Friday, December 30, 2011

Teatime and a twix -Fry's flatpack

This morning I had a cup of Tea and a Twix too.
Kettle works well and whistles (from Blacks I think) the stove seems pretty efficient - at a pinch you could have beans and sausages.
Listened to the radio while starting work on the compost enclosure.

I don't know if many people saw Jo Brand and Stephen Fry on the normally radio constricted "I've never seen star wars.." it was very amusing to see that there were things that Stephen did not take to easily - particularly building flat pack furniture and physical exertion -very funny to watch.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Tool Holder

Another improvement is that I now have a home for some of the odds and ends (of course I need more though.)

Shelves to follow and a couple of deck chairs - then be able to have that cup of tea and a biscuit while listening to the Archers.

After that I'll start work on the pallet compost heap.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

outside storage box added

Today I took a table down to the shed - it's a fine old table donated by my Uncle Len and Aunty Joan about 30 years ago when I got my first house and it was fairly old then!

I also added a few more ancillary fixings to help secure things and put a storage box together - got a bargain radio from Currys and a country type clock in the shed but not had that cup of allotment tea as yet.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Just a shed at twilight

Here's the shed as I left it about 4:15 p.m. just getting dark.

Pretty much finsished the shed construction now and have padlock in place - I've even added coat hooks. Next is a table and some storage system, then weatherproofing. Some little splits here and there but generally quite happy with the overall project outcome. looking forward to making a mug of tea down there!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

almost there..

Saturday (one week after delivery) and I have roof on and the shed is secured to the base.

The shed feels fairly solid and is largely weather proof, need to add some more tacks, edging to the roof and the latch for padlock then it's finished.

Then we can put the storage box up, start the compost enclosure and begin putting the tools down in their new homes.
If we get a spell of dry weather we can start the wood protection treatment too.

At least we have somewhere to shelter, have a cup of tea and hang our clothes!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Fiddling with the roof - first you see it ..

So I wasn't doing a Topol impersonation but today I rearranged the walls so that they align with the floor and managed to get the first half of the roof up.

There are two sides to every shed and while I'm making progress there still remains a gap in the roofing which I need to fill.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The verticals

Fortunately I had a helper today (Debbie see left) and we were able to get something that looks like a shed - hoping for a calm night as it's not attached to the base and has no roof yet!

Some adjustments need to be made as I've not understood the instructions properly but getting there and am greatly encouraged.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

windows and door

So another pretty mild day here in London Town and although it was a bit wet under foot I managed to finish securing the floor to frame and unlike Michael Caine in The Itlaian Job I 've been adding a door (as well as windows) hoping tomorow to get some verticals happening and then who knows?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

'Floor in'

Today I had a good go at getting the base level (ish) and have also secured the floor to it. Again I'm limited by how long the cordless drill has oomph.

Weather was not bad and really progressing - it's funny how such projects don't really go to plan and after a while I don't follow the instructions too slavishly. This though is part of the fun.

I expect more challenges as I add the walls and roof. There is another Waltons youtube video here that explains construction.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Shed base and the death of Chris Hitchens

Now I decided to start the Shed base today and have made some progress (see picture) quite impressed to see that there is a video to help me too.
The job does requires some tools and as I'm away from electricity I'm having to use a rechargable drill.
That and the weather turning wet means I've not yet finished the base but Tuesday looks a better weather forecast.

I was sad to learn of Chris Hitchen's death - he seems to have been an admirable person and I can relate to how he feels about the changes that have befallen society - there was a time when Utopia was something that seemed to be a goal worth striving for - sadly consumerism appears to have removed this from most people's radar. The view that we all should have more and that only competition will improve our 'lives' is shallow but in the current climate to decry it is a heresy too far.

As Hitchens said..

There is no longer a general socialist critique of capitalism --certainly not the sort of critique that proposes an alternative or a replacement. There just is not and one has to face the fact, and it seems to me further that it’s very unlikely, though not impossible, that it will again be the case in the future. Though I don’t think that the contradictions, as we used to say, of the system, are by any means all resolved.

So rare now to see the word even used.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Shed as a kit

So the good news is that my shed is here - the less good news is that I've got to put it together (actually not really bad news - think it might be fun).
The shed (7 x 5 -shouldn't be too surprised that sheds remain imperial) was delivered by a very nice guy who had driven down from Newark (Walton's base) he called 30 minutes before he arrived as promised and I helped him unload at allotment gates - then for me to move it to 202b (our plot)
Although the shed was ordered from Tesco Direct - I'd think it could be worth dealing directly with Waltons- not because anything has been wrong with service but Tesco is big enough to look after itself and be good to see the little guys prosper.

The picture above shows what it looks like now - I've got some wood treatment to use on it (greens) and a padlock, next to it will be composting and a storage box -hopefully there'll be another more exciting picture for next week.

There are some great shed websites here's one - very aspirational...

The first few frosts don't appear to have wiped out my Beans, Garlic or Shallots - I did pull some weeds up that are near the soft fruit bushes on Saturday as they are still sprouting!

Saturday, December 17, 2011


So last weekend I did some work in advance of shed delivery.

restrictions mean that a concrete base is not permitted, am using slabs with a weed barrier - will put some sand to level this ahead of construction.

Delivery is scheduled for today (Saturday 17th) and it's bl**dy cold so hope it arrives.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Soft fruit expansion plans

After a week in USA listening to Christmas Carols (not the main purpose of the visit) it was good to spend some time on the allotment.

Yesterday I added Goosberry and Blueberry bushes.

Happy to report also that broad beans now planted out and further half dozen Garlic plants - weather is still mild so hope that we don't suffer hard frost untiol all established.

US hairdressing

Spent most of last week in USA - near Washington, somewhat concerned that the majority of restaurants have TV showing and that many American males think that in 2011 it is permissible to wear a pony tail. if you're of a similar mind It's quite illuminating to read this article

I did try and find another person moaning about TV in eateries - surely if there's a big sports event you can eat before or after (I'm fine with Pubs/Bars showing sport - even with some snacks) - seems I'm, alone

Sunday, November 27, 2011

More old boy reunions real and virtual

So I suppose it ius not uncommon to meet up with old friends at this time of the year and yesterday evening a group of former UWIST (now part of the University of Wales Cardiff) flat sharers and their other halves had a great evening of food and chat - the venue was the Charlotte Street eatery that performs so well in the Tapas area - Navarros.
Thanks To Nick C for organising and great to see Jonathan and Claire, Peter and Tricia, Mike and Liz and of course Susanna and thanks to Debbie for accompanying me – hopefully next time we do this Steve and Eve will be there too.
Now the University of Wales was important in my 'education' but perhaps not as much as Lawford Mead (Primary and Junior) and by the wonders of Linkedin I have found another old pupil of the same era- Roger Harding who seems a very talented actor - check his Youtube stuff here.

Meanwhile at the allotment in the back garden progress continues. Have planted Blackcurrant and redcurrant bushes today along with a Raspberry and Blackberry bush (just about see them on the left) . Weather was really good today and beans look like they'll be planted out soon (pictured on the right) andf these will be followed by early peas.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

1Z reunion

At the weekend as well as planting more garlic, vines (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir)and Kiwi on the allotment I was sowing some peas in pots and watching the broad beans slowly shoot(see first picture ).

Alongside this excitement we had a visitor a very good friend who I first met at Braintree County High School around 43 years ago. As you can see (Kevin is on the left) we've not aged at all and both have Dorian Gray type pictures in our lofts.

Kevin is now working for Avon Fire and rescue in some sort of computery job and is able to pontificate with the best of us.
Debbie, Kevin and I had a great lunch at The Bollo (roast lamb etc.) and then Kevin and I went to see Jeremy Paxman at Richmond Theatre where he gave a presentation related to his new book/TV series on the British Empire.
Judgement from me is that he'd make a cracking lecturer - the Q&A was not as good as it could have been due to an inexperienced moderator and some fairly off topic questions.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

First plantings at Northfields allotments

This weekend we did our first plantings at Northfields
Shallots and Garlic (below)for harvesting next summer
Also a Rhubarb crown (on the left) which will not be in any condition to provide dessert until 2013 at the earliest! (don't forget that the leaves are poisonous)

You can see though we have made some progress since we first signed our agreement in August – the difference in November is less weeds and some clear spaces!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Syon Park Capability
Last week myself Debbie and brother Nick went to a restaurant new to us in West London- nice to enjoy different food of an impressively high standard. Enjoyable despite waiter Cosmo having a small accident with a fairly expensive bottle of wine.

Check out the review and If you get the chance do try it.
And here's the location.

Hidden away in Hambleden

Almost a year after we were bequeathed a wine tasting activity day we went out to the rural countryside and had a splendid tour and an educating tasting session –a chance to try sparkling English wine and a ferocious Ginger wine too.
The Chiltern Valley Winery and Brewery is a magical place and our tour guide Rico was incredibly knowledgable about all things drink and food related - all the visitors ended up buying various bottles for future consumption if only to join the list of celebrated imbibers that includes Prince Phillip. More information and instructions on visiting are here.

Nice Hotel

To make our trip relaxing we decided to stay at a fairly local hotel - suitably poncey this former brewery oozed character -Henley is a smashing little town and !!! SEASONAL TIP !!! has a shop where you can get great cards and gifts. the name is The Simon Drew Art Works Shop

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Early starting

So a few weeks back you might remember that I started some garlic from a Tesco garlic bulb - just broke the bulb up and stuck individual cloves in plant pots outside the house - most have them have now sprouted and in a few weeks I might plant them out in the allotment. (see picture of the shooting garlic on the right taken today).

My next go is starting some broad Beans (Aquadulce Claudia from Thompson & Morgan) I've decided to start them in individual potting compartments and have put 8 outside and 8 in lean to Greenhouse thing -will see what happens and report back.

I've also got some peas to sow, a Rhubarb plant and some shallots more as I get them in the ground.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

ITN/ITV building

The other week I was visiting 200 Gray's Inn Road (lower picture)for a business meeting and it was a trip down memory lane.
I was employed by ITN when they moved there from 48 Wells Street (adjacent picture) and I carried on working there on Saturday Mornings doing an Odetics Playout for an early C4 News bulletin for a while after I joined Basys - a few years later I was again there as part of Reuters (having a bit of an induction before going to Reuters Hong Kong) - this was at the time of the Nick Leeson finance story.

Looking at the building I realise how well it has aged in its' 21 years (ITN moved there in (1990)- notable changes are the removal of the hanging sculpture and removal of the bar!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Lenny rocks the Hammersmith Apollo (27th Oct Concert)

This week as the opportunity presented itself I went to concert by Lenny Kravitz.
Gig going this year has been very much established/historic acts - we've seen Blondie, Bryan Ferry and Dolly Parton - all consummate pro's.
Lenny just about squeezes into this niche for me anyway - I've been listening to his stuff for over 20 years and although this was the first time I'd seen him live it was what you'd expect- except..
* It was good to see an act fairly close up the Apollo is a good venue.
* He seemed to be a genuine fan of London.

Be warned if you go and see him he's loud and there are flashing lights (seriously).
* The encore was brilliant with Mr K going walk about through the audience - really great - it was during a prolonged version of Let Love Rule.
Not so sure aboutLen's taste in support acts Raphael Saddiq - he had some fans tho'
Lenny is also, I'm,please to report a 'right on' guy supporting good things.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

JCopia review

A while before our holiday I received an unsolicited offer of the chance to review some s/ware.
The package is known as JCopia (it’s for copying video’s to hard disk so it sort of makes sense.
The requirement is probably one that is waiting for a handy little tool – not totally sure if it’s finished or there’s more development to come.

From my use so far it offers a pretty good job on Youtube videos allowing the user to save stuff to their own hard disk – but they way things are developing at the moment I suppose you could do this to dropbox or other clould type stores?

Sadly doesn’t seem to work with BBC iPlayer

You can see a promo here

More details at this website

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Our 2 weeks in Corfu

A bit about Corfu -It's just over a week since we got back from a really nice holiday there.
Although it struck me as expensive the overall experience was good value.
We stayed in the Corfu Palace Hotel, very convenient and high standard (and without the irritating notices about towels and sheets being the cause of global warming).
Some nice places to eat and drink along with a trip to Albania increased the fun quotient.
Rather worryingly though we got a note today relating to our trip and warning us of the possibility of legionnaires disease!
Great tour guide and boat trip was good too.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Garlic growing

Hi, I'm back and there's going to be a variety of things here. Some gardening stuff starts today.

Just planted a load of garlic (16 pots) from a Tesco bulb.

Will see how it goes - here's a source of some info'