BBC NEWS Doors shut at last UK piano maker

Does the UK actually manufacture anything anymore??

BBC NEWS | England | Beds/Bucks/Herts | Doors shut at last UK piano maker

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Autumn is coming !!

I have not posted much over the last weeks as it has been mainly more of the same which is watering, weeding and picking produce. However below I will give a quick rundown on things worth mentioning to keep the overall year in the veggie patch complete.

Wednesday the 17th August: It is forecast to be a very hot day so lifted the onions before going to work and left them to dry in the sun for the day. They had dried quite well by the time I packed them away in the evening.

Saturday the 22nd August: A nice dry day so I decided to lift the potatoes that I had planted late and had cut the tops off about two weeks ago.potato_crop I was not expecting much from these as they were late going in and were planted in the rough ground where I had extended the veggie patch earlier this year. Other than watering and removal of some weeds they had not received any attention  and had not been earthed up. However they yielded about 7 kilos of good sized tubers. There was a little scab and slug damage but the bulk were fine. I picked out some for storage and dried them off over a couple of days when the weather was good before storing them in a brown paper carrier bag.

Monday the 24th August: I pulled a load of rhubarb and made some rhubarb jam. Another first for me. Did not have enough jars so ended up with a pudding basin full as well. ( I eventually made a crumble with the bulk of it as I would never have eaten it before it went off I am sure! )


I also strung some of the onions up to store. The crop was rather mixed this year some making a decent size and others not too good at all. Still at least they were disease free.

I have this horrible feeling I have a few sets that were left over somewhere but can not lay my hands on them at the moment.


Now I shall give a brief summary of the rest of the three weeks to bring you up to date.  I picked another cabbage several lots of runner and dwarf french beans. I have had a couple of lettuces along with spring onions and beetroot.

The bejbino tomatoes on the trusses I cut off ripened well indoors and only a couple had any signs of disease so the crop was overall a lot better than expected when the bight hit.

The courgettes which stopped producing when I potted them on have suddenly started producing again which has worked out quite well as I would of been giving them all away with the beans to be used.

The three water butts are nearly empty and the one that was leaking around the tap I took it out and sealed it up with some silicone. We then had a decent night’s rain and it filled one butt up again.

Yesterday I picked all the remaining dwarf french beans ( about 90 of them) and froze some for Christmas dinner and made a vegetable stew with the remainder along with onions, courgettes, tomatoes and carrots from the patch.


The above picture shows the veggie patch on the 22nd of August. Front left are the cabbages behind them the rhubarb and on the right lettuce and a courgette and the runner beans, The empty tomato pots behind.

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Disease hits the tomatoes for the second year.

Monday morning and I discover the Alicante tomatoes have blossom end rot. After researching on the internet it seems likely adding a little garden lime might help so watered a bit in to the compost in the evening. Had another alert from blight watch in the evening so on Tuesday before going to work I decided to cut the tops off the remaining potatoes. After work I picked a load more tomatoes ( enough to fill a small litre ice cream  tub ) mainly from the Bejbino plants and the Sweet Milton also produced a few.

Wednesday I picked some runner beans for my evening meal.

On Thursday evening I picked some more runner beans and also some tomatoes. However it seems my precaution of removing the potato tops has been in vain as there are signs of blight on the tomatoes. The Sweet Milton seem the worse hit followed by the Alicante and the Bejbino least effected.

Friday morning I decided to cut the trusses off the Bejbino tomatoes and put indoors to see if they will ripen without being destroyed by blight. Last year I tried the same with the Alicante which was the only variety I grew and the blight ruined them without any ripening. I also picked the first of my dwarf french beans along with some carrots.

Saturday the blight has really set in hard so I cut down all the tomatoes after cutting all the remaining trusses off and binning them and left the plants out to dry so they can be burnt in the new incinerator I bought for the purpose on the way home last night.

Sunday I watered the plot and picked some more runner beans and set fire to the tomatoes.

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Bejbino Tomatoes are beginning to ripen at last.

Last week I showed a picture of the Bejbino tomatoes beginning to change colour. On Monday after a day of sunshine I was able to pick the first two. They did not make it from the veggie patch though I could not withstand the temptation to try them. I found them a very sweet tasting tomato with hardly any sharpness at all. I will definitely be growing this variety again!


Tuesday I had another two and also found a couple of the Sweet Milton cherry tomatoes ripe. They were not so sweet as the Bejbino though.

Wednesday I picked a good helping of peas and pulled a couple of onions and made a vegetable stew along with a courgette. The courgettes seem to have come to a halt now which is handy with all the other vegetables ready to be harvested.

Friday I pulled some beetroot and cooked them and did a little weeding and on Saturday I picked the last of the peas and removed them to the compost bin.

Today I cut one of the trial lettuces which are nice and crisp in the heart but very loose hearted as well.  I also emptied one of the blue half drums which had four seed potatoes in it. It was quite a nice yield of about three and half pounds of potatoes.

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The veggie patch is producing like mad now.

A couple of weeks have past and I will try and bring you up to date with news from the veggie patch.

Monday 20th : A strange day as I have been banned from the main office for a few days due to swine flu being around the workplace. That is good for me as I can not get any more paperwork and projects dumped on me 🙂 When I got home I picked about thirty pea pods for my evening meal. There is something therapeutic about shelling peas I find.  After the meal I decided to deal with the excess of courgettes and made a couple of jars of courgette and ginger jam. This nearly ended in disaster as it started to burn on the bottom but luckily it did not taint it at all.

Wednesday 22nd : I picked the last of the broad beans and a few peas that had appeared on the few early plants that had been over taken by the prolific crop on the gutter sown ones.

Friday 24th : A long weekend break! Friday and Monday off as holiday. Planned to do so much but not in the mood really. I cut the first cabbage and it is massive. I also received some  Whippersnapper tomato seeds from a friendly guy on Allotments 4 All website this is a heritage variety. Whippersnapper was commercially available until about 15 years ago, produces an abundance of attractive, small, oval, pinkish-red fruit. A very early variety, it is ideal for tubs and hanging baskets. I am hoping that next year I will be picking them by now.

Other than watering and a little weeding the rest of the weekend break was filled by shopping and my trip to Worthing and reading for a break from computing.

tomatoes_turning Thursday 30th : The sun has returned and a couple of the Bejbino Tomatoes have started ripening at last.

Looks like I will get some tomatoes this year after all.

The other two varieties are not yet showing signs of turning colour yet though.

Friday 31st : I finally ate the last of the cabbage I cut last Friday. It has been cabbage at least once daily for the whole week. I think coleslaw is the only thing I did not make in the end.

Saturday 1st : Picked the first of the runner beans and some carrots from the tub. Otherwise it was wet again.

Sunday 2nd : Sharpened an old pair of shears I found whilst sorting out the shed and trimmed the grass around the veggie patch. Also trimmed the hedge a little as well. Cut the tops off the potatoes in the blue barrel tubs and cleared the runners off the strawberry bed again.

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BBC NEWS | Education | Universities ‘fail on standards’

You can tell the summer is here at last. The annual rubbishing of the exam results take to the headlines in the news yet again!

Each year the news finds ways of criticising the standards of the education of  the youth of today whether it be GCSE, A levels or University degrees.

These students have worked hard to obtain the grades they receive. One can not compare education of today directly with that of the past either as the world is changing all the time.

I have been following a few of the students that originally appeared on our TV screens back in 2003 in the series That’ll Teach ‘Em.  The series took some students that had just finished their GCSE exams and put them in a replica 1950’s school to take “O” level exams of the 50’s. The results were quite startling for those of us the actually took the “O” Levels. It really highlighted how things have changed over the years.

To get back to the issue I have watched how those students have progressed through the years following the series. Those that dropped out along the way and pursued other ways forward from the university route. Others who did not quite get the “A” levels results they required and had to take a year out to get into University. 

The amount of work they put in to get their degree. The endless hours of library research, the numerous essays, deadlines to be met and the need to get those elusive extra marks to get the first or 2:1 they wanted. The holidays spent working and then studying in evenings as well. I am not saying they did not also party and take part in the usual university activities and socialisation but work dam hard they did.

I had the privilege of reading the dissertation of one of the students and I found that the standard was exceptionally high. He was rewarded with a 2:1 which at the start of the final year was a borderline possibility.

Therefore do not take the headline grabbing falling standards as a true reflection on all Universities!

BBC NEWS | Education | Universities ‘fail on standards’

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My Annual Visit to Worthing Festival

Today I paid what has become my annual visit to Worthing. Nothing like a day at the seaside normally and the past few years it has been scorching hot. However I was not so lucky this year as it started spitting with rain as I got near Worthing.


As I was sitting waiting for my friends to arrive outside the multi-story car park I  was joined by two seagulls!

The festival or to give it it’s correct name the Worthing Lions Festival is held around the last weekend in July each year. The main attractions are a big firework display on the Friday night, a market on the Saturday and on the Sunday a American Rod and Custom Car Show along with the Bus Rally. Other events also take place over the weekend including local charity stalls and fund raising and are all centred around a funfair.


For me the buses are the normal attraction but as we got near them it really started raining.

However I did manage to get a quick look around and this year there was many more buses present.




AEC Regent V 8859 VR, that was operated by Mayne of Manchester. Built in 1964 by Neepsend Coachworks of Sheffield which built bodies to the East Lancashire Coachbuilders designs between 1964 and 1968.




LRV 992 a 1956 Titan PD2/12 bus converted in the early 1970’s to open top with a Metro-Cammell-Weymann 59 seat conversion for Portsmouth Corporation.

Unfortunately the rest of the pictures were no good as rain got on the camera lens.

The day finished off with quality fish and chips eaten whilst watching the American cars leaving the show.

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Harvesting and rain is the current position.

Still managing to keep up with eating the courgettes just. Also harvesting the broad beans, beetroot, lettuce and peas as required.

On Thursday we had a really heavy spell of rain which flooded the pots. The two with the latest sowings of spring onions and beetroot were the main disaster area. I rushed out and covered them up with the compost bin lids but the damage was already done I think.

The tomatoes still seem to be surviving in spite of the few leaves dying off so maybe I will get some this year. If only we could have a few days of sunshine to ripen the first ones quicker.

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Harvesting the container potatoes

It has been a mixed weather week. A little cooler at last but still warm but with a fair few rain showers mixed in as well.

I picked some more broad beans during the week. On Saturday walking Laddie I found one ripe blackberry on the brambles so will not be long now before they start producing their wild crop again. This is about a week earlier than last year.


Today I decided to see how well the potatoes in the crate had done as they were starting to die back a little.

As you can see from the pictures the outcome of the crop.

They were planted on the 11th of April which is thirteen weeks ago.

I was surprised at how dry the compost was as it rained most of the day yesterday.

Full details of how they were planted can be found in the post here.

The actual yield was 5 1/2 pounds in total from the ten tubers. I did notice two things when harvesting of interest. Firstly the seed tubers were still reasonably hard and intact rather than rotting away and there were signs of more possible tubers that would of increased the yield if they had been left longer.

On a final note some of my tomato plant leaves have gone funny. I just hope it is something minor rather than lose the whole crop for a second year running.

I will let you know more on this in my next update.
I also had some broad beans and pulled some more beetroot.


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Heat wave hits us and watering is the main pastime!

On Monday I had a salad which included Lettuce, spring onions, beetroot and new potatoes from the veggie plot.

Tuesday evening I trimmed all the runners off the strawberries in the pots and removed some of the older leaves as well.

Thursday night we had a little thunder storm with about 30 minutes of heavy rain at last.

Friday I had the day off and cleared up the strawberry bed. I found quite a few strawberries in the process. I packed away the netting cage till next year.

broad_beans Saturday I made some strawberry jam from the strawberries I found on Friday. I got two jars and a little left over. I also picked some of the broad beans which have been ready for a week or so.

Still having to water a lot though.

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