Exactly a week ago I thanked buggery that the day was over.

I’d woke early (like 5-ish), courtesy of next-doors’ sproglet and stayed that way due to subconscious , but unacknowledged panic.

About to take an exam I felt wholly unprepared for*, and concentrating so much on running over the information that I’d managed to cram into my head, thoughts of breakfast didn’t even occur to me.

Little Boots had worked out that I had an exam. The only point of reference in synch with this was the weekly spelling test. “Hope you get eight out of eight” said LB, with the conviction of one who always does. I responded with weak grin.

“Boris” our crappy, battered Citroen Saxo wouldn’t start. He’d been screwed by the cold weather and lack of use. I rolled the little tin can down the road and bump-started the thing and everything seemed fine. More so when I got to college, turned it off and the car started again straight after.

I went into the exam expecting the worst. The first part of the paper was short answers and I think I did really well.

Then I turned to the longer answers – OMFG!!

My immediate reaction was that I could not answer a single question much less three.

After the initial panic I tried to get a handle on things, I reckoned I’d tucked away most of the marks for the first bit, which equated to nearly 23% of the exam- nearly halfway towards a pass.

I realised I could answer one question quite well and that I could probably bullshit some of the marks out of two others.

And I did so, hoping it would be enough.

I left the exam room mentally exhausted. At that point I start to shake. Having not eaten my blood sugar level went through the floor and, without adrenaline to sustain me, I was suddenly as weak as a duckling.

It got worse. The car wouldn’t start. I tried to bump start it. Lack of food and the fact that I’d packed the thing with compost, intending to go to the allotment on the way home, meant that I failed. Twice.

The young students wandering around the campus ignored me. Some doubtless because they had never known the joy of bump-starting a car and didn’t know what was going on, but mostly because they were, quite rightly, enjoying being silly and self-obsessed.

I was rescued by a rotund lady who announced that it was a long time since she done this – a long time since she’d done lots of things I reckon – and a chain-smoking gent with a gay caballero ‘tache.

I was so grateful.

*We’d had only half our designated lessons for one reason, or another


Tomorrow I have an RHS exam. I’m not looking forward to it. With nowhere near enough work done failure looms. Part of that is due to my inability to focus on the thing and part is down to the college’s lack of tutorials.

In an attempt to stand at least a fighting chance I’ve taken two days off to do some serious swotting.

So what did I do yesterday?

I read some rather tedious facts about venlo greenhouses.

I also:

  • Did a load of washing up
  • Washed a mammoth pile of clothes
  • Watched a documentary about the artist Roadsworth
  • Had a noodle around eBay
  • Wrote a blog post
  • Spent far too long surfing the net
  • Made some seed packets
  • Wrote two letters
  • Walked to the Post Office
  • Planted the last of my galangal and turmeric
  • Sowed some chilli pepper seeds
  • Ate far too many midget gems

And finally, created a revision programme for today, which I abandoned at about half past nine this morning.

After what seemed an age I’ve snapped out of my post-Christmas malaise.

I’ve finished the garden design for the competition. It won’t win – it is REALLY crap, but hey I enjoyed doing it. Well, some of it anyway.

Amazingly, I‘ve also found the time and will to read a book – it’s called The 3,000 Mile Garden and is an exchange of letters between British garden/nature photographer Roger Phillips & Leslie Land, an American food writer and gardener.

A nice, easy, diverting read, it’s been marked in my mind for two things. Firstly the phrase ‘tooting like a bandit’ in response to eating a lot of leeks. It’s a great expression but surely not an accurate one? I mean wouldn’t bandits, in hiding ready for ambush, give themselves away if they were tearing off great big farts?

The second was Tropaeolum tuberosum, a nasturtium relative which I was aware of but did not know was edible. Accordingly I’ve ordered some, given my 2010 allotment colour pledge.

What I haven’t done is any work for my exam on 10th February. I plan to do a bit of cramming and cross my fingers, but I don’t think anyone will pass. We lost 3 classes through not having a tutor, One when the new tutor only lasted a single session, two days due to the second new tutor being ill and one because of the snow. I make that 7 lost days out of what is only a twelve week term. Oh Dear – just have to KBO.

As usual when faced with some concerns over my useless college and an impending exam I’m indulging in displacement activity and have been planting quite a few seeds – bananas and peppers in the propagator – salad leaves in the green house. More have been arriving through the post. The OH is staring to get a bit miffy.

“More seeds I suppose!” was the grump when I arrived back from the Post Office having collected a parcel.

“No,” I replied innocently, “Just a book.” I didn’t let on that it was a book on seeds.

Little Boots has been planting seeds too. I don’t know whether school teachers can buy cress seed in bulk, but the pot that came home was absolutely thick with the stuff.

I’ve seen shallower gravel paths.


I did so much on Sunday I can barely believe it – normally I just seem to charge around and achieve nothing.

Little Boots didn’t wake up too early for a change. I think Summer Hols are proving a bit exhausting, as the perisher just sat watching TV and reading for most of the morning. Meanwhile I got on with a mountain of washing up, while alternating between that, sorting the recycling, and sawing and treating some wood for a shelf on the greenhouse staging what I built.

At this point Little Boots demanded I make a cannon from the wildly disparate bits and pieces that had been wombled together from around the house. We ended up making crossbow that fired plastic corks out of some pieces of a wooden train track, elastic bands, masking tape and a peg.

After lunch we set off for a garden centre. I only wanted a couple of seed trays (the sort without holes), but ended up also buying some salad seeds, a rather jazzy Phormium, that Little Boots insisted on for the jungle area, and another Sempervivum, for the collection that I’m in denial about

We then dropped off some RHS notes and huge canister of slug pellets, I’d unearthed during “Operation Clear The Greenhouse“, at a friend’s place. Unfortunately my friend wasn’t in, although that’s probably just as well as she’d have had conniptions to see LB, anywhere near her greenhouse with the crossbow.

After stopping on the way home to do some recycling and then shopping we arrived back and whilst I got on with fitting the greenhouse shelf LB got on with lying in ambush and pinging me with corks everytime I appeared in the open.

I also managed later to squeeze in a spell down the allotment and came away with lots of bits and pieces. Not enough for anything other than a stir fry, but at the risk of sounding smug it contained garlic, chilli, red onion, French beans, runner beans, carrots (Little Boot’s own Red Dragons), cabbage, perpetual beet, chard and coriander.

Actually risk be damned – I am smug – even 48 hours later.


boots classI’d like to say that I’ve finally buckled  down to some revision, in light of my impending RHS exam.

I’d like to….but I can’t.

Mind you, I’m not sure that even the tutor is entirely focused on the matter.

Last week, instead of a class we went to look round the grounds of a very posh private school where one of my fellow students is a groundsman.

Some of the other students were  prettty cross at the timing of this “jolly” so close to the examination. Others may well have been cross afterwards because it was, well, a bit crap to be honest.

Apart from a couple of Wellingtonias there wasn’t really a plant worth looking at.

The groundsmen tend the grounds (including a nine hole golf course and more cricket pitches than we have decent players of the sport in the UK) and the gardens proper are the preserve (as in pickle and jam I reckon) of an octagenerian former caretaker who won’t let anyone else help.

So what were they like?

Like they had been looked after for years by some old dodger well into his eighties with limited gardening knowledge.

Add to that a debate with an idiot about whether a Victorian water feature was a 17th century Italianate water garden, and it all slipped from fairly pointless into wholly farcial.

Only those sad sacks who are interested in how the incredibly rich educate theirsprogs would have found it of any worth.

Me, I’ve got an exam to pass – and this didn’t help.

victorIn just over six short weeks I have an RHS exam. Am I honing my revision programme? Am I focussing on the areas where questions are always asked and tailoring my revision accordingly.

Am I chuff.I’m indulging in what can only be described as displacement activity. Chief amongst which is finishing reading a few books.

One of them is Digger’s Diary by Victor Osborne, which is about a year on his allotment. It’s OK, but not great, and there are better books in then same vein.

I have just read how he (an alleged organic gardener) killed a bumble bee nest in one of his compost bins. I felt a bit ill, which is unusually soft of me, but I do love bumblebees.

The author’s stated reason was that he was worried about being stung. My other half felt the same when I charged indoors a few years back incandescent with glee because bumblies were nesting in my compost bin. I explained that I have never been stung by one – not even the time I had one in my mouth (long story) – but nevertheless it was still difficult to explain what an exciting thing was present in our garden.

It never crossed my mind to destroy the nest and I hope the author later realised the needless folly of his actions.

Still we all do things we later regret.

I just hope I don’t regret not doing more revision.

Last night I got fed up trying to upload a photo to the last post. Either WordPress is rubbish, or I am. I suspect we both are.

Barely tempted to continue with my note making (trophic & nastic responses no less), and seeing as it was a late night, post-college, I decided to watch something on the iPlayer instead.

“How about Gardeners’ World?” I thought, not having watched any of the specials. But having set the thing going I realised a couple of things, as Joe Swift‘s perennially confused looking visage sprawled across the screen. First that I had the sound on mute. Then as I sought to rectify this, that I had no desire to watch the programme even though the subject [green walls and roofs] is something that interests me. This was solely due to the presenter who is to garden programmes what Ray “Butch” Wilkins was to football. I still haven’t got over the programme where he described Acers as “quite Japanesey”.

I went to bed instead.