Thursday, 20 February 2014

The Great 2014 Kew Gardens 50p Rush.....


Must be a very slow news day today....

A couple of the mainstream media sites are running a story about a limited-edition fifty-pence piece from 2009 commemorating Kew Gardens that might be worth a good few quid to collectors.

So, it was time for exploratory abdominal surgery on poor old Perky, and to take a good look around inside her - just in case...





Unfortunately, despite retrieving exactly seventy of the little blighters, not a Kew Gardens type in sight.  There's 58 of the usual Britannia, 6 more which I think might simply be Welsh, and only 6 commemorative types, two of which are the same.  Click on the photo for a larger image if you're even remotely interested.

Five of these commemoratives are only a few years old, but there's one there from 2000 with the legend '...Public Libraries...' if anyone wants to make me an offer....

And don't worry, Perky is fine !

Monday, 17 February 2014

A good big'un beats a good little'un ... Growing Big Vegetables in 2014


We've decided this year to try to grow larger varieties of a few vegetables :-
  • Onions - Kelsae
  • Leeks - Exhibition Pot Leeks
  • Tomatoes - Beefeater
  • Carrots - Sweet Candle
In mid January, we sowed 120 onion seeds and 60 leeks.  We started them off indoors in covered cells.  By indoors, I mean on the various south-facing window cills in the house, particularly the kitchen window which is 2.4 m (8') long.

To give us even more growing space within this large window, I've built a rough-and-ready free-standing shelf from white MDF furniture boards, and this now sits on the cill.   It's very much a temporary addition, for the winter months only, and it'll be dismantled and removed to the shed as soon as we can get the plants out into the greenhouse when it warms up a little outside.


six seed trays in the kitchen window...

Monday, 10 February 2014

Living on £10k pa in the UK ?


I spotted this posting on the Firestarter's blog, one of the many fine FI blogs I visit occasionally....

http://thefirestarter.co.uk/is-it-possible-to-live-on-10000-a-year-in-the-uk/

.... and so I thought I'd carry out a similar exercise myself.  Click on the Table for an enlarged view. 

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Long live the North-South divide.....


I stumbled across a TV show tonight, which was called '...Location, Location, Location...'.

I watched almost disbelievingly as the presenters tried to convince a pair of hapless buyers that a flat for £600,000 in a post-modern Stalinist block in Holloway, North London, was actually a good buy.... I'll spell it out - six hundred thousand pounds for a god-awful two-and-a half bedroom flat, FFS !

And believe me, I know all about Stalinist flats, having lived in several during my times working throughout Russia.

Here '...up north...', we own a three-bedroomed house on a 600 square-metre plot, with only three near neighbours, open southern and western farmland aspects and a protected woodland to the north, for which we paid around a quarter of that sum, including the recent garden extension purchase.

And lest you think we're severely disadvantaged and remote from any trappings of so-called civilisation, within a mile or so from us we have a 24-hour Tesco Extra, an ALDI, a Boots, several health centres and dental practices, plus an array of small & specialist high-street shops and banks.  Within five miles in another direction, we have another 24-hour Tesco Extra, a Sainsburys Superstore, a Morrisons Superstore, another ALDI, a Lidl and an M&S Food store, and a small town centre hosting many of the national high street favourites.

I'm a 20-minute taxi ride and then a two-and-half-hour train journey away from central London (or around four to five hours by car), for the very occasional visits I need to make to the Metropolis.  I'm half-an-hour from an airport from which I can reach, via empty roads and a short hop to Amsterdam Schiphol, just about any major city in the world.

And before anyone tries to justify the ridiculous London house prices by talking of the higher wages available, I know I'm not alone in the North in being able to charge my clients London rates for the services I provide, without all the cost disadvantages of having to live there.  I can also say that in the past I've turned down six-figure offers of full-time employment in London. 

I've got no beef at all against the very fine people of London, many of my friends live in the wealthier suburbs and I also worked there myself many moons ago, for several years via the weekly-commute routine.  

However, to paraphrase an old Victoria Wood comedy sketch, "...I'd like to apologise to those readers living in the South - it must be terrible for you..."