Sunday, 9 August 2009

Razmabaz goes Green

And he's hoping that there will happen to be more red!

When we moved to this lovely house we inherited a green house. Never had one of these before and, to be honest, had no great interest in gardening. That may have been due, in part, to all previous gardening projects taking "Capability Brown" sized operations. Quite a daunting task to say the least!

Well, that was before a particular lady came on the scene who seems to be able to inspire and encourage without you being fully aware of what's going on. (Just for the record, how many of you are now knitting, spinning, batting [there has to be a proper term for this], dyeing, sewing, crocheting or even weaving when you didn't think you ever would?) This is how I found myself buying seeds and a bag of compost.

That was back in late March (I now know I should've started sooner). Armed with all the paraphenalia of an ardent horticulturalist I proceeded to the inner sanctum of the mighty greenhouse. Actually, it's only 8' x 6' but it seems huge when you don't know what you're doing! I placed out all my seed trays and set about planting the tiniest of seeds (excluding beans - they're so big it seems like cheating!). How much is left to chance and nature is amazing. It never ceases to amaze me how it all happens. (Eternal thanks to Suttons Seeds ;-) )

Things eventually happened, and all at different rates. Some shot up in no time, others decided to bury themselves in the general fug of laziness that seems to be known as "germination". Some never made it all.... investigation is called for here. Although, if the little blighters didn't want to show their faces then that's fine by me! We didn't want any Busy Lizzies anyway. I've since found they are notoriously difficult to cultivate from seed.

Reality check
I was driving to work about 3 weeks later and watched Spring 'take hold' of the countryside. All this germination with no human intervention - I wasn't so clever after all!

So, successes? I can report tomatoes are rampant. Petunias (they really are the tiniest of seeds) are making a bid to take over the world. Coryopsis are very pretty. Tagetes have the smelliest leaves (nice pong) going. Beetroot take longer than Mr. Sutton says - but who cares. (Incidentally, did you know you can take the beetroot stem and leaves, cook to eat as spinach?) Chillis grow like mad once the flower is pollinated. Runner beans seem to be incredibly popular and go on producing fruit like there's no tomorrow. Radishes were ok but neither of us like them that much :-( Strawberries were delicious. Working up on how to take the runners and grow even more. Abutilon is a tricky plant that really doesn't like the direct sunlight.

Were there any failures? Yes - but not total. Marianne gave me some seeds and said "You can grow me some natural dyes." Coryopsis was the only one that worked but I think we'd need an acre of them to turn a fleece yellow. Safflower and indigo only just about made it but the safflowers got savaged by an errant dog! Don't ask. - I just hope it turned orange :-p

So, all in all, I have to report as resounding success....... all I need now is the stuff that is supposed to be red to change from that green colour which kids hate. There is an irony here that I'm not about to divulge!

Monday, 6 July 2009

Picnic in the Park ~ A Musical Interlude

(All photos courtesy of Marianne Cant)

Well, thanks to my beautiful wife I'm reminded I've neglected this blog for far too long - it needs an update.

In a previous, previous life and a long time ago, I played the trumpet. I like to think I was quite good but I was young, youthful and energetic and full of things around me. Really, I took my music very seriously until life happened. I played in the Isle of Wight Symphony Orchestra, Isle of Youth Orhestra, Bembridge Young Community Band and a few other things. Life was full of music!

As I said, then 'life' happened. 37 years later I remarry and I promised to my (then) wife to be, Marianne, I will play my trumpet for her at our wedding. She had never, ever heard me play and I thought it was about time she did!

A long story shortened - 6 weeks before the wedding I reckoned I ought to at least practice something. I did ~ can you believe how rusty a musician gets after a 37 year lay-off?

Anyway, it happened. Marianne was swept off her feet in a romantic trumpet blast - "The way you look tonight" is an amazing piece to woo your wife!

Move on a year and I'm having a terrible job stifling the urge to play again with a group of musicians and let's face it - a trumpet's ok but, solo all the time is a bit much for any audience no matter how much they tell you they love you!

A colleague at work told me about a Music School in Huntingdon HuMSA and that I should look them up. I did and I was amazed at what was on offer. Saturday I get the opportunity to play in a number of groups - from a Brass Ensemble to a Swing (Big) Band. The big draw back is I'm away from home for quite a lot of Saturday mornings, they follow the school term times so there are some holidays. Thank you Honey, I know how difficult it is for you. Wish they did knitting groups there on Saturday mornings ;^) How about learning the harp, it's only strumming vertical skeins?

It seems Brass players are in short supply - so, within a few weeks (3 to be precise) I was asked to play in a concert. Nerve wracking to say the least, but it is enjoyable. Well, it was for me - at least, I don't know what we sound like. I do actually and Marianne recorded on her phone a couple of pieces we played at a summer concert in Godmanchester - Picnic in the Park. The quality is not that good as it was an unbalanced PA system around she was surrounded by partying kids! It gives some idea of what we sound like. It's a shame Marianne couldn't get some of our more melodic pieces but maybe we'll find a better way of recording them.

Extracts from "Have you met Miss Jones?" sung by our new male vocalist Chris Cook and "Woodchoppers Ball".

Me- second from the right, Lewis on the right with Tony, to my left (can you believe he is 82?)

Must tell you this:

At my first concert with him another young lad was sat next to Tony, the lad asked who he was waving to in the audience, he replied, "My father!". I really did laugh

Monday, 9 February 2009

A New Year!

After a restful holiday - well, as much as a houseful of 11 people is restful - I moved quietly into 2009.

It had to be quiet because the 5th of January saw me going into hospital for some elective surgery - repair some damage that lifting a suitcase off of an airport baggage carousel. Nothing too serious, but something that needed doing.

So, with the Winter blues well under way, an operation, 3 weeks off work with restricted movement and no driving, I was not really looking forward to the next few weeks. I wish I could say I rose above it all, but in all honesty I didn't make too good a job of it - even though I had the best nurse life could offer. She was (as ever) FANTASTIC! Thank you, sweetheart.

The other thing that has bugged me lately is my lack of desire for taking/creating any photographs. It's happened in the past but NOW, this time, I needed a pick me up.

The snow came, it went again. No attempt to take a photo... this is not me. Saturday, I had to put some things in the garage and take some stuff out for sorting. Alongside the path Marianne had placed a tub with some bulbs in (I believe Mavis planted them when she stayed with us). I was worried about them because of the cold and the snow. I spotted a couple of pink flowers struggling to find light, poking their daring little heads bravely out through the snow, out into the sunshine. I have to admit I rushed in for the camera..... not totally inspired, but I was moved to take these photos.

Coconut Ice!