Thursday, August 18, 2016

Hedgerow & Potatoes

Still playing catch up at the allotment, after those 6 weeks away. I cropped the 2nd earlies, and got 1 1/2 coffee sacks full. Which is satisfying, from 2kg of spuds from Lidl, costing less than £1 in total. But, I must say, maris peer are not-bad salad potatoes, but somewhat bland in flavour. The main crop desiree are still in the ground, some of the foliage showing signs of yellowing, so ready to crop in a few weeks perhaps.

And the last couple of evenings, I've gone back to the Northern boundary. On the east side, the hedge is pretty much planted, but badly needed weeding, which I did. On the west side, near the path are a couple of gooseberries and bramble plants which I had to cut back when I was doing some emergency weeding during a visit home a few weeks ago.

They've took that treatment well, and are flourishing better than ever. On that part, there's only the front row of the hedge planted; the back row will be all gorse. I planted 4 of them tonight. I was tempted to plant more, but held my hand so I can be sure they're not vulnerable to pigeons and slugs. I doubt they will be, but, let's see - they're the backbone of my hedgerow, seeds collected in the countryside, and sown on the windowsill at home, and I'm absurdly attached to them.

Brambles, gooseberries, gorse. A very jaggy combination which should make an interesting and impenetrable hedgerow.

4 newly planted gorse

bumblebee on the phacelia

Big patch of phacelia covering most of the mid- and north-west beds. Pollinator central just now, Piccadilly Circus for honey bees, bumblebees & hover-flies.

Lincolnshire Poacher Day 15

Job, family, household, dogs, allotment: there are an awful lot of other calls on a piano learner's time. One day this week I only got a few minutes practice, mostly I've been getting the "academic hour". It's coming together, anyhow, and I've almost got it memorized now. I've almost tracked down a piano at the University. I recall last year seeing a room with pianos in, from the corridor when I was on my way somewhere else. I'd almost begun to wonder if I'd dreamt that, but one of the porter's confirmed that there are such rooms with at least one grand and one upright, and he told me which building they're in. So I'm getting closer. The Poacher should be in the bag by month's end, inshallah. Memorization is the point where I can get it up to speed and musical.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Lincolnshire Poacher Day 11/12

Well kind of day 12, ish. I don't think I practiced Thursday & Friday, but did two hours on Saturday, first time I've ever practiced that long. Nothing Sunday, but got an hour tonight - I would happily have gone on, except that it was causing some domestic disharmony.

I think I might have reached a plateau, so tonight I slowed down and tried to concentrate on memorization and not making mistakes, rather than picking up speed, which I had been doing in the previous couple of hours. So I was slowly puzzling out the hands together at each note, and each bar, and I can understand how that would become tedious to a listener.

Especially as the piano is now slightly out of tune, according to the app I've used - everything a semi-tone higher than it ought to be. But I'm going to soldier on with Poacher now, before I get the tuner in. Want to be able to play something to check it out whilst he's packing the tuning forks away.

On my self imposed Grade 1 exam preparation schedule, I've only got a couple of weeks left for the Poacher to be passable. Or let's just say 15 more hours. I need to track down a piano at the University, as I did in London.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Lincolnshire Poacher Day 9

No practice Saturday, Sunday, Monday, but got an hour last night, and another 40 mins tonight. Two hands coming together sufficiently for me to be able to step back from it as I'm playing and working out their relationships. Slow, and an occasional pause for thought. It's gone from painful, to difficult, to hard work, to enjoyable in less than a fortnight. Maybe another 10 hours to get it "passable"? Which would mean 26 academic hours (including 3 hours for each hand separate) in total. Which, in turn, means I can get a 20 bar, grade 1 piece in a month, and am therefore on course for the exam in November/December.

The "Academic Hour"

What's an "academic hour" when it's at home? It depends on what academic institution's representative you ask. And some places, Universities, mostly, have longer periods of tuition than an hour, often 90 minutes. But in a 90 minute lesson, most teachers would break it down with changes of pace and activity after an "academic hour", doing something else.

Which lasts between 40 and 50 minutes, but sometimes it's an actual hour. One of the reasons we have this is that after an academic hour, students need to get to another classroom, or the teacher does, and you give them 10-20 mins to do so, (5 minutes in some places, regarded as stingy). Also, attention spans for learners tend to be a few minutes either side of three quarters of an hour.

So when I say "Day 9" on the Lincolnshire Poacher, I mean I've done an academic hour of practice, warming up with scales, probably, so say 15 mins of that, 30 with The Poacher. But because I am my own academic institution, my academic hours are flexible, going from a minimum of 40 mins, up to the full hour, and sometimes beyond.

I'm keeping a careful note of how much I practice in this blog, but I don't want to get obsessive. So I can say that as of today, I've spent 9 academic hours on The Poacher, with two hands. Which someone standing over me with a stopwatch would probably say is more like 7 actual hours.


New Google Earth Plot Pic

Early June this was taken, I'm estimating, from the banked up rows of spuds in the ME bed, (bottom centre-ish). Wildflowers/weeds blooming round the pond in the bottom right corner, but the phacelia not quite showing in the Mid and NW beds. That phacelia is in bloom now, and mad with bees & hoverflies. It also shows you how late I was, how unprepared for planting, with a lot of bare earth still in June. Next year, next year...

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Back to spuds

Lovely big poppy, apologies for misframing. Six weeks of work in London came at just the wrong time of year for the allotment. I managed to get back for just one weekend, and spent a few hours of emergency weeding, which just about kept it from going to jungle on me. Been home three days now, and spent everyone of them, a few hours, at the plot.

It wasn't as bad as it first looked. The whole SE bed, formerly known as the midden and the East side of the old-greenhouse-foundations is choked with weeds.

Which is an improvement, actually, it covers up the rubble and the rubbish that has been there in ever so slowly decreasing quantities since I moved in. When I get this corner sorted, particularly the old shed, a last piece of the puzzle will slip into place.

And that old shed, oh my goodness me, is sliding blissfully westward, at the rate of maybe a millimeter a day.  It means the new shed is becoming a priority now, I doubt the old shed will see the other side of the approaching Winter, it's just going to keel over when Lawrence bustles in from the Atlantic.

It's so leaky, to the rain and to the mice.  So that's another reason to get a hurry-on with the new shed. I took a row of the maris peer 2nd earlies yesterday, not bad, carrier bag half-filled. But the next row today yielded half a coffee sack full. And I've no where to store anything. The lobby press at home is already pretty full, and not cool enough anyway. It has to be a shed. A mouse and water proof shed.
Some of the maris peer from the 1st row

So I cut back the comfrey from along the path, where it was becoming rather too dominant. Lots of supercharged material for the compost, anyhow, which was the idea. It's going to need some management, though, staggering 3 harvests a year.

And then I got to work on the tattie patch. King Edwards planted in early June did not do anything. I dug one of the seeds up when i was weeding the area where they'd been. Almost pristine, as if you'd just taken it off the supermarket shelf, after two months in the Glasgow ground. Weird, eh? What must they have done to these poor spuds?

But the desiree, which went in end of May, they're growing like crazy. A bit too crazy, I probably would have been banking them up every week or so, if I'd have been here. So I've embarked on harvesting the maris peer, (2 rows down, 3 to go), so that I can get to the desiree, (3 rows), to do some kind of banking up with them, but they're sprawling all over just now. I'm hoping they keep growing for another couple of months, when I might have made some progress on the shed.

I've got a row of sage, another of beet, and two of turnips. They were all part of the emergency weeding a couple of weeks ago, and I've re-weeded the beets and sage today.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Lincolnshire Poacher, 2H, Day 6

Another hour; actually, 2 half hours. Getting closer, but still very slow and miles away... Thinking about concentrating on memorization as a technique to learning to play it. But, maybe that's what's happening anyway. Mostly, just now, it seems to be a question of speed, I'm extremely slow. But slow isn't a bad thing: I can hear the structure of it, and like the tune more.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Lincolnshire Poacher, 2 hands, Day 5

So that's 5 hours now. A bit better in some parts, but reached a plateau, it feels like. Or maybe not. A time measure came out at 3.40something minutes, so that's 7x slower than it's going to be, which means there's a long way to go. Ugh. Still a struggle.