Tag Archives: Iris

Reasons to be Cheerful

If you are of a certain age you will already be running a set of Ian Dury lyrics through your head. If you aren’t, you’ll be wondering what I’m talking about. It’s amazing what a few words can bring back to you. They have just taken me on a 400 word digression, which I have removed and repackaged. They will appear in my next post where I will pretend that I always meant to write a post on nostalgia and British cars.

Blame Charliecountryboyfor this, he mentioned the smell of vinyl seats in a recent post and that came together with thoughts on Ian Dury to form a post that took me back to the age of 19 and the late 70s. As the two thoughts came together the words flowed like automatic writing. Unfortunately they wren’t words about reasons to be cheerful, which was what the post is supposed to be about.

Anyway, back to the subject. I rose from my bed a little before eight, feeling relaxed, reinvigorated and ready for a day of hard work and creativity.

This is not usual.

After catching up on my blog reading (which is still weak and sporadic, I’m afraid) I made breakfast as I heard Julia stirring. Monday is currently a day off for me under the new shop rota, so we take a relaxed view of mornings). After bacon cobs and tea I decided what to do. I decided to watch TV for a while. Then I fell asleep. I have no ideas why, because I wasn’t tired, but I think TV might have switched my brain off.

The I read, made Welsh Rarebit for lunch and wrote and edited. The reason for the editing was that I managed to write 400 words of digression, as mentioned above.

Welsh Rarebit on sourdough toast – the bits are from the Dijon mustard – I use one spoonful to add texture then a couple of spoonfuls of English to add a bit of flavour. 

Reason to be cheerful number one is a blog post from Laurie Graves. Actually it could be one of several, but I selected this one because it cheered me up. It has pictures of raindrops on leaves and an iris. If you don’t cheer up when you see them you probably don’t like pictures of kittens, and there is no hope for you.

Reason to be cheerful, number two. I am breathing and “dum spiro, spero”, as the Romans used to say. They were very big on mottoes. This one, for those of you who weren’t condemned to do Latin at school, means “while I breathe, I hope”. It is an appropriate motto for a man who is approaching a stage in his life where he has to beat his trousers into submission and take a breather between socks when dressing in the morning.

I had been considering writing one of those lightweight humour books you see in charity shops, taking old age as my subject. Unfortunately, the more I looked at old age, the less funny I found it. Probably the worst bit is that I think I’m getting old, but the literature on age thinks I have years to go before I reach that state. I have turned into one of those crabby old gits who is old long before his time. I probably ought to dislike myself, as I have always said I will never become one of those people.

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Summer’s Day – looking over rooftops

Reason number three. It’s sunny. I like it when it’s sunny at this time of year as it’s generally quite pleasant. Though I often say I’d like to live in Arizona when I’m having trouble with arthritis, the reality is that I’m English and in times of great heat I am genetically programmed to turn pink, sweat and complain. Actually, the English are genetically programmed to moan about any weather, only the degree of sweating and the colour of the visible flesh varies. The Scots (I don’t want Tootlepedal to feel left out) are genetically programmed to complain about the weather, and to blame it on the English. He has some first class irises on his blog too.

Reason number four. I’m not losing my dress sense. I’ve noticed that as people get older some of them find it tricky to strike the right balance between fashion, age-suitability and taste. So far, I have not had that problem. The fact that I have always looked like I selected my clothes by a random rummage in a crepuscular charity shop means that it’s unlikely that declining sartorial standards will be noticed.

Reason number five. The Magic Rabbit. I only discovered this creature existed due to a quiz question answer this afternoon. It is a cheery thing just to see, and the name just makes it better. It really is adorable, and that is a word I hardly ever use.

magic rabbit

Magic Rabbit

They are already dying out, even though they were only discovered in 1983. Scientists blame climate change, though I think the fact that (a) they live on barren rocky mountains and (b) the Chinese will eat anything that breathes might have something to do with it. In terms of China and rare animals, the likelihood of extinction merely puts the price up. See the stories of the Passenger Pigeon and the Great Auk for proof of that in Europe and America. See my post Hitler and the Avocets for links to the stories of those fine, but extinct, birds.

A World of Interesting Things

I’ve just been looking through my drafts and clicked on this, as I didn’t remember what it was about. There was nothing in it, so I’d obviously thought of a title and left it at that. I checked, but don’t seem to have used it before, so I must have just written the title and drifted off. I do that sometimes.

So, I need a post to go with the title. I’ve spent most of the day researching another post and, thoroughly bored, have decided to park it for another day.

Flowers are interesting. These are some pictures I took on my last few visits to the gardens. Some are new, others have been used before. The iris is, as I may have mentioned, is my favourite flower and, though it may not be as striking as some, the yellow flag is top of my list, as it is normally found by water. What more could you want than a glorious yellow spring flower growing near water whilst ducks quack in the background.

Tootlepedal has a particularly fine example of a blue iris on his blog.

I was sorry to learn on a quiz show today that the iris is only number 20 in Britain’s favourite flowers. This is clearly a travesty, and the list was compiled by people who had no taste. The rose was number one, which is not a surprise. They are pleasant enough, nicely scented and very decorative in quantity.

I am now going to fill up the post with photographs, and am going to tell you that I am doing it, as I need a few words to get me past the 250 mark.

A Disaster Averted

I’m giving myself ten minutes for this as I have other things to do.

I decided I would make us brunch this morning as I was up late and Julia was already busy with meetings. The menu was welsh rarebit (using up some poor quality grated cheese from ASDA), rye sourdough toast and scrambled eggs. It sounded quite sophisticated to me, and goes some way towards redressing the meat which has been creeping back into our diet. We never intended going fully vegetarian, but we were going to cut back. Lockdown has seen us eating quite a lot of sausages and bacon, so it’s time to cut back a little.

The problem came with the sourdough. I often cut it with a sharp carving knife rather than the bread knife as the crust can be a bit tough. This loaf was a few days old and was tougher than normal. The bread knife, allied to my poor grip, didn’t make much impression and I reverted to the sharp knife, using both hands to press down at the end and cut the tough bottom crust.

Obviously it wasn’t the best way to treat a foot long blade and it shouldn’t have been a surprise when the bread and breadboard slipped and I found a sharp knife approaching my abdomen at high speed. It shouldn’t have been, but it was. Old age and arthritis seem to have dulled my common sense. Just like the time my grandfather nearly severed his thumb cutting kindling or my grandmother stood in the kitchen sink to change a lightbulb. It’s a worry, though it’s also nice to think I’m taking my place in a long line of family stupidity.

Julia, alterted by the clattering and bad language, came to complete the cutting.

That’s the ten minutes, so I’ll stop there. The description of my scrambled eggs will wait.

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Blue Iris

I selected the owl picture because we all need wisdom at the moment and the iris because I like irises.

Flowers and Fossils

Today I’m going to do pictures of flowers from yesterday’s visit to the garden with a few other things interspersed to show the nature of decay and the passing of time.

That’s sounding either depressed or arty, and I don’t know which is worse. The depression comes, amongst other things, from having to fill in a questionnaire for the hospital. I participate in a regular pain survey so they have sent me one about depression, anxiety and isolation. By the time I’d finished I felt considerably worse.

The artiness may come from being bitten by a vampiric art student, or from watching too much Grayson Perry on TV.

I’m glad to be back in the old editor. There’s a certain solidity to it, which I don’t get from the new one, and as I write I can see I have written 144 words.

I have now had two tries at loading a group of three photographs, but there is no sign of them. This seems to be an increasingly common problem. When I publish the post they will all suddenly appear.

Last night, whilst wading through reams of information on the new editor and associated rammel, I found a button that would have erased the entire site. I was very tempted. There is nothing in the writing that I am attached to, and as I struggled with the “improved” system it all felt like it was just too difficult to carry on. I may have to avoid finding that button again, because it’s very tempting.

Over the years I’ve followed links to the sites of people who have commented on my blog and found that they have no posts listed. I’m beginning to see why.

And once again the photos fail to appear. I hope they will turn up when I publish. And lo and behold, they did turn up. In the wrong place.

The devil’s toenail is nice to see, I haven’t seen one for years. It’s nice to have something on the blog that is older than me.

Harlow Carr Gardens – The Visit

The approach to Harlow Carr was interesting as the satnav told us to take a different route to that indicated by the brown signs. It was an interesting, and narrow route. I will follow the signs next time and suspect I will have a less strenuous drive.

There is a lot of building going on in the area, and there is a large set of roadworks at the entrance to the gardens. Despite this we didn’t have to queue for long and were soon in the car park, dodging doddery pedestrians and trying to find a space.

I think I’ve already mentioned that most of the pensionable population of Yorkshire was out in the garden. Many of them were playing slow-motion Russian Roulette in the car park whilst others formed an orderly queue at Bettys.

That still left a surprising number to fill the garden paths. Fortunately, although the unkindness of the passing years has rendered me less mobile, it has made it easier for me to formate with pensioners. I was even able to hold a few up as I paused for photography.

There are some compensations to getting old.

We only saw about quarter of the gardens. There was a big bed of heathers as we walked in. It was good winter colour, one of the things I was looking for, but not something likely to be making an appearence in our garden.

There are some great vistas in the garden which, again, aren’t likely to be repeated at our house. You need distance for vistas and that isn’t something you can buy at the garden centre.

We looked at the alpine house because Julia is looking at a cactus/succulent/alpine project this year. I suspect the Mencap version will be slightly less polished than the RHS version.

I had taken a few photos by this time, including a wicker worm and a moving sycamore sculpture.

I won’t take you through the rest of the day in such detail – just give a quick list. Spring flowers, rhubarb, dogwood, kitchen garden, scones, toilets, mosaic display, sulphur springs, foliage beds, garden centre, bookshop, afternoon tea at Bettys.

We missed the lake, the library, the arboretum, the education garden and probably some other things we don’t know about.

To be honest, my search for new winter ideas didn’t meet with much success – I already knew you could plant bulbs and shrubs and leave large areas of bare soil.

It was a very enjoyable day despite this and I’m looking forwards to the spring visit, though I might try taking a flask and sandwiches next time. That way I can save money and take up an entire bench whilst pensioners tut their way past looking for somewhere to sit.

I’m a member. I can go as many times as I like without it costing more. I’m feeling quite smug.

 

 

Yellow Flags, Ducklings and Swifts

Things are changing in Arnot Hill Park, the shrubbery has finally come to life, and the trees are in bloom. A pair of camera-shy Song Thrushes took cover in a horse chestnut as I approached and the trees were full of annoyingly elusive birds.

There’s nothing quite like yellow flags for cheering the heart, particularly when you’ve just been confined to the house. I like irises, and I particularly like the yellow ones so it was good to see them in bloom this morning.

As you may be able to tell from the photos, the water has changed colour to an exotic blue-green, while we’ve been away too.

There are ducklings about too – though they are a bit of a handful from the parenting point of view. The first ones I saw seemed to be attached to a pair of Red Crested Pochards but they made a rush for freedom, the adults swam off and the ducklings carried on by themselves. I think they may actually have been Mallards, as they seemed to stay with the adult Mallards.

Round the other side of the pond I found more Red Crested Pochards, this time with four ducklings. I’m amazed by how fast they are for such small things, particularly once you try to get the camera on them.

Incidentally, I’m back on the old camera as it’s easier to slip into my pocket and…well, to be honest, I can’t remember where I put the other one last time I used it. That’s how bad my memory has been during the last few weeks.

Finally, alerted by high-pitched squeaks I found a family of Moorhens with four chicks. Two of the chicks swam across one of the islands and took refuge inside the wire bastions they use for extending the islands. It makes a nice secure cage for chicks, though the other two kept to open water. Typical kids, you have a nice safe cage for them and they make for open water.

There are also two Coots sitting on eggs, so there are more chicks to come.

Unfortunately the Mandarin seems to have gone, so no more Odd Couple.

The film clip shows a pair of Mallards feasting on unappetising scum. No wonder they do so well if they are prepared to eat that.

And finally – Julia was out in the street this afternoon when she heard screaming calls, Looking up she saw eight Swifts. Looking down again after a few moments of Swift watching, she found a woman staring at her as if she was mad.

Who can tell?