turned on a beautiful penultimate day for us.
Yesterday’s transport was well fouled-up, worse for many others than for me, and perhaps it would be insensitive to talk about a Black Hole on wheels. Still, enforced intimacy with the other wedged standees made occasion for the kindness of women, hot news from the Hong Kong riots mingling with sisterly or motherly encouragement for the youngest, late for her interview. Hope she got it.
Falling feverishly out of the train, I encountered more womanly kindness: the church ladies supplying home made scones and tea, jokes, and advice to take five minutes quiet upstairs. It was good advice too, and I wish I could have fitted the whole ceiling into the shot.
The rain held off, the cathedral filled up, the parents did their thing, and one of the nearests-and-dearests shared Emma with me by earbud to mask the announcer, but she left me in the lurch just before the Chancellor’s speech, when I needed Austen the most. The Chancellor read a “poem” – a long poem – what he had wrote. It was … bad. Other excesses of the day included scarlet cloth and purple squiggles (jacquard? brocade? I never know) and a pink tie. And a bonnet.
Today: a forced march in the damp morning to look at a teeny place face-lifted by the upwardly mobile. Is it Destiny or a dud? I have opened a bottle, but so much progress has been made in the kitchen that for a moment I thought it would have to be drunk from a chipped mug or a marmalade jar.
There’s rather a lot for one.
Sad on the bus to see an elderly man talking quietly but angrily to himself all the way, while the beautiful downs flowed by on the right and the beautiful beautiful sea passed on the left.
After eating a final archetypal cheese scone (though like all archetypes, they are not quite what they were) it was time to wander past the respectable houses and then the edge of the marshes, glimpsing towards the chalk.
The bay was draughty rather than stormy; even so the spray was flying from the prom, and the lucid (and literal) aquamarine turned ominous as soon as the sun left it.
A lifeboat station shop yielded second-hand books (a rash purchase at this moment) and a sugar fix. On the bus, the downs flowed on the left and the sea passed on the right.
one instalment of an indefinite journey. On this basis it could be a long one.
I looked on Wikipedia, but, although discoursing on their evolution, flight, reproductive habits etc., the article was obstinately silent about flavour.
Which left me with a question about the elderflowers: to wash, or not to wash? The former removes the pale pollen as well as a good many flies; the latter will keep the pollen, but also more animals will be retained, infusing their possibly noxious juice when I pour the hot syrup over. Ummm.
greenhouse audit. Must have been breeding all winter.
The image is fraudulent. 1) the clear soil denies certain thickets of roots that are impossible to excavate. Some of them are from the hydrangea petiolaris on the fence, but roots of nettle and bramble and bindweed are woven inextricably among. 2) what appears to be tilth is a thin skim of spent compost raked over the horrible clay lumps, gravel and fragments of concrete that pass for earth. 3) the slant of sunshine disguises that this is north-facing. 4) the fences shelter from wind, but also from rain, and this is dry – all the way to the bottom.
The petiolaris, God bless it, copes with anything, and can be left to get on. As for the new border “soil”, in such adverse conditions it is a question of throwing in everything you’ve got, and seeing what survives.
Bother Oxford, I thought sniffily, going out as the rain slowed. So I turned left, interested by the curious mixture of pretension and seediness that characterised the area. (Click an image for the gallery)
Today I travelled home. Someone burned the toast at Oxford station and we evacuated, but luckily that was the only drama.
By my count the bindweed is winning 108 to 4.
It took a while, partly because I have to cherish my back. Not digging up the linaria and roses while I go after the beastly stuff is a problem. And as the brontosaurus said, it only lasts a minute.
Looking among the assorted plant projects, to fill in where the wallflowers were, I found some half decent iris sibirica and libertia in middling pots, and some eryngium in little pots. Make a note, fellow not-very-keen gardeners: those plants have been neglected for more than a year, drowned or desiccated alternately, and starved, and they are still trying.
There is a pleasure in filing away papers, notes, drafts, books. I earned the day with an hour or two of gardening, and an hour or two of housework. Then – light, languid, almost convalescent – drinking tea, reading tosh, and talking to newts.