Thursday, 13 June 2019

My grandfather's brush

You know the old saying, that you're still using your grandfathers yard brush; it's just had the handle replaced 5 times and 7 new heads. I love that and but it's slowly happening to my camera! There's a little story....

I've been away for some time now and first it was illness, then it was a walking holiday and then serious mental illness upon return which has yet to calm down (to be brutally honest).

Let me say Cumbria is a spectacular place, a haven on earth and I encourage you to get there and hike!

Whilst we were there there was an accident with my camera in that someone (not me) thought they'd carry it for me and unbuckled it from my backpack without a then bounced off the ground, rolled off a hill edge and landed in a rocky stream. Equals busted camera LCD screen and a very shocked and sad me. Plus an eternally sorry ginger haired husband.

So I recently received a new Sony a6000 body and add that to my replacement Sony a6000 kit lens last winter and 'my camera' is still as good as new. Lordy please let that be the end pf the accidents.

Anyway, first outing with said camera happened yesterday when I made my triumphant return to the allotment. Yep, haven't been near the place since the last post.

It was a jungle! There be monsters in there for sure, but with Toby on our team how could we fail to be victorious?

before the weeding - a stubborn optimist blog - C Gault 2019

after the weeding - a stubborn optimist blog - C Gault 2019

Oh those photos aren't quite right, I need to tweak by settings on the new camera body *blush*

Let's talk mismanagement and neglect....
* The garlic died back - there is not one single plant
* The leeks bolted, every single one
* The peas look quite sad

But - the spuds are going great, the broad beans look super healthy and though I couldn't get as far down the weed choked paths to see them, I am assured the apples are lovely (need thinning though).

There was torrential rain which stopped play but we did quite well really. Recently its been touch and go as to whether we continued at all but we're more positive now. Andrew even went back later on Sunday night and planted out some things (squashes and peas?)

For now I leave you with a big hug
Carrie  xx

Monday, 22 April 2019

Blueberries, apple blossom and garlic

What weather we have been experiencing! - it's beautiful and all that but please my darling friends, know that this is climate change and we can't with all good consciousness celebrate it popularly. This is a problem and we should not be sunbathing in April with temperature records being broken and being portrayed as exciting - this is not right.

In saying that I am sitting outside with my two boys (Andrew and Toby the wonder dog) drinking a cheeky shandy in the shade and having a lovely late afternoon. If that makes me a hypocrite I'm sorry but it is brightening my mood and depression is an evil mistress....

beautiful afternoon out in the garden - A Stubborn Optimist Blog - C. Gault 2019

So, what does all this weather mean for the allotment? Well let me tell you, the hosepipe ban from years ago is still in affect and that is a little annoying. We all have thirsty seedlings and trees in our plots and most of us are not young and fit enough to use umpteen watering cans (back and forth over and over again). I'm sad for a lot of of my plot pals but that's life I guess.

apple blossom at the plot - A Stubborn Optimist Blog - C. Gault 2019

But anywho - at the plot we have got our new blueberry plants in and are excited; very excited at the glorious blossom on the apple trees (see also the new header when I finish it) . I am obsessed with blossom and all new growth these days - such HOPE!

RHS photo of our blueberry variety - A Stubborn Optimist Blog - C Gault 2019

The blueberries are a variety called Vaccinium ( blueberry) 'corymbosum' which you can learn about hereFor a comprehensive guide to growing delicious blueberry bushes you can not go wrong with following the advice of the RHS. Here is the relative link, I encourage everyone to give them a go 😀 

planting out the garlic 'cristo' - A Stubborn Optimist Blog - C. Gault 2019

We also planted out the young garlic plants! It's the first time in absolute ages that we have had to use new stock as last season saw the end of the 'Gault' strain but we are happy and optimistic about 'Cristo'  and the root systems looked very healthy.


I am collating a list of our permanent fruit varieties and the seeds we are growing this year so you (and we) can see how well they do over the coming months. It will have it's own page which you can click into on the menu bar. Remember we are in Northern Ireland so much of what we experience weather wise may be different than yourself.

Hugs and love

Saturday, 13 April 2019

12th season on the plot!

It's a Saturday afternoon and here i find myself all alone. Andrew is off in the Mournes hiking and Toby has found a little rectangle of sun through the patio doors to lie in. I sit here with my thoughts which is OK because I haven't felt well enough to write in ages and now I can.

12th year on the plot - a stubborn optimist blog - C. Gault 2019
It's our 12th year on the plots! That's pretty amazing, right? One down side is that we need to replace all the fencing and all the timbers for the raised bed edging but on the good side, we don't mind the hard graft and are excited to see it all look new and with improvements. (Frown turned upside down).

potatoes - a stubborn optimist blog - C. Gault 2019
The potatoes were finally planted last weekend into the 4 or 5 big pots we have for them. We're only doing Pentland Javelin this year because we like them and because we can never eat all we grow. (We didn't plant all of the above by the way). Sadly there isn't a place here where you can get unusual varieties or choose a few different loose ones and try experiments.

blueberry bed - a stubborn optimist blog - C. Gault 2019
I spent a long time clearing the very neglected blueberry bed of grasses, thistles and dandelions. We have dug up the old bushes and are getting new ones to replace them as after 12 years they're a bit tired. We also really wanted to put a path down the side of the bed to help with harvesting; sadly the plants were where we wanted that path.

But, look..I found this little self seeded strawberry plant in there. I have it here at home now in a little pot out in the back garden :)
cheeky strawberry plant - a stubborn optimist blog - C. Gault 2019

There are beautiful blossoms on the apples and plum trees, I love me a pretty blossom. In the same bed, the new rhubarb crowns are settling in nicely and maybe next year we can harvest a couple of stalks.
lovely blossoms - a stubborn optimist blog - C. Gault 2019
rhubarb stems - a stubborn optimist blog - C. Gault 2019

Elsewhere on the plot, the beetroot has started to bolt magnificently so I lifted a good few for consumption and the leeks continue to get fatter and stronger (we lifted a few of those too - yummy).
lifting a few leeks - a stubborn optimist blog - C. Gault 2019

Apart from that we have broad beans and garlic here at the house looking good in their seed trays and hopefully soon to be planted. Plus new baby leeks, kale, peas and spring onions are hopefully germinating and will soon poke their leaves through.


I have a feeling we are going to have a good season at the plot and the allotments in general have a happier air about them with abandoned plots being taken over by new excited people and more evidence of everyone getting suck in :)

Toby - a stubborn optimist blog - C. Gault 2019
Hugs and love
Carrie x

Thursday, 28 March 2019

Just me

beautiful catkins on the birch

It's all go around here today with washing outside on most people's lines and the noise of lawn mowers filling the lazy air now and then. I've been outside myself, to put our own bedclothes on the line and marvel at the beautiful birch tree while Toby does his security detail -  making sure no other dog has been in his sacred space since he was last out. He gives off a few barks to remind everyone how fierce he is.
the last of the tulips in a pot
The birds are singing merrily and eating their fill now that Andrew has both mixed seeds and peanuts out for them (they are well looked after!). There isn't much else happening in the garden at the moment, things are growing and buds are fat but the daffs are going over and the tulips are rather tatty round the edges. We'll need to get some little plants to brighten up the place again; fill my little stepped display.

I have been fighting hard and we had a lovely hike last weekend and have a 2 day hike organised for this weekend. Plus we are ready to tackle that allotment and get some seeds planted! The potatoes weren't even done, per tradition, on St Patrick's day as it was simply too wet and too cold. I can't wait to get there, really. I have high hopes for the blossoming trees and the new garlic and broad beans.

Now we're getting into the summer-y vibes. It's time to plant, grow, get healthy and be happy.

Hugs and love
Carrie xx

Friday, 22 February 2019

like a snail

I'm fighting and it's truly taking everything I have just to get through the days. I sleep a lot and read and sometimes get washed and dressed but to be fair it isn't often.  I'm moving through space and time, slow, slow like a snail (dastardly creatures) but I AM moving.

Depression has a painful, vice like hold on me and the anxiety is bad too. It's hard for me to see that this period is going to ease off but I remain strong and try to stay positive when I can.

So, dropping in today to say "hello" and to share a few photos to try to show you how Andrew is doing everything he can to keep hope alive for me, for us....

* buying up our favourite verities of seeds (including potatoes and new garlic)
* adding more bulbs to the garden, especially snowdrops in the front and these lovely pots at the back
* planning hikes, which we hope to start tomorrow again etc

2019 seeds - Carrie Gault

snowdrops in the garden - Carrie Gaulttete-a-tetes in the back garden - Carrie Gault

another treat
beautiful roses - Carrie Gault

We hope, ardently, that this year we will be blessed some some better weather conducive to happy hiking and allotmenting. I need nature, I need to be surrounded and embraced by Her.

Toby at the allotment - Carrie Gault

I had my first encounter with the allotment last week for quite a while.

And so we hope...

With love,