Step 1 – Tulips

In a little-read post (and I can’t blame anyone for that, as it was mainly a note to myself), I outlined Four Garden Plans. One of them was to plant some red tulips, for a burst of colour in the spring of 2017.

I bought two small packs of tulip bulbs, one red, one very dark purplish-black, and, in my usual haphazard way, planted them around the garden. Now I just have to wait, and try to identify step 2!

 

(The featured image is of a beautiful single tulip I found growing by the roadside. It appeared on my Instagram feed sometime last year.)

 

A Stroll Round the Market…

… in Bury St Edmunds

I was lucky enough to spend a couple of hours in Bury St Edmunds last weekend, breaking a long journey on a hot day. It’s a place with a long and fascinating history, and the market is no exception, dating from the time of William the Conqueror.
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We parked near the imposing 14th century Abbey Gatehouse and walked uphill towards the market; the colourful streets were bustling with tourists as well as local people.

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The market itself is a wonderful, closely packed collection of over eighty stalls, selling everything from flowers to mobile phone accessories. Some traders were shouting their wares: a real, traditional market atmosphere. I bought strawberries, plums and samphire!

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Some very impressive old buildings form an attractive backdrop.

Of course, I could have spent far more time and money there, but I had to get on with the rest of my journey. However, I’d definitely like to go back and explore the history of Bury St Edmunds when I can.

Four Garden Plans

A few notes to remind me…

Sweet Peas

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Sweet peas from last year

I’ve just got rid of a container of everlasting sweet peas; they haven’t done very well at all this year. Whether this is because of all the rain we had a few weeks ago, or whether the plant has just run out of steam, I’m not sure. In any case, I’ve decided to replace it with a winter-flowering honeysuckle, which can now (I hope) start to flourish and climb the shed wall. However, I am hoping to grow some sweet peas from seed next year. Here’s a picture I took at the weekend when I visited a flower show; with any luck it will inspire me!

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Beautiful and delicate: sweet peas

 

Nerines (Guernsey Lilies)

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Nerine bowdenii, Oxford, December

As I mentioned in my post ‘Now Wait’, I planted a Nerine bulb in May. The picture above, of a Nerine bowdenii,  was taken in December 2015, in the wonderful University of Oxford Botanic Garden. The colour! Even though these plants were clearly coming towards the end of flowering, I found them beautiful and inspirational, so I thought I’d try one bulb in my garden to see how it went. Unfortunately, I think that very area has been trampled somewhat by someone cutting a hedge. It’s just a case of waiting and hoping now; they’re supposed to flower in autumn so you never know! I’m definitely going to try again next year, though, and make sure everyone knows where not to stand.

 

Red Tulips

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Snapped outside a bakery!

In spring, I kept noticing red tulips in so many local gardens; they provided a bold splash of colour and a change from all that (wonderful) yellow. Had I just not been looking before, or have they grown more popular? I don’t believe I’m easily swayed by fashion in gardens, but I thought they looked incredibly bold and cheerful, so – I’m in!

Lupins

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Lupin leaf

Lupins always seem to me to be such old fashioned flowers. I remember seeing them in my grandmother’s garden years ago. That’s probably where I found out what they were called, come to think of it. Anyway, I’ve loved them ever since. They look impressive in borders, with their spires of clustered flowers; the leaves are interesting too, particularly when they cradle water droplets, like pearls, in their centres. Definitely some lupins next year then.

So, I’m hoping this post will remind me to make the garden a more beautiful place next year. If anyone has any advice about when I need to buy or plant any of the above, I’d love to hear from you!

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Oh, yes, the camera problem. I’ll need to return my Tamron lens for repair, but I do have another lens which will do the job in the meantime. So not as bad as I’d feared!

Camera Woes

I hadn’t planned to post this morning, but…

My camera has been my constant companion (outside working hours) for some time now. When an error message appeared on the screen this morning, advising me to clean the lens contacts, I complied. I tried fiddling about and taking a few shots. At first, similar messages, awkward delays, and then… nothing. I can still see through it but can’t focus. Can’t take a picture.

This is what I am missing…

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fading pink rose

Enough moaning. What am I going to do about it?

  • There’s a great camera shop down the road; they will be able to advise, if not repair.
  • I can use the time to concentrate on writing.
  • I can spend more time in the garden.
  • I can take a lesson from that little spider in my previous post (‘A Little Inspiration’)!

 

Aspire

Twelve days ago, in my post ‘Into the Light’, I asked myself what I would achieve in the coming week and the rest of my holiday. So, although it might not sound like much so far…

  • I’ve made time to catch up with some old friends.
  • I’ve visited one of my favourite places: Ely Cathedral.
  • I’ve made a significant start on getting rid of the mountain of clutter in my house.
  • I’ve started to plan a writing project. (Excited but nervous about this one.)
  • I’ve done quite a lot of reading.

There’s much more to do, though, so here is a picture to encourage me to aim higher!

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Attic Finds

Part One in a (very) occasional series on objects I find as I carry out the Herculean task of clearing out the attic…

It’s like a furnace up in the loft space today. The hottest day of the year so far and I decided to enter that seldom-explored territory of tarry dust and precarious joists, where forgotten possessions glare balefully from their webs of neglect.

Some cry out to be rescued, though, and vinyl albums perhaps have more reason than most. Consigned to the spidery attic of history as soon as technology tired of them, do they dream of being played again? Do they long to spin for one last time, one final dance on the turntable of time?

Here are three. Donovan, Family, Pentangle and Tchaikovsky.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Pentangle cover seems (to me anyway), to have aged the least, with its plain, uncluttered design and bold colour. Family seem to have fared the worst in terms of their look, but listen to the music: it’s definitely worth it! Donovan is just Donovan – a 60s classic – and that’s meant as a compliment.

However, the show-stopper has to be the fourth: a ‘Swan Lake’ album cover. Startlingly pink, with yellow lettering, and a haughty ballerina. Pure 60s, I thought, until I looked on the reverse side and saw the date: 1959. Still, I’m sure that style boundaries between decades aren’t as rigid as we might think. Or perhaps the date referred to when the sleeve notes were written.

 

I brought them downstairs, cleaned the grime off them and took them outside into the sun to photograph them. Rescued at last! So now, will they ever be played again?

More to follow, I hope.

May Day Merits

I was going to enthuse about the merits of the May Day Bank Holiday yesterday, but ran out of time. I suspect we’re now expected to call it the Early Spring Bank Holiday, but that doesn’t have quite the same air of joy about it! So why do I rate it so highly?

Firstly, not everyone shares my feelings.

“Too soon after Easter”, say some.

“Useless at this time of year”, say others.

A blessed relief and rest, I believe, especially after an early Easter and a chilly start to spring, which has involved snow and sleet over the past two or three days.

I don’t make a particular effort to go out anywhere on any Bank Holiday Monday, and this one won’t be any different. The real pleasure of a Monday off work is, for me, the way it transforms Sunday. No pressure to prepare for work on Monday morning = pure relaxation.

Long live the May Day Bank hol!

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Too late for the coffee share?

Well, we’re not having coffee, unfortunately, because I couldn’t get myself organised in time.

However, I did want to record a couple of things this week, mainly to follow up on some of my recent posts.

The first piece of news, if you like, is that I’ve finished ‘Night After Night’, the third Phil Rickman novel in the series I’ve been immersed in (and I do hope not the last). This time, the spotlight falls on Grayle Underhill and Cindy Mars-Lewis; the setting is a particularly unpleasant building called Knap Hall. I love the way the author builds up tension and creates an unsettling atmosphere.

In case anyone is wondering, I’ve used a one of my own photos of a gargoyle to illustrate this post, in honour (if that’s the right word) of the Winchcombe Grotesques – enough to frighten any reader!

Gargoyle

Still in a somewhat sombre vein, I’m now reading ‘Love Story, With Murders’, by Harry Bingham. More on this at a later date, possibly…

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Just a note to confirm, more to myself than anything, that I have been wearing my Fitbit and making more of an effort to exercise. So far, so good. A slight blip though… one evening, after I’d made a special effort to go for a walk after work, it wouldn’t give me a reading. Turned out it needed a reset. which it promptly received. It then informed me I’d taken eight steps all day!

I’ve forgiven it, though, and the battle for fitness continues…