Monday 30 September 2013


I am known in these parts
as a highly risk-averse person,
so when I spotted these magnificent specimens
I did not immediately think, 
'Yum, mushrooms on toast.'
In fact the aptly named Parasol mushrooms 
would have been quite safe to eat.

But later, I found some mushrooms in a field
looking so much like mushrooms in a supermarket
that emboldened by my survival of the last experiment
in 2010

I brought them home.
And ate them.

This little garning of crab apples
was insufficient for the purposes of preserving

but luckily I still have this jar from 2011
sitting on a shelf groaning under the weight 
of all the other unopened jars of
chutney, jam and marmalade.

I'll be alright for mincemeat too,
so if anyone sees me assembling the dried fruits
and sterilising jam jars,
please put out a gentle restraining hand.

Monday 23 September 2013


The lighting of the first fire since early Summer
now usually takes place.
And how pleasant it is, as the evenings close in,
to draw up to the hearth with the feeling that
the fire is not yet the only barrier
between us and extreme cold and discomfort,
but is merely an excusable luxury
letting us down gently and easily
into the chilly months to come.

How delightful, too, to be able to carry in
odd pieces of wood and fir cones 
found lying beneath trees -
all of which, when much heat is needed,
are not of great value -
but which now give a feeling of thrift,
and the idea that one is saving coal
for a time when it will be essential.

And lastly the woods now take on a quality
unknown in any other month.
After the dull, monotonous green of late Summer,
it is a relief to see the leaves beginning to thin a little,
and the form and shape of trees -
hidden from us since early June -
revealed once more in all their bare beauty.

The dead green gradually, very gradually,
lightens and faint yellows,

tinges of red, russet 

and copper appear.

One last pleasure September has yet to give -
perhaps the greatest or at least the most thrilling of all.
It is towards the end of the month that the gathering
of the first autumn mushrooms is almost a certainty.

Nothing quite comes up to the picking of 
the first September mushroom,
partly, no doubt, because in doing so
one has got the better of one's neighbours,
partly, one must own, because one is
getting something for nothing
and partly, one must own,
for gastronomic reasons.

From Garden and Hedgerow by Ethel Armitage
published 1939.

Wednesday 18 September 2013

Finders keepers

I wondered where this Tangutica clematis had gone.

Today I found out.

It has climbed out of my garden
and gone next door.
I can only see it now 
if I lean out of the bathroom window.
I hope the neighbours are enjoying it.
Below is what it looks like
when you haven't accidentally switched 
the white balance to a mystery setting.

But on the other side of the garden I am
the grateful recipient of dozens
of falling pears.
I'm certainly enjoying those.

Monday 16 September 2013

A shot in the arm

A shot of candy pink

and the germ of an idea
which I am nursing.
Always the best bit of any project.
It was the same with childhood play.
The planning was all that mattered.
The game rarely happened.

Illustrations from 1965 by Gwyneth Mamlok.

Friday 13 September 2013

Light bulbs

Just over a week ago.
Quite hard to believe.
The rain today is of the 
persistent lowering kind.
More is forecast for the weekend.

The lower the light levels fall,
the bigger my bulb order gets.

Wednesday 11 September 2013

Why worry?

No human thing is of serious importance.

Plato (427 -347 BC)

Take therefore no thought for the morrow:
for the morrow shall take thought
for the things of itself.
Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Matthew 6:34 (80 - 90 AD?)

Never let the future disturb you.
You will meet it, if you have to,
with the same weapons of reason
which today arm you against the present.

Marcus Aurelius ( 121 - 180 AD)

There were many terrible things in my life
and most of them never happened.

Michel de Montaigne (1533 -1592)

Do not anticipate trouble,
or worry about what may never happen.
Keep in the sunlight.

Benjamin Franklin (1706 -1790)

Drag your thoughts away from your troubles...
by the ears,by the heels,
or any other way you can manage it.

Mark Twain (1835 -1910)

It ain't no use putting up your umbrella until it rains.

Alice Caldwell-Rice (1870 -1942)

Worry is interest paid on debt not yet incurred.

William Ralph Inge (1860 -1954) 

When I look back on all these worries,
I remember the story of the old man
who said on his deathbed that
he had a lot of trouble in his life,
most of which had never happened.

Winston Churchill  (1874 -1965)

Worry is like a rocking chair -
it keeps you busy but gets you nowhere.


Blessed is the person who is too busy 
to worry in the daytime
and too sleepy to worry at night.

Leo Aikman (1908 - 1978)

Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow
but only saps today of its strength.

A.J. Cronin (1896 - 1981)

Linus via Charles M. Schulz (1922 -2000)

From Plato to Peanuts,
the message couldn't be clearer.
Don't worry.
Worry is fruitless.
Worry gets you nowhere.

But the message doesn't seem to be getting through.
So why worry?

Well I suppose I believe I am rehearsing
possible outcomes to problems
in the hope that if I think about them hard enough
I will be prepared for any eventuality -
a sort of insurance policy against all ills
and a superstitious proof of caring enough.

Well that might be a good enough argument, 
if having once gone through that process
I then put them in a box marked 'Dealt With' 
and left them there.
But no, I open it repeatedly
and pull out all those outcomes,
and the worry, instead of responding to this
careful re-examination by diminishing,
grows tentacles and fangs
and develops a lively personality of its own.
It is impossible to cram it back in the box.

So how can I control it?
I look back through the centuries for some help.
Most of the above sages are articulating
what I already know. 
Who is offering practical advice?

Leo Aikman says keep busy and tire yourself out.

Hmm. Not sure about that one.
The tentacled monster's insistent commentary 
plays on a loop like those annoying earworms, 
regardless of my activity level.

Vera Nazarian expresses the problem
somewhat apocalyptically,

Worry is the secret weapon perpetrated on us
by the dark forces of the world that work in the shape of
fear, uncertainty, confusion and loss.

but then rather surprisingly puts out a helping hand. . .

We on the other hand, have our own secret weapon
against those incorporeal fiends.
It is laughter.

Mark Twain is pragmatic.

Drag your thoughts away from your troubles...
by the ears, by the heels
or any other way you can manage it.

Benjamin Franklin says,
Keep in the sunlight.

I will muse upon these suggestions 
with palliative remedies to hand -
 a bag of yogurt-coated apricot pieces
and a Matt cartoon.

And if anyone has drifted down as far as this
perhaps they might like to
put forward their own remedies.

We used to have an animatronic fish
called Billy Big mouth Bass that sang this song.
It was very annoying.

Friday 6 September 2013

Pictures of Rudyard Kipling's home for Finn*

It was the heartbreaking Locomobile
 that brought us to the house called Bateman's.

We reached her down an enlarged rabbit-hole of a lane.

When they saw the house they said,

'That's her! The only She! 
Make an honest woman of her - quick!

Rudyard Kipling was already world-famous
when he bought Bateman's in 1902.
He wanted to live somewhere
 peaceful and secluded
and decided not to have a telephone!

The work on the garden,
which he designed himself,
was paid for out of the £7,700
he received for the Nobel Prize in 1907.
That's about $300,105 in today's money.

There is a working watermill.

The windows are engraved with verses.
This one reads,

Stop and hearken to me!
I will have no shredded wheat
And crucified flour for my tea.
I will have no wafers of rye;
But out of your golden hoard
I will have some honest meat
To bake a loaf for my board.

The miller is filling the hopper with grain.
The wheels must not turn if there is no grain
running through, because sparks might cause a fire.
There is a bell on a strap which is held down by 
a full hopper of corn.
When the hopper is nearly empty,
the strap is released and the bell rings a warning.

Visitors can try their hand at grinding corn
with a small millstone.

When Kipling was tired of his guests 
he would take them out into the garden
to look at his sundial.
It bears the inscription,
It is later than you think.
He hoped that they would take the hint
and decide to go home.

The front cover of my copy of
Just So Stories
shows How the Elephant Got his Trunk.

*Finn is a young fellow somewhere in the USA
who is studying Rudyard Kipling
with his mother Polly this term.
He has a sister, Annie,
whose hair is long enough for plaits now.
We have never met.

Wednesday 4 September 2013


keskiviikko 4. syyskuuta 2013

Tämä on minun lounas. Paahdettua punajuurta. 
Very nice. 
Ruisleipä liikaa.
Mieluummin nähdä itseni takana sumuinen verho.

*A respectful homage to Liivia Sirola, whose blog is even more ethereal and enigmatic after it has been through Google Translate.I am strangely drawn to it and wish my life to be glimpsed through gauzy filters from hereon in.

Tuesday 3 September 2013

He's off again

But with two large cases this time.

He managed to distract me 
in the lead up to his departure 
for a year in Japan
with talk of the new partnership 
that Finnair has with Marimekko.

I must now fly to Finland
as a matter of urgency.
Until that is possible,
I will peruse this blog
and listen to this:

Monday 2 September 2013

The rainbows are back

Twice a year,

(as you may remember) 

the dusty prisms on the window sill

surprise me with their artistry.

Jane Arkwright's painting Two Blooms, remix.