Friday, October 30, 2009

Brussels Sprouts

It's the first year that I've had much success with these, now that I'm planting them closer together, earthing up and feeding. I'll see if the rain this weekend fattens a few up and harvest the first next week.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Autumn Strawberries

Like hens eggs, nestling in the leaves, a few very late strawberries.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Ballard Down

Ballard Down from Swanage beach.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Red, gold & green

Yum - right on cue, there's another harvest of autumn raspberries, the last sunflowers provide food for sleepy bees and the kale responds well to constant pickings.

The celery's not bad either, although best for cooking with, not eating raw.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Chortling Tonight

After the last in the series of Dan Clark's amusing How Not To Live Your Life on BBC Three the other night, last night BBC Four showed a well worth watching repeat of episode 2 from Series 1 of Flight Of The Conchords, 'Bret Gives Up The Dream', featuring the brilliant 'Inner City Pressure', with the priceless lines, "No one cares, no one sympathises, you just stay home and play synthesizers."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Jerusalem artichokes are neither artichokes nor have anything to do with Jerusalem. Apparently, they're a member of the Daisy family and a species of sunflower. The 'Jerusalem' bit is thought to come from the Italian word for sunflower 'Girasole'.

Although the roots / tubers are edible, they're better enjoyed for their tall, late flowers.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


It's official. According to an unscientific study of friends, colleagues and family, today was the day everyone's body clock changed gear for winter. With less than 11 hrs daylight (not you, you lucky readers on other continents) we all collectively yawned, felt really tired and some of us overslept. Some of us couldn't even finish the

Monday, October 19, 2009

They drive amongst us

I received an email from a relative in North America containing a list of idiotic / dumb things that some people do, the first of which is reproduced below :

STAY ALERT ! They walk amongst us...


My daughter and I went through the McDonald's take-out window and I gave the clerk a $5 bill. Our total was $4.25, so I also handed her a quarter..
She said, 'you gave me too much money.'
I said, 'Yes I know, but this way you can just give me a dollar back.'
She sighed and went to get the manager who asked me to repeat my request.
I did so, and he handed me back the quarter, and said 'We're sorry but they could not do that kind of thing.' The clerk then proceeded to give me back 75 cents in change. Do not confuse the clerks at MacD's.

Personally, I thought that the first bit was about as dumb as you can get :

My daughter and I went through the McDonald's take-out ...

But then, perhaps we should take pity on our poor indoctrinated, gas guzzling, car bound North American cousins, as well as the animals they slaughter.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Synth Britannia

I remember watching Tubeway Army on Top Of The Pops in 1979 and telling my friend that we were watching the future of music. He disagreed, being more in awe of Rush, Boston and Lynyrd Skynyrd, though quite how they related to growing up in Croydon I couldn't work out.

Meanwhile, up in Sheffield, the Human League and to a lesser extent Cabaret Voltaire, were wondering who this upstart Gary Numan was and how come he was selling loads more records than they were. The rock press hated him even more - it was all very well for Kraftwerk, as a bunch of Germans, to play like crisp, sterile machines, but it wasn't really music was it? After all, as Andy McCluskey from OMD was tired of being told, anyone could make music with machines couldn't they? They just played by themselves, didn't they?

If they did, nobody told Vince Clarke, who would gladly have spent 24 hrs a day working in the studio if he could have. "Like a kid in a sweetshop," he told us on last night's magnificent Synth Britannia on BBC Four, which took us from Kraftwerk and Daniel Miller, founder of Mute Records, who recorded "Warm Leatherette" as The Normal in 1978, up to New Order's "Blue Monday" (1983) and Phil Oakey and Giorgio Moroder's "Together in Electric Dreams" in 1984. Thankfully, we only got a few seconds of Howard Jones and The Thompson Twins, by which time the synth had gone well and truly mainstream and a bit naff.

Arguably, we'd have to wait for 808 State later in the decade, to reignite the electronic fire, although as a producer, Trevor Horn was responsible for setting a few benchmarks. Somewhere in the house, I've got a nice letter from Richard Norris, who with Dave Ball of Soft Cell, played together in The Grid and invited us - Earth Beat Synphonic - to play a gig with 808 State, which never happened.

That's quite enough name dropping.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Last Chance To See

Former coach house, Cooksley Road, Redfield.

There's an ongoing planning application to develop this former coach house into a 2 bed house. It's a while since Dobbin lived here and despite the shortage of parking spaces, the land's worth more as a development site than a garage. A shame though - these once ubiquitous coach houses / stables are becoming rarer than a Madagascan Aye-aye.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Troopers' Hill

Set out after the showers and arrived too late for the Dog Show, photos of which can be found on the Troopers' Hill site but passed some pampered poodles on the way home.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Micro Kid

Some great telly last night on BBC Four, with Electric Dreams, narrated by Robert Llewellyn, followed by Micro Men.

Unlike the rest of us kids of the 60s and 70s who had to endure the painfully slow and expensive evolution of technology, the family featured in Electric Dreams woke up each day to find that their technological world had advanced by a year, with new gadgets delivered to their door.

Sure, the kids didn't have a clue who Ultravox were, but they were pretty impressed by the Yamaha DX7, which worked better than their VHS video recorder. Somewhat surprisingly, they preferred the BBC/Acorn micro computer to the Sinclair ZX81 (the histories of which were explored later in Micro Men, a dramatisation featuring Alexander Armstrong as Clive Sinclair and Martin Freeman as Chris Curry) despite the overwhelmingly better supply of games for the ZX81, some of which, to my amazement were programmed by comedian Simon Munnery, aka Alan Parker:Urban Warrior.

Naturally, the Sinclair C5 electric vehicle featured and was derided equally in both programmes. I can still remember cringeing about it at the time of release - great idea, crap product - and believe that it did more to set back the cause of electric vehicles, than advance it.

Unsurprisingly, the soundtracks to both programmes were great visits down memory lane for the 80s synth enthusiast, including Kraftwerk, Yazoo, New Order, Robert Palmer and of course Level 42's 'Micro Kid'.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Fine Words Butter No Parsnips

Or... Fine Worms, Badgers & Parsnips

A marvelously bonkers expression, in use since the early 17th century, that seems to simultaneously suggest that root vegetables are best eaten with dairy produce and that bad news is bad news, no matter how you spin it.

Badgers, on the other hand, have no need for the butter dish and seem quite content to feast on parsnips straight from the ground, once they've worked their way through the more easily accessible sweetcorn and carrots.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Mirabilis Jalapa

Grown from seed this year, the flowers, which give off scent in the afternoon, have emerged late in the season, just in time before the cold weather comes.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Banksy Boosts Bakery

Once upon a time, there used to be a lot of skillful, colourful graffiti on walls alongside the M32. Not any more. Today the grey blank walls matched the sky and the only graffiti in the vicinity was this - perhaps stencilled by the man himself.

Coincidental then, that on returning home I heard a documentary on BBC Radio 4 about the city's graffiti culture, that included a comment about the recent Banksy exhibition: "We had to queue for four and a half hours, so someone had to go and get some croissants." I hope they saved some to go with the coffee table book that they bought afterwards. Vive La Revolution.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Ear Here

Stumbled across a Portugese music blog that somehow manages to stick two fingers up to copyright law, then tuned in to Mr Maconie on BBC 6 Music who, amongst other things, was praising Invada Records , run by Geoff Barrow, out of, off of Portishead and 'Fat' Paul Horlick, who once returned a demo tape to me, less than an hour after I'd given it to him, back in the day when he used to run Swarf Finger Records and PIJ Studios.

Fair enough, my own blend of electronica never did fit in with his penchant for kraut rock, doom and drone, as opposed to Julian Cope, whose Black Sheep project fits snugly into Invada's back pocket. There's nothing quite like a release from the arch druid to remind you that it's the mushroom season.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

The Little Friend

For the first few dozen pages of Donna Tartt's 'The Little Friend', I was distracted by the punctuation; semi-colons and colons: popping up in; unexpected places - dashes (and brackets) too - . Then the story took me and I was immersed in a sweltering 1970s Mississippi, with screen doors, snakes, family tragedy, methamphetamine, preachers and rednecks.

It was a long slog through 550 pages, for which I hoped I'd be rewarded with some answers, but, seen mostly through the eyes of 12 year old Harriet, it wasn't that kind of book. On the contrary, it posed unresolved questions and centred on misunderstandings, thereby doing quite a good impression of life itself.

Friday, October 02, 2009

His Furriness

Harvey turned up for the afternoon, bless his furriness. Ten years ago, he moved in a few doors up, but then his owners got stoopid and acquired another half a dozen felines, so he done a bunk. Several years ago, the owners moved away and he got left behind, but every few months he pops by to hang out.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Goodbye To All That

After a fine, almost too dry September, there's a chill in the air and it feels like time to board a slow boat to the southern hemisphere or hibernate.