Machines & Books

It’s been a busy old week here. Monday we went off to Chester to meet up with our publishers. It’s a lovely old city but a bit of a nightmare to drive around. After we discovered the bridge we were going to use was pedestrian only, we chucked away the google map and relied on instinct to find the hotel we were meeting at.

On the way back we dropped into Lidl to buy a bargain stereo system. I didn’t need anything too powerful, just something that would play the radio and CDs. Playing MP3s would be good as well.

Well this stereo had every feature we could want. It would even take input from SD cards. What a shame that it didn’t work. There was a surround sound function that crashed it completely. So another trip to Bangor, 15 miles each way, to return it.

I’m afraid it’s pretty typical of a lot of things nowadays, products are made cheaper and cheaper with no margin for error. Car’s are another example of this. Their MPG is far, far better than cars of yesteryear. The prices are lower in real terms than they’ve ever been but if something goes wrong you’re in real trouble.

The fuel controller went on our car some months ago. I knew it was the fuel system and when the mechanic said “It’s not the pump, it’s the controller” I thought “Great, that won’t be expensive.” How wrong could I be? A new controller was over £500 but a second hand one was only (only!!) £150.

Gone are the days of fixing the fan belt with a lady’s stocking or the friendly AA man (RAC for the posh) tweaking the engine with a screwdriver and sending you on your way.

I’m happy to say it’s not all bad though. My 1976 Merry Tiller shares many of the qualities of the Russian T34 tank. Instead of pairing down the metal to save weight and cost, they made it to thick enough to laugh at misuse. The engine is a little noisy and not the most efficient but it starts and runs. It’s designed to be serviced and fixed by the user with simple tools. No computer diagnostics required.

Apart from ranting on the website about machines like a total technophobe, I’ve been sat in front of the computer all week (the irony does not escape me) finishing my much overdue Back Garden Poultry book. It should have been in the publishers hands last year but the best laid plans, as they say. I’d rather not release a book that I’m not happy with than fling out something I think is a failure.

Like most of our books, we try to provide enough information to get the beginner off to a good start but not so much that the reader is totally confused. I occasionally get emails saying that I’ve missed out something like a 5 year rotation or every variation on companion planting.

My own experience has taught me that you have to get the basics right before you move on. There’s no point trying to understand differential equations when you can’t add up. Not that I’m quite sure what differential equations are!

Nominated for an Award!

I’m rather pleased to find out that Grow Your Own magazine has nominated The Essential Allotment Guide for an award ‘Most Informative Gardening Book‘ – it’s down to readers votes, which strikes me as fair enough. It would be fantastic to win and you never know your luck. At least I’m in with a chance.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
One comment on “Machines & Books
  1. Dave says:

    Just discovered (and bookmarked) your site.
    I have an allotment in Wrexham.
    I use 2 ganden mechanical tools – One a Villiers Mayfield Plough/cultivator! (this is over 60 years old – the Villiers engine died some years ago, and it is now powered by a Briggs (new for 2010)
    The second a Norlett Rotavator (25 yrs +) which has just had a new Briggs engine replacement (the 2 share one engine now)

    Appreciate your potato comments. I grow Desiree and am trying Kestral & Sante this year for the first time.
    Blight (on an allotment) is a problem. I have to say I do still use Bordeaux mixtyre as I find it can’t be beaten.

    Looking for a good stringless runner bean where I can slice it for the freezer without worrying about the sides?

    I grow a lot of sweetcorn, but stuggle with germination (indoors) with Lark (a variety that grows well for me – if I can get it going)



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