Friday, 27 May 2011


Last weekend we called in on our friends Janet and Steve. Their house is in a wonderful position overlooking the Bristol Channel.

The garden is dotted with some of Janet's decorative enamel work; exotic leaves, faux topiary and hangings.

Inside the house we had a poke around Steve's studio and took a look at the work in progress.

Himself and Steve can discuss art for hours!

painting by Stephen Jacobson

I was amused to see that Steve had got a cast of assorted birds waiting in the wings. I think that they will be reappearing in another painting any day now!

He said that he sticks them on his painting and moves them about until he is happy with their relationship,then he removes the paper silhouette and paints the final placing.

At home we went for a walk in the woods, where, at this time of year, most of the birds have flown, or more correctly have been shot.

As well as the broader paths used by horse riders and the gamekeeper's vehicle there are many small pathways crossing the woods where we walk. The lower area of woodland is often muddy, making for difficult walking conditions, but not this year, even some heavy rainfall overnight has made no difference to the woodland floor.

There are a number of pheasant rearing pens in the wood, empty now of birds but with just the last remnants of bluebell flowers. When new stock is put in the pens in August the electric trip wire will be switched on to deter foxes, not to mention fox-terriers!

There are some impressive old trees in the wood, sadly this one
has lost half its limbs.

But this yew tree is a healthy specimen. Judging by its girth it must be several hundred years old.
Himself is obligingly hugging it to give you a good idea of its size.

Monday, 23 May 2011

A drop of rain

After weeks of dry weather we have at last had some rainfall. Not enough to please the farmers, but at least it has washed the dust from the leaves. The lake is looking an unhealthy green and the fishermen have been trying to aerate the water for weeks now with an electric pump. Years ago the lake was a solid mass of water lilies but the fishermen have cut back the plants to create as much open water as possible.

The wild flag iris are in bloom around the lake edge

and flowers are also colouring my garden.

But to dispel any ideas that I have the garden under control, here is an image of one of my beautiful iris being threatened with choking from that miserable and all too healthy weed, convolvulus. It rampages about my garden along with that other great nuisance, ground elder.
And don't get me started on the state of my lawn. A green sward is supposed to be every English gardener's pride and joy. 
Take a look at mine, green and lush only in curious little circular patches. I'll tell you the secret - dog pee.
My lawn is beyond all hope!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Trouble in Paradise

Surely this site, an orchard in the country, is paradise for bees? You might expect them to be grateful. They buzz and hum happily about my garden as we go about our work together but it is a different story next door where they have now stung my neighbour on three occasions. So the image above is history, the beehives have been relocated further afield, into an adjoining field actually, where we hope they will cause no more trouble and upset. If they don't improve their manners it will be back to the inner city allotments from whence they came!

Other neighbours saw a couple of suspicious looking youths who had parked a large van in a lay-by down the road from our village. They took down the registration number when they saw the youths pick up a  long range rifle that they had put on the ground when they were aware of being watched. Our neighbours called at the gamekeeper's house and gave him the van number. He told them that there is a lot of trouble at the moment with poachers.
We are concerned that deer might be badly shot but not killed outright and also, since we all walk everyday through the woods with our dogs, the worry that we might also be hit.
But in my garden all is serene. I love it when the rows (why are mine always rather wobbly?) of vegetables first appear.

Chives edge the roots bed. Hopefully they will keep the carrot flies away.

Every house in the village has a well in the garden, all redundant now as we are on mains water.

The herbaceous borders are lush with new green growth, very little colour as yet, but it all promises.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Nobody home

We've been bone idle for a week on holiday, soaking up the sun, positioned happily at the water's edge. Every morning the sand on the shoreline was raked, although not by Dick Diver. (My holiday reading was 'Tender is the Night'.)
We took a day off from the exertion of doing nothing and hired a car.
Everywhere we went there was nobody home.

This Story

Beyond the ticket seller's stall
no one was in the town at all.
Dark poppies grew
and yellow-throated marguerites
in cracks and crevices about our feet.
Blue wash on walls and windows empty stare,
the houses spread out spaciously for air,
churches abandoned,
images like smoke,
no sign remaining of the banished folk.
A harsh cry from the pulpit roof,
the sound of wings.
This is no blessing and no angel sings.
But in one house, a photo on the wall, 
a wedding group, the bride in twenties style,
a man plays music and the children smile.
Where are they now, the vanished, banished ones?
Such a formal word to mask emotions deep
and leave these houses fast asleep.
No footsteps sound upon the street
but ours.
Why leave abandoned such a lovely place,
the fertile valley, houses on the hill,
churches and schoolrooms,
all this well-lived life?
The fear was retribution,
poisoned wells,
leaving the silence that this story tells.

Kayakoy, May 2011.

Kayakoy was a thriving town with over one thousand houses. It had two cathedrals, fourteen chapels and two schools. It was populated by Greeks who had lived happily with their Turkish neighbours for generations until the Turkish Greek conflict of 1919-23. In 1923 the town was deserted overnight when all 25.000 inhabitants were repatriated to Greece. 
It must have broken their hearts.

This is the only house that still has its original decorative wooden doors and interior fittings. A photograph of the Greek family who once lived here is pinned to the wall.

Our hire car was tinny and the roads rough. It was noisy, and as we traveled up the hillside to visit the Lycian town of Tlos a shower of hailstones bouncing off the roof was deafening. The tombs carved into the hillside did not look inviting,

and the Roman amphithearte was in a spectacular state of collapse.

Car hire maps leave a lot to be desired and we traveled along a deserted unmade road in search of Pinara, Himself fearful of a puncture and being marooned in the middle of nowhere whilst I was certain that we were lost and that the road was too narrow for us to turn around. But eventually we arrived at a turning point and an abandoned ticket box.
The journey had been worth it, for on a grassy plateau we found this small Roman amphitheatre, beautifully positioned facing the remains of the town and the hills above, studded with Lycian tombs.
There was nobody home.

Only this rather evil-smelling flower growing in a crack between the seating.

Dracunculus vulgaris
dragon lily.

After such a hectic day it was good to get back to doing nothing at all.