12th - 24th December 2005

Well, suddenly the chickens have got a grip of themselves and started to lay. Not many, 14 eggs in the last 7 days, but enough for the return of thick yellow gold eggs worth every minute of the wait.
I reckon they knew it was Christmas and knowing I don't like Turkey all that much got themselves together for an urgent site meeting.
Someone said they thought it was the rats taking them, but I found an egg which I wasn't sure of the age and placed it by the compost heap bwsides a rat run and it was still there after 3 days.
Thereagain, if I was a rat and had ample mixed corn and pellets, would I have the bother of a long roll back for breakfast ?

The carrots in the greenhouse are now being consumed, by us that is. I'm lifting them whilst they're still quite small as I don't wish the frost to penetrate the glass too much and find I can't have any of them. The same applies to the beetroot - these are being roasted for meals and the leaves eaten as salad, all healthy stuff.
My late sowing of brussel sprouts is now showing the results. Normally we would be eating them by now, but they are somewhat leafy and not very tall. As an experiment, on 2 of the plants I've stripped all the side shoots off up to the top simply to get maximum water through to the sprouts themselves.

The weather has been so mild and dry for the last few days I've even been able to cut the grass. At the house opposite this was a good opportunity to clear the remainder of Chestnut Tree leaves. A good size on the back soon clears up. Their compost heap is a bit too leafy now, so I've transported a load of chicken dropping and earth from my place to give it, as the TV Chefs say "A bit of texture".

It was really nice being outdoors so much this week. I've pottered around the garden here, cycled down town a few times and got on with things I was getting behind on. At present it's 10.45 on Christmas Eve morning and the thermometer outside shows 10 degrees (centigrade).

This is all well and good, but we haven't had the Sitting Room fire on for three days because of the weather. The heat from the Kitchen Rayburn has amply spread heat through.
The problem is that tonight I must light my Yule Log which I dowsed out on Winter Solistice. It's not that big, but it's really concentrated and I'm sure will simmer away for at least 4 / 5 hours.
We'll just have to have the hallway door open and let the heat out. The cats won't mind, they're as good as sitting in the fire itself when it's alight, disturbed only by the fact that they suddenly realise they are being slowly singed !

Tomorrow morning I head off to Southampton to have Christmas and Boxing Day with the Grandkids, Leo and Vicky etc. I could go down tonight, but I've been working everyday this week on various projects, so have promised myself a day off today. The quietness of this evening will not last for long and I'll probably come back a nervous wreck. I have succeeded in being a miserable old git lately !!

The old health has been playing up for a while now. So much so that I actually visited the Doctor for the first time in 18 months. I've had 4 tests done (didn't have the guts to ask what they're for !!) and was supposed to get the results yesterday, but two are taking longer than expected, so I must hang on to next week to ensure that most of my body is doing what the brain is telling it to.

This year has had it's fair share of ups and downs. A bit like a book; it had a beginning, a middle bit to keep you interested and an ending. Most of the downs have been with family health, but these seem to be controlled or cured now.
Financially, up til a few weeks ago, it hasn't been that bad, but (and I could kick myself) the usual winter survival is now under way. I need a bit more cash for the bit more bills etc.
In some ways I have things round the wrong way. I have a summer job, which I love and wouldn't change for anything, when there's much work to do outdoors and I don't get to eat half the produce because I'm always out ! and there's winter where I'm struggling - but I have a cunning plan for next year which I'm spending quite a lot of time on now.

One things still for certain though - I'd never ever go back ! Have a great Christmas and thanks so much for all your support this year.

26th November - 12th December 2005

The greenhouse I was building over the road is now complete and with the finely crafted hand made staging, it looks quite impressive though I say so myself. I have a feeling the owner will see it and want staging on the other side as well, so lots to look forward to !
I'm amazed at the progress of the carrots and beetroot in the greenhouse. I literally chucked in a few seeds early autumn just to see and we've had some enjoyable baby beetroot and young carrots on the supper plate already.
In fact, the garden looks in pretty good shape, the grass hasn't grown too much and the weeds appear to be keeping at bay as well.
I've noticed the leaves on the trees have stayed on much longer this year. In fact, I had a lovely walk around the Royal Victoria Park at Netley on Sunday and you'd have thought it was early November still.
I'm not sure whether this is good news or not. Forecasters forecast warming, yet in the same breath say we're going into a mini ice age.
Whichever it is, it would appear it is our own misdoing that's causing it. To think the car has only been around for a hundred years - what's it's going to be like in another hundred ?
I just hope we haven't left our grandchildren and their's a legacy of environmental armageddon.

Five weeks and still no eggs. The chickens really are on strike. They don't seem to realise that they are now Down the Lanes largest financial overhead !
I didn't think I'd see the day where I'd be purchasing eggs from a supermarket.
What I want to know is how do they train those chickens to lay eggs with little lions on them. Maybe I could get mine to put a symbol on; perhaps a cat, an owl or maybe a cricket bat !
They seem happy enough all standing against the gate from about 8.15am onwards. As soon as I shut the back door I can hear the flapping of wings from the 3 or 4 who have ventured further up the pen. This is followed by a couple of rats racing out the roofed feeding area at 60mph only to hide under the log and creep out once my back is turned.

Rats are certainly a nuisance, but as long as you don't allow the numbers to get out of control, they do seem to live with the chickens in a strange kind of harmony.
Perhaps that sounds negative, but I suppose there's a place for everything and one thing's for certain, you'll never get completely rid of them.

Ginger and mimi the cats are in full winter mode now - that means they spend about 22 hours a day sleeping, one hour begging for food and the other one just being a general nuisance !
I came down the other morning to find them both sitting on the sideboard staring up the curtain. Upon investigation I found a little mouse had escaped to about 7 feet up.
I tried to get it off but it fell on the floor. Mimi took it into the kitchen, dropped it and the thing got wedged between the Rayburn and wall. I got an empty box and a BBQ stick and manged to flick it out into the box.
As it scored very highly in the 'nine lives test', I took it up the garden and let it loose !
The cats then spent the next 3 hours or so searching round the Rayburn and kitchen for it. Eventually they gave up and went back to sleep. What a life !

This week I have two Cricket Club Christmas events; the Club Evening Meal and the following day, the Club Stewards Lunch. So, withing the space of 18 hours I shall be having two full scale meals. I can eat for England and I know I shall weigh the same afterwards. I haven't gained any weight atall since I was 18 !
To some this may sound good, but for me this means avoiding spilling beer on big blokes feet in pubs ! In fact, if you take into account the way the teeth are dropping out at present, I must have lost a few more ounces !

This year my son Leo and myself will be spending Christmas at my daughter Vickies house in Southampton. I know we will have a lovely time, but I see poor old "Pop, where have your teeth gone" grandkids will give me a run for their money on the human wattage stakes !

I wont be back til the 28th, so I'll make a small entry on Christmas Eve, but more the norm onthe 31st; A wonderful look back at what has certainly been a year of ups and downs in all departments.

31st October - 13th November 2005

This week I've actually been able to get down to some serious work over the road and even dog sat for two days.
The up side of this was that I was able to come back from the 4 walks a day with more wood to add to my ever growing stash. The down side is that he's a White Alsation and just a tad fitter than me, looking somwhat depressed after the 'only 2 mile' walk and sharing the lead for the last 200 yards with 6 feet lengths of branch.
I attempted telling him it was better than a kennels, but that one just washed off.

I also paid a visit to Canterbury to be informed (after I begged on one knee saying I think he's the best boss I've ever known) there may be some work for me shortly on the web site and something else early next year before pre-season training starts.
It could well be that the cricket season for me will start early again. If it's like this year when I worked virtually solidly from February - April, it'll be a God send and kick start 2006 rather nicely.

We also received the fixture list for next year which includes England 'A' vs Pakistan in June - busy times, great. Plus Elton John plays the cricket ground in June as well.
The Cricket Club have been really good to me for nearly 4 years. It's a super place to be with lots of fabulous people around you.

At home, the chickens haven't laid an egg in a fortnight. I've done some re-planning in the pen, so I guess this may have put them partly off lay. A couple are moulting their feathers everywhere and these points, with the recent strange weather seems to be the favourite reason.
Also, I think I've said before, if you keep ex-battery hens, it's often a good idea to keep a couple of 'regular' hens as well. These will lay most of the year round and - maybe - put the others more in the mood.
However, the same thing happened last year, so it's a waiting game.

I've been cycling quite a bit recently, mainly to save money (see the new'Oddballs Cycling Page) but also to try and keep a bit fitter this winter than I was last. It seemed I was forever catching colds, especially after visiting the Grandchildren !
Well, in preparation for my visit to Southampton 2 weeks ago, I started a course of Echinacea about 4 weeks ago and haven't caught the cold they had !
I'd been taking them on and off since August and they certainly seem to work. Before I was just one continuous sneeze.

The cycling is good and strangely I find it easier during the winter. Cycling in the summer just makes me too hot and the legs are about 50 yards behind me down the road. Going down town is up and down, so it's the same coming back - you get the hardest bit over first, then freewheel most of the way.

The garden is in fear of thinking it's Spring. The Acer plant in the front garden was turning quite brown a few weeks back, but is now a wonderful deep red.
Ten of the 18 Broad Bean plants I sowed three weeks ago have already come up and I'm hoping

17th - 31st October 2005

A couple of days early as I'm off to Southampton tomorrow for a few days rest. I doubt if the grandkids will see it that way though !

Today, I spent 6 hours building an extension to the chicken house, under cover and with a 'fast food' capability.
I've been getting around to doing this for quite some weeks. The chicken house has been very 'bitty' and hard to clean, especially now after a few days of heavy rain. It needed to be a bit more organised.
I was deeply proud of my architectural masterpiece and duly took the camera out to record the first feed.
You can see the logs and bits around the bottom to stop the foxes. On the top, I just chuck all the spare bits of chicken wire just to put him off more.
Then I came indoors and got 3 photographs emailed from Wendy, one of the Down the Lane forumers. Wendy had sent me some photo's of her chicken house build a few days ago. Today I get the full works, what a splendid place for her chooks, quite posh and shows up my old chucked together Heath Robinson.
It's a fine example of a simple build which looks great. Click here to have a peep.
Mind you, I reckon that someone brought some colourful branches and arranged them accordingly !!! (only joking).

The chickens aren't laying atall well at the moment. I do wonder if it's the shorter days and the ex-battery hens are simply brainwashed with their 16 hour artificial sunlight days.
I think also, it's a good idea to have some 'pedigree' chickens in amongst them which are good layers, this will motivate the others a bit more.

I got three days work altogether as a 'background artist' for the BBC comedy. I was 'bloke in social club', 'bloke in social club with woman', 'bloke in social club with another woman' and 'bloke in social club with two blokes'. Quite diverse roles I thought.
On the second day, World Darts Champion Alan Fordham was in it. Nice chap.

Again, it seems I haven't had a moments rest in the last two weeks. I've got a lot done with the decorating over the lane and I'm quite pleased with it.
I'm still adding pages to this site. I have brought a domain name and am busy writing up articles for it. David Ekins of acountrylife.com is kindly setting up the design and templates for me and we're hoping to get it on the road before the end of November.
What is it ? Ah, a big secret, but all will be revealed shortly !

In the garden I am pleasantly surprised with the cabbages. They were quite badly got at during September, but we've eaten two out of 8 and after taking the top few leaves off, they are perfect and taste good as well.
I'm glad to report I had the first Squash Soup this week. It's funny, because I'd never had any before 3 years ago and now I can't get enough of it down me !
The beetroots in the greenhouse aren't rooting into anything, so we're eating the leaves as Salad. The carrots are coming along though and should be ready to eat in about 3 weeks I reckon.

Overall I'm pretty pleased with the 'garden farm' now, the veggie garden is dug and looking good and the chickens are finally a lot more organised. There's enough wood in the shed to last til January, plus it's even quite tidy in there. It's been a hard slog though.

I haven't had the heating on for 2 weeks, it's been rather mild, even the nights. On Thursday the temperature outside the back was 21 degrees, a record for 27th. October apparently. Typically it was the day I was doing indoor work. On friday it chucked it down !!

19th September - 3rd October 2005

Autumn has been suddenly bestowed upon us down the lane and much has happened in the last two weeks.

The Rayburn fuel arrived on the same day as the Chimney Sweep came and the next day I was down in the woods gathering wood.
I find this very theraputic. Being such a stress free task, it gives you time to think and reflect, something I'm not always good at. As you're doing this, you're seeing 'x' amount of days heat filling up your bag and back to the house you walk quite full of yourself and enjoying the freebies that nature gives away so readily. Also of course there's the savings made as the photos left show.
But it isn't the money, it's the total self satisfaction and being at one with the nature which is tops

Before the Chimney Sweep arrived I got through a large pot of Fire Cement repairing the back of the Rayburn ! It's quite an old thing to say the least but serves its purpose well and I wouldn't change it for the world. The kind of musty smell of the Fuel mixed in with the branch wood is pleasure !

Leo and myself have paid our yearly visit to the dis-used orchard up the lane. Sadly, the wind has has destroyed most trees, but two remain and this was worth 4 Sainsburys bags of apples now dutifully stored in the shed. Just for interest, one double page spread of The Daily Telegraph does 4 apples!

Last Saturday saw the big bi-annual event of 'shed clearance'. The autumn clear up is always worse than Spring. Because of work in the summer, I tend to struggle for time to control those 'chuck it in the shed' moods and boy was there a build up.
I now have the back seats down in my car and floor to ceiling of what can be best described as 'Tat' ! I now await the welcoming calls of "No not that bin mate, the blue one" from the chaps who work there. I shall not say where, but I remember once being at a Supermarket where they had the re-cycling bins; one for bottles, one for plastic etc.,etc. By chance, the Waste Lorry came and dutifully emptied them all into the one cart. I trust this method is now frowned upon !

I also managed to get to the Poultry Auction (I didn't buy anything), watched Kent play Sussex down at Hove for a day, had two cracking bonfires and attended the Staff end of season Buffet at the Cricket Club.

There has been much media interest of late relating to back garden chicken keeping and this has increased the number of visitors to the site considerably. I'm glad they're getting the publicity they deserve and it certainly shows the tendancy toward 'home grown' food and a more fulfilling lifestyle. It's like technology has supplied us with so much, but has left a gap - the gap of self reliance. Take away the TV, DVD, Playstation, PC and mobile phone and what have we got ? Not a lot sometimes.

On the web site front, I have added a few more pages. Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting John Marshall who's in Ashford visiting family. He comes from The Isle of Lewis and really has a story. With his permission, I am writing an article and it should be complete sometime this week. You'll find it in the 'downshifting' section by about Wednesday. Do have a read. Now uploaded - click here

I've also added a new page 'Your Page' (my word, I'm original ) . If you would like to partake in this, please email me through the link supplied and I'll do the rest. You can add your web site if you wish (but I'd appreciate it not being used  for 'commercial' advertising). So if you're a downshifter, chicken keeper, dowser or just enjoy the simpler life, please give it a go. You can see the page by clicking here. Once I have a couple, it'll 'go public' with links from other pages.

1st - 19th September 2005

Since the 29th. September I've achieved one day at home, so much has been neglected and now, with more time, a great catch up project is to take place.
I haven't been out the whole time, but with the evenings drawing in, it hasn't allowed much time for various jobs around the home and garden.

Kent alas have not reached the dream of the Cricket County Championship and look like being either second or third.
Coming back from the Lakes last Sunday, then the experience, tensions and hard work of a Championship decider certainly knocked me out ! On friday I didn't come home atall and after the celebrations of the Nottinghamshire Team in the Dressing Room (I won't go into details !!!), didn't get home til midnight on Saturday. A one day match on Sunday and now the big end of season clear up.
This will take about 4 days over the next two weeks - then......? !!

I have had an offer of a 'Christmas' job in a Shop starting mid November which would help, but at present have quite a lot of catch up work to do over the Lane in the big house, plus a few other bits and bobs. I have also been asked once again to do a few things for the Kent CCC web site through winter. Add this to sorting the garden out for winter and some major changes to the web site, I'm never short of something going on.
I thought downshifting meant you'd have more time !!!!! Don't believe it.

I'm really pleased with the late summer produce. The tomatoes, late in ripening, have now all come on famously. We've paid for the vinegar and other bits to make the chutneys and relishes by selling the surplas and had some to spare. I reckon that the £3 we paid for the seeds will generate a  profit of around £60 or so. Some of this though is used to barter back other items grown and made by other people.
The Squash plants are developing well and now drying out in the garden. Soon we will roast them, make soup and freeze for the winter. One of my pure pleasures is Squash Soup !

Today I dug up some wild horseradish from around and about and will make some sauce over the next few days (see here).
Leo and me will go searching the disused Orchard this weekend for apples and they'll be next in line for the freezer in puree and other forms.
After that it's the  Quinces - and they are looking good. The problem is that there aren't many of them. We make about 6 bottles of jam and I eat it in about the same amount of weeks !

Next week the chimney sweep comes, I repair / service the Rayburn and start adding to the wood pile. Beware the Skips of Ashford, no wood is safe !

Leo and myself enjoyed a good 7 day break in the Lakes where we achieved the mountain walks we set out to do.
I have to admit that after all the work and being at the end of the cricket season, I did find myself tiring somwhat earlier than last year. I've also have a virus which I haven't been able to shake off completely and this added to it.
Saying that, I felt so much better for sleeping out in the clear fresh air and slept better than I have done for a long while.
Although not our 'cup of tea', we did make an effort to see the Visitors Centre at Sellafield. It was a tad more interesting than I expected and it is honest enough to show all the dangers and the implications of storage of old nuclear flasks etc.
I also noticed there is much wind power also used in the North West, so they do seem to be going along side by side. But I think a major fault on a windmill is a little less worrying than one on a Nuclear Plant !

So, in many ways it's my favourite time of the year, but is counterset by the fact I shall deeply miss all my colleagues, players and friends at cricket. I say it every year and I'm getting better at it - you mustn't wish any second of your life away. Next season will come when it comes and I really do believe that my life and health is somehow or other looked after by that.

22nd August - 1st September 2005

There are signs in the garden that summer is now struggling and is awaiting the autumn. The courgettes are almost no more (the freezer can breathe a sigh of relief !), the tomatoes are ripening at a nice pace, the cabbages are finally taking shape and the lettuce is starting to bolt !

The wasps nest I thought I'd got rid of re-apeared and it took the best part of an hour attacking them with just about everything known to mankind. I'm not conclusive, but I think they're gone !

On the chicken front, I regret to say that one of the new hens suddenly died a few days ago. Once again there was no reason; all seemed well, but suddenly you find one that hasn't made it.
It's always upsetting when this happens, but you just have to take the fact that not all will take to the open air, natural light and elements.
The laying situation seems to be improving though.
One thing I have noticed this year is that we haven't been so burdened with mites, although this is probably giving it the kiss of death !
Previous years have been really bad, not only for the chickens but for yourself when you're sitting down in the evening and feel a little tickle moving up your arm, in your hair or anywhere else come to that.
I still combat the latter by filing up the bath, cleaning the chicken shed, stripping my clothes off outside the back door and jumping in, hoping the neighbours aren't walking past at the time !

Speaking of our new neighbours, they are a lovely couple. Darren runs an aromatherapy business close by and Christa's a social worker.
You can visit Darrens web site here.
They are ardent supporters of good food and next year hope to conquer up a vegetable garden next to the chicken run at the back. There's also an eco house planned at some stage, so this will be very interesting to follow.

I've been reading'The Woodland House' by Ben Law. You may have seen the Channel 4 productions of 'Grand Designs'. The house was featured in the series.
It certainly gives you food for thought, but brings about quite a few problems with planning permission and of course, the time to do it all in.
For now, I must stick to the occasional camping holiday and bivvy up the end of the garden !

I hope to start going to the Kent Dowsers Group again. It's a while since I've been and feel I could use it more than I do. I've reasonably well swotted up on it, but need to share a few projects and views to re-kindle the uses it has.
I'm working on a page for Geopathic Stress. I used this to sort out a few problems, especially with my old neighbour who was having sleep and health problems. It's certainly something I can get going again on during the coming winter.

Autumn and winter are nearly upon us and I'm now quite busy getting things prepared. As soon as I get back from my holiday and the final cricket match is over, I shall be back to wood hunting, chimney sweeping and garden digging.
I'm hoping to extend the vegetable garden for next year and maybe do a larger crop of something which I can sell. Don't know what yet, will have to read up and see what's what.

The holiday and the final cricket matches take me up to September 25th. I must also look for a part time job this winter. The last one was quite a difficult one (under-statement) and it was by luck and and a kind offer that I started at Canterbury in late January. I can't see that happening this year, so will look around the shops down town for 20 hours or so.
I have work to do in the old house opposite, but you can't rely on that being regular and a 'base income' would at least give me something to work around.

Life has a habit of throwing surprises and after last winter, I'm ready/ Whether or not my Bank Manager is, is another matter !!

In the meantime I will enjoy the moment. A hopefully nice break and a hopefully happy end to the Kent cricket season.

9th - 22nd August 2005

So here we are again, two weeks on and one tooth out ! I'm afraid there was no saving it. I went to Southampton to visit family and daughter Vicky could not stand the sight any longer and off I went to her Dentist. Being a front one it was long. Even grandson Thomas didn't want it under the pillow for the Tooth Fairy - so he lost a couple of quid out of it !
I now await an appointment down this way - but looks like 'partials' are in sight. I certainly can't afford to spend the same on one implant as my heating costs for about three years !

My battle with the slugs has been quite successful, the sprouts and cabbages are once again taking shape.
Meanwhile, if you don't like courgettes, don't come round here ! Loads of them and still coming at us. It really is a case of "What we got with the courgettes today ?".
I have made a blunder with the tomatoes. I learnt that bananas help ripen other fruits in close proximity. I was told that a banana in a draw of un-ripened would get them going.
Well, Chef at work was chucking away about 60. I thought that, in proportionate terms, it would be worth just putting the whole lot in the greenhouse.
Being a prat, I forgot about fruit flies and the next day came out covered in them. They were everywhere. So out came the bananas and are now gently simmering in the compost heap. Luckily no harm came to the tomatoes.

We've just agreed another twelve months down the lane with our Landlord, so I can now start planning for next year.
Maybe seems a long way ahead but for instance, at Cricket the Groundsmen have already prepared the practice wickets for next March with rake and seed etc.

The constant challenge of the garden is quite fascinating. You 'cure' one thing and something else starts. The farmer has just harvested the fields around us and this has meant an influx of rats.
About one fifth of the egg collecting times is met with me putting my hand in to retrieve the eggs with a rat jumping over my hand and racing out the shed. It puts the fear of the Good Lord in you ! I semi expect to get bitten one day.
Only yesterday I strimmed the borders by the courgettes and quite efficiently opened up a wasps nest. I wondered why I'd got stung a couple of days ago !

Also yesterday, we put a few courgettes and runner beans outside. We may have only got £1 at the end of the day, but that pays for the seeds and the freezer is full.
The chickens still aren't laying very well but I'm pretty convinced the rats are beating me to the eggs (they roll them). However, the new 'ex-batts' are showing a few signs of getting their feathers back, so that's the main thing.

Kent CCC continue the continuous push to win the Championship for the first time in 30 years. We have four matches remaining to stamp our mark. The weather is worrying though. It can be pouring hard in Canterbury when we've a chance of a win, but sunny in Nottinghamshire with the same result scenario.
We've just played the Bangladesh 'A' team (which is made up with 75% of their full team who were here in late Spring).
It tickled me on how they have learnt a few things through their long stay, most of them here for the first ever time.
In June it was "Good morning Richard". This time it was "Hello dickie mate". I love it !!

Son Leo and myself are getting excited about our camping holiday at Wasdale in Cumbria. It's a beautiful site right under The Great Gable and Scafel Pike - like heaven ! We went there last year, so know what we have and haven't done plus know where everything is etc., so it should be great.
Again, the weather is a little worrying in early September, but I'm tough enough to take the odd cramped toes from the cold in the middle of the night ! As long as the tent's dry and the pub nearby hasn't sold out of their finest ale, I'm OK anyway !
I've planned to spend £250 on petrol, campsite, food and a bit more - should be interesting. It's my big spend of the year, so I intend to make it all work.
One downer is that it's out of radio and mobile phone reception - and it's the Fourth Test that week. But if England are doing that well, we''ll hear the crowd in the distance !

25th July - 9th August 2005

I write this during a period of massive defence construction in the garden. Although I barricaded my young sprouts and cabbages with soot, the slugs are obviously either digging tunnels or pole vaulting over it.
I've now had to take more drastic action, surrounding them with wood shavings from chicken shed cleaning and some sand. Even that didn't stop the determined few, so slops from the Pavilion Bar at Canterbury Cricket ground have now been emptied into sunken jars.
Not only that, but catapillars have also appeared ! This hasn't been so much of a problem and I've sprayed the plants with some home made stinging nettle insecticide (see Frugal Gardening Page) and this seems to have put them off.

Although we've not had loads, the potato crop has produced some really tasty meals. They seem to be twice the density of supermarket spuds.
As per usual, all the summer crops are ready and I'm hardly here to eat them ! There is nothing more special than an omelette with veggies and salad 100% home produced. It gives you such satisfaction and also proves that you can be, if you really want to be, almost self sufficient food wise.

The 5 new ex-battery hens are going from strength to strength. Their feathers are a little slower to grow back than some I've known, but all appear healthy and they're thanking me with 3 eggs a day !
I still hear the occasional punch up where one obviously hasn't quite grasped their lineage in pecking order, but I'm very pleased.
They, plus another two which a friend gave me, are still sleeping in the new shed I built them, so there's no squabbling over bedroom seating either.

Cricket is getting somewhat tense. Kent are sitting at the top of the Championship table with two other teams chasing. Five more games to go.
We beat Glamorgan in only three days last week, so with no game the following day, it gave an opportunity for 'party time'. It was brilliant to be a part of it and the best atmosphere I've seen since I've worked there.
Last week I went to work on Thursday morning and came back Saturday afternoon. It was Festival Week and this always brings about a lot of extra work. By the time I'd finished at 11pm it was pointless coming home. I always have my camp bed and sleeping bag in the car, so it was no trouble. There again, I couldn't have driven home on Friday night !
Mind you, the Pavilion does make some strange noises during the night and you try hard not to think of all the past legendry cricketers who have played there and if they're just popping back in to check up on things !

I'm going to Southampton again tomorrow for 4 days. Kent are playing Hampshire at The Rose Bowl which is only 3 miles away from my daughter Vickies home, so I can visit the family and watch cricket at the same time. What a good life.

I'm busy doing triple somersaults into skips at the moment looking for firewood and anything else I can put in the shed and forget about for the next two years. Got a couple of nice big terracota pots the other day and also found some shelving which I can use.

My ailments of a broken finger and torn tendon this year has now been added to with a wobbly front tooth, but I'm not parting with any money for it to come out. Getting old !

A few more improvements (I hope) to the web site. I've paid a little extra to remove advertising etc. from the forum which makes it a little more friendly; also tidied up a few more pages as well.
When autumn arrives I hope to do more and open the site up for more contributions. I'm sure many people have a story or experience to tell.
Even so, if you would like to email me an article about anything related to the site subject matters, please do. You can send photos as well and I'll make the page up for you. I would show it to you before going public etc.

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