Friday, May 31, 2013

Pear, greeting, soup, jelly and ice cream

Pear blossom on  one of the two espaliered trees in the vegetable garden.

A young woman approaches me with a greeting, a sort of high five gesture, as I walk up Mount Pleasant. Do I know her? I don't think I do. Panic. Is she someone I should know. Then relief. I sense someone coming up behind me, who is ready, able and willing to respond.

In the ward a nurse wants to know what  dearest and dearest (intended this time) requires to eat. She thinks that there is nothing that she is allowed to eat for the next day or so. "There is," says another nurse: "soup, jelly and ice cream." All  at the same time?"  says the dude in attendance (ie me). "If that rocks your boat," says the nurse.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

mint, people and hospitals

Since I have taken to drinking fresh mint tea, I can't get enough of the perfumed leaves which I have at home in a big flower pot. It's a case of pot to pot, I suppose.

"I love people. I also hate people. I hate nasty, cruel right wing people." Sir John Richardson  about sums it  up in an interview in last Saturday's Financial Times.  He is in  his 90th year. Two volumes of his great  biography of Picasso have appeared so far. One is still to come.

With my dearest and dearest in hospital, I am trying to learn the jargon. HDU stands for high dependency unit. The good news is that she went straight to the general ward after the operation, by-passing HDU. I never liked hospitals but you can  only wonder and applaud how The National Health Service looks after streams of  patients day after. Without exception the nurses are kind and cheerful.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Blue, design and oaks

 At this time of year alkenet (strictly speaking evergreen alkenet) is abundant round here  and sometimes rampant so that gardeners far from welcoming it regard it as a weed. I tend to herd it to the back of flowerbeds where the bright blue flowers produce a pleasing contrast with  self-seeded yellow Welsh poppies. Both are uninvited guests in our small garden but welcome if they behave themselves. Both are self-seeding and I root them out a short while after they have flowered they return every year, sure of their return. As I have said before in this blog the word Alkenet is Arabic in origin  and comes to us via the Spanish alcanna. The Arabic word  is al-henna which  betrays the closeness of its relationship with the plant from which the colouring agent, henna is derived.

You don't have to look far for evidence of design either intentional in the way machines and to take another example furniture  are made to suit  function or the appearance or both; or as  the result of trial and error in natural selection. Design is rarely if ever perfect either manufactured or evolved. The need for improvement is ever present. The thought crossed my mind when  dealing with a tea bag in a cafe the other day. No where to put it, once fished from the cup. Not in the saucer because it leaves a puddle which will inevitably drip next time  you pick up the cup.. More design thinking in respect of cup, saucer, tea bag please. Meanwhile evolutionary forces might consider their recent  "master work" homo sapiens. Good marks  for adaptability but built-in obsolescence, which among other weaknesses such as territorial obsession, irrational greed and pugnacity, must earn it poor ones.

An avenue of 100 oak trees  near Launceton in Cornwall, planted to celebrate the millennium and intended to last 1000 years is, 12 years into its planned life span,  to be destroyed to make way for houses and a hotel.  I don't know  why but this piece of news disturbs me rather more than many of the other horrors shown  to us daily on screens and in newspapers, but it does.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Adaptation, fledglings and a cat's tale

It was hard to resist this ingenious piece of work in a front garden in Hawkenbury on the  outskirts of our town.  Recycling and adaptation  have much to offer the sculptor.

Young birds are fledging everywhere it seems. The rapid transition from egg-bound embryos to feathered food-gatherers always astonishes. The starling nesting in the capital of the ornamental column set into the wall of the house opposite have fledged and the young birds are flying onto nearby trees and rooftops returning to the nest every now and then for a rest. Only a couple of weeks ago the nestlings were screaming like telephones  for their parents to feed them. In The Grove and the vegetable garden young blackbirds conspicuous for their relative lack of fear and  for their size - they seem smaller and slimmer than the mature adults - flutter past and run under your feet. Amazing that they know so well how to go about the business of feeding.

The three parts of my short story which I now call A Cat's Tale can be read in sequence in One Fine Day if anyone has the time. Though the sequence is unfortunately back to front.  Marja-Leena, thank you for your comment which arrived by email but never made it  to the blog. Appreciation is always appreciated. Even criticism. Strange are the ways of Blogger.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Clock, hand-kissing and explorers

Dandelion time.

Plant the tubers saved from last year of the deep red dahlia called Bishop of Llanduff. My personal taste is not for dahlias, showy flowers for flower-shows and the like. But recently these have served us well  in the vegetable garden for cutting. They have single small flowers and seem to know their place. "You can take cuttings from dahlias," says Bill, "easy as kissing your hand". Kissing your hand? "A London expression, " says Bill.

A  middle aged couple in shorts and wearing rucksacks  walk past. He strides ahead map in hand. She lingers, looking round her at the houses.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Visitor, sock elastic and netsuke

Cat visitor  to the vegetable garden in contemplative frame of mind.

A discussion about schoolboy socks in the days of socks and short trousers.  You used to hold them up with knicker-elastic. They made nasty marks round the top of your calves which itched. Which is why so many schoolboys in those days used to run round with socks round their ankles.

Whenever I meet Nick the fishmonger, usually queueing in the checkout at Sainsbury's he gives me his latest netsuke news. He is an enthusiastic collector of the little Japanese carvings originally  worn to suspend articles from a girdle." I 've got a new one," he tells me, "commissioned in Japan." Before I have time to ask about what it's made of or what it represents, he disappears into the maw of the supermarket.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Book Champions League, supermen

Reading  in the sun.

Some years ago when I was first attracted to baseball caps, Heidi, following a visit to Germany, presented me with a new one for my collection. It bore the legend Borussia Dortmund. Not being a football fan, I  did wonder about the value of the affiliation. Today when I note that the team will face Bayern Munich in the final of the Champions League at Wembley in London., I can see that it could come in useful for the first time.  Not since the Saxon invasion of England in the fifth Century AD  have more Germans arrived here at the same time apparently. Tempting as it is, however, I have decided to keep away from Wembley this evening, in part because, the fortuitous possession of regalia aside, I am not sure which team I would truly  want to support. Having visited Munich and been deeply impressed and never been to Dortmund, I fear that my loyalties are in the balance.

Today a children's  picnic in The Grove is indicated by balloons hanging from trees, and lots of little people dressed as superman, cloaks flowing behind them as they scamper about. Girls seem to have been excused the uniform, but shriek as noisily as  the boys. The merry cries of children seem to mimic the birds in the trees. All's right with the world. Well, almost.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Shard, alter ego and logic

A wine glass fell off the table. No wine in it fortunately, but an interesting photograph perhaps.

For the last two or three months I have been imagining myself to be a cat. The result has been three stories published in my parallel blog One Fine Day, . They amount in fact to one story in three parts, all consistent with the blog, very short and requiring little time to read. Today I have just published the third and final part called Shattered in which my feline alter ego is receives a lasting shock to his not inconsiderable self-esteem.

Why do I like sudokus? A waste of time I sometimes think. But when the final numbers come together  in the only possible order dictated by logic it is like hearing notes of music fall into place.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Broom, dogs and polishing

Ginesta or broom. The scent hangs ahead of you and greets you as you walk past the shrubbery in Berkeley Road.

The builders talk on the scaffolding of the new house which is taking the place of the old one next door to the vegetable garden. They discuss the  things they are afraid of. Echoes of Winston Smith and Room 101. Hush, Big Brother could well be taking notes. "Frogs," says one. "Spiders," says another. "Dogs," says a third. "Especially when they jump up on you. "Dogs don't like me," he adds. "They know I'm coming a hundred yards down the road. And I know when one is there."

"Faced with the choice of reading a run-of-the-mill novel and raking leaves in the garden, I would go for raking leaves," writes J M Coetzee in a letter to Paul Auster in their recently published correspondence.  A bit toffee-nosed, you might say, but perhaps forgivable when  later he admits (according to the reviewer)  to spending hours polishing pieces of prose. "Few readers," he says, "are going to appreciate what goes into getting a paragraph right." This one does. And I know another one  who probably appreciates it even more than I do.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Routemaster buses, spelling and walking on water

The  London Routemaster bus which came to me last Christmas, courtesy of Santa Claus. From being on the mantelpiece in my study it is now parked on the window-sill. For many reasons it reminds me of my youth, particularly jumping on to the rear platform when the bus was gathering speed, to save waiting for another; or leaping off at traffic lights to save extra walking and in cheer exuberance.  Health and safety rules have rendered the open platform defunct. It may have been the "best of British", but its replacement doesn't come near it for excitement. Of course nowadays bus companies can' t afford drivers as well as the conductors who used to take fares on the Routemasters, a task performed now  by a morose driver who sits at the wheel,  his driving cab doubling as a ticket kiosk.

As many people know I don't spell very well. I can recognise mistakes, my own and others,  but not at the time of writing. Sometimes it pays off. The other day while talking to someone on the telephone I put together a video with the help of Picassa of our recent  walk in a bluebell wood. Seeing a means of sending it to YouTube I clicked the appropriate icon. And off it went. Or so I thought. I had taken no trouble with it, given it no thought and acted only on the spur of the moment. When I tried to look for it on YouTube, there was no sign of it.  But what I did find were scores of walks in English bluebell woods all looking the same by different photographers. Not a smidgen of originality in my project, half hearted as it was. Bad spelling meanwhile explained the absence of my album when I searched "bluebell" In mid-conversation, I had  misnamed it "Bluebelle wood."

On the blue swimming pool cover pigeons  walk on water. Every now and then,  they stoop to sip from a puddle.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Drinkers, genitalia and sniffing

Joining in  the conversation outside The Compasses.

Just now the cuckoo pint is in flower.  It grows in the shade and in ditches.  It is also known as lords and ladies  because of the resemblance which the flower bears to human  male and female genitalia. The male flowers are boldly displayed on a long, fleshy axis or spadix, while the female ones are barely in evidence. The spikes of scarlet berries which result from their interaction in Autumn are more conspicuous than the flower. But  in the Spring the flower is more interesting sitting inside its large green and purple sheath or spathe, even if it doesn't grab the attention in the same way.

On the terrace outside the pub where we are having lunch a cocker spaniel, standard poodle (that's the big one with curly hair like an Airedale) and a basset hound, although on leashes, begin to socialise but with less circumspection than their home-counties owners. "Why do they sniff each other?" an on-looker asks.  "They' re doing what we do," says another, rather more dog-wise.

Monday, May 20, 2013

More bluebells, too much writing and a scooter

Fallen branches among the bluebells. Anon was always my favourite poet when as a child I was first introduced to poetry anthologies. So thank you Anonymous for your encouragement  a couple of days ago before I had time to upload my snaps. The thing is when I was a child there was a bluebell wood at the bottom of our garden Now only the garish Spanish bluebells invade our little garden. And I no longer take their English  cousins for granted.

"There's too much writing," writes the novelist Susan Hill in this week's Spectator. "The problem is that people feel they have to read it all. 'I've started a blog' is news to make the heart sink. I need my later years to read the best - novels, biographies, scholarship in a hundred subjects I want to learn about, poetry, letters,  wit."  I find myself agreeing even though I have been contributing to  surplus reading matter by way of this blog for several years, and even expecting others to engage with it. To say nothing of reading other blogs myself. But those I read I regard as the work of friends. I want to hear about their exploits and discover  their views as we used to in the days when we wrote letters to one another. Or sent postcards - another dying art.  Sometimes I think of Best of Now as a series of post cards to my friends, open to view by all comers.  And the more I dwell on the thought the more I like it.

In The Grove I hear a whizzing sound behind me. It is grown woman on a foot propelled scooter, the sort usuallydriven by children but clearly suitable for more mature folk. She banks to the left and turns sharply and at speed into Little Mount Sion, with athletic skill which fills me admiration.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Bluebells, exhausting and coffee

Walking  in a bluebell wood. The bluebells are English as distinct from the Spanish immigrants which are taking over  gardens round here. You can tell by the way the bells hang from one side of the stem bending it a little with their weight.

An elderly neighbour puffing up the hill breathes across the tarmac as he turns left into Eden Road, "exhausting!"he says.  In the 25 years I have known him, he hasn't changed noticeably. But we are all getting older.

In The High Street this morning a man sips from a disposable coffee container outside Cafe Nero, It is almost the size of a pint pot, I think for a moment he is drinking Guinness.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Magnolia, bluebells and short back and sides

On the magnolia.

Nap Wood not far from Tunbridge Wells is owned by The National Trust. There is no where better to see bluebells at this time of year. English bluebells with the flowers hanging to one side. When you look at them among newly budded beech trees, oaks and ashes they seem like a haze of blue smoke, though individually the blue of each pretty bell seems to have a character of its own, the soft blue of summer sky. The wood is littered with fallen trees deliberately left you suspect to nurture wild life.

Out side The Compasses they have pollarded the two lime trees. A short back and sides, we used to call it. They remind me of newly recruited soldiers, their long hair shorn.

Friday, May 17, 2013

bud, recognition and rosemary

A bud unfolds.

Reading a book by an old friend  can be  a strange experience. It is like seeing an actor  whom you know playing a part on the stage. You recognise familiar expressions, intonations, gestures in a new and unexpected context. Both the actor and the writer have to be good to make you forget them and leave you to concentrate on the matter in hand. I am glad to report that I constantly forget Robbie, the author of Blest Redeemer as I am pulled along by the narrative and  become involved with characters who are sharply alive and busy.  Now I remember him and  am collecting my thoughts about the novel  as though I am to  sit an exam on it.

Rosemary is a lovely herb with a powerful aroma which makes you think of Mediterranean hillsides. But at this time of year it has the added attraction of  masses of  small,blue flowers.  It is a special blue made  poignant by the contrast with its leaves. They are spiky, olive green on one side and pale grey on the other. A combination which only charms and never jars.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Blossom, grass and telepones ringing

Blossom time.

Something which is never under estimated is the smell of newly cut grass.

Every year at this time the starlings having nested in capitol of the column  sunk into the wall of the house opposite, their offspring  relentlessly call for food. The sound of an unanswered muffled telephones.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Catkins, apocope and handshakes

Season of catkins. These are  the male catkins of the silver birch. A pretty word, catkin. I once met a girl called Catkin Hazel. All I remember about her is her name.  

Uni, short for university,  is a word relatively new to the English language. It was unknown in my youth but is now in general use. In fact the use of "university" sounds formal and stiff beside it.  It is I realise an example of apocope, the omission of a letter or letters at the end of a word to create a new word as for example when "curiosity" becomes "curio". It is I think something which happens much more in French than in English. Bac for example takes the place of Baccalauréat. And as an indication of its adaptability in French McDo even takes over from McDonald's. It is a feature which I rather like about the French language.

When  politicians and other public figures shake hands they are invariably invited to look at the camera, which they usually do with sickly grins on their faces.  When I edited a magazine I actively restricted if not banned  such photographss. It  struck me then and it strikes me still  that when you shake hands you should engage directly with the eyes of the person you are greeting.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Garlic, tool box and small treats

The ramsons or wild garlic which I have been talking about. London chefs are now using the leaves and flowers in salad. It is prolific in shady damp places in the country hereabouts.

While trying to concentrate on my friend's novel in the hospital waiting room, I am distracted by  a merry red head of ample proportions and voice to go with them. She is having a good laugh with a couple of men and another woman. No booze but they could be in a pub. Torn between their wit and hilarity and the limpid prose on the Kindle, I am distracted by a  spoken sentence wrapped in seismic laughter " I had a dream about the tool box on my motor bike..." She has  bright red hair, wears a black tee shirt adorned with picture of a plane and the words Flight 606, black jeans and pink plastic slippers. Thinking back I should have concentrated on what the party was saying. The written words endure, the spoken ones drift away into the dark.

"One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats".  Wrote Iris Murdoch. I agree.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mystery, Joni Mitchell and less and fewer

Another lamp post reveals the mysteries of its surface.

Just at the moment I find myself listening  a lot to Joni Mitchell whose songs I enjoy as much as the pitch of her voice.   I believe that the originator  of Tone Deaf mentions her from time to time.  I was tipped off about her years ago by someone whose name I have been trying to remember, and who was not unknown to RR. He was was mad about music of all sorts, but possessed a  vapid character which it was difficult to warm to. Problem was that I didn't appreciate Joni back then. Perhaps I should have paid more attention to him   It is only now that I have become a fan. "You don't know what you've got till it's gone."

I warm to Ian Martin who wrote in The Guardian, "The scarier the world becomes, the more important it is to focus on the correct use of "less" and "fewer". It is not pedantry. It is rather submitting to the moral imperative which underlies grammar.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Lichen, ambiguity and warmth

Texture. A notice placed on a black lamp post is removed leaving a residue of glue which grows mould or lichen. With the help of my camera a pleasing rectangle emerges for contemplation.

Through the door comes a flier which reads I am looking for a house share or studio apartment in this area from early July. Professional female and house trained cat. Perhaps I shouldn't look with so much enthusiasm for ambiguity.

At lunch on terrace outside the Bar and Grill three of sit  with our drinks and edge closer in a triangle of warmth which shrinks as the sun moves behind the cornice the building above us.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Welsh onions, urgency and Thomas the Tank Engine

Welsh onions have always been in my garden as long as I have been gardening. You pull away the shoots that you want when you want them  and they quickly restore themselves. They have small bulbs and the leaves are similar to those of spring onions but fuller flavoured, more like chives. They are doing well this year being fond of cold and wet weather it seems.

The plant-stand in the farmers' market is unusually busy and  the stall holder on her own as usual is under pressure. It is a though the public eager to catch up with  gardening routines is imitating the urgency of shoots and buds to make up for the restraints of the delayed spring.

Thomas the Tank Engine is running between Tunbridge Wells West Station and Groombridge this weekend on the single track line. It has been transported  from Didcot in Oxfordshire where the replica of the engine featured in the children's stories has its permanent home. Every how and then we hear its homely whistle drift across the town.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Mistake, marble floor and thinking

Portrait of the artist by mistake.

Hard to believe but a new kitchen floor in somebody's apartment in America is given as a reason for not drinking red wine.  The floor is made of marble and if a bottle were dropped  on it, it might leave a stain. The people in question, not close friends of mine, I hasten to add,  don't drink wine preferring beer so perhaps it is just a polite excuse. In the unlikely event of an invitation I make a note to leave the Ch Lafitte at home, and bring Budweiser instead.

I once long ago when very young asked someone the foolish question, what are you thinking about? A penny for your thoughts? Never again. I am reminded of my foolishness  this morning when I wonder what is going on in my  own head at the moment. I immediately realise why such questions are not only out of order but technically  impossible to answer. It's like demanding of someone what is happening under his feet, or shouting over the side of a boat into the ocean, what's going on down there?

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Ochre haze, patriotism and jackets

Willows at Groombridge
in a haze of ochre buds.
where the river hides

"Patriotism is the last resort of the scoundrel", said Dr Johnson. Sometimes it's hard not to agree. Flag- waving newspaper headlines indicating Great Britain's supremacy in areas where greatness now eludes it can often irritate. Today an account of the hearing abilities of the greater wax moth is headed,  British insect revealed to have sharpest hearing in animal kingdom. Let no one dare to challenge the supremacy of our British insects.

The sun is out this afternoon, but winter jackets are required to combat the icy wind. Winter seems to be fighting a rearguard action. The wind strips the blossom from the magnolia. We button our jackets.


Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Latch, Yorkshire pudding and Weisswürst

Latch of gate on footpath beside  Groombridge Place.

Yorkshire pudding made with extra eggs roughly following the recipe of a Chinese chef who, according to the food writer Jane Grigson,  won a Yorkshire pudding competition in Yorkshire. Rich! Extravagant, for a  modest dish intended to make the joint last longer.

With our guests comes some Weisswürst, Bavarian white sausage, made largely from veal, usually washed down by Weissbier, the local wheat beer. Tied to the sealed container  is a jar of the Bavarian mustard sauce which is inseperable from the sausage.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Corrugated, beef and wild

A corrugated iron roof  within camera range near the bus stop in Groombridge. Groundsel and moss.
Could I suppose by a forest on a remote planet.

A walk to the butcher to pick up a joint for a regular  visitor from America who demands roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. It is a pleasant walk past hedges and fields. But when I arrive at the shop I remember that they deliver orders. I could have stayed at home with chores. But I realise that I would hot have missed the walk.

Thinking about the bluebells which have invaded our small  garden ( I had resolved to tolerate them) it comes to mind that they must be the strident Spanish bluebells which are threatening our more gentle native variety. I'll have to get rid of them once they have flowered or I fear that they will take over. Meanwhile I think about the wild flowers which I  have encouraged to occupy corners of beds and space under the hedge.  Their number surprises me:  woodruff, alkanet, lesser celandine, creeping jenny, sweet cicely, Welsh poppies (garden escapes but uninvited nevertheless) and  dog violets which have flourished this year.. Daisies and dandelions are discouraged. Butter cups too with their insidious root system, although to day I photographed a crowd of them in the rough grass of The Grove where they only give pleasure. 

Monday, May 06, 2013

Anemonies, cat shooter, quiche

Wood anemones would be over by now in a normal Spring. When I was a child someone showed me bluebells through field glasses. All I could see were white flowers. Wood anemones. I was pointing the glasses in the wrong direction. I had to wait for the bluebells.

Cat lovers, please look away now. Read no further. A friend of a friend down from Newcastle is a raconteur. He keeps parrots. He doesn't like cats, "pussies" he calls them. " I shoot them," he says. A friend  of his can't find his cat. "Did you shoot my cat?" he says. "What colour is it?"  "Black and white." " No I didn't shoot a black and white cat."  But he is not believed. A new cat, pure white, is acquired. Six weeks later the black and white cat turns up. He's back, says the owner. Will you shoot him for me.

Quiche Loraine for lunch. Half a pint of double cream.  Short crust pastry. Three egg yolks and one whole egg. Strips of streaky bacon.  A few salad leaves. A light meal for four. A taste of Alsace.


Sunday, May 05, 2013

Texture, football and water

Texture again. I am tempted to crop the left hand side to concentrate on the organic shape, a stem perhaps, embedded in paint  on the right. But for the moment the bubble on the left seems to balance the composition. I suspect that some people find these abstractions puzzling if not unattractive. May be. But I am not deterred. As William Blake wrote, "If a fool persists in his folly, he will become wise."

Tunbridge Wells had its football moment on Saturday. Tunbridge Wells FC was through to the final of the  FA Vase, a competition for amateur teams. So Wembley was the destination of  a rumoured 11, 000 supporters from the town. Never mind that their opponents Spenneymoor, Co Durham won 2- 1. To my shame I didn't realise that the game was on, having given up on the local paper long ago. As  it was we were lucky. We had postponed a planned visit to London for reasons unconnected with football. If we had tried to go through with it, we would apparently have found neither a seat not standing room on the train.

After the rain and cold with which Spring kicked off, the idea of watering  the garden and particularly the potted plants which are today in a sprightly mood, seems strangely out of   place. But I find to my surprise that the soil and compost is already dry and ready for the watering can.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Forsythia, Porgi Amor and Parliament

Here's forsythia, that most suburban of shrubs. It flowers before its leaves appear. Often untidy it needs a close look to be appreciated.

This morning I desperately want to hear the Countess' aria from Act 2 of The Marriage of Figaro. With the help of iTunes and the voucher which still has credit from Christmas, it arrive in minutes sung by Jorma Hynninen supported by the Vienna Philharmonic.  After listening to it twice I miss its
context; on its own  it begins to irritate. I want  narrative and continuity. So it is that choosing a piece of music at a given moment however wide and varied the choice, is a problem. Better, far better if you attend a concert  hall or opera house  for the full monty. Second best is to be sitting comfortably and play the  opera, symphony or chamber piece uninterrupted.  Still, I think I'll listen to the Countess again...surrounded if possible by silence, before and after.

A programme devoted to the late Colin Davies last night draws on interviews which he gave during his long career. Among  many delights the conductor reflects at one point, "If I were Prime Minister, before beginning work,  I would make  members of  Parliament sit down and listen to the first movement of a string quartet. It would stop them talking." Something makes me cheer out loud. I'm still cheering.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Sorrel, daffodils and pressure

Sorrel (Rumex acetosa) , sour tasting and often used in sauces and soups, but not  yet by me. It features in my little herb garden and often when its leaves are tender as they are now tempts me to repair the omission. This is not to be confused with the prettier but quite different plant wood sorrel (Oxalis acetosela)  sometimes known as Irish shamrock. It has clover like leaves and five petalled white flowers.  It too has a sour taste and like  true sorrel  contains oxalic acid. Wood sorrel , if I remember correctly,  when allowed to become rampant in a garden can, as a friend testifies, be hard to eradicate.

Although a pot of tulips is now in full  flame-like flower some daffodil bulbs which I planted in a pot at the same time last year have come to nothing. This is  not the first time I have been let down. Daffodils don't grow for me.

As I walk up the small street called Grove Avenue  I pass a woman in a cloud of spray cleaning the paint work of her house with a Karchner pressure washer. As I come level with her she switches it off allowing me to get through the haze dry as a bone. There is something pleasing about the power and simplicity of these machines, which has always attracted me though I have never used one.


Thursday, May 02, 2013

Texture, cornerstone and witch

In search of texture colour and shapes, I can't remember to which lam post this painted surface belongs but I have a feeling that I would like to see the photograph  blown up into a giant mural.

The ridiculous things you hear on TV. Good for a laugh. The other day on the programme called Master Chef, the three finalists  competing for the title, were taken to Italy to cook some traditional dishes. One of the programme's chief irritations is the sententiously spoken commentary seeking  but failing to add drama to the proceedings. From this we learn among other items of interest that  Italy is "a cornerstone of  Italian cuisine".

Tonight a fish called witch, a flat fish and  a sort of sole, which I have never eaten except when it is very small and described as flounder.  This one is big and fat, enough for the two of us. "Fry, poach or steam," says Alan Davidson in North Atlantic Sea Food. I shall bake it I think.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Jack Russell, gulls and health

VIP visitor.

In the blue sky high above The High Street, two  seagulls circle.The sun highlights their white wings. Their  cries evoke the sea. High above the gulls a silver airliner  banks in the direction of Gatwick Airport.

In the health food shop a customers loads her bag with health giving food. She talks away as the bag gets fatter. Reluctant to stop talking she says, "Have a good weekend, if it is anywhere near the weekend. What day is it? Wednesday?  Have a nice midweek then".