Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Cox's Orange Pippin

I look like one of those dudes with a prize fish!

Imagine my excitement when Parsley held up a small tree in a bag with the biggest cheesiest grin on her face, silently saying something behind the old double glazed. It could've been 'Ed, you're a complete dork and this tree is a symbol of how dorkish you are. Each branch represents a facet of your dorkishness. The bad hair, the dentistry, the complete lack of hygiene as you walk around in crap splattered clothes etc.' But no, she was saying Happy Birthday! Parsley and Cakeatonne had only gone and ordered me a Cox's Orange Pippin Tree, widely regarded as the finest dessert apple, with an unmatched aromatic complexity and depth and flavour which is also excellent for...**CIDER BLEND**.

Parsley, Weasel and I took a visit down to the allotment to plant it. It was another fine, crisp day. Conditions were perfect for tearing up the ground like a mole possessed, in order to plant a beautiful little apple tree. We now have the crabapple tree, the bright golden apple tree (someone please tell me what variety it is) and the COP. Took a while to find the right spot as a hump we had deemed suitable was in fact landfill. Fuming!

Dug a sizeable hole which was part filled with dung, then mixed with soil. On top of that went the shit water (according to Cakealot this is baby bio!). Wonderful stuff this, looks like Guinness, or port, smells like shit: hence shit water. You have to dispense with airs and graces when it comes to the allotment. Then threw some topsoil on. It should bear fruit this year so I'm told, which is mondo exciting.

Crud water = gold

Parsley, ever the task master, persuaded me to dig another hole for the second christmas tree. It was getting colder and I shredded my middle finger on an errant twig. Blame Sir Cakeatonne's fork. All that jousting has imbued it with magical powers and extra volition. So we went home. And yet again, I was dizzy with the fun we'd had. It's only January!

* * *

A very naughty Smethwick was playing up yesterday, looking like he was going to attack the chickens, looking like he was going to attack me, attacking poor Winks, and his own tail. For shame Frank. Get yourself in order lad!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum

A letter to Parsley from the bed of birthday boy Oregano.

Dear Parsley I think your idea to plant a couple of Christmas trees on the allotment is totally wicked. You know I love digging holes and getting rid of cooch grass and brambles, and maybe the odd can of 1664 left by Ian. I admit I could always do with a better belt because whenever I'm digging/pigging/forking/raking my pants keep slipping down. Short of doing a Simon Cowell and having my 1990s jeans ride up to my chin, the slide prone jeans are here to stay. It's also great you call me Howard from Take That but it's part of the ongoing banter that keeps me on my toes and acts as the glue that keeps a good UNIT together. And what a unit we have, what with NINE members: yourself, myself, Cakeatonne, Weasel, Winks, Eric, Salt-n-Pepa and Spinderella. We'll be a match for the So Solid Crew (I hear they now have 500 soldiers in their clan).
But I digress. Planting the tree was good fun. You learn something every day, like which way to face the tree so it gets more sun ('It's not bushy enough on that side you dork, turn it around'). This squat little bugger had my pythons singing an ancient poem of toil; our ancestor units were nodding their heads in agreement. Using some dung to fertilise the roots, mixed in with that good old soil we have may see this little nipper turn into a handsome young thing come December, I have no doubt. You know better than me, I'm just a dork with a nest for hair - you have an amazing daughter who stares at trees (blatant early teaching going on here) from her pram, whilst you tell me what to do. Never stop.

Wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinks (that's thanks for those of you not in the know). Oreg-Howar-dork-unit.

Oregano's Top 10 Chicken Tunes

1) Thunder Chicken by the Mighty Imperials:
2) Chicken Lickin' by Funk Inc.
3) Chicken Strut by the Meters
4) Chicken Dance by Laurence Whelk!
5) Funky Chicken by Rufus Thomas
6) Techno Chicken by Dominoes Pizza
7) Chicken Bone Circuit by RJD2
8) Back at the Chicken Shack by Quincy Jones
9) Chicken Grease by D'Angelo
10) Dixie Chicken by Little Feat

The Dome is Alive With the Sound of Chickens!

If you want something doing, give it to a busy person. Ok here's the checklist. Sir Cakeatonne and Parsley now have a baby, two cats, a solardome, an allotment and THREE CHICKENS. All you can say in such a situation is 'It's wicked.' That's brought a few chuckles on when we've been talking about the workload. It does seem comical. Are we ahead of the season by putting in all this time or are we merely grabbing on for dear life? Either way I'm saying yes instead of no to the tasks at hand, even if I lack the initiative Cakeatonne!

The excitement surrounding the arrival of the chucks has been palpable the last week or so. Parsley showed me the coop she'd bought (an Eglu classic!), which was housed in the solardome. A day later and the chucks were in there rolling about and pecking like they'd never left home.

Parsley and I had been on the allotment when we got the bugle call off Cakeatonne. We sped back to find his mount unmanned with bags of feed lying about. I thought they'd flown off and escaped. But no. We walked up to the dome and there was a big cardboard box with some eyeholes/handles. I could hear some furtive scratching from inside and some quiet clucking. I knelt down and had a look in. Had to suppress a wild laugh as I saw a huge startled orange eye looking back at me. 'There has to be some kind of bewildered wisdom in that chicken brain of yours,' I thought. We were all very trepid as I peeled off the tape and opened up the top of the box. Salt-n-Pepa and Spinderella! (We were going to call them TLC, after T-Boz, Lefteye and Chilli). There they were in their bed of shredded paper. 'There's no time like the present,' I said, and plunged my hands in to pick up the first chuck. She was a lot bigger than I thought but at the same time a lot lighter. It was like holding a bag of helium that had feathers and a beak. Placed her in the coop and off she went pecking away like nothing had happened. Then Cakeatonne grabbed Spinderella as I grabbed Pepa and we stood there grinning like idiots as Parsley took a photo. In the coop they went as we launched all types of compliments at them, 'Ooh look at those feathers, aren't they lovely,' or 'You may not be JLS but you're fucking wicked,' along with mixed seeds (a treat). Later they had marmite on toast and apples. Made me wanna be a chicken.

Great animals, these. We just stood there in a kind of trance, watching them do their thing. Poor winks was terrified of them, staring at them from the safety of the dome exterior. Eric just cast them smouldering glances from the far windowsill, looking every inch a Mr Rochester or Frank Zappa. Haha, he really was emanating some scorn. Or were you just jealous, Smethwick?

They've already done a good job of tilling the soil, getting rid of weeds and eating seeds from our hands. The sensation of a warm chicken tongue on your palm is hilarious. And what good chicken would not lay an egg?! I had my first yesterday and it tasted awesome.

Happy G unit thymes (sic).

Who Flung Dung Deux

Cakeatonne and I have been chipping away at the old dung pile and now it is no more. £80 worth of the old umber magic carted down to the plot. My pythons were singing the whole time. Actually Parsley called them worms. They are a tad out of practice. One thing I can't seem to shake is achy hips. Now I'm no James Brown, in many senses but these hip catastrophes are doing my shed in. Is it the cold? Is it my body protesting against real work, the real work of being outside for a change? Or am I getting old? Whatever I'm writing this blog in the fullness of Midwinter Spring, and I feel just fine.

The dung looks ace on the plot, all nice and ordered. Still we have to rake it over so it's evenly spread over the cardboard, I had a wee go at that the other day and the pythons moaned after five minutes. Really I am dreadfully out of practice, and if I'm going to attain the Greek God physique I had some two years ago. What hasn't changed from two years ago is Parsley as overlord. She was making me rake up as much of that muck as was humanly possible:

Parsley: 'Go and grab a rake there's still loads of manure on the path and in those brambles.'
Oregano: 'My pythons are screaming and I swear there's nothing left!'
Parsley: 'Are you kidding? There's easily another two barrows left in there.'
Oregano: [Sarcastic] 'Oh yeah! Look there's £2.50 0n the path and another £7 in the brambles haaaaaa.'
Parsley: 'Shut up Howard.'*

* This came from a conversation we had about Howard from Take That. For those of you new to the blog, or with a bad memory Parsley thinks I look like him. See He's also playing at Gatecrasher later this month. However if he pulls that quasi-smile (lower lip tucked in so he looks like he has no bottom teeth: take a closer look) then I'm not going. VIP entrance or no!