News From The (New) Patch…

Last week marked the start of Wimbledon with some unseasonably warm weather…and a few torrential downpours. The newspapers have been filled with pictures of flooded roads and cars abandoned to the eddies of the rising waters.

But not in London.

While it’s had its grey moments, the sun has shone down on London town and bathed the city in preparation for summer…

Oxford Street still looking all Jubilee-esque
Great College Gardens, Westminster on the way from Westminster tube to Head Office

And not just on the outside either…

Lit in glory, the ceiling at the Wyndham Theatre, near Leicester Square


Gidday HQ has not been spared a spritzing of summer either and I am delighted to report a couple of exciting developments at my new ‘patch’.

Those of you who have been reading along for a while now may remember the trials and tribulations of my first patch, featuring any number of pot-reared veg, a few herbs and the curious case of the disappearing ‘strawb’. Well over the last week, I’ve discovered a veritable panopoly of shiny red berries hidden beneath the leaves overflowing the old strawberry pot…

Luscious and ripe, my strawberry plant has more than just survived the move north of the river

And last but certainly not least, there is a new addition to Gidday HQ. Delivered and legs reattached this weekend, it seems fitting that it has emerged on to the back patio in all its glory after such a week. So without further ado…

TAH-DAAAAHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

…and there’s a big umbrella too!

And the first Gidday soiree is already scheduled…

Sunday On My Mind…

Today’s weather has left a lot to be desired, particularly after yesterday’s more inspiring blue skies, so I have been getting on with a few chores.  And washing (of clothes, dishes, hair) done – and trying to avoid looking at the enormous bag of ironing on top of the cupboard – I finally ventured outside between showers (the precipitous, not bathroom kind) to trim winter’s obvious bleakness from my surviving plants and to cut a few choice bay leaves in preparation for tonight’s culinary exploits – a Kym-style take on cottage pie accompanied by roasted squash.

To my surprise, I could see rows of tiny ‘bud-lets’ along the seemingly naked stalks and in recent weeks, my continental parsely seems to have been inspired back to life.  The bay tree by the door soldiers on as always and my strawberry plants may just be redeemable with a little TLC so there’s a chore for next weekend already.

The weekday mornings and evenings are getting slightly lighter now and during the week I was delighted to see that my daffodil bulbs had emerged, green and stoic and heralding Spring-around-the-corner.  But today, bay leaf snippets in hand and having pocketed my almost redundant secateurs, I turned to check on my brave little daffs only to find four – YES FOUR – flower buds nestled amid the greenery.

And after last year’s flowerless haul, there are no words to describe the joy that the prospect of those happy, yellow blossoms gave me today.

The year is looking better already…

22 Sleeps To Go…Objects of My Desire…

Let’s all take a little respite from World Cup mania for a moment and chat about a couple of very exciting occurrences in the GiddayfromtheUK house today:
Firstly, I have FINALLY upgraded my mobile phone (after my G1 was stolen in March and the contract ran out in May etc).  
Eeeeeeeeeeee!!! (that was a squeal of delight escaping) 
Sitting beside my blogging-elbow is a sleek and sexy HTC Desire – aptly named as it has just become the object of my Desire…I may be in love….sigh!!!  Is it wrong to want to sit and play with it to the exclusion of the glorious day outside?
And that brings us to a nice segue to exciting occurrence number two – the glorious day outside.  It’s hot peeps, gorgeously and gloriously, sunshine-y, top-down and heat-on-my-face hot…enough for me to have finally taken the fan I bought 2 years ago out of its box last night and assembled it (tapping into my IKEA skills from way back only sans allan key).  I am now enjoying its soft background whirr after much pondering about whether it would actually work…
…which segues beautifully into a long-awaited News From The Patch announcement (speaking of wondering about things)… the strawberries are coming!  Yes, a couple of tender green berries have appeared amongst the greenery – we are checking on them daily like a couple of proud parents, largely to try to avoid a repeat of last year’s berry-napping incident, but also because we are saddos and can’t help ourselves!

And although not part of The Patch as such, the other exciting news is that the mini-jet rose bush that J gave me 4 years ago (on our first Valentine’s Day together), after blooming marvellously in Year 1 and then stubbornly refusing to be bloomin’ anything since, has graced us with two luscious, velvety-red blooms.  Could this be a sign, I wonder…persistence, patience and a bit of tough love overcoming the odds to glory in the end?
We could do with a bit of that here!
A REMINDER A LITTLE LESS GENTLE THAN THE LAST ONE:
There are now only 22 sleeps to go people – that’s 21 days if you are here in the UK or in Australia – to what I have come to call with considerable affection, ‘The Big Birthday – Plus 1’.  I have already arranged my first birthday present to myself too – taking a four day weekend!  I love weekend birthdays…

18 Sleeps To Go…Zucchini Zucchini

I don’t normally blog on back to back days as I want to give all of you a little time to digest my latest pearls of wisdom (or is that pearls before swine? Silk purse out of a sow’s ear? Might fly? Any other pig metaphors?) But I just had to tell you…

I picked my first zucchini (aka courgette) yesterday.

There was only one ready but rather than waiting for the others, I did not want to risk a repeat of the earlier Strawberry Pilfering incident, so I snipped, and brought my valiant little veg inside…

.

Now what will I do with him? A summer veg risotto or pasta perhaps?

LOL! I’ve just realised that I have naturally assumed that it is a ‘him’…stop smirking – you are merely proving that none of us are ever too old to smirk at a naughty thought…

Anyone up for a banana?

(Sorry..couldn’t resist! 18 sleeps to go and still a child…)

26 Sleeps To Go…BBQs & Spectator Sports

It turned into a sunshine-y weekend in London and on Saturday afternoon, I joined about 17 others (including J) at a belated house-warming/engagement/watching-the-rugby/salute-to-summer bbq on the roof terrace at A&A’s. Fab weather, fab food & fab friends – a fab all-rounder…

(We so wanted to hold on to the bbq-ness of Saturday that we actually had our own bbq-for-2 at about 10pm last night. Yes, sad but true.)

And how about that tennis eh? You know, well-done to Roger Federer and all that but I must admit to a bit of emotional ‘tear-welling’ for Andy Roddick – so brave and humble in accepting his runner-up trophy (although how a big silver tray – difficult to display/a significant dust-collector – can be of any use to a bloke, I will never know…who ever thought of that as a fitting reward for 14 days of hard core tennis? I guess he could put his cheque on it….) I did really want him to win (my ‘fighting for the under-dog’ tendancies emerging) but at 14 games all in the 5th set I have to admit that I just wanted it to be over – spectator sports are simply exhausting!

And there’s news from the patch: This weekend I picked a small handful of dwarf french beans. Half a dozen tiny green tomatoes have also appeared and we are expecting courgettes (zucchinis for those in the know) any week now – let me tell you I cannot wait to bbq them as kebabs with peppers and halloumi (a wicked Were recipe garnered from Saturday’s food-fest).

26 sleeps to go…and it’s all happening…

News From The Patch: Report Card June 09

For those of you who follow this blog regularly, you will have already read about the great ‘Strawberry Picking & Sticky Fingers’ incident but I thought it was time to update you on all of my little (and not-so-little) one’s progress in the Veggie Garden nirvana that is Windmill Rise. I am delighted to report great news on most fronts.

1. All salad leaves and herbs are thriving and supporting numerous weekend bbqs in partnership with organic tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers & celery from my local veg-box deliveries. Special mention goes to the four remaining pearl lettuces (is there a plural for the word ‘lettuce’?) that, in spite of an unpromising start, have managed to commandeer a small plot of soil next to the rocket/mizuna…well done chaps!

2. Tomatoes and courgettes are flowering and so we are eagerly awaiting the appearance of the fruit (which, based on the strawberry ‘lifecycle’ I have seen, should follow soon). Also, all tomato plants have grown taller than their stakes and I am debating whether to leave well enough alone or venture in with loftier support structures…hmmm a tough call…

The dwarf french beans have…well, little dwarf french bean flowers budding! This is quite exciting given that these were off to a slower start than the others in the class. Slow and steady eh kids?

3. And the strawbs – my lovely strawbs – have been unphased by earlier nefarious activities and, exhibiting true British ‘stiff upper lip’, are continuing to fruit, fruit, fruit. I have already picked another two ripe-and-‘reddy’s (geddit?) and am monitoring the dozens of green ones daily to ensure that I nip any future strawberry poaching in the bud!

Unfortunately, this has been a challenging period for my champion runner beans. They may have run ‘wildly’ up the bamboo frame to begin with but in the last week, the poor little blighters have been hit hard by an attack of both green fly and black fly. Spraying seems to have brought the infestation to a halt so I will take extra care to monitor them in the next little while and hopefully we will have better news from these guys next time. Snails are also finding selected pots quite homely (who knows why the fussy buggars choose only one of the dwarf french bean pots and not the other) and, much to my chagrin, I have resorted to laying snail & slug pellets…

Anyhow, that’s all from the patch this month…I hope such promising progress continues unabated and that next report finds me with more little successes to report!

News From The Patch: Report Card May 09

I have strawberries!
Green, not-pickable ones as yet but still…strawberries. Check them out…How chuffed am I?

My other children are coming along at different levels of enthusiasm (just like real children I am told)…

– Top of the class goes to the strawbs but not far behind are runner beans (busy ‘running’ up the bamboo frame), Mizuna lettuce (has grown taller than the container – bless) and peas (I’m thinking I might need to put taller stakes in!)

– Tomatoes, courgettes (or zucchinis for those of you who know better), dwarf french beans (btw – how big are the regular ones??) and all of the herbs are trundling along nicely as are the rocket, spinach and chard. That’s an A for effort kids!

– Greater challenges have been faced, however, by the pearl lettuce which have faltered a bit in the shadow cast by mizuna and rocket success so I can see that a bit of T(ender) L(ettuce) C(are) is required here…

So that’s about it for the Mid May report card at The Patch…off to do my rain/sun/rain/sun dance now so we can have more salad and ‘eating strawbs’ for June!

Tough Love Down Under…

Yesterday was Mother’s Day…not in the UK but in Australia…so I am confident that the British telcos made an absolute fortune from a) all the Aussies phoning home and b) all the phone calls that went over their ‘free’ threshold. (Here’s a tip: I set the kitchen timer for 55mins as I get free calls to Australia up to an hour – if the conversation goes longer, I just hang up and call back for my second freebie).

Whilst I was one of these erstwhile antipodeans (and it was lovely chatting to you Mum!), I actually wanted to tell you about her email to me this morning which followed up on my last blog ‘The Australian Way’ – about the introduction of random breath testing in the UK 33 years after its advent in Australia. Apparently things have gotten even tougher Down Under…

‘…on public holidays, long weekends and times when anything “special” is on eg Melb Cup, AFL Grand Final, Grand Prix, we now have double the normal points lost and double the fine for the period. Also, they now impound the cars of street hoons for 3 months minimum. No car… no drunken races or burn outs..,. Also now the random breath testing is everywhere, almost every time you go out and you can be stopped. Along Nepean Hwy between Mentone and the city, I often get stopped 3 times in the one trip – quite often. They no longer have 6 policemen testing, they have 20, so nobody gets waved through. It’s making a big difference, but sadly people still become fatalities.’

So knockin’ the top off a cold one around the barbie is not as free and easy as it sounds and any Aussie will tell you that a combination of ‘fair play’ and negotiation are integral in creating simple, strop-free weekend travel arrangements. Could this be why London is so full of Aussie ‘cheer’? Oh how I love the bus(es)…

Also, News from the Patch…I used the first mizuna, rocket, spinach and chard from my garden for our bbq salad last night…the little blighters are going beserk! I am now stalking (daily) my strawberry plants as they tell me once flowers appear, the fruit is not far behind…my herbs are getting a regular trim too – fresh mint is amazing with pineapple and vanilla yoghurt and they were a few coriander leaves available to garnish a fairly wicked curry I made last week…

Growing Edible Things…

Around the end of March I bragged about my small success in producing some coriander shoots from seeds and I’ve also had some mint and parsley perk up from their prior ‘lacklustre’ status. But it all went one (gi-normous) step further this weekend with the arrival of my Rocket Garden seedlings – one of last year’s birthday presents – on Friday.
Over sixty seedlings, from lettuce, peas and spinach to tomatoes, courgettes, beans and strawberries, arrived in a rather large, hay-filled box so I have spent the last two days planting them all out in various containers and commandeering a portion of the communal, sunlit terrace to give them all the best possible start…and as with any proud new parent, I have taken a few snaps of some of my ‘children’:

Strawberries…


Tomatoes (Gardener’s Delight variety)

Assorted Lettuce…

Dwarf French Beans… (I have runner beans too!)
Rainbow chard, spinach & peas…

And the coriander that was only tiny shoots a month ago!

I am hugely excited about this new project and have romantic visions of our BBQ salad accompaniment being tended to and provided by your truly. I feel quite proud…
ps..I will make every effort not to blog ad nauseum about this…but if you could cut me a little slack now and then, that would be great!