Tuesday, 26 November 2013

This Year's Golden Flounce Award goes to......


 We are just coming up to the annual Garden Media Guild Awards, a jolly beanfeast for the usual suspects great and the good of the gardening world.  I don't normally go to this as I would be sure to get drunk and fall under the table which is all very well for the young things like Anne-Marie Powell but not so pretty when you get to my age! We have already been warned the event will be a seething hotbed of gossip and jealousy.  Unfortunately, the undercurrents of unrest over Alan Titchmarsh being dumped for Monty Don at Chelsea, have been superseded by this year's Golden Flounce Award.  Yes! The winner is the Donster himself, who despite his lack of familiarity or patience with social media gave an excellent performance that would have done credit to any messageboard member!

You are asking me what was so special about this particular flounce? In order to explain to the uninitiated I need to inform you about the different type of flounces.

The Poor Me Flounce

It starts when someone has been a bit nasty or critical of you on the board.  You take umbrage and in order to make them look bad you post a "Goodbye cruel messageboard/twitterworld" thread saying how hurt you are but that if people don't like your postings then perhaps the best thing to do is leave. Note the use of the word 'perhaps'. Clearly there is no intention of really leaving but a pretty strong guarantee that all your friends will turn up cooing and aahing over you, telling you how much they enjoy your posts, how you shouldn't let the nasty bullies get to you.. and so on.  When you get to say 25 replies begging you to stay, you proclaim how wonderful you, everyone else, the messageboard is and graciously return to posting, leaving the critic looking small and petty.  Warning: this may backfire if you don't have any friends.

The Full Flounce with Frills on

This is the most dramatic flounce and relies on the fact that you were bored with the messageboard and were going to leave anyway.  You engage with people quite a bit in the preceding weeks attracting plenty of attention to yourself and then you simply disappear! For particular effect you can even do it mid-sentence.  If you are reasonably popular posters will start to notice by that evening and there will be a rumble of "Where's Hankthetank?" on the chat threads.  By the next day they will be panicking and within two days a dedicated thread actually called "Where's Hankthetank?" will be up and running with people variously wringing their hands and weeping and wailing, the braver of them getting to the nub of the matter by suggesting that as the poster was pretty old it was possible they might actually have carked it. Cue more sobbing and snivelling with no-one bothering to google the member's name to find they are actually happily posting away on another messageboard. 

The Boomerang Flounce

This is for the recidivist flouncer forever taking offence - usually down to the lack of attention they are receiving because the reality is they are rather dull.  The Boomerang will flounce several times a year leaving a slight whiff of peevishness in their wake.  None of the other messageboarders will really care - some will try and jump on the Boomerang's bandwagon by proclaiming their support, the rest will have opened a book betting on number of hours until the Boomerang's return.

The Passive Flounce

This is the one where you discreetly leave 'the room' and sit for hours watching your screen hoping that someone will eventually notice you have not been around for a while. [This can be very hurtful - I speak from experience.] Hopefully, at worst, someone will DM or PM you to ensure you are OK but better still a little flurry of messages will appear being concerned.  At this point you turn up again smiling bravely saying things have been tough and you just needed a break.

The Golden Flounce

The Golden Flounce contains elements of all the other flounces in particular the Boomerang.

Don't try this at home readers, if you are not already famous with a lot of twitter followers it just won't work! 

First you establish yourself as a sensitive soul with strong opinions but a certain vulnerability and reclusiveness.

Then you piss off the Badger Brigade by not making a strong enough statement against culling and contradicting an earlier tweet you made which someone has tediously dug up from months ago.

Then after a couple of 'brutal' tweets from a badger lover suggesting you should be ashamed of yourself , you scarper,  aiming a 'poor me' "Goodbye cruel twitter world" tweet at your followers leaving twitterworld awash with astonishment, guilt, recriminations, ridiculous accusations and confusion.

(Dear departed Diana would have been a Past Master at this.) If you are lucky the tabloids will pick up your story with the labels "hate campaign" and "twitter trolls" and it all keeps you in the public eye at an otherwise fallow time of year.

Oooh.. well I never, as I write it looks like Monty may not have left twitter after all - let's hope we were just on a break!

*The top Golden Flounce image is one of similar ones that circulates the net and is awarded in various places so for this reason I can't credit it.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Squirrelling Away


An urge to get out and see the evanescent colours of autumn took us to Brownsea Island  on the last day of general opening for the season (November 3rd).  We took the little yellow passenger ferry from the Sandbanks side of Poole Harbour to the island on the first day of sharp, wintery, cold, the wind whipping up waves, bouncing the boat away from the open seas into the calm of the huge natural harbour.  A ten minute journey moving from the materialistic modern world of prime estate that is Sandbanks, through a time warp, onto an enchanted island where time has stood still no development has marred its charm and beauty, no noisy cars shatter its peace .

We emerged from the tunnel of tea rooms and National Trust Gift shop into an enchanting Narnia. First wandering out to the nature reserve on the north of the island (owned by Dorset Wildlife Trust) to spend a while bird watching from the hides.  Avocets, and a flock of bar-tailed godwits were settled around the sandbanks occasionally whooshing up into a huge aerial display whilst a few egrets meandered around closer to the shore.  We could have spent the day here mesmerized but with only a few hours before the final ferry to the mainland we made our way back to the centre of the island to see the main attraction.  Red squirrels!

Brownsea Island is one of the only places in the British Isles that boasts a red squirrel population. When I was a child I would often see them in our local park before the ubiquitous grey squirrels took over.  Since then I have just seen one red squirrel in the Lake District some years ago so a glimpse of them again would be a real treat and a decent photograph would be the icing on the cake.

We had read that the squirrels could be quite shy and we were not guaranteed a sighting.  The woods were quiet, just the crunching of leaves beneath our feet, until we caught a different rustling and froze!  A red squirrel leaping and dancing beneath the trees, and then another and another, our eyes adjusting to picking out their more vibrant colouring from amongst the fallen, fading autumn leaves.  They seemed little bothered by our presence and kept just one curious, beady eye on us being more pre-occupied with their foraging.

The low light levels beneath the trees and the rush to take pictures before we lost the shot (reminds self to set the camera at the ready in ADVANCE of spotting the wildlife) meant that many of the shots lack clarity or rather grainy.  In some ways I don't think this matters - people 'instagram' high def photos in order to achieve the same effect.

When I first looked at some of the photos on my computer I was disappointed that they
were almost entirely dark like this

 but a quick autocorrect in Photoshop and a squirrel leapt out at me!

Luckily I hadn't deleted the dark pictures on the camera, as I continued photoshopping a series of fascinating pictures of a squirrel collecting nuts for its winter larder appeared.

All too soon we had to leave having only seen a tiny amount of the island.  We will of course return soon to explore the rest.

 If you want to know more about Brownsea and how you can help support the squirrels and even 'adopt' one visit the Dorset Wildlife Site