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16 October 2014

NiconColl - April 2008

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bookclub again

Sorry, there is lots more to Coll than bookclub, and I've been middling busy with 'other stuff', but bookclub is one of Coll's unsung success stories. I was quite rude about it for a year (I don't need to be told what to read and then have to make poncy analyses of 'arty' books), probably because of bad memories of Eng Lit at 'O' Level. But last night there were 11 people at Grish, and numbers were short because of woodwork and a renewable energy meeting. I reckon over ten per cent of the population have been to several bookclubs. Anyway, the book was short (just as well as there was a lot of last minute readers) and generally OK, but I don't think I'm going to recommend it online, and it didn't get voted into the woodburner either. I wasn't the only person to be disturbed by the book burning, but it has set a new method of measuring a book's worth. Interestingly, as we talk about previous books, they get progressively less popular and I think several could receive the fire treatment later, but last night the room was warm enough. A valiant and successful attempt by an 'old' house dweller to compete with these new super-insulated-ground-source-heated-kit-houses. We all know to visit those in shorts and T-shirts!
Next month's books are by Cynthia Rogerson. One is out of print so the other is the official book, but I've just ordered both on Dr Amazon (and an amazing book celebrating the birch tree which I saw while playing with trees down south). If things go according to plan (unlikely) the author will be visiting and we will get an insight into book writing as well as having to be more tactful at the criticism. Anyway, it will be warm, another venue with the ground-source-etc-etc.
Posted on NiconColl at 16:09

Not Three Fridges

I came home from work the other night to find my way in was blocked by some very large cardboard boxes. One was a Screwfix box. He needs his Screwfix fix like I need Dr Amazon. So that was OK. Not so sure about the other three. They were six feet tall (OK, five, four, well, definitely three feet, or at least a metre (these foreign measurements ought to have some use)). Well, each box could have had a fridge in it. An ordinary fridge, not one of those walk-in American jobs. The kind you might have to have if you had ground-source-heat-pump-heating (deeply jealous). Our kitchen is so cold the butter lives out and has to be grated onto toast! Our fridge contains milk, more milk (the boat came in with the delivery van, always buy milk if there is some!) some salted sausage skins (just in case), the cat food (and he has learnt to open the fridge door so it has a catch we keep forgetting to close) and a bottle of fizzy wine (I'm not sure what we are chilling it for, I'm waiting for an impromptu celebration). I hate cold beer, cold apples, don't understand why eggs need the cold treatment, or how anyone ever has cheese left. So we did not need a new fridge (or three)!
Inside the two-project-volunteers-up for-selection and him were watching the tail end of Man U's success, completely oblivious of the cardboard wall outside. We carried the boxes into the kitchen. He wanted to leave them in the porch (conservatory). I put my foot down, I would never have got to look at my seedlings (more later mjc). The boxes proudly announced they were box one, three and four of four. So where was box two? I didn't want it, but I like to be tidy (I'm a Virgo, I can't help it). And they weren't fridges but bouyancy aids. The sailing club takes another step forward. The secretary may have all the safety helmets, but at Kilbride we have enough arm bands to not worry what happens to rising sea levels. I heard our newest immigrant may be recruited to the sailing club committee (poor chap, he hasn't been here a fortnight yet), so hopefully if the boats arrive unannounced they'll head to the north end of Coll. Meanwhile, box two arrived on Friday, I guess there just wasn't room for four fridges on the Tuesday van!
Posted on NiconColl at 22:55

Baby seedlings

I once read a book where one person asked another to admire her basil seedlings. 'Aren't they sweet' was the reply, before the book returned to whatever the plot was. I also think basil seedlings are sweet. The seeds go a funny blue when they are watered in, the kind of blue colour some dogs are (it's a recessive gene FC, very similar to black). Then the seed leaves appear, beautifully neat and small; and then the true leaves grow, the plants get untidy and start to smell. I'm not actually a fan of basil, I grow it because it is on the compulsory list of things to sow, and because it is so sweet when it first germinates. I like brassica seedlings too. They all look the same; rocket, calabrese, cabbage, all have little heart shaped leaves and heaven help me if the label disappears, because it will be months before they can be identified (except rocket). I sowed tomatoes and peppers (both hot and sweet), labelled them and put them on my heated shelf with a plastic cover over them, to make it nice and warm and humid. Three days later I realised I had used a water washable pen on the labels, and they were now conveniently blank. If anyone wants to swap plants with me I can offer a) andine cornue, a big plum with fantastic flavour, b) yellow pear, a small yellow tomato or c) an un-named one (seed packet is in the compost bin) but I know it is a potato-leaved bush type. It's a shame they really need treating in different ways before fruiting.
Anyway, the cover is definitely going on the new tunnel soon (very soon (promise)) so I have bought seeds and started sowing and potting on and spend half of every day with a watering can and a gooey expression as I look to see what has germinated. I think I have a somewhat misplaced maternal instinct. Here are some cucumbers (or possibly gherkins, I am going to have to get this labelling sorted).

cucumber seedlings

I took more pics but they are all fuzzy. My cheap digi camera has the wrong sort of lens for photoing my babies. Anyhow, the basil isn't up yet.

Outside four of the sheep have lambed, two twins and two singles, and two sheep to go. The white sheep looks huge, she could have triplets, but I bet it will just be one. And Mrs Pig still looks very un-pregnant.
Posted on NiconColl at 18:11

The Cat gets his Just Desserts

We came downstairs a few days ago to a funny smell. A very strong smell of burning. Rather concerned we went round feeling all the plugs for heat, but found nothing. The smell was so strong it smelt the same everywhere, but as nothing started to smoke and it gradually went away we forgot about it.
Four weeks ago I put some eggs in the incubator. I don't have fancy hens, just the ones that wreck the garden and eat the putty from the greenhouse. But at least I don't have to worry about bio-security and a 60 km transport certificate and other DEFRA stuff (yet) if I just put a few eggs in the incubator. So three weeks later they hatched; little balls of yellow or black fluff making a ridulous amount of noise for something so small. Chicks need to be kept warm and as our house is freezing we have a heat lamp which hangs about a foot above the chicks. I spent some time wondering what to move them into, and then we were given a fish tank. It is perfect, the chicks can't escape and I can see in; and they are much more fun and stress-busting to watch than fish. We have raised several batches of chicks like this, and the only problem was the mysterious case of the vanishing chicks. Eventually we worked it out. At night the cat (he is called Patch, not very imaginative, but then, his brother was called Tabby. They got on very well for a while, and then they didn't, Tabby moved outside and then went away. I preferred him to Patch.) climbed on top of the tank, moved the lid across, put in his paw and pulled out a chick or two. The tank can't have a solid lid because a) I need to get feed and water in b) the heat lamp heat needs to get in and c) the tank is in the conservatory and gets very hot if the sun shines, so there is a collection of dead fridge shelves (the white plastic grid-type ones) tied round the tank, and one small removable piece of plywood.
The chick were very happy (I think) cheeping away, filling their food and water containers up with wood shavings, and just beginning to smell. Meanwhile, back in the living room where it is cold, but doesn't smell, the cat climbed onto my lap and started that annoying paddling with his paws and dribbling. Patch dribbles a lot. He has worked out he gets stroked if he paddles and dribbles (except when he just gets pushed off, but that is a gamble he is prepared to take). I started to stroke the cat and noticed an area of very short fur on his back. 'Things that go wrong with cats' went through my mind; ticks, fleas, fights, worms didn't supply an explaination, and then I realised. Patch had tried to get his ration of baby chick and had sat under the heat lamp trying to undo the knots holding the fridge shelves on, and the heat lamp had burnt his fur, making that funny burning smell a few days earlier. I hope eventually he got too hot and had to move and may have learnt to leave baby chicks alone, because the chicks are now in a run in the tomato house (where the peach tree is) and aren't as secure as they were (but at least it doesn't matter about the smell there).
Posted on NiconColl at 13:25

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