Sunday, August 30, 2009

God didn't make the little green apples

When The Boy was really quite small, he and I planted a pip from an apple he'd just eaten, on the offchance that it'd grow. Well it did, and was duly planted out in the garden. The years passed and it grew taller, but it never flowered - until this year.

The bees did their stuff, there wasn't a late frost to kill the baby fruit, and they gradually grew. Ned & I had always believed that apple trees that grow from pips don't produce 'real' fruit, but only sour crabapples, but Boy assured us (with all the weight of his arboricultual training) that we were talking a load of old toot, and that they'd be real apples.

And he was right. The fruit are still growing bigger and weighing down their branches, making them easy to pick when the time comes. Every time we thin out the crop to lighten the load on the branches we try them - they're certainly not too sour, but as yet lacking juice; hopefully that'll come in the next couple of weeks.

They're certainly pretty apples, despite some of them being a bit spotty (no sprays here!)

And getting to be a reasonable size too.

The size of the tree is a reminder of how long we've lived here - it came as a bit of a shock!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

She certainly can can-can

Every year I grow a few chilli plants, trying a different variety every year. Some varieties are just hot; some are more like sweet peppers; some have flavour as well as warmth. Usually the bigger the chilli the milder the flavour; we've learned to treat the little b*stards with caution. The seeds can be the worst. This year I've grown 5 plants of the variety "Heatwave".

The plants took a while to get going, and still look rather leggy and leafless, but at nearly 3 feet tall they've been flowering forsome time and the fruits are growing nicely. On one plant in particular they've started ripening, so I picked one this evening to add a little frisson to an omelette. Before I added it I tried a teensy slice from the end, about a millimetre long.

After I'd found the back of my head which had been blasted across the kitchen it took me some time to regain the power of speech. The variety is well named!

Friday, August 21, 2009

The more I'm a merrier me

Visual humour:

Who's this?

It's me!

Oh suit yourself. I thought it was a funny joke anyway.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A simple garden, with acres of sky

Although I took my camera along to Cropredy it spent most of its time in the tent so I took very few photos, with the result that I failed to preserve some interesting sights for posterity. During Yusuf’s performance I was too busy wringing my hands in ecstasy to have been able to do anything as technical as clicking a shutter! That was the absolute dream come true, and could only have been better if he’d done another couple of hours.

I missed the music on the first day due to a sudden attack of projectile vomiting (and no, I hadn’t had a lot to drink), so stayed back at the campsite, trying to correctly time the journeys between the tent and the portaloos. Mostly I got it right. With the wind coming from the arena field I heard most of the Buzzcocks who sounded okay (apparently the language and spitting startled a few parents of young children), as did Steve Winwood, though I’m told he was rather self-indulgent and ‘went on a bit’.

Next day I was feeling as though I might not die quite yet, so went on the annual “Let’s watch Andy fail to find a geocache” expedition. This year he excelled himself and managed to fail to find one he found last year. In the arena field, Ade Edmondson and the Bad Shepherds were very entertaining, performing punk songs in a folk way (guess the intro), apart from one famous folk song which was sung in a punk way. There had been a moment’s panic on the way to Cropredy when Ned suddenly realised he’d left his hat at home; anyone who knows him will realise what a disaster that is! So after that set Ned & I scoured the stalls for hats (all possible ones were too small) and eventually settled for a rag (“Don’t lose your rag.” “NO I BLOODY WON’T” etc) and he became known as ‘The lovely Yasmin’.

(photo courtesy of Stu).

It didn’t rain for Richard Thompson, and Seth Lakeman was great but the bass drum thingy hurt your chest if you were within 300 yards of the stage.

Saturday’s music was opened as usual by Richard Digance, whose set was very different to previous years, but thankfully the thousands who’d brought hankies along specially for the morris dance got to wave them at the end. Then I actually took some photos(!) of Nelly and Tammy talking to Mr D (a surprisingly big bloke close to) and getting his signature.

Then Ned and I shared a Goan fish curry ("Goan, Goan, Goan, you will, you will" etc) which was delicious and next year we'll have one each. After that we wandered around between campsite and arena and village (some people were a bit naughty and stayed in the pub a bit too long meaning that the supper got a bit overdone and we missed Nik Kershaw) but we saw most of Ralph McTell’s set and then it was the traditional emotional end with Fairport and guests. The all-too-brief performance by the wonderful Yusuf was the highlight, but the version of “Who knows where the time goes” and “Meet on the Ledge” brought a few more surreptitious tears because we all knew how close we came to not being a full complement this year. But Hutters and Mel stayed to the very end, for the first time! I think they enjoyed it (I told you there were fireworks!).

The only annoying occurence of the weekend was during Saturday night when the inhabitants of a nearby tent decided to have a special cuddle. Vocally. Again. And again. It didn't seem to cheer the female participant up very much - the next morning she had a face like a trod-on chip.

Other randomnesses:

1. On the towpath I saw an adult-sized tricycle padlocked to a unicycle. All the relevant parts for two bicycles.

2. Hutters went into the disabled portaloo so Mally and Tammy and I leaned against the door and only let him out when a genuinely disabled person needed to use it.

3. I learned a new rude word.

4. Hutters thoroughly enjoyed himself by winding up children with his laser-pen, and managed to avoid being arrested as a paedo.

5. When I got home I found a clothes-peg in my pocket.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

But the drumbeat strains of the night remain

Oh wow! Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow! That was the most incredible experience; one that for years I thought I'd missed forever, but was wrong! It was supposed to be a secret but some weeks ago the Cat was let out of the bag, and one of my huge heroes for many decades performed live again - his first festival in 37 (or was it 27?) years. Only four songs, but so powerfully performed that it didn't really matter - grown men cried with joy. Why? Yusuf (T.A.F.K.A. Cat Stevens) was the guest performer with Fairport at Cropredy - and he sounds the same as he did 40 years ago. What a privilege to have been there.

The annual summary of the weekend will follow later - Cat deserves his very own blog all to himself.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

I can see all obstacles in my way

From the passenger's point of view I wonder which is safer; being driven by someone slightly over the alcohol limit or by someone sober who hasn't got their glasses.