It is warm at the moment, today I was away from Birmingham for work in Oxford. I walked from my meeting in the centre of town to the office I work in just outside of Oxford city centre. I support the operations of the team who are based there. It was a sweaty walk, touristy too. Summer attracts a lot of people from all over the world into Oxford – visitors marvel at the architecture, history and academia on show. It is a beautiful city which feels more like a town, the limestone spires are enchanting and fairytale like.
My work also allows me to see the more hidden aspects of the UK, I have not mentioned this on Self and Roots before but as a job I work with the homeless, people who have to sleep on the streets, people who live in hostels or people who live on their friends sofa. I manage three services in three cities which is part of a small but busy national charity. The contact I make with homeless people is a daily occurrence. It is a tough job that is hard but thankfully at times very rewarding, even in the Summer heat the shine of a town isn’t present for me all the time and I do notice the harder lives people are living even whilst appreciating the charms of provincial England. Working in the homelessness sector gives you a juxtaposition of England and its many paradoxes – beautiful cities and towns where sadly there are people in these cities that are living such hard lives they do not have the time or the outlook to enjoy them.
I got home today and sat in the garden, glad to be in the shade – I had a reheated bean stew with a poached egg from the chickens, it was nice to be calm for a while. Not really thinking but just being quiet. The red currants at the back of the garden are about to go red, the 2 bushes could do with cutting back and pruning this year, the red currant season is so short it will probably be this weekend that I harvest them.
The gooseberry bush that I moved to a sunnier part of the garden has fruited also and has fruited all it’s going to fruit this year. These garden growths are blessed distractions and in truth are petty far from the real world I know of in my day job. I am glad that I have these things in a world which seems fairly nuts at the moment. Even though the red currants are just red currants, I am still truly thankful.
It has been a month since I started the Self and Roots blog and I feel like the blog approach to showing the internet what I am doing at home is working, I am pleased that the online community of self-sufficiency and home growing has got in touch and shared their enthusiasm to the little things I have been doing throughout the month. Thank you for the comments and supportive messages, it means a lot. I want to now write about my opinions and findings rather than doing a show and tell style blog, I won’t just be showing off to the world of this so-called ‘good life’ and more so my goals achieved and also my failures following the ethos of Self and Roots by going further down the rabbit hole of self-reliance. Today I bought a £1 bag of garden peas from the CO-OP to have with dinner, I picked these up from the freezer cabinet and didn’t feel that I was doing myself a disservice, but whilst bringing the peas to the boil I thought about the packaging, the amount of electric to keep the peas frozen and the manpower and fuel to get them to my supermarket in South Birmingham. With the ease of the service from my local store, I was pleased to have peas but I thought that depending on my supermarket isn’t always going to be the best idea. I need to keep considering these choices I am making and I need to keep finding other alternatives to work out a way of stopping myself going to the supermarket as much as I do at the moment. I mentioned in my homemade all-purpose cleaner post that I want to rid myself of the kitchen roll, but in truth I want to rid myself of this learnt impulsive behaviour of ease and to develop the ideas of nourishment by doing it myself and for the people I love in my life, yes self-sufficiency is an ideology but we have to try and we have to start somewhere. I need to keep considering what I can do to be more efficient at this journey. Kitchen towels or the frozen peas, it is all related and I am treating these decisions and my plans for the future as the same.
This has to be the driest April since I can remember, Spring so far has not felt like a flash in the pan but more a seasonal event which has stayed with us. Today I walked through Oxford city centre to a work meeting, the last of the magnolia flowers were showing from the university gardens and it was truly warm, it was almost t-shirt weather.
With this kind of weather I made a gardeners risk two weeks ago with planting some butterhead lettuce seedlings in the raised bed, my overly eager gardening intuition had worked thankfully, the anticipated frosts had not come which could have killed them. The eight lettuces (good for small spaces too) are starting to grow well. Last weekend I also filled a container with a greek salad mix for the summer months, these salad leaves will be cut and come again and will serve the kitchen with leaves that are full of tastes, textures and colours.
When I eventually did get home tonight I checked the lettuces and gave them a water, in the container the seedlings had germinated in the short time of five days which also indicated to me that the soil has warmed up nicely. Due to this I decided to sow two rows of carrots in the sunniest part of the garden, these rows I hope will have as much luck as my salad leaves.
To be able to come home to Birmingham from a busy and overly packed late train and to have a little potter in the garden was calm inducing. The birds in the wood near to a house were also singing their roosting songs adding to a beautiful evening of quiet peacefulness.
Welcome to my new blog, this blog has been set up as an online diary and ode to my exploration of self-sufficiency, my love of real food, gardening, growing and my learning about all of this. I live in a small mid terrace in South Birmingham with my girlfriend Becky, we moved in to this house 14 months ago and inherited an unused vegetable patch, some ragged fruit trees and a lawn.
Since then we have placed 2 chickens on that lawn, nourished the soil accordingly and last year had our first growing season with some great results. We are aiming towards developing the house and garden which can support our kitchen with delicious food and improve our knowledge to support our ideas of working towards a more sustainable home which is simplified in living and shows respect towards low impact life. Cutting down food miles, reducing wasteful processes and enjoying it along the way can’t be a bad thing.
I hope this blog will give some order to my learning, every journey has a start and I hope this will show as time goes on that its worth doing these things, ideas become solutions and solutions can become positive to the world around us.
That is it for now, my first awkward blog post done, back soon with updates.