Monday, May 25, 2020

whitsun, morris, eerie absence, gardening, cuckoos and bikes, bampton archive online

Usually, at Whitsun, the village pubs are packed till dawn. Against the hubub of drinkers, the sounds of folk musicians and singers. There's the Shirt Race on Saturday evening, and on the bank holiday Morris sides dance on private lawns, in pub yards and in the streets. There are visitors camping out or coming over for the day.

But this year, silence. An eerie absence of old traditions.

A day spent gardening - planting leeks and Fench beans (replacements for the ones that got scorched by the frost) and second sowings of beetroot, carrots and parsnips.

Then, sitting at the top of the garden by the frog pond for a late lunch. Not far off the sound of a cuckoo - never have there been so many cukoos as this year. And, let's face it, every so often the defiant roar of a bike. But no drifts of music or Morris bells, fiddles or squeeze boxes.

Meantime, you can read about the village's folklore and history at the Bampton Archive, where all its publications have been made available online free of charge.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

bank holiday weekend, none the wiser, truth, gardening

Bank holiday weekend. And west Oxfordshire does seem, thus far, to be a long way removed from the pandemic.

Although, not in terms of stories from friends and colleagues about what they have gone through or the losses they have suffered.

Reading the news, one is none the wiser about what we are going through and why, at a national level. What is going on? Can anyone say? No one knows who is wrong or who is right.

People say there shouldn't be a 'post mortem', though that is the only hope of establishing truth.

In the meantime, my wife's garden is a place of deep happiness, as is the allotment we tend together.

The first of a series of photos of garden flowers.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

refreshing, cow parsley, oxford?!, the mill on the floss

When I set off cycling this morning the temperature was cool enough to be refreshing.

Bright, defining sunshine, which back-lit the flower head of this cow parsley as I - well, sped is probably over-stating it! - passed by.

I had to - screech to a halt? No, step off the bike, and take a picture.

So strange not going into Oxford for ages.

Have started re-reading The Mill on the Floss, in between library work and creative writing teaching. I say re-reading but I don't think I finished it first time round, though I feel very at home in the book.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

lime nail galls, curious phenomena

Lime nail galls, seen in the village earlier on a small leaved lime (I think). Such curious, fascinating - and disturbing - phenomena!

Friday, May 15, 2020

spindle flowers abundant!

Spindle flowers are abundant this year - in west Oxfordshire, at least.

How delicate and beautiful they are! And unusual.

Looking forward to seeing the equally distinctive berries in the autumn!

Saturday, May 9, 2020

potato dibber's annual outing!

Planted our seed potatoes this morning.

Readers of my previous blog will be familiar with the excellent potato dibber that was given to us by a friend many years ago (it had belonged to his dad), along with the wooden seed trays.

Although I was on the allotment fairly early, the temperature was soon high.

This year's varieties are Maris Peer, Maris Piper and Desiree.

Meanwhile, last year's Desiree are still holding out, despite some sprouting, and are delicious!

Saturday, May 2, 2020

chitting potatoes, bank holiday planting, headlines

Now there's no chance of having guests, and the spare bedroom is an office, what better use for the bed than as a platform for chitting potatoes. Maris Piper - top - Maris Peer and Desiree.

Hoping to plant on the bank holiday.

Strange, though, the headlines that emerge when newspapers are reused.

Friday, May 1, 2020

happy may day! magdalen college choir's virtual may morning

Happy May Day!

Just after 6am, we were at the top of the garden watching Magdalen College choir's Virtual May Morning broadcast.

There we were in our dressing gowns by the frog pond with a tablet, enjoying the live video and the real-life backdrop of garden, cottage, village church spire.

A quarter of an hour before, though, there had been a near disaster, when I realised I hadn't charged up the mobile I was going to use as a hotspot - just got a fraction of power into it in time.

The wifi doesn't reach the pond (how do the frogs manage!)

In the end all was well. And what a fantastic film it was! As is the video about how the film was made, with everyone being at home.

Brilliant, Magdalen!