Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dabbling in the leafmould

I haven't re-ignited my love affair with Autumn but I have, at least, recovered a fondness for it. To celebrate the realisation I started the day with crumpets laden with my sister's home-made rowan jelly. I supplied the rowan berries a couple of years ago; this year's crop is in my freezer ready for her. It's a good job that I got a couple of bags full when I did: on the Sunday the tree was ablaze with orange berries, with odd bits of green leaf poking out here and there when the wind blew, by the following Saturday there was nary a one to be seen. Half a dozen blackbirds scoffed the lot, in between chasing each other noisily round the branches. I also have the Himalayan rowan, Sorbus hupehensis, which the blackbirds generally leave alone and which are usually festooned with pearly white berries right up to the middle of January when the mistle thrushes finally cotton on to them. They'll find meagre pickings this year as the blackbirds have scoffed the lot already. Some or other wise old weather-beaten sage would read much into this. I just think the blackbirds had a good breeding season and raised a brood of greedy hooligans. For some reason all of them ignore the roadside hawthorn just down the road and every Spring we're treated to a red and white confection of haws and mayflowers.

Each morning is heralded by a cacophony of starlings, with the robin and the wren chucking in their two penn'orth to make sure we don't forget they're around. Between the motorway, the airport and things with feathers there's not a lot of hope for a quiet life round here.

In the garden long enough to fill the bird feeders, plant some more bulbs and set to digging out some of the brambles. If you live by a railway line brambles, rosebay and sycamores are a fact of life. Years of experience have taught me that a sturdy pair of gardening gloves covered by a thick pair of acid-proof latex gauntlets (my brother's in the chemical industry) give me a good enough grip on a bramble stem to be able to drag the plant out of the ground with my only getting two or three deep scratches. A similar arrangement works for weeding through the gooseberry bush.

A short interlude while I watch a mixed tit flock arrive in the garden. Coal tits are harbingers of winter round here. The pair in this flock are freshly-moulted and finely dark olive grey with pale pink bellies. There's only four or five long-tailed tits, which is a bit of a worry as there was a family flock of fifteen during the summer.

I should enjoy it while I can, I suppose.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


It was a hard week at work. Mind you, they're all feeling like hard weeks at work these days. I'm getting mard. Plans for an early night and a bit of kip were dashed by the party a few doors down. They'd put the dogs in the garden out of the way, so we had a whole evening's yapping from the dogs, understandably miffed that they were missing out on a good thing. The party spilled out into the garden just after 2am and the fight started in earnest just before four. How delightful.

Went round to my parents' for lunch. My dad's first try at shin beef and dumplings. The lad did good. My niece called round and, with all the impatience you'd expect of a five year-old, decided she was going to wear her Halloween ball outfit because it made her look like a princess. I suggested Princess Dracula. She gave me A Look.

"Do you know what your son just said to me?" she asked my dad. I know I'm in deep shit when I'm "your son" or "your brother."

And I'm not to call her Frankenstein's granny either.

Despite it being a fairly sombre sort of day I didn't much fancy getting out in the garden but the work needs doing. I spent a hour in the rain cutting back the clematides that festoon the old lilac tree, more for the sake of saying I've done something useful this weekend than very much else.

The phlox and pelargoniums are still game, despite the weather, and the back garden is awash with crocus and Sweet Williams. Much to my delight, I find that the cyclamen have seeded themselves into interesting new places under the currant bush at the bottom of the garden.

It's not so bad.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

All muck and cobwebs

"You'll have to watch out for yourself," said my mother. "It says here that homes across the country are going to be invaded by sex-crazed spiders."

I'm going to have to stop her reading newspapers.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Over the past few weeks I've noticed that the media and web pages I'm reading keep making slighting comments about Nick Clegg's conscience. I find this dismaying. This is, of course, more proof, as if needed, of the increasing delinquency and barbarism of the modern age.

We were always taught not to speak ill of the dead.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Waiting for the wardrobe

The Disputed Toll by Heywood HardyThe answer to the celebrity puzzle in today's paper was "Stan Boardman." Next week there'll be a quiz about Dan Leno.

The express train on my home line is once every half hour. My local stopping train is once an hour, five minutes after the previous express. Someone in their wisdom decided it would be a good idea to schedule a rail maintenance freight train in that five minute interval. We watched it chug past the station, all eight minutes' worth of it. Then we got on our train and waited ten minutes for the signals to clear for passage.

Thursday, October 07, 2010


There is much in this life that depresses me. The idea that any part of Salford could be re-named "MediaCityUK" provokes a long howl of despair.

They'll be making tripe trendy next.

Sir Jos Fosdyke would be spinning in his grave.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010


Well, at least Blackjacks still leave your tongue bluey-green.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Les parapluies de Manchester

A random selection of music to do the washing up by threw this one up as the first song.

Don't forget your wellingtons.

Saturday, October 02, 2010


Much though I get on reasonably well with women on a general level once every so often I'm reminded that they're not like the rest of us. A case in point: freckles.

A chap will see freckles on a lady's face and think how attractive they are. They may even have to make an active effort to avoid the word "cute."

A lady looks in a mirror, sees freckles on her face and slaps on a couple of layers of warpaint to obliterate them from view to make herself look "more attractive."

Not like the rest of us.