Today, ABC Wednesday begins by standing for ‘Oh dear …

The picture above shows the outlook from my bathroom window. This is the field next door to our house and it is full of oilseed rape, which only became apparent this week when the flowers began to open.  This is the only plant whose pollen gives me any trouble at all, and I don’t get ordinary hayfever, I get an incredibly dry and sore throat and nose.   This year, we are surrounded, north, south and west for sure, and probably east too.  Oh well. It’s only for a few weeks.

Oh dear‘ also applies to this.


It’s a packet I had to collect from the Post Office this morning when a card was slipped through the door saying I had a charge to pay.  I had bought some beads from the US and it appeared to accrue a customs charge.  Fair enough .. but wait!  There IS no customs charge, and no import duty!  There is just £3 VAT and £8 handling fee, which I think is simply outrageous.

Here’s something else which is outrageous


My new Blondie Mania bag.  Outside, it’s a demure plum colour. Inside, as you see, bubblegum pink.  One of my friends was kind enough to remark that it suited me.  What could she possibly mean?

If you look closer, you might get a clue.


See Mr Depp?  He’s hiding in there, on that kilt pin.

And here’s Mr October.  I flipped the calendar specially so you could see ahead. Wasn’t that nice of me?


There.  Now I feel better.

Another rather lovely thing is this phalaenopsis orchid.  I have no idea what variety it is because they never tell you in garden centres, but it’s rather lovely, isn’t it?


Here’s one I prepared bought earlier.  Around Christmas time, to be exact, and it’s just finished flowering, so I snipped the dead stalks, and I’m hoping for another flush of flowers.


I don’t know the name of that one either, but it had beautiful creamy yellow flowers.

Incidentally, I discovered that there is a cattleya orchid named ‘Little Pirate’ which would be perfect as a memorial for our own little Pirate, Jack, who was lost to us in February this year.  Sadly, it’s virtually impossible to import orchids from overseas due to people stealing them from their natural habitats, but if anyone in the US knows of a specialist orchid grower who might help me, I’d love to hear from you!

Another flower


This African violet plant was so beautiful last year, bearing countless flowers over a long period, but for now it is gracing us with only one bloom.  Maybe it needs re-potting!

Or maybe it’s getting old .. like this opal ring


The jewellery box it’s sitting on is also old, as you can see by the tarnished clasp.  I was given that box for my 21st birthday, by one of my oldest friends!  Heavens, that seems like a long time ago.

And talking of time – yes, I’m late again this week, and now I have to move on.   The garden awaits!  I need to do a little work outside.


You remember my garden, don’t you?  The really neglected, wild one I showed you in ABC Wednesday last week?  Well, I thought I should show you some more of its interesting bits – only this time, rather more colourful interesting bits. I would say ‘conventional interesting bits’, only as you’ll see that wouldn’t be quite true.

Last autumn I grabbed a ton of bulbs from my local garden centre, because we’d taken out a very old and straggly flowering currant and there was a bald spot.  And I do love to see spring flowers coming up while the weather is still atrocious, and you know bulbs will even flower in the snow.  Anyway, among these bulbs were some stunningly beautiful varieties of tulip – and would you believe it, I threw out the packages without making note of what they were called and now I can’t remember. Pity, because I’d like to fill my garden with them!  I was never one for tulips till this year, but now, what with these and Princess Irene, I’m sold.

But while taking pictures of these gorgeous things, I noticed something strange.


One of the bulbs had two heads!  I’ve never seen more than one flower head on a tulip before, have you?  Here’s a close up of the join.


Interesting …

So then I was wandering around with my little camera looking for more interesting things and I noticed some startlingly beautiful beetles!  Lovely, lovely, shiny red beetles with black legs, waving their little antennae around like anything, enjoying the sunshine and the spring air … and my lilies.


Yes, it seems that my entomologist friends were quite correct when they identified that sweet little grub I found as a beetle, and quite possibly a Lily Beetle.  These are indeed Lily Beetles, and they’re on one of my lilies, and as you can see, they’re eating it.  They make such neat little round holes, don’t they?  But sadly the lily is not impressed.

Now, this is exactly why I’m no good at gardening. You see,  I simply could not bring myself to kill them, and they are still there!

Does anyone know if Lily Beetles eat hemerocallis?  Only if they start on the Crimson Pirate, I’ll feel a lot less kindly towards them.


A very dear Depp friend of mine came to visit this weekend and we took a drive to Stamford which still has quite a lot of interesting little shops of the sort that aren’t Debenhams or Marks and Spencer.

We parked down by the river and walked up through one of the narrow medieval passages to St Mary’s Street, where we found a rather special little shop called Black Orchid, which is the kind of place you can spend hours in, just browsing and ooh-ing and aah-ing over the mouth-watering collection of outrageously delightful clothes, shoes, and accessories.  We found ourselves drooling over some jewellery which dripped and sparkled from a display just above head height, and suddenly a voice said:

‘Can I help you get those earrings down?’

This was no ordinary sales person. This was a vision in a shimmering silver suit, complete with black waistcoat and diamante lapel pin.  This was a man who knew how to be charming without smarming.  But I have to say, the suit was the real star, as you will see.  It glowed.  It sparkled.  It demanded attention.

Me: ‘Wow …  I love your suit!’

Vision: ‘Tell that to my wife (gesturing sadly towards the front of the shop). She hates it.  Always has done since I bought it.’

Me: ‘Well, I think it’s a thing of beauty.’

Vision: ‘Thank you!  It’s very seventies, but it’ll come back into fashion one day.  After all, Spandau Ballet are back on tour again!’

Me: ‘You should go and see them, wearing that suit!’

*Pause for thought*

Vision: ‘I think I did … !’

It turned out the vision’s name was Craig.  Click on the thumbnail below to get the full effect of the suit.


We got the impression that he and his wife own the shop, and it certainly doesn’t look like part of a chain.  These people do their own buying and choose what to stock for themselves. It makes Black Orchid an utterly delightful place to browse around, but be warned.  Once inside, you will want to buy something.  Actually, you’ll want to buy lots of things, and then come back and buy some more.  But do go along if you’re in the area, it’s well worth it.

And don’t forget to say hello to Craig.  Maybe he’ll be wearing his Spandau Ballet suit.

Posted on April 23, 2009 in Life, the Universe and Everything by Jay24 Comments »


Today is St George’s Day.  St George is the patron saint of England, and it’s the St George cross which is the national flag of England.  Not, as so many people seem to think, the Union Jack – that’s the flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Our nationality is being slowly eroded and taken away from us by stealth.  It’s not just the PC lobby which is doing this, but our own government, which has apparently decided, without a referendum,  that England should no longer exist as a separate entity, although Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales can.  The citizens of those three countries can be proud of their individual heritage, and rightly so, but if you stand up and say you’re English, somehow that isn’t allowable.

Well, I don’t know about you, but this enrages me.  I am English.  Deal with it.

If you are also English and it enrages you too, why not make a point of declaring your Englishness?  I don’t mean in any way that denigrates other nationalities or causes offence to anyone, but just insist on your right as an English person to be just that – English.   Tell people.  Write it on official forms, and so on.   Buy goods labelled as English.


We are beginning to see the first stirrings of passive resistance, I’m happy to say.   This flag, on a roadside verge, proudly proclaims to all who pass by that the owner of this little patch is English too.  Waitrose now sells cheese proudly labelled, with the correct flag, as English.

Oh, and thank you, Google!  The page for today shows St George and the dragon!  That’s recognition for ya!