Thursday, 28 June 2012

An English garden

In the garden, finally, there is colour emerging from the profusion of greenery.
June is the month of roses-
most of my roses are fragrant, especially on a summer's evening

and poppies

My borders are ablaze with geum

and all sorts of geraniums which flourish in part sun, part shady conditions; everything is a bit dashed by all the torrential showers but that is the excitement and challenge of gardening.

and my strawberries from M are promising!

In the hedgerows (especially in Kent enjoying time with D2) the hedges are crammed with dog roses

while the verges are covered in auld man's baccy- don't ask me the proper name! Cow parsley?

Suburban or rural, foxgloves are standing tall and humming with bees penetrating their inner most sanctums; maybe their proliferation is due to the extraordinary weather conditions thisyear.

The Solstice  and Midsummer's day is past so come on all we need before summer passes us by is a bit of sun.....

'Rain, rain, go away

Come again another day'
No! Do not come again for a while as we have all had enough of grey, wet days.

C and I went to try our walk along the Tyne to Warden again. The levee to stop the river flooding was radiant with buttercups.

I am going to have to venture out to plant my sunflowers (Huh! there's optimistic!)which D1 gave me at Christmas to plant in elephant dung- yes! you did read that correctly. Now they need to go outside as they are ' as high as an elephant's eye and it looks like they are climbing? right up to the sky' - that reminds me of my childhood when my parents used to play records (vinyl variety) of Oklahoma, Carousel, South Pacific and my favourite, Kismet.

Last night, after a day waiting for deliveries, I worked in the garden till 9 p.m. managing to plant all my begonias in hanging baskets and pots; I planted white Columbine (aquilegia or grannys' bonnets), 2 scented, climbing roses, a white, Grandiflora clematis, a plant from M which gives ground cover with tiny purpley/blue flowers, another anonymous, small, yellow flowered plant with fine, feathery foliage.

I bought the latter at Cragside when D3, H1 and I went to view the rhododendrons in full bloom. We circled the top lakes with a hint of blue above us- but it did have a momentary shower so we stood under the trees till it passed over. Needless to say we hit the formal gardens between clearance and replanting - as D3 and I always do; however the Olympic theme was being set out in succulents.

The broom was like a bright sparkle of light but isn't it late? I suppose altitude has delayed it.

and the lakes were brimful to overflowing

Every time we go to Cragside we wonder what these plants are around Nelly Moser lakes which are either berried or in flower depending on season. But as always H1 did not have the wild flower identification books in the car boot!

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

The Real Relay

Yes! I went , I watched, I witnessed! (Difficult after a friend's 60th birthday party on Saturday at Barluga!) but I dragged H1 out of bed and we went to the Tyne Bridge just in time to see Julia Smith run from Tynemouth along the north bank with the baton and hand it to Nigel Fishburn who ran off in the direction of South Shields.

Tyne Tees Television were there on the Tyne Bridge filming the handover just below the Olympic rings; the rings are up on the arch of the Tyne Bridge and apparently cost the taxpayers £100,000 ; they are there because we are an Olympic city- ie we have some football matches at St James' Park.

You can follow the Real Relay route (via Google) to see where/who etc as they have a GPS system in the baton. All the runners have paid a £10 fee to be donated to charity.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

The Olympic Torch

H1 and I trekked Northumberland trying to intercept the Flame en route; we felt really cheated when standing (twice) in the pouring rain we just saw the entourage and apparently the torch was dry and hidden on a bus which whizzed past! We saw the coach & police escort at Ashington so went to Coopies Lane roundabout in Morpeth; there we stood , like everyone else under gaily coloured umbrellas waiting.... the motor cycling policeman waved, the vehicles whipped past and the wet crowd said " So where's the torch?", "Was that it?" and we all went back home disappointed. It is only being run through certain bits of certain towns but otherwise it is installed in a bus- Huh!

There is an alternative Torch which IS actually being run around Great Britain and you can track where it is if it is coming near you. Just google 'alternative Olympic Torch' and you should be able to find it. Other disappointed folk from Devon put out a call and runners have volunteered from all over U.K. to carry the Flame over the whole route     Now that is the real Spirit of the original Greek Marathon (long before the Nazis resurrected it!)   It is on Lindisfarne (Holy Island) tonight? and being run to the Tyne Bridge for tomorrow morning and eventually to the Angel of the North via Sunderland? Check it out! The runners are running all the way , day and night.

Nor do I understand why some of the people elected to carry the Olympic Torch through towns, got the honour. What has Bear Grylls got to do with Newcastle's Tyne Bridge (ADK has done a 60th birthday zip slide from the Tyne Bridge, as always in aid of MS Society& MMcK has done an abseil in aid of Save the Children & works weekly in The Peoples' Kitchen- there are loads of people who volunteer their time & effort for the community up here) or 2 Belgians got to do with England's Northumberland?


Friday, 22 June 2012

The Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II

Now we are back from a London trip I can recount some of what happened over the Royal Jubilee weekend-we had 2 Bank Holidays that weekend too.

After wedding dress shopping with 'les girls' on the Saturday, H1 and I sat down to watch the Armada sail up the River Thames; I thought the Armada was fantastic but BBC's commentary was awful! Dumbed down with no information as to for example WHY boats were chosen, where they'd come from etc. There was so much scope for informative comment but where were the Dimblebys', who would have done their homework?! Good on the Queen & Prince Philip who stood on a damp, cold deck till the wet, choral end when all the others had 'abandoned ship'.

Apparently ITV's commentary was better- certainly 'All the Queen's horses ' was soooo goood; lots of countries sent their special horses (Oh! France's horse whisperer and Italy's carabinieris and oh! I could go on and on) and dancers and musicians and singers from each area.

With a Baptism then lovely meal at the Poacher's Cottage , Sunday was smashing; we have the royal Concert recorded but have not had time to watch it yet; however the highlights & reviews of friends did little to entice me to watch it in entirety.... maybe later. I enjoyed Madness's song with display on Buckingham Palace.

On Monday we had a neighbourhood, typically British  afternoon tea; sandwiches (coronation chicken, salmon and cucumber, cheese and pickle), Victoria sandwich cake and chocolate cake, cheese, fruit & plain scones (with jam & cream)- cups of tea and of course- a toast to 60 years of her Majesty's reign.

Tuesday saw us reclining in the garden of D3 with a barbecue and great company.

I shall say nothing about H1 forgetting to record the service at St Paul's. He knows he is culpable.

Yes it rained but that didn't spoil anything; and no one can do pageantry like the British.

We are now up to our eyes in football matches- Come on England!

Soon it is the Olympics- oh wow! What a summer. Though still not a lot of sun.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Newcastle Fashion Week

I was too busy to attend what was on offer in the Fashion events throughout this week.

It was all very poorly advertised generally.

However D3 & I went to the Central Library to see a Tudor Fashion Show.

The commentary was made as the models came down the catwalk; facts of historical interest were made about each of the outfits.

Costumes were displayed based around Ann Boleyn (Henry VIII's 2nd wife & beheaded), her young cousin Katherine Howard (HenryVIII's 4th wife, also beheaded), Elizabeth I,

 Henry VIII himself and Mary Queen of Scots

who was kept as a guest in England (under the eyes of the Earl & Countess of Shrewsbury) by Elizabeth & finally beheaded at Fotheringay Castle; Mary may have been veiled and garbed in black for her execution but when she threw off her black outer garments , she was dressed in the red of a Catholic martyr.

 then the costumes moved into the Stuarts with James I (of England-VI of Scotland).

Julia , the designer, had just finished the silver costume ofJane Seymour (Henry VIII's 3rd wife who gave him a son to inherit but which son died young after ruling with a Regency) so although Julia herself modelled it, I did not get a photo of that for you.

That display was just the start of a great Jubilee weekend. I will tell you about that in a tick- well maybe tomorrow as there is an England match on telly!

Flaming June?

Tonight seems to have the first blue sky and sunglow we have seen in weeks; the rays of sunlight are slanting through our windows but at this time in the evening I am not going out to start weeding the garden & planting up hanging baskets. High cirrus clouds are drifted across the heavens like icing sugar inviting me out........ but I have done all the walking I intend to do today.

C & I walked from Hexham Riverside Park along to Warden, lunched lightly at the pub (The Boat?) and walked back- we tried to walk it 3? weeks ago & gave up because it was too hot- how things have changed; here we are almost at midsummer day (& the days getting shorter) and the only summer we have seen was in March.

 We have been wedding dress hunting- I will say no more..........

I have also fed Herman the German friendship cake and baked and passed on more Hermans- mm! Herman with apple, raisins and cinnamon smelt and tasted delicious. Herman is a sour dough recipe that you feed then give bits away to friends to start off  their own Hermans; apparently he has his own website too.

Meanwhile the honeysuckle grows in profusion on Northumbrian lanes; the roses are unfolding too.

Sunday, 10 June 2012


We have had a lot of company and a really fun night/weekend with friends dressed in this year's theme-bling and crowns to represent all the countries in the Eurovision Contest. Where do people get all their imaginative ideas from? and their skill? We mopped up the party with a barbecue and garden games- and so much food , drink and laughter in hot sunshine. The house was returned to normal eventually, flags down, barbecue away, beds stripped and quiet resumed. The paintwork is not in such good fettle having been pulled off or still adorned with Blutac but we intend to paint anyway- there again maybe a touch-up job will have to suffice!

I have read Joanna Trollope's 'Second Honeymoon' and Anne O'Brien's 'Virgin Queen'; both made good reading- the latter being really interesting- the story of Anne Neville who harked from Middleham in N Yorkshire.

Cast not a clout till May is out..... well the month of May is out, past and gone; the may (hawthorn) blossom is in flower painting the hedgerows white; so- vests off........ But since then the weather has changed dramatically-it has caused havoc at Chelsea Flower Show- and in my garden!(no comparison, I realise!) the monsoonlike conditions and chill mean I haven't been able to get out there so the weeds have been taking over.

Aubretia is past ; ceanothus and weigela are in flower; small yellow and orange welsh poppies are dotted all over the rather 'natural' looking, overgrown borders. But everything is out at different times to previous years.