Friday, 9 May 2008

The Sizzling of Hot Summer Prawns

The continuing hot sunny weather has brought most of the street out of doors - gardening during the day and barbecues at night. Being a cul de sac, you can stop and talk without fear of being run down, and children can play outside. I often think that the slope down from the green at the top of the street makes it an ideal training ground for goalkeepers - you soon learn to catch a ball if the other option is chasing it down a hill, and I've seen that happen a fair few times this past week.

I've spoken to more neighbours since moving here than I did the whole time at the old place. There, the people who stopped to talk were either pensioners or pet owners - here everyone speaks to each other - even the "quiet" family say hello to us now - mostly down to seeing us working on the front garden.

We've yet to drag the barbecue out, mainly because the cat that has adopted us would probably run off with the food before we had a chance. Every time she smalls barbecue smoke, she sits on top of the fence, surveying the area. A few nights ago, she sneaked into a neighbour's garden, and got away with a chicken wing!

I guess barbecue smoke has one bonus - it keeps the mosquitos away. Once again, I have not so much been bitten but chewed. Forget fake tan orange, the colour de jour round these parts is Calamine lotion pink. Well, my lavender and Southernwood plants are beginning to bush up for the year, hopefully soon they'll be big enough for me to brush past them and the scent will keep the mozzies and other biting beasties away.

Another interesting thing about here. In this and the adjoining small street, I have met three other households with allotments, all of which are couples or families around our age. Maybe it's another facet of the positive feeling that you get round here. I spotted a few houses have work done, and skips outside, so I asked at all of them if I could reuse anything in the skips at the allotment - I got an enthusiastic yes each time. Have to keep a note of those addresses for later so I can drop a bag of beans or courgettes on their doorstep.

With any luck, we'll have another busy weekend at the allotment, hopefully getting there early enough to get a decent amount of work done before heatstroke beckons. We moved the shelter last week so it's now close to the shade of the trees, next to the point in the fence where there's a gap that wildlife use as an entry point. Discovering that gap has meant that my fruit / forest garden plans will have to be re-drawn, but it's a small sacrifice and I can find the space elsewhere.

It was a great weekend for watching wildlife - especially butterflies. Peacocks and Tortoiseshells have been flying for a while, but over the Bank Holiday I saw the first Orange Tips of the year, and a butterfly I later provisionally identified as a Glanville Fritillary, which is usually only found on the Isle of Wight!

The only instruction for this weekend in the Wartime Weekend Gardener is to plant out Autumn and the remaining Summer brassicas, such as cabbage and Brussels Sprouts. I'm not sure if our brassicas bed will be ready yet, but I found a couple of unused bags of spent mushroom compost on our final visit to the old allotment, so I can use them to help things along.

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