Thursday, 26 February 2009

Spot the Syrup...

The Sock has wasted a considerable amount of time today and it is all James fault! Clearly the Sock had to rush out and buy a copy of Gardener's World after James had said on his blog "there is a photograph of me with a ludicrous looking pudding bowl hairstyle. I assure you all that I have never had such a coiffure and it must have been photoshopped in after the event".

So the Sock drove all the way out to the garden centre where they only had February's GW in store. Unfortunately the Sock couldn't remember which month James was in so tore open the plastic bag it comes in and started leafing through the contents. When some snitty young madam asked the Sock if she was going to buy it she was told "not unless there's a picture of James Alexander-Sinclair's hairdo in it!"

The Sock eventually found a copy of March GW in a newsagent. It was worth the trek! Ha ha ha! James - what have they done to you? And why? You will all have to buy your own copies to see the pudding bowl look but in the meantime here is a little quizette..

Whose hair is it anyway? James is sporting the hair of 6 different horticulturalists. (The Sock could easily fall in love with number 4 being a combination of her two favourite men!!)

And talking about people looking mad.. take a look at the picture of Chris Beardshaw in March's RHS 'The Garden' magazine!

Monday, 23 February 2009

An Unkindness of Ravens

Episode one in an everyday story of country folk..

clic for the flic

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Diet of Worms

The Sock is not happy. No the Sock is not happy at all. She was just coming in from working in the garden, tired but happy in this first day of real spring warmth and sunshine and about to reward herself with a caffè corretto (an Italian coffee consisting of a shot of espresso "corrected" with a shot of brandy). As she walked into the kitchen a slight whiff from veggie waste box reminded her it was about time to feed the wormery.

The wormery is the Bedsock's project. He was desperate to have one but knowing the way it was likely to go the Sock warned him that he would have to look after it, he would have to find somewhere (sensible) to put it, and that a wormery was forever not just for Christmas. So the Bedsock bought one and drowned the first two lots of worms by not draining off the wormery properly. The Sock warned three strikes and the wormery was out but this lot of worms have thrived. They are not the only things to have thrived.......

The Bedsock has seen fit to move the wormery into the shed for the winter where it is blocking the door and preventing any access into the shed. The Sock is already pissed off about this. When the Sock opened said wormery today imagine her absolute delight to find it was absolutely writhing with maggots! Great moving mounds of the b*ggers many of which were in the lid and now on the floor of the shed and on the sleeve of the Sock's fleece! Gagging with disgust the Sock ran back into the house to take photographic evidence of what she had had to endure.

Then in an heroic gesture she donned some thin surgical gloves and scooped some of the worst piles of maggots off the bin and into an old washing up bowl on the ground next to her. Trying to dig out some of the goddamn maggots entrenched around the rim of the wormery lid meant that one spidged out of the rim and straight into her face - luckily the Sock's mouth was closed. Puke!
The Sock looked down and to add to her total happiness she found a cat had chosen to sit in the maggot bowl! Joy! The Sock kicked the cat out of the bowl along with a shower of freakin' maggots.

At this point the telephone rings. It is the Bedsock saying he is on the cross-channel ferry on the way back from Belgium. He had better have bought the Sock some chocolates. The Sock returns to the garden to find the other cat now sat in the maggot bowl. Sob!

Then just to put the bloody cap on it the Sock finds there was no memory card in the blasted camera so she doesn't have any photos!

The Sock can't wait for the Belgian chocolates so goes out and buys a Cadbury's flake. The cats are locked out until they have shaken the maggots off. The Bedsock will have to do a lot to make up for this horror - the Sock can feel a Gabriel Ash greenhouse in the offing....

Friday, 20 February 2009

An Everyday Story...

The Sea of Immeasurable Gravy is proud to bring you an exclusive trailer for a new series

clic for the biopic

Wheels of fate

A Bath community allotment project has been forced to put wheels on a greenhouse in order to circumvent expensive planning permission rules. Even more hilariously they are thinking of putting an outboard motor on a shed for the same reason.

The Sock thought wouldn't it be fun to have wheels on a shed and in a strange synchronicity found Shedworking has coincidentally blogged just that a couple of days ago [Oops - just had another look at that and it was actually a year ago!!! So much for synchronicity]. Spookily the shed has ended up at Sockburn Hall which was of course where the original Socks lived until Great-great-grandad Ganymede Sock gambled the family fortune away and left us destitute.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

It's a Small World

No the post title doesn't refer to Chris Beardshaw.. it refers to the guest blog below from a most unexpected but very welcome source. Yes it's the Garden Monkey. Not gone and not forgotten!

These monkeys get everywhere.. take it away GM..


I'm not sure what prompted it, but I've been thinking about the Six Degrees of Separation theory lately. You will, I trust, be aware of it - the idea that you can link any two people on the planet in six steps, by a chain of acquaintances and relationships.

The most well-known example is the Kevin Bacon one, where one can pretty much link any actor to Kevin Bacon, by a chain of no more than six steps, where two actors are connected if they have appeared in a movie together.

Of course the movie acting world is a relatively small one, so that it's fairly easy to connect people. The UK TV gardening world is even smaller, so that it's even easier to connect people and in fewer steps.

For example Monty Don to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in three.

1) Monty Don and Adam Nicholson were chums at university.
2) Adam is married to Sarah Raven
3) Sarah was chums at university with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

In fact I can actually do the same link in one step. Monty is godfather to one of Adam Nicholson/Sarah Raven's children, as is Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

All very boring. It is much more fun to connect disparate and unlikely couples.

For example Joseph Pujol, the Parisian music-hall "fart-maniac" with Alan Titchmarsh.

Step One - Joseph Pujol was played by Leonard Rossiter in the 1979 film Le Petomane.

Step Two - Rossiter played skinflint landlord Rigsby in the sitcom Rising Damp. In one episode, called the Good Samaritan, a suicidal tenant was played by the actor David Swift probably best known these days for his excellent part as Henry Davenport in TV comedy Drop the Dead Donkey.

Step Three - David is the brother of Clive Swift, also an actor and best known as the long suffering husband in Keeping Up Appearances.

Step Four - Clive is the father of Gardener's World under-presenter Joe Swift.

Step Five - Joe has mostly worked on GW with Monty Don.

Step Six - The corduroy loving Monty has now moved on and is no longer a presenter of GW - from which it is a short sixth final step to the most well known (living), former presenter of the programme - Alan Titchmarsh.

The possibilities are endless.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

The buying season begins...

The Sock turned down the wrong street outside Victoria Station and got lost in the short distance to the RHS Horticultural Halls. Eventually a passing taxi driver took pity on her and for a fiver drove her round the block to where she was meeting Ms. B. "You should have followed the hordes of little old ladies heading here" laughed Ms. B. The hordes were by this time stretching in a long line queueing back from Lawrence Hall so we hotfooted it over to Lindley in order to do our bit of spending to help the credit crunch.

A fabulous display of Spring flowers greeted us as we entered the hall. The Sock loves dwarf irises and has planted several varieties in pots outside the kitchen patio doors. Every morning 'mummy's precious puss-babies' rush out and nibble the long shoots off them! Narsty horrid cats! If they have spoilt mummy's display they will be up for adoption.

Then the buying began - first a lovely libertia 'goldfinger'.

The Sock already has a load of the lucozade coloured libertia (assuming it has survived the frosts that killed her aeonium) but this was softer coloured and less spikey. No bulbs were bought as the Sock couldn't remember what she planted last year although it definitely included some of the exciting little expensive ones that you get in the individual paper and celophane packets with bits of wood shavings at Wisley garden shop. Ms. B. agreed that buying those made you feel important - like a connoisseur of fine bulbs.

The hepatica display proved irresistible though and a white and an 'unknown as yet colour' were added to the shopping. These will be planted in the Sock's little alpine display bed where they will flower this year and then probably die as the conditions are entirely wrong for them. Nevertheless they will still have been worth it.

Some fabulous hellebores - very tempting but the Sock has nowhere to put them..

One of the stall holders confided that "Wesley Kerr was in last night!". Gutted to have missed him! (Is he the one who does Ready Steady Cook?)

We had been looking for 'best hat at show' and called the search off at this point as we had already seen the obvious winner!

On to Lawrence Hall which Ms B. (who lurksalot around the London Shows) informed was the venue used for the BBC trailer with the acrobats and red drapes!

Lawrence Hall is quite strange as at one end there is a raised area with seating lined-up to view the hall giving the mad feeling that those seated are the audience and that the rest of us are participating in a play like in 'The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie'.

The Sock found less to buy here although you will all be thrilled to know that she finally bought some twine! One of the stands had the same twine that Sarah Raven sells only cheaper, obviously. But what colour to choose? Was purple really going to look right in the garden? Then the solution presented itself - you can buy little bundles of three different colours! But what colours to choose? The Sock wanted a combination of colours that were in two different bundles so persuaded Ms. B. to quickly change the bundles around. The stand owner was very nice about it when he caught her doing it. The Sock now has a bundle of green, brown and beige twine - but wishes she had swapped the beige for the purple.

The displays included Urban Front Gardens (in light of the recent legislation where planning permission is required to pave over them) and balcony displays (presumably the RHS wanted to get their money's worth out of the balcony props they used at last summers London show).

Sorry the Sock didn't get information like who designed them etc. just not very good pictures as she had to use her pocket camera and people kept getting in the way.

First up a good balcony - smart design although not particularly the Sock's taste

Next a... um.. jolly balcony. I think it was called 'Gone for a leek' or something like that

Then a totally horrid design.. what were they thinking of? Hideous!

Next up the urban front gardens. First a very smart one but the Sock does worry about those vertical planting schemes keeping their shape for any length of time and in her experience prostrate rosemary grows all over the show..

Then a front garden designed by someone with bad SAD.. made us feel depressed just looking at it..

A jolly day out, a small haul but a welcome reminder of the therapeutic power of plant purchasing.

Monday, 16 February 2009

The Sarah Raven Chronicles

In case you hadn't heard "Sarah and her husband feature in a new documentary about Sissinghurst Castle in Kent. A series of 8 half-hour programmes, shown on BBC4 will chronicle how they both aim to bring farming back to the heart of the estate, reconnecting Sissinghurst to it's agricultural roots, whilst Adam researches it's fascinating history for his new book."

Fascinating. As reality shows go it's got to beat watching a load of small children eating each other when left to their own devices.

No doubt they will make a packet out of the whole thing but you won't see a reduction in the price of a packet Sarah's seeds. And don't even look at Sarah's dahlia collections - you can't afford them!!!! THE SOCK SAID DON'T LOOK! You do get a free carrot seed when you order any other ten packets of seeds though.

Now is the time however to put in your request for one of her lovely catalogues - they are free!

Hmm... those dahlia's are rather nice though..

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Just like that....

VP is valiantly keeping the flagging blogging community going with memes for the inspirationless. Todays challenge was to go to your computer photos listing, open the fourth folder and post the fourth picture! The Sock swears that this absolutely was the Beardshaw picture above!

Friday, 13 February 2009

Wake me up when Spring is here

Koalas spend 20 hours a day sleeping and they don't do a great deal with the other four. This is how the Sock feels. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz................ Wake me up if anything interesting happens.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Ask Monty

His Organic Jerkinness Monty Don will be appearing on Question Time tonight and the BBC are asking for suggestions for discussion topics.

The Sock will happily pass on any of your suggestions and in the meantime has a few questions of her own..

1) Where did Monty Don get the baggywag as featured in 80 Gardens?

2) How much does Monty Don pay for a bottle of Grecian 2000?

3) How does the panel feel about people who buy second homes in Wales?

4) Would Brian Harvey (famed for having run over his own head with his car) have made a better presenter of Gardener's World than the present incumbent?

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Too Good to Miss!

In case you don't realise that Cleve West's blog is up and running again can the Sock just direct you to The Clash ! Just make sure you don't have a mouthful of coffee when you read it!

Come dine with me...

The Sock's contribution to VP's Guess who is coming to dinner? challenge is somewhat late due to being away and general brain fug. The Sock is not reading everyone else's blogs until having posted her guestlist in case she has had the same ideas as everyone else and has to rethink!

The invitations turned out to be much more of a challenge than the Sock had thought pretty much matching the experiences of real life where in the dim and distant days of dinner parties finding the right combination of guests to provide a convivial atmosphere was somewhat hit or miss.

So discarded guest lists included...

The throw them together and watch the sparks fly list..

Those two TV luvvies (whose names the Sock has long since erased from her memory) who floated around people's gardens draping bits of leopard skin fabric here and there whilst calling everyone dahling, thrown together with His Organic Jerkinness Monty Don, Bob Pippidew and possibly Peter Seabrook.

The intelligent but possibly heavy going list..

Dan Pearson because his original TV series about redesigning small town gardens inspired the Sock to create her garden. Also he is pretty easy on the eye.

Mary Reynolds designer of the Sock's favourite Chelsea Flower Show Garden.

Patrice Taravella owner and designer of the Prieure d'Orsan in France. The Socks stayed at the Prieure a few years ago and it is one of the Sock's most memorable gardens. In the space of a mere 15 years Patrice has created what is described as "a fabulous monastic-style medieval garden" . The gardens are both serene and stylish, the beautiful lavender cloisters are alive with the movement of humming bird moths, and although the gardens have a definite air of healing and sanctuary they are also extremely sensuous.

These invitees are all very well but it means the Sock is going to have to try and look intelligent all evening which might not be so much fun.

So who does the Sock really want on her guest list for a good evening? Yolanda-Elizabet springs to mind as she is funny and witty and we can swap endless cat stories. Fat Rascal must come to provide the Sock with moral support and so we will have some new gossip for our "ladies of letters" (or in this case email) relationship. And we must have MrsMatthewWilson so she can show us all THAT photograph album which means that Emma T and VP will need to be there to share in the amazement.. and in fact why stop there lets invite ALL the garden-blogging girls because they just want to have fun!

Ladies!!! Quiet a moment there is a ring at the doorbell


Whaddya think girls - should we let him in?

Saturday, 7 February 2009


Evening Sockwatchers. The Socks drove down to Plymouth from Brighton yesterday as the Bedsock is doing consultancy work there for a few months and has rented a rather nice apartment. This will serve well as a weekend holiday cottage without the guilt of two home ownership.

The Sock was done out of the nice pub lunch by a roaring log fire which she had booked and instead spent 4 hours sitting in snowbound traffic jams just outside Dorchester. This is a major coastal route and much of it was easily negotiable but for some reason the snow had hit just where our lunch was planned near Piddlesomething or another. Piddle was a key word as the Sock spent the 4 hours stuck in the jam desperately needing to. How the Sock wished she had spent more time practicing with the Shewee. For the uninitiated a Shewee is a plastic funnel device shaped to fit so that you can unzip your trousers or whatever, slide it into position and pee into whilst the liquid is diverted through the nozzle which can be pointed well away from
your shoes.

The instructions given with this £5.00 device (which comes in a not very discreet plastic zip bag) suggest that you first practice in a shower with it. Well the Sock did practice and quite frankly never got the hang of it with pee going all over the show. Nevertheless, it would have been better than having to sit there wondering whether to hang on or to give the lorry driver behind us a nasty shock.

Further internet research suggests that a better method would be those little bags of crystals you can pee in. The same effect could easily be achieved by the expensive brand of cat grit the Socks use. It comes in super absorbent crystal form and you could just cut the top off the packet and squat on that. Sorted!

The Sock should say that we were well prepared to spend the night in a snowdrift, a packet of TUC biscuits (never go anywhere without them) some hummus, chorizo and tangerines.
What a shame the Bedsock couldn't have any of the hip-flask full of Talisker as he was (hopefully) driving.

The Socks did arrive in Plymouth late but safe. It hasn't snowed here although you can see it up on Dartmoor in the background. Today was sunny and we took the little passenger ferry across the Tamar to Mount Edgcumbe and walked the coastal path around there and back through the park which holds the National Camellia Collection.

The Sock's contribution to 'Guess Who is Coming to Dinner' may be a little late as she is just about to relax in a scented bath surrounded by candlelight and may be too relaxed to blog more tonight.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

A snowman to melt your heart

The Sock has been busy building a snowman for you... can you guess who it is yet?

Guess who's coming to dinner? - challenge

VP is cheering up February by setting a "Guess who's coming to dinner?" challenge on her blog.

The Sock is still mulling over who she will invite.. but guess who's made the 'short' list!

Monday, 2 February 2009

Luka's feeling for Snow

My little 'snow leopards' haven't seen proper snow before.

Luka loves snow..

Hebe isn't so sure