Category Archives: Adventures

Summer of 2017: Pause in Play #gdnbloggers

As I sit here, I have Adele singing ‘set fire to the rain’ on loop in my ear phones. This is the summer  of 2017, and I am having a rest.  I’m not very good at having a rest; school and counselling training form a big chunk of my life, then there is the allotment, writing and occasionally I go on adventures. So when school ended about two weeks ago, I took the conscious decision to not fill my diary.  This is time for a full stop.

From August 2016 until now, there has been a lot going on. Work has been busy, there have been lots of students; I have spent my working days, prepping, marking, teaching; doing my day job to the best of my ability. Alongside that, I have also been at night school and undertaking a two-year level 4 Diploma in Therapeutic counselling.  That’s two fairly big plates and spinning all the time.  I had forgotten just how demanding a degree-level course was, and it has been ten years since I got my Psychology degree from Aston University. Training to be a counsellor and a being a  Psychology teacher are at two different ends of a spectrum

Anyway. The first year of the diploma ended in July, but school continued for a bit. When it did, I wasn’t going to go around spinning plates this summer.  I was and am, going to try and have some down time.

Whilst the plot hasn’t had the best year, it has had some therapeutic value over the summer.

For example, the growing stash of homebrew. I didn’t think that I would do much homebrewing or any other preserving for that matter. Only for blackberries to catch me by surprise and appear abundantly on the allotment. I have made blackberry wine before, I made some last year and added plums and currants. This year’s experiment is purely blackberries with some cinnamon and star anise thrown in.  I had been given some plums by a plot neighbour, and only today the must made from them has been transferred into a demi-john.

I have seen lots of fellow allotmenteers start to worry about blight warnings. This can be awfully demoralising, and when you have been working hard to maintain a crop, it’s awful to see it decimated. There are less than half a dozen plants on my plot, but I have harvested lots of green of tomatoes. I think that we currently have all of one red marmande tomato! I wasn’t too convinced by the crop of Roma tomatoes. I do believe however, that there was just something not right about this year’s growing season, least f all because of my own reduced productivity.  The tomatoes that have  been harvested have been used alongside apples and fenugreek to make a green tomato chutney.  There has been less playing with the preserving pan, and to return to that was actually really nice. I have yet to make jam, though Mama F and her sister did borrow my kit to make some blackberry jam. Making Jams, jellies and chutneys is actually really nice; it is a form of mindfulness, I guess, but more on that later! The batch of chutney now needs some time to mature and mellow; hopefully, it will find loving homes.

A bit delayed, but better than never; we  have glads! Appearing a lot like Roman candles, they have burst into bloom all over the plot in a riot of colour.  I don’t dig them out, and let them be. May be, once I have cleared the plot, I might consider sinking some more next year. It never ceases to amaze me, how colourful or abundant they are. They also attract  a lot of fuzzy bottomed bumbles, so having them on the plot for them is doubly useful.

All that any would be suitor needs to worry about, is investing in Diamonds; I can grow my own beautiful flowers, and petrol station flowers are never crossing my palms.  So may be just by my bulbs and things, that would work yes? You’ll have do your own weeding, mind.


I started off, saying that I was having a rest; that there were no adventures planned. In some part, that is true. I am very fortunate to be within a stone’s throw of Sarehole Mill. Something of a landmark and a beauty spot, the mill is said to have inspired J.R.R.Tolkien. Whilst I am not a real hobbit-the last that I checked-taking a walk down to the mill was something of an adventure. I’m glad that I did, that I wandered around by the Mill Pool-the mill still works-and even sat in the tearoom with a cuppa and tea cake. There was something magnetic about the place, and no wonder that Tolkien was inspired by it.

I had taken my notebook with me, thinking that I might sit there and write. I ended up taking pictures so that I could write about it later; I could imagine a protagonist stood musing his existence whilst looking at the mill pool. I made a note on the ‘to write’ list, and have plans to write when my brain feels like it. You can’t see it very well in the photo sadly, but there is actually a veggie patch outside mill. I remember seeing raspberry canes and rhubarb; there is all an apple espalier that overhangs a door. I’m not the only would be ‘obbit, that likes gardening.

Having a rest, will hopefully give both my brain and my soul a rest. There are no concrete plans per se as to what I shall do over the summer.

I have re-discovered my colouring books, I had forgotten just how much I enjoy this. I must have sat there for hours, with my pencils, fineliners and fibre tips just not thinking, but just colouring. I cannot describe the sensation, but it does feel as though you are floating away as you feel your attention span loosen out and become aware of your breathing, your heart rate;  all occurs whilst your mind empties.

As a well as colouring, there are books to write and to read.

In terms of writing, there are three, no wait, four separate notebooks/folders waiting to be looked at. But no mojo. Whilst colouring completely empties the mind, writing requires that it is full and with all sorts; for me, the day dreams have to be in full techi-colour and able to flow through my inky pens. It is only when my pens have a mind of their own, that I am able to write, commit things to paper. I don’t type and write. I write it all out in notebooks, it feels a more soulful in analogue rather than doing it via digital.

Having nothing to write, makes trying to rest a little difficult. You, I know that I, feel as though I should be doing something. Trouble is, the impetus, the drive is not there. Waiting for it to come back, the ideas to come back, is a trifle disarming. It is also unpredictable, and I have no idea when it will come back. I don’t want to call this a ‘writer’s block’, not in the least. There is no congestion-as it were-no back up, that needs a wiggle, or a flick to let it pour. Just no material to set a spark to, that oxygen might then fuel.

I can’t write anything at the moment, that doesn’t mean that I won’t in the future. In the last two years, I have written three books, and have another scheduled for release in Spring 2018. Whatever happens next, is the next phase, the next chapter; what will be, will be. I don’t want to force it; I am great believer in things-creative things-happening organically, spontaneously, to make your soul zing and may even a smile appearing on your face. I am going to sit on those four books, and let them appear when they are ready. Trust, me, when they turn up, make themselves known, I will tell you.

I’m not writing anything, so I will read. I am currently two thirds of the way through the Malbry Cycle by Joanne Harris.  Alongside that, I have the Hannibal Quadrology, written by another Harris.  I have only made a small dent in ‘Red Dragon’. Now both of the Harrises have written anthems for my doomed youth. I read ‘Blackberry Wine’ and three out of the four Hannibal novels during my A-levels. At 33, I am having a literary renaissance by making my way through Ms.Harris’s back catalogue and taking on Hannibal once again. Then I have lots of other random stuff-George Eliot, Virgina Woolf, Gustave Flaubert and lots and lots of historical fiction-on the ereader to also look at. There is no shortage of works to read.

I need to read, I want to read; as with colouring, with gardening, it’s time to submerge my soul into what makes it zing.


Last but not least, my thanks to waltons! They very kindly sent my Spike and Drusilla the scarecrows.  There was never any doubt in my mind as to what they would be named.

Right, colouring, reading, watching Bones, Angel, Buffy or Star trek….all options on doing nothing…..


Allotmenteer Adventures Abroad


Go find a body of water, the horoscope said. Go somewhere near the seaside. The universe kept on signposting adventures, a getaway, a chance to take stock.

I headed to Lake Garda.

This is the second Italian Lake I have visited, with Como being the first. The lake is pretty, the town where we stayed was lovely and it was fabulous opportunity to have a some down time.

I also turned one year older and thirty three is a the same age as a certain other someone with whom Easter is associated. I didn’t and won’t dwell on the age, the getting older. The silver bothers me, but I’ve been going grey since I was sixteen and I won’t always carry off being a brunette or raven haired. Yes, silver, and not grey.  I have so far resisted dying the barnet; not sure quite how long this non-compliance with social norms will last.  Silver hair doesn’t make me so marketable…I guess.

Anyway. This adventure!

First there was Verona.

This place piqued my interest from the Shakespearean angle. There is the balcony that (allegedly) inspired the poem behind the play ‘Romeo and Juliette’ so every where you see I heart Verona and ‘City of love’. (The cynic in me, took heart from the story about the merchant, who jumped the bandwagon with this is Juliette’s balcony, come have a look) I thought that was Paris, but anyway;  I didn’t feel the love for the love. Verona, yes; beautiful, lots of shopping and culture at ever corner.  I couldn’t help but think that that Romeo would have needed drainpipes for the balcony though. I’ll be damned if I’m shimmying up towards any balconies for a Romeo and anytime soon. The neighbourhood watch would be rather displeased to say the least!

Then there was the city of canals. Being a born and bred brummie, this was going to be interesting. Birmingham has more than Venice, we also have James Brindley. So you know, tough competition.

And this is where I felt the love. This is somewhere I would go back, and with someone special when he turns up. The Grand canal from the Realto Bridge is epic; the sheer size and the life that exists on the canal is pretty damned amazing.

As for the pigeons.


Seriously, they are low flying. Dodge them.


I recall Venetian masked balls…ahem as it were.  I bought one, as you can see; it’s not sparkly or has half a bird attached to it but when in Venice. Then there was Venetian glass. Again, this is meant to  be pretty epic.  I frequented pen shops in both Verona and Venice, and felt like a kid in sweet shop. I feel as though my pen collection is not yet complete. There was window shopping of the Parker Sonnet in matte black, just to see what the deal was. But for now, that would not be entering the writing implement collection.

Venetian Glass plus pen and notebook was going to happen. I kid you not, I sampled a glass nib and I nearly keeled over. But I like my nibs and pens metallic, so I found one that I liked.  Rather than being a cartridge/converter pen, this glass stemmed pen is a proper old school dip in well sort. The notebook is covered with the seal of Venice; a lion with a book. Two motifs, that I can only my best to appreciate. No idea what I might write inside, but it will all come in time.

Was a very interesting adventure, and by the water.

Hello, Allotment and #Destinationstartrek #gdnbloggers


Hello, allotment, I have missed you.  I have missed the grapes getting ripe, and being plucked from the vine. I have missed cutting the last of the roses, all of the glads are now done. I have missed you and quite a bit.

Today, after what feels like an age, I have made it to the allotment to see what is happening and what I might do next. Ordinarily, as this time of year, I would be thinking about or will have planted garlic. I haven’t got that far yet.

Over the last few weeks, things have been a little unsettled. Time has been challenged, stretched, I have been battling against cramped head space with lots of things competing for my attention. I have had lots of reports from Mama F who has helped keep things in relative check on the plot. To be honest, not a lot has fruited this year, so she’s just been overseeing it all. I don’t think this years lack of productivity has made things easier.

Going today, was case of taking stock. Taking a moment, to breathe. And when your shoulder feels like it is going to fall off as does your arm as adrenaline and cortisol drag you through a stress response; that is quite difficult.

Why do I mention that?

Well, that’s my stress response. First thing first, I’m okay. If I wasn’t, I would say. It’s all a bit implicit, rather than explicit. There is some anxiety invoking issues that my brain and body don’t really like. Explicit, in that whilst I feel okay and am coming to terms with recent challenging events, there is something implicit that is not helping and would rather I had horrible pain from time to time. Not all the time, but occasionally and it’s rather irritating as you ordinarily take thing head on and do them to the best of your ability. But we have plan! The idea is to work through these concerns, get a balance; feel a little more congruent and use the allotment to do that. The allotment has always served an additional purpose beyond plot to plate food; it contributes greatly for me in terms of maintaining positive mental health. It is something that I have always promoted, that gardening, horticulture, pottering on the plot has a positive effect on mental health. I would be daft to not practice what I promote.

That is why I have a picture of a blank bed. I am aiming to sort the plot out over the autumn and winter months, change the second half of the plot; nothing was cultivated this year in that area and it has effectively become fallow.

We have had some produce to cheer me up. The above chillies and garlic have met their fate in the base for tonight’s dinner which is prawns in a masala. The  base is simple enough: garlic, onions, ginger with carom and cumin are sauteed. Tomatoes are added to this, as well as the contents of a masala box and both fresh and powdered coriander.


The video can also be viewed here

As well as liking the allotment, I am also a fan of star trek. This year is the fiftieth anniversary of the original series and it’s impact upon modern contemporary culture has been huge! As teenager, I remember watching ST: TNG as a precursor to Buffy the Vampire Slayer; that was the height of my Thursday nights. Subsequently, voyager, Deep Space Nine and Enterprise followed. I might even find myself watching the extension of the franchise with the new one pencilled in for next year.

There is the most tenuous of links between Star Trek and Horticulture. I remember watching Neelix growing tomatoes in a cargo bay, there was Keiko the botanist and at one point Janeway and Chakotay end up on a planet where they have to grown their own food. On a more contemporary level, we have had a certain British Astronaut growing seeds in space; so this whole thing is not entirely without foundation.

It’s funny, even though they were on the poster, I don’t remember seeing Picard, Janeway or Archer….

I did hear a certain George Takei; I heard  but did not see, as he was delivering one of the paid talks and I didn’t book any. He sounded lovely!

It was months ago, that I decided to put a star trek convention on my list of things to do. After all, I had already gone to an Angel/Buffy one, it made sense. Lo and behold, I saw this advertised! Naturally, I had to go along and see what it was all about.

The first part of my journey had mild fury as the trains from hobbitland to the centre of town were not running. In true persistent fashion, I hopped onto the rail replacement and made it to the NEC all ready to go. My first thought? “Wow, how many red shirts are there?” Some of which were in the queue for Costa, which rather amused me. If you are in Command, you may need a strong Americano.

As with the buffy/Angel con, there was loveliness in being with like minded people. For the record, I am a blue shirt. (Trainee counsellor, psych teacher, I think that qualifies….) The highlight for however, was this. Being sat in the Captain’s chair in a replica of the TNG enterprise.

Yes, it was as cool as it looked. (no, no one is trying to beam in to my right, it just looks like that…)


Petal, Punam and a preserving pan! #Gdnbloggers


Do I look nervous? I was trying not to pull faces.

I was kindly invited by the Nuneaton Federation of Allotment Associations to their meeting and to talk briefly about preserving. This was my first proper public engagement (beyond the blog) and it was rather exciting to be asked along and share my learning experiences.

What you see above is the photographic evidence of myself, Petal-she is there!-and my preserving pan. There are also yellow tomatoes there, I had also taken along some courgettes, Petal’s Potted Preserves and a couple of books too. I think this helped, especially as I waved around scotch bonnet, declared it was lethal, yet had pots of scotch bonnet chilli jam for sampling. It was really refreshing actually, to see people sampling and enjoying the preserves that are documented in the books.

It was really good fun to meet the allotment holders; there were a number of different allotment committees present from across the Nuneaton and Bedworth area. I spoke about how preserving was a creative way to use your produce when you can’t give away your courgette glut for love nor money. Plus, the only limits to what you can jam, jelly or chutney were your imagination and what you grew. This was a really good experience! I really did enjoy talking about Petal’s preserves. (Petal is the avatar,remember?) It reminded me of how the allotment community is very good at sharing, at learning from one another and helps both people and produce to grow. I certainly would not have got as far I have today without the help and guidance of other plot holders.

Petal-and me-have had our first experience of doing a talk; who knows, there might be more!

(if you want to be part of that journey, hit the contact page, and get it in touch!)




Seeing sights and souped up

The summer holidays are over, Petal and I have done our adventuring, real life will be resumed shortly. A week spent afar, relaxing, writing and going slightly crispy has come to an end. There was some adventuring across a windy island, with a blue lagoon, fire mountain volcanoes and camels! I’ve had a camel ride before, I just can’t remember if that one involved one hump or two; these had one hump and a mood to match!


This is the lava fields of the National Park. I understand and appreciate how it can  be awed at; but the 14kms of space odyssey-esque scenery was a rather spine chilling. The whole area is a desolate wasteland, the sort that you might expect in space; the sort of scenes from star trek and probably star wars. With no life,  it was rather eerie.

It did however make think of something to write in the future! There was a fair bit of writing  done. Having gone a little  crispy and sun burned in the first few days, applications of after sun meant hiding in the terrace bar with the notebook, pen and dictionary.

And whilst I was away, there were plot updates. We have a lot of tomatoes! I wasn’t convinced that we are going to eat so many and quickly, so decided that whilst the holiday laundry was on, soup would be made. Two thirds of the harvested and red tomatoes were used, as well as some sage from Dad’s garden. Jalepenos have gone red on the sill, so a few of these  have been chopped and dropped in. I did actually use a tarka base, with carom and black mustard seeds sauteed with home grown onions and garlic. So it’s not a traditional tomato soup, but a spiced tomato soup.

Spot of Adventuring: Brighton, rocks.


Stuffed with chocolate, squash and crisp, Petal’s bag accompanied me on a seaside adventure. The seaside adventure is slowly becoming something of an annual Summer Bank Holiday tradition. Last year, I was fortunate enough to go Bournemouth. This year, Petal and I pootled to Brighton. This was my second visit to Brighton, having travelled there for a Psychology conference. I liked to so much, I wanted to return and this time, for another and different jolly. (The conference was epic in its own right!)


Saturday morning, and I am standing on the beach. Normandy is about 80 miles ahead of me somewhere. The sun is only just coming up over Brighton pier.

It was positively magical.

With hardly anyone around-apart from the obligatory treasure hunter with their beeping metal detector-the beach was at it’s quietest. Was also quite warm actually, nineteen degrees and soon cranked up to be scorching.

We had travelled on Friday, and thankfully weren’t at the mercy of striking train staff. I made a return visit to Planet India; Planet India is by far one of the nicest Indian restaurants I have visited. Plus, for some daft reason, there is always an Indian restaurant frequented during a holiday. I remember being in the North of Crete and going to have an Indian dinner. It happens! Planet India is pure vegetarian restaurant, and the food is amazing. If you fancy an Italian eatery, then pop to Edenum; good food and lovely staff! Two places where I have enjoyed eating, and think are worth a mention if you are ever in that neck of the woods.

On a previous visit to Brighton, I had walked passed The Royal Pavilion in the evening and it was rather pretty as it was lit up. I actually managed to go in this time, and have a good look around. On the outside, the building does rather echo the architecture of the Taj Mahal. I’ve got the advantage of having seen the Taj, so I can see the similarity. On the inside, there is a heavily Chinese and oriental influence. I do rather like History, and the history of this building made it a good visit. We even saw a bride and groom who were celebrating their nuptials as we passed through the Music Room.(She looked stunning, and had a beautiful bouquet). I have to say, that it was the first floor that got my attention; the section on Indian Army soldiers who were housed there during the war and also Queen Victoria’s apartments rather left an impression on me. Plus, as I work with veterans from time to time, seeing how the Pavilion was used as war hospital did underpin the experience.

Then there was the West Pier. I do remember seeing pictures of this and even reading about it. There were some vague memories of it being burned down, and some rather grainy BBC footage of smoke. And there it was, as large as life. The structure is all bones, and because of that, it looks a little sad and unloved. I couldn’t help but feel that it needed a bit of hug. The obligatory walk down the main Brighton pier was taken; we didn’t have fish and chips, or ice cream for that matter, but it was a nice walk.

There was a lot of walking around Brighton, and that isn’t a bad thing. A lot of Brighton is accessible on foot. We wandered around the North laine and also the older lanes. If you need a rock, a shiny one and set in platinum, then the lanes is your ticket for finding one. (So is the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham, to be honest, but that was my first thought.) A lot of Jewellery shops, and lots of shiny stones; but also lots of quirky indie boutiques. We ended up in ‘That little Tea shop’ and had a lovely cuppa with cake. This place is rather cool, with war-time inspired furniture and fittings. A real gem, and a cracking good cuppa.

As you can see, the weather wasn’t bad! I have the slightly burned and crispy feet to prove it. It is always such a gamble going to the sea side on August Bank Holiday weekend. Good fun was had, with good food and a very chilled atmosphere-well, actually no, the hotel was boiling, even with the constant whirring of a fan.

All in all, a lovely adventure. Cheers, Brighton, you were fab.



Blenheim Rose Garden #gdnbloggers


The day after the hottest day of the year, and it was the second hottest day of the year.

And I got to see Blenheim Palace Rose Garden again having had a rather nice, traditional Afternoon tea. (Was the orangery, and not the Indian room, but still lovely).

I’ve not been to many rose gardens and I am sure that there are quiet a few. This was however the first one that I ever got to see, and it’s never lost it’s charm. I couldn’t tell you all of the rose varieties exactly, there are so many in the circular garden. This was my third visit, and I got see the roses in full bloom.

If ever, you wanted to propose to someone, do it here!

Blenheim is amazing anyway, it had me at the history; so the rose garden is a wonderful bonus. There is also the Capability Brown landscaping and lake to add to the whole adventure. On the side of the lake,  near the victory column, is an abandoned secret garden which is a hidden gem and worth trekking out and rummaging for. Just avoid the sheep on the way, and you’ll be fine.


Yes, I burned my shoulders (Yes, Bollywoods do actually burn and I am rather pasty). I missed a bit when slapping on the factor 50. It is the factor fifty that is ironically sat on the shelf post re-application. The adventuring hat-if it’s good enough for Indiana Jones-did it’s job, and the sunglasses are always mandatory in the rare, but very bright sunshine.

Blooms and Buffy: Frocks, fruit and flowers

The last week has seen several episodes of rain and flooding; not very conducive to going to allotment. I finally made it to the plot today to see what the state of play was; there are weeds to  be got rid of but also lot to positive about.


The first handful of strawberries have been harvested. A couple of them a little under ripe, but they are bright red and edible. I may have even eaten one to taste check, and I not even a big fan of strawberries. These have arrived a little earlier than usual, with strawberries usually cropping around Wimbledon fortnight. I know that sounds very cliched, but I do have memories of hearing of Andy Murray winning wimbledon and only having one strawberry that year.

The rain has done little to thwart the roses; they are a bit damp and fluffy, but still blooming. There are easily a dozen roses in that bouquet and in an assortment of colours.

There was also some adventuring this week. Adventuring, that I have been looking forward for some time and is completely unrelated to the allotment. I actually went to a convention. Not a conference, a convention; a convention celebrating Joss Whedon’s Buffy:The Vampire Slayer and Angel:The TV series. Two shows, that I have very fond memories of having watched them as a teenager; and two shows that I can watch over and over alongside Star trek and Shakespeare. So I went.


And it was rather fun! An amazing opportunity to talk to other whedonites and to meet some of the stars as well. The highlight was meeting Anthony S Head who played Rupert Giles. There were eight guests in total, and it never ceases to amaze me just how iconic Buffy and Angel were. Hearing the guests talk about their jobs was simply mind blowing.

This was the first time that I had ever been to a convention, so I was a little bit worried as to what expect. It was however a really positive experience, and sat there at half ten talking about Buffy episodes at a disco was rather surreal. As you can see, part of it involved dressing up. That is my attempt at Bad willow, though I do look more an extra waiting to keel over in GoT. On the right, that’s a better attempt at dressing up to attend a whedon prom.

I can safely say, that whedonites are by far one of the most amazing groups of people in the world. I flew solo in this adventure, I didn’t take anyone with me. Yet there were couples there-a couple of which had very new babies in tow, I take my hat of to them!-where whedon was a shared passion. So in being by myself, i was adopted and made to feel very welcome at my first convention.There was a huge diversity in age ranges and nationalities, people had travelled in from very far afield. Apparently, there are not many Buffy/Angel conventions, so this was a rare one.

#bollywoodgardeners Roman Adventure


When you get asked to go on an adventure that has been speculation for nearly a decade; you don’t hang about. You make sure you have a good pair of shoes-I broke them in for a couple of weeks before hand-find a canvas bag-I had one already, funny that-and then you plot you itinerary. Well, you don’t, but you do have a sister who does.

You count down the weeks, the days, the hours; then, with your suitcase in tow, you set off on an adventure.

The hashtags #Bollywoodgardener #adventuring get used, and you take in, arguably what is the adventure of a life time.

Let’s see the pictures and then I will tell you all about it.

In four days, we must have walked miles. Thank goodness for the shoes. Their first test, with the roma card, was the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. This not the first Roman theatre I have seen; the one in Tunisia is pretty damned epic too. Seeing the Rome version peeping out between two modern buildings, was indeed something else. Then you actually get in, and you get a better understanding of how it might have worked. Having savoured that, there was a walk around the Roman Forum.

Day two, was Vatican City.  There is one key thing for me here. No matter what you believe in, or even if you don’t. This visit cemented for me, the power of human beings. What it is, that we are mortals can achieve when we put our heart, soul and mind to something. (Oh, and don’t mention to me the most expensive Ice-cream I have ever bought, and right out side the vatican. Nice, but not that nice). Seeing the sistine was something else; the room itself is rather dark with only slivers of natural light coming through. Yet when you step in, and are holding your sisters hand so you don’t lose her amongst all of the pilgrims and tourists; you are amazed by the sheer brightness of the colour. You just have to look, look up and then down. The images are just wonderfully vivid-restored, remember-but rich. It is then you realise just how much a single human being can achieve. There is of course much more to the Vatican, you walk through a number of galleries to get to the chapel, and these too are to be appreciated.

Lunch was delayed, as we made for St.Peters basilica and square. The television images do not do it justice. Yes, that is Petal in the square up above. Our departure was heralded by a selection of bavarian brass bands having something of a trumpet off in the square. Now that was interesting, but we were hungry and off to find chow and the cat place.

Food was found, and so was the cat place. A set of Roman ruins, that were home to a cat colony. We were about to leave disappointed having not seen any furballs, but the sound of mewing stopped us. We did the obligatory cooing over kitties basking in the sun; they were actually quite cute. A visit to a Da Vinci exhibition-found by fluke-further underlined the magic of the human brain. Da Vinci devised a tank!

Day three was spent trekking, and we found ourselves in the bone crypt of the capuchin friars. Left me slightly uncomfortable, the reminder of my mortality. But I get the concept. A walk through some part of villa borghese was as far as gardening went. A very English type park, with Lord Byron at the entrance. (We did try Villa Medici, but the tour was in French and we had missed the English one on the Sunday morning). In the morning, we had spent some time in a queue. In the queue for the opera. Have never been, even here in England. Only serves for the saying, when in Rome; so we did. But it wasn’t just an opera. It was La Traviata. Directed by Sofia Coppola, and with costumes by Valentino. So we stood in the queue, with posters around us telling us that a performance was sold out. Crossing our fingers, we ventured to the open window. Panic not! The posters were the previous evening. Phew! Ten minutes later, we had tickets, a pocketful of soul and excitement. We were going to the opera!

And what an experience. Thankfully, we had checked before the story; I do that anyway, but it did help, knowing what the gist was. As did the subtitles. Epic doesn’t cover it. Voices, costumes, being the youngest by about fifty years, all adds to the experience.

The closing days of our adventure held the trevi and  the spanish steps. The Spanish steps were a bit underwhelming; covered with scaffolding. I am unsure and wholly unconvinced of their would be splendour. The trevi was all very sparkly and clean looking. I made my three wishes to fall in love three times; as to whether they come true and when, you and I can both take some guesses.

All in all, I am very glad to have adventured to Rome; it is a huge privilege to do such things.

As for the next adventure.

It remains to be seen.


Adventuring at The Eden Project

The last week of my summer holidays, and I was about to go on an adventure. I departed Middle England, and boarded a train mid morning. The journey would be long, but the following day I was going to The Eden Project. A number of friends and colleagues have visited, some with good reviews, some with not. The best thing to do, was to experience it myself.

It is the other side of the country from where I am, in fact on the edge of the country. The trek and accommodation was always going take up a lion’s share of the logistics. The entry for the day, seemed reasonable, given the large sprawling nature of the place. Getting there was simple enough, a return trip on a bus from St.Austell. I did go early, basically as soon as it opened. I really did want the most of it, and I would be spending the day there. A hoody and a pair of comfy boots were used to make things easier. As soon as I got there, the heavens opened and I got rained on. A lot. So I had to head to the biomes, through the zig zag gardens that slope down the sides of the former quarry.  I did take a moment to take stock. That second picture up there, the one with the biomes, is astounding. And of course the money shot, used by the literature. Though when I sent it to Ma, she did say they were big green houses.

The may well be greenhouses in the most simplest sense, but the tableau does make you stop and think. Least of all about science fiction, and you are momentarily transported to Star Trek if you are that way inclined. There is no indication at that point, as to what is inside. A wonderful tease, if you haven’t done you research. I didn’t, quite deliberately. The premise was to go with a very open mind.

Going to the link between the two biomes,I had to think where I wanted to go first. I had breakfasted like a princess-half a cooked breakfast in not knowing what I would doing all day and I didn’t want to keel over too soon-so I was fed and watered. A little damp, and knowing that I would want feeding properly at lunch time, I headed to the rainforest.

A low probability exists, in me ever getting to trek through a rainforest. As far as simulations go, this was pretty close. The rainforest biome is hot, sweaty, and breath taking. And not just because of the humidity as required by the vast assortment of cultivation. The effect of being transported is immediate, least of all because of the ants that run around everywhere. They are everywhere, and that makes sense if they are one of the most populace of creatures  on the planet. Least offensive though, they don’t bother you. They make the experience more real, if I am honest.

We see pictures and videos of rainforests, and this small cross section is a stark reminder of how big a body such as rainforest is. It is very difficult to appreciate.

Time was crucial in this biome. I did try to perambulate slowly, and as the forest tapers up and around; you do not do this slowly. There is a lot to take in; a whole universe of rainforest is effectively sampled and the data points collected to form what is called a ‘rainforest in captivity’. A phrase, that I’m made me feel a little uneasy. Captivity is a word we might associate with animals, protected for their own safety. Whilst I can see the idea being applied here, the assortment being protected and cared for. I am at odds with the idea of a rainforest being bundled into a biome as though a creature to be viewed through the figurative looking glass. Don’t get me wrong, there was life in that biome. I just don’t like the phrase ‘rainforest in Captivity.’

For the eager and fastidious student, there is a huge amount to learn. Careful study of the markers and the guide-a bit much at £6-is going to provide you with a wealth of information. Looking at the labels, does take time. Unless you speak to a very willing and well trained member of The Eden team, you do have to look and read to make your own judgements.

It is breathtaking, you travel the world without leaving the biome. Having walked around very slowly, there was of course the other biome.

Next, was the Mediterranean biome. This is more cute and cuddly compared to the rainforest biome. It also felt a little smaller, not taking as long, and causing me to question as to where the rest of it was. I did, admittedly, take a lunch time pit stop. I was in need of feeding, my brain was whizzing after the rainforest, and this mean stopping to reflect.I experienced something of a very eerie moment. Rain was scheduled anyway. So it fell, as I had lunch on the terrace. With the exception of a small hungry child, a silence descended on the whole biome. People stopped talking, there was a really cold heavy silence as the clouds gathered over the bioem. A very, very, strange sensation.

Once fed and watered, I did another wander around the second biome. This time, focusing on the chillies, the vineyard and The Roman Garden. The chillies were epic, arguably the envy of the world’s Chilli heads. I took solace in the fact that some of the varieties sown and grown there, were also in my poly tunnel albeit on a smaller scale. It helps, that I know who the seed supplier is. I didn’t pick any, as I was a bit unsure of the rules, and I think they are probably used in the kitchens there.

Sunflowers carpeted part of the area and were a welcome drop of sunshine. The vineyard with it’s sculptures of Dionysus and friends. You cannot miss the big strapping bull, that looks as though he is about to go on a rampage. According to mythology, he is of course a little drunk and full of the carousing spirit. Then there was The Roman Garden. I may not be the biggest fan of this historical time frame; but I did learn something. All the things you might expect on your allotment, the kitchen garden, your cottage garden; has a distinctly Roman heritage.


The seed. The last phase of my exploration was The Core. The central part is this. A huge piece of Cornish stone, hewn down to form this knobbly edifice. I peered in, to take the picture; but felt compelled to pass my  hand over the sculpted form. Another slightly surreal Star Trek moment.

I was conscious of not taking too may photographs. Not just because you can put the name into a search engine and find lots of images. If I did that, what would encourage you to actually go?

Not taking more and hundreds of images, was about absorbing the persona experience of the whole thing. Not everyone is a gardener, with horticultural tendencies. One person’s rose bush, might be another’s pernicious weed. You cannot account for experience and perception. I went with an open mind, and there were many parts that resonated with me. So to take loads and loads of photos, would perhaps have diluted the would be perception of others.

I had a good day. Try it.