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

Nurturing the return

For the last few weeks, I have been avoiding the allotment. I know why. It all feels rather overwhelming. There is still work to do, and the growing season should be off like a rocket. Today, I decided to take a walk; least of all because I needed to fish some pots and growing trays out of Mama F’s shed.

Going back to the allotment actually scares me. It’s a big space, all 200 square metres of it. Half of it is actually covered, and to all intents and purposes is on pause. That half really doesn’t worry me so much. The other half, has raised beds, fruit trees and is what I am trying to get back to what it was. Most of the raised beds are covered, there are three that need clearing before I can actually grow anything. There are three grapevines that need shoring up. They’ve started to lean because of the wind, and need to be propped up.

As it stands, a quarter has become a mass of raspberries. That’s not a problem. I like raspberries. These are however the autumn variety, with runners spreading around. I do have a pink variety; Polka, I think. I was going to look into getting some more pink ones, but I fear I am a little late to plant some. I hear that the Glen varieties are fairly good.

I’m glad that I went for the walk. I’m able to see that things are manageable. At the moment, I have a dozen or so tomato plants growing along at home. I would like to take these to the plot and plug them in. I would like to grow something this year, even if it is simply tomatoes. There are chillies; the cayennes and a couple of habaneros. These are likely to be cultivated at home. I might even rescue a few more chilli plants, I certainly plan to find additional tomatoes.

This might take time, and this year might not be overwhelming abundant. If the tomatoes come off, I would rather like to make some hot yellow sun chutney. Growing yellow tomatoes is rather interesting! There has been cherry blossom on the plot, these are starting to fruit. I also spotted some pears. Then there are the currants. These have strings and strings! Thing is, I always end up harvesting these during the height of the hay fever season. These are likely to be jammed or jellied, I think.

At a loss for words

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At this moment in time, I am at a loss for words.

Ordinarily, be it at work, when blogging,  writing; I could waffle. I daresay, I could probably waffle for England. The hitting of a payload, a torrent of words and inspiration, does tend to be hard to stop. I experience it as un-brookable sensation, my brain is aflame with my handwriting only just keeping up with the daydreams wanting exit my imagination.

Words tumble;the whole thing is a emotional, psychological cascade. A torrent of things that might not have even been in my consciousness. To this day, I can’t read bits of Fragments, I remember my own pain.

In stark contrast then, is the barrenness of not writing. The overwhelming swirling of tumbleweed and screeching carrion birds in a desert.

I do have a list. I have a stack, in fact, of notebooks; each one has a list of things to write for that particular creating. So it’s not as though I have a block, as though The Muse-whatever form that creature takes-and I have deserted each other. The Muse has done what needs to be done, and gone off to where ever they are needed.

It is the impetus, the bounce and flow, the mojo that has gone.

At this moment in time, it’s actually difficult to look a the books. The ‘to-write’ lists make no sense to me. They may as well be written in a different language.

I think I need a rest.  Life has, after all, been rather busy.  Six books, a Bollywood wedding, a diploma in therapeutic counselling are all going to have an effect. As is not being in a stable teaching post. I have done, experienced, been part of one hell of an adventure. It is impossible for me to negate any of that; it has made me the woman, the person, the author that I am.

The diploma is now over-Just waiting for the certificate!  I am also thinking, about what the next phase of the counselling journey might involve. No idea what is happening on the teaching front; the end of the summer, would mark ten years as an educator.

That in itself, is special. I want to make it that far! Teaching has also been a journey in it’s own right.

I do feel a loss; as though I should be doing something, However, there is that small voice. The tiniest squeak, that is saying no. Something isn’t right, something hangs in the air; writing is not what I want, need,to do at this moment in time.

This, is voice, that I need to listen to. I also need, somehow, to accept, that the writing is paused. This is horribly difficult, when it has been a part of me for such a long time. I’ve enjoyed it; writing really is a facet of me. The thought of writing rubbish-whatever that might be-also crossed my mind. It’s been dismissed a couple of time. I want to value what I write, I want it to have some importance.

Self-care is the big thing here. To look after myself, nourish the elements within that have become depleted.

Who knows. Perhaps the words will come back.

Eventually.

 

Inky and Instrumental

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When is a pen not just a pen? When it is capable of producing pure magic.

First thing first; years ago, teachers decided that my handwriting was terrible. I spent hours practising, and hated every minute of it. It felt almost unnatural to iron out the kinks and curves of my cursive handwriting. For years, I harboured a resentment. I like my handwriting, it helps to manifest everything that goes on inside my head.

For my twelfth birthday, Pops asked me what I wanted. I asked for a fountain pen. He looked at me as though this was really odd.

I got one though, a simple blue-barrelled one that he got from Smiths. I used it til it died an undignified death. I bought an assortment of Parker ones, mostly the Vector range and struggled to find a zing. This went on for some time.

Before long, I abandoned all hope of finding a pen of my own.

This is important, and if you’ve ever read or watched Harry Potter, you’ll know that a wand chooses the wizard, not the other way around.

And boy, did that happen.

I was in London one day, and walked passed The Pen Shop. I had time to kill, so I went in. There happened to be Parkers there, and I saw a shiny one. A shiny one, that happened to be in the Sonnet range. I asked to have a look, and was handed one.

Wham.

There might as well have been sparks. This was my pen, this was what I wanted to write with. Feeling all very overwhelmed, a bit shocked and surprised, I said thank you, walked off and was in something of daze. At that moment in time, I didn’t understand what had just happened. Off I sloped, and did some cyber-window shopping.

I wanted that pen.

By that time, I’d written Fragments, well two-thirds and in biro. I decided to find that pen. That book needed something special to finish it off; the book was a special, the final flourish had to be too.

Oh, I paced, I worried and I turned it over and over. My siblings couldn’t work out why I wanted that pen, biro did the job as far as they were concerned. Why on earth would I want a fountain pen, pay that much for it, and what was the big deal?

I got the pen. I had my Excalibur. This was my pen.

I had magic at my finger tips; the outlet that would get ideas from my brain, through the CNS and onto paper. I didn’t look back. I found a couple more; a bit like having  your favourite jumper in three different colours. I have three sonnets. I remember being in Venice and window shopping the Matte Black one. It didn’t feel right, it felt too heavy. I’ve even tried, out of sheer curiosity, to woman-handle a Mont Blanc. Too heavy. no zing; I didn’t even think about the price tag. I don’t think I am meant to have one of those.

Then came the IM. A slightly posher Parker pen, I guess. A random shot in the dark, but this also came with a zing. It’s a different zing to the Sonnet, but it’s a zing nonetheless. The two types of pen, sit on opposite sides of the pen case with a biro in the middle. A biro, to be used only in the case of an emergency.

All pens are to be inked up at all times.

I take no chances. I take those pens everywhere, alongside a notebook.

Then there is the ink. I don’t get on with cartridges. On my desk, is a wooden box beneath a stapler. It contains seven, small plastic bottles of ink. Imperial purple, grape, billbery, magenta, forest green and teal are used more often than not. I have Oxblood, but it doesn’t feel right; I really don’t like using that ink. There’s not black ink, blue does languish behind the box. This also means that I end up with inky fingers that are all too difficult to explain.

Everything of would-be note that passes across my desk is handwritten. The first draft of books always is, in a note book, on file paper. There is far more soul in this analogue, organic process compared to typing away.

Using a fountain pen certainly retains the kinks and curves of my handwriting.

As for reading it.

“Punam, your writing makes my eyes go funny.”

Strength of a Seedling

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Over the last few days, I’ve been checking the heated prop for seedlings. There’s a mixture of cayenne, cucumbers and tomatoes in there, so quite a variation in potential germination. This does mean that I end up fishing things out every now and again as I see green leaves. I don’t have many tomatoes just yet. I think I have a handful of wiry, somewhat leggy seedlings. The one above, looks reasonably happy and healthy for the time being. It has been named Tom by the baby sister.

Sowing seeds in pellets is useful; I don’t make a mess with compost and run the risk of Mama F’s wrath over muddy floors. However, they do have a tendency to dry out in the heated prop. I’m not sure if that’s down to the pellets themselves or the ageing heated prop. It’s certainly been cranky this year.

I am also feeling  very protective of seedlings, with there being a regular window-sill shuffle. As the weather changes, tomatoes and chillies do have a tendency to curl up and keel over.

In other news, it’s happy belated birthday to Sow, Grow and Eat: From Plot to Kitchen. I’d quite forgotten, but this book-the green one-is now three years old. This was the second of the gardening books. Well, it is part GYO and part cook-book. A third, is a work in progress. It sits on my desk, waiting for my to have the mind-space to finish it. It has been on  my mind lately, and I daresay there will be an attempt at some point to get it together. Sat here typing, I am eyeballing the cook book folder, wondering what energy and focus I need to commit my thoughts to paper. The pens, sit near by, poised to pounce. I wait for the tipping point, the mojo to dive straight once more.

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As mentioned above, the book is part GYO, part cook-book. There are recipes inside for jams, jellies and preserves made using plot produce as well as the home-brew that has been made. It does rather go well alongside the yellow one.

Tis the season! Growing your own Ebooks

 

The first week of Spring, and there is soil beneath my finger nails. Well, there was; I’ve cleaned up and sit here writing. I’ve enjoyed pottering around the plot today,  I remembered how much colour the plot brings to my life. I also remembered, just how much I’ve learned in the decade of growing my own.

Growing your own is not a new thing. It’s been happening since the middle ages, but the rise of allotments has really put it into a sharp focus. As has the spotlight on eating healthy, getting exercising and knowing where your food comes from. Three things that when you have an allotment really are part of the whole process of growing and eating.

You don’t even have to have an allotment. I started my gardening journey with plant pots in Dad’s garden. Container gardening was a really good foothold in learning and experimenting.

This blog has documented every inch of learning and experimenting. Much has been supplemented by talking to allotment neighbours, not to mention gardeners and allotmenteers across the universe. Documenting on the blog was certainly one aim. I also wanted to share my learning and experimenting. I’ve made a few mistakes, and I guess communicating these to others has some benefits.

As such, two ebooks have borne out of this blog and offer another avenue for encouragement and support. They are also available in paperback.

Plant pot tales.

UK: http://amzn.to/2bdMdBB

US: https://amzn.to/2U0DUSa

Canada: https://amzn.to/2Y9z982

Sow grow eat

UK: http://amzn.to/2bdLro6

US: https://amzn.to/2unaLSt

Canada: https://amzn.to/2Wg2tIj

Bliss at the Brum Botanical Gardens

I spent this morning, having something of  botanical, therapeutic adventure. It’s book release day; I didn’t want to stay inside and sit on my hands. A few days ago, whilst walking through the greenery around Sarehole Mill, I decided to plan a trip to Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Despite the fact that I’m a born and bred Brummie, I’ve never actually spent any time there, enjoying it. I remember going to a wedding reception, by the Arid Glasshouse and making a mental note to come back.  It’s taken me  few years, but I made it!

There wasn’t a concrete plan, not really. I had a thermos of tea, some lunch and a pair of walking boots.  A class of kids-Year 2 from a local school-were also wandering around, so I made sure I was well off their radar. Their teachers, have my empathy. Not my school kids, not my trip. I carried on.

As I sit here and type, I’m actually creaking. Who knew, that such a gentle, aimless and ambling walk could have an impact?

Anyway. Using the map from the entrance desk, I did amble and quite aimlessly. Everything is labelled clearly, the information is presented concisely for everything. Better, in my mind, than most museums.  I could spot Camellias-Dad has two in the garden-so I didn’t feel completely clueless. There were daffodils in dots and splodges, all very timely as we kick off with spring.

 

Whilst not a huge site, Birmingham Botanical Garden is best savoured slowly. It didn’t take long for me to take a walk around. So I made the conscious decision to sit, stare and take tea a couple of times. Least of all when three pea hens and a peacock were in the vicinity. Taking that one picture, the peacock more or less posed and looked me in the eye as though I was crazy. Even the pea hens shuffled around as though indifferent. I had hoped that the peacock might shake a tail feather to give everyone a display, but alas no joy. To sit, stare and sip tea was part of the deal for today’s adventure. To be completely immersed in greenery, to take stock and just absorb everything has been crucial this week.

A special mention, goes to Alison Levey, who made me smile today. A couple of days ago, she posted an image of a Magnolia. I happened to read the name as Lionel Messi. Yes, the footballer. I forget now, the proper name of this plant. It struck a cord today, whilst I was adventuring. In walking through the memory garden, I saw a sign in the boughs of a pink Magnolia. I read it as Lionel Messi. In the image above, the white magnolia does cover the pink footballing one in the fore-ground; it genuinely made me giggle and out aloud.

I nearly missed this, but on the way out, I found the Japanese Garden. I’m glad I did too. This is a pocket of serenity, that I might have otherwise missed had the universe not nudged me to head out of one of the glasshouses. This garden is tucked away, and there is just something about it; even the air is different.

Carefully observing, I was wandered in, and there were three red camellias sat in water feature. Whether they were put there, or landed there through serendipity I don’t know. There is a sign, that details how in Buddhism and Shinto, fallen blossoms are a sign of the transience of life. That really did strike me; life is too short, to sit back and not smell the Magnolia. I edged in and I found this one.  A Saucer Magnolia. Something was ringing, and for three seconds I had no idea where the sound was coming from. Then I realised it was the chime sat in the middle, caught by the breeze.

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There was just something about that moment that felt almost ephemeral. I don’t have any other words to describe it.

I’m glad that I went, even if the gardens are half asleep. I want to go back and see the rose garden in full bloom. I do think, that when the whole thing wakes up, it will be even better.

 

Postcards from Peace: release day! #PeaceSeries

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Here we have it!

Postcard from Peace:

A Peace Series collection

is officially live on Kindle!!

 

 

Click on the image above and download your copy. Don’t forget to join in with the facebook event as well.

Kangana: A diverse romance

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We’re all familiar with Bollywood movies; it is after all multi-million dollar industry with blockbusters that enthral millions. Many of them are romances of a kind. Yet when it comes to fiction, contemporary literature, diversity in romance is still a bit grey around the edges.

Don’t get me wrong, Mills and Boon-Harlequin by another name-has an armada of different nationalities. Many of the characters are Greeks, Italians, there might a few Russian Oligarchs, British Aristocrats and a few American Lieutenants and Medics in the mix. I don’t remember seeing many-if any-characters of Indian ascent; perhaps I missed that part of the library shelf, I don’t know. I  dovknow that I saw a gap, especially having written Retreating to Peace: A Peace Series novella.  The main protagonist, Devan Coultrie, is of a mixed heritage, but without him, I wouldn’t have even contemplated writing Kangana.

There is a lot to consider when it comes to books with characters from BAME backgrounds. There are authors from BAME groups. I remember seeing Bali Rai’s (Un)Arranged Marriage in the library as a teenager. I grabbed it, read it, and was overjoyed that it existed. I was amazed, that an author from BAME background existed. I’ve also experienced reading Meera Syal’s work; she is a national treasure, I tell you. Meera Syal and Nina Wadia are probably the most recognisable women of South-Asian ascent in the British Media and should be celebrated for their contributions; they certainly motivate me.

The pool of diverse authors is small, but does exist. I guess, that is the pool that I have inadvertently fallen into. Be it by background, be it by what I have chosen to write.

I don’t class Kangana to be the same as Bollywood movie, I’m loathe to even call it a bollywood romance. It’s difficult to put a label on it, but I would say it is diverse. It contains characters, narrative and experiences that are had by characters that we don’t necessarily see on the typical library, book shop, shelf.  The setting isn’t exactly New Delhi,  Mumbai or Bangalore either. The book opens in Midlands, there are references to the BMAG, Sarehole Mill and also the Sea life centre. After all, I am a Brummie Born and bred. There had to be a strand of Birmingham in there.

So, there are some teasers below, the blurb too.

Why not try and read something different today? Kangana is available in both paperback and ebook. Links are on the sidebar.

Sometimes when you think you are falling for one person, you are really falling in love with everyone else around them too.
Gorbind’s family are his whole world, even if they are far from normal. His kid brother needs looking after and his Grandmother just wants him to find happiness.

His whole world changes when he meets Padmi. Life gets more interesting as she changes Gorbind’s universe completely. Romance with Padmi is anything but straightforward.

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The rainbow cover is very important to me, and really does reflect the colours on the wind. This is a book that attempts to address different aspects of diversity and the cover had to underline that.

Don’t just take my word for it either.

Soul revival: Hello, Spring

It’s half through the week off, and I’m pottering around, practising some much needed self care. I say I’m pottering, I’m pacing around til the new book goes live and have a distinct lack of writing mojo. Writing other than the blog, that is.

I find it really hard to wander around aimlessly; generally, I have lists and plans as to what to, when, and will be diligent in doing what I have to. What I need to do, sort of gets jettisoned out of the nearest air lock.

Until this week, that is and I’m making a conscious effort to stop.

Sowing of seeds was definitely on the agenda for this week. I’ve been keeping an eye on the chilli seeds; with two more little green babies fished out of the propagator. These were the recently re-sown batch of Cayennes. I do have a few slow growing habaneros in there, I think. I may well find myself rescuing chilli plant from garden centres at some point, by way of experimenting.  I wasn’t originally going to sow cucumbers, it’s been a while since I have. These are Marketmore, and we shall see if these germinate. I don’t tend to have much luck with home sown, home grown cucumbers. They are however wonderfully delicious to eat and do make a nice raita or a good side salad. I might have a a look at other varieties, with a few crystal lemon ones knocking about.

The first batch of tomatoes have been sown, I say first batch as I will probably end up sowing more. I’ve sown four different varieties. The ever present Roma and Marmande, with a sun-blush orange variety and another, which I think is called Indigo. The latter is a blue/black tomato, so we shall see. Roma and Marmand have proved to be reliable varieties. They are heavy croppers and tend to get used up really quickly.

There is a whole list of other things to sow. I will hanging fire yet, before sowing squashes, for example. These grow quickly and the frost window here in Birmingham doesn’t close til the end of May. I will have a think about Runner Beans and Climbing French Beans, The latter will definitely be used across different dishes.

My plan is to continue pottering for the rest of the working week. The weekend is reserved for the allotment, provided that the weather stays stable.

 

Today and yesterday, I decided to take a walk around Middle Earth. Within walking distance, there is Sarehole Mill. A place, said to be the childhood haunt of J.R.R Tolkien and something of a local heritage treasure.  This morning, I donned my walking boots, took a thermo-mug of tea and off I went. I wanted to do this as slowly and as serenely as I could. Yesterday, I thoroughly enjoyed just ambling along, listening to the birds, being a green space and feeling my heart rate slow down. This was about being, taking time, absorbing the universe and being at peace. I think I might do the same again, and make the most of my down time.

 

Postcards from Peace: Pre-order!!! #peaceseries

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In Retreating to Peace, Devan Coultrie moved kit and caboodle to Montana. Before long, he was joined by Aditi Rao. Their history laid the foundations for a rosy future together.

Devan now calls Peace home and his life has become eventful.

This collection of short stories sees his family visit, his romance with Aditi develop further and his dreams in Peace blossom.
Devan Coultrie’s life in Peace is a picture postcard with more to it than meets the eye.