Friday, 15 February 2013

Day 46 - peg down those runners and we are off on a journey.

Friday 15th February

It is hard to believe that I have written this blog every day for 46 days. Here we go again with the complications that occur when I leave the island. I know it should be straightforward in the modern world but let me tell you when the pressure is on to blog every day something always go wrong. If blogging was all I did then I would have drafted out some posts to use when I am away. Clearly, blogging is not all I do so my stress levels with rise nicely when I am away.

I am taking Max to Hereford to visit a friend of mine, Paula, and her lovely son Will. Will and Max are firm friends and this was his birthday present this year. Max has not travelled on a lot of trains so this will be great fun for him. Less fun for me although I do hope to get some work done. My ipad is my life and it will come in very useful on the journey and in the cold stations waiting for connections. I am thrilled with the interest in my proposed article on the Scottish tradition of hutting and I need to organise all the contacts and get the initial questionnaire drafted. A couple of years ago there was quite a lot of interest in reviving the tradition and a few articles were published. I am already aware of some wonderful individual and group projects that are continuing to make the revival become a reality. These are the stories I want to investigate. The theory of hutting in Scotland is, I think, we understood by those in the know but I always think it is the human element that breathes life into a story and this is my quest. My research is going to take me all over Scotland in pursuit of both established huts and huts in the making. Local planners and the Scottish government need to understand the point of hutting and what better way than to let the hutters tell their own story. Keep watching this space.

It has been a lovely day on the island and a day for me to tie up loose ends before my trip. Home school was a quick run through the basics and a lovely time spent with Max who still reads to me. We are in the depths of massive man eating spiders at the moment so all good. George just organised himself and finished all that needed doing and then I checked Harry's assignment before emailing it off to his tutor. These days are important because every so often we need to tidy our studies up a bit so that the boys can see where they are going with their work.

I do want to talk strawberries with you. If you haven't ever grown strawberries this has to be the year to change all that. They are one of the easiest things to grow. Aim for a variety that crops well like Cambridge and get about 6 small plants from the garden centre. They will happily grow in pots although make them large enough as growth is rapid come the spring. Today in the tunnel I was potting on last years plants as well as potting up the runners sent out by those plants. Towards the end of their growing season strawberry plants send out runners and if you peg them down into the soil they will start to root and make new plants. How kind of them.

They are prone to rot because the fruit doesn't like damp soil but that is easily fixed by putting a bit of straw under the stems before the fruits appear. Pete and I are giving a bit more thought to our strawberry growing this year. My little idea of a hessian bag lined with plastic and hanging from the frame of the tunnel is going to be fully tested. I expect other ideas to come forward in due course. But for now they are all looking very pleased that I got rid of all the dead stems and potted them into new compost mixed with some plant food.

In an earlier post I mentioned that chives like a very short hair cut four times a year. Mine already had their first radical clipping just before I potted them on and the other photos shows the results. Instead of a few short lanky stems the plants have bushed outwards and the crop will be all the better for it. I am so pleased with the signs of new growth. Mint always looks like it has died over the winter and if there are any leaves left they are dark green and sad looking. Repotting and waiting a week or so rewards you with new bright green leaves as the plant asserts itself once more. Growers will know that mint is particularly assertive!

I had a lovely email from James from the chocolate shop that I blogged about yesterday. All the feedback thanks me for being so positive about the island as well as thanking me for the comments that pertain directly to their business. This re-inforces the need to produce my Postcard from Arran ebook. Those that know me (which is probably all of you by now) know that I try to be a very positive person. But Arran is truly a wonderful little space on our very busy planet and I do hope that some of you come and visit. If you do let me know in advance in the comment box and you might like to visit us on Hazelbank and have a slice of George's cake washed down with a lovely cup of tea. You would be most welcome.

I am off to run around trying to get organised for our little trip. I will be blogging about my time in Hereford while I am away but tomorrow we have another guest blogger. Our lovely Ruth is going to tell us about her creativie endeavours and she has some super photos to share with us. It will be a much later post because for some reason it takes us all day to get to Hereford by train. Joy!

Until tomorrow. xx