Sunday, April 29, 2007


Right, theres a sort-of-not-quite-random selection of stuff served up below.

H'ors d'oeuvres - tadpole

Beginning with my frog pool.
V. excited today to see a newt in the pool. And in my head, I'm saying "excited" in a Welsh accent. "Ex-XCI-ted". Why should that be?

Here it is:

and again, slinking out of view, avec 3 (frog) tadpoles.

But heres my dilemma. Ex-xcit-ted to have not only tadpoles but also a newt. But, did you know that newts feed off little frog-tadpoles? how could they? i'm more than happy for them to eat any quantity of slugs and snails (oops, that originally typed out as sluts and mails). I hope they will. But I don't want it eating my little baby froglets. They are most definately NOT supposed to be a feast for newts.

I discovered, googling away (i don't know much about pond-life) (is it a bit like park life?) that newts are a protected species within Britin. So, I couldn't/shouldn't euthanase them even if I wanted to. Which I don't. I like lizardy things. I may just have to let nature battle it out. I'm hoping the tadpoles are big enough already to look indigestible. Or fast enough to wiggle out of the way.

I always liked newts - and I now know that they are The Original Sci-fi Species. Also sometimes called tritons, they can regenerate not only limbs but also eyes, heart, spinal cord, intestines.... they change colour, shed skin, exude defensive toxins, they metamorphose and go through an "eft" phase, the males are distinguishable by fringed toes and are prone to dropping spermatophones..... Sounds like something from Star Trek to me.

I also discovered more than I needed to know about Newt Gingrich. Who, for what reason/s, would call a child "Newt"? Wouldn't you just steer away from Newton as a potential name, for fear of "Newt"? Up there with fear of mullet, I'd have thought.

LG is also excited by the newt-discovery, and has proposed a series of little pools in the garden: one for frogs, one for newts, one for toads - the idea being that they can battle it out and feast off one another, providing her with war-gaming entertainment.

Nature red in tooth and teenager. She defines the word "belligerent".

Main course - cornus.
I have started cycling again.
The downside is that I'm remembering muscles I'd forgotten. And not in a good way. Achey thighs, hips, bum.

The upside (one of many) is that I'm following a slightly different route through Greenwich Park from my walking route and so passing my special cornus tree, whose spring progress I always watch and enjoy.

I was just in time to catch it in full bloom this week, and tho I did post pictures last year, I had to post some more here because its so wonderful.

So, this is a feast for the spring-hungry (nice phrase from Steve Reed) but in a hopefully-nicely potted form so its easily digestible (but with a little added protein) in case you're really not ever so interested in green and veggie stuff.

Dessert. Aniseed cake.

Dark and dense - a bit like gingerbread, except sort of liquoricey rather than gingery.
Not in an over-the-top liquorice allsort sort of way. In a subtle but yummy EAT IT sort of way.

From the Guardian Weekend, April 2006.
I'm not a frequent cake baker. But this is worth it.

(its eggless, just in case the thought of frogspawn puts you off)

Dark Aniseed cake.
350ml boiling water
175g pitted prunes
225g black treacle
75g dark ale
175g unsalted butter
175g dark muscovado sugar
450g spelt flour
2 eye of newt
4 tsp baking powder
4 tsp aniseed or fennel seeds
250g icing sugar
3Tbsp orange juice
zest of 1 orange.

Preheated oven 180c/350f/gas 4. 20cm-ish cake tin, lined.

Soak prunes 5 mins in the boiling water, before pureeing with the treacle and ale.
Cream butter and sugar - slowly beat in prune mixture.
Add sieved flour, with baking powder and seeds and beat evenly.

Bake 50 mins or till skewer comes out clean. (needed longer when I did it. could be due to crap oven). Cool in tin. Use icing sugar and orangey bits to make icing. Use newt eyes as you see fit.

Bake it, have it and eat it.
Eat it and make another one.

yum yum
Good spoon and bowl licking too.

except maybe not if you don't like treacle or liquorice.

I hope the newt isn't repeating on you.
Apparently they can carry salmonella.

well, yes. An eclectic menu.

Ok, so maybe it was Random.

I just tried to find some continuity.

Its my way.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Short cuts

This wonderful wisteria cascades fragrantly over a garden wall which I pass on the way to my textiles class.

Its obviously a pretty old plant, the central stems are very thick and at regular intervals it gets a very severe pruning - which it seems to like, it grows so luxuriantly every spring.

I have a little baby wisteria in my garden, a mere toddler in comparison with this one - but it still has quite a lot of flowers. I need to look into its pruning needs, its done so well so far I'm hesitant to cut it back too short.

Which reminds me, I must get around to to making an appointment for a hair cut.

I last saw Gordonnotamoron, who cuts my hair, in January. I arrived for my appointment to be told that my stylist hairdresser was off sick, they'd been unable to contact me to cancel (my fault, I hadn't left proper contact details).

I arrived home, and posed in a "showing off new haircut" sort of way.

M: "yes, it looks nice".
Me: unfortunably not able to restrain my smirking for long enough to really sustain the amusing-at-his-expense situation for half long enough.
M: (allowing self-doubt to surface) "umm.... have you had it cut? you've not had it cut at all, have you? ... have you???"

The following week, I did get a hair cut. But having let it grow a bit longer than usual, and quite liking the feel of hair around my ears and neck again, decided (after discussions with my stylist) to keep it longer than usual this time. So, less-short-than-usual short cut.

I arrived home, and posed in a "showing off new haircut" sort of way.

M: overcome by self-doubt: "umm..... you haven't had it cut, have you. Did he cancel again? ..... Have you?"
Me: cruelly amused at his expense. But once again, unable to sustain the joke for long enough to really get my money's worth.

I've been told that this was a cruel trick to play on a man.

Anyway, having had a longer-than-usual cut, and that was well over 3 months ago, I am now seriously at risk of mullet.

I REALLY don't want to look like

now, do I?

My aversion to the mullet has not been averted by this.

so, I must manage to make that appointment.

People keep telling me that my hair looks good a bit longer.
But its fine and thin and limp and straight and more obviously grey when longer and I really do like it extra short (not least because I can get away with giving it almost no attention at all).

The question therefore now is: do I now want my hair short short? or long short?

Monday, April 23, 2007

springy thingies

It never gets old for me, this spring thing.

In fact, it gets better as i get older (or may be thats just me?).

Scientific/botanical understanding notwithstanding, I still think its magic that this

can turn into this

and that these

have, within a few days, grown into these:

I will try not to bore with a selection of spring photos that would probably look much the same as photos I posted last spring.

But here are some 2007 springy thingies:

and theres also this, which I call
"Git Orf my Land"

Saturday, April 21, 2007


The face of....

- remind you of anyone?

I've been tagged by Cream, to pick 5 favourite blogs.

I'm afraid I'm declining that exact task, as I couldn't possibly pick 5 favourites, from all the different blogs I love for so many different reasons.

So instead, I'm introducing 5 of the blogs I've discovered most recently.

My 5 bloggers - don't feel obliged to take this as a tag. If you want to do this, you could pick "5 Something" blogs to tag - 5 favourites, 5 different types, 5 in a category, 5 diff. countries .... or something.
Or you can do nothing at all about it.

Martin - another London blogger - most of the blogs I visit are not so close by. Short, sharp and funny (thats his blogging I'm talking about) (but he might be too) He always makes me laugh.

Tut-tut - another knitty yarny weavy person like me, thoughtful, funny, varied posts.

Crazy Jane - a young and gifted artist with a brand new blog.

Mist1 - very newly discovered and very funny. Her post on dental floss got me immediately hooked on her writing.

Annelisa - also very newly discovered, lovely writing and wonderful photos. She has a bewitching misty morning vid. posted at the moment.

I'm really glad I found you all.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


from essay marking, book ordering, trying to sort out the accounts, too much emotion.

Intrigued. How could this happen to a lamp post?

Concerned about the twin moons in this picture. Could there be a fault with my wonderful camera? or is there some technical reason you "proper" photographers know about?

Surprised to discover that my sister and her family have been reading my blog (hello you lot)

Grateful to same sister for going back around the roundabout and stopping the car last night so I could take this picture. (thanks you)

Delighted with lovely gifts from a special friend

Listening over and over and over and over and over to this (thanks Pod for recco). How brilliant is it? the rest of his stuff sounds excellent too, different, eclectic..... CD already ordered. and over and over and over

Frustrated that said CD, already purchased in haste and excitement, could take 5-6 weeks delivery. $5.49 for surface mail??? (or do I not understand Aussia $$$?)

Relieved that my mum is having a weeks respite/evaluation in their (wonderful) local hospice - she is happy and comfy, dad is relaxed and sleeping well, i'll have a bit more time at home over the next week or so. Hoping to begin to feel less
strung out.

Cross because our neighbours have had their sprinkler on in the garden about 12 hours a day for the last week at least, watering primarily the trampolene, fence, lawn and various bits of foliage.

Enjoying spring, sunshine and gardening.

Determined to start cycling again tomorrow.

Happy happy happy with the little

in my new frog pool (will post pictures later.........)
I keep going out to watch them wiggle. In between listening to Gotye.

Sorry I didn't get around to livening this up with sound track and titles as I'd intended, but they're growing so fast I thought I'd better post this quick cos I'm
hopeful that i'll have more for you to watch soon, more interesting, maybe even with little legs.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

picture post

On Good Friday Luce (RW) and I went into London.

We passed wonderful Oscar

on our way to the National Gallery

for the


Which was Really Good.


was one of my favourite pictures.

When we came out into the

we saw this man:

What was he doing? I googled him afterwards, but could find no info. So I wish I'd asked his "minder" - it might have been another piece of art....

I saw an Easter window display I rather liked

On the way to the station in the morning, we'd passed this:

It was still there when we came home.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


Not what I was going to blog about, but i'm taking my sweet time to sort out the loads of photos I took in London last week, with RW. So in the meantime, here are some I prepared earlier.

Of birds

- in the skies of London.


...of course.


... also "of course". The original cockneys. But apparently rare in some parts of England now.

Actually I suppose the pigeons might claim to be the original cockneys.
I expect the pigeons and the sparrows feud over that.

Green parakeet.....

Surprisingly enough.
Thats a starling, next to it. Almost camouflaged by comparison.

.... ah bless!

And of course, the eagle.....


Monday, April 09, 2007

Spot the difference

Yes, I know there are lots of differences. Not least of course the weather.

But theres one difference which took me by surprise. When I'd eventually worked it out ....

Clever, huh?

Now, where did that come from?

And here it is by night..... just because.

Friday, April 06, 2007


Something about this sky struck me as surprising. Not quite "English" or something.
Don't know why. Maybe its easy to forget how big the sky is when you're in a city.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


I am in such a strange frame of mind/heart at the moment, and need to get it out of my system.

So be warned, random splurginess will follow. I was just going to write that maybe I wont even post this - but then I realised that I know I will. haha. Self-knowledge is a great thing sometimes. But feel free to leave now, or skip to the end.

I find I'm veering at the moment between episodes of total limpness, teary close-to-the-edgeness, numb vegetativeness and a kind of febrile restlessness. This morning fortunately I had parcels to post (eBaying again, money for old tat). (sorry Tat.) - which got me out of the house into the freshLondon air. There was a danger of me sitting at this screen all day, which I don't think would have helped much.

On the way back from the Post Office, I bumped randomly into my original textiles tutor, with whom I learned to spin and weave. Coffee and a good chat was just what I needed. People are my refuge at the moment. Especially people who are pleased to see me, who want to be with me. I guess we all need to be wanted.

We shared current textile passions (a new way to cut plastic bags into long strips for crotchet/weaving - yay!) (some of you will know how pleased I am about this useful technique) (no, really).
I went to the local Co-op - re-furbished yet again, but still the Co-op from hell. But good offers on red wine, which is the main thing.

Walking home, I was tempted to walk on past my house, and just keep walking - because at times I feel the need to keep moving. But I'm home alone for a while, which is also good sometimes. Sometimes I need to make myself sit. Sometimes I need to make myself get up. Mostly I'm not sure what I need really.

I have plenty of work I should be getting on with. Essays to mark. Book-ordering for the university library. If I don't spend the money soon, we will lose it. But it will take time and effort. Maybe i should just pick 5 good books and order 10 copies of each? that would do it. Its a pretty paltry budget. Maybe I should spend it all ordering Terry Pratchett? and Buffy and science fiction DVDs. Good plan.

I should be writing an article due at the end of April. I had some good ideas about that in bed last night, but didn't write them down before going to sleep.... maybe they are still kicking around in my head somewhere. I don't feel I can be arsed to find out just now ....

I should be going through our bank statements and doing some accounting. I've been in the process - since October - of rearranging our finances- basically to separate our spending powers. M and I have totally incompatible spending habits and need to go our own ways financially as much as possible. But the accounts never stand still, do they? there is always catching up to do....

But my mind just veers away from the thought of work at the moment. It seems to have a mind of its own. My mind, that is, not the work. (I wish. Maybe then it could just sort itself out?) Thinking about work makes me feel grey and stretched taut and I seem to have lost my ability to concentrate and apply myself.

I've always thought of holidays as holiday from work. I think I need a holiday from life.

And being with friends feels like holiday.

We had the lovely Dizzy staying for nearly a week last week. She brought not one but two duty-free bottles of gin (what an excellent friend!), spent a whole day gardening with me (my passion for gardening at least has finally woken up for the Spring), talked, shopped, lunched with me, thankyou so much Dizzy it was lovely having you here.

Tomorrow RW arrives with her girls for a couple of days including - we hope - the Renoir landscapes exhibition in London. And much quaffing I hope. More holiday.

And Saturday back down to mum and dad again for the Easter weekend.
On Sunday Mum was the worst she's yet been - physically incapable, almost unable to walk or stand, not with us at all in spirit, or able to communicate - but clearly, wherever she was, confused and scared. It really seemed as though our time was up. That night I took the night shift and although she slept better than we'd expected, it didn't feel as though I slept much.

Monday morning she was back with us again - lucid, bright, able to get about a bit, awake all morning. Monday night she slept for at least 8 hours without waking, which was unbelievable, amazing, wonderful. I slept too, dreaming of being left and of haircuts (I badly need one) and of oversleeping past LG's school-start time - but sleeping, at least.

Tuesday mum was better than she's been for a long while, she even managed a little walk in the garden and to write some Easter cards. She worries about not being able to send cards and notes in response to every card, letter, bunch of flowers and was so delighted with this huge achievement. It was a delight and a heart break, her writing is so slow and shaky now. If she feels this good during the week, they might even go out to visit friends.

There is absolutely no option other than taking things one day, sometimes one hour at a time.

And then home again home again, jiggety jig.

This weekend was the first time I've felt scared about mum dying. I've felt pain, anguish, heart-ache, wretchedness, distress, panic, misery. But not scared. Strange, eh?
But now - we have hopes of a good Easter weekend, and possibly even an all-family get together while some of the nieces/nephews are home from University.

But before that - holiday time with RW. Yippee.

I think I'd better stop now, this is far too long (but has at least given me the chance to practice this, thankyou mr farty for the additional blog-pimping advice)
and well done if you've stayed with me this far.

As a reward for getting (or at least skipping) to the end, theres this bit of film for you. Mind you, you need to stick with this to the end too. Just bear with me.

Currently untitled. I'm hoping some of you can suggest good titles. I had a couple of ideas but they were a bit feeble.

(heehee, just practising)

Off to watch some Desperate Housewives now ....

Sunday, April 01, 2007

found objects

or rather, lost, waiting to be found ....