Tuesday, August 23, 2011

All set for Strathardle. It’s odd being on my own in Games week, without daughters and daughters-in-law filling the kitchen with their energetic and cheerful presences. It doesn’t affect the actual toil – I do the picnic to be eaten from the back of the car on the day; they do Friday and Saturday evenings. On Sunday we’ll lunch at a local hotel to mark Rachel and Ed’s 30th wedding anniversary.

The plan is to spend this evening and tomorrow with my dear vegetables, and get cracking with the Big Shopping Trip on Thursday.

Are there any runner beans yet? Broad beans should certainly be ready, and there should be courgettes. Maybe even Swiss chard, which was showing some signs of forward movement when last seen. And what about the seedbed roll? The top layer is clear plastic so I was able to watch the little seeds hatching, but there was no sign of the little roots trying to get down through the blue layer into the soil below, still less of green leaves.

Wild garlic disappears completely after flowering, so I don’t expect to see anything of the things I planted until next spring. But how are the onions getting on? The sea kale? The artichokes? Plenty to look for.

We have planted four specimen trees down the commonty – you’ve heard this before – one for each family. Every year on Games day I take a picture of each tree with the relevant grandchildren (more or less, depending on circumstances), and keep them in my Tree Book. They gave us a Golden Scots Pine – pinus sylvestria aurea – for our Golden Wedding in Ought Seven, so I now also have someone take a picture of me with it.

One of the things I must do today or tomorrow is tidy up the deodar, the Loch Fyne Mileses’ tree, for its picture. It’s growing like mad, but still small enough to need its grass cut.

I completely forgot to take a picture of the Beijing Mileses with their tree (metasequoia glyptostroboides) when they were here in July. Here it is, a fortnight ago, with two of the Greek boys, Archie and Mungo. It has had a hard life, and suffered again last winter (or perhaps in the spring drought – it likes water) but is making progress at last.


Here is the Mourning Shawl, with “MCRM” dimly discernable. It’ll be clearer after blocking. You see what I mean about the size of the hole – at least laying it out for photography didn’t reveal the dread Moebius twist. I’ve done 26 rows of the 190-row centre.


It behaved impeccably yesterday. It’ll be interesting to see what it makes of Strathardle.

I love reading books this way. I thought maybe I’d tackle Ivy Compton Burnett; I’ve never made any headway with her. But she seems to have stood aloof from Kindle format, so I got several shorter Henry Jameses (free) instead. We’ve got many or all of them on our shelves, but again I prefer the iPad to carrying old books about. Odd, perhaps, when the machine has to be treated with at least the same respect.

My husband has some electronic work he wants to do, looking things up in the Dictionary of National Biography. Normally that is done by giving me instructions and reading the results, irritably, on my desktop computer. He has never mastered mice, and works on a DOS-based computer himself. But the iPad may be the answer. And in that little house, he can sit comfortably in his usual chair and cruise the world. (Here, wi-fi doesn’t extend far enough.)


  1. We were pleasantly surprised last night by our first sampling of sorrel soup. I planted it on your inspiration and the three rows are growing vigorously now.

  2. Enjoy the Games week! We look forward to the reports on your return.