Thursday, May 29, 2008

Oh Happy Day!!

This last week has been a little odd for me, but in many ways very therapeutic. After standing in a drafty tent on Friday night, I somehow managed to come down with the worst cold I can remember. My head was pounding, my neck was agony and my kidneys? Well I hope whoever managed to give them a kicking feels happy at a job well done. Needless to say it put the complete kibosh on anything happening over the Bank Holiday, or in fact for the rest of the week as the cold has now settled into screaming agony in my tonsils and a chest so tight, the Cold Stream Guard are after it for their band.

As you can imagine, after 6 days of lying on the sofa sipping tea and occasionally blowing snot bubbles, I was about ready for the men in white coats - so I made a slightly wobbly venture into the garden to see what's been happening, and I came back in smiling so hard, I almost don't care about my throat ... almost ;-)

I planted three of my favourite vegetables this year in the hope that I might have done enough to the garden for them to grow. First was the asparagus, two crowns lovingly dug in and tucked in with straw at the first chink of Spring. For months I made the trip across the lawn, lovingly rearranged the straw over them when the sparrows stole vast swaths for their nests, and tried not to be disheartened when other food growers have sucked their teeth at the difficulty of growing asparagus in soil as heavy as ours. Life finds a way though, and today, having concentrated on my new seedlings for the last few weeks I walked along the bed to be confronted with this.

This isn't a pathetic weedy purple sprout as it may seem - well it is but it's also a lot more. It's hope, it's the triumph of life over logic, it's a resounding affirmation of my ability to provide for my family, and it feels good.

After I'd spent enough time telling the little asparagus spears how cleaver they are, I moved onto the strawberry bushes which I had noticed were showing flashes of red and so obviously needed to be netted before the birds got any clever ideas. Turns out we have not one (as I though) but almost a dozen luscious, red strawberries that have used the recent rain to literally explode from the pretty white flowers that were there only a week ago.
Next door to the young strawberries was another miracle of the natural world, the blueberry bush. Those of you so inclined may well scroll to the early days of this blog and notice that the photo of the bush looks remarkably similar to how it did when first planted. Ahh! But not so!! Having given us a fair quantity of berries last year, you may remember that it was brutally cut down in its prime by the over eager jaws of young Harry. I thought it was a gonner, but no!! I think in honour of the occasion I shall call it George .... George Bush Jr, the second bush and the one you just can't get rid of ... geddit?

The other two 'favourites' are also doing amazingly well. The broad beans are coming on in leaps, and the bitter little pods of greeny goodness will soon be ready to go into some scrummy risottos, or even better, if I can come by some globe artichokes will be lovingly made into "Chupa y Tira", which you either know, or would take too long to explain to you. Come over in a few months, I'll make you some.

It does, however, give me a beautiful segue into my third favourite planting for the year, the artichoke plants. I remember a month or so ago, I transplanted the sickly little two leaf seedlings into what looked like an enormous bed, and cringed when it rained because their tiny delicate leaves would be pounded into oblivion ... if the slugs didn't finish the job first. Well they gave me another lesson in faith, look at them now, their larger 'adult' saw toothed leaves almost too wide for the bed. I still find it hard to believe that they will one day be 6ft high and will turn that whole wall into a jungle of greenery, but now I have faith that they know what they're doing and one day, I will make Chupa y Tira with the offspring.

The last stop in the miracle walk of the garden is the vine, and this is something I have been waiting to tell you for a few weeks - WE HAVE GRAPES!! It's only the second year of the vine and already there are bunches and bunches of tiny seedling grapes on the vine. Can you believe it?! Well you probably can, and I'm sure this whole entry reads a bit like a first time mum who's snotty toddler has just mashed a couple of lego bricks together for the first time (oh isn't he clever?!?) but please remember, 6 days of sofa and daytime TV, this is a big deal to me!!

Before I let you all return to sanity, I thought it wouldn't be a proper post without a few Harry photos - Subtitles for this series?

I'm far too grown up to pose for your photos woman, leave me alone ... oh OK, gis a kiss.

Red was looking on from the kitchen in resigned disgust at all the carry on. He doesn't fool me though, not for a second, I know he's finding his inner pup - he fell asleep on me today, and after the usual paw twitching and Elvis lip curls he did something incredible - he wagged his tail in his sleep. It was another one of those little moments that you keep close for when you need to remind yourself that something that "one step forward" sticks.

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