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Runners and Riders…beans

Let’s talk beans.

Runner beans and Climbing French Beans.

Runner beans often get a bad press; for being stringy, for being confusing, and not knowing what to do with them. Climbing French Beans, get ignored.

I like both, I think they are both equitable for growing and need not be confusing in the least.

You can sow these now, in yoghurt pots or cut down pop bottles. Make sure the compost is moist not soaking damp; ensure the containers do have some form of drainage. Otherwise your seeds will too cold, damp and simply rot away.

(That last one, is probably a good science lesson to do with kids. They can see the development of the root system amongst other things.)

They do and will grow quickly, and will need to be hardened off before you plant them outside. This means to acclimatize the plants to the cooler conditions outside. Ideally, they should be planted outside once the frost window has closed. Here in England, that doesn’t happen til the end of May-the late May Bank Holiday, to be precise.

I’ve grown runner beans in pots, so this is possible. As well as planting in open ground. This will involve making tripods or Rugby-post structures to support the plants as they grow.  More often than not, the variety sown tends to be Scarlet Emperor. Think the Climbing French Beans were called Cobra…well, they do snake….

Runner beans and climbing beans are rapid growers. Once settled in position, they will keep going to the early autumn if conditions allow. They will need to be watered well when the temperature rises and the summer is full flow.

(That, could actually happen.)

The more you pick the ready beans, the more you will get. Start from the bottom and work upwards to get a steady crop that isn’t over ripe.

And what exactly do you do with them?

Runners, can be chutneyed, or cooked with potatoes, spices and potatoes. That’s how we have them at home. Chop them up, saute with onions, garlic, ginger and some chopped tomatoes. Add the contents of your masala tin to experiment as required.

Climbing Beans can be used in the same way, but are probably best steamed or cooked with butter, and dash of seasoning.

Chatting with @TheOrdKnitter

You may have read the post about socks; how I’ve learned how to knit them.

I wouldn’t have got that far without a little help from my friends, not to mention a book of patterns.

Well, I was kindly invited by The Ordinary Knitter, Heather, to share my experiences of knitting socks on flat needles.

I’d asked Heather for some advice on how to start, and she was great in walking me through a pattern.

You can hear the full podcast with Heather here.

 

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These are my current projects. Two stripy pairs for me. An experimental Dad  sock, and even one on a pair of circular needles. These, are the ones that I still need to reflect upon a bit further.

 

The book that I’ve used is by Alice Curtis Knit your socks on Straight.

To get growing

At this moment in time, there is a lot of seed sowing. The current situation, has inspired, challenged, encouraged people to start gardening. This might be growing your own food, sorting out the dahlias, or just rejuvenating your green space.

Gardening, has certainly struck a cord with people.

As such, I’ve been thinking about this blog. About how I started just over a decade ago, with containers in Dad’s garden. I started gardening, growing food through a combination of sheer fluke and curiosity.  Everything was an experiment.

It was also to help mental health at the time. I’d just come to the end of my initial teacher training, and was unlikely to be employed by the end of Summer. There was sadness, anxiety and uncertainty that experimenting with seed sowing could be alleviating.

Ten and bit years later, the change in the universe is global.

I started with cherry tomatoes, chilli plants. I found runner beans and even a Butternut squash plant that I called Gladys. We have Kevin the aubergine too.

That was an interesting summer, in 2009. We had a heatwave, and this led to a bumper crop of cayenne chillies.

I remember going to Wilkos, to Poundland, to get my supplies.

At this moment in time, that is impossible. There are DIY stores, but I’m not for one moment, encouraging non-essential travel. There are also online outlets, who are doing their best to support customers. Again, I advise caution, as businesses do the best that they can.

For my part, I have an allotment, that I can access sparingly to tidy up. I’ve yet to sow anything.

That doesn’t mean that I can’t offer support; especially with all the content on the blog. I wrote it, for that very job! To help others, perhaps share my mistakes so others would avoid them.

(There are also two books on the side bar, but that is not an advert.)

Gardening has the potential to bring great joy, stability, focus and so many other things. I know that it means a great deal to me. All being well, you may find something on the blog that also helps.

Last day #free #kindle #ebooks

Today is the last day to download most of my books of my books for free.

I’ve been quietly blown away by how popular the two gardening books have been in the USA. It really does amaze me, how two books, written about my allotment in England have been downloaded in such a number.  I’ll be rather cross, if that all turns to out to be the work of some Machiavellian Spambot.

Beyond the two gardening books, there is the stack of fiction. Two out of three of the Devan Coultrie books from the Peace Series are free. You can also download Fragments and Kangana.

Today, Tuesday 31st March 2020, is the last day where all six are free to download onto to your kindle or the kindle app.

Incidentally,  I’ve been doing some socially distant story telling on the Petal Horticultural Obbit Facebook page. You can find the videos there, and I’ve also uploaded them onto the Horiticultural Obbit You Tube Channel.

Last 48 hours #FREEBOOKS #KINDLE

It is the last two days of the various books being free on kindle.

In keeping indoors, we are going to need something to read, to keep us occupied and perhaps even talk about to others.

It’s been really heartening actually, to see the downloads. Especially seeing nearly 130 downloads of the yellow gardening book, and in the United States of America!

Don’t forget that most of the fiction books are also available during this brief window.

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Fragments comes before the romance novel that is Kagana. That’s where you can initially find Gorbind. In Kangana, you get to read the start of his story.

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We can’t forget the Peace Novella Series, and my contributions which contain Devan Coultrie. The Devan Story starts with Retreating to Peace and continues with Postcards from Peace.

You can find the links on the side bar or head to the links page.

 

Freebie E-books! #bookworms

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As of yesterday, six of the books are currently free on Kindle for the next five days or so.

Whilst we are stuck in doors, we’ll need something to read, to talk about.

So here we have it. The six books above are fairly free. So if you have a kindle e-reader or the app, why not download.

You can find links on the side bar, or head to the books page.

 

Uncharted Territory

You really couldn’t make this up. I certainly couldn’t.

Write that the world is a-grip with fear, that a pandemic is in action.

Well, I’m sure someone did, that it was written some place.

The last week, has been weird, strangely disorientating.

I’ve been glued to the news, trying to understand. Trying to make sense of things in a clear and coherent way. All around me, the world is changing.

All of the books events that I was scheduled to attend, have been cancelled and postponed.  This does mean I have a stack of books to sell, all requiring good homes. Get in touch, I will waive postage! There is the contact form, somewhere. Those books might help, if we are going to be stuck in doors for a bit. You can also download them, if you have the Kindle App.

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That is pretty much all I have to offer people at this moment in time.

 

My two day jobs, involve people. I teach, so from today, my teaching will be done remotely. That’s going to be really very surreal. I don’t just like teaching, I love it. I’ve been doing it for ten years, and it’s more than just a passion. It really is a vocation. I salute, stand by with, my brothers and sisters in the teaching fraternity.  Since Tuesday, the air at work has been somewhat electric. The frisson has been that off worry, anticipation and anxiety.

Then there is the counselling. As a private practitioner, I’m only just starting out, but I’ve been standing by The Ethical Framework for years. I will continue to do so.  Counselling too, is a vocation. Something, that I can’t explain, in terms of process or experience. My work with trainees-those that I teach-as well as those I have worked with when volunteering, has felt really very powerful over the last few weeks. In the last week, working safely with clients, and offering them the required support has been main focus.

I am carrying on, as best I can. As much as I can.

Today is going to be weird. Seriously weird. I’ve felt anger, anxious and a profound sense of sadness.

I wish you all well.

All being well, I shall be around.

Go well, go safely. Rainbows and butterflies to you all.

 

 

 

Fragments: Fiction from theory

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Over the last few weeks, I’ve found myself reflecting upon my journey as an author. A journey that has had many twists, turns and been a really valuable process of development; it still is. I don’t think, for one moment, that this process will ever stop in terms of development.

There are, of course, the gardening books. I’ve diversified into fiction, and experimented with both fiction and non-fiction. A lot has happened over the course of six, soon to be seven books.

There has been a big career change that has straddled across those texts, across the last five years. I’ve been a teacher for ten years, and throughout that journey, I undertook another in parallel. I trained to become a person-centred counsellor. A process, that isn’t for the faint-hearted. I can safely say, that I am not the same person who started out on a level two listening skills course all those years ago. I think it was 2012, my memory escapes me!

In 2017, in I published the book that you see above. I spent 2015-2016 writing it whilst studying and teaching. I’ve written before, as to my reasons why. I experienced two significant bereavements through the course of writing that book; these impacted upon so many different aspects of my life and being. To write about a book about that process was somewhat interesting, and I guess-in hindsight-an aspect of grieving. I know that after the second bereavement, I found it physically impossible to pick up a pen to write. I had to give myself permission to finish what I had started, to complete a cycle, move on and through what I had experienced.

Fragments is a work of fiction, yes. It does however, have some basis in theory. Mourning and bereavement, to be more specific. To this day, I remember learning about Worden and his four tasks of mourning, to be acutely aware of how Fragments was written with those four ideas in mind. I kept them in mind, as things that ebb and flow. I don’t, for one moment, profess to be an expert. There are some, that say all counselling is about loss. This is certainly something that has echoed and permeated through my practice, and I can see how that would be the case.

The principles:

  1. To accept the reality off loss
  2. To work through, process the pain of grief
  3. To adjust to the world without the deceased
  4. To emotionally relocate the deceased whilst embarking on a new life.

Each of these four things is a part of the fabric of Fragments. Each of the six stories touches on these four principles. Each of the stories is also linked by Marcy the counsellor. A character, who herself, has a story about grief. There had to be a counsellor, I was training to be one, I saw one too.  I tried to distill into the pages, what I was learning, experiencing and feeling.

The characters are deliberately diverse, they reflect real life. There is Nandini, an elderly woman of Indian-ascent. A character who has a very private grief, a process that she struggle with on many levels. She is someone who might not, in real life, go to counselling. It pains me, makes me angry too, that there are communities out there, for whom counselling is unavailable, or not part of their frame of reference; it’s not the done thing. Nandini echoes to me. She is the type of client that I would want to support in my private practice-another story, another day-to help improve access to talking therapies and also the stigma around mental health.

I deliberately wrote about Chris, who loses his dog, Adelphi. Man’s best friend, a relationship just as important as all others; this had to be written too. There are children; teenagers, actually who feel pain and need someone to talk to.

That’s the key here. To talk.

People tend to pull faces at me, when I say that I’ve written about grief. My response is always the same. We don’t talk about grief, we hide it; so why not read about it? I could, very easily, attach a health warning. I choose not to. I see value in what I’ve written. I see, know, that it’s not an easy book; it’s long too. I also think that talking, about grief, is important. It is part of those four stages, least of all part of my practice as a counsellor. It’s not a textbook, not by any length of chalk. I’ve never intended it to be one either, but it does have a purpose. It certainly had one for me.

I hope that by reading it, someone else will find that too.

You’ll need tissue.

And a big mug of tea.

Look after yourself, though.

You’re important.

 

Fragments Universe: Food for thought

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Love, life, laughter and all that is in between.

The Fragments Universe currently stretches across two novels.

The first, the titular novel, is concerned with loss and bereavement. Two aspects of life that we, as a society, don’t talk about. Two aspects, that are very often swept under the carpet and at times, with really quite painful consequences.  Fragments contains six inter-linked stories that map what happens when loss and bereavement tear up universes. Whilst there is sadness, there is a hope and the capacity of humans to mend.

Kangana follows a character-Gorbind Phalla- and tells of his life before Fragments. Here, we sample a not so straight forward romance. A romance, set in the midlands, that shows that love isn’t always plain-sailing. Especially, if you have family members that also need to be taken care of.

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Fragments

Life starts and life ends. In between we form relationships and friendships. We have husbands, wives, sons, daughters and we mustn’t forget pets. Memories form that shape who we are and what we do. Only for death to cast it all askew. What we know becomes nothing by fragments, torn up and thrown to the winds. The Anand’s lose a wife and mother, Matthew is lost without his grandmother, Daniel loses the man he loved, Michael wonders about having children and Maya is a mother bereaved. Within are six inter-related stories explore what happens when the universe as we know it implodes and entirely. Grief is a journey to be travelled by them with emotions to be experienced as their lives are changed. Whilst they feel alone they are all connected and these are their stories. Family, friends and even our pets cannot escape when it comes to the footprint that is left by death.

 

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Kangana

There is no such thing as a straight forward romance.

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.

 

 

 

Here is my interview with Punam Farmah

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Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.

Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?

Hello! I’m Punam Farmah, 35 and middle-aged.

Fiona: Where are you from?

I’m from Birmingham, England. A Brummie born and  bred

Fiona: A little about your self (ie,  your education, family life, etc.).

By day, I am a teacher and counsellor. I teach Psychology and humanities, and as counsellor I get to work with and meet lots of different people. Born and raised in Birmingham, I have two very supportive siblings and two fabulous parents.

Fiona: Tell us your latest news.

Earlier  this year, I published my latest contribution to the Peace Novella Series. This was a collection of short stories, and I am currently working on the next instalment. As such, I have inky fingers. I am also one of…

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