Archive for February, 2014

February 8, 2014

Photo of my week #4

This week, we finally made it to dinner at a local Mexican place, Pinche Pinche. I loved it, especially the churros!

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February 7, 2014

Book: The Shambling Guide to New York City.

Friday is supposed to be for my ‘Home’ posts, but it seems to be drifting in the direction of ‘Books’. However, that still seems fitting and so I’m happily going with it. In fact, the whole blog has become distinctly more book, magazine and paper orientated—whether that’s a sign of Winter hibernation or that I should just give in and write a blog about paper remains to be seen…

As I mentioned last week, I seem to have accidentally become a big fan of fantasy novels and so I found myself wandering in the fantasy section of Waterstone’s earlier this week, seeking a follow up book to The Night Circus, which I loved.

Sitting amidst all the gothic-looking fantasy novels was this book. I’ll admit that the cover quote from Scott Sigler did it for me. ‘If Buffy grew up, got therapy and found a real job, it would look like this’. I was obsessed with Buffy when I was away at agricultural college. I used to get it recorded (on VHS, no less) so that I could watch back to back episodes every time I came home. I bought all the box-sets, fan-books, action figures, magazines. I even queued to meet James Marsters but wasn’t able to stay long enough to actually see him; a fact which still makes me sad…

The Shambling Guide to New York City

Anyway, I digress. I bought Mur Lafferty’s urban fantasy novel ‘The Shambling Guide to New York City’ and, after a day, I’ve finished it. It’s brilliant. Fast-paced and contemporary, with the wry humour and wit that Buffy was great at, and a mix of comedic and slightly disturbing that only a novel containing zombies can probably manage. I love that she creates characters that I care about, even if they happen to be Death Goddesses, water sprites or vampires. It’s lots of fun and hugely engaging right from the start. I think that it would be a really good introduction to fantasy novels for those of you who might be as sceptical as I was about fantasy as a genre.

A whole series of ‘Shambling Guide’ novels set in different cities are planned with the second—set in New Orleans— to be released later this year; I already know that I will be waiting impatiently for its arrival.

What I really want to know, though, is why I’ve never heard of Mur Lafferty before? She’s ace. I’ve had a quick read of her blog and noticed that she’s a pod-caster so they’re next on my list…

February 5, 2014

Three Good Things: another paper-based edition!

Quite by accident, this week’s Three Good Things has a paper-based theme again. I think it’s because I seem to spend so much of the winter huddled inside, awaiting Spring! Here are the things that have been making me smile this week…

One: Frankie magazine

Thanks to my lovely friend Kay, I have issue 56 of Frankie to read. Even though it’s their December edition, they’re Antipodean, so there’s plenty of sunshine between the pages, as well as beautiful arts, crafts, photography. There is also a iguana, which I initially thought it was a pet. Until half of  it appeared, cooked and nestled on a plate between rice and beans. But I have decided to gloss over that page, with a shudder…

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Two: The Night Circus

I’ve just finished this novel by Erin Morgenstern and so I’m officially in mourning; a slightly empty ‘what will I do with my life now?’ feeling that appears at the end of a great book. Unfortunately, I passed it along to a friend before I remembered to photograph it for the blog.  Highly recommended.

Three: Zebra Notepaper from Rifle Paper Co. 

Because no matter how many productivity apps I have on my iPhone, I’ll always turn to pen and paper. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as crossing things off a To-Do list, and this pretty note paper from Rifle Paper Co. (bought in Waterstone’s) actually makes me want to get organised!

What are your Three Good Things this week? I’d love you to share them with me!  I will link to any Three Good Things posts you write, in next week’s edition of this series. 

February 4, 2014

Allotment rules.

Earlier this year, I paid a visit to my sodden, mud-covered allotment and made a promise to it that this was going to be a brilliant year.

2013 saw the arrival of my first letter from the council—the letter designed to either make you quit or get cross. In my eight years of allotment holding, I’ve never had it quite so bad. I was tempted to write an angry letter in return, telling them all about the end of my marriage, that I was living with my parents and that I had enough things to worry about without the threat of losing my beloved plot. Instead I opted for a feeble “if you look hard enough, you can see I’ve planted things” kind of response, with a tug of the forelock in the direction of the council as I did so.

Since making that promise, aloud, to my plot—on a day when thankfully, the site was otherwise empty—I’ve since done precisely nothing. Not a single thing. And I know from previous experience that the start of every year is slow, and then Spring pops up seemingly overnight because I’ve not been paying attention and all of a sudden I’m rushing to catch up.

So it’s time for a plan. And seeds. Hurrah for seeds and their promise of greatness. I didn’t manage to save any seeds last year, due to the above-mentioned life changes, so I’m shopping for all new ones. I tend to get my seeds from online suppliers like Sarah Raven but this year I’m heading up to RHS Harlow Carr for a day’s wandering around the site for some much-needed inspiration and then to the shop for stocking up.

So that I’m not setting myself up for failure, I have some rules for my allotment:

  • Only grow food we like to eat! Sounds simple, but sometimes desire for crop rotation and doing things ‘by the rules’ leads to oddities in planting plans. Runner beans are a great example of something that’s easy to grow but that I really don’t like to eat.
  • Don’t grow things that are attention-seekers: Some plants cope really well without a lot of attention (such as sweetcorn) and some do not. Growing things that require more time than I have will lead to failure.
  • Grow things that cost more to buy: Maincrop potatoes don’t require a lot of attention but are cheap to buy. More interesting varieties such as Pink Fir Apple cost more to buy, so are more worth growing.
  • Grow things that taste their best when absolutely fresh: Sweetcorn, peas and strawberries are great example of this and so are all on my wish list.

Inevitably there are conflicts between these rules—plants that are more interesting to eat often are harder to grow! Where there is conflict, my heart and stomach will always rule over my head, naturally…

After much deliberation, crop rotation planning and thinking about my rules, here’s my wish list:

  • sweetcorn
  • parsnip
  • carrots
  • peas
  • borlotti beans
  • squash/pumpkin
  • dwarf french beans
  • beetroot
  • bush tomatoes
  • spinach
  • corn salad
  • waxy potatoes

Also—dahlias, sweet peas, ranunculus. I long for cutting flowers this year.

I’ve not decided on varietals yet, so if you’ve got any suggestions for me, that would be great!

What are your gardening plans for the year? What would you grow based on my rules? Do let me know…

February 3, 2014

Holstee Lifecycle: a manifesto for life

Monday mornings can be the most challenging time of the week. I invite you to be cheered, find a bit of time to reflect and just enjoy this; the Holstee Lifecycle, based on their well-loved Manifesto but with bikes…

 

 

February 2, 2014

Photo of my week #3

This week has been all about planning. I’ve made blogging plans, travel plans, business plans, life plans.

Here’s to a week of putting those plans into action…

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February 1, 2014

The Weekend Pages #3

Hello and welcome to The Weekend Pages; a post about great things I’ve found on the web this week.

We learnt this week that a mere 1,004 people in the UK completed the Rapha Festive 500 cycle challenge. Across the globe, the completion rate was only 23% of all the people who signed up to compete.  One of those was my boyfriend Stephen; I’m SO proud of him for that. We’re awaiting his woven roundel badge through the post to commemorate the achievement.

The three overall winners have just been announced and in third place was my favourite: eight year old Mini-pips and his Dad. What a brilliant father-son combination. The photos of them through their challenge are truly heartwarming, and it’s inspiring to see how such a young lad can ride so far, and with a big smile on his face too!

For me the best statistic from the Festive500 is the 118% increase in women riders from 2012. Hurrah for women’s cycling. Massive congratulations to everyone who completed and commiserations to anyone who had to drop out; I only realised through supporting Stephen how tough it would be!

The overall winners: Riding the Festive 500 in one big fat ride from Paris (FR) to Haarlem (NL) – #inonego from Rotgans & Rotgans on Vimeo.

In a complete change of topic, the other great thing I’ve discovered this week is Flow magazine from The Netherlands; about paper, mindfulness, simplicity and connection. How brilliant does that sound? They produce the English language version ‘Flow International’ biannually, so I’m eagerly trying to get my hands on a copy. In  the meantime, I’m downloading their free colouring-in pages for my daughter (and me!) to colour in.

 

Have you found some great stuff online this week? Do share…