Thursday, March 31, 2011

chimney, exclamation, fake

Doves on a chimney stack at Groombridge Place.

Behind me I hear a young woman exclaim  into a mobile phone, "ohmygod". It is usually young women who invoke a deity in this way.  And they do it all the time. usually accompanied by shrieks or part of a shriek.  It seems to be something new to language and custom. A few years ago, I think to myself, it would have signified a disaster of some kind, a cataclysm. Now it is a reaction a little stronger than "oh dear", which is I suppose, or was a long time ago,  a euphemism for "ohmygod", when it was regarded as blasphemous to take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.

A friend uses the word "faux" in an email, this afternoon. Google's instant electronic sieve is quick off the mark. An instant advert appears next to the email window. "Fake Grass 4 Gardeners", it says, "lay back and enjoy".

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

reflection, tomatoes, revolution

Head over heels.

I open small packets of Italian tomato seeds and optimistically sow them in small pots scarcely believing that such insubstantial flakes will germinate and eventually produce the colourful fruit depicted on the packet. Because basil is so good a culinary companion for them, the seedsman has included a packet of basil seed with the tomatoes. I  sow this a well, with a like sense of optimism.

This afternoon, with a gentle rain outside the window, I read about the youthful impulse to revolution in the Sixties. It is the history of a time I can remember. Though revolutionary myself only by inclination,  I was and still am conservative by nature. I  remember, almost with nostalgia, the excitement of the time, students uprooting lamp posts in Paris and the black-clad riot police advancing with shields and batons on the cheerful crowd. In an epigraph to the chapter, The Spectre of Revolution, Tony Judt (it is his book Postwar that I am reading) quotes Daniel Cohn-Bendit: "The Revolution - we loved it so much."   In explaining the search to expand the principles of Marxism, he later quotes an early essay by Marx himself: The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point however is to change it." Therein lies the spark that ignites youth, the urge to change the world and above all to act rather than faff about. Even now it touches a fuse, which, even when "to be young was very bliss", in my case was to fizzle out.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

grazing, territory, chain

Goose grazing in Groombridge.

When you walk though The Grove every day as I do you tend to notice certain birds occupying particular territories. In the corner near the entrance to Sutherland Road there is nearly always a male of female blackbird looking for interesting things in  the grass. Sometimes both are there.

As a child I never saw the point of daisy chains. Girls made them anyway. So they were not for me. But this afternoon I do enjoy the sight of a particularly well made daisy chain, the flowers still fresh, hung along the railing in front of  a neighbouring house. That the house is occupied by a family with a number of little girls is neither here nor there. It is simply a question of responding to a creative act and the pleasure it gives. A black board by the front door has chalked on it the words "Hello sunshine"!


Here are the missing photograph. Pins and a passing duck. Something didn't work when I tried to save the post I don't know if it will work this time. I have difficulty in getting rid of the cross icon which makes me cross.

Monday, March 28, 2011

reflected, adjectives, clever

Passing duck.

 Pairs of epithets used to describe products in Sainsbury's caught my attention the other day. Here is an update. It occurs to me that many of them are interchangeable. Some might usefully be applied to completely different objects. Or to people.
Sweet and aromatic - mangoes
Tropically sweet - pineapple
Tangy and crisp - Braeburn apples
Sweet and juicy - tomatoes
Juicy and refreshing - Kiwi fruit
Crisp and juicy - white seedless grapes
Fresh and crunchy - celery
Sweet and crunchy - peppers
Mild and nutty - closed cup chestnut mushrooms
Smooth and creamy - courgettes
Succulent and tender - trimmed fine beans
Succulent and crisp - dwarf beans
Crisp and tender - trimmed mangetout

I note the variation on smart phone reported by Danny outside the pub yesterday. "She asked for a clever phone," he says. And adds by way of explanation "she's a blond".

Sunday, March 27, 2011

two, bumpers, doll

Pins. Artifacts  for holding thing together which go a long way back in human history and  which have changed little over the millennia.

To relieve monotony I sometimes speculate about breaking loose from conventional behaviour, doing something outrageous. In Sainsbury's this morning I think that it might be amusing to treat my trolley as a bumper car and crash into other trolleys in the sort of carefree spirit which prevails with bumper cars in funfairs. After a few minutes my trolley left on it own for a minute, on a slight slope and perhaps prompted by an inadvertent push takes off on its own and gently slides towards an oncoming trolley pushed by a portly gentleman. Bang. I apologise and he smiles in a good natured way. No trolley rage, fortunately.But then he didn't know what had been going on in my mind a few minutes earlier.

In the children's playground a father with a doll in one hand and a mobile phone in the other practices multi-tasking.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

corked, ice cream, shirtless

Posted by PicasaAfter the party.

Three little girls sit side by side on a bench licking identical ice creams.

Daffodils are in bloom, leaves are in bud and in the streets young men appear shirtless to reveal their tattoos.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Groombridge, soap, bamboo

Posted by Picasa Every year we visit Groombridge Place to see the daffodils. There have been times that we have taken them for granted and snorted at the their brazen blooms. Not this year after the long, cold winter. Never have they been more welcome. (Click for whole picture).

As I get older I feel less personally involved with what is happening in the world. Too much detachment is nothing to boast of.   And it occurs to me to day that I should feel more touched  by the news than I do. I follow it with interest and curiosity, but can't escape from the feeling that I am keeping up with a soap. Perhaps it is too much to bear. No man is island, I have to remind myself. For whom the bell tolls. etc. Who would be a politician?

The garden centre delivers bags of compost and manure. And 8ft bamboo canes for the beans. But there is a mistake first time round. Instead of the canes enormous clumps of bamboo in giant pots are hauled out of the van. I have grown fond of bamboo and would have liked to accommodate them, but at £50 a pot they are beyond my means even if I had room for them. For a moment I am taken with the fantasy though.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

fish, pruning, gnomes

Posted by PicasaBridge over the moat at Groombridge Place.

They have cut down the condemned trees in The Grove. Today they are pruning the survivors.  Crash- helmeted tree-surgeons climb into the high branches, suitably secured by ropes and straps. The cropped branches meanwhile are chewed into a sawdust  down below by a grinding machine. It is noisy but the noise has a pleasing rural quality. Business in progress.

According to the current issue of Prospect magazine, quoting the Daily Telegraph, garden gnomes were first brought to England from Germany in 1874, by Charles Isham, a spiritualist who hoped  that they would attract real gnomes to his Northamptonshire garden. True? Does it matter?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

frieze, hawthorn, incense

Posted by Picasa
Pigeons grazing in Calverley Ground. (Click for full picture).

From the train we see  a long hedge composed entirely of mature hawthorn trees stretching out beside a field in the sun.

Back after a long winter, we sit in the sun opposite the sea outside the restaurant called Pasta Pasta in St Leonards-on-Sea.|We telephone, Manina, the owner,  from the train as usual and ask her to reserve our favourite table for us. "Right on time," she says  when we arrive.  "How do you manage it?"Before we leave a smell drifts across from the house next door. It is vaguely familiar but neither of us can quite place it. "It's incense," Manina says. "They burn it sometimes."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

partying, sniffing, logging

Posted by Picasa Hyacinth champagne.

Outside the pub in Groombridge, a spaniel tethered to a table leg keeps an eye on things, while his humans drink and scoff. But it is his nose which is most active. As a  new person approaches or another dog passes, he raises his head and his nostrils twitch with trembling curiosity.

Pushing a wheelbarrow across The Grove is an 80-year old neighbour salvaging logs. He is a former surgeon.  Tree surgeons have been cutting down diseased trees and sawing them up. Not to miss the chance of a store of winter fuel, he asks if he can have them. "Take as many as you want," he is told. And here he is on his third or fourth trip, bent over the wheelbarrow. May his fires burn bright.

Monday, March 21, 2011

sad, rugby, pigeons

Posted by PicasaSad but considerate. The Council has placed a notice on this silver birch to say that it is to be cut down owing to something called decay fungus.  A maple is also to go. The Council gives a lot of care to The Grove, and regularly plant more trees than come down. It was always, true to its name,  a place of trees, say local historians. It occupies a piece of land on a hill top, given to people who live nearby the Earl of Buckingham in 1703.

Son-in-law Dominic and grandsons Josh and Rowan run across The Grove throwing an undersized rugby ball to one another, while I walk  behind, sedately, but impressed by their agility and sense of timing.

I try to transcribe the noise made by wood pigeons, of which there are a lot round here. It starts early in the morning and, at this time of year, seldom lapses during the day.  It is something like "coo, coo, coo, coo, cu." There may be more initial "coos", but it invariably ends with a definitive almost staccato sound, shorter than a coo, as if their concentration has been broken.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

lamp, chitting, question

Posted by Picasa Robin on street lamp in Mount Sion.

Egg boxes kept for the purpose now support  the seed potatoes which arrived the other day.They will  remain  there to be chitted until the end of the month when I plan to plant them.

I have noticed that the people at Sainsbury's check out tills are encouraged to chat to customers. One young man invariably  used to ask me if I was going to "do any thing interesting today". This morning the girl at the till  enquired "Have you had a good week?" I was not singled out for this question. "Have you had a good week,? " I heard her ask the woman behind me in the queue as I hoisted my rucksack on my back.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

grey, time,early

Posted by PicasaThe sun persists on a grey afternoon And how glad we are of its milky glow.

It is clear to me that there will never be time to read and reread all the books that I want to. The worst thing to do is to drift from one book to another. without finnishing any one of them.When you open a book. I tell myself, you should see it through to the end, even, as sometimes happens, the bitter end. In the last year or so I have tackled the problem by dividing my reading time into four or more sections. And then asigning certain times to certain books, and sticking very strictly to this routine. So at the moment, it is Zola's La Terre before breakfast and in the hour so before rur evening meal. Last thing at night, at the moment, it is The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, (until recently this slot was devoted to Gullivers Travels). The afternoon is at the moment giventoTony Judt's Post War, a history Eurpope from 1945 until the present day. Four books at a time isn't I suppose bad going, but I wouldn't be able to keep it up, if I didn't stick to the rules. Then there are things to do and to be done, other than reading. "Always got his nose in a book,"   is not a nice thing to say of someone , though you could say it of me . Though if you did I it would not ne entirely true.  I do other things. Yes I do.

This morning, in anticipation of a the visit of my daughter Pippa and her  family, I get up early to peel the potatoes, trim the sprouts and anoint the joint. The sight of everything ready and  in its
 place is encouraging.