Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Feeble efforts

  Done next to nothing at the plot. But still got fabulous corn. Just shows: two hours a week (or less) can work miracles.

Posted on 24th August 2015
Under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

plot viewWell this is it. A long, long time since I updated this blog. Even longer since I had the time to do any proper vegetable gardening.

In the circs (the utter lack of time for, like, anything) I’m reasonably pleased. I mean, I’m getting crops and the plot isn’t ALL weeds – just mostly weeds.

I’m working longer hours these days than in the past, and the commuting takes up what little is left, so I’ve had to cut back on what I can grow. Nothing difficult makes the cut any more (bye bye cauliflowers). It’s the basics, plus whatever I can make the time for if I really, really try.

Having said that, it turns out you can grow a fair bit on only two hours a week. You do have to put up with a lot of imperfection (which means weeds), but you can get carrots, beetroot, French beans, potatoes, onions and asparagus without too much difficulty. The asparagus has been, as ever, a joy: you do pretty much bugger-all, and get a delicious and rather valuable crop.

So the new direction of this blog is to document the results of vegetable gardening on no more (and often much less) than 2 hrs a week. I’ll be letting you know.

Posted on 31st May 2015
Under: Uncategorized | 6 Comments »


Hello. I’m half back in gardening mode.

I say half. More like one tenth. I’m getting to the plot very irregularly and my gardening has become pretty shit and dilatory. Work is just eating too much of my time.

BUT I’m gardening again. Pix coming shortly to prove it.

Posted on 10th April 2015
Under: Uncategorized | 8 Comments »

Foul weather

I have a day off. The plot needs weeding. But guess what?

It’s pouring with rain.

So I can’t do a damn thing unless I want to catch pneumonia. And the weeds will merrily grow and grow in the wet.

Fucking brilliant.

Posted on 10th May 2014
Under: Uncategorized | 5 Comments »


I left my job yesterday. I’d been with the company for 16 years.

That’s longer than I spent in all my schooling. Longer than I’ve been married. It’s the longest time I’ve ever spent doing the same thing (well, a series of things really…. but you take my point). I knew 350 people at the company by name, and many, many more to say ‘hi’ to.

Intellectually, in an abstract and nonchalant sort of way, I vaguely speculated that my last day wouldn’t be just like any other. It would probably be, you know, a bit sad. I issued the customary gags about being finally parolled etc etc with little thought.

So I hadn’t prepared myself for the cold wrecking ball of reality that hurtled into me when I got home last night. I was suddenly bereft and lost. A part of my life that was bigger than I’d ever realised was history – and time’s implacable usher had hustled me into a new era. At the door, my wife greeted a man smaller and quieter than the one she’s known these last 14 years.

It will pass, of course. Next week I start a new job, where I’ll have all the miseries of being the newbie to blot out the sorrow of today.

But until then, I feel totally defined by my ‘ex-‘ status.

Posted on 23rd April 2014
Under: Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

Ready for anything

full plotStunning, outrageous weather. Never seen anything like it in March… quite remarkable.

Have got in my early potatoes and onion sets. Spuds and onions are probably my two most valuable crops; we’re almost self-sufficient in both, year round.

It all looks wonderful, and yet I’m afraid this is not down to the efforts of yours truly. Yes, dear reader, I fear I have a shameful confession: I paid a guy to dig my plot.

I’ve done this before, and I’m not proud. It’s a disgustingly bourgeois thing to do.

But hey, it makes the difference between having a plot and not having one. I simply don’t have the time, any more, for the winter digging. So there it is.

Who am I kidding? I don’t give the tiniest shit. You do what you gotta do.

Posted on 16th March 2014
Under: Uncategorized | 9 Comments »

2014: Reasons to be grateful

The start to today – black as pitch, pissing rain, traffic jams, back to work – summarised neatly why living in this country can be trying. I have a fair sense of humour. Today it failed utterly.

I was so low I felt the need to compose a gratitude list. This was the best I could come up with at 7am:

  • I don’t live in Antarctica
  • I’m not a lifelong inmate of a Soviet salt mine gulag
  • I don’t have lice

By 7.30am, and after a stiff double espresso, I had added these:

  • I don’t live in Zurich
  • I don’t feel the need to wear a flat cap
  • I’m not a vegetarian
  • I don’t drive a Nissan Qashqai by choice
  • I’m not an estate agent, an MP, a parking attendant or an employee of the Inland Revenue

I felt cautiously optimistic after this. So I offer it for what it’s worth.

Update, 7pm:

I fell into depression again thinking about my post on EU civil servants. Dunno why. It just came back to irritate me anew. Upshot of pointless obsessing was my conclusion that ALL state (and supra-state, ie EU) employees should stop paying income tax. Instead, the amount they would normally pay in income tax should be deducted from their official salary. So they get what they’re paid – full stop. No income tax to pay.

Why? Two reasons:

  • It reminds everyone that state employees are grace-and-favour, courtesy of the private sector. Their current income tax (indeed, all their taxes) are just rebates on their salary, returned to the private sector taxpayers who really pay them. All of us should be reminded of this basic economic fact every bloody day.
  • If we took the six million public sector employees out of the income tax system, we could get rid of a substantial number of Inland Revenue civil servants. Yay: More savings. Paying state employees to administer the utterly pointless taxation of themselves and other state employees must be history’s best working definition of insane money-wasting.

Update, 7.10pm:

What a boring, bitching, moaning old tosser I’ve become.

Posted on 6th January 2014
Under: Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Looking for backlinks? Look elsewhere

Deluged with SEO marketers trying to get me to put links to their e-commerce sites on this blog. None of them are offering much individually, but added together it would be a fair-ish sum were I to say ‘yes’ to them all.

A quick and pithy message to them all: Fuck Off.

Apols if you’re sick of this topic (I’ve written about it before). I’m coming back to it because it’s a daily reminder, for me (yes, I’m getting these offers almost daily), of just how bonkers and corrupted the web has become.

The demands of SEO make every link suspect. Really doesn’t matter what you’re reading online, or where. Somebody, somewhere has probably paid for at least some – maybe all – of the links on the page. That’s rarely flagged, if ever.

To my ageing and increasingly irrelevant eye, this is dangerous. We used to educate kids to spot the difference between advertising and ‘real’ programmes on the TV and in other media (or at least, they tried to teach my generation. How about yours?). Nobody’s teaching anybody how to spot affiliate marketing and paid-for backlinks masquerading as ‘real’ content and ‘real’ click recommendations. Most parents haven’t got a sodding clue, so they could never teach their kids.

Does this matter? Do you care? Does anybody care?

Posted on 18th September 2013
Under: Rants, Uncategorized, Web nerdery | 6 Comments »

Karma and Apple find a way

Strange phone call today.

Caller: “Hello, is that [Soilman’s Christian name]?”

Me: “Yes”

Caller: “Hi. Just calling about a lost iPod. Did you do the Stonehenge to Avebury Charity Trek on Friday?”

Me: “Er, no.”

Caller: “Oh. That’s odd. Because we have this lost iPod. But it looks like I have the wrong number. Sorry to bother you.”

Me (alarmed/baffled): “Hang on, don’t go. You’ve rung my number and you have my correct name. So it looks like you’ve got the right number. What’s going on?”

Caller: “Well, er… ok. We found this iPod after the event on Saturday. And it’s got this name [reads out Soilman’s full name] and this mobile phone number engraved on it. But obviously you weren’t at the event, so it must belong to somebody else.”

Me (realisation dawning): “Is it a white iPod Nano?”

Caller: “Er, yes. How did you know?”

Me: “Because that iPod was stolen from my car about two years ago. So yes, it IS mine. But it wasn’t lost by me. It was lost by the fucking arsehole who stole it from me.”

Moral, dear readers: Whenever you buy an Apple product, ALWAYS get your name and number engraved on it at point of sale.

Posted on 9th September 2013
Under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Busy. On hols. Lazy.

SoilmanSorry about lack of posting on First I was busy. Then I was on hols (see me frying in Sicily, left). Then I was just too goddamn lazy to do much.

Now I’m back in harness and trying to deal with the mountain of weed that has appeared on the allotment. It is an allotment truism that if weeds were edible, we’d all eat like kings…. but this year it feels truer than most.

I do at least have some sensational sweetcorn this year. What a difference a bit of sunshine makes.

Posted on 4th September 2013
Under: Uncategorized | Comments Off on Busy. On hols. Lazy.