Archive for June, 2011

a wing and a prayer…

bird goldfinch-1-1

Did someone call my name? – a goldfinch on the feeder…

We are all enjoying the sunshine and dry weather here in Dorset but in other parts of the country it has turned to drought and our thoughts and prayers are for the farmers, especially for those renting farms on low margins that their crops will not be too badly affected…

Heavy rain has woken me up this morning!


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Biggles to the rescue…

On Monday the rains come and drenched the land but high pressure has returned with the sunshine and normal paradise has been resumed. This lovely weather is really too good to be true!

The forget-me-nots that weave their way delightfully through the borders have come to an end and I spend quite some time pulling them out. Their grey seeds fall to the ground assuring they will return again. A wily old bind-weed makes its way up the stem of a prickly berberis and dares me to pull it out without getting snared by the thorns.

The aquilegias are going to seed and I cut them down now. They are the most promiscuous of plants and we do not want any of that sort of thing going on around here. This is John Wesley country after all. For the second time in a year a bee has made its way up my sleeve and stung me on the way out, the daft thing.

A couple of viburnum beetle have been found on two new plants and the Solomon’s Seal is being attacked by saw-fly larvae but I will write about this when I can process the photographs.

Some of you may know that I have been having computer problems. I use Photoshop Elements for my photographs and the weight of this software seemed too big for my dilapidated old laptop. I decided it was time for Biggles to come to my rescue.

Biggles has lived in the village for just about all his life and some say he has never left the county. But one day he got it into his head to go on holiday to Egypt after seeing a programme on television about pyramids. He talked about nothing else and we thought he was just daydreaming but then he announced down the pub that he had bought himself a ticket. We gave him a send-off party and wished him well.

Our intrepid explorer made his way to Gatwick airport only to discover that he had got his dates wrong. His flight had taken off three days earlier without him. He spent a day or two in the airport pub getting sozzled on his holiday money and then returned with a major hangover and a photograph of a rather pretty air-hostess. We have called him Biggles ever since.

He is rather a dab hand with the computers though. He pushed a few keys and declared that I had a memory problem. I told him that I knew that already and that it was on account of my growing years. He looked at me with that sympathetic look usually reserved for idiots. He told me I needed more Ram memory and with a few clicks of the buttons, and with the use of my bank-card, he had me one purchased and on its way in the post.

He asked me if I felt confident enough to insert the memory card. I assured him that I would feel more at home performing open-heart surgery on myself than opening up a computer. He gave me another one of those looks. He finished his tea and assured me that he would be back whenever the ‘whatever’ arrives.

Like most folk I have such an ambivalent regard for computers. I love the means of communicating and expressing my thoughts with others across the world and digital photography is a sheer delight. But when they break down or do not function well then I become frustrated and begin to remember the days when we did not even have electricity or running water and wonder if I have gained or lost something. This is an endless debate with no answer I guess.

I head up to the hills where I can breathe more easily and sit back and watch the peregrine falcons surfing the waves of the wind and then swooping down to catch their prey. This is where I belong. Now where did I put my camera?

PS if you have never heard of Biggles then please do google him! Well worth reading.

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The following is an article written by my wife Corinne…



thymus silver   A garden is never complete without herbs. Not only are they attractive but they also provide us with the joy and satisfaction of bringing deep flavours to home-made meals.

I regard an herb garden as a wonderful source of inspiration. There I can dream: Moroccan mint tea for breakfast; steamed potatoes with butter and parsley for lunch; thyme and rosemary to accompany a hearty stew, and lemon balm or verbena as a soothing bed-time tea. My imagination runs wild.

Lavenders take me to my birth-place in Southern France in a haze of deep intense blues under the sun. Aromatic thyme and sultry sage reminds me of the parched rocky banks of Crete, whilst the enchanting fragrance of the jasmine climbing on the wall of my patio transports me to mystical India!

The choice is yours how you may want to design your herb patch: a cluster of terracotta pots will enliven any empty corner very nicely, bringing the sunny Mediterranean or Mogul feel so sought after. Alternatively, you might choose to plant your herbs in formal neat rows or patterned designs.

My Grandfather who lived in Bordeaux, in France, used to grow a large row of emerald-green curly parsley in his well-tended garden, to supply us with this vital ingredient to French cuisine. Rich in iron and vitamin C, it would bring a distinctive flavour and texture to the simplest of dishes, from starters and soups to salads seasoned with olive oil, garlic and mustard, accompanied with fresh crusty bread and cheese.

And those who enjoy eating garlic might like to know that parsley is well-known for refreshing the breath!

The sky is the limit where your passion of herbs takes you. Growing more domesticated herbs on the window-sill will bring a multitude of cooking options: basil for salads, pasta and tomato dishes and coriander for curry and dhal, without forgetting always to keep fresh garlic and ginger at hand!

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