Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Still Growing

I've not been up to the plot for a week, but I'm sure that everything will have grown even more. 
My Echiums are sending up their flower spikes and that is a worry ,as as the first frost normally kills the Echiums unless they are frost protected. 
I have covered them with  fleece and put a piece of perspex on the top. A waste of time really as the flower spike is growing so fast on this one pictured that its moving the top. 
Im going to have to start all over again and redo all of them just before the onset of the first frost as its predicted on my BBC APP weather for Filey . 
The Shallots and Garlic have made great growth on the plot, and I was picking the last of the Sugar snap peas a few weeks ago.
I read in the Times yesterday that daffodils were in full bloom in Maidenhead. Father (Died 1975) always gave Mother a bunch for Christmas flown in from the Channel Isles not from mainland UK.
So I Might be interested to see what I can find in flower in Ordnance Survey km square TA1281 when I go for my 3 hour plant in flower spotting walk on New Years Day 

Friday, November 06, 2015

Hull City of Culture 2017 (one)

The first of occasional blog posts ,  a contribution to the preparations of my home city as it becomes 

I'm going to be kind about Kingston upon Hull. The City of Culture for 2017 is just my favourite City north of the Humber , west of Leeds and south of Newcastle. I have known it for 68 years and 8 months and 17days. I love its potential and I love its blatant  cheek. Its so needs to be City of Culture 2017 and most of all its people  need to stop complaining about the City Council, the fat Cats owning derelict land, the state of Edwin Davis's, the bad Town planning of the 1960s and 70s and just RISE ABOVE IT and start being positive.

I've been watching the billboarding as one comes into Paragon from all other stations in the country. There we have it. For like Bristol and Oban one can only go into Kingston on Hull on the train . The Scarborough to Sheffield train goes into Hull and out again . A hundred and 20 years ago Hull was a thoroughfare for migrants from Baltic States, and  my own economic migrant Great Grandfather,  Benjamin John Elder Bruce . Having been Chief Waterworks Engineer for the City of Hull in the 1870s he  took all his large family to New York in the 1890s, with the exception of my grandfather who was an Engineer on Wilson line .(Later Ellerman Wilson Line). The platform for Migrants travelling through Hull to Liverpool is still there at Paragon Station. 

My credentials and right to speak -
  • born in Albert Avenues Ingarvie Nursing home before the NHS. Brought into the world by my aunt , a Midwife who volunteered and gave her time freely to help her sister peri and post natally . Born in the year that saw a huge rise in births after the war . 
  • born as eldest of  a family of 5 who rented a small flat in Marlborough Avenue, rather than live with in -laws in a city where bombing had razed to the ground all social housing on a scale never seen before. 
  • born into a City still reeling from the devastation and trauma of years of war whose only consolation was that it was known, though never allowed to glory in being ,just A city on the East coast
  • Educated at Cavendish Road Primary School and the innovative and bold Scheme tried but failed called, Greatfield High School with 3 schools on campus, Newton Hall. Shakespeare Hall and Elizabethan Hall
  • Nurtured by a local family , encouraged, and affirmed. A child taken to the New Theatre to see Opera and Ballet in the afternoon matinees.
  •  Taught to appreciate the local area, from Holderness to the Wolds and walked round Old Hull and shown interesting pre war remnants .
  • A teenager  who spent Saturdays going to the Library in Albion Street and the City Hall for the Halle and had a season ticket for  Hull Choral Union, whose best friend's Dad worked at Reckitts and had read more books than I'd even heard of and could talk on any subject .
  • A young person who discovered Ferens Art Gallery in the days when the cafe was upstairs, and  coffee out in Fields was a treat , and who was not allowed to go to the milk bar (I ask u!) near Whiting and Pitts where all the incrowd of the 6th form went  or the Locarno where everyone else went . 
  • Someone who has lived away from Hull and returned to appreciate it , having an informed perspective
I left home as soon as I could,   and went alone to work in London , getting a flat with a girl from college who I barely knew , and worked , married and lived there for years . A City of Culture I really know about , I return to the Capital as often as I can . I know what Kingston upon Hull could be as a Culture Hub. London it will never be, why would anyone want it to be something its not ? Its a unique , historic, gutsy city, and I'm going  to give it some encouragement of of my own  over the next 13 months  before 2017. 

Larkin Statue
Hull Blitz
Toads and Larkin
Weekend in Hull

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Well I was warned about insomnia !

Saffron Crocuses

This has been an exciting week in our household .
Rhubarb Chard
It peaked on Wednesday evening with the final of GBBO*. I had never seen much of the programme before, spouse had , as he made me buy an orange top in M and S which he liked on Mary . I wore it twice and gave it away , it was just not me , or Mary as she only wore it once according to my telly critic husband. When I'm out on the allotment he sometimes rests from his book and I come in to find Come Dine With Me is having an unashamed airing in our sitting room . My men seem to like cookery programmes, and I don't take it as a hint as I'm quite good at cooking, just bored with it after 45 years of dinners. Last Sunday daughter and I made our men come out for Sunday lunch to one of the Filey no frills Pubs. It was all on the plate for £6 and just delicious. It made such a change for me too, and the small boys loved it and the Pool Table . 
I remember my Aged P saying that she just couldn't think of what to cook , and it had become a chore. I'm not at that stage yet, but I am finding it difficult to cope with all the dietary restrictions suggested by the Filey Surgery for my spouse. The latest one is no purines. I am  a Biology teacher by training and yet had no idea what PURINES were. The Cardiologist told me to google it , and do my best so that GOUT would be limited in its appearances. I'm having a go at reducing our meat intake , not really a hardship : My vegetarian recipes are all so time consuming , however delicious the outcome, and I'm thanking God for Quorn which was just not around when my teenagers were going through a vegetarian Stage. 
Free seeded 
Weighing up , in my many sleepless nights ,the rows on my allotment which cause me  to rethink what to grow. I have for many years grown rows and rows of Swiss Chard and Rainbow Chard. The freezer is full of it. Of course its the simplest vegetable to grow and always looks attractive , even in the Flower Border. Its just that it needs to be eaten within a day of picking , unless put in a vase of water. and  though I have a list of friends who like to have some , unless they live on my walk home I'm too tired to divert to deliver some.  I will not grow so much chard then . It free seeds easily , and the best plants are often the ones that have .  So next year I will leave one of each of the best plants to seed themselves , red , green and pink and orange.
Sleepless nights have made me plan purine free and tasty vegetarian meals using the 4 aubergines which are my total crop for 2015 , and devise tasty soups where all the endless Runner beans are pureed and ordered to reinvent themselves with mint and peas. Spouse says he's had enough Green soup , even with mustard added.
Sleepless nights too have cut down the blackberry , weeded between the raspberries and rhubarb , ordered more manure and sharpened and cleaned the shears. Sleepless nights with the addition of anxiety have made sure all the Horsetails are pulled out without dropping a single bit ,and put  the incinerator bin . Allotment partner has nearly eradicated his ,with his patent method involving wire wool and weed killer-dont ask !
Sleepless nights , I was once warned , may lead to taking actions that are regretted in the light of day . Its such a shame that I know my Amazon password even in the small hours, and even more of a shame that Amazon knows my Visa Card number even in the middle of the night .Its a shame that my phone , neatly backlit does not disturb sleeping bedfellow as I do half an hour of Facebook and see that friend has planted a row of Crocus sativus on her allotment so that she may harvest some Saffron .
The parcel arrived yesterday ;25 neat autumn flowering Saffron Crocuses which in the middle of the night I bought and paid for . I planted them today hoping they will autumn flower , and that I will be able to give my friends some saffron on the way home. Ive got lots of Saffron in the Spice cupboard. I buy it every time I go to the Chinese Supermarket in Scarborough. My children bring it back from Spain for me. I always forget to use it now that I use the ready cooked 2minute Microwave rice.
Next time I  am sleepless I will look out for a recipe for Saffron buns , or maybe  I wont .

*Great British Bake Off

Saturday, September 12, 2015

From Everlasting to Everlasting

I'm listening to the Dream of Gerontius. It is the perfect mix of melancholy and hope . I'm feeling maudlin with due reason , as my Aged Parent died a good death last night. For the 9 years of this Blog I've often written about my trips to Beverley to visit her , take her to Communion, to Tesco's , to the Hospital , to the bank , and then just to see her. 
This perfect little town, a hours drive across the Wolds from here, has been a welcome and interesting stimulus for putting thoughts to e-paper. I drive  from Filey,through Hunmanby ,Burton Fleming, Kilham, Driffield and Leconfield. I was going to say I know every hedge and pond, but it would be better to say I know every place where the speed cameras catch One. I know that most of the way I have to drive quite slowly as the potholes at the edges of these country roads are lethal, I've already had to have the Volvos suspension( if thats the word) seen to. It could be that I went over the bumps on the allotment road too quickly, but I blame the stretch of road between Kilham and Rudston. On my return journeys from mother when I drove past the site of the Roman Villa on the Kilham to Rudston Road, always stopped and admired the view.  From Driff to Beverley it is the Leconfield road that catches the most speed merchants. I did get some points on my licence once  for going 37 miles an hour. I thought that a bit mean , but it did make me cautious from then on . The 50 mile an hour speed limit from Hutton to Beswick seems so slow. Often I opt to go by train to Beverley. If I went  to Hull to visit my sister and Primark  I always disembarked on the return journey and visited Mother  , had a coffee in CaffeNero , a walk round M and S and then back on the train . Beverley had everything for a daughter visiting a Mother in a Care Home, and was responsible for 2 years of good visits . The ambiance and History of the town always delighted me . (Note to self -keep going back , get to know the town in a new context!)

Whilst Beverley town  has been my balm in difficult days, my allotment remains as my constant and necessary balm for everydays and alldays.

Dave's Everlasting Flower bed
Many times I go from home to water the greenhouse in hot weather, to pick berries in the mellow months, to weed in the verdant ,weed frenzied months and to generally just look around and sit alone all the months . Its my place of SPACE, my retreat , and the place where I tell the time by the passing of the trains from Beverley every 2 hours, realise Ive been gone 2 hours and hurry home hoping Herons is still open .They are used to me with a basket trailing soil and full of assorted flowers and veg which I have to move on to  the counter whilst I find my purse.
My neighbour has been growing Everlasting Flowers,  now called Xerochrysum bracteatum  since they were got at by the taxonomic botanists in 1990 . I still call them Helichrysums , but then I still call the Mint Family, Labiatae instead of Lamiacea. I know what I mean.

My Clary Bed
I sit on my white plastic chair outside the greenhouse  and look out across my plot , Dave's Plot, Bernard's plot and Eddie's plot . I know it looks colourful at the moment as my sister went passed on the train and then told me so. My Clary and David's Everlasting flowers, Bernard's Michaelmas Daisies (just in bud), all our Sunflowers, and most importantly our free seeded Nasturtiums which David and I like, and Brian two plots away hates with a Vengeance.
Its been a good year for the Everlasting Flowers. I remember when Flower Arrangers like me would spend hours wiring them all, for the Dried Flower Arrangements I so loved in the 80s, but now  hate  . I hate them even more since visiting Aged Parent in Care Home . Everywhere one went they would be lurking , the shelf in the Visitors Cloakroom, the side tables in the sitting rooms , and in Mother's room when she first arrived . I caused that particular vase to have an accident .
Now I LOVE the way my allotment neighbour has dealt with them . Having grown them so that without blemish the large flower heads , just open enough to show their symmetry and beauty they are then picked and the heads thoroughly dried .They can make the summer last till the next time summer comes . And last they will in the way that Casa David and Jen are using them . They put them in a Goldfish bowl.

I am growing Kale for the first time ever. My Aged Parent grew it in row after row in Sutton on Hull in our large garden . I used to dread her saying just go and cut some Kale for dinner please Margaret Mary. I did not appreciate the way it was cooked. It would be boiled to death in lots of cold water brought up to the boil , and then a plate would be pressed on it to get the water out. Spouse remembers his mother cooking and straining the water off cabbage in just the same way . Thankfully nowadays we realise that the young Kale leaves  may be quickly stir fried, and it is a cut and come again veg for summer through to next summer  , everlasting till everlasting . M and S it must be said do the most delicious Kale crisps which are deep fried in Cashew Butter, but at £2 a small 30 gm bag they are not going to have my money very often .
As David remembers the sunshine all through the winter , I am going to remember my beloved Mother everytime I pick some Curly Kale .

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Pomodoro and other Red Tomatoes at the seaside

I was over 6 months pregnant when I last went to Rome. I was viewed as an oddity as 44 years ago I never saw any pregnant Italian women . We were staying with Colin's Aunt and uncle who lived just off the Via Cristoforo Colombo. Aunty Kay said that it wasn't usual for Italian women to be out and about the way I was, travelling on the buses and trains and eating out every night in the local restaurants  . I was watching the very pregnant Victoria Coren on Only Connect last night . It reminded me of the near purdah of the Italian women and of the Laura Ashley tents I used to wear when I was enceinte . 
Now ,what I will always remember from La Roma 1974 beside learning to say due Birri for then we still did have the occasional uno, was the wonderful food .  Aunty Kay and Uncle Edgar took us round ruin after ruin, and spouse and I trailed round fountain after fountain ourselves, we did Villa Julia and got blessed by Il Papa on Easter Day in the square before San Pietro. BUT we ate out nearly every day at all the places where the locals and their bambini ate .
For all the years since 1974 I have grown tomatoes , grown them in all the greenhouses of my life, grown them on all the allotments of my life and in all the kitchen window sills of my life .
Except for this year.
The lovely food in all the Roman cafes , trattoria, pizzeria and restaurants , AND in all the Italian cafes , trattoria , pizzeria and restaurants in my UK food journey have all depended heavily on Tomatoes , garlic and herbs. In my much used Italian Vegetarian Cookery book I have made Spinach and Rice pies, Onion Pies, and all sorts of Frittatas , but try as I can , they are never interesting enough without some dish of tomatoes, homemade sauce , salsa, salad or just ketchup from Mr Heinz. My store cupboard groans with tins of Chopped tomatoes, Whole Plum tomatoes and tomato Puree. As hard as I try, I can never grow tomatoes as well as anyone else on the allotments. A friend is always calling by with bags of his , my allotment partner grows them well enough without even trying. Mine were a disaster last year so Ive not grown any at all this year. Two have seeded down by the Asparagus, and are doing really well all on their own .
Now we are not able to do much at the moment and I'm really ready for a break . I know you say well you have been up the Rhine this year,  spouse was not well all the time and I had to act as a Cooks Tour guide to get us to Amsterdam and from Basel on Public transport  so Im ready for just a change of scenery . I'm not grumbling ,  I'm ready for a little break after our busy August of visitors and the increasing emotional strain of visiting my aged parent whose mind is leaving her.
So yesterday we had the small boys for the day as parents were both working and we had to take them with us to Scarborough so that we could go the Building Society .
Five years ago I wrote about another day at the seaside,  This year was so much easier. Small boys still loved the ride on the 120 bus to Scarborough . They never stopped talking all the time, just as 5 years ago, such a novelty for them , to be on a bus!
Lunch was at our favourite Italian in Scarborough Pomodoro . The boys had been rehearsing their orders to Barbara since we left Filey . They did have good practice at our very own Filey Italian we call Bella a few weeks ago when their cousins were staying, but this was sans parents and lunchtime. They were hungry ,not tired after a days romping on the beach , and rather more grown up than they had been a fortnight ago, as they'd just returned from a week in Andalucia .
 I have been waiting for  a Melanzane parmigiana for 2 years.  In fact I've not eaten any Olive Oil for 2 years, but now that my system can take fat again I had been waiting for this Pomodoro Moment . I make this dish frequently , and have perfected the oil free version , but really it is nothing like the real thing when the aubergines have been fried not grilled as in my fat free version .And made by a good Italian chef it bears no resemblance to what is served in the  Italian Chain eateries . Lunch took ages , we were enjoying everything . The cafe was full of locals , tables were chatting across to tables, and everyone was happy. Nothing was left on plates, huge icecreams and meringues and dolce were eaten  by Colin and the boys , and I had my usual Double Expresso . If you are reading this at Filey Surgery my spouse assures me it was a one off and we have Diabetic Icecream in the freezer for his Sunday Birthday  .

Our day out just went on and on . We took the advice of an Artist and Gallery owner at the next table during lunch and went down a few dozen yards to Blands Cliff to see the Murals . I have lived near Scarborough for 25 years and did not realise that these wonderful Murals started in 2001 were even there . The boys loved them , of an age to appreciate , and well used to Galleries and paintings they were fascinated. I thought I was the only person to have dreamt up the idea painting of Hokusai waves with a local landmark in my Teaching days in Bridlington , when Liz Smith  and I were Island hopping to Japan with Year 6 (Flamborough Light being our Fuji), but no -Nothing new under the sun .

Kingston upon Hull is to be the next City of Culture. I hope they get lots of Artists to do murals round Whitefriargate, it could sure do with livening up . I loved the Hackney ones, and the Brighton Ones.

Blands Cliff is very steep, so we planned to go up to the top another way , and walked along past the sands to the Cliff lift , in itself a good 80p worth for small boys working out how it worked. Reuben had not finished with Culture however and said he would take us to a gallery of great paintings near a statue of Queen Victoria. We couldn't work out where he meant, we'd taken him to the Scarborough Art Gallery many times and the Rotunda but no! he said ,it was just at the top of the hill. He meant the Tracy Savage shop, whose prints on Birthday Cards are sold in Filey at the Red Box. Children accompanied only by Adults it said, but it was only to stop touching the pictures , no rudey nudies.

Home now and thinking about a simple day out with small boys on the bus with Pizza for them from a Real Italian , pictures to enjoy and discuss , and the whole day rounded off  watching Episode 11 of  our only purchase, with assurances that they were allowed. The Pick- a- sweet option in Choice News was offered and refused, they just Dr Who'ed in happy silence.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Christian sings Matt Redman as he undergoes revolutionary brain op

Christian sings Matt Redman as he undergoes revolutionary brain op  Not only is this a great story , but the song itself has the most uplifting words, so I have decides to play this every day to give me a positive start to my day .

Friday, September 04, 2015

Hoping it will all go away..

Hoping it will all go away , maybe so, as David Cameron has had to do a u turn in the way he is perceived to be dealing with the humanitarian crises of the Refugees, Asylum seekers and migrant workers trying to enter Dover. Should the title say Hoping they will all go away, go somewhere else? This whole situation is making everyone talk. After Christmas everyone was talking about Je suis Charlie, and now that the dust has settled on this topic we can all look back and re-assess our thoughts and actions at the time.

My husband , not usually talkative before breakfast , thinks that the mood of the people , the vox populi is driving the actions of not only the politicians, crowd pleasers and passengers on the Bayswater Omnibus but  in themselves are the force  force driving the  momentum of the mood, voice and actions of the UK . Everything going on seems to be in direct reaction to the pictures on the Front Pages , on the TV and especially for me on Twitter and Facebook . People are saying the most awful things on Twitter ,negative things and cruel things about other humans. If the Humanitarian crises unfolding at present were Caninitarian, everything , reactions, actions , talk and banter would be so different . 
Its seems to spouse and I that all the crises at the present have never had a parallel in human history before, as never before have the Social Media been such disruptive, positive and  negative driving forces. 
Aged parent talked about the rise of fascism in the 30s, an uncle talked about being one of the first into Belsen , a friend had to deal with  foot  and mouth outbreaks in 2000. None of these happenings had the Benefit, if thats the word of TWITTER, and even now people don't believe that the Holocaust ever happened, and we cant assimilate the Humanitarian Crises of genocide in Africa as being like a Holocaust, the Nigerian girls trafficked now nearly 2 years ago have still  not been found.

Today Louise  sent me a message , which I received as I was sitting up in bed doing my YOU VERSION Bible Reading. She wanted me to share her post on the Parish Facebook Page. I had to read her message , as the message logo was covering my bible reading. She is asking for donations of Teddy Bears for the children of Syrian and other  refugees , for a friend who has  started a collection. 

Now here is the bit you might not want to read , or you might be surprized . I dont like Teddies, I dont like Cuddly Toys, and all though my children were given them by doting aunts , so had enough, I didnt take much notice of Louises Message. BUT I was in the middle of my quiet time , and got a HS prod. Then I started thinking about it . 

I have had 3 children under 4 years old, I have 4 grandchildren  now , and I am a selfish cow. Small children in the Filey , my small grandchildren , the small Teddy Using children of Filey will never understand the horrors going on for Syrian Refugees, and I don't want them to , I want them to enjoy their own childhood and be free from unecessary FEAR. 

Small Children do understand they may give a Teddy to another child who has not got one !

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Bounty and Plenty

Italian Vegetarian Cookery by Paola Gavin 1987

I walk back from my allotment the longest way I can, calling on prospective recipients of Marrow and Courgettes. 
I have no trouble at all getting rid of Chard. My Spinach and Rice Pie, using my fresh off the allotment Swiss Chard, Rainbow Chard, or Spinach Beet has been keeping us nourished for 20 years since my children were going through serious vegetarian Dietary requirements. (And spouse and I have bacon with it, no cooking different meals for family members). Its like a solid risotto cake and I always serve it with lots of Parmesan and Homemade tomato sauce, made with homegrown tomatoes and garlic. This makes me sound a very accomplished gardener, but I can assure you that Tomatoes and garlic are not plentiful on my plot , I rely on the bountiful and generous surplus of my gardening neighbours. 
I have new neighbours on my allotment this year. They are . with Bernard my allotment partner, wonderful neat and tidy gardeners with manicured rows and giant vegetables. They come from different gardening disciplines , and I have most in common with my immediate neighbour who is also a devotee of the School of Companion Planting. He has a whole bed of Comfrey of the non invasive Bocking type, grows Marigolds and Nasturtians. My allotment partner doesn't mind the haphazard growth of Phacelia between the shared  rows of Raspberries, as long as I dig it in in neatly . (Which I will eventually, I promise!)

Our little problem is what to do with the Marrows and Courgettes ? I did stuffed Marrow  with Cheese Sauce at the weekend. I have made Courgette Frittata . I am looking for more recipients with time on their hands for Marrow and Ginger Jam . Meanwhile , nothing is wasted, as D leaves them  outside the greenhouse for me to use or give away I am doing both . And Ive just found a recipe in the Italian Cookbook for Courgette soup. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

A few snapshots of the Nederlands

No wasting of elastic bands by the Dutch Posties. For many years I have followed behind the Filey ones and retrieved  bands from the pavements , much to the horror of my husband . 

We have taken our lives into our hands here in Amsterdam. I have had to lead spouse by the hand so that he would not be the cause of a bicycle pile up by standing right in the paths of the thousands of vehicles here. If you can call them vehicles that is. From our window we can see the ferries in tandem  crossing the Rhine east to west and west to east. As soon has they dock, hundreds of Dutch cyclists look like vast  spidery rivers of ants flowing into the roads. Yes the metaphors are mixed but I just can't find any better way of describing the sight. It has been  a huge worry for us. C lost part of his vision after a stroke, and Amsterdam is the most dangerous place he has ever negotiated. I have had to steer him out of the paths of Trams in Basel,Old ladies with dogs in Paris , prams in Filey , and now Bicycles.

The churches here all seem to tower above the city, like the landmarks of its  twin in Lincolnshire and my own native Holderness .We have only managed to visit the Westerkirk , whose bells could be heard by Anne Frank hidden  nearby. It is remarkable inside for its blatant Protestantism , but manages to have one of the most elaborate votive candle racks I have ever seen, whose inspiration , so they could get away with it was the Burning bush.  I do love exuberance.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Next time I escort my spouse around Europe I shall be all prepared . Thanking God for universal signage is my first Gloria . The most welcome signs are
  • Lift.      I urge all fellow travellers to learn this one and the next one as

    they are both welcome and necessary . Who remembers the station at York before lifts were obvious and for public use. Years of carrying luggage up the steps after the demise of the Porter used to make me dread a journey before it started. How could I as an able bodied under 60 even justify the need for Assisted travel. It was great when my sister Sue and I took our Aged parent to Iona in her wheelchair and used this service, it took all the angst out  for us. I marvel at the way 21st C travelling in Europe has been greatly helped by LIFTS, and even the smallest towns now seem to have them at the Barnhof.
  • WC     This sign is linked to Lift as the 2 go together . For those with Additional needs, wheelchair or pushchair or walking frame , just finding a loo on the flat is a human right in  my mind. In Switzerland we have learned quickly to have a supply of 1 or 2 CHF ready for the entrance fee. We do not mind paying this at all as the WCs in Heidi Land are far better than the best of Scarborough. The free ones in the courtyard of Basels Town hall were welcome , and thanks to the signage we were able to have coffee in the Market Place sitting in the sunshine without worrying .  
  • Wheelchair Friendly  
    Speyer Cathedral
     this is the  new sign that I have been looking out for. It goes with the previous 2, but means no steps for my beloved, and in the case of the wonderful Speyer Cathedral , no heavy doors to open .  I did actually have to push C in a wheelchair for the first 3 days of our Rhine River trip . It was a learning curve for me , used only to pushing aged parent who weighs 6 Stone.The pushing was ok , but quaint cobbled streets defeated me , tram lines bewildered me and the prospect of rain made me realise I had not brought my own waterproof.
So Ive just managed Basel's tram system   .I didn't need signage . I knew where the trams were because I saw the tram lines . The numbers on the front of the trams referenced the map for me. It took me a little while to know which side of the track to stand .  I am now trying to find out where a bus stop is .

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Xylem of Nations

I have been travelling this amazing water system for 4 days now. The scenery on each bank of the Rhine is fascinating and in some places spectacular, and in some places it could just as well be the Thames or the Humber without the junk of course. No polythene bags here hanging from water level branches, no plethora of graffitied signage. For here on the German stretch of the river there are just enough signs for all the Mariners and voyagers to make sense of environment and its logistic possibilities. I wish I had known on Day 1 that the large numerals displayed were actually a Km apart, (should have worked that one out ) and tell of the distance from the source of the Rhine in Switzerland .
Sign 555
This one  555 is more interesting to me than the actual landmark it referenced for me( We had been told that after 555 was the Lorelei, the biggest damp squid of the journey ). I liked this sign with the triangles and am glad it was explained. It shows that on the narrow bend approaching that no other craft are near. 
So here I am aboard a river cruise with spouse who has gout and so can't go anywhere further that 50 m except in a wheelchair. He is so much better that he was 2 days ago. What an unexpected blessing really as he awaits major heart surgery and we are only on the trip by the Grace of God and the Ok from the cardiologist . The gout has made him rest, so thats how I am looking at it . There is so much to enjoy from sitting and looking , and as most of the other passengers are on the excursions we have the pick of seats in  all the public areas and unlimited food and  drinks and the kindness of strangers.
The river traffic is simply astounding . Just watching the barges full of grit , coal , sand and , wood and metal coils makes me realise how this is such an efficient way of transport . Bring back the better use of canals in the UK says I .
I look like my well travelled aunt and Godmother Alice Susan Bruce (1905-1986) in this photo, But it is my Aged Parent in Beverley who is the map person like me, and my late father Harold Gower Bruce(1910-1975) who would have liked the symbols on the maps,especially that all the Km number marks are on the Michelin Rhine ones. He would have loved the whole transport system . He would have been looking at the signage on all the river craft and working out where they were registered, where they were going and what they were carrying . My Master mariner forebears were Ocean goers, but I'm finding the river just fine Thank-You. (Bonus is that spouse is not queasy as he was on North Sea Ferries .This is gentle , with just the occasional back wash from fast boats. )So much is he enjoying himself that when he awoke this morning he said , Look we've got to 434!


Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Brownlee brothers keep going

This Sunday afternoon I am watching Alistair winning the World  Triathlon. More importantly for me and for Yorkshire , his brother got going again after his bike failing, and he is finishing  only a minute later.

Keep going , keep going its saying to me. 

Its been a trough for the last few months.

  • Although I'm glad that after 5 cancellations I finally got my routine keyhole surgery done , Ive been trying to cope with the way my Mother is sinking into Dementia, and finding I have had to admit I cant keep going twice a week to Beverley. My husband is my priority , as now know that all his health difficulties this year may be helped with open Heart Surgery, so we await the go ahead judgement  when we return from our Holiday of a life time. I hope to blog it as we go  and bore every one rigid with the Heritage sites of the Rhine as we do the cruise from Amsterdam to Basel. I have not even been able to think about it , knowing that it could be cancelled at any minute  as Colin is not able to go at all. He is being so patient and calm himself, and as I watch him struggling to walk a few yards and I find  negative thoughts surfacing and imagine scenarios abroad. I am kicking them into touch now. 
  • My allotment is generally the place where I shine and show off to family and friends. BUT new neighbours at the plots next door are not only amazing landscapers and planners and clearers and weeders , they  both have rows and rows of huge brassicas and potatoes and the prospect of winning Best Plot.  My allotment partner already has the best crop of Elephant Garlic I have ever seen , and will soon have a stone free portion of our plot. 
  • Though-I can claim to have an unusual Plant on my bit of land as my Echium does its Little shop of supposed Horrors, and know that as yet I have not been challenged for bringing an alien to disrupt the brooding calm of Filey Allotments. (I say this as there seem to be huddles of Car owners disputing as where to park , and mutterings of discontent , but in the scheme of things they just all need to grow up).
  • Even the kudos I give myself doing my Plant Surveys for NPMS has paled. Who am I trying to kid, I can't tell the difference between any of the sedges and rushes , and It will take me some serious study to do so. 
So , as Ray said last week in her Daydreamer Blog, I too am, or have been , in the Doldrums. I am getting wind in my sails again  as I try on  dozens of outfits, read the Rhine Maps from Stanfords and plan which of the 36 museums In Basel needs a visit from me.
Peveril Castle taken by Reuben
And this afternoon after our family Sunday Lunch at 5pm our  small boys have been telling of their week away in a cottage Derbyshire . I let Reuben age 8 borrow my Digital camera and we have had a slide show on the TV from this laptop. R has taken 497 pictures. Some are the usual small grandson stuff with accompanying tales , mostly of Lavatories, but Colin and I have really enjoyed all the entertainment for Sunday evening as the boys talk us through the holiday .
Im ready to get going again , will try to be positive, thanking God and counting my Blessings.
One of Rs many selfies

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Aliens and Sojourners

This is my alien Echium pininana sp. The silver thing in the front is just a  cut up crisp packet on a stick to frighten pigeons,. My Alien has a sparse midriff caused by winter damage. The cane is 6'high so you can see how far my Triffid has grown , its an alien because its not a native species. Its is not an I.A.S( Invasive Alien Species) because it rarely survives a North Yorkshire winter, and although hundreds of seedlings could  come from the seed of this one plant, they are so easily spotted and removed . 

Impatiens f. By River Hertford
 I have twice been in a group visit to nearby Flixton Carr with Tim Burkinshaw  of the Carrs Wetland Project . Here he explained how Impatiens glandiflera is now an I.A.S and it is being removed from the banks of the River Hertford as part of their Conservation Work , as it taking over from all the native Species.
Impatiens f is my favourite example of Seed Dispersal . I have picked the plant  for years to equip class after class of Children with a great example of ballistic dispersal . (Great maths too).The seeds may explode out across from the plant 23feet . 
Land  management these days is beginning to catch up with Good Practice in the light of mistakes made in generations before.   Hedges were removed across our agricultural land in the 1950s and 60s as fields were merged to increase  the food supply in Post War Britain . 60 years later costly remedial schemes and set aside grants , and hasty schemes and   long term schemes of enthusiastic professionals and Nature Conservancy groups  try to repair the biosystems.
R Hertford 
 . I remember my father talking about it when I was a child, as we drove frequently from Sutton village across Holderness to  friends in Skeffling.
 We'll rue the day ' He used to say ,
 and he was right.  My sisters and I recall passing through the villages of Preston, Keyingham  and Patrington being told each time the changes that were observed. '
So what about aliens ? Who decides what is a good alien or an IAS? Obvious species like Japanese Knotweed can grow through Concrete and damage foundations, and yet was introduced as an Ornamental by our passionate Victorian Plant hunters . I can call it  an undesirable alien .

Ive just been down Queen Street and checked to see if the removal of the Japanese Knotweed has been successful . Judge for yourself! ..>>>>>>>>>>>>

Gardeners all over Britain are growing  or trying to grow to an inflorescence of the Giant Vipers Bugloss Echium pininana.  Bees love it and one flower spike can last throughout the summer . I want to conserve bees, who I understand are also a threatened species. Echiums are great for this. Am I worried that my alien species will take over Filey ? Am I worried that in 100 years time they will be serious problem because Global warming has meant that all seedlings are likely to survive a Filey Winter? I am thinking about it responsibly. 

Here is a little sojourner for you . This Aquilegia is growing in a crack in Sandhill lane by the iron  bridge to St Oswalds and the Country Park . I give it 2 weeks before the SBC team are out with their weedkiller.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Eternity in the hearts of man

Echium Friday
I've wanted to use that phrase for a long time. Its out of context and relates to God but I still love the words. Today I went to the allotment for an hour to see what the recent rain had done and whether I could get my first picking of Asparagus. Four hours later I thought an hour had gone and came home. Certainly eternity or a paradign shift in my concept of time. 
It was just glorious out in Filey today. I had seen the light on the beach at 9am when I spotted the shining sea from the top of Cargate Hill as I did a quick shop at Angelas. Inland , with a cool breeze and blue skies it was perfect gardening weather. Yesterday I had been out at 6am in St Oswalds , watering the flowers, as I had forgotten on Saturday. The Iron work on the South Gate was covered in ice. The temperature in the allotment greenhouse however was over 30C today, and its no wonder all the sunflowers are up after 4 days , but the night temp must be nearer 3C. 
The Asparagus is showing , but only just. I couldn't justify picking the 4 first shoots all over 1cm thick. I'm quietly  pleased .

Echium Monday
My allotment neighbour D is in Lanzerote , land of lava . Little does he know that here in the no volcano any where near soil of Filey Allotments is growing my very own Echium , a native of the Canary Islands. It has grown 30cm in a week , beating the Blackberry , usually the fastest grower.
The recent rain though relentless for hours in Queen Street, has barely moistened the soil by the railway line. The Horsetails have begun their latest offensive , but I am on to them . 
Tomorrow I shall spend the day filling the baths with water with the hosepipe, check my micropond for signs of tadpole life, and try and plant some neat seed rows just to fit in with all my neighbours who are all school of Percy Thrower and his update Monty Don. I am school of Rosemary Varey and Blue Peter. John Siddle once commented that my gardening style was Organized Chaos. I'll take that as a compliment. One thing is sure . I will arrive at my very own corner of Filey and time will stand  still .

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Skylarks and Vipers Bugloss

Meaux Road , Routh ER
Cyling through the lanes around Sutton in Holderness with my school friend Christine Addinell over 50 years ago I remember the first Wild Flower I could not identify at all not even its  family . 
I remember just where it was, in the hedge, just before Routh Church (brass rubbing expedition) and could not wait to look it up .
Experience now tells me that it was probably a garden escape, but it was there in my book nevertheless Echium vulgare (oka Vipers Bugloss). 

I still use my childhood flora, though have had to progress to Roses 'Wildflower Key' , and Staces 'New Flora of the British Isles' after my serious Botany courses :still intuitive identification , though not scientific , rarely fails me as long as I have plenty of info to back it up. Years and years as the daughter of a fisherman  led to a childhood of sitting still by river banks; Derwent,  Hull , Bain, Cover and Ure with nothing to do but watch and listen . My sisters and I learned to recognise Mayflies, Stone flies ,Damsel flies and the like so that we could tell our father what fly to use.

It sounds idyllic but it wasn't always, sometimes it was just boring. I probably became a reader at that time too. I soon learned to name all the plant life , loved fungi  and lichens as well as the vascular plants  and started my own collection of Wildflowers pressing and drying and displaying in accordance with Instruction for Collectors PLANTS  (British Museum ,Natural History 6th Edition).
So  I nearly threw away all the Rowling Herbarium when we moved back to the cottage from Kiaora , but I started again and have for the past 5 years been enjoying monitoring for Plantlife  on KM Square OS TA1081and collecting again . I look again at the specimans collected as a child , and remember the river banks!

This year Plantlife and the BSBI *have moved on in the National Plant Monitoring Scheme , a more scientific and rigorous Survey has just launched . My allocated KM GRID square has changed to OS TA1281, and so now I have the opportunity to monitor some different habitats including  Maritime cliff tops and slopes

 I joined FBOG (Filey Bird Observatory and Group) last year. I'm not a dedicated birder but their latest Bird Report makes it quite clear that the study and understanding of the flora of the Filey Area (and beyond ,DG) is integral to the wider picture of what is now called Filey Nature**. I have member benefits now , and can have access to Rocket Pole Field for my survey so will be introduced to the protocol by Jack Whitehead next week. Sue Hull tells me that a wildflower patch has been sown there and is keen for that to be monitored .

Burton Agnes E .pininana 08
The child who learned to watch Skylarks and spot Yellowhammers down East Carr Lane every Sunday, and at 15 found her first Echium is now aiming for the National Collection . Not really, but am thrilled to be expecting a good inflorescence on my allotment of Echium pininana which , is safely through the winter. 

*Botanical Society of the British Isles ** Yahoo Group .

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Don't blame me for the state of the NHS and Social Care..

Or my aged parent. The people doing stats, the economists, the politicians and everyone on the Bayswater Omnibus with the exception of the baby know that everyone grows old . Thankfully people are living much longer than in those days . I just can't understand why no one realises it and factors it in to the Budget forecast for the NHS and Social Care .

Why do I have to feel so guilty because my aged parent is in full time care in a Care Home in Beverley where the Care Staff are paid so very little ? 

 Mothers Care is not free .   It is not her fault she is old . I have had small use of the NHS really , and I have paid my way all my life, taxes and N.I.  My fathers contributions paid for my mother, who never really worked for money after her 4 children were born. She never stopped working however, washing, cooking , ironing , cleaning , gardening . She was in the WAF, and knows what a World War is like. She remembers her brother coming back from Dunkirk after standing so long in the water that when he got home his clothes were mouldy.

The sooner the agencies dealing with an increasingly AGED population get together and liase properly the better. My Gnome of Zurich sister doing Mothers finances has to wait months and months before adjustments are made in payouts and payins.


Its very difficult some times visiting my mother , who is really well cared for , mostly happy and contented, who is always clean, well fed. Her laundry is efficiently done and returned, her room  and bathroom always spotlessly clean.

Its really DIFFICULT because those kind carers and cheerful cleaners  are paid so VERY LITTLE for a job we will probably all need doing for us .

A little note of JOY. Mother and I had a lovely time together in the garden yesterday without coats. She was still able to name the shrubs and flowers and we both took such delight  in the prospect of spring springing and grass rizzing. 

WE found a few Sweet Peas had lasted all winter and were blooming outside in the raised beds next to the French Doors . I put one in a glass next to her Steradent as a surprise fragrance for her .

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Update with nespresso machine

For many years I have not drunk instant coffee. I only have one cup of coffee a day, we are really tea people in our house, ordinary old fashioned PG tips or Yorkshire Tea . We are not connoisseurs. I dont care if its from  teabag as long as its strong. Coffee however is a  different story. I like coffee made from ground beans, ground myself , or strength 4 or 5 FairTrade Columbian ready ground for preference. I do understand that fashions come and go. I still have to learn how the new trend is for the cold filter of water through the coffee. Somehow I dont think #cafechurchfiley is quite ready for that. Its barely got used to non instant coffee anyway .

An aside. I have lived in Filey for nearly 25 years  and rarely had 'coffee out' until the last 2 years when I have been wont to meet dear friend from Burton Joyce . I have tried all the coffee shops now. We usually go to the Bistro for the ambience, which suits us both. For coffee however I like it from the shack/van parked outside T---- supermarket . I always pick one up en route to station before going to Beverley . Kaths tea at the station is great  too when Michelle is not with her shack, but neither open early enough for me . To be fair , Ive just found that the coffee in Pitstop is good , and she is open at 8am. The punters of Filey are all moaning that a Costa or a Cafe Nero might come to the new site where the Police Station was. If they serve their usual great coffee and open at 8am I will be picking up my coffee for the train there. Ive tried all the coffee shops near the station in Beverley for my return journeys, or somewhere to hang out at 8am before going to mother for  free wifi ,Cafe Nero is the business , opposite  M& S near my bus stop. It has atmosphere, a reward card and like Michelle, really good coffee, 

I am in Hull as I write this, en route to London, on our much delayed business trip . C and I have stayed in Mercure Royal. I've known the hotel all my life, but as the Station Hotel. It was here that 60 years ago my mother would meet my Aunty Mabel , in from Withersea on by train, for coffee. It was here that I took my first coffee out alone , sitting in the Lounge salon watching the world go by . Mother always told me it was the place to use the Powder Room , but I should always take coffee as well , not to take advantage. In the 60s it was an old fashioned place to take coffee as a young adult, but one basked in the charm of it. The Coffee came Silver plated Coffee pots, with a smaller pot of hot milk and another of boiling water and a little dish of brown sugarand 4 biscuits on a plate. This was so different from the boiled milk and Camp we had at home . It seemed very grown up and expensive. (Fields was THE place to go, but often too full for a seat).

So too for my thoughts on the George Clooney machine in our room . It took me 1 wasted  capsule to work out how to use it, but the Expresso was good, but not as good as Rosellas in Bella Italia .

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Inspiration and a New Find

Rogier van der Weyden
Portrait of a Lady is one of the first portraits I liked. I like the pins holding the veil together and the flawless complexion of the sitter. 
When spouse and I were in the Baltic Gateshead in 2008 we saw a photographic exhibition of People of Tyneside, and I loved it. This theme runs because in Hackney Library recently we enjoyed an exhibition of Photos of Hackney residents , made all the more poignant when we met a family who had made a special trip to see 4 of their own Family Pictures from years over 40 yrs earlier on display .
Nelissa Mendy with pics of her family taken in the 70s
I never get tired of seeing Photos and Portraits of my fellow men , indeed I love People watching , and am never bored when theres a stream of passers by , and sitters around , and coffee drinkers . Starbucks in the Whitgift Centre is a joy of  an Observation Hide, as its in the middle of the Mall with life going on all around it . I spent hours there when I was caring for the needs of my aunt in 2013, waiting for her to die, and needing to be in the midst of life whilst she determinely withdrew from us. Croydon is a great place for People as the population is so diverse.
Zubeir Tai , Freelance Photographer 
We had a great day in Leeds last week . We were people watching as we had our lunch in the cafe opposite the Parkinson Building , and our coffee inside the Costa Place inside the Parkinson Building before we saw the Exhibition that had brought us to Leeds , Nostalgia and Progress.
Replete with culture we moved on to the Art Gallery , and were people watched ourselves by Zubeir Tai (I love his name). He runs a great Facebook Site and Tumblr page . I am going to Blogroll him , and have  already done so on the Filey Parish facebook Site . He takes random pictures of people as inspired by HONY*. His site is Humans of Leeds. Well done for calling it that , of Leeds and not in Leeds. 

I started this blog page on Monday night , but have been overtaken by the events of a Family get- together to celebrate the Baptism of my Grandsons. They just decided they wanted it . So today with all my children around me , and they with all their grandparents around them we have been taking lots of photos, not the random sort , but the lets get us all in the picture together sort. 

*Humans of New York