Sweating In The Sun

The Cats KnackersYes, we know we haven’t posted much recently, but as a good friend said, it’s better to be out and doing stuff, rather than being sat back writing about it.

So this post is all about our antics and fun yesterday on the TCK Allotment.

And we were certainly ‘doing stuff‘.The Cats Knackers

This ‘stuff’ was mainly cutting The Hedges From Hell…

And as you can see from this photo on the right, they certainly needed doing.

This is the view as we stared, forlornly at the gate. Long privet, mega-thistles, and a whole world of pain ahead of us. Back-breaking pain from using The Hedge Cutters From Hell, and pain from the inevitable scratches and slashes and pricks and nicks as we were trying to use them. Yes, we could have worn gloves, but these are not best practice when using power tools as loose threads/material can catch in the blades resulting in a terrible mess and a lengthy trip down to A&E at Northern General Hospital just down the road.

Another factor was the weather.

No, for once it wasn’t too cold/wet/miserable/dark or any of the other myriad of excuses you can think of when you really don’t want to do a job. It was that by early afternoon, despite the BBC Weather website saying it would only be 20 degrees, it really was far hotter than that. Matt reported that when he first stepped in his greenhouse late morning, it was over 50 degrees by his thermometer. We can believe this.

And so we started the marathon session, and surprisingly, it went really well!The Cats Knackers

To the left here is about two thirds of the way through the main path hedge. In truth, this one isn’t so bad because you can just reach over it with the cutters to get to the top, but the one at the front? No chance.

The one facing on to the main driveway is definitely a two-stage job. The first bit being to cut the front, then we had to pop up to see Diane at LEAF to borrow the aluminium step ladders so we could get to the top.

Actually cutting the top wasn’t made any easier by the fact that the roadway is very uneven, so balancing on the steps while trying to balance The World’s Heaviest Hedge Cutters while trying to cut some pretty thick privet branches certainly wasn’t for the fainthearted.

But the results were worth it, and to the right here, you can see this front hedge in all its glory.

The Cats KnackersLater on in the afternoon, we foolishly left the petrol hedge cutters out in the sunshine while we did something else, and when we came to re-start them: no chance. They were just too hot, and despite pulling the starting cord many times without the choke, they totally refused to play ball.

Of course, a lesser mortal might have taken this as a sign to immediately stop work, put his feet up and listen to the cricket, but as we were ‘on a roll’, we just picked up the old-fashioned hand cutters, and carried on with them.

Oh, and talking of listening to the cricket…

A few months ago, we bought a DAB/FM portable radio from The Bay Of E to use down on the allotment. Yes, we’d already got one, but this is only FM, and the cricket is on Radio 5 Live / DAB, and anyway, we like buying ‘toys’.

This radio, cute and white is also battery-operated. Rechargeable battery-operated.

You can charge it with a 1A USB power supply such as you’d use for charging your phone or camera.

Now, the sexy new solar panels we imported from China the other week have a 5 volt USB output, so we took one down with us to try out in the sunshine.

The Cats KnackersAnd we weren’t disappointed! Measuring the voltage and current, just the one solar panel will give out a regulated 5 volts (via a standard USB socket) at about 1.6 Amps in bright sunshine. We have four of these panels, so very soon we plan to wires them in series and parallel to make a 10 volt supply at 3.2 Amps. We can then use a voltage converter to increase the voltage up to about 13.6 Volts to enable us to charge a marine battery. From there we can use either a step-up converter to power a laptop, or a step-down converter to power other 5 Volt USB devices.

But we’re getting away from ourself here. Suffice to say that yesterday, thanks to the glorious sunshine, both the Rat Phone and the radio were fully charged.

Towards the evening, we did some much-needed watering, including all the beans outside and the tomatoes in the small greenhouse, and we’re pretty pleased with them all.

Okay, there has been some slug damage, but we guess that is only to be expected (Hey, a slug’s gotta eat, eh?), and we have so many beans that we’re not too upset by that.The Cats Knackers

To the right here is the ‘bean bed’ which hosts broad beans (aka ‘Breakfast Beans’), and behind these, out of sight in this photo are some purple dwarf French beans, then towards the back you can just make out a pole of standard runner beans.

We have another two teepees of these by the main seating area, and both sets are coming on pretty well.

Of course, all these beans will need a good weeding around their bases, and that’s something we’re going to tackle later on today, probably early evening when the temperature has started to fall. Repeatedly bending over to pick weeds in the full sunshine is not something to be recommended, particularly if like us, you have fair skin.The Cats Knackers

To the left here are some of the flowers on the poles nearest the seating area and smaller greenhouse, and if just half of these flowers come to bear fruit, then we’re going to need to clear out the freezer.

Today, we’re planning on going back down there shortly, and among today’s jobs will be clearing up the clippings from the path down to the Andersen shelter, then there’s a lot of weeding to do around the onions and peas.

We could also plant out more dwarf French beans that are jumping out of their pots in the greenhouse…

Whatever we end up doing, it will be great in the sunshine, safe in the knowledge that England are beating South Africa in the First Test (….but are almost guaranteed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory?), and we have enough Earl Grey tea and several full canisters of gas should we feel the need for a cup of tea.

A perfect day ahead.

 

 

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