Friday, 29 February 2008
So out goes:
The old Blogger Template
The background colour
My picture – you’ll have to find me in the reflective globe outside @Bristol for the time being
‘What Fruit Are You Quiz’ – I’ll be changing the quiz on a monthly basis or choosing another fun thing to do
The blog readability test
A new Blogger template and colour
Pictures of my ‘garden helpers’, Skimble and Jess – more about them later
A link to ‘Where am I Veg Plotting’ to help new readers orientate themselves with my part of the world. This is the post I did recently for the Bloggers' Geographical Challenge
A brand new fun quiz – suited to this month!
A revamped Blogs I Like section
On my wishlist for the site:
I’d like to add a background photograph to the title – as soon as I’ve found out how to do it. So far I’ve failed spectacularly
A favourite articles section
A photography collage or slideshow
Scroll down favourites – so I can do a full list of ABCers and Blotanical links
I’d like to be able to have left and right hand sidebars – Blogger only seems to do one of them
I also welcome your Comments on my site - likes, dislikes, requests etc. Keep it clean and constructive please!
NAH and I have our own leap year tradition. I ask him, Will you marry me? and he replies No, I already have done! Today was no exception and we laughed as usual. No, we're not repeating the original marriage proposal, NAH got that in the year before I could do it for real. I'm not sure if the tradition of the female proposing on February 29th is just a peculiarity of Britain - perhaps you can enlighten me? What I do know is that it harks bark hundreds of years to when the law was considered to be in abeyance or 'leapt over'. Also, people born on this day are rather quaintly known as 'Leaplings'.
So what have you done with your extra day today? Jess over at Bath Crafting Cranny alerted me to the World Knitting and Craft day, so whilst I'm not a member of Stitchlinks per se, I have supported the idea by pootling around looking at quilt fabrics and adding quite a few inches to a furry scarf I'm knitting. My main activities today however, have been in support of the National Trust's Great Green Leap Day. I've calculated my green footprint (relatively huge, but the resultant action plan includes loads of things we've done already), planted 4 trees (see my earlier post) and restarted my carton recycling for Wiltshire campaign - hence the choice of picture at the start of this piece. Looking at Tetrapak's informative website, Wiltshire is the only entire county that doesn't have any carton recycling facilities. In shock I've written to both my District (NWDC) and County (WCC) councils to ask why. I've yet to hear from NWDC (they seem to have a policy of not answering emails in my experience), but I've had a positive response from WCC. So today I've forwarded the WCC response to Tetrapak...
Hmm where to put them, let's see...
Aha, how about the the public land where the council chopped down 4 trees last year after 2 of them landed in our garden?
I've been surveying the scene from our bedroom the last few months - it looks like a bomb's hit it (the scene, not our bedroom!). Whilst I appreciate the extra light that corner of the garden's now getting, I'm also aware it's less private. The previous trees were Fraxinus excelsior (ash) - they would have grown too tall anyway and I believe the council won't be replacing them. So my solution is to plant 4 more reasonably sized trees I would really like to have in my garden, but don't have the room for - Prunus avium (wild cherry), Amelanchier canadensis (snowy mespilus), Salix matsudana 'Tortuosa' (contorted, corkscrew or dragon's claw willow) and Salix alba vitellina 'Britzensis' (scarlet willow).
Job completed just before lunch today :)
Thursday, 28 February 2008
Another example of filling in the gaps - tucked in behind the cinema this time.
I'm intrigued as to how 2 houses will be squeezed into the site. Watch this space.
Click here to see the previous Changing Chippenham photograph.
Last year's total has been well exceeded, though most of the snowdrops are looking past their best now. It's as if they realise that the last month of winter is nearing its end and the first breath of spring is here. Next month the colour will definitely be yellow and the freshest of green.
Wednesday, 27 February 2008
I woke up when it happened. There was a deep rumbling that penetrated my slumbers just before 1 am. The wardrobe doors flew open, but I wasn't panicked this time around as I remembered the last 'big' one in 2002. That time I shot out of bed and looked out the window to see if I could find the cause of our house shakes. Everything appeared surprisingly normal. This time I just opened 1 eye, registered it was an earthquake and went back to sleep. NAH slept through it all as usual.
Kethry over at Urbania to Stoneheads has done a hilarious summary from today's media. I'll only add that it appears that mainly women woke up and then had to poke their partner in the ribs for them to realise that anything was going on at all. Make of that what you will ;)
… Food Miles at the Farm Shop
A couple of weeks ago I went with Judith and her MIL to the local Farm Shop. It’s within walking distance from our house, but NAH and I had boycotted it a few years back following an argument with the owner over some bad tasting apples. Now the shop’s been taken over by the son and his wife who’ve bought plenty of positive changes to the place.
The choice has grown immensely – local vegetables, including organic ones supplied by a local farm that also does an organic box scheme. A deli to die for, lots of treats, a choice of delicious oils and vinegars to put into refillable bottles – I could go on for a whole lot longer. My eye was drawn to the eggs counter, where it showed the food miles involved in bringing them to the shop. A great way to gently persuade everyone to shop locally.
ABC Wednesday is bought to you courtesy of Mrs Nesbitt's Place.
Tuesday, 26 February 2008
Monday, 25 February 2008
Any tips on what we could do to stop them?
Sunday, 24 February 2008
This is in spite of NAH being laid up with a nasty stomach virus. He's just murmured from his sick bed that he still has his uses - you bet you do!
There was a very unBritish melee in the Gallery as we awaited the arrival of the great and the good. Judith and Sally neatly averted certain disaster by preventing a Kaffe Fasset original screen crashing down on a table of his pottery, thus saving many thousands of pounds of modern art! Soon afterwards Kaffe appeared and treated us to an eloquent description of his work. He invited interruption from his audience - so I asked the rather lame question, 'Which is your favourite item in the exhibition?' and was treated to a courteous reply and description of the Lady of the Lake quilt on display. The question 'How do you find time to do all you do?' was answered with 'All this is what I am', a dismissal of pretty much all of modern technology and him wondering why people don't knit when travelling on trains or planes. Another question revealed he is 1 of 100 artists invited to customise a pig as part of a controversial public art project due to go on display in Bath later this year. I do hope this comes off - I want to see them!
Candace gave a lovely speech encouraging us all to all get stuck in and have a go at art. She and Kaffe both think that we British spend too much time thinking about it rather than doing. I'll be taking her advice about not worrying about mistakes made along the way, and to just enjoy the journey and the end result.
At the book signing, everyone was being very British and not saying anything except 'Thank you'. I remarked as much to Kaffe as I stepped up with my book. This opened up a lovely conversation about quilting and needlepoint with much encouragement for Judith and I from the man. I felt a bit guilty presenting my book to Candace to sign as it wasn't one of hers. My excuse was 'I've done loads of your needlepoints', so she smiled and signed graciously. We chatted about which ones I'd done and a little about my own designs. After that both Judith and I were too starstruck to continue and had to retire to the cafe at St Michael's Church before our legs gave way entirely ;)
It felt like we'd had an afternoon with people who'd be great friends if we could get to know them better.
Update - Judith has also blogged very eloquently about yesterday on her quilting website.
Saturday, 23 February 2008
Like most of Wiltshire, I garden and allotmenteer on a limy soil (pH > 7.0) and like most Chippenham gardeners my soil is a clay one. There’s a thriving Allotment and Garden Society, looking after 6 allotment sites in the town. We have a monthly talk or social event, plus access to discounted seeds and plants. Our local garden centre is a couple of miles away and has a Garden Club too.
Chippenham is a fantastic base to explore south-western England. We're close to Stourhead, the world-class landscape garden, and Hidcote Manor whose garden celebrated its centenary last year. Smaller gardens such as The Courts, Abbey House Gardens and Lacock Abbey have their own treasures and pleasures. Many garden enthusiasts also open their gardens to raise funds for charity under the famous Yellow Book scheme. Glorious landscapes; stately homes such as Longleat, Wilton and Corsham Court; plus towns and villages like Castle Combe, Devizes and Lacock add to the county’s riches. You’ve probably seen some of our treasures already as Wiltshire is frequently used as a film location. The next Harry Potter was filmed in Lacock last year, Stardust at Castle Combe and The Other Boleyn Girl at Lacock in 2006. It’s also frequently used for classic television costume dramas, such as Cranford and Pride and Prejudice. Sir Anthony Hopkins will be filming in Lacock next month.
I write about Chippenham regularly. I’m currently documenting the changing face of Chippenham in photographs as the town is undergoing major changes to its infrastructure and way of life. You’ll find these and more under the Chippenham Label. I also have Chippenham related links in my sidebar – map, town guide, weather and the local newspaper. I'm also publishing photos of my garden and allotment on a fortnightly basis this year, under the title Plot Views (note to self - must make that a label now, so you can find them easily -done!). I've also provided plenty of great links in this article, should you wish to explore further. I do hope you‘ve enjoyed your visit to my town and will join me again!
Friday, 22 February 2008
A 'secret garden' of a fifth of an acre hugging the Avon Gorge in Bristol with views to the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge. It's totally derelict and up for auction on March 12th at Bristol Zoo.
The garden did once belong to a house, but its previous sellers kept the garden for themselves. Then sadly, over the years it became derelict. The auction catalogue says:
When interviewed by the local paper, the auctioneer Peter Beddoe said:
Sigh. I can afford the auction guide price, but not the hefty budget needed to do the garden justice. In my dreams however, I'm there, it's mine and it's wonderful.
With thanks to Morgan Beddoe for the image used in this post.
Update - the garden never got to auction. A buyer bought the plot for nearly 4 times the guide price on the day of the sale. I think at that price the buyer's speculating they can get planning permission to build there - oh boo!
Thursday, 21 February 2008
This exceeds last year's total :) It looks like the recent frosty nights helped to keep them going. It also shows that last year's wet summer hasn't affected them that much - something I was concerned about. I suspect next week's count will show them in decline as the daffodils begin to really gird themselves up for Spring...
Wednesday, 20 February 2008
This is a popular evergreen shrub in many gardens round here as it likes limy soils and is drought tolerant. It’s also tough as old boots, so often forms part of municipal planting schemes. It comes in a wide variety of other forms and colours, such as this ‘Emerald n Gold’. Just because it’s common as muck, doesn’t mean it should be sniffed at. I like to use it as a structural shrub that comes into its own over the winter months, cheering up the garden. It can also be clipped into bold shapes or trained up walls or trellis to give some height.
In the photograph, it looks like the colour of the Pyracantha coccinea (firethorn) berries have ‘bled’ into the leaves of the Euonymus. This isn’t so - many of the varieties with white variegated leaves take on a rosy tint during the winter cold.
The Euonymus family also has deciduous varieties, such as Euonymus planipes, the spindle tree. These are spectacular in the Autumn, with fiery leaf tints and eye-popping red pods that split to reveal bright orange seeds, attractive to the wild bird population.
Tuesday, 19 February 2008
Click here for the previous posting on this theme.
However, I'd been planning an image free item in my ongoing Regionality series for this week, so here it is :)
It wasn't until I left home to go to university that I realised that there are words which only Birmingham (and possibly Black Country) inhabitants understand. I can well remember telling my boyfriend 'My donnies are cold', only to be met with an incredulous stare instead of the hand warming I'd been expecting. I was also astonished that we couldn't 'Goo up the Outdoor' and buy some beer or wine from an off licence attached to a pub - something I'd taken for granted until then.
Brummie's not as rich in its local dialect as say Newcastle (Geordie), where I decided to further my education, but it does have some words and phrases all of its own. I don't mean words like 'buzz' (bus), 'bokkle' (bottle), 'gardin' (garden), 'tuth' (tooth) and 'winda' (window), which are just the way the Brummie accent sounds to the unitiated. I mean 'proper' words like 'waggin it' (playing truant), 'fizzog' (face), and 'mardy' (grumpy). 'Yow's yampy' is the way to tell someone they're daft and 'Go up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire' is not such a long winded way to go to bed as it sounds. All these and much, much more are explained in this online dictionary.
However, the best Brummie word of all, just has to be 'bostin'. So much so, it even has a website all of its own. You can even buy the t-shirt!
So look out - 'if the wind changes, you'll stick like that', don't get 'kayliyed' when you 'goo up the outdoor', otherwise 'arl goo t'Clent'.
'Tara a bit me bab'.
Monday, 18 February 2008
Sunday, 17 February 2008
Saturdays are still special:
A leisurely breakfast with a cafetiere of coffee instead of the usual instant
A cold, crisp winter's day - brilliant sunshine and air like champagne
A walk into town with a multitude of birds singing at the tops of their voices
The Bucket Band playing feel good music - a fiddle, guitar and double bass with a folk/bluegrass twist. There's dancing in the streets
A forlorn author sits in contrast to his book in Waterstones. I'm the first person apart from friends to stop by. He cheers up visibly
I realise I don't need a recipe - I have one already, here and now :)
With thanks to Nigel Linacre, a local Chippenham author for the image from the cover of his book. He invited me to pick a recipe at random from the basket next to him. I chose Salad Bar - 'Decide on your favourite salad and start to gather the ingredients.'
It's the while stocks last that intrigues me - since when has a Fish & Chip shop run out of its main potato product? Or are the Gazette & Herald worried that the entire readership will take them up on the offer?
Saturday, 16 February 2008
Friday, 15 February 2008
The return of the winter chills sent me indoors again. I'm desperate to continue with pruning everything back in the garden. However, I can't stand wearing gloves - I like to be able to feel what I'm doing. So, a quick Google yesterday afternoon came up with the pattern for these Cheats' fingerless gloves + some left over wool from at least 20 years ago = problem solved in a couple of hours!
Update: the link no longer works so here's my version of the knitting pattern:
You need some spare wool + 1 pair size 4mm knitting needles and a tape measure
Firstly measure around the widest part of your hand. This will tell you how wide your knitting needs to be
1. Cast on enough stitches for the size of glove needed (if you don't know what this is, knit a tension square, so you can work out how many stitches you work per inch). Make sure you cast on an even number of stitches
2. Knit 2, purl 2 rib until your work measures 1.5 inches in length
3. Knit 1 row
4. Purl 1 row
5. Repeat 3 and 4 (i.e. stocking stitch) until desired length achieved, or half an inch before the end
6. If the latter Work knit 2 purl 2 rib until end (can also change wool colour at this point if desired), otherwise omit this step
7. Cast off
8. Sew sides together, leaving a gap for the thumb
Thursday, 14 February 2008
Wednesday, 13 February 2008
The local bus company's taking a rather dim view of it all and threatening to remove the picture. Could be a tad hasty if it is the real mccoy, they'd be better off selling the shelter to a Banksy collector - prices can top £300,000. A house sale in Bristol has just fallen through as the potential new owner was threatening to paint over the Banksy on one of the walls. He then found out he wasn't actually buying a house, but 'a work of art with a building attached'. Another home owner has actually removed part of his wall, for fear his artwork might be painted over. Mind you, Bristol Council did manage to cover one up by mistake, before they declared all the other Banksy's in Bristol should be preserved.
As for the question 'Is it Art?', I think the answer's yes (as the above anecdotes seem to be saying too), but as for it being 'Great Art' - I'll let you be the judge. You can even click here to join the debate!
Tuesday, 12 February 2008
Monday, 11 February 2008
Saturday, 9 February 2008
Friday, 8 February 2008
I grabbed this shot whilst on my way to meet up with SUP to see the Blue & White exhibition in Bath today. Both the wording and the guy on top of the waste bin amused me greatly. He was reading a book at the same time, so he was completely oblivious to the product!
The exhibition was fabulous and inspirational. It was like greeting old friends as a number of the exhibits were the originals of pieces seen in my craft books. I hope to return in a couple of weeks time as Kaffe Fassett is doing a book signing.
Front Garden - 111
Side Garden - 323
Guerilla Garden - 302
GRAND TOTAL - 928
The sun feels like it has some warmth in it for the first time this year. It looks like I'll be able to show you the first daffodils next week. The Clematis are sprouting back into life - quick, where's my secauteurs?
Wednesday, 6 February 2008
Tuesday, 5 February 2008
Monday, 4 February 2008
Today's weather was much better than January's for my monthly visit to The Botanic Nursery for their unusual plants workshop. Threadspider came with me this time and we had an uplifting couple of hours pottering around the nursery and garden areas in the enthusiastic company of the owner. Sensibly I restricted the funds I took with me, but was unable to resist the allure of a Prunus mume 'Beni-shidon'.
The picture shows part of the old walled garden on the left, which originally had a flue in the wall and glasshouses to enable exotic fruits to be grown for the old house, now a school. On the right are post WWII glasshouses originally used for market gardening until the oil crisis in the 1970's meant most commercial glasshouse production became uneconomic.
In addition to our plant-based heaven, we were treated to a dramatic display by the local crow population mobbing a buzzard flying low over the trees. I think we'll both be returning next month!
Sunday, 3 February 2008
Most Hated Accent? - Brummie
Least Trusted Accent? - Brummie
The most guilty sounding? - Brummie
Least Intelligent? - Yep that's right, Brummie it is
I suspect call centre operating companies won't be beating a path to Birmingham then!
However, some celebrities have managed to rise above the 'handicap' of their Brummie accent, indeed it's part of their fame and fortune. The brilliant Jasper Carrott's ('World famous in Birmingham') sense of humour - his cynicism, sense of the ridiculous and fatalism fits it well. Cathy McGowan's 'Oy'll give it foyve' on Ready Steady Go sums up the early 1960s pop culture for me. Benny from Crossroads would have been another has-been, and I don't think Julie Walters as Mrs. Overall in Acorn Antiques would have been half as funny in say Scouse or Geordie.
So what are the characteristics of the Brummie accent? It's mainly a flat monotone, thus inducing an immediate sense of boredom in the listener. A downward inflection at the end of sentences doesn't help either. Cathy McGowan's catchphrase shows another key characteristic - the use of oy or oi as a substitute for i. I'm lucky that I haven't picked up the accent that much, though like Sue Lawley, my over pronunciation of -ng word endings can give me away if you're listening carefully. The next time we meet or you find yourself in the company of a Brummie, and you want sure-fire success in your imitation of our accent, then you may wish to commit the following to memory:
Berminggum is wun uv the Larges citays in the unyted kingdem.
Birmingham is one of the largest cities in the United Kingdom.
This and further examples to help you can be found here.
Friday, 1 February 2008
Wetlands (as defined here) are one of the most wide ranging and diverse habitat types to be found. They cover just 3% of the earth's surface, yet 75% of the world's population live in former wetlands and their surrounding areas. As a result, it's one of our most threatened habitats. It's the only one to be covered by an international treaty, the RAMSAR convention - aka the International Convention on Protection of Wetlands. It's named after the place in Iran where the treaty was originally signed in 1971 and now over 100 countries have signed up to it, including the UK.
During this week, various countries have announced their latest RAMSAR protected sites, educational initiatives and celebratory events. Tomorrow, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) in the UK has free admission for under 16s to their sites. I've been lucky enough to be involved in researching a RAMSAR protected site in Mallorca and will be telling you much more about this in a later post. Much of the research area is a reedbed, and as such is dominated by large stands of the Common reed, Phragmites australis, as shown in the above picture. This was taken just a few hundred yards from where I live, and I was particularly pleased to see it there when we moved here 9 years ago. It's being used to filter and clean the runoff from the nearby Chippenham bypass, a key feature and usage of this type of habitat.
If you'd like to see a wetland for yourself, then the sites owned by the WWT are a good starting point. Slimbridge is the one closest to Chippenham, but I'd love to go to the London Wetland Centre sometime - perhaps with Wiltshire Wildlife Trust later this year.