Second vegetable garden

With the success of our first raised vegetable garden, we started a second one yesterday. The first one took a long time to build, using bricks we had salvaged from our ruin. This time we had it up in half an hour, using cinder block bought for the purpose, with no cement.

Garden2aThe raised garden keeps the dogs out, and also makes it easier to work on.

Garden2bJethro was on leave, so we used his bakkie to fetch the blocks, and many hands made quick work of putting them together.

First fruits

For some time we’ve been making use of parsley from our kitchen garden, and in the last week we’ve been having lettuce and tomato as well.

First tomatoes from our garden - 6 Feb 2015

First tomatoes from our garden – 6 Feb 2015

The garden seems to be getting a bit overcrowded, so we’re planning to build another raised bed to add to it.

Tomatoes and potatoes going te kere - 6 Feb 2015

Tomatoes and potatoes going te kere – 6 Feb 2015

The tomato plants have grown big, and in the back on the right are the potatoes, which have spilled over and reached thr ground. We hope they have put as much energy into producing spuds as they seem to have put into producing stems and leaves!

 

Last days for Squiffylugs

Today our dog Squiffylugs was diagnosed with bone cancer, so she probably won’t be with us for much longer.

Squiffylugs, 12 Jan 2015

Squiffylugs, 12 Jan 2015

On Friday she was fine, on Saturday she began limping, and as there seemed no improvement today we took her to the vet, and he said it was bone cancer, and the prognosis is not good.

She was born on 12 November 2007, her father being our German Shepherd Samwise, and her mother being our cross German Shepherd-Border Collie, Ariel. There were three surviving puppies in the litter, and two of them went to a monastery then at Hennops Pride.

She had lots of nicknames when she was growing up — Fatty Lumpkin, because she was the greediest of the litter and the fattest. Jethro called her Pidlet, because she would piddle when she was excited, and she didn’t merely wag her tail, but her whole body.  Eventually it became apparent that she would always have one ear sticking up and the other folded down, so she became Squiffylugs.

She is the third dog we have had who has had cancer. The first one, Lucy, died in January 2001, also from bone cancer, in the same place. She was quite old, and would probably have died of old age quite soon anyway. Squiffylugs’s mother Ariel died of the canine equivalent of breast cancer nearly three years ago.

And that makes us wonder. One sometimes hears stories of people living near to high tension electricity lines having higher rates of cancer than normal. We’d not paid much attention to such stories before, but there are high tension lines just across the road from us.

The view from our sitting-room window

The view from our sitting-room window

And it was in October 1994 that another line was strung up on the other side, so that we have high-voltage lines on two sides of our house. Three dogs getting cancer makes one wonder if there is a link.

Veggie garden growing

There has been good rain over the last month, so our veggie garden has been growing quite well since we last posted photos here a month ago.

Garden03We’ve already been using the fresh parley in scrambled eggs and soup, and there are several green tomatoes as well.

It was also time to give the Wendy house a second coat of wood preservative.

WendyP2

Death of Joan Pearson (1924-2014)

The other day we were heir-hunted, by two firms that specialise in tracing relatives of people who died without leaving a will, and so learned of the death of Joan Pearson, Val’s first cousin once removed. In the 40 years of doing family history we had not been able to find her address, and so contact her directly, and so we only learn something about her after she died.

Joan Pearson was the daughter of Gilbert Pearson, a watchmaker of Whitehaven, Cumberland, England, and part of a fairly large family of Pearsons. Gilbert Pearson married Maud Dixon in 1922, and they had two daughters, Joan and Barbara, neither of whom married or had any children.

As far as we know, Joan and Barbara Pearson worked in the civil service. Joan worked in the Colonial Office and is said to have spent some time in Uganda, where her great-uncle, Charles Pearson, had been a pioneer missionary in the 1880s.

So, having learned of her death, we found this:

PEARSON Joan OBE formerly of 13 Wharf Mill. Died peacefully on 3rd September 2014, aged 89. Sister of the late Barbara. ———- Funeral service at Basingstoke Crematorium on Thursday 16th October at 11.45am. Flowers welcome or donations, if desired, to Alzheimer’s Society (Winchester Branch) c/o Richard Steel & Partners, Alderman House, 12-14 City Road, Winchester, SO23 8SD or via http://www.rsponline.co.uk (Hampshire Chronicle, 9 Oct 2014)

The OBE was presumably for her work in the civil service, and I also have a vague memory that she or her sister Barbara were involved in secret intelligence work during the Second World War.

The nice thing about being contacted by heir-hunters (whose activities have been documented in several TV shows) is that it provides an opportunity for members of different branches of the family to get in touch with each other again. The rather worrying thing is, when someone dies intestate, and apparently in an old age home, whose living relatives have to be told of her death by specialist firms of heir-hunters,  what happens to her stuff. I don’t mean her money — I doubt there will be much of that, since she was presumably living on a civil service pension, much of which would probably be going to her care in an old age home.

But what happens to family photos and papers? Will they just be tossed out by someone who doesn’t care, and doesn’t care whether anyone else cares? Perhaps there are letters and diaries documenting her time in Uganda, or some interesting information about the family history. Maiden aunts and uncles are usually good sources of such things.

The good thing is that it has got members of the scattered Pearson clan communicating with each other again. The sad thing is that one learns more about a relative after they have died than when they were alive.

 

We got a Wendy house

Today we got a Wendy house.

Thirteen years ago a crook builder by the name of Lukas Neethling undertook to build an extension to our house, and started it, but then scarpered with the money.

Wendy01

So for 13 years we we had a ruin in the back garden. We built a raised garden with some of the salvaged bricks, and decided to put a Wendy house on the concrete slab. It wouldn’t be as big or versatile as what we had envisaged, but might serve as a guest room.

Wendy02Ar 10:00 am, as promised by A & H Wendyhouses, the house arrived on a trailer with six workmen.

Wendy03They unloaded the bits and set to work to erect it.

Wendy04In less than half an hour it was beginning to take shape.

Wendy05They seemed to work pretty fast, and fortunately it didn’t rain, and Eskom wasn’t doing its usual load-shedding, so they were able to use their elctric drills and saws.

Wendy06There was a slight delay when one of the ceiling insulation panels broke and they had to go and fetch another one.

The finished Wendy house

The finished Wendy house

By 4:00 pm it was all done, and we just need to paint it inside, and set it up with some furniture.

We are very pleased with the work of A & H Wendyhouses, and recommend them to anyone who is looking for something similar. They didn’t mind our pestering with questions, and the workmen did a quick and very professional job.

Retirement: imagination and reality

One of the images I had of being retired was sitting at a cafe in a courtyard on a Greek island, with a grapevine providing shade overhead, having literary discussions with old men wreathed in cigarette smoke and clicking their worry beads.

It was pretty unrealistic. For one thing, I don’t smoke. For another, coffee in cafes is certainly far too expensive for pensioners to drink every day. Et cetera.

But I once came quite close. A young lady called Theodora took us on a walking tour of Tirana, the capital of Albania, and we ended up at a cafe, sitting at a table in the open air, and she said that the man at the next table was the most famous novelist in Albania, Ismail Kadare. So while I didn’t have an elevated literary discussion, I was close enough to passibly inhale the smoke from his cigarette.

Albania is a small country, and so it is quite possible to bump into famous people. While we were walking around, Theodora pointed out the most famous film star in Albania, riding past on his bicycle. I forgot his name, but I remembered Ismail Kadare’s name, and when we got back home, I bought one of his novels to read, though not is best-known one, The General of the Dead Army.

Tony McGregor at the +27 Cafe in Hatfield

Tony McGregor at the +27 Cafe in Hatfield

And then last week we again came close to the vision when we had coffee with Tony McGregor at the +27 Cafe in Hatfield. It didn’t have grapevines as shade, but it was in a courtyard, which used to be the loading bay of the old Hatfield Bakery, and there were olive trees in it, which provided a Mediterranean background of sorts.

It was rather a nice cafe, and in a way reminiscent of the brewery we had visited at Nieu Bethesda a couple of years ago.

We didn’t have elevated literary discussions, but rather discussed education, and the way Bantu Education has messed up the country, so that we still haven’t recovered from its effects. If I wass a literary man like Boswell, I might have recorded our coffee shop conversations in detail, but I didn’t quite manage that.

It was, however, a very pleasant couple of hours, and something I hope we can repeat sometimes.

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