Reflecting on my week #34

It's been a productive week here, despite the earlier than usual starts for this not-a-fan-of-mornings.  With the builders regularly arriving before 8am, which is good, it's tradition really isn't it to be dressed when they arrive?!  It's not mega-early I know, and it's not much earlier than we'd normally be up and about, I think it's knowing we have to be that changes the mindset.  A bit like when you go on holiday and you set the alarm super early and then wake up every hour and check the time...  but without the holiday and with a bit more dust!

There was a first visit to the allotment too on Tuesday evening, we'd run out of time over the Bank Holiday weekend, and I wasn't quite sure what we'd find. Or rather, how many weeds we'd find.  The answer was quite a few, and a lot of grass too.  Some of which had been strimmed, but still more that could be cut back - I'll be taking my Stihl trimmer on our next visit, and some weed killer. 

We did take one of those tarpaulins that arrived back in November (how, was it that long ago?) and once we'd weeded one of the beds, which thankfully was relatively easy to weed, we covered it to try and prevent them coming back quite so quickly.  In the process we dug up some potatoes we'd missed last year, and some we hadn't got around to harvesting and that was a nice bonus.

During the weeding I noticed there was blood on my foot, turned out I'd been savaged by a mosquito.  Three bites on the top of my foot had drawn blood and plenty more up my leg were just a bit of a nibble.  I thought nothing more of it, but hoped it wouldn't be a recurrence of the insect bite drama from last May.

There's more weeding to be done but we left with those potato discoveries and almost a kilo of rhubarb.  You can't beat crops that do their thing while you spend winter sitting on the sofa...

Once home a closer inspection of the three bites and I wasn't convinced it was going to end well.  And it was close, it wasn't until Saturday that my foot stopped swelling and the bites died back a bit.  Phew.  

It looks like wellies could be my footwear of choice for the allotment until the insects get over the taste of me.  The rhubarb helped make up for it though, when I took it out of the oven I realised it had a more ordered look than it usually does.

roasting rhubarb from the allotment

I roast the freshly washed rhubarb in the oven with some sugar and a splash of orange juice if I have it. It only takes about twenty minutes, and keeps its colour and shape cooking this way and is great with ice cream as a pudding, or greek yogurt and seeds for breakfast.  There's plenty more rhubarb to come, so I expect I'll be branching out into cakes and crumbles soon.

Talking of cakes, I'm still making my way through the mountain of frozen bananas in the freezer we're eating our way through.  There's been banana and blueberry pancakes, banana flapjacks (both of which are good) and this week a chocolate banana bread.  In the spirit of using things up instead of the dark chocolate pieces there were some white chocolate drops and some grated chocolate chilli hot chocolate flakes and for the pecans some chopped almonds.  I'm sure it'll be fine and will be a great addition to our lunchboxes this week.

A chocolate banana bread with a hint of chilli chocolate

Work on our conservatory is continuing apace, but I think because they started late they'll be here a week later than expected too, which is annoying as we'd booked that week off work.  I'm not keen to spend a week off work with the builders so we're looking to see about changing our time off.  I'm hoping that next week will see a major milestone and then I hope to share more here on the progress so far too.

What we already know, thanks to a day of rain on Saturday, is that the new guttering is doing its job.  It's the first time the structure has had guttering, and as it's been up since 1996, that's quite something.  And quite an improvement we've (or rather our builders) have been able to make to the longevity of this revamp.

I've had some blog post too and there's some exciting collaborations on the way, there's a new rug and a some wall coverings to come and some smaller items too.  My pass for the Chelsea Flower Show arrived this week too, and I'm looking forward to putting that to good use, I just need to confirm which day I've been accredited for, and book some time off work.  I'll also be sharing more from our trip to Grand Designs, so look out for lots of posts to come.

This weekend I've spent some time pottering about in the greenhouse, and those advent calendar boxes have been put to good use.  I've missed sowing tomatoes and some of the earlier crops, so hope to be buying some plants to help me on my way. I can't imagine a year without growing tomatoes, but given my lack of success with tomatoes since we've had the allotment  I think I'll be growing them in the greenhouse and the garden this year instead.  I'm hoping they'll be less susceptible to blight that way - keep your fingers crossed!

Putting my advent calendar boxes to good use in the greenhouse

What I have sown in the boxes are courgettes and squash.  In the loo rolls I've insisted we save I've got a selection of runner, climbing and borlotti beans - we've had much more success with these, especially the latter, on the plot and so I'm aiming to play to our strengths.   In another seed tray I've a selection of brassicas, ranging from kale to bok choi to sprouts, and my first bunch of herbs.  I may supplement the brassicas with some small plants too, as I want to maximise our chances of success, as without the crops the allotment isn't so much fun.

courgettes, squash and beans sown in the greenhouse

This week we'll be back at the allotment one evening, I hope, and this time I'll be forewarned and ready for the mosquitos.  There'll probably be some more rhubarb and the verdict on the chocolate banana bread from MOH and no doubt yet another way to use frozen bananas.  I am tempted to make some easy ice cream, but that doesn't help me so much at the moment as it still needs freezer space.  

It's all a bit of a juggling act right now, but don't tell me you're surprised!