I'm beginning this piece on the day after Boxing Day, aware that more than a couple of weeks have elapsed since the previous instalment. I say 'beginning' since I know I won't finish writing today - Christmas means that there are other other equally welcome tasks to occupy old Codger
It has been a soggy December - seemingly even soggier as we approached the equinox but this morning has seen a radiant dawn - as shown here. The sun rises late here. Urban housing deceives the eye and often we miss the lay of the land. We sit the wrong side of Ocker Hill (our part of Tipton) so the first peep of the sun is half-an-hour later than GMT at this dark time of the year
As you can see I have, for once, remembered to label the tubers which are now snuggled into a protective layer of old potting compost safely stored in a box in the garage
I am fortunate enough to have three working areas - the greenhouse, the garden shed and the garage. In the run-up to Christmas the shed had become a temporary workshop housing a spray booth as you can see from the photo (left). I wanted to give the Christmassy treatment to a dozen plant pots. This was a bit of a last-minute job but it worked out well. In case it is helpful, here's how ...
Wash the plastic pots in soapy water and dry thoroughly. There's no need to roughen the surface - most spray paint will adhere well to plastic. You can minimise the nuisance of over-spray by placing the pot in a cardboard box with a side removed. Think about the drying process before you start - you can see my washing-line solution below
Good idea, you say - but, surely, a bit late to be of use. Well, it has occurred to me that some readers might wish to colour their pots for other reasons and at other times of the year. After all, black can become very boring!
If you decide to have a shot at this, here's another tip: get your cans of paints from Wilko. Very much cheaper then elsewhere and the paint is good quality, too. Perhaps 2021 will be the year of colourful pots!
Codger's Christmas dinner
Yes, I was cook this year (Mrs Codger not being too well). So far there have been no repercussions but I am ashamed to say that only one ingredient was homegrown. Which? Well, it was not the chicken - much as I'd love to keep a few fowl. Nor was it the potatoes - I don't have the space to grow many potatoes. It might have been carrots - but ours were consumed long ago. Incidentally, I am constantly amazed at how little we have to pay for fresh veg - a kilo cost me only 20p - how do they do it? Parsnips were also to be had cheaply
As you can see in the photo above, it was the butternut squash that was from our own plot - and very nice, too. With the rind removed, I just cut it into chunks and roast in the oven. The parsnips got the same treatment - the veg was placed on a baking tray and drizzled with oil. Worked a treat
Boxing Day Bank Holiday Monday
We woke up to snow this morning as you can see. What a change! Before I show you - a quick tip. You can still buy bulbs - and cheaply. There is still time to plant tulips - and it not difficult to do if you use planters
Just read back over the last few issues and you will see how to do it. You may be able to find a plastic planter at a local hardware store. You know the sort - they have piles of plastic goods staked on the pavement outside the shop. Poke around and you may well find suitable pots and planters
Planting in the garden is not a good option just at the moment. Just look at the change in a couple of days. The first picture shows how well my broad beans were doing on Christmas Day. The second shot (below) was taken this morning. Spot the difference!
Incidentally, the broad beans were sown on 20th October. They are a good over winter crop. They cope well with snow but I must check if we get a really sharp frost - too cold and they will be knocked back. They can be protected with garden fleece
A big Thank You!
Regular readers may remember that I increased the target for donations as we entered Lockdown 2.0 - for the express purpose of boosting giving to BCM's fantastic Toylink initiative
I have just checked, and see that we have now exceeded that target figure. (You can check yourself here). As we go to press the figure stands at £2553.46 and, if Gift Aid is added, that provides £2762.71 to BCM. Of this, about £500 has gone specifically to Toylink
So, a big Thank You to everyone who has helped. Please take a look at this Toylink video, it is well worth a couple of minutes of your time:
So, you have discovered Codger's secret. He listens to Radio 3! Not that the old guy is trying to prove anything - other than he is not a sufficiently intelligent music lover to manage without what might be called curation. That is, I need someone with greater knowledge than myself to guide me along the musical pathway. Not that the R3 diet suits me all the time - there's some squawking I cannot abide, particularly in the afternoons
Mornings tend to be best for me. Essential Classics has a great and diverse range with excellent presenters - I appreciate Ian Skelly most. I also enjoy the regular Saturday afternoon slot: Inside Music. The current programme is presented by Pekka Kuusisto - a Finnish violinist and conductor. What fascinating pronunciation - Finnish sounds so different to other European languages. At one point he advised his listeners to listen again on a system with decent reproduction. I took his advice and listened again via my computer. I knew the melody but this rendition was stunning - a lovely Swedish carol: From heaven came the angel Gabriel. You can hear the programme here
It is also available via YouTube:
O Radiant Dawn
Another wonderful piece that I have recently discovered is O Radiant Dawn - available on YouTube here:
[Technical note: if you cannot see the video please try clicking HERE]