Rooted to the Spot

Magazine style section with articles about life at the Sticks on a theme inspired by Brexit

William Deakin restored


15 years of family history research available in our webtrees database (over 800 surnames and nearly 5000 individuals) plus a collection of birth, marriage and death certificates.  


Then and now

Tracing the  history of the house from early 1800s to the present day using historical documents and idenitying people who lived here before us

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Maps for local walks

Selection of our walking routes on the edge of the Staffordshire Moorlands. All accessible from convenient public car parks 


We know that Summer is over when the cats come indoors, find themselves a warm spot, preferably inside a cardboard box, and Mr Cat moves into our bedroom. They've been indoors now for at least three weeks and the late resurgence of Summer I had hoped for has not materialised.

It's been raining a lot too and the daily chore of watering the vegetable garden every day is becoming a vague memory. The plants in the greenhouse are taking less water now, which is fortunate because with the cooler, damp and rainy weather I am tending to forget that they need watering. The tomato plants are still producing plenty of tomatoes for harvesting every day but the aubergines turned from raging success into a bit of a nightmare. Within a week of the weather changing they started to lose fruits and flowers and close inspection revealed a multitude of bugs had descended upon them. Now the daily chore is bug busting. Spraying with soapy water and physically removing bugs from the leaves. 

Fortunately the first bug blitz greatly improved the situation and now after persistent effort they are almost recovered and the flowers are surviving and new fruits are setting. I just wonder whether it is now a bit late in the season for them to grow to full ripeness. Still if they don't we can probably put them in with the apples when making chutney.

The pepper and chilli plants have a good crop of fruit but some varieties have lost their leaves. We couldn't find any bugs on them so we are baffled as to what has happened. We used a packet of mixed seeds and don't really know what is what. Next year we plan to get individual, named varieties and monitor which we succeed with and which we don't. 

We have had the apple and pear trees for years but never before have we seen so much fruit. We don't know how to deal with the 5-6kg of windfall apples and pears we collect each day. And we haven't even started picking them from the trees yet. So far we have made apple chutney, pickled apples, apple jam and pear jam. We invested in a new 9 litre jam pan to make the jam and nearly 100 jars to put it in. The house has smelled alternately of vinegar and pickling spice or syrupy sweet and occasionally a strange blend of the two.

A drought is not usually good news for gardeners but it does have the benefit of stopping the grass from growing, and we have a lot of grass so it spared us many hours of mowing and strimming, which was just as well as both our (rather ancient) strimmers broke down at the end of June and were in for repair for five weeks. Without the drought we would have been pushing through grass as high as an elephant's eye.

It hasn't all been gardening. Over the Summer we stepped up our campaigning against Brexit and joined a local group. It is hard work but fun going out into the town and standing in the street talking to people. In our area I had expected a hostile reception: the "don't you understand democracy" argument, but it has been mainly the opposite. Many people who disagree with us on Europe say they support our right to make our case. Many more have said they would like another vote. It is common for people to say they didn't realise what the EU was or how involved the UK was with it or all the things it did, even those who had tried to follow it. Now they know more they want to reassess, see if Mrs May's deal meets their requirements or not and then vote again.

From social media, the news and the political shows on TV you see a lot of Brexit extremes and division. In Westminster party politics or personal gain appears to have a higher priority than the national interest, but on the street the majority of ordinary people we've spoken to are showing more common sense and generally a willingness to keep an open mind. I suppose in a nutshell most people think Brexit is out of control and badly handled and that pragmatically another vote is now the only sensible approach, even if they personally would prefer not to have to do it.

For Autumn and Winter we have a number of projects lined up: more anti-Brexit activities of course, but also making new frames and doors for the outbuildings, our first attempt at growing spring vegetables which means tending them through the winter, clearing more fallen trees, so lots more log making, and on the indoor days a bit of IT development. Oh yes, and walking the young dog. Mustn't forget the dog just because the cats have moved back in.

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    07 January 2019
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