We need more people like this

I came across such a lovely blog today. It’s called “A Very Small Farm”, and is about a family in Ohio who raise organic crops. But far more than that, they have created an initiative encouraging and helping people who own land to grow their own crops and share or give the produce to some of the 48.8 million Americans (2010 figure – maybe it’s even higher now), I’ll just write it out in full: forty-eight point eight million Americans, who may not have sufficient food for their families.

Click the image to visit Soulsby Farm – a very small farm

I couldn’t help thinking that if there were more families like this, and less bankers/entertainers/sportspeople earning being paid obscene amounts of money, the world would be a very much nicer place to live.

Have a read about their Project Garden Share – it’s good to read about people who don’t only care about themselves.

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A Shakespearean question

To spray or not to spray, that is the question

Whether ’tis wiser to expect some further rain

And let the bloody nettles live another day

Or go and drench them with a toxic shower

Beneath the glowering clouds that fill the sky

And in so doing make them wilt, and ultimately die.

Answers on a postcard please. A winner will be drawn at random and receive 600 kg. of dead nettles. Warning: May contain bindweed.

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The little Bs

A  few days ago while I was minding my own business and walking to our field with the dogs, I felt two red hot stabbing pains in my back. I ripped off my T-shirt (as one does) – it was one of the rare days for the last few weeks when I wasn’t swaddled in a fleece – and ran back to the house to examine the damage. Unfortunately the wounds were inaccessible whichever way I tried; my arms just don’t bend sufficiently so I did the best I could to scrape out the stings with a spoon. I never did find them, so I began to think it was maybe it was a wasp rather than bees that had got me.

However, today it happened again. One of the little shits flew straight into my face and stung me on the cheek. There were several buzzing angrily around me, so I ran away with my tail between my legs – surprised myself by how quickly I could move. 🙂

This time I was able to get the sting. This is what it looks like:

Wonder why they are so bad-tempered? Maybe they’re fed up with the weather, just like so many people. It’s been SO erratic and unpredictable. We’ve had days when the temperature has been up in the high 20s in the morning, followed by a biting easterly wind in the afternoon. Once the sun goes down the change is dramatic – last week our neighbours said it had been down to freezing overnight.

If I wasn’t worried that they might attack the dogs, I’d go out tomorrow, whatever the weather, swathed in thick coat, boots, hat, gloves and scarf wrapped around my face. But I can’t take the risk of the dogs being stung. So what to do?


La Grande Randonnée

To celebrate the debut of his seventh decade, Vic Heaney decides to walk from his current home in the French Pyrenees to the town where he was born in England. A distance of a mere 1900 kilometres, or 1,100 miles, in 70 days. The second reason behind Vic’s Big Walk is to raise money for research into pancreatic cancer, which killed his first wife. With the whole-hearted support of his second wife Gay, who plans his route and drives the campervan in which they spend their nights, Vic sets off to walk the length of France and almost half the length of England.

La Belle France has a vast network of hiking trails through glorious countryside of hills and valleys, waterfalls and tumbling streams. On websites and in brochures you see images of tanned and joyful GR hikers striding out in groups beneath cloudless skies.  But, when you are walking a very long distance in a relatively short time you have to opt for the shortest route, and unfortunately that doesn’t always mean the most scenic. And contrary to what the tourist brochures might suggest, mid-summer in France isn’t always hot and dry. Vic has set himself a strenuous schedule that means he had to walk every day. He’s pretty fit for his years, but its still a physical challenge. And then there’s the coffee problem. Unlike England, a far smaller country where even the remotest village will usually have somewhere you can find a cup of coffee and something to eat, you can walk all day in rural France without finding anywhere, and even if you do there’s a fairly strong possibility that it will be closed for no apparent reason. And for vegetarians like Vic and myself, meal choices, if you are lucky enough to find somewhere open, can be rather restrictive.

Written in the form of a diary, Vic’s Big Walk records his journey as he trudges, scrambles, and sometimes just ambles along, undeterred by rain, roads that lead to nowhere and campsites operating on the lines of prisons. He meets friendly people (but never on the  beautiful hiking trails!) who instantly donate to his cause, others who promise to but don’t. People happy to stop and chat, and others who ignore him.

I so much enjoyed this read. His easy and chatty style, spiced with his dry humour, carries you along effortlessly, and I could totally relate to his highs and lows, triumphs and frustrations. having done something similar myself. I was SO pleased when he got lost even with the benefit of GPS! 🙂

Chapeau, Vic. A tremendous achievement.

All the proceeds from Vic’s book sales go to Pancreatic Cancer Research. If you would like donate, there’s a donation button on Vic’s blog

The Tennessee Waltz, Tombstone, Arizona

No idea why, but this has been a favourite of mine since I was a teenager and I think I have just about every version ever recorded. I couldn’t choose a favourite singer, but Patti Page was the first to make it popular.

What was it about the Tennessee Waltz I loved so much? I really don’t know.  The lyrics don’t have any meaning for me, nor did it remind me of any place, time or person. Maybe it was just the gentle rhythm.

Some years ago we were staying in Arizona, and spent a couple of days in Tombstone.  If you haven’t been there, it doesn’t look as if much has changed since the days of Wyatt Earp and the gunfight at the OK Corral, except the roads are tarmac and there’s electric street lighting.

One Saturday, after watching a stirring re-enactment of the famous fight (fantastically acrobatic actors), we moseyed down to Big Nose Kate’s saloon for some liquid refreshment. There was a live band playing country and western music, and a load of check-shirted, blue-jeaned big-hatted and heeled-boot wearers sitting around jawing.

I asked the band if they’d play the Tennessee Waltz. The lead gave a non-comital nod, and for 15 minutes or so they kept playing and the men kept jawing, and I’d about given up hope. And then suddenly, those first few chords began, and I got the shivers. Because all the check-shirts stood up – all tall, slender, weather-beaten, and they took their wives – shorter and plumper, in print frocks, and began to waltz. Those big men danced so gracefully and romantically, in that historic saloon, on that sweltering Saturday afternoon, in Tombstone, Arizona.

Now, every time I hear that track, it takes me back to a place, a time, and a few people dancing.  It’s a magical memory.

You might enjoy these two websites – have a look. Tombstone is a really fun and interesting place to visit.

Big Nose Kate’s


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