For the second summer in a row I haven’t been far afield so I have taken endless pictures of flowers and tried a few new things like the mini wildflower meadow thanks to free packets of seeds from 38degrees and buzzy bee charities…and not mowing part of the ‘lawn’.
But every time we had a rainy spell it was mushrooms that grewor were they toadstools or fungii…
The tomatoes were a great success, both of them.
Mr. Nosey Potato got left behind at my house then there was another lockdown so I planted him in a pot…
This was my best shot of the Bournemouth Air Festival – I missed the wing walkers flying over the back garden and a Red Arrow flying over the roof…
When Christmas was cancelled I left the Chreasterbirthdaymas tree in the front garden and tied a ribbon on for each day of lockdown. This month it is a Breastmas treeas October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.
This is the newest garden development Chez Tidalscribe, a wheelie bin store with deluxe plant shelf and self filling watering can. Thanks to Strobe Interiors. And it’s that time of year when gardeners can cheat and buy lots of cyclamen at the greengrocers ( and just about everywhere ) for instant colour.
Floralia, the festival of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers, was held from 27th April to 3rd May during the Roman Republic era 509 BC to 27 BC. I think we should resurrect this fun week, so my Chreastermas Tree has become a Floralia Tree. I tied a ribbon on for everyday of Lockdown and I am now taking one off everyday. Welcome to the famous Gardens of Tidalscribe.
I keep listening out for the doorbell, I keep looking out of the window, but the street is empty. The postman, greengrocer, Amazon delivery and Co Op groceries have all been, but They never come. Another day when a long pole, with a microphone on one end and a television interviewer at the other end, has not appeared at my front door.
How do they choose all these citizens who keep showing up on the news and breakfast television? I am not talking about science experts, political commentators, journalists and doctors, but ordinary people who sit in their living rooms unashamed of their ghastly wallpaper and awful fashion sense. Out of millions and millions of us how do they get chosen to be interviewed for several minutes in a segment that will be repeated endlessly on the main news and on News 24.
If they happen to have recovered from Covid they obviously have a head start over the rest of us, but it’s not just people pondering on pandemics, I have always been ignored. Every general election, the long years of Brexit, no one knocks on my door or stops me while I’m out shopping for my opinion. Though I would flee in the opposite direction if I did see cameras; too windswept, wrong clothes for television…
But if a reporter did call on me at home they might not get away; all those years of stored up opinions.
‘Yes we need more lockdown not less, gatherings of more than two people forbidden, identity cards, everyone to stay inside their own postcodes, disposable BBQs should be banned, litter bugs should be tasered on the spot, private motor vehicles confiscated, air travel banned… it was so nice during the first few weeks of lockdown…. Perhaps you and the cameraman would like to buy one of my books, I just happen to have a box full… or buy all my books…
Maybe a little bribery would secure their release…
Everyone is filmed at home now so if you haven’t had the chance to appear on television you can always pretend. Facetime with your boring family could become one of Alan Bennet’s brilliant Talking Heads – which are perfect for isolated actors and have just been remade.
Or dust off your bookshelves and pontificate late at night on tomorrow’s newspaper headlines.
In the kitchen you can have your own masterchef celebrity banquet bake off.
‘What are you making?’
‘Bangers and Mash, it could all go horribly wrong… I’m just going to test the potatoes, okay, this is the moment when it could really go wrong, I could end up with third degree burns, I need to strain the potatoes now… make sure the camera lens doesn’t steam up… yes the sausages all free range, they were running around in a Hampshire field yesterday… oh oh is that the smoke alarm, I forgot to check the sausages…
Perhaps it would be better to stay in the garden. Gardening programmes are so popular now for peaceful healthy escapism and you can even send in videos of yourself and your delightful children giving a guided tour of your fantastic / unusual / beautiful / bountiful garden. Gardener’s World receives thousands of them, so you might not get chosen unless you have turned your bathroom into a tropical paradise, installed a waterfall in your living room, or turned a six foot sunless concrete square by your back door into the Garden of Eden.
Perhaps it’s best if I don’t film my garden; putting carefully cropped selected flowers on Instagram is my limit. Though if the people with poles do turn up tomorrow I could give them my views on new major projects injecting money into the economy; have all the motorways turned into cycle routes and gardens…
Have you ever invited television cameras into your home?
Writers can still keep writing in isolation and quarantine, but what of photographers? No more traveling to local beauty spots, let alone visiting exotic locations, no more turning up at weddings and social gatherings to take formal and informal shots. One of our local award winning photographers has still been busy; Emily Endean has been using her daily exercise to walk to the homes of volunteering locals and snap them at their front door or in the garden – while staying at a safe distance on the pavement. A piece of everyman history, recording what we hope will be a unique year, not the new normal.
Gardens were already important to many of us, but have taken on a new significance in isolation for those of us lucky enough to have one. Are they a zoo compound or is your front garden your own little stage where all life takes place? We stand in it to chat safely to neighbours or passers by; on Thursday evenings we stand at 8pm to clap and bang saucepan lids for the NHS and all carers.
Hopefully a few or more flowers will brighten the daily walks of others. No one could have foreseen back in the autumn, when we were planting bulbs and wallflowers, how much time we would spend enjoying the splash of colour. With garden centres closing there has been dismay among gardeners looking forward to getting their bedding plants; we like to fill in gaps as spring flowers fade and plant up pots and patio tubs for the summer. Luckily our local greengrocer’s has been delivering plants; tidying the garden and planting is perfect for fresh air and exercise.
I had my chance to take part in Emily’s project on Sunday. If you want to stroll around peeping at homes and seeing who lives there, visit Emily’s website here.
Week Four has started, week four if you happen to live in the UK and hadn’t already started self isolating because you had symptoms or that dreaded term ‘underlying medical conditions’. I’m sure those with medical conditions wish they were underlying rather than a feature of their lives that cannot be ignored.
But whether you are fit and well, or one of those ‘vulnerable’ ( another overused word ) folk who received a letter from the NHS telling you to stay indoors for twelve weeks, your experiences will differ and prove again that life is not fair.
Different countries have evolved various sets of rules and ways of enforcing them. Here in the UK a lot has changed in the past three weeks; while the number of deaths has increased, we are no longer just hearing numbers but hearing the stories of those who have died. Many people have recovered, but any of us could lose family and friends. Most of us probably now think we should have started this sooner; letting the virus run its course and building herd immunity now seems a ridiculous idea.
It doesn’t feel right that most of us have to stay at home doing nothing, while medical and essential workers hardly see their homes, but we have to keep as many people as possible out of hospital. So the routine for most of us is leave home only for vital shopping, to help our vulnerable neighbours and for daily exercise. For those of us with a vulnerable person to care for at home we have to accept we should not go near shops.
My view from my home is good; the house across the road is on a corner plot and has a lovely garden with cherry trees in blossom; just to see people and dogs in a garden is a welcome sight in a deserted road. In our back garden the new peaceful atmosphere is highlighted by blackbirds and our robin singing their hearts out. The next door neighbours have been bringing shopping and as they are working from home and the children being home schooled it is much livelier than usual on weekdays and we have chatted more – at a safe distance or texting. The children have started writing stories, inspired by me giving their parents a paperback copy of one of my books; they also write notes on paper aeroplanes to fly over the fence, all good activities for home schooling.
Our road is not completely quiet; families go past on their daily exercise, Mum jogging while Dad and children pedal furiously to keep up. Couples who never considered ‘going for a walk’ now have a new routine.
For writers, bloggers, gardeners and retired people who have plenty of hobbies and are used to being at home, so far so good. But what of those in cramped flats with children, nearby parks closed, or people living alone in one room who need the space and company that come with being out and about working and spending time with friends.
If we have had a chance in the past to choose where we live, how could we have foreseen that downsizing to a ‘convenient flat’ or being adventurous and buying a run down stone cottage on a remote mountainside, might be a mistake?
How is the view from where you are?
Red is bold, certainly not modest, it adorns the flags of many countries. We obey it at traffic lights and the only time it hides is when it is safely inside our bodies; blood red is ready to gush out of us at any opportunity.
Red is iconic; double decker buses, the Red Arrows of the Royal Air Force and the Forth Bridge. It tells you where to post your letters, where to find a fire extinguisher and still occasionally where to make a phone call. Red tells us when it is Christmas.
Photographers love a splash of red; a boat in the harbour, a red coat walking in the snow. A red front door looks distinguished.
Red is one of the three primary colours and one of the four colours humans like to use for organising people. At school I was in the red team, Saint George. Saint Patrick was green, Saint Andrew blue and Saint David yellow.
We are not urged to eat our reds, as we are with greens, but tomatoes and red peppers are healthy and brighten the plate up.
Long before Christmas existed mid winter was hailed by red berries. In spring it feels a little subdued, except for tulips, but summer brings Mediterranean scarlet with geraniums ( pelargoniums ) and romance with deep red roses. In autumn red reaches for the skies as the leaves turn.
Much of the earth is red. When I was a child my mother told me Devon had red soil, I could not imagine such a thing, but white chalk cliffs turn to red as you go west along the Jurassic Coast. Northern parts of Australia are red, such as the Pilbara, known for its ancient red landscapes and vast mineral deposits; red also means rich in iron ore. Other continents all have their unique red landscapes.
I have never actually been to the Chelsea Flower Show so I am in the perfect position to tell you how to cheat.
First of all, if you are lucky enough to have access to BBC television, just watch it on TV. Only the Royal Family, television presenters and of course the judges get to wander around without crowds and actually set foot in the show gardens.
You can wander round your own garden pretending you are at Chelsea, and you could even take photos to put on Instagram
#chelseafs #gold medal #gardengold So excited, I got my first gold.
Who on Instagram could prove you hadn’t really been there. Even if your washing line, the neighbour’s fence and your mop bucket accidentally get in the picture you can pretend it is part of the design
( See designing your own garden, below )
But the best way to cheat is to go there. Perhaps there is a hole in the fence you could slip through, find a little spot of ground at the back of the refreshment tent by the bins and be a guerilla gardener. There is no need to spend a whole year planning a garden. Everything you need can be found at home, the local garden centre, builders’ skips and the rubbish tip. Anything goes; whatever your makeshift garden looks like you can claim to be encouraging recycling, wild flowers and insects. A few rocks, some old wood and a bucket or children’s paddling pool for a water feature. Then fill in the gaps with lots of plants from the garden center.
To complete the cheat wear something smart, but not too smart, stand confidently in front of your floral plot and talk to the crowds passing by, or an imaginary camera about themes and your artisan garden. Everyone will assume you are a television presenter or garden expert talking about a wonderfully original show garden.
Some might say that the planet should be saved, not society, but we shall deal with that next week. It is probably easier to start on a small scale with your own street/farm/castle or country estate (delete as appropriate ).
To avoid trying to define society, just imagine a perfect neighbourhood and if you are ambitious, your own town or city run exactly how YOU like it. With a bit of crowd funding, quietly taking over while no one is watching because of Brexit, it should be no problem. London National Park City is launching in July, so how hard can it be to change your street?
Here are some simple ideas to start with. Make it compulsory for everyone to have nice front gardens; the sort you like to walk by, green lawns, beds and tubs full of flowers, delightful scents and the happy sound of bees. If anyone complains, point out that the government has pledged to create green corridors for bees; if they complain they have nowhere to park their car refer them to idea number two.
Abolish all private vehicles and, just until your local town becomes fully functional with solar powered moving walkways, set up a car share scheme.
Soon everyone will be happy; flowers and wild life put everyone in a good mood and those living in cramped flats with no gardens have been helping with the digging and planting.
Idea number three, take over every empty plot of land, however small and plant trees, create allotments and parks for children. While your local millionaire is away on his expensive yacht, commandeer that land where he had two houses demolished and plans to build a block of flats for rich people.
Fourthly, all vacant buildings of any sort, shops, offices and second homes to be commandeered for the homeless and as workshops for the self employed. A little networking on the internet should bring you a team of building experts to supervise and train school leavers and the unemployed. It won’t be long before you have created a happy healthy local neighbourhood with no problems and others will be keen to take away your ideas to their own cities and countries.
These are just a few introductory ideas, feel free to make suggestions and tell us if you have managed to create utopia where you live.
For a clue as to how humanity will save itself read the best selling book nobody is talking about…
Purple is no ordinary colour, too frivolous to appear on nations’ flags, but too important for ordinary folk; it has long been a colour of royalty and the church. Red, yellow and blue are the primary colours, but in practice red, yellow, green and blue are the main colours. Were you in a house or team at school? Four teams in those four colours I expect. If you wore school uniform it was probably navy, grey or green with red or yellow… I think purple is less favoured for school.
But colours bring different images to all of us. When Sandra suggested purple my first thought was Cadbury’s milk chocolate, that purple paper wrapper, then the opulent shiny purple foil with the promise of pure pleasure waiting to be unwrapped.
My next thought was flowers, purple is the only colour that makes petals look like velvet. Purple pansies are my favourite. Irises have just come out this week in my garden, decadent in purple and yellow. Cyberspouse plucked one to take into his ‘studio’ and this is the result of a little digital manipulation.
Colours are also trademarks. The first time we took three weeks off to journey up and around Scotland we stayed in a cottage for the middle week, but the rest of our trip was an assortment of bed and breakfast and Premiere Inns. Along the way we bought a few new clothes and my purchases included a mauve blouse and a purple fleece. When we arrived at our first Premiere Inn I realised that not only did I look like a member of staff, but I matched the whole place. Yes, Premiere Inns are purple; from the large sign that guides you to the building to the interior decor; purple carpets, purple spreads and cushions on the bed and purple information leaflets.
Though I may love yellow and dusky pink, purple seems to feature in my life rather a lot. Cyberspouse designs my book covers and the personal favourite of my novels has a cover that matches my glasses…