Sunday, December 4, 2011

Ah, the inevitable coda.

Ok, so it's December.

I've failed at 101things. I got so far and then got interested in other things. Some of them are things I still want to do, some I did and never got round to writing up, some of them fell by the wayside for health and wealth reasons, and some were werk-displacement activities which became null after I got a new job. I do eat more fruit, generally for breakfast, and I try harder not to stop off for coffee on the way in, although that's quite difficult with Alex's place open a tiny diversion from my way into work of a morning. I swim more often and next year I'm entering a 10k. I wrote a business plan, learned what planning codes mean (and promptly forgot), took more photos (although one every day for a year, or one for publication? alas, no (sort of)), walked to work more often.

I failed to see a lot more of my friends (and I feel pretty guilty about that) although we did have a nice big party in 2009. I didn't eat at a Michelin restaurant, either. I wrote nothing on my "oh, I really have to get this book written" novel, Silver. Failed at the Farmer's Market, the English vineyard, the Civic Trust. No SCUBA, not that many libraries (although many closed during the 1001 days), no horse riding or rifle shooting. I made jam, but not from foraged fruit. No beetroot pasta, either (I couldn't get it to maintain colour during cooking).

I did go to I Love West Leeds, twice. I may have sent something to postsecret but that's a bit passe these days. I voted, I Did Something About It when it morphed into 38Degrees, made souffle and visited my LBS (and a foreign country, but that's by default), who is doing much better. Beekeeping happened. As did ginger beer, and writing letters to a couple of people. I grew stuff, too. And I did things not on the list, like sourdough and clowning and Light Night and the chocolates at Dock St last year, and things that make me wish I'd kept my LJ more up to date since I got the new job, because I'm forgetting stuff and that upsets me.

Anyway, it's Sunday, it's sleeting and I've just finished off some pear crumble and custard (finally, got the right ratio of eggs to milk and it was exactly right). Am practicing making bread, so my jumper is covered in flour and dough, and my grandmother was 87 last Friday and I'll be 49 years younger than that in ten days time. I have a job I like more than the last one, a partner I (still) adore, and friends who I don't seem to have pissed off too much by being too busy to see them.

Maybe I am too busy. Maybe I should stop and stand still for a while, but... since I started doing the 101 things I've felt more like I'm living my life instead of passing through it, even - or perhaps especially - when I'm doing things that were never on the original list. The year before I started doing 101 things I made a resolution, which I never really did before, or have since: to say "yes" more. It was probably the best resolution I ever had, to be perfectly honest. People should do more of that sort of thing, where they can.

I did, and look where it's got me.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Task #42 COMPLETED: Beekeeping

I've not updated this for a year, but I have been slowly getting on with things. I won't complete, but I will get a good number ticked off my list - including this one.

Over the last weekend I was doing something new and exciting. I was looking after some BEES.

Ok, learning how to look after them properly rather than being, like, a babysitter or something. Which is harder than you might think. There's about a billion ways in which they can go wrong, there's disease, there's what to do if they swarm, or you accientally squash the queen, there's recognising the different things you find on a comb, and numbers and grubs and mites and the fact that ivy honey is vile, vile stuff.


There's legislation to read, and stuff to buy (or build, but in the first instance just cough up), and sites to find and people to notify. There's how to sell your honey (if you're lucky enough to get any) and recognising that bees are pets as much as a cat or dog. You have to learn how to spot an egg, and to stop pointing at bees going "there's the que- oh, wait no it's a drone".


Two days wasn't nearly enough, and it was done in the wrong order. So we were bombarded with terminology from the get-go which would be explained in later sessions but because we didn't know what it was, we asked the questions in too-early sessions. Beekeepers like to talk - well, this lot do, anyway - and so we'd get off topic and by the end of day one we were half an hour over and a session behind. Yes, we caught up on day two but we were still an hour over by the end of the day.


We got two sessions in the apiary; on neither occasion did I spot the (unmarked) queen. On the second, neither did the tutor, so that's ok. But when stuff looks like this:


then it's hardly surprising.

Basically, though, I loved it. I liked the bee suits, the hives, the way you can tell how annoyed the bees are after a couple of minutes being surrounded by them. The calmness that you absolutely must have before doing anything with the hive. The descriptions of diseases were a bit scary but being given hard data was satisfying. And extracting honey is a total joy (and I have a jar of honey from Temple Newsam that I extracted myself [well, partially]! And it's tasty!) even when you get flecks of stuff that looks suspiciously like bee bits floating around in it.

Am currently on the lookout for somewhere to deposit hives. I want city centre, but I will probably take anywhere...

(more photos from the weekend are here.)