Thursday, 30 October 2008

Eggs and sausage and a side of toast- Part 2.

It may have been just a twisted comical dream, but at some point in the early 90s I visited a basic warts an' all palace of formica and lino in the Kings Cross area of London. A throw back cafe that I'd imagined would inhabit some wretched Stalanist outpost, where pale faced workers blankly observe the world beneath cold strips of neon. Remember, my memory is forever being corrupted by an overactive imagination! Anyway, adorning the walls of this most unwelcoming of establishments were the fading faces of JR, Sue Ellen, Miss Ellie, Bobby Ewing et al., for this, believe it or not, was the 'Dallas Cafe'. Picture the scene if you will, there I was drinking a stiff cup of tea and contemplating my next move on an unidentified edible object on the plate in front of me, when who should fall through the door but Sue Ellen herself. Pausing briefly to steady herself in the doorway, she let her seasick eyes swim across the tables to take stock of the clientèle. The unsettling edible object on my plate pinged away from my fork as my jaw lay slack in my lap. Before long 'our' Sue was propped up at the counter and fumbling to formulate a sentence, when the waitress quipped back without batting an eyelid, "would y' like a cuppa tea luv?" Before you could hum the theme tune, in walked the ten gallon Texan, JR. Well, all hell broke loose. He slapped her, she grappled and screamed at him, an empty cup and saucer flew through the air, narrowly missing my left ear. Numb and enraged in the aftermath, JR wiped down his tea soaked suit with a fistful of serviettes, and as for me, I'd lost my appetite and my drink was cold . Do you you believe me?, no I didn't think so, but I had fun writing it though. By the way, if neon strip lighting doesn't exist in Stalinist outposts, please let me know. Thank you.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Bothy man.

This little story caught my eye. He's given up living in his 'bothy'. We haven't!

Soissons wheat

This fantastic photo was taken by Adrian Wilson, check out his blog here.

Before I get started, I'm not saying that the wheat in the picture above is of the 'Soissons' variety, it just jumped out at me, and I hope that ours will look like this come harvest time. So next year a small section of the college, 44m square, will look like a location shoot for a 1970's Cadbury's flake advert. Unfortunately due to limitations of space and light we won't get to sow a whole field of golden wheat, big enough to swallow a wandering flaxen haired beauty intent on capturing the soft focused English countryside in watercolour. It will be big enough though to provide an interesting garden display, an arable crop transplanted into a horticultural setting. Inspired by a scene in the French film 'Etre et Avoir', where a little girl gets lost in a field of corn, Jo wanted to get her hands on an ancient variety of bearded wheat called 'Emmer'. The French grow it, as do the Italians who grow it in Tuscany. We gardeners have many exciting and mad ideas, some of which burn up in the upper atmosphere, a whole bunch which bubble away on the back burner, and others like this one are hammered out in no time. After an online search of seed suppliers we realized that we wouldn't be able to get hold of our 'Emmer', but through a supplier in Newmarket we were pointed in the direction of a merchant in Lincolnshire. The variety that we have ended up with is a winter wheat called 'Soissons'. The supplier was quick to point out in farmery speak "You'll have to get a move on, get that land ploughed, it's a winter wheat y'know?" In fact we need to have sown by the second week in November, and harvesting, we hope!, will give us enough for a loaf of bread or two. I think if it works out it should nice for the students to look out over a cloud of bearded corn tops, although there is a chance that they may be tempted to host a midnight crop circle party. Fingers crossed, I'll crumble some Flake and scatter it over the Soissons in the ripening sun come mid July.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Beyond the Forbidden Planet

I have been wanting to stretch out the edges of my comic book habit beyond my weekly visit to Forbidden Planet, so I thought that sometime soon I should follow the trail of fusty old comic boxes that spread out across the Big Smoke. Starting online I tracked down the monthly
comic collectors market place which is a short toddling distance from Kings Cross station. A specialized car boot for middle aged men I should imagine, but being a great source of cheap old pulp fiction its a strong draw for me and I am willing to give it a go. Through a series of clicking links I found several good Comic book blogs. The first one is called 'London Loves Comics', it's a bit bitchy and hard edged but I quite like it. It has a wonderful piece about London comic shops, I liked the photos of sites once occupied by old comic stores, and the most appealing of this tour of London shops was Orbital Comics . My wife said she wouldn't mind visiting Charing Cross Road as Foyles bookstore is here too. Comics Ate My Brain, has a nice little recurring segment that features corny fight sequences from old comics, and the lightheartedness carries on through to this next blog Bullyscomics, which is a colourful and lightly whipped froth of goodness, I think!
Home of the 'Bikeshow' at London's brilliant volunteer radio station, Resonance FM, is a newly discovered show called Strip!, which covers all things to do with graphic novels and the comics world. So there you have it, I'm now off to line my nest with old comics and hibernate for the winter. Wake me when it's Spring time, or when Forbidden Planet gets in some more storage boxes, whichever comes first!

Friday, 24 October 2008

Eggs and sausage and a side of toast- Part 1.

view original Flicker source here

The clamour and steam, the shouting of orders and the whooshhhh! of coffee machines, the rattle and kerching of cash registers and the sweet teared displays of wicked cakes. In cafes around the world there is a buzz, a 'value', a blur of colour and movement. We all have our favourite haunts, places that may even no longer exist, or that we may never revisit for whatever reason. Here are a few that I remember. Nancy's cafe was a small flint cottage in the north Norfolk village of Cley, now long since gone, but with it's importance at the heart of Britain's birding community set in stone. It was run out of a small dining room and orders were taken through one of those old service hatches, standing on a pedestal in the corner of the room was a red telephone that would ring almost constantly. However, the incoming calls were never for the owners, only for the customers. In fact it didn't matter which one, so long as they had the 'gen'. In the days before rare bird information could be accessed through the use of pagers and the world wide web, this little cafe was the hub through which all the news of UK bird sightings were logged. During the 1970's and 80's the owners of Nancy's ran an open door policy, offering up a cheap and hearty fare of beans and eggs on toast, burgers, bread puddings, and large pots of tea all round. Telescopes on tripods crowded by the front door, and when the cafe was busy, a line of the cold and hungry trailed down the hallway. Unfortunately I only got to visit a couple of times shortly before it closed its doors for good in 1998, but to this day one of my favourite dishes is a basic poached egg on toast with a mug of tea. As a little extra to this post I have included a couple of cafe related links. The first is a children's picture book by Francesca Simon, called 'The cafe at the edge of the moon'. I used to read this to my kids, it's about a little girl who is always in trouble with her parents, so she drives to the cafe on the moon where she can get away with all sorts of bad table manners! The other inspired offering is the Tom Waits track 'Eggs and sausage', from the wonderful 'Nighthawks at the diner' album.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Road Dreams

In the early 1990s, some time in the late evening when the needle rumbled and slipped into the wide roll out groove at the end of a record, as Neil Young's vocal burned out, or when the pale phosphorescent dreams of Tom Waits' Asylum Years swept me up into the warm heart of the American night, I lay on the floor and listened to that repetitive crackle and clunk and allowed my thoughts to drift. Switching on the TV, I happened upon a programme, part of a six part series on channel 4 called Road Dreams. Covering 500,000 miles in North America between 1968 and 1982, filmmaker Elliott Bristow managed to capture the faces and landscapes of a bygone world. Those images have remained with me over the years as a series of disjointed scenes, played over and over in my head in luminous Kodachrome. Bright red cherries swirling round and round in a bucket of water, heavy snow falling, filmed from inside a house, a big diesel train rolling by, autumn leaves blowing across a crisp blue sky, children running, a convoy of trucks, more trains, old American diners, farm workers, apple harvests, mountains, deserts, sunrises and sunsets, churches and random prophetic road signage . All of this was sparsely joined together with readings from Jack Kerouack's On the Road and Elliott Bristow's own commentary. Like many others, I had almost given up hope of seeing it again. Last year I punched the words 'Road Dreams' into the Google search engine and found the 'RetroRoadTrips' website. It was a heart stopping moment, and I hungrily filled in the gaps of missing information. If you include the editing of the film in the seventies and the more recent transfer from Super-8 to dvd, the hours and money poured into this 30 year labour of love is mind boggling! So I urge you to buy the RetroRoadTrips dvd(released November 5th), and take some time to read the articles on the website. Darn it, buy the t-shirt whilst you're at it! You never know, if we all buy a copy of his dvd, Elliott might just load up his projectors and multiple screens for one last tour, don't miss out Cambridge, UK! Many thanks to Aidan O'rouke for letting me use the photos that appear at the top of this post.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

cloud dogs

I was staring at my cloud photo, trying to come up with some nice words to go with it when two blue dogs materialized in mid thought, happily chasing each other across the sky. So I have no words, and only one question, can you see them too?

Monday, 20 October 2008

More than clouds

Whether it's the bloated pillows of cumulus, or a grey, flat monotonous ceiling, through to the fine teased out wisps of cirrus, as gardeners we are always glancing upward to the many changing faces of the sky. I guess it comes as no surprise that orange skies signal an emotional response in shepherds the world over. As for me, I love the variety and shapes and wonder on which direction the wind is coming from based on cloud movement, and where a single single blade of grass goes after it leaves my hand. Bands of unsettled weather send gardeners scuttling for cover under the deep shouldered arms of dark Yews, from where we lean in to their hard hearts and look up; waiting for the last drop of rain. In my late teens and early twenties I walked the long empty sands of Lindisfarne, where out in the bay, rafts of sea duck bobbed in and out of sight, and the sulfur heads of Gannets torpedoed into white horse waves from great heights. On those wide stretches of sand between sea and land, the wind combed back the Marram and made us feel small, rather like the ribs of bruised cloud receding to distant silhouetted ships. The sunsets over the Holy Island causeway echoed to the calls of shorebirds, and in our quiet selves we looked upon the cold darkening sky in amazement. My camera skills and equipment can't hope to capture what my eyes see, but I will start posting my cloud photos here. You have been warned! This video of amazing clouds filmed from an aeroplane window is worth a look, the commentary is in Japanese.

It came from the props department.

The spaceship has landed!, or at least the prototype has anyway. Jo has fashioned a flying saucer using a Frisbee, a Tupperware pot and a blank cd. All that is needed now is a wrap of blue cellophane and a small L.E.D to bring our alien craft to life, Blue Peter eat your heart out! The props departments next assignment is to make some alien dolls out of some old gardeners overhauls, and some planets out of various sized rubber balls. The prototype U.F.O had a shaky start this morning, I had set it atop a fence post for a photograph when a big gust of wind whipped it across the yard on it's first unplanned maiden flight, causing the tupperware pot to crack and break away from the frisbee. When Jo's techy brother has finished fine tuning the old Super-8 cameras we should be clear for launch. Watch this space.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Danny Way vs The Great Wall of China

Here it is as promised in a recent post. American skater Danny Way launches into Chinese airspace.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Harvest Moon Triggers Countdown.

'Norse mythology celebrates with gatherings, festivals, and rituals that are intricately attuned to the Harvest Moon'(Wikipedia).
On the 14th of October there was a Harvest Moon, which occurs but once every four years at this time of year. So it was auspicious that the idea for a 'Compost Man Festival' was re-awakened today, the morning began with a frosted glass moon hanging just above the crown of an old Horse Chestnut, as I walked beneath it, rake in hand, I blew warm clouds of breath up to meet it's cold underbelly just for the fun of it! As I Swept leaves all day in the autumn sunshine and tended to the compost heap, I dwelled on a theme and formulated a plan. Compost, now a half digested mass of garden waste, and shrinking back after a brief period of 'coning'. All the millions of micro organisms and little pink wriggly worms are beavering away, consuming and transforming the heap in a two year cycle, and over the fenced sides, hands of bramble reach in, searching for its nutrient rich bulk. If the sun happens to shine on this pudding of earth, it gently steams, inviting the spade to break its crust. The last few butterflies of the year settle, momentarily warming their wings. All year we have been feeding the beast, laying offerings at it's feet. The windfalls of autumn lie along its flanks, attended to by a few drunken wasps, the apples smell of old cider casks. Last year we had the idea of celebrating the fertility of the compost heap, as the importance of this cycle in the gardening calender is paramount to the success of all that we do. The plan was to conduct a kind of 'quasi' pagan ceremony, a 'Gonzo' flash of fancy, and a chance for us to wet the baby's head. Anything goes was the motto, and anything could have happened, but it never did. This year, having rekindled the flame, we are setting the clock for a given date of half planned prankstivities. January the 26th, 2009 is the tentative date set for the Compost Man One Day Festival!(depending on a forecast for a favourable clear frosty day). If the Gods of the garden are willing it should be a successful way of blessing the 2007 vintage 'Appellation de jardin' compost. Let the countdown commence! (scroll to the bottom of Blog page to view the timer).

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

rain and leaves in equal measure

Well that's it, heavy rain showers brought to an end what has been a very enjoyable few days of unseasonably warm and sunny weather. Low grey cloud wept leaves and rain in equal measure against a backdrop of dripping foliage and slick shiny fence tops. Somewhere out there in the morning gloom a Robin is sang a sad watery song, ho hum, and in the machinery shed the sound of a radio leeked out from the bright yawning interior. Here in the Bothy I read travelers tales about a man who cycled around the world, 'Moods of Future Joys' by Alistair Humphreys . Clicking back a couple of days, we had a visit from Kate Gadsby(see photo above), a professional garden photographer and fine consumer of tea and toast. Year on year she still manages to uphold a tradition of parking up in the gathering dusk at beautiful garden locations, sleeping out the witching hours in the hope of capturing a few brief moments of magic in the first hours of daylight. Its easy to get lost in Kate's quicksilver work, which breathes in a moody and evocative atmosphere, she has also taken many photos here in our college gardens. If you want to keep up with Kate's latest crop of images then give her website a look. A big thank you to Kate for allowing me to post some of her work here.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

garden stories

Jo,the Head Gardener,came back from a week long holiday in Spain to find her pidgeon hole over-spilling with post. Everything arrived at once. Seven boxes of bulbs,an armful of vegetable seeds and what looked like three small tea bags were in fact some very expensive Dyers Knotweed, which at £21 would be a royal cuppa by any stretch. Also taking up space in the pidgeon hole was a second hand book we'd bought on Amazon,called 'Special Effects-A Guide for Super-8 Filmmakers'. Printed in 1980,our copy had come from the Indiana Free Library in Pennsylvania. Our interest in filmmaking has been bubbling away since June 2007, and we have now amassed about 25 hours of footage using a DV camcorder. Although amateur and homespun, it is a serious endeavour and through sheer force of will shall be edited and released. We have our sights set on the Cambridge Film Festival! It is closest in comparison to the French film 'Etre et Avoir' and the Oxford based film about boxing 'Blue Blood'. We are going with the working title 'Garden Stories' and have focused on the spirit of a community, the people who work in the garden and at the college and the lives that pass through it. As the film nears the end of its shooting phase the emphasis now is on making sure we have all the interviews that we want and tying in any missing scenes. One scene that is outstanding is the arrival of an alien space craft!, hence the purchase of two super-8 cameras and some old film stock. What, I hear you ask, have U.F.O's got to do with gardening? Well if it has anything to do with the spirit of this garden, then weird visitations from outer space must play a crucial role. The low budget film 'Dark Star'(1974), which was apparently made in someone's garage, is without a doubt part of the inspiration and motivation for this segment of 'Garden Stories'. And where will we shoot our close encounter? In the Bothy, of course!

Not swimming but flying!

Time to strap on the old flying goggles again! Every year in the U.S,Vans skate shoe company sponsors a pool riding competition that the worlds top skaters attend.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Lost in comics

I'm on the south coast,tucked into a warren of lanes where little independent shops and cafes sit cheek by jowl with the sole purpose of satisfying your every need. From second hand books,designer household goods and juice bars to record shops, specialist art suppliers and collectors emporiums. In short,I am in heaven. Time as always is against me,the clock is ticking,and yet it is easy to forget that there is an outside, and that there is anything other than that issue of Swamp Thing from 1985, or that copy of Superman from 1970.I'm in a cramped annex at the back of the comic shop, bent double in a womb of cardboard storage boxes containing decades of back issues,from Batman to the Fantastic Four,from Spiderman to a growing list of failed Super heroes. In the background,between the periodic bursts of laughter coming from the resident Herring Gulls,I can hear the customers inquiring after eagerly awaited comics or obscure graphic novels and the shuffling of one weird character. He quietly moves across the shop floor,sorting and rearranging the lining of his nest,his sleepless eyes regard me from a pale sun starved complexion. At first I dismiss him as an eccentric comic geek,which ofcourse he is,but on further visits it becomes clear that he is the 'Gatekeeper',the 'Time lord',the key holder to this vast and fading plethora of pulp fiction. A completely unemployable individual outside of this cartoon world, a rare species with an encyclopedic knowledge of the DC and Marvel Universe. Ask this man anything and he will give you the assured answer of an enlightened Lama,in short his word is final. I eventually do manage to prize myself away,a bag of comics swinging merrily at my side, safe in the knowledge that some day soon I will be back for more.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Your in-flight movie today is...

I am planning on a mini series of posts based around a few of my favourite things. Skateboarding is one of them and will feature beyond this post in a more nostalgic and excruciating format. This, however, is one of my favourite little videos that has been on my i pod for some time now. I hope these two have good health insurance! If I can find it there is another video of a skater named Danny Way who decided it would be a great idea to jump over the Great Wall of China on a skateboard, as you do! Enjoy...

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Hurricane watch

At 11am Pacific time the hurricane advisory shows 'Norbert' strengthening considerably to a category 3 with sustained wind gusts of 125mph. Currently sitting 400 miles out in the Pacific it is expected to turn inland and make landfall in southern Baja, California on Saturday morning. Increasing waves of 12ft over the next 24hrs. Do the storm watch thing and track it's progress 'live' on the weather channel.

A reaction to light

A looking glass sun broke across Cambridge this morning and split the proverbial peaks of the dreaming spires, not too dissimilar in my imagination to that experienced by mountain climbers when the heavens are pinged by the pristine rays of the rising sun. Maybe I am over egging the mornings experience, but to quote Tom Waits 'When the thunderstorms start increasing over the south east and south central portions of my apartment, I get upset.' I think you catch my drift, the weather systems of late have been a bit grim. Anyway, todays golden egg peeled back a sparkling veil of dew from the grass and to make matters more enjoyable I disturbed a graceful Grey Wagtail from the water channels at the centre of the college, its long tail pumping up and down as it chased flies at the waters edge. To mow the grass here I have to navigate the orange juice and croissants in the college bar. It was nice to see small posies of flowers on each table, picked by the students who are now helping themselves the late summer/autumn blooms in the garden. On days like this I like to watch the procession of bikes along Huntingdon Road. A constant stream of students and working people beetling off to their morning lectures or office desks. I often think how much nicer this very busy road into the heart of the city would be without cars, something those enlightened Danes are already working on in Copenhagen. Instead of the car wash that has replaced the defunct Texaco garage, how about an all day breakfast bar and coffee house called something like 'Once brewed' or 'Twice brewed', both of which happen to be names of small villages along the roman wall in rural Northumberland. Liquidamber styraciflua 'Worplesdon', which is planted on the college boundary, has taken on the autumnal hues of a New England covered bridge(see above photo), the sun illuminates the whole garden and overhead I am beginning to hear the flight calls of Skylarks as they pass overhead. The field guide describes this sound with a single word 'prrlyh', not very romantic I know, but it floats my boat as I struggle to spot them high up in the cloudless blue.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Fresh in on the pods n' blogs.

It's time to take you on an improvisational tour of my favourite pods and blogs. Fresh in today is the second part of the Moulten bicycle story from the exceptional and always interesting'The Bike Show' podcast. The unstoppable 'Ifanboys' are covering all the latest releases in the comic book world, three young guys bouncing off each other in a light and informative way. If you have an interest then check them out.CopenhagenCycleChic blog has a daily upload of images from the streets of cool Copenhagen, go there to see what a sweet coffee cup cycle bell looks like and also how flowers are taking over bike baskets the world over. Finally, sound artist Wolfgang Fadi Dorninger takes his bike avec microphone on an audio magical mystery tour, go here if you want to listen to the sounds emanating from the foothills of the Himalayas, and more! Once on the i pod these little ambient recordings take you by surprise when sandwiched between your favourite rock tracks.It's interesting to hear so many sparrows cheeping away in the background, a sound we sadly seem to be hearing less and less of here in our towns and cities.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Emotion-To go where noVulcan has gone before

Now that David is back from his hols', conversations in the bothy can once again go to the dark side.
David's reading material is a constant source of fascination, usually challenging, often heavy and nearly always grim! I don't read grim and I don't do heavy, but I like to keep a note of the latest book that he is reading. David has a yen for social history and psychology, and takes much satisfaction in wallowing in the pain, suffering and collapse of the human race. He feeds on the melt down of the human spirit and pours over the details of broken down relationships.."flames of love all burnt out". Today's little book by Dylan Evans is called 'Emotion- A very short introduction'. In one chapter 'Why Spock could never have evolved', David mused that "Vulcans would have been to rational to have had sex", and that " It's not a question of whether he would survive, but how he had ever come to be in the first place". The emotionless, half human, half vulcan with the pointy ears and the go faster eyebrows was a bit of an enigma, I can't remember ever seeing his parents on Star Trek. So the question remains, which one of his parents was a Vulcan? In another chapter entitled 'The computer that cried', the author begins by mulling over the idea that someday machines might come to have emotions. Examples from science fiction films are given, such as 'Hal', the on board computer from '2001- A space odyssey', who screams in fear and pain when his circuits are finally destroyed. My own memory of this film is that of boredom, or maybe I was just tired and confused. I think I saw it at the cinema with my dad. Rather like a baby lying in its cot beneath a spinning mobile, the space station had a similar effect on me. It remains to this day the only film that has sent me to sleep, although I did walk out half way through 'Remains of the Day'. Lonesome in my memory is the space station , slowly turning in the nebular void to the delightful strains of 'The Blue Danube'. Okay, maybe I remember that there were some monkeys and a few bones. I am sure that if were to watch this film now I would love it and cherish it, and have the 2-disc dvd special edition. In the comfort of my own front room I could watch it again and again and again..... zzzzzz!

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Wispa is back!

For those of us who lived in the North East of England in 1981 and can remember their first Wispa chocolate bar, they should also be proud of the fact that Cadbury released a trial version here two years before the rest of the UK got a look in. It was the ultimate melt in your mouth chocolate experience. On weekend birding trips to the coast, me and a mate would cycle the 18 mile round trip from Newcastle to Seaton Sluice. After tramping round the rock pools by St.Mary's Island at Whitley Bay and checking for bird corpses on the high tide mark and beneath the web of wires at the radio telecommunications station(don't ask!), we would settle down at the appointed hour for a spot of lunch. Huddled on the cliff edge at Seaton Sluice overlooking the sea or peering out at a raft of Tufted Duck and Pochards through the open shutters of a bird hide we carefully surveyed the contents of our motherly prepared packed lunch. Flat soggy sarnies, scotch eggs and HP sauce, ribena cartons, apples, crisps and a selection of chocolate bars. After the usual jokes about the compressed cheese and tomato sandwiches we would crack open a Mars bar, orange or mint club biscuit or a Cadbury's Wispa which had to be melted in the mouth and never never ever chewed! Now the Wispa is back my senses are primed and out on willing receptive stalks, so standing at the counter buying my chocolate feels like that tangible rush I felt when I first read Roald Dahl's 'Charlie and the chocolate factory', the bit when Charlie Bucket bought his Wonka bar and slowly peeled back the wrapper to see if he had won one of the prized golden tickets. Like so many people I can't believe it ever went away! As a footnote, it was as I was uploading an image of Charlie and his golden ticket that I noticed that to his left and behind him is a magazine on display called 'Bird Watching'. I know this because I used to buy the same magazine every month. Freaky!!

I'm totaly going on a poncho hunt.

I came by this one on another blog and when I first watched it I thought Ohhmegod!!, rugged California coastline, poolside, cliffside, rock & roll extravaganza.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Smoke on the border.

Coldest day of the autumn so far I'd say, my little hands were the colour of raw beef when I parked up my bike at work. I took some photos of the Asters which are everywhere here. One variety in particular, namely 'Little Carlow' which has been split from a single plant year on year for the past six or seven years. We describe it's effect as being like smoke. One 'Indian Summer' gone by I took some shots into the low sun of my work mate mowing the lawn with a 2-stroke workhorse, a plume of engine smoke filtered the suns rays as it drifted out over a bed of salvias and 'Little Carlow'. The polaroid result was that of smoke and aster becoming one, forming a low rolling deep purple fog. One of many other things that I love about this time of year is the sweet smell of fruit decaying on the ground, we pick up barrow loads of wind fall apples and many pears, but strangely not this year. Apples we have, but no pears. Maybe it was a late frost or strong winds that took the blossom,who knows?, but I'm not missing the wasps. The conversation in the bothy somehow got on to an old kids game/toy called 'Operation' which if you remember was a plastic guy with a red nose who lay flat out with his internal organs on display. The object of the game being that you used some tweezers attached to a wire to remove the organs one by one, if the tweezers made contact to the sides a buzzer would sound and his nose would flash. Anyway, this led on to my boss telling a story about a pathologist friend of hers who received a strange gift. Someone had gone to the trouble of making a corpse doll out of felt and sown into it were the internal organs, a lovely little extra touch was the little toe tag that came with it.