tger greenhaddock: May 2005

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Hot Weekend

It has been a very hot weekend. Work was hectic, the trains were sweaty and didn't run on time, but Mrs Haddock kept the fridge fully stocked with cold beer, so everything worked out fine in the end.

The garden drooped a bit due to the +30 deg C temps, but after a substantial watering all looks ok, apart from some parts of the lawn. The lawn is of course laid turf (well I am English). When we laid the Rollrasen it caused a little bit of a sensation on our housing estate. A lot of people came to view it as they had never heard of such a thing. I had to tell several people "Yes, this is real grass" - komisch, oder?

The dog next door, called Lucky, insists on peeing on our lawn on a regular basis. Unfortunately our Common Box hedge is not yet large enough to stop his urinary invasions. But I think he does understand a few basic words of English as he does seem to respond when I impolitely tell him to go away.

But on a more refreshing note note Mrs Haddock has been plying me with herbal tea made from peppermint & apple mint fresh from out of our garden, and very nice it is too.

Quiet Friday

It's a very quiet Friday at work. It's over 30 deg C outside, England are on top in the first test against Bangladesh at Lords, as was to be expected, and apparently it's a record breaking May in the UK temperature wise.

Trescothick celebrates his century

Click here for the Scorecard

Found a nice How to go Green Blog which has lots of handy information including some very good links. I particularly liked this compost link. There is also a good article on why Peat should not be used.

I have been having trouble finding sites in Germany that sell equipment for wine making. In the Autumn I would like to have a go at making plum wine. Our plum tree wont bear any fruit this year, but a friend gave us a lot of plums from her garden last year, which Mrs Haddock turned into Jam. This year its time for wine.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Garden update

The Pea's have been planted out and seem to be doing well (meaning they haven't died yet). We realised the other day that the plants we had in the propagator (Parsley & Peas's), were both plants that do not like transplantation. So fingers are crossed (and thumbs are pressed).

Berrywise, the Gooseberries and Blackcurrants fruits are progressing well. The Tomatoes are in flower, and the fruit is starting to set on the Strawberries. The Lettuce are very healthy, and so far have not suffered from slug attacks. Incidently only the Sunflowers have been attacked so far, much to the annoyance of the Haddock Juniorette.

The Bell Peppers and Chilli plants are ok, they are just waiting to flower (the buds are there). I guess they will do better when the weather improves, just as it did yesterday. Local temperatures reached 28 deg C.

And finally, today is a Holiday in Germany, but unfortunately not for me. I have to work today, whilst the rest of the country BBQ's, relaxes and enjoys the good weather.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Knockin' Shop

The big news in the local paper today was that a group of investors have applied for planning permission to build a Bordello in the Wehrda business/shopping area of Marburg. If approved they would also like to incorporate a Table-dance club and a Sex shop. It's hoped that the Bordello will attract "Visitors" from all over the region.

If this was happening in England the moral majority would be up in arms. But everyone I have spoken to here about the issue thinks it's a good idea, or at the very least have no objections to the idea. I guess it keeps this industry off the streets, gives it some type of regulation, and presumably makes it pay taxes.

But all I can think of is a Nun sat on a Monk - a very old and bad joke, so bad it's Virgin on the ridiculous!

I know........I wont give up the day job!

Friday, May 20, 2005

Weather it matters

It's my last night shift tonight and then 4 days off. As usual the Friday train for the trip to Frankfurt was as busy as ever, and the Marburg platform was packed.

Due to having a preference for sitting down when I am travelling by train, I always try and got onto the train carriage first to ensure a seat, and I am normally very sucessful at it.

Today with out thinking I let a young lady on before me, who immediately took 2 seats and then threw her bag down where I was going to sit, saying she was saving the seats for her friends. I couldn't believe it, luckily I found another seat, but was then amazed when 5 mins later she went and sat elsewhere. There is probably a moral here, but I'll be damned if I know what it is!

But to more important matters. If the weather is good this weekend I have plenty of jobs to do in the garden, including planting out the peas from the propagator. Unfortunately the forcast is not good, but German weather forcasts are not that reliable, and more often than not, the forecasts are wrong. Not quite as bad as the Michael Fish incident in the UK a few years ago with his "There will be no Hurricane" forcast, but if they say rainy, it just might be sunny.

Incidently Michael Fish used to work in Germany at ESOC in Darmstadt, and is of course, no relation.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Sprouting & Logs

The ordered Bean Sprouter Pack arrived last week, and we tried it out. We have had a crop of Mustard, Radish and Alfalfa. Very tasty they were to. The Mustard and Radish were quite spicy, and definately not to the liking of the Haddock Juniorette, but she did like the Alfalfa.

We have some more sprouts growing at the moment. Alfalfa (why is word so difficult to spell, let alone speak?), and some type of wheat/corn that we found here in Germany. I'll have to get Mrs Haddock to translate the seed packet for me.

According to the book accompaning the the Sprouter Pack, sprouts are pack full off easily absorbed vitamins, and essential enzymes which we need. So I'm expecting to feel a lot healthier soon.

I was amazed to learn that in terms of pancreas to body weight ratio, then the Homo Sapian has the biggest pancreas of the lot. Not a lot of people know that.

Night time temperature have taken a bit of a dive of late. We've even had a couple of minor frost. That's probably what killed the cucumber plants. So we have had to fire up the wood burning stove a couple of times, during which I tried out one of the paper brickette logs that I made. It burnt a treat, rather like coal, slow burning, and lasted for well over an hour. All in all, a roaring sucess (excuse the pun)

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Grand Duchy of Luxembourg

I had never been to Luxembourg, and did not know anything about the place, so that sounded like the perfect reason to visit the place. So that's what the Haddock family did yesterday.

To make it confusing the country and the capital city have the same name. The Luxembourg countryside is very pleasant and the motorway has wooded bridges (bridges with trees and shrubs growing on them!) for animals to cross safely.

The City of Luxembourg is quite small and is centered around a hole in the ground, or to be more precise a gorge which was fortified heavily in past times. The gorge is very scenic with many mature trees in it. Its not good to look down when crossing the many bridges over the gorge. Its a long way down.

The city really feels European, with everyone we met speaking both French and German. We visited the Catherdral, the Palace, and took a sight seeing tour.

On the way home we filled up with petrol at Wasserbillig, which is a border town with Germany. Here there is a road with approx 20 petrol stations, all full of Germans filling their Mercedes and BMW's. At present there is a price differential of about 23 cents a we did likewise.

We enjoyed our little Ausflug to Luxembourg, and would like to return again for a longer visit. With a roun

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Crepe Service

Last night Mrs Haddock and I went out for a meal to Der Heisse Tisch (The Hot Table). The restaurant has round tables that have a hot plate in the center. Meat, vegetables & spices are brought to the table and cooked in the middle. Menu consists of starter, main course, cheese, and crepe for dessert.

The service was very friendly, and once the server/cook realised I was English, she started to practice her English with us. It was all very funny.

For dessert was cherry crepe, and she wanted to make it special for us, so she proudly announced "For you, I now make a special crap!" - My bladder nearly emptied!

Language is a wonderful thing.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

A bird in the paw......

Lately we have been doing some research into what type of hedging plant we would like for the south facing boundary. A couple of plants came close, but for one reason or another, didn't make the grade.

Current favourite candidate is Euonymus Jap. Aureus. Further enquiries will be made at the Caldern Garden Centre as to its suitability. But I reckon it will be pucker.

DIY wise I finally attached the stairway lights to the wall. It's taken a while to get round to getting this job done, but the end result, even though I say it myself, looks good.

Today Mickey, our young Tomcat caught his first bird (we were so proud - Ah!). I tried to save the young Redstart, but the cat wouldn't let go of it. In the end he disappeared off int a neighbours garden, presumably to eat it, as he eats flies, bumble bees and any other creature that he can catch.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Father/Daughter Day

Today was the Haddock Father/Daughter day. The Juniorette and I got up at 5am and set off for the woods hoping to find a fox. We were somewhat hindered by the presence of Mickey our Tomcat who came with us. Nether the less, we still managed to see some Deer, Rabbits, a Hobby, various woodland birds and a Black Woodpecker

Later we went on a 25km round trip cycle ride to Kirchain. The bike trail follows the river Ohm (Water follows the path of least resistance - a bad Joke!) and is very picturesque. We stopped for luch at one of the lakes. Here we saw a Water Rat, Swans, Egyptian Geese and Great Crested Grebes. On the way home we heard and saw a Cuckoo.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Lawn Mower Man

The weather has improved over the last few days, so it has been time to get back into the garden again. I have cut the grass at the front and side of the house, but I coudn't handle doing the rear lawn as well, so that will have to wait for another day.

The flower/veggie bed has been extended. Knocking the wooden palisaden into the ground with a sledge hammer is knackering work. Over the next few days we have to fill up the level with a mixture of earth & peat.

Last night we found a Greek resturant, which is simply fantastic. Service is very good, price is reasonable, and the food is superb. Not tasted better since we were in Cyprus a few years ago.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Paper round

The paper shredder was purchased today. Every bit of scrap paper in the house was shredded in a whirlwind of activity. Some of the paper was then soaked in water for a couple of hours, and then the first brickettes (shown below) were produced with the Wet Logmaker.

Mrs Haddock planted some Pea and Parsley seeds in the propagator this afternnoon.

Weather is still grim - very windy with stong showers, and ground frost is forcast for tonight. I wonder what will happen to my Tomatoes, Bell Pepper & Chilli plants?

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Bloody Bats

I was feeling a bit fragile today. We had friends around last night to play Siedler and consume Wine & Beer. It was a late night.

Today the Haddock Family visited the Botanic Garden. It's a really nice place, especially when its not raining or hailing, unlike today.

On the way home we went to take a look at the local wind farm. The two turbines are magnificent, and produce hardly any noise at all.

There is a chance that these turbines may have to dismantled, because the planning permission was granted by the wrong department. This is because a rare Bat lives nearby, and therefore the planning permission needs to be signed by an enviromental agency. Un-bloody-believable!

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Brickette Makers

The Wet and Dry paper brickette makers arrived from CAT today. The Wet one looks good, but I'm not too sure about the Dry one.

I'll have to try them out this week, once I've bought a paper shredder. Tearing up lots of paper by hand doesn't really appeal to me.

Friday, May 06, 2005

I don't like Cricket

I Love it!.........and what are the chances of meeting 7 Indian fellas at my local sports field and having a game of cricket with them. Chances are good in England, but in Germany?.......I must check my Lottery ticket tonight.

Today was a Father/Daughter day so the Haddock Juniorette and I played football, went rollerblading, played chess, played computer games and generally larked around for the day.

In the Garden, the tomatoes are starting to flower, the strawberries are blooming, and the gooseberries & blackcurrants are swelling. The grass is still uncut and we are having lots of heavy unseasonal showers at the moment, so it doesn't bode well for the ever growing list of things to do in the garden.

But no worries, I got to play cricket.......that's the main thing!


This evening we had our first BBQ of the season. Great to be out on the patio again, tucking into sausages, steaks and salad. All washed down with beer and wine (Well it is Father's Day!).

Mrs Haddock ordered a Dehydrator today for drying Fruits & Herbs. When we start harvesting later in the year we will try it out.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Lawn Mower Police

We have a free local paper delivered every couple of weeks that gives a little local news, and generally gives information about public services i.e. Library opening times, when to put the wheelie bins out, which doctors/dentists are oncall, and yes, when you are allowed to cut the grass!

So not only do I have to wait for the right weather conditions, but I have to ensure that I don't mow the lawn on a Sunday or a Bank Holiday, or that its not after 8pm during the week. This is understandable. Its basically to control noise pollution. But if I want use a strimmer to tidy up those hard to reach areas, then the following conditions apply.

1. Cannot be used on Sundays or Bank Holidays

2. Can only be used on Weekdays between the hours of 9am - 1pm and 3pm - 5pm.

3. Saturdays are a bit of a grey area. But its seems you may be able operate your strimmer additionally between the hours of 7am - 9am and 5pm - 8pm.

Simple eh!?

Tomorrow is a Bank Holiday - Fathers Day. Traditionally German men disappear into the woods en masse with vast ammounts of beer to get drunk and sing dodgy songs.

I shall not be attending, I shall be sleeping, and I definately will not be cutting the grass.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Secret List Maker

It wasn't until about 6 months a go that I realised I was a Phenologist. On a quiet night shift I stumbled across the UK Phenology site and discovered that there was a name for the observation lists that I keep.

Looking at the observations of other Phenologists there is a definate trend to earlier springs. From my Scuba Diving days in the English Channel, and my seasonal observations of Sea Temperature, the definate trend was that the sea was getting warmer year on year. Plus we were seeing warm water fish species that were not usually found in British waters.

Now I discover that May 1st this year was the hottest in Germany since records began.

Somehow I dont think George Bush is into Phenology.

On the gardening front Mrs Haddock weeded the flower/veggie bed today. Lots of Juniorette's Sunflower seeds have come up, and in general all plants seem to be doing well.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Feline adventures

I didn't sleep too well today. It was hot & humid, and very noisy. The Haddock abode is near a playground, which this morning was full of screaming kids. One group from the Kindergarten (Haddock Juniorette was there) and one from the local school.. I can understand the Kindergarten group going to the playground, but the school group? appears it's in lieu of sports activities.

When I did get to sleep I was awoken by a workman returning one of our cats - Der Dicke Mickey. Thats the third time he's been brought home in the past two days. He was apparently seeking shade in a lorry from the workman near the graveyard. This a long way from our house. The Mickey really has a long range.

Yesterday he was brought home by a woman who thought her dog was going to eat him. Mickey has no fear of dogs, which when dogs realise this, they usually leave him alone.

In the afternoon he was brought back by a woman whose sons are allergic to cats. She doesn't even live in the new housing area - she was just visting one of our neighbours!

But what really astounds me is how silly people are (gosh I am polite!). Some people have fed him at BBQ's and complain later when he keeps on visiting them. He's a cat!.......if you feed him, he will return. Also if you let him into your house numerous tims, he will think he's allowed in there all the time.

Next time we'll get a Panther.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Wet and Dry

I ordered two log makers today. A wet one, and a dry one. I have been trying to find places that sell these for a long time. Fortunately some kind people over at pointed me in the right direction.

So soon I will be making paper brickettes to burn during the winter months. Just need to get a shredder now and ask the neighbours for their old newspapers.

Also ordered a Bean Sprout Starter Pack. An alternative way to get fresh 'Salad' during the winter months. Should be fun and very interesting for the Haddock Juniorette.

I have started my night shift cycle, and just before I left home to get the train to work, the outside temperature was 29.5 deg C........which is hot for the time of year. That reminds me, the swifts returned yesterday.......thats summer for me.