19 July 2012

ten reasons to like the rain

Liverwort, Bethnal Green

I know.  It has been relentless.  It's not all bad though.

:: Liverworts are thriving. These are on one of my favourite walls underneath the railway arch in Three Colt Lane.  I made a detour to see them the other day. What's more, I like Three Colt Lane. It's wonky,lined with railways arches populated by taxis and odd engineering works. A railway station is tucked in there that takes you northwards, past the backs of the houses in Paradise Row, through the marshes of Hackney and Walthamstow. Liverworts it seems can lead to all sorts of adventures.

:: I have not had to water the allotment for months.  This is particularly good news when you are trying to grow vegetables on nutrient free rubble, even if some of those vegetables are looking rather sad from lack of sunshine.  My first carrots, despite carrot fly damage - you can't have everything - look as orange as can be.

Carrots from West Ham

:: You get to stay indoors and listen to the radio without feeling you're missing out on the great outdoors.  I've been enjoying Jim Naughtie's cogent fifteen minute commentaries on Modern Elizabethans.  I was particularly taken with scientist Dorothy Hodgkin who won the Nobel Prize, had socialist ideals and still made her own clothes!  I also heard some wonderful programmes about Siberia, and wanted to become a reindeer herder after seeing the photos on the Radio 4 website. There's only one day left to listen to this programme so you need to listen this instant, or at least look at the pictures.

:: Ample rhubarb means lots of making Glencar Jam which I am addicted to eating daily with plain yoghurt.  I remain eternally grateful to Jonathan Dean who left me his mother's  recipe when I wrote about this jam years ago.

Glencar Jam with rhubarb and figs
:: Instead of falling asleep in a deck chair at the allotment, you get to catch up on all those little jobs that have been lurking in the mending/alterations pile.  I blame the size of this pile being down to having a fabric fetish and being eternally optimistic about the potential of old clothes.  Frocks have great possibility: try them on inside out and take in the excess fabric, shorten to taste; or cut off the too small bodice, turn over the top and thread elastic through to make a swishy skirt.  Old crew neck jumpers in pastel shades can be cut down the middle and worn ballet style or like Rachael Matthews' cardi that I covet, cover them in a maze of contrasting i cord. Old lady length cotton skirts can have lining shortened and attached to the still long skirt to shorten it into a bubble skirt, and if you enter the mutton/lamb zone, recycle into the quilting pile.

:: While you do all this you can have the window open wide and listen to the sound of the rain or the small rivers working their way from the roof into the gutter outside.  Very soothing, although a peaceful state is only possible after the leak in the roof has been repaired.

:: Between showers you can dash out on the bike to the market, stop at one of the "shop" barges lined up on the canal nearby for an al fresco a cup of coffee, then take photos of the prolific wild flowers and lofty beds that have flourished for so much longer this year.

Chicory, Mile End Park
:: The pollen count is lower.  Breathe in deeply and make the most of it while it lasts.

:: Be thankful that the grey skies in the morning mean that you are not woken up too early by the sun blazing through your east facing uncurtained windows.  Or if you are as lucky as Kate was, enjoy visits from swallowtailed moths in the middle of a black stormy day.  Infinitely preferable to the clothes moths which we are normally plagued with here, but which seem not to have flourished quite so much in these cool damp days.

:: Put your feet up, read a book, and plan for all the adventures you will have when the sun does come out again.  This weekend.  I have every faith in the Met Office.

And just in case you were starting to worry about climate change, think on...

Plastic bag polar bear, Regent's Canal, Mile End Lock