Saturday 30 July 2022

Another view

After being not-ill with covid last week, this week I am very ill with probably-flu and have now lain in bed for two days, practically unheard of in my adult life.
A year ago I posted an aerial view of the yard, and it looks even more lush this year, though the leaves on the persicaria is all brown and unhealthy and I'm not sure whether to cut it right back. I like the way the amount of concrete showing has decreased dramatically.
I have picked a few tomatoes but last night there was enough to adorn the pizzas (I bought two seedlings at Hulme Garden Centre when Claire visited and there was no info on them, one turned out to be a yellow tomato):
The nigella finally bloomed, which is lovely (and will self-seed Claire says):
and the tiny stocks flower, (the seedlings last year never grew and were major disappointment):
Meanwhile, in Japan ... beetle sex:

Stay safe. Be kind. If you have to stay in bed, just look out of the window.

Friday 29 July 2022

Meanwhile in Japan

Apparently you can buy random stag beetles in the supermarket.
Monkey's term finishes on Monday and then she is off to see the rest of Japan for a few weeks, then she is flying home. After much traumatic stress we managed to buy her ticket!! I am excited to see her again, but sad for her that the adventure is coming to an end.
Meanwhile, in the kitchen ... baby cucamelons:

Stay safe. Be kind. Go on an adventure.

Tuesday 26 July 2022

Little Happy Dance

Jacob and Kerri got married this morning.
No fuss, no nonsense.
What more do you need in life than to see your son happy.
Stay safe. Be kind. Do a little happy dance.

Wednesday 20 July 2022

Four Ospreys

Little balls of fluff have been transformed into modern day dinosaurs by the addition of many, many fish. They will be taking first flights any day now. Louis drops off a fish this morning and the chicks get stuck in without any help, or even offering Dorcha first bite.
You can vote in the choosing of the names on the Woodland Trust website this week.
Stay safe. Be kind. Two out of three ain't bad.

Tuesday 19 July 2022

Sick Day

People have been dropping like flies at work over the last few weeks and I rather smugly felt like I was fit and healthy, but a bit of a cough turned out to be covid after all. The advice is very ambiguous these days, but I messaged work to say I was staying home. So I got up early anyway and sat in the garden while it was still cool and worked on my sprog blanket. Did I mention the sprog? Grandsprog number two is due in December so I am making a miniature version of the blanket I made for mum and dad five years ago:
I hoped to spot a leaf cutter bee who have been busy in the garden but only a lovely honey bee came back and forth to the lavender flowers:
White poppies are loving the heat and seem to curl their petals up at night to sleep:
I removed the Cabbage White eggs that I found on my Daubenton Kale (from the Backyard Larder) (which I thought I had posted about, but it seems not) and some tiny caterpillars on the other kale, but then I spotted this lovely Holly Blue, which is much more welcome:
Something else had obviously been visiting the garden because I found several folded leaves on the physocarpus opulifolius; I peeped inside this one to find a little caterpillar:
And, I assume, some other kind of bug is ensconced in this curled leaf on one of the fuchsia plants that appears to have been sealed with a piece of petal:
Meanwhile, in the kitchen, the cucamelon plant is taking over:
It turns out my colleagues don't mind about me having an infectious disease so, since I am not actually ill, I'm going back to work tomorrow.
Stay safe. Be kind. Try not to cough on people.

Sunday 17 July 2022

Heatwave joys

The water buttts are empty so it's good old tap water for everybody in the garden. I moved the littlies round into the shady area in the hope of protecting them from the worst effects, and everyone seems to have survived, apart from a couple of seedlings that got munched by the slugs.
This lovely red fluffy spike flower is in the wildflower tub; I have no idea what it is but it delights me.
Here is a lovely melange of coriander gone to flower, cornflowers and lavender:
Here,  a beautiful borage flower:
And the buddleia on Dunk's doorstep has finally flowered. It started out a couple of years ago as a little weed, that got broken by passing traffic, but it was a determined little bugger and it has survived the utter lack of any nutrients or moisture to make its home four feet up some concrete steps:
Stay safe. Be kind. Stay hydrated and out of the sun.

Tuesday 12 July 2022

Swimming Lessons

Book number four by Claire Fuller is 'Swimming Lessons', sent by the library in large print, which was excellent for my failing eyesight. I do love the cover image on this too.

Although Gil is the centre of it all I did feel the book was about Ingrid and Flora. Flora mourns the unexplained disappearance of her mother, whereas her sister Nan seems to have a much more practical attitude to life, just getting on with things. Their elderly father Gil is dying and they flutter around him seeing to his every need, as women seems to have done his entire life. But we learn the back story via a series of letters, written by Ingrid and left randomly in Gil's vast and sprawling second-hand book collection. I fully intend to have a vast and sprawling second-hand book collection when I pop my clogs, and I guess setting light to them might be about as good an end as any. I'm not one of those people who think books are 'sacred', burning them is not a sin, even though it has been used historically as a means of repression and so the symbolism is quite emotive. There are a lot of books out there that are barely worth the paper they are printed on, but mostly it is the content of the book that matters, not the thing itself.

The having and not having of children feels like it is the central theme of the book, and the ambivalence many women have on the subject. And it feels appropriate to the recent happenings across the pond. Ingrid has both a miscarriage, and an abortion at one stage, because she cannot bear to have another child with a man who is so unreliable and when their financial situation is so precarious. Did she leave her family or did she drown? The question remained unanswered, partly because it did not matter, what mattered was the impact that it has on the people left behind. Here, after Nan and Gil have cleared out Ingrid's clothes:

"Two weeks after Nan had taken everything away, Flora went with her father into Hadleigh, and while he flicked through the second-hand books in the charity shop, she wandered to the back to rummage through the old tweed jackets and wide-collared shirts. A girl of about twenty came out of the changing room in Ingrid's chiffon dress - the skirt dragging on the carpet tiles, the neckband too tight. the girl stood in front of a mirror and twisted sideways, stretching around to look. Flors grabbed on to a clothes rail to keep herself upright, and glanced at the girl's reflection. She remembered the day she'd seen her mother wearing the dress, a sandy-coloured towel draped over one arm and a book in her hand. There was a waft of coconut - the colour of golden honey again, and Ingrid turning and stepping, turning and stepping, out into sunlight.
'It doesn't fit right,' the girls said to her friend, plucking at the gauzy fabric. 'And there's a rip in it.' She held up the bottom.
'It's old-fashioned, but not in a good way,' her friend said, lifting the skirt and sniffing. 'and it smells of dead people.' the girl wearing it twirled in front of the mirror and pretended to choke. They both laughed and returned to the changing room together. At the front of the shop Gil was still busy flicking through the books. His daughter slipped a cheap and ugly bead necklace off the display and dropped it into her coat pocket." (p.65-66)

And here, Ingrid, back when Nan is a baby:

"Four months later you sold a short story and when the money came through, in true Gil style you spent it on a holiday to Florence. An early birthday present or our second honeymoon, you said. I arranged for Megan, from the village, to take care of Nan while we were away. Megan was a year younger than me, happy to have some time off from the dairy, I thought. She picked Nan up with a confidence I still didn't have, held our daughter on her hip in a way that made me feel like I'd been faking motherhood for thirteen months.
She stood with Nan on the veranda as we got into the car, and she looked at me with pity, and naively I thought she must have heard about the miscarriage. She held Nan's tiny wrist so that our daughter waved us goodbye as you reversed the car out of the drive. By the time we reached the main road, my eyes had filled with tears. You put your hand on my knee.
'It'll be fine. Megan will look after her. What's the worst ...'
'... that could happen,' I finished for you, smiling feebly. But I didn't admit, not even to myself, that the reason I was crying wasn't because I was already missing Nan, but at the relief of getting away from her." (p.215)

I have enjoyed all of Claire Fuller's books, and what is interesting has been how different they have been. Some writers have a very distinctive story style, almost as if they write the same thing over and over, but her's have all had something new to say, often about the parent/child relationship.

Stay safe. Be kind. Sow some chicory now for an autumn crop (Vital Seeds)

Thursday 7 July 2022

Flying beasties

Lots of new things in the yard this afternoon. This one, buzzing furiously back and forth a few times, seems to be some kind of (parasitic) wasp, possibly a Ichneumon xanthorius

A female Small White butterfly passed through briefly and made my day, since butterfly visitors have been pretty much non-existent:

And this big fat 'fake' bee is (possibly) a Tapered Drone Fly. There are lots of things out there pretending to be bees, because who wouldn't want to be a bee.

I got very excited to see a bee flying away with a piece of leaf, and when I looked more closely at Alison's July Urban Bee guide I realised that this photo I posted the other day is very probably a Willughby's leafcutter bee:

I have been using this great website NatureSpot based in Leicestershire; it has a wonderfully comprehensive and helpful photo catalogue of UK insects and plants.
Stay safe. Be kind. Love the flying things.


Many, many Conservative MPs have been learning to use a new word in the last 24 hours. I wonder if they had to look it up, to check how it might apply to the behaviour of the leader they have supported over the last however-many-years of lying and evasiveness and inability to take responsibility for fuck-ups. Now they just seem like rats leaving a sinking ship. There is not one ounce of integrity amongst the lot of them. They have all sat back and helped their mates make a lot of money out of the pandemic, spent years grinding the NHS into the ground and presiding over the monstrous disaster that is Brexit. They have all cheered Boris along and covered for him, made excuses for his abominable behaviour. Our country deserves better. I am not sure we will get it.

Stay safe. Be kind. But that doesn't mean take shit from people.

Tuesday 5 July 2022

Goodies and Badies

I have been potting up random seedlings and enjoying the sunshine. And watching random flying things visiting the flowers. Not sure, some of them are bees, some of them are hoverflies. The hugest, fattest bumblebee I have seen passed through the yard, paused at a few places and then drifted off down the terrace before I could get a photo.
This one below is a very beautiful cranefly that sat on the sunflower leaf for ages yesterday:
Bee visiting the daisies:
Another bee visiting the scabiosa:
And then there were some badies. The sawfly larvae are back, this time they have attacked the dog rose:
And what I thought were just some kind of cute beetle thing I discovered are actually the dreaded vine weevils. I squashed him. Sorry. (I feel bad, what can I say, it was not a nice thing to do, even to something that is planning on munching my plants).

Stay safe. Be kind. But maybe not to vine weevils. And don't feel bad about protecting your babies.