Me vs. Tree. I lose.

Red Fox cub
As you can see from the watermark, I nicked this from Warren photographic

I’ve been keeping busy in the lockdown.

I was hanging out at the end of my garden today. I pruned the apple tree in winter and I’ve been terrified it wouldn’t bud. However, it’s sprouting like a trooper, blossom abounding, so I was getting a close up look. Then I noticed a fox the other side of the tree, standing staring at me. So I stood and stared at her for a bit. And she stared at me. I thought, This is nice. We’re having a moment. Then she ran over to the fence where a small animal was trundling through a hole into my garden. It looked like a puppy, squat and dark brown, with a stubby tail. I’ve seen fox cubs before, but they didn’t look like that. The fox tried to nudge the pup back through the hole, and when it wouldn’t go she gripped it with her mouth to try and pick it up. I shifted around the tree to get a better look and saw there were four or five of these little puppies squeezing through the hole, ignoring the fox trying to get them back out again. They were crawling underneath her while she tried to sit on them so they couldn’t, all the while still gripping the one pup by the neck. She kept looking over at me warily, no doubt thinking I was up to no good.

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I decided I needed to get my phone to try and get a picture and quickly turned, smacking my face straight into a thick tree branch of my lovely pruned tree. I didn’t knock myself out, but had to sit on the ground for a bit with my head in my hands. When I looked later my eye had gone a bit purple, and there were scratches and bumps across the lid and up my forehead in a clear line.

Anyway, now I’ve looked it up, those dog-like pups are exactly what fox cubs look like when they’re very small. No wonder the fox was protective and suspicious. Hopefully, having seen me walk into a tree she’ll have realised I’m not even slightly a threat.

I am a ghost

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Do you sometimes question if you exist in the way you’re supposed to? I sometimes wonder if I’ve died already and what’s wandering around as me doesn’t look completely human anymore.

Today I was feeling faded out anyway, still ill with some bizarre virus that gives me a low level fever and makes my face feel swollen up from the inside. I haven’t been outside my room except to get water and occasional snacks, but I needed more food, so I went out to the supermarket. And on the way people were staring at me oddly. They often do stare at me oddly, it’s true, not nastily, just curiously, but today they weren’t even trying to hide it.

Then I was in the supermarket, using the self-service screen and it wouldn’t recognise my finger. I was pressing and pressing different buttons on the screen, trying to get something, but nope. So I called the supermarket guy over, I know him, he’s usually really friendly, but he barely acknowledged me. He pressed the button, it worked first time. So I think it’s me, what have I turned into? Am I just waiting to fade away?

 

Word of the day (I think this one may be a joke): Gawdelpus – helpless person

 

I control nothing!

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So yesterday I believed I had the power of King Cnut and could control the cars. By merely strolling up to the side of the road, the stream of traffic would halt and wait for me to cross, UNTIL I got to the middle of the road, when cars coming in the other direction would speed towards me without a care. This was clearly an awesome, but mightily flawed power.

Well, shockingly, it turns out I don’t have this power at all. Actually, they have changed the traffic lights so that the lights on one side of the road change about twenty seconds sooner than the lights on the other side of the road (although for the pedestrians it’s only one crossing). This means that people blithely cross when the cars on the near side stop and then nearly get hit when somebody shoots round the bend on the other side.

There’s going to be an accident!

And for all those sick of hearing about hashtags (not from me, just in general):

Word of the day: Octothorpe – Another name for #

I command the cars!

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Walking home I reached the pedestrian crossing, where the little man was red and the cars were trundling ahead. But as I stopped at the side of the road all the cars on my side of the road also stopped. The little man didn’t change to green, but I assumed it would in a moment and started crossing. I got to the halfway point when a car came whizzing along on the other side of the road. I thought ‘What a wanker! The lights are red, it could’ve hit me!’

Then I realised the little man still hadn’t changed to green. So the cars must have stopped on one side of the road even though the lights hadn’t changed. It was a whole line of cars, but nobody honked, they simply sat waiting as I crossed the road. Odd eh?

Bizarre word of the day: Camelopard  –  giraffe

Yes a giraffe used to be called a camelopard (or cameleopard) because most people hadn’t seen an actual giraffe, and assumed it looked like a cross between a camel and a leopard. That idea came from the picture of a giraffe below, drawn in 1655 .

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Wisdom, trolls and mud

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Now this is almost like a real inspirational poster, although I’d say exercise and doctors are also useful in the pursuit of health.

London today was soggy. It was ok, I have waterproofs, but the biggest problem was trying to not to destroy the squeaky cleanness of the messroom when I was coated in mud. And the toilets in the new block are too small, which means just getting past the concertina door meant I painted the wall with a layer of mud from my coat. Then I’d turn around to clean it up and decorate the other wall behind me. And everything I touched, from bog roll to door to sink taps became streaked with brown, I felt like a shitty Midas.

When we were getting ready to go home, Mike said to Dan, now you need to find an umbrella you can hold over me so I don’t get wet. I looked at him quizzically and he said,

‘You wouldn’t understand. It’s a man thing.’

Yes, he’s definitely trolling me.

Word of the day: limicolous – living in mud

Filthy Humans

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‘I may not yet be as old as dirt, but dirt and I are starting to have an awful lot in common.’ Stephen R. Donaldso

Today I was working next to a main road today trying to reduce a hedge. The hedge was growing through the railings which meant I had to squash between plant and railing, my arm rubbing against the leaves. After a day, I looked like this.

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(note: my arms look like truly odd shapes in these photos,. I don’t think they are odd shapes, it’s just difficult to take a photo of your own arm with a phone.)

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No, that isn’t dirt exactly, it’s pollution. In central London, next to the road, the plants are covered with this. You can see it in the trees too.

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It was a good day though, every time someone walked past on the pavement, I stopped the hedgecutter and waited (for safety, mainly, but also so as not to freak people out with the noise). People passing would see this squashed gardener behind the railing, hedgecutter held aloft. I’d smile, they’d smile, and it would make me a bit happier each time.

Word of the day: Ramentum – chaffy scale on plants

 

Don’t get sidetracked…

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More words of wisdom from the mind of an algorithm (they know us so well)

The little sleep I had last night was loaded with dreams, the kind that vanish from your memory as soon as you wake, but leave you with a feeling that something happened. And that sense keeps coming back, almost like a memory: Something important happened. But no idea what. Since it was a dream, I’m assuming it was about zombies.

Anyway, once I reached five am I couldn’t stand being in bed any longer and went to the window and saw this sky

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So that was sublime. I hope you’re all having a beautiful day too.

‘The door is wide and open, don’t go back to sleep.’ Rumi

Word of the day: Hypaethral – roofless; open to the sky

I’ve dissolved!

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Hello lovely people! I haven’t been around for a few days, which wasn’t planned, but sort of essential. Doing a physical job in heat way above what I’m used to (nudging 37°C yesterday) reduced me to a sweaty, clumsy wreckage incapable of thought. If I’d tried blogging I’d have written only letter sludge.

The good thing is that all us gardeners were in it together, propping each other up, finding reasons to hide under trees or floundering as one.

Interesting fact (that I’m fairly sure I’ve got right): temperature is measured in the shade, otherwise the direct sun would distort the readings. This means that being in the sun feels 10-15° hotter. Which means it was really 50° last week.

Anyway, the heat, the trains shutting down with requests that commuters ‘avoid travel except where absolutely necessary’, and poking myself in the eye with a twig, meant that I thought I’d best leave it. Now we’re back to rains and thunder, I’d should be posting as normal. Speak soon, Ink x

 

 

 

Attack of the killer plants

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This morning myself and Dan were clearing out a herbaceous border that hadn’t had attention in a while. Sometimes people think gardening is simple, but I’m not sure why, plants are damn complicated. And not being straightforward means that we often have to ask each other,

‘Is this a weed?’ Because there are thousands of different weeds and if they grow huge or are attractive, then it’s easy to assume a weed is a carefully chosen ornamental plant, of which there are also thousands.

So Dan asked me if a plant was a weed, and I guessed yes because it was too close to a shrub, but still, it was huge and attractive, with pretty purple flowers. I picked some to get a photo, trying to arrange them on the grass, while Dan started googling purple weed, but got nowhere. I had a feeling that these flowers reminded me of something else, maybe something like Solanum? (there’s an ornamental Solanum, but tomatoes are Solanum too). Meanwhile Dan was rubbing the leaves under his nose to see if they smelt of anything familiar.

‘Oh yeah, they do look a bit like Solanum,’ said Dan, squashing a leaf against his cheek thoughtfully. Then a worrying thought occurred to me,

‘Isn’t Deadly Nightshade a Solanum, Dan? Dan, maybe stop rubbing it on your face.’ I said, beginning to panic I googled. Yeah, Deadly nightshade is exactly what it was. One of the most poisonous plants we have in England. Cue frantic seeking out of water and searching symptoms and cures, and waiting for hallucination, seizures, death.

Pretty though. And we discovered that Deadly Nightshade is ok so long as you don’t eat any of it and wash it off immediately. And women used to drip juice of it into their eyes to make their pupils big. So it’s been educational.

Word of the day: phthartic – deadly; destructive

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Nature’s bubble wrap. And ants.

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“Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise”

Word of the day: myrmecophilous – having a symbiotic relationship with ants

This morning my train got cancelled! Which means I ended up sitting in a carriage with all the wrong people, going from the wrong station. I’ll have to wait until Monday to see Angry Staring Man and the twins again.

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Melianthus seed pods ready to be stamped on

 

However I did make two interesting discoveries today. One was that the seed head of Melianthus (pic above) makes a very satisfying popping sound when you squeeze it, far more delightful than bubble wrap. I showed some to Dan and his eyes grew wide as he began popping feverishly away, then I showed Jessica and she was soon jumping up and down on them. I reckon I could market them:

Melianthus bubblepop! The all natural way to relax.

Bubblepop, no plastic, no toxins, just soothing pops to ease your mood.

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The other discovery happened when I pulled back a dead leaf and discovered an ants’ nest underneath. They hadn’t even bothered burying their army in the ground. The swarms of flying and pedestrian ants quickly fled to hid under another leaf, but I got a  photo.

Oh AND the brilliant Calmgrove has been doubting the veracity of some of my words of the day and has challenged me to use them in a story. I’m not sure how that would prove anything, but I think it’s an excellent idea all the same. It won’t be easy, but I’ll see what I can do.