Wednesday, 5 December 2007

And again....

This wasn't in the brochure - sun sun and more sun they said !!!! It's been lashing down at times today. Cyprus is a funny place, they complain that they don't get enough rain then when it does all they have are storm drains to channel the water into the sea - none of the houses on base have gutters and drainpipes so water butts are out of the question - such a waste. Anyway at least my potatoes - which I hope to harvest for Christmas dinner have had a good water today.
My citrus tree with the teeny tiny fruit on has loads on it - they are quite tasty the only trouble is they have loads of pips - one I had the other day had 26 pips in it - now bearing in mind the fruit is the size of a penka (a big marble) 26 is a bit excessive.
I'm part way through my Advanced Open Water Diving course, you have to do 5 dives - Deep and navigation are compulsary and you choose 3 others. I've done a drysuit dive, in a suit borrowed from one of the soldiers - very strange being underwater and being dry, and the navigation dive today. Didn't enjoy the navigation one - the wind and rain had stirred the bottom up - so there was literally zero visibility - but managed just using a compass to dive a square starting and finishing in the same point, the same for a straight line and to navigate us back to the beach to get out. I do feel a sense of achievement though, the instructor reckoned if I can do it in that I can do it in anything. I was supposed to be doing the photography dive today - if I'd wanted pictures of sand close up it'd have been fine, but good for nothing else, that can wait for another day. We were supposed to finish tomorrow, but the wind has blown up more so it'll be Friday at the earliest before I get back in the water.
And I've found somebody to coach - woohooo - been coaching at soccer club (yes I know it's called football but I didn't name the club !!!) after school on a Tuesday and I think I'll be starting at the Youth Club come January, so hopefully I'll get the assessment done spring next year and be qualified.
No pics today cos I've not taken any !!

Sunday, 11 November 2007

It rained.........

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
On Friday night and then again last night, not heaps mind you, but enough to wet the soil and maybe mean I don't have to water the radishes, onions and garlic or a couple of days. Hopefully it'll continue through the night as the reservoirs are very very empty here. It's still strange for me to have plants starting off and growing away in November, I reckon I'll just about have the hang of by the time we leave.

Obviously it was Rememberance Sunday today, so it was up to Church in best dress uniform (minus the jacket which has been hanging up ready in Akrotiri for the last 3 months, well apart from the gold braid for the sleeves, which they've run out of). Anyway it was interesting to see the old guys of the Cyprus core who all joined up in 1943.

Diving is going well, I've got an underwater camera housing, so can take pics now - and as to prove it here's a couple. One of fish and the other the underneath of the pier here.

I'm starting some coaching at the school next week, hopefully that'll kick start me on to get the FA badge, we'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007


It's ages since I posted anything, no excuses really just haven't. Well what's happened since the end of August. Erm all of September and most of October !!!
Right - I passed my RHS exam with commendations (which means I scored more than 70%) so I'm dead pleased with that - now I need to start pushing on with the rest of the course. The dark nights are coming in, so I'll crack on over the winter. I just need to find a few gardens to practice on. My garden itself is coming back to life after the heat of the summer, I've got chilli's growing strongly still, french marigolds self seeding themselves, citrus' coming into bloom, fruit on the big tree are tiny, but starting to ripen, some potatoes I planted rather than chuck away are coming through and I've got loads of seedlings sown over the last couple of weeks coming through. I've planted out garlic and onions, peas will go in at the weekend.
I've not been diving for a few weeks now, but hope to at the weekend and have now got my own air cylinder (not oxygen tank !!) and a underwater camera and housing so should be able to post some pictures.
I've bought a bike and cycle to and from work nearly every day, organised weekly 5 a side at the garrison gym and am still playing tennis, my knees are shouting at me a bit, but well I'm managing to run about still, so am not ready for the knackers yard yet.
I'm sure there's been much more than that happen, but I've forgot - so this'll have to do you !!!

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Melted waterbutts and diving

No not diving in my water butt.....
I'm on the hunt for a new water butt that doesn't melt. The old one was a dustbin, you know the type, the ones that say no hot ashes. Well they should also say "don't leave out in the sun" on them as well. It melted - not completely but enough for the water to all leak out !!!! And they don't seem to do the type you lot have back home - oh well I'll keep looking.
Some of my diving gear I brought back passed all the tests, but the regulators - the things that you breathe through (so they are quite important really) brought laughter from around the shop - apparently Jacques Cousteau used to have a set of them - the bloke said they'd probably work but that he wouldn't trust them. So seeing as how I don't fancy drowning I took his advice and bought some new ones. Very shiny they are too. The old ones were dead cheap so some you win and some you lose. Anyway went out on Thursday with Jeff - first time for both of us without an instructor - and what a couple of amateurs we looked. We had to do bouyancy checks to get our weight right - got it wrong - were both too light so it was a major effort to sink, which in normal circumstances is great, but when scuba diving isn't, then air just started free flowing out of my new shiny regulators. Took them back to the shop and was told "Oh that often happens with new ones - I'll adjust them for you now". So we tried again yesterday after helping out at the sub aqua club "try dive" day. I spent the morning squeezing people into wet suits - which was more fun with some people than others !!! When they'd all done in we went - and it all went well swimmingly - was down for around 45 minutes, and had a thoroughly good time. It's good having your own gear and just being able to go out and do it !
The seeds I'd sowed last time are starting to germinate, and I think I'll be getting comments like "loony" soon cos I'm planning on going back to the stables and getting several jeep fulls of manure to spread on the garden before I plant this lot out. I'm also picking up some timber today and will make some fancy planters to put the citrus and pomegranite trees in. I've got a new book about Mediterranean gardening - and instead of telling how the gardens at Alhambra or on the Cote D'Azure were designed actually tells me which plants will grow here, so that's good, but I have resisted the urge to go out and buy a whole garden full - I'lll wait until it's a bit cooler before I plant up - even lavenders I've planted out have died in the sun - I reckon it's cos the shops water them too regularly (so that they look good) but it means that they haven't been grown hard enough so can't cope when planted out. I'll be growing my stuff quite hard in future.

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Back from holiday and need a rest

The title says it all, back in sunny Cyprus after two weeks in not so sunny Yorkshire and Lincolnshire and we've all pretty much slept and done nowt since we got back !!
To all those we saw - it was good to see you, to all those we didn't well there's always next time.

Arrived home to find all the toms dead and the chilli's gasping for water - they've had some and have perked up no end. The tomatoes are in the compost bins. As part of the "lets see what I can grow at strange times of the year" experiment - I've sown tomatoes, tomatillos, cucumbers, chives, carrots, courgettes, snake gourds and a whole bunch of annual flowers. We'll see how they go - I might have tomatoes at Christmas, who knows. And over the next couple of weeks I'll be back up to the stables to get more manure to improve the soil. I've written July and August off as productive moths - it's just too bloody hot, or more accurately it's too difficult to keep it all watered.
I returned home with a load of diving gear - it's being tested at the diving gear testing shop (run by diver Dave) to make sure I won't drown whilst using it. Hopefully I'll get out this week.
It's time to start studying again - this time learning how to draw stuff for the design part of the course - this is much more fun than plant physiology I can tell you. Intermediate Greek lessons in September and the FA course to do as well so busy busy busy.

Monday, 30 July 2007

The Last Post.....

...... well for a fortnight or so anyway, unless I get a chance at my mother in laws. We fly home for a couple of weeks on Wednesday. Got a family wedding next weekend, so it'll be good to catch up with everybody there, then start a round of visiting friends and family, culminating in me taking the boys away camping for a weekend, whilst Jo goes to London shopping and doing "London" things with her mates down there. All I can say is the weather back home had better improve before then !!!
Went to a Grenglish wedding this weekend - a colleague (an English Cypriot) got married, it was a strange mix of traditional Greek and English. The Greeks don't usually do speeches, but Marcos did - I really felt for his best man who had no real idea what was expected from a best mans speech. And I'd been out to a leaving do the night before, if I'm not careful I might start developing a social life. Apart from that spent most of the weekend playing in the sea with the boys, so am suitably pink to prove it, and poor Mattie burnt the soles of his feet walking barefoot on the road looking for Charlie who had snuck off, oh well it'll teach him not to wear his flip flops !!
I fully expect to come back to a garden as dry as sticks, I've started pulling out all the dead and dying stuff, leaving in the chilli's and tomatoes and gazania's which are all doing OK - the toms are flagging a bit but still producing, whilst the chillis mostly have fruit on them, but are surprisingly struggling a little bit. I'm starting research for next years plants - I think I'm going to have to have a few more succulents - the only trouble is that generally I don't like them very much!!! I went out onto the bondu yesterday and collected some seed from stuff that grow out there, some alliums, echinops, cistus and lantana - and they have all died back too so I reckon I'll have to accept July and August as the times when the garden looks poor over here and adjust things accordingly.
Here the weather is really quite strange - today it is cloudy but incredibly humid - and that is the biggest problem, the humidity has been at around 80 percent and apparently temperatures are about 5 degrees higher than normal for this time of year - the humidity makes it very difficult to do anything, just moving leaves you covered in sweat and you just can't get dry !! Not expecting much sympathy considering what is happening at home but just saying anyway!!! It's bizarre, I was looking at something about last summer which said the North East of England had no rain for over three months last year - and look at it this. Who says climate change isn't happening?
For those of you who I'll be seeing over the next couple of weeks - see you soon, and those I won't I'll be back on the 15thish.

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Too hot

It's just too hot for the garden. Whilst the UK has been basking in monsoons, we've been having a heatwave. In the back yard it reached 50 degrees during the week - now that's hot by anybodies standards. Even though I've been defying the hosepipe ban on the basis that every bugger else does - a lot of the plants are just getting too stressed and are giving up the ghost. I pulled out my sweetcorn, the cobs hadn't swelled, raddish, lettuce and carrots I sowed a few weeks ago haven't germinated and even some of the tomatoes have chucked it. Having said that I don't owe the tomatoes anything, they've been supplying the neighbourhood for weeks now. I knew July and August would be tough on them - it's a learning curve I guess. Matthew has been "helping" this week, this mainly involves digging holes and pouring water into them - but I don't want to discourage him, as long as he doesn't start digging unsupervised holes during the school holidays!!
I may have a designing job to do sometime soon. Huseyin one of my colleagues gets married soon and has just finished building his own house - he has half an acre of land and wants to do something with the garden. So I've offered to come and measure up and draw something for him - he gets a free design - I get something that hopefully will be good enough to submit to the college.
Away from the garden, I started playing tennis this week having been ordered to go by the fiesty 70 year old bloke coach who Jo signed me up for some lessons with. First time I've played a match since school. I don't think I made a complete muppet of myself - and I enjoyed it, despite it being hard work in the sun. I've not been diving since I qualified - have done some nightshifts this week so haven't really been awake enough to go diving during the day. Maybe next week cos I'm on late shifts so can go before work.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Life has.......

.........kind of settled down a bit, and I know I said it last last time I will do this more often - OK Teatree ??

Well what's happened in the last month or so. Seeing as how this was a gardening thingy in the first place I'll start with the garden. Things are very hot, the kind of hot where you get sweaty, have a shower and can't get dried again,, anyway it doesn't do much for the garden !!! Coupled with the fact that the Garrison has unilaterally declared a hosepipe ban (the Cypriots use water like there's no tomorrow). It's an effort to keep things green, but I knew it was going to be like this. The tomatoes are doing really well, I've been feeding them to half the street, the pot marigolds, marigolds and have just gone over, but I've got some more almost ready for planting out. The chilli's are doing really well, but just about everything else is struggling. Think I'm going to have to ignore the hosepipe ban or give up during July and August.
We went to Disneyland Paris for a weekend, it was my Mam's 60th and Mam and Dad's 40th Wedding Anniversary so with one of my brothers his wife and their two kids off (and Mam and Dad) off to Paris we trooped. We had a lovely time, the kids especially. After a brief stop back here (two days) I jetted back to the UK to do the RHS exam - I think it went OK, results sometime in September.
Since coming back I've started and will complete tomorrow, my PADI open water diving course, it'll mean I can go out independently from the dive shops. I've not managed to drown so far so that's good, and it's opened up a whole range of stuff and gadgets to look at. I should be getting a disc soon so I'll post some pics when I get it.
The football coaching bloke rang yesterday, the assessor is back in August for a support day, I'll miss cos I'm back in UK for my cousins wedding, he's coming back at the back end of November for final assessments. I'm going to have to find a team to coach, but I maybe helping out with the Army team later this month.
Oh and I occasionally go to work!!!! Where I've managed to rescue 4 dogs and a kitten since I was last on. The dogs have found homes, the kitten which currently has no name is here, as long as it has no name we can pretend it's not moving in !!!

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Done it again Haven't I

Well having promised to try harder and not leave it so long I failed that test miserably. And now for thexcuses : We had a weeks holiday at a place called Bogas in the North of the Island, it's only about an hour - if that- from here, but it was great just to get away from the phone and the base for a bit and just lie about and do nothing. And that's basically what we did. Me and the boys played in the pools or the sea or a version of cricket that I'm not sure the MCC would recognise as being their rules, I joined in obviously and whooped the pants off them - 2223 not out I was !!! (well not really but there was a lot of Daaaaaad play your worst - which is actually harder than you think). Jo lay in the sun and topped up the tan. Would post some pick but we haven't got any cos we forgot the camera - but if anybody wants to have a look this is where we stayed
Before leaving I was worried about what would happen to my plants in pots - would they frazzle in the heat, so inspired by something Wren once mentioned sometime - I took a bucket of water and an old towel, wet it thoroughly and stuck one end of the towel in it, then stood all my pots on the towel - and it more or less worked, had a couple of casualties - lost my basil seedlings and my fat babies (a type of cucumber thingy to the uninitiated), but I think it was because they were too wet !!!! I'm harvesting tomatoes like a good un - as ever I've done way too many, when will I remember that there's only me eats them ?? Even though I'm having salad every day (ever so healthy me!!!) I struggle to eat them all and I've more plants fruiting - oh well. My cucumbers are doing really well too.
I think next week I'm having a "try dive" - Jeff has persuaded me to have a go, he's been doing it a while and a couple of weeks ago did his open water course so is dead keen at the minute. I was supposed to do it last Friday, but the instructor couldn't fit me in. So this week instead I think, that's if I can fit it in cos Jo goes home on Wednesday for few days to go to a wedding.
Am well past roots now thanks Teatree, am currently learning how to grow properly the vegetables I've been growing incorrectly for the last few years - there's no mention of hurling or bunging anywhere - sure I must have missed a chapter out!!! I hope to get the text books done by Wednesday and revise from then until the exam.
And lastly -- I have to go to a car boot sale today -- in an official capacity, I have to approve them selling beer to the public, as I've said before very different job over here.
Take care all.

Saturday, 19 May 2007

Sorry !!!

It's been ages since my last post, in my defence I have been up to my eyes in stuff here. The coaching went OK, although the last day was cut somewhat short by soaring temperatures, people were dropping like flies. I was later told it had been the hottest May day for 50 years - reaching 42 degrees !!! I now need to do 16 hours coaching, and be assessed and pass - easier said than done, in the last group of 16 only 5 passed !!
I'm studying hard, wading my way through plant science, easily the most boring part of the course, which makes it the hardest to get through. Why do I need to know what meiosis is ??? Just that you put stuff in the ground and it grows. Anyway nearly finished that bit - then onto soil structure - I'm sure I'll get to something to do with gardening soon.
Here the weather is erratic, we've had huge storms one day then blazing sunshine the next, today was a blazing sunshine day and I am suitably pink to prove it. I can't remember if I said that I'd rigged up an irrigation system for the patch of ground I nicked using a bolt, a hosepipe and a drill. Seems to work fine, but isn't the prettiest to look at. Things seem to be doing OK, the toms are swelling nicely - I've had a few strawberries, not enough for anybody else to have any but hey they don't even know they are there. The mirabilis Flo sent me are doing well, I've got some little cukes starting to grow and the lettuces are ready.
Now back to roots, root caps and apical meristems - I'll try not to leave it so long next time.

Monday, 23 April 2007

Bitten off more than I can chew ??

Well my college work is all submitted, and assuming they are happy with it, I'll be flying back into then more or less straight back out the UK at the end of June to sit the RHS exam. So proper studying starts now, I've got just over two months to learn all I need to know. Now that in itself I reckon I could manage, but I've also managed to sign myself up to do the FA level 2 coaching qualification, starts on Friday for a long weekend, then the following weekend toowith a load of post course assessment stuff to do, and I've signed myself up again for Greek lessons - it'll be like being back at school again !!!
We are now visitorless, having waived bye to Mam and Dad yesterday, it was good to see everybody.
Weatherwise it's starting to get hot now, still a bit changeable but it was upto 28 degrees today - with the rain we've had things are growing like mad - I've got fruit on my tomatoes and things are flowering well. Now before anybody calls me a lucky get - just remember by August everything will be frazzled and your stuff will be romping away. For those interested I remembered to take my camera out today and took some pics of some of the wildflowers and of a Swift (or maybe a swallow) that is nesting at our office, and they are in the photo's link. And for those who can't be bothered there's a pic just for you at the top !!!

Monday, 9 April 2007

Feeling ancient !!!

My little boy is 8 today - how did that happen ??? I'm only 26 how can he be 8 ??? Up at the crack of dawn today, bounced awake my Mattie, desperate to come downstairs and open his presents. It's great to see him so excited, he even went to bed early last night so that his birthday would come quicker.
It's been a busy week with visitors to entertain, they left on Saturday - the next ones come on Thursday, gives us a few days to put the house back together after the whirlwind effect of 4 small boys (and assorted friends) running in and out of the house. I've done 3 of the 4 test papers I need to do, hope to do the last one tonight, then I've only two trees, 5 perennials, and 3 bulbs to do for the plant portfolio. I've done all the drawings I need so that helps. With a bit of luck I should be able to get it all packaged and send off to the college before Mam and Dad arrive. :-)
In the garden I've planted out some more tomatoes, put up another wigwam and planted out some cukes to grow up it, and planted out a courgette, I'm not certain that the snails won't get it so I've sown some more just in case.The sweetpeas have just started to flower, they are still quite small, I'm hoping that they grow up the wigwams a bit more. Out back , the big citrus is absolutely covered in blossom, releasing a very strong scent that I'm not sure whether I like or not. The fields where I walk Charlie are ablaze with colour, they are like cornfields as you imagine them, yellow, blue and red flowers intermingled with the grasses. When I remember my camera I'll take a picture. To the back of the field there is a tree covered in purple blossom, I think it's a Judas tree - I'm going to explore further later, whatever it is it's lovely. Cistus are also growing wild and starting to flower on the bondu.
The only problem with the weather warming up is that the snakes have started to come out, saw one about 6 feet long the other day just sunning itself by the bushes, fortunately it saw me and slithered off before Charlie saw it - he is stupid enough to go "dancing" around them barking. Only a couple of them are poisonous, but I'm not planning on going up and asking them whether they are the poisonous ones or not so am just going to try to avoid them all. We have been given some medicine to inject into the pets should they be bitten mind - enough to keep them alive until we get to the vet !!!!!

Monday, 2 April 2007

Yah soo ti kanis, si kala ?

They've arrived - the first of the summer visitors. Michael, Jane and their little boys Christopher and Stephen hit Cyprus over the weekend - it is bedlam in our house now, feel like a permanent referee as boys of 7 (nearly 8), 2X9 years olds and a 10 (I think) year old do what boys of that age do. But it's good to see my two so excited, it is however, quieter to be at work !!!
I've decided I like late shifts more than earlies - it's a struggle getting up at 5 to start at 6, but coming in at 2, gives me chance to do things in the morning. Today I took a table top thingy made up from a mosaic we bought in Jordan to a carpenter in Xylotimpou, and spoke my first proper Greek to somebody I didn't work with. OK I only said hello, how are you are you well and do you speak English (to which he replied hello, so -so and you and a little English) but he knew what I'd said and more to the point I knew what he'd said. I was ridiculously pleased with myself !!
The late start also gave me the chance to sow some sweetcorn (although I'm not sure where I'm going to put it), plant out some peas that I sowed in pots a couple of weeks ago and sow some more - Impy I told you it peas were a doddle when you come out squatting I'll show you how !! Oh and BTW Max sorry mate couldn't find anything to that spec in the South - more chance in the North of the Island (apparently you are allowed to lock your kids in the cellar up there - no EU regulations against it you see) And prick out some rudbeckia seedlings. To my amazement the thyme I sowed a little while ago has germinated - it must be Teatrees sage advice on herbs (sage do you get it??) that gets the credit for that. Drawing wise, things are coming along nicley, I'm on target to get the stuff completed and submitted by April 20th - and that's without even tracing anything Wren !!!!

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Sun, seeds and studying

The weather forecast keeps telling us every night that there is going to be rain in Cyprus, don't know if that's wishful thinking on the part of the Cypriots, along the lines of if we say it enough it will happen. It's barely rained at all. Which is just as well really because this weekend is the start of the summer visiting programme. My brother in law, his wife and their two kids arrive for a week or so on Saturday, followed by, a couple of days after they leave, my Mam and Dad. It's about now that Jo starts manically cleaning and tidying althought everything is already tidy and clean !!!! That combined with a new shift pattern (which I can't complain about cos I drew it up), studying for the RHS exams and putting together my plant portfolio (for the design part which needs to be in by April 20th) means that the next few weeks are going to be fairly hectic in the Reed household. So when I've written this I'm going to sit in the garden and do nowt !!!
On the gardening front, not much is happening as I wait for the seeds I sowed at the weekend to germinate - generally the other stuff that already out is just growing as it does. The few plants I thought would struggle on the water front are struggling but I guess it's no surprise !!

Monday, 26 March 2007

Cypriot summertime

Yesterday the clocks went forward, the same as in the UK and we forgot, spent at least half the day in a minor timewarp, however it's all sorted now - and to my surprise it's meant that this morning it was still dark when we got up !!! It was a beautiful hot sunny day yesterday - a walking Charlie topless kind of day (that's me not Jo !!). Spring is definitely here, when out on the bondu it's obvious that more and more wild flowers are coming into bloom everyday. In the garden things are realy starting to put some growth on too, the first tomatoes I planted are now about 18 inches tall and have their first flower trusses, the gazanias are starting to flower together rather than just one at a time, the sweetpeas starting to climb the wigwams. I've out up a trelis at the back up which I hope some everlasting sweetpeas (courtesy of Windy) will grow and I've planted out the pansies I sowed months ago. The citrus I bought were looking a bit unloved in the beds so I've dug them up, given them some fresh compost and some food and put them back into big pots. Jo wanted some hydrangeas that she saw in a garden centre - so they are in big pots too, very pretty they are but they are going to need loads of water to keep them happy. On that score I've put a bin by the back door into which all the washing up water goes and I'm using that to fill me watering can for watering the shrubs. It can be a bit like "It's a Knockout" getting the water there especially if Patrick is under your feet !!!! Speaking of Patrick he is now less of a cat - but he doesn't seem to be holding that against me.
I just about finished sowing all my flower seeds yesterday as well as some lettuce (ta Flo), still got sweetcorn and some beans to sow but there's plenty of time for them yet. The snails are still feasting on the lettuce I bought, but only the green Cos types at the minute, they seem to be leaving the red frilly stuff alone, they don't seem to like Kio or at least they aren't leaping into the beer traps like the slugs did at home !!!

Thursday, 22 March 2007

World Order Restored

Well some of you will be pleased to see that I am back in Cyprus again, and won't be able to be prosecuted under trade desciptions or whatever it was Wren was on about tsk. I left the frozen North East yesterday morning, (wearing the coat I'd had to buy on arrival cos I'd forgotten to take one - a tip don't ever be in desperate need of a jacket at Schipol Airport unless your filthy rich or have jusr robbed a bank!!!!), where the temperature was -1 and arrived here last night where it was 17 degrees. It was good to see people, most of whom seemed intent on inflicting severe damage on my liver - so thankyou (in no particular order) to Nick, Stevie D, Thompa, Dave, Kevin, Phil, Pat, Colin, Brian, Michelle, George, Simon and Ant for giving me the opportunity to talk b****cks for a few days, Viv for feeding me and buying cheese and dried onions (don't ask), Helena and lastly the chef at Jury's Inn Newcastle who got up early everyday to make me breakfast. It was good to see you all !!! And to those I didn't get to see, or didn't get to make a second visit - sorry !!!
On first inspection, my seedlings/little plants have managed without me for the week - I may have lost a couple of melons - but I've not given up on them yet and there's plenty of time to sow some more. Outside the shrubbie tree thing that I didn't hack back too much turns out to be a mimosa(I think) - it's all awash with yellow flowers, the bourgainvillea which I did hack back is sprounting back into life - it is lovely but the spines on it aren't !! The first flower trusses are forming on some of my tomatoes, the carrots seem happy, but I need to sow somemore as they appear somehow to have clumped themselves together I think they may have had some help from a cat (but revenge will be mine - the poor little bugger is to become less of a cat today). One of my strawberries is flowering as are my citruses. Not so good are the things eaten by snails - they've chomped quite a few marigolds and some small tomatoes, but it's a lesson learned - don't plant them out til they're bigger - do snails like beer or is it only slugs ??. Speaking of lessons learned - I need to get my finger out - I need to get my Plant portfolio and a certain amount of course work to college by 20th April if I'm to do the RHS exam in June - and my laptop is broke - so feel free to nag !!
And I'm all excited - (yes my dear brothers it's sad !!) - Whilst potting up some some thymes - which aren't going to die on me this year thanks to Teatree's advice, I noticed growing out from under my hibiscus some fresias. Now I've tried every year to grow fresias, from seeds, corms in the house in the greenhouse and failed miserably everytime - and what do I find here - well they just grow. What do I know about gardening ?? Anyway this prompted my to investigate further - my plumbago has started to flower, the big citrus out the back is covered in flower buds and an as yet unidenfied climber has got some yellow flowers on it - I've only been away a week !!!
BTW when I get round to it I'll probably link RedClanger/Impy, Teatree, Wren, Max, Bob et al to this site if none of them have any objections.

Monday, 12 March 2007

Home Newcastle

And before you all start bursting into song with the immortal "Busker" lyrics, it's only for a week or so to sort out some work stuff back home.Be back in the UK from Wednesday, I've dug out my wooly jumpers!!! I'm looking forward to having a few beers with some of my mates and generally visiting a few people who I wasn't expecting to see again until summer.
Spring has most definately sprung here, it's been noticeably warmer during the day - to the extent that I was pootling about shirtless today - and we haven't needed the fire in the evenings. It's been a long week at work, was on for 7 days, but now am off until I come back from Newcastle. So today have been making full use of the sun and have been out planting stuff. I've found a nursery in Paralimni, which is great, I bought some strawberries, lettuce, cukes and aubergines plants for about tuppence ha'penny along with a lemon (£4) and a pomegranite tree (£4) so am well pleased. So today they were either stuck in the ground or potted on. I then went upstairs onto Mattie's balcony - which has become my seedling factory and spent a pleasant hour or so pricking out - and yep I said pleasant, it's so much more fun when the sun is shining !! Tomorrow it'll be more seed sowing and probably some more pricking out - unless I get the urge to go back to the nursery.
Over the weekend we bought a ginormous barbeque - it's a cheating one cos it's gas fired mind - I don't think there's enough lighter fuel to get one this big going - you can fit a whole cow on it !!! We tested it yesterday and I think Mattie did actually eat a whole cow - he is his father's son...Sam picked at things and said what's this green stuff or it's a bit burnt - that's all down to his Mam LOL.

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

It's March and it's......

Without wanting to cheese anybody off - it's starting to warm up. It's been in the 20's today, sat here in shorts and a t-shirt.

I seem to be getting a few more people looking in on this - so I guess I've got to keep it going now don't I. Not really too much to say on the gardening front, other than Cyprus had loads of snails and they really like marigolds. Little gits. The Greek Cypriots eat them by the kilo - we seized 85 kilo's the other night (you aren't allowed to bring them over the Green line) - I reckon they were released in my back yard !!

Hello Wren - good to see you, in first with the helpful comments - but why did you publish it twice. Tsk

Like I said not much to report at the minute - been too busy at work - yep they make me work and have to go back in tonight. Hey ho

Wednesday, 28 February 2007

A tonne of gravel and a cat

Been busy busy busy, beavering away trying to get the framework of the garden built before things start growing in earnest. To that end I had a tonne of gravel delivered yesterday - it appears that you can have any colour you like, as long as it's white. Anyway yesterday afternoon, said gravel arrives on a truck and is dumped outside the back door. Meanwhile Jo and the boys go off to the cat home and come home with "Patrick" - weird name for a cat, but nowt to do with me LOL, a couple of pictures of him are with the Jordan ones.
The pictures here are the "after" pics - I'm quite pleased with it be honest, and will be even more so when I get the plants in. Hopefully there's going to be shedloads of flowers, with toms, cukes, chilli's, sqaushes, melons, courgettes, carrots and peas all mixed together - but we'll see - there still really isn't a lot of space - but I do have extension plans. The seeds sowed the other day are germinating happily, I dunno whether Impy's idea to water them with clove tea to help prevent damping off disease is working but it certainly isn't doing any harm !!!

Sunday, 25 February 2007

Some people actually read this !!!!! Well they are friends and family but hey that's better than I thought. In response to a huge mailbag (well two e-mails anyway) asking me to post more pictures of Cyprus - I'm setting up an album with pictures of stuff for you to look at if you want (it's the picassa link on the right), I wouldn't want to spoil my rivetting narrative with too many pictures now would I.
In an attempt to show my dearest middle brother that I am not a complete "plant geek", I'm going to tell you first about Jordan. GO IF YOU CAN !! I appreciate that we are lucky being only a 50 minute flight away so it's easy for me to say. We went this week for a couple of days, and wished we'd gone for more. Went up Mt Nebo - the place Moses is buried and looked out over the River Jordan, the Dead Sea, Jerico and Jerusalem - then onto the Dead Sea for a bit of a float. A little tip here - don't drink the water it tastes horrible. Second day took us to Petra - wow just about sums it up, any photo's I've taken don't really do it justice. We didn't get to see Karnack (Templar castle), Jerash (major Roman ruins), Wadi Rum (desert), where Noah died, where John the Baptist baptised Jesus, where Lotts wife turned into a pillar of salt etc etc. It is very biblical !!!

And now onto plant geekiness, been hard at it on the garden the last few days. Gave my bourganvillia it's final haircut, I'm glad that job is finished - I'm covered in scratches, finished my raised beds and defining my borders with planks to edge them, sowed a bucketful of seeds (well not really a bucketful but quite a few anyway). Alyssum, dianthus, mesembrianthemum, dahlia, some more tomatoes, verbena, rudbeckia, zinnia, hollyhocks, oregano, passion flower and camomile all now snugly in the propagator or the mini-greenhouse. Divided up a canna for a neighbour, she got two new plants and them re-potted, I got two plants for free - everybody is happy, took cuttings of a couple of succulents - don't know what they are yet, I'll be looking them up later, after I've been out onto the patio to prick out some more chillis.

Sunday, 11 February 2007

Home alone

Well Kind of....Jo has gone off to Damascus for the weekend with the girls shopping, taking in the culture, shopping !!! So it's me and the boys slobbing around eating pizza, watching rugby and football without a whinge, life is good LOL.
Well like I said last time, the drought was broken, apparently we had all February's rain in three days, but the reservoirs are still half full (or half empty depending on you view on life) and water rationing in the summer is still a distinct possibility.
However conveniently ignoring that possibility my planting, sowing, growing and building goes on apace. I found a garden centre in Paralimni this week which is the best one I've found here yet. Bought a mandarin, a pomelo, some gazanias, some seeds and some osteospernum's all for under £20, also found a wood yard there - so now have built some more raised beds to put things in.
Garlic has been planted outside, carrot seeds have been sown in one of the raised beds and I've planted out some Green Zebra toms that I sowed before X-mas, I've scattered some poppy, nigella and calendula seeds on a piece of land I'm not really going to be working this year as the soil is really really crap - and will see what happens. Off to do some more pricking out, if anybody is reading this see you later.

Sunday, 4 February 2007

As night follows day

So pricking out follows seeds germinating. If seeing the seeds poke up their little heads sends me all of a quiver, then pricking them out fills me with dread - it's the only gardening job I truly hate doing - and tend to leave it until the seedlings are just about screaming at me to let them out and give them some space. But today I sat in the sun in the backyard (it's so much easier when the sun is shining - but then most things are) - pricking out tagetes (courtesy of Windy & MB), chilli's (BP & Flo), toms (Dom) & lavender (Icy) . This was after finishing lifting the concrete on the other side of the house and digging over the prospective beds. The soil is either all chalky or about 10 feet away sand - several trips to the stables beckon !!! Basil and thyme seeds were also sown today.
The drought was broken yesterday - it rained for 24 hours solid, rivers broke their banks, roads were flooded, people stranded - but my raised beds stayed where they were supposed LOL. I was planning on doing all todays work yesterday, but because of the rain - went to get my haircut instead - now normally I wouldn't mention something so mundane, but it was fantastic. went to some place in the Turkish half of Nicosia, they shaved me, gave me a head, neck and face massage, a cup of coffee, washed and cut my hair all for £7 - I don't think I've ever been quite so pampered !!!

It's been a good weekend !!!

Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Poking their heads up

I lurve this time of year, the seeds that I've collected from a variety of sources are gradually being sown - and are germinating. The sight of them poking their heads up never ceases to raise my spirits, the fact that from these small dry brown wrinkly things can with the addition of a little water, some light and a bit of warmth miraculously send up little green shoots of life amazes me every year.
For me the thrill of gardening has always been propagation, not the end result - a lot of the stuff I grew on my allotments back home I never liked anyway and gave away - it is just the growing that does it for me. Today tiny petunias, bigger tagetes and some almost shy chilli's appeared overnight in the heated propagator newly installed in the spare room (much to OH's resigned disapproval!!!).
I've been to check on them about four times today - just cos it's a damn sight more fun than doing my Greek homework.(which before anybody nags - I have now finished !!)
The concrete out the back is now nearly all lifted and has been moved to around the side, until I can find somewhere to take it - there appears to be a dearth of tips here in Cyprus - lay byes seem to be the places to take your unwanted fridges, cars and no doubt lumps of concrete.
I've built a couple of raised beds and filled them with very well rotted horse manure, and tried to dig it into the soil that's already there. Unfortunately there is about 4 inches of soil in most places then a layey of chalk, so today I have invested in a pit yakka type thing (like a small pick axe) with which to attempt to break through at least some of it. What worries me though isn't the chalk - I can live with that and just keep raising the beds - it's the complete lack of worms - I've seen about 4 since I got here, there isn't even any in the manure. Where are they ???
Anyway best go - Greek numbers are calling - ena, thio, tria, tessera etc etc

Monday, 29 January 2007

Back to the beginning

In this flush of new found enthusiasm for this blogging malarky, I'd like to take you back to the beginning, well not actually the beginning but you know what I mean. The house I live in has no real garden so to speak, it has a rear yard with small borders around the outside, planted up with a citrus tree of some orangey persuasion, a once rampant bourgainvillea - now pruned to within an inch of it's life, boy are they spikey and a plumbago. As this is where we are likely to be spending a fair proportion of the year outside eating (and drinking) is going to be full of flowers

On the other side of the house was a concreted area and some wasteland, I plan on getting rid of the concrete and "nicking" as much of the land as I can possibly get away with - this bit is going to be a mixture of all sorts, chilli's, aubergines, tomatoes and herbs are to be planted with sweetpeas, beans, sunflowers and whatever else I can get to grow in there.

Things that are easy to come by back in the UK are a tad more difficult here, couldn't find any seeds trays, so margerine pots and containers from our all too frequent takeaways are being re-cycled, an SOS was sent and answered by friends back home for seeds and plant labels. So since November I've been sowing, pricking out and maybe gloating just a bit to said friends about how much earlier I could get things in !!!
Courtesy of Amazon a seedhouse house (you know one of them plastic mini greenhousey things) and a heated propagator have arrived and are now stuffed full of tomatoes, chillis, lavendars, pelargoniums, tagetes, calendula, datura, and some more stuff that I can't actually remember without going to have a look.
Right off to sow some aubergines, I'll be back at some unspecified point in the future depending on how long I manage to maintain this level of enthusiasm......

Sunday, 28 January 2007

Well Off we go

I've been meaning to do this for ages (well the last three months since I got here), and by here I mean Cyprus.
So just to rewind, I'm a Civil servant posted to live and work in Cyprus for the next 3 years. The downsides to coming here were giving up my season ticket at St James' Park (although perhaps not such a hardship this season), and my beloved allotments.
The blog is an to attempt to chronicle (when I remember) my attempts to turn the wasteland outside my house into something resembling a off we go.