Monday, 17 December 2012

Rocking Robin and the Wonders of RHS Wisley


Last Thursday I emerged from my winter hibernation long enough to meet up with the lovely Lazy Trollop and the Highly Organised Helen Reeley at wonderful RHS Wisley in what is becoming an extremely enjoyable December tradition.  The gardens couldn't have looked more festive with a sharp layer of festooning frost making Wizzers more wonderful than Oz.  And accompanying us on our meander not a munchkin but a fat little robin who took a great liking to Helen and her hat.

There is so much at Wisley to see that even when the car parks seem full it is always possible to escape the crowds and find a quiet corner but on frosty Thursday we didn't need to as few had braved the cold.  What a treat they missed!!

Even when cut down and decaying, gunnera still retains its architectural attraction (clic on any picture to enlarge)

We are always drawn to the Piet Oudolf borders, fabulous in summer with their rich tapestry textures in winter they excelled themselves, the beautiful brocade background of lace-leaved eryngiums appliqu├ęd with sparkling beads of ice like the most fabulous couture ball gown.

 Arching grasses piped with slivers of snow,

We were mesmerized by the borders as I still am by my photos, difficult to know which one I love the most.  Zooming in and cropping them turns even the smallest detail into a fabulous picture.

 A bewitching winter bouquet

 A captivating contrast between the dark and dying stems and white frosted foliage

Did Piet design these borders with the knowledge they would be resplendent in summer, agreeable in autumn but totally spellbinding in winter?  The man's a genius! but you all  knew that already.

 Eventually the call of cake is too strong and we drag ourselves away from the borders to the cafe with the robin sat directly outside the window by our table eyeing up my banana cake jealously.

A quick wander around the glass-house

after the festive delights of the borders the Christmas tree looked a little dull until Lazy Trollop and Helen brightened it up!

Inside the unusual 'poncey etta' trees looked more festive!!

Out into the rock garden - another of my favourite haunts and our rocking robin rejoins us, not too happy that we didn't save him any crumbs!

When I was a child I thought that Jenny Wrens were robins' wives.. a notion I didn't question until a few years ago when I suddenly thought "that can't be right." It is too charming not to be right and so I still believe it.

A wintery cobweb that looked unreal like a westward leading 'star of wonder' guiding us into the alpine houses.

We laughed all day as we always do on our meet-ups.  The warmth of friends and the wonders of Wisley - better than any Christmas party!

And of course no party is complete without the inevitable Matthew Wilson tease!


Tuesday, 11 December 2012

A Very Shameless Plug for Into Gardens App


What Chrimbo pressie do you give the person who has everything, or the person you have forgotten to buy anything for and need a last minute stocking filler? It can only be a subscription to the absolutely marvellous IntoGardens App   masterminded by the gorgeous James Alexander-Sinclair and presented to you here by the fabulous flying Beardielves! 

Singin' (to the tune of Telephone Man)

"Hey baby, I'm your Into Gardens app
You just load it on your iPad
Then you put it on your lap
You can use it in the bedroom
You can use it in the hall
You can use it in the bathroom
You can hang it on the wall
You can look at pretty pictures
You can order lovely plants
And if you really want to
You can (add lyric of choice here)
Because, hey baby, I'm your Into Gardens app"

Yes, yes, I know this is a totally shameless plug but it will mean JAS has to be doubly nice to me 
in future.  Also  if you check out the IntoGarden's website now and subscribe to their newsletter 
you stand a chance of winning an exquisite Christmas Wreath from the famed Clifton Nurseries
and in all probability crafted by the strong, masculine, capable hands of Managing Director 
Matthew Wilson himself! 

Matthew Wilson rushing to bring you your edible wreath!


Thursday, 6 December 2012

Pre-Raphaelite posing...


Ophelia by Sir John Everett Millais

There is a willow grows aslant a brook
That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream.
There with fantastic garlands did she come
Of crowflowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples,
That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,
But our cold maids do “dead men’s fingers” call them.
There, on the pendant boughs her coronet weeds
Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke,
When down her weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide,
And mermaid-like a while they bore her up,
Which time she chanted snatches of lauds
As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and indued
Unto that element. But long it could not be
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pull'd the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death.
                          from Shakespeare’s Hamlet

When I told my friend Fat Rascal (who lives at the top of a mountain in France) about our visit to the enchanting Pre-Raphaelite exhibition at Tate Britain she asked "And which painting were you?".  I understood what she meant immediately for in days of yore, when we were young and nubile, the most prized female image was that of a flowing haired Pre-Raphaelite..  I was Ophelia, drifting, downstream to her watery doom, a dreamy, desirable, but ultimately tragic figure touched by melancholy and madness. She embodied the angst of my teenage years,  filled with thoughts of a beautiful suicide I had no real intention of committing (mostly because I feared that no-one would actually care!)  Now when I view the  painting it is more breathtaking than even my teenage dreams could imagine, the colours vibrant and ethereal, her 'weedy trophies' a gardener's inspiration.  It remains the most famous and my favourite.

Fat Rascal I see as the Lady of Shalott who also has a tragic, watery, doom her crinkled locks flowing down to her waist as she drifts towards Camelot.

The Lady of Shalott by John William Waterhouse

Lying, robed in snowy white
That loosely flew to left and right —
The leaves upon her falling light —
Through the noises of the night
            She floated down to Camelot:
And as the boat-head wound along
The willowy hills and fields among,
They heard her singing her last song,
            The Lady of Shalott.

 We grew our teenage hair long and lustrous - I once walked down a leafy avenue by the side of a park when an elderly man called across the road to me "You look very beautiful with the sun shining on your hair... "  I accepted it as my due and smiled wondering if perhaps I reminded him romantically of his long dead wife.

Whilst I loved the femininity of the fashions of that time, all long dresses and purple Biba eyes,  my china-doll face belied the dichotomy that I had remained a complete tom boy and was a ladette years before the term was even invented.  I remember a beautiful and fragile Victorian dress I had bought from an antique shop, all linen, lace and velvet, perfect for a Pre-Raphaelite but it got worn to one too many raucous parties and ended up cruelly doused in beer and red wine never to recover.

Teenage Sock's locks

Many of the Pre-Raphaelite paintings are based on  mediaeval culture, myths, Arthurian legends, or Shakespeare's plays,  stories that I had loved and crammed my overflowing imagination with as a child.  I had a treasured a beautifully illustrated copy of Charles and Mary Lamb's Tales of Shakespeare - sometimes scorned amongst scholars this book, presenting the plays in short story form, stood me in good stead for years of pub quizzes familiarising me with the various characters of Shakespeare's plays without having to read all the overblown texts.  And now the characters are pictured in front of me at this fascinating exhibition bringing their own life to the poetry and plays I read so avidly as a child.  The picture below of the Lady of Shalott by William Holman Hunt was my second favourite. I hadn't seen it before and the colour and movement in it was breathtaking her hair and her world whirling around her as

The mirror crack'd from side to side;
"The curse is come upon me," cried
The Lady of Shalott.

                             Alfred Lord Tennyson 

There were many, many more paintings and not all girlie fantasy ones either although to his surprise the Bedsock found these incredibly interesting as well.  A fantastic exhibition, well worth the visit. Make sure you get an audio commentary and allow up to two hours.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

The Melancholy Beauty of Autumn Walks


Autumn, season of  sadness with the possibilities of summer gone, and the chill of winter upon us with the promise of leaden skies.   Keats poem (below) has been interpreted as a meditation on death

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.
                                                  John Keats, To Autumn

For me the season often induces a not unpleasant sense of melancholy, an awareness of my own mortality and of the passing of time - time that I wasted and will never have again.

At its best it is quite the loveliest of seasons and this years autumn colour is the most vibrant I have seen in years.

The afternoon sun lit the Dorset countryside enhancing the landscape with a glow of gold. We walked from the Brace of Pheasants pub at Plush, quickly shaking off our red wine and game stew induced stupor when we experienced the exhilaration of a murmuration of starlings, wheeling and diving across the landscape.

Their chattering calls changing to an enormous whoosh when, as one, they suddenly took to the skies then a dark cloud descending like a whirling avian tornado to suddenly become stilled and silent as they settled back down onto the fields and trees.

The next day a short walk around the supposedly haunted Coney's Castle gave us some more of the best Autumnal offerings.  Spectacular views to the coast and countryside where marauding Danes and Vikings once pillaged and plundered.

I bet they weren't as out of puff after climbing the slopes as we were or they would have been easily picked off by the Iron Age fort dwellers at the top.

We felt no ghosts today, just the gentle melancholy of the Autumnal beauty all around.


Sunday, 28 October 2012

A Wander Round Winkworth

“Fall colors are funny. They’re so bright and intense and beautiful. It’s like nature is trying to fill you up with color, to saturate you so you can stockpile it before winter turns everything muted and dreary.”
Siobhan Vivian, Same Difference

It was about time for another meet-up with the girls and so, with Autumn colours calling, the highly organised Helen Reeley with her ageing, apricot poodlette Obi,  Lazy Trollop and myself set off for a wander around Winkworth Arboretum.

The day was not obviously conducive for warmth and well being, the first of the winter cold having set in with a penetrating grey mizzle but after a fortifying coffee (or in Helen's case a huge mug of chocolate with cream and marshmallows plus a slab of cake!) we set out into the gloom.

And this was time for first mishap of the day.  I've been a National Trust member for years and remained so despite having rarely used my card, so sod's law dictated that I would not have it with me on the one day we visit an NT property.  As Lazy Trollop had two cards (one for Mr. B her husband) I demanded that she give me that so I didn't have to pay to get in. I duly flashed this card at the bloke on the entrance which he perused with an ever darkening expression of suspicion.  "Hmmm... this card says Mr. B!!" he growled.  At this point obviously I should have said "It's a fair cop guv" or "That'll be the sex change op" but instead I grinned disarmingly and said "Yes, that's me!".  How totally unimpressed can someone be? "Look, I do have a card but I don't have it with me - I've been a member for years" I said unabashed holding back my "and I've left money to the National Trust in my will" trump for the moment.  He drummed his fingers on the desk and said sternly "What's your name and address?" I gave it, fully expecting a police van to screech up and throw me in the back whilst everyone in the queue pointed and screamed "She's the perp!".  Fortunately he just phoned the membership office who confirmed I was indeed a member.  The look on his face told me how disappointing he found this news - like someone had really pissed on his chips!  There was something of a reluctance to hand back Lazy Trollop's husband's card but I did finally wrestle it off him accompanied by a little lecture about my wickedness.

The incident was soon forgotten and even the slight rain couldn't spoil the magnificent vibrance of the colours.  It was mainly acers that provided the display, most other trees were still in full leaf but only gradually turning a soggy brown.

The second mishap were my home-made cheese scones.  They would have been fine if they had risen more, been warm straight from the oven and smothered in melting butter.  As it was they were really only good for duck food.  Next time I will take a flask of warming whisky as my contribution!  Our luck was in though, Lazy Trollop had prepared a goody bag of cookies and granola bars for us and what with that and my pressie of a scented candle from Helen I did pretty well out of the day.

Spot the film reference

 I'm afraid that after my moans about 'nobody knowing the value of silence' on another blog, we shattered the peace and quiet of Winkworth with our squawking laughter and magpie chatter luckily there weren't too many other people around to disturb.

A lovely place Winkworth is well worth an autumnal visit and is also noted for its Spring bluebell walks and bluebells - definitely a place to return to next year assuming I'm not blacklisted by the man on the gate!

Obi, Helen and Lazy Trollop


Tuesday, 23 October 2012

When will my time ever come?


I approach visits to OldmaSock in my birth home Swansea, with a strange mixture of melancholy, nostalgia, and trepidation. This begins to set in as I cross the Severn Bridge into Wales and increases to a throat constricting angst as I drive behind the smoking steel works of Port Talbot and into the curve of Swansea Bay.  This was once my home, a glorious outdoor childhood of magical beaches, mystical coves, swimming, surfing and a freedom to roam out of parental sight and jurisdiction as long as we kept ourselves out of trouble and our troubles to ourselves. But what  followed was years of teenage angst and alienation unable or unwilling to fit in to the required Welsh norm. My parents, proud of their roots, having escaped the '50s gloom of Northern England had created their own little island of Yorkshire in Wales and created in me, a weird hybrid of Welsh passion and temper fired with Yorkshire traits of forthrightness and bloodymindedness. With all the support they needed from each other my parents never felt the need to engage or empathise too much with friends or even family and encouraged us to be independent from an early age.  This proved a double edged sword, whilst instilling in us the wherewithal to do what we pleased they undermined the confidence necessary to do it.

Woodland at Clyne Castle Gardens

As the youngest child I was always wrong, at the bottom of the pile of family bullying that was constructed of my father at the top, always being right, my mother always thinking she was right, my brother being, at the very least, more right than I was, and myself always wrong. The youngest, the smallest, the most sensitive and most pushed around I learned to defend myself against everyone but my own family where I could never win.  When would my time ever come?

Nearly forty years since I escaped from Wales I am still pondering this question and have decided that the only way for me to deal with the madness of OldmaSock is for me to emulate her bossy control of any situation. I have made a plan for the day - trip to Sainsburys in the morning to fill up OldmaSock's bare cupboards and freezer and in the afternoon  a wander around Clyne Castle Garden's one of my favourite childhood haunts.  I'm hoping to do Sainsbury's on my own but OldmaSock already has her bobble hat and shabby coat on ready for the jaunt. "If you come with me you have to behave sensibly" I tell her "I don't want you messing around and querying the price of everything whilst I'm trying to shop!".

She denies this will happen but I know that this is at least the third lie of the morning along with the second lie about taking her pills (she doesn't as attested by the ten weeks of prescription pills, delivered and packaged for easy identification and daily consumption, which are all stacked in the store cupboard where her food should be).  What can I do? The first lie was that she was allowed to eat her daily grapefruit with the pills despite having been told a thousand times that the instructions say no grapefruit with pills.  And what does it matter as she isn't taking them anyway.  I can't force feed them to her and as OldmaSock is enviably and invariably fitter than anyone else in the family she seems to do well enough without them.

The fourth lie comes as she realises we are driving out of town to the large Sainsbury's instead of her favoured supermarket.  "Oooh - we should go to Tesco's, you have to drive miles down the dual carriageway to come back because you can't turn into Sainsbury's!".  She has been thinking of any excuse as to why we should go to Tesco's since we got in the car and in my new bossy controlling role with her I smugly turn right directly into Sainsbury's. Once in the shop I have a constant battle - as soon as I turn my back the decent ready meals I have put in the trolley disappear as OldmaSock swaps them for something cheaper and nastier. "Ooh that's expensive" she frets "ooh that's cheaper at Tescos" ... "Oooh we should have gone to Tesco's", "I wanted to go to Tesco's" she whines "I COULD HAVE GOT POINTS AT TESCOS" full blown tantrum. "Well I wanted to shop at Sainsbury's and I collect points at Sainsburys, and Sainsbury's do a brand match with Tesco's which means that if their product costs less, Sainsbury's will give me a voucher for the difference!!!!" I snap.

OldMaSock is by now genuinely upset and my victory over where we will shop seems more than a little hollow particularly when at the till I am handed a voucher for £10.60 off my next Sainsbury's shop as it was that much more than I would have paid at Tesco's.  This only going to prove that OldmaSock was right and we might as well have shopped there in the first place!

At least OldmaSock cheers up when we get home and fill up her empty booze cabinet with sherry, gin, Bailey's and for some reason best known to herself "that yellow stuff" Advocaat.  BroSock is a bit perturbed by the amount of alcohol I have bought for her but she enjoys the occasional tipple or two and who am I to deny her that?

In the afternoon with frayed tempers soothed we head off for Clyne Castle Gardens. Oldmasock would rather walk around Langland bay but we always do that and I am doing the bossing this time. It's a lovely wander up through the wooded slopes by the meandering stream and ponds where as children we used to play hide and seek under the enormous gunnera - a plant I have loved ever since but will probably never have the right conditions to grow.

The 'enchanted tower' now seems tiny

Past the "enchanted tower" which years ago grew up through the rhododendron canopy  it's parapet emerging out into the light above.  The Chinese bridge where I once posed for the photo below in the days of my misunderstood teenage melodramas.



And then out onto top of the park with its fabulous views (top picture) down the grassed slopes and the wide open expanse across Swansea Bay to the distant smoking steel works of Port Talbot.

As we walk across the grass sodden from an earlier deluge, I am worried that OldmaSock will slip and fall on the mud - perhaps we should have gone for her paved walk around the coast instead.  But it is I whose feet disappear from under me as my bottom crashes down painfully onto the soggy, muddy, grass, the damp soaking uncomfortably through my jeans.  "Ha ha ha" chortles OldmaSock "at least you managed to save the camera!".

When will my time ever come?

Monday, 8 October 2012

Grassed Up!

OldmaSock has had her car confiscated.  Not by the police, although that has been a worry - not so much that her driving skills have gone down the drain (even in spite of her being a tad demented), no, it was the tipple or two she takes at her lunch clubs before driving home that was horrifying me! Luckily BroSock has easily persuaded her that the tiny amount of driving she does isn't worth the expense of maintaining and insuring the car.  Because she is a miser this has easily swayed the argument although pleas that she use the money saved to get taxis when needed will have fallen on deaf ears.  OldmaSock has never liked spending money and it is now an OCD.

When I phone her prior to my visit she tells me that the main problem of having no car is she can no longer make her regular trips to the dump.  Another of OldmaSock's many obsessions is taking stuff to the dump, amongst other things clearing the attic of all my stored childhood memories, toys, annuals, my collection of dolls dressed in the national costumes of countries we visited, but the main thing now is the endless bags of garden waste. For another of OldmaSock's obsessions is pruning - there is nothing she loves more than a good prune! An example is this beautiful acer ruined by having the side which was hanging over the path hacked off.  The row of trees and shrubs at the back of the garden sawn and lopped where possible after she has climbed up onto the wall to have a go at them.  She has been told countless times not to go climbing on the wall at her age but like the wilful child she has become, she doesn't take a blind bit of notice of what anyone else says and actually never has done!

Hacked Acer

So what is OldmaSock doing with all this garden waste? "Oh" she tells me over the phone "I am taking it in my wheelbarrow to that bit of waste ground down the road." "What 'bit of wasteground?" I ask, puzzled "there is no bit of wasteground".  Then suddenly it dawns on me.  Many years ago, when the Sock family moved to what was then a new build house, we were on the edge of the countryside - over the back wall and into fields, ponds, woods, valleys, streams a childhood paradise.  And then heartbreakingly the dumpers and trucks moved in and bulldozed the beautiful trees down. Where the ponds had been full of newts, tadpoles, minnows, they were filled in with soil.  Posh houses sprang up and people moved onto the land once inhabited by the hedgehogs, mice and moles we used to find so fascinating. The builders did leave some small areas of grass, trees, and a few shrubs - green spaces of parkland between the houses, maintained by the council for the community. This is where OldmaSock has been dumping her garden rubbish.  I tell her this is very naughty and she mustn't do it, in the full knowledge that she is not listening to me and is already constructing a tale of lies and evasions which will justify her doing exactly what she wants.  Old people can be extremely wiley.

The "bit of wasteground" Oldma has been tipping on

I phone BroSock "Did you know about OldMa's flytipping?". "OH GOD!" he replies as I prepare myself for his twenty minute rant about how he has told her TIME AND TIME again not to do this, has instructed her a MILLION TIMES about the special bags provided by the council for garden waste collection.... I don't know why he can't see the funny side.. I have an image of OldmaSock in her bobble hat and shabby coat,  like a garden baglady pushing her wheelbarrow full of rubbish around the pavement of this very 'nice' neighbourhood with said neighbours twitching at their curtains and shrieking "Look! She's at it AGAIN!"

The brown piles under the trees are ALL OldmaSock's garden waste!

When I arrive at OldmaSock's I enquire as to how the fly tipping is going.  "Oooh - I've had someone round from the council to tell me off.." she says quite happily.  "And what did you say to them?" I ask.  "I told them I was eighty-three and that I couldn't go to the dump because I no longer have a car. So they left it at that." "OK - well one of the neighbours has unsurprisingly grassed you up" I warn her "and next time they will probably put you in prison which will be a relief to us all as it will keep you out of mischief. And actually you are eighty-five although that doesn't make the fly tipping any more excusable". Oldma finds this all very amusing and laughs a lot - I am not confident that she is taking this at all seriously.

BroSock later also comes to stay - I update him on the saga and suggest we all go to take a look at exactly what Oldma has been up to.  "I'm not going out with her in tow" he says "the neighbours will probably lynch us!".  "Don't worry, if anyone asks we can just pretend we are social workers" I reassure him.

During my stay I give OldmaSock several more lectures and explanations about what to do with her garden rubbish and strict instructions about not clambering around on the wall at her age. I have a strong suspicion that although it is true that her short term memory is shot to pieces, she has no intention of remembering anyway!  One day we walk to the nearest shops taking the cutting through a different community woodland next to the nearby school.  "This is where I am bringing my garden waste now" she announces proudly, as if she is doing something very clever.  "And where exactly are you putting it?" I ask.  "Under that signpost there..".  Sure enough under the signpost that says 'No Tipping' there is a pile of OldmaSock's garden cuttings.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Blowing in the wind - Harmonic Fields at Portland


The Sock's have for many years had two little traditions that both take place on the main route along the South Coast.  The first is that the M27 motorway services heading west are always referred to as the Seafood Vol-au-vent Platter stop as many years ago this was advertised there as 'Dish of the Day'.  It would be difficult to think of anything more grotesquely unpleasant to eat service station style - soggy grey vol-au-vents filled with a mucilaginous white sauce containing old fish scrapings, stinking of iodine and just enough dead mussel to ensure food poisoning for a month.  And not just one - a whole bloody platter full!

The second tradition is, on being anywhere within spitting distance of Weymouth (which includes the Dorchester by-pass), to ask "Is that Portland Bill?" and be answered "It is Portland and don't call me Bill!".  Boy do we laugh over that one! So many times over so many years.

Wind music to a backdrop of Chesil Beach

We made our first visit to the Isle of Portland at the weekend and realised that in fact, Portland Bill only refers to a narrow promontory at the southern end of it with a lighthouse sat on top.  It is therefore somewhat unlikely that we have ever actually been within sight of it which sadly, rather puts the kybosh on joke.

The visit to Portland was to see Harmonic Fields part of the Dorset Inside Out Festival, by Pierre Sauvageot an ensemble of 500 instruments played by the wind.  Harnessing this natural energy life is breathed into the orchestra, creating a symphonic soundscape, unique to each visitor.  Saturday was our last chance to see this installation, set in Bowers Quarry and along the sheer cliffs of the Island. (clic on any pic to enlarge)

Bamboo pipes are lined up along the pathway above the sheer drop to the shore

A sunny day had bought the crowds out and I was already in a grump before we set foot out of the car, watching the trail of noisy children and adults making their way along the one mile route around the quarry. As we paid a voluntary contribution to enter the site we were encouraged to try and keep quiet, to stand still by each set of 'instruments', to close our eyes and immerse ourselves in the sounds of the weird and wonderful wind orchestra.  "Fat chance of that", I thought, as we stopped at the first installation to find that the calm conditions were creating only a  mere tinkle of noise immediately drowned out by people loudly discussing what they were having for tea!

It wasn't the kids that were noisy (particularly after I had given a few my evil stare and throat slitting mime).  No, it was the adults! "Oy George come over 'ere and listen to this" screeched one woman, preventing the rest of us from doing just that. My mind was immersed not in music but in a mental rant about unnecessary noise, including my annoyance with the loud builders working on a house behind ours who include a gibbering gibbon, a laughing jackass and a braying donkey in their menagerie. Except that unlike animals their nonsensical noises are totally without point or meaning just empty vessels making most din! Don't get me started....

And then suddenly a slight breeze blew and the empty vessels around the cliff tops started to tune up like the Royal Symphony Orchestra before a concert - not a discordant cacophony but a symphony of strange sounds. I hadn't realised the power of sound to evoke strong memories... the mournfully melodic vibrations of a taut wires on an old half-buried sand yacht in the dunes at Llangennith, which we boarded and imagined our pirate ship.  The keening sea wind cutting into the rocks and gulleys at Kilboidy, blasting salt grit onto my skin whilst I watched the rising tide and my parents fishing.  The jangling metallic music of mast heads around the small harbour on a mellow Languedocienne afternoon where we sat drinking muscat at a tiny deserted cafe.  All these flowed into my mind dispersing the discontent with my garrulous fellow visitors.

My new hattiewat

I concentrated only on the sounds and the sights, my grumps soon forgotten as I allowed the 'music' to transport me.

Although it was a shame that conditions were so calm and there was little wind to fire the 'instruments' up, it was still absolutely magical and I was content with what we had.  Despite the signs along the route entreating people to silence  few took notice.  But even the man calling his children with a piercing whistle, the inevitable girl conducting a long loud conversation into her mobile phone and the equally inevitable person who had not switched her ringing phone off as requested on the signs, failed to spoil my enjoyment (although I did point and tut at the latter perpetrator!).

The Harmonic Field's show is over now.  If it is reconfigured elsewhere (as surely it must be) I urge you to go and experience it - it was quite the best, most original and innovative event I have been to in years.

An orchestra of eccentric instruments fill the quarry with windmusic

 I only wish I could go again and experience the 'music' of a full wind blowing.