Lexie Conyngham's Blog: writing, history and gardening.

Friday 31 August 2012

Georgian Plastic

I've recently been on a couple of high-speed trips to Dublin (no, not hen parties, don't press that charge at my door) and found these charming little animals outside the Natural History Museum.

Anyone with any affection for Edinburgh and a soul this side of beatification will envy Dublin its deliciously smooth-running tram system (just don't say the word 'tram' in Edinburgh at present, certainly not with a smile on your face), but that aside, Dublin is a city which reached its zenith in Georgian times and is therefore packed with beautiful Georgian architecture, grand but well-proportioned, with broad streets and open squares. Here's a link to the very active Irish Georgian Society, who also try to protect the many lovely Georgian country houses which have survived the many depredations of the last hundred years.


However, I'm not sure what they might have to say about the doorways that someone pointed out to me. Dublin is very and rightly proud of its quality and variety of Georgian doorways with their furniture, but the ones below are on an old hospital in the process of being refurbished. They are sticky-backed plastic! an industrial version of that stuff with which we were encouraged to cover our school books. The whole pattern of moulding, lion's head knocker, and even the accumulated inner city dust under the lintel, is all printed on. Each is a different colour and has a different number: on the purple one below, you'll see the printed handle to one side, but the actual handle poking through a specially-cut hole through the edge of the printed letterbox!

Monday 27 August 2012

Technological Advances!

Let's have a bash at this link, though, eh? http://www.nts.org.uk/Property/Haddo-House/. Try that!

Meanwhile, Number Two Cat contemplates the extension of his kingdom.

Keeping a Bee

Well, lots done this last couple of weeks, but none of it to do much with poor old Murray. I bottled a demijohn of wine I made in April 2011 and am rather pleased: normally wine making is a summer job, both to gather the fruits and to have enough warmth to bring on fermentation, but I had just defrosted the freezer and removed various small tubs of blackcurrants, elderberries and other similar bits and bobs and we had some fine weather, so I decided to give it a go. The result is rather like cold mulled wine - distinctly spicy, very fruity and a bit sweet, but not too much.

'What do we live for, but to make sport for our neighbours and laugh at them in our turn?' Mr. Bennett in Pride and Prejudice may well have had us and our neighbour in mind. I suspect we give her great amusement with our various eccentricities and downright foolishness, but in turn she has on two separate occasions dropped hedgehogs over our wall. I hasten to explain there was no malice in this: she knows we would like one in our little walled garden, and she was protecting her over-inquisitive dog from the hedgehog. Her charity to the hedgehog is less easy to prove, as she slipped them over the wall on a shovel. The first vanished without our ever making its acquaintance: whether it crawled under a hedge and died or whether it took one look at the garden and decided to try its luck with the dog, I don't know. Hedgehogs are unexpectedly good climbers. The second, she explained, looked a bit sickly, but we met it last night and it is, in fact, braw, a sturdy, healthy-looking specimen. I hope it eats the slugs, and not either the frogs we've introduced to the pond or the worms in the wormery. We're waiting to see which cat comes in first with a spiked nose and a shocked expression, but perhaps I'm underestimating the street wisdom of both cats.

What with all this, and returning from Allotment Major with three large and heavy bags of veg, I'm thinking of writing a book called 'Keeping a Bee: Aspirations to Crofting in a City Allotment'. The allusion is, of course, to that famous line by Chic Murray, allegedly stolen from Punch: Chic Murray was staying in one of those notorious theatre tour guest houses, and when the landlady presented him with a minuscule pot of honey for his morning toast, he is supposed to have exclaimed 'Ah! I see you keep a bee!'.

The swallows are gathering on the telegraph wires already: I was surrounded by them and their peeping the other night as I stood at a village bus stop waiting for a bus that never appeared. A distinctly wistful experience (halleluiah, however, for the little pub across the road that cooked me haddock and chips and provided a loo!).

Saturday 11 August 2012

Rainbow Chard

Glorious rainbow chard! A brassica so colourful even small children will eat it. This and onions from Allotment Major yesterday in beautiful sunshine. The paths are full of weeds but I was there to do some communal weeding, mulching between our young windbreak trees before they vanish forever in the docks. Red kites circled over the woodland and a yellowhammer sang at us from the telegraph wire, and there were wild raspberries shining like sweet rubies on the walk back. A lovely morning.

Not much happening with Book Five yet, which has the unsatisfactory title 'Kith and Kin'. I've never liked it and it's going to have to be changed. I read part of Chapter One before other duties and pleasures descended: I have to finish my country job, and complete preparation for teaching this term, before I can start thinking about it properly. Meanwhile it's nice to know that Amazon are promoting my books thoroughly - I had an email from them yesterday recommending them to me!

Tuesday 7 August 2012

Semi success

I refuse to let this beat me! I've been back and forth losing pictures and mangling links but I've reverted to a simple template again and shall control my ambitions till I can sort it out. Below there is a link to the National Trust for Scotland's Georgian House in Edinburgh, which is a great place to go and think about Murray. There is supposed also to be a link to another of their Georgian properties, Haddo House in Aberdeenshire (mostly William Adam but with additions), but who knows where that link has gone?

New worms for the wormery - the old ones suffered in the cold. I can't help feeling it's a bit odd to have an envelope of worms popped through your letterbox.

Monday 6 August 2012

Modest travels

These lovely waterlilies are terribly photogenic - I've taken loads of pictures while staying with family. I can see why Monet found them so compulsive - I found myself hanging over the pond as the sun came out each morning, while below the tadpoles waited, murmuring 'Just a little further, that's right, you'll be fine ...' The tadpoles in this particular pond are so well fed they never bother changing into frogs, they just keep growing. Hope my young friend in Afghanistan recognises this reminder of home!

I'm hoping to make this blog a bit more elaborate in the next few weeks as I work out which buttons to press, though the allotments are calling me in the fine weather. Teaching preparation is nearly complete (I think - it never really turns out that way when the students start arriving, though), we have some new animals in the house much to the entertainment of the cats, the garden is smelling of roses and dianthus and really needs to be inhaled each morning for maximum benefit, and there is a spider the size of a tea saucer in the kitchen. A sparrow flew in the other day and I was scared the spider would get it! Sparrow safely rescued, spider frustrated, cats bewildered.

Now, hyperlinks - what are they, and why?