Gardening in the Rain

Gotta plant! (Is that considered an esoteric reference these days?)

The spring hasn’t quite sprung yet, as we experienced an abortive warm spell followed by cold and wet weather. The slugs are having an absolute bash, but I’m less impressed. Although it has dampened me, it hasn’t dampened my spirits.

Is that enough plants? I didn’t think so either…

After getting a little fed up of the monotonous greenery in the sun-exposed fruit tree cordon area, we set out to Plants Galore in Plympton to sort it out. I also picked up a bunch of bedding plants in Lidl too. The roster included a number of annuals and nice decorative perennials too. I was trying to go for a low maintenance garden originally, but that doesn’t necessarily look the greatest. Now I want something that will bring me some joy while we sit outside on the late spring (if it ever arrives) or summer days and long evenings. We also picked up an olive tree for the patio to go with the lemon tree, and a few more established Japanese maples as my other ones are taking a long time to get going.

Filling out the fruit tree bed


I’ve been trying a few recipes from Taming Twins after a recommendation from my sister, although adjusted for cooking in the Instant Pot (pressure cooker) which cooks much more quickly. The latest recipe I’ve used was for a spinach and ricotta lasagne that was designed for slow cooking, but instead I cooked it in the oven at 160 degrees Celcius (fan) for 45 minutes, and covered the dish with foil for the first 20 minutes. It turned out rather well, although the raw passata didn’t make for the best tomato sauce layer. Next time I’ll make a batch of bolognese-type sauce without meat. I also swapped the grated mozzarella for fresh stuff, but drained it well before cooking. Ultimately it worked quite well and could be excellent with a few of the described tweaks. It’s a great alternative to the standard meaty dish.

Spinach and ricotta lasagne, served with some crusty bread and a simple leaf salad

Plymouthian Restaurant Discoveries

The Cardiff trip reignited my fine-dining desire, and following on from the Classroom (the catering college run restaurant), I found the Plymouth equivalent. PL1 is City College Plymouth’s restaurant, run by catering and hospitality students, and appears to offer a really varied service with themed nights and fine dining. They also offer baked goods from time to time, with a sacher torte being featured recently for £4. If you’ve tried making one, you’ll understand how ridiculously good value that is. The restaurant is located within City College in Devonport, and we will definitely be checking it out soon.

PL1 – Photo from taste buds magazine


The bookcase project is nearing completion. Time away from home and the recent gardening blitz have put this one on the back burner, but the replacement hinge arrived and I was able to get the second door fitted. I miscalculated the door size and didn’t properly account for the overhang, so there’s a gap. Fear not! It’s just another challenge to overcome.

There are a few options to sort it out. One is setting the doors flush with the frame which I would choose to do if I was re-doing the whole project, but at this stage it would involve relocating hinges and planing down the doors, then re-finishing them. It would be a lot of extra work for little gain. The next is to put in a central partition/bar, but that would make access to the cupboard slightly more difficult. The solution I’ve settled on is affixing a strip to the right hand door which will mimic a central bar but open with the door. It’s not a perfect fix, but cosmetically should look okay. The final step will be to find some nice handles so it can be opened (a minor detail…).

I bought another metre of american white oak from Totem Timber to finish off the project, so it should blend nicely with the doors and rest of the bookcase.

The doors!

My bar cabinet is almost complete! Some day I would like to have a proper bar setup, but for now this is a pretty good way of keeping the spirits safe and away from little mischievous hands.

Back to bourbon…

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