Sunday, 31 March 2013

A Spot of Sun

A hive of busy busy
Yesterday I thought spring had sprung. We had a lovely warm afternoon that was actually sunny enough to be working outside in a T-shirt. I got loads done - Lots of potting on of seedlings and putting in some summer bulbs, with a smattering of weeding and trellis building to keep things interesting.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Garden Log - March 2013

Not much to see here! Like everyone else I'm suffering from non-appearing plants due to the ridiculously cold weather. It's all getting very tedious, and I'm sure everyone could do with a little bit of the old sunlight and warmth... Anyhoo, for what it's worth, here's this month collection of incredibly exciting garden pictures.

Stuff Sprouting. Slowly.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Sunderland Farmers Market

I recently discovered that Sunderland is to start holding its own farmers market. The first one is today I believe, which leads me to the point that has prompted the rant that you are about to find yourself on the receiving end of. Why on this wholly lumpy green earth would you put such a thing on on a Friday!?

I've been making quite an effort lately to support home grown business and buy local, and have thought that a farmers market would be an excellent resource in doing this. It would be the sort of thing that would draw me into the town centre on a more regular basis, as the thoroughly sorry collection of pound shops, cash generators and discount sports clothing stores that we currently enjoy aren't much of an attraction... We have a ridiculous amount of supermarkets in the city (5 massive ones and 4 smaller ones at the last count, and more on the way apparently), but virtually nothing in the way of local businesses away from the town centre. All of the clumps of local green grocers, butchers, etc. that you see in other cities have disappeared in all but a couple of the outlying village areas, forcing you into the supermarkets, who obviously stock their shelves from that cheapest source, I.E. foreign imports.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

NGS Garden Visit : Moorbank Botanical Gardens, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne

First garden visit of the year, and as coincidence would have it, it was in my home city. Moorbank is owned by Newcastle University as a private facility, but opens for e NGS several times a year.

The gardens are made up of two areas - the green houses and an open air area. I went with my sister and the Intrepid Baby. After a minor mystery tour finding the place, and then another to find somewhere to park we made our way through to the entrance and coughed up our entry fee. Our first challenge of the day became immediately evident - the walkways were only just wide enough to get a buggy down, and woe betide anyone wanting to get past us in the other direction. Nevermind, obviously the place was never designed to cope with buggies, so we just had to try and manage.

Monday, 11 March 2013

The Whitby Jaunt, Part Two

Part one of this thrilling tale can be found here.

So, day two. The main event of the trip - my thirtieth! I've got fairly mixed feelings on this, but I think on the whole I'm happy enough.

It's been a good day. All very laid back. We got up and had a very fine breakfast of local meat and cheese with fresh bread, then a full Yorkshire breakfast, followed by pastries. All washed down with plenty of coffee and fresh orange juice. Once we felt capable of standing again we went for a waddle around the hotel's lovely gardens. The gardens themselves aren't very mature, and there's not much around at this time of year anyway, especially this close to the coast. There are plenty of box edged beds with paths running through them, as well as a large lawn and a patio seating area outside the restaurant. It looks like it will be stunning in the summer. It was very pretty at this time of year, but rather chilly!

Sunday, 10 March 2013

The Whitby Jaunt, Part One

WARNING! Entirely non-garden related post!

With my birthday coming up, the other half and I decided we'd plan a couple of nights away somewhere relaxing, so after some umming and ahhing about various places north and south, we decided on Whitby. For those who haven't had the pleasure of a visit, Whitby is a lovely fishing town on the Yorkshire coast. It can get quite touristy in the summer, and is famous for its fish and chips, but at this time of year it's fairly civilised. A well wielded google search should turn up all manner of historical shenanigans, should you be interested in such things. We've been a few times before and always found it to be a nice place to relax. A quick look around on the ever trusty Trip Advisor for somewhere to stay turned up Raithwaite Hall which seems to be a modern take on a country house hotel. More on that later.

The Mother In Law kindly agreed to look after That Baby for a couple of nights, and so we've set off with bags packed, and only a fairly mild dose of the predictable procrastination and general faffing about that seems to be a natural part of such departures. We broke the journey down by stopping off for lunch at Ibrahim's Cafe in Middlesbrough. It's fairly close to my office, so I've had take out from there before, but I've never had the chance to sit down and take my time. The food there is great, and very reasonably priced. They do a very nice seekh kebab roll which is worth sampling if you happen to be in 'Boro.

The rest of the journey down was lovely. It had been snowing earlier in the day, but the weather had cleared up and we drove over the moors in bright, clear sunshine. I love that part of the drive to Whitby. Provided you don't end up stuck behind someone tootling along at half the speed limit in their Nissan Note, it's one of the most enjoyable roads I've driven. At some point before you get to Whitby, the road that leads to the hotel forks off on its own into the moors, then winds quite steeply down into the village of Lythe (I think. Google maps none too helpful on this point) where the road ran right hard against the seafront. The sea was a textbook illustration of iron grey, angry water. As we waited in a small queue of traffic for our turn to go over the single lane hump backed bridge that crossed an inlet, the sea was smashing into the tidal wall next to us, covering the car in sheets of spray. All very exciting.

Not long after this we made it to the hotel. After meandering up a fairly lengthy driveway, past a few ongoing expansion projects, we arrived at a very pleasant looking building made from honey coloured stone. I suspect that in few years time it'll look like it's been there for ever. Even more more impressive still was the huge Rolls Royce that was parked outside the front door. I wonder if they'd let me drive it... After getting settled in and having the obligatory quick look at the hotel bar, we decided that it would be a marvellous idea to walk into Whitby. Only a mile and a half. Easy we thought! Cue high velocity sideways snowstorm. Very painfu...Bracing! Yes! Um... Ow. Luckily it took very little effort to find a cozy little pub with a log fire that we could slump next to and defrost. We didn't move from there for quite some time. The rest of the evening was enjoyably quiet and uneventful. A couple more pubs, some decent enough food, and then the decision that we couldn't be bothered with walking the return journey and jumping in a taxi. We shall now spend a thoroughly rock and roll night lying on the bed in our room drinking wine, reading, and being secure in the knowledge that we have a full nights sleep ahead of us without being repeatedly smashed in the ribs by the Incredible Hulk (A.K.A. That Baby). Tune in next time for another not particularly thrilling instalment of The Whitby Jaunt.