Real Life – Happy Monday Loving Life

The forecast is saying 10 days of glorious sunshine. How delightful. We need the sun to dry up all the rain. This winter may not have been very chilly but the soggy, wetness has been relentless. I feel like I have been living in a swamp. I am getting ready to spring clean and I am now preparing to move onto the next stage of living more sustainably.

Hagar and I found a free 10 ft greenhouse on pre-loved so he hired a van and collected it. Now, the foundations have been prepared and we have to begin the giant jigsaw puzzle of assembling a greenhouse with no instructions. It’s a good job we are separated – what marriage could survive such an endeavour. We are also on the lookout for some railway sleepers so that we can make some raised beds. We need to get a move on as the greenhouse needs to be up so that I can begin propagating some seeds, which when grown will be placed in the raised beds.

We are trying to work out how we keep the chickens, ducks, birds and butterflies away from the crops but at the same time keep them exposed to the rain so that the elements can help with the watering. But we have to take it one step at a time. First, we have to erect the great glasshouse without incident. Watch this space.

The question is now, what to grow? I only want to grow food that everyone will eat. Plus we have a large vegetable patch in the pig area that I am hoping to grow, larger, more hardy vegetables such as potatoes, maize, and green beans. I feel a little overwhelmed by the choices. I went to the a potato show at Codford Village hall and discovered over 80 varieties of potato – it was like wine but potatoes. Some of the varieties date back to 1918. I didn’t buy anything. It was too big a decision. I need to get the greenhouse up first.

We are also on the lookout for two weaners – ideally Oxford Sandy and Blacks. Of all the pig breeds we have tried these are our favourites. Again, if anyone knows of any weaners for sale, I’d love to hear from you.

On the home front life ticks on. I have been wryly amused by Bulford Buttygate – where Major General Cowan wrote a damning indictment of the military’s reluctance to adapt in an email on etiquette and manners. He may have egg on his face; but it will, of course, be a storm in a teacup, and he will continue to be an obstinate, old ass, who will most likely become more resolute in his rightness. The change will happen around him, regardless of what he thinks. I hope the military wake up and smell the coffee. Times are a changing, and if the leaders of the military can be agile, flexible and open to change then they will find it less painful. But you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, and so, we have to wait for the new dogs to become the old dogs. Even if I look at Hagar’s generation of officer contemporaries, who are the old dogs of the future, I can see that they will fall into the same trap as Cowan. They are not smart enough to exploit social media because they don’t want it. Some hate Kindle and want everything to be about physical books. They fear technology and don’t embrace the potential it offers them if they are wise and absorbing. They will ache in the face in change, because agility and flexibility is the key to change, and there is still something about elements of the current military that is backward, stubborn, stiff and rigid. I am secretly rooting for them. Turn again military. Evolution is the key to survival. But as Douglas Adams wrote in Life, the Universe and Everything it is somebody’s else problem.

“The Somebody Else’s Problem field is much simpler and more effective, and what’s more can be run for over a hundred years on a single torch battery. This is because it relies on people’s natural disposition not to see anything they don’t want to, weren’t expecting, or can’t explain.”

― Douglas Adams, Life, the Universe and Everything

The kids are evolving beautifully. How far we have come in the last ten years. Parenting is by far the toughest gig in the world. It carries so much responsibility and it is enduring and endless. The Grenade is now ten years old and he knows everything. He is full of back chat. For me it’s about balancing his omnipotence with management and co-ordination. I don’t want to quosh his spirit; but sometimes I need him to do as he is asked. His current obsession is Jurrasic Park Builder and he is very involved in the day-to-day management of his Jurassic safari park. He is still fanatical about dinosaurs and is definitely a natural scientist. He loves documentaries and nature films. In September, he is going to secondary school. I am very excited because he is going to my old secondary school. Hagar and I attended a parent’s presentation and we were both impressed with the business like manner of the school. How far it has come in the last 20 years. More importantly, I think that it is the right school for The Grenade, he is too progressive and leftfield for the conservatism of the independent system and I think he will thrive in a more progressive school environment. My old school has the good cross section of society and it will help the Grenade develop and find his own way. It will help shape who he is to be as an adult. As a parent I couldn’t be prouder of him. He is insightful, funny, kind, strong and as his confidence grows I know that he will make a valuable and earnest contribution to the planet. I am very excited for him.

The Menace has been slow to grasp academia. But she is finally beginning to blossom. She is much more confident and chatty. With people she doesn’t know she is still very shy but I am not concerned about her cautiousness. She loves being in the garden, tending to the chickens and collecting the eggs. When I cook, she cooks with me and stirs the food. She loves to chop and chat. We make cakes and biscuits together. She climbs trees and gets muddy, but then she also plays with dolls. Whatever we do she is there, wanting to be involved with her sleeves rolled up.

Victoria Sponge

This weekend, in the glorious sunshine, while I was baking a victoria sponge cake, with fresh cream, raspberries, strawberries and grated cacao; I came into the garden to find the kids sliding in mud, underneath my washing line, ladened with freshly laundered clothes. They were in kiddy heaven, and although it was mission to rinse them down once the fun was over, it was marvellous to see them giggling freely and loving life.

Screen Shot 2014-03-10 at 10.03.14

For the first time in a long time, I am loving life right now. I feel like we are back on track and that we have a future with some stability for the short term. In the long run, who knows what choices I will make. This winter has made me really think about climate change and finding a location to live that won’t be flooded, that provides the resources we need to survive and to invest in renewable energy. This place is not where I am now that is for sure.


  1. My mum and dad ran a nursery for about a million years (just my dad now) and he says to start with, choose easy to grow vegetables. If you try difficult ones that don’t flourish you might be inclined not to grow anything. Good luck x

  2. I really want a vege patch. What a fabulous way to enjoy your food. I have grown tomatoes though – I have bought a collection of bulbs and seeds for the garden. My first task is getting the flowers and pretty plants in- then to tackle the vegetables! x

    1. Yes, me too. A few years ago I grew one but it was infested with caterpillars so when you boiled the broccoli they all came out in the water. I have had some success with herbs. I am going for it this year though. As long as we get the greenhouse up in time. Good luck with yours too. Keep me posted.

  3. The first year that we had vegetable patches in our garden we grew carrots, leeks, potatoes, brussel sprouts, sweetcorn, courgettes, peppers etc. Everything grew really well apart from the brussel sprouts, *NEVER* touch brassicas because they’re so hard to keep butterfly free.

    Love the photo of the children sliding under the line.

    Nipping over from blogsRus.

    1. I know! It’s a gift. Althoughy typical British weather, one nice day and you crack out the flip flops and that it turns bloody cold again and we are back in woolly pulleys!!It’s good that things are drying out a little too.

  4. I really hope that it has stayed sunny with you, we’re having a wet, miserable day here! We really enjoy growing our own vegetables and fruit. I hope it goes well for you.

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