Archive | November, 2013

I discover running

28 Nov

Nanowrimo is all well and good, my word count is creeping up slowly and this week I discovered a colleague is also participating. We have both started late and expect our nanowrimo to finish sometime around January. It’s wonderful to be writing again but the allotment has really had a life changing impact on me in that I miss the outdoors!

Anyone who knew me from years ago will understand what a sea change this is and no one could be more surprised than me. I have been feeling sluggish and in need of fresh air and movement. I went to an all day silent retreat in London and the thing that preoccupied me the most was how uncomfortable the chairs were. I was off striding round the small walled garden every opportunity I could, like some deranged prisoner whiling away their prison sentence.

Six years ago my new years resolutions were ‘continue learning and start running’ I found out a month later I was pregnant and the wise GP said now is not the time to take up running, so it has bubbled on the back burner ever since.

On Monday night my hubby bought me some running shoes on-line for my Christmas present. This terrified me into action. The very next morning I went out and did 2.5 circuits of a nearby sports field even though the running shoes had yet to arrive. A friend of mine who took up running said basically you just run and then walk and run and then walk until you can run for longer than you can walk.


My early xmas pressie

If you have recently seen a woman wearing ancient yoga trousers and walking boots gasping her way round a field then that could quite possibly be me. Gosh it’s hard work, I understand why running is a love/hate thing. I felt like I was going to die by the end of it but clearly I didn’t and so instead I felt slightly elated. I combined it with a bit of al fresco yoga and chi gong and felt really alive and hungry, so hungry.

running 3

My soggy walking boots

I went again today, still in walking boots which got quite soggy. It didn’t feel much easier, in fact I think it may have actually been a bit harder than Tuesday’s run but I still thought I’ll be back tomorrow! So much like the allotment: I am hooked and I have soggy feet!

When I got back I didn’t want my post plot reward of tea and biscuits, I found myself making a super food smoothie – not a regular in my house I have to confess. And then a knock at the door revealed my running shoes have arrived already, so there is no backing down now!

running 2

Super food smoothie – I’d earned this!



It’s chilly out there

19 Nov

I ventured to the plot this morning, encouraged by the sight of a whole day of sunshine. I forgot to look at the temperature part of the BBC weather page. It was sunny but chilly, almost freezing.  There were frozen puddles on my latest bits of membrane and the frost covered everything. I lasted ten minutes. Consoling myself with the fact that I needed a leg stretch.

Currently all over the world people are trying to write novels in a month.  I first heard about Nanowrimo years ago when a fellow would be writer told me of the great events it held in London. I finally signed up to their face book page this year and keep being bombarded by people’s word counts, one bloke said he had got to 45,000 words already. The aim is to reach 50,000 words in a month and thus have the first draft of a novel completed by December. The idea behind this is that with support and a bit of competition writers will stop procrastinating and just write.

One of the best writing teachers I have ever come across had this as her mantra: just write, whatever needs to come out, will come out. Even if you have to get the self indulgent crap out the way before the actual crafted writing commences, just write.

When I signed up to the face book page I didn’t think for a minute I would try to write so much in a month which is good as I have clocked up about 2,500 words so far this month in between writing lesson plans and blog posts. But it has reminded me that the main obstacle to writing is always the writer them self. The allotment is not going to be taking up much time for the next few months so I may as well stop procrastinating and hunker round the old lap top and see what comes forth.

chilly plot

What the plot looks like at the moment

I surveyed my plot during my chilly ten minutes and had a clear your-work-here-is-done (for now) moment.

chilly more sprouts

Must not forget to pick these in time for Christmas dinner!

Currently the only things really growing that may need harvesting soon are the sprouts and other brasicas so it’s time to step back from all things allotment related. I will miss it but I never have been that good with the cold.

chilly pumpkin patch dug

Pumpkin patch, dug over and covered.

And last time I was there I did end up digging the pumpkin patch, ready for next year’s veggies which was the last thing on my usually never-ending to do list this year. It’s always hard letting go and it took so long to make the plot part of my routine. I am probably worried once I stop going regularly I will forget it exists all over again and come back to an overgrown weedy mess. But for now I don’t know what else there is to do and with this cold weather I’m quite pleased I won’t be trudging down there quite so often. Instead I will be in the warm listening to my laptop purr, plugging away at those 50,000 words long after Nanowrimo ends.

Late autumn

14 Nov

I read something the other day that said once you have done Halloween and bonfire night then you can consider yourself in winter. I prefer to think it’s late autumn, I’m not quite ready for winter yet. Autumn is the most dramatic, and for me, depressing season because it can start out so sunny and goes steadily downhill. The fact it will be colder at the end than the beginning is guaranteed and in that respect, as a season, it is unique.

All this cold, rain and wind has seen me ignoring the plot. For two weeks I have been plot starved. We popped there at the weekend to pick the last of the pumpkins but aside from that I have spent little time there until today. I miss the walk there most of all – that has become my gym, that walk. Don’t get me started on how much I hate gyms – the lycra, the sweat, the irony of being some out of shape bod who drives to the gym. I digress. On Sunday we picked 4 green stunted pumpkins that now reside in the shed. Perhaps they will turn orange one day. Perhaps I will make that pumpkin curry at last.

last of the pumpkins

The last crop of pumpkins

late autumn pumpkin patch

Pumpkin patch now covered

So today, in between having a cuppa with a friend and my Sainsburys shopping delivery I squeezed in a visit to the plot. The first job was to cover the old pumpkin patch up with more membrane. I didn’t get around to digging it over as there were other things that needed doing, so I just covered it in the hope it might be easier to tackle next year.

It was cold this morning so I didn’t fancy my chances of staying there long but I now have my nice dry boots and a thick jumper and soon I was as absorbed as ever. I dug the raised bed and cleared the last of the courgette plant, which in my absence had been devoured by slugs. I covered it with my own home made compost and then put the old shower doors a friend gave me to keep the earth from freezing.

late autumn shower doors

A near perfect fit for my raised bed

Then I pulled up the last useless tall non sprouting broccoli plant to give the Brussel sprout plants more room, sun light and nutrients. I fed the leeks with organic manure, they are doing well but I’m not sure how long they will survive these frosts. The poor pepper plants I planted several months ago are now black – singed by frost, if that works as a metaphor.

late autumn

My leeks are one of the last things still growing alongside brassicas and onions

late autumn dead peppers

My pepper plants are no more

I pulled up some straggling beetroot that had not really grown and chucked it in the compost. Every time a crop gets cleared there is more digging. I did the old beetroot patch in record time, aware I was late for my cuppa and it’s cold out there. Gone are the days when I linger and an hour turns into three. It was more a case of my planned 20 minutes became 40 minutes but that was all I could bare. I am sure I will fit in a few more brief visits before the year comes to a close but I now have free time again in those once plot-filled hours. I am not sure how I will spend this extra time but I do know I won’t be spending it down the gym any time soon.