The name's Pollard. Ash Pollard.

[Pollarded ash tree]

14-Apr-2021: Not the Australian celeb (and no relation to Vicky!) - this is a self-sown ash tree in my garden. It's become an annual ritual to remove the branches, which grow up fairly straight, and can gain 2m in a good year. They make useful plant supports elsewhere in the garden. If left unpruned, the tree would dominate the landscape by now!

Each year the trimmed crown becomes more complex, fascinating and evocative (some might say grotesque). But I fear it'll have to be felled soon, as it's starting to get in the way. I'm thinking that, with the right treatment, it could make a nice novelty lamp stand...

Nesting, Nesting...

[Sparrows on pampas grass] [Magpie in bush]

1-Mar-2021: The avian quest for building materials has begun. Thus far the winter gales haven't toppled my pampas grass plumes, which provide sparrows with a perfect nest lining. There's always fierce competition to harvest them, and despite rumours to the contrary, the sparrow population is flourishing round here.

Meanwhile, as usual the magpies spend hours trying, unsuccessfully, to break off twigs from the lilac and mock orange bushes. Note to magpies: there are plenty of nice twigs on the ground. Why can't you just use those, and leave my shrubs alone?

Think "brewery"

[February calendar and brewery]

28-Jan-2021: According to my dictionary, so many people are unable correctly to pronounce February that the lazy version ("Feb-yoo-erry") is becoming the accepted standard. Rubbish! If you can say "brewery" then what's the problem with putting a "Feb" in front?

My irritation reaches an annual peak when people - including announcers on our most respected media channels - tell me it's the "fith", or the "sikth" of "Feb-yoo-erry". Tell you what, let's make one of those dates National Pronunciation Day, and drive the message home by promoting Febrewery as a month for serious drinking! In fact, let's give a few more months indulgent themes, to counterbalance Veganuary... Augwurst? Septemburger? Bovember? Hamuary?

Try again next year?

[Mistletoe in a street tree] [Mistletoe closeup]

5-Dec-2020: It's been a great year for berries. Once again I've made more Sloe Gin than usual. And my grape vine, whose crop usually struggles to ripen before the onset of winter, yielded an unprecedented (had to get that word in somehow!) September harvest of sweet, fragrant fruit, which is now well on its way to becoming wine.

It seems that mistletoe's done well too (shame the berries are poisonous). This tree in Cranham deserves to become a popular stopping-off place for couples on their way home from the nearby pub. But that's unlikely for several reasons this year!

Less Irony (but much dustier)

[Foam head of Margaret Thatcher]

7-Nov-2020: Sadly, this Spitting Image effigy, a fixture on my wall since the 1980s, has started to crumble into dust. She lost her nose and began to sag a few years ago, but recently - literally - fell off her perch (a projecting screw head) and refuses to be reinstated thereon. I fear if I pick her up again my fingers will crush her into bits.

Plastic foam from that era seems destined to decompose over time. The front of my Sinclair Q16 speaker went the same way, and now the seat cushions of my 3-piece lounge suite have begun to shed quantities of yellow dust. This is in contrast to soft non-foamed plastics, which do the opposite and become sticky with age. If you miss these changes, they can make quite a mess; my expensive set of technical drawing instruments from the 1970s ended up engulfed in a clinging goo (which I never managed entirely to scrape off) that was once their box lining. And a plastic dust cover which my late Dad put over his Garrard SP25 record deck, to "protect" it in the loft, fused onto the perspex lid making parts of it permanently opaque.

I'll be sorry to consign the 3D Mrs T to landfill. But at least her image still shines forth from some satirical postcards on another wall!

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