Sunday, February 21, 2010


Protectively garbed and brows furrowed, Luc and Fabienne peered down at the tray set out on the garden table.

‘Hi you two,’ we cried jovially, ‘are you doing a jigsaw?’ ‘Noooo!,’ snorted Luc, ‘we’re doing Nature! Experiments with slugs...’

Oh! Little Tinkers.

Sure enough, there on the tray were two black shrivelled-things, perhaps lacking the enthusiasm of these eight-year-olds.

‘Look!' continued Luc proudly. ‘We’ve got grass, garlic, ice, snow and chocolate. We’re seeing which they like best.’

‘Yes’ said Fabienne seriously. ‘They tolerated the ice very well, but didn’t seem to like the garlic… ‘ She removed a glove and scribbled some notes.

‘You’re not hurting them, though, are you?’ I whimpered.

‘Of course not!’ tutted Luc, ‘Slugs are one of our favourite things!’ And he wafted a slice of compensatory cucumber at where their eating ends probably were.

Fabienne pointed at a plastic box on the floor: ‘Yeah - See this?’ she growled. ‘This is their new home – we’ve put leaves, sticks, rocks and dirt in it – it’s perfect for them!’

It did actually look very comfy. Why had I never thought of Pet Slugs before…

'I bet you don’t even know what they eat!’ challenged Luc.

‘Well,’ I muttered, ‘They’ve always enjoyed our Pansies… And You’ve just demonstrated that ice is acceptable…’

‘But what they Really like,’ he said with a sigh, ‘Is Kale and Green Lettuce. They like sweet things too, so you can even let them eat cake! Tiny pieces, of course’ he added in the interests of slugs-confronted-by-ignorance.

I’d had No Idea! It seems there’s more to slugs than meets the eye - I wonder if they accept mature members in their Nature Club…

The next time we dropped in on his parents, I couldn’t wait to ask Luc how the slugs were getting on in their custom-constructed aquarium.

‘They’ve gone,’ he shrugged. ‘They could have escaped, I suppose, or maybe a bird ate them...’

He stared at me with a mixture of bafflement and concern: ‘Dolores, you’re not crying, are you?’

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Boots Wellington

Yesterday I launched myself on the garden. It was chilly and grey with a delicate drizzly haze – Perfect.

Gardening can only be enjoyable in wellington boots. If it’s too hot to wear wellies, then Don’t garden - you’re just asking for steamy exhaustion, tiny, vicious critters that fight back when disturbed, and a knotty jungle of green that actually grows as you watch.

Not to mention Ticks, which in fact, I have mentioned before…

Gardening in wellingtons is quite pleasant! It’s satisfying to slash away at What Once were Plants, to simply tug off that curly weed thing that in summer coiled like a metal spring round your roses, to boldly go behind the gas tank and be able to See what you’re treading in…

George also donned his boots and, deciding those pesky leylandeii weren’t too bad really, we sallied forth for a walk. We’re lucky to live on the edge of a village, close to forest, field and vines. I will now attempt to insert photo of Vines!

When we first visited this region, I was astonished at what vines looked like –I’d imagined tall, willowy trees, wafting their alcoholic scent for many miles around. Instead, they’re short, knobbly things that you could picture getting up when bored,to wander round muttering at each other...

(Were their rows not so well-regimented for ease of pruning and picking).

Anyway - Wellies add so much to a walk, don’t they; the joy of sploshing through muddy puddles, (particularly having grazed some mountainous residue of recent dog), of charging fiercely through bracken, of skilfully kicking an aerodynamic pebble to watch it land eighteen whole inches away. Of caring not of scuffed leather or snapped heels…

Oh! Black of hue and tractor-treaded
Wherein all sorts of crotte embedded…
To boldly bound through mire & hedge
Is what we Love. Though p’raps a Wedge
Heel… built-in corn pad, GPS…
Could just refine their rubberness
A bit…

PERISH the thought!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Radical Thoughts

(from the teachings of Wikipedia):
The oil of wintergreen is used topically (diluted) or aromatherapeutically for muscle and joint discomfort, arthritis, cellulite, obesity, edema, poor circulation, headache, heart disease, hypertension, rheumatism, cramps, inflammation, eczema, hair care, psoriasis, gout, ulcer (dermatology), broken or bruised bones…

… and haven’t we all suffered from at least seven of these foul afflictions?

Traditionally, now is the time of year when they seem particularly irritating; the weather’s bleak, your best Christmas present is broken and your bottom has become a Pavement Hazard.

Well Au Contraire! (As we say in Bognor). I love post-Christmas. The cold is invigorating yet a great excuse for not gardening; my beloved Betty Boop watch did indeed stop working, but was revived by a new battery; and I have revelled in a guilt-free Christmas sugar mountain.

I once heard that the start of February and NOT January is the best time to revolutionise oneself with diet or things of that ilk - Pchaw to Resolutions of the Brand New Year!

With this in mind, I’ve spent the last ten days shovelling away Christmas dregs in order to consume Everything by the February deadline. Even those ghastly lumps of fruit-tinted jelly that George has weirdly grown to quite like.

From today, 3rd Feb, Things will be Different! (It had to be postponed from the 1st owing to dastardly vat of duck paté with figs that had to be finished). But now, No More sugar, far less alcohol, and mini-trampolining every day to deep-rhythm music from Christmas DVD of ‘TrueBlood’ theme (have you seen this fabulous vampires-in-the-community series?). (I chose a gentle link here, but there are still a few Teeth):
((I can't get this damn video clip to play, but the music's great if you can go to the bother of copy & pasting into the http slot))

What else? Radically get my hair cut for the first time in four months, learn to give proper English lessons and speak proper French, blog at least once a fortnight, write a famous novel, paint the kitchen, chop down twenty feet of our ghastly leylandii, become a radio continuity announcer because it sounds such fun, invent a self-emptying cat tray, travel the world and save people, and… and be generally sort of Revolutionised.

So exciting! Why didn’t I do this last February? Or the Feb before...

Where to begin? Well, the cat tray would be useful but the hair’s more pressing so I'll ring them tomorrow. The leylandii are Huge – I expect George would like to do those. People to save... in times of snow & powercut I usually try to save our elderly neighbours, but they always send me away snortingly. I'm not sure why - But I mustn't let it put me off.

Maybe the best First Thing would be to find that tin of Ivory Cream Steam-defying Washable we bought last summer and - Oh Sod It! Where's that bottle of Wintergreen...