Friday, January 13, 2012

New Year, New Misery!

Happy New year everyone (hello, hellooooo, anyone?!?). For the first time in 6 years I go into a New Year single.

Yep, me and Sarah broke up! I know, for some of you this will be the first you’ve heard of it but it's just been easier for me to sometimes not say anything.  I was hoping the news would get round to most people via word of mouth but as I found out at work last week, in fact even just yesterday, some people still didn't know.  Well, I guess you do now!

Back in May, Sarah said that she wasn't sure how she felt anymore and our relationship gradually fell apart from there!  I knew things were past the point of no return on the day of one of my oldest friends' wedding.  Right from the start of the drive up to Newmarket, with another of the primary school bffs (best friends forever, yes, I can't believe I actually used that either!) and his missus in the back, Sarah was jus, well, angry!  The drive was an absolute nightmare.  Those two hours behind wheel (thanks A406 roadworks!) really were two of the worst of my whole life.  I couldn’t do anything right but I wasn’t even doing anything wrong!

We just about arrived in one piece and for the most part had a really good day.  Sarah got smashed at the dinner/reception so after the meal I tried to keep out of her way!  Come Sunday she was very apologetic and we travelled back down the M11 on a beautifully sunny Sunday in relative harmony.  Paul and Jo, no doubt fearing another repeat of the journey up, wisely opted to travel home with someone else!

Until she moved out in mid-July Sarah more or less opted out of life in the flat and for the most part we led separate lives.  They were a pretty horrible couple of months and it’s still not very nice thinking to back then really.

We have a bit of contact from time to time, mainly to do with the car.  It’s like we’ve got joint custody!  The running costs are cut in half and we do seem to be able to deal with things in a civilised way so at the moment it’s probably OK.

Over the next couple of months things started to get a bit easier.  At first it was quite lonely in the flat but at the same time it was nice coming home knowing that there wasn’t going to be any drama.  I gradually started to tell people that me and Sarah had broken up.  It was really hard to know how to approach things, especially with people at work because that’s where we met.

Moving on…a few of us from the #bushw12 crowd had been meeting up pretty regularly to do the Crown & Sceptre pub quiz on a Monday night and I think that’s where a few of them had the idea to put on an old skool D&B  night.  Roll on to October and I suppose life was gradually returning to normal.  Football season in full swing, etc., etc. and mid-month the Urban Jungle night took place in the Raving Buddha.

I turned up after a few beers post Bees v Scunthorpe (I needed them after the tame 0-0 against a team with ten men for the last twenty!!) and had a good night.  After pub kicking out time a few of us went back Askew Road way to have a couple more beers.  I ended up crashing on the sofa because I couldn’t be arsed to walk back to my end of the W12.  The full English from Louche on the Sunday made up for being subjected to late night and morning repeats of X Factor!

I can’t exactly remember when it was but a week or two later we had another #bushw12 tweetup.  During the night I was told that I had made a bit of an ‘impression’ on one of the girls at the Urban Jungle night.  I had thought that she was nice even though for most of the night she was head down asleep on a table.  I guess that’s what getting bottles of Moet for £16 does to you!  Anyway the little birdie told me that aforementioned girl was coming back to London mid-November so I thought that I’d meet them up for a couple of beers.

Typically it turned out that it was the same day as the Bees away game at Rochdale.  A few of us had already arranged to make the trip up in Meg (the silly name I gave joint custody car when me and Sarah bought it from her brother!) so I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to get back in time.

As it turned out the trip up and back down were almost perfect journeys.  It was plain sailing on the M40 and M6 both ways and with a 2-1 win in the bag I was home at 21:00.  I headed down to Chiswick to meet the girls and we had a good evening in the George IV even though there were a few too middle aged married couples dancing to the one man and his guitar doing his thing!

I spent the next few weeks trying to work out whether I was over Sarah and therefore ready to go out on a date.  Having been with Sarah for over five years it was hard to come round to the idea that it really was over but I came to the conclusion that I was ready to take that first step so I asked for said her number and sent her a message.  I was chuffed when I got a reply and we arranged to meet up on the Friday before New Year’s, New Year’s Eve eve I suppose!

She was coming to London for New Year’s at the O2 and was staying at a friend’s in Hackney so we met in Old Street.  The night went really well and over the next week or so we texted each other a fair bit.  Thinking about it, maybe this was the problem.   Anyway we arranged to meet again Monday this week and I that’s where it seems to have gone pear shaped!

After all the going out over Christmas and New Year’s I was typically lumbered with a lovely (!!) cold sore on my top lip.  I do get them from time to time, usually after a few consecutive nights out.  The body is tired and a bit run down (so I’ve read in the past about the possible causes) so is more susceptible.  Anyway my top lip is still recovering a week and a half later so I did feel a bit self-conscious on Monday.  Coupled with us being in a quiet pub in Victoria, although it did have really good music, I don’t think I did myself justice.

A busy pub on a pre-New year’s Friday night in Old Street is a lot more atmospheric than a start of the week Monday in early January so maybe that helped create the spark that clearly wasn’t there this week.  Perhaps London to Kent really is too far for a relationship to work in the long term.  Whatever the reason I’m sad :(

I’m sure plenty of people wouldn’t really care after just a couple of dates but after the slow build-up and me having decided to explore life after Sarah I feel even more vulnerable than I did back in the Angelsea Arms when Sarah dropped her bombshell.  Truth be told things had been pretty shit for while so I had expected things to come to a head sooner rather than later!

In contrast the text on Tuesday was a total shock and I still feel like the rug has been pulled from underneath me.  Still, at least she was honest I guess.  Finding out now makes it less painful in the long run I but it would still have been nice to have gone out again on a less crap night.

Not much I can do about it now though :(

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Bush Gardener: Three Months Down the Line and Everything's Fine

Emlyn Leisure GardensWell it's been a while hasn't it!

Easter has long been and gone, Wills and Kate tied the knot and Wimbledon fever is a mere three weeks away!!

The 2010/11 football season ended yesterday afternoon with Swansea completing their remarkable rise from bottom of the basement division to the Premiership.  Another team that we used to regularly lock horns with has long since passed us by!

Brentford's season ended almost a month ago with us safely nestled in mid-table.  The improved from under Nicky Forster continued and us Bees fans can look forward to another League One campaign come August.

Emlyn Leisure GardensAll I'm going to say about the JPT final is that it featured another classic Brentford choke.  That's five finals, five defeats for me now!

Away from Griffin Park, the allotment has really started to take shape.  At the start of March it looked as you'd expect a plot that had been untouched for six months to look and there was plenty for me to do to get it into a decent state.

A trip to Hanger Lane Wickes left me a hundred quid lighter but I returned home with all the garden tools any wannabe gardener could ever need!

Less than forty eight hours later, while Brentford were getting spanked 3-0 up at Hartlepool on 5th March, I was digging, hacking and raking my way to a much neater and tidier looking plot.  I met Alexis, my left-hand neighbour, and we had a good chat.  I've only seen him once since then!

Emlyn Leisure GardensThe soundtrack to the afternoon was the QPR v Leicester match and a massive cheer at around 16:45 told me that those pesky Hoops had scored a late winner.  I didn't really expect to be able to hear the crowd so clearly, must have been an easterly wind I suppose, so much for a Saturday refuge!

With the plot cleared it was now just a case of waiting for the weeks to pass until I could start to plant and sow.

During the wait I ordered a small storage shed.  Certainly not an essential purchase but I knew it would save having to cart the tools in the car every time I wanted to head down to the allotment.  Mum gave me a small food waste box for home so that I could start to fill up the composter.

Sarah wasn't too keen on having this in the flat but I've been pretty good at emptying it at least once a week so the fly infestation she insisted would occur hasn't materialised.  In fact she seems to have got into the habit of putting in the fruit and veg peelings.  What a good girl ;)

Mid-April arrived and the plating and seed sowing began.  With Sarah going ooop north for Easter we decided to get everything in the weekend before.  We filled two thirds of the totally empty plot with potatoes and here is a little map of the plot that already had the raspberries and two artichoke plants.

The shed had been delivered a couple of weeks before but I waited until the Easter weekend to put it up.  Mum, dad and little sis came across on Easter Sunday and we built it during the course of the afternoon.  As is the way, it took a bit longer than expected to construct but we got it done and rewarded ourselves with an Easter Sunday BBQ.

Since then there have been a few more additions to the plot.  Sarah brought back a courgette seedling from Bury and my cousin bought me a rhubarb crown.  Earlier in the year I potted up some seeds from a bell pepper and a butternut squash.  These have gone in and so far they are doing OK.

I weatherproofed the shed with wood preserver over the royal wedding/May Day weekend.  The tin says the recommended three coats I gave it should last five years.  I'm not convinced!

Emlyn Leisure Gardens
In the the past month there has been an amazing amount of growth.  The potatoes have really shot up and the onions and peas are also doing well.  In fact the dry weather has meant that everything has had a really good start.  The only down side is of course that it also means the weeds, especially the dreaded bind weed, grow at a ridiculously fast pace.  The recent cooler and wetter weather has been a welcome arrival although I'm not sure anyone wanted last Thursday's hail storm!

Emlyn Leisure GardensLast weekend we went down and I planted a second courgette seedling, it's a TW7 v BL8 courgette-off ;), while Sarah built a cane frame for the peas to grow up.  Three tomato seedlings also went in so that might be the end of the planting for now.

We brought home our first harvest, around 150g of raspberries and the first crop of radishes.  They might not have been Class 1 supermarket quality radishes but they certainly tasted like a radish should.

So that's a potted three month history of plot E4.  I won't leave it three months before my next update.  If only because it's taken bloody ages to write this one!!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Bush Gardener: There's a lot of Work Ahead at the Allotment!

Emlyn Leisure GardensWell over four years ago I joined the waiting list for an allotment in LBHF.  An article on the BBC (it might even have been this one) talking about a surge in allotment popularity sparked my interest and I began looking into where I might find one around Shepherd's Bush.

Being sat in front of a computer all day at work, it didn't take long for me to find out about the W12 based Emlyn Leisure Gardens Association.  One of only two allotment sites in Hammersmith and Fulham.

Based on the site of an old railway line (there'll be another post about that at some point) just west of Askew Road on the Ealing, LBHF and Hounslow borders they were perfectly located for a keen local.

Emlyn Leisure GardensAfter an initial inquiry, I realised that I wasn't going to be growing my own fruit and veg. anytime soon.  With only 86 plots, the waiting list was pretty long with residents without access to a private outdoor space being given priority.  Still, I qualified, so I sent back my application form and waited, and waited, and waited!

Every so often I wondered whether my name was making its way up the waiting list and then out of the blue last Friday I got a call from Catherine, the plot coordinator of the Association, asking me if I was still interested in having one.

It didn't take me long to deliver a resounding 'yes' and we arranged to meet last Saturday at 11:00.  I was chuffed.

Emlyn Leisure GardensTypically the weather was pretty miserable as I made my way west along Uxbridge Road.  Something I'm going to get rather used to over the next few months, years, etc. I expect!  I arrived just after 11:00, Catherine was easy to spot in her bright yellow coat, and after the standard introductions I had an induction of sorts.

I was shown how to lock/unlock the gate and had to demonstrate that I was up to the task.  Having safely negotiated this first hurdle I was briefed about some general rules and regulations (always lock the gate, wheel barrow storage, blah, blah, blah) and then I was taken to the first available plot.

I was quite surprised at how big it was but then Catherine said it was about a quarter of a standard allotment plot!  I started to wonder how Carolyn, the girl who sits behind me at work, copes with three full sized plots at Duke's Meadow.  It's no wonder her courgettes turn into marrows with all the work she must have to put in!  I was also shown a smaller plot but thought I might as well plump for the larger one. 

Emlyn Leisure GardensHaving made my choice I was taken to the lovely little pavilion where I filled in the necessary forms, received a 17 page (A5 thankfully) rule book and was handed a brand new key for the front gate padlock.

We had a nice chat about the history of the allotments and I was able to unleash my inner geek to talk about the old railway line (called the North & South Western Junction Railway if you're interested!) that used to occupy the site and also the subterranean Stamford Brook which was culverted many years ago and runs underneath the allotments.  Esther (the chairwoman, eeek!) mentioned that there is a blowhole on one of the plots that sometimes erupts when the amount of water entering the old Brook gets too much for it to handle.  It's a very rare occurrence but I so want to see that happen!  The sight of some an unsuspecting chap or chapess getting an absolute soaking would be priceless.

There are BBQ facilities which Sarah was very happy about and various events that are open to friends and family so hopefully I'll be able to entice a few people down to help me with the growing and, fingers crossed, harvesting of whatever I decide to grow.

With Brentford being away at Hartlepool this weekend I'm going to make a start on clearing the ground and measuring up for the raised beds I'm hoping to put in.  I can already see that there is going to be a lot of work ahead.

For now I'll leave you with a few more photos of the little haven that will be keeping me busy over the long summer nights...I'm so excited!!

Looking south from my plot:

Emlyn Leisure Gardens

Looking north from the pavilion:

Emlyn Leisure Gardens

Looking south from the pavilion

Emlyn Leisure Gardens