Thursday, 28 August 2014

August and Beware of Toxic!

"Tempus Fugit" is the old saying.

How true! August is drawing to a close and the summer is slipping away from me like melted butter through my fingers.

At the allotment, an elderly gentleman out for an afternoon constitutional leaned over the gate and remarked how my plot was his favourite on the site. 

"It exudes an ambience of peace and tranquility, 

with the flowers, willow arch, herbs, trees and birdlife," he explained. 

Mr Production overheard and later chirpily commented that peace and tranquility were all very well, but he hadn't said anything about the quality of my vegetables! (Mr Production does not view my potatoes, beetroot, onions, pumpkins, peas, beans and salad leaves as worthy of comment, and in his humble opinion - fruit is not proper allotment fare!)

I did not disillusion the pleasant elderly gent by informing him of the nasty biting bugs, thriving in the damp and humid conditions brought about by the recent copious rain showers, that were currently ruining any sense of peace and tranquility for me - driving me from harvesting the bountiful supply of fruit on offer.

These horrible insects swarm soundlessly, landing without warning and mercilessly biting areas of exposed flesh. Inexplicably some even manage to infiltrate under the elastic of clothing to inflict their itch inducing wounds. Cunningly they lurk in the produce that I harvest and then spring a surprise attack as I drive home, causing me to swerve dangerously as I attempt to swat them.

I am hesitant to use commercial insect repellant as I am sure the chemical content can only be toxic and harmful. However I have tried Essential Oils such as Rosemary, Eucalyptus and Lavender and also crushed fresh herbs, 

(Lavender, Mint, Thyme and Lemon Balm), rubbed over my skin, but so far the little blighters remain obstinately undeterred by my efforts - spreading the word amongst their vampire-like insect friends as to how tasty my flesh is.

I also did not enlighten him about the tragic fate of the sweet little baby blackbird that I found one evening as I began to pick the Blackcurrants. 

I noticed the little bird watching me beneath the Blackcurrant bushes. Although he hopped a short distance away, he did not seem unduly alarmed by my presence and made no attempt to fly off, which I thought was a little strange. Realising that it was a very young bird, and as I could not see anything outwardly wrong, I decided he must have worn himself out flying and was having a rest to gather his strength again before making his next flight.

In order that I didn't scare the baby bird, I postponed my Blackcurrant harvesting. The next day I peered below the bushes, but there was no sign of the little bird, and I presumed he had flown away. Until that was, I pushed aside the leaves of a foxglove on the path beside the bushes with my foot, and to my distress found the poor little bird lying stone dead on the path beside the foxglove.

I was so upset! Had I been too close and caused him to have a heart attack through fright? Telling one of my fellow allotmenteers about it, he proffered his opinion that the cause was most probably due to the poisonous blue slug pellets sprinkled liberally by some of the less discerning plot-holders. 

The allotments are such a haven for bird and wildlife that it is a sacrilege to introduce these killer chemicals!


Despite the tragedy of the little blackbird, the friendly baby robin is still present and will fly down as soon as he sees me, hopping so close to me that I am frightened of standing on him, camouflaged as he is against the woodchippings on the paths.

As usual the bees 

are feasting well upon the nectar;

the Verbena Bonariensis,


and Teasels.

This year, to the bees delight, I have sown several different annuals, with a vague view to using the flowers.



and Larkspur.

As they bloom I have been harvesting and drying them

 - the more they are picked the longer they will produce blooms. 

Unfortunately my new workshop at La Petite Maison is not ready yet. In fact none of it has actually left the planning stage, except for the old cast iron windows that are waiting to be painstakingly restored.

(The windows will hopefully turn out like these).

So until the workshop is ready I have had to improvise and thus the Larkspur hangs from a radiator in the bathroom to dry.


The end of summer brings an unwelcome but necessary return to Corporate Life. My comfortable summer attire reluctantly put aside 

and replaced with an assumed mantle of Office Glam. 

My sanguine outlook obscured again beneath a weary facade with the pretense of the acceptance of Office Politics and ingratiating toad eating that are part and parcel of the toxic Corporate World.


Before I could sink completely into gloom, I received a welcome phone-call. It is that time of year again. Arrangements are being made for Christmas in The Barn. Will I be there with my soaps this year?

Last year, with so many other demands upon my time, I opted out and took a break from Soaping. Now, encouraged by my friends, some old and some new - including Lucinda, Nat, Fran and Mimi, I have got my Soaping Mojo back. My head is brimming full of ideas for soaps and the stall. 

Freshly harvested herbs and flowers from the allotment and garden are ready and waiting to be incorporated into new batches of soap.

So the answer is a resounding Yes!
You will definitely see me there with my handmade herbal soaps, free from any toxicity, for Christmas at The Barn!