Tag Archives: poppies

Day 125

It might have been having a good moan about it, or it may have been the application of hot water bottles over the last couple of weeks, but my fingers were a lot better this morning. Whatever the reason, it is a welcome development.

As a result, everything seems better. Even the birds are singing more tunefully, and I deadheaded 24 poppy stalks this afternoon, bringing the running total to 36, with a few more to go, as I didn’t do the second clump.

This is a very different pattern top last year, when we were getting about a dozen a day and they were lasting until mid afternoon. As far as I can tell they are lasting two, sometimes three, days, at the moment. The effect is the same, with lots of poppies out, but they aren’t producing the number of blooms daily that they were last year.

Whether it’s the time of year, the weather or the age of the plants I don’t know. I must observe and see what happens later in the year.

I’ve just finished watching the final of Masterchef and, though lost in admiration for the winner, am left wondering why they bother. Who needs a plate  spotted with oil and smeared with foam? Who, seriously, wants a dish with a name that includes so many words that you need to breathe in the middle of it?

“Stuffed chicken wing, chestnut cream, chervil root and Périgord truffle.”

I’ve written shorter poems than that, and I’m sure it’s not the longest recipe title I could find if I set my mind to it.  It should be possible to find one that includes the words “with pickled vegetables, citrus foam and a Parmesan tuille”. Some of them go on for an awful long time.

Foam, by the way, is not food.

Poppy

 

 

 

 

Day 124

My week has slid by – Bank Holiday Monday, back to work for a day, and today, my normal day off. I am now half-way through the week with little to show for it.

The experiment with numbering blog posts has, I feel, been a mixed success. It has saved me time and effort but has detracted from the blogs and made me depressingly aware of passing time. This is not necessary – I already have a set of dodgy joints for that.

When you start the day by sitting down to put your socks on and go on to select a strategy for getting your trousers on, you know that time is passing. When the main struggle of the day is not world peace or child poverty, but getting your shoes laced, you know that old age is catching up.

My plan is simple. I am not going to fight, merely let it catch me. I will then ambush it, give it a good kicking and carry on, leaving old age to limp along behind me. I’ve just done my annual Investigating Musculoskeletal Health and Wellbeing survey, and that always leaves me in a bad mood.

Poppies by the roadside

I’ve been looking at illegal drugs lately. There may come a time when I need more painkillers, and I’m not impressed by the range currently available to me. The stuff they give me to apply externally to painful joints is, frankly, a joke. Its main effect is to give me sticky fingers. It doesn’t kill pain and is not accurately named. Aspirin and Paracetamol are not very strong, I’m not allowed Ibuprofen because of the risk of bleeding. Cannabis, in various forms, is fashionable, but I’m not convinced about the oils and don’t intend to start smoking again.

That really just leaves opium. I’m fairly sure that our climate would make production of opium from poppies difficult, even if the police didn’t decide to investigate an allotment full of poppies.

As with most things, you need to be rich. If I won the lottery I’d be able to afford a doctor who could prescribe heroin, and all my problems would be solved. I remember seeing a documentary years ago and that’s what a posh addict said – if you could afford medical grade heroin it was no more damaging to you than drinking gin.

It is also medicinal, being used for pain control and as a treatment for heroin addiction. Yes, I had to read that twice too. It’s like picking up a prescription for vodka to help you with your alcoholism.

So there you are, a post that started with socks and ended with heroin. I only wish my day had been as interesting, but it started with socks and ended with chocolate, which is pleasant, but not quite so much fun.

Poppies at East Leake

Poppies are finished

Day 123

Day 123 comes and goes. I have two more poems accepted, pack parcels and make hash for tea. Things happen on the news and I am advised to try jackfruit by a friend.  Those are the essentials of the day.

There were 12 Spanish poppies out this morning, which comes close to doubling the number of blooms for the year. I have stopped counting, despite my original intentions, because the flowers seem to last longer this year and I( am having to make sure I don’t double count. I will deadhead again tomorrow and see how many heads I remove.

I may try some tinned jackfruit. I’m not particularly bothered, but it will mean I can put a stop to conversations like the one I had tonight. It’s fashionable, and it’s on a lot of cookery programmes, but it doesn’t really fill a need for me. It’s a bit like samphire – I tried it several times and then forgot it. I don’t like the taste and I don’t see why it has to be imported when we have plenty growing on the coast. It’s full of nutrients and it’s good to have some variety in my diet, but deep down, I don’t like the taste. You can add asparagus to that list too. It’s OK, but if I’m honest, I eat it for variety rather than pleasure.

We started eating more avocadoes for the variety, but we like avocado. This makes up for the carbon footprint involved in importing it. Global warming, as far as I know, hasn’t helped us grow avocadoes in the UK.

 

 

 

Day 113

Two poppies today. That is four so far this year. We also have some self-seeded honesty growing by the front door. There are two plants on one side (both white) and one plant on the other. That one is purple streaked with white – I suspect some cross breeding has taken place and the purple one we had last year has been diluted. This happened a few years ago with alyssum. We have plenty of white (who doesn’t?) and I planted some blue. The blue didn’t thrive and only lasted a year, but in the next year a lot of our plants had white flowers with blue edges.  Unfortunately they had all disappeared by the next year.

I may have said this before, but it bears repeating – I like self-seeding flowers.  Cheap, easy and capable of generating a lot of interest.

We are gradually running out of marigolds, so I may have to plant a few extra, but the valerian is still going strong and we have so many teasels I am going to have to do some thinning out. The trouble with spiky plants is that you can’t just let them grow where they want.

That is really all there was to today – got up, went to work, saw a few customers, packed a few parcels, went home, ate and watched TV. It was veggie burgers again. Bought in again because it’s a cheap and easy thing to do and because our shopping arrives on Friday night so the cobs are still nice and fresh to put the burgers in. They were a bit too spicy this week so, once again, I am talking about making my own.

I may have said that before . . .

Day 112

We had another poppy today. They seem a bit slow at the moment, but it looks like we might have a few more tomorrow. Total for the season – 2.

We used the option of picking up the shopping from TESCO tonight – you still avoid people but by picking up the minimum order is less than the delivery option. We have built up a backlog by ordering too much for the last few weeks and need to get through some of it. Carrot soup is likely to feature in our menus several time next week.

On the way we passed a strip of what was once probably woodland. It’s now just a strip of trees and weeds between a footpath and an old railway cutting that is now, I think, a nature trail/footpath/cycle path. OK, I admit I’ve never actually used it and am slightly hazy on details. However, under the trees, a wonderful sight emerges at this time of year. Bluebells. I don’t know if they are survivors from the old woodland or new foreign interlopers, but they do look nice and they always give m a lift at this time of year.

At work today I had an enquiry, which I handled with my customary tact and good humour. I do that on the first enquiry because that’s how you should be. I only start getting sharp when people tart winding me up. People can’t help being stupid or annoying or any manner of things. That’s how we are. They can’t even help it when they advise me on how to package their items properly (because it’s not as if I send over a thousand items a year safely through the post, is it? On the other hand, having told them once, I don’t see why I should have to repeat myself.

Anyway, the customer wrote back and thanked me for my reply, and noted that I clearly had a good grasp of customer service. So far, so good, though I was a little worried that this was just the start of quite a long message. Having answered his question (we didn’t have what he required) we weren’t going to take any money off him and, with time being money, it’s not cost-effective to take on a pen pal.

The gist of his letter was that after a long and successful career in retail he was in a position to advice me that what I should have said in my letter was . . .

I won’t bother to quote it all, but it hinged round us producing the items he required and giving him some for free in gratitude for his input.

At the moment I am torn. The owner has told me not to answer it. This seems rude. On the other hand, if I answer it I will probably be rude anyway.

A tricky question of modern etiquette.

Sometimes I wonder if these people are really just doing it for fun, or if it is a test from eBay.

Day 109

When I got home tonight the first of the orange poppies was out. They have been developing buds for the last few days, so this was good to see, I am going to try to keep a count this year and see how many flowers they produce. They do well for a self-sown flower growing from cracks in the concrete.

We had the customary crop of vexatious calls and emails from people who shouldn’t allowed out without a carer.

One buyer, who gave us a thorough grilling before purchase, has already sent his purchase back. We found this out from eBay as he didn’t have the courtesy to get in touch. We are waiting to find out what was wrong with it, as we are certain it matches the description we used to sell it.

Someone rang, as is usual, with an enquiry about whether we bought rare coins. And as usual it turned out to be a 50p piece that was worth . . . 50p.

And so it went on.

When I had a few minutes during the day I had a go at pushing the levers on my new chair. It is, when properly adjusted, much more comfortable than the old one. That’s a measure of how far we have advanced – everybody seems to have swivelling office chairs now. I only tried one when I started at the shop, until then I’d just had chairs with four legs.

Traffic was strange on the way home. I got halfway home with no traffic on the road, a rare, but welcome event.The second half was absolutely blocked solid – and I have no clue what caused it, as there was nothing there once it started moving again.

The only other point of note today was that my fingers are giving trouble five fingers from eight are stiff and several are painful. I’m hoping it is on of those temporary glitches and not a sign that the drugs have stopped working.

 

 

 

 

An Early Night

Not sure where to start today. I missed a grim demonstration of nature in action this afternoon, but Julia reported it to me. A small brown bird was chirping in the gutter, clearly trying to entice its parents to come and feed it. Suddenly there was a flutter of black and white as a magpie landed, snatched the little bird up in its beak and flew off. It’s hard to imagine that there was  a happy ending. I’m not sur whether I feel sorry for the fledgling or regret that I wasn’t able to film it. Sometimes I am not a very nice person.

I spent the first part of the morning struggling to get to work through multiple roadworks. This was very annoying. Then I struggled to get home as a lorry had broken down on the Ring Road. Some days you feel more like a commuter than others.

We seem to have had nothing but news of people dying recently. One of Julia’s ex-colleagues died a few weeks ago and we only just found out and a neighbour died yesterday. Neither were covid related.

I looked up the crematorium in Gedling and found that they offer a range of products containing the ashes of the deceased. I knew you could get ashes compressed into diamonds at great expense (£1,400 for an amber coloured quarter carat stone to £16.500 for a clear 2 carat stone – plus extra for cutting if you want a more ornate cut of stone), but I didn’t know you could get the ashes of a dead relative used as the design for a paperweight. In a world that has gone mad with big weddings and conspicuous mourning, I don’t suppose it should be a surprise.

The Georgians and Victorians were very big on putting hair into mourning jewellery. However, there was a certain amount of thought and design in earlier times, which you don’t seem to find in a paperweight or pair of cufflinks. I would hate to think bits of me would have an afterlife as a piece of tacky jewellery. I really don’t know whether I should despair or laugh.

We had twenty three poppies this morning, but yesterday, having failed to deadhead for two days, only got ten. I may have to drop my estimate a bit, or deadhead with more enthusiasm.

That’s about it. Covid rates are rising again, the Government is in turmoil, a holiday company is going to take the Government to court because they haven’t put enough holiday destinations on the Green List, and I’m complaining about traffic and bad taste mourning jewellery. That, as posterity will show, is a truer measure about the thoughts of ordinary people than anything you will read in the papers twenty years from now. Covid will pass, but bad taste is always with us.

I haven’t slept well for the last few days, so I am going to go to bed after finishing this post. I have to be up early tomorrow – another blood test.

 

Spanish Poppies

Poppies and Poems

We had eighteen poppies this morning. Not as good as some recent days when we had over 20, but still quite good. If you say we average 15 a day (we have  second, small, patch too) in Junes, July, August and September, that’s about 1,700 blooms. That’s a lot of effort in flowering and, to be honest, a lot of deadheading too. And all from two patches of poppies which grow from cracks in the concrete. When we move I must try to save seed.

I am using a more structured approach to the day. I did 10 haiku this morning after arriving at work and emailed them to myself. I made a few notes on a submission I am making this evening and then started work. I wrote and the shop benefited from me starting early so I like to think it is good for both of us.

Did I say I was doing a Buson 100 (100 days writing 10 haiku each day.)? I honestly forget what I write in my notes, what I write in the blog and what I mean to write in the blog. Yes, I see I have mentioned it. I’m just over half way in days, and have a few poems in hand, so things aren’t looking too bad, though it’s till touch and go, as I can easily get two or three days behind, and it takes a bit of catching up.  This isn’t helped by losing a notebook with ten poems in it. However, as copy typing is very dull, half of me is happy to lose them and just write directly onto the screen. I’m finding it a lot easier to type haiku these days, instead of having to write them first. Typing is less stress on my hands too, so it’s all good.

Structure, planning, discipline. Bit by bit it seems to be working, though it’s mainly structure helping to develop good habits. Planning is OK, but could be better. Discipline seems to dissolve when I see an interesting link to follow and lose myself for an hour . . .

Marmalade Hoverfly

Marmalade Hoverfly

Bees and Poppies – A Simple Post

We have been averaging 14-18 poppies each day. They make a good show in the morning but the petals fall by lunch, so they aren’t the best at providing a showy display. On the other hand, they did drift in free of charge. Others, which I have paid for, have failed to prosper. I keep saying I will have another go with the big red oriental ones, but never get round to it. Perhaps I will simply buy some cheap seed and sprinkle it in the gaps between flagstones. We established  a massive drift of Californian poppies on the farm by emptying some seed packets onto newly dug earth, so it’s worth a try.

Bee on Welsh Poppy

Bee on Welsh Poppy

There are some wonderful drifts of poppies on the ring road where they are letting the grass grow for the pollinators, with Californian and red poppies. They still have their petals when I drive home, so I’m thinking they may be better than the ones we have which, I think, are Welsh poppies. I always thought the yellow ones were Welsh poppies but when I looked them up I found these were an orange variety. There are yellow ones along the street, one of my gardening clients used to have them, but they don’t seem to have spread this far.

Hoverfly on Welsh Poppy

Hoverfly on Welsh Poppy

At one time we had a lot of marigolds. I was given them by a customer, and they spread well and kept coming back, but then declined over a couple of years. We still have three or four of them, but they are not showing any signs of recolonising the garden. It is strange how some things flourish and others don’t. The alyssum isn’t doing so well either, though I’m fairly sure that is being shaded out by the red valerian. That could be the reason why the marigolds have gone, as they would have been overshadowed by the valerian, which is a real thug of a plant, but I always think of them being tough enough to fight back.

Bee on Red Valerian

Bee on Red Valerian

That’s the trouble with gardening the way we do in the front garden – you get what you’re given, which in our case is red valerian. I’m thinking it might be time to cut some of it back and give other things a chance. The only thing that stops me is that it attracts hummingbird hawkmoths, which are always a pleasure to see.

The last bee is on Red Valerian because it would stay still in the morning when it was on the poppies. By 4pm there were no poppies.

I’m wondering id the black bee is a Field Cuckoo Bumble Bee because of the all black colouring. I’m not sure what else to look for to ID it, or if there are any other similar species. I’m hoping the hoverfly is a Marmalade Hoverfly because I like the name. It’s common round here, according to the ID guide, so I feel safe with that ID.

Marmalade Hoverfly

Marmalade Hoverfly

Blood Tests, Relaxed Restrictions and a Peaceful Protest

I had to visit the Treatment Centre for a blood test yesterday. I didn’t need one and I don’t do it for fun but I had been told to have another one in a clear case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.

For posterity, I note the following things.

One – there was nobody on the door with masks, gel, advice or censure.

Two – people were once again drifting in through the door. Some weren’t using the hand gel and some were accompanying patients and didn’t need to be there.

Three – I saw a staff memeber walking round with their mask pulled down under their nose. Admittedly, it was a nose of heroic proportions and they were clearly proud of it (and possibly unable to get it into the mask), but it was still unmasked when it should have been covered.

Four – the cafe is open again, though you can onl;y have one person at a table.

Five – the phlebotomist is no longer wearing a face shield, as noted at City Hospital when I had my last anti-coagulant blood test.

These are not criticisms, just observations noted down for posterity. At a time we are told that a second peak is coming and that it is due to undisciplined social gatherings, it might be germane to note the slackening off of NHS discipline.

The service was excellent, if you ignore the fact the test was not necessary and the telephone helpline had proved to be bloody useless after they messed my prescription up.

On the other hand, I was able to collect a blood form, have the test, get my prescription and be given advice by the pharmacist and still get out of the car park in thirty minutes. Impressive stuff.

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Poppy

Tonight I have started learning the names for my finger joints so I can discuss them on the phone. There must be a poem in there somewhere.

I have also been noting the limits to my peaceful right to protest. It’s made a little more complicated by lockdown regulations but I may seek to defend myself using the Cummings or Stanley Johnson defence – I am too important to allow the law to limit my capacity for arrogance.

I’m also not quite sure about the legality of handcuffing myself to property which may or may not belong to someone else. The internet is rather uninformative on that point.

I now need as group of Suffragette bodyguards and I am ready for action.

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Poppy

There is, as you may suspect, a gathering cloud of civil unrest…

I wasn’t able to source any decent photos for peaceful protest or handcuffs on Pexels so I widened my search. Knowing what happens on the internet I really should not have searched for ‘handcuffs’.

That’s why you have poppies instead.