Late January to mid February

18 Feb

It has been four weeks of consistently cold weather, I am not faring as well as I use to; this year I have really begun to feel the cold for the first time in my life, and I have also pulled a muscle in my back; so I am in pain, and my mobility has been reduced.
Nothing has been physically done to our 9sq/ mtr project during this time, both the cold weather and work has held me back. The Pallet Stripping Bar sales have increased significantly during this period; no doubt because of the cold weather and people stripping old pallets for firewood, so most of my energy has been directed at making and painting batches of pallet bars.
Planning work for the 9sq/mtr is making progress, and we now have a planting chart mapped out, and more or less know what we will be planting first, and I have collected about another ton of well rotted donkey & horse manure ready to fill the new planters, but Lois wants this load of manure for dressing the existing planters, borders and veg plot. However, the sanctuary has plenty enough for me to collect at my leisure.
Other stuff that has been going on in our lives includes a very successful January Norwich AlleyCat; with not a bad turnout out for a cold albeit dry night, and everyone involved had a good time. The new format that I have adopted for the AlleyCat of nine Silva punch control points, nine clues to solve and two tasks to complete is proving to be relatively easy to plan and set up, and the riders really like the mix as it gives the variety for those who wish to pedal furiously between points and then sprint to the finish, along with those who wish to complete the whole course at a more sedate and social pace. Although I will be adapting this format slightly for the February Norwich Alleycat ; 7 Silva punch checkpoints,   7 letters to collect for an anagram forming a 7 letter word, and only 1 task .
Lois and I have also become volunteer stewards for the Maddermarket theatre here in Norwich. We look up on it as our small and almost insignificant support for the performing arts, but if we are honest it is because we get to see the shows for free. We have to start work about 45 minutes before the performance begins, and finish our assigned work about 45 minutes after the end. Our jobs entail selling programmes, ushering the Theatre goers to their seats, and manning the fire points next to the fire exits during the performances, selling Ice creams, generally assisting people during the interval, and then litter picking and tidying up after the performance. Having unpaid volunteer stewards in these positions is in my opinion much better than paying people to do a half assed job of it, and we get to enjoy the show. ….. It does have its fringe benefits though: clear plastic half pint and pint drinks containers (I cannot bring myself to call them plastic beer glasses). I normally buy disposable  plastic beakers for mixing cellulose and enamel paints with thinners in before spraying something I have made in the workshop, and these disposable beer containers are suitable for this job, we are also going to be using them as seedling pots for the vegetables that will be planted in our 9 sq/mtrs. So with a little careful planning and rotation we can give these plastic beer beakers that we are collecting from the theatre a 3 task or more lifespan; and it helps reduce the volume of waste in the theatre’s wheelie bins!
The snow began thawing last weekend; I say snow as we only had about 3 inches of the damn stuff and as usual Norwich ground to halt. However, it has gone now and the days have become noticeably warmer, but we did have 5 nights of hard frost with temperatures swinging from minus 7⁰ C  to plus 8⁰ C and that large range of difference sort of kick started a few things growing …. Most noticeably the section of the lawn that I had reseeded last October.
With this warmer weather, and lengthen day light Lois has begun her part of this project, but I am behind schedule and will have to get myself into gear pretty sharpish. She has begun getting the seeds together and has set off chitting about 1 dozen seed potatoes, along with starting off the slips of Sweet Potato.
Sweet Potato slips ready for planting in the garden are extremely expensive to buy: anywhere between £1.25 and £14.99 each….. Yes, that is correct; we have seen Individual Sweet Potato slips on sale for £14.99 each. Sweet Potato slips are not difficult to cultivate, just time consuming. Lois is chitting 4 Sweet Potatoes for planting out, and we expect to get anywhere between 20 and 40 viable slips from them. We have deliberately bought 4 small Sweet Potatoes for chitting from 4 different shops over 4 weeks; Lidl, Aldi, Tesco and the local Co-op. The Idea being that although they are sold as eating Sweet Potatoes we know we can use them for producing slips and hopefully they will all be unrelated tuber stock.


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