Spotted this piece of street art today.

It was on the side of a recycling container.

Whilst the side had been repainted at some point it wasn’t wet – and in any case the “wet paint warning tape” was on top of the painted surface. I actually think that the artist appropriated the tape to highlight his/her work.

On a very loosely associated note, last night’s One Show (a programme that I normally avoid like the plague/Olly Murs/insert blight of your own choice here) had a snippet of a feature on urban art which included vintage footage of Walter Kershaw painting the giant pansies included here and also the Morecambe Mystery Graffiti Fish – which may or may not be associated withe The Spindly Killer Fish.

Quite often the BBC will run a small feature on its website, or in a news, or magazine programme that is actually a plug for a TV or radio programme. If that was the intention here then the timing was somewhat out as the radio programme was 12 days before and isn’t even on the iPlayer anymore.

As someone who listens to a lot of speech radio I’m surprised I missed it. I’m also bloody annoyed as it sounds great.


Around this time of year a non-gardener will normally say to me, “Aren’t the daffodils beautiful?”

“Mmmm, I say. Or rather, “Hmmm?”

You see they’re not. They’re pretty ghastly as far as I’m concerned. I came out of the closet on this about 2 years ago. It’s partly their lack of subtlety – but mostly I can cope with the non-subtle – it’s more about their form and presence.

They just about never look right – apart, that is, from huge egg-yolk smears along the verges of motorways and such. But then one has the advantage of whizzing past the things at speed.

To me the true (and beautiful) harbingers if spring are things like a smattering of violets, seen here in a white form.

Last year, around mid-December, one of my pair of Chinese finger-root plants (Boesenbergia pandurata) flowered. I was thrilled as I had grown them both from tubers, and there isn‘t a lot of good advice on the subject.

One is flowering now. In fact only one of them is doing anything – the other hasn’t even thrown out a shoot after dying back last winter.

For a fleeting moment it did cross my mind that they might be monocarpic i.e. die after flowering, but I dismiss that quickly because the tuber seems absolutely sound.

It is perhaps sulking, or more likely needs re-potting.

This is the first in what might become a regular series, or maybe an irregular one, or perhaps just the odd post now and again – who knows it’s all a bit random.

 Wonderful isn’t it? – an old water fountain next to a church – and the carving is of water-lilies.

My earliest known antecedent was an Anglican minister during the English Civil War. We therefore grew up believing we were descended from Roundheads – a touch simplistic, but we were children. Our infant school was a Catholic one, which fell under the jurisdiction of three parishes, and so there was often a priest popping up in some class, or another. Once we had one of them in our class, talking about ancestors. Of course being children, no one knew much about their forebears beyond their grandparents. But I did, and volunteered that my ancestors were Roundheads. The priest took this to mean that they were Puritan, statue-smashing, Papist immolators – which was not a good thing. He didn’t exactly lose his temper, but gave me a fair amount of shit about it.

In hindsight I can joke that I was lucky just to get only verbal abuse from a priest, but I still think he was a wanker for doing it, even if he did have a steel plate in his head. Yes, that’s right he had a piece of metal in his napper, which was always cited as the reason why he was a bit crazy. Personally, I had always thought he was just a twat – although it would be a few years until I learned the word to describe my distain. Luckily my view of the priesthood was formed by a saintly Sicilian, who we saw much more of.  Now he was a true follower of Christ.

I hadn’t thought of old tin’ead, until last night. It may sound odd, but it was prompted by memories of little posies of flowers, their stalks wrapped in tinfoil.

Let me explain. I guess for many people in this country when they think of religion and flowers their minds go to WI battle-axes and busybodies warring over doing the flowers for Church. But that was never part of my upbringing. Instead I remember how we were always encouraged to bring in whatever flowers we could, to put in front of one of the statues of the Virgin Mary – there were about three, even though it was a small school. There was also a Sacred Heart of Jesus statue that stood in the dinner hall, which I always thought was crazy and exciting, because Our Lord’s flaming heart looked, to my young eyes, like a medieval hand grenade.

Even as a child I recall feeling that these votive gifts of little, mismatched, often bedraggled posies, with stems far too short, picked by small children, for baby Jesus’ mummy were touching. And I remember being allowed to take in a small bunch of sweet peas, their stems wrapped first in damp tissue paper and then foil. My teacher, who I loved dearly, sniffed them deeply and smiled.

All this recollection was sparked by the scent, as I snipped flowers from only the second lot of sweet peas I have ever grown.

It was a warm memory, despite Father Tin’ead clanking around in the background.

Coming indoors I waved my fistfull of scent and ghosts in front of the OH, “Mmmmm, they smell of my grandma”.

It would have taken too long to explain what they reminded me of, but I do wonder if everybody has a sweetpea based memory?

Allotments are, by and large, industrious, but calm and reflective places.

This weekend mine was anything but, when hundreds of revellers descended on my plot.

My allotment was the scene of a bee rave.

They were jigging all over the chives, rolling intoxicated on the welsh onion pom-poms, dancing stylishly across the last lacecaps of sweet cicely, and descending determindly on the globes of  angelica as if they were indeed glitter balls in some mad disco, with a free bar.

Like the plant flowers, the bees were of mixed colour and size, but all buzzing the same note of happiness.

It was utterly joyous – Glastonbury for bees.

Sadly this was a select event and not one repeated on any of the other plots on the site. Of course they will all be glad of the bees when they’ve yards of runner beans that need pollinating, but none of them have filled the bees’ hungry gap.

I might put a sign up naming my patch – Ib-Bee-Za

Along with sweet peas, and beans, I always soak the seeds of Morning Glory overnight. My choice of variety in the past has sometimes been the pale Heavenly Blue, and often the intense purpley blue Star of Yelta, but this year I picked up a packet of Hazelwood Blues, which have traditional purpley flowers along with white ones, that have lines of purple shading, although in truth the latter look a lot like bindweed. The seeds themselves are a mix of black and white, so you could select one colour or other I guess.

Trying something new wasn’t the sole reason I bought them – 25p from each packet goes to Thrive the horticultural therapy charity.

Last weekend I put a dozen seeds in to soak. And then forgot about them till today. When I remembered them I was expecting the worst, but then found that they had actually sprouted and were growing healthy roots, as you can see.

So I’d better get on and plant them.