Monday, 31 March 2014

Things to do with the extra daylight

Losing an hour of sleep over the weekend is made much more bearable by the thought of lighter evenings and more time for gardening. This is such a lovely time of year, Spring flowers, birdsong and trees bursting into bud, not to mention the return of warmer weather, even if there was the odd sleet, snow and hailstorm last week. Wallflowers are starting to bud as the daffodils, violas, violets and primula flower. The aquilegia and nigella need thinning. The not-quite-lawn is a mix of flowers and grass including violet, primula, daisy and clover. I am trying to nurse the pasque flower back after such boggy wet winter. Clematis, honeysuckle, climbing roses and hops are all growing quickly and the perennials seeded last year have been planted out.

Nigella and aquilega for thinning

Bellflower and geranium

Hard surfaces and contrast plants

Spring colour

Pond in a plastic box thriving after wet winter (new pond still go in but fences will have to take priority after winter storms.)

New growth on the climbers

Pasque flower just about surviving the boggy conditions

not quite lawn...

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Taking Stock of Spring

The sudden change in the weather this week from cold winds and rain to sunshine and warmth has meant venturing out into the garden is becoming more of a pleasure than a chore. Sitting in sunshine on the back step with a cup of hot coffee and watching Spring take over the garden is always a treat. From daffodils to clematis buds, roses and calendula, everything is growing, including the grass. Early frosts and boggy conditions have meant mowing is almost a forgotten chore but this week, with morning frosts set to disappear by the weekend, I have no excuse. Time to dig out the mower out and give it a check over.

lupin and clematis

Time also to open up the tin of seeds and see what's in there for this year. I've found stocks, candytuft, teasels, sweet peas, foxglove and antirrhinum along with some sarracenia to try for the conservatory, lettuce, basil and climbing beans. Outside, some of last year's perennials have made it through, lupins, a few delphiniums and quite a lot of the strawberries.

calendula and daffodils

From where I'm sitting typing this, I can hear the garden birds, from collared doves and wood pigeons, to blackbirds, robins and further out in the woods, nuthatches and finches are all singing. Seems I'm not the only one taking stock of Spring.  


Monday, 24 February 2014

Manet's The Execution of Maximilian plus Becket's Murder and Images of Political Killing

Manet's The Execution of Maximilian
plus Becket's Murder and Images of Political Killing
17 January – 16 March
(free admission)

Trouble and Strife
18 January – 2 March
(free admission)

The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge
Canterbury High Street

The visceral nature of art to not only record historical events but to capture the latent horror is evident in this varied and chilling exhibition on historical political executions. There is also a section on political cartoons and a selection of Kent-based artists whose work incorporates themes of struggle and conflict. Thought provoking in a time of modern political conflict around the world. 

I recommend a visit to room 9 (People and Places) a selection of work based around Canterbury and surrounding countryside. (Look out for some lovely Elizabeth Frink etchings.)
Plus a peruse around the Garden Room to take in Thomas Sidney Cooper's big,  beautiful pastorals.

Visit the website for more information ~


On the Way Back from Canterbury

Spring Rush

All the rain washed world sparkles
Rushing headlong into Spring
As we rally down late potholed roads
Winter rainbows chase the wind

Clouds kites flying sunlit ribbons
Festoon the cold February sky
Spring rain sweeps the motorway
Scouring buzzards from the sky

And all the rain washed world sparkles
Rushing headlong into Spring
Despite our squeaky windscreen wipers
We can hear the green buds sing


Sunday, 9 February 2014

Movie Review ~ RoboCop

RoboCop (Cert 21A)
Director: Jose Padilha

A reboot of Paul Verhoeven's classic distopian good cop/bad corp 80's scifi movie is a brave move.
While computer graphics and console FPS gaming lend high production values and a shared visual language for the audience (hand held camera shake, head up display in play), it is hard, if you remember the original, to think of RoboCop with anyone other than Peter Weller's face. That said, Joel Kinnaman does his best with a face, hand and a few assorted body parts to inject some gritty humanity back into the billion dollar man/machine suit built out of the remains of his character, Alex Murphy.
Set in 2028 OmniCorp headed up by Raymond Sellars, a deliciously understated performance by Michael Keaton, are determined to maximise their profit by putting their military machines into civilian America to turn the tide on crime. Their plans are thwarted by a bill that needs to be overturned in Congress when the critically injured good cop Alex Murphy gives them the chance they've been waiting for. Samuel L. Jackson has fun as partisan TV pundit Pat Novak, following the rise of RoboCop and the fall in crime across Detroit and Gary Oldman, as Dr. Dennett Norton, treads the fine line between morals and medical research with ease. Abbie Cornish puts in a solid turn as the 'everywife' but women are reduced to supporting roles in this movie which is a shame.
For some reason all the humour has been sucked out of this new version of RoboCop but it is action packed and slick and the plot still has resonance after all these years.
(A straight forward four out of five stars.)

Friday, 24 January 2014

2014 ~ Year of the Horse

Driving through the New Forest

The ponies run free
New Forest skies fill their eyes
Ears to the wild sea

The Horse (Rhiannon's Dream)

After all these years
Lying down my head
Bed of stones
Flesh of clay
And all around a forest grows
Trees of dreams
Leaves of wind

And in the rushing air
I thought I heard you smile
For me
Love, like the angel's flaming hair
And silver horses running free
The dove before the storm
Waiting for me

And I will stay here
A horse carved out of my bones
For you
Until love is returned to me
Like silver horses running free
I'll carry this storm
Waiting for you

After all these years
Lying down my head
Bed of stones
Flesh of clay
And all around a forest grows
Trees of dreams
Leaves of wind

I would walk again a Dorset year

I would walk again those spring tides
The unsettling shift of shingle slides
And all the spray in rainbows spun
Against the high tide harbour flung

Dried seaweed crackles underfoot
A cuttlefish, a long lost boot
A razor-shell, and old, tarred rope
The beached turtle of an upturned boat

My steps are swamped by the shifting stones
The air pungent with bleached fish bones
And the sea is wild and free and rare
Shaking horses from his hair

I would walk again those summer lanes
With leafy boughs and murmuring streams
And overhead in the whistling sky
A lark song lost to cloudless eyes

White campion, ragged robin, cow parsley and wild garlic
All choke the low brook and wreathe a hedgerow garland
And underfoot the warm, worn tread of stile and chalk stone
Climbing up across the harvested flank of the hillside
To find the view all lost in a late haze
Sweet slumbering landscape on which to gaze

I would walk again those cold autumn cliffs
Towering above the wind drowned waves
Their buttress trees all torn into shapes
While scattered crows shout down the droves
As blackberry pocked and flinty scree
The valleys clamber to the sea

A sheep's wool twist caught on the wire
The seagulls loud lamenting choir
The whip crack cold cutting through my coat
And sea salt burning in my throat

I would walk again those winter fields
The frost cracked branches bare of leaves
And slide across the frozen bow
To where the river slowly flows
Hugged by mist-hung willow trees
Catching dew-strung cobwebs about my knees
Across the bank a rook coughs twice
And beats a path home for the night

And under early stars and greenish sky
The first snowflakes fall and fly
And I am certain standing here
I would walk again a Dorset year

In the shadow of Tilbury Fort

In the shadow of Tilbury Fort
A grey pony paces his ground
Without so much as a second thought
For the regiments once marching
Behind those brick walls
Now long gone to battle
To fight bloody wars
And the wind in his mane
Is as wild as the sea
While the smell of the salt marsh
Reminds him he's free

Above him a cormorant surfs a blue sky
Punctuating chimney stacks into giant eyes
No coal now to these mud slackened shores
Power station's closed, locks on the doors
There's not much round here any more
In the shadow of Tilbury Fort

Musket and cannon
The chalk and the drill
The barrels of powder
One spark could kill
Air raid sirens
And barrage balloons
Bombs meant for the city
Falling too soon
And the echo of marching
Behind those brick walls
Is lost in a wind as wild as the sea
And the rub of the salt marsh
Where ponies run free

Deep Mystery
Swimming up on the shore
With my water wings
Scales falling from my eyes
I'm back to the tide line
To hear the sand sing
Dragging the seaweed rhythm
Is there where I see the sunrise?

The wild horses couldn't keep me in my grave
And I'm washed up and not feeling to brave
Guess then, I'm on my knees to pray
Come Neptune, be my king
Not drowning, just need to sing
Dragging the seaweed rhythm
And when we smile it'll be a sunrise

All our lives pour into the sea
And yet it still retains deep mystery