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August, 2009:

Cooking on gas?

I’ve not regularly cooked on actual Gas for 20 years and I do miss the raw power once in a while.. but not for long for soon we shall be cooking on erm… hangon… oooh… electromagnetism! (more…)

Mackerel Sky

Out for dinner last night and turning up unannounced at 9pm were told that we couldn’t get a table until 10pm. No problemo, lets go for a little spin.

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Round Two, Ding Ding!

We’re on a roll! Another clutch of eggs are in the incubator, due date 3rd September. We’d undertaken a little exercise from our last hatch to see if we can select the likely offspring based on egg size/shape/weight/colour.

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OK to GO!

What fun fun fun. I’ll keep this brief as my sleep deprived brain needs all the grey cells it can muster for later on tonight. 😉

Fired up the BBQ at 9pm yesterday and set the scene for a nights skywatching. I was determined to improve on yesterday’s slim pickings. We were not disappointed. The first Meteor blew overhead for a good 100 degrees, straight north to south. It was spectacular and had it been a little darker would have had a real wow factor. By the time I knocked off just after 3am we’d seen almost 40 meteors.

I’m lying on a sun lounger at half two in the morning. A fleece and scarf on and our neighbours cat purring on my chest as each of these tiny particles of dust end their journey’s of billions of years in a momentary flash. I figured how to tether the camera to a computer and let the laptop do most of the hard work. One snap every 35 seconds for a 30 second exposure. Good enough to see the planet spin round as time elapses and then every once in a while… a meteor captured.

Moonrise

What a way to go

So, the pick of the pictures are in this flickr slideshow

Thanks to a little social media pimping on Twitter from @jodrellbank @astronomy2009uk @ksastro @NewburyAS and @DrLucyRogers almost 1/3rd of my lifetime flickr views in one day!

And now, I’m watching Contact and in another hour will be out there with my laptop, camera and tripod.

What a shower

Good things come to he who waits! Or, more specifically… good things come to he who sits out in the dark at half one in the morning!

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All In A Day’s Harvest

Just popped down to the potager to collect a few toms …

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Mid season ’09 potager report.

12 weeks ago things were looking a little bit grim in the garden. Judging by prior year’s records we normally get most of our seedlings started in January and planted out in March/April.  Unfortunately, the seeds were planted late and took a while to get going.  After much care and nurturing, mostly due to the hard work of Joan all seems well in the potager now.

Roll Call.

70+ Tomatoes?! Are we mad?! Quite possibly.

By any conservative estimate we might expect to harvest 300kg of tomatoes this year. That sounds like a lot… it is a lot!

12 Roma. A perennial fave. A determinate variety that flollops on the ground, mulches itself and produces a lot of long italian style fruit that are quite dry and good for cooking. The staple for any sauce, passata or ketchup.

16 Russian Black. Seed saved from a speciality box last year. The fruits themselves were not quite pitch black but certainly a very deep purpley red. A good tart flavour I remember.  We shall see.

10 Bali. Supermarket earlies and the only seedlings I’d purchased this year as I knew we were very very late with everything that we’d raised.  They are fruiting well and we have enjoyed fresh meaty tomatoes everyday for the past week or so.

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14 Gardeners Delight.  Lovely sweet cherry tomatoes.  Great in salads and for grazing when down on the potager.

16 Money Maker. Good all round fruit, great for summer salads.

12 Marmande.  Large fruits which can be stuffed. We have grown these in previous years but they have never been brilliant. We shall see if this year is any better.

The stars of the potager – cucumbers.  We have tried to grow these over the past few years and they have either been decimated by slugs or have only produced tiny useless fruits.  Well what a difference this year.

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Big Max pumpkins. Yes, a fun addition to the potager.  Each year we keep the best looking fruit and carve them up for Halloween.  They are great plants as they cover a large area and keep down the weeds.

Cabbages – red and green.  First time grown from seed. Normally we buy cabbage plants as the slugs get to the seedlings.  Not this year thanks to the wonder of little blue pellets – there is another story in there for some other time!

Fennel.  The bulb variety – going gangbusters.

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Celery.  The branch variety.  We cheated and bought the plants but you have to have a stick of celery in your bloody mary for sunset drinks.

Gem and Butternut squash.  Too early to tell what kind of crop we will get this year – plenty of flowers on the plants though.

Chick Peas.  These were a trial and after planting about 30 odd seeds only 6 or 7 plants grew to maturity and provided a small handfull of seeds.

Sunflowers – these are for the bees.  Have to grow something for our hard workers and they brighten up the potager and add some height to the overall plot.

Blonde, Brunette or Dark?

Hrm, I like ‘em any which way!

Brunette Chick Blond Chick Dark Chick

Five days old now and the chicks are all doing well. It’s interesting to see the diversity amongst them, a common father but perhaps 4 different mothers… we’ll never know. The chick on the left in this lineup is the odd one out – nothing else hatched like it and it has markings that look like it’s brought through the colourings of it’s paternal grandmother. The very tip of the flight feathers are starting to look like a Brahma hen so that’ll be interesting to see how they develop.

They’re all displaying the feathered legs of their pops – a very French characteristic. Somthing of a surprise is the amount of white/light feathers. The blond chick has some very white feathers on its wingtips now and the Dark chick has a large area of white on its breast – we’ve three of these penguin looking things and they’re very cute. The curious thing is neither the father or any of the mothers have anything like white on them at all. They might grow out of it but time will tell.

It’s high time I started a Bellebouche Poultry Family Tree!

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