Friday, April 30, 2010

Lunch at the nursery - part 2
I tend to call this cystitus - but you know what I mean.

This little darling serenaded us through out lunch.

These are good value - I hope mine come up again this year.

A white clematis - so pure and pristine.
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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mostly we Pottered

The weather was good and J had had a long drive fron Norfolk but we went over to the Crown at Exford for lunch. We think it must have changed hands - it seemed different and there was a blip in communication betwe the bar and the kitchen so two roast ducks and a duck salad were not possible. However MTL enjoyed his tenderloin and it was all very good natured and jolly and the wine is always good there. There is a lovely water garden behind the hotel.

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Two views of Exford

Desserts to die for. J had Orange scented Creme Caramel served with Mango Sorbet and Home made Shortbread biscuit. Just managed to catch it before it was demolished.

Mine was Apple and Vanilla Tarte Tatin with Rhubarb Ice Cream and Chocolate Curls. It was delicious but I had difficulty getting the last of the chocolate off the plate. MTL watched in wonderment.
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Friday, April 23, 2010


What is better than presence of mind in a railway accident? Absence of body.
Punch 1849

I may be quite quiet till Wednesday next as we have a visitor - our daughter from Norfolk. On the other hand I may not.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

You Have to Laugh!

I have always loved reading poetry and I have never been able to write it. However there was a time when I belonged to the Watchet Writers Circle (sadly no more) when one was duty bound to perform the monthly task which occasionally included a poem. I've been rummaging in the attic and here for your delectation is an example. I know it isn't poetry because a male friend of mine told me so.

The Recession (1995)

Children dear, was it yesterday,

Papa was made redundant?

It seems a hundred years ago,

That money was abundant.

Fencing lessons and your ski trips,

Will soon be things of the past,

There is some money stashed away,

We have got to make it last!

Charles, the chauffeur, will have to go,

We're going to sell the Rolls,

No weeks at Champneys now I fear,

Just to heap my head with coals.

Then there's negative equity,

And don't ask me what it means,

Cook is preparing dinner,

And that's another can of beans.

Meals are so much speedier now,

We don't have all those courses,

We have to keep our peckers up,

And not frighten the horses.

It's hell, it's tough, it's agony,

It's what's known as 'the slump',

And till it's over, little dears,

It is all hands to the pump!

When I was young like you , kiddies,

I was a cockney sparrer,

And blood will out, we'll be alright,

Yer grandad's got a barrer!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My Plant of the Week.

Blooming now after a blossom of little creamy balls. What is it? I really don't know.

My Quote of the week:

Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow.
Helen Keller

Another sunny day and Bristol airport is open again.

At length the sun, gazing upon the earth,
Dispersed those vapours that offended us.

William Shakespeare The comedy of Errors. Time to do a spot of spring cleaning.
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Monday, April 19, 2010

Something in the Air

The car roof felt gritty and the blue sky was dusty at the edges so we blamed volcanic ash from Iceland. The Culbone Inn is fairly remote - between Porlock and Lynton - we'd heard there were new owners so decided to go for Sunday lunch

We ate inside but loved sitting here in the sun gazing at the view.

There used to be a life size cow sculpture to greet you - replaced now by the Beast of Exmoor .

After an acceptable roast beef and lemon meringue I wanted to potter down this inviting path but couldn't open the gate - which you can't see - but the further gate said 'Private.' Spoilsports!

Contd below.
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Something in the Air contd.

Outside the pub we took a lane opposite to find Culbone Church - one of the smallest in UK. As it was so narrrow I left MTL in the car and walked and walked downwards to the sea but not far enough to see the church. There were beautiful pastoral scenes and I saw my favourite Exmoor Horn sheep with mouths like teddy bears but my left hip started to hurt - I didn't have my helpful walking pole - I still had a long way to climb back to the car so I turned round.

You can just see Porlock Bay in the haze. We walked to Culbone Church from below some years ago when MTL was fully mobile.

I rejoined MTL who ws listening to Mozart and we decided to return to Porlock via the toll road - very bendy and picturesque and well worth £2.50. Below is where you put your money in an honesty box
. CCTV also provided

Now you can see clearly the smog from the volcanic ash over Porlock.
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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Bee Happy!

Last summer we were worried about the paucity of honey bees but this year - as well as bumble bees - they seem to be returning and they love the proliferation of grape hyacinths and especially the shrub, orange berberis below which I beieve is berberis Darwinii.

Thes are Tulip Trumph - Negrita

Tulip Greigh - Pinocchio. The purple pansies behknd have bloomed all winter and - unusually- I haven't fed them.

The Bee's treat Berberis Darwinii - yesterday.
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Friday, April 16, 2010

A Macabre Tale of Love and Violent Death

Since I saw Harris Fishman’s film Cat Dancers on More 4 on Tuesday night I haven’t been able to get it out of my head so I hope you don’t mind my passing it on. Ron Holiday was eleven when he met Joy aged seven, at ballet school in the fifties. Joy was a plain, skinny little girl but gradually under Ron’s influence she bleached her hair white blonde, had breast implants and together they became exotic dancers and eventually married.

Aged 32 Ron decided his dancing days were over and when William Holden offered them a baby leopard as a pet they decided to bring big cats into their act – tigers and jaguars included. Previously they had merely trained poodles. They were a big success in Las Vegas and then in 1980 they took Chuck – a young man into the act.

‘Look what I’ve found,’ Joy told Ron.

They trained Chuck until the three of them were working as equals with the animals. They would get a new cub and with the three of then sitting in chairs see where the cub settled and then he or she would be the ‘parent ‘of the cub. The three were increasingly very close and became a ménage a trois.

Then Ron decided they should get a white Bengal tiger in 1998 to spice up the act. Joy was against it as she said they were inbred and thus dangerous and unpredictable. Ron prevailed and Jupiter entered their lives and chose Chuck as his ‘Dad’.

By now they had an animal farm where they lived with the cats. One day Chuck was tired so went to his room whilst the other two worked with animals. Jupiter sat and refused to move so Chuck was sent for. Work was being done and the place was littered with wires and cages. Chuck – wearing moccasins tripped and fell and Jupiter sank his giant teeth in his throat and killed him.

Throughout the film there was home movie footage which made it seem one was an onlooker as the story was happening. The tragedy had a devastating effect on both husband and wife but whilst Ron said they would get through it together Joy said she just wanted to die. She took to her bed and refused to eat and wouldn’t leave her bed to shower and change.

Ron was told if she didn’t eat she would die so he told her ‘the babies’ were fretting and needed her. In the cage with Jupiter, Ron was glad it was very sandy as he hoped this would make her want to shower. She was very weak and was trembling and Jupiter attacked and killed her as he had done Chuck. It was just 5 weeks since Chuck had been killed. SWAT teams came and Jupiter was shot.

At the beginning of the film Ron was a sad, fit 70 year old man with a selection of wigs. He taught dancing and his remaining animals were housed in an animal park where he visited and fed them. Towards the end of the film he was given a day’s notice to remove his animals and as a result they were put down. Ron said that when he was 80 he would go to Thailand and live with monks where wild animals roamed free. At this point he was overcome with emotion and tears flowed through his hands covering his face.

See photo below.

A Tragic trio

Chuck, Joy and Ron with Jupiter a white Bengal tiger.
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Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Orchid Lady

No this isn’t about the new organisation to publicise the problems which may befall (Heaven forfend) men’s bits but about my friend Joy. Just for once I went out without my camera – it’s turned bitter again – and Joy showed me her nine orchids – eight of which are blooming in beautiful shades. One is fifteen years old and has 21 flowers and a perfect arching stem.

We studied train timetables as we can’t seem to persuade the local coaches to go to Cheltenham so we could visit the fourth member of our quartet – Margaret - who has recently deserted us to be near her daughters. I’m sure we’ll work something out and meanwhile there are free phone calls at the week-end and we are reminded that Margaret is an inveterate letter writer.

Joy’s garden is the next best to Margaret’s old one so I must take my camera next time. Apparently the soil in Margaret’s new garden is thick clay and she and her husband have both done their backs trying to plant the hundreds of plants they took with them. They now realise they must have help with the digging and I’m pleased to hear that at last Joy has got a youngish, strong man to help with hers.

Garden update below.

How does my Garden Grow?

We planted tubs with bulbs in the autumn and these are Narcissus Double Inspiration
They are long-stemmed and these two were falling over so I cut them to enjoy indoors.

The magnolias rioting unlike the large Ilex which is normally in lime green buds by Easter.

The best view is from the balcony - they are so tall.
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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Will the Shake

That’s how the late great Hoss dubbed the Bard. William Shakespeare really knew how to celebrate nature and his plays are liberally spattered with herbs and flowers and the trees he lived among. In The Shakespearian Gardens Dr Levi Fox names the trees in Shakespeare’s Birthplace garden and the associated quotes. I wish I had read it before visiting them in Stratford some years ago.

Apple Not yet old enough for a man, nor young enough for a boy; as a squash is

before ‘tis a peascod, or a codling when ‘tis almost an apple

Twelfth Night 1,5

Cedar As upright as the cedar

Love’s Labour’s Lost 1V,3

Cherry Tis as like you – as cherry is to cherry

King Henry V111, V, 1

Hawthorn There’s a man hangs odes upon hawthorns and elegies on brambles.

As you like it 111, 2

Medlar They would have married me to a rotten medlar.

Measure for Measure. 1V, 3

Nut Sweetest nut hath sourest rind, such a nut is Rosalind.

As you Like It. 111, 2

Plum The mellow plum doth fall, the green sticks fast, or, being early pluck’d,

is sour to taste.

Venus and Adonis

Oak The worthy fellow is our general; he’s the rock, the oak, not to be


All these trees and more are in The Birthplace Garden. Anne Hathaway’s Cottage Garden was quite delightful.

This garden has a world of pleaure in’t. What flower is this?

The Two Noble Kinsmen

Have you got a favourite quote from Shakespeare? It doesn’t have to be related to flowers or trees?

Here’s one I love –

There’s rosemary , that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember…

Hamlet, 1V, 5

Anne Hathaway's Cottage Garden

Shakespeare's Birthplace and Garden

Photos by E. A. Ellis
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Monday, April 12, 2010

Now that they are all about to burst forth – don’t you just love trees?


I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

Poem by Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918)
Music written in 1922 by Oscar Rasbash

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Anchor Inn at Exbridge.

This is Kiwi - the resident parrot at the pub where we had lunch. He's shy with strangers but talks when he feels like it.

Exmoor has it's own Robin Hood -Tom Faggus. Click to read

In spite of the high bank the pub is occasionally flooded

The other side of the bridge in April - the photos in Friday's post were taken last August.
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Friday, April 09, 2010

Yesterday was a perfect day.

I'm talking weatherwise and I wondered where would be a good place to wallow in such beauty today, when surely the weather would be the same. It's looking hopeful so I think we'll return to Exbridge where we celebrated Joy's 80th last year. Fingers crossed.

In the garden all the beds are overrun with wild primroses - a favourite - and grape hyacinths - not such a favourite but tolerated for their heavenly blue.
As Karen said today I remember why I love being a gardener.

I'm sure you kmow flowers have their own language so I'll remind you of the ones presently blooming.

Magnolia - Have courage.
Camellia - I am longing for you
Daffodil The sun always shines when I am with you
Hyacinth Please forgive me.
Primrose I might love you.

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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

NOT The best use of alcohol

This is a nervous attempt as Savannah's(side bar) Wednesday movie.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Here’s one I made earlier

…about a week ago actually. I had a feeling Easter would be somewhat of an anticlimax after the birthday fun so I was prepared. At least I’ve cleaned a glory hole of a room – two sculleries knocked together –the only problem now is all the countless cardboard boxes sitting in the hall which of course I will replace in exactly the right order. I swear they breed in this house.

Back to our jaunt - we decided to try a pub I don’t think we have used before although I do remember, when I was doing the Coleridge Way in sections, reversing into the pub wall - no damage honestly. I wouldn’t like you to think I make a habit of getting up close and personal with walls – it can’t be more than twice in ten years. It’s The Plough at Holford so we drove to Wiliton and took the Bridgwater road instead of the Taunton. It has a good car park – always a plus in our book.

There were lots of cyclists but they were pleasant people and favoured the sunny garden. I love eating al fresco in France and Greece but here in the UK I prefer a shady indoors. I felt like a small walk, so after a good lunch I left MTL reading in the garden and wandered up a lane towards the village. It was very peaceful, and busy looking for pretty views - I stepped backwards into a bog and had the greatest difficulty retrieving my right foot which was now covered in black gooey ooze or even black oozy goo.

Tufts of grass and small boulders helped me to remove the worst of the gunge but I had to wait until it was completely dry to brush them and then scrub then with soapy suds. An uneventful drive home and we were glad we’d made the effort.

The Plough at Holford.

I prefer a shady indoors in the UK

Another pretty cottage
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