Saturday, June 30, 2007

big butts

A bit of reportage here on my gardening progress. Also, more info about water butts, for those of you in the USA who don't know what a water butt is.

(sorry. i must admit to being still a bit gobsmacked about that)

Having decided recklessly to go for the extra large capacity slimline super duper water butt I really wanted, the price talked me down in the end.

However I managed to resist the attractions of all the decorative, fanciful, rustic, woodlandish (and other...) butts available (click here for pics) and went for simple, functional, quite cheap but still large version - but with a bit on the side.

Now some of you might think that people living in the UK have no need to store rainwater. Just as we have no need for summer clothing, sunglasses, flip flops or barbeques.

At the moment that feels about bloody right.

I've gone to bed for 2 nights in a row now wearing socks (- purely for comfort and warmth, nothing to do any strange fetishes.) Bloody June the bloody 28th, and its as chilly as October.

However, I live in hope.

High temperatures and even drought conditions have been known in this country in recent years. Londoners have started eating al fresco and leaving their bedroom windows open at night. We've even been known to go out without either jacket or umbrella.

No, really.

I have had great need of a water butt over the last couple of years while mine has been bust and resisting my attempts at repair.

So, here is my new water-saving irrigation arrangement:

One butt is plumbed into the down pipe catching rain from the roof, and the two are linked together so that both will fill, giving over 300L capacity.

So, finished job. Enough to make the heart of any gardener smile.
Completed with the (extensive and expert) help of my father, who's here quite a bit at the moment.

He's struggling at the moment, my poor dad, to live - to function - to wake up in the mornings - to get through the day - without his best friend, lover and companion of 54 years.

I'm having a hard time much of the time myself but can't begin to imagine what it might be like for him.

Despite my new installation, I'm still not hoping for more rain - really, if anyone up there is listening? No more rain just now, thankyou very much.

But if and when it does rain, I will at least feel smug about my big butt.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Yesterday i found this little treasure in the midst of urban south east london.

After a wonderful massage (thanks to Reya for suggesting this) I felt like walking, so took a long detour home (with camera of course) and walked and walked, just for the sake of the journey.

This is Well Hall Pleasaunce - a garden which originates from the thirteenth century, restored in more recent centuries.

I sat in the sunshine by the water and ate an apple and reflected on the difficulties and possibilities of living through and for the journey, in the midst of uncertainty about where, when, if i might arrive.

There is a tudor building in the Pleasaunce, now used as a pub. (no i didn't investigate the beer. another time...)

There was distant traffic noise, its a very busy part of south east london with some major roads, but it was quite calm and peaceful in the green.

There was a striking grey heron by the moat, but it flapped lazily away as soon as i reached for my camera.

So here are some pigeons instead. Being London, there are always pigeons.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

amphibians aka My Girl

I was reflecting earlier this week on the transformation of my daughter, LG, since last summer.

Two weeks ago, at mum's thanksgiving service, she very graciously coped with an afternoon of people saying "haven't you grown!" But its not primarily the physical growth, really. (though there is that too)

Only a little over a year ago I was blogging about the need to get her walking to (primary) school by herself - to begin that little experiment in separation (for her sake and for ours) before the Big Change of secondary school last September.

Looking back, i wrote about this quite a bit ( e.g. here and here.)

It was clearly a significant issue, which seems strange, in the light of the casual abandon with which I now bid her farewell in the mornings.... when i've bothered to get up at all, that is)

Its so hard to believe its only a year since i wrote those posts. Now, the final clinching incentive to get her out of the house in the mornings is to threaten to go with her, to follow her embarrassingly down the road. Even after 6 days away at school journey in May, her response to the information that we were planning to meet the coach at school was "what? both of you?!!??"

She wears a lot of black. She listens to heavy metal, and death metal, and battle metal and... lots of other sorts of metal i've never heard of. She wears too much black make-up and it looks good on her. She is hormonal and stroppy and swears and is full of information about the latest street-slang.
I've been trying to decide whether to say something about some of her jokes.

I decided not to. Let me just say that body parts are a particular feature of them.

With her permission (and with the request that I specifically note her copyright of the following) I share with you some pictures she produced last weekend whilst on retreat in her room, after a scrap with her father.

Of course, if her teachers a year or two ago had seen these, they might have been phoning social services.
No doubt her teachers now would just smile knowingly and say "ah yes, 12 year girls".

LG pointed out how much better it was that she should vent her fury by expressing herself thus artistically rather than trashing her room in a strop.

So much so teenager.

They do grow up so fast - like most cliches, its true. The transformation is extraordinary.

But like the little froglets, she is also on the cusp.

I've not seen much of the froglets lately and think they may have flown the nest hopped the pond. A few days ago I witnessed one hopping onto the edge of the pond and thence out into the wide wide garden. I wanted to follow it and see where it was going, and check that it was okay.
I think, actually, they are no longer froglets, but little tiny amphibian frogs.

In between - or mixed in with - the sulky teenagerishness, is lots of lovely childishness in my LG, and dependency and affection. There are times when she positively snarls at me that she doesn't like to be touched. Or tells me I'm a perv because i touched her. And at times, she is all over me with her heavy, sweaty beautiful teenager body.

One minute angst-filled adolescent - the next minute little poppet.

Last week I bought a new office/desk chair, which came in an unnecessarily large cardboard box.
I casually left the box in our lounge, wondering whether it might act as a trap of some sort.....

and within 5 minutes of LG coming home from school - voila!

caught! (but not tamed)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

some of my news

i've been with exam work.

(in between and and

and and )

I marked one set of exam scripts where over 20% were
absolute and made me

Do these students think they are going to get a degree for ?

they have clearly spent more time

and than they have


Some of them however have done a lot of and and wrote

some exam papers.

I some of them are much more than me.

We have a particular group of students who have been very

and who also our teaching and courses.

This makes me

The of the marking is followed by exam meetings.

Last year i managed to out of most of them.
The year B4 that some of them want on for nearly 12 hours.

and in the meantime, there is more to do preparing for new students in and course preparation.

And, in theory,

In theory.

You can for yourselves, from this post,

how much I have been spending on those tasks lately.

In practice I am looking forward to

In fact, I plan to spend more time

than with
(where the latter indicates for work rather than for pleasure)

In other

I had a that our .

I used to have such all the time.

We have only one left now, the a few weeks ago.

Poor Marigold is all alone and .

In my she escaped into a neighbouring

In the there was a

She got in the , shut the and sat at us.

is that?