Monday, 17 September 2012

Slugs ate my trowel

I'm not sure about the choisyas.  They're too big - they're blocking out the light.  They should really come out.  But not now they're about to flower - I'll just cut them back a bit.
But I'll take the hazel out because we never get any nuts.  Because F cuts them back in summer, because they overhang, and the nuts only grow on the new wood.  A few nuts survive, sometimes.  But a squirrel eats those.  
I'm not sure about the apple tree.  Since the other one died there are no apples, because the other one must have been the pollinator.  I suppose I could buy another...  It looks alright and I don't like taking things out.
But that primula.  It's red.  It doesn't go with the rest of the border, with all the yellow primroses.  I don't like taking things out so I'll stick it in a pot and take it inside - it'll brighten up the living room.  It's all because of Vita Sackville-West and her famous White Garden, making everything else look overdone.  Now mine's nearly colourless.  Just green, really.  So those geraniums don't go at all.  I'd give them away to somebody who likes magenta, if I could think of anybody.
And the pear tree.  It looks nice, but last year we only got the one pear.  And that was hard.  No one really wanted it. 
I'm going in, it's all too depressing.  I'll just get that primula.

....It doesn't go with the wallpaper.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Slugs ate my trowel 2

Baby carrots, beetroots and beans. The seeds are in a cool dark place, as recommended on the packet, though I imagine they'd prefer to be out of the packet in a cool damp place, as it's May already.

Tulips are flowering in the cool damp place - four beds of voluptuous white tulips where the carrots should be. Parrot tulips in full flower, except for the front right-hand bed, where they have already died. Except for a solitary petal fluttering in the May gales.

I've been looking forward to these tulips all winter, so do I dig them up to make room for salads and cabbage? There'd be beds of bare soil right in the centre of the garden. Of course they should stay there, wide flamboyant leaves flapping in the breeze, yellowing and withering until they have died back - maybe by July - to swell the bulbs for next Spring, when I could have the same problem again.

Or I could pull them up and store them in the shed so they can go mouldy and be eaten by mice.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Slugs ate my trowel 3

If you seem to be in charge of the garden, it's great to have a man who does the lawn.  There is after all so much else to do. 

Designing the garden.  Digging it, weeding it.  Pulling out big roots and dividing them up and replanting them in places around the borders where they can disrupt other things.  Building a compost heap; turning the compost heap, watering it and after months and months of this distributing it in heavy bucketloads around the garden. 

Heaving tubs about.  Cutting things, especially things that are out of reach; shaping things; encouraging something to grow and then pruning it.  Digging out large cobblestones and bricks that have somehow got in amongst the soil.  The tormenting logistics of sowing and growing on and planting out.  The Garden Centre.

So I am grateful to have a man who does the lawn, wearing goggles as he first  slices at the edges with his strimmer as protection from the flying chips off the brick edging; slicing at the long grass and peonies and roses, hacking into geraniums and decapitating delphiniums and foxgloves.  'They shouldn't hang over the edge.'

And he doesn't rest on laurels but hurriedly stashes away the strimmer and roars about with the mower, up and down, up and down very fast so as to arrive at the object of his exercise: the smug cold lager downed while admiring his lawn.

Although he always does the lawn there are things he doesn't do.

Levelling it.  Pulling out coarse grasses and big dandelions.  Weeding it generally.  Sowing bare patches.  But when I do them he brings me out a beer. 


Friday, 14 September 2012

Slugs ate my trowel: Only one carrot

Only one carrot has come up.

growing carrots, one carrot, how to grow carrots,

I was pleased about the lack of summer because up to now I've been able to blame the rain.  You should never plant carrots just before it rains hard, apparently.  So when has anyone planted them?     

Still, it's growing well now the sun is out.  And it's not just a home-grown organic carrot.  It's a home-grown organic Chantenay carrot, deserving fast buttery cooking with mint and honey; or roasting in olive oil.

The bad news is Chantenay carrots are small.  Very small.

It's a lot of work for one carrot and I expect someone else will eat it.    

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Slugs ate my trowel 5 Snails chillax

Slugs and snails, fed up with jet stream July, are sliding inside the house.

A loopy silver trail over the black socks drying on the bottom rail in the conservatory.  (Men's socks, luckily.)  The sort of pattern Next might like to try for a change.

Another meandering up the wall and over the door to where a fat snail must be holing up in the ceiling slat.  One chillaxing behind the dog basket, like David Cameron.

giant snail, rid of snails, slugs
Milanese snail
Sometimes when we come back at night the headlights reveal an Olympic challenge of huge slugs racing up the house wall to the bathroom window.  If one makes it inside it is my job to evict it.  (I am also I/C spiders; in fact I/C everything except caterpillars.)

Outside the snails have eaten all the pak choi and are copulating openly.  And the stupid birds, who have eaten all the redcurrants, are leaving them to enjoy themselves in peace. 

snail, slug, slugs and snails
Giant African land snail  (Could be worse)

Monday, 10 September 2012

Slugs ate my trowel 4

I was quite proud of my delphiniums.   And you would think they would attract good comment, especially after the tulips.  'Aren't they gorgeous!'  Even, 'Aren't they blue!'  But no, all anyone says is, 'Aren't they tall!'

At first I was quite proud that they were tall, though I'd prefer to say well grown.  They are growing in a tub, quite a shallow tub, and I started wondering whether they had enough soil.  But they seemed happy, spreading about and growing taller, until the storm came. 

The ones on the right bent sideways, so I tied them to stakes and supports and they carried on blooming, blowsy ladies on sticks and zimmer frames.  Some of them fell off in the second storm, but that was OK because I stuck them in a vase in the window for the Queen.  (They complemented the England flag I'd hung in the other window after being told off by the village for having no bunting.)  

Now they are all leaning right, like a row of mature ladies after the extra sherry.  In the autumn I'm going to have to take them out and plant them in the borders.  Until then they'll be straggling and turning yellow, right in front of the window.  A focal point. 

Most of the bunting is straggling too, pulled down and washed away, but the England flag's still out.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Body builders

I'm glad my husband hasn't got a man in tomorrow.

He's had an electrician in, he's booked a chippie and a decorator who've both been for a measure up and for the past week there's been a builder in the garden who bares his cleavage whenever he can. 
sexy builder, body builder, building work, brickie
Not my builder

When the sun even threatens to come out in a minute (if you're lucky) he pulls his shirt off.  Glance through any window to feel like a voyeur.

He does have a near-Olympian body.  (Boxer rather than 100 metres.)  But what is it about builders that they treat the bodies they flaunt with disdain?

His sun-baked back, never plastered by sunscreen, is as red as the bricks he's digging up and occasionally moving about.  He doesn't wear a protective mask when he saws up things that he shouldn't inhale.

He stops sawing and has a fag and asks for three sugars in his tea.  "When you're ready, love."
The body he's building won't look so good in a year or two.

A roofer arrives and before you can say Health and Safety he's flat out on a dodgy roof cuddling the old asbestos before beating it with a hammer.  Without a mask. 

The senior builder arrives and says stop worrying, he's moved tons of asbestos lately:

"You don't need a licence, love.  Just common sense." 


Friday, 10 August 2012


Time travelling is easy.  Go to a farmers' market.

Not a poncy sun-dried goat's cheese  farmers' market.  A market with farmers, in a proper market town.  Selling sheep and pigs and ducks.  One where they warn you when you park that your car could get dented by an escaping bullock.  "Happened last week."

In the madding crowd there are canny groups of Thomas Hardy men, conferring about the price of calves and black-face sheep, which are the coolest sheep at the market. 
suffolk sheep, farmers market, black-face sheep
You expect to see Bathsheba Everdene any minute, turning heads and bartering sharply for sheep feed.  You certainly see her nightie in the indoor market, hanging on a rack with several more.  Pristine, but definitely Victorian. 

You see Mellors and his jacket with all the smeared waxed pockets and his young pheasants.  And his gun, among a lot of other guns and cages for ferrets.  And ferrets. 

There are the odd jarring notes.  Dayglo harnesses and jackets for ferrets.   A few men like Mellors's mates, if Mellors had mates, selling night-shot videos about catching pheasants and rabbits. 

And an iphone on a water trough, in a sheep pen with straw on the floor.

Friday, 20 July 2012

10 quotable quotes

In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity, is the vital thing.  Oscar Wilde

Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.  Winston Churchill

I believe in equality for everyone, except reporters and photographers.  Mahatma Gandhi   

Every journalist has a novel in him, which is an excellent place for it.  Russell Lynes

And what is the use of a book...without pictures or conversation?  Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
Alice in Wonderland, a book without pictures, what is the use 
Pay no attention to what the critics say. There was never put up a statue to a critic.  Jean Sibelius

I got nasty habits. I take tea at three.  Mick Jagger

Exit, pursued by a bear.  Stage direction, A Winter's Tale, Act III Scene 3, William Shakespeare

There is no need to bribe or twist, thank God! the British journalist.
But seeeing what the man will do unbrib'd, there's no occasion to.
Humbert Wolfe

A foolish man would have swallowed it.  Dr Johnson, after spittting out a hot potato.

Dr Johnson, a fool, hot potato, a fool would have eaten it

Friday, 15 June 2012

Angry Birds

The Angry Birds are really making you angry.
How many hours did it take to learn everything?  I mean, all the permutations of the Angry Birds' skill set?  
Learning how to draw the catapult looks fun.  Intuitive even.  But learning how to maximise the explosions?  The blue birds dividing into three smaller birds!  Those suicide bomber birds.  White birds dropping explosive eggs.  The Angry Birds are more accomplished than a Jane Austen heroine's rival.
How many hours to adjust for the pigs' perversely complex fortifications?  For their switching building materials to concrete, wood... ice?  To work out by how much helmets improve the pigs' health and safety: exactly how much more damage helmeted pigs can take? 
Those pigs wearing crowns!           
But you seems so good at it.

It must take up a lot of energy.

...Why do you hate the pigs so much? 

Friday, 9 March 2012

Judgment by Shoes

Say hello and in one second look down at shoes and back up.  Judgment made.

If your shoes are high you pass.  Extra points for expensive, mad, painful and red.  Walking boots with mud on and trainers: dismissal.

Obviously if I had narrow pointy feet and didn't have a muddy dog and enjoyed pain or had a shoe fetish I'd join in; but as it is I look at eyes, the whole person and eyes again.  Not that I'm deep or anything - I just like other things.  As Oscar said, only the shallow don't judge by appearances.    


Tuesday, 6 March 2012


Take picture to be framed

Find picture

Measure old frame upstairs so new frame will match, making a pair of pictures

Find tape measure

Make tea

Find biscuits

Mend broken stool with sharp nails sticking out

Find plasters

Find glue

Take broken stool to picture framer's in case he can mend it

After finding picture

And tape measure

Make list



Tape measure


Nicer biscuits - not Nice biscuits, they're horrible

To Do

make list *

* When you get to the end of the list, you're dead

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Statement Necklace

What statement is the statement necklace trying to make?

I am a very important necklace, so the woman I am wearing is obviously the most important woman in the room. She can afford me for a start and didn't notice or anyway care about people smirking as she held me up against her throat in the shop. And as original as any woman wearing a statement necklace.'
Somehow a statement necklace doesn't suit me. I'm not really strong enough to stand up to one. A yellow-gold and black collar borrowed from an African queen. A cape of red and amethyst wedges. A circle of orange stones guarded by deep spikes. A bold piece of armour bolted together in the B&Q hardware section.
I would like to be able to wear something which speaks louder than this silver chain with the little teacup pendant, which I suppose is saying, 'I'm not very good at jewellery, but I'd love a cup of tea, thanks.' But when I try on anything bigger I just look foolish, diminished and sidelined by my statement necklace.