All posts by horticultural 'Obbit

Chronicling the mis-adventures of a would be allotmenteer. Author of 'Playing with Plant pots: Tales from the Allotment' Available on Amazon in ebook and paperback http://amzn.to/1UvWUkb (paperback) http://amzn.to/1QRgVBZ (Ebook) Full buy links at www.horticulturalhobbit.com/books

Retreating to Peace Countdown @PeaceNovellas

Counting down #Retreatingtopeace

I have just drafted and finished Devan Coultrie’s Thanksgiving story. I will be writing his Christmas story once I have had another cup of tea and some lunch.  All being well, I will post Devan’s Thanksgiving story when it is officially made public in the coming week. Be sure to check out the Peace Novella Series Page for all things Peace.

This will be his first Christmas Stateside, so I will be reflecting on what it might be like and for him to be so far away from his friends and family.

If you take a look at the Halloween and Diwali stories, you will be able to get a flavour of who Devan is and what is world in Peace, Montana looks likes to him.

Don’t forget, Devan does actually have his own FB page!

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(Does that image remind you of anyone?)

Devan Coultrie was at a loss. His world had been shaken, his heart fractured and emptied by death. In search of a way to heal and shake of the damage, Devan sticks a pin a map with the intention of going wherever it lands. Leaving the shores of the United Kingdom, he ends up Stateside, deep in the heart of Montana. With all of his worldly possessions, Devan drives into Peace and onto a plot to land to start life over.

Like him, the farm and its acreage is downbeat, derelict and defeated. When Aditi Rao arrives in Peace, Devan’s plans for himself and his home are disrupted. He has history with Aditi and she’d quite like to write another chapter. Can he show Aditi that his retreat to Peace is more than just a plot of land and on a different continent? Can he find a way to share his home, his heart and a new beginning?

Punam Teaser 1 (1)

Click on the linked image above to pre-order your copy!

If you happen to be a book worm, a blogger and a kindle-owner, did you know about the Peace Reader group on FB?

If you head to the Peace Reader Group ;join, you will get access to ARC’s and other information. It would be fabulous to see people be part of the Peace Community.

The one request?

Review what you read and help spread the word about this rather nice writing project. 

 

A time for reflection and renewal

The eagle-eyed amongst you will have realised that there has not been much by way of gardening go on. A bit ironic, I guess, when that is a primary function of the blog, the brand and all things Petal.

The last year has been different, compared to previous years. I have mentioned in previous posts that I have found it challenging to shoe horn lots and lots of things in to real life. There have been peaks and there have been troughs; sometimes, that is what you need. There have been many times where there has simply not been enough of me to go around,

I miss the allotment.

At this moment in time, I dread to think what state it is in, A major overhaul is needed, and this is something that I feel very keenly and it is very much part of my process. I have paid the rent of the coming year, and a potato order has been placed. What I need to do, is to go there and see what I can make a re-start on.

This does feel overwhelming; the plot is 200 square metres and over run with weeds and all sorts. There is disrepair, the poly tunnel is still in pieces.  I am loathe to see the tuts and shakes of the heads that might happen from other plot holders. I’ve never aimed for gold standard, I’ve always aimed for what makes me happy, and that is what I need to remember. Also, Rome wasn’t built in a day; the allotment wasn’t developed in a day. It’s going to take more than a day to strip things back, and have a relatively blank canvas to work upon.

Over the last few weeks, I have had chillies on  my mind. More specifically, having compost to germinate seeds in during the Christmas holidays. Christmas isn’t that far away, and sowing chillies in the depths of winter is not as odd as it sounds.

There are no plans to give up the allotment. No plans to walk away. There are plans to reclaim it; to take walk down there with a cup of tea and just take a look. Assess, where I can go from here and how I can return to the passed glories if you like, of the allotment.

2018 promises to be an interesting year on all fronts. This means that I will need the allotment as my space even more. I have certainly missed it over the last year and have felt the impact of not being there.

There has been a physical and mental impact and I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. There truly is something about having fresh dirt beneath your fingernails. An important aspect of being a trainee counsellor and indeed part of the BACP ethical framework is self care. For years, my self care was the allotment. This has somewhat lapsed, so I am doubly minded to get things going again.

 

There is the allotment, knitting, colouring, preserving and pottering; all of the things that I once used and have lapsed with I would like to resume. There is also writing too. At the moment, I am looking at Petal’s cookbook. Looking at Petal’s cookbook is really important, as it’s all plot orientated and will help get things going again. Nurturing the book and nurturing the plot do feel as though they go hand in hand.  Talking of hands, I get to see which nail varnish is allotment proof.

I do need to re-vamp my seed collection; a major cull and over haul is needed. Some of my seeds have been knocking around since I first started and are no longer viable. Raised beds need looking at, and I want to look at putting raised beds across the whole plot. I know for a fact, that cultivating things there in open ground really doesn’t.

At this stage, this does all seem overwhelming. The arrival of autumn, the dark depths of winter will do that you, will do that to anyone. I will be taking a walk soon, and reclaiming the plot.

 

 

Counting down ‘Retreating to Peace’ @PeaceNovellas

I have spent a lot of today working on Petal’s cookbook. As with all of the writing projects, this means sitting at the kitchen table using my ink pens to draft things. For now that is the writing project of focus.

However, I am also counting down to the release of  ‘Retreating to Peace’ in early January. So far, a number of the Peace Series Novellas have been released; by Christmas a fair chunk of the line will be out in the public domain and hopefully on everyone’s kindles too! In the New Year, I do believe there will be paperbacks available for the Peace Novella Series titles.

Further to this, you will find that some of the authors involved have also written seasonal stories. You will  have seen Devan’s Diwali Story and also his Halloween Story. To read those written by fellow authors, go check out the Peace Novella Series FB page.

In counting down the time between now and the 19th of January 2017, I would like to share bits and pieces of the book that might help you better understand what the Peace universe is and how Devan Coultrie and Aditi Rao fit into it. Most specifically, what is Devan’s story and who is the man trekking half way across the world to land Stateside. So watch this space for teasers and such like that might whet your appetite.

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Devan Coultrie was at a loss. His world had been shaken, his heart fractured and emptied by death. In search of a way to heal and shake of the damage, Devan sticks a pin a map with the intention of going wherever it lands. Leaving the shores of the United Kingdom, he ends up Stateside, deep in the heart of Montana. With all of his worldly possessions, Devan drives into Peace and onto a plot to land to start life over.

Like him, the farm and its acreage is downbeat, derelict and defeated. When Aditi Rao arrives in Peace, Devan’s plans for himself and his home are disrupted. He has history with Aditi and she’d quite like to write another chapter. Can he show Aditi that his retreat to Peace is more than just a plot of land and on a different continent? Can he find a way to share his home, his heart and a new beginning?

 

RTP new swing 2

 

Other Peace releases:

 

You can find full details of the whole Peace Novella Series on the website.

Gnome-Magic! Meet Fróði!

Britain is the home of Gnome-lovers, and there is something quintessentially British about them. There was a time where the gardens of Blighty would have had at least one gnome or two to keep the veggie patch safe.  Gnomes have been known to come in all shapes, sizes and have something of an urban mythology and folk-lore attached to them.

So much so, I figured that Petal could do with a new friend. A new friend to keep the veggie patch safe and channel the universe. Perhaps even protect the ink pens from dark magics and unwanted universal forces.

Meet the dark and mysterious Fróði!

‘The learned one’

 

Made by the lovely Gnomebase, Fróði is the guardian of the ink pens and herald of the muses.  With a velvet cap, mystical garments and silver embellishment, he’s something of a learned chap and fits in well with all things Orticultural Obbit.

 

You can get in touch with Gnomebase via their FB page or click on the etsy link above.

 

 

 

@PeaceNovellas: New and upcoming releases!

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This is a little late, my apologies!

As  we creep into November and anticipate Advent in December, Peace continues to thrive and to develop. Over the course of November and December there are four novellas that help establish Peace.

 

During November, you can get a hold of Seeking peace and A haven in Peace.

To pre-order Peace and harmony, press here.

The Philosophy of Peace can be found here.

 

And if you also want to get a hold of my contribution….click!

RTP new swing 2

 

 

Next writing project

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At the start of this year, I had a list. A list of books to write. This list got re-arranged and the Peace Novella Series bloomed and blossomed to take shape.  That project is very near a final completion; my novella is now on pre-order and will come to fruition mid-January.

This means that I can now resume ruminating on my to-do list. I have spent the last two weeks looking at notebooks and folders, trying to conjure up things. It is painful, when you sit there for forty minutes looking at your handwriting and you can’t see a single solitary thing in your minds eye.

What is the use, if you just can’t? What if in that particular set of pages, that universe isn’t materialising?

There is no point in defying the laws of physics and trying to make something out of nothing. Especially, when I already have something that is started.

Eleven months ago, I stashed away the idea of writing another gardening/cookbook. It didn’t feel right, there was nothing in the tank.  I couldn’t settle on what to do and how; I wasn’t sure as to what I could offer and whether it was of any use.

Then I drove to work this morning.

I had Maroon5’s Red Pill Blues on shuffle.

I remembered this folder, this idea.

Coming home, I had to go find it, and flick through. I felt zinging, I was trying to smile. There was half a plan all those months ago.

Time to let it roll.

PRE-ORDER! Retreating To Peace @PeaceNovella #RTP #PeaceSeries

Ring the alarm and hold the front page!

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Remember that writing project?

The one that I have talking about, posting bits and pieces about. The one with the romance novella, a whole group of fabulous authors and place called Peace in Montana?

Well, here you go!

This is the cover. Yes, it flies in the face of the whole ‘not putting humans on my cover’ argument, but a girl can change her mind!

RTP new swing 2

Devan Coultrie was at a loss. His world had been shaken, his heart fractured and emptied by death. In search of a way to heal and shake of the damage, Devan sticks a pin a map with the intention of going wherever it lands. Leaving the shores of the United Kingdom, he ends up Stateside, deep in the heart of Montana. With all of his worldly possessions, Devan drives into Peace and onto a plot to land to start life over.

Like him, the farm and its acreage is downbeat, derelict and defeated. When Aditi Rao arrives in Peace, Devan’s plans for himself and his home are disrupted. He has history with Aditi and she’d quite like to write another chapter. Can he show Aditi that his retreat to Peace is more than just a plot of land and on a different continent? Can he find a way to share his home, his heart and a new beginning?

 

The title will be formally released as an ebook in January 2018. Paperbacks are scheduled for Mid-April 2018.

Make sure you get your e-copy and pre-order today

 

‘Costume Drama’ @Peace Novella

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Devan Coultrie experiences Halloween US style….and it’s all a bit intriguing.

‘Costume Drama’

Copyright 2017 Punam Farmah

“Go take a walk, Kiddo,” Richard put a hand to Devan’s shoulder to steady him. “Take Aditi with you,” he added quietly. “Go off for half an hour, forty minutes. Just the pair of you; your mum and I will take care of your guests and prepare for the next bit of this evening.”

Devan nodded as he rubbed his eye with the heel of his left palm. Drinking bubbles on an empty stomach was never a good idea. Tonight, the bubbles collided with butterflies of joy to make him feel all too disorientated. He stood against a table at the side of the Brewer’s barn, trying to steady himself. The barn was teeming with all of the guests that he and Aditi had invited to share their vermillion and gold themed celebration. His bleary eyes moved from his father’s face and towards Aditi a short distance away.

Released from her mother’s embrace she was floating towards him in a dress that echoed the barn’s colour scheme. Devan couldn’t help but smirk at the red Wellington boots that peeked out from below her hem as she walked. He was altogether transfixed as his father walked away knowingly.

“Can we please go take a walk?” asked Aditi under her breath; a forced grin was fixed across her face. “If one more person asks if babies are next, Dray may have to stick me in a cell.”

“Yes, of course,” replied Devan. “Dray’s not sticking you in a cell; not tonight anyway, darling,” he blinked rapidly as he pressed a palm to his mouth and stifled a yawn.   “Tonight is Halloween, and I don’t want to bail you out, not really. Grab Mum’s shawl; we’ll go watch the Ghoulies come out to play on Main Street. Call it an intermission in tonight’s proceedings.”

Aditi yawned too, nodding in agreement. “Grab a bottle,” she said fanning out her eyelashes to focus. “Some samosas if you can as well. I’m starving and you look hammered already.”

Devan trudged out of Oakview’s gates with Aditi’s arm firmly curled around his. His movement was somewhat hampered by his recovering leg, Aditi’s Wellington clad gait and the presence of snow on the ground. He had been rather surprised this morning; Devan had woken to find Oakview smothered in a marshmallow fluffy snow. As he and Aditi walked toward Main street, Devan found himself blinking rapidly and widening his eyes to make sure that he wasn’t hallucinating. Tucked under his jacket was a bottle of bubbles, just in case either of them got thirsty.  Nestles in Devan’s pocket, were two samosas wrapped in a red napkin that he had smuggled out as requested.

“Pumpkin!” he exclaimed, grinning a little and pointing. “By the Realtors, she can’t be more than two,” laughed Devan. Toddling along, being pursued by somebody who looked a lot like Tin-man, was a child dressed in a bright, orange, sphere-shaped costume.

“Wicked Witch,” squealed Aditi, “There!” she added, tugging at his jacket. “Wicked witch of the west and who is that, who is she with?” she asked, her brows knitting together in curiosity.

Devan also frowned as he saw the teenage couple sauntered passed them on the other side of the road. “That’s either Thor, Loki or non-descript Viking of a sort. Oh, look, incoming,” Devan gently nudged Aditi with his elbow. “Bloodied, brooding vampire, the sort that doesn’t glitter in the sunlight, and with a werewolf….”

Aditi laughed wheezily and pulled a pink shawl tighter around her shoulders.

“I’d forgotten how big Halloween is over here,” Devan commented. “At home, it’s all about All Hallows Eve, going to Church on All Saint’s day if you’re that way inclined. This,” he continued, with something of deep sigh, “Is trippy on a whole new level.”

“Beetlejuice,” Aditi said sharply, her eyes darting towards a passing figure.

“Just the once, dear,” chided Devan, putting his hand to her and feeling the iciness of her fingers. “Somebody already said his name a few times for him to appear. Hmm, Dude in a hockey mask,” he said glancing over his shoulder. “That’s proper old school Halloween. Sometimes the oldies are the best.”

“We’re not exactly dressed to trick or treating, now are we,” giggled Aditi. “Next year, you might want to do this whole Halloween thing properly.”

“Oh, flip me, no,” Devan tutted as he shook his head. “You just about got me into this suit. You can forget dressing me up as superhero or a slasher movie villain.”

“Bah humbug,” scoffed Aditi, she watched still as the people of Peace milled around. “It’s all a bit of fun. Only here and in the States, would you get a street full of costume drama.”

“The pumpkin was cute,” Devan conceded. “Was most likely a pudding at Christmas or something suitably cute and fluffy. Halloween has got be the one time of the year where you can wear what you want and all bets are off. Nothing is too much and too little is debateable.”

Aditi arched a brow having caught his gaze. “Hold off on the pumpkin there, Mister,” she said quietly. “No immediate plans for seedlings of any kind, thank you very much.”

“Look, Mommy, it’s James Bond!” yelled a child version of Captain America, his shield waving excitedly at Devan.

“And the lady in red too,” smiled the superhero’s mother, brushing a lock of red nylon hair from her face. The rest of her costume was green and white, creating the look of poison ivy.

“James Bond,” cooed Devan, beaming at Aditi. “James Bond is always better than token man in tux.”

“If you say so,” replied Aditi, sounding unconvinced. “Not token though. You are my man in a tux, and don’t you forget it. Pass me that prosecco, would you.”

“Yes, dear,” sighed Devan, slowly threading the bottle out from beneath his jacket. He continued to watch as they walked hand in hand down the street; they would have to return home shortly. Perhaps it was the cold, perhaps it was the bubbles; he would swear blue, black and blind that he saw Mister Spock talk to Gandalf with Spiderman listening in.

Diwali Short Story @PeaceNovella

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Let me introduce you to Devan Coultrie. This is his Diwali and in Peace, Montana.

Diwali: Love, light and Peace
By Punam Farmah
Copyright, 2017

Candles and clay lamps lay in a brown box that sat upon the kitchen table. A second box sat next to it; brand-spanking new and illustrated with twinkling fairy lights. Reaching into the first box, Devan gently put his hand to a stack of five clay lamps and let them rest in the centre of his left hand.
“Don’t you dare drop them!” said his mother as she passed behind him. Bags of groceries hung heavily from her hands. Devan saw a large, red and white bag of plain flour peeking out from the well-filled bags. His mother Avni was preparing the food for the Diwali Celebrations. The flour was required to make the pastry for samosas.
Samosas. Devan couldn’t remember the last time that he had dipped crunchy, flaky, cumin infused pastry into sweet but spicy tamarind chutney and savoured the taste. As the vague and fuzzy around the edges memory splutter in his memory, he heard his stomach growl and gurgle. Placing his palm to his gut, he rued having got up late and missing breakfast. With his leg still healing, he was effectively barred by his mother and Aditi from so much as lifting a finger and doing anything for himself. Both had been absent when he had woken up. Now, they were were occupied with other things rather than wanting to feed him.
Diwali was all about good food, good times and good energies. His parents were here in Peace, Aditi too; having them here, did rather make him feel like this home. Peace by name was becoming peace by nature.
“Will there be Jalebis, Mum?” he asked, using both hands to cradle the clamp lamps. Devan felt as though the lamps were china in his hands; the feeling rather mesmerised him but also rather made him feel cautious having been warned not to drop them. “Gulab Jamun too?” he queried, studying the pink hues of the terracotta that the lamps were made from.
“Right behind you,” replied Avni as her husband walked into the kitchen with a stack of white boxes labelled ‘Deepak’s Sweet Centre, Colorado’. “Your Massi knows a small sweet centre,” she said, placing her shopping bags upon the nearest worktop. “I called before we left to see her, placed an order for all of today’s sweets. Your father and I picked it all up on our way back here. Lovely people,” commented Avni, a smile dancing across her face. “Not much call for Jalebis and Gulab Jamun this side of the pond, or even in Colorado, actually; so they threw in an extra half a pound of each when I told them it was for Diwali. Told them that you’d spread the word around Peace.”
“I’ll try,” nodded Devan. He couldn’t help but laugh at his mother’s entrepreneurial spirit. “Being the only Englishman in Peace is one thing. Being the only part Indian,” he shrugged and rolled his shoulders deeply. “I’ll see what I can do, Mum; not promising anything.”
Devan’s father, Richard, had followed his wife and deposited his load next to the shopping. He looked at his son, and then at the box on the top of the stack; he furtively opened the lid. “Want one?” asked Richard. A bright orange Jalebi glistening with sugar syrup was held like a freshly boiled egg between his thumb and fore finger. “I’ll split it with you.”
Devan’s eyes widened at the sight of the sweet. Gently placing the divas back into the box, he moved as quickly as he could towards his father. Snatching the spiral-shaped sweet, Devan snapped it in half and thrust it straight into his mouth.
“You never did share your sweets, son,” chortled Richard, hard and from the depths of his ever increasingly rotund gut.
“Notmajebis,” said Devan; the second half of the jalebi was crunched down upon quickly. Rapidly chewing away the sweetness, he licked the tips of his fingers to get each and every last drop bit of the sticky, sweet, sugary syrup. Satisfied that he had got every last bit, Devan focused back upon his mother.
Avni had found an apron and was tying it behind her back. “Leave all the food to me,” she said lifting flour and potatoes out of her grocery bags. “Aditi is working on the drinks, and making sure of the guest list. You, Devan, your Dad, you have one job; one job alone.” She jabbed a finger at the candle. “Get to it,” she said firmly, “And quickly.”
“You heard her,” Richard nodded and clamped a hand onto Devan’s shoulder. “The sweets are one thing. There are also lanterns to hang from the trees, more fairy lights and enough tea lights to make sure that Oakview is visible from space. I’ve left all those by the gate, I’ll meet you there. You’ll need this.” He pressed a black and chrome candle lighter into Devan’s hand. “We have a lot of candles to light, young man.”
As dusk started to fall, Devan walked back towards the house. His route had been lined with what must have been hundreds of tea lights and candles in glass jars of all shapes, sizes and colours. Each one danced in the gentle breeze; a beacon that heralded a new start, a new year for Devan, his family and all of those invited to the shindig in the barn. Even the gates onto Oakview shone and glimmered with fairy lights that were plugged into his RV. His next job was to get showered, shave and to suit up.
It took him ten minutes to walk, but the walk was worth it. “Oh,” he all but gasped as he took in the view of the house. All of the lights were on inside, the porch was filled with candles. His home appeared to glow with iridescence as the sunset. Stopping by his front door, he saw Aditi make her way down the stairs. In her hands was a stainless steel plate atop of which were clay divas. Full of mustard oil, each contained a cotton wick; having been lit, the flames flickered and fluttered seductively.
Aditi paused at the bottom step, the plate held between them. “Happy Diwali, gorgeous,” she whispered, revealing pearly white teeth.
Devan took one of the clay lamps, and held it carefully between his hands. He glanced at the flame, and then back at Aditi. “Happy Diwali, beautiful. Happy Diwali.”

 

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Season’s end: A reflective review #gdnbloggers

2017 started with chaos and carnage. My poly tunnel fell victim to unseasonably strong gusts and was rendered kaput. Still hasn’t been fixed.

In real life, I was one third of the way through the first year of a level four counselling diploma, there had been a family bereavement and this combined with a self imposed writing/publishing deadline and increased hours at work.

There were a lot of variables that all combined and made going to the allotment more challenging. This has not felt like a productive year; this has felt like a duff year, with nothing quite coming off as it should.

I did sow seeds, these became seedlings and I split them all with my mum for her plot. It all however felt very cumbersome, as though the universe and I were embroiled in some kind of psychological and physiological tug of war that defied the laws of physics to make time turn to grains of sand.

There simply wasn’t enough time or me to go around. I was focusing on the diploma and it’s process of transformation-still going, now in the second year-writing was and in there someplace, there are projects in the pipeline, some more immediate than others, I have decided not load my writing plate. Then there is the real job, the teaching job that I do three days a week; this ebbs, flows and keeps me going in a straight line.

What I have missed, what my brain and body have needed but not had, is the allotment. And Zumba, but this is another story.

Somewhere in there, is my allotment. My little piece of England, my eden, my demi paradise.

It doesn’t look so pretty, now does it?

If you’d been neglected, unloved and not had your potential actualised, I daresay that is what you might look like.

Over the summer, I did get asked, ‘Punam, what you doing, do you want me strimmer?’

As you might remember, I spent summer doing nothing. I was feeling very spent, as though my figurative lego bricks had been smashed to smithereens and I was trying to put myself back together again. I am still trying to do that!

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I am trying to resume course in the Captain’s chair to be in charge of my own figurative starship.

This includes the allotment.

At the moment, it looks awful; completely and utter derelict, it’s not in the best shape. I guess that reflects me, and the experience that I have had over the last nine months.

I haven’t been listening to myself as much as I should have, and this summer was about resting and taking the best care of myself that I could. My actualising tendency had been battered, bruised and broken in some part. The allotment is choking with bindweed, the raised beds need tidying up and the whole allotment needs to be rebuilt from scratch.

A lot like me, I guess.

The allotment is sizeable, 200 sq metres. It’s got its own micro-cosm, does what it wants, prefers to be negotiated with rather than told what it should do; it has a thing about experimenting, trying it’s best and doing what it can do, rather than what it can’t. It would rather have a go, learn it’s lessons and move on to do what makes it happy.

Remind you of anyone?

As the seasons change, and autumn arrives, my thoughts are still about rest, rejuvenation, about taking stock. In the autumn and winter, we have the natural cycle of things bearing fruit to then reaching the natural end. The allotment may not have done much this year, but it is now time for it to rest and recuperate. I have lots of tidying to do, and with foliage dying back, perhaps that will be easier to do.

That 200 sq metres does look intimidating. I do feel an overwhelming urge of ‘how the flip do I tidy you up, where am I meant to start, and do I have enough hours for you?’

I’m not giving it up, that’s for sure. I have no plans to walk about from this allotment plot. What I need to do, reconfigure things. Take one corner at a time, do one job at a time.

There is no rush.

Well, there might be, when the allotment secretary sends me a warning. He’s been pretty nice about it so far, given how there was some productivity.

There won’t be any breakage of the laws of physics; that never helped anyone, not Sherlock Holmes, Star Trek Captains or Buffy and Angel.

We’ll get there.

Hopefully.