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Tuesday, 14 May 2013


The woods are looking magnificent with the beech leaves a tight bright green and the bluebells, wild garlic and euphorbias (wood spurge)  out together. Photographs of carpets of bluebells never do them justice - I find it difficult to capture the true brilliance of them so here's a picture of just one.

You can see a myriad of animal tracks going through them - badgers, deer, and all those foxes on a weekend break from Peckham. One year when I'd wandered off piste I came across a fawn- just a few days old I'd imagine. It lay hidden in the bluebells where its mother had left it to go out foraging. It was completely still and I resisted the temptation to give it a stroke. I didn't want the Mum coming back, sniffing it and going "Oh no - Jo Malone or is it Chanel Number 5?" Eventually I left it and couldn't get the image out of my mind of Bambi calling out for his mother when she has been shot. "Motherrrrrrr!"
It was the second film I'd ever seen when I was a child and I wept buckets. Infact I can still say "Motherrrrr" and my eyes fill with tears. And it is a possibility. Some Belgiums come over once a year to cull the deer. don't ask me why they come from Belgium - perhaps there's some sort of package deal.

Pelargonium Australian Mystery
The pelargoniums in my greenhouse are all in flower. I know they're not supposed to be - you're supposed to cut the flowers off when its this early to strengthen the rest of the plant but they look so cheerful. Sidoides(below) is fantastic and one of the few pelargoniums to withstand low temperatures. I brought back a cutting in my sponge bag from California one year (the sponge bag was not from California} I know, I know you're not supposed to transport plants from foreign countries but it was only a tiny cutting and has produced hundreds of plants since thereby bringing pleasure to lots of people who haven't been to California or can't find one in those Rare Plant Fairs. Actually you can find one at This is a wonderful pelargonium nursery with a huge range and well priced.
Pelargonium sidoides

Pelargonium surcouf

Pelargonium Ardens
 Pixie has just eaten what was left of my bar of Green and Blacks chocolate! Chocolate is dangerous for dogs but she seems to have a stomach for it. But what did peeve me was she also stole TWO avocados from the shopping bag and ate them both. Avocados are supposed to be bad for dogs too - though don't know why as they are full of goodness and quite delicious with a bit of balsamic and olive oil. Mmmmm.  My sister's dog ate her bread dough that she'd left to rise. The dogs stomach grew larger and larger as it rose in his stomach.  Fortunately she was able to rush it in for a costly operation.
Pixie after the Green and Black's incident
Those duck eggs we are incubating are due to hatch on Saturday but I've picked them up and held them to a light and quite honestly I don't think they were fertilised. Most of them still seem to have liquid in them(surprised they haven't hardboiled) but I can't bring myself to throw them away until their due date. I think it's Nature's way of saying "YOU'VE GOT ENOUGH DUCKS!"

Here's a photograph of some of the naughty ducks that my friend Anne Clements took. She is a fantastic photographer and I so love this picture. I think they are probably running with those plant labels tucked under their wings.

The naughty ducks

Finally -  it's exams! Both my daughters are doing exams this week poor things. They seem to have spent their whole lives being tested what with all those SATS tests and stuff they give them from nursery school age. This Brian Patten poems brings tears to my eyes along with that wretched image of Bambi.

The Minister of Exams
By Brian Patten

When I was a child I sat an exam,
The test was so simple
There was no way I could fail.

Question 1. Describe the taste of the moon.

It tastes like Creation, I wrote,
It has the flavour of starlight.

Question 2. What colour is Love?

Love is the colour of the water a man
Lost in the desert finds, I wrote.

Question 3. Why do snowflakes melt?

I wrote, they melt because they fall
Onto the warm tongue of God.

There were other questions.
They were as simple.

I described the grief of Adam when he was expelled from Eden.
I wrote down the exact weight of an elephant’s dream.

Yet today, many years later,
For my living I sweep the streets
Or clean out the toilets of the fat hotels.

Why? Because I constantly failed my exams.
Why? Well, let me set a test.

Question 1. How large is a child’s imagination?
Question 2. How shallow is the soul of the Minister of Exams?

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