Wednesday, 29 October 2008

The Sock goes Down Under

Yes the Sock is following in the footsteps of intrepid explorers such as, Matthew Flinders, Captain James Cook and Monty Don. The Sock is going where the Sock hasn't boldly gone before and is off to Australia for five weeks from Saturday. This is the Socks' holiday of a lifetime (so far) and they are doing it whilst they still have enough life left in them to enjoy it. The time for doing 1,000 things gets ever shorter and there is a lot to fit in.

The Socks will be flying to Sydney with a few nights stop-off at Bangkok on the way. After five days in Sydney the Socks will be touring the Blue Mountains and then down the coast to Melbourne and back up to Adelaide before flying home with a quick stop over in Singapore giving just enough time to have a few Singapore Slings at Raffles before the last leg home.

Here is the map of our route the Sock made for the Bedsock..

it was a tad unfortunate that the little joke of putting the shark icons on misfired and now the Bedsock says he won't go in the sea. Nevermind - the Sock loves swimming so he can sit on the beach with the binoculars and check the Sock isn't about to be eaten.

Will you miss the Sock? Don't worry she will be home in time for Chrimbo and the organisation of the Scents and Sustainability Christmas Ball where everything will be resolved - or not as the case may be. There will also be a load of new merchandise featuring your favourite horticultural heroes making ideal prezzies for your nearest and dearest. And obviously more photos of kangaroos than you can shake a stick at.....

The Sock will endeavour to send you all a postcard...

PS. For those of you worried about the Health and Safety dogs, Mutt is now completely recovered from the little spat and Jeff is as contrite as Russell Brand.

PPS. For those of you worried about precious puss-babies Hebe and Luka their Auntie Debbie will be house/cat-sitting them.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Scents and Sustainability Act VI

Over at Berryfields Manor it would seem that Sir Toby Tumnus can't give up on the tickling, giving new meaning to the song "Who let the Dodds out!"

All is not bad news however, Joe has been educating himself and now knows how to pronounce comfrey.........

Other than that it's all gone a bit Schrodinger's cat...

clic for the flic

Friday, 24 October 2008

The Sock's First Garden

Somebody in blogland was talking about their first garden and with yet another pang of nostalgia the Sock suddenly remembered hers. It was a toy called Floral Miniature Garden - the post war plastic range not the pre-war metal one, the Sock isn't THAT old. Many happy hours could be spent plugging tiny tulips and daffodils or even little standard roses into the holes in the plastic borders. How fashions change - would an updated kit contain an insect hotel, grasses and sustainable planting schemes, a barbeque?

The Sock had the shed, walls, various lawns and borders, some trellis bits, various bushes and flowers but best of all the pond with surrounding rockery! Don't remember any of the figures though. Hmmm... come to think of it the Sock didn't have the greenhouse and sadly still doesn't have a greenhouse!

Looks like these are now collectors items - if only the Demented Munchkin hadn't cleared her attic and thrown out all the Socks nicely kept toys!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Viva las Vegas!

A little bird has told the Sock that the divine Darcy of the gardening world has gone and got married! Yes our Heathcliff of the Hedgerows is available no more he has wed in Las Vegas in the
Elvis Chapel...

The Sock is sure that all his gardening friends would like to congratulate him and some of them have performed a little tribute for him....

THe rest of us will just have to check in to Heartbreak Hotel.... Speakers on everybody!!
PS. These videos can be temperamental so if it don't work now try again later.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

You're Everywhere and nowhere Baby - that's where you're at

The Socks visited High Beeches gardens on Sunday to get a dose of Autumn leaves. It was not as spectacular as some other Sussex gardens like Sheffield Park but made up for this by the lack of crowds enabling us to wander around in peace.

On entering the grounds the lady on the reception desk told the Sock "You look very lovely in your hat my dear!". This was enormously gratifying as recently the Socks had bought some new hats from a Brighton shop appropriately called Mad Hatters. On returning home with them Old Ma Sock (aka The DM which stands for Demented Munchkin rather than Dear Mamma) who was staying at the time, quipped "Ha ha - were they giving them away at Tescos?" Possibly not quite as demented as she would have you believe most of the time.

The Sock loves hats but suffers from a slight unease when wearing them. This is quite possibly due to having been bought up in Wales where (at the time) the least a hat wearer might endure would be people singing "Who's the twat in the silly hat?" at you. Or, alternatively, you might just get beaten up.

Luckily things have changed over the years, even in Wales. Now more people than ever are 'out of the closet' hatwise due, in no small part, to trendsetters like James Alexander-Sinclair with his famed collection of hats and Joe Swift with his Indiana Jones hat.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Mutt and Jeff's awfully big new venture...

Mutt and Jeff were excited this week to be given the chance to produce a new video.
Perhaps a little too excited..

clic for the flic

Friday, 17 October 2008

Sweets for my sweet

The Blackfingernail has found a sweetie shop full of nostalgia and those edible necklaces (above). The Sock is dedicating an entire post to this so we can all go down memory lane.

Here are some pressies the Sock found..

For Chris Beardshaw Oh no - they are out of stock already so perhaps one of these no, no definitely one of these I can remember eating them! Ugh!

For Pork Chop

I think this for James

And these for Matthew Wilson

For Fat Rascal to remind her of the homeland

For bubbly Emma

For VP you have done so well with the Open Garden you get these

And last one for Joe

I did think of a good one from the list for Wesley Kerr too but enough sweeties already.

That's no lady, thats..........

As most of you know it is possible to tell how someone has turned up at your blog by checking the words they have googled for. Recently blog viewers have also turned up from having googled images - which is why the Sock took the X-rated pants offline because we don't want to attract the more sundry members of 'all and very sundry'. Sorry to all of you who wanted repeat viewings of the pants. Interestingly the Sock's most googled image is Matthew Wilson's "diehard" impersonation, closely followed by Brian Harvey's"ecstasy garden" for Chelsea 2008. The Sock isn't sure what this says about googling society but it probably isn't good.

On a more cheering note the bloggywog gets plenty of google hits for "i love chris beardshaw" or similar. The use of lowercase throughout would seem to denote a 'young person' or perhaps someone mentally challenged. The Sock automatically puts appropriate capitals in when typing even though it isn't necessary - call her old fashioned.

The nicest recent google has been for


Ah bless.....................

Every picture tells a story.....

Thursday, 16 October 2008

And now from the people who gave you painted heathers......


Except in the case of the corn, unlike the hated heathers, it isn't actually painted it just grows in those fabulous colours! The Sock had never heard of it until browsing Allan Jenkins post on the Observer Organic Allotment Blog. Not sure that eating it appeals quite as much though - it reminds the Sock of those little hard chalky pastel coloured sweeties that came on a thread and could be used as edible bracelets.

Pimientos padron

The Socks visited London Borough Market at the weekend. This was a mistake as it was incredibly crowded and impossible to just gently meander around the stalls admiring the produce without being carried quickly away by the flow of crushing bodies around. We gave up and went to the lively Brindisa for a tapas lunch instead.

One of the Socks' favourite tapas is pimientos padron. These are small green chili peppers originally from Padron in Galicia although the Socks first sampled them in a tapas bar in Barcelona some years ago along with the inevitable patatas bravas, well flavoured chorizo and octopus that had been beaten to a pulp by some guy with a club at the far end of the bar. (No doubt that is why the Spanish name for octopus is pulpo.) Happy quantities of alcoholic beverages were no doubt also consumed as we worked our way through the various ciders, sherries and wines on display.

Back to Brindisa and they did indeed have the pimientos on the menu. Fried in olive oil, drained and sprinkled with a good amount of salt and eaten whole the peppers have a mild flavour except for about one in ten being headblowingly hot! This adds a Russian Roulette aspect to the dish where one both hopes and fears that the next pepper will be the ONE. Luckily the Socks got a hot one each so there was no argument.

A few years ago it was pretty much impossible to buy these peppers in the UK except occasionally through suppliers like Brindisa and it seemed that few places outside Galicia could successfully grow them. The Socks did find some at the excellent South Devon Chilli Farm and also bought seeds to grow their own. The Sock's first crop grown outdoors two years ago did well with thriving plants and plenty of fruits continuing into autumn. Whilst the flavour of these may have been a little lacking compared to those grown in Galicia they were not at all bad and even produced a few of the hot ones. By contrast, the last two summers of rain have produced extremely poor results with not enough peppers at any one time to produce a serving.

Perhaps, after all, it is one of these dishes best enjoyed on holiday where the excitement and ambiance adds something special to the experience which doesn't totally translate to having them for supper on a soggy British summer evening. After all, can there be a living person who actually enjoys limoncello outside of their Italian holiday?

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Scents and Sustainability Act V

Here we go again.. a poor thing and not even really mine own...

clic for the flic

Sunday, 12 October 2008


Hurrah! It's LAPCPADPOUB day at last and the Sock knows you have all been desperate to see pictures of her precious pussicatkins. They are both two and a half years old.

So first up my gorgeous, handsome, babe of a boy Luka!

He was named after the singer Luka Bloom who is one of the Bedsock's favourites. He is a big soft, soppy, loving bundle (and so is Luka! ha ha). Luka knows he deserves all the love in the world because he is worth it even though he is a bit daft.

Luka likes catching frogs, Luka loves his food and treats from the fridge, Luka likes to lurk

best of all Luka likes cuddles!

Then there his sister Hebe.

Hebe was named after the "Chris Beardshaw incident" and as it also turned out the goddess of mischief. Hebe is wriggly and jumpy and beebles about a lot. She likes to sleep in the washing basket when it has clean washing in it.

She enjoys catching butterflies, bees and twigs. Hebe is happy to annoy the little dog next door by gloating over the fence at him until the dog goes into a frenzy of madness as she is just out of reach.

Hebe always wants to test the water.

Best of all Hebe loves to sleep curled up with the Sock like spoons.

And now for the bad pome! The Sock hasn't had time to write a new one so here is one from last year when the bad poetry muse struck....

With sincere apologies to Lewis Caroll

The sun was shining on the day
Shining with all his might
He did his very best to make
The garden green and bright
The muddy brown and sodden grass
Was not a pretty sight

The lawn was wet as wet could be
The borders far from dry
You could not see the sun
Because no sun was in the sky
The seagulls screaming overhead
The only birds to fly

Arabella and her Bedsock love
Were gardening in the flood
They wept like anything to see
Such quantities of mud
If this were only cleared away
They said, 'it would be good'

If seven men with seven mops
Swept it for half a year
Do you suppose, the Bedsock said
That they could get it clear?
"I doubt it" Arabella sighed
And shed a bitter tear

'Oh puss cats come and play with us'
Arabella did beseech
A little stroke, a little brush..
The cats played out of reach
We cannot do with more than two
To give a hug to each

The two young kittens hurried up
All eager for the treat
The coats were brushed their ears all washed
Their whiskers clean and neat
The only thing that spoilt the look was horrid muddy feet

Arabella and the Bedsock
Worked on an hour or so
And then they rested on a bench
Conveniently low
And both the little puss cats stood
And waited in a row

'The time has come' Arabella said
To talk of many things
Of slugs and snails and vine weevils
Of screeching gulls with wings
And why chasing bees will end in tears
With nasty horrid stings

"Dear cats" said Arabella
You've had a pleasant run!
It's time you left those birds alone!
But birdsong came there none
And this was scarcely odd, because
The cats had eaten every one

Friday, 10 October 2008

Sock's gone to Iceland

Two lines of thought converged for this post.. the first was relating to astonishing sculptures and the second to the current bad financial news from Iceland. Luckily the Socks spent all their money enjoying themselves so don't have to worry about savings as they have none.

A few years ago the Socks went to Iceland for a holiday. It is the most beautiful and awe inspiring place full of nothingness. Miles and miles of no people, no pollution, no plants. The plants that there are, are for the most part a fabulous minutiae of mosses, alpines and lichens. There are very few trees and those that exist don't grow more than a few feet. There is a great Icelandic joke which goes

"What do you do if you are lost in a forest?"

"Stand up."

Or in Beardshaw's case send up a flare.

One of the most fantastic places we visited (and there were loads) was some boiling mud-pots near Myvatn. (Myvatn is an enormous Lake in the north of the country which boasts, amongst other things some Harlequin Ducks which the Socks saw the week before Bill Oddie and film crew arrived and frightened them off!)

Which brings us at last to the point - the Sock took a photograph of some bubbling mud and it seems to contain a natural sculpture. It hasn't been tampered with at all. Can you see it? Clic on the picture to enlarge if you can't.

The Great Cat Weekend Begins....

As a lead-up to LAPCATADOUBY day (or whatever it is called see Happy Mouffetard it is her fault) the Sock thought she would bring this wonderful site to your attention. The sites lead in is

Does your cat look like Adolf Hitler? Do you wake up in a cold sweat every night wondering if he's going to up and invade Poland? Does he keep putting his right paw in the air while making a noise that sounds suspiciously like "Sig Miaow"? If so, this is the website for you...

Cats that Look Like Hitler

OK OK. So everyone has seen it before - the Sock still thinks it is funny! Hah!

Thursday, 9 October 2008

An Astonishing Resemblance!

The Sock knows you won't believe it but she went to buy a kohl rabi to carve into the likeness of Matthew Biggs as requested and found one that already looked like him!!

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Scents and Sustainability Part IV

Our players are moving into position....

clic for the flic

Monday, 6 October 2008

The Bad News and the Bad News

The Sock cannot believe how cruel life can be! The Unofficial Chris Beardshaw Fan Club were ecstatic that their untall gardening hero is to be presenting a new Wildlife programme this Autumn. The programme will no doubt be full of hedgehogs and we don't want any jokes about little pricks not when we have a big one on the horizon...

The incredibly bad news.....

Nasty Nick Knowles is presenting it!!! The sight of this man, who always has a slightly unpleasant unwashed look about him, makes the Sock feel ill. Really. To the point where she won't be able to watch it! And the man is ubiquitous these days. Why? Yeuch!!! Totally charmless and unappealing. Why couldn't they get Joe to do it if they wanted another mockney geezer?

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Ask Arabella

Dear Ms. A. Sock

I have been shocked to notice on your sitemeter how many people from the BBC are viewing your blog.

I am incandescent that the British public are funding the BBC to peruse a load of pants! Is this what we pay the licence fee for?

Disgusted, Tunbridge Wells

PS. Where can I get the blue ones?

Arabella says: I haven't the faintest idea what you're talking about.

My Darling Arabella

I am so deeply sorry that you had to see the news on my website that I had kissed 186 people at Britain in Bloom. I didn't enjoy any of it and thought only of you.

It has been so hard keeping my feelings for you deep inside when I would like to shout it to the world. That is why I have been looking a bit depressed recently.

CB, Worcs.

Arabella says: Typical of a man eh? The Sock is the one who is hurt but he's the one looking for sympathy!!

Dear Sockywocky

I accidentally upset all the cat and bad poetry lovers and now no-one loves me any more. How can I make amends with the dear mad cat ladies of the blogosphere?


Arabella says: Don't you worry J all the Socks loves ya! In any case we don't want you devoting your time to some pampered pussy when you can come and play with us!

Dear Sock

For years my wife has been telling me I can't have a black bamboo as they are unsuitable for our garden. Now I have read her blog comments and understand that I have been lied to all this time as they will grow in a pot!!! How can I ever trust her again?

The Bedsock

Arabella says: Oops!

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Health and Safety III

Yes folks! It's those loveable Health and Safety Dogs again telling YOU how to keep safe in the garden

clic for the flic

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Out in the sun, havin fun and your feelin free

Last weekend the Socks went to Architectural Plants (above) near Horsham to try and find a replacement for the ghastly yucca in the front garden. It isn't really a garden being only about 8ft by 12ft and given over to gravel, grasses, succulents and stones. The Sock feels this design is a bit passé and overdone now but it was relatively innovative at the time of construction. In any event it is astonishingly sustainable being virtually no maintenance and zero irrigation and unlike Matthew Wilson's balcony does have quite a few plants in it.

Unfortunately the Sock took loads of pictures for her blog but was gutted to realised when she got home that she had forgotten to put the memory stick back in the camera so returned there today just to take pictures for you. It's a nice drive and an opportunity to listen to the Sock's favourite Betty Blue (music from the film) CD whilst driving. This always makes the Sock cry and true to form she missed the turn-off due to eyes misted with tears.

Architectural Plants is the best kind of a place and the best kind of people. The reception area is furnished with nice chairs and tables and coffee and drinks that you can help yourself to whilst planning your purchases. Or just to contemplate what you might buy when you win the lottery.

Either way there is no hassle. The Architectural Plants Helpometer spells it out. The Sock thought it was a speak your weight machine so was giving it a wide berth until curiousity got the better of her. You turn the dial and it lights up the various options of what Architectural Plants can do for you, from "a full design service" to "leave you alone to peruse in peace".

We went for the peruse in peace option and wandered into the first large greenhouses full of more tree ferns than you could shake a stick at.

The staff are incredibly knowledgeable and helpful and even the plant labels tell it like it is.

That having been said the Sock is sure that Chris Beardshaw could manage to advise how to kill it!

As we were wandering the Sock heard a little whine from the Bedsock - it is the same predictable little whine as we always get when visiting there "I've always wanted a black bamboo and I'm not allowed to have one". This is true - the Bedsock has been told every time that there isn't an appropriate place for one in our garden but somehow this is the Sock's fault!

In the end the Socks bought some sort of date palm (already lost the label) to replace the yucky yucca, a stripey agave which will replace a boring green one which manages to overwinter outside in the gravel garden and a colocasia 'black magic 'because the Sock saw them at Hampton Court Show and has wanted one ever since.

On the drive back the Sock listened to Gnarls Barkley and later changed the title of this post to one of his lyrics that made more sense!