Monday, October 17, 2016

Dear Dave


I was planting a few Wallflowers in front of your Blackcurrant bushes, and weeding so that I won't let you down by a lack of tidiness on the border next to Brian's Rhubarb. You never told me about your Woodmouse. I must have disturbed her.  She kept us all interested as we quietly watched her for half an hour until she went home when we had turned to look at the Comfrey bed. The family had all arrived to inspect my new allotment  , where I am steward, and you were creator. Small boys , though I wont be able to say that for much longer , as Zak is as Tall as me now, and Reuben as verbal . They ran round the plot , up and down all the paths, saying it was brilliant, and we could have a Barbie, and the sheds are amazing . Their Dad gave them a lecture on health and safety and railway lines , and their Mum sat in one of your plastic chairs on the shed base you constructed. She was glad to sit and see their Grandmother was absorbed and occupied and their Grandfather more than happy to walk slowly to the site  and look at the view and make tea. 

Ive done quite a bit in my haphazard and yet planned manner. One bed is already sporting a 2" growth of Phacelia. It didn't rain at all for the first 12 days of my tenure. I had the pleasure of walking every evening and watering . I even had to fill the baths up , never done that in October before. 
Ive also planted a Wildflower Meadow in the bed next to the K**e .Two packets of Chiltern Seeds Special Pollen and Nectar Meadow Mixture only covered half the bed. Ive measured it now , 8 square metres, so have bought another 2 packets  and 2 packets of extra Yellow Rattle.  I'm not going to buy a Scythe or take the scything lessons I saw advertised in the Summer Edition of the Plantlife Magazine , but i'll manage my Meadow according to HRH guidelines but I'm calling it a Micro Meadow. 
Heres the list from the Catalogue
 I might ditch the Strawberries Dave! The ones on the ground I mean . I'm planning to grow more Dye Plants . The Irton manure man  John and his wife , have said I may have the wool from their Soay Sheep , and though I know it wont need to be dyed, it will get me into Spinning again  . Here I admit it was nearly 50 years since I last used a Spinning Wheel , I am planning to buy one and take lessons . Eventually !Eventually! Eventually ! I do plan to have all my Dye plants ready for when I'm proficient again and have bought in white fleece .

I'm hoping to keep my new plot in the pristine order you left it. I've tidied up my other tiny plot next door . I've finished the last 2016 cut of your Comfrey bed and tipped it into my barrel of fertiliser soup  . Im going to be very careful with the end of the plot near the Railway line and watch for MaresTail . As Bernard has managed to  mostly eradicate it from our joint plot, I will burn every bit that I see and make sure that the ground is covered to suppress it. 

So best wishes to you and Jen, wherever in the world you are now. THANK YOU  for YOUR WONDERFUL PLOT!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The promise of Flowers #Hull2017

Last New Years Day I set out to record all the wildflowers IN FLOWER , and post the pics to BSBI Twitter using the hash tag #NewYearPlantHunt . It was great way to have an objective walk on the Country Park . I enjoyed it , but found few flowers. This little Speedwell being one of the 16 I found, a poor showing compared with some of the pics sent to Twitter, but the walk was still a delight as the Country Park was flooded and I spotted wading birds at close range , usually at the Dams or on the beach .

This coming New Year 2017 is already planned. Not able to go to Hull Fair this week I am thinking of what I have to look forward to . Half term is soon upon us, I've planted my onion sets , more leeks , a Wildflower Meadow (only 1 m by 4 m but  mine own), am about to wrap up the Echium and look for my winter berets. We've already had the log burner on in the evenings with the new supply of kiln dried Ash Logs from the Dalby Forest, and I will be making Parkin soon for Bonfire Night . I live on the coast but have not been on the actual beach once this year, time has just fugitted in a productive year of Allotment , Plant surveys and our active Social Life of hospital, doctors , another hospital, clinic, and chemists. 
SO NEW YEAR 2017 is going to be GREAT.

  • Three generations including aunts and grandchildren are meeting in Hull on December 31st . I might even drive !!
  • Four adults and 2 children will go to the Hull Truck for the matinee of Treasure Island on that afternoon . Four adults, 2 children and 2 aunts including the Kingston upon Hull one will book into our rooms in the Premier Inn Tower Street . We love it . Views across the Humber , the River Hull , the city of Kingston upon Hull, King Billy, The Deep, Saltend , Victoria Dock -we have a ringside seat . 
  • We will enjoy our meal on New Years Eve in the inhouse restaurant Thyme  . Small boys will already be planning their meals .
  • Good nights sleep guaranteed 
  • New years Day 2017 , start of the Year Of Culture 2017 , which has already been going on for a year or so . The day will be spent as we like , Morning Service at Holy Trinity , concert on BBC from Vienna , a walk round the Old Town  , we'll see. Spouse and I have never even been to the Deep yet . 
  • 8.17 pm . We will all watch the Firework Display that promises a spectacular start to the Year of Culture . Spouse will watch from the 6th floor of the Premier Inn , we might too, or see where the Ticketed venue is. (Tickets Not released yet)
  • Next day , Small boys and parents depart. 
  • WE might  drive to Sunk Island and Stone Creek followed by lunch in Patrington and a walk round the Queen Of Holderness 
  • before doing the 'Made In Hull' Installation in the City Centre , as it gets dark
  • Another night in the rooms with views BUT 

One thing is certain . This New year I will be doing my New Year plant Hunt again and tweeting the pics with #NewYearPlantHunt . Ive already spotted the place with loads , right next to the Premier Inn 

Bit of Botanists Heaven from Premier Inn

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

#Hull City of Culture 2017 (two) Yes, I was made in Hull !

I am poised, Credit Card ready,  Family pre-warned , Family agreed, Family poised for when at 8.30 am on ticket release day  I shall let Hull Know that we want tickets for the Firework Display on January 1st which kick starts the #Hull City of Culture 2017 big time.

In fact this City of K U Hull Girl has planned a 3day City visit for the family , the London Born, the Scarborough Born, the Oldham Born and the Kingston Upon Hull born . My sisters and I are really going to say ,

Ive been blogging about Hull since my first tentative post in 2006, when I was working using Dial- up and had not even got a Digital Camera let alone a smartphone. 
I'd only been able to use the internet since when  in 1997 each classroom in school was given a Computer .  I even remember the Head coming to me one morning and saying he'd just discovered a wonderful search engine called Google! We used Yahoo before that . 
I was  started on my journey to computer literacy  in Hull too. I've just found my certificate certifying that I'd followed a programme of study in Introduction to Information Technology  at Humberside University campus in June 1997 . 
So nearly 20 years later I find myself with a houseful of devices , Plusnet, 2Macs, 2 PCs, an old netbook, a Raspberry Pi and a second career as PA to Computer illiterate family members.who receive e messages on my email account.  The Grandchildren, however, who have been using my devices since they  could reach the keyboard for Jeux Poisson Rouge are now disappearing upstairs to the office and returning with imovies they've done on the Minimac. I find compositions on Garage Band in my Files and they've moved on from Minecraft to Utube and they are leaving me behind with their expertise . Each time  I open my MacAir  a new login dialogue box will be there under mine to allow  MinorMayhem  or Rooreviewer to log in . 

My G grandfather would have seen these
The #Hull City of Culture is the first time for me then that a whole year event  is being organized using the best of  the  technology of DIGITAL AGE . I applaud you ! Yes it was great that even here in the outpost that is Filey ,(once in the East Riding) , Look North , from Leeds  was featuring #Hull2017 on 22nd September, all the forth estate seemed to be shouting Hull , and my pride just swelled and swelled.  #fb and Twitter posts from the Hull Daily Mail and #Hull2017 kept appearing on Social Media . I was well informed.

So Ive bought tickets for The Hypocrite,( I'm looking now at the woodcut of Sir John Hotham on my office wall), with the delightful miniature of Hull in the corner ,heading this post .

I've opened my account ready for Firework Tickets, booked the wonderful  Premier Inn in Tower Street and am going to bed hoping that at on the release  morning the website will just let me on before I start another  busy day .

Made in Hull, I certainly was, 70 years of my HISTORY . I'm thinking of registering an interest in the Community Brand,  after all I want to do my vicarious bit  for the 47 models . 

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 .