Getting ready

Buddleia in summer

It’s been a long time since I last posted, not that you’d know it by looking around my patch. August has been so devoid of rain here in East Anglia and we’ve slowly gone from the lush greens of July to crispy, ochre tones of a long, dry summer.


I have rapidly been expanding and am now four days off my due date. A couple of weeks ago I was in and out of hospital for monitoring, scans and all sorts, but so far we are OK. I was doing well, keeping active and busy, but the last few days have been a real struggle. Lack of sleep, nausea, funny tummy and general emotional wobbly-ness have all played a part. I thought I’d got away with no stretch marks, but no, with half a week to go, they’ve started creeping in. I am so heavy and cumbersome now that rudimentary weeding on my hands and knees, and a bit of pruning here and there is about all I can manage.

The peas have finished, the carrot supply is dwindling and thanks to a lack of rain, my bean and potato harvests are looking modest at best. The onions and garlic have been left on the drying racks in the greenhouse, and grabbed when needed. Despite a much better blackcurrant and gooseberry crop, I know it won’t be a stellar year for harvesting. Even the raspberries look fed up.

Large veg patch

For the summer of 2016, what will be will just have to be as we’ve been focusing on getting the house ready for our baby girl. I still can’t quite believe she’s on her way, despite being woken in the early hours as I’m booted about internally and wondering if every little twinge, niggle or pang is the start of her arrival.

But back to the house. It’s been a family effort to get ready. We lived with holes in the ceiling for a few years, and bare walls knocked back to brick and plaster. Now, with the help of my mum and sister, we have a freshly plastered and painted dining room (open plan) with refreshed painted woodwork and are no longer living under what felt like a dingy cloud. We opted for beachy/coastal colours to try and lift the blue and grey tones from this room that’s a little starved of light. Today, Rich is even attempting to finish the kitchen floor – a job that’s been on the cards for the last 2.5 years. I’ll finally be able to move our big old kitchen table back into the kitchen and reclaim the dining room as a cosy reading room. It won’t be completely finished but I’m starting to accept that fact, and be OK with it. The nesting instinct is still strong with this one.

Hopefully in a few weeks I’ll be back to some semblance of physical normality – that is, I really miss being mobile and being able to just potter for half an hour or so in the veg patches and just do what I need to do. No huffing and puffing, taking half a minute to get myself up off the floor and feeling like everything is such an effort. And I am so looking forward to meeting my little girl and showing her the world. Sharing our little slice of it with her. It might be far from perfect right now but that’s OK.

Planting Charlotte Potatoes

As I type, I am looking out of a window and I see a porcelain-blue sky, I hear the ascending twiddles and musical turns of blackbirds and finches, and I smell the mouth-watering aroma of the leek and potato soup that’s currently bubbling away on my hob.

Yes, as I type, I’m in a bit of a happy place.

You see, the clocks have gone forward and the sun has finally come out to play. Spring has well and truly sprung and I’m finally feeling the benefit of actually feeling the sun on my skin. Oh I know it won’t last, something will happen that will bring me crashing down and I’ll be battling on with life as per usual, but in this moment, it’s glorious, it’s peaceful and I’m happy.

OK, I’ll admit it. I’ve had a couple of cheeky rum-and-mixer drinks this afternoon (morgan spiced with coke and a golden rum with ginger and lime), just to welcome spring to the Smallest Smallholding, so I’m in no doubt that there’s a slightly rosy glow on everything. I have a pile of freelance work that I need to plough through this weekend. But somehow a blue sky, sunshine and the prospect of summer arriving in a few weeks has got me riding on a bit of seasonal high. I’ve been more inclined to roll out of bed in the mornings and I’m actually getting things done when I’m out of the office and effectively under my own initiative. Today I wrote a list of 10 ‘Things to Do’. First on my list was go for a run, and this morning I went for a somewhat ambling job around my local fields and woods. I felt a little tired, in places it was hard work, I looked like I was about to explode, but it felt so good to be plodding alongside the green hedges, feeling the fresh breeze cooling me down as I made my way up the sunshine-dappled bridleway that flanks the field and woods. The bluebells are on the cusp of bursting into life, and there’s this perpetual birdsong backdrop, and somehow it’s completely energised me.

So far today I’ve crossed of 9 of my 10 ‘Things to Do’. Once I get some freelance done tonight I’ll have achieved all I set out to do today. Tonight I’m hoping to add one extra task to the list – planting my Charlotte potatoes in. Last week I started preparing the beds and it shouldn’t take me too long to get them in. They’ve been chitting on my windowsill for a number of weeks now, and they’ve developed some very big, very promising sprouts. I have high hopes for these spuds, and I can picture myself sitting in my new Mediterranean eating area, feasting on a deliciously creamy home-made warm potato salad whilst I catch the last of evening sun.

I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me, but this year I think I’m going to nail it.