Welcome to Down The Lane

15th - 29th. March 2008

Queue Cricket, queue a complete change in the weather for the worse!

Most of the Kent Team arrived for pre-season training on Monday and low and behold, in 5 days this week, they've spent only 4 hours or so outdoors.

It's always good to see them back. I hear the stories of Australia, India, South Africa, Sri-Lanka, West Indies, New Zealand etc. I always mention my day out to Gravesend, but they're not that interested to be honest.

From Monday onwards I think I'm at Canterbury every day until 22nd. April. Some of these days won't be long ones, so hopefully my beautifully designed muscular body will not be affected too much.
A welcome chance though to start the better weather month's with a bit of money in the Bank. A very welcome return to Cricket!

Once the Cricket Season settles down a bit and I have some time, I may take in a few more Chickens. Not having any new ones for two years means they're getting on a bit now and I've lost 4 to old age in the last few months.
There is one benefit of having fewer - less cleaning!
I have space for probably 30-40 Hens, but this is a lot of work. Selling the eggs is easy, I could sell two dozen a day, but it's not about profit, it's about giving the Chickens a decent home with enough attention to their welfare.

I'm undergoing some major projects in the garden at present. The Summerhouse (see Blog article - link on right), bar the varnishing and very fine attention to detail, is nearly complete.
After that is done, using a Birthday Gift, I am purchasing a Shed in which I can simply have a seat, work top, light and a plug inside. This will be my new 'Down the Lane HQ'. I find it difficult working inside the house sometimes. I can never get on the main PC, plus it's cold and using the Laptop in the Kitchen brings about countless interruptions (whinging cats and TV noise background).
So by having my little outside hideaway, situated within range of my Wireless Router and a Shed Heater (same electricity as a Light Bulb), I shall be State of the Art.
I also have some extreme quality carpet which I found outside a shop doorway to put in. Only problem is where to sit my Receptionist.

I have to admit that with the exception of Tomatoes, I've done nothing in the Garden. Either the weather has been too bad or I've been at work, but with the longer evenings and hopefully my plans for Container Growing only, it won't take too long to get back on track.

Semi advertising I know, but I've just set up an Affiliate Programme with Moneysupermarket.Com. This is a huge 'price comparison' website and you can get the best prices on almost anything. For instance, in the Home Utilities Category, you can type in your postcode, put your existing energy costs in, click and it will give you comparative prices to all Suppliers. The same applies to Broadband and loads of other things. So although a plug, it is for the frugally minded - and I'm changing my Supplier because of it!! - Click Logo....

Another plug is for John Harrison. John, who runs his popular Allotment Website and also helps me greatly on Web Hosting and Tech stuff, has just published a Book, 'Vegetable Growing Month by Month'. At only £5.99 it's a great buy. I've found the big glossy photograph gardening books very nice on the Book Shelf, but often a minefield to find anything.
John's book does away with all that - basic facts, how to's with more than adequate illustrations.
It's available from Amazon. Click here to view .

So, for me, this is where the year starts proper. My life is very much centred around outdoor life and the Winters are becoming increasingly long and hard to get through in one piece.
By having my new 'HQ' and a lot of work this Summer, my one year plan is not to work (as in going out to work) next Winter.
I have a few more Internet plans and hope to have these up and running by the end of September.
It won't make me a millionaire but at least I can stay down the Lane more often.

Once again, I'm very pleased to report the Forum is growing daily. More new members have joined in March than any previous month and the discussions are getting very diverse. There's not a lot of subjects uncovered there!

Well, the Sun is out and here am I typing in the Kitchen. Must get outside and grow my winter vegetables, I'll need them!

1st - 14th. March 2008

Last Saturday I celebrated my 60th birthday, an amazing feat in physical dimension.
My daughter Vicky and son-in-law Cyril kindly gave me a Party at their house in Southampton. A fine array of cuisine and a few surprise guests as well.
Beside family, Chris, my longest friend (48 years approx) came from Brighton, long time Down the Lane visitor John Vears arrived from Surrey (73 years old, still running Marathon's and showing everyone half his age up) and my brother-in-laws Mum at 89 (hope that's right) came down from North London.
Two 'old flames' came who hadn't seen me since the late 60's. Until I was informed it was a wind up, I politely 'thought I remembered them'. I tell you, if half the things they said about me were true - blimey, I'd have some memories!!

Presents included - Walking Stick, Tartan design Shopping Trolley, Petroleum Jelly, Cotton Buds, Can Opener, Toothbrush, Tooth Floss, Johnsons Baby Powder, Long Shoe Horns plus a really good digital camera, an organic gardening book, PC World Voucher and a Pregnancy Test Kit !!

Kent Cricket Club gave me a wonderful card and I must find something to buy from a collection they generously made for me. I'm looking at something by my favourite Artist, Graham Clarke who lives fairly close by.

So, a good time and now the challenge of the 60's !! Some more thoughts can be found in this blog article, 'Stereotyping 60'
I have now completed my winter work in Catering and the Academy at the Club and next Monday start in the Players Dressing Room which will take me through to late September (hopefully!!).
I must say I'm totally looking forward to it. I feel comfortable working there, I'm surrounded by 'Team', youth, great Staff and a competetive spirit which I enjoy.
After 6 years I still get a buzz when I drive through the Cricket Ground gates and may that stay.

Working as much as I do does have that downshifting dilemna feel about it. Downshifting is sometimes seen as slowing down or simply finding a simpler life.
My relation to it that downshifting is earning less to achieve a lifestyle you enjoy.
Although I'm earning less than half I was 10 years ago, I do actually work a lot less hours, but most importantly, I enjoy life more.

certainly work wise I can't say I have ever enjoyed a job and place of work as much as I do now - sobeit!

I now have a couple of days to get the garden more prepared for sowing etc., further tidy up the Chicken area and fetch my last wood load of the winter.
The recent winds have given my Greenhouse a new dimension in ventilation technique - that's to say there's only about 75% of the glass left.
I can't afford glass, so will make do with bits of Plywood and plastic sheeting. It doesn't matter what it looks like - the results are in the taste of the food which comes from it!
However, the winds have felled a few good trees down the lane, so not much work needed in the collection of that.

With my dear friend the Chancellor upping the Winter Fuel Allowance to £250 (he heard it was my birthday), next Winter should be profitable!The only problem I see is that should I find some decent bits of wood in Skips down town, will the Bus Driver allow me to take them on the Bus with my free Bus Pass!!

In the Forum, we are lucky to have a new Member, 'Gixer', who lives on the Falkland Islands.
Life down there, wind excepted, looks ideal and a heaven for Smallholders and Garden Farmers.
Gixer has posted quite a few photo's of the area in which she lives, also some good general information about living there.
Have a read of 'Life in the Falklands' and 'Introducing my Chooks' threads - absolutely fascinating stuff!
It's so pleasing to see the Forum taking off how it has and this is solely down to the diversity of Members and the Moderators we have.
All I do is the coding - the rest is down to all. If you're not a Member, upon joining you have access to more Categories.

So it's off to pre-season training for me. Personally I wait until the season starts before I train and this consists of running round the Stands at close of play seeing if anyone's dropped a few 5p pieces!
I'm afraid that Kent Members seem to get attached to their change though!

PS. Also a Walking Stick and an engraved Glass for my Teeth!

Going back to look at the future

Full Website