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Showing posts from July, 2013

Apple tumble crumble rumble

Bertie Baggins is a naughty boy. Bertie Baggins is cunning. Bertie Baggins has stealth. Bertie Baggins is a naughty, cunning, stealthy apple thief. Who plucks them out of the tree, twisting and breaking its branches. Not for him the patient wait for them to ripen and tumble at his feet. I want my apples for crumble.  Not licked. Not pre-chewed. And definitely not distributed across the garden in pre-digested heaps. Thus fences have been built, repaired and built again. My first attempt at an apple-tree fence - temporary, so that he who bothers about the neatness of the parched grass can remove it, thereby enabling the trimming of any vegetation still clinging to a life-without-water - failed. Bertie Baggins nonchalantly stepped through it. Equally nonchalantly ripped an apple off the tree. And nonchalantly lay down to eat it. Knowing that he had just enough time to savour its bitter, crunchy, un-ripe flesh before I noticed, sprinted out of the kitchen and grabbed him by the

Garden pests come in all shapes, sizes and colours

9 days in Italy 9 days of unattended garden 9 days of weeds and pests not having a holiday but instead having a lets-proliferate-and-create-merry-havoc party: thistles in an unkempt bed bindweed entangling a geranium nettle - aaaalways nettle in our big bed and ground elder carpet-colonising the ground. However, not all pests are of the photosynthesizing, we-have-vacuoles-in-our-cells variety. Some are squishy, stripy, perpetually ravenous machines (I wonder what these will pupate into). Others make the leaves contort and curl But if there was a prize for most-pesty-pest in the garden, pests-weddy and pests-creepy-crawly would face fierce competition from pests-hairy - apples ... nom-nom red-currants ... nom-nom geraniums ... nom-nom weeds ... nom-nom ... Hmm - the nom-nom of weeds perhaps places them a rung or two down the ladder of pestiest-pest. I think the weeds win. They always do.

Ice-cream, lizards and baby pigeons

Siena in the sunshine. There are some things that the Italians do very well - architecture for one. Brunelleschi's dome atop the Duomo in Florence is a stunningly beautiful and awe-inspiring piece of engineering. Everywhere you go in Italy, from mediaeval hill-top settlement to city, the ego and status of the patrons of the mediaeval architects hits you in the face - why else are there numerous towers in San Gimignano - it was a case of 'My tower in bigger than yours. Because I have more money than you, my wealth can buy me status and power and I can assert my influence by building the biggest tower in the town.' Pope after Pope built cathedrals, each one more magnificent than the buildings of the Pope before. If he had to fight for power during his reign, he was determined to leave appropriate evidence of his munificence for future generations to venerate him by. Everywhere in Italy, if you walk around looking only at those shops (bikini hunting with daughters, yesterday

Uh oh! I'm a bad mum

Dear, oh dear! Clearly, I'm a very bad mum. I have said the un-sayable. Admitted the un-admissable. Confirmed to my children that I have a favourite. Yes! I told them that I knew who I would save from a charging run-away bus if I had to. Which I would grieve for more. Which has a firmer hold on my heart. Which ... what? Dog, of course! Dog. I'm an awful dog parent. I don't recall how we got onto the subject of favourite dogs - I think it was something to do with loving them. And perplexing Littlest with the additional and judging by her face appalling admission that I do not love Four-legged-friend and Bertie Baggins as much as I love her. Ho hum ... Both boys are beautiful, capable of devious thievery, faithful, have eyes that bleed unconditional love into your soul and would happily graze through every hour of every day. Which at this time of year in a garden filled with fruit dangling conveniently at muzzle height they do. Which is my favourit

Fine food, fine friends and finding inspiration

First, apologies to anyone dropping by for a spot of canine chatter in a dog-themed blog. 'Walking the dog' is on holiday and the boys are at their dog-themed holiday camp (aka kennels). To say it was a challenge coaxing Bertie Baggins into the car in order to get them there would be an understatement on the scale of 'I've had enough carrot cake' - all his recent journeys have been to destination-vet, where he has had vaccine squirted up his nose; needles jabbed into his back-side or surgery to lop his balls off. Bread didn't work. Following Four-legged-friend's calm hop into the passenger foot-well failed to settle him. In the end, it took two of us to manhandle him into the boot and he whimpered most of the way there. Note-to-self to take him on some fun journeys - destination-walkies, or collecting Littlest from school. Once at destination-kennel and with both boys out of the car, I promptly turned into hapless, without-a-clue-how-to-handle-two-over-

A little bit of rudeness goes a very long way

Why is rudeness so unsettling? And why when someone is rude to you is the natural English response to say "Sorry" - where does that come from? Is it really necessary to apologise to someone who has just been rude to you? Maybe it's a subtle way of pointing out to them that, even if they have none, you still have manners. And perhaps you are apologising on their behalf because the word sorry probably last passed their lips some time during their early childhood and they have forgotten how to form the particular muscular contortion of lips and tongue required to form the word. They need to be reminded what it looks and sounds like. Rudeness is a deliberate and malicious display of disrespect. Our encounter with it occurred at lunch-time yesterday: actually, at Littlest's lunch-time-plus-an-hour and she was flagging - more steps, more dust, more wasps, more sun-exposure and another mediaeval town that interested her about as much as a book on the astrophysics of quasar

Of felonious friends, lists, fulfilling lists and future lists.

I am a writer of lists. Like my father, who probably still writes lists, I get bogged down in the detail of the day ahead, panic at the imbalance between jobs to do and time in which to do them and attempt to calm my inner turbulence by writing down all the things I hope to achieve in a list. And subsequently fail to achieve much at all.  A good day will be a 'two-er' - one in which two items on the list are scored through. 'One-ers' are pretty acceptable too. Far too many days though, end in a self-inflicted debate over whether I can justify a hashed line through a task partially completed. And I often write "make list" on my list for the following day, thus perpetuating the rolling disappointment and failure. Some occasions are associated with more frantic list making than others. I am currently in the frenetic period pre-holiday-departure which has to be up there, with pre-wedding, at the top of the list making league. I make lists, then sub-lists to