Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Animal laws, cheers, snowdrops

Pets can stop worrying, or so I read in the paper. An Animal Welfare Bill is promised by the Government later this year, which will insist that owners guarantee five "animal rights". Among other provisions, owners are warned to provide pets with adequate mental stimulation and to ensure they do not become overweight. Owners who fail to guarantee the rights will apparently face a jail term or a £5000 fine.

I enjoy the polite exchanges between strangers in supermarkets and the like, especially the word "cheers" which always comes in useful. Today, from the young man at the checkout in Morrisons: "You alright?" "Fine," I say, "cheers!"

There is a bank in one of the gardens in Mount Sion, which always has a fine display of snowdrops. Would they be in bloom already? Sure, the white buds are opening already.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Moving sky, leaden clouds, horse-chestnut buds

It is one of those windy days when, if you look in certain directions, the sky seems to be moving, as clouds scud past patches of blue.

In the Grove, when I look towards the east, (a contrast with the sky in a north-westerly direction) there are mauvish, leaden clouds, against which the white-fronted houses in Buckingham Road, show up, brightly lit by the lowering sun.

The branches of horse-chestnut trees terminate in sturdy, clearly defined, sinuous, black shoots each of which carries a chestnut coloured leaf bud, egg-shaped and glistening in the afternoon sun.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

"Grand-looking woman", sun, dry leaves

Here's something I enjoyed today while reading Alan Bennett's monologue, The Last of the Sun. Dolly, an old woman in a nursing home is speaking:
".... Mr Pilling says. ' A grand-looking woman, your daughter."
I said,'You're not alone in that opinion.'
'Why,' he says, 'who else thinks so?"
I said, 'she does' ".

Walking in the sun on a cold day and feeling a hint of the warmth it has in store for the future.

A beech sapling in the Grove still hangs on to some of its leaves; they are a rich, copper colour, but dry as bones; they rustle noisily in the wind.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Christmas cards, thaw, lost remote control

Last night the corniest of Christmas cards through the window where the newly fallen snow on hedge and rooftops had a sort of golden glow imparted by the street lamps. This morning, in the bright sun, there is still a Christmas card view, but less kitch.

At lunch time the snow on the branches of the big oak on the corner of the Grove was already beginning to thaw. Big drops of water, illuminated by the sun, are falling with wide spaces in between.

I read, in The Spectator agony column, of a labrador, which swallowed the remote control of somebody's new digibox.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Sound of starlings, fine snow, garden birds

I have been trying to decribe the wonderful complex sounds that emerge from the starlings (the collective noun, "murmuration", somehow falls short if it is thought of as onomatopoea), which have recently been clustering on the trees in the Grove and on neighbouring rooftops. Here is how an ornithologist, Bernard Tucker, quoted in Birds Britanica, describes the sound:" A lively, rumbling medley of throaty warbling, chirruping, clicking and gurgling sounds interspersed with musical whistles and pervaded by a peculiar creaky quality."

Snow so fine that you can't see it, this afternoon, but you just feel the sharp pin pricks as the wind drives it into your face.

Most of the birds that I encounter are garden birds because I rarely now manage to get into open country, woods, heathland and hills, or the sea shore. So the supplement in today's Independent is more than welcome. It has put me right on one thing I have been worried about for some time. The big ungainly bird ( black from head to tail and claw) that I have seen lumbering about the Grove, is a carrion crow, and not, as I had foolishly thought it to be, a raven.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Cold wind, pistachios, pantechnicons,

Cold is passable, but cold winds are less pleasant; the only consoling thing about today's blast is being able to get out of it into a warm place.

There are few natural colours in food more beautiful and delicate than the green in the pistachio nut. Roasted and salted the taste matches the appearance. Unsalted they are good to taste and look at in pistachio ice cream. I read: when the fruit, of which the nut is the kernal, is ripe, the shell usually gapes open at one end to expose the kernal, which in Iran is termed khandan (laughing).

Walking home from the High Street today I pass, both in narrow streets, two vast pantechnicons, loading the worldly goods of two different households. Inevitably in the next day or two, two more will arrive to install new households.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Rime, Yorkshire tea, fish and chips

Does memory deceive us? My memory tells me that it used to be a common experience in winter to wake up on cold, still mornings when trees, hedges, grass, rooftoops were covered in rime or hoar frost as though with icing sugar. This seems so rare nowadays that it is, as this morning, worthy of comment, and celebration.

We've been drinking a brand of tea called, I don't know why, Yorkshire tea. The more I drink it the more it seems to me to produce just the sort of strong, cheering cup, that makes tea such an important feature of daily life.

Sankey's is an unusal pub/restaurant, in that it has as few rules as possible. There is a relaxed atmosphere and no hint of a brewery run by accountants planning every item on the menu. Where better I ask myself to eat cod and chips (Heidi had a generous Cornish crab salad), accompanied by a bottle of Sauvignon de St Brie.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Finger-nail moon, quiet cold, sod's law

Raising the blinds this morning, I see, against the bright blue sky, beside the chimney pot across the road, a pale moon reduced to a finger nail.

Perhaps it's the cold without a wind, this afternoon, which makes things seem especially quiet, although the usual things are happening in the Grove. I hear the drone of an aircraft, children's voices, the workmen renovating the paths; but around me, when I stand still, I also hear the footsteps of people passing.

Sod's law, which insists that buttered bread always falls butter-side down, seems to work with the post, which always arrives address-side down.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Camelia, discarded stuff, hoody

A camelia bud shows it pink tip in a front garden. It's like a piece of lipstick.

Someone has moved from a house by the Grove. A collection of detritus - chairs, a small table, a laundry basket, pieces of timber - invite gleaners. And sure enough bit by bit the pile is reduced, and you seeone or two people bearing off the trophies.

I see a hoody walking a dog. At first, with the light behind him, it looks as though the wearer has no face. Not so much sinister, as reminiscent of an illustration of a mediaeval monk. But the dog somehow brings it back to the present, and removes the hoody, too, from its association with mugging.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

In the frame, buying books, poaching eggs

In one frame I see,as I wait by the checkout at Sainsbury: a sign which says FROZEN READY MEALS; boxes of Trill bird food on a shelf; the figure of a man wearing a dark green jacket bowed over a trolley.

The pleasure of buying books, which you have long wanted to get hold of, with a few clicks from the Amazon website.

Poaching eggs in a saucepan of water, which is just bubbling, and watching the white condense over the yolk ready to be scooped up with a slotted spoon.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Paths, trails, blue

Watching the path-repairs taking shape in the Grove. Rows of flat bricks, two bricks wide, will form the edges and give a leisurely and tidy appearance to the paths emphasising their width. The paths are to be covered in tarmac and gravel.

This morning, a vapour trail over the High Street takes on an unusal pattern, as the twin trails of an aircraft, affected by some unusual temperature and pressure conditions, form a series of small rings, which expand and interweave to form a long, white chain.

Blue: the concentrated but delicate blue of rosemary, in bloom in a neighbour's front garden, and the brighter, less urgent blue of the sky directly overhead, this afternoon

Friday, January 20, 2006

Unlikely line ups, short lunch, ladybird

One of the benefits of writing this log is spotting obervations in other people's writing, which might easily fit here. For example, this from the diary of the artist Ian Breakwell, who is travelling on the London tube and, when the train stops, observes a man and a woman sitting opposite him:
Leicester Square. Alongside his head is a grinning man. Between his head and her head a hand is slipping inside the top of a pair of trousers. Alongside her head is the mouth of a shark.
I owe this quote to Tom Lubbock, who every week assess a great painting in the Indpendent Arts and Books Review. He links this line up of disparate objects with the sort of line up of objects which you get in a picture, and in particular, today, Vermeer's sublime Woman Holding a Balance.

In the High Street, I note in the glass door of a dental centre a note which says: Closed for Lunch. Will open at 2pm. I look at the clock higher up the street, which shows that the time is 3.05pm.

A ladybird has been visiting Heidi's desk. She crawls around for a bit and then flies off. Where does she go at this time of year? There are no greenfly around to feed her with.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Breakfast ritual, starling noises, squirrel,

In a cafe, I watch a regular customer order his "usual" breakfast. He is an upright, elderly man, who wears an overcoat, scarf and a tweed cap, which he does not remove. He is greeted by the owner of the cafe as a regular; there is nothing in the least bit eccentric about him. Breakfast consists of a pot of tea for two, a banana and three eggs scrambled on "one toast". When it arrives he pours two cups of tea, one of which he applies himself to immediately, while he places the other opposite him, together with the scrambled eggs. He lays the knife and fork provided on the other side of the table, as though it, along with the second cup of tea, is intended for another person. He then moves to the counter fetches some tomato ketchup and makes an even pattern of blobs of sauce on the eggs. He then proceeds to peel and eat the banana. This task completed, he produces a notebook from his pocket (by this time there are two people with notbooks in the cafe - he and I). He does not seem to be writing in the note book rather drawing lines, making squares perhaps, which he does with a fair amount of concentration. By this time, overcome with curiousity, I order a second cup of tea myself. Does he regularly order scrambled eggs for an absent person, as a sort of tribute, I wonder? But after a good five minutes he reaches across the table, turns the knife and fork round, and begins to eat the scrambled eggs with evident pleasure.

Starlings invade the Grove and neighbouring streets, not in flocks, but distribute themselves evenly over roof tops, chimney pots, aerials and in the branches of trees. They do not always have a good press. "Untidy eaters, " I remember a schoolteacher observing, when I was a child, seeming to equate them with badly behaved children. But they have a beautiful plumage and provide a pleasant chorus of twittering and whistling noises, like the woodwind section of an orchestra tuning up. By coincidence, I find in the charity shop in the High Street, a book called Wildlife on your Doorstep. On the cover is a photo of a starling with nestlings. It tells me in a chapter on starlings that more than 4 million pairs breed in Britain every year, and that, in the winter they are joined by at least 30 million individuals that migrate here from northern and eastern Europe.

On the free-standing road name sign for Christchurch Avenue, sits a squirrel, nibbling at a nut, which it holds and rotates in its forepaws. So deep is its concentration on the job that it does not see me for what seems a long time, and when it does, reluctantly moves off, the remains of the nut pressed into, and somehow retained, in the fur on its breast.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Summer bike, fragments, Elizabeth David

My friend David, who lives in Holland, has emailed me to say that he fell off his bike after skidding on black ice. A neighbour rebuked him with the words that he had been "Riding a summer bike in winter", ie one with standard, narrow rather than special, wide tires. It strikes me that Riding a Summer Bike in Winter is a novel waiting to be written, or perhaps a book of memoirs. I have replied accordingly and await a draft of the first chapter by return.

In puddles, I see reflected fragments of the branches of trees and portions of sky.

A play about the life of the cookery writer Elizabeth David is on tv tonight. She was possibly the best of all cookery writers, taking immense care with the recipes she published and above all with her use of language. Here, chosen for its brevity as well as its characteeristic simplicty, is one recipe from Italian Food , which she thought of as her best book, though it is not the best known.
Poached eggs on potato puree
Have ready a very creamy and very hot potato puree. On top put poached eggs, and over the eggs strew a fair amount of grated Parmesan cheese. Delicious invalid food.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Picture in a kettle, labels, starlings

When we sit down for a meal, I see our image reflected in the shiny, convex side of the kettle. The reflection is interestingly distorted. Instead of being, as we might have supposed, the most significant things in the kitchen, we are shown as the smallest and least important. Very pronounced is the plug and lead connected to the kettle; next the fruit which appear as tall orange and green columns (oranges and limes); tucked away in the background of this picture are two humans the size of mice.

Which? magazine reports some oddly worded labels. A birthday card for a two-year-old is labelled: "Not suitable for children under three". An office door bears the notice: "Use this door only when entering/exiting." And attached to a Superman outfit is the label: " Wearing this garment does not enable you to fly."

In ths Grove this afternoon, three adjacent trees are laden with starlings. The birds emit a high pitched continuous twittering. Suddenly they fall silent and rise into the air, a small flock, and wheel overhead. I watch them until I feel dizzy.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Trofie, bar-code readers, little girl with currant bun

We get hold of some pasta called trofie. It has a rough, porous texture that holds and absorbs the sauce you serve it with. It is easier to eat than spaghetti because it consists of little twisted strips about an inch long. It needs to be cooked in boiling water for about 20 minutes - longer than most pasta. It look a bit like bowl of white worms but, when served with a spicey sauce made with a little finely chopped red pepper flesh, shallots, toasted pine nuts, and chopped basil added at the last minute, the appearance and taste is seductive.

As I wait by the check-out points for the friends who give me a lift to Sainsbury most Sundays, I watch my fellow shoppers paying for and packing into plastic bags the goods, which they have collected. They remind me of the factory workers on the production line in the Chaplain film Modern Times. There is an urgency about the scene, as though there is some mysterious force driving on the cycle of purchase-and-pack-and-load-into-trolleys. In the background, there is the insistent, rhythmic bleeping of numerous bar-code readers,as the goods are scanned. It could be a piece of modern music, to which the shoppers and checkout assistants are performing a mime act or ballet.

A little girl runs in front of her parents eating a vast currant bun; she seems to stagger with joy while the sugar glaze, transferred to her cheeks, augments her smile.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Dollar, weeds, cricket road sign, weeds

Today I learn from two different sources, a travel programme on BBC Radio 4 and a review of a book called A Silver Legend: the Story of the Maria Theresa Thaler, in the Guardian, that the word "dollar" is associated with the word "thaler". The thaler was a unit of currency, based on a coin minted from silver first mined in the valley of St Joachsmsthal in Bohemia in the 16th century. During the reign of the Empress of the Austro Hungarian empire Maria Theresa (1740 -1780) the thaler began to be a widely used currency including the Middle East and the Americas, partly because of the quality and value of the silver, and partly because of the portrait of Maria Theresa on the coin. According to the victorian traveller Samuel Baker: "The effigy of the Empress with a very low dress and a profusion of bust is, I believe, the charm that suits Arab tastes."

A road sign depicting cricket is to be seen opposite the entrance to the Pantiles and pointing up Warwick Road in the direction of the Neville Cricket Ground. It shows three stumps, one on the right, askew, and two bails up in the air.

A book entitled Garden Weeds and their Control catches my eye in the Oxfam bookshop in Chapel Place. I have never been fond of the word "weed", believing that a weed is no more than a plant growing where someone doesn't want it. But I love the illustrations (beautifully executed watercolours, accompanied by leaf outlines in black) by Hilary Broad; and it is good to be reminded of the names of what sometimes it is necessary to control. Some of the so called weeds in the book are lovely wild flowers, like pink flowered oxalis, which can be used for salad and the delightful lesser celandine, which, with its star-shaped, yellow flowers, announces spring, and grows profusely in the triangular shrubbery in the middle of Berkeley Road, known locally as the "village green".

Friday, January 13, 2006

Moving head, pigeons on roof, office

Every morning, when I take my tea back to bed and begin to read, I see, in the window of the house opposite, the head of a woman moving to and fro above the closed half-shutters. It seems to float, and I wonder since I can see it, what it can see of me.

On the roof of one of the houses in Sevenoaks High Street, I see a cluster of pigeons; they look convivial as though enjoying each other's company. Is the roof so popular because it is poorly insulated and the pigeons are enjoying the warmth from within? The other roofs have no pigeons.

In a narrow street, I walk past an office with low windows, which give onto the roadway. In the first set of windows I see a room, where people at separate desks are engaged with computer screens. In the next window, a girl is sitting at a table studying what look like colour proofs. Behind her, busying himself with a notice board, is a bearded man. I do not linger. I have seen enough, caught a glimpse of other people's lives, and sensed the complex threads of soap opera, which are surely to be found in every office and place of work.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Blackbirds or thrushes, drunk, a world in itself

The French/English dictionary, which I use when reading upstairs, is of an early vintage. Hence instances of usage, which might not be so widely in evidence to day. Do the French still eat thrushes and ortolans, or even blackbirds? I read: Faute de grives (thrushes) on mange des merles (blackbirds). Meeting yet another slow blackbird this morning, when I was visiting the dustbin, it is hard to imagine anyone wanting to eat it, let alone a thrush. But it occurs to me that if we were a thrush or blackbird-eating nation, this morning's encounter would have been a lot less dozy, as the blackbird sat on a fence a meter or so from me, and seemed to believe every word I said, while I spoke gently to it, and assured it of my good intentions.

On the train a youngish woman complains on her mobile phone: "This weekend she went out and got so drunk, she couldn't get in ... she was too drunk to get the key in the lock. She's 34. I'm not her mother. I'm pissed off with her."

You can't read Shakespeare for long without finding something that would ring a political bell in England today.In Cymbeline, Cloten, the oafish stepson of the English king, Cymbeline addresses an emissary from imperial Rome, who demands a tribute, with the following words: "Britain's a world by itself, and will nothing pay for wearing our own noses." I guess they would have gone down as well with an audience in the time of Elizabeth l as they must do, at least with eurosceptics, in the time of Elizabeth ll.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Blackbirds, pale moon, reflections

Blackbirds, as ever, are in evidence round here , but they seem slower than usual at this time of year. One is sitting on the hedge this morning when I raise the blind. It moves its head from side to side on the alert for something. Does it enjoy the rain? It doesn't seem to want to shelter from it.

The pale, gibbous moon, which I always find so entrancing, not quite real, sits in the afternoon sky like a half sucked acid drop.

A pattern of two light squares on the painted wall of a house comes from the sun reflected off two windows directly facing the wall, reflections of reflections.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Silver birches, wrapped bricks, tunnel

A good day for viewing silver birches; the trunks literally shine in contrast with the grey air and the grey sky. The branches fall in tresses, with v-shaped twin catkins at the end of each stem; next season's bud form a spur at their juncture. Against the sky, the colour of the finely etched, voluminous tresses is almost purple, tresses of purple hair.

In the Grove, there are piles of bricks protected by orange plastic wraps, the sort of thing you usually see cutting off entry to a danger area. My grand daughter, Jetty, made a carrier bag out of this material once, and sold it on Ebay as a fashion item, which it was when she had finished with it.

From the corner of Grove Hill Road and the railway bridge opposite the station, you can look down on the railway line and into the dark, mysterious, beckoning mouth of the tunnel leading to Hastings.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Morning light, mist, living dangerously

Watching the light seep in at the edges of the blinds in the morning, and gradually ease into being, objects which have ceased to exist in the darkness.

From the cross roads at the top of Mount Pleasant, looking south and down hill, you can see, in the middle distance, the buildings clustered at the lower end of the High Street, and beyond them the wooded, upward slopes of the Common. Today, a damp mist shrouds the distant trees giving the impression of a Chinese landscape; mysterious it seems to promise more than there is.

Among the causes behind the 13 million or so admissions to NHS hospitals, I read in Schott's Almanac 2006, are: Fall involving a chair, 7,114; contact with hot drinks, 1,481; Ignition or melting of pyjamas, 22.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Green juice, winter flowers, eyrie

A green juice, the colour of unopened buds in Spring. It is made from kiwi fruit, which provides the colour and the acidity (plus apparently lots of vitamin C), cox apples, bramley apples (more acidity), and grapes to adjust the sweetness. To combat the cold, a generous root of ginger.

One of those afternoons in Winter when the air is saturated with a cold, misty rain; the sky is an unremitting grey; the pavements are wet and barely show their colour. Mount Sion is bleak, but there must be something to note for this log. The finely shaped, mature Japanese cherry in the front garden of Walmer Cottage, will more than suffice; its pink flowers defy the oncoming darkness; and so do the yellow stars of winter jasmine in the garden opposite.

I've always loved the thought of those attics, which you read about in Paris and elsewhere, and sometimes see from the train as you leave or enter a London railway station. From the pavement, at the bottom of Mount Sion, I catch sight of a lighted window on the top floor of one of the tall houses built as guest houses to accommodate visitors to the Spa in the Eighteenth Century. I can just see, in its frame, a shelf of books. For a brief moment, though I am happy to be going back to my own shelf of book, I wish myself up in that eyrie.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Invective, carrot and ginger, remembrances of last year

A good piece of well deserved invective to warm the heart for the year ahead, I find in Bleak House: ' "Guv'ner," says Phil, with exceeding gravity, "he's a leech in his disposition, he's a screw and a wice in his actions, a snake in his twisting, and a lobster in his claws."' Phil Squod is talking to Mr George of Joshua Smallwood.

To warm the blood, a juice made from carrots and apples and a good piece of peeled ginger.

While waiting in a queue I leaf through the pages of my notebook and see, mostly with pleasure, the past year unfold; and there is the drawing I made of the big cat I saw leaning against a wall in an alley in Sitges back in September.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Gnawed apple 2, table, digger

The plump, red apple that fell out of a wheely bin after Christmas, is now no more than a thin, concave portion of skin . You can see tiny teeth marks on the remaining pieces of white flesh, which cling to the inside of the skin. But there is no other sign of the eater. By tomorrow, there will be only a stain on the ground, if that.

Children probably still have tables to learn, though teaching methods have changed, and the tables will certainly be different. I can still remember, for example: 12 inches =1 foot, three feet = 1 yard; 51/2 yards = one rod, pole or perch; 1760 yard = 1 mile. Now I realize that it is time for me to learn another table, which I sort of know, but need to remind myself of: 8 bits = 1 byte; 1024 bytes = 1 kilobyte; 1024 kilobytes = 1 megabyte; 1024 megabytes = 1 gigabyte.

They are making slow progress with the restoration of the paths in the Grove. I like to watch the small mechanical digger raising and lowering its arm and curling its scoop, as, like a little elephant, it scoops up turf and stones from the edges and drops them into a skip.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Chase, gnawed apple, long shadows

From an alley off Mt Sion, shoots a young man; he tries to squeeze between parked cars, and almost gets run over. A car coming up the hill stops to let him cross, and he hares down the hill towards Chapel Place. He is closely followed by another young man, hatless, but wearing a yellow jacket with "Police" written on the back. "Which way?" Someone points down the hill. And off goes the second youn man in hot pursuit. A little bit of drama to lighten a dull afternoon.

A few days ago, the dustmen left a big, red apple, apparently in good condition, close to the twitten where the wheely bins live. I wondered if a dog or fox would fancy it. But something smaller seems to have been feasting on it. Because there are signs that tiny teeth have been nibbling it, gougeing out and hollowing the fruit, leaving, in places, only a shell formed by the skin. It it were not mid-winter I would think that the maurader was a slug or snail.

In the Grove, after a dull morning, the sun, low in the clear, afternoon sky, sends forth its beams almost horizontally, and the trunks of trees cast long shadows over the grass

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

After the fireworks, not for me, dishing out the butter

On New Year's day, I read the facts about the fireworks in London on the previous night. Thirty pyrotechnicians worked from Boxing Day until New Year's Eve to set up the display. It was designed by Christophe Bertoneau of the French company Group F. The display, which lasted 10 minutes, used 1 ton of fireworks and cost around £1 million.

Countless catalogues drop through our letter box even after Christmas is over. I enjoy the feeling of not wanting certain things even as much as I enjoy possessing a few things that I like and find useful. In today's catalogue something, which I enjoy not wanting, is an olive wood baguette board. "Now you can slice French bread neatly, safely and stylishly too. Made from lovely grainy olive wood, this board features clever angled slots to produce nice even slices. The channel helps keep the baguette and crumbs under control."
There's nothing worse, I always say, than a baguette out of control and loose in the home.

I have been thinking for some time about a story, which I read some time ago in a book on Australian slang, and wondering where I could find it. Sitting idly at my desk today I noticed a book standing out from its fellows. There it was: The Australian Slanguage by Bill Hornadge. The story concerns the Australian irreverence for authority. The president of the Victorian Football League was a guest speaker at a lunch in Sydney. It was a self-service lunch and among the items was baked potato in aluminium foil. A steward was serving dobs of butter to go with the potato. The president asked for an extra dob and was told firmly: "Sorry, it's one dob of butter per person. Here's what follows:

President: Do you know who I am?

Steward: No

President: Well I'm the President of the Victorian Football League and your guest speaker. Do you think I could have two dobs of butter?

Steward: Do you know who I am?

President: You have me at a disadvantage there.

Steward: Well I'm the guy who dishes out the bloody butter.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Silence, watching fireworks, seed catalogue

Waking early on the morning of New Year's day, I enjoy the silence and realize that it is probably the quietest morning of the year, following what must be the noisiest evening.

Watching the faces of people watching fireworks is almost as good as watching the fireworks themselves. It would have been difficult to get to and from the Embankment in order to see them live, but seeing it on television is a good substitute.

A damp day without much incentive to go out is a good one to look through seed catalogues. I contemplates carrots, which I haven't grown for some time, and note, with satisfaction, the varieties resistant to carrot fly.