Wednesday 25 April 2012

Home again.

Back home and the weather is atrocious, thank goodness I have a greenhouse to shelter my auriculas in. They are repaying my attention given earlier in the year to rid them of vine weevil grubs and are rewarding me with a good display of colour. The wind and rain outside would have battered them to bits and certainly washed away the rather magical farina that settles on some of the leaves and petals.

They are difficult to photograph, the colours distort and I seem unable to capture their vibrance.

I have bought one or two new plants, not out of need, you understand, but because they were such a good price! A camellia, "Lavinia Maggi' for £3 and two clematis at less than £2 apiece. I've potted them on and they are sitting it out in the greenhouse attached to the garage with a load of other things that are sheltering from the misery that is our spring weather.

One of the tree peonies that I bought last year is in flower, Ho Hung or Hu Hong, I can't remember which. I shall plant it outside once I've found a space.

In the odd little patches of sunshine between the downpours I wander round the garden in my wellington boots and look in Eeyore fashion at the bare vegetable beds. I have only managed to plant onions and potatoes so far.
The 'St Patrick's Day' daffodils, planted under the fruit trees, are lasting well because of the cold, their colour is fading as they age and they look lovely as a carpet to the emerging pear blossom.

Do you remember last year when the plum trees were so laden with fruit that branches broke with the weight? I wonder what the coming year will bring.

The flower beds are soaking up the rainfall happily enough
but not everyone's happy!

Friday 20 April 2012

Weekend away, Oxford.

Highbury, London. 8am.

We left London on Monday morning with a detour to Oxford en route for home. I was keen to see an exhibition of Indian paintings that had been enthusiastically reviewed in the national papers. 
I had not done my homework properly because when we got to Oxford  I discovered that the Ashmolean is closed every Monday!

The work on display is all owned by the artist, Howard Hodkin, and is said to be one of the finest collections of its kind in the world.

What a pity, no chance to see the Maharaja Bakhat Singh holding a flower. 

We consoled ourselves with lunch at the Nosebag and a wander round the covered market, stopping at The Garden where there are always lovely flowers to enjoy.

Wonderful ranunculus from Devon. I have never managed to grow them successfully but looking at this colourful bucketful I am tempted to try again.

The cake shop in the market was new to me. There was great concentration being given to the Oxford Dictionary - in sugar icing!

The Bod as a cake!
And there is no escaping the preparations for Queenie's big bash.
(They all look inedible.) Enough!

We walked through Christchurch water meadows towards the river

It was cold. No rowers, no punts.
Time to go home.

Wednesday 18 April 2012

Weekend away, The British Museum.

On Sunday morning we left Cambridge for London to stay overnight with a daughter. After a leisurely lunch we set out for an afternoon at the British Museum.
It is one of my favourite places, especially so since the creation of Norman Foster's fabulous glass and steel roof in the Great Court. The roof covers a two acre space, with the reading room at it's centre, and is the largest covered public square in Europe.
It was opened by the Queen in December 2000 and is the most beautiful space.

The contents of the museum are overwhelming. We all went our separate ways after agreeing to meet up later at a cafe in the court. 
I went upstairs to the Japanese galleries, away from the bustle of the most popular rooms. It is nice in a quiet space to be able to take one's time, to peer closely and to feel uninterrupted.

There were beautiful things to see.

Such a fascinating and stimulating place. We had all enjoyed seeing different things and we talked about them on the bus going back to the flat.

Tuesday 17 April 2012

Weekend away; Wimpole Estate.

At the weekend we went to stay with family and walked in the park at Wimpole Hall near Cambridge, which is owned by the National Trust. The stable block is a magnificent building, and to add to the pleasure, in the cobbled enclosure there were a variety of plants for sale.

I thought that baskets containing a selection of wild flowers was a lovely idea.

A woman was spinning Jacob's fleece in the stable yard. (And selling some very scratchy-looking knitted mittens.)

We stood on the front steps of Wimpole Hall and Himself talked to one of the National Trust helpers. She told him that after the death of Rudyard Kipling the royalties from his work helped to restore the hall and estate, which was then owned by his daughter, Mrs Bainbridge. She gave the Wimpole Estate to the National Trust in 1976.
The uninterrupted vista of ownership is amazing. A straight line through the centre of the hall to the far side of the building leads to doors which open onto a further impressive view.

The Hall is huge, far preferable to me are the estate houses, initialed and dated

and in this case the place to have afternoon tea.

Although we were too late to be served, the birds were very happy picking up other people's crumbs.