Book review: Alice (The Chronicles of Alice, #1) Alice by Christina Henry

Alice (The Chronicles of Alice, #1)Alice by Christina Henry

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The blurb for this book tells the reader that the story is inspired by “Alice in Wonderland”. All this really serves to do, is lull you into a false sense of security.

The fact that some of the characters in this book are inspired by and named after Lewis Carroll’s characters is pretty much where the similarity ends. This novel is much darker and more visceral than its leaping off point. Alice starts in a mental asylum, having been recovered from an encounter with the white rabbit ten years earlier. You get the sense very early on, that that encounter was not a good one.

Alice escapes with her friend, Hacker, when the asylum burns down, and they embark on an adventure involving monsters, exploration, underground tunnels, gang lords and the mysterious Jabberwocky. The journey is as much one of self-discovery as it is one of Alice learning about her new surroundings – she was raised in the affluent, safe “new city” but now finds herself in the old city – a dark and dangerous place, and no place for any girl to be alone, let alone a girl from the right side of the tracks. It’s also a journey of Alice and Hacker getting to know each other – in the asylum they communicated through a hole in the wall between them. With the wall removed, Alice learns who her friend really is, was, and who he becomes with each new danger they encounter.

This is not a book for the squeamish – the main characters are attacked in a variety of inventive and messy ways – very definitely not one for the kids. However, the same powerful language that brings those vivid scenes to life also paints rich and colourful scenes in the less intense moments of Alice’s journey. Although under the protection of her companion, the author still maintains the character’s strength and independence. The story definitely ends on a feminist note, and I’m very much looking forward to reading the sequel.

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This review was originally posted on The Book Gnome

The man in the high …warehouse? (spoilers for Man In The High Castle)

We finished Season 2 of The Man In The High Castle last night and although I enjoyed a lot of it (especially the bits with Rufus Sewell in), it’s fair to say I found watching most of Season 2 a confusing and distressing experience.

It didn’t begin well when I started watching the season hoping that it would still be compelling without Rufus, given that I was convinced his character had died near the end of the previous season. Turns out, I was completely wrong about that and that his character had very much not died, and is a major part of this season. So, I’ll own that one and say many “yay”s for more Rufus. This was not the fault of the writers, but a consequence of me getting confused in my middle age. It did, however, start the worrying thought that maybe I should have re-watched at least the end of the last season, just to get my bearings, if not re-watched all of Season 1. Of course, I didn’t do this. Busy-busy life, only so many hours in the day, we’ve already invested in watching it once for goodness’ sakes. I didn’t even read a synopsis, which would probably have proven helpful.

I like the style of the season. What America would be like under the Nazis/Japanese in the 60s if they had won the war was, in my opinion, well imagined. I enjoyed the action up to a certain point, but early on got myself very confused about who was betraying who, and what the point or influence of the eponymous character was. Which meant that the double timeline denouement with (actually, this time) characters coming back from the dead and some things left open ended, for reasons I couldn’t determine was really properly confusing. Because the husband has a tendency to work in front of the TV, I’m often asked what’s going on at various stages. At the end of Season 2, I was unable to help.

“Didn’t she die?”
“Yes.”
“Then why is she there?”
“I don’t know.”

If there was meant to be a link back to Season 1, I would have enjoyed clearer references. Late on, we discover that Washington was nuked at the end of the war. That could have been made more of, and could have been a bigger part of the general build-up to the threat of all-out nuclear apocalypse that hung over the second half of the season. As someone who was a child in the 80s, when the cold war still “raged”, the threat, and any fall-out from there being attacks on US soil (in every sense) apart from the obvious different-outcome-of-the-war thing felt very underplayed.

I did, however, enjoy the playing out of the fate of John Smith’s son, Thomas. The boy has a form of MS which, under the 3rd Reich, means that he should be reported to the authorities and euthanised, however, his father is plotting to get him out of the Reich and away to safety. Thomas realises the situation (because he’s a bright lad) and shops himself, but in a way that won’t harm his parents. I never used to try to guess what happens when watching films & TV, but from early on in this episode, I stated several times “he’s going to kill himself”. The scene where the medics arrive to take him away is well-constructed, and very moving. Even given the subject matter, it’s a high point for me.

I was quite disappointed, as well, that the man in the high castle is really a dude in a warehouse. Given that Germany features prominently in the storyline (with John Smith zipping back & forth from New York to Berlin like it’s round the corner) I had high hopes for an actual castle.

If there’s a season 3, I’ll watch it, if only to hope for things to improve. However, there is definitely some winning-me-back to be done.

Whoville – my new favourite sweater

I know. It’s a while since I posted, and now it’s the new year, I’m posting again. Yes, it’s related to a NYR to “write more”. Watch this space for me relapsing and not-writing a bit more.

So: knitting news. Just around Christmas I finished my latest sweater. I seem to be on a kick with this particular designer (atelier alfa), it’s the second one I’ve done by them in a row. The first one (stripes gone crazy) has been on my to-do list for a while – we know how I love unusual construction, well this one really fitted the bill, in that it has graduated sunbeam stripes which go around the back to give small stripes on one cardigan front, and large on the other front – but more of that in another blog post (eventually, when I’ve blocked it and added its buttons).  This latest sweater, 3 in 1,  has been on my to-do list ever since I stumbled across it on Pinterest (I think) aaaages ago. Or it might have been on an “also by this designer” link. The colours spoke to me, as did the fake-layering. My aspirational how-I’d-like-to-dress pinterest board has many things featuring layers, although the observant among you will note that it doesn’t feature many brightly coloured things. It should not be news that I want to come across as being more sophisticated than I really am. Given that my sophistication level is only really above a 1 or 2 out of 10 for those who know me at all well… and that only on special occasions.

I’m also working on a blanket as part of a crochet-along and was really liking the yarn that we are using for that one – it’s a brand/line that has many colours, so is ideally suited to stripes where there are similar colours all together. I chose my colours in October, with the help of Myra at Knit-wise and could barely wait to get home to get started…

Sure enough, I ploughed through the early interesting stages, which involve ribbing (I used Woolly Wormhead’s alternate cable cast-on – my go-to when ribbing is involved BECAUSE I LOVE IT, MAN), 2×2 stripes and short rows. The curly edges for the 2 “layers” are done by casting on, on a new set of needles, working 6 rows or so in stocking stitch, then 3-needle-knit-together with your work in progress. More short rows, and on with the stocking stitch, stripes, and short rows.

I’ve said before that I “knit in” what I’m watching at the time. This part of the sweater has Orphan Black season 1 all over it for me, now :-) .

Then, of course, comes the relatively long, dull slug (while maintaining 2×2 stripes) of the body. It wasn’t as dull as I feared, there’s a bit of shaping, and before I knew where I was I’m at the neck opening. Mindful of my relatively large rack, and keen to avoid the monoboob effect that can happen with high necked garments, one of the things I like about this is the placket-open henley-style neckline. Turns out it also adds interest :-)

When I got to the neck opening, I *very briefly* considered setting myself up for steeking it in case my tension/striped/stitches lay noticeably differently when knitting back & forth around the opening instead of knitting in the round as I had been up to now. Then I reminded myself not to be quite so damn precious and just a) get on with it and b) follow the goddamn pattern for a change. So I followed the pattern, knit back & forth, and when the pattern called for it, started on the sleeves.

I did, in a slight off-piste moment (off-piste moment #1, as it shall henceforth be known), add an inch or two to the body length. Because I’m generally an inch or 2 longer than most people are in the body. I blame my Dad.

The sleeves are knitted cuff-up, so I did the same cast on and made sure they were nice & long. On sleeve 2 I went slightly off-piste (moment #2) again, and added a small heart motif on the left sleeve. This could signify many things, depending on what mood I’m in – I’m wearing my heart on my sleeve – which I frequently do – a reminder to be conscious of heart disease – which I frequently am, given that my mum and Granda both left this mortal coil due to heart attacks – and just because. Because I’m like that some days. Also, I had plenty of red yarn available, so why not.

So I joined the sleeves to the main by as instructed by the pattern, and ploughed on through the several faux-necklines – interestingly fashioned from reverse stocking stitch bands rather than rolled over actual stocking stitched until officially I was done.

However.

I like hoods, and I like the blues of the “underneath” layer and wanted more of them to be visible. So, with the sage advice of my friends at the Wednesday night knit & natter at Knit-wise I worked out how big a hood would need to be, given my gauge & preferred hood size (90 stitches), compared that to how many stitches I had on the pins (130), and then ploughed on regardless. I attached a second ball of dark bluey purple at the far end, did 8 stitches-worth of garter stitch at each end, and continued until the hood was 14 inches long. Then it was a simple 3-needle bind-off starting at the outside edge (so that I didn’t have to actually spend time finding the middle) and I was done.

Sewing the ends in was a bit of a bugger, although I carried the yarn across the stripes, but still, there were more than usual, given the different colours and many start/end places.

I chose some tasteful wooden buttons so that they were a bit of a stand-out feature rather than something that melts into the background, and they are now one of my favourite things about the sweater.

This is, in fact, my new favourite sweater and I’ve worn it pretty much every day since finishing it a week or so ago. It’s lovely and warm. The sleeves are maybe a little bit too long, but I’m coping with this adversity well. Given that they are meant to look like some of them are pushed up a bit, if they are all pushed up, it’s not the end of the world…

The pattern is well-written and easy to understand, I thought – there are helpful diagrams at each stage so that you can see what the instructions are on about. I’d thoroughly recommend having a go, if this is a style you think you’d like to wear.

Why Whoville? It struck me, when I took the picture of the sleeve trying to escape from my project bag that this sweater, with its many-coloured stripes, looks just like something from a Dr Seuss book. So, Whoville it is :-)

 

Are *you* feeling the hexagon love?

Bizarrely, the best colours photo I’ve been able to get of this yarn is when my hand is also in the picture forcing the light levels (or so I guess).

hexagon socks in progress

I’m close to the end of the “smooth” hexagons on this sock. It’s shaping up to be a little baggy, however, I have (and I know this will shock you) followed the instructions pretty closely so far. Let’s see how they go: these may have to end up being “indoor” socks or a second layer with big boots. I’m liking how the colours are matching up – or *not* matching up, actually. No unexpected colour boundaries here, folks.

Even though these are my shiny new thing to knit, I’m already anticipating severe second sock syndrome, to the extent that I’m considering starting sock 2 once I’ve finished the smooth hexagons here. It could either be a Really Smart Plan or a really stupid plan that leaves me dazed and confused and gibbering in the corner with abject confusion. Only time will tell. I’m deferring the decision until I’ve actually finished the smooth hexagons.

If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s The Procrastination.

In other “even though these are my shiny new thing to knit” news, I’ve also cast on something else.

work in progress - grey knitting

is-it-a-plane-is-it-a-bat

Can you tell what it is yet, kids?

An aside: we had a discussion in the office this morning about good festival acts we’ve seen. It’s no longer fashionable to say so, but I really enjoyed Rolf Harris’ performance when I saw him both at Guildford and at Glastonbury (although Glasto was hot & crazy-busy because everyone else had caught on by then). I also really liked his art. Clearly, I enjoyed these things not knowing how he was apparently behaving away from the public eye, but he was good at the stuff he did. It’s a damn shame.

No, it’s not the latest in chic gothic styled accessories… no wait… it kind-of is. Well, maybe not gothic on account of it’s not black, but the photo above made me think of a bat so I find myself going down this path. Arguably the end result (I’m hoping) will be a bit more steampunk than Goth – this will be a dark grey kinda-fitted waistcoat. I’ve been meaning to make one for a while, so clearly now that winter is over and the warmer weather is on its way I’m casting this on in the hopes that it’s completed SOMETIME IN JUNE. Because who *doesn’t* want another layer of aran yarn hugging them during the hottest months of the year?

I had another I-enjoy-knitting moment on Sunday night with this project as well (regular viewers will remember that the pink & purple yarn above is in the process of being re-knitted). Having worked on it all through the day (well, off & on and mainly during a skype meeting) and getting a good 6-8 inches up from the beginning (further than I am now) I decided that it was shaping up to be a fitted waistcoat for someone who is larger than me, so decided to undo and do the “large” size rather than the “extra-large” size where the measurements matched the size I know my chest to be. I did (round of applause or HIGH FIVE required here) remember to check my gauge before frogging, and it was bang on. So, well done to me. This is the WI aran which is sold through the large nationwide hobby supplies shop we don’t mention in front of artisan retailers in case it makes them come over all funny and I really like the way it’s knitting up. I got 2 massive balls so will probably be able to make everyone accessories to match my waistcoat, plus an extra one in their 3 for 2 offer which means I also have some bright red yarn. I *was* thinking a sophisticated match of the two yarns but actually red is the school colour for Excel Emmanuel and Forrester schools who partner with Porridge and Rice so I may just go into hat-knitting overdrive and send them out in dribs & drabs. Because, as we now know, the crazy kids in Kenya wear woolly hats when English people are sweltering in a skimpy thong.

Something I Really Like

Taking a leaf from www.yarnsfromtheplain.co.uk‘s book (who I’m guessing copied it from somewhere else – I’ve heard other podcasters do something very similar) – HERE’s a thing.

Background: I have a general intention to raise my wardrobe game a bit at work – wear shirts rather than t-shirts, not wear jeans so much, generally dress a bit less like a Software Developer and a bit more like a BA/Solutions Architect who could reasonably be expected to be pushed in front of clients. Basically, if I want to do more work alongside my boss who wears a suit to work every day, I want to look the part a bit more. However, I’m clearly not going to turn the dial straight up to 11 or I’ll just get asked what time my interview is all the time.

At the beginning of last week I took a step I’d been meaning to take for a white and sent off for a blouse from Charles Tyrwhitt. Blouse arrives – is a plain white blouse as ordered. The fabric is smooth and lovely, the sleeves are long and luscious, it’s generally pretty lovely. Except that when I’ve got it on, I can’t put my shoulders back for fear of bursting out of it. It works, but it doesn’t fit terribly well. Also, a button fell off in the first half hour of putting it on.

I’ve had a brief look at Pepperberry, but their stuff, in spite of being fashioned for the larger-booby lady, also doesn’t feel like it fits super well. I may re-visit, I’m not sure.

I went shopping on Saturday to see what M&S had to offer – just in case they had something that wasn’t a terrible fit and that I didn’t have to get 3 sizes too big to accommodate the rack. My hopes, I have to say, weren’t high. They have form in this area, after all.

Well.

It’s fair to say that I made a discovery that made me SO HAPPY that I don’t believe I’ve been THAT HAPPY in a store changing room since… possibly puberty. Not since I developed these lumps on my chest that make things NOT FIT in ALL THE PLACES. M&S have styled 2 extra buttons between the normal buttons, only facing inwards in an invisible fashion, and called them the “no peep placket”.

Oh. My. Word.

In spite of the silly name, this is a goddamn REVELATION. No more gaping buttons for me. I may even get my sewing machine out and sew extra inside out buttons onto all my other blouses (er… when I get them) because, man alive this thing really works. Complete lack of gaping.

I could go on for a while, but suffice it now to end on I think this is a really very good idea, and I will be buying more blouses from M&S in the future. But probably not the mint green spotted one.

 

Nearly famous

On Wednesday, instead of going to Knit-night at Knit-wise like usual, I went to a Special Event organised by Knit-wise to launch their new status as stockist of Baaa-ram-ewe yarns. Held in a restaurant/tea rooms just around the corner, the event was very well attended, with 50 or so eager knitters attending, including all the people I know through knitting, and some people I knew from other things.

The yarn was very well pitched – it is indeed lovely yarn – and we were clearly meant to come away with the impression (which I’m sure is accurate) that although the yarn is made entirely of British wool (heads-up: wool can be scratchy), it’s very soft and drapey. A finished garment or accessory had been placed on each table, and select individuals were asked to model them. Fran, on our table, did a marv job – if only she weren’t so busy becoming the next Mary Berry of the crafting & jam making world she would be a shoe-in for the UK’s next Top Model.

 

I’m very tempted, and it’s good to know my LYS will be stocking the stuff. Watch this space.

So, there was a woman of about my age sat at the same table as me who I’d never seen before. I was chatting amiably to her, when my eye caught the rubber bands on her wrist. I saw “BLOODWISE” and a switch flicked in my brain.

That’s the charity Sam Heughan supports. I wonder if this lady is doing myPeakChallenge? I carried on staring surreptitiously at her wrist, for the clue was there. It turns out she is. So, when there was a suitable gap/segwayopportunity in the conversation (which was already going well, I thought) I took the opportunity to reveal that I had spotted that she was most likely an Outlander fan much like myself.

We compared who had read what – Nic (for that is her name) has put in more hard yards than me and has read All The Books, whereas I am rationing myself because otherwise NOTHING WOULD GET DONE EVER. On that note, I’ve just decided (you heard it here first, folks) that I need to set myself a target or reward at which point I get to read the next one. Otherwise I’m just punishing myself indefinitely. Maybe after I’ve read a non-Outlander book I get to read an Outlander book. But I digress.

As if that isn’t enough, I then also twigged that I knew the name on her t-shirt. Turns out Nic is also a podcaster WHO I LISTEN TO. Yarns from the plain is one of the several podcasts I listen to (admittedly somewhat sporadically) while doing the totally easy and not at all unpredictable and dull commute from Ormskirk to Knutsford. I went all groupie on her ass, and got Fran the not-famous-yet Model to take a photo of us.


…which I instantly made a mess of blurring and winged into the ether.

So – I met a famous person who I’m sure is heading to big and fantastic times with her new focus on running an independent yarn dyeing company and studying textiles (see I do pay attention a bit) and who shares (and clearly outstrips me in dedication terms) my unhealthy obsession with Outlander (“whatever, Mum, nobody cares”) and who makes a podcast. My plan now is to internet stalk her (Hi Nic!), buy her yarn, attend her fibre festival and generally scare the crap out of her.

Or not. Have you recorded the next podcast yet?

An aside – Justin at work said that Knit-night sounds like a super-strong treatment for nits (nit-knight). I know. He’s put that thought in my head, so I’m making you share the pain. It’s OK for you. I have to work with him. 

Adventures in knitting

I have finally got around to applying myself to what to knit with this fabulous yarn.


It’s Schoppel Crazy Sauberball sock yarn in indisch Rosa and, it turns out, is ridiculously hard to photograph in any kind of light. Even in quite strong natural light the pinky red turns a horrid orange. The photo below is the closest in colours as seen on my screen but quite honestly it could look awful on your screen and I would never know. The colour changes from a rish, deep purple to a sumptuous fuschia pink/red and then variegates on those themes. It was a ball I felt unable to leave in the shop, the shop being a yarn outlet in a garden centre in Solihull, and it’s been languishing in my stash for I think at least a year, because I hadn’t thought of a project that deserved it.

After many months of on and off thinking about it, I decided to flout my usual rule of keeping patterned yarns and patterned knitting for separate projects, and decided to go for Pomatomas, a Cookie A pattern from Knitty.com. I’ve made these twice before, one pair I gave away to a university mate (who, I gather, has subsequently felted them, oh dear) and another pair for me in (I think) malabrigo, which are quite honestly a little bit large & have a tendency to “bag”. I wear them around the house or in the winter, with boots. I thought that the graduated colours would look fab, and the colour change is slow enough that the pattern wouldn’t get lost.

I was right.


However, my reckless approach to gauge (swatch? What swatch?) on this occasion has bitten me on the arse. It’s a stretchy pattern but, it turn out, not that stretchy. When I tried it on, having turned the heel (as you see here above) I could get it on, but I could *only just* get it on, it turns out. Also, the distressingly sudden colour jag you can see at the bottom of the picture disturbed me greatly, and I couldn’t think of an easy way around it. I know that for the most part this bit is likely to be hidden within shoes at times when other people can see them, but
1. I know it’s there, and
2. WTAF do you mean people aren’t going to be looking at my socks? and
3. I know it’s there and making me feel distressed.

In spite of it having been much admired at the knitting thing I went to on Wednesday (thanks, guys) I agonised for what will seem to others to be a surprisingly short amount of time before unleashing the frogs. The demi-sock has gone the way of the Norwegian parrot, it is an ex-demi-sock.

What, I hear you clamour, is plan B? That would be Hexagons (Ravelry link) by Kirsten Hall from “Think outside the sox”, a book I was given for Christmas in 2014. 

The socks are constructed with a series of hexagons where you pick up each one in turn to construct the main body of the sock, and then add in a toe & cuff in a semi-conventional fashion (or not – I haven’t actually read that far through the pattern yet. Again: reckless is my middle name). So far so exciting, and it’s working well with the colour gradations. One problemette is that I’m finding myself squinting quite a lot when doing the picking up for the next hexagon. I’m really, really hoping that it’s because the light was too dim and my eyes were tired rather than because I’m turning into one of those Old People who need reading glasses. I’m reasonably confident it is as I’ve not long had my eyes tested (in January or so) and I was perfectly fine then.

So – onwards & upwards. I managed 2 hexagons last night. Let’s see if I can beat that record and get 3 on there tonight.

Another link gone…

This winter has seen off another of my mother’s creations – a Celtic mask. It was hanging on a nail on the wall by the patio and when the trampoline went walkabout in one of this winter’s storms, it was knocked off with a fairly predictable outcome.

Lily tried valiantly to reassemble and glue it back together, but it became clear that that wasn’t going to really work. So on Friday I thanked it for its service, and consigned it to the bin.

Beyond its obvious value in being a connection to my mother, this piece had several other things going for it. It was one of her later pieces, which I had specifically chosen to own, as opposed to some of the things which have kind-of drifted into my possession. It was a departure from her usual style into things which she was hoping would appeal to a wider audience, and I’d say was largely successful. I also love that although it was a very successful recreation of Celtic style masks, I can see her “signature” style in it.

So: dear mask, thank you for scaring the bejeezus out of small children, and giving me a link to my mother for a few years:  I now send you on your way.  

I want your blood (well, not me so much)

In the run-up to Hallowe’en it seems appropriate to delve again into the world of free-flowing blood that is stem cell donation.

Just over 3 years ago I was lucky enough to be selected as a stem cell donor for an anonymous recipient on the continent, presumably (because if not, then it was quite cheeky) because they are/were suffering some form of blood cancer. Going along with the process seemed like a no-brainer to me, indeed at most stages I was really concerned that some reason would be found why I wasn’t a suitable donor, or couldn’t donate at that time. I still feel quite bitter about the time I was turned away from donating blood because I had a cold, even though I understand the reasons.

No reasons were found why I shouldn’t/couldn’t donate, so I had a lovely trip to London where the stem cells were sucked out of me. The hardest part about it was guiding the community nurse who had to visit me to the holiday cottage I was staying in, in Ludlow (which I didn’t know *at all*, and neither did she. Her: “I’ve just gone over a bridge into town.” Me: “I need more clues. All I know is I can see a castle from here.”) closely followed by remembering not to bend my arm when it had the big metal needle in it for 4 hours. Oh, and having a cannula stuck in my hand overnight in warm weather made me feel slightly like I could do with one of those cones the vets use to stop me gnawing my arm off.

But other than that, it was a breeze.

I go more into the pro’s and cons in my summary, written at the time.

So, why revisit it now? Other than to perpetuate the smug feeling a bit longer (I donated stem cells, did I mention that?), and join in with the general bloodthirstiness of Hallowe’en, my whole point in writing anything about any of this online is to encourage other people to put their hands up.

Sign up to be a bone marrow donor.

They hardly ever stick wide bore needles into your thigh bones these days. While it’s not a procedure for the needle-averse, it’s not properly painful and your worst enemy is boredom. I got through day 1 with Richard Herring interviewing Tim Minchin and laughed so much I nearly bent my arm (see above).

If you’re over 49, work on the young people you have in your life to get them to do it – you’re close to being over the hill as the cut-off, depending on which organisation wants your blood, is either 30 or 49 – but under that age you have no excuse.

Another reason why this is on my mind is that I’m lined up to give blood again for the first time since then, in a couple of weeks. You should (all) do that, too and if you already do then signing up for the bone marrow registry is super easy – just ask them about it while you’re there.  I’ve left it shamefully long, which is going to make it harder for me to hit my next milestone of 25 donations. My competitive self is giving me a good kicking about that, worry not.

So, I’ll say it again. Sign up to be a bone marrow donor. You may never get called, but if you do, you get to save a life. And you may get a free t-shirt.

Harvest number one

This is how the garden looked “before” this weekend’s gardening… The weeds are plentiful, the onions clearly need lifting, and it all needs a bit of TLC… …and this, below, is the “after”. This view shows how I’ve lifted all the onions and broad beans and dug over where they were. You can’t see where I’ve lifted the potatoes because they were at the back corner by the compost heap, but I assure you, ’twas done.
So, the empty patch where the potatoes were is at the left of the photo below.

To the right, with the flowers on, you can see the evidence that we really need to pull our fingers out and eat more things with rocket on/in. At the back you can see that the tomatoes are doing OK. I wouldn’t necessarily go so far as to describe them as “thriving” but they are larger than they were and, crucially, not dead.
So, the dug-out patch below is where the onions and broad beans were. The rows at the back of the dug-over patch are garlic, some of which have now fallen over, so are ready to be picked. Behind that is a super-large clump of lettuce – we need to eat more lettuce!!  The carrots are ready, too, so I’ll have to dig them up soon as well. Next year I’d like to have more space and do more staggered planting – especially with the stuff like lettuce. I’ve managed it a bit, but I still seem to have over-catered by quite a lot.

This is the onion harvest – I’ve attempted plaiting them into strings, many of which are now hanging up in the shed. Fingers crossed I let them dry out enough that they keep a bit longer. And finally, these are some of the garlic I lifted on Sunday – they smell *gorgeous*, especially the little nuggets which have sprouted in the stems.

I’m hoping that further practice will help my onion/garlic plaiting skills…

Oh so stiff…

I had another time-ran-away moment in the garden today. Well, many moments: another incidence. 

  • Lily, Joel and I weeded the drive. 
  • I tidied up the tool shed and found some paper that some mice have shredded. 
  • I planted out the tomatoes into the ground and some pots. 
  • I planted out a courgette plant. Or 3. 
  • I moved some mulch. 
  • I set up a trellis for the tomatoes to cling on to. 
  • I planted more French beans. 
  • I planted chives, basil, coriander and dill. 
  • I ran out of compost. 
  • I decided that the peas have had more than enough time to germinate, and that the space will be given over to plants that show some willing. 

   
 

The tomatoes still look very sorry for themselves, but I’m hoping that’s just shock. I’ve watered them plenty, but not too much. 

Later on, I tried to get some pictures of Lily making massive bubbles. It’s harder than you’d think.