Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Happy Birthday James the Hat

Yesterday the Sock was berating ice cream men and then suddenly there was one of those strange coincidences that happen so often on the Sea of Immeasurable Gravy! The Sock was snooping around an article in the Reckless Gardener and it turns out that James Alexander-Sinclair was once a Mr. Whippy salesman! (The Sock assumes he was talking ice-cream there and not some more exotic equipment because you never know...).

Anyway the Sock will forgive James as she is sure he would never have played "Teddy Bears' Picnic" in an irritating manner. Also it is James's birthday today and all at The Sea of Immeasurable Gravy wish him a good one. James here is a private and personal card for your eyes only... make sure your speakers are on.....

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

I Scream

The Sock is feeling crotchety again (or should a knitted being be feeling crocheted). Whatever!

This is all due to the blasted ice-cream-van-man playing his toon at top volume! The sound of 'Teddy Bear's Bloody Picnic' slices through the air and jangles the nerves like nails down a chalk board!!! Horrendous. The Sock can hear it start up in the distance getting ever closer until the air is full of "the woods today" to the exclusion of all else even the seagull screams.

So finally having had enough the Sock phoned the council's Environmental Health department. The conversation went like this...

Sock: I'd like to complain about an ice cream van playing Teddy Bear's Picnic at a billion decibels in a quiet residential neighbourhood.

Person: Picnic? I've never heard of it.

Sock (loudly): Teddy Bear's Picnic! How can you not have heard of that?

Person: Well how loud are they playing it?

Sock: Extremely loudly.

Person: Well how long are they playing it for?

Sock: They are playing at least one full verse every few minutes which must contravene the regulations for the amount of time they can play it, which I understand to be 6 seconds.

Person: Well how long is a verse?

Sock: I don't know. Would you like me to sing it for you?

Person: Don't bother I'll look on Youtube.

The Sock got a big surprise today when the Environmental health people phoned back. Trying not to dwell too much on the Teddy Bears Bloody Picnic aspect of things it was established that the Sock probably knew somewhat more about what rules might be being contravened than Person no. 2 did. The Sock was asked to keep a diary of the noise for a few weeks as evidence. By the end of this time any attempt at summer will be over and the ice-cream-van-man will have cleared off for the year. Roll-on winter!

Monday, 28 July 2008


(NB You can clic on the pictures to enlarge them in case you didn't know.)

The Sock visited Hidcote at the weekend and was expecting some rather pretty Beardshaw borders and Cotswold cottage-style planting. It therefore came as a total revelation to find her socks completely blown off by it!!

The Sock has never fallen so deeply for a garden. It led in a series of rooms from one cacophony of colour to another explosion of form and texture, from a room of cool peace and tranquility to a vibrant hotbed of raucous reds. Yet none of it jarred the senses - just stimulated and excited.

So here is the Sock's tour of the gardens. Mind the gap of plant names - the Sock knows what she likes not always what it's called.

So first room out of the house is a charming courtyard in pinks, silvers, purples which is exactly what you are expecting - so far so predictable.

But then the next room looks like a load of plants have been thrown upwards by an earthquake in a melange of textures and shapes that shouldn't work together but somehow do. The excitement is already bubbling under

Onwards into another room with my absolute favourite planting. The combination of some sort of globe thistles and holodiscus discolor (?) looked like some futuristic city spires against fluffy white clouds

A lovely soft summery planting with the versatile verbena boniarensis

Thistles seemed to be a common theme here as well as being prominent at the Hampton Court show this year. What was billed as 'The rose walk' appeared to have been denuded of roses and replaced with eryngiums creating a silvery glow down each side of the path. A brave and interesting plant scheme. The Sock had been wondering where to plant the eryngium "Jos Eijking" she bought at Hampton Court and now feels inspired to fuse it into a border position previously discounted as the spikeyness seemed wrong.

The eryngiums were attracting lots of happy bees too

Another room - another change in concept and colour - a lush green oasis filled with texture

A bold and in your face yellow garden

A shady woodland area filled with drifts of astrantia and in the background a red lily(?). So unexpected and lit by a shaft of sunlight filtering through the branches of the tree above. As usual the ONE photo that you really, really want to work turned out badly despite several attempts with different camera settings (there is a limit to how long you can hold up the people behind on narrow pathways). It's been included anyway just to give an idea of something the Sock found totally exquisite..

Just as you are thinking that you must surely be satiated already and nothing else will pique your appetite you hit the long red border

As you leave the heat of the red borders to enter a cool ceanothus blue garden you espy a reminder that you are due to go back to the hotel for tea on the lawn. Egg sandwiches with the crusts cut off, toasted tea-bread, two different sorts of scones with clotted cream and jam and three different types of cake!



The Sock is back from her brief sojourn and above is the postcard she would have sent you if she could have been bothered.

Dear All

Having a lovely time - visited Snowshill lavender farm and was obliged to buy lavender foot balm, bath soak and horrid little twee heart-shaped drawer scenters which the Bedsock chose for some reason. Also three lavenders, 'artic snow', 'silver sands' and 'kew red' which the Sock buys every year and always dies.

We forewent the opportunity to pay to wander around the lavender field as there was a perfectly good field to wander around for free on the other side of the road. It just wasn't purple or scented.

Visiting Hidcote Manor later. Will tell you about that when we get home!

Lots of love
The Socks

Like all postcards it arrives after the sender has returned home.

True lies

The Sock would just like to assure blogwatchers that pretty much everything posted on the alternative reality that is The Sea of Immeasurable Gravy is true!

Friday, 25 July 2008

Joe, Sue and Bob too

Just a few thoughts about Tatton before the Sock clears off for a weekend break in a country house hotel in Gloucester where one of the activities on offer is duck herding! Hmm... might stick with the Indian head massage..

So film buffs will recognise the post title which pretty much sums up the show.

Now... whatever you do don't clic on the flic below...

Don't look now!

Back on Monday....

Wednesday, 23 July 2008


The Sock is bored............. too hot to blog anything interesting as the study is like an oven which isn't so great when you are 100% cashmere.

A quick check of the BBC's Tatton Show blog reveals yet another jaw-droppingly pointless post

clink for the link

It did serve to make the Sock realise that these blog posts, which include the one noted in an earlier post that appeared to come from Chris Beardshaw, are in fact written by someone from the production team presumably reporting something one of the presenters has said. So either what Chris, Carol and Joe have said is totally boring or the production team author has made it up! In which case why didn't they make up something interesting when they had the opportunity? The Sock may have to give them a few pointers in how to be creative and inventive when ghost-blogging for others.

At least darling Chris is exonerated from all blame for pointless blogging now - which has come has a huge relief to the Sock! Chris has also got a new website. The Sock couldn't find any jokes on it but he has got one of this years shirts on for his picture.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Horticultural Homicide

Those of you who haven't yet read the Guardian article may wish to do so before playing the gif!

clic for the article

The Sock has been up since 7.00 am working to get music on her gifs so you had better have your sound turned on! Let the Sock know if you have problems with it....

Monday, 21 July 2008

Sock'll fix it!

First play the music to get us all in the mood

whilst that's playing the Sock is pleased to announce that each week she is going to "Fix it" for one of our dear celebrities of the horticultural world.

This week the Sock will cast "Dr. Magic's" special dust over the wishes of one sad and lonely garden designer...

Dear Arabella

Could you fix it for me to be a romantic hero all the ladies will swoon over? All my friends are seen as Heathcliffe, Darcy, Mallen or even George Clooney. Surely there must be some literary figure I could be compared too?

Mr. X

Well Mr. X - Now then, now then, this week the Sock has fixed it for you to have your dreams come true!!!!

clic for the flic

Do you know someone you would like to be fixed by the Sock? Write to Arabella at the Sea of Immeasurable Gravy.

Totally Imponderable

What better way to get publicity for yourself than this...

clink for the link

Team Sock are still busy knitting a garden for Chelsea 2009 but may be inspired to knit a few well known Designers to put in it.

More inspiration at this site

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Britain's Next Top Home and Garden

Actually the Sock expects that most of you knew this already and didn't let on!!!!! She had to buy a copy of Amateur Gardening to find out. (The magazine has got the worst pictures of Peter Seabrook, Bob Pippidew and Christine Walkden in it. The Sock really isn't sure that portraying gardeners as mad-looking eccentrics is the best way to attract amateurs into gardening.) Everyone else appeared quite normal though and there was a particularly handsome picture of Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen looking gorgeous in a fairly toned-down suit. This is just as well because the news is that he is going to front a Channel 5 gardening series to be screened this September.

The working title for the new program is 'I own Britain's Best Home & Garden' - presumably suggestions for an improvement on that are welcome. The format is the usual one, twelve different gardens and attached house will be viewed with a winner picked each programme and then an overall series winner. The series is being produced in consultation with the National Gardens Scheme and the presence of three judges providing gardening expertise and comment will (hopefully) lend the whole affair some dignity and gravitas. They are going to be Anne Wareham, the fabulously named Laetitia Maklouf and another person who will give Llewellyn-Bowen a run for his money on the 'divine' front.

The article goes on to say
"The judges will each be assessing the gardens they visit according to their own personal bugbears - whether that's the declining standards in basic gardening knowledge, the lack of boldness in British garden design, the failure of gardeners to create spaces that reflect their personalities or the needs of families."
Anyone hoping to impress at least one of the judges could do worse than to buy or make a 'wildlife stack' to house their stag beetle collection.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Arte y Cowpat - Update

The Sock searched to no avail for some Beardshaw bloggage to include in her last post. How exciting then to find this priceless, piece of posting from young Chris on the BBC Tatton Show site.
Like the man himself, it is short but perfect. Other bloggers should take note...

clink for the link

Arte Y Cowpat

The Sock was deeply touched that at last she has received the acclaim and recognition she truly deserves on Emma T's Indy Blog.

The Sock has been asked to nominate five of the best blogs she reads. This is difficult because as we all know, most blogs are complete rubbish! Therefore it is far more in keeping to list the five most boring blogs the Sock has been unfortunate enough to waste time on!

Before we start on the morass of mediocrity the Sock would like to say that she very much enjoys those blogs that are not only about gardening but give a glimpse into both the writer's life and personality. They share not just their words but something of their real selves. VP achieves this easily, some of Team Sock have felt bereft that James the Hat has been away from his Blackpitts blog for over a week, Simon's Allotment conveys a real bloke with great vegetables!

But enough good blogs already. Here are the Sock's nominations for the Arte Y Cowpat award for most tedious blog so far...

1. The entire BBC Gardener's World blogging team.
Joe and Alys and members of the production team bore you rigid with details of what is likely to appear in the next episode (in the event there ever is one)! THAT IS WHAT THE SOCK BUYS THE RADIO TIMES FOR!!! Joe leads the way in making his blog as dull and scripted as the program itself... and don't EVER refer to Hampton Court as just plain old Hampton again!

2. James Alexander-Sinclair! No, not his own blog. This is for the Gardener's World Magazine site blog which wilts like a clematis in comparison. Worse than that - whilst sneaking in a plug for his own Blackpitt's blog he failed to mention either The S
ea of Immeasurable Gray or Emma's Baklava Shed Coalition in his roll-call of great blogs . Both Emma and the Sock are gutted over this - a sentiment the Sock posted on the site but which seems to have been censored!

3. His Organic Jerkinness. It would appear he doesn't blog but invariably sells his personal stories to the papers thus profiting from what so many give for free!

4. The Sexy Sustainable Stag Beetle Blog. As the author of this is not to be mentioned until next Tuesday at the earliest the Sock can't say anything more about it. (Other than to note that the unnamed person is now so desperate for attention they have resorted to posting on message-boards! see messages 32 and 38).

5. The 'Who ate all the Pies' blog. This blog is from someone calling themselves Reg and professing to live next door to some mad old bat who runs around her garden pretending to be a choo-choo train! The blog appears to be a list of the toings and froings of the filming from the garden next door. As Reg appears to believe that he should have been the primary presenter of this program we must assume that the list is in preparation for some sort of litigation.

After deep deliberation the Sock is awarding the Arte Y Cowpat to (play the music)

Thursday, 17 July 2008

My Inner Beast

Fat Rascal blogs from France

I suppose I'd still call myself a townie. Born in London, lived in Bath, Manchester, Leeds, Worthing, Winchester, Paris and Amiens - some bigger than others, but all towns.

Now I live in the back-of-beyond, middle-of-nowhere rural France. I love it. I'm still a bit naive, thought we had just one mouse in the house which I called John but then realised that John was ubiquitous and really putting himself about.

Last week I saw my first snake. Correction - first live snake, I've seen roadkill before. One of my plant pots was lurching so I lifted it and coiled underneath was a baby adder. I didn't scream, I didn't run away, I just looked. The snake slithered off behind the cold frame and I suppose we both felt lucky to have survived the encounter. I can't quote the source but a friend found this on the net:

"When you do see snakes in France be very careful who you tell. In my experience the best way to turn a friendly French neighbour into a killer is to mention the word "serpent". He or she (probably he) will immediately grab something dangerous-looking and insist that you lead the way to the exact spot. Once there all reptiles, most plants, and in severe cases sections of stone wall, will be destroyed and you will undergo a long and very serious lecture about the dangers of the French countryside. You will be watched with suspicion for many days, and locals will queue up to tell you their horror stories. Much better in my opinion to keep quiet!"
I kept quiet.

The most present of animal presences has been the beastie who lives in the attic. The beastie was here before us. The first time we lit the fire in the huge fireplace - called a "Cantou" in this region as inglenook doesn't do it justice - there was a very pervasive pong upstairs. The pong was the first sign, beastie made herself heard very soon. Imagine a small mammal wearing clogs, playing football and assembling Swedish flatpack furniture and dragging it into place and you will have an inkling of the sort of noise that kept us awake on many a night.

What could this beastie be, we asked ourselves. Having not read the above quote we also asked the neighbours. Everyone had an opinion, but they all agreed - it should be trapped and killed! Beastie was far wilier than the locals. Not only did she inhabit the attic, she could also get into spaces between ceiling and floorboards. The access to the attic is too small for a humane trap of the right size, you could get one up by turning it on its side, but you couldn't get one down with a trapped beastie inside. Besides, the qualified beastie trappers said the trap should be baited with raw eggs and who wants those festering away in their roof space?

The more observant will have noticed that I have referred to our beastie as a "she". The evidence of this is, each spring, we have had multiple scamperings and squeakings and have found plum stones and bird bones on the window ledges where baby beasties have dined. Every time we have the roofer come to check the "lauzes" - stone tiles - he has, allegedly, blocked all possible exits and entrances with chicken wire. This leads to a period of very disturbed sleep while beastie removes it and we find chicken wire on the terrace in the morning.

Over the years the evidence has added up and the beastie has been identified. It is a stone marten, or "fouine" in French. This is a good name, because "fouiner" also means to stick your nose in where it's not wanted and to generally snout about, a characteristic beastie and I have in common.

After seven years of "vie commune" I accepted that we were living in beastie's house, possession being 9/10ths of the law, but I had one wish - to see it!

This wish has been granted. I think mum has been ousted and one of this year's offspring has taken up residence in her place. Almost every night when I go into the little washroom which is next to the bedroom and start running the tap there is a scrabbling noise and baby beastie appears on the window ledge. We have looked into each other's eyes and both thought "so that's what you look like!"

(The nights when I don't see it are the ones I take my camera upstairs with me!)

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

There's no-one quite like Grandad!

The Sock is surprised that nobody else has commented on the astonishing resemblance between tabloid gardening guru, Peter Seabrook and the Werther's Original sweet guzzling Grandad.

No the Sock doesn't mean that they both suck! Rather, that like Grandad Werther, Seabrook embraces his family of Sun-reading gardeners with the same protective grandfatherly glow.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Strawberry Fields Forever...

Yes it's allotment time again...

clic for the flic

Monday, 14 July 2008


The Coalition has spoken and in this particular instance the Sock has decided to go along with the decision not to mention a certain person for at least a week! We need to get back to the primary purpose of this blog - the adoration of the Boy Beardshaw!

The Sock is worried for Chris - his Hampton Court jacket looked like the Guerilla Gardeners had found it in a skip! If Chris isn't careful he will end up being 'all boring jacket and adventurous briefs'.

It has to be said that people were very helpful on the Chris's Pants front and an enormous and mind boggling range of designs were submitted, nearly all of which had to be censored. Here is one of the Sock's favourites submitted by Ms J. of Cambridge.

Sunday, 13 July 2008


So before Hampton Court 2008 Flower show is consigned to the dustbin of history the Sock is responding to the hundreds of requests for her view on the conceptual gardens.

First up

Ceci n'est pas un jardin

Arabella says: Je ne te le fais pas dire!

Gambling Environments illustrates the consequences of careless human waste disposal. The cubes represent a set of fortune dice and each face of the dice carries a different word upon it.

Arabella says: Craps!

Plant Spa has been inspired by the threat posed by man to the plant environment. The theme of the garden is an imaginary world of the future, where plants we once took for granted must be protected from the harsh environment we have created.

The design is a spa for plants, where they are pampered and protected, while the humans are the spectators in the outside world.

Arabella says: If it is OK to waste water in this way then the Sock is buying an outdoor jacuzzi!

Forest2 has been talked about elsewhere and the Sock has n
o memory of seeing Somnium Argentum so perhaps she fell asleep.

This next one wasn't conceptual but should have been...

Pulsations: The main purpose of this garden is to demonstrate the possiblities of digital tools and new manufacturing techniques applied to a 21st century urban plot.

Arabella says: Hideous by any standards.

This brings us to the last one

Ecstasy in a Very Black Box is a visual representation of bipolar disorder.
The black, prison like outer wall suggests constraint and limitation while the upturned box spilling its brightly coloured contents expresses freedom and euphoria.

The Sock didn't read the blurb until after viewing the Black box which was curiously fascinating but seemed totally misplaced at a gardening show. Later, on reading the idea behind it the Sock felt that it was indeed a powerful representation of the condition and has stuc
k in her mind more than anything else at the show.

The Sock is intending to submit her own idea for a conceptual garden to next year's Hampton Court Show.
clic for the flic

Friday, 11 July 2008

Matthew Wilson - Sorted!

OK - you voted. You wanted Darcy - you got Darcy! Here is the doe-eyed sadsack playing Colin Firth

and here is the Matthew Darcy-Wilson about to get the wet frilly-shirt treatment!

The Sock hopes that those people who voted for Darcy are all very pleased with themselves!

Everything's Coming up Roses!

The Sock couldn't figure out how to get the music and pictures to play together so you will
just have to have them separately.

clic for the flic

And for the music

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Un p’tit tour de France

by guest blogger Fat Rascal

Tomorrow the big Tour, or drug addicts on bikes as we like to call them, is coming through my region. This is a very big event for the Cantal known up to now for its cheese and not much else. The local paper is obsessing on the fact that being a “ville d’arrivée” means that cash dispensers at the banks are emptied more quickly. Maybe some cycling fans will be buying cheese, there’s little else to spend money on.

One thing Aurillac does well is its municipal planting. For a small town they are very adventurous and I have pinched planting ideas from them. The combination of Ricinus, Cleome and Cosmos is one I’ve not yet tired of. Last year they even had edibles in with the flowers on the roundabouts. The hanging baskets outside the Mairie had Ipomoea batatas “Blacky” and “Lime” with Euphorbia Diamond Light and I’ve got a couple the same now.

We moved to the region in 1999 and to our present house in 2001. To quote the Black Fingernail, I’m a woman with altitude, all 900 metres of it. This means gardening with long, harsh winters, lots of snow –though less and less – and usually a short but real summer. This has presented many a challenge, they don’t label plants very well here and “rustique” covers a fair bit of the thermometer. I’m stubborn though and have succeeded in keeping a Ceanothus Repens but had to abandon the idea of ever having a Gunnera after three casualties.

We bought the house from an old couple, he had fingers in many a tarte but was known in the town for – selling cheese! This was their country residence where they spent the summer, the rest of the year they lived all of 16km away in Aurillac. That meant it was a garden planted for one season. The lady of the house, reputed for her gardening skills, was what was once described by an Anglo French designer as a plonker! There were beautiful stone troughs plonked on the lawn amidst plonked trees and beds. Every inch of vegetation had been shaped into squares, “boules” or lollipops and you could eat your truffade off the flat tops of the hedges. My first mission was always to mess everything up!

Shabby not Sexy

Back to Hampton Court and the Sock is beginning to think that in spite of the various grumps she was very lucky to enjoy it in Tuesday's sunshine! There were gardens the Sock liked (albeit not very many) the Copella Garden, Dorset Cereals Edible Playground and in particular the Burgbad Sanctuary. The Bedsock found 'Send a Cow' very interesting.

The Sock wasn't keen on the 'Sustainability can be Sexy' garden. The grass covered structure with the round entrance at the back looked like a hobbit/teletubby hybrid which has already been much overdone. The show guide blurb stated:

chic and thought-provoking... shows that sustainability and recycling can be sexy.

How did it do that? A practical family garden with areas for play and entertaining - yes. Sexy - no. And despite the description continuing "this elegant garden has a negative carbon footprint, recycled blah blah" it wasn't elegant, and enough negative carbon footprints already!

Anyway the real gripe about this garden is that you can see from the picture that there was a stack of untidy boxes and other stuff strewn over the front of it. Would they have left it like that on judging day? If it's not good enough for the judges then it's not good enough for the viewing public! Too many of the show gardens (even very occasionally at Chelsea) seem to feel that after they've got their medal then that is it and they are no longer bothered about keeping it in the best possible condition for those who have paid to see it!

So the Messiah thinks he's Heathcliff?

by the SOIG's raving reporter The Black Fingernail

He has been compared to Stalin, Mr Blobby and a Shakespearian tragedy. But Matthew “Messiah” Wilson has at last settled on a comparison he is happy with: Heathcliff.

Emily Brontë’s brooding anti-hero has come to personify the wild depths of romantic passion, and the next Gardeners' World Head Gardener, who built a reputation with custard as a watchword, has settled on the Wuthering Heights character as a kindred spirit.

The comparison came when it was put to Mr Wilson during an interview with New Spudsman magazine that he reminded women of Heathcliff because of his intensity. He replied with a laugh: “Absolutely correct.” But then he added: “Well, maybe an older Heathcliff; a wiser Heathcliff.”
Asked whether he was a romantic, he replied: “Ask Sydney [his cat].”

Mr Wilson’s readiness to see himself as the ultimately tragic figure whose all-consuming and thwarted desire for Catherine Earnshaw destroyed him gives a rare human glimpse of himself that his strategists have been privately hoping he would show occasionally.

Mr Wilson refuses all requests to use his cats to show his more personal side even though some tell him that he needs to do so to counter Joe Swift’s appearances with his family.
His acceptance of the Heathcliff description provoked wry reactions.

Andrew McCarthy, of the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth, West Yorkshire, said: “Heathcliff is a man prone to domestic violence, kidnapping, possibly murder and digging up his dead lover. He is moody and unkind to animals.”

Chris Beardshaw, the former shortscreen TV presenter and author of the famous “Stalin to Mr Blobby” jibe, said: “Heathcliff may be dark and brooding but he is also ruthless and vindictive. He ended his life a broken and tormented man haunted by a ghost. Monty Don perhaps?”

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Meanwhile back at the allotment....

Joe is taking a well earned snooze in the couch grass after a hard day filming the show gardens at Hampton Court. He is dreaming about the Porsche Garden and that Arabella Sock will be visiting the show...

clic for the flic

A Trolley load of Guilt

Forest² is a garden that attempts to create the illusion of a forest using parallel mirrors and just 30 trees. The Sock felt that it worked very well and liked the muted colour palette which was a moment of mental calm amidst the frenzied colours of most of the gardens. The blurb in the Show Catalogue reads
The forest is often represented in literature as a place of encounter and this is signified here by the inclusion of two boulder seats that echo the warm white of the tree trunks.
So far so good but it then goes on to say
...high mirrored walls multiply the forest to infinity. This offers a stark contrast to the ongoing disappearance of the world's forests due to our unsustainable stripping of the earth's natural resources..

Was the last sentence really necessary? It felt like the now obligatory add-on "sustainability blah blah blah" as if it wouldn't get into the show ground without the right environmental credentials.

Don't get the Sock wrong -- she is all for sustainability, recycling, saving the world etc. but doesn't need it rammed down her throat at every possible opportunity!

Later the Sock overhead a woman say to her friend "I came here for some fun and a trolley-load of plants, not a trolley-load of guilt!". How true, how very very true....

Hampton Court - Grump no. 1

Earlier this year the Sock blogged that Chelsea was the Harvey Nicks of Flower Shows and GW Live the Wilkinsons! This kind of put Hampton Court at the Waitrose level but ultimately it was more akin to an overcrowded, overcolourful, overcomercialized Marrakesh souk!

Let the Sock just share this advert from the Daily Mail with you...

This year over 30 acres of tranquil parkland are transformed into the horticultural feat that is the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. Daily Mail readers have special access to the exclusive Royal Horticultural Society Privilege Days

Would you not agree that the first part of the statement "Daily Mail readers have special access to the exclusive Royal Horticultural Society Privilege Days" negates the last?!!!! Is there some part of exclusive and privilege that the RHS organisers don't understand?

The Sock doesn't believe she is by any means alone in not feeling privileged to share the members day with every Daily Mail reader within 20 miles of London! In the event you could find space to breathe on your own you could while away a little time playing "spot the RHS member"!

As Tuesday was billed as 'the day most likely to have the best weather for the show' everyone had turned up making it claustrophobically overcrowded. Whilst the Sock had foregone the option of taking the somewhat naff plant trolley with her (something the Bedsock moaned about all day as he carried around all the Sock's plant purchases) millions of other people took the opportunity to ram them around the place! This made it a complete nightmare for those in wheelchairs or for the ludicrous girl who thought it was an appropriate place to take an enormous double-buggy which took up almost the entire width of the walkway forcing everyone else off into the mud!!!

The Sock won't go again unless the RHS does something to limit the numbers and restore members day to the members and people with walking difficulties or disabilities. Otherwise the Sock is seriously thinking about writing them out of her will!

The picture represents the visual and crowd clutter that assailed us. The Sock isn't even sure from the show guide which garden it is supposed to be.

Tatton Park - RHS 2007

The Sock would just like to say how much she enjoyed the RHS Tatton Show last year. The Sock is saying that so that you don't all think she never has anything good to say about anything!

The other good news is that the Sock chose the one day of the week with reasonably good weather to vist RHS Hampton Court yesterday and also had an excellent meal at Chutney Mary's afterwards.

That is the good news. The rest will follow later....

Monday, 7 July 2008

Hampton Court - Pants!

Viewers of tonight's Hampton Court program could not have failed to be astounded when judge Chris Beardshaw said he was looking for "adventurous briefs"!!!

The sock wonders if these are exciting enough for the little gardening god?

Does anybody else have adventurous ideas for briefs? Or does anyone know where Mr X can purchase some S Club 7 underwear?

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Theme tunes

Look if you are all going to start voting for Darcy, fine. But the Sock won't be swayed into changing her vote unless you can provide a decent (and relevant) theme tune!

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Separated at Birth?

Has anyone else noticed the astonishing resemblance between Alys Wilson and Matthew Fowler?

Only 6 degrees of separation between them!

Friday, 4 July 2008


The Sock found this on the RHS News

A triangle of rhubarb

Yorkshire’s famed ‘rhubarb triangle’, bounded by Leeds, Bradford and Wakefield, has been re-created – in miniature – at RHS Garden Harlow Carr .

English rhubarb production has centred on West Yorkshire since the late 19th century, and to celebrate this heritage a new rhubarb bed has been created next to the Kitchen Garden.

Harlow Carr holds a National Plant Collection of culinary Rheum x hybridum and the triangular bed contains more than 40 different cultivars including ‘Grandad’s Favorite’ and Yorkshire-bred ‘Paragon’.


Is there something going on here we should be told? Is this triangulation of Joe's allotment and Harlow Carr another 'sign'? Is the rhubarb triangle the route to another dimension like the Bermuda one? If we enter it will we find it to be full of old fridges, Monty's baggywag and the missing pink dahlia?

Is triangulation the way forward? Or is this all just rhubarb..... and we're being fooled!

The Big Matthew Wilson Question!

That is the big question about Matthew Wilson - not the question about big Matthew Wilson for those of you already confused.

The Sock believes that we need to clear up this question as to whether Matthew should be referred to as Heathcliff or Darcy in future. In the event that Wilson becomes Britain's Next Top Gardener we are going to be stuck with the name for years! Plus there is the matter of the tribute song.

The Sock is coming out in favour of Heathcliff. Whilst Heathcliff of the Hedgerows is a pretty stupid moniker it is better than Darcy of the Dingly Dells? Also Matthew's hair is too unruly to be Darcyesque and the Sock can't see him lounging around parlours taking tea and making polite conversation. Darcy wasn't big on the sense of humour front - although come to think of it, Heathcliff wasn't exactly a laugh a minute either.

Readers wishing to post their arguments in favour of one or the other are welcome. Ditherers may wish to wait and see which argument sways them. Feel free to come up with another suitable name and if it seems right it will be added to the poll.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Other Imponderables

There was a time in Brighton when the Sock couldn't walk into town without bumping into at least three people she knew. This rarely happens now as the town is bigger, busier and so many old friends have moved on. So it was with some surprise that as the Sock was apologising to the man she had nearly knocked over in Sainsbury's car park that he said "I know you don't I?" with a 'trying to work out how' expression on his face. Of course the Sock's immediate thought was that her cover had been blown and one of the stalkers had got out of jail. Then it dawned on her.. and before she could stop herself the words shot out of her brain and fired straight out of her mouth "Christ, I haven't seen you since that time you were stark naked, covered in wall-paper paste and trying to break out of a plastic bag!"

This may or may not have been the man's most cherished memory but it was certainly the main one the Sock has of him. Not some deviant sexual encounter but a piece of performance art where his attempt to break out of the man-size bag, coupled with some pulsating heartbeat music was, I believe, entitled 'Birth'. The Sock attended this event, held in a small arts club, with some friends. Never a great fan of 'performance art' which invariably seems rather self-indulgent and never more so than when giving 'birth' to oneself, the Sock and friends became more and more hysterical with laughter as the pulsating, paste-covered, performance continued. A po-faced woman in the row in front turned round and snapped 'Shhhhh... you're spoiling it'! To which the Sock responded "Oy - don't tell me what to do! I thought it was supposed to be funny." As one might expect of an arty person she didn't pursue the argument but instead found the Sock in the interval and apologised saying that of course, everyone had the right to react to the performance as they felt fit!

The carpark encounter was mercifully brief as we rushed off in different directions to do our shopping. Some things are better left in the past.

Underground at the Allotment

There are rumblings underfoot at Joe's allotment.. the potatoes are revolting..

clic for the flic

Wednesday, 2 July 2008


The Sock was impressed to find that there are James Alexander-Sinclair tribute societies who sit in the front row at his talks paying homage to their hero by wearing J A-S style hats.

The Sock feels that this is a concept that should spread and believes that the fantastic Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain's version of 'Wuthering Heights' should be sung every time gorgeous Matthew Wilson comes on stage... particularly the chorus..

Let's get wuthering everyone.

On the music front the Sock suddenly realised who the lyrics to this song bought to mind... it just seems so.. right..

clic for the music

clue: someone who might have had trouble with rain last year..

The Sock is having trouble finding a song for charismatic Chris Beardshaw -- most suggestions welcome..

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Joe of the Jungle - 2

The Sock is sure that everyone else is missing Joe as much as she is. So a little sneak preview has been arranged as to what lies in wait for the unsuspecting viewer when we all finally return to Berryfields.....

clic for the flic