Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Scents And Sustainability - the Panto Part I

And here we go again.... it's back to Berryfields where all is not well with Alys

Clic for the flic

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Saturday, 20 December 2008

The mirror, the postcard and the wardrobe

R. Pete Free recently blogged about some old furniture she was re-using and the little bits of history contained in the objects and aromas left behind in some old drawers. It reminded me of an absolutely charming find in my Victorian wardrobe bought from an antique shop some years ago. The wardrobe is an enormous satin walnut piece with various drawers and two separate cupboards each with a mirrored door. It was clearly made for a much grander and larger house than my victorian terraced one.

The first time I cleaned it I noticed a little bit of cardboard sticking out from behind the mirror. Easing it out I found the delightful little card pictured above which had obviously been hidden there by a previous owner. The card was a Book Post Card addressed to a house in my area and posted in 1905 - the house is still in existence and would previously have been regarded as a manor house and belong to someone reasonably wealthy. The card, which is slightly larger than a cigarette card, has a halfpenny stamp on it and for this amount of money only the senders name and address could be written on it - in this case just the date 27/10/05 and initials H.J.B. (or could they be a secret love code?)

The card has three cavalier spaniels(?) on the front and was sent to a Miss. H.M. Taylor and postmarked Burgess Hill. It is my belief that it was from a fiancé or boyfriend and then hidden as a keepsake behind the mirror by Miss Taylor - perhaps her family didn't approve!

I have replaced the card back behind the mirror where it will stay but I have also added my own little keepsake - a photograph of myself and the Bedsock signed with love. I hope when this wardrobe has passed on to the next owner that they may come across it and uphold the tradition by adding their own token.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Germinating Gerbils!

The Sock has just returned from a grand day out at Wisley in the company of fellow sock Fat Rascal who has been busy taking advantage of her incredibly valuable euros to stock up on goodies to take back to the remote regions of France! Wisley shop has done well out of this as the Sock felt obliged not to let the side down and delved deep into her credit card in order to buy herself even more Chrimbo prezzies! Did the Sock tell you how much she loved this time of year?

What has this got to do with gerbils you are all asking?

Well one of the Sock's favourite bits of Wizzers is the alpine houses where we saw the delightful massonia pustulata (pictured below) which had a little sign nearby saying it was pollinated by gerbils!! How fantastic is that.

It wasn't clear where the gerbils were though - we checked out the little holes in the tufa rockery in case they were living in there but it didn't appear so. Do they have a little 'gerbil hotel' like the stag beetles have? A shame Matthew Wilson wasn't on hand to answer this question (and many others).

Wednesday, 17 December 2008







Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Cherry Red

I'm not a great lover of Christmas and all its surrounding gimmickry. The falling number of Christmas cards delivered each year is a sad reminder of how this bah humbug attitude has manifested itself over the years as I've neglected to keep up with people via the obligatory exchange of cards. However on my return from Australia I was delighted to find not just a Christmas card but an invite to an old friend's wedding. We lived down the road from each other as teenagers in our original home town of Swansea and despite both having moved to different parts of Sussex have failed to see each other over the last twenty years with every Christmas card promising a meeting that has never materialised.

The wedding invite contained the message "I'd like you to be there as my oldest friend. I've never forgotten that party we gatecrashed and spent the night dancing to the Groundhogs 'Cherry Red'!"

That night must have been something of a teenage epiphany as I also have it photographed in my mind as if it was yesterday - despite the fact that my vision would have been blurred with over-consumption of babycham and brandies, Cherry Bs, Ponys and the obligatory pints of cider. I can even remember exactly what I was wearing.

I have no idea of what to buy for a wedding present so in the interim I thought it would be nice to dig out my old slide photos of us from 1971, scan them, clean them up and present her with an envelope of embarassing teenage pictures she no doubt hoped to forget.

Whilst digging through the archives I found a picture of the dress I wore to the "Cherry Red" party (above). I made it from some lovely floaty Indian silk sari material that had been given to me by a colleague of my fathers. The posy preraphaelite photo was taken at Clyne Castle gardens which remains one of my favourite places ever. I can safely post this picture knowing that no-one would recognise me from it now!!

Monday, 15 December 2008

Health and Safety at Christmas

Yes folks - those loveable Health and Safety dogs are back with a Christmas message for you..

Over to you Mutt and Jeff..

clic for the flic

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Another startling resemblance...

Did anyone else think that the woman who won the somewhat tedious Gardener of the Decade (as in the programme was tedious not the gardeners) looked a bit like Janice Battersby?

Rachella de Thames opened the programme with the line "This is the gardening competition to end all gardening competitions.." so we can only hope this is true.

And when did Sir Toby Tumnus get promoted to "The Nation's Head Gardener?" as introduced by Rachella. Did some election get held in the Sock's absence?

The Sock thought that tall bloke's border was the best of the final three and totally disagreed with the judge who said that aeoniums can look awful when they are a bit wet. The Sock has some thriving aeoniums left outside all year around which look marvellous whatever the weather!

Pffft! To the whole thing.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Up a Gum tree

Another Aussie picture... the Sock hasn't had time (or inclination) to plough through the last five weeks recordings of GW in order to get inspiration for Scents and Sustainability yet.

You may have to enlarge the picture (click on it) to see the various gum wrappers - the Sock favours the pink one.

On the subject of gum... did you know that there are at least 595 different types of gum tree?
Actually the Sock has made that figure up because she can't remember exactly what she was told but it was definitely a lot. One of the reasons the Sock hasn't watched GW is because she is working her way through 595 pictures of gum trees she took on her hols. Surely at least one of them has turned out well!

And on the subject of turning out well - the Sock watched little gardening poppet Chris Beardshaw last night on his Wildlife in the Garden programme. He's a gorgeous little mischievous pixie isn't he?

Thursday, 11 December 2008

The Bradjenerlina Triangle

The Sock feels remarkably lucky that she flew back from Australia before she was entirely sucked in to the Bradjenerlina Triangle never to be seen again.

It all started in Bangkok. In general the Sock doesn't watch TV on holiday other than, as Paul Simon sang, to "get all the news I need on the weather report." Unfortunately, whilst tuning in for the forecast the Sock accidentally caught one of those 'Celeb watch' spots which invariably feature the same few celebs, Madonna, Beckhams, Britney and of course the Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston triangle. After that the Sock was lost and desperately needed to know the exact moment Jolie fell in love with Pitt and why she felt the need to inform the world of this now - other than the fact that they must all be promoting their new films. The Sock might have escaped this addiction whilst it was in its infancy if it hadn't been for the fact that the Bangkok hotel room had a TV in the bath!!

How could anyone resist the opportunity to watch TV in a bath?

So arriving in Sydney jetlagged and unable to sleep what else was the Sock to do but lie in bed watching some overly camp 'Hollywood correspondent' gasp out the exciting details of Jen's displeasure at Jolie's remarks about a marriage she was 'over' years ago. The Socks even watched a movie starring Jolie to see if they could identify the attraction of this weird looking woman. (The movie was called 'Wanted' and featured a loom of doom that weaved out textiles coded with names of people needing to be assassinated. Ha ha!)

However, Bradjenerlina did provide the Sock with some useful conversation openers. The Socks occasionally stayed in "hosted accommodation" (an upmarket B&B concept where all your needs are catered for but you have to dine with other guests). One night our fellow guest was an American academic specialising in foreign policy (or something) who was enjoying a few days holiday before doing a series of invited lectures around Oz. How the Socks laughed at his amusing little anecdote about how he met Fidel Castro. Unable to compete on this level and emboldened by the bottle of wine she had drunk the Sock put the question to the assembled guests "What did they think of the Bradjenerlina Triangle?" Far from a horrified silence the Sock's conversational gambit went down a storm with the hostess becoming increasingly animated in her assessment of the Triangle and Oprah Winfrey's involvement in it. This was fun but in the Sock's view doesn't bode well for the hostesses' ambition to attract high-end American tourists to the B&B - although perhaps celebrity gossip is now the universal language.

The Christmas Kangaroo

The Sock apologises for pulling a post yesterday - she felt the post might offend snooker player Steve Davis. Old Granny Grimblesock was a keen snooker viewer whiling away many an afternoon admiring her hero Steve Davis on TV whilst drinking pernod and black bought from her bingo winnings. The Sock has never understood the attraction of any of that other than being partial to the odd pernod and black during her teenage years.

To make up for the lost blog the Sock was just about to post you a nice picture she took of a kangaroo when by an astonishing coincidence she received the following "Welcome home" link from Jro..

The Christmas Kangaroo

This speaks to the Sock of a collective "blogging consciousness" because she also intended to ask SOIG readers who it was that voted Jackman as 'sexiest man on earth' as mentioned multiple times every morning on Aussie TV.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Sex and Death

A quick browse through blogworld has alerted the Sock to two major issues that have surfaced in her absence.

The first being "What does the RHS do for us?".

The Sock believes she gets reasonable value for money for her membership, enjoys reading the adverts at the back of the Garden magazine and likes the pictures, quite often visits Wisley and it means that the Demented Munchkin can proudly tell all the neighbours "My daughter is a member of the Royal Horticultural Society!" Now you can see why she has the nickname.

There is no doubt however that the RHS does convey a very stuck in the mud image. The Sock just received an email from them entitled "Winter Wonder at the RHS Gardens". How totally unimaginative!!!! Contrast this with the "Sex and Death" offering of the pyramid glasshouse at the fabulous Sydney Botanic Gardens. How could you not want to visit that even when you find out it is all to do with orchids? Fellow bloggers will surely be able to come up with a better offering than "Winter Wonder.."

The second issue is Matthew Wilson's gold lamé hotpants - or did the Sock imagine this? The Sock can't actually remember where she read about these but it is not the stuff of dreams.
Sea of Immeasurable Gravy regulars may well remember the SClub 7 tattoo which now appears to have been covered by said pants.

The RHS seem to be missing a valuable marketing asset here and issue one could surely be solved by issue two.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Hello, hello

Hello, Hello.
It's good to be back,
It's good to be back.
Hello, Hello, Hello...

Did you miss me? (Yeah!)
While I was away,
Did you hang my picture
On your wall

Did you miss me? (Yeah!)
Every single day,
I bet you didn't miss me at all! (Yeah!)
I bet you didn't miss me at all.

As (the now disgraced) Gary Glitter used to sing "It's good to be back!" although the Sock has been awake since 3.00pm as her body clock is well up the creek. Not helped by a 13 hour flight from hot and very humid Singapore which arrived at a freezing and frosty Heathrow at 5.30 a.m. yesterday. The pilot informed that it might be a bit bumpy going over Afghanistan and he wasn't wrong there - the bumps started somewhere near India where apparently there was a cyclone or something going on and didn't actually finish until the plane flew over Germany. The good news being that even the Sock's fear of flying couldn't be sustained for that length of time and she just got used to it but couldn't sleep on the plane.

Although the Sock felt ready to come home and was missing her little fur babies dreadfully the fascination of being back has already worn off. The cats have been remarkably disloyal in the Socks' absence and gave all their love to Auntie Debbie who texted every week to say how happy they all were! Just a little bit of pining for the Socks would have been nice.

Now the impending doom of Christmas is upon us. We pretty much avoided the "Festive" build up with things being reasonably low key Chrimbo-wise in Australia (at least during November) but the last two days in Singapore made up for that. There were hideously overblown tat decorations everywhere in particular down the main shopping mecca of Orchard Road! (The woman in the pink shirt is not the Sock!!)

Worse was to follow! The Socks fulfilled one of their holiday ambitions to have Singapore Slings at the Raffles Hotel. Based on having watched Tenko the Sock had imagined sipping her cocktail in old colonial splendour... rattan chairs, ceiling fans, cool linen clothes and an oriental ambience. What she got was a weak cocktail, bored barman and a loud muzac version of "Walking in a Winter Wonderland" blaring through the bar!

Singapore is a strange place... massive tree planting schemes over the past four decades have created a "green city" overflowing with lush plantings squeezed into every nook and cranny. But it feels false and slightly threatening like an episode of the Prisoner. A feeling added to by the insistence of all the Singaporeans the Socks met talking at length about how wonderful Singapore is, how rich it is, how happy the people are and that this is because "we don't have too many civil rights", "we don't pay people not to work by giving them state handouts", "we work hard and pursue our education" all said implying (in the most charming way) that these are problems that Britain has. The Sock thinks that either they have all been brainwashed or they are genuinely happy because they don't suffer from Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD) as they are on the equator and have a dawn to dusk that runs from 7.00am to 7.00pm every day of the year.

The Singapore Botanic Gardens are however a great place to visit with an outstanding orchid garden which made the stopover worth it.

Apologies for not responding to any of the comments made whilst the Sock was away. Access to the internet was limited to two slots of 20 minutes over the five weeks - at least one addiction the Sock was able to train herself off for the duration. Sadly this may have been replaced by an addiction to daytime TV and the Brangelina/Jen triangle!!!!