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Summer's here, kids.

Story location: Home / Blog / coventry /

It looks like, at long last, the almost continuous rain has ended and summer has arrived. The garden is growing again, and some courgettes seem to have appeared on one of our plants almost overnight.

41 degrees
When I left work this evening, it was a bit toasty in the car. The thermometer actually measures the temperature underneath the car rather than inside but I can easily believe that it was over 40c, since the car is practically a mobile greenhouse. The temperature originally read 42c when I first got in but by the time I got my phone out to take a photo, it had dropped a degree.

Not all rocket is created equal

Story location: Home / Blog / food_and_drink /

A few weeks ago I planted two pots of rocket and left them on the windowsill in the front room so they would get plenty of sunlight. I had two different packets of seed and thought it would be a good idea to compare them. Unfortunately I forgot to make a note of which pack went into which pot so now the rocket is grown, I have no idea which is which.

One of the packets is clearly doing better than the other, with the plants growing at roughly double the rate. Unfortunately this is the year when I forgot to label most of the things I planted. I have several different types of chilli pepper and tomato growing in various rooms of the house and in tubs in the garden but in most cases I have no idea what is growing where.

Some of the chilli plants are doing quite well and have a few flowers on them but the tomatoes aren't doing very well. A lot got eaten by slugs and some seem to have been affected by the bad weather and haven't grown an inch in several weeks. The courgettes seem to be doing ok so far so at least there will be some veg from the garden this year. The less said about the strawberries, the better. None of the seeds germinated. Same for the parsley. I will have to buy fresh seeds for next year.

Steaming Fences

Story location: Home / Blog / coventry /

This morning, Emma phoned me on her way to the bus stop to point out that the wooden fences along our street were steaming. It had been very wet yesterday but it was comparatively warm and sunny this morning so the fences were warming up.

Steaming Fences

Feral Sunflowers

Story location: Home / Blog / house /

Last year I planted two types of sunflower - traditional yellow sunflower seeds which I picked out of the hamster food and red sunflower seeds which I bought from a seed supplier on ebay. I planted some more of the same this year but I noticed that there were more sunflowers growing in the garden than the ones I planted. The ones which had self-seeded seem to have grown faster than the ones I started off in the propagator.

A feral sunflower in the garden

There were sunflowers sprouting in the courgette tubs and in several of the plant pots where I put tomatoes and peppers. Most of these had to be uprooted but I left some of those in the larger tubs. One of these is pictured above.

While I was in the garden to photograph the sunflower I noticed that the tomato plants were wilting slightly and the compost in the pots was dry. Now I thought this was slightly odd because there was a lot of rain during the day. I even commented to someone in the office that the rain would be good for the tomatoes. I don't think I am growing a special type of waterproof tomato. I expect it might be the tall fence blocking the rain. Something similar happens with the strawberries, which are on a set of metal shelves which means the lower trough gets less rain than the one on top. This means I sometimes have to go out and water them even if it has been raining.

Around Alcester

Story location: Home / Blog /

Yesterday was fairly warm and sunny so I was looking forward to some decent weather over the weekend. Unfortunately it was cloudy today which means any photos will have a pale featureless sky.

ruined barn
An old barn in the middle of being renovated. Some metal supports have been installed and there piles of bricks and roof tiles stored nearby.

ruined barn close-up
A close-up of wattle and daub in the walls.

Some snowdrops.

Cloudy day in Alcester
A street in Alcester.

Some Google Maps things

Story location: Home / bits-n-bobs /

About a week ago or so, Emma was surprised to notice that Google Maps is incapable of calculating a route from Manchester to Buxton. It works if you type in a place within Buxton, and also if you choose to calculate a walking route.

Next, looking at the live traffic on Google Maps, I noticed the region of slow traffic seemed to be concentrated in a band across the middle of the country. When I checked the weather map on the BBC, it looked like this is where all the snow has been.


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Frosty Weather

Story location: Home / Blog / work /

There has been a lot of freezing weather recently, with several days where the temperature didn't get above 0C but here in Coventry we have had very little snow. I took these photos on my way to work. All of the white on the trees is hoar-frost, not snow.


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Must be the start of winter

Story location: Home / Blog / coventry /

It must be the start of winter now. The weather has been getting a lot colder, we've had to have the central heating coming on earlier, and there has been a lot more frost in the mornings. Yesterday there was a very thick layer of frost on the car windscreen. It took two sprays and scrapes using the de-icer spray, and the ice was so stubborn it broke the windscreen scraper.

It was a very slow drive home last night, possibly not weather related though. There was a burnt out car on the side of the road which must only just have been extinguished because it was still steaming.

It was very foggy this morning but luckily the windscreen wasn't frozen over again.

The Artesian Drain

Story location: Home / Blog / coventry /

While I was driving home tonight, it was raining heavily. We live near the top of a hill so there was a lot of rainwater flowing down the road. The drainage grids seemed to be at full capacity and there were a lot of deep puddles on the road.

The water from up the hill was flowing down within the drains at such a rate that I saw a fountain of water coming up in the middle of the road, in a similar fashion to an artesian well. The fountain was only about 3-4 inches high but it was an unusual sight. It was far too wet to stop and take a photo.

First egg of the season

Story location: Home / Blog / quail /

Today has felt a bit like the real start of spring. It has been warm, sunny and dry. This afternoon we found the first quail eggs of the year, one from each hutch. The warmer weather and increasing day length should mean more eggs so hopefully we won't need to buy any more eggs from the supermarket.

The last eggs we bought were actually from a house in the countryside just outside Allesley. They were advertised as fresh eggs rather than the free range we normally buy but we needed eggs and were passing so we thought we'd give them a go instead of stopping at Morrisons on the way home.

Ne're cast a clout til May's out

Story location: Home / Blog / house /

It looks like I picked the wrong day to turn down the central heating. The colder-than-normal winter meant we had the heating on for longer but after the recent warm weather, I decided to turn the heating down.

Almost as soon as I did, the weather turned colder and wetter. I'm sure the same thing happened the last time I tried to turn the heating down.

Don't lick the flagpoles

Story location: Home / Blog / quail /

Today is definitely the sort of day when you don't want to touch any metal flagpoles with your tongue. It was very cold overnight so when I went out to check on the quail this morning, I had to bring their mushroom-shaped drinkers inside to defrost. The water had completely frozen in one of them. The birds seem to be coping with the cold weather ok though. They have shelter and they keep huddling together so they don't get too cold.

When I opened one of the hutches, my I moved the metal bar out of the way so I could open the door, and my hand started to stick to the metal. On a related note, the car door had frozen and was tricky to open. The door handle was very icy and kept sticking open, so the door wouldn't shut properly!

Snow in Coventry

Story location: Home / Blog / coventry /

It started snowing yesterday and by the time we left work there about an inch or so had fallen. The main roads on the way home weren't too bad but our road was very slippery. We live on the side of a hill so I had to drive up very carefully. Even so, I could feel the car wanting to slide sideways.

The road was no better this morning. All the pavements were very icy. I walked into town to take some photos of the city centre in the snow.


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Frosty Garden

Story location: Home / Blog / house /

We have had a few days of freezing cold weather, but luckily very little snow. I went into the garden this morning to check on the quail, to make sure they have plenty of food and to make sure their water hasn't frozen.

Moving on to the veg - all of the remaining plants are looking a bit droopy and possibly dead. The parsley is very limp - we will be lucky if it recovers. The leeks have frozen solid. I was examining one pot and a leek snapped off. I have no idea what the garlic is like - all of the pots are frozen solid. I think I will have to harvest everything when the soil starts to thaw.

I planted some broad beans last month but nothing has happened. I expect it is the same story as last year when the beans rotted in the soil. I will try again in the spring.

I checked the compost heap and was surprised to observe that it hadn't frozen. In fact it was slightly warm to the touch. That is obviously a good sign, showing that everything is breaking down well. I gave it a good mix, to let extra oxygen get in and help it along.

Frosty Green Tomatoes

Story location: Home / Blog / coventry /
  1. At last, over a month after it was delivered, it was time for our recycling bin to be emptied. We filled it a couple of weeks ago and we've got enough new recycling to fill it all over again.

  2. There had been a heavy frost overnight. It took a while to defrost the car this morning.

  3. On my way to the office this morning, I overheard some women talking. I missed the start of the conversation but I think they were talking about the cold weather. I heard one of them say "But it's not even December yet!".

  4. I had lots of spare unripe tomatoes in the fridge so I decided to make some Green Tomato Chutney. I followed one of Keith Floyd's recipes from the BBC website. Chutneys are supposed to improve after a few weeks so I won't sample it yet and give it a chance to mature.