Pass the mouthwash

What a week last week was. Sunshine and even eating lunch outside....champagne by the river. Get me.



This week, slightly butcher business. Mowing in the tractor...and you know how driving the tractor makes me feel. Planting trees. And strimming.

I have a love/hate relationship with the strimmer. It's similar to stripping and sanding a door* - the prospect of doing something vaguely creative, with a real visual reward at the end gets me disproportionately excited. I start, I love it.... then the mid-job lull... then up again by the end. I find a well-timed Snickers helps alleviate these symptoms a little.

Today, all went well - I cleared a vast area around and between the szechaun peppers....however, I failed to observe the third of the three simple rules of strimmer operation and paid the price.
The flowering edible honeysuckle (above) provided almost no consolation.


*as in stripping a door and then sanding the door...I remain fully clothed throughout

The three simple rules of strimmer operation

1 - Wear the appropriate safety equipment (eg goggles, ear defenders, harness) even if strimming for a short time

2 - Always take the petrol can with you....you WILL run out of fuel with approximately 0.5m x 0.5m left to cut

3 - Never strim so quickly/enthusiastically that you breathe at all heavily, otherwise you will end up breathing through your mouth at precisely the same time that you strim an unsuspecting frog or slug

Pop

I'm celebrating with a drink. Not vast watering canfuls as might have been the case in my distant youth, but certainly with a little quality. - My first book, published today. Thonk goes the cork on a rather fine single malt.

Planes, trains and automobiles

Apparently Lord Stern (who would surely be played by Steve Martin in 'Climate Change The Movie') got it wrong in his report - it's even more serious than he thought.

A big puff

Around this time last year I spoke about climate change growing at the Country Living Fayre at the Business Centre, Islington, London. As you might imagine, the place looked like a killer virus had visited, targetting males and anyone who worked for a living, but that didn't stop it being huge fun. I may have consumed my own weight in pastries over that couple of days.



I was invited again this year, but what with the book coming out there's not the time. A weird coincidence that I've just finished the final soap I bought there from the Highland Soap Company. I remember Patrick Stewart (baldy in Star Trek and more hibrow stuff) in one of those strangely fascinating mini-interview/listy things the weekend papers love, saying that expensive bed linen improved every aspect of bed living to a riduculous level, and I'd say that in it's own utterly non-essential way, marvellous soap similarly makes life just that sweet, tiny increment more wonderful.

I planted a couple of bog myrtle plants partly on the strength of the scent its essential oils had leant this soap, and just as I'm saying I won't be able to attempt once again to eat my own weight in pastries and I've finished the last of the last of the soaps, the largest of the plants is throwing out it's pollen.

March resolution

Own up time (which just happens to be my favourite Small Faces track). Last year I spent far too little time on Otter Farm, and far too much on other things. Too little outside, too much inside. This year it's not going to happen that way.



The forest garden i've been meaning to start since I've been here (and even got underway once, before backtracking and digging up due to lack of time) is this year's big project. So no pecans. Instead ones and twos of pears, hazelnuts, Oregon grapes, Myrica rubra, Nanking cherries, Cornelian cherries and a few hardy kiwis (like the usual ones, only happier in colder weather, smaller fruit, but even more delicious). And 32 Japanese peppers to go with the ones I planted 2 years ago, some Szechaun peppers to go with the zillions of others and 14 apricots. All well cheaper than 30 pecans.

More than that, I want to care for a few things that don't merge into an orchard, where each one is more consciously precious by virtue of being the only one I have.

Peach blossom, already on its way in the polytunnel.

Pink stalks

At last I've made a friend of my rhubarb. Four pots at last make it into the ground - after a year here, in pots, suffering (manmade) drought and a pack of rabbits (what is the collective for rabbits?) taking their tea on them for a month or so unnoticed by me. Rugged little buggers, they survived - and now they're throwing out stalks and even flowers - somewhere between elderflower and purpley pink sponged cauliflower. Close up there's something ice creamy about them, popcorny even.



All day as I've been digging over the patch they're going into (right next to the asparagus bed, so you know they're important) I've been humming and mind-singing Cocteau Twins songs. Maybe I'm entering a midlife crisis. There can be few things wronger than a man attempting to mimic Elizabeth Frazer's made up vocabulary. Aren't dads supposed to content themselves blowing jungle squawks with a bit of grass strung between thumbs?

Go to Otter Farm | by Mark D