Thursday, June 26, 2008

This wonderful picture is from Scott and was taken in Lancaster Pa USA about 30 miles from where he lives. It is the Ephrata Cloisters built in the 1700’s by a religious group from England. It looks a wondereful place to be in summer. Great photo.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

This is summer in England’s northern climes. Balmy overcast evenings bring cool air and shade amongst leafy trees that hide the sky and make the air swim with moisture wherein swims a grey smoke with a thousand pinpricks to pierce flesh without any malice in its race for survival.

Weather is pretty dismal at the minute so I wish it would pick up a little bit and return to the long hot days of a few weeks ago. We have had now a good spell of rain so the plants wouldn’t mind. Another downside of this gloomy weather is that the biting midges are back with a vengeance.

I can’t believe it’s a week since I was in Kent on work stuff. We have passed the longest day and now July beckons. (“Tempus Fugit”) but to where we know not. There doesn’t seem to be anything positive in the news at the minute. It’s all food, oil and war...but perhaps it always has been. I’ll try to find a nice photo.

Found a sad pile of feathers outside the garden gate last night. Because of the pattern I could see that it was a spotted woodpecker. Over the last few months I have found a few of these so some raptor must be hunting in the area. Must be quite large one if he can take out a woodpecker. I shall ask my garden neighbours if they have seen anything. I suspect it is one of the fledglings that the parents have been raising.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

For the solstice

So to where, must the time fly? When days now chase the trail of nights coming a little further from its end every day. For the hounds of winter are again up and running and yes, they move fast, but never so fast that we cannot see them. Diminishing days will bring again teeth of ice snapping at sunset painting autumn skies orange to echo the golden leaves that fall. For me, I shall enjoy this summer and though all is measured finite and will wither in time without, within me it shall always be the dawn of that first kiss and the birth of love that rose like a phoenix from barren ground to warm our footsteps through all seasons. So do not tell me time flies, for I already know and how I welcome the fact its sweeping wings hold my love safe and bring him swiftly to me. For through living a lifetime will come eternity and what we are and what we shall ever be is immortal. For lives are made of moments of joy folded together from the routine between the precious days we share

Monday, June 16, 2008

2,000-year-old seed grows into 'tree of life' for scientists

By Steve Connor, Science EditorFriday, 13 June 2008 (Courtesy of the Independent)

A 2,000-year-old seed recovered from the ancient Jewish fortress of Masada near the Dead Sea has become the oldest seed in the world to have germinated successfully, scientists said yesterday. The seed, which grew into a date palm plant, was one of three recovered during archaeological excavations in the early 1960s, but it was only planted two years ago as part of an experiment to see if it could germinate and grow after such a long time. Scientists chipped off small fragments from two of the seeds for radiocarbon dating, which showed they were formed between 206BC and AD24, shortly before the Romans laid siege to Masada AD72.The third seed was planted without being damaged and scientists managed to date that seed when they recovered tiny fragments of the shell clinging to the roots of the plant when it was being transplanted to a bigger pot. The date came out as between AD205 and AD392. But when scientists adjusted the age for changes resulting from it having germinated, which resulted in it absorbing "modern" carbon that would have biased the dating technique, they found that it, too, belonged to the period just prior to Masada's siege and destruction."We have successfully germinated an ancient date seed that was some 2,000 years old and is the oldest seed ever grown," said Sarah Sallon of Hadassah Medical Organisation in Jerusalem, who led the research team."The ability of seeds to remain viable over prolonged periods of time is important in preserving plant genetic resources," Dr Sallon and her colleagues said in their study published in the journal Science.

Masada was fortified by King Herod about 2,044 years ago as a refuge and pleasure palace and lies on a flat-topped mountain overlooking the Dead Sea. It became famous for the Roman siege of AD72 which is said to have culminated in a mass suicide by the rebellious Jewish sect who had taken control of the fortress. The date palm seeds recovered from the 1960 excavations had been kept at room temperature for the past 40 years but, for centuries, they had been buried along with the rest of the Masada ruins. "The Dead Sea is the lowest terrestrial point on Earth and it's extremely hot and dry. So one of the things that probably helped to preserve the seed is the extreme dryness and heat of this area," Dr Sallon said. When the seed germinated, the first leaves to sprout had white spots on them because of a lack of chlorophyll, which may have been due to mineral deficiencies immediately after germination. However, at 26 months, the plant showed normal development and a preliminary genetic analysis has revealed it shares about half its DNA with three modern varieties of the date palm from Morocco, Egypt and Iraq.
The oldest seed known to have germinated prior to the Masada date palm was a 1,300-year-old lotus seed. Judean date palms are known as the "tree of life", partly because of their supposed medicinal properties, and once formed thick forests throughout the Jordan River valley. They were highly prized for their fruit. Date palms are either male or female but Dr Sallon said that she will not be able to determine the gender for two more years.. If it bears fruit it will be called "Mrs Methuselah", she said
Mon 16th June 2008

Off to our mill in Sittingbourne, Kent this aftrnoon, returning tomorrow night. It's a long old drive. Enjoy the photos of the tree ferns and the reeds and have a good week.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

I got this wonderful smile within my heart and none can see it or know it is there. It is my beautiful secret shared only with a few. It means when I am sad or bored or feeling unfairly treated I can look within and feel the warmth that radiates there for all the special people who bring joy and laughter to my life. It would surprise some (but not my friends) if they knew that this man was sparkling with joy within. For I look within my heart and it is forever summer. Full of clear blue skies and time spent resting against the oak tree while the songbirds create masterpieces, which soar to the heavens and wrap around my dreams. Both to spiral endlessly upward through the whitest clouds into the peaceful air’s that lie overhead. It is the glimmer of a honeybee wing or a drop of dew reflected in the shaft of light that filters through the cool green leaves dappling the floor with dark and light. It is summer and the smile within my heart is renewed.
Seems to have started working again properly. Have added a visitor map on the right...but only expecting 2 red dots. 1 here and 1 in Pa...we'll see!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I think this just about says it all about our national pride....

British minister admitted Tuesday that the government had spent just 230 pounds (450 dollars) promoting England's national day over the last five years.

Culture Minister Margaret Hodge confessed her department spent 116 pounds on promoting Saint George's Day this year, 114 pounds in 2007 -- and absolutely nothing in the previous three years. The admission provoked outrage from at least one patriotic Member of Parliament.

"I think it is a shameful indictment and it needs to be changed," said Deputy Andrew Rosindell, who is chairman of parliament's all-party Saint George's Day Group.

"We must be the only country in the world that spends nothing or virtually nothing on celebrating its national day. It is a great pity.

"I was expecting it to be low but not that low. Other countries in the world such as Australia and the United States spend a lot of time and effort in promoting their national days and we should be doing more.

"There needs to be a change in the culture of government in the way it approaches something like this."

Saint George's Day, which falls on April 23, is an annual non-event in England.

It is generally punctuated by English breweries trying to cash in and promote a party atmosphere; left-wingers saying that patriotism should be reclaimed from the racists; a variety of English eccentrics; and everyday folk wondering why the English just don't seem to bother. The fact that Saint George's Day is not a public holiday only adds to the general lack of interest.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Mon 9th June 2008

Well turned out nice again so here I am at 6.30pm sat in the garden with the last of the sunshine. Well the last that will make it over the treetops that line the path to the west like sentinels to dusk. It's been a beautiful two days. I spent nearly the entire day in the garden yesterday; mostly dozing you understand and watching the woodpecker flirt around the feeder in the garden next door. A magnificent specimen with lots of bright red underbelly plumage close to the tail. (A lesser spotted I think.) Add to him a mix of tits, robins, pigeons, magpies, crows and wrens and it added up to an avian treat. I can't believe it is June so very quickly. Just 12 days till the solstice arrives and heralds midsummer. With half of summer so quickly gone, why do I feel as though it has only just begun?

Having had to work today I shan't have much time before the sun fades. Despite the time of day it is incredibly warm now sat here. I brought a hot dinner of stew and thickly buttered bread which tasted absolutely delicious. Not that I had much bread but Mr Robin gave me thanks. How much more delicious is food eaten outdoors? It's almost a magical and spiritual transformation.

The world sharpens into focus as the yellow rays diminish. For a brief time colours become vivid almost incandescent and in the neutral light of a fading day I can see every nuance of it. I can smell and hear better like a filter is taken away from both my mind and eyes and just before I should sleep I finally awake into a short, perfect world that rapidly dims to dusk. How sweet and beautiful is time when it is fleeting through an evening. Now the sunlight is dappling from behind the Beech trees casting long shadows and making me notice the breeze. Long and cool it takes the heat and softens it into the evening calm. The birds still and retreat and the world grows a little less.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

3rd June 2008

Weather has turned from great to wet at the minute. Very heavy rain currently with heavy, grey skies and no real sign of any improvement soon. So it must be June. It hits the ground and brings out the dreaded midge once again. We had not had any bother till now. After the recent dry weather the moisture is welcome but perhaps not so much of it. Still the plants are growing amazingly well and within weeks the bare world of winter that allowed me to see all the garden through the bare branches has been replaced by impenetrable green walls. It is so thick and closed in parts that I have to push through and almost one could feel that as I push past the branches I could well end up coming out in Narnia. (well can't come out here again.)

I'm growing some veg in the glasshouse and it looks a little chaotic in there at the minute. This is a space 8'x6' so must remember to take a photograph so you can see. Currently reading about Stonehenge in National Geographic so enjoy the picture. Don't bother with the web site as no pictures on there I could see. Have a good week.

Ps Had to take Nick to the emergency room (again) on Sunday...torn ligament from his tennis match on Saturday. Luckily not too much damage done...well may be to his pride, but the injury should heal within 6-8 weeks.