Sunday, January 31, 2010

Please mind the gap between the train and the cosmic recesses of outer space.

Today I was doing a spot of digging in an area of the garden I've never dug.  As gardeners, I'm sure we all find interesting bits and pieces. I regularly find old medicine bottles, as a previous owner was involved with pharmacy. I've also found thin, sealed-glass straws, containing various plant names on small slithers of paper.

This is probably one of the most intriguing items I've discovered. The actual piece is a few centimetres thick, and would happily fit in the palm of your hand. The image has been applied in a thin glaze. 

It's not from a vase, as it is completely flat. The glaze undulates slightly, in a solid, non-moving kind of way.

Unfortunately the light bulbs don't do it any justice (the table is pure white). The background is a deep, navy blue. At first I thought the subject was a woman, but I think I may have got that wrong. The animal looks like a rabbit, I reckon.

We aren't far away from the Mediaeval Merton Priory. I wonder...

Another archaeological find is my angry African. He's a bit bigger, and is carved from stone. He is likely to be a lot younger than the first piece. I found him when I was walking through a busy shopping area in Harare. I looked down, and there he was, staring angrily up through the blades of grass. A bit of digging resulted in a rather special holiday memento.

Being left buried like that, I suppose I'd be angry too.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Please insert interesting blog title.

Two ingredients for a rather dull blog post.

1) I'm bored with trying to think of interesting blog titles.

I was going to use the following title for this post; "The Days Are Getting Longer", but realise most readers would probably fall asleep, in the time it took to follow the link to the post. I may go down the road of Mr J.A-S and just use faintly ridiculous titles. I think it's a good idea, so I'm going to go with the surrealist titles from now on. Be warned.

2) I started this post without having much of an idea of what I was going to write about. Let us see what this evolves into.

The days are getting longer. It's still cold. The birds are making the sounds they make in spring. Talking of birds - I was amazed by the numbers that descended on our bird feeders when we had the snow. Fieldfares, redwings, jays, parakeets, spotted woodpecker, three robins at one time, coal tits, long-tailed tits, blue and great. Then there were the regulars too feral and wood pigeons, starlings, blackbirds and sparrows. People concerned about sparrows in gardens really shouldn't be. Nowadays gardens offer a great deal to a far more diverse range of bird species.

 This time of year is a time when the gardener psyches him or herself up for the season ahead. Last minute shrub transplanting. Winter pruning. Seed ordering. What really gets me, is the heady excitement of having the new season creeping up on us. Last night I was thinking about my garden plans/business plans/ life in general from about 10.30pm to around 2am.

This is what happens to me at this time of year. It's not good because I just end up wandering around in a zombie-like trance for most of the following day. I wonder if other gardeners are like this, or is it just me?

I am seriously considering meeting the other UK garden bloggers at The Malvern Show. Looks like fun, and it would be great to meet some of the people I've commented to, or messaged.

The weather has been rather dull and grey, but it really is an important time of year to get planning and thinking ahead. The dullness now, also makes spring a lot more appealing.

Erm, I think that might be it. If you've read this far, you should be knighted.

Here are some pictures of January in my 'hood.

A few weeks ago in the snow. That's the tower at Crystal Palace in the distance.

The sunset this evening. Bit of a stunner.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


What's occurin'?

So a belated Happy New Year to my blog followers and anyone that happens to pop by here. I hope everyone had a good Christmas/festive season.

I had a nice Christmas. It already seems so long ago! You may have seen my post on wild mushroom picking. If not, here it is. For the main Polish Christmas celebration on Christmas Eve, we make little dumplings ('Uszka' which literally translates as ears) filled with the wild mushrooms and served in homemade beetroot soup. It's yummy.

I always feel there should be more photos of soup on garden blogs.

 Just after Christmas I went to see Avatar at the iMax in Waterloo. It was in 3D. It was the most amazing (a word I feel can never be over-used) film and cinematic experience I think I've had. It was all rather exhilerating.

Of course I shall have to link this post to plants in some way. I'm a big fan of computer-graphic jungles, and there were many an intriguing alien plant in Avatar. If you haven't seen it, you must go. There are some underlying messages about having a deep respect for nature and the appreciation and conservation it deserves from us. As gardeners we know this already, being sons and daughters of the soil.

Unfortunately I think I caught the flu at the cinema. Not just any flu either. It was the Swine Flu. I started feeling peaky around New Year (and was fast asleep when Big Ben sounded at midnight). My condition deteriorated a couple of days into January, and I was knocked for six.

Fortunately the gardeners on Twitter kept me amused when I was feeling really rough and ratty. Thank you. You know who you are..

I'm feeling great now, though it took a while to recover fully. What with the snow and all, it was a while before I could get back to work. Before you say anything, it is rather difficult to tidy gardens when the snow is heavy on the ground.

Moving on. I think regular readers might have noticed that this post has been somewhat wordy, and devoid, thus far, of a photo of some botanic subject. This is due to a blip with my Macbook. All fixed now, but my photos are all on CDs, and I'm planning to round off my Africa blog series in a simple link to a photo-sharing website. Just waiting for a chance to upload them all, I'm sure it's quite a slow process. Watch this space. It'll be good.

Okay, I've had a quick look and found some poor-quality iPhone photos of some beautiful effects the cold weather had on some rather normal plants.


Winter chard