Friday, 27 June 2008

Smashing word of the day


Cockaigne \kah-KAYN\, noun: An imaginary land of ease and luxury. Apparently comes from the Middle English 'cokaygne' and is ultimately adapted or derived from a word meaning 'cake' . Isn't that lovely? I quite like the idea of a land of ease and luxury at the moment, I imagine it to be a bit like a permanent holiday in Italy...

Monday, 23 June 2008

Friends, family, garden and good intentions

Following on from the last post, what have we been up to with our nearest and dearest then.
Well, the weekend before our holiday we had Stuart, Alison and Archie to stay. We got some real smiles out of Archie and Stuart entertained us by demonstrating how his love of music has been inherited - Archie's current favourite band is Black Sabbath. Whenever Ozzy's dulcet tones and thumping guitars come on the stereo he kicks his little legs and pumps his arms and smiles and gurgles, and apparently no other band has quite this effect on him... We had a great day out in Oxford, after a delicious meal at Carluccios the girls went shopping while the boys enjoyed a few beers, though quite how Archie managed to lift the pint glass is beyond me, ho ho. All in all a chilled out few days enjoying good company and good food before our holiday kicked off, very pleasant indeed.

In the garden, our little plot has come on surprisingly well given that we were away for the best part of two weeks. We installed a timed soaker hose thing along the borders with some dripper attachments for the pots and the tomatoes (highly technical, but Ali did most of the hard work, I just squealed faintly whenever the hose threatened to squash one of my dahlia seedlings or a tender pansy) and this worked well - at least nothing had died when we got home. Actually we may not have needed to bother with the hose as there was quite a bit of rain which had battered the plants down so some emergency staking was in order. Somehow we've got some striking bright yellow coreopsis going great guns next to a hebe and a briar rose (didn't purchase it and it looks remarkably robust to have germinated from some random seed, so I can only assume it was in the garden when we moved in and has been dormant for 4 years, unlikely scenario though this is) and this had flopped all over the place so it's nicely propped up now. The dahlias are OK, the morning glory is starting to flower, the sunflowers are growing inches every day and the hollyhocks are of monstrous proportions. We've even got some blackcurrants that look almost ready enough to pick! The basil, however, which was in the kitchen, while not dead from dehydration did mostly get eaten by caterpillars and is possibly beyind saving. All in all though it's looking good out there.

My good intentions recently have mostly been to do with updating the blog more often, so not entirely successful there. Exercise-wise, we were on a walking holiday so this counteracted the scrummy Italian food and wine, but nothing else to report, though I did swim a bit in the hotel spa pool, albeit not very energetically. My next good intention is to get going on my knitting again and also to organise a renovation of our sash windows which will be costly but really does need doing. I love living in an old house but there is always something that needs fixing, renovating or generally tidying. The worst thing is we still have a pile of ashes and rubbish in the grate from our last fire of winter (probably from February or early March). What slatterns we are.

Stern talking to

If this blog were an allotment I'd have had a nasty letter from the council by now telling me in no uncertain terms to get my act in gear or they will kick me out. Luckily the blog police don't appear to be bothered that my output has been less than prolific over the last few months so I can update you on what's been going on and with any luck do a bit better in July. As Deborah pointed out at work today it's all downhill now, the longest day has come and gone and the nights are drawing in already. Fabulous.

So to get some semblance of order back to things I'll use the loose tags I made up as categories and take it from there. I'll post them as separate posts, not to make the number of June's posts look good or anything compared to May (ha!) but because I know I have to be in a very leisurely mood to read any kind of massive post in my Bloglines feeds and it's easier to digest in smaller chunks I'm sure.

First off then, books. Not much to report here, I missed our last bookgroup at the beginning of June (a shame as the author was Henning Mankell, a Swedish crime writer I really like) but did get through a hell of a lot on our recent holiday, more of which later. I finished Suite Francaise, Roddy Doyle's 'Oh Play That Thing'; 'In the Miso Soup' by Riu Murakami (a little disappointing, I was expecting something a lot more gripping), the next bookgroup choice, Persephone Books' 'Someone at a Distance' by Dorothy Whipple (excellent) and am now wading through 'The Virgin in the Garden' by A.S. Byatt which is a bit of a struggle if you want to know, but I feel I ought to persevere and see if I start to care about any of the characters. Hardly a glowing review I know.

Holidays, family stuff, and garden to come! They'll be a bit less brief than this section anyway.