I’ve been thinking, I could be regarded as some kind of Santa Claus figure to some of you. What I mean is, you write a list and send it into the ether and then, hey presto, gifts are left on your doorstep….ok so you pay for the privilege, but the Santa comparison extends to the fact that a good third of my customers have never set eyes on me, so for all they know it could be the jolly green giant dropping their veg off…..or the big guy in red. That’s fine, but what you need to know is I arrive in the daytime in a 12 year old white van, not on a sleigh or whatever mode of transport a green giant uses; sorry for spoiling the dream, I feel wretched now.

I have to admit that I didn’t exactly work my fingers to the bone during my first week back after the holiday, I took it nice and gently, easing back into the swing of things; a bit of tidying up here, a touch of overdue maintenance there, a spot of planting, a scratch around with the hoe, some seed catalogue browsing, and, of course, one or two veg boxes to fill and deliver. I’m feeling fairly mellow at the moment, but I know that there will be a moment of realisation at some point in the not too distant future when I recognise that I haven’t done this that or the other, and that I am going to have to wake from my winters slumber and get my cute little ass in gear. I am also more than a little concerned over the condition of my knees, I am currently quite restricted about what I can and can’t do, and it would appear that I have fallen foul of the government’s decision to reschedule non-emergency operations and out-patient appointments, because my consultation with the orthopaedic department at the West Suffolk Hospital last Wednesday was postponed until the 25th of January. That is fine, if the system is overloaded, but I am worried that if I need any surgical procedures to address my complaint, by the time the treatment is administered, and I have convalesced, the growing season could be well under way. However, I mustn’t get ahead of myself, what will be will be.

I was delighted to receive a text message from the blood service on Friday, to inform me that the platelets I donated on the 29th December had been delivered to University Hospital Norwich; my heartfelt best wishes go out to the patient that receives them. I am also registered as an organ donor, and am a strong supporter of the ‘opt out’ proposal that, unless you specifically object to your organs being used after they are of no further use to you, they will be used to assist someone in dire need of them. I realise that some people are reluctant to volunteer to do this, but there is no rational reason not to. I should make a note on my card to tell the medical staff that if they use my eyes the recipient will require +2 reading glasses.

On New Years Day we took a trip to the seaside to walk Dudley. We strolled down memory lane with a visit to Walton on the Naze. Every year my primary school had an outing there, and I retain very fond memories of those trips; of the bus ride there, of excited children claiming that they could smell the sea far sooner than it could be possible to do so, of sand in the sandwiches, and the ball games on the grass area across the road from the beach when the tide was in. I also remember family visits to the town, with time on the pier on the dodgem cars and on the ghost train and the aeroplane rides, and looking in awe at the magnificent horses on the carousel. And then, for nostalgic reason, taking Emily there annually for the day, on the last day of the school summer holidays. It’s a bit shabby and tacky, but it’s actually quite a charming little resort, and up at the Naze end of the town it’s really rather nice, which is where we walked Dud last Monday. I particularly like it up there, because inland from the sea is Arthur Ransome’s ‘Secret Water’, a magical place of tidal salt marshes and low lying islands, where the children in his story had great adventures with eels and a Mastadon. I love those books.

So, I suppose we ought to talk about vegetables. This week there are Savoy cabbages, Pak Choi, cavolo nero, parsnips, carrots, onions, beetroot, swede, mushrooms, squash, leeks….and cauliflowers! I can’t take credit for growing them, they are from the banks of the Orwell at Nacton (just across from Pin Mill where another Ransome book was set). There are lemons, and Seville marmalade oranges. There are baking potatoes, ‘Desiree’ red ones, and ‘Cosmos’ white, but no ‘Le Ratte’ this week, but I am hoping to get more for next week – I really like them.

The farmers’ market at Wyken returns on Saturday (hurrah!), so you box collectors can place your orders this week again. It will be good to get back into the old routine, and to see familiar faces again, after what seems like a long break. Don’t let me down, do come along and support your local growers/producers; it’s a fun shopping experience and a pleasant social occasion.

Unusually, I am typing this on Saturday evening in the kitchen, because Jennifer and Emily are watching the last of the ‘Hunger games’ films on the TV in the sitting room, and I don’t do violence for entertainment anymore (unless it’s on a rugby field), so it has been a good opportunity to knock this on the head. I am more of a University Challenge man, and enjoyed the Christmas special series in which notable alumni compete for their old colleges. This year the final was a bit of a disappointment, because Keble College Oxford (or Frank Cottrell-Boyce to be precise) trounced Reading University to nil! Frank was amazing, and seemed like a nice bloke too.

Right, that’s it, the movie has nearly finished, so I can go into the other room for a warm-up by the wood burning stove. Abysinnia.

Phil

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