Tag Archives: equipment

A sporting post

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In spite of a deep resistance to all forms of sport, I do believe I have invented a new one:  Bumble Badminton.  Here is the necessary racquet:

I’m getting quite good at this sport.  The stupid creatures ramble into the conservatory when I am potting on, and seem to think I may have nectar in my ears.

Four is probably the maximum number of players, assuming you have enough racquets, but playing solo is safer.  I’ve decided that points are awarded based on the distance each stroke moves the object towards the goal (door), and subtracted for the distance it returns in between strokes (one point per yard), and also for false strokes.   Two extra points are received when the object is propelled through the egress, and style marks are given when it is struck cleanly from the sweet spot on the racquet (the bristles), or for good playing technique, i.e. nothing else in the environment is contacted.

All points are forfeited if the target is squashed.  Breakages must be paid for, and the umpire’s decision is final.

Mostly horticultural

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On any list of Silly Things To Do, potting on dozens of plants while wearing a white dress must be fairly high up.  But it is my loosest and airiest dress, and at eight this morning it was already hot.  Smears might come out in the wash – maybe.

Meantime, the tide of plant pots rose and rose, filling the garden tables, obstructing the paving, covering the coal bin, overflowing down the steps, and lapping at the doors.  Plant after plant, knocked out of its small pot, was tucked briskly into the new litre pot with nice fresh compost; I was amused to detect in myself the manner of an old-fashioned nurse doing her hospital corners.  If I can fend the slugs off, I trust most of my patients will survive.

This is a table.  I haven’t seen it for several years as it has been covered with guinea pigs and seedlings in trays and plants in pots.  Look:  still shiny!

Abject crawling

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was required to get under the inconvenient pipe work.  But we are ok to crawl in a good cause, and a set of cavities this elegant was irresistible.

The horned frog isn’t my photo.  But I held the torch.

All on a summer’s day

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Well it was about 80° by 9 o’clock again, so I went to water the plants before it became intolerable.  While on this placid duty, the

biggest

blackest

hugest

enormous

VASTACEOUS

WALLUMPING

bumblebee flew straight down the neck of my shirt.

Having in this compendious manner tried to achieve heat stroke and heart attack in the same encounter, I treated myself for shock and proceeded with the day.

At 10 o’clock we headed to a convenient beach.  There was a ruffling breeze and on the fairly steep-to shingle the waves made aggressive dashes at our knees.  Wet skirts were not a problem in the circumstances …

At noon the curtains were pulled against the sun and with local old-fashioned milk (full of old-fashioned top-of-the-milk) we made raspberry ice cream – yum, zingy.

And having run out of tosh for the moment, another book at 1 pm:

 

Wendy Moore has written an interesting double biography of Thomas Day and Sabrina Sidney/Bicknell.  The key narrative element is that Day, a dogmatic, wealthy and eccentric 18th century bachelor, tried to create a wife to his own specifications by acquiring and educating his own personal orphan, naming her Sabrina Sidney.  The morality of this is more complex than at first appears – less obnoxious because it did not in fact seem to cloak sexual abuse or pædophilia, and did in fact benefit his protégé in terms of prosperity and education; and more obnoxious, because the bald description of ‘apprenticeship’ barely indicates the mental manipulation, ownership, occasional physical cruelty and minute control he expected to exert over Sidney.  What could possibly go wrong?  Quite a lot, but again, no simple moral to be drawn.

It seems that the story was too good to waste, its afterlife leaking into several novels, and perhaps eventually into Shaw’s Pygmalion.  Having read this account of Day’s experiment (and also Pygmalion), I can well believe it.

And now at another 9 o’clock, it’s time to water the frazzled pot plants again.  Dare I brave the invertebrates?

Creaking slightly

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and not feeling creatively adventurous.  I’ve used up nearly all the algae-encrusted, dried-out or slimy remnants at the bottom of plastic sacks, though, which is a sort of achievement.

The mugs and jugs are bog-standard stoneware and I hope their simple shapes will show off my favourite green glaze with its dark tan colour break.  Fingers crossed.  The main practical problem at the moment is to slow down the drying, as the conservatory temperature is peaking at about 85° in the shade.  So the kitchen table is now fully occupied with slightly whiffy clay, outgassing slowly.

Nothing much to be said either for the basic flowerpots made with the local clay from the beach.  Since I don’t know if they will fire successfully, I’m not going to invest a lot of time in each piece.  I’m guessing that holes at the bottom and in the rims may weaken their structure and crack the pots, but we’ll soon see.

Creak creak.

Recent intermission

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Reading time has been rather gobbled up.

I may have selected this based on a subconscious connection with grass and the breaking of impenetrable sod:

Somehow I have managed to miss reading it down all the years; meeting as an adult, it raised quite a few questions.  One concerns the apparently reckless way the father takes his family off on a dangerous journey.  We have gone soft now.  Or perhaps it didn’t seem as dangerous, when any life was dangerous – even staying tucked into the most secure and prosperous home could not protect you from the epidemics of infectious disease which cut swathes through many a family.  Or perhaps pressure of poverty was strong enough to drive the migrants on. Then there’s the way Ingalls apparently makes the decisions without input from his wife (ah the good old days – ‘she for god in him’ etc.) And worst, of course, are the passages dealing with the native Americans.  Ingalls is portrayed as liberal, humane, but assumes that the western country is his to take because the inhabitants “weren’t using it”, and he is furious when, having illegally moved into Indian reservation land, he and other settlers were required to leave “their” farms. Ugly.

Then there is this delicate little sippet of a book.

Ah, the pure sensory pleasure of its satiny dust jacket, the smooth crispness of the coated paper, the careful balance of text and image, the reposeful colours, the spine coherent without wilful springiness, the clean smell rising from every page turn. This made it quite difficult to concentrate on the actual subject matter, but it too was charming in its miscellany of science, technology, art and history, and although the coverage is very slight, there’s a further reading list handy at the back.

One phrase, though originally intended to be satirical, spoke truth to me as an observer:  Thomas Tomkis in 1615 characterised a telescope as “an engine to catch starres”.  Out in the darkness with the Dob, that’s just what it feels like.

Siphonophore or salp?

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Horticulture is all very well,

housework is never all very well, but no doubt it is good for one’s character (just some cushion plumping still to be done),

but they interfere with the important things in life, namely watching someone colour in the floor of the Pacific stripe by stripe.  I feel like Slartibartfast.

Then there is the crucial business of blue water going by for an hour, or possibly two, occasionally diversified by some passing gelatinous improbability, until we arrive at the main event:  the ocean floor, a varying number of kilometres but always a Very Long Way Down.

Here one can inspect more gelatinous creatures, the occasional fish, and a variety of coral.  Unfortunately, being live from the other side of the world, they usually reach bottom just at the time all British people should be in bed.  What technical genius, though, not only to send ROVs to that depth, but to live stream HD video to all and sundry, along with baffled commentary from assorted specialists.  It’s just as much fun as reindeer – though I do occasionally wish the scientists were speaking Norwegian.

For those who live in another hemisphere, or don’t mind propping up their eyelids with matchsticks:

http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/okeanos/media/exstream/exstream.html

Remnants

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Reindeer and the garden have cut severely into reading time.  In a remnant, I have caught up with one of my Bargains.

Reading about the ancient games was a strange mixture:  some aspects so familiar, and most so entirely alien.  I offer one quotation.

Kleomedes of Astypalaia, though denied victory in the boxing at the 492 BC Olympiad – because he killed his opponent – and despite a subsequent fit of madness that caused the deaths of sixty schoolchildren, … was likewise paid heroic honours, sanctioned by the Delphic oracle.  (p 168)

Hmmmm.

Elsewhere, I stole some time from the garden to go shopping.  Prize of the day was buttons.  Not quite sure what to do with them, but buttons always come in.  (Don’t they?)