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The cold morning we got at the beginning of April, which pretty much wrecked the new growth on the grape, was not as harsh as last year, but it did manage to hit the record of being the coldest April morning since 1947, or something like that. Even so, it's likely done a number on the fruit bearing trees that had flowers (cherry, gage, etc). Again.

I still have not seen any swallows. But it is now time for cherry blossom.

Cherry blossom starting
Cherry blossom starting.


Storm and Saturday

On Friday a storm blew through. Diego, or something. So named because people were a little annoyed that all of the recent storms had female names. Snowflakes...
We were forecast to have yellow alert for violent winds, and also for torrential rain. AccuWeather suggested winds of around 80kph.

As it happened, it was windy but not that windy. And it rained, a lot, but was spread out through the day so wasn't going to cause flash floods. I think the worst of the storm hit down the Charente, again.

Yesterday, the grass was surprisingly dry, so I fired up the mower.

I lie. I spent nearly an hour with the battery charger swearing at it as it steadfastly refused to do anything.
I would like to get a plug-in gizmo that can deliver enough power to crank an engine, but all the offerings on Amazon are lithium cells and, well, I'm not sure I'm entirely happy about having a LiPo battery pack that can handle dumping 300A into a car's starter kicking around here. One should learn a lesson from the burnt wreck of the Felicity Ace that LiPo cells are dangerous.
God only knows what will happen if there's a battery fire in a multi-storey car park full of battery vehicles. Or, worse, a large underground car park with businesses or residences above.

Eventually, Marte started.
And then it rained.

As it was a passing shower, I headed under cover, disengaged the blades, and idled the engine waiting for it to pass. Once it had, I headed out again. Okay, the grass was wet now, but tough titty, I'd already done half of it, so was obliged to finish.

Amazingly, the front wheels still functioned. Just. ☺



This morning, I cleared up the pile of crap on the desk by the bedroom door. That was where my inkjet was placed, the old Brother, and loads of things that - frankly - I just tossed in a bin bag.

The reason for doing this was because I wanted somewhere to put the laser printer that wasn't the kitchen table. It was there because, well, easy access to a power point and close to the Livebox. But a few years later, I'd kind of fed up of it being there. So now it is on the desk beside the inkjet.

Also on the desk, and doing double duty as a paper carrier, is the analogue oscilloscope, the Metrix OX710. It appears as if there is a problem with the timebase as there seems to be a ghost trace slightly offset from the main one, which is jittery because of this. Also, the 10kHz test signal at... 0.2ms, I think, takes two and a half squares instead of two as expected. This might be due to dampness. I had to open the box, unsolder the power switch/brightness control, and let some WD40 soak into the thing before it would rotate. The joys of a damp house, huh? I can imagine my old spinning rust is, quite literally, spinning rust by now!

Once that was done, and noting that the laser printer was reporting it was low on toner (already?!), it was time for the next job.


The seeds are sown

Preparing the (new) potato patch.
Sowing the potatoes
Sowing the potatoes.

Testing the irrigation system.

Potato irrigation
Potato irrigation.

And a photo of the area. The yellow labels mark the beginning and end of each row, and are horizontal to the end of the row (as one row runs the other way due to the buried water pipe).

Potato patch 2022
Potato patch 2022.

All of the potatoes this year are Bintje, as they did quite alright last year, especially given the disastrous blight. Where they are now is windier, so, hopefully less risk of blight this year?


Over at the original potato patch, a multitude of things. Well, three. That's a lot for here.

The other stuff
The other stuff.

On the left are lines of carrots, Torchon variety. Chosen, well, because the picture on the packet was pretty. I sprinkled seeds into shallow rows, and will pluck out excess plants to keep the best looking ones. They should be ready sometime between June and November.

Next up, and you'll notice the yellow labels are section markers now, are the leeks. Planted in the same way as the carrots, these ones of the Vernor variety, will be ready for harvesting between November and March. This is brilliant as I am not sure about how to store leeks, so the best way to have leeks in a winter soup or stew is to simply go yank one or two out of the ground as necessary.

The big empty space is reserved for melons, should I decide to grow them again this year. I think I'd better prep up some little peat pots to start the seeds behind the window (away from the risk of frost). Maybe sometime in the week.

And finally, in the distance, are two rows of Jermor shallots. Don't worry, I put these in the place where the melons were last year, so no conflict with the potatoes (conflict meaning two root crops in the same place in successive years).

The plan, this time, is to have potato, carrot, leek, and shallot in the multicooker to stew. If cut up small enough, it can be eaten like that. Otherwise, my blender has an attachment that fits onto the back to soupify stuff.
I would like to say "eaten with home-made bread" but bread in the bread maker always comes out like a brick. On the other hand, if thickened up (a little bit of fine semolina?) it could make a nice albeit unusual pasta topping?


Metal Lords?

I watched this video on Netflix last night, and what stood out to me was the delusional metalhead thinking that a girl playing a cello in a metal band would be, to quote him, "gay".
This, of course, being immediately lampshaded by said girl looking around the room at some extremely questionable posters.

As a person who listens to some of that genre (more specifically, symphonic metal), I feel like I ought to point out that there is nothing wrong with having a girl in a metal band. Quite often they do lead, or part lead, vocals - frequently an ethereal opera style contrasting the male vocals (especially if the male growls). This is actually known as "beauty and the beast", and has plenty of groups using the style - Theatre of Trajedy debuted this back in 1995. Tristania, Epica, Leaves Eyes, Within Temptation, etc.
It is falling out of favour as, well, saturation. But you can still hear it on various Amaranthe tracks, for instance.

As for a cello in a metal band... allow me to point you in the direction of Apocalyptica who are not one but three cellos, and no guitar. It's a rather distinctive sound, but it works brilliantly.

All you need to do is understand that there's more to "metal" than Metallica and Slipknot.


Now, speaking of potatoes, I have two in the halogen cooker. They're almost ready, so I had better go grate some cheese to put on top... which means, no time to read through to fail to spot the typos. ☺



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J.G.Harston, 11th April 2022, 12:20
Hmm, diagonal potato rows. That's different, I'll have to try that myself.
David Pilling, 11th April 2022, 13:35
I know someone who had a car in a multi-story carpark in Liverpool that caught fire. Probably 500 cars written off. 
Some battery chargers are quite heavy duty, maybe enough to start your mower, but as I know to my cost not enough to start a car with a worn out battery. 
Potatoes - I once spent a happy afternoon spraying potatoes with water, and they immediately came down with blight - gardeners make rules out of anecdote - anyway I'd avoid getting the foliage wet. 
Representations of 'bands' are along with computers in the movies never convincing apart from "Spinal tap".

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