Happily out of Synch …

Ok – I have been lazily absent from the blog for a while. I confess; but, hen again it was never my serious intention to slavishly post every day/week/ … or even regularly. I leave that important task to those more worthy (and there are many whose blogs I would recommend).

It’s even true that this post was written before some other stuff I have since published, but what has chronology to do with anything important?

It’s not that nothing has happened up on the site – far from it – I’ve just been busy doing stuff in the actual world: the plots, work …

…oh and a stunning, completely relaxing break that started with a visit to National Trust’s Fyne Court. Somewhere, the guidebook says near to Bridgwater (but about sixty time-travel years ago). One moment we were zooming down a free-flowing but heavily traffic’d M5, then, following Sat Nav directions to a post code on a single track, high banked lane that, wonderfully seemed to be heading nowhere – and perhaps a little bit back in time: located somewhere, the internet would have it, near to Bridgwater (but about sixty time-travel years ago).

What a wonderfully remote setting – and one we never would have considered but for our stop-somewhere-on-the-way policy. And a marvellous find. In some way, in the courtyard, the stress of driving slipped quickly away and a sense of wonder took over. High trees, flower meadows, ruins, follies, a babbling brook, sunshine after rain and a marked footpath that covered a distance by looping back and forwards n itself; but you never noticed because of the way I was set out, the contours and the ancient park landscape planting scheme.

In a woodland glade, however, was the remarkable Sky Gallery.

Image result for fyne court

In this open-to-the heavens glade set into the ground are the half trunks of trees. Planed smooth on the inside they are set at an angle that allows you to lean back upon one and view the sky, without damaging your neck, or tempting you to over balance. Each one is suitably named: Cassiopeia, Cumulo-Nimbus. A brilliant concept. I wanted one immediately (on to the to-do list it went).

We motored on to Hayle, where we were stopping overnight, spent the next day relaxing in St Ives: the stimulating Barbara Hepworth Garden Gallery took up some time

Image result for barbara hepworth garden st ives

Then, early on Saturday morning a short drive to Scilly Parking (yes, really!) a shuttle bus to Penzance, then a leisurely, smooth crossing to St Mary’s.

Image result for scillonian 3

Staying at the very welcoming Schooner Hotel and, advised each day by the local Boatmen’s Association we visited neighbouring islands Tresco, Bryher and St Martins; walked, ate and drank wonderfully well. Include a bit of random beach combing on white sand beaches and me fighting back the scrounger’s urge to collect dry seaweed to carry back to fertilise the allotment.

Image result for scillies beaches

There are less than ten miles of hard top road, road tax is payable but there is no M.O.T. and gazillions of footpaths. Inevitably the challenges are the coastal paths (we completed ‘em all, though not necessarily on the same day!)

Tresco: we wanted to see the renowned Abbey Gardens, of course. Waited for a shower to pass at Old Grimsby, then yomped over the less-trodden path to the gates. Some interesting viewpoints inside, plants well cared for, but, for me a lack of information. No plant labels for example, nothing about growing conditions, place of origin; maybe that’s being picky, the gardens are expensive to maintain, and we could have bought a guide book. But, at fifteen pounds each I felt we had paid enough. But some “garden room” areas truly delightful and the weather was extremely kind to us.

Inspired by Michael Morpurgo’s books The Wreck of the Zanzibar and When the Whales Came we went to visit Bryher. Definitely an island of contrasts: from the Atlantic coast’s Hell Bay, swept by currents of an ocean that has no land until the U.S. of A. it is dramatic and rugged. At the opposite end of the island, sheltered, white sand beaches that, when the sun shines and the air is warm, fringe turquoise seas. And conditions for us were just right.

Back on St Mary’s a walk around the island on the coastal path encounters the allotments. The St Mary’s Allotments. Well, you have to notice these things don’t you. But so different from our own plots because situated on the edge of the land and subject to Atlantic winds each one is bordered by a tall thick hedge and has very light sandy soil. We stopped, inevitably and stopped one guy working (his how had just fallen to pieces anyway and he was happy to talk. The sloping plot he has is generally organic, but riddled with couch grass. He’s borrowing some pigs he said to clear the ground. Is it possible: can pigs really clear ground of pernicious weeds like couch grass?

Further on along the same footpath is the airport. To keep everyone safe at landing and take-off times there are traffic lights on the footpath and a bleeper that can be heard from miles away. When the lights are red and the robotic noise hurts your brain you need to stop and let planes land/take off, continuing only when the light changes and the noise stops.

And that strange and marvellous phenomenon: clean hands, no dirt around or under the finger nails – for more than a week.

But, while we were experiencing some splendidly warm weather, learning about the history of the islands, drinking coffee (really) at a Bavarian coffee house, back home on the mainland there were flash floods, traffic jams, thunder, hail and the last throws of the Referendum Debate dice.

We had arranged for a neighbour to look after our greenhouse and plant pots. She did a great job, the rainwater kept filling the butt and none of the pots needed additional water.

Up on the plots another plotholder was keeping an expert weather eye on our plants. As a principle I tend not to water plants once they are established (excepting perhaps pumpkins and courgettes) but, given that roads were closed because of flooding none was necessary anyway. They did nurture our potted-on cucumbers (since ensconced in final pots in the greenhouse).

But, back in time to get to the RAF Cosford Airshow, predictably ending in rain, we are back into the routine.

Strawberry crop is reasonable, but the early fruit lack taste (too much water?). We are also overcome by rhubarb – but have found a recipe for rhubarb jelly (which tastes wonderful and lacks that biting acidity of rhubarb). Lettuces taste good (we use a mixed variety to add texture and colour) and the red currants are ripening nicely.




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