

Tuesday was bad; two lads who although they had worked in our department before and therefore knew the job, were determined to do as little as possible.

One bright spot in that shift though was a conversation one of them was having with another lad about one of the managers. Said manager has started growing one of those fashionable moustache/ beard jobbies, commonly and erroneously referred to as a goatee.

Anywho, one of the lads said "What’s up with him? When I saw him before, he looked like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders."

The other lad replied "His missus has left him."

"His new missus?"


There was a thoughtful pause, "Still, no excuse for not shaving."

Lad humour. Cruel, but fun.

Then on Wednesday I had an even more work-shy crew, and I ended up losing my rag and giving one of them a mouthful. I was ready to lay him out, I was that angry. After that he pulled his weight and everything went swimmingly.

The moral to that story being; if your man-management skills aren’t great, just make it known slackers will be severely beaten. As one of those demotivational posters proclaims: "Slavery. Gets shit done."

The very same day I managed to pick up a wannabe copper on my way home. I was tootling well within the speed limit, (as set by Einstein) took a corner somewhat enthusiastically, then noticed a cop car in my mirror. Obviously I obeyed all the highway code strictures (as always!) and surreptitiously put my seatbelt on. I got on to a national speed limit road, still being followed, accelerated to 70-ish, came to an island, slowed to 60-ish, shot across, then got flashed down by the cop-car. It had no blue lights, so used headlights to get me to pull over. (Does that mean it was one of those volunteer, wannabe coppers?)

So I pulled over. On a clearway. Bit miffed. Stupid arse had me get out of the mighty Micra and into the back of his play cop-car. Giving me grief about, not slowing down and driving like I was in a go-kart. He was saying there was a car at the island and if he’d have pulled out I couldn’t have stopped. I know. It was my right of way. Darwin had something to say about people who pull out in front of speeding vehicles when it’s not their right of way. Their deaths contribute to the fitness of the gene pool.

Anyway, after pointless waffling I was let off without even a caution. Tossers. Get a job.

Today all is well, I’m off for the weekend! Hoorah!

The chucking down patches of rain haven’t stopped me from going to B&Q and doing loads of gardening. Happy days.

Right I’m off for a shower and then to the chippy (it’s Friday night, it’s the law)



PS, just to explain a bit about the gardening photo’s I’ve added to my pictures. I got a memory card for the camera for when we go on our jolly hols at the end of the month so thought I’d try it out. Then thought I might as well share.

What is not apparent from the photo’s is what is happening. There are those who see the imperfections in what is, rather than envision the perfection to which it aspires. To those nit-picking, glass-half-empty, obtusely pragmatic individuals I say; "Shut up, Wendy!"

It is not finished, hopefully never will be, but there is a vision. The grassy knoll is the prime case in point. When I started with the box hedge it was nothing but a bunch of 3" tall twigs and a general desire to have a formal element in the garden, Several incarnations later it has become a vision of clipped circular miniature hedge. An inner ring of sedge grass, the cordyline australis (big sword leaved red plant) and phormeum (big black leaved ones) boxing in the recent addition of a hump (to ensure the centre piece eucalyptus is sufficiently dry). In front of which are two smaller, decorative grasses. Atop the new mound is a ring of blue grass. To tie it all into a cohesive unit is that green ground cover. I’m allowed to trim the box at the end of this month, so it should look more or less the part, and I reckon the ground cover will have spread to cover the whole area by the end of the year.

Too much information, I’d readily agree, but the whole garden is like that. An evolving scheme. Every decision creates problems, overcoming them presents opportunities. (My god, I think I’ll have to take up motivational speaking!) I’ll post some more pictures anon. It will look good. Despite Wendy.

General ramblings

Hi, today has been a taxing one.

I crashed a pallet truck last week (they don’t have a brake, just a forward or reverse. If you want to brake you switch to reverse. I shot on to a wet trailer, put it into reverse, no grip so no brake, meaning the truck crashed to a stop and I  slammed into the corner of the steering column. Just on one rib it feels like.)

So that was less than fun. However after the initial staggering about like a shot hero’s death scene, it wasn’t too bad. If anything though, it seems to be getting worse. Silly things like lifting on my right hand side, bending over, sneezing or breathing deeply are to be avoided. This makes a physically demanding job all the more enjoyable.

However, after me slagging off the shunters at work they finally came good. On Sunday one of them took me for a bit of a spin in one of the works trucks, showing me how to use and position it. As a bit of a bonus he took me around some of the assessment course the works examiners use. Then we went back to the yard and he showed me a few reverses and talked me through a bunch of goes. The main thing I took from it was a realisation of how to make the trailer do what I wanted in reverse. Not that I can make it work yet, but that horrible moment when the trailer is pointing one way, the cab the other, and I know where I want the trailer to go but get totally confused as to how to make it happen, should be behind me.

The instructors have a trick; if one side of your trailer comes out and you want to be straight just steer towards the side you can see. Alas, when I am half way through a move and don’t want to go straight, I can waste lots of valuable room going the wrong way then having to correct the error. Not forgetting that as soon as you run out of room and have to pull forward, that is a minor fault on your test, and one of the two you are allowed. Three, as I know all too well, is a fail.

It really is simple; get halfway through my move, think ‘fine, now I want the trailer to start turning right’ put left hand down.

The other thing I learned, before my last test, was how to steer the trailer. You’ve got trailer turning towards your target area, but if you leave it it will carry on steering and go too far, so you have to get the cab straight behind the trailer to make it reverse in a straight line. This I was doing, but by the time I’d got behind it the trailer had steered too far. Simple again; BIG steers. I was shuffling the wheel round and taking too long to straighten up. Small bends, quick straighten, before the trailer’s had time to move.

Armed with these two gems I should be able to nail the reverse again.Those four hours I’m taking should get me back in truck/road mode. Hopefully pass this time.

While we were having a coffee break today I had a funny turn. One of our trucks was going out and one of the shunters must have noticed one of the assessors in it. He noted ‘someone going out for an assessment’ and my current boss said  ‘your turn next, Steve’ ( I go by many names, it’s complicated!)

That was the funny turn. My stomach turned over. Imagining going out with the assessor, everything hanging on that one drive. If they say no, they are probably not going to give me another go until something changes, i.e. me getting experience.

It can’t be any worse than going out for my driving test, and I do that with boring regularity, but it seemed really scary. I have issues enough just getting this bloody thing passed, but that would be the next big, and sadly unavoidable, step.

Positive Bucky. I can, I will, and if not I will elsewhere.

Hmm, not 100% successful in the positivity there. Positive but with caveat and a not very optimistic appraisal of chances.

In other news, the garden is going mad! I have masses of gooseberries plumping up already, loads of tiny pears swelling, and the apple trees are covered in blossom. Also the blue pine is doing mad things. I thought the little brown lumps on it’s branches were pine cones, but they are opening and there are a bunch of tiny green pine-leaves-looking things inside. More on that story as we have it.

I’m off for two days now, rest my rib and get over it hopefully. Time for dicking about in the garden and chilling.

Forgot to mention, our trucks at work are automatic. I’ve never driven one before. It is so weird! Slowing down and trying to find a clutch pedal that isn’t there, to stop a stall that doesn’t happen. That will take some getting used to!

There, end positively. Will take some getting used to.