29 May 2012

on my kind of garden

Mile End Park, on top of the Arts Pavilion
I went to the Chelsea Flower show last Wednesday.  I started to write a post about it the following day, but somehow it just didn't work out.  Not that we didn't have a perfectly nice day, it's just that I'd had enough of it by the time I got home.  So let's move on to my kind of garden, small spaces that give you a lift when you pass through, sometimes by design, or just by chance.  

For weeks now the narrow border that runs along the top of the Art Pavilion in Mile End park has been enchanting me.  It's shifted through violet, blue and yellow and keeps on changing.  Every time I cycle by something slightly different is happening, and the over the hot days of last week with the temperature rising so dramatically, all the alliums came into bloom.  All through the local public spaces, unmown grass has grown lush with the rain, meadow flowers peep through and paths of desire carved by foxes are faintly visible.

Holy Trinity Churchyard, Morgan Street
At the allotment on Mudchute, foxgloves invaded the herb garden and it seemed right to just let them do their thing and worry about the oregano and thyme next week.  Anyway, the parsley and coriander have come up at last, and we can eat those instead.

Foxgloves at Mudchute
Down at Spitalfields City Farm, where I managed to buy some wool based slug deterrent at their Wool Fair, the approach path was lush with an abundance of vegetables growing in their raised beds, wild garlic, cardoons - or perhaps artichokes?

Wild garlic, Spitalfields City Farm
Back at home, where the garden is deliberately "dry", you have to catch the sunshine while you can as our Pollypod knows.

Polly flakes out

And if the sun goes in, we'll just have to make do with the graffiti window boxes along the canal that saw us through those long weeks of rain and greyness,


and wait for the trees to bear fruit.


Not a single bonkers Jubilee bedding scheme in sight. And you don't have to pay a penny to see them.

21 May 2012

thuner and sunna

Sunna, Saxon god of sun, V&A Sculpture gallery
This week I'm looking forward to a bit more of Sunna ...

Thuner, Saxon god of thunder, V&A sculpture gallery
and a bit less rain.

Loving the hats though...

10 May 2012

the good life, possibly


It has not been a spectacularly good start to the growing season so far.  I had to retrieve the pots of seeds I'd sown from the cold frame because it was, erm, too cold.  I tried putting them indoors next to the radiator under the bathroom window on an old Oxo crate.  Some of them actually came up - then mysteriously disappeared again.  All that remains are five tiny, pathetic tomato plants.  Down on the allotment things are marginally better.  The rhubarb I've been trying to grow for the last few years obviously just needed to be soaked for a month.  If only I'd known a little sooner I would not have suffered the humiliation of being the only person ever to fail to grow rhubarb. The asparagus, on the other hand is as fat as fenceposts, rather like the couch grass.

Back at home it is like a scene from the Good Life.  Bread baked, stock on the boil, a glass of cider each.  Then he goes and gets a few skeins of coir and starts work on an old sugan he found abandoned this weekend; a wet Bank Holiday is always good for scavenging.


Didn't do a bad job between us.  I even like the way the coir changes colour halfway through.


Roll on Saturday when I can be thoroughly unworthy and indulge in a double serving of The Bridge.

08 May 2012

lashing down

Des Pawson's Rope display - Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park

As you know, it has been raining.  The roof has been leaking for weeks, too wet to repair, and bowls are being kept close by for emergencies.  There have been nights when, as Ted Hughes would have understood, our house has felt like it was at sea. Enough said.  However, the lashing down most on my mind has been in relation to rope, and knots and rigging in general.  For I have progressed in my upholstery class - and I am loving my class - to the challenge of lashing down springs. And it's quite demanding for someone with weak hands who never was a guide or sea scout and has not a clue about knots.  All this is shameful for someone whose birth certificate says she is a ship's rigger's driver's daughter, whose uncles could tie all sorts of knots, whose skipping ropes were so coarse and hairy and thick that if you didn't learn how to jump high enough resulted in lashing of the bare legs, whose father was always proud of his own roping and sheeting skills.  Captivated by the lovely line drawings in Annie Proulx's Shipping News years ago, you would have thought I might get a book out of the library and have a go.  Alas, no. I'm inspired now after seeing Des Pawson's rope display this weekend at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, located I discovered on land that was once a ropewalk.  The scent of those ropes in the dampness of the woods and their romantic connotations of voyages and exotic goods was enough to pull me in.  They reminded me of the joyous display of Alfred Wallis's paintings at Kettle's Yard that I saw on a cold, wet day a couple of weeks ago.  Heaps of paintings of barques and brigantines and steamers.  If you can, or have a choice at all, go there on a rainy day.  It will cheer you up enormously.