Saturday, July 11, 2020

a while, busy, jarred, pride comes before a fall, chimney meadows, shifford cut bridge, no hardship



It's been a while since I last posted.

We've been on leave this week. And the fortnight or so before was very busy with end-of-term library work and preparations for the MSt Creative Writing Guided Retreat, then the Retreat itself. The GR wasn't, of course, what anyone had imagined it would be earlier in the year, before Covid, but it was great to meet the students I've been supervising, even though this was online or over the phone.

In the midst of these intense weeks, I jarred my leg when I was stopping the bike at the end of an early morning cycle. It was a few minutes before this incident that I'd been 'powering' along the straight below Mount Owen back to the village and thought, I'm reaching peak fitness! Talk about pride comes before a fall! I approached the front of our house way too fast, braking not hard enough, and put my foot to the ground to stop myself. Ouch! Though it didn't start to really hurt till the evening.

So, for several days I decided I needed to keep to the flat, avoiding Mount Owen. I started prolonging the Great Brook part of the route by heading through Chimney Meadows, ending up at Shifford Cut bridge (view from the top of the bridge pictured).

No hardship this route - in the back of beyond!

Sunday, June 28, 2020

posies, harvests, last 2019 spuds, gooseberries gone, more downpours, virtual gr



Posies from J's garden.

Have been eating broad beans this past week. The radishes continue and we've moved from last year's chard to the small delicate-flavoured leaves of the spring sowing.

There have been strawberries. And the Maris Peer potato plants are in flower, so there should be spuds under there. Today we finished the last of the 2019 crop which had been stored in hessian sacks in the shed at the top of the garden. They were still delicious (their sprouts having been picked off a few weeks ago, so they wouldn't go soft), though I'm not sure what the variety was because a couple of bags got muddled up. Charlotte or Nicola.

Last week the birds came for the dessert gooseberries. I'd not been to the plot for a few days because there was a lot of desk work to do and when I did get the chance it was too late. They left one - wrinkled and unappetising...

Some more welcome downpours - well-timed for the spuds. But the high winds are relentless!

Looking forward to seeing the students at the MSt virtual Guided Retreat. Not how everyone was expecting it to be, sadly, but the online format worked well for the spring residence which also couldn't take place in Oxford due to the pandemic.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

downpours, replenished frog pond, soaked, gloomy day



Welcome downpours this morning and steady rain most of the day. Frog pond significantly replenished and refreshed.

A walk rather than a cycle - still got soaked, though...

Photo above taken earlier in the week.

A gloomy day isn't the best for lockdown, somehow. Worse than the usual kind of gloomy day, I feel.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

middle of nowhere, six cygnets, brandy bottle lilies, a natural phenomenon



In the middle of nowhere, along the lane that was flooded pretty much all winter. Beside the Great Brook, not far from the Thames.

The swans' nest nearby - they were swimming a little upstream with their six cygnets.

The yellow flowers of brandy bottle lilies in the background if you look closely.

A natural phenomenon too, of sorts.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

iris encore, weeding, first harvests, parsnips, waiting for rain



Another iris - this time an aquatic one, from the margins of our frog pond.

Ridged the spuds yesterday, while J weeded and mounded up the new asparagus bed. Today, both of us weeding. Amazing to have two rows of parsnip seedlings (not sown by me) - last year just four came up (sown by me - saved for Christmas and New Year lunches).

Beginning to harvest - radishes and chard. Broad beans on their way. Dessert gooseberries are a puzzler - they look about ready but aren't quite ripe yet. Last summer I misjudged them and the birds had the lot!

Close today after the few showers in the week. For a moment or two on Friday it looked like there was going to be a downpour but this turned out to be an illusion.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

flowers and damselflies, planting, leafcutting bee, summer reading, keble's 150th



I photographed the iris beside our pond during the late May bank holiday weekend. The flowers have gone over now and the stems are heavy with seed heads. An everlasting sweet pea circles the plant like a ribbon. In the pond, the water lilies are in flower and the flowering rush has put up not one but two buds. There are damselflies hovering above the lily pads - electric blue, light brown and brick red.

Today we planted out our courgettes, squashes and cucumbers. Though one pot and plant had to be left where it was on top of the garden recycling bin by the log shed. A leafcutting bee has made its nest there. This will necessitate rigging up a temporary stand when it's bin day. This can go on till late summer, apparently!

As mentioned, having finished the Katherine Mansfield short story collection, I have been reading  The Mill on the Floss. I once started this novel but never got very far with it. Why ever not? It is fantastic! I'm loving it.

Have also downloaded Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky, on the recommendation of one of my students, and Solaris by Stanislaw Lem, which I have wanted to reread for some time. This time in the Bill Johnston translation, which is supposed to be a big improvement on the original one, but which is only available as an ebook for legal reasons.

Yesterday was the 150th birthday of my alma mater, Keble College, which was incorporated by Royal Charter on 6 June 1870. While the party couldn't take place, the college has created a fascinating Heritage Website with features on John Keble and the history of the college and its buildings and grounds.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

unanticipated, trinity no less busy!, the peony has flowered!, bleached, but still gorgeous!



An unanticipated pause in the series of garden pics due to work commitments. Oxford Trinity Term has proved no less busy for being virtual!

Since taking the photographs that were to form the series, the peony has flowered - a perennial highlight of our garden's year! Though this time bleached of nearly all colour, because of the drought, presumably. But still gorgeous!