Saturday, 31 December 2011

A Very Happy New Year

Wishing everyone a very Happy, Healthy, Prosperous New Year -

And sincerely hoping that 2012 brings you everything you desire.

Happy New Year, with much love!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Wishes of the Season

As I close up my suitcase tonight, full of Christmas fun and cheer (and enough clothes for the Chicago weather, I hope!), and ready to board that plane tomorrow morning, I leave you with this heartfelt wish.

To all of my faithful readers and followers, and I am very grateful for your support -

Hector and I wish you a very, very Happy Christmas.

Who needs a Christmas tree, when you have a Christmas giraffe.

Lots of love to all. Hope you have fun!! x

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

The Night Sky

So I went outside, after chatting with a friend on the phone, and looked up, and saw a beautiful sight.

A nearly full moon, and just below it that bright spark is Jupiter, the friendliest planet you could ever hope to meet. Both are, at the moment, in Taurus. The moon of course will move into the next sign in a few days (Gemini) and then there will be an eclipse. These things happen like clockwork, but always give us something to think about.

This vision, however, encapsulated just how I was feeling at the moment. Taurus is an earth sign, and so any earth sign should feel good seeing this. The sky is supporting you. And how beautiful it looks to boot.

There is a wonderful song by the brilliant Imelda May called "Meet you at the Moon". I haven't been able to add it to my player, but I hope this link works (do Google if it doesn't, and I'm sure you will find it).

I kinda thought of that too when I looked up.

So look up, tonight, and you'll see that lovely configuration of Moon and Jupiter. And I'll meet you there.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

The Countdown Begins

Now that Thanksgiving is over, thoughts naturally turn towards Christmas.

Hector is in the mood.

I'm very excited.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

To all my American friends.

This most certainly isn't my harvest, I wish it was! But no, this is just to share with you all my desire to wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving. I hope it is a time of joy.

Remember to be grateful for what you have - and what is coming ...

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Planetary Movements

In the absence of much to say about the garden, I thought I would add in some planetary, astrological information, for those of you who might be interested.

Last Thursday was another Full Moon. There is some information out there, somewhere, about planting by the moon which I fully mean to research, and when I do, my faithful readers will be the first to know what I learned, and if I put it into practice, if it works to the benefit of the garden.

In the meantime, the headline news is that Mars, planet of energy, has moved into Virgo. Now, when Mars moves into a sign, he usually spends about 6-7 weeks there. Time to get energetic, if it happens to be in your own sign, time to grab the bull by the horns, as it were, and take advantage of it. There are times, however, every few years or so, when Mars does a little dance, and therefore spends eight months in a sign. Lucky you, Virgo.

Now is such a time. All Virgos can benefit from this energy, but if you want to look up where Virgo is in your own house, I suggest you try Astrodienst, as I'm not going to get into a full astrological reading for everyone.

Back to Virgo. You have a special opportunity, here and in the next several months, to get what you want. Sometimes, however, the problem is knowing what you want in the first place. If you can figure that out, and focus on that, well, it will be yours.

So go for it.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Affordable Art Fair Mark 2

We premiered a new Affordable Art Fair in North London last week.

I realise this is rather off topic, but the garden out the back is overgrowing and a mess. I've had little time for it lately, but may possibly give it some love this weekend; after I've had a lie in, having worked 12 days in a row. Or maybe, sometime this month. In the meantime, as this art stuff occupies most of my life at the moment, I thought I might as well share it.

New crowd, new clientele, new art.

We had something very fun provided by one of our faithful exhibitors, which was a photo booth in the front, where you could grab a framed print and have your picture taken with it, from an artist who is obsessed with letterpress and creates art from it.

You could also buy the prints at a cheap price, from the artist Stephen Kenney. Specially created for AAF Hampstead. I bought this one.

I thought it was a lovely sentiment, and appropriate. Also, I could pick my edition number, 18, which number has special significance for me in a couple of ways. I'm super pleased.

So as well as buying my giraffe, who wasn't even on show, it was a great fair.

This is a person, by the way, not a piece of art :-)

Long live the Affordable Art Fair, again.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011


Well, it's been 3 long years of desire, but I am now now the proud owner of a 5 foot galvinised metal giraffe.

The first thing I did last Wednesday at AAF Hampstead was find the Fine Art Consultancy stand, to talk to the lovely Kathryn Bell. The artist, by the way, is Mick Kirkby Geddes.

She wasn't showing him at AAF Hampstead, but they hadn't all sold at Battersea - joy of joys - and after a brief discussion she gave me a fantastic little discount, and the deal was struck. She would bring him to the fair, leave him at the Will's Art Warehouse stand (which happened to be across the way) and he would come back to the gallery/office on Monday.

Just to clarify, Will's Art Warehouse is affiliated with the Affordable Art Fair in that they were both created by the same man.

So there he was, all wrapped in bubble wrap, ready to transport. I undid the bubble wrap on his head so I could get a closer look. Picked him up - he's surprisingly not too heavy, as the shaft is hollow. But a little bit of a quandry - as my daily commute involves a bus, a walk, and two trains, that might be a little bit difficult with a 5 foot metal giraffe.

In stepped my friend James, who was at the gallery anyway and lives over my way, who could drop me off at Waterloo station which would cut out the first bus/walk/train. It remained to take him home via one short train ride, getting off a stop early to take a quick taxi ride home. Sure, I got some looks on the train. Oh my, did I get some looks, but mostly a lot of smiles. I decided to sit down, so his nose was practically in my face.

I wanted to kiss his nose, but I refrained. That might be just a little too weird.

And then he was home.

Safe and sound.

Now, at this point, I wasn't sure what to do with him. Do I put him in the garden, where he belongs?

Here he's kind of leaning against the jasmine, with no proper foothold. Looking pretty freaky.

He has bolt holes in the base to attach to, well, whatever you like. Block of wood, into the cement. He stands fine on the floor, but on uneven ground, it wasn't working out so well, and it was dark to boot.

So I brought him back in and had a little fun. I had to break it to the man, anyway, that "by the way we have a metal giraffe work of art, now".

I got major giggles every time I looked at him. The absolute joy of finally owning this amazing work of art.

In the end I decided to create a WTF moment and stuck him in the corner so he could see him when he got home, but really there's no way you could miss him anywhere. I was surprised by the reaction. It was love at first sight. And an insistence that no, he will stay inside. At least here in this flat, at least for now.

Welcome home, Hector, the five foot (ish) galvinised metal giraffe.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Art Fair Extraordinaire

This is what I work for, so I thought I'd share, once again.

First off, let's start with a cat.

Oh my.

Yep. That's a large photograph of a very special cat.

Here's one for scale (and to show off my new dress).

He's a big old cat. But there was all sorts at the Affordable Art Fair Battersea last week.

And these.

One of these, I'm not sure which, but one of these, is mine.

Oh yes. I've wanted one of these for 3 years. And I think it's time. He's going in the garden.

The next, new, Affordable Art Fair is on this week in Hampstead, and this gallery will be exhibiting. I may be buying my galivinized metal giraffe tomorrow night, all being well.

And here's one more cat for good measure.

Long Live The Affordable Art Fair.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Call Me Crazy

But I thought this might be a help to get Ginger used to the cat flap. A leg up, as it were. Yes, it's a breakfast-in-bed kind of tray. But just the right height.

He seems to be coping okay - when I come home every night, I hear "meeeeoooowww" and see his little face through it.

And then he comes in, with a little bit of encouragement from me.

Problem is, I don't think he's coming in during the day. Sure, he sees the kitchen light go on when I get home and so he's there - but does he feel that this is his home?

That he is free to wander in and out through the cat flap at will? That was the idea.

Even the midnight feasts are still problematic - i.e. he still makes me get up. Mostly to watch him eat. For why.

Eventually, though, I leave him to it, go back to bed, and he goes out ...

And the cycle continues.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Flip, Flap

I have a cat.

A cat flap, to be exact. Which kind of means I am acknowledging the fact that yes, this is my cat.

It wasn't exactly straightforward, but I was determined that it was done this weekend for more than one reason, more on that later.

Escalting the "problem" meant that I got my way, and in the end after a bit of fuss it was nicely installed.

The trouble is, and I did think Ginger was used to catflaps, it's only currently getting one-way usage.


I guess that is one good thing as it means not leaving the door open just so he can go out as he wants, or being there to open the door.

From the outside - well, we have shoved him through it to go inside twice. Not easy.

No, he's just not getting it. Fundmentally it shouldn't be too high for him (although if I could have I would have put it a bit lower, but such is the nature of the door), hence the bricks to give him a level advantage.

Still, the weather has been fine, so there's no matter of shelter required for him - he will happily sleep outside all day.

Perhaps when the rain and snow comes, he might feel inclined to venture in?

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Tomato Watch

I managed to find a few more red ones.

And yes, those two are meant to be yellow. And the little dark ones, well, they're meant to be dark.

So then I did everything I could to strip back as much foliage as possible, chop off the fledgling branches with flowers and/or very small fruit that would never amount to anything, so each plant could put as much energy as possible into turning what exists, red (or whatever colour it should be).

Look at all that lovely fruit.

Last weekend I managed another bowlful. I would check during the week, but it is now dusk when I get home from work. I could go out with a flashlight - or I remember thinking last year, of investing in a headlamp (thus keeping my hands free).

I also found these three rather odd looking specimens. Don't quite know what to do with them, especially if they're as seedy as the other one I picked. Maybe I could make some tzaziki.

And these courgettes - no idea what is going on here. This big one in the middle - well, had it got just a little bigger I would have picked it, but it seems to have disappeared!

We're back to the same number of tiny ones. Edible? I'm just not sure.

I picked another bowlful this weekend. Given the rate I go through tomatoes, this isn't exactly a bumper year.

Hey ho, maybe next time.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Okay so ... poetry

That looks like such a strange word up there, "poetry".

I'm about to share my own poem, that I wrote perhaps some 29 years ago. A lot had happened in that particular summer, to do with love.

It was longer when I wrote it, but it was, I think kindly, cut down by my Creative Writing teacher at Triton College. The original is long destroyed, when I ruthlessly threw away everything of my early writings, when my parents were moving house to their beautiful new place, and so many remnants of my life still existed in the old place. Oh, there was some bad writing in there.

But as we have just passed the Harvest Moon, I thought it might be appropriate. I mean, it would be another year before I could even think of posting this again.

So without further ado -

The Harvest Moon kicks out the old, dear moon,
Young once, and winking.
Each crunchy leaf takes me
Farther away from you.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Full Moon in Pisces

Just soz y'all know.

Hmmm ... Gardens, Cats, and Astrology?

Or Gardens, Cats, and a Hot Babe in a Bikini ...?

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Trellises for Cats

So last weekend, we (or rather my husband) finally put a trellis in the longstanding gap-at-the-back that has existed since we moved in, over 4 years ago. It's been a long time coming, but it was worth the wait.

You see the gap at the far right? Where you can see the tree that is actually behind the fence level? I've never really pointed it out before but it is and always has been a major ingress for the cats and other assorted wildlife. Even the back neighbour's extremely annoying little dog. Not that there are many cats left hanging around, since Ginger kicked them all out.

Well, we've been meaning to plug that for a long time now. Providing, of course, there is still ingress for at least one or two cats, but not a Jack Russell.

What with the holding it up to mark drill points, and measuring, and all that, Ginger got a little suspicious, and so when we temporarily put it down, he decided to stage a sit-in protest. Or rather, a lie-in protest. It took some doing to shift him, and he wasn't happy.

Ah, but little did he know, and although I said "don't worry about the cat(s), he'll get round" husband decided to accommodate.

Behold, trellis with cat hole.

He was so very excited and pleased with this he insisted I go to Phoebe's to get a climber (my husband, not the cat). I was happy to oblige.

However, considering what is down in the soil, when trying to plant it I encountered some obstacles:

That was pretty solid, and wasn't moving. I don't have the time or the energy to dig massive big rocks or bits of concrete out of this soil anymore.

So in the end, we stuck it in a pot. Hey, it looks fine. And we're out of here soon.

I decided to buy an evergreen climber, and this is called a "Bluebell Creeper", or Sollya heterophylla.

And with that, coupled with the fact that the next door neighbour's landlord took responsibility for the fence on the left (which really was ours ...) and repaired it (we meant to, honest!)

the garden is now completely enclosed, for the first time ever. Nothing can come in or out, except cats of course, perhaps foxes, and even hedgehogs.

Do you know what my first thought was?

"We could get a dog now."

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Meagre Harvest

It's a good thing I'm not trying to live off anything I grow.

So far, this is the sum total of what I have been able to harvest from my garden.

Not too impressive, huh?

There have been perhaps 10 ripe tomatoes overall from this lot. And those, as you see, are the smaller variety. Not even a meal, really.

The foliage looks impressive, but apart from the one plant, every fruit is green. Green, green, green.

The big question is: why? I checked back and they were planted the second to last weekend in May. Maybe a week later than I would wish, but it's now September and none of these are red (or whatever colour they are supposed to be), or even approaching being so.

Who do I blame? Homebase and Jamie Oliver? Maybe I should have stuck with the rather uninspiring variety from my local garden centre, instead of buying mass-produced plants from a nationwide DIY conglomerate, even if Jamie did put his name on them.

Maybe, like my sister's patch in France, 4 years in a row of tomatoes in the same place does mean the soil is tired, and it's time to move to a new location.

I may have to rethink gravelling the whole top, and consider putting some raised beds in.

Or how about the crap summer? It's official - The Met Office confirms it was the coolest summer in 20 years.

And one courgette?

There are a few other possibles, very very small, and though promising, time is most definitely running out.

And those cucumbers - I had one in a salad last night. Quite seedy. Not inedible, not much flavour though.

Back to those tomatoes - I'd better dig out that recipe for Green Tomato Chutney.