I found a blighty looking tomato on one of my plants today and ended up scrutinising the nearby potatoes. The leaves looked suspiciously blight-esque so I decided to pull them all up, spur of the moment.
I was planning to buy myself a garden fork to celebrate potato harvest time this summer, but under the circumstances all I had was a folding hand trowel that I’d won, oddly but luckily, at the Institute of Fundraising convention last summer. Not the perfect tool for the job maybe but it is a brilliant little thing and very much in keeping with my slightly chaotic and impromptu gardening style. So off I went, chucking soil this way and that in search of treasure.
I managed to get up a fair number of lovely little spuds. What was extra exciting was that I had completely forgotten that I’d planted a variety of blue potato! (It’s a heritage variety called ‘Salad Blue’ and its friend there is ‘Ratte’, a variety similar to ‘Pink Fir Apple’ apparently.) Can’t wait to taste them.
This Sunday I had the pleasure of being the volunteer photographer for this year’s Vintage Velo bike ride. This was the fourth annual edition of the Tweed Run-style jaunt which is held each year as a fundraiser for the Bristol Cycle Festival. My bicycle Petal and I both got a bit dressed up for the occasion. You can see here Petal’s lovely bunting, which I made for her, in between snapping pics, at the ‘Bunt up your Bike’ stall near the registration area. She’s looking rather sweet, don’t you think? (There is no photograph of her rider, I’m afraid!) Well over 100 cyclists donned their vintage finery and took to their two-wheeled steeds (of any and all vintages) to ride through the sunny Sunday afternoon to our mystery destination… …which was the rather grand Kings Weston House to the north of Bristol. I say! All in all it was a lovely day, even if I did end up at one point stranded briefly behind a doubledecker sightseeing bus circling the Downs, after stopping to photograph my fellow cyclists. If you did want to see a photograph of me on the ride, you can ask the tourist at the back of the bus who took my photo as I pedalled to catch up to the group. I smiled very nicely! I do aim to entertain. Late afternoon, once I’d had taken in my fill of sunshine on the lawn, I departed for home, riding back along the Portway. I couldn’t resist stopping to snap a shot of our iconic suspension bridge. And our muddy Avon too. Bristol love!
When I first moved to Bristol I could barely get from my front door to the local shops without a map. For a time, everywhere I went – and I went everywhere by foot – I carried with me in my bag a Bristol and Bath A-Z (that’s ‘A to zed’ for the uninitiated).
Someone I work with, a new arrival to Bristol, was asking the other day which of two routes (displayed on Google Maps on the PC screen before us) I thought was the best for getting to a particular location. I thought one would be quicker but might require her to wend her way through a few streets and so I asked, ‘Do you have an A-Z?’ I almost instantly laughed out loud, conceding that she would obviously just use her phone to find her way and would have no need for a paper book of maps. To be fair, it was only 8 years ago that I came here, but I guess that’s a long time in some ways. I’m only just getting my first smart phone this very week (it so happens), so the way I look at such things is probably a bit skewed anyway.
I still have my A-Z and I still use it from time to time. I like how it’s been softened and dog-eared by the years, the corners of certain key pages are turned down and there’s the occasional sticky note on a page with scribbled instructions for getting to somebody’s house. I’ve lived and worked on a number of different pages in this book and I’ve visited many more. People used to stop me in those early days of my Bristol life and ask me the way to somewhere. I’d usually say that I didn’t know…but that I did happen to have a map. Together we’d have a look and find the elusive destination on one of the pages.
I learned this city on my feet. I used to walk off in some direction or another just to get lost and then, when lost enough, I would find myself again using my book of maps. It didn’t always work and sometimes I’d stay lost longer than planned. I once dragged an unsuspecting brother of mine, visiting from the US, along on one of these ‘lost with a map in hand’ escapades. But eventually my feet did, and usually do, (somehow) find their way.
I have a very cobbled together garden. The veg patch gets too much shade and the neighbourhood cats like to use it as a toilet (leading me to punctuate the earth with random sticks in an attempt to make it uninviting to their paws/bottoms).
But I do love my garden. It’s a good place for sitting with a cup of tea and watching the washing dry in the sun. And in the height of summer there will be greens and tomatoes, alpine strawberries and the buzz of bees everywhere. It lets me be outdoors and grow things and swear at cats (I love cats really) and get dirty fingernails and just make things up as I go along.
Today’s top 5 uses for the empty veg box crates I keep forgetting to put out to be collected by the veg box delivery person:
1. Petite shed for garden hand tools
2. Pedestal to create backdoor window box effect
3. Trough for growing greens (nasturtiums and mixed lettuces perhaps?)
4. Table for seed modules (dwarf sunflower and calendula)
5. Mini utility room greenhouse for germinating chillies, tomatoes, basil and lovage
Crochet, like love, is all the better when you share it. Here are a few things I’ve recently made and given away.
A wine bottle bag and a set of snowflake mug mats, given as Christmas gifts
A blanket, part made my mom, in Tucson; part made by me, in Bristol; and given to my brother on his birthday at the end of December
Pixie hat with flowers, given to a child on her first birthday
Fuzzy pom-pom hat, given to a child just about to reach her first birthday
And a baby cardi made to mark the arrival of a work friend’s brand new baby in January
Finished this developmental toy for a friend’s baby today. It’s created by increasing in every stitch as you go around and is in fact also a model of hyperbolic space. Shouldn’t every young child have a model of hyperbolic space? They should.
Have also been crocheting hearts for a friend’s wedding. My flat is becoming littered with these cheerful little things.
I woke up this morning really craving some ‘morning muffins’ of some sort, so I baked these. They’re carrot, apple and pumpkin seed muffins made with spelt flour, and I think they’re great. Especially fresh from the oven and with a bit of butter. Mmm.
I like this, from Jeanette Winterson writing in the Guardian today, about the idea of ‘occupying’ Valentine’s Day.
National Love Day could become the secular sister of the Jewish Day of Atonement. Instead of saying sorry to everyone we have offended, we could hug those we love and who love us – and give some hugs to those who don’t get hugged enough.