Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Mary Gardens ,two in two weeks.

from Castle Bolton in Wensleydale 
In Castle Bolton I discovered a Mary Garden, planted in the last 12 months . I had never heard of one before . I was  intrigued to glimpse into the part that plants played in the life of the Medieval Christian (then Roman Catholic ) Church in England. Mary the mother of Jesus Christ and the legends about  her ,were woven into the culture and social history , warp and weft , of every person in the land whether or not they chose privately to dissent. 
Along with the Doctrine of Signatures, whereby the appearance of a plant and its likeness to parts of the body would lead to its use for curing that part ,so too some  plants were associated by their appearance with the life of Mary . 
So at Castle Bolton 68 different plants are growing each pertaining to Mary .

 I just loved the very thought that Lavender known as Mary's Drying Plant was so called because it got its scent after the baby Jesus's clothes were placed on it before they dried . I wonder that maybe Asafoetida had the reverse affect with His garments before they were washed .

Ladys Bedstraw, Carr Naze
I never knew that LadyBirds were known thus because of the benefits they bring, as in medieval
legend they came miraculously to save crops from Aphids . Their red colour is from Mary's Cloak and the 7 black spots (on the 7 spot Ladybird) represent Mary's 7 sorrows. 
Lady's Bedstraw, Gallium verum was thought to have been used as a preparation for the birth of Jesus, and used in His bedding . It was used too in medieval times to stuff mattresses as it contains a natural flea repellent .

Ive enjoyed reading the list of 68 plants at Castle Bolton . I've wondered at how my favourite Small Scabious could end up as Our Lady's Pincushion until I found the picture of one I took at Fountains Abbey.

 Friend Pam and I like a 'Quiet Day'. Saturday took us to Madonna House at Robin Hoods Bay  for a day of reflection , solitude if needed , and a chance to recharge ones Spiritual Batteries. The  Scarborough Ecumenical Group Crofters who organized the day , use this venue regularly .

And there it was . another Mary Garden .  

The Summer Gentian was not on the list of 68 plants for Castle Bolton , perhaps it was included because of the beautiful blue of the plant, a colour associated with Mary but I'm sure she never wore the colour as she was not rich or royal .

Summer Gentian , Mary Garden , Madonna House

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Caravan route to Thirsk

That is how  to go from Old Malton to Hovingham to Coxwold to Thirsk  and then Leyburn , we take the caravan route , not to avoid Sutton Bank, but just because its the scenic route and full of delightful surprises. The meeting point for the converging family cars was Jervaulx Abbey this year, always a treat , and this year we were blessed with sunshine and the free bench overlooking the park for our picnic.

It was a special Holiday for us, all the family in 4 different cottages in our very special place . We have been going to Leyburn for years and staying just off the Market Place in cottages overlooking Wensleydale towards Middleham . Its perfect, because for us , Leyburn is perfect. Ive known it all my life , as my father fished the Ure staying at the Cover Bridge inn for years in the 50s, and then the Rose and Crown ,Bainbridge in the 60s . His week away every May was the eager climax to a winter tying Mayflies and Brown and Olive Duns, and the one we children loved to hear him say , The Bloody Butcher. Its just a year since we found that my mother had never parted with the tins of trout flies, all hooked into disintegrating foam , and made by my father , who died in 1975.
Cover Bridge Inn, Ancient Order of Trout! OKA York Fly Fishers

Picture taken by my father in 1958 ish , l to r: Alan Crosby, Fred Farrow, Vic Leggett , Bob Dales and Colin Dales, my father Benjy Bruce took the photo. So Wensleydale was a very special family place, and is becoming so all over again as the next generations are already  planning another visit.

My father used to say that West Burton Falls were his favourite waterfalls of the many in Wensleydale. The Family found some no one had heard of , a short evening stroll from Leyburn at Harmby, and said they were lovely . Spouse and I however went with daughter 2 and family to West Burton falls  which I had never viewed before. If Id known how picturesque and charming , quiet and with easy parking I'd have got us there in earlier years. Now that spouse is not able to clamber or climb , West Burton with easy access and a seat, and no other people was just a joy for us all. I never realised how constraining health and mobility issues may be . (so recommend West Burton Falls for any one who has them and a car, though the great little White Dales Bus , the Wensleydale Explorer stops in the village )
West Burton Falls Wensleydale

Son in law from Brighton told of a guidebook to Wensleydale that he has that belonged to his parents, both Yorkshire Born. He told of the lovely illustrations and the interesting and well written text. So in every shop in Leyburn  and Hawes  I looked to see if he was talking of the books of Ella Pontefract , Marie Hartley and Joan Ingilby my heroines of the Yorkshire Dales, but could not find any of their  titles amongst the shelves heaving with brash photo books of Yorkshire Ghosts and Yorkshire , (not mentioning them incidentally , or Kit Calvert, but of Herriot and Hannah , worthy but accidentally so , the way of celebrity). 

Home in Filey my first task after completing the empty caravan route home  was to seek out the Hartley Woodcuts serving as the illustrations for the 1936 book Of Wensleydale by Ella Pontefract  . I hope that woodcuts come back into fashion, as they are labours of love. Marie Hartley  illustrating Joan Ingilbys text  in the 1950s had abandoned woodcuts for  black and white line drawings, which in  postwar modernism do not have the charm of the earlier medium  for me . 

Barbara Rattenbury nee Bowen  Woodcut

This is a poor repro (didnt want to unframe so glass shine)of my own woodcut done by friend of the family, and dear neighbour in Sutton on Hull,  Barbara Rattenbury nee Bowen . I've known this small woodcut for over 60years and love it. Its not Wensleydale of course , but a coastal location , I know not where.
I'm going back to my nurture/younger  years in other ways without being sans everything . On my allotment I am happily beginning to grow plants for Dyes. Wensleydale has nailed it , seeing all the wool caught on fences, which years ago I gathered and took home to use in class, as we boldly learned spinning and dyeing . A whole generation taught by me probably still remember when we were allowed to boil up onion skins and chemical mordants, when the classroom reeked , and we eagerly awaited for the stones and string to be removed from the pieces of cotton sheeting and beheld our creations Tied and Dyed. Its coming back to me , Ive made enquiries about getting a Spinning wheel for my dotage when I'm going to sit in the corner and be in no ones way . 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Analytical thinkers and Survey Monkey

I'm very surprised to find out that I am an analytical thinker. I think I might do another test and answer in different ways. I had so hoped to be an intuitive thinker, as that is how I perceive myself to be, especially where my botanising is concerned . I imagined that the hunter gatherer in me , hidden in  my mitochondrial DNA for  millennia made me a natural and intuitive recogniser of useful plants, for survival . Perhaps this trait in me is nothing to do with thinking but more to do with instinct, which seems to override both analytical and intuitive thinking , a sort of default.

So now I'm chewing over in my mind the recent Survey I was advised to complete for NPMS. I answered all the questions very quickly, you might argue intuitively. Now Im going back and wondering if my answers should have differed. 
These days its easy to have Survey Overkill, as all the coffee shops want to know which of the Baristas served one adequately, Hotels and Trip Advisor are quick to use ones data, and even the online shopping sites hope to take lots more orders if we do their market research and PR for them . Here in Filey where contactless means saying sorry when one bumps into someone there is no need for surveys as we all may shop in small shops where the service is good, ones name is remembered , and ones preferences recalled . 

An aside. I do miss our local greengrocer as she has moved on to  run a tearoom . I did like it when she used to have a glut of something like fennel or avocados or courgettes just going over , and would ask me what I would use them for . She gleaned knowledge and recipes which she passed on to her customers , and would  give  me old stuff rather that dump it , knowing that I could make soup or curry out of tough celariac or just going off mangoes.

Back to the NPMSs Survey . I can see that it is a very analytical way to check up on how well the first 2 years of the monitoring of the Wild Plants of Britain is going , and all those who have been allocated KM squares but not been able to do their surveys have an opportunity to opt out gracefully and their square can go back into the availability pool .
I completed my first 2016 Survey in June and its time to do my second /last one for the season . My bete noir is the identification of sedges and grasses, where only an analytical approach , using a key will give accuracy . I find using keys very difficult for these plants as the features are so small and all green , and the nomenclature a foreign country . So Yes , I need a further training course.

As for wishing that I was intuitive, no survey will get me really right. I know that this  woolly seedling is Mullein . 

But I also know that using my analytical skills it will grow into 


Friday, July 22, 2016

Trying not to cf.

Nothing to compare with this 

Here in the lea of the South Downs garden of  my youngest daughter is a flourishing Ginger plant, well thats what she says.  I am wondering whether its actually Tumeric as the leaves are quite broad, and the last time I did manage to get ginger growing from a rhizome it grew to about 30cm but had narrower leaves. I've got 5 bits of rhizome of Ginger in the greenhouse at the allotment today, and am hopeful. I have nothing to compare the plant with until the next time I get to the Chelsea Physic garden where both plants thrive in the new beds by the beehives.

This year the weather for growing things requiring high temperatures has been better than in 2015 , and we have had lots of night rain . I am hopeful that the row of Italian plum tomatoes which I have companion planted next to the Asparagus , will bear much fruit, they are doing so much better than all the greenhouse ones around. And I only planted them to ward off Asparagus Flea Beetle, have not watered them , nurtured them or fed them . I am disappointed that I've not managed to grow aubergines successfully either, I did have some fruit last year. The effort of actually growing them , feeding them and nurturing them to produce 3 tiny fruit was not worth it compared with buying 3 for 69p each in the local greengrocer. 
From left, Broad beans, Asparagus (hidden) Tomatoes, Asparagus, Broad beans

And so to Echiums.
I can happily report that the ones in the garden of other daughter are doing so well, and are so high that people are knocking on the door asking what they are.

See one peeping over the wall, at moment is at least 15' high. I see that someone in the Echium Plant sale business has started a website where people post their stats and compare their plants. I know that daughters one is tall, and she has four others , a veritable forest. I have considered that we need to keep  my daughter supplied with plants for the next 3 years, when the thousands of seedlings from the ones in the picture have germinated all over her garden . They take three years to flower, and then they die, a triennial rather than a biennial like Foxgloves. I have a tray of seedlings coming on nicely. A few years ago seedlings were coming up all along the path edge seen on this photo, but the first frost got them , as always happens , which is why I have to fleece them , and even then I sometimes am unsuccessful at getting them through the winter. I have a small Facebook Group called "WE got and Echium through the winter" where we encourage one another . Compared with all the other sites on Facebook its not in any way viral , just very Niche , if not Exclusive.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Yorkshire Fog and the death of Botany

Yorkshire Fog
The grasses are all at their very best . 
I have struggled to identify them all my  life. It's because I'm a lazy botanist . I know how to use keys, was trained to use  CTW* 50 years ago . Two  years ago , training again and updating my skills , am now au fait with Stace's New Flora of the British Isles and Roses The Wildflower Key . I know now that Fabiaceae is the new name of Leguminosae, but does it really matter?

 Taxonomic Botany , the Science of classifying and naming plants is now so high tech that it has largely been replaced in Academia by Genetics, and Biotechnology . Sometimes only DNA testing will name a species correctly(Water Crowfoot for example) as it fits in with the Data Bases of the present. New species and sub species,  and plant families are being discovered daily. The scientific journals of the BSBI were always very difficult to understand in the 70s when I first joined, but now I only look at the coloured pictures! 

Where does intuitive botanizing come into the identification processes? I am concerned that the Discipline called Botany, now no longer exists in any UK university . The first Oxford professor of Botany was awarded his chair in 1669. In 2013 the last undergraduates in Botany finished their course and graduated. (Bristol).
I was sent an article from the Guardian by my friend Win in Hove. So I have been giving much thought to Whats In a name. and how do you know .
  Michael McCarthy writes that 
'It is possible to complete a degree in Plant Sciences , without being able to identify a single British Wild Flower"

This lazy botanist is having to use Plant Keys from time to time with grasses, as my intuition just fails. I am grateful for the newly published book from The Species Recovery Trust , A Field Guide to Grasses, Sedges and Rushes. Its a picture book with key facts. I have been very anxious about Yorkshire Fog . My NPMS **Km Square includes Rocket Pole Field in Filey .which is nearly ALL grasses. I only have to record Indicator species . *** I have to get it right . BUT I am doing my best . 

When Jack Whitehead an expert local naturalist , and his colleagues , post pictures on the definitive Filey Nature Facebook pages they are using acquired knowledge through years of experience, as well as Floras, to go
through the identification processes. They use the delightful Common Names . What is more, they are publicising the species that we are thrilled to see in Filey . 
And Never a day passes when a picture of the Common Spotted Orchid or the Pyramidal Orchid is posted on the ordinary Facebook accounts of Filey for us all to enjoy.  
Here I stand with Michael McCarthy . It doesn't matter that Botany may have breathed its last, but the plants endure, and not only has Kew become a global voice for Plants and threats to species, but here in a little corner of North Yorkshire Plants have got friends . I hope that students in Filey will make the Orchids their starting point and learn the names of the local Flora by default . That is how I started, spending hours sitting by the rivers in North Yorkshire being quiet, as my father fished for Trout and Grayling, and looking up "Policemans Helmet "and insect names in to dispel the boredom .

Policemans Helmet (Impatiens glandulifera)
So I knew that Yorkshire Fog was Yorkshire Fog really , as it looks like its name , especially in the half light . 

And Policeman's Helmet ,  an Invasive plant species , so those like  Tim Burkinshaw, (far left  ), Biodiversity and Wetlands Officer for our local council**** are doing a great job raising awareness of its threat, and advising of ways to control it.

*Clapham, Tutin and Warburg.Flora of the British Isles
**National Plant Monitoring Scheme 
*** Plants which indicate the integrity of a Habitat. 
**** Scarborough Borough Council

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Whats App and Avocets

There is a dot on the island here. It is an avocet . I walked to Filey Dams and went in the hide and spotted it easily even with my 10x25mm Field 5.8 binoculars (whatever that means). If I had arrived an hour earlier , the bird would have been 10m away at other side of hide. I was however thrilled to see it from a distance , and thankful that the experienced birder already in the hide could point it out to me. Its only the second one I have ever seen as I am just a beginner birder. I have been trying to find my childhood copy of a paperback 'Birdwatching for beginners' Bruce Campbell 1952 but its gone . I've only got Malcolm Saville's 1946 'Seaside Scrap-book for Boys and Girls'. Those of us growing up when paper was scarce, had books  whose quality of paper  was deemed War Economy Standard . So we treasured the few books we had .  
We were not bombarded with info , pictures , vids and musak and allaround colour in the 1950s. We had no TV in the day time except for the Woodentops et al  after lunch for 15 mins. It didn't seem a colourless world  , the hues were in our neighbourhoods, gardens  ,skies and geraniums , delphiniums , glace cherries ,Omo roses and tin buckets and spades. No wonder we all loved Hull Fair and Bonfire night , so much brash colour to look forward too. 
Now  Information Super Highways are called something else, every small child can use a smart phone for app amusement when Mum is chatting to a friend for real, instead of chatting to her friend online whilst small child gives up asking questions. Noise is everywhere, paper is so cheap that wrapped goods are the norm , and restaurants all have to give away colouring sheets and hats and the postman delivers useless adverts in high colour for Farm Foods when we don't have one within 10 miles. 
AND YET I AM VERY GRATEFUL FOR WHATS APP. This marvellous way of communicating with colour, pictures, vids, and the spoken word across the internet at little  cost is uniting not only families like mine instantly and inclusively. That is as  long as a smart phone is at both ends . AND Now it is working a treat for the Birders and Nature lovers of Filey . Not only was I alerted to the Avocet, but the last few weeks have also reported sightings of a Spoonbill, a Bluethroat, flocks of this and that passing through Filey , vast swarms of the Cabbage pest the Diamond Backed Moths, the fledging of the first House Martins and assorted Warblers . If there is one way to get me into birding big time its a message that something is at The Dams or on Carr Naze or East Lea . These messages are not from Twitchers , the train spotters of the Bird World , but of knowledgeable , interested enthusiasts , ecologists, who are not ticking off species but making valuable contributions to the Scientific Data of our Coast and training up the next generation . If only we could find a way of getting children and young people  to join FBOG or the Small Mammal Trapping Sessions  or get them out and about on the Country park with Field Glasses . A promise of cake and drink at the Country park Cafe might do it , but we need to wean them off their Roblox Studio, Minecraft and Xboxes for an hour or so.
 A biologist friend of mine in Filey taking groups of Filey Schoolchildren on to the beach to look at Marine Life and seaweeds  was astonished to find that when asked , many of the children said they  had never been on the beach before .

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


Hope and Ruin

 Hope and ruin ' (Brighton)is a great name for a Pub , but was formerly called The Hope  which seems an odd name for a Pub anyway , unless it was once a Hope and Anchor. This is London by the sea  of course and this venue is open until 2am ever day and serves vegan food. It might do well in Filey as long as it served chips .
In Putney I liked the name of the  latest hoping to do well Cocktail bar. Its also open until the small hours  at least at weekends ,  with music , but no food, so hungry punters will have go to Pretos first .

I had just completed a week of Guided Prayer with a mentor, leading me  to think of Lectio divina, before coming away to London and Brighton. The contrast between the week of quiet and contemplation and the week of noise and contemplation  was not as stark as it could have been . Years of living in London did teach me to find soul food in the bustle. I can sit on a bus or tube and enjoy every minute as long as I have a seat , so fascinating to hear all the languages spoken , and the tourists  wondering where to get off, and the nannies with buggies all trying to fit in , but this only works for me if I find a green space , with  few people to recharge.

This year , though I lived 2 miles away and didn't know it, we found Fulham Palace and  gardens . Colin grew up 2 miles from Putney Bridge and never knew the place either.
Fulham Palace garden

I'm writing this watching the Chelsea Flower Show on BBC.
There's no way I could cope with the crowds there any more than I can cope with the daytrippers in Filey when the suns out, taking up all the pavements with so many dogs . People are the lifeblood of cities and towns however, and the  economy depends on them.
The Countryside doesn't manage itself, no more do the urban Green spaces like Fulham Palace gardens, but  both need to be a huge part of my SOUL FOOD, keeping me topped up with HOPE and away from RUIN.

A few quirky pics to complete my travelogue.

 Smart car covered in what looked like grass passes our bus stop at the Green Man Pub Putney .

 Green wall on this pub in Brighton , one day I WILL have one on my allotment shed roof!
If only!!
The Lords Prayer is still in the family.

 The cushion department in Peter Jones never fails to please.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Lots to be thankful for

Whats App for Birders
I was going to grouse about the patronising ticket collector here on Hull Trains but wont .*

I am thankful because

  • I instructed eldest child last night on the art of cutting Asparagus. She will have to take the spears this week so that more will come. I am actually excited at the thickness of the stems and the fact that I have kept the ridge weed free and watered , even though we have had no rain to speak of for 4 weeks. 
  • There is still standing water in the fields between Filey and Beverley , and in some places these near  scrapes are now temporary home to many vagrant birds,I saw an Avocet from the train window, what a treat! 
  • The latest FBOG/Grapevine  initiative  is great . I  receive sightings  of bird traffic through Filey on Whats App. You will be interested that I can report 4 Buzzards through East Lea an hour ago, and a Bluethroat last week .(I have always wanted to see a Bluethroat)
  • I like the new clock in Paragon Station 
  • Last week , a very busy one with the daily trips to irrigate my parched plot, I did an ecumenical  course in Filey at the Convent . Every day I saw a Spiritual Director who helped me to sort my Prayer Life out . It was the perfect run up to Pentecost. It sat well alongside the Archbishops' initiative Thy Kingdom Come .  I feel and know that it did me good!
  • I have started to wear my sandals 
  • LBNL the fields are looking so organized and full of potential. Spouse has just told me to look out of the window at a particularly attractive field of Potatoes, red soil of the fens , miles of farmland to each horizon . He knows me so well. 

Oh !I just have !
 He needs to remember that seniors may have their tickets and rail cards all ready on the table for him in the very same way as juniors could. We are not brain dead, or slow or thoughtless, but accommodating and forward thinking .

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Spiralizers and sycophants

I want the sycophants of Filey to like my neat spirals of butternut squash and carrot and courgettes as this family tries to enter the world of PC eating.

Don't believe that at all ! 
Ive bought one and I've tried it . Yes, it is very easy to use, every teacher , parent and child can use one because its just a giant pencil sharpener for softer things than wood and graphite, with a lethal Japanese blade and instructions to take care. Thankfully the one I bought cost less than £10 and might just come in useful for summer salads. Butternut squash masquerading as Pasta , I think not !

How easy it is for us all to jump on  bandwagons . I saw Mary Berry using a spiralizer  on TV so thought if she , sensible family  woman found it useful , so would I . She probably received a free one if she used in on TV, and anyway she is always cooking up feasts for her large family and acquaintances and seems to have plenty of housekeeping money and good health  considering how much butter, sugar and best steak and fish she uses. In contrast , I am cooking for one spouse every day , friends some days , and a family at occasional weekends . I have to avoid sugar, fat , limit purines (all meats),  bread and nuts , and all processed food all the time . Those are the base lines. It would take a team of Mary Berrys to cook up delicious meals every day , on a budget, with my parameters set by Filey Surgery .

Yesterday we had a curries  of Dahl and Hard boiled eggs , (Chicken type) Quorn Madras  and rice with plenty of Pataks Brinjal pickle for me. Spinach and rice  pie has become a staple. I am wonderful at transforming a tin of Red Beans into a chilli, and making thick soups to fill us up .Ive lost count of the times I've boiled up stalks and parings , odd bits from the allotment and made vegetable stock . Even then I need ginger or curry leaves to make a variation as a base for soups. I cant imagine life without tomato puree and onions .Oh! for Fish and Chips, olive oil, and pizza. Thank God I'm not having to cope with cooking for someone with IBS as well as my already narrow ingredient list. Thankfully we live in the 1st world,where we lack no good thing. 
Its just that I stupidly thought buying a spiralizer would widen up our choices . 

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Spring has sprung ,the grass is riz ..

We are on our way to London by the Sea *, and then London . In Brighton many people do not celebrate any Christian Festivals , so Its Happy Winter Holiday, Happy Winter Solstice ,  Happy Spring and  Happy Vernal Equinox. That is ALL PERFECTLY CORRECT. The seasons and the turning year have been vital loci and the Cycle of the Year,and have been so before Abraham was called out of Ur. For those of us in Temperate Regions of the Earth  I feel we are blessed to have four distinct 'Seasons', with or without Vivaldi and Robert Herrick.
This year we have not had a proper Winter on our Filey Allotments. 
  • The frosts have not come so all the slugs have been chomping away on my chard 
  • The water in the baths has not frozen so my duckweed mistake has not cleared up. Here I explain . I have a small pond , well actually a washing up bowl sunk into a cold corner behind the greenhouse. It was accidentally  colonised by 3 pieces of duckweed when I was careless in acquiring some frogspawn last Spring . I netted it all out into the water baths , but now my 3 pieces is now 3000 . I was hoping to have a goldfish or two in my water baths . I try to keep them on my plot as they eat some duckweed, and the mosquito and midge larvae which I hate , being  one who just cant afford to be bitten , and why I never go to Scotland after May . 
  • The grass on the paths has had to be mown since February
  • Geoff ,two plots away has overwintered some huge Echiums in his cold frame without fleece
  • The Green manure Phacelia is germinating nicely already between the rows of Autumn Fruiting raspberries
Self righteously I have sifted through every plant pot in our back yard which bear only last years compost and the remnants of the Pelargoniums and V bonariensis which never made it through . I'm blaming the Vine weevils which I have delighted to find like treasure and abandon to the Starlings on a saucer. 
Bernard has been at work in the greenhouse with Jeyes Fluid. I am self righteous for him , modest as he is with his thoroughness. 

He wants me to clean out the water baths but I am pretending I have not heard him. I have found dozens of Water Shrimps,Gammerus pulex swimming happily , where they have multiplied from the one or two which were hiding in the duckweed, and a surprising number of StoneFly larvae. I always hope for the ephemeral and thus eponymous Mayfly larvae , remembering a childhood of watching for them to emerge as adults by the River Dove (off )at Kirkby Moorside  and thus enable my father to tie the trout fly with the three tails . I am intrigued by the title of the newly published How to read water (from puddles to the sea). Its a book with my name on it. 

Its all change on Filey Allotments as plot holders move to smaller or larger bits of land , and we all settle into new relationships with our new neighbours. It doesn't take long to realise where one fits in the lines of measure, where 10 is optimum 
  • Tidy to messy line 7
  • Pristine to ragged edges 1
  • Quality of  maintenance of sheds 2(I have a new roof)
  • Provision for disposal of perennial weeds 10 (incinerator)
  • Provision for disposal of of rubbish 10 (Bernard and I take it all home)
  • Condition of soil 10
  • Condition of boundary fencing 3
  • Efficiency of water storage 7 (yet to put drainpipe on greenhouse)
  • Brilliance of planting schemes 10 in my eyes, 
  •  nod to companion planting 9 
  • microhabitats 10
  • Tidiest water bath lids 1(neighbour is 10+)

By doing the no-dig cultivation I hope to eradicate all weeds on my plot. Its very hard for me to weed. I did my Thesis on WEEDS, and they fascinate me to the point of tedium for others. Last year I was delighted when a Black Spotted Medick Medicago arabica appeared without permission amongst my Chard with several Violas and a Lobelia seedling , until I realised that my meticulous allotment partner emptied all his bedding plant containers and garden pots from home into our compost heap. My thick mulch round the Chard row had housed the seeded anomalies much to my delight . I am wondering where the piece of info that Twitch grass is killed by secretions from the Mexican Marigold has actually come from and whether it helps me at all .
So Im leaving you with a picture of a  tiny Pearlwort the weed of the Filey Pavements . I like it ,but it is an invasive species, and walking on it in trainers may transport the seeds everywhere.
*post started 2 weeks ago .

Friday, March 18, 2016

Get it mapped, Hull!

'Why not walk it map ' 
Been thinking about how great it was in London when the 2012 Olympics spawned some great spin offs for plebs and nerds like me.

I’m still using the excellent Transport for London ‘Why not walk it maps? These showed 10 min,15min, 20min and 25 min walks from concentric circles from a London Station .

I hope Hull already is past  thinking about it stage for its free maps. They will get people walking and show just how near all the venues and varied places of interest.
2013 free Hull Travel Maps now outdated 
Those given out a couple of years ago are great , but the bus numbers have all changed.

The Bus transport system in Kingston upon Hull is fantastic. Make the most of it!

The Interchange is efficient ,  but its coffee shops are awful-bring some better coffee in please ! I always have to walk over to Hammonds (House of Fraser), but the ambient noise and MUSAK in there is an assault on my senses.

  *NB .Croydon has tackled fights and nuisance at its trouble hot spots in West Croydon Bus Station, a minute from the area where there were riots ,by playing the gentlest of Classical Music . It must have a calming effect or they would not use it . 

The new online maps of Kingston on Hull  are OK . However , one in your rucksack can be much more manageable , and at present would attract a much wider take-up . I do all I can to find hotspots and places to recharge my phone, and  have a solar powered phone charger but nothing beats a piece of paper for me when walking around . Or put free charging stations in all coffee shops! Please Kingston upon Hull City Council  just update the fantastic maps you published in 2013.  I have known the city for over 60 years and am only just learning the street names around what is now termed (rightly) Fruit Market Area. Great little bus there from the Interchange too, as I accompany friend who cannot walk far, but it took lots of research since all the numbers have changed . Listen please, we have money to spend in the new Cafes, and will come again with more punters . 

Out of the corner of my eye yesterday I saw 2 painted gable ends . Well Done Hull , I’m ready to go and see them right now . I've always thought such street Art defined Belfast culture, and excited even further Brighton's and London's. 
Whilst Pickering is looking for vast funds to renovate its medieval wall paintings , the cost of actually painting new wall paintings on 21st Century walls in Kingston upon Hull has much more appeal to me . I remember sort of seeing the Doom painting high up in a Coventry church near the new cathedral  and wondering what all the fuss was about , whereas in your face new ones can be photographed for later touch ups instead of agonizing in expensive conservation . Please map them ! I do understand that maps go out of date very quickly . I'm hoping that in the years 2016 to 2017 and then onwards you will just update them every 6 months or so rather than printing millions the first time. 
These days , all my posters and downloadable graphics and stationery that I  designed  in Publisher for Word or Pages for Mac are stored for future use, and its never been easier . 
I'm just an amateur , you not telling me that the firm  who produced the 2013 Bus maps do not have a them all stored!! 
Better still use a Kingston upon Hull firm , or get the local Graphics students on to it . I hope that the hundreds of children taught by me to use Publisher in 2002 to 2007 in Hilderthorpe Junior School Bridlington will have still retained their skills.and updated them as DTP becomes so much easier. Even my under 12 grandchildren are about to learn coding . 
Outsourcing is all very well , but its time for my city to  show the rest of the world what it can do .

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Spray Can Mural

Would someone please tell me where this great mural is hiding ?

Just found it on Google Images by searching for SoHO.Its in Posterngate .

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Not being thankful

I'm pleased with myself. I've put all my OS Maps in numerical order and the right way up. I have very many more maps ,I love them . When Kirsty asks me what book Im taking on my Desert Island I am going to ask for the complete set of OS Landranger Maps.  I wouldn't mind a set of the Old 1 Inch to 1 Mile  as they take up less room . The OS have just released a digital map of Mars. I want it but don't need it. I am trying very hard not to buy books and maps . Google Earth is great , online text is sort of great , but one cannot replace the feel of paper , or parchment in the case of the Laws of the land, and hand crafted Title Deeds . 
I've enjoyed sorting my maps. Its a perfect wet weather occupation when spouse is watching Come Dine With Me or Rising Damp . I am near enough to hear that he's watching a re run of a re run of a re run, but far enough  away to be still a companion . So  S A D have I been, even with Brazil Nuts, that I have actually resorted to tidying and filing . Thankfully when it stops raining I  take my compost Bin Veg and fruit peelings  to the Allotment and sojourn there awhile in the Greenhouse looking at my rows of Leeks and Shallots and Garlic, and wishing that the Saffron Crocuses would look a bit more like the £12  I stupidly paid for them in my insomniacal spree on Amazon . Yesterday I took Cleo the borrrowed Westie up on the Country Park for the afternoon in the sunshine and sodden grass and deep mud. I looked over the bay , and saw such a change in Carr Naze as the winter erosion has deepened all the Run -off -gulleys in the Boulder Clay .

It wont be long now , well 3 months only , before I start my 2016 Plant Surveys again for NPMS. By then my allotment will be working hard to supply our vegetables , fruit , flowers and sanity. I will have got past this Doldrums period, where all the books I've read have been boring *.

For the last 8 months the furtherest I have been is Sutton in Holderness just 38 miles away . I have never been so near home for so long. Its all part of being a dutiful wife to a dear man .He cannot go anywhere much at present until the NHS either treat him or say NO to treatment . We can then get on with our exciting Life Together.   Small jaunts to exhibitions in London are perfectly manageable but trips abroad no longer are , and wild countryside and windswept Scottish Islands are a memory on Picasa.
So I've been and bought a map of Herefordshire. I've never been .  I've convinced spouse that the Mappa Mundi will be interesting and we can take some bus trips on our Passes along the Wye and Lugg valleys. Well be fine in the  Premier Inn, and I can get us there easily  with 2 changes on the train. My first Deputy Head at Belleville Junior Girls School , the redoubtable Miss Midwinter, came from Hereford and as this young teacher was jetting off to Norway and Austria she told me how lovely it was in her home county  , and I have remembered.
1972 revision

1989 revision
And here a puzzle for you if you too are BORED with Feb .Two Landranger maps of same area, my old one from 1970s and new one from 1990s.

*I've read 4 of the British Library Crime Classics so lauded in the press. They were OP because they were awful  , why did no one tell them , a case of the Emperors New Clothes of fiction .