Bitten by the hill running bug

I loved mountain biking: hills, countryside, bumps and thrills. But I’ve not had a mountain bike for years and there’s little prospect that I’ll be able to afford a nice hardtail while the kids are young, so it seemed that was that. Then I signed up as a runner in NVA’s Speed of Light festival piece and now I’m training hard and running up some hills in Edinburgh. It looks like this is the way to go: all the lung-bursting ascents of MTBs, the views, the leaps and bounds, without the need to lug a bike around. Maybe I’ll try something like this next year…


Defrosting the freezer

The deepest layer of the freezer had rhubarb from Spring 2010 and some undated bean chilli. Higher layers contain the remnants of undated Buy two get a discount deals which turn out to be buy one, store one and throw it away later. And the top of the freezer had in-date seafood and peas. It’s far too long between defrosts!

The household already has an exercise book for recording family food decisions, so this is going to get turned into a freezer log with item, date in, best before and date taken out. Maybe I’ll even use a calendar to defrost the freezer more often. Perhaps this is the enthusiasm that comes after the dollop of guilt when throwing away kilos of freezer-burn meat and it won’t last; we’ll see.

Here’s a link to the freezer manufacturer’s manual for model number ZFC35C, product number 920407060.

Note to self: items from Jane Perrone’s The allotment keepers handbook

Just going to donate the book to charity, but wanted to keep a note of a few things that haven’t cropped up elsewhere

  • Michael Pollan’s Second nature: a gardener’s education
  • National lists of varieties that must be distinct, uniform and stable are defined in the Plant varieties and seeds act 1964
  • guttering for pea seeds
  • harden off then plant out. give the seedlings a good soak an hour before transplanting — it’s the most stressful time of their lives
  • Another book: Antonio Carluccio’s Vegetables

Theory informs, but practice convinces – George Bain at the Galleries on the mound

First committee meeting of the Saughton Mains Allotment Association this morning, where I learnt about the role of treasurer and the bean-counting that entails. We also heard about the other assets and duties that the committee is responsible for, which includes maintaining the composting loo. There was a diversion into the relative merits of sawdust versus leafmould for the bulk material that goes in a composting loo, and a move to get some training on how to maintain our loo. I think this is a critical piece of infrastructure and allows us to recycle the nutrients, so I’m keen to get involved.

Coincidentally, the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia has just published this piece on urine closes the NPK loop.

I then had some time to kill before I collected the family coming back from Glasgow, so popped into the galleries on the mound to visit the exhibition on George Bain and Celtic Art [1][2]. It’s not a big exhibition, yet it touches on both celtic knotwork theory and examples of rugs, ceramics and a bracelet. I was particularly taken by the phrase theory informs, but practice convinces.

This exhibition is tucked away at the back of the galleries. That’s great because near to the exhibition space there’s a few paintings from the late C19th which focus on vegetables and the horticulture trade. Arthur Melville’s Cabbage Garden was shown at last year’s blockbuster Impressionist Gardens and there’s a couple of other stunners. I always love the chance to look at these pictures. I’m intrigued by the note that I only saw today, that “vegetable garden subjects were popular among artists throughout Europe in the late 1870s and 1880s” — perhaps scope to follow up here.

Depicts a vegetable stall with rhubarb, leeks, cabbages and root vegetables

The vegetable stall, William York MacGregor

A cabbage garden, with a labourer stopping work to talk to a lady

A cabbage garden, Arthur Melville