Sunday, May 17, 2009

tourists, toad-flax, shoes

Posted by Picasa In summer there is usually a group of tourists gathered round the spring of water, rich in iron (and therefore a disagreeable brown colour) which is the raison d'etre of Tunbridge Wells. Such springs are known as chalybeate springs. When I am a tourist and visiting an "attraction" I confess that I am usually thinking about my next meal. I ask myself what is going on in the heads of these people all strangers to me, and presumably to Tunbridge Wells.

Ivy leaved toad flax grows out of walls around here. It is a small trailing plant of unimposing but attractive appearance. I like this description of it from the often austere British Wild Flowers by John Hutchinson:
"This pretty little plant flowers from the late spring until the autumn. Growing on old dry walls and rocks it is remarkably resistant to drought. The flowers are adapted to the visits of bees who are able to press down the lower lip and gain access to the nectar which is secreted around the fleshy base of the ovary and stored in the spur at the bottom of the corolla. After fertilization takes place the flower stalks curve towards the dark crevices in the wall where the seeds are deposited when the fruit ripens and bursts.

There are at least two people in Tunbridge Wells who walk about the street singing or talking to no one in particular. One is called Naughty Boy because of the tuneless song he chants consisting of a repetition of the words "I'm a naughty boy". The other is more of a talker. He walks about briskly addressing any one he passes, who attracts his interest. Excellent shoes," he says pointing the the Kath Kidston shoes of a little girl who is hold the hand of her father, "Excellent shoes", and walks quickly on. The little girl smiles proudly. Her father looks sheepish.


The Crow said...

We have a variety of toad flax growing in meadows and along small stream banks called butter-and-eggs. It doesn't sound like yours, though.

Perhaps you could snap a photo of your toad flax on one of your outings?

We have a few talkers in our town; down from my house, in fact. Starting about ten years ago, the state began reducing mental hospital budgets, resulting in many non-threatening patients being released to half-way houses and community daycare facilities. Some of those released became lost, having become dependent upon the full-time caregiving of the hospital staffs. After a few weeks or months of community-based care, about a fourth of those released joined the homeless population in the county - the unseen, as it were.

There, but for the grace, as my mother used to say.

Zhoen said...

There was a guy in Boston, known as The Spare Change Guy. He shouted, very loudly, and was somewhat aggressive, although apparently (mostly) harmless, if you stayed away from him. When he disappeared for a few months, there was much concern, until the local independent paper reassured people that he was fine, and we would soon be hearing "Spare Change" shouted at us in a raspy, whiney, bark, again.

Roderick Robinson said...

I think you've touched on the essence of tourism, certainly as far as I am concerned. Food often dominates our day to the point where a visit to some architecturally resplendent town reduces itself to: Anticipation, Mastication, Torpor. And there's the business of trying (guideless) to judge the worth of a restaurant by its exterior and a deconstruction of the posted menu. And how often wisteria has proved to be a false friend. Imagine: how many people would eat at the Blogger's Retreat based on external scrutiny?

Unknown said...

Crow: In one of my books there are four plants called toad flax mentioned apart from ivy leaved toad flax. They are called bastard, pale, purple and small, and for the most part belong to different families. Judging by the illustrations, ivy leaved is the most attractive.

All: Thanks. It seems that all over the world there are people who have something to say and few sympathetic listeners. My sympathies are with the harmless, hopeless loaners, less with those who are paid to talk to us eg politicians.

BB: I am glad I am not alone in admitting to boredom with many tourist attactions. On one of the rare occasions when I was a member of a tour party, there was a fellow Philistine who rejected an optional diversion with the words : "When you've seen one cave, you've seen the lot!"

The Crow said...

Friend Joe: I googled the title, "British Wild Flowers", found the website for same and there amongst all the beautiful flowers in the toadflax family, was a picture of our butter-and-eggs; latin name - Linaria vulgaris.

Found a very nice image of the ivy-leafed and it is, indeed, a beauty.