A Gooseberry Afterthought…

… and an excuse to post another photo of a gooseberry.

As I was checking on the way dictionaries expressed the pronunciation of ‘gooseberry’, I found a few interesting uses of the word.

It is, or was, possible to have gooseberry eyes, which are, so they say, dull and grey, like boiled gooseberries! Or how about a gooseberry wig, which is large and, apparently, ‘frizzled’. Most people have heard of playing gooseberry, but to play old gooseberry was to cause havoc or mischief, ‘Old Gooseberry’ being the Devil himself!

There are also still a few gooseberry shows around the country, such as the famous one at Egton Bridge in North Yorkshire, which started in 1800.  Somehow I don’t think the ones in my garden would qualify, but they still look good to me!

I seem to recall that the single gooseberry produced by my plant last year turned a deep red, so possibly more gooseberry ramblngs to follow…

Gooseberry or Gooseberry?

I’ve only got one gooseberry plant; it’s in a fairly small container and has been sadly neglected. Every time there’s a hint of a breeze in the wind tunnel that is my garden, it topples over. But now it’s rewarded me with some of its glowing green gems, so I know I have to repay it by finding it a new and safer home.

On the subject of the gooseberry – how to pronounce the word? One of the dictionaries I consulted tells me it’s:

‘gʊzbəri   or   ‘gʊzbri

but it could also be

‘gu:sberi

(Apologies to experts if I’ve typed these inaccurately: it was quite difficult to find the right symbols.) I remember my grandmother using the first pronunciation, but my mum uses the last one, as do I. However you pronounce the word, they’re delicious!

Plodding Along…

This sums up what I’ve been like lately with my blog.  Very, very slow.  I’m afraid it’s probably always going to be a bit of a stop-start process for me – at least for the foreseeable future – until work and family become a little easier to manage.

This little stone tortoise was given to one of my children by a family friend some time ago.  It had resided in her garden for quite a long time before that, I believe, so it’s understandably looking somewhat weathered, but that is part of its charm. I keep forgetting all about it and then it turns up again to make me smile and remember.

So today, when it appeared, I realised it was telling me something.  Time to start blogging again!  Lots going on in the garden, so will update this week…

Can you see me?

Not one of my better photographs, it’s true, but it amused me when I found I could actually see the orange tip butterfly I’d pointed my camera at in desperation. Orange tip butterflies are, for me, a sign that spring has well and truly arrived and that summer is on its way.  I look out for them every year.  On this occasion, it didn’t work out – until I spotted this one!  He was half way down a relatively steep bank of tangled vegetation, and over a wall to boot!

I pointed, I shot, I laughed at myself. The only orange tip I’d seen all day; I was on my way home and he was so out of reach. Such is life!

Hope you enjoy my butterfly version of ‘Where’s Wally?’

Dear Diary

You are the only one I can tell about this.  You see, I’ve done something very silly, and I don’t know what to do.

When I took the washing out of the machine this morning, a soggy wad of paper plopped on to the kitchen floor. Filled with an all too explicable mixture of curiosity and apprehension, I picked it up and peered at it, quite forgetting the basketful of tangled clothes which glowered at me, impatient to be hung out on the line. The sodden mass of paper appeared to consist of more than one sheet, folded over and packed tightly so that the whole structure resembled a miniature Swiss roll. However, this wasn’t what you might be thinking (a roll of banknotes). Oh, no. Indeed not. This was something far worse. This was an exam revision paper. And not just any revision paper. This was Physics! My son’s most difficult school subject, and the exams coming up in a few days. Calamity!

I had to act quickly, Diary. I remembered what the main character had done in a book I read recently. Sian, working on an archaeological dig in the atmospheric town of Whitby, with its brooding, haunted abbey and its hundred and ninety-nine steps. You see, she was given some terribly creepy papers in a glass bottle and had to unroll them with infinite care to reveal a (possibly) terribly creepy secret which had been locked in the bottle for ages. It helped that she was a qualified conservator of old papers and parchment and knew exactly what she was doing. Whereas I only had my panic-driven instincts.

Diary, I used something I can most accurately describe as intuitive autopilot. Gently, I peeled and separated the delicate layers: damp, dulled, greyish. Soon enough, I found myself able to make a judgement about the size and age of the paper.  A4, folded into an A5 booklet.  Photocopied approximately two weeks ago. Tiny black letters and numbers plotted together into questions and equations. Dotted lines for answers, like tiny black beads of Whitby jet. Which is where Sian was working on her papers.  (You know, Diary, the terribly creepy ones.) Spooky. And … no! A tear, a hole, a gap, as the stubborn pages stuck damply together, and I unwisely tried to pull them harder.  But it was too late to stop, Diary. And so the sorry process continued, until I was holding two rectangular doilies up to the light, hoping the Physics in them hadn’t slipped through the holes like potato water through a colander. Would my son notice? Would he still be able to do his revision? Should I own up?

I’m not ready to share the secret of what I did next, so no one will ever know.  Not even you, Diary. Though the truth will out, they say.
But you can find out what happened to Sian by reading ‘The Hundred and Ninety-Nine Steps’ by Michael Faber.