30 November 2006

Seed Bunk

While not in the same class as Jane's willow trugs, we have found this Asda basket (reclaimed from a skip somewhere or other) very handy on the allotment and it more often than not comes home with us filled with good produce decidedly not from Asda. In the check-out this week are lots of Kestrel potatoes, leeks, parsnips (some of which grew entwined around each other in a most kama sutra like fashion) and lettuce and i forget what else.

Monday was bright and breezy but not cold and a good four hour session from both of us saw quite a lot get done. I started to build a bunk bed for next years seed trays in the greenhouse. It looks ridiculously posh for an allotment being made of reclaimed bits of beautifuly varnished pine.
There is another layer to go on the top yet but ran out of nails and time to finish it - oh well, next time.

28 November 2006

Golden Cloud Sans Silver Lining

Taking Ben to school this morning there were two black horses by the roadside being groomed and brushed for the job ahead. Their job will be to carry the coffin containing the mum of one of Ben's classmates who collapsed and died of a heart attack. Bravely, the children (their are two), are already back at school but this morning they will be walking slowly with their dad behind those two black horses carrying their mum to her resting place in the Quernmore valley. I always think how beautiful this valley looks every time I drive out and this morning there is a golden light on the hills and in the clouds and I am absurdly pleased that the valley will look good for her. I would not be able to watch that scene without turning into a dribbling mess as it has too many resonances with my own childhood but I am glad that they are being involved in the process rather than (as I was), being sheltered and protected from it all because, without that involvement, you can't properly say goodbye, which makes things worse in the long run.

23 November 2006

A Farwell to Nick

We say farewell then to Nick Clarke who died this morning at the age of 58. It's a bit like losing a family friend. For the benefit of readers across the ponds, Nick was arguably the greatest radio journalist of all time, respected alike by his colleagues, by all the politicians of whatever persuasion and beloved of millions of the radio listening public. His voice alone could melt the polar ice caps and yet he was so incisive and intelligent that even the 'big' politicians feared being interviewed by him. I have no doubt, that if there were a God, he would declare himself unavailable for comment at this time.

22 November 2006

Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road?

We don't really care why the chicken crossed the
road. We just want to know if the chicken is on our
side of the road or not. The chicken is either with
us or it is against us. There is no middle ground
I invented the chicken. I invented the road.
Therefore, the chicken crossing the road
represented the application of these two different
functions of government in a new, reinvented way
designed to bring greater services to the American
Now at the left of the screen, you clearly see the
satellite image of the chicken crossing the road.
We have reason to believe there is a chicken, but we
have not yet been allowed access to the other side
of the road.
MOHAMMED ALDOURI (Iraq ambassador)
The chicken did not cross the road. This is a
complete fabrication. We don't even have a chicken.
This was an unprovoked act of rebellion and we were
quite justified in dropping 50 tons of nerve gas on
The chicken's habitat on the original side of the
road had been polluted by unchecked industrialist
greed. The chicken did not reach the unspoiled
habitat on the other side of the road because it was
crushed by the wheels of a gas-guzzling SUV.
To steal a job from a decent, hard-working American.
I don't know why the chicken crossed the road, but
I'll bet it was getting a government grant to cross
the road, and I'll bet someone out there is already
forming a support group to help chickens with
crossing-the-road syndrome. Can you believe this?
How much more of this can real Americans take?
Chickens crossing the road paid for by their tax
dollars, and when I say tax dollars, I'm talking
about your money, money the government took from you
to build roads for chickens to cross.
No one called to warn me which way that chicken was
going. I had a standing order at the farmer's
market to sell my eggs when the price dropped to a
certain level. No little bird gave me any insider
Because the chicken was gay! Isn't it obvious? Can't
you people see the plain truth in front of your
face? The chicken was going to the "other side."
That's what they call it -- the other side. Yes, my
friends, that chicken is gay. And, if you eat that
chicken, you will become gay too. I say we boycott
all chickens until we sort out this abomination that
the liberal media whitewashes with seemingly
harmless phrases like "the other side."
Did the chicken cross the road?
Did he cross it with a toad?
Yes, The chicken crossed the road,
But why itcrossed,
I've not been told!
To die. In the rain. Alone.
I envision a world where all chickens will be free
to cross roads without having their motives called
into question.
In my day, we didn't ask why the chicken crossed the
road. Someone told us that the chicken crossed the
road, and that was good enough for us.
Isn't that interesting? In a few moments we will be
listening to the chicken tell, for the first time,
the heart-warming story of how it experienced a
serious case of molting and went on to accomplish
its life-long dream of crossing the road.
Imagine all the chickens crossing roads in peace.
It is the nature of chickens to cross the road.
It was an historical inevitability.
I may not agree with what the chicken did, but I
will defend to the death its right to do it.
What chicken?
To boldly go where no chicken has gone before.
You saw it cross the road with your own eyes! How
many more chickens have to cross before you believe
The fact that you are at all concerned that the
chicken crossed the road reveals your underlying
sexual insecurity.
I have just released eChicken 2003, which will not
only cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your
important documents, and balance your checkbook -
and Internet Explorer is an inextricable part of
Did the chicken really cross the road or did the
road move beneath the chicken?
I did not cross the road with THAT chicken. What do
you mean by chicken?
Could you define chicken, please?
I missed one?

15 November 2006

Hunter Gathererer Clods

The Brave and fearless hunter returns from the fields after eating a pack of sherbet lemons facing perilous danger to bring home the bacon sprouts to his hungry tribe of clods.

14 November 2006

Beta Blockers

The transfer to the new beta blogger causes all sorts of problems requiring large doses of mogablog in order to retain sanity.

13 November 2006

Ecky Thump

oh dear oh dear oh dear it will no doubt be clear that I have been assiduoulsy studying html coding farting about with my blog and making a mess of things. Bothered? look at my face......etc.

Raked lots and lots of fallen leaves from the windy streets around the park today to make into mulch/compost and decided to change career and become a street cleaner. People actually stop and talk to you!

08 November 2006

Winter Work

Well, that's enough creativity for one year! Now back to gardening. The autumn sown broad beans think it's spring and i hope we get a bit of cold soon or they'll get too leggy and winter will pounce on them one day and give them a nasty surprise. We harvested the very last crop of tomatoes on Monday....in the first week of November! I ask you, what is the world coming too?

We've sent off our seed guardian seeds down to the HSL and some pictures of our heritage crops for use in their catalogue. There was mangold, achocha, asparagus kale, blue queen dwarf beans, caseknife, grass pea cicerchia. We got a nice e mail back to say they were very happy with both the seeds and the photographs. Now looking forward to receiving the HSL catalogue after Christmas to plan next years gardening adventures.

If you missed out on GG's very good recipe for using the mangolds then here it is again. I hope a few readers can be persuaded to give mangolds a try out...they are yummy.

Parboil mangold, small turnip, parsnip, carrot; fry small onion with crushed garlic and place with bare covering of vegetable stock & majoram in roasting dish, (at this point the colours are exquisite - marbled butter-cup yellow in the mangold, orange of carrot, white of turnip,cream of parsnip and dark red of onion), top with mixture of wholemeal breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese and parsley and dot with butter. Bake for 40 minutes. Delicious.

Work goes on clearing and manuring and this year I'd like to collect masses of leafmould to cover the bare plots as we haven't got round to sowing any green manures.

Should do a bit of shed maintenance too really. Maybe I could just ring Alizon for that :-)....she owes us.

07 November 2006

On Pendle Hill - Part 2

Dear reader: This is the second part of a shortie called ‘On Pendle Hill’. Part one is a post or so ago so read that first or skip the whole thing if you don’t like shorties!

Disclaimer: Any resemblance to schools of witchraft & wizardry or to broomsticks or to persons who could remotely be described as having a life is entirely intentional and actionable…..if you dare.

Part 2:

Hey-how for Hallow-e'en!

When all the witches are to be seen,

Some in black and some in green,

Hey-how for Hallow-e'en!

Thout! tout! a tout, tout!

Throughout and about.

(tibbs and alizon trick or treating)

Turning north and west, Tibbs flew low over Cat-Gallows Wood and Scriddles Farm. Ahead lay the dark heart of Bowland Forest where, in olden times, the Om Ren stalked the unwary hunter or shepherd. On a bad day, he would tear them to pieces or perhaps hurl them over a precipice. On a good day and in a fine mood he might be satisfied with uprooting a tree to bash them with.

They had all, even Tibbs, saved many a shepherd from the unwelcome attentions of the Om Ren. He was, after all, at least as thick as a mountain troll and possibly twice as gullible and so presented no threat to a Witch. A simple fuddling spell was usually enough to set him wandering, confused and disorientated with a sour and puzzled expression, back into the depths of the forest. They looked for him more out of habit than anything else for he has not been seen by any of the forest spirits (according to Tibbs), for at least two hundred years now.

Demdike sped up and edged, as close as she dared, alongside Alizon.
‘Tha’ve bought nuther new un then?’ she said, nodding at Alizon’s broom, ‘wastin tha monee agin’.

‘Aye, ‘tis the new Cirrus 2006,’ said Alizon, ‘from the Hogwash school of witchcraft and wizardry down the valley. `Tis very fast and light with built in nav control.’ She pressed a knot in the witch-wood and an illuminated display panel appeared at the top of the broom. Demdike cackled and almost fell off her broom calling over to the others to come and see Alizon’s latest folly. Alizon explained that the broom had the latest satellite Witch Positioning System (WPS) technology and she showed them the displays for course, wind speed, altitude and proximity sensors. She showed them how to programme in their destination and watched as the system worked out the fastest route to Lancaster through the various cloud formations avoiding areas of potential rain or wind sheer but including suggestions for sightseeing variations or coven visiting en route. By now, they were all cackling so loudly Tibbs wondered if there were heads turning in the farmhouses below. ‘Tis Wi-Fi enabled,’ said Alizon, not about to give in. The howls of derision rose to deafening levels and a fox looked up and gave an answering howl on the moors below.

Alizon pursed her lips and pressed another knot on the Cirrus 2006. Up on the display came the Witch Shopping Channel with a special offer on “Thermal Tights for Late Night Flights – Double Stitched, Padded Gussets for Strength and Durability’ - Offer must end 5th November”

‘How much?’ gawped old Chattox, squinting at the tiny screen.

Demdike was laughing so much her eyes were streaming and she could no longer see where she was going, let alone the WPS display…. now announcing “Camel Motions Make Better Potions – See our new range of energy saving cauldrons – Super Low Carbon Emissions Guaranteed”.

Demdike stopped to wipe the tears from her eyes. Whin Fell lay far below outlined in moonlight and shadows; the familiar pattern of limestone rocks unchanged for countless centuries, centuries which had seen the world change beyond all recognition. You were counted lucky, in 1620, if you had sufficient food, clothing and shelter just to keep body and broomstick in one piece. There were precious few opportunities for retail therapy in 1620: there were precious few shops! Perhaps one could forgive a little indulgence now and then. She felt uneasy, nevertheless. Somehow the balance felt all wrong now: the earth was being consumed and yet still they wanted more and more and more and more and the spirits of many animals had given up and left with many more preparing to do so. It could be a cold and lonely planet in not too many years if people did not soon come to their senses. ‘Perhaps,’ she thought, ‘witches should intervene a little more.’ Tricky business that though, as Demdike knew to her cost.

The others had crossed Whin Fell already and were turning now towards Clougha Pike and the lights of Lancaster beyond. Demdike roused herself, flicking her fingers to send her negative thoughts and feelings back into the darkness where they were always available. After all, if a witch cannot have a little fun on All Hallows, then when can she?

By the time she caught up, Alizon was demonstrating the Cirrus 2006’s turbo boost and stealth modes and enjoying the looks of disbelief and incredulity from old Chattox; even Tibbs was impressed which was a rare thing indeed.

They glided silently across Hala Beck and angled down onto the allotments looking for the familiar outline of Tom’s shed. It was quickly apparent to them that something was not quite right and they fell silent, allowing their senses to probe the air, the soil, and the echoes of recent activity (which remain present far longer than mortals ever suspect). Tibbs sensed a hedgehog in a dense part of the hedge behind the shed, drowsy and almost asleep, but aware, as animals always are, of the presence of immortals. Tibbs changed shape and nudged through the undergrowth stopping to make the formal greetings and ask the necessary permissions before proceeding into the hogs lair to ask for news.

Alizon felt no need to wait for Tibbs news. She felt sure she knew the story already from the feel of the soil and the stillness of the air above it, and she was sad. She dismounted and parked her broom against the greenhouse. Noticing a cracked pane, she placed her palm against it and spoke a few words and felt the glass meld and become whole again. A further incantation banished a years worth of grime and mould and the glass sparkled in the moonlight.

Demdike walked round the plot, noting here and there the tell-tale signs of neglect and sensing the lethagy of the plants that remained. She spoke the spells of release at each corner of the plot; north and south and east, from where new life begins, and west, to where it departs. She felt the ground stir and the air lift the instant the spell cycle was complete.

Tibbs emerged from the hedge boy-formed, pulling a large thorn from the black sleeve of his jerkin. He sensed at once that old Demdike and Alizon had done what was required to heal the plot and to make it vibrant once more. He felt sure the new owner would notice the change the next time he or she came to visit. There was, however, further business to attend to that would require powers beyond his but which, (if the hog had told him correctly), old Demdike and old Chattox could perform easily if they so chose. Tibbs called them together behind old Tom’s shed, and this is what he said.

‘All things have their place and their rightness; the rat, the crow, the fox and the magpie. Even the unseemly things of this earth that are untouched and feared; the hairy spider, the snake that slithers and the maggots that eat of dead flesh.’ He paused while they nodded agreement. ‘Except for the slug,’ Tibbs coughed, ‘which is a right royal pain in the butt!’ The witches nodded harder. ‘Be that as it may,’ he continued, ‘there is great fear hereabouts. In the low reaches of the plot and the dead of night there be mortals who do sit with guns shooting all comers for sport and for fun. Rats crawl, mortally wounded, to die in the Beck. Crows fall dead from the sky and rot where they fall. The birds have ceased to sing in the day now and offtimes, the plot holders look skyward and wonder why.’ As Tibbs finished speaking there came the clear sound of a gun; distinct it was, from the intermittent sound of pre Guy Fawkes night fire-crackers being let off.

Old Chattox spat a curse and rose swiftly into the air. She circled above the sound of gunfire and from her broom there descended a thick mist which shrouded the area. To mortal eyes, it would appear strange enough, and from above, stranger indeed: a pure circle of cloud-formed opaqueness glittering with eerie moonlight, beautiful yet sinister.

Demdike toured the nearby greenhouses tapping each one with her wand. From each, the glass seemed to flow like a silven waterfall and to mould itself; now into a fox, now a rat, here and there a crow or a magpie, all with eyes blacker than death itself, and with teeth, claws or talons gleaming with a lethal sharpness.

The thick circle of cloud grew tighter and tighter around the hapless shooters as they re-loaded their weapons. ‘Tha’s a bit rum,’ said one, looking around uneasily at the encircling mist. They all stood now, dropping their weapons and staring around the circle looking in vain for a gap or a way out. The air within the circle became icy cold and the men, in panic now, started to make a run for it. As they did so, there emerged from the mist, thirteen forms of pure malevolence: dripping blood from talon or claw and staring with cold, dead eyes as the three, now petrified mortals, shrank back to the centre of the circle whimpering with fear. Then emerged from the mist a little boy, of angelic countenance, followed by three dark figures shrouded in black hooded cloaks who seemed to glide across the earth behind him. The men slumped back down onto the crates they had been sitting on and searched the boys face for some glimmer of hope. Tibbs approached to within a few feet of the men and stopped. Slowly, very slowly, he raised his glittering red eyes to them.

‘Trick, or treat,’ he said.

It is said that the men were discovered three days later, dishevelled, speechless and utterly exhausted and completely unable to find their way out of the allotments. When someone rang old Tom about it, he burst out laughing and said ‘Tha’s easy enough. Tell each one to take off an item of clothing, turn it inside out, and put it back on and then they’ll find the way out.’ His laughter brought on another bout of coughing and when it had subsided he said as an afterthought ‘Oh, by the way, tell them tomorrow….no rush.’

‘Eejits,’ said Alizon, picking up one of Tom’s choicest pumpkins.

‘Aye,’ said Demdike, ‘eejits right enough.’

‘Them leeks look good,’ said old Chattox pointing, ‘there, next to that shed with the bit of stained glass in the door. Oooh look! They’ve got some mangel wurzels too….haven’t had one of those in a good many year.’

‘Go on then,’ said Demdike, ‘but mind your manners…..not too many now.’

On the flight back to Malkin Tower, old Demdike pulled close to Alizon again and whispered. ‘How much were them tights again….the purple ones?’

Days later, when Tom felt strong enough, he was taken down to the plot for a last look. The birds were singing like crazy and his plants seemed to be dancing on their beds. He noticed there was a pumpkin missing and smiled.

T' end

Clods Caution: As Alizon mentions in the first part of this tale, prior to their executions, the Pendle Witches placed a curse on the City of Lancaster. It states that whoever shall come to live in the City shall never be able to leave it. Uncannily, the curse seems to work very well. Many have tried, but very few have succeeded.

06 November 2006

For Fawkes Sake!

Sunday pm. Went up to Miss Whalley's field at noon with Ben to help build the bonfire. carried dozens of pallets up the hill and stacked them till we had a bonfire 30 foot high! Others built a viking ship replete with portholes and sail and all outlined in fire rope or whatever the stuff is. neither the council nor the vampire developers can do anything with this piece of land because Miss Whalley donated it to the children of lancaster in her will for ever and ever and ever amen so the vampires can just fuck off. There are some developers who want to ruin the canal corridor (which is council ownded land) and stick up a fucking multistorey car park and a shopping development with a bunch of shops that we neither want nor need and ruining what could be a magical open space with all sorts of goodness done to make it even better council willing which they're not. I hate them and all their ilk.
Sunday 7.30. The fire is lit and flames shoot into the sky and you can feel the heat and we are standing a good 50 yards away.

Kamal (from Turkey) is wearing a silly hat...we all are and we have eaten the parkin which was parkin good. I ponder as I gaze the mountainous flame the source of writers block which in my case turns out to be a catholic eejit of an English teacher and i can't even remember his name or how old I was but not very. anyway, the assignment was a composition and I wrote one about the aberfan disaster in wales when a school was buried by a mountain of mine tailings. many children and teachers were killed and the news affected me badly not because I had any particular connection with those children, teachers or that area but for some reason it just did and I decided to write about it. hands it in and said eejit calls me out in front of the whole class...
Teach: Who wrote this?
Clod: I wrote it.
Teach: Don't believe you. Where did you copy it from?
Clod: Nowhere, I wrote it.
Teach: Did you get it from a newspaper report?
Clod: No.
Teach: Who helped you then?
Clod: No one, I wrote it myself
Teach: You must've had help
Clod: No.
Teach: You must've. Who was it?
Clod: I didn't, no one, I......
....and so on for ten minutes or so till it got so upsetting and humiliating that I could've hit the twat or shouted out....oh all right then fucking aldous fucking huxley wrote the damn thing and are you happy now? but i didn't of course and it may be possible to discern that i am still somewhat angry about it. i wish the eejit would read this and then explode. anyway i was gazing at the huge flame and wondered why I still found it difficult to sit down and write the end of my story and i decided that was the reason and let's face it it's always easier to blame someone else isn't it? Jesus, why am I so angry today? Is it coz I got told off for leaving the marmite and the marmalade jars out on the kitchen table? could be....who knows?