Thursday, April 26, 2007

25th April 2007

Well an exciting 24 hours…I broke down on the motorway last night and couldn’t move the car out of the traffic lane. So thanks to all those wonderful people who tooted their horns and waved their hands like I had done it all on purpose…what a bunch of cretins! Nick to the rescue; so lucky I was close to where he lives. It was I suppose, funny in an annoying kind of way. Still a few glasses of wine and some food put it all behind me but it looks like I shall have to take a day off work Friday to get it sorted out. I managed to limp home from Nick’s this morning without incident.

Watched an amazing documentary on Japanese giant hornets last night…wow! They are big, big sisters and vicious. Watch this amazing National geographic clip

Have a great day…weathers turning warmer again here so looks like being a nice weekend.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

24th April 2007

What a difference a few days can make to the weather. Gone the clear blue skies and warm evenings into brooding ashen skies hurling incessant rain down upon us. Worse still the wet weather has awoken the beast we in the north of the UK all fear the most…the microscopic bloodsucking midge. Quite the most interminable nuisance and completely mercenary. Nothing can prepare you for them and nothing deters them and whoopee! We’ve got a whole summer of their company to look forward to.

Still the unseasonable warm weather got me ahead in the garden. It is looking naturally magnificent. A wild mostly untamed beast slowly coming to life and shading the hillside with a pale and translucent green that soothes away all worry. I bought 21 Rosemary plants to edge along the raised bed in front of the swing and shall plant them when the weather brightens up. It is one of my favourite herbs and makes a wicked potato dish.

Take 1 onion and chop roughly. In a pan heat olive oil and fry onions till clear, add cubed potatoes and fry gently adding a couple of crushed garlic cloves. Raise the heat and begin to brown but don’t overstir or you’ll make the whole thing mushy. Take 2 stems of rosemary and strip the leaves from the woody stems and chop roughly. Add to the potatoes and leave long enough to infuse and enjoy with a plain fried tuna steak or leg of lamb braised in the oven with thyme, red wine and anchovies.

Even nicer washed down with a glass of USA Turning Leaf Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or a good Australian Red. But not a French wine under any circumstance, well maybe a Chateau-Neuf –Du –Pape but that’s about it. Generally I find French wine thin and vile…. It is always reassuring bad and now I never, ever buy it.

My sister has just come back from India (she has a house in Goa) and while she was there was tracing family history and thinks without a shadow of doubt that my grandfather was a certain minor royal called Prince Omar from Afghanistan. I had sort of figured that out when I looked in the mirror though. So burqa me I’m practically Taleban. Think I’ll keep that quiet.

I got my 30 year long service award letter today from work and then promptly lost it…so I’ll be in trouble tomorrow. Hope somebody finds it and hands it in.

Have a good week

Friday, April 20, 2007

Swans swiftly glide and clouds slide
Without tedium, on a still clear medium
Vista’s of calm, that stem from dawn
To ease a heart and joyful a day start

Sunday, April 15, 2007

15th April 2007

A late afternoon sun glances off daffodils and dapples the wood anemone that sit below the willow tree which has begun to drop its catkins like a thousand furry caterpillars. They lie on the ground as a fading yellow velveteen carpet. I have also my first magnolia flower this weekend and it is the most delicate pink. A fitting remembrance for those wonderful pets that nourished us in life and now nourish the world’s beauty as they sleep.

It has been an incredible weekend! Mediterranean in warmth and sunshine and last night I sat in the yard with vino, black olives and wonderful French ewes milk cheese called Ossau-Iraty.

It is like creamy, mellow, sweet Parmesan. It is sublime. Cheese and bread and wine…perfect! I am discovering that products from Sheep and goats are in some ways better than cows. Wow 46 and still so much to try and learn. I fixed Nick’s computer but couldn’t fix Mike’s…I can’t win everything I guess. I keep stubbornly trying though!

I read a sad story about bees today. Apparently they may be disorientated by mobile phones. Can you imagine a world without these insects in it. Neither can I. It was Einstein who said that without bees man would perish within four years. Read it for yourself here…

Hope you too have had a wonderful weekend.

Friday, April 13, 2007

7.30am 13.04.2007

Here's the garden this morning just s the sun was rising. Been up to water the cabbage and uncover the straw from the Gunnera...its going to be 75F today (24 C) and warm across the weekend.

Just had a thought that it's a black friday so take care.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

12th April 2007

It’s been drier and warmer than the Costa Brava over the last few days here in England. Shame I have to be working but at least I can enjoy the dinnertime around the small reservoirs at work. They are home to various waterfowl and a kingfisher also makes intermittent appearances. They are the nearest things to a hummingbird we have here. You can’t imagine the thrill of the rapid flash of electric blue as it flies by. Like a huge whirring butterfly. It is so hard to see them properly, but nice to know they are around…they are a good sign of the health of the waterways.

I managed to sell my speakers but the whole thing has got complicated and likely the sale will fall through. Seems to be a case of proxy bidding by someone in Germany. Looks like I will have to relist them. Oh well I shall read the Janet Street-Porter column in the Independent newspaper for a while. She always cheers me up. She’s stimulating like Germaine Greer but better looking. Click on the link and see if you agree. She’s an ardent walker too.

Another refreshing columnist is Tracey Emin…woman of questionable artistry but wonderful to have around for dinner I guess. Couldn’t see her doing the cooking.

In fact the whole Independent web site is great…have a look around. Sometimes a bit hypocritical but most of the media is by having a moral stance and yet maintaining their incestuous relationship with the advertisers. In fact sitting on the bench in the garden reading and listening to the woodpecker tapping away at the Sycamore has done me the world of good. It’s a Great Spotted Woodpecker by the way. Click on the link

So summer glimpses through spring days scattering sunlight through arching branches tracing the open sky and clothed in vestigial buds that feel the sun and call for syrup delved deep below the earth. It is the elixir of sweet winter rain caught and held within the trees chambered, wooden cisterns infused with the last summer’s essence stored for this moment. The sap rises and rushes to the end of every twig and the sylvan ships of state unfurl green sails to set before the fair winds of rebirth.

Friday, April 06, 2007

6th April 2007

Been to Cheshire to Tatton Park AND Dunham Massey with Nick today and the weather was perfect open blue sky and lots of sunshine. The gardens and houses were both magnificent. Hope you enjoy the pictures. See the one of the Gunnera Manicata creeping like huge green snails toward the waters edge - fantastic! There are also 2 links to the National Trust about both properties. I have taken some from the Tatton Park website and placed it below. Nice for us both to have a day off work and go out exploring.

Have a great Easter

This is one of the most complete historic estates open to visitors. The early 19th-century Wyatt house sits amid a landscaped deer park and is opulently decorated, providing a fine setting for the Egerton family's collections of pictures, books, china, glass, silver and specially commissioned Gillows furniture. The theme of Victorian grandeur extends into the garden, with its Fernery, Orangery, Rose Garden, Tower Garden, Pinetum, and Italian and Japanese gardens. The restored Walled Garden includes a Kitchen Garden and magnificent glasshouses, where traditional methods of gardening are used. Other features include the Tudor old hall, a 1930s working rare breeds farm, a children's play area, speciality shops and 400-hectare (1,000-acre) deer park.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

4th mar 2007

Easter is here so soon with the weather set to fair for the whole period. I am going to do a little gardening a lot of eating and read my vintage three-volume set of books on British Abbeys and Cathedrals. I have a pair of Tannoy’s for sale on e-bay (see if you can find them? Think of it like the hunt for the egg,) which ends Easter Sunday but currently no takers…ahhh!!

Awash in sunlight we strive to make each day a wonder
Count it made warm, special and joyous because it will,
Recede, leaving only a glimpsed memory and who but a fool
Wishes to look back upon these days with a sigh of regret

Monday, April 02, 2007

2nd April 2007
I’m sitting in the yard tonight even though it’s 7pm and the sun has slipped away from sight. Now descending from above, to tingle fingers and cheeks comes a touch of cooler air. My senses heighten, sharpen and become more creative in application. Mosquitoes dance in a group of eight a few feet from my face to the warbling song of the blackbird chanting a hypnotic avian evensong. Tulips and daffodils form a crescent swathe at my feet and as the light changes so too does their vibrant colour, intensifying in the gloom like a paradoxical truth of evening. Now I hear crows and a solitary pigeon. One spitting harridan curses and the other a tender cooing lullaby and through it all weaves the blackbird and now a robin. And oh, it is all staggeringly restful, till at last the chorus stills at 8pm as night approaches. Now all I hear is the sound of passing cars like a rushing wind heard at the top of high hills. Time for some warmth.

Spring is here with something man cannot make
Warming dusk, lighting nights and watering dawns
My heart for its worth is here and beats in time
For summer is knocking and spring opens the gate
So take joy in these days and reflect on each sign
The world is at last awake and tonight it is mine

Sunday, April 01, 2007

First day of April today but I figure you’d all worked that one out. Been in the garden and also to Whalley Abbey today with Nick. Whalley abbey is in the Ribble valley close to Clitheroe and is the most amazing place (if only to see the damage caused by the reformation.) It is always sad to see how much damage occurred to our abbeys and cathedrals but then positively to think the wonderful country we have now and our unique British traits are probably due to it. See the beautiful gardens with its magnificent magnolia and dry stone terrace and the Abbey ruins. How splendid to buy the Observer and sit among the well kept gardens reading all the latest news. Not that much of it is good but we can hope for better days. That is the essence of the spring.

It has been cool but sensationally sunny with clear blue skies all the way through the day. I took a lot of pictures so I hope you enjoy them. Some are of the garden as I was walking around so I hope you can get a feel for it. Looks quite bare with all the leafless trees but that will change soon. Already the bare branches spout green vestigial leaves. Also my first bumblebee, some moss and yellowish forsythia set against the azure sky.

Hope you’ve had a good daytoo .