Sunday, 31 August 2008

There’s a feeling I get when I look to the west........

....and at around 7pm on Saturday it was a mixture of exhilaration and vertigo.

I was standing on the top of Painswick beacon, an Iron Age hill fort just south of Gloucester. The expected orientation diagram at the peak was missing (presumably stolen for scrap metal value), so I couldn't say for certain how many counties were visible, but to the north I could see the hills far beyond Gloucester and Cheltenham, definitely to the the Malverns in Worcestershire and Herefordshire, and to the west I could see far beyond the Severn estuary into Wales - to Gwent and Monmouth. I've visited hill forts before, but this one was at the very peak of a very steep hill, with deep valleys all around, and looking down towards the Severn, I was struck by the fact that it felt like I was looking down on the Black Mountains and the distant Brecon Beacons. The idea was dizzying.

All around in the fields below machines were out cutting and bringing in the wheat and barley. In fact, even as night fell and we drove home through the Cotswolds and the Chilterns, little beams of light were dotted around the fields, as the combines worked to get as much of the harvest safely in before the storms broke.

At least we managed to squeeze in another reasonably sunny day in August. Today were we held back from working at the allotment by the rain, which at times afforded a description beyond torrential. In fact, some of the roads at the top of the hill in Enfield were flooded and practically impassable. I saw drains overflowing and gushing towards houses. Granted - far worse in happening in the Carribbean and heading for New Orleans, and I've been caught up in a flood in the Wye Valley before, but we're talking about 200 feet above sea level on the edge of London - it seemed unreal.

Anyway, September is here, and the Wartime Weekend Gardener sets out the following tasks for this week:

Start lifting maincrop potatoes. We'll be starting this next week with some trepidation after the blight hit the foliage. I have no way of knowing if the disease reached the tubers until I see them. Doesn't help my mood that some of the tomato plants in the back garden have now been lost to blight. The high humidity of the past week did for them.

Also sow aomw onions to overwinter, I'll probably leave this, and wait for onion, garlic and shallot sets to hit the shops at the end of the month, which will signal the start of another year of growing.

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