Sunday, 25 June 2006

All the Fun of the (School) Fair

Did you know it is practically impossible to paint the face of a child who is eating popcorn?

Or that rubber ducks can fly higher that teddies when indulging in 'Extreme Sports for Soft Toys'?

And why is it that middle-aged men always think they know the best way to put a tent up - and almost invariably get it wrong?

All these interesting facts and questions were demonstrated yesterday, when I was inveigled into helping out at a friend's PTA fair. Strange how people believe implicitly that, if you can paint on paper or canvas, the wriggling surface of a child's face should be no trouble at all! So there I was, bespoke butterflies and gruesome monsters to order, as the rain pelted down outside the tent. The bouncy castle was awash, the 'How far can you throw a Welly Boot' stall was utilising the missiles as they had been originally intended, and the aforesaid airborne ducks and bears needed umbrellas rather than parachutes!

Still, everybody seemed to have a good time (well, we're in Scotland - nothing stops for the weather!) and we raised a decent amount for school funds.

...and of course, as soon as the packing-up began, the sun came out!

Thursday, 22 June 2006


splat. a fat raindrop
falls from wet honeysuckle
down dry back of neck.

Hmm. I guess I should trim the greenery round the front door, but it's growing so well!

Yesterday was a splatty sort of day. The song says 'sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug' - but why, with around one-and-a-half square metres of windshield, does the bug always splat right where I look out of it most of the time? And why, if there are a lot of bugs, is it always the biggest, juiciest, most messy bug that splats in this position?
Why is it that if I am behind a lorry, it's nearly always one carrying wet gravel (splat - dirty wet mud all over the front of the car) or a refrigerated fish wagon (splat - salty fishy water all over the front of the car)??
And this is the point where I discover that the washer bottle has now run dry, after bug removal. Deep joy.

And then there was the gull that whitewashed my windscreen on a roundabout in Great Yarmouth...but that's another story.

Summer is definitely here - that harbinger of the season, 'unfeasibly extensive roadworks', is seen in the land.......

Red light. More roadworks.
Lots of men doing nothing.
A two mile tail-back.

Tuesday, 20 June 2006

No safety in numbers

So I blearily stumbled out of my door this morning to take out the trash and thought - where the heck's the bowl of flowers? Some b*stard's nicked some of my plant pots!

Now I know my garden's overgrown - (but it's intentionally like that, the owner squeaked) - but nicking my plant pots is a bit much! By the look of it, there's three gone. It's difficult to tell, as I have a lot of them - it's a small garden with a chunk of concrete -hence pots on the hardstanding - but it looks like the ones that are currently out (like - flowering with a vengeance, looking great, cost a lot!) are among the vanished. Rhodohypoxis, I mourn thee - ten years I've had these, and they've dutifully flowered every spring/summer, they have been the subject of mystery - why did I plant half red bulbs, half white, and they all end up white? - they have cheered me up every year. Gone, now, probably to some a**hole's stall at a car-boot sale. It's not as if it would be awfully easy - walking down the road with a pot of plants would be a bit obvious, let alone several - has to be a car heist. And they'd have to be looking closely - the garden ain't that self-evident.

What, or who, can profit in plant-pot heists?

Monday, 19 June 2006

How does it know?

Barbecue. It rains.
We have a secret weapon -
Mike's polytunnel!

Which kinda sums up Sunday. The rest of the week has been lovely, (apart from a damp Saturday, but as that's 'domestics day' it made little difference.
Naturally, for the barbecue on Sunday, the weather decided to be as helpful as possible, and proceeded to chuck it down, grey and overcast, for most of the day.

However - friend Mike had a cunning plan to deal with the problem - he is a resourceful lad - so set up the barbecue in his big polytunnel (he grows organic veg - for our Antipodean readers, he's known as VeggieMike) and we sat amongst the courgettes, warm and dry - if a little kippered from the smoke.

Driving home at about 9.30 last night (still broad daylight - you gotta love Scottish 'summer' evenings!) noticed a hedgerow consisting almost exclusively of laburnum - about 500 metres just dripping with golden chandeliers. It's definitely a yellow and white time of year. Flower colours seem to come in waves - first the white of snowdrops, then yellow primroses, then the blackthorn kicks in, white again. Daffodils are followed by hawthorn, and gorse, broom and laburnum are hard on the tail of that. Occasional punctuation by bluebells and red campion...... and this morning I noticed that the tiny dune pansies are showing along the roadside, blue-violet and palest yellow.

I still haven't put batteries in the camera....

Saturday, 17 June 2006

Life's little mysteries (2)

Why is it that the hair on your head - however long - when it dangles down your back or brushes across your shoulder - doesn't tickle, but as soon as one itty-bitty hair gets detached from your head, and goes down your back or across your shoulder - it itches like hell?????

What is the evolutionary advantage of this?

Thursday, 15 June 2006

Surfing the Season

Drove inland today. Felt more like being back on the beach - great waves of greenery crested with white foam breaking over the road, tumbling down in billows of creamy blossom to break just above the car, smaller waves of cow parsley in foamy clouds on the roadsides, yellow Gondor-beacons of gorse bushes and broom blazing warning - summer's almost here!

One of these days I'll get the camera out.

OK - consider yourselves warned - poems happen here. I started writing 'sort-of-haiku' a while back; my Mum didn't quite catch what I'd said and asked 'OK so what are these hoboes?'
It stuck.
Peripatetic poems.
Bum un-verse.
They'll happen, given time.

Be afraid. Be very afaid.

Wednesday, 14 June 2006

Clout Casting

As the saying goes - 'Never cast a clout 'til May is out'.

Apparently, it means 'may blossom', not the month of May - up here in the North-East of Scotland, it isn't too confusing in this year of weird weather, as the may blossom ( aka hawthorn, Crataegus monogyna unless someone has changed its name while I wasn't looking) didn't appear until last weekend, so both May the month was out and so was the blossom - all at once.

And oh boy, is it out - I wondered for a moment if there had been a major whitewash explosion over one hedgerow - the trees are absolutely covered with thick white blossom, and the bumblebees are loving it.
Butterflies seem to have emerged at last - there have been a few painted ladies and this morning a red admiral flew over the beach and (rather appropriately) headed out to sea...

This morning saw the last beach session of the summer term, and with the tide well out, we found a lot of stranded jellyfish, both moon jelly (Aurita aurita) and the metallic blue Cyanea lamarki, which caused excitement amongst the kids (0nce they'd finished digging holes, of course). Bucketloads of wobbly jelly were brought for identification - 'can it sting?' 'can I pick it up?' and of course 'can I keep it?' (The brief panic that passes over the teacher-in-charge's face at this point is priceless!)

As to clout casting - well, it's the first day I could leave my jacket in the car, so I guess it counts!

Tuesday, 13 June 2006

Riddle of the Sand

OK - I take it back - working outside AND a beautiful day! Doesn't often happen.

What I want to know is - what is the deal with kids and sand? All that space on the beach, all the interesting stuff to beachcomb, and what do they do?

Dig holes.

Huge holes. It's as if there's a primeval urge to get to Australia. And then when the holes fill up with water, it's the most exciting thing that ever happened. But why is it that, with this crazy love for sand, they want to take bucketloads home but hate it in their wellies?

Kids. Go figure.

Monday, 12 June 2006

Life's little mysteries (1)

Why is it that when the weather is fine, the sun is shining and everything is hunky-dory, I am stuck indoors in the office?

Naturally, when the wind blows a northerly gale, the rain lashes down and icicles hang from my nose, I am destined to be working outside..........

Mother Nature has a warped sense of humour.