Plants

Robert Smith’s Cabbages

A couple of years ago I went down to Aldwick, near Bognor Regis for the summer to house-sit a relative's house. I ended up being stranded there due to a lengthy train strike. Robert Smith of the Cure is probably the only famous local resident. The owner of one of the local shops told me where he lived, and I went along to see it once out of curiosity. The house was dull and expensive looking, but the beach it stands next to was much more Robert Smith like, with windswept shingle like Dungeness and rare sea cabbages. I never bothered to look at Robert Smith's house again, but I made many trips to the beach because I liked it so much. I was usually the only person there.... Read More...

Cambridge Botanical Gardens

I was sorting out old folders on the hard drive and have found a lot of photos from the past couple of years that I never got round to sorting out. Here are some from the Botanical Gardens in Cambridge two years ago. I was working teaching on a summer course there, which was stressful mainly because they hadn't actually hired enough staff to cover all the hours, so we were doing some extreme overtime. So a stroll around the gardens while the students completed their activities was a nice respite.... Read More...

Feral Practice

Earlier this week I went to a free art workshop hosted by Open School East. Open School East is a combination art course/residency and students are required to organise public art workshops. This time environmental artist Fiona MacDonald aka Feral Practice was the visiting artist. There was a talk about ants and fungi and the aim of "meeting  with animal/plant/place through the processes and reflexivity of art", and then we went out into a local park with a woodland area to do some classic sensory/location art activities. Here are my sketchbook pages and some snaps from the day.... Read More...

Büren-Harth

Here's some more photos from Germany. From Harth in Nordrhein-Westfalen to be more precise. It's a small village in the Sauerland, a scenic forest region about a hundred miles east of Cologne, popular for hiking and cycling.... Read More...

Kyoto II

Here’s some more photos of Kyoto. I have split the pictures up into several entries. You can see more photos from Kyoto and other cities in the Japan category, and also read about the trip in the zine I wrote. Kyoto is famous for its cherry blossom, but sadly we were there a couple of weeks earlier than it comes out in full bloom. You did see the odd bud here and there though.... Read More...

Triffids in search of a new home

I've got a large number of cacti and succulents, some of which I've had for years (and have their own offshoot children growing in separate pots now). By the end of the summer, some of them were looking a bit sad, and were in serious need of repotting. I collected a load of Hornsea ware and other vintage pottery for £1-3 a time over the summer, and then had a big repotting session outside, just before the weather started turning cold.... Read More...

Triffids

I've built up a collection of cacti and other succulents over the last year or so. They're desert plants from the Americas and southern Africa which store water in their bodies, so they don't need a lot of looking after, and they have a huge range of dramatic shapes, which explains why they're such popular house plants. They're also cheap to buy- mine all came from the supermarket, Wilco or IKEA and cost £2-4 each- and can live a long time if kept in the right conditions. (Opuntia cacti also produce delicious prickly pears and nopales pads for cooking). My current room has a large windowsill which gets some fierce sunshine around lunchtime, and is next to a radiator which dries up the air throughout the winter, which is the ideal conditions for growing them. I used to be into growing orchids and indoor herbs as well, but they just don't thrive in the conditions here.... Read More...

If it ain’t bracken, don’t fix it.

I refuse to apologise for that pun, you'll just have to suffer. Here is a photo I took of myself recently in my dad's garden. I can't remember the last time I had a new photo of myself bar a few awkward phone snaps when I've been out. Perhaps you could say I was communing with nature when I took this photo, but I was sat on a plastic bag to avoid sitting in anything nasty hidden underneath the plants, so I don't think I was that in touch with nature. Luckily we don't have poison ivy or dangerous snakes in this country, I was more worried about the milder perils of stinging nettles or fox droppings. I was also a little limited with angles and framing, because sticking a wide-angle lens in your face is rarely flattering, but I couldn't get the distance to use my portrait lens because I didn't have a tripod with me.... Read More...

Picking Blackberries

A little while ago I went to visit my pál Erika (sorry, can't resist the terrible pun) in Surrey for blackberry picking. Her friends Stephanie and Katja came down too, and we went out on a sunny day into the woods and picked some berries and had a picnic and drinks (for N. American readers, British woods aren't very wild). Blackberries grow everywhere here at the end of August and most of September. They don't belong to anyone, and it's safe and legal to pick and eat them. I used to pick huge amounts of them when I was growing up. They're also good for jam, pies, crumbles, coulis and wine-making. We made jam this time. Foxes also like them as much as humans.... Read More...