Tuesday, 3 March 2015

'Though inland far we be...'

My grandson and I have been working the allotment

"Here’s a thing, Oliver. Suppose I get this allotment producing a regular supply of vegetables. Suppose I sort out my confusion about whether this is a serious exercise in producing healthy and tasty food, if not cheap; that this is not an allotment in the old sense – the means by which a working man may feed his family including you – but a hobby, a leisure activity that maintains my mental health and physical shape. Suppose I sort all that out by spending money on soil improvement and paying Winnie to help work the plot with me, there’s yet another challenge. What do I do with what I grow. Does your nan cook it? All of it? Do I give it away? Some of it? How do I grow and supply what I grow in a way that gets things to the table in the right way, instead of producing gluts. As well as growing things - my main purpose - do I have to master the art of storing things? Preserving fruit and pickling veg? That’s a whole other aspect of the project, requiring crafts as tricky to learn to do well as those I’m ever so slowly learning about cultivation. What do you think? While you're thinking about this put some more water in the kettle"
  • Nick Booth "can you grow ice cream?
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  • Mickey Lowe My God what a lucky little tyke that is to be with you and learning all the time! Bless ya both !!
    19 hrs · Like
  • Mickey Lowe Any extras you grow could surely go to any food bank or homeless shelter!! 
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  • Tony Jacks Excuse the language Simon, but that is an awful lot of bloody thinking.
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  • Simon Baddeley Of course. Just insert the liquid and the ice crystals grow in it
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  • Ann Marie Gallagher There is a super project called the Real Junk Food Cafe - cook up surplus food - Payl pay as u feel - or u could give to a local place of welcome ?
    19 hrs · Unlike · 1
  • Simon Baddeley A friend has just sent me a message...'Re your allotment quandaries ... I'd been going for a while before i got the hang of preserving. I have to say that its one of the things that is most exhausting. After working at the allotment i drag the produce home and have to start working again to prepare it for the freezer/pickling/chutneying etc. It adds a whole other level. And it makes giving stuff away even more joyful at the time of inevitable gluts - you will not be able to avoid gluts.There are plenty of books about preserving.' But why not just go to Fortnums or Harrods' Food Hall next time in London. It's cheaper in the end. Apple and Mint Chutney £4.95 a jar. Off my allotment the same would cost nothing in materials and around £150 in labour (:))...and you want me to give that away to the poor?
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  • Sue Tsirigoti Your friend is right! we are sooo lucky not to be in a "needs must" time.. well not much anyway. There is a great deal of pleasure in growing and eating ones own produce and the sad thing is at the time you havea glut so does everyone else too! Well here at least where we all have gardens of varying sizes. Even the effort of harvesting and blanching ready for the freezer is so too much for me once summer season has started. I remember my mother salting beans because we of course didnt have freezers. I would have to buy a new freezer to accommodate all our produce and even then we would be struggling to eeat it all before the next crop next year. At least some of it oes to the chickens which continue with the circle f life and turn it into eggs and chicken soup, or Kokoros pastistada. It is the eternal question isnt it?
    18 hrs · Unlike · 2
  • Zena Phillips I was lucky. It was my own garden so it included fruit trees and soft fruits. All my surplus requirements went to the village shop. We split the proceeds half and half. Sometimes there were people waiting for me to arrive because they knew stuff had been harvested a maximum of half an hour before I got there. I never made a fortune but it covered next year's seeds and needs.
    18 hrs · Unlike · 3
  • Andy Mabbett That looks like a proper shed.
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  • Simon Baddeley Got in on freecycle. Had to cut two panels in half to get them in the van! I recovered the roof, added the veranda and rain gutters and downpipes. https://flic.kr/p/a5qBJ7 Got the slabs after a neighbour's front-yard make-over. https://flic.kr/p/a5qBJ7
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  • Poppy Brady Are you sure you haven't tied Oliver to that chair?! And who sits on the chairs on the tables?
    11 hrs · Unlike · 1
  • Simon Baddeley How else can I get anyone to listen to me (:))
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  • Paul McGovern I think you should let Oliver take over and take up fishing x
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  • Maureen Carter I keep a log of the produce i use and give away for every year and the chutneys i produce and its quite amazing how much you do produce. It takes a few extra minutes daily but you can then see what was productive to grow and what wasnt worth the effort but it does at the end of the day , depends on the weather. I this winter didnt grow enough winter greens but it is a very big learning curve. The neighbours quite happily look after my plot when i go away as they pick and use the produce !
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I've invested in topsoil and compost; dropped off in builder's bags from the lane at the top of my allotment. When needed Ollie and I barrow it down to the bed we're working on.
We passed Vanley on the way down to Plot 14 yesterday. I haven't seen him for a while. Oliver strolled on with Oscar on his lead. I reflected on my hopes and cares for the plot.
"The paths are much wider"
"Yes. And when you want you can always make your beds larger and thin the paths again"
"This March is going to be important. That's when I'll do a lot of planting, now I've done more weeding and digging over and added in more compost and top-soil...but both plots on either side of me have been abandoned"
"They may turn up when the weather gets better"
"Yes but I wish I had plots next to me that were thriving. There are so many plots that people have given up on after covering them with bits of wood and plastic and....someone came for three weekends in August last year and then disappeared. That other covered the plot with polythene last November but hasn't checked in since. I keep putting her weed suppressor back in place but the wind is always..."
"Allotments are a metaphor for life"
Oliver, Winnie and her son, Dennis

Dennis and Oliver moving earth

There have been big winds rising. How they gust across this dishevelled site, showing scant respect for structures not well secured, tattering plastic covers, blowing over poly-tunnels...

...shifting one greenhouse onto a neighbour's plot; getting under people's weed suppressing fabric; blowing it around until it's in shreds. On Plot 14 everything's tied, pegged or weighted down.
The bottom bed was collecting water, producing lots of mud. To get it workable I dug a trench at its end. Oliver and I filled it with rubble. Splash! Splash!

I barrowed the earth I'd shovelled out to the top of the plot; brought back lighter topsoil and good compost to mix in the earth I'd forked over and weeded yet again.

After removing its fabric, I covered the fly-tipped bed-frame I dragged to the site yesterday with insect netting - Veggiemesh - using my gun tacker.


On a nearby bed I've planted parsnip seeds. I've done this twice without success, so here goes again but with more compost and bed preparing. I bought a resistant strain of seeds. Archer.  Have I done this right? I'm already thinking I should have waited for warmer weather despite the Feb plant packet advice. Perhaps as a safeguard I should try germinating the parsnip seeds I've got left on a damp kitchen towel in the conservatory.
As it is I checked instructions on depth and spacing - but I wonder how much to trust the retailer's instructions. I semi-sprinkled the small disc-like seeds along rows. The instructions - read in several places as well as from the packet  - say that parsnips dislike transplanting, so these are not to be cultivated in my frame-covered seedbed then moved. What I should expect to do is to thin the sprouted plants and expect to harvest something around Christmas or beyond. I'm slowly realising that there's no substitute I've found for the time it takes to make judgements based on experience I've only just begun to acquire.
The plot now- this bed ready for potatoes
The plot 3 years ago









Starting on a shed from Simon Baddeley on Vimeo - 2010

I've finally found a book on gardening that I like. I was told about it by Barry on Facebook - a veteran pro gardener....
 'Simon. Look for a book called “ Gardeners Earth“ by Dr Stanley Whitehead. I had a copy for horti exams I had to do yearsssss ago. I managed to “keep“ it LOL'
**** **** ****
Even so we miss beloved Greece....in memory land...an Easter Sunday five years ago...a lamb roast at Mark's and Sally’s. At one in the afternoon, having been up until nearly four the same morning enjoying food – singing and conversation with our dear neighbours, we strolled down Democracy Street. The spitted lamb was turning over a bed of charcoal. Our assembly came from most parts of the UK, some long inhabitants of the island – citizens - others like us still new and some visitors, one in Corfu for the first time. Angie and Martin we’d met before but I learned they knew Richard Hill’s part of the world, and indeed, when I mentioned his address, knew his street. I explained Richard’s craft and the finely re-carved roach I was so looking forward to holding in my hands in May. We came onto Pompey and the writer Graham Hurley who’s given me so much pleasure.

The view from the balcony - greenery to the blue Kerkyra sea and the mainland mountains in their distant detail, while behind us the three crags, on one of which some lads had raised a flag – not the patrida, because it was red and yellow, but we couldn’t make out the pattern. “Could ever a village be better placed?” Swallows darted among the houses. Our company spread across two tables on the balcony; smoke from the roasting lamb full of rosemary rising upwards; cheerful conversation. We ate olive-oiled pitta bread from a barbeque, helping ourselves from dishes of pasta mixed with glazed carrots and sausages; dressed salad; small roasted fowl to be eaten delicately. “This is just the first course" reminded Sally. There was wine, which could be diluted with ice and sipped for hours; also beer and water. Then the lamb – I honoured with half the head. “I’ve never seen anyone trying to eat a lamb’s head with a knife and fork”. True the only way to tease the meat from a skull is to pick it up and feed in the old way.
EASTER LAMB ROAST IN ANO KORAKIANA from Simon Baddeley on Vimeo.
But Angela Papageorgiou in Corfu shares this picture, tagged : "What was that about wishing you were here"?
Southerly gale on the Old Fort, Ormos Garitsas  ~ Friday 6th March

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Catching the 9.10 train to London is altogether a fussier business than the purposeful 7.30 that goes non-stop to London and is full of serious commuters. This is my second visit to London carrying films and tapes from the Out of Town archive for the first stage of turning them into broadcasts.
Leaving New Street for Euston

It doesn’t help that I’m carting an unwieldy old suitcase weighing over 20 kilos containing eleven episodes of ‘Out of Town’ – rusty film cans of 16mm location film with, cello-taped to them, my stepfather’s commentary as recorded in his studio ‘shed’ at the time of broadcast – over forty years ago. I needed a taxi to New Street. It didn’t arrive quite on time. The traffic after eight was heavy – parents to school, commuters into the city centre – congestion I’d slide by on my bicycle, but for this freighted journey I’m a penguin ashore. Desultory chat with the young driver; peering at my watch. I got a receipt at the drop-off.
“Keep receipts” says Lin “If you ever make any money from this I’ll need it for your tax return”
At New Street it’s a literal drag from the drop-off to the platform. A Virgin platform helper consulted his tablet.
“The 9.10 is coming in the wrong way round. Your coach will be up that way”
The platform was crowded. Travellers for Coventry and International. My train arrived. I trudged towards Coach D. My guide was swiftly behind me, grabbed the hefty case to the right door and heaved it on board for me.
By Coventry I was in an almost empty carriage. At Euston I’ll hope to find a trolley and another taxi to Deluxe Soho.
Dear Mark. As arranged I expect to be with Deluxe Soho around 11.00 this Wednesday morning with a second batch of ‘Out of Town’ film and tapes. Looking forward to seeing you again. I shall come to Mearde Street. Best wishes, Simon 
Morning Simon. I'm actually in meetings, so please ask for my colleague Graham Jones, who will make you a nice cup of tea upon arrival. I will hopefully see you a bit later. All the best, Mark 
I have taken up Christopher Perry’s offer. We’ve signed a witnessed contract. Big Centre TV on air in Birmingham and the Black Country Saturday Feb 28th  - will pay for processing the films and tapes in the archive I’ve been looking after these last few years, in return for being able to broadcast some of them.
At Deluxe Soho with eleven film-tape pairs for digitising
This deal includes showing episodes from the Delta box-sets that contain over fifty complete easily broadcastable episodes of Out of Town. This gives us time for the old archive film to be digitised in London by Deluxe Soho and brought to Walsall Studio School for the key work of turning it into broadcasts – a process that requires film and sound to be synchronised, titles and credits to be inserted along with the Southern Television logo at start and finish, and - probably the biggest challenge - editing decisions made about what do with the sequences of Jack’s commentary where we have his voice but no picture. We’ll almost certainly remove him talking about an unseen object on the table in his studio ‘shed’ hoping to create sensible transitions from his commentary in the ‘shed’ to the location film. I’ve enjoyed quite a lot of chat on Facebook – nearly 900 members now – about what images to insert in the ‘shed’ sequences; stills from the episode itself, silent moving film from the episode, portraits of Jack – stills and moving. One helpful adviser even dubbed my stepfather’s imageless commentary onto a sequence clipped from a different episode where the studio is shown. It fooled a few people including me until after a few seconds I spotted the subterfuge.
From Euston where I had further help - a trolley for the hefty case from the platform to concourse and a station uniform to guide me to the lift that took us down to a taxi. The taxi took me to the centre of Soho, to Meard Street, where I lugged the case into Marie Fieldman's workroom at Deluxe Soho.
With Marie Fieldman starting work on the next Out of Town batch


After a coffee I picked up my pleasingly light suitcase and started walking north. I bought delectable lox and cream cheese bagel to eat in Soho Square......
...walking north towards Euston Road and the mainline station.
Euston Road - a phone booth in old London town

On Monday 2nd March, 10.30-11.00am, Big Centre TV broadcast a half-hour episode of Out of Town. The next episode goes out same time on Friday, and thereafter at same time on Mondays and Fridays. I'm keeping careful tabs on what's shown - the deal being to show only 50% of the contents of each of the two box sets. That gives us just under 15 weeks before we go on to do the trickiest and most interesting broadcasts - the archive material I've been taking to Deluxe Soho. Now I'm more familiar with the people at Deluxe Soho, I've asked Chris Perry to get me together with editors at Walsall Studio School - the people or person who'll be synchronising and editing the digitised material sent up from London.
Dear Chris. Not sure if we were clear on the advertising of Out of Town on Big Centre TV. I saw the announcement of future episodes being shown Monday and Friday mornings, but we agreed there would be, at the end of each episode of Out of Town (as you suggested and we agreed), showing a 10 second commercial for the Delta Box sets with a link to Delta’s website for OOT.
I have told Delta this would be happening so I could check with them the effect of that publicity. Sales of the box sets pay me the royalties I need for storing the archive and expenses associated with the restoration of the archive, the main part of which Big Centre TV will be covering once we arrive at broadcast quality episodes from the archive.
I anticipate you have about 15 more weeks drawing on the existing box set material. If all goes well the first of the recovered archive episodes should be ready to broadcast in the first week of June. These will be unique, not seen since first broadcast in the 1970s.
Remembering I will be out of the UK, the sooner I can get together with a Studio School editor with digitised material to hand the better. It may help that I have three such episodes already processed by Francis Niemczyk. Best wishes, Simon
Email from Chris:
Hi Simon. As soon as we take some delivery of files, I can fix you up with an editor. I planned to give Steve until end of week and then chase him at Deluxe. I have fixed the caption issue - playout server couldn't see it.  c

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