27 July 2012

random recipes :: a substitute for strong medication

Despite the date, I'm feeling distinctly un-olympian. I weigh about 25% more than my breathless frame dictates, none of my shirts meet my waistband, and my hair looks a fright... I sincerely hope that's where the similarities between me and BoJo end (and at least I have an excuse for the first two).

(As an aside: seriously Mister Mayor, "the geiger counter of olympomania is going to go zoink..." What? What? I can't even... no I'm speechless. Two words: statesmanship lessons.)

But mostly I've woken up with a fever and a throat, on a beautiful day, which makes me cross. In an effort to do something more productive than crawling back into bed, I thought I'd join in with delicious Dom and his Random Recipe challenge. As something a little different this month, Dom has asked us all to photograph and tell a little story about our cookbooks.

the usual suspects

Since my collection is streamlined to just twenty titles (due to severe cutbacks in April) I thought I'd give you a one or two line review of each. As any tabloid journalist worth their salt knows, brevity is a tough challenge. So, deep breath, here goes (from left to right):
 *N.B. if you have any of these books and can recommend recipes that I may not have tried, please leave in a comment, I've got nothing in for dinner yet...

shelf next to the end of the sofa, where I do the weekly menu planning, sometimes, when I'm organised enough

1. The Big Book of Backyard Cooking
Never used it. No idea why it made the cut. (Oh yes I do, gift from mother-in-law.)

2. New Recipes for your Slo-Cooker 
Annette Yates
Everything tastes the same in my slo-cooker, I call it essence eau d'slo. No idea why it made the cut.

3. Jamie's Ministry of Food
Jamie Oliver
Disappointing. Some of the recipes just aren't tasty enough. Perhaps I'm not the target audience.

4. How to Eat 
Nigella Lawson
Worst design and structure of any cookbook ever, end of. But comes in handy sometimes (though I can't remember the last time).

5. River Cafe Cookbook Easy
Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers
Nice layout, love the broad bean soup, and the chocolate nemesis was intriguing. Should probably use this one more.

6. Jamie's 30-Minute Meals
Jamie Oliver
Should really be called 60-minute meals, but that aside I love the food in this book. Off the top of my head highlights include: Pregnant Jools pasta, tomato soup, chicken pie, mango frozen yoghurt, sticky prune puddings - I make these and others all the time. Lowlights: cauliflower macaroni, beef hash

7. Twelve
Tessa Kiros
Classic Italian arranged month-by-month. Lovely, look at it all the time. Never use it.

8. The Naked Chef
Jamie Oliver
My husband makes the best risotto thanks to this book. It also gave me the joy of 'The most perfect steamed & roasted duck with honey & oyster sauce' during last October's Random recipe challenge. Carnivores: you need this quacker in your life.

9. Kitchen
Nigella Lawson
Epic family cookbook. Love it. Our household highlights: chicken teriyaki, turkey meatballs, tarragon chicken, Vietnamese noodle soup, Mexican lasagne... and many more. Only lowlights so far: BBQ beef mince (I substituted 30ml bourbon for the same quantity of Glenmorangie - BIG mistake!) and the Minetta marrow bones, which this post discusses at length while glossing over the fact that they actually made me puke. Might have been the vino mind you.

10. River Cottage Veg
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Beautiful, never use it.

11. Real Food
Nigel Slater
Highly recommended by everyone, never use it.

12. The Silver Spoon
Italian compendium to end them all, never use it.

13. My childhood kitchen notebook
Has evolved into my plastic files of notes, clippings and deliciousness, where most all of my meals originate. So this one never gets looked at any more which is just as well, my handwriting was feeble and ugly.

14. Jones Dairy Annual 2005
Bizarre book, definitely a gift from my mother-in-law. But contains a fabulous recipe for Nanaimo bars (which I should probably just copy out before giving the book to charity).

15. How to Cook, book one
Delia Smith
Useful basics, including a tasty moussaka. Other well-floured pages include a parsnip parmesan bread and a potato cheese bread. Good pastry section too.

16. The food of Singapore
Never used it yet (but only because the Asian food market is the other side of town and I don't have a car).

17. Aussie Women's Weekly: Japanese
Made proper sushi a few times in about 1995.

18. Aussie Women's Weekly: Easy Vietnamese
Gift for my husband on his 21st from a girl he travelled round Vietnam with the summer before we met. Even has a message inscribed in the inside cover. 'nuff said. Never used.

19. Nigella Christmas
Bought in 2009 because I couldn't find her cheaty, speedy, ever-so-slightly chocolatey Christmas cake recipe anywhere on the internet. The Domestic Goddess had the rights to that recipe on lock down that year. But it was worth buying. Beautiful (if slightly irritatingly overstyled) book that really puts you in the Christmas spirit.

20. Cook with Chef Wan
See point 16.

Blimey, and I thought I'd streamlined! Seems I only use 50% of that list with any sort of regularity. I'd love to know what percentage of their shelf inches others honestly reckon they use. Why are cookery books something that we buy, give and hoard in such quantities? With only 20 books, I already have more delicious meal options than there are days in the year, and yet I'm sure I'll be tempted to invest in more at some stage. I bet I'm not alone!

Checkout Belleau Kitchen at the end of the month to delve into the bookshelves of the other RR devotees, I'll be having a good rootle around, for certain!

25 July 2012

yarn along: from the sublime to the ridiculous

The ever so subtle and restrained baby blanket is so huge now that I don’t think I really need to worry about finishing it until the dragon baby goes to college. It is the most ridiculously monstrous thing, but I absolutely love working on it. I suspect there’s more than a touch of reality avoidance going on.

still six balls of wool to finish. me and the blanket, both massive

I estimate that at 1000 stitches per night, maybe 1250, I might have it finished in time for the baby shower my friends are planning in honour of the bump next month. At that point I’ll really have to pull my head out of the sand and face reality, but ‘til then I’ll just keep on knitting stripes. Speaking of the bump, I noticed that it had rather hilariously and enormously crept into one of my photos. Jeez, I’m HUGE! Thought it might give you a giggle.

Also in the photo is Love in the time of cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, recommended for our book group this month by a friend, and collected from the library the other day. I’m not getting much time to read just now, but I absolutely love it so far. It’s that rare thing, a modern classic that’s a cracking story and easy to read. In style and subject matter it also reminds me a little (so far) of The Blue Afternoon by William Boyd, another great recommendation that I was lucky enough receive this year.

And to finish, because the sun is shining at last, some indulgent photos of The Boss, dressed as the Queen, hanging tie-dyed babygrows out on the line. For those Yarn Alongers who mentioned last week that they were looking forward to ‘the best handmade baby gift ever’ post, these are they and here it is.

you see that little peek of ermine fake fur? she calls it cow :-)

her vision of monarchy includes a ‘diamond’ thumb ring and a robot faux tattoo – watch and learn K-Middy, watch and learn

dropped a peg

ok, so the ‘gros were already dry, meaning that this was entirely staged. But sometimes you have to make the most of sunshine and a sweet photo opportunity... right?

23 July 2012

the light at the end of the tunnel is rainbow coloured

I once read a piece of traditional Chinese wisdom stating that home renovations and moving house are ill-advised during pregnancy. I don’t know the justification for this, probably some ancient mythical superstition related to ancestral worship and spirits. I have another theory: the wisdom stems from the fact that the Chinese are simply a very sensible race.

Pregnant women, especially during the third trimester, want everything sorted. People call it nesting but I think it’s a simple sanity-preservation mechanism. The closer the date looms, the more evident it becomes that you have zero control over the labour, delivery and first few weeks of crazy mayhem, so you’d better try like buggery to be completely in command of everything else. All minutiae must have its own place, everything must be clean, the freezer must be stocked with nutritious meals, and order must reign supreme in every corner of your physical world. That is the only way for your brain to keep the fears, the uncertainty, the exhaustion, the waddling fatness, and the caffeine deprivation in perspective.

So if you’re tearing the arse end out of your crumbling house while pregnant, I recommend budgeting in a generous wodge for therapy. Either that, or accept that you will be hovering on the verge of tears 99% of your waking hours.

My tradesmen have just called to say there’s an emergency job to finish so they won’t be here this morning... They clearly don’t understand the definition of emergency. And I don’t have a therapist.

In my pursuit of duffed up domestic bliss I long to be this Mum, I have determined ambitions to be this Mum, and I feel sure that I once had the potential for this sort of thing. But instead, I check my sleeve for a tissue as I survey the thick coat of plaster dust that covers every chaotic surface, and which there’s simply no point in cleaning up because it’ll reappear (if the joiner ever does). That and I have simply no idea where the box of cleaning stuff is.

Like I said, the Chinese, they’re on to something.

So this nesting thing, it’s not going too well. But last week I promised you the best ever baby gift idea, so here goes. While the bento lunchboxes and beautifully photographed jewel-like crafts (in the links above) may elude me, this small thing I have achieved.

In 2007, when my first baby was born, a fellow ante-natal classmate made tie-dyed babygrows for each infant in our NCT group. She is a genuinely alternative free spirit and the gift was so special because she’d spent valuable time, during a very difficult few weeks, making something individual for all of the babies. All of us will forever treasure the photos of six infants propped up on a long sofa, each in their bright blue, green or fuchsia suits. But what I valued above all else was the inspiration she gave me; I continued to make bright, rainbow-coloured babygrows for my girl well into her second year. While sorting through an old box of clothes a few weeks ago, I found them in all their well-washed glory.

They were the perfect solution for the sea of white cotton (which so quickly fades to drab grey), and the ideal rebellion against insipid pale pink (a shade suited only to tall, dark, handsome, young men in my opinion – it favours almost nobody else and yet British shops offer very little else for our baby girls).

Now obviously, if you have a pregnant friend who leans on the hippy side of the stile, tie-dyed babygrows are the perfect gift. That one’s a no-brainer. But here’s the thing, I’m really not in the least bit crunchy: I like meals to be meaty, medicine to be evidence-based, cosmetic claims to be baloney-based, and I haven’t slept more than a metre from my hair straighteners in well over a decade. And still, I LOVE tie-dyed babygrows.

They’re cute, unique and easy. No other baby at playgroup will have anything quite like it, and if I had a pound for every time a freshly-minted, vibrantly-dyed babygrow acted as the ice-breaker in conversation with another new mum... seriously, people are naturally drawn to them.

But the strongest reason I have for begging you to give tie-dyes a try for your expectant friends is the colour argument. Insipid pastels are so ubiquitous, and I can’t help thinking there’s just something terribly old fashioned about the pastel pink/blue gender divide, while the beige/grey unisex options tread a fine line between stunningly chic and dreadfully dreary. Why shouldn’t orange or green or fire-engine red be unisex? (Caveat: I understand that the shopping choices are a bit more varied in the States, and those clever Scandis don’t bother with mimsy gender stereotypes - if I had the cash to splash only in Nordickids or GreenBaby, there’d be no need to write this post - but in the UK, genuinely affordable choices are still relatively limited outside the pastel confines.)

So, I won’t insult you with anything daft like a tutorial, you can read the instructions on a packet of dye. But I will say that my secret weapon this time around is a packet of cable ties – they cost pennies and make the whole process much faster than using tied thread. You’ll need the dyes of your choice and some plain white cotton baby gear; muslins, babygrows, vests, you name it (this is perfect for freshening up hand-me-downs too). I used Dylon hand dye, so I also needed a few bags of table salt and a pair of rubber gloves... or rather I wish I had bought the rubber gloves (do as I say, not as I do). I find that one packet of Dylon hand dye is enough for a set consisting 1 x babygrow, 1 x vest, 2 x muslins and either a hat or pair of scratch mitts (all newborn size). Later on, one packet is enough for a pair of 18m sized babygrows.

And on that note, I’ll leave you with some photos, because the joiner has just arrived so I need to go and project manage something noisy that I don’t understand while trying not to weep. My husband promises it'll all be finished in a fortnight...

Please, please, please let me know if you try making a tie-dyed baby gift – I’d simply LOVE to see my friend’s happy hippy love spread around ☺

the dragon baby's newborn trousseau

(some better photos added in this future post, which you don't need a tardis to visit... amazing huh?)


17 July 2012

rebranding wedding anniversary gifts
seven = marshmallow

A couple of (dozen?) kilos. A home big enough to merit actual internal doors. Parenthood. An epic globetrotting adventure. Just some of the things we've made in the last seven years. I've yet to experience a party to equal the one we had. I really hope that's how all married people feel reminiscing about their wedding.

In Britain, seventh anniversaries are, for some reason, symbolised by wool (the cause of the seven-year itch perhaps?) Now I love wool as much as the next wifie, but luckily Mr Breadwinner ignored the woolly tradition and gave me a six-month subscription to a marshmallow club. Let me repeat that slowly: a marshmallow club. I know. Such a thing actually exists, and I'm now a fully paid-up member! If anything's better than wool, it's definitely marshmallow (here's how to make them plus a critical cautionary tale - don't say you weren't warned).

Edit 18 July: Gratuitous droolly photo added. I'm officially sorted 'til Christmas. Happy days...


It's also exactly one year since little macaroon came about. A year! How did that happen? My life certainly seems very different from then; card-carrying, highlighted, manipedied, tropical tai tai, to heavily pregnant, worsted housewife with swollen feet enduring the worst Summer since records began.

For now, I'm all about eating marshmallows nesting the bump. I finished a wee jumper this week that had been languishing at the bottom of the bag. Puerperium is a pattern that I was introduced to via about twelfty bajillion Yarn Along participants. With good reason too, the little dragon baby will look a picture in it.

for once, I think I chose the right buttons, it's never happened before

A few other newborn sartorial creations (non-knit) are in the pipeline this week. So if you like making stuff and wonder what the dragon baby will be mostly wearing with his/her tiny sweaters this Winter, check back in a day or two for categorically the. most. awesome. baby. gift. idea. EVER. If you've ever wanted to give an easy, unique, handmade gift to a special newborn (and let's face it, who hasn't) then you do not want to miss this. Word.

Joining in with Yarn Along a wee bit early this week because I won't get time tomorrow. On the reading front, I'm waiting for my local library to get a hold of Love in the time of cholera. Meanwhile dipping in and out of The Road Home by Rose Tremain.

And, apropos nothing at all, here's a pretty picture of a rose that I rescued from the rain yesterday. I wish you could sniff it. And I wish I'd cleaned up the crumbs from the breakfast table.

Happy woollyversaries all round. Here's to the coming year.

rose Baron Girod de l'Ain

10 July 2012

on enamel: not teeth but tins

I am positively averse to matchy matchy homewares. I don't really know why. I genuinely like (and often covet) other people's organised homes, where dishes are designed to stack together neatly and rooms are relaxingly tonal... I just can't bring myself to do it.

It's probably a failing borne of chronic indecision: if I'm expected to decide on one pattern for my dinner plates, or one style of furniture, or - heaven forbid - coordinating soft furnishings, then what about all those lovely things I'll have to opt out of, now and forever after? And what about all those random bits of old/homemade/inherited tat that will never match anything (but that I can't be parted from)? My husband knows that the day I utter "shall we just go for a nice three-piece suite Dear?" is the day I've lost my very essence.

This all works fine if charming idiosyncrasy is allowed time to develop naturally. But it's rather more of a challenge when a room gets so revoltingly decrepit that it needs to be renovated wholesale, in one painful and expensive burst. You may have gathered that we're having to replace our old kitchen: bits keep falling off and strange odours and creeping fungi are appearing. I fully expect to be replaced as soon as I meet that description (I'll probably be sitting on my three-piece suite). But it's very hard to avoid the scourge of the matchy matchy in a new kitchen.  Seriously, go and have a look around yours, lots of stuff matches doesn't it?

One material in particular seems to be gently pervading our new room; enamel. And it's a-m-a-z-i-n-g.

I've had a huge enamel bread bin (exactly like this one below) for about a decade, bought in a Conran shop warehouse sale for less than a pound. (Do they still have those sales? They were in some industrial estate in Wimbledon, and were brilliant.) It's the perfect size for keeping all the breadmaker ingredients and mice separate. Mine was already thoroughly beaten up by the time I bought it, so it has a kind of charm.

photo from lovely blog The White Approach, it's much more beautiful than any I took of mine!

In April, I wrote of the nostalgia of pie, and of coveting these Falcon enamelware dishes (below). Well, I couldn't resist long, and have cooked with one of the five almost every single day since. They give me pleasure every time I use them. They're already losing their shine, and gaining a patina thanks to exposure to blackberries, rhubarb, balsamic vinegar and various other foodstuffs. But if you think this is a flaw, and somehow diminishes their beauty, you misunderstand their charisma completely. I'm definitely saving up for the bake set. I want to enjoy these for the rest of my days.

photo from www.falconenamelware.com

Last month I mentioned finding some beautiful old blue enamel lampshades in an antique shop in Columbia Road in London. Three will hang in the new kitchen, in all their crumbly, crackled, rusty glory, dangling from fancy yellow cable flexes. They're either going to look wonderful, or very odd indeed, only time will tell. On that very same morning I saw these beautiful Rob Brandt cups in one of the galleries along Columbia Road. For less than a tenner, I had to have one. It's not enamel, it's ceramic, and I love it. Love love love love love it.

See what I mean? The lure of the matchy matchy, it's proving almost impossible to resist. Just please don't point it out to my husband.

photo from www.startspace.co.uk

08 July 2012

batshit crazy wholemeal cream scones

My three oldest and dearest friends are all successful, unhitched ladies of independent means. They are all three amazing. But I'd be lying if I said that they are all 100% comfortable with being single and childless in their thirties. There have certainly been weepy drunken nights, wondering who the hell he is and when he's going to appear on his white steed. But brushing aside the obvious professional success and financial advantages that they have over me these days (I'm so proud of them but envy none of their hard graft), they have managed to retain and develop something that I lost a long time ago; true independence. They're all really brilliant at being brilliant on their own.

I've known my husband nearly 15 years, and we celebrate our seventh wedding anniversary this weekend. So it's a really long time since I had to do anything important completely on my own gumption. As a result, I'm hopeless at being on my own. Which really sucks, because I am frequently without him these days.

If, like me, you're completely codependent, let me explain (in purely practical terms) why it is properly frigging horrid being regularly without your significant other. Maybe he/she does the kids' bath time, remembers bin day, loads the dishwasher? Does he/she take care of the lawn mowing, clean up the endless geriatric cat sick, change washers in leaking taps? Or maybe it's the big stuff - supervising the moving of a wall for example, or sorting out the tax cock-up. Well, I confess, my husband does all of those things for me. So when he's away, I'm ragged.

But the critically vital, most importantly indispensable thing he does for me, the one thing that I simply faint girlishly without, is that he goes emergency late-night grocery shopping for stuff I've forgotten, usually returning with a wee naughty snack for me to guzzle (I feel no dietary guilt at this, though I do concede that much of my night time indigestion is perhaps self-inflicted).

Keeping on top of his chores as well as my own, while caring for a five-year-old (who thinks everything is a negotiation), and living in a building site at 30 weeks pregnant makes me a very nasty person. I am so tired that I nag my daughter incessantly (who by anyone's measure is usually pretty angelic) starting a vicious cycle of poor behaviour and escalating nagging. But when I caught her this afternoon pulling the cat by the head, I went batshit crazy. ("But I was just trying to move her to the other end of the sofa Mummy"...snivel snivel, weep weep, "BY THE HEAD? GET OUT OF MY SIGHT YOU HORRIBLE CHILD!")

On these Dad-free weeks that we endure, by the time she goes to bed and I am back in the silence of an exceptionally filthy unfinished house, with only the elderly, nearly headless, vomity cat for company, I feel acutely aware that I haven't parented to the best of my abilities. It's not a nice feeling. And it's a lonely place to be. And to make things worse? There's no late-night naughty snack. NOTHING! This evening there was very little I wouldn't have done for cake. In fact, this evening there was very little I wouldn't have done for just an egg or two so that I could make a bloody cake.

And then I remembered my Mum banging on recently about making scones with cream instead of butter. And I remembered that I have a tiny pot of double cream... and some wholemeal self-raising flour...

Here goes nothing.
Emergency wholemeal cream scones
makes 9 small ones

150g wholemeal s.r. flour
35g golden caster sugar
150ml double cream

- preheat your oven to hellish hot. I'd guess about 220C, but my oven thermostat still doesn't work properly
- sieve the flour into a bowl and add the sugar and cream, forking it together very gently 'til it just holds (tough scones are always overworked)
- tip out onto your lightly floured worktop and bring the dough together very lightly
- press out to about an inch thick with the heel of your hand (no need for a rolling pin, you really don't want to overdo it) and cut 5cm crinkle-edged scones
- put on a paper-lined tray and bake for about 6 minutes
Thank god for my Mum. Thank god for scones. I'm just away to eat them.


With jam and tears (and Gaviscon). 

04 July 2012

every cloud has a silver lining

It's still so soggy and foggy that you have to chew your way across the street. But one advantage of rain in Scotland during Wimbledon fortnight is feeling no guilt at watching the tennis on the telly during the day. Every cloud has a silver lining...

And talking of silver; whether it's complementary to, inspired by, or simply an illogical reaction to our shocking soggy Summer, I've chosen a paint shade for the new kitchen called "light rain" and it is undeniably grey. My current feeling is that it is achingly sophisticated, but if we get a few more weeks of this weather I might start to regret my decision. And when I look at the door of paint tester patches, it becomes clear that all the colours reflect the shades in the blanket that is currently underway for the new baby.

Is this all life imitating art, or art imitating life? I'm never quite sure which way around that's supposed to go.

So, come September (if not before) I shall have a matching kitchen and baby and sky. In certain lights all three appear to be the colour of a dirty dishrag that ought to have been discarded (with tongs) some time in the late 90s. At other times I am sure the kitchen and baby will be painfully chic (because the blanket will look like a dishrag with divine heft and drape after all, and the grey kitchen will have clashing bright yellow light flexes - fabulous). The grey sky? Not so chic, but there's little to be done in that department.

The blanket is half finished and on course to be humungous. 90cm x 120cm at a conservative estimate. I could swaddle my coffee table in it. But there's nothing worse than cot bedding that's not quite big enough to be tucked in.

For Yarn Along this week I've got lots of reading to update you with. But since I just wrote this whole post and then lost it to the blogger gremlins (naughty buggers), I'll give only the briefest synopsis.
  • In the orchard, the swallows by Peter Hobbs. Short novel with an interesting kind of pace to it (do I mean meter?). And themes around preconceptions and people not necessarily being products of their environment... I think.
  • How to eat out by Giles Coren. A gift for my husband for fathers' day, but I read it before he got a chance (because secretly that was the purpose of the gift). Very British and sweary, self-deprecating and cocky all at the same time. Not for you if you're easily offended or prone to a class-based chip on your shoulder. Definitely for you if you ever so slightly (a tiny weeny incy wincy bit) have the hots for Giles Coren. Just a smidgeon.
  • I just started something by Rose Tremain, but I can't even remember the name... I'm sure it'll crop up in future posts when it's had a chance to imprint on my mind. It's upstairs and I'm very pregnant, therefore I'm not going to go and find out for you, sorry.

01 July 2012

summertime, and the garden is...

...well it's not exactly doing what it oughta.

After introducing you to my garden a month ago, and telling anyone who stood still long enough to stop being feeble mimsies about the rotten weather, I have to confess, it's getting me down. In the North East of Scotland this June we have been living in a cloud. And I don't mean it has been like living in a cloud, in the manner of some exaggerated metaphor, we have actually been living in a cloud. We get this stuff called haar, sort of sea mist that means that you can't see as far as the hand on the end of your arm. A colleague had to sleep on our floor a few weeks ago because the airport closed due to poor visibility... in June for kerissakes, the height of midsummer. He missed his wife's 40th birthday in London and I think she might hate us for ever, simply by association. Mind you she's never met us, so there's an off-chance she'd have hated us anyway.

But yesterday, for a few glorious hours, the sun made an appearance so I could catalogue progress in the garden. I've grumbled all month about how nothing's getting enough sunshine to grow, weeds excepted of course (you know when you've said something negative so many times to so many people that, even as you're saying it, you realise how much of a bore you're being? As if anyone gives a flying duck that your sweetcorn has succumbed to snails - seriously - put the kettle on and shut up woman). And then when I get a chance to go out and take some pictures, compare them to the pictures in last month's post, I realise that I've been talking crap all along. The garden's gone berserk, just not with anything terribly useful.

So here we go. Update at the start of July 2012. Let's start with something pretty.

the most beautiful thing - I'm so proud of these babies
can't remember the name of these, but aren't they purty

alchemilla and oriental poppies rescued from the rain, brought into the house for an stunningly beautiful hour,
provoked three days of craptastic hayfever in everybody, and were relegated back to the garden again

Generally the perennial stuff (is that the right word? veggies that come back every year?) is doing amazingly - raspberries, rhubarb, chives, mint, cardoons, apples. But anything planted from seed is seriously failing to thrive. The peas are only inches high. The sweetcorn is, as previously mentioned, a total failure. And the most idiot proof of vegetables in my experience, the courgettes, are in a serious sulk. They're all still there, or there-ish, it's just hard to believe that there is enough summer left for the bucolic abundance of previous years.

anyone ever eaten cardoon? I believe you can, but I'm nervous...

the raspberry and cardoon "wall" obscuring much of the rest of the plot

bumble bee central (though they're camera shy and I don't have a close up lens)

wild strawberries, discovered by chance, doing better than almost anything else
broad beans do at least have flowers on, some progress

sulky sweetcorn, spring onions and courgettes

peas at last starting to do their thing, but still only just

the scene behind the raspberry/cardoon wall - definitely more lush (though no more productive) than last month

So, midsummer has been and gone, and so far the edible tally from the veg plot this year is rather disappointing:
wild strawberries

Yes, that last one was intentionally in the singular: carrot.

Me and The Boss couldn't wait, we had to have a wee peek at the carrots. One nibble each of this tiny critter. It kind of sums up that lack of progress this month. But who knows, maybe we're in for some warmth in July - fingers crossed!

Click here to see how people are battling the weather in other parts of the world.

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