24 June 2015

the little apple tree

It was around this time last year that I first noticed it, the little apple tree round the corner from No 1.  Even though it's only a few yards away, I don't often see it close up as it's normally obscured by parked cars and I tend not to walk on that side of the road. Soon I realised how many other apple trees were dotted around the place, replacements for some brutally excised diseased trees. I considered adopting one to contribute to Lucy Corrander's impressive list of tree followers but I just knew that I would be too ill-disciplined to post regularly.

It was a while before I noticed this year that the little tree was suffering somewhat from the mini-drought we are having here. When I popped out last night at dusk, half moon feebly shining in the still-blue sky, I was hoping to capture something of Samuel Palmer's Magic Apple Tree, all golden in the light of the street lamp*, but I found instead a sad, dry tree, covered in tiny apples almost hoping for the June drop.

So we are I am on a mission to revive the tree. I went out this evening with a watering can - several times - and started the treatment. Half the water ran off into the gutter so I'll be scrounging some compost to act as a mulch (and hopefully not a dog toilet). One or two people looked at me rather suspiciously but a passing skateboarder gave me a smile and a thumbs up as he sped by and propitious birdsong echoed through the streets, so I'm hoping fortune is on our side. Just imagine if some of those apples survive, the apprehension of waiting for them to ripen - or mysteriously disappear into a pocket, a pie or the gutter. Little things, people.

* I know, very unlikely if not totally preposterous, but it's one of my favourite paintings, and the idea that there might be a magic apple tree round the corner is just too beguiling.

22 June 2015

at the beach

These pictures never cease to astound me - an outing to the beach just a short walk from home. That's Aunt Eileen in the middle, my mum on her left, me on her right. I imagine there was another auntie - Lily probably - taking the snap. We cousins were busy paddling, digging holes and probably trying to build sandcastles.

Take a closer look and you might notice the warehouses in the distance, and is that a tug there on the left?

This, you see, is "Tower Beach" and it's the River Thames we're paddling in. Tower Bridge is just out of shot and the Tower of London would be just in front of us. At low tide, a fantastic set of wooden steps were lowered from the quay so you could descend with your deck chairs and sit on the imported sand until the tide came back in again. If you were daring, or maybe just hot, you could get into the river and paddle. The River Police used to visit our school regularly to warn us about the risks from swimming in the Thames so I doubt any of us would have dreamed of going in deeper than our knees.

I was talking to my mum the other a couple of days ago about taking the train somewhere. "Oh, I've never been one for going very far" she said. A few hours at Tower Beach would probably still be her idea of the perfect holiday if it was still there, Actually, I think I might quite enjoy another visit myself.

21 June 2015

midsummer's day

My friend and I share dreams about being on the beach and most years she manages to find me a birthday card of two women splashing, or laughing, or lazing. Favourite cards, the ones where you know someone has really thought about what you like, are always hard to throw away so I have quite a collection now. Normally I stick them into one of those latticed string frames so they gradually disappear behind new cards and post cards as they arrive. Then it struck me that they could be strung along the mantelpiece where I can see them every morning and evening to remind me of sunny seaside days past and yet to come. 

Here's to a long and splashy happy-memory-making summertime for us all and enormous gratitude for those we've already enjoyed.

out of touch and sorts

Apparently it takes around sixty six days to create a habit. I have the research reference somewhere, but I'm slouching in bed and if I'm distracted by the search to find it I may never find my way back here. So it seems that in my absence I may very well have fallen into the habit of not blogging. If I had known I was going to be away so long I hope I would have given some warning. I apologise. Now I find that a whole half season has passed. The asparagus have been harvested, enjoyed and left to go to fern and, if we are not sufficiently vigilant, ravage by beetle. The strawberries, growing on the thinnest layer of soil sub-strated by an old road, are small, pitty, and undernourished - no rain to speak of for weeks, and a lazy attitude of benevolent neglect. I have been out of touch and, notwithstanding some lovely times away and with friends, rather out of sorts, maybe even suffering from a kind of sadness. But here we are now at Midsummer, a time of alignment and light, and it would be a pity not to take the opportunity to get back into sorts, all sorts. So I've decided to set myself up for a new habit to blog over the next sixty six days, to get into the swing of things again. A bit of looking back, forwards and sideways, possibly some new directions. Let's see.

Those strawberries, by the way: some of them found their way into muffins* for the WI stall at the Mile End Dog Show today. All the signs suggested that it might be a non-event.  The volunteer organiser by her own admission had not really had enough time to get things sorted as well as she would have wished. The fair rides and the bouncy castle failed to turn up. Other stall holders couldn't make it. The forecast was for rain until late afternoon. Yet somehow, it all came prettily together on a parched field in the park - the cake stall, the coconut shy, the face painting, the man who makes sticks out of newspaper, the local PDSA, the ice cream van and, of course, the dog show with  the most well behaved and groomed dogs ever. It was a little bit magical.

Happy Solstice!

A bit stodgy I thought, possibly undercooked. Some cheese and chive muffins (leave out the ham) came together much more easily. Use home grown chives for that added sense of superiority.