Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A Gatekeeper visits the Garden

The Rose and the Fuschia just happened to be in the garden at the same time!

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The Rose and the Fuschia just happened to be in the garden at the same time!

Saturday, July 28, 2007


The sun shone once again today; so infrequent have been its visits of late that I thought it worth a mention. A reasonably leisurely start to the day was only slightly marred by a parcel delivery, before 9.00am, which necessitated a swift donning of dressing gown to cover my birthday suit (I have no desire to make callers envious of my wonderful physique)! Of course my beloved had already been scooting around and, at that time, was out doing the weeks major grocery shop, hence the delivery’s intrusion on my much needed bed rest.

Having received the parcel, I re-immersed myself in the duvet lair; it didn’t take too long for me to find further respite in the arms of Morpheus. When I re-awakened, my beloved provided a little sustenance (in the form of a bacon sandwich) to break my nocturnal fast then, after checking e-mails on my PC, I performed a little low key pottering about in the garden. Meantime, my beloved was finalising her preparations for the service she’ll be taking tomorrow at Harlow Hill chapel.

As the afternoon progressed, and after a couple of years hesitant consideration, I thought it may be time to go and have a look at some micro hi-fis. Unlike several previous such excursions, this visit ended up in making a purchase; for some considerable time I’d considered my Hi-Fi system was occupying too much space in the living-room so, it has now been transferred (after disconnecting sundry leads from its six components and the speakers) to a less used room upstairs. The re-assembly will take place in due course, once sufficient resources of stamina can be drawn upon.

Once the new system had been set up, and a further meal consumed, it was time for me to begin preparations for tomorrow’s lunch. I always enjoy the aromas of the various spices and herbs I chuck into the griddle pan as I give them a pre-heat. The main dish having been prepared (or perhaps pre-prepared), I put on a Lucinda Williams CD as accompaniment to the mid-evening relaxation and, an opportunity to play with my new toy.

Aches and perspiration pale into insignificance besides my rejoicing in this day the Lord has made.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

An Expensive Tomato Plant

I have, today, submitted the following e-mail, headed ‘A Miraculous Gift – not quite what it seemed’, to the

In early May this year, my wife received a ‘Happy Birthday’ Pocket Garden Gerbera. We carefully followed the instructions and, within the first three weeks, one seed germinated.

As the seedling started to mature, I was quite surprised at how familiar the foliage appeared as I hadn’t realized that I would be familiar with the leaves of the Gerbera. As the weeks passed, the resemblance of the foliage to that of the tomato plants (subsequently established in our greenhouse) seemed quite remarkable. This week, as the flowers began to appear, they seemed identical to those on our tomato plant.

So, the sequence goes like this:

In May, we planted 5 ‘Gerbera’ seeds.

Three weeks later one seed germinates.

The seed that germinated is now in its rightful place, alongside the other tomato plants, in our greenhouse.

The days of miracles have not yet passed but, I do hope this is not a constant trait with ‘Pocket Gardens’. I don’t know the pricing of these miraculous gifts, sent to my wife by my brother along with other presents but, I feel it’s safe to assume it was considerably more than that of one tomato seed. “Never look a gift horse in the mouth”, the saying goes, but we are now hopeful that the fruit of this ‘Gerbera’ will soon be in our mouths. As for any floral display, we can now forget it!


Having subsequently checked the prices on their website, I discover that this tomato seed cost £4.95!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Personally Political

Another day of bright sunshine; after all the recent weeks of downpour, each bright day feels like a privileged bonus. Problem is, I can’t really tolerate very warm conditions but, at least it deters me from risking overdoing things. Even my time sat beside the pond is reduced to a maximum of half-an-hour but, that’s time enough to notice all the little areas of the garden that need a bit of tidying up. It’s a hard discipline to prevent oneself from jumping up and getting to work with fork, spade and secateurs although, I have gradually learnt to deal with the guilt of sitting idly by.

When I was able to both work and play hard there didn’t seem to be a problem with ‘chilling out’ but, when one’s health prevents one from having a ‘regular’ job (or indeed doing too much socializing), it’s truly amazing how much guilt is promoted from ‘necessary’ inactivity. Quite strangely, if the lack of activity was from choice guilt wouldn’t even enter into the equation; it would simply be a lifestyle choice. Unfortunately, being raised so deeply entrenched in the protestant work ethic, idleness seems almost to be a violation of societal values.

I don’t want this to sound self-pitying, my life is predominantly a joyful one (a myriad of discomforting ailments notwithstanding) revelling in a catholicity of interests artistically, theologically and philosophically. I also have the privilege of being able to enjoy such simple pleasures as observing the piscine activity in both our garden pond and aquarium, watching the birds and butterflies in the garden and, most importantly, being loved by (and loving) ma belle Helen.

What prompted this self-examination was a comment submitted to the Jeremy Vine programme (BBC Radio 2) saying that “all the ‘poor’ needed to do was get off their backsides and get a job”. The appalling ignorance of such statements made me cringe; my immediate thought was of the Auschwitz motto “ARBEIT MACH FREI”; what a joyous freedom those victims of forced labour enjoyed! Some of the hardest working people I have ever met (or known of) are still, thanks to the appalling inequities of the labour market, caught in the poverty trap.

At a time when I worked for a local authority, in response to a question concerning better salaries or promotion as a result of people attaining their goals in the National Vocational Qualification scheme, the well paid spokesperson (for Investors In People, I believe) had the gall to respond to the effect that, it was to enable them to get more satisfaction whilst retaining their same status. So much for social mobility!

For myself, I was fortunate in having job satisfaction in an underpaid position; I did in fact move on to a lower paid position elsewhere, on the straightforward grounds that it was a necessary and rewarding position. Money has never been a major motivating force for me but, I cannot escape the feeling that the venture capitalists are the most voracious parasites in the developed world, making their fortune at the expense of the poorest members of society.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sitting on the sofa, watching all the birds go by ...

The collar dove gives me a disparaging look as I lean out of the stable door to enjoy a cigarette. He seems almost oblivious as he sits atop the twin feeder hooks and, I sense the frustration that he’s unable to hang onto these feeders like the smaller avians do. Maybe he’s a little more disgruntled as I forgot to replenish the bird-table with feed at just the time the collar doves have found a way to squeeze under the tables roof. (Wood pigeons fail in this task, even after multitudinous attempts).

It’s remarkable the pleasure one receives from simply watching the house sparrows make a beeline for the pole mounted polycarbonate seed feeder, where they then hover themselves onto the perches. The seed flows from this particular feeder at a much greater speed than from the dove topped twin feeders so, they only deign to visit those when their feeder is in need of replenishment or, they wish to avoid a squabble with its current occupants. The dunnocks have really wised up to this free-flow of seed and eagerly hoover up the fallen grains.

It’s really quite remarkable that dunnocks, with their reputation for skulking solitary behaviour, are evident in such abundance in this area of the garden.


Yesterdays posting, ‘Dreams or Passion?’, can be found on Mal’s Murmurings

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Consuming Passion

Although I enjoy a (health-imposed) rather sedentary lifestyle, I am still quite frequently unable to find the time to blog about the many exciting and mundane events that I feel I should (or could) comment about. In the pursuit of sedentarism, I am required to imbibe the odd glass or two of fermented grape, many of which prove worthy of favourable comment but, the enjoyment of the tasting and swallowing distracts me from this eulogising; no comment or description can ever live up to the experience.

This vinous pursuit throws up some remarkable variations, even from the same grape variety grown and produced in the same region. I am currently involved in the consumption of a Hunter’s Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough, 2005) which proves quite unlike any other Marlborough Sauvignon I have had the pleasure of sampling. Both nose and palate prove most pungently ‘gooseberry’ and, a sensational dryness tingles the inner lip as well as the palate. What both myself and my beloved are unable to sense is any of the ‘tropical fruit’ declared on the back label but, I certainly detect an underlying hint of black pepper, a quality more commonly detected in a red wine. A certain liveliness determines that I should hold-off the next bottle for at least another year, it still seems remarkably young for an antipodean 2005 vintage.

By now, I trust my loyal readers will understand how such time consuming pursuits correlate to the paucity of postings.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

A Tale of Aquatics, Compost and Comestibles

After a not so unusual sluggish start to the day, incorporating bacon and eggs delivered to the bedside by ma belle Helen, I eventually entered the active world. Early afternoon, we ventured down to the local Brewer’s Fayre for dinner before heading off to the garden and water-garden centre.

Having purchased a container, described as a terrace pond, which we’ve located amongst the planted containers in the gravelled area of the garden, I set about transferring a couple of lilies from the garden pond which was becoming somewhat overcrowded. I appreciate that it’s not really the appropriate time for such a transplant, two flowers having just passed their best but, both plants have new shoots under way.

Aquatic tasks completed and adrenalin still surging, I sought out further garden tasks (admittedly there’s never really a shortage of gardening chores) whilst flesh as well as spirit both seemed willing. I’d thought for a while about re-siting the compost bin and, after a brief struggle (ably assisted by my beloved) managed to remove it from its entire contents, the ripest compost to be dispersed around various areas of the garden. Having re-sited the bin, the residue of its content was duly returned along with an adequacy of worms.

Once I’d demolished a nourishing supply of sandwiches, for my tea, a little rest time was called for but, by 9.00pm I felt inspired to set about preparations for Sunday dinner. The resultant dish is a rather special chicken curry, utilizing my own individual selection of spices; of course I’m trusting that the finger lickings from the griddle pan, in which the bulk of the meal was prepared, are a true and honest reflection of this impending delight!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

A Right Load of Bankers!

Firstly, I must concur with my beloved’s latest posting, to be found on ‘Bright Light’, about the pleasure we have in welcoming our friend Graham as a visitor and, how well he seems compared to the last time he visited. When he lived in Harrogate, he was our regular guest for Sunday Lunch and, we would always see him at least once more during the week. He accepts us as we accept him, warts and all. That is the nature of true friendship.

Helen’s blog then goes on to describe the unwanted services and benefits her bank attempted to sell her yesterday. It really is fortunate that they permit a cooling off period as I became most irate when I read the small print and the (unwittingly) hilarious* description of the review that had taken place. My anger as I devoured the finer details reached way beyond simmering point. My immediate reaction was of the order that, with corrupt capitalistic ventures pretending to offer a service whilst the shears with which they intend to fleece you remain behind their back make this a world unfit to live in. I am quite sad to report that I am a shareholder of this bank, dating back to the time after I voted against the de-mutualization of the building society.

It required a considerable amount of time for me to recover my usual life-affirming posture.

It seems about time that we acquired a more honest English vocabulary, one where the term “service provider” is replaced by “excessive profit maker” and the phrase “we’d like to offer you the benefits of ….,” could be replaced with “we’d like to get our hands on more of your money and, offer fools gold in return”!

It’s good to know that I can still be blessed with a degree of cynicism, as I boldly observe the amazing expansion of Thatcherite ideas under New Labour.

Follow this link, How Banks make money, to read Helens blog posting.

*hilarious only in its inaccuracy.