Daughter’s snowdrop makes it to 13 years in bloom

Each year I have a little jitter about whether our daughter’s snowdrop will appear.

Bred by the late galanthophile Jim Leatherland of Hollowell, Northants, galanthus ikariae ‘Bonnie Scott’ was given to me just after our fourth child and first daughter was born in February 2008. Bless Jim, he’d put up with my terrible plant knowledge and been a real mentor when I started gardening in Northants more than 20 years ago.

Working at the daily Chronicle and Echo at the time, I had somehow become the gardening correspondent, mostly (much like my parenting column) detailing my relief at keeping things alive.

Snowdrops should spread relatively easily, with new tiny bulbs forming beneath the soil each season. They should be lifted and gently split and replanted ‘in the green’ (while the leaves are still there after flowering).

But not my bonny snowdrop. There never seems much spread, hardly any new bulblets. I’ve tried moving it, always terrified the label will disappear and I’ll accidentally dig it up without realising. Then in late January it will pop up again, just with two or three flowers, but there, nonetheless, now almost 14 years on.

Maybe it needs a specific feed? Advice from experts always welcome.

Fingers crossed for next year…

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Turn again Dick Whittington, this year’s Derngate panto is a welcome break from the real world

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Lifting daffodils that have gone blind

I’m finally off work and quite looking forward to some lockdown gardening. While it’s been incredibly frustrating to see people isolating with massive gardens and apparently loads of free time, most of us have been working under difficult circumstances from home, yearning to get out in the little green space we may be lucky enough to have.

One of my jobs that’s not been done for years is to lift and divide my front yard daffs.

Daffodils can go blind, meaning they don’t flower, if they get too congested or are planted too shallow

Usually you should wait for daffodils to get to the yellow leaf stage before lifting and replanting, but if I don’t have that time. You should leave the leaves on, they need to reabsorb that green nutrition. Don’t be tempted to tie them either. If you have them in grass, leave then alone if they are flowering well.

The perennials in the tiny, dry front garden are trying to grow through a mass of leaves and I want to get some more plants in too, so the daffs have to move.

You can leave them to dry but it’s best to plant in the green and get them in the best state for next year. Plant at least to two bulbs’ depth to avoid digging them up accidently or giving squirrels a free lunch.

There’s perennials waiting to come up now the daffs have been thinned. Yes, that is a dead Christmas tree that I haven’t worked out how to dispose of yet.

I bought some coir blocks for a quid each from Poundland which has proved to be a real bargain for seedings and mulch. There are penstemon and rudbeckia in this tiny strip that should begin to shoot better now they aren’t being crowded out. The daffs are going in the back garden – just need to find some space…

These wallflowers were picked up almost dead from a DIY store last year, and are now adding colour in pots

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Review – Pippi Longstocking at Royal and Derngate, Northampton

Pippi is a ray of much-needed sunshine at Christmas

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I also write over here


If you think I’ve been a little quiet over recent months, it’s because I also write over here on our Northants-based magazine, The Nenequirer.

The title’s a bit of an in-joke for Northamptonians in case you were wondering:

the Nene (a river running through Northampton, pronounced Nen, rhymes with hen)

quirer (sounds liker choir-er).

Put together they sound like N‘enquirer.

Which is why it’s mostly now known as the NQ…

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The Worst Witch is the best — The NeneQuirer review

Review – The Worst Witch, Royal Theatre Northampton (show seen, Sunday Dec 9)

 

THEY are pretty tough to impress, ten-year-old girls. They’ve just reached that eye-rolling, arm-folding kind of age. Gone are the days when they’d fall about at a fart noise or a silly face. Three of them – my daughter and her two […]

via The Worst Witch is the best — The NeneQuirer

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December 29, 2018 · 2:15 pm

Check out The Nenequirer review of Rules for Living

https://nenequirer.com/2017/09/14/rules-for-living-is-a-gamechanger/

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Do you want to help find out what happens to coffee capsules?

Do you use coffee capsules? Do you wonder whether they decompose fully? The University of Northampton is looking for volunteers to take part in a project that will focus on examining the compostability of selected coffee capsules. It will run from July – November 2017. Participants will be provided with a free composting bin and the coffee capsules. They will be tasked with monitoring the process over the period of about three months, and providing researchers with the data. Support will be provided throughout the process by the research team, if required. Participants will be chosen on a first come, first served basis.

If you are interested, and are not UoN staff, please email Louise or Terry via louise.maxwell@northampton.ac.uk or terry.tudor@northampton.ac.uk.

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Camp Bestival 2016 – the return

Our youngest, Bonnie, had been to five festivals before her fifth birthday.
Due to our largish family, it was always cheaper to do a festi-hol, but by 2014 the elder ones had started to get jaded and wanted to do ‘normal’ holidays. We did like the masses and had a couple of short trips to Spain and a drive through Europe.
Then Camp Bestival announced Fat Boy Slim and Tears for Fears were headlining for 2016 and I couldn’t resist.
So here we are again, blazing sunshine, our trusty 20-year-old Japanese Bongo van and an awning propped on a windy hill in Dorset.
So far we’ve watched the kids make a den in the Dingly Dell, shoot crossbows with the Tudors, stuff their faces with posh ice-cream and organic salad (and chips) and enjoyed acts as eclectic as Turin Brakes and Mr Motivator.
Two days to go, so far, so good!

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Festival fever – after Glastonbury, here’s your round-up of festivals for summer 2016 in Northants and beyond

(Originally commissioned for Northants Herald and Post)

THE British weather is as unpredictable as ever, which can only mean one thing: it’s the start of the festival season.

As the mother of all music festivals, Glastonbury, has just taken place in all its muddy glory, we bring you a round up of some of the hundreds of UK festivals in Northamptonshire and beyond and some advice for those thinking about going for the first time with the family.

camp bestival6355 [965635] If you’re travelling with babies and toddlers, festival camping can be daunting, but a couple of fun days in a festival field can be easier to handle – and cheaper – than having to fly abroad in school holidays.
You need to accept that everything might not be operating-theatre-sterile for a couple of days, but there’s little that can’t be sorted with a multitude of various wet wipes.
A travelcot may seem like a heavy thing to lug to your campsite but it will allow peace of mind if your smaller offspring are prone to wander.
Take a tent that you KNOW how to put up in advance and if possible, invest in your own small trolley or wheelbarrow. Days can involve a lot of walking and it’s easier to entice a squealing toddler into a blanket-lined barrow than an unwieldy buggy that’s lost a wheel. Pack a set of warm clothes for evenings as it can get chilly (all-in-one rainsuits for kids are worth bringing) and give loads of time to get to stages for a favourite act.
Inevitably you won’t see everything on the line-up – sometimes you’ll just need to chill out with the kids and listen from a distance for your own sanity’s sake. Letting your bigger kids off the leash to wander without you may feel like a worry, but it’s an essential part of growing up and you should make sure they have a watch and regular meeting points. Don’t rely on phones as signal and battery life are usually limited.

Rucksacks and bumbags work better than handbags, cashpoints will be on site but be prepared to queue and pay fees, and you’ll probably survive with lots of socks but just two pairs of footwear – trainers and wellies.
If you’re bringing food, but only want to cook with minimal effort, a camping stove and kettle, cereal bars, tortilla wraps and noodles weigh little and can save you a fortune on festival food. Disposable barbecues are great if allowed and packet bacon will last a couple of days in a coolbox. Tea bags, coffee and UHT milk will feel like luxuries and you’ll be glad you invested in that multipack of earplugs from Boots.

 Festival line-up for summer 2016.

 Glastonbury, June 22-26, Pilton, Somerset. SOLD OUT.

Featuring: Muse, Adele, Coldplay, Foals, Beck, ELO

www.glastonburyfestivals.co.uk

 

FOLD (Freak Out Let’s Dance), June 24-26, Fulham, London.

First year of this Chic and Nile Rodgers curated weekend, with Beck, John Newman, Alison Moyet, Thompson Twins

foldfestival.com

 

Love Supreme, Lewes, July 1-3

Featuring: Grace Jones, Burt Bacharach, Lianne La Havas, Kelis

lovesupremefestival.com

 

British Summertime with Barclaycard, Hyde Park, London, July

This sees various big names for all music tastes play throughout the month, including Massive Attack, Kendrick Lamar and Jamie XX, Patti Smith, Carole King, Florence and the Machine, Take That and Olly Murs, Alabama Shakes and the Mumfords.

www.bst-hydepark.com

 

Northampton Town Festival, Racecourse, Northampton, July 2-3. FREE.

OK, so not strictly a music and camping festival, but the first year the town show and hot air balloons have been on the Racecourse for some time. A huge festival of family fun over two days.

www.northamptontownfestival.com

 

Tannerfest, Loddington, Northants, July 9.

A firm fixture on the Northants music scene, this small but perfectly formed event is a laid-back day out for all the family.
www.tannerfest.com

 

Wireless, Finsbury Park, London, July 8-10.

Featuring: Calvin Harris, Chase & Status, Jess Glynne, Disciples, J Cole, KYGO, Boy Better Know. wirelessfestival.co.uk/

 

Electric Daisy Carnival, Milton Keynes Bowl, July 9

Massive dance music event featuring headliners Avicii, Axwell, Martin Solvig.

uk.electricdaisycarnival.com/

 

Lovebox, Victoria Park, London, July 15-16.

Featuring Jack Garrett, Major Lazer, Diplo, Kano, Stormzy, Jungle, Chet Faker.

loveboxfestival.com

 

Secret Garden Party, Huntingdon, Cambs, July 21-24.

Featuring: Primal Scream, Air, Caribou

secretgardenparty.com/

Camp Bestival, Lulworth Castle, Dorset, July 28-31.

The little sister of September megafest Bestival and a favourite of our clan, this is a great place to kick off the school holidays and start festivaling with the family, and you’re quite likely to see former music stars chilling out with their own young ‘uns as well as the world’s largest bouncy castle. This year’s line up features Fatboy Slim, Tears for Fears, Squeeze, Katy B, Bananarama and Jess Glynne, with turns from Dick and Dom and Mr Tumble.

www.campbestival.net

 

Green Man festival, Brecon Beacons, Wales, August 18-21

Featuring Belle & Sebastian, James Blake, Warpaint and Laura Marling

www.greenman.net/

 

V Festival, Staffordshire and Chelmsford, August 20-21

H&P Ed is feeling very old; he attended the first one of these back in ’96. The big names are flying in for this year’s V Festival with Justin Beiber, Rihanna, Sia, David Guetta, faithless, the Kaiser Chiefs, Little Mix and All Saints on the list.

www.vfestival.com/

 

Atomic vintage festival, Sywell Aerodrome, Northants, Aug 20-21

This 1950s-themed festival features music, pre-1963 cars and hot-rods, lots of food ideas and stalls, set in the aerodrome and surrounds over two days.

www.atomicfestival.co.uk/

 

Reading and Leeds festivals, August 26-28.

The traditional after-exam-results experience for teens, this year’s line up across the two cities includes The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Fall Out Boy, Foals, Disclosure, Vaccines, Eagles of Death Metal and Biffy Clyro.

www.readingfestival.com www.leedsfestival.com

grand_finale Shambala [965632]

Shambala, Kelmarsh Hall, Northants, Aug 25-28.

This is a lovely family festival with a real eco-ethos and a huge sense of humour. Dressing up is encouraged and while the stages usually feature less-well-known but excellent musicians, they’ve brought in the 80s soul divas Sister Sledge to headline on Friday. The circus and arts fields are always amazing.

www.shambalafestival.org/

 

 

ENDS

 

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