Latest from The sticks

  • New expansion projects
    31 July 2019
    In a previous article I lamented the fact that my parsnips had failed. I spoke to soon or was too impatient. A couple of weeks later they appeared. Not all of them but more than...



Gardening diary

  • Wind and rain
    17 August 2019
    Not much activity in the garden this week with all the wind and rain. Mould is claiming more aubergine victims in the greenhouse although some still doing OK and harvested a...

It's raining again. Looking at the weather forecast it will be overcast and wet until the end of the week, so instead of out working in my garden I'm sitting in front of my computer typing this.

It's my second year of gardening since I retired and I've been a lot more ambitious this year than last; my expectations are higher and my disappointments more acute. Last year my attitude was, well I tried, I'll find out what I did wrong and avoid repeating the problem next year. This year I'm trying to pretend I know what I'm doing. 

Irregular watering in the greenhouse: no problem switch to capillary matting. It seems to be working well apart from the slight problem of a scary looking orange fungal growth appearing on one of the mats. 

Panic. What is it? Can't be sure but let's get rid of it. 

So we move the plants. Phew! It doesn't seem to have infected them and it's only on the exposed parts of the mat not on or under the pots. Must be a good sign, yes? No?  Maybe the plants will be OK fingers crossed. But still, we'd better remove the infected mat. Be thorough: clean everything it's touched with Jeyes fluid - diluted and applied as advised on the can; rinse and dry then lay out new matting, soak mat and replace the plants. There good as new.

But can we save the old mat? We put it to soak  in solution of the Jeyes fluid. We'll leave it overnight and check again tomorrow - recycle or re-use whenever possible!

Later that night I read that Jeyes fluid, which I originally purchased to clean my pots and wash down my greenhouse, is very bad for the environment. Particularly insects and fish if it gets into the water course - but also cats, I read it can be fatal for cats, even absorbed through the skin. Is this true? I have four cats.

Panic again - what happens if one of the cats accidentally falls into the trough where I'm soaking my mat overnight. I feel bad enough using plastic now I know about the micro-particles and the fish. Cutting down on meat consumption and wearing clothes I owned as a teenager to avoid buying new ones even though I'm now a retired pensioner don't seem enough to save the planet. Now I might be poisoning my own land and putting my cats at risk with Jeyes fluid. Arrrgh! Can't do right for doing wrong.

Now I'm stuck indoors. The infected mat is still soaking away in the deadly liquid, but now with a lid over the trough so at least the cats will be safe. 

I'm hoping the gloomy mood will lift and everything will seem better when the sun comes out again. In the meantime it's good weather for the grass ... and weeds  ... and possibly orange mold.

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Maps for local walks

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

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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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.  

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Transcription of travel diaries made during the last 36 years starting with India and Nepal 1981 and including USA 1983, Syria 1993, South America 2000 and South Africa 2014 together with photographs. This is a work in progress as the diaries are transcribed, so check for updates.

Route to the Soul

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Began as a romantic mixture of emotion and practical tips from two young students discovering themselves and life as they recounted their adventures away from home. The Student and her boyfriend shared their passion for each other, travel and their pursuit of a healthy lifestyle. Now the blog is maintained by the Student who studies and works part time on-line while she and her boyfriend continue their travels to explore the world. Her blog focuses on wellbeing and politics affecting the state of the planet & the lives of its inhabitants.

Seeds & Weeds

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We weren't gardeners, we don't even listen to Gardeners' Question Time very often, but we have a large garden with plenty of potential and since I retired at the end of 2017 we have become amateur gardners. We favour the wild, natural look and like the birds, butterflies, frogs and other small animals but we want it to be looked after and we have recently revived and extended our vegetable patch. This section is dedicated to reluctant gardeners in constant fight against the weeds - solidarity among the nettled and scratched - the caterpillars, slugs, snails and multitudes of insects.

Rooted to the Spot

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