Just a Quick Catch Up

I’ve been a little busy again lately, what with all the rain recently, the allotment has needed quite a bit of attention, but I’ve still been researching and hitting the library shelves. I’ve also been doing a bit of writing.

I’ll have something to post on the research front shortly, having just finished another life for the Treasure House WW1 Lives project, but for now a small addendum to my last post. I finally got those death certificates from the General Register Office and can say that my great grandfather died of stomach cancer and its attendant complications and that my great grandmother died of tuberculosis, which her second husband, and great grandfather’s brother, also died of, having caught it during WW1. And that pretty much wraps that particular branch of the tree up, until I discover something else anyway.

The writing I’ve been involving myself in is my great love, fantasy fiction, though I don’t do the grand Tolkienesque stuff, mine is less serious. If you only read this blog for the genealogy and historical research then you might not be interested (though I enjoy both), but you can get a taste for it by taking a look at Tales From Under The Bridge or The Long Way Home, two of my many self published books, a collection of short stories and a novel, respectively. The link goes to a Smashwords shop, but there is no obligation to buy, you can read a lengthy sample for free. You can see a full list of my books by following the link in the main menu above.

I am currently working on a novel which involves the world of the trolls, fairies, goblins and other odd creatures that dwell within many of my books.

TFUTB_Thumb TheLongWayHome_Thumb

Data Protection (oh and fairies, yes really)

I know I said this post would be about my allotment, and it is, kind of.

I’ll start at the beginning, and my first allotment which was a starter plot, half the usual size. I outgrew that and moved on to a full sized allotment four years ago. This new allotment was a proper mess at the time and took a lot of cleaning up. I have no transport and no way of getting waste from the allotment to the local tip and so I ended up with lots of sacks of rubbish to get rid off.

Over the years I’ve taken it home a carrier bag at a time and binned or recycled it piecemeal but, up until last week there were still about four large rubble sacks full, all rapidly degrading, against the end of the shed. So I was quite surprised when I got to the plot at the weekend to find that the whole lot had disappeared.

Only it hadn’t, not completely anyway. I found it dumped by the allotment gates, along with piles of other rubbish from other, newly, cleared plots. Having asked the site rep what was going on I was told he didn’t have a clue either. I presumed it was a new plot holder, perhaps confused by the layout of the plots and thinking they were clearing their own plot (the ones either side of mine are empty), but the rep didn’t know of anyone new. Anyway, ignoring the suggestion to simply put it down to the rubbish fairies (dumping it where it was is technically fly-tipping), I contacted the local council.

It wasn’t them either, but there was a new plot holder, who they contacted and, apparently, it wasn’t them either. In short they told me not to worry about it, the council would clear the mess away, and that was an end to it.

So, why is this post entitled Data Protection? Well, that was at the very end of the conversation. I asked them to let the rep know about the new tenant (right next door to me by the way), and they replied that they couldn’t. They were not allowed to tell him that there was a new plot holder because of data protection.

I know, I know. You spotted it too. They told me!

I gave up on the conversation. It was starting to go around in circles anyway and I didn’t really fancy explaining data protection to them. They could have told the rep, they could have shared things like names and contact details with him, he technically works for the council, albeit unpaid, and the information is vital for him to run the site properly. If he doesn’t know who has a plot, then how does he know who should be there?

Anyway, I have in the end decided that it really was the allotment fairies, who the council will now clear up after and will, under no circumstances, ever admit to the site rep that they even exist. To protect their personal data, obviously.


I’ve been keeping chickens for a few years now. They used to get a regular mention on my old blog and, as I’m between research projects at the moment (I’ll be starting something new next week), they’re going to show their faces here too.

I’ve six at the moment. Three are about four years old and the other three have only been with me for a couple of weeks now are just at the point of laying and have, finally, settled in.


Settling In

Settling in new chickens can be a noisy and violent affair. Chickens are pretty nasty, vicious things at the end of the day, to each other anyway. It’s always best to add at least three to a flock, one on it’s own is going to get badly beaten as the pecking order is re-established. Always make sure you’re there to step in if things get too nasty and keep some anti-peck spray and gentian violet spray to hand. The first to stop any really bad pecking and the second to treat any wounds. I know it sounds a bit wild and cruel, but it’s in their nature and it’s what they do.

In this case all six chickens piled in for a fight that lasted mere seconds until only one of the old birds and one of the new ones were left battling it out. I kept an eye on them until one had run off in submission then left them too it. With the exception of the odd noisy reminder now and then, things calmed down almost immediately and they have now all settled in. The old bird who was in charge before still is.

One took a little longer than the others to realise that the big box with the perches was where she was supposed to sleep, not on the top of a gate in the main run. After a couple of nights of picking her off her preferred perch and putting her to bed properly, she finally got the idea. It’s normally best to introduce them at night to avoid this problem by putting them straight to bed but, by necessity, I had to put these new birds into the run first thing in the morning.

Chickens always get ill and mine are no exception. You can always tell when one is under the weather. They kind of hunch up and tuck their heads in. I call it assuming the position. If they are still enough and not eating it’s usually a sure sign they’re about to fall off the perch altogether (chickens have a habit of dying at the drop of a hat).

I noticed one of the new birds looking a bit slow and fed up, her breath a bit raspy. She was still eating and I had to put effort into catching her, so she wasn’t about to drop dead, but her breathing sounded awful, a kind of bubbling rasp, and her eyes were filled with foam. I’d never seen this before so looked up the symptoms. It turned out it could have been either Gape Worm or a simple respiratory problem (ie: a cold). Either way, a sick chook needs to be isolated from the rest of the flock. So into the polytunnel she went, in a makeshift cage (which wasn’t as spartan as it looks in the picture). I checked her throat for worms and she was clear, so I cleaned her eyes with antiseptic wipes and gave her food and water with chicken spice and poultry tonic and left her to it.

The next day she looked and sounded a lot better. The day after she laid an egg and tried to break out of the cage. Her raspy breath was back to normal and her eyes were clear. I just wish I could shake of a cold so easily. Anyway she went back in with the rest of the birds, all better, and then another came down with the same symptoms. This second bird was one of the older ones and shook off the cold overnight. In fact she did break out of the cage and I had to chase her around the polytunnel, though I forgot to close the door so she put herself back in with the rest of the flock. I guess she was feeling better.


Next post will probably be the last life I researched, or perhaps something Grow Your Own related, or maybe both.