Thursday 31 October 2013

As promised

(Taken in ghastly low light levels,
from a box that contained shockingly few sweets.)

Wednesday 30 October 2013

Oh dear

she's put up pictures of her washing. 
Could do better.

Could be fitter too.
My Pilates teacher expressed surprise to see me
attempting an Intermediate session this morning
after a short break.
I'm thinking of taking up gymnastics.
It can't be too late can it?

Monday 28 October 2013

Wild Side

Perfect Day was our song,
but in view of the weather this morning -

Lou Reed 1942 - 2013

Sunday 27 October 2013


A bright but buffeting walk yesterday.

Stormy weather tomorrow.

If I had hatches,
I'd batten them down.
Instead I have located the candles and
the wind-up torch.

Thursday 24 October 2013

The stalwart

Lunch in the garden.

The clematis is such a good friend of the garden
at the beginning
and end of the year.

Sunday 20 October 2013

Thunder and lightening

Warm enough to be out tidying 
the front garden in a T-shirt.
And then deluges
accompanied by thunder and lightening.
Very strange for late October.

I found a bag of last year's bulbs.
Rather wizened.
I have planted them in a fit of guilt.
Perhaps a miracle will occur.

Friday 18 October 2013

The incoming tide

I look forward to the incoming tide.
At present the household is at a very low ebb
as once again we are scattered to the four winds.
I am standing on the shore
looking to the horizon,
first to the Land of the Setting 
and then to the Land of the Rising Sun.
Next year, if all goes according to plan,
 I will be the one in transit,
via the Land of the Midnight Sun.

Thursday 17 October 2013

Guest post from Our Man in Japan - Akibare

Getting out of bed today was a distinctly nippy undertaking.

Looking out of my window, left wide open as a hangover from the muggy summer nights that persisted through September and half of October, 
I saw that autumn had finally deigned to show up.

Dressed and eyeing up my breakfast supplies (negligible) and my coffee selection (growing), 
I donned a scarf for the first time (couldn't come soon enough) and headed to the konbini for some sort of a baked happening for breakfast.

Cycling back with an intriguingly un-Danish Danish pastry, there was a definite hint of a chill in the air, and what had initially seemed like an extravagantly warm getup proved to be a both prudent and fashionable choice. I sipped something that might have been blue mountain coffee and ate something with the surface crunch of a baguette and the intriguing insides of a croissant seemingly made with salted butter, and tried to read something Japanese before heading off for classes.

At this point, I'll admit, I love commuting. Whether it's the ten minute walk to lectures back home, the thirty minute train journey into central London, or as today, the exhilarating three-minute cycle into university. There are backstreets through which you can pick up surprising amounts of speed, and then you shoot into the grounds of a temple complex, ornate buildings separated by criss-crossing paths lined with freshly-pruned pine trees.

Fast forward through the lessons and I'm commuting back again, cycling along the lazy L shape that the path describes to get back home, and that sharp, clean air is persisting long after the morning chill has burnt off. It's so clean that you can smell it; a smell you never get in London, only ever in the countryside. Surprising, considering that there seem to be just as many cars as any other city.

Just as I turned onto my road, there was a whiff of woodsmoke, a smell so universally welcoming and evocative of the cold half of the year that for the first time I felt I was really doing my commute. It's not a smell that you only get in Japan or only in England.

It's that wonderful smell that you only get on the perfect autumn day, wherever you happen to be. Clear, crisp and, after a summer that outstayed its welcome, all the more gratefully received.
Akibare: When the autumn sky is vividly clear and bright; fine fall weather; a lovely autumn day.

A surprise fast forward to spring.
My crocuses are in flower.
Or is it a colchicum?                                        

Monday 14 October 2013

Tobacco plantation

I've tried to grow tobacco plants
(nicotiana) from seed but without success.
This one seeded itself in a very unpromising spot
and has flourished.

I keep cutting the sticky stems
to bring inside where they release 
their sweet perfume in the evenings.

When they are finally over I will
scatter their seeds negligently
about the place
and hope to replicate the effect
that Nature has achieved.

Meanwhile on the bulb front
I am holding back on tulip planting until the weather is colder,
and fretting about whether I have planted the others deeply enough.
I read the instructions diligently and then dig every hole
only as deep as my trowel will manage
or until I hit a stone.
I doubt that this is as deep as it should be
to guarantee future years of flowering.

Wednesday 9 October 2013

Ahead of my game

Even if I do nothing else for the garden,
I have vowed,
(people always vow, confess and admit
in magazine lifestyle articles don't they?)
that I will do bulbs properly this year.

No sooner had these L'Innocence hyacinths
arrived, than they were tucked into
glass forcing vases and put into a dark place.

They might even flower in time for Christmas
which would be a first.

Next up, the Paperwhite narcissi
but I must find a way of stopping them from flopping.

Edited to add, this from Rachael.

Monday 7 October 2013

The faerie glen

In a further defiance of my
risk averse persona,

I suggested that we should duck under a fence
in the dapply woods,

which had an invitingly worn footpath leading
away from it

into a ravine.

We followed a trickling stream 

down to the cliff edge.
Wonky horizon indicates the precariousness
of the footing.

There were comfortable tussocks 
and slabs of rock to sit on,
not too far above a sheltered cove.

We were not quite alone.

A young creature suddenly materialised,
seemingly floating up from the sheer drop.
He had very long hair,
a very long beard,
a curly waxed moustache
and was wearing,
a sort of dress,
a short stripy dress,
a bowler hat decorated with large white daisies
and carried a shiny pink satchel
messenger style.

We chatted amiably for a few minutes
about the inadvisability of our
climbing down to the beach
and then he carried on his way,
up the ravine.

There he goes.

Friday 4 October 2013

Eyes right

My day took an unexpected turn
when I attended a precautionary
though not worrisome optometrist appointment.
The symptoms of something not quite right in one eye*,
became the symptoms of a possible detaching retina.
I perhaps should have been warned that the
necessary eye drops would make driving home inadvisable
and the outcome of the examination could end in 
an immediate transfer to hospital
but otherwise my treatment was excellent.

Appointments for the rest of the day quickly postponed,
I had the eye drops to relax the eye muscles applied,
waited half an hour and then
obediently looked up, down and around,
while bright lights were shone in 
and magnifying lenses positioned.
None of this was painful or difficult.

The news was good.
The retina is nice and flat but the signs
of deterioration in the viscous gel in the eye
(posterior vitreous detachment)
are marked and need a referral to an opthalmologist.
 This made reassuring reading.

* Any changes in vision should be taken seriously -
my symptoms were an increase in floaters,
an intermittent blurring of vision,
a brief flash of light and a strange sensation.
This is not a definitive list.
Speed is of the essence with detaching retinas.
This story is a case in point.

Updated to say that the hospital has already rung me
with an appointment for next week.
I'm impressed.
And just a tiny bit worried.

Thursday 3 October 2013

Tall Cat visits

Quite out of the blue, 
after many weeks' absence,

Tall Cat materialised,

I have never known a cat to make such
intense eye contact.
It is a little unnerving.

Tuesday 1 October 2013