Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2013

A Travelogue: Disco Lightning and Other Stories

This is a not-necessarily-linear tale of a road-trip in France; there is the odd toll gate on the way. Quite a lot of ‘80s music and fast cornering. Tomatoes. Wildlife. To be honest, it is fairly abstract. You can leave if you like.         The Beginning, Folkestone, later than anticipated, July “It’s not the Nürburgring* you know!”  the man said, sternly. Hurtled to a halt. Sheepish, muttered apologies....late...made check-in by clear 30 seconds....embarrassed cough...continued towards customs.   Disco Lightning – Paris and South, 2-5am, July Surprisingly, underneath the most romantic city in the world is a labyrinth of dark underpasses, packed with fast moving traffic. Diverted off the motorway, I stuck to the tail of the crazed lorry driver in front. Screeching round corners, heading south. My great uncle’s theory was that if you get lost driving in London you should follow a taxi. Same difference in Paris (more or less), except that I was also following signs to

Retail Therapy

This is Dorney Court Kitchen Garden in Berkshire: a design-led independent nursery with equally good plants and cake There is a bunch of new kids in town. Pretenders to the horticultural sales throne lining up for a slice of the plant-purchase pie; supermarkets and high street retailers are jostling into the base of a pyramid of gardening expertise which is topped by artisan nurseries and with garden centres, DIY sheds and their ilk piled up variously beneath. So how are they doing? Donning a large hat and fake moustache dark glasses, I embarked on a little espionage.   First stop was a new budget supermarket that has opened in town I have been told great things about their simple, desirable range of stock nothing too complex...‘flying off the shelves’ was the message I got. I tend to champion specialists and the little guys, but I was open minded. Until I got there. Exhibit A was a Dutch trolley of wilted petunias. The box cones at about a tenner...were just a bit too sa

The Essential Apocalypse Skillset

Let me tell you a story. Several years ago, I was painting the bathroom of a house in Bristol. The window was open and it was a pleasant sort of day and people were wandering past. Around about four o’clock I heard a couple of sets of feet come down the hill and then stop. “Look, cherries!” said one voice (female, mid to late teens). “No, I don’t think they are. They can’t be.” Said the other, doubtfully (ditto). “Well, they look like cherries. Let’s try them!” “No, they are probably berries. Completely different. Some of them are not red, they are blackish. They are probably poisonous.” “Oh. Yes, I suppose so.” (disappointed) The feet moved on. I looked out of the bathroom window at the large and heavily laden cherry tree leaning over the wall of the garden opposite and wondered what the world was coming to. Red Sky in the Morning, Shepherds Warning ((c) N Slade) I am actually still wondering. When my grandfather was a child, he and his brothers (and a dog) ran