I meant to share this with you last week; after announcing the end of the cucumbers a couple of weeks ago, I received the following message from one of my customers.

“I was sad to hear that your delicious cucumbers have come to an end. They’ve been a delight.  My 5 year old grandson, Dylan, is also a serious cucumber fan.  Although he can say it correctly these days, we all still call them cucabumbers as he used to.  Anyway knowing Friday’s was the last I cut it in half and gave it to him when he and his mum came to pick me up.  He sat in his car seat looking at the drops of liquid forming round the freshly cut edge.  I asked him if it smelled good, he nodded silently. I could see he really wanted to eat some, so told him it was ok to bite it.  I told him where it came from and, after some serious munching he asked “How does he grow such juicy, sweet cucabumbers?” I had to tell you. Roll on next year!”

It did make me chuckle, what a discerning young man; see, you really can taste the difference. They were particularly good this year, the variety was ‘Tyria’, one that I hadn’t grown before, but rest assured that I will be giving them another go next year, and will probably plant a greater number to ensure that you can all have as many cucabumbers as you would like.

I am going to keep this fairly brief, because I am writing this whilst on a mini-break in Eastbourne. A friend’s family own a cottage in The Meads, a quaint old part of the town up towards Beachy Head, and let the property out when the family is not using it. I made an early exit from the farmers market so that we could get away by 4.00, thereby arriving at our destination before dark. Well, predictably, things didn’t go according to plan. I had to unload after the market back at Moyns Park, then gave everything in the greenhouse and polytunnel a good soaking, because the plants will not get another drink until Tuesday afternoon. Following that I went home and had to fit new roof bars to the car and put the roof box on top to take our luggage, and then pack it. Nellie is so big now that space in the boot is limited; added to that I had agreed to give a lift down to Eastbourne to Michael, my friend’s father, who was having a week in a hotel down there, so that further limited our luggage capacity. We were to collect Michael from his home in Great Bardfield, which is en-route. Michael and my father grew up together, and I have known him all my life, so there were few pauses in conversation when we finally got going. I say that because the modifications to the car took longer than anticipated, then when were about to leave we realised that one of the hens was missing. We searched high and low all around the garden, but she was nowhere to be seen, so in the end we decided that we just had to depart, an hour later than planned, because poor old Michael would be getting pretty twitchy. Off we sped, it’s a 15 minute drive to Bardfield, and as we approached the village there was a realisation that the key to the box on top of the car was not with us! I dropped Jennifer, Emily and Nellie off to break the news to Michael while I raced back home to recover the key. I had no idea where the thing could be, but was banking on it sitting on the kitchen table….it wasn’t. I searched everywhere I could think of in the house without finding it. I wasn’t quite sure what to do, a slight panic was setting in, so to relieve the tension I thought that I would have another look around the garden for the AWOL chicken, and there on top of the coop sat the key! But still no sign of Mavis. Off I toddled again, collected up my human and canine cargo, and gunned it down to the south coast, dropping Michael off at his swanky hotel shortly after 8.00pm. He is going to have a week of discovering old haunts and looking up friends; not bad for a 92 year old! That wasn’t as brief as I had intended it to be, but it was an eventful few hours, and not the greatest start to a relaxing mini-break. There was a happy end to the day when we received a message from our neighbours, who are looking after the cats and the hens, to say that Mavis appeared at bedtime along with all the others….I’m going to wring her neck when I get back, because it was her fault that I mislaid the key! I won’t really, she’s my favourite.

The weather down here has been wild so far, with waves of sweeping rain coming in on gale force winds. We took Nellie for a walk earlier up on the downs near Beachy Head, and the wind was so strong up there that I had to open the passenger car door for Jennifer, such was the wind force against it that she couldn’t budge it. When walking into the teeth of the gale it was necessary to lean forward and drive one’s legs to make any headway at all. My hair was a complete mess by the time we got back to the car, and we were soaked through by the driving rain, but old Nellie had the time of her life.

Getting back to what you are really interested in….vegetables. This week there will be broccoli, kale, perpetual spinach, leeks, onions, very limited courgettes and patty pan squash, mixed tomatoes, swede, carrots, ‘Charlotte’ salad potatoes, and ‘Rudolph’ red general purpose tatties, sweet red peppers, chilli peppers, garlic, and Uchiki Kuri winter squash. Eating apples are St Edmund Pippin, a firm russet variety from this region.

I’m going to leave it there, because I am hoping to get down to the Towner Art Gallery this afternoon to look at its extensive collection of local boy Eric Ravilious’s work. There is a connection with the aforementioned Michael, because when he was a lad growing up in Great Bardfield, Ravilious lived for a while with Edward Bawden in the house immediately next door to the shop that his father, and later he kept. And my grandfather was Bawden’s  gardener, so he would have met and known Ravilious too. Connections eh?

Have a good week. See you on your doorstep, or at Wyken on Saturday.



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