Friday, 29 May 2015


Terminal 5 Heathrow
Nobody looks as if they want to be at Gate A16 at Terminal 5 Heathrow, except us. We, Dave the pilot, Mike the fishmonger and I are off to Holland for four days.

At Amsterdam Schiphol we board the train for a lovely two-hour ride across Holland, along side fields and farms, crossing waterways and small towns.  A familiar and calming landscape, delightfully flat. 
Train-scape across Holland

By lunchtime in Groningen, we collect our electric bikes and have lunch by a canal side in the city.
The first of many in Holland

Warm sun and we clamber into light garb. After excellent sandwiches and the first of Dutch beers we pedal out of the city northwest along the cycle paths. Waterways and flowers and sheep and cattle everywhere a cuckoo sings no more than a hundred metres away.

A teashop reveals itself en route, and with the sun still high we take a rest and chat with the locals and discover the origins of the provincial flag.
We stop for tea 

Tuesday, 26 May 2015


So Sian returns from the allotment last evening with some leeks, grown from tiny plants sown in Essex by my sister, nurtured in one of S’s raised beds and sent down to the Allotment some months ago. A great result now I am wondering how to cook them.  I think this recipe 

Clams with leek, fennel and parsley
Though you could add a twirl of al dente spaghetti or linguine to this dish, it is the fragrant, briny broth that delights – better with a crusty loaf and a spoon.
 Serves 2
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
1 large leek, trimmed and finely diced
Salt and pepper
1 tsp crushed fennel seeds
2 garlic cloves, minced
A pinch of red pepper flakes
1 kg small clams, scrubbed
A splash of white wine
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp chopped spring onions/Lemon Wedges

1 In a wide, deep pot, heat the olive oil over a medium-high heat. Add the onion and leek and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened – about 5 minutes.

2 Season with salt and pepper, then add the fennel seeds, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Add the clams, turn the heat to high, and stir well with a wooden spoon to coat.

3 Splash in the wine, put on the lid, and continue to cook until all the clams have opened – about 5 to 6 minutes.

4 Stir in the parsley and spring onions. Spoon the clams and broth into bowls. Serve with lemon wedges.

One Good Dish by David Tanis (Artisan Books)

Monday, 25 May 2015


New to me, it appears if you want a spring-flowering display to go on as long as possible, plant separate layers of different varieties of bulbs in one pot. Its about timing, just as any fading bulb foliage starts to look untidy, useful things like geraniums into play!

Sian set to with Tulips and Anemones (tulips not shown here) with some lovely pink geraniums saved from last year.

Thursday, 14 May 2015


Training Geranium 

The other day Sian returned from a Garden Centre near Bagshot proffering a lovely trailing geranium, an act designed to distract from other purchases or the prelude to asking help in a garden chore.

Either way geraniums are a favourite flower.  

Geraniums are part of the Pelargonium genus of flowering plants, which includes about 200 species of perennials, succulents, and shrubs!

I am not sure if this directly applies to my plant, however pelargonium have been used for intestinal problems, wounds and respiratory ailments: good to know.

Pelargoniums rank as one of the highest number of potted flowering plants sold. Certainly they were going gangbusters at B&Q the other day.

Sunday, 10 May 2015


Up at the allotment the other day; Could I be forgiven for thinking that the numerous plastic chairs next to particular Plots were for my benefit? These seats provide the lack lustre artist with a resting place.

Little time to rest for people that actually do the work. There is lamentation and gnashing of teeth as a few frosts have taken their toll of some of the potatoes. Slugs are about and looking for runner bean plants.  These must be the early onslaughts.

A dry Spring too this year, hence the watering cans of all sizes and shapes that are dotted around and about.

Oh well we all need rest and water.