Category Archives: Unarguable Sense

A Different Mindset for Consistently Successful Veg Gardening

I grow vegetables every year. I have grown at 1000ft with winters of sub minus 20 and also at sea level with drought and long hot summers. I have to live a stress-free and mainly physically undemanding lifestyle. I cannot afford staff!!

These are my canny, tried and tested, tips for virtually guaranteeing success when growing your own food…

Remove Rigidity and Relax: Gardening is about working with nature… not against it or with it under tight control… if you try to control it too much, you live in a perpetual state of angst when you do and guilt when you don’t… have the time and energy to devote. I’ve been there and it can be quite soul-destroying… I realised I was setting myself up for disappointment and failure.

Go Old School when planting your seeds:

One for the mouse, One for the Crow, One to Rot and One to Grow – it is rare for all four to fail. I always aim for a quarter of my seeds to go on and produce vegetables. If I end up with surplus, which I usually do, I give, swap, sell and save and on bad years I normally end up with just enough for the household. I’ve never had total failure unless the seeds were dud in the first place… and that is rectifiable early in the season.

I believe that the word “weed” was coined by a weedkiller producer. We all automatically hate and worry about them but unless they are literally vying for root space with your plants they are usually more beneficial than detrimental…. other than purely aesthetically…. but even that is up to you – I pull mine in a design to look purposeful!

Nettles are necessary so try and embrace them: I pull nettles like the next person but only selectively. Nettles provide important habitat for animals and insects that are garden helpers…e.g. butterflies. I find they also protect from rabbits eating my leaves for some reason…. they provide shelter from wind, rain and cold and they provide shade from the sun. They also help hold the moisture in the ground and prevent erosion and bare patches. You can eat em and brew em and soak em to make a great liquid feed. I let them grow around my beds and pots and containers as protection. You can even broaden this embrace to include other native wild plants… the more you provide for your pests the better…

Immaculation breeds contempt: We all love a neat and tidy garden that looks beautiful and well tended… the thing is, the garden doesn’t really like that so much. Welcome a bit of organised chaos and disorder and you remove the metaphorical neon arrows pointing to your tender young morsels that are exposed for any hungry being to spot and steal. Remember, the birds, beasts and insects were all doing fine before you showed up with your fancy foodstuffs… leave them some of their own scran and they’ll leave yours alone. If you embrace the plants that thrive naturally – please note I tend not to use the negative word “weeds” – you’ll find that they put on a magnificent display when their flowers appear.

Spread Bet: Staggered multiple sowings ensure a longer season and a higher percentage of success. Don’t plant all the same seedlings in the same bed – spread them around a bit. Put some in containers too. All sorts of silly things can cause crop failure – from bad positioning to dodgy soil and pests. If you have a few here and a few there you should always get some whatever the season throws. Pests usually won’t be in 5 places at once if you’re canny with positioning.

Cram them in: I plant seedlings quite close together. After years of panicking about exact measurements, I now cram them in and thin (and eat!) regularly – most veg seedlings and young plants are perfectly delicious.

Squat don’t bend: For weeding, and all the other ground based jobs, don’t kneel or bend and constantly strain your back…. squat – preferably with flat feet if you can. It’s simple – it keeps your back aligned, straight and supported. Don’t be self-conscious, that doesn’t help anything, squat and work between your legs… if you are female just wear something appropriate.

Let it go to seed if it wants to: Things go to seed, that’s just the natural cycle. If your veggies are turning to seed, do something about the ones that haven’t yet… if you want…. but let the others continue to full term. So you have slightly less food this year… next year you’ll have no seed outlay or more seed – one in the bank for the future, as they say, and many plants produce tasty edible seeds anyway.

Plants have a drive to survive too: If you are growing native plants… or those that are generally happy in your climate and soil… they will work hard to look after themselves. You can over-Mother plants to the point of expiration. Quite a few veggies, I find, thrive when left to their own devices. Obviously growing extreme produce in the opposite climate is a different matter and requires precision and care and skill on the whole… then again someone grew a lemon outside here, through neglect!

Water is the primary concern: Too much or too little, water is the deciding factor. That’s what I’ve found. We humans are comprised of over 70% water… most veggies have a higher content than that… I’ve never yet managed to overwater anything… although I find that most herbs don’t like to sleep with wet feet – particularly Basil – so water them before midday. Nuff said.

I put in the hard graft in early Spring – if everything has a good start then I can potter and gently maintain the garden, consume the produce and divide my time, throughout the rest of the year. A bit of focus again in Autumn to make sure everything is snug for the Winter and the ground has a good feed in preparation for the Spring… and so on. Once you have your old faithfuls identified you can use the extra time to experiment with more exotic delights, safe in the knowledge that the bread and butter will reliably continue.

Books are useful for reference… but not the law! Enjoy learning on the job: Watch your garden grow. See what is happy where. Identify where the worst pests lurk or live. Adapt, Adapt, Adapt.

We don’t have to work at making the weather or the seasons… they aren’t always ideal but in extremis is the point where our human intervention should come in, in the form of sun protection or watering or whatever is required.

The planet is designed for us to feed ourselves – Don’t insist on making it so impossible for yourself

An Open Letter to Daily Drivers

Driving Cars in a Traffic Jam

Driving Cars in a Traffic Jam (Photo credit:

Firstly may I sympathise, empathise and generally commiserate with your, let’s face it – chosen, dreaded daily commute. I’ve done my fair share of miles the length and breadth of the UK and for a few years was pulling lorry driver mileage, although not in a lorry, mind! I know the stress, the irritation, the tiredness, the eye strain and the restrictive nature of sitting in that cockpit at the mercy of others, for what can feel like an eternity…


It perturbs me, as a road user and as a diligent observer, that the general regard for this weapon of mass destruction, that is freely available to all who can afford it, is lazy at best and totally ignorant at worst.

It wouldn’t matter how day-to-day their usage became, all the gun owners I know would never treat their weapons of mass destruction with such disdain and arrogance as to forget the seriousness of their worst outcome, for even a second.

Car drivers on the other hand – what are you thinking?

“I’m tired”   “I’m hungry”   “I want to get home”   “That last meeting was interesting”    “Can’t wait to have a drink”   “I’m late”     “I’m important”    “Me” “Me” “Me”

That’s how it comes across anyway.

One false move and a child is dead. One false move and you’ve killed someone elses Mother/Brother/Father/Son. One lapse in concentration and you’ve killed your occupants. One careless manoeuvre and life is changed forever.

The thing is, my observations and experiences lead to me to realise that, when that crucial split second occurs…… you, the driver, will react instinctively to save yourself. This seems to be, according to my extensive layman’s research, why so many passengers are normally far worse off than their chauffeur in the event of an accident. I’ve been in a car where the driver swerved me into a skip to save himself – we can’t help it.    It’s reflex …. and definitely worth considering twice when you next have precious cargo in the passenger seat and you’re feeling stressed or distracted.

I can strongly recommend my own preventative measure, which is to always consider the same things when I get in my vehicle: People, Motorbikes, Tractors, Rushing Van Drivers, Tired Lorry Drivers, Obstacles Blocking the Road, Nervous Drivers and the random person who has a medical emergency at the wheel… that sure sobers me up. You see crazy stuff happens and if you fail to prepare…

Driving well on public roads is a superior skill. It is far too often referred to as something we do automatically “ooh how clever we are”. NO.

Please stop driving automatically.

Please cease leaping in the car with your entire focus on your destination.

Please have some pride in your skill and continue to hone it throughout your driving career. The control of your car is just as important as the colour and the craftsmanship in defining your reputation in your area.

Please have an OCD level of perfectionism when it comes to Concentration, Control and Courtesy. They seem to be the three main causes of problems on the road, ranging from the little road rage inducing incidents to the catastrophic pileups. The quantity of you who just don’t indicate, for an example, must be some sort of joke.

Blaming speed is like blaming guns

I don’t believe it is simply speed. It is the driver…. we are ultimately responsible for the safety level that we adhere to and the outcome of each journey that we undertake. Going too slow, for an example, can be just as hazardous to other road users along with being tired, hungry, distracted, wound up, etc.

Every time you get in your car the conditions of your journey will be different. Please drive to the conditions…

At the moment it is the summer holidays.

The days are longish and lazy. Everyone who can be, is in relaxed holiday mode. The sun is bright and the sun is low and blinding in the evenings.

Please bear in mind: Families with children walking, children wobbling along on bikes, the disabled, the less mobile or hard of hearing, folk concentrating on more enjoyable pursuits than whether or not you are hurtling towards them at well over the safe speed with no regard for what is ahead…


Remember: Road-going vehicles are bloody dangerous

The men who work with chainsaws put it best, in my opinion: Comfort Kills – get too comfortable with a dangerous machine and you’ll make a costly mistake

Sometimes we all need reminded.


Get Out and Do Look Back

English: Antique Tabriz Persian Rug

English: Antique Tabriz Persian Rug (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I see Bug in a Rug syndrome all about me, everywhere I look.

I love this little slice of wisdom. It comes from a quality tune on a Headz (Mowax) album… but could have originated anywhere. I cannot find the track anywhere, don’t even know it’s name, and my brother stole my copy years ago, so here it is roughly paraphrased:

Once there was a Bug that lived in the most beautiful Persian Rug

But he didn’t know it

All about him were his problems and he was miserable

One day he climbed up to the highest point on the rug and looked down

He gasped!

For there, stretching out below him was the most beautiful Persian Rug

What he thought were his problems were in fact the thick pile, exquisite weaving, intricate patterns and thick sumptuous tassels…

He cheered right up and realised life was beautiful even with it’s problems… which only make it all the more rich and vibrant

Take a moment to step back and appreciate your own beautiful Persian Rug whenever you can, from even a little distance or a slightly different perspective it can be taken in fully. It also makes more sense as a whole, looks more beautiful… and feels more manageable!

Get Out and Do Look Back

The Loop of Inevitability

Round and Round and Round we go

“Let people learn from their own mistakes”

And so the human race is put on loop, which turns to spiral… which leads down the plughole.

I feel ashamed of us a species

Excuses for everything. Blame. Expectations of others. No personal responsibility or self-determination. Complete reliance on others – from the government to the takeaway.

Why can’t we learn? We’re supposed to have these enormous brains and be so advanced and yet we now live in a world where self-indulgence is the only goal in life. Asserting ones own beliefs to the serious detriment of others. Factionalising every pissing thing.

I feel like a spider to clinging to the side of the drain… sorry… what happened to working hard? Giving to others? Being unselfish and considerate? Accepting difference without prejudice? Making a better future? Equality?? I don’t want to go down…

I’ve lived all over for the past 15 years and am now back home. I spend a lot of my time feeling guilty… you see I’m not just ranting at everyone else about this, I have been experiencing the problems in realtime macro this past few months: The bad habits I have picked up in the wider world are; unhealthy suspicion, constant fear of crime, unhealthy fear of men, constant expectation of petty conflict, silly hangups from self-consciousness, stress and unhealthy stress management, brusqueness, unnecessary hurriedness and a strong tendency to keep to myself… Yes, not great really!!!

It seeps into your fabric without you realising and before you know it you are everything you despise.

We all sign the petitions but are we actually living the ethos? Will your son grow up to disrespect or physically hurt a girlfriend? Will your daughter disrespect and double cross other females to get what she wants? Do your children understand the meanings of reasonable and unreasonable, acceptable and unacceptable, right and wrong? Or are you just indulging them to make sure you are number 1 popular parent…. to make life easier and sweeter for yourself, sod the future?

We need to get with the program people.

I wish I didn’t care but I do.

The most important issue of all is that of men and women. Whatever label you wish to give it is irrelevant, the fact remains that equality is more important than ever.

It is rare that I am completely furious and even rarer that I wish to write it down but this is one such time. I have read far too many accounts recently, by women (usually in the USA I’m afraid…that’s just the way it is) whinging about how some man wolf whistled at them or made a comment and they didn’t feel comfortable. **&^%*$*%$£^%£^£^

This attitude is akin to complaining in front of a man with no legs that you stubbed your toe. Women who are actually oppressed would give everything they have to be in a position to tell a man where to go without being heavily punished for it. Get some bloody perspective. You can avoid being raped by a random stranger, you can’t avoid being raped by half the local police force.

It may not be comfortable to have to speak up or shout back at builders or loudly embarass some loudmouth chauvinist in a shop but when did anyone say life was easy? Men get “started on” all the time for no reason and have to handle it well or face the consequences… I’m afraid we need to do the same. One of the first phrases I learn in any new country is one to shout at a man to shame him if he disrespects me. I very rarely get much trouble and if I do they know about it….as does everyone in the vicinity.

Laws don’t change things, people do.

Stand up for yourselves you spoiled inhumane bitches. You perpetuate the worst evil in the world by being so pathetic, reliant and ungrateful to your foresisters. If you can’t stand up for yourself in a coffee queue you need to go back and seriously understand where your freedoms came from. Grow a spine and contribute, it’s not like you’re staring down the barrel of an AK47.

Lead by example

Change starts at home…    you’d be surprised how many loud and proud feminists bring up indulged, nasty, violent little misogynists.

So as not to end on a rant, I must explain that it is empowering, ladies…and gents.

I am lucky in that I was always brought up to stick up for myself and others. I have NEVER been raped or had any violence perpetrated against me (ironically, other than by those closest to me) and have never yet received backlash from speaking up. There has been the odd moment of fear as a female in the city but the strange person seemingly following me could have been a drug addict, a youth or simply a weirdo… not necessarily a psycho woman-hater… however I am conditioned to expect violent rapists and fear that in everyone I encounter after dark. Did you know though that men are also in a predicament… I hear more and more that men don’t want to walk behind women in the dark, or if they are the only ones in a street, for fear of scaring them.

It is a sad old world we insist on perpetuating.

The good news is that there is definitely a light…. I see men all the time to whom I gave “what for” and most, if not all, of them have improved if not completely changed their ways. These are not just family, friends, acquaintances but also delivery drivers, farmers, cabbies, pub landlords… strangers. I’ve even brought bosses up on it… if you are worth your salt they’ll change their ways to keep you. You see, you gain respect if you stop someone in their well-worn tracks and make them think again… and that approach is not limited to the gender issues. Many folk don’t know any better until someone tells them and educates them.

Ignorance is not an offence but it is an affliction we can all help eradicate

Malala Speaks

Malala Yousafzai speech to United Nations, well worth a moment of your time if you haven’t already seen it. As subjects very close to my heart, Afghanistan and Malala were the subject of my first blog post. I am happy to see her so well, undeterred and so full of strength for the difficult road ahead. She is an example to us all.

Take heed



Savouring Now

I’ve found myself zoning right in to the tiny things just now. The pollination around the garden, the birds raising their young… sunrise… sunset… ant colonies and spiderlings. The organic wildflower meadows leading down to the river, the barn owl floating by at dusk while the bats flit about overhead.

I’m missing writing but have been taken over by a period of unintended deep meditation. It could be the heat, the pleasure of watching my garden grow after all the hard work or just my way of coping with the palpable changes going on for us as a species.

Within these hedges I am unencumbered.

Guilt is a powerful subverter and I have been wrestling with the guilt of not following the news, keeping up my opinions on global affairs and generally being downhearted about the state of the world… not being superbusy 24/7, not being sociable summer stylee, as well as the perennial guilt attached to not living how everyone else does and expects… of course.

I earn enough to cover what I need and, most of what I personally need… is free. I don’t feel my lifestyle is particularly selfish – I contribute to my local community and loan to farmers in developing countries, I provide a natural habitat for local flora and fauna and put up with creatures I’d really rather not for the greater good of humanity! I can’t summon any guilt for not being a rabid consumer or being in a perpetual state of, “What next? Where next? What do I want now?”

I am content.

This is a good thing. A wonderful feeling. A much sought-after state of mind.

I have realised that I finally do live somewhere that I don’t feel the need to get away from… I am now living a lifestyle I don’t need a holiday from. The restrictions that come with Lyme have actually given me freedom.

This split second in my life is to be savoured


In Rude Health?

Rudeness has been on my mind recently. I’ve been trying to come up with an important sociological reason for being rude and why it is so frequently employed in communication and as a general method.

I can’t find any good reason for it

Rudeness gets people’s backs up. It is unpleasant to live around. Rudeness insinuates hierarchy or superiority. Friction and conflict usually result.

Quite simply it is disrespectful.

In my opinion, being rude is ignorant… and that isn’t to say that I am not a perpetrator myself on occasion. I feel ignorant when I do it and I know I let myself down. My own rudeness is usually induced by an individual and their words or behaviour. I’m rarely an instigator. This is no excuse.

I occasionally venture further out into the material world but usually hasten home soon after…

Staff in shops are rude. Coffee purveyors are rude. Folk walking the street are rude. Drivers are rude, cyclists are rude, lorry drivers are rude. Children are rude, teenagers are rude, adults are rude. Everyone is so bloody rude!!!

Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not a massive fan of the sycophantic and vacuous fakery camp that insists on the cheesy repetition of an insincere, “Have a nice day” etc, either.

Is there no middle ground?

The other day I pulled over in a local village to allow a stream of 12 cars in the opposite direction past me on my side of the road. The drivers? EVERY SINGLE ONE smiled and thanked me.

I lived for a few years in a place where the attitude, and the people who perpetuate it, is the unwanted virus of England. (Much wealth, no manners, total ignorance, pure disrespect) In two and half years NOT A SINGLE human being thanked me or smiled at me for being courteous.

Living in ‘rudetown’ made me a rude and seriously grumpy bitch. To have everything and give nothing is a negative state… living surrounded by this mindset made me question my very existence on this planet and whether a world of humans all aiming for that “dream” is a world worth inhabiting. (BTW it isn’t, FYI) When I assessed the damage I realised that I was at a point where going out in the car to specifically drive slowly around the place, holding people up, became a game of pure pleasure. Watching the anger mount as these spoiled individuals weren’t able to pursue their exact desire at the exact moment they desired it – because of me – became like a drug. Pottering along at the speed limit with a massive grin as they all risked their lives and licences to scream past me in fury only fed my need to make them as miserable as they had made me. The only way to dissipate the constant anger and irritation at being treated so incredibly and constantly unpleasantly, was to wind those mofos up something chronic.

Slow at roundabouts, slow at the lights, let every car that wants out in front of me…

I’d be in that supermarket carpark for just after school time, crawling around, all smiles, as the massive BMW 4×4’s and other flashy rides were trying to muscle their way through with their blond and orange and incandescent occupants swearing at me. Ha Ha Ha.

I even took to standing three feet away from the neighbours blatantly watching them and listening to their conversations…. sometimes for up to an hour. That’s what they did to me.

You can see why I had to get out!

Rudeness is self-perpetuating. It takes all the resolve in the world not to give it back in spades to someone who disrespects you for absolutely no good reason. Very few of us are able to override the basic instinct to retaliate.

So, having gone from the pit of extreme rudeness – which seeps in to your fabric – to the perfect level of politeness and respect – which does the same – I can categorically say;

Manners maketh man (and woman)

Kindness makes the world go round

A smile is worth a thousand words


Rudeness is a ripple effect WMD     

To be avoided at all costs