So camp

Getting ready to go

Getting ready to go

The above photo makes me happy. I love camping. And since moving to England, I haven’t camped once. So this coming weekend will be a momentous occasion. Finally I get to break out the tent, which has been sitting on my wardrobe for nearly 2 years. I hope I can put it together with no problems. I don’t want to look like an idiot in front of my fellow campers. Any ways, it’s only two nights in the tent. Not very much but should be enough. Then I’ll be hosteling the other two nights. It’s a pretty short trip I’m taking up to Scotland but is a desperately needed break from the city. I will be drinking lots of whisky and beer.

It’s been a much better week this week. The bottom has dropped out of my stress. I feel much more settled knowing I’ll be here for a while longer. No need to rush back stateside. I’ve barely been home this week as I’ve been been playing loads of tennis and out and about with friends. It’s nice. I had a couple tennis matches today, but I’m happy to have the evening to myself to catch my breath.

Not sure if I’ll update before heading up to SCO, but I will try. I’ll leave you with a photo of one of my lunch time breaks at work this week, Gray’s Inn Gardens. I’d never been there before properly, so it was wonderful to finally enjoy it. Even dragged one of my friends out of his stuffy office to join me. Good times.

Gray's Inn Gardens

Gray’s Inn Gardens

Out like a trout! Peace.

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Random life moments

It was a fine weekend. Even with working. I’ve been enjoying the nice weather by spending nearly all my time the last 4 days out of doors. I feel like I was devoid of sun and blue skies for so long my body just can’t get enough. And I’m happy to oblige. I will forever be an outdoorsy girl. If I ever get permanently stuck inside of an office, I will inevitably go crazy and then crumble into a pile of ash after combusting in my chair. I just can’t handle sitting still so long. Especially when I could be out working in places like this:

Brunswick Square

Brunswick Square

Any ways, I hope you all had a nice weekend. I mowed my lawn. It was nice to be “back on the tools” as they say. After being a turf professional for 6 years, I can’t shake the PPE. I have to mow in sunglasses, boots and ear plugs. It just doesn’t feel right not wearing all of it. Like it’s not the full experience. Sans bra? No problem. But the PPE must be on.

Could mow in a bikini as long as I have boots, ear plugs and sunnies.

Could mow in a bikini as long as I have boots, ear plugs and sunnies.

I realize I look ridiculous mowing in all that with a bloody electric mower. A shitty electric mower, but that’s the way I am and probably will always be. It’s surprising I don’t have a hi-viz shirt or tabard on. Although at that point the neighbors would begin to talk and my landlady would likely ask me to find a place without a lawn to mow.

What also happened yesterday is that a very small kitten dropped out of the sky into my back garden. Well, probably not out of the sky as it would be a dead kitten in that case. But a small black kitten appeared from no where. It is 3-4 weeks old and pretty adorable. How does this happen? Of course it doesn’t want anything to do with me. But I keep trying to pet it. If I’m lucky, perhaps I’ll get to touch it by the end of the week. That’s if it hasn’t escaped into another garden by then. The mom is obviously like “WTF, kitteh? Why are you here?” It appears that some situation arose which allowed the kitten to get into our garden and it is not able to find it’s way back from where it came from. The mum keeps coming back over to take care of it, so that’s a good sign. Of course I’m feeding and giving it water. It seems interested in those things.

Kitteh and big kitteh

Kitteh and big kitteh

So I’ve been pretty glued to the kitten drama since it kicked off last night. Like keeping tabs on how much the mom comes over. What the kitty does when other cats come in the back garden. I certainly can’t get enough of this. I’d stay home from work just to watch if I could afford to do so. It’s the biggest thing to happen in the Norbs in months.

Any who, I have a super big day tomorrow. 30 miles of cycling, tennis and being outside all day doing tree stuff. So I should get a good night’s sleep. Have a great week everyone.

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Flower boarder in Regents Park

Flower boarder in Regents Park

Thank f*** for spring. It’s here. Trees and flowers are in bloom. It’s mildly warm. And there has even been sun. Yes, Sun. Happy days. My hops plant is so happy with the turn in weather it’s grown more than 3 feet in less than two weeks. Hard to believe but true. I have photographic evidence to back me up. I’m looking forward to a lot of hop flowers come this September. I’m arranging to do a fresh hopped beer with my home brewing co-worker. Hop Trip UK edition? Yes please!

Hop-tacular hops.

Hop-tacular hops.

The weather has done much to improve my spirits after a tough winter of clouds. But I’m still struggling to with whether to stay here in London long term. If anything it’s become much more difficult in the last weeks. I’ve missed my friend Jill’s wedding back in Oregon. Really really gutting for me to have missed it. Like I ended up crying at two different pubs while out last Saturday. Two pubs. What a pillock. After a load of consolating hugs from my mates I felt a wee bit better. But it still threw into doubt my reasons for staying here long term. Worse it’s ever been. It’s hard to say if it’s just a funk or if it truly is a call by my heart to move back stateside. I don’t want to make a rash decision as once I leave that’s likely it for living abroad in my life. So I’m giving it 2 months. Two months to mull over and see how it is. Come July perhaps things will have significantly changed. I have a feeling they will have one way or another. And a decision will be clear. Stand by.

Until then, I will make the most of my time in London. Spend time with my lovely friends, work hard and learn as much as I can at my job, and continue my quest for smoking hot body fit. And by smoking hot body fit I mean try not to develop a beer belly.

This weekend is a bank holiday weekend. The weather is supposed to be pretty alright outside of the last 15 minutes when it was raining. Hopefully I can get my act together and go play some tennis in the late afternoon today. I have a match tomorrow and I haven’t picked up my racket in the last two weeks. Never a good formula for winning. Monday I will be heading to the land of Essex to go for a wander through Epping Forest. I’ve never been there and the trip is long overdue. I’m trying to get my co-workers to join me as well. This will probably lead to more tree photos being posted here.

Yesterday it was really nice and I was out working on my bicycle in Camden Town. I decided to cycle over to Regents Park via Regents Canal on my lunch break.

Regents Canal

Regents Canal

I’ve been running through Regents Park after work over the last few weeks. The park is absolutely huge. You don’t realize it until you’ve run around it thoroughly. And Queen Mary’s Gardens are beautiful. I’ve wanted to take a load of photos, but since I’m running I don’t have my camera. So this was finally a chance to snap a few photos while the cherry trees are still in bloom. And were they ever. So I leave you with some lovely photos of Regents Park. If you ever come to London, I recommend a wander through Regents Park and then down the canal. You won’t be disappointed.

Avenue of trees

Avenue of trees


Cherry Trees

Cherry Trees

Ok this is Camden Gardens not Regents Park but it's a nice little garden.

Ok this is Camden Gardens not Regents Park but it’s a nice little garden.

Have a nice weekend everyone. I hope the weather is nice enough for you to get out and explore.

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Bluebells are out….nearly

Yesterday, a gentleman at Perivale Wood said the bluebells would be out in total in 5 days. They looked pretty good to me. I’ll go try another ancient woodland next weekend just to make sure. Here are a few snaps from Perviale Wood in West London yesterday on their once-a-year opening day.

DSC05444 DSC05435 DSC05437 DSC05441 DSC05443


Enjoy and have a nice week. xx

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One sweet day

I went to Kew Gardens yesterday for a seminar. It’s still a novelty for me to go there for any reason. Like….it’s Kew. Kew Gardens. In London. And I can ride my bike there.

Awesome type.

The seminar, which was on the topic of arboretums, specifically one in Northern Ireland (I WILL GO THERE THIS YEAR) was very good. But it was nice of the organizers to finish at 4 so we had some time to wander around the gardens before it shut. And it was around 4 that the weather when from alright to really good.

The spring flowers are up. The magnolia trees are in bloom (just passed peak). And some of the trees are beginning to break bud and push some leaves out.

Awesome blossom

Awesome blossom

I love magnolias in bloom.

Did I mention magnolias are awesome in blossom?

Did I mention magnolias are awesome in blossom?

Yeah it was pretty nice out.

A lovely avenue of Quercus ilex (possibly a hybrid but I don't think so).

A lovely avenue of Quercus ilex (possibly a hybrid but I don’t think so).

It was nice out and then it got more nice.



I was so happy it was nice out, I jumped for joy in front of some Ponderosa Pines. I love Pondos. Tulip trees and Ponderosas often get impromptu hugs from me when I spot one. Cause just like me, they are making it in a foreign land. They’re like friends here from Indiana and Oregon respectively.

Jumping for joy!

Jumping for joy!

I need to go to sleep. It’s been a busy week of having to do random things (taxes, kew, dinner with friends, running to shoreditch) and I still haven’t recovered from Sunday’s mega bbq really. I felt like a slug on my 6 mile run and cycle home this evening. Still….I did it. Just got to power through shit cause it’s always worth it in the end.

Have a good weekend y’all. Peace and blessings.

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Urban Agriculture on Brownfields

I was going to post this to Facebook, but I thought I’d take into consideration those friends of my who already are spammed by my interests and articles far too much and go ahead and put this on my website. I doubt anyone will click the link any ways.

Within the last 5 years there’s been a tremendous push for urban agriculture and production.  There’s new community gardens, orchards and allotments popping up everywhere. While this is obviously a positive thing, in the back of my mind I’m really concerned about the uptake of contaminants by the plants which may find their way into the food. I honestly don’t know much at all about the way plant uptake metals, minerals or other substances, but I think it’s something that needs to be taken into consideration. It worries me to see happy kids chomping away on fruit just picked from a community garden and I see a large auto depot or some dilapidated factory in the back ground. Has a full soil survey been done on that property? More than likely not as these soil tests are really expensive.

I guess the EPA is in agreeance with me as they have put out some preliminary guidelines on the subject in the last year and a half.  You can read them here. That’s what I’ve found myself doing recently.

This isn’t meant to frighten anyone. Hopefully I haven’t done that. I just want people to be cognizant of risks to growing crops in a city, especially on previous brownfield sites.

On a related note, I planted a load of seeds last weekend.  Tomatoes, peas, lettuce, and courgettes. I didn’t test the soil. If I get lead poisoning from my raised beds here in sunny (that’s a joke) I will let you know.

I’m ready for summer and hopefully being able to harvest some crops in a couple months!

Pots and beds planted with goodness

Pots and beds planted with goodness

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Easter Monday

Cloudy days.....

Today I’m not so sure about a lot of things. Probably due to being under-employed. And it’s been very cloudy and rainy in the last week. Plus it’s the end of a holiday weekend. Yes, indeed all of this has left me far to contemplative for my own good.  I think I need to get back in to meditation. It really did help me sort my brain out a bit and not to feel so meh. And I swear every year about this time I have a dip in life and come out shining in another 4 or 5 weeks. So perhaps I just need to keep on course and know things will be better soon enough.  I also think I need to go on a long holiday somewhere new and beautiful. I need to get off this island that is for sure. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

In other less-meh newsI had a nice Easter cookout with my roommate. I’ve been showered with the culinary delights of Poland and Lithuania over the last few months. And much to my happiness it’s all been pretty delicious. My Polish roommate yesterday made kebabs (which he kept telling me were not called kebabs) out of mushrooms, onions, chicken/beef and pickles. Yeah, pickles. Rando, but

Polish kebab

actually spectacularly delicious on a kebab. He also had some sort of nice sauce on it all.  My contribution was some cumberland sausages and potatoes with garlic and onions wrapped in foil. The potatoes I was planning to share, but my roommate proceeded to dump all of them onto the bbq when they were done. He managed to salvage about half them, the half I got to eat.  I won’t hold it against him for too long. But it was a good day of food on Easter. I’m glad I was able to salvage an appetite by the end of the day. Saturday night was a bit cray and Sunday morning was a bit rough. But I’m still here. Today I am focused on re-hydrating to regular levels.

This week I’m going to be gardening for work. Boo. Mega boo. I’m really not looking forward to doing it. For something I was so very passionate about for a long time, I am no longer passionate. Perhaps it’s my pay rate and my underused skills and qualifications which nag at me. I worked last Thursday hauling bags of compost around a garden. Wet, big bags of compost. In the back of my brain, while I struggled to lug the 60lb bags of compost from one location to the next I thought “didn’t I get a Masters degree so I wouldn’t have to do this anymore?” Unforch the current economic conditions say “no, you will haul bags for minuscule wages.”

Neat place to be working. Although I'd rather be relaxing there instead.

So great. Let’s hope some happy, desirable job pops up soon. The only upside to doing gardening in London is some of the pretty fantastic locations I get to work. It’s the only bright bit for me.  Before hauling compost I was mowing at a property along the Thames by Wandsworth Bridge.  That was kind of nice. And the location of compost moving was a cool private square in Westminster.

I think that’s all I have to offer you this week. I want some better submissions for questions for me to answer. I think I only got one decent one (THANK YOU MARY) and the rest of you are just jackasses. I can answer one right now from my sister Kris: I won’t be moving to Greenwood anytime soon. Soz. Please submit some good questions and I will be happy to answer soon. I have been horrible at writing much lately and I need to turn that around. Now is the time.

Ok, kids. Have a good week.  TTYL

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Pea fest

I know you all have been sitting on pins and needles waiting for a garden update.  It’s been a few weeks

Snap peas

since you last heard about the garden it was the end of June.  The garden has kicked into high gear with all the nice weather.  Things are putting on leaves, growing higher and producing vegetables!  Our biggest producers have been the peas (which we’ve only picked 1 of so far) and our lettuce.  Both the pea and the lettuce are super good.  The lettuce made it onto our 4th of July hamburgers and one of my lunch sandwiches.  The pea was split into pieces and enjoyed by both Tera and I.

The radishes….well.  I have picked a couple of them and they have been little.  And not that great.  I’m super disappointed in the radishes.  Do I need to leave them in longer or shorter?  Anyone know?

The tomatoes are starting to recovery after all basically taking a dump after being put in the ground.  They’re starting to put some green leaves on their little stems finally.  I’d be SHOCKED if we got one tomato flower.  I’m expecting no tomatoes.  Sad story.

Big ole broccoli leaves

The best story is the triumphant return of the broccoli plants.  I thought they were all dunzo, but about 6 of the plants have made it back and look like they may flower in the next week or so.  I want some broccoli before I leave!

Onions are getting bigger, but I’ll never see an onion before I leave.  The peppers look like they are frozen in time.  Carrots?  Yeah, maybe.  Who knows.  No chance of me seeing cucumbers or a summer squash either.  So sad I have to leave my garden behind for greener pastures, but I hope someone will keep it watered and enjoy what comes of it. That’s all for now.  I will update when we get some more produce!

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Finally all in

Jam packed

Well today was the day where all of my plants and seeds finally made it into the ground.  The peppers and tomatoes are free from their starter trays at last.  The tomato plants look a little spindly, purply and weak, but I hope they’ll start looking better now that they are home.   The garden is over planted, but God has done a decent job of thinning due to inconsistent weather.

Also planted were some cucumber and spinach seeds.  I had planted spinach back in april, but the plants all took a hit in the frost a week and a half ago.  The leaves are all curled and the only thing left are flowers.  As far as I know, spinach flowers aren’t very tasty.

Flower power

News from the pea plants:  there are two plants with flowers!  That means peas are right around the corner.  I hope to be eating some in the next two weeks.  I’m not mad about it either.  By then I hope to also have picked a couple of radishes.  The one I checked out earlier this week should be about ready to pick (I hope).

If there’s one thing I learned this year is it that getting a vegetable garden to be successful in the desert is a long and arduous process.  And at the end you might not even be successful no matter how hard you may have toiled.

Also, my turf is looking nicely mowed and nicely dry!!!!!!   I do water it regularly, but this sudden onslaught of hot weather has made the grass mad as a hornet.  At least it’s not trying to provide water to a 6 inch crown.  A mere 2 inch crown now.  Let’s hope for green this week, so we can all enjoy it during the fourth of July holiday and get some good cornhole in.

It was a very quiet day around here.  Lots of reading.  Hope to read for another hour before I head to bed.  Hope you all had a good weekend.  Cheers.

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The Longest Day

I always look forward to this day every year.  But it’s always sad the next day knowing the day will be a bit less lighted than today.  But with any luck it will be warmer.

Any ways, I had a good day of work by myself.  I got to actually do some tree work for most of the day.  Mostly digging some 30+ trees out of mulch volcanoes, but it was still better than mowing lawns at this point for me.  The day went fast.  Perhaps I was in the “flow” as my latest book is telling me about.  It’s a good thing.

Yeah, so I haven’t been writing lately as you may have noticed.  My brain is mush and filled with lots of planning for the next 90 or so days of my life.  Right now I’m waiting for Barack Obama to give me some money for school.  That should happen after July 1st.  Once that occurs I can apply for my visa, get my plane ticket, get piccadilly’s plane ticket, find a place to live……etc.  Ugh.  So to occupy my waiting time, Colleen and friends have been working their way through a lot of good times.  And by good times I mean beer.  Oh and watching a lot of World Cup.  Don’t get me started again on that goal getting called back on the US.

That’s all.  Just wanted to say hi.  This week, I’ll post some garden pictures.  I thought I was going to be able to harvest a radish today.  I pulled it out a little bit and it was just a baby purple radish, so I pushed him back into the ground.  I hope he’ll be ok and not give up on life.  All the plants are outside now, but the peppers and tomatoes are still in the trays.  Tomorrow I’m mowing the lawn so I might be inspired to get all my gardening done.  Ok, have a good week everyone.  TTYL

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