Green scene: Lynne Allbutt

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Oct 13, 2014 in Rat News | Subscribe

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Singer and songwriter Chesney Hawkes, pictured right, was due to make his skating debut on Dancing on Ice last Sunday but after three months of dedicated training he broke his leg on the ice on New Year’s Day.

He was pretty frustrated when I spoke to him and explained: “I am still trying to find the Zen in all of this.

“It has been a tough few months and I was only having a leisurely skate with my partner when I fell and broke my fibula and tore two ligaments.


“I don’t have much luck with reality shows. I took part in a Channel 4 show called The Games with loads of athletic challenges like high diving, water-ski jumping and throwing the javelin with Tessa Sanders.

“I got a hip injury and ended up having to have an operation. Maybe I should just do Big Brother and sit on the couch all day,” he joked.

“Not that I would find that very easy. I love the outdoors keeping fit and active.

“My wife Krissy is a yoga teacher and we are a pretty health-conscious family. We love gardening but never really seem to have the time you need to do it properly; though we do manage to grow our own tomatoes.”

Referring back to his brief stint on the ice, he says: “I enjoyed the skating a lot as it’s great physical exercise but it’s very dangerous.

“I believe good things come out of everything though and having my leg in this big boot will mean that I will arrange more tour dates, finish my new album and the book I’m writing.

“The album will be out in April and the book is my life story so far. It gives an insight into what it was like being a pop star in the early 1990s.

“There have been so many big changes since then,” he added.

“When I released my first record the internet didn’t exist, which my three kids can’t comprehend!”

Although he came from a musical household – “Dad was in The Tremeloes and there were always guitars propped against the wall in the house” – Chesney’s own break into pop came through acting.

“I played a young Roger Daltrey in the film Buddy’s Song and had to play the guitar, piano and sing; on the back of that there was the soundtrack album which I got to write some songs for.

“The track The One and Only came from that.”

He is less enthusiastic about his more recent TV appearance advertising a cleaning product.

“It was good money – I’ve got a family, mortgage and a dog to look after!”

The family have a new wheaten terrier puppy called Buddy, though Chesney admits to having had slightly more unusual pets.

“We used to have pet rats,” he said. “They’re called ‘fancy rats’ and are really intelligent.

“One would just run around the house, meet us when we came in from work and jump on our laps for a fuss. She was fully house-trained and made a great pet.”

Find out more about Chesney and his tour dates at

My week

Pig training is in full swing at the cottage. Two little piglets are already getting used to walking in a harness, although Yogi the terrier occasionally hampers proceedings with an urge to indulge in a little bit of piggy rounding-up.

I am trying out both the Lupi and Halti harnesses (for Yogi and the piggies) which are designed to stop dogs pulling (from as, despite being compact and bijou, the piglets are incredibly strong.

I have had fabulous feedback over the months from new owners who are having great fun with their piglets and I just have two little boys left to find a good home for.

If you know of one, let me know.

Flower power

I know we have all been commenting on the unseasonably mild weather and unusual flowering behaviour but I have to share that, not only did I have a beautiful oriental poppy out for Remembrance Day, I also have two more big blowsy blooms out now amongst the snowdrops.

I must admit I have protected them from this latest bit of frost.

Seeing as they’ve made it this far, it’s the least I can do.

Planning to suc-seed

I love leafing through the seed catalogues at this time of year and have chosen some unusual veggies like the purple majesty (potato with vivid purple flesh), golden detroit beetroot (same delicious beetroot flavour but with golden flesh that doesn’t stain) and the most exciting, parsley “eagle”, (with leaves that can be used like ordinary parsley and long, sweet parsnip type roots which can be used in soups and stir-fries).

And it’s an autumn crop that over winters well. My mother also spotted the fabulous common milkweed (asclepias syriaca) from with fruits which look just like little parrots.

That’ll be good to tweet or squawk about!

Get ahead, get a propagator

A great way to get a head start with your veggies is to utilise windowsills indoors, especially if you have a big conservatory.

There are a number of windowsill propagators and even windowsill veg plots and Grow Light Gardens, which are ingenious ways of stretching the growing season and are available from garden centres, DIY stores or

Grow Your Own magazine highly recommends saving up for the Vitopod, claiming it is the best and most accurate electric propagator it has seen and retails at £124.95.

Simple, but also effective, are the non-electric propagating kits which start at about £10.


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