Thursday, September 30, 2021

The stones would shout aloud

 Walking slowly behind or ahead of beloved is an acquired skill, the factors change
  • Are we in a hurry?
  • Is the sun shining?
  • Is there a hazard ahead?
  • Is the path narrow or wide enough to pass ?
  • Are we on a well known path, road , car park, field or garden?
  • Is anyone coming towards us?
  • Is anyone wanting to overtake us?
  • Do we need to converse?
  • Have I got my Hearing aids in ?

We have had some spats when I’ve been talking and beloved has not heard as I walk ahead of the ‘who do you think you are talking to variety’ from him, to ‘I cant hear you ‘ from me ,when unable to lip read as have my Covid mask on and therefore no hearing devices. 

So it has been stress free here in Wydale on the holiday break I never thought we would ever manage again. The trial run of 2 nights in July has made way for 4 nights in September. We don’t have to talk as we walk in convoy of two ,carrying all the necessary equipment for the shortest even sojourn abroad ,in a Herons bag cleverly masquerading as shopping or a picnic. 
We are staying in the new ground floor Self - catering accommodation in the Emmaus Centre but having Full board. Geriatrica it certainly is not. We are the only guests needing to sit near the breakfast buffet . Other guests are walkers, dancers, artists and writers, groups of young looking men and women in clerical dress and/or jeans and piercings on Day courses, and occasionally men and women in purple , but not spitting in the street. 
Beloved and I are free to roam the paths until we find a quiet bench , then we may talk, or not .We mostly enjoy , a luxury for Beloved , a stop for a chat in front of the various shrubs , trees and annuals of interest. 
  • Is that a Cornus  or  a Viburnum?
  • Take a pic of the Monkey Puzzle tree for Alice
  • That’s a yellow Crab Apple
  • Ken’s done a good job on the Lavendar
  • The new Meadow Strip is a good idea, they’ll have to dig out the perennial weeds that have grown so quickly. Best put black membrane down until it’s seeded
  • Shall I give them a packet of Yellow Rattle
  • Don’t interfere
  • Take a pic of those 
  • Here’s Jasper
  • It’s all looking so good
And it is.For the last 20 months some people have discovered for the first time new pastimes. Never was the name pastime more apt. Never has an interest in gardening been such a lifeline in difficult times it seems. On this day when the government Furlough Scheme ends  some people 
  • will have had their lives radically changed as they can no longer afford their rents, 
  • might have to plough through paperwork and bureaucracy to get Universal Credit
  •  or a new job 
  • or come to terms with redundancy,
  •  or an inability to pay a mortgage.  
 Everything has changed or is about to . 

The Global Pandemic and its sister disaster Global Warming have marshalled I hope those of us in the west to start rethinking all our entrenched assumptions of the Good Life,  family life, life without Europe, the NHS and even our security , into hoping that we can have a Global reboot of everything that will turn us back to the  place where we can halt both toxic sisters.

Here in the place where I have had time to think about Covid and Global Warning, and plenty of leisure to walk slowly behind my beloved , and sit awhile on garden benches, and walk past stone walls with seedling trees and ferns bravely living in the crevices, I’m more drawn to the Lichen growing on branches, a sign of clean and pure air. The lichens give me joy, a God Given and amazing life form, not Fungus, not Algae but although the taxonomic  classification is Fungus it is a symbiotic relationship of the two. 

The joy of them does not end here. They can convert Carbon dioxide into Oxygen, fix Nitrogen and are the cheapest way to detect Pollution, and shout aloud from stones on which they live. 
The lines in the Morning Prayer liturgy used at Wydale include this couplet

If Christ’s disciples keep silent 
These stones would shout aloud

I get it .

*note to self , send email to audiology as have just lost yet another Hearing aid on the streets of Filey in the putting mask on quickly move .

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Lightening and Thunderbolt

Since my last post in May I have not been enjoying a deckchair in the garden , reading countless books of Detective fiction, baking Frangipane tarts , walking along the shoreline in bare feet or decorating the downstairs bathroom. I've had dozens of ideas of blogs to enthral . My spare time has of course led me to my Allotment plot a mile from my home here, where I can see the sea when I stand on the front step. 

For 5 years now I have had Dave's pristine (once) old plot as well as mine. I used to share my plot with Bernard, and I have his as well since he married Queenie in 2017. I am what John Siddle used to say was one who gardened in organized chaos. 

I cherish those words. John taught me English at my Grammar school ,Greatfield High school. Hull , in the 1960s. He came back into my life when he retired to Filey . On this day when grandchildren get English results, I don't sit here hoping I would manage my O level English Language again now; I don't need to imagine my old mentor is checking my participles , or my Latin master appreciating my understanding of the archaic language as informing my Botanical nomenclature, as I couldn't care less. Wen i text i say u and c and as long as it is understood it no longer worries me. I can't text quickly like my offspring and their offspring. I can't Word Process quickly either, I use 2 fingers. If I were back at my school I would not have taken Chemistry and PE, I would have sat in the Commercial class as it was called ,and learn to touch type to music as I used to hear them all doing, that is a skill indeed.

My organized CHAOS may be discerned by the no dig gardeners, the new  Ruth Stouts, and and present  Bob Flowerdews as an Allotment of the future times, even here in the land that time forgot, where Peat Free Compost is not sold in our allotment shop (yet ). Even here we No Dig gardeners need discernment, as the Peat Free Compost in our wonderful Reighton Nurseries is not all it seems either, as the ingredient replacing the peat is from China! 

I want to record in 2021 that even if I have to give up my plot I am trying to use Practice which though not completely in the school of Charles Dowding  is as good for the planet as I can manage . Here I put my hand up to Rat Bait in sheds,  occasional weed killer on the border with the Railway embankment, and use of Cardboard that is not always brown .

Paul Wilson , (Advanced trees and grounds) supplies me with woodchip for my paths, the grandsons are employed to barrow it up to the plot.

Firstly Im thankful for the supply of good , large pieces of cardboard brought to my plot by friends. Many days I arrive at the plot to find treasure outside the shed door as I arrive to the packaging from garden chairs, beds, flat packs and even coffee pods. Thank you all the Helens, Stuarts, Lisas  , Michaels for thinking of me,

Networking always pays off when in need of supplies for No Dig.  John and his wife in Irton used to sell me all their horse manure. They were the first of the interesting folk one meets only through cultivating the earth .

John would ring me and say he'd got a load , did I want it ? He had one old horse. The manure was straight from the field into sacks, and pure gold . It took a year to rot down and though I used to find it hard work barrowing even the sacks from the road to my plot , the two of us working together , it took half an hour , and worth it. I was upset when his old horse died and that supply ceased. Now my friend Ingrid whose daughter has a horse will bring me supplies , and if the bush telegraph works well on the site I get to hear when a free load has been dumped at the end of the road by my plot. 

That is how I met Therese and Stuart one February as we  spent a bitterly cold  morning helping ourselves to the contents of a winter  cow byre  . They are not only great suppliers of spare veg and cardboard but helpful and friendly, perfect allotmenteers. It was on that day that I met the young Syrian eye -surgeon refugee, who was waiting for his status to practice in this Country, From him I learned about the pale courgettes beloved of Syrians in their cuisine, which I now grow and pray for Syria as I tend them .

I tried to encourage my beloved to sit in my shed /greenhouse in the winter, cosy and warm next to my hotbeds , which I can get to 80F in January , February and March using straw , manure and urine and reading my book on Hotbeds , he won't, even though I have a sun lounger for him. 

The straw for my hot beds now comes from  friend Colin up above Hunmanby . He delivers straight to plot for me. I leave all the spare bales outdoor until October to get soaking wet and then it goes beautifully on top of the cardboard, with handfuls of chicken pellet fertiliser, and any donated horse manure. Colin also brings me horse manure from his field, let out to horses. This is fantastic stuff as it is already 3years rotted and  growing magic.

John Siddle might see some chaos on the plot , but it is very organised too. I let Borage and plantains seed all over as pollinators . The Borage can grow to 3feet tall in few weeks . I don't remove it, it will seed freely for next year, and is so easy to spot may always be pulled up if necessary. Chives are the first mass bed to attract the bees, after the Woad of April, the Cowslips, Primroses  and Violas of March and the Hyacinths and Daffodils of January and February. All summer long a favourite native plant Scarlet Pimpernel creeps and flowers, I rarely weed it out as I do all the Chickweed which goes to Pete for his budgies. I like the Groundsel and Sow thistles, and remove the Flowerdew way by just pulling and leaving to rot down on the soil's surface as mulch, as with the spurges and speedwells. I can always recognize them if I have to remove . The Couch Grass and Horsetails are another thing altogether, removed and incinerated as soon as spotted. This is easy with the Horsetails , as Bernard eradicated most of them , but the Couch Grass is so hard to get out , as every little bit of underground stem if left in the ground will thrive to produce new plants, and as for Bindweed , that gorgeous 'Grandma Grandma Pop out of bed ' plant that has to be removed if possible and its underground stems look like a tube map.. 

This year has been very hard for me to keep up with removing the pernicious 'weeds ', as I do not have time . They need an army of people who do not carry I am a carer card. 

 Tagetes minutii  did not germinate well this year. It is the companion plant that exudes a toxin which slows the growth of Couch grass,  so next years first challenge . It is a wonderful plant , growing up to 5'tall and I like to make windbreaks of it. I'm growing Tansy too amongst the raspberries , same use of companion planting. 

I have been nurturing a pot of Ginger  or Tumeric all year, but now realise it is Couch grass. Its beautiful though and could do well if was marketed as a conservatory plant and watered well. It would be cheap and easily divided to give away to friends as long as not planted out, then you would be as popular as if you had given them Japanese Knotweed. Would my friend who thought I went to Roedean please ignore this advice. I never should have said to her a we drove past the school on way to Newhaven , 'there my old school' because she believed me for years I later found out . If you are from Hull you will know that Greatfield High school in 1959 to 65 was rough, and girls like me had to get tough to cope with it. 

So Ive surrendered my Thunderbolt adapter now that Ive given away my Mac air, but bought a Lightening adapter for my ipad . I shall be showing my beloved his grandson  Reubens Blog, this blog and all my photos as soon as I have him as a captive audience in front  of the TV set, just as I've trained him on the input from the remote.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Aurora and No DIG

I've waited all my life it seems to see the Aurora. I've toyed for 30 years  with taking the Hurtigruten  transport to the north of Norway. It  doesn't guarantee the Northern Lights will perform and I am the mistress of procrastination . 
Many years ago , when Bill Bryson was newly on the literary stage , I was enthralled with his book Neither here nor there, published in 1991. His words have informed my search for the Aurora.

On my sixteenth day  in Hammerfest , it happened. I was returning from the headland after my morning walk and in an empty piece of sky above the the town there appeared translucent  cloud of many colours, pinks and greens and blues and pale purples.  It glimmered and seemed to swirl. Slowly it stretched across the sky.  It had an oddly oily quality about it, like the rainbows you see in a pool of petrol.  I stood transfixed.

For many years I've been able to take a picture as soon as something interesting needs recording, most of us are swelling the clouds second by second with the unnecessary jpegs of our lives. I thought once that it wont be long before we will be able to record everything , yes every thing we have seen, if a minute  automatic camera gadget was fixed to our face. We would get up , clean our teeth and at the same time recharge our gadget. Some folk already send so many photos to Instagram and vids to TikTok that I despair. Altruism is usually not the objective , but Egoism and the desire for status and monetary gain. I tick the Egoism box myself as a write this blog. I want to leave my mark , I want my children to read what I'm really like . I want to leave a footprint for posterity but not notoriety.  Bill Bryson left me a huge mark . For 30 years I've known that I could not stand at the end of Queen street for 16 days in the hope a seeing the Northern Lights. My app has been active with possibility for the last few days, I know that they have been seen form Carr Naze and Scarborough.  BUT now I am unable to respond to those wonderful yellow bars of possibility.

I'm more or less cottage bound  at present. I get out when I know beloved is safe or someone , mostly my lovely daughter is sitting with him. My other  priority is my allotment. I will have to give it up if I cant keep it ticking over, so I'm giving myself until the backend to see if my NO DIG method and copious use of straw and mulch  has silenced the march of the unwanted 
Horsetails and Twitching grass. They both shout at me the minute I arrive at my plot paradise.
My meadow strip is coming on beautifully, now in it 5th year and each year new species have seeded and the insect population increased. 

Hay meadow

You see I have no time to align my photos and explain anything further. Just be assured  readers I'm still around and enjoying my change of circumstances ,  especially now that beloved has discovered Talking Pictures TV channel and I have the benefit of my own little space upstairs, and know how much I can cram in to 1 hour on my plot. when the opportunity arises. AS for the Northern Lights, Im praying for the miracle that one day I'll just be looking out across the sea to the North from the loft window  and see them . 


Sugar snap peas

Squashes waiting 


Saturday, February 06, 2021

Deus ex machina

 I've been looking everywhere for my copy of 'The Monkey Wrench Gang' by Edward Abbey. It will come into one of seven categories.

  1. Placed on my Specials book shelf
  2. Placed on a shelf for novels
  3. In the loft maybe in a box, or on the floor in a tottering pile, waiting to go on a shelf or go to a Charity shop
  4. Already given to Grandchildren when they were smaller in the hope that when they are older they will read them
  5. Already given to Charity shop
  6. Misplaced ,to be found amongst the Botany section when I'm dead 

I've also been looking for my Picture book of  Archimboldo's  strange and mesmerizing portraits. I particularly want to look at these pictures again although Google Images will suffice for now. Even poorly reproduced art works are better on paper for me. They become well known friends, an ownership of imagination and a certainty of recognition and remembrance when the pages are turned again. 
No Catering vans have been seen much in Filey recently, and I do miss them, the ones with foodscapes that is !  Here Google is an acceptible substitute for paper, as I don't yet have a book of pictures of Catering Supply vans with foodscapes. I don't need one but I would like one. Here Mr Google has broadened my imagination and wetted my appetite for innovation , for the bizarre , for the clever takes and for the imagination of Graphic designers.  Years of trying to help young people to take their imaginations away form the small screen to designing their own huge screen in the mind have made me do the same. The small screen in front of me now will have to substitute for a paper copy, as I trawl Google images and find treasure that will do for now, but is not stored for future enjoyment except in my overloaded brain. I bookmark webpages , but rarely go back to them , whereas a book holds no overload. It may be replaced on a shelf or misplaced amongst the Botany section .

Oh! look at this one Ive just found! A Hokusai  wave, not a new idea , as I remember getting my Bridlington students to do them with Flamborough Light replacing Mount Fuji. I love it anyway. 

Why am I looking for my copy of The Monkey Wrench Gang ? 
Last night I was looking for my Achimboldo  and found Aunty Gwens copy of " The Typist Treasury  by Kate Stevens 1939, Over 600 helpful Points for those who type or Write, the frontispiece declares.  I found the words Deus ex machina and remembered that when I read the  Edward Abbey book in about 2011 I came across the Chapter with that title, and I could never work out what it meant. I even went up to a man in Leyburn  in 2016 ,bearing the words on a T shirt and asked him what the words meant and he didn't know.

Kate Stevens 1939 knew 

'something providential that happens just in time to solve a difficulty. (Literally a god from the machinery , referring to gods shown in ancient theatre.)