raspberryfool: (Gardening)
After a month or so of garden inactivity, in which I've really missed it, I finally got outside and did something. It wasn't much, just lighting the bonfire - which promtly went out - and taking a few cuttings from the flowering currant bushes with their fresh green spikes of bud getting ready to burst open. I plan to complete a hedge along the south side of my garden.

My old neighbour - Mrs. Edwards - planted it when my sisiter and I were children. I remember sliding undernerath the hedge into her garden on my belly - and subsequently being yelled at! She planted privet near the house, then flowering currant, winter jasmine, frostythia and dog rose, but she didn't plant all the way to the fence at the bottom, probably because of the two beautiful old Bramley apple trees. Those trees are long gone now - except from my memories - and the hedge line peters out about 20 feet clear of the eastern boundary fence. But the years and the neglect too their toll and a few winters ago I decided to sort it all out. I pruned everything hard back and cleared out all the dead wood. I also tied some of the young, flexible stems into horizontal positions to resemble a traditional hedge, which seems to have worked quite well.

alt
Flowering currant and forsythia in my garden


I think its about time to dig out the feral strawberry plants and complete this rather lovely flowering hedge - which looks especially good around March to April when the flowers are all out together. Even now in the depths of winter, the winter jasmine brings a welcome splash of colour to the garden. I took about seven new shoots from last year's growth and snipped them just above a pair of buds, potted then into general purpose compost and placed them on my windowsill. Hopefully in a few months time they'll have started putting out new growth, and I can get this hedge line sorted out!

And so, as thje snow falls I'm reminded that there's only a few weeks til Imbolc. I want this year to be a positive one with lots of goings-on in the garden, and in other areas of my life. I know it's easier said than done, but really I need to mentally kick myself up the arse, blow off the cobwebs and get some stuff happening, so here's to an inspiring, energetic and wonderful gardenining year for all!

What are your garden plans for this year?
raspberryfool: (shadow1)
Being back in the darkroom is a strange experience, but it's something I've wanted to do for a long, long time. Since leaving university, and the (mostly!) fantastic facillities we had at our fingertips, I've really missed being in contact with the materials I love to work with. Painters work with oils and watercolours; photographers work with paper, film, chemistry and the most magical thing thing of all - light.cut for photo-waffle )

I think i've been a little scared of the series because i photographed it when my father was ill, and just after he died - so it reminds me of that time and I think it has taken on a metaphorical meaning for me. It's that association that i need to learn to ignore if the series is ever going to go anywhere. A fragile leaf, curling towards the sky and looking for all the world like an outstreached hand wouldn't mean the same to a casual observer as it does to me. So i think one has to consider the outer meaning and stay content to not reveal its inner meaning. Anyway I think I'd like to continue the series for another year; i'll have to think about that after the Solstice. Meanwhile there's the gas holders series, which I haven't touched for months, so i should work further on that before the whle lot is demolished and the chance is gone.

As someone on a forum once said; "I love the smell of fixer in the morning. it smells like creativity!"
raspberryfool: (shadow1)
Well I'm back at the house after my week in County Durham. Durham itself is an old and interesting city, with the Gothic grandeur of its cathedral and castle, high above the River Wear. It's clean and well-kept too - why can't Northampton, which has a scant regard for its past and for the impression it leaves upon its visitors - be like that?

It was so good to see my old friends again, catch up with their gossip and their growing family - my how their eldest son has grown since I last saw him in May 2010! It's also been good to disengage with my seemingly failing life here in Northampton; work has been pants and I'm struggling to have some sort of social life outside my existing friendships. At the fag end of the year, with a month of enforced festivities to endure (I'll slap anyone who wishes me "Merry Christmas" before the 21st of December!), I'm not sure I'll make it through to springtime in one piece without feeling washed up and useless. You know why? I'm just sick and tired of just getting by, earning just enough money to pay the bills and fill the fridge. It's so much easier to sit on the sidelines and watch life slip past, and much more comfortable too. Sometimes though, we have to abandon comfort for just a little while. Fixing one's life is always so much easier at a physical and emotional distance!
raspberryfool: (Default)
Two e-mails just arrived; apparently I've ordered some A3+ inkjet papers. That's strange because I don't have an inkjet printer, and at the time the e-mails arrived I was out of the house and away from the internet. The receipt and e-mails are genuine, so i'm assuming the company, or probably some picker/packer or a dispatch clerk, eager to get home, has entered an incorrect order number and dispatched the goods to me.

I've already e-mailed the company with the receipt and told them that I did not orfer £125 of goods from them, and I just telephoned and left a message on their answering machine (I hate those things!), so we'll see what happens next. I really don't think I've been impersonated at this stage, but it's a simple mistake at the company; after all any idiot can make a mistake... ;-)
raspberryfool: (The wind changed...)
I can't believe it's August already, and the beginning of the Celtic autumn.

Wishing all on my Flist a happy Lammas/ Lughnasadh - a little late but there you go!

Harvests

28/6/11 04:08
raspberryfool: (Gardening)
The strawberries have peaked and I'm picking less than I was last week. It's been a fantastic crop though, with plenty more to come. The plants are now sending out runners in a bid to propogate themselves. Placing a stone and a little soil on the runners helps them to root and the new plants to develop a good root system.

Today I've been picking raspberries and blackcurrants for jamming. This year I wasn't planning to make as much jam as I usually do. Since I don't have a freezer now, and there are only so many willing recipients of my harvests, I could just leave the fruit to the birds, snails and anything else that might enjoy them. But nah! Into the pot they'll go, accompanied by the gooseberries I picked at the weekend.

I've been asked for raspberry canes, so I've dug out and potted some errant canes, hoping they'll root before I give them away. I've also moved a large cane into the area decimated by the allotment plant poisoner, which I'm hoping will re-populate that area with canes so I can free up some growing space. I've also shielded it with some bubble-wrap, and a note saying "Up Yours, Plant Poisoner. No Love, the Raspberries" Childish, I know, but it makes me feel better!

Whitecurrants are hanging like tiny jewels on the bush, so they'll be the next thing to jam. Like their black relatives they take ages to prepare and I usually spend hours removing the stalks. Whitecurrant jam is rather like gooseberry, but with less acid and a subtler flavour. I might even try making jelly from them this year - I have a lot of time on my hands now.
raspberryfool: (Default)
On Wednesday, I packed my bags and was whisked unto the airport forthwith, although I'd tried to organise a transfer journey and then given up and resolved to take the train from Central. But it seems there was one organised anyway, so I piled in and off we went. then, sat around until 1:30pm because there was a problem with the aeroplane. Ah, technology, don't you love it? Finally we were underway and I arrived in Hong Kong that evening. I was knackered so went straight to bed after an hour's tour of the city and checking into the bewilderingly posh hotel, bell-boys and all. Nice.

Oh Thursday, the weather was warm and hazy. I decided not to do the tourist thang; I find that I see more on foot and I think it's a better way of exploring an unknown city. That's probably why I felt alienated by New York City a few years' back. Sightseeing doesn't really interest me; learning something about places from ground level is more my style. So off I went into Kowloon, walking a couple of miles to the touristy waterside area, then taking a Star Ferry across Victoria Harbour to Hong Kong Island. I must admit I cheated on lunch - the local MacDonalds filled a hole and was actually quite good as I had a grilled chicken burger. I was temted to eat local but my Cantonese and chopstick skills both leave a lot to be desired.

I spent a couple of hours walking around the island, not really getting any further than the Botanic Gardens and Zoo, a truly concrete jungle, then looping back to the ferry terminal, enjoying an impressive night-time view of the city. If there's one thing that Hong Kong does very well, it's night-time light shows.

To finish, I walked slowly back up Nathan Road and Waterloo Road, marvelling at the neon city; Hong Kong really comes alive after dark. All this for about 25p, wow!

Back at the hotel, I sank into the bed after my walking tour, watched a bit of telly, had some food at the hotel and readied my bags for departure. I didn't take any serious pictures there, but the 35mm came in very handy for happy snappies.

Friday morning, I had breakfast then prepared to leave. there was still quite a haze over the landscape, but the sun was warm and the bus journey to the airport was rather scenic; after leaving the city behind, we travelled through forested hillsides and over bridges connecting the islands, and water studded with more islands. there seem to be a lot of eucalyptus trees in Hong Kong for some reason. This is where I'd like to photograph if I had more time in Hong Kong, the mist-softened landscape is just gorgeous. But to the airport, and no delays this time; I boarded the plane and settled in for the 12 hour flight to London.


And so I'm back, but hoping it won';t be long before I return to Australia, hopefully for a longer time. But give me an English summer and I'll quite possibly want to stay here. I can still feel the sensation of flying, so I'm going to bed. Tomorrow's a new day, and I want to feel hopeful as my search for work starts on Monday. I know that I'll feel out-of-place for a while, but things will come good and I'll be back in no time...

Bed's calling - my own, old faithful bed. Take care all...
raspberryfool: (Default)
I went up to Katoomba yesterday, a little later than I wanted but got there eventually. Had a walk around the town enjoying the high quantity of antique shops, and found an excellent second-hand record shop that also sells playing equipment that I'll certainly use if I ever move my arse out here. The antique shops make antiques while-u-wait.

Then, a walk around the cliffs to see and photograph the views of the distant 'mountains' (not really mountains as such) and the Three Sisters, the photo that everyone takes. It's a beautiful place though. And I walked to Katoomba Falls, did some long exposure shots and walked back to the lookout for some dusk photography. I'm disappointed that the NPWS decide to floodlight everything, rather heavy-handed but that's obviously what the grockes want. Bloody grockles! :-)

No sooner had I logged on this morning than the fire alarms went off in the internet place, so after a leisurely breakfast at the YHA, it's back to the hotel to wait for Karen and Steve. then hopefully The Waifs gig tonight, though I think that's across the city so i need to plan that properly.
raspberryfool: (Default)
I spent most of yesterday arvo at Cronulla, had a walk around the coastline. I was struck by the way the elements have eroded the sandstone cliffs into some impressive shapes. I loaded my TLR with FP4+ and made a few pictures which I'm hoping won't show the litter strewn around the place by lazy wankers. That really spoils a very interesting place and saddens me. Why can't people have more respect?

So, it's my last full day in Sydney, and what shall I do? Think I'll bomb over to Bondi Beach for a while and hang out with the trendies. I'll also try and pop in to see Uncle Norm and Auntie Jean for a while, then I need to sort out my stuff for travelling. I really wish I hadn't bought so much stuff, wish i could leave it in Sydney. My winter coat is quite heavy and isn't exactly required here; I'll have to lug it around NSW for no particular reason. Oh well...

My plan is: Newcastle, Port Stephens, Coffs Harbour, Bellingen then back to Sydney on the 23rd. Then I have seven days and it's back to England.
raspberryfool: (Default)
I haven't done much the last few days, and certainly haven't been a typical, overenthusiastic tourist. It's been good being back in Sydney, but I see the city through the eyes of an ex-resident, not those of a grockle. Still, it's good to be back.

Anyway, yesterday i went to King's Cross to take a few piccies after dark. I was expecting the drunken hoards to be curious about this box on a tripod, but nobody batted an eyelid, which is fantastic. I get so fed up with idiots (and have experienced a couple of wankers down at Central station!) wondering what the hell I'm doing. But Neh, I'm just a grockle after all! :-)

Today's plan, I dunno. I might take off to Bondi later on, but I'm not sure yet. This is silly; my enthusiasm wanes. I need a kick in the pants if I'm gonna get anything done this week. Tim's a wastin'...
raspberryfool: (The wind changed...)
An email dropped into my inbox containing a text attachment. If anyone wants US$6 milion, feel free to e-mail Mr. Miller...
Dear Friend.

This is to officially inform you that, your (ATM Card Number; 4278763100030014) has been accredited to your favor.Your Personal Identification Number is 882. The ATM Card Value is $6.8MILLION USD. You are advice to contact me back via Email: (citybank_ng@rocketmail.com)

With the following information's;

FULL NAME:
DELIVERY ADDRESS:
PHONE NUMBER
COUNTRY:
OCCUPATION:
SEX:
AGE:

Best Regards,

Kenneth Miller
Assist Head, Co-operate banking
Citi Bank.

I know I'm thick but come on guys...
raspberryfool: (The wind changed...)
...saw my long-awaited return to Oxford. I caught the train to Milton Keynes Central, where I scurried outside to find I'd just missed the bus, so I waited half an hour, paid a ridiculous £10:90 and sat back, enjoyed the scenery and some Sheryl Crow on the iPod. The countryside was typically 'rolling' South Midlands fare; not particularly interesting but pleasant nonetheless. I say 'rolling', but it was more like 'stretching and yawning', being just too lazy to roll. The fields looked quite parched, which is hardly surprising because we haven't had any decen rain since May.

As I left the bus station at Gloucester Green, I discovered I couldn't find my mobile telephone, so I rushed back the the stop where the bus was still taking on passengers for its return journey. I jumped back on, returned to the seat I'd occupied and looked along the floor and in between the seats but to no avail. 'Oh bugger', I thought as I thanked the driver. Then I searched my pockets again, and the bag in which i was carrying my waterproofs (it was threatening rain all day!) to find it nestling there in the botton. A sigh of relief and I went for my usual stroll about the city. Camera bag slung over my shoulder, I looked a typical tourist, but then so does everyone in Oxford in the summertime.

I took along two cameras, one my Chinon S.L.R. loaded with my last roll of soon-to-be-gone-forever Kodachrome and my Dad's 1938 Zeiss Ikonta loaded with Ilford FP4 +. It was the Ikonta I wanted to test out; the Chinon was only along for the ride, but passers-by didn't blink an eyelid as I opened its bellows and raised it to my eye. Try that in Northampton and you'd get 'Oooooh, that's an old camera. can you still get film for it?'. Something tells me the Oxfordians have seen it all before!

I took a stroll by the Thames (or 'Isis' as the Oxrodians call it!) and through the parkland, and fortunately when the rain did fall i was next to the various University boat sheds, which provided convenient shelter until it passed. So that was lucky!

In all, I enjoyed the afternoon; it was good not to have to rush and worry about getting back for the last bus to Northampton, but rather expensive on transport costs. But I'd certainly make that journey again, maybe in a few month's time.
raspberryfool: (Gardening)
Last weekebd, i harvested the first row of my Charlotte potatoes that I planted in March. The foliage had died down so i knew it was time to harvest them. The tubers ranged from the size of a pea to that of a hen's egg, and tasted absolutely great when I steamed them with mint and a litle salt. Also I picked the first of my 'Cherokee Trail of Tears' beans, which are green, spotted with purple, French beans. The plants have been doing really well, and have climbed the poles, showing off their lovely mauve flowers for the bees to polinate. I can't wait to taste the beans tonight, steamed of course.

I've been harvesting fruits too; the raspberries have suffered in the dry spell, some canes producing only tiny berries. There are plenty of full-sized fruits though, and I expect I'll be making raspberry jam pretty soon. The gooseberry, whitecurrant and blackcurrant bushes have produced excellent crops too; I have so many whitecurrants i don't know what to do with them all. The birds usually steal most of them, but haven't bothered this year. There are also next-door's sour cherries to make use of; the neighbours never use these and they hang in the tree until the birds gorge themselves.

My tomato plants are doing really well; I've picked a few 'Gardener's Delight' cherry toms already, and am eagerly awaiting the mass ripening. 'Gold Medal' and 'Lettuce Leaf' are doing well too; the former producing green fruits that hang on the plant like tiny Chinese lanterns. They're both larger varieties, so will take longer to reach full size and ripen. I picked my first corgette, which was huge and probably more akin to a marrow. I gave the first one away but will await reports of edibility eagerly.

My chillies have been ripening for a few weeks now, but boy was I disappointed when I harvested the first couple of fruits. There was no heat whatsoever, which is odd. It can't be genetic because these are second-year plants that have produced hot chillies before, so the problem must be environmental. I've read that one should stress the plants, withholding water until they become droopy.So I'll try this approach and see if I can't turn up the heat a little. Mind you, it could be a good way of havinjg a little joke with friends.

Finally, the leeks I planted in the spring are mostly doing well, although some have failed to grow and are still looking like tiny strands of grass. I won't be harvesting the leeks until winter-time so I hope they'll do something by then.
raspberryfool: (Dad's Icon.)
Going through my father's collection of wartime papers, I came across the following poem. The first version I found was typed on thin blue paper; unfortunately I haven't found this copy again. But I did find a handwritten version, from which the following comes. My father served in the R.A.A.F. from 1944 to 1946, most of that time he was stationed at Moratai Island in what is now Indonesia.

Troppo on Morotai )
raspberryfool: (The wind changed...)
The thaw began here today; quite a lot of snow melted by sundown and I cleared the footpaths again. But tonight, as I walked to my sister's house, more was falling, and it has continued into the early morning. So, just after I put the bins out I cleared the paths of half an inch of freshly fallen snow. Will it ever end?
raspberryfool: (The wind changed...)
The ice is slowly melting here; we've got fog which means a temperature change is coming. I had a text message from my agency and I've agreed to work from Sunday to Tuesday, hopefully without transport issues.

Something from Youtube for you all under this cut )

And so it's time to wish you all a most excellent Yuletide. I'm halfway through my first gin and tonic with added strawberry, which can only be a good sign. Take care and stay safe. *hic*
raspberryfool: (Raspberryfool)
Merrie Winter Solstice to you all. At the fag-end of the year and with snow on the ground, and probably more to come, it certainly feels desolate.

84
raspberryfool: (Decorating)
This morning, I began stripping wallpaper from the last corner of the dining room. All was well until I stripped the paper from the window area. The few bits of loose plaster didn't concern me much, but when I was able to dislodge whole slabs of it with my fingers, i began to worry the whole lot woiuld flake off. It must have picked up dampness before the double-glazing was installed and been loose ever since. Luckily some areas remained intact, but I'll now have to re-plaster it and re-seal the window-frame. Fun times ahead...

Meanwhile, Peter Mandelson's Foot-in-Mouth award proves what we all knew anyway: politicians speak crap. If anyone knows what the following means, please tell me:

""Perhaps we need not more people looking round more corners, but the same people looking round more corners more thoroughly to avoid the small things detracting from the big things the prime minister is getting right."

Pure poetry, Mandy!

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