Monthly Archives: July 2016

Only one mistake


Just harvested the last pick of Douce Provence and the first big pick of Lord Leicester.  I am only sorry not to have planted more, but I have a random packet of Kelvedon which claims they can be sown in July for a late crop, so let’s test that proposition …

I’d be a happier pea picker if it wasn’t that the Araneus diadematus are beginning to hang themselves up in the pea plants like evil blackberries. (Before anyone tells me not to be wussy about harmless little invertebrates, these brutes have fangs, and they can and do BITE.)  And because gardens always have to rub it in about Eden, there is a distinct smell of fish wafting about, which must mean a corpse concealed in the undergrowth.  I am quite keen not to tread in it.

Meantime:  I’ve been eating peas nearly every day for a fortnight or three weeks; anyone want to bet I can’t eat these by tomorrow night?


Tuning the etalon


And I’m still quite excited that I have my very own etalon to tune.

I risked heatstroke today for an observation with the solar scope.

The red image is beautiful and I could see the active region which is about to rotate off the disc, some prominences including one which was showing the classic loop shape, and filaments looking darker on the bright background.  I am still training my eye and learning what can be teased out from the image with different eyepieces and by twiddling the ring which supposedly adjusts the etalon – handicapped by having the scope mounted on a flimsy camera tripod which wobbles like a b****r if you even breathe on it, and which of course has to be manually adjusted every couple of minutes as the sun moves out of the eyepiece.

Photography is an even more annoying animal, though I did get my little Canon out for an experiment.  Quite apart from the wobbling thing and the lining up with the eyepiece thing and the focusing thing there is the exposure thing:  based on today’s photos, if the exposure is long enough to reveal the prominences, the disc is so over-exposed that the filaments and even the sun spots disappear, and vice versa.  And the camera can’t render the gorgeous vermilion of the image at all.

Sun 22nd Jul 2016

For what it’s worth, here is a fuzzy and almost featureless image of the sun but NB it does actually show some prominences.  The eye of faith might even discern some indication of the active region (at about half past two on the disc).  So this is progress.  Let’s worry about focusing another time.

And did I get sunstroke?  No; in true astronomer fashion (who cares what people think?) I fended it off by putting a small ice pack inside my hat.  Dribbly!

Warning to non-astronomers:  never look directly at the sun, especially not through any optical equipment such as binoculars or telescope, as permanent blindness is the likely result. The solar telescope I use is  specialist astronomy equipment, which excludes almost all the light of the sun and is therefore safe to use.

At one with my compatriots


… in being very hot indeed.  Unlike many of my compatriots, I have a temporary refuge.

At seven o’clock this evening the day shift of holiday-makers was going home, and the second shift of local residents was drifting steadily in, but if you walked far enough there was elbow room.

1 second shift

Walking through the waveline is deeply enjoyable when you can happily allow the odd random biggie to splash all over your skirt, as the breeze is warm enough to dry it out in ten minutes flat.

Later the moon was low and the sky was high.

2 high

At 10.30 pm it is still 25°C and I resentfully notice that, according to the local live weather station, the temperature is edging upwards again.  Where are those ice lollies I made earlier…


Hatchet job


Another root ball problem, and the plants have visibly ceased to cope, though they must have liked it until now as they have proliferated largely.  I had to bash the pot from the roots with a lump hammer and saw off the base of the root ball,

1 balland then my neighbour who loves to undo the inextricable came and did something fairly scientific with an axe,

2 hatchet jobfollowing which I did something rather less scientific with my little hatchet.  The pot yielded fourteen separate agapanthus plants, plus three completely random libertia plants which had wedged themselves in somehow without human assistance.

3 hospitalI’ve rammed them into pots with minimal compost, and now they have to go into plant hospital in the shade somewhere.  We’ll see how many can cope with their necessary surgery.

Cross with the cosmos


The ruling passion has been snubbed by the cosmos once too often and I am off on another tack, muttering crossly:  See if I care.

So it’s back to Old English, in abeyance for a while, but a fair bit of the earlier efforts seem to have stuck. It would probably make more sense to go backwards from Chaucer (easy enough), through Middle English (acquiring archaic forms and spelling by increments), and fetch up in the truly obscure (Bede and Alfred).  Unfortunately the attraction is the properly old Old.

1 languageSince a little Bede goes a long way when you have to look up the pronunciation for four out of five words and check the meaning of half of them, some history could be a good side-by-side read.  This is left over from a previous life

2 substantialbut is heavy in every sense of the word.  So I had a Bargain in Waterstones with my loyalty points

3 solvedand then in the local cheap and cheerful found another, even better, Bargain.  Really did not expect to find anything relevant there.

4 serendipitousUnfortunately one thing led to another.

5 unfortunateShhh.  I’m reading…

A plant pot fell on my head


… complete with plant and compost.  This was an obvious cue to re-pot all my large house-plants, which now look ravaged owing to my brisk way with the scissors, but again I am relying on their marvellous green resilience.

ravagedCompost on the head was also a (less obvious) cue to sort and re-shelve about 40% of the books – my fiction has not been in alphabetical order since 2013.  Worrying about this sounds prissy until you need your Very Favourite Most Comforting Read* at short notice and can’t find it because it has randomly gone to ground somewhere among 382 other items.

*Complicated by the fact that the Very Favourite Most Comforting Read varies according to circumstances.