The official video of the Heroes of She performing at the 02 is now up on the Muzu TV website. Muzu Tv have also compiled a chart of the best 5 acts in the Live and Unsigned Final- and the Heroes of She come in at No 3! This is what Muzu have to say:
“We feel that these bands have the chance to go the distance- so check them out!” The video is good, but it doesn’t begin to capture the excitement, the energy and the amazing sound of the live performance. There’s only one thing for it- they’ll have to get another gig there.
This video shows the river Kent today, as wild and as tumultuous as at any time since January. The river is on flood alert, just ten days after a hosepipe ban was announced for Cumbria. When the hosepipe ban came into force, it was explained that the long term forecast of the Met Office was for an exceptionally dry July and August. Since then it has rained remorselessly.
It’s a great luxury to visit a flower show on Press Day, before the crowds arrive. The Lakes Hospitality Association have a marquee, so I’ve been able to sneak in as part of the build-up team. The garden which has attracted all the interest is”A Matter of Time” by Tony Smith which features a naked alien in a bed of lettuces, but the garden with the most chutzpa is “A Handbag of Memories” designed by Dori Miller. I just happened to be admiring the garden when thirty girls wearing pink boas burst onto the scene and into song. They were the Chester community choir, whose tenth anniversary the garden celebrates, and I’m quite sure that none of the tens of thousands of visitors to the show will have had more fun than we did this afternoon.
Catherine Gazzoli, who never wastes a single minute in any day, has recruited no fewer than three new assistants to help her in promoting Slow Food’s educational programme. They explained their mission in the very elegant surroundings of Prue Leith’s Cotswold home at Slow Food’s AGM today. Three missionaries are needed because one deals with tiny tots, one with school children and one with undergraduates. We were told that there is now firm scientific evidence that the food which a mother consumes during pregnancy can have lasting effects on a child’s well being and that this justifies a Slow Food campaign to educate expectant mothers on what they should or should not eat.
How does the owner of a 3 Star hotel make a go of it nowadays? In John Jenkinson’s case it’s by making sure that his guests never forget their stay. He owns the Evesham Hotel in Worcestershire. When I arrived after a five hour journey from Cumbria he greeted me wearing a duck tie- not a tie with a duck design on it, but a duck soft toy made into a tie.
Driving through the Kent countryside last week there were stalls every few hundred yards selling cherries, something you would never see in these parts. But even though growing conditions here in Cumbria aren’t ideal for cherries we’ve produced a very decent crop this year- our first. I planted the cherry trees three years ago, using dwarf rootstock, so that the trees won’t grow too large. The problem with most cherry trees is that, when they are mature, the crop can’t be harvested because it is out of reach, so it’s only good for the birds. Our small trees has branches which can be easily reached and which can also be netted easily if necessary. Which makes things easier for the Slow Life.
The Sawrey Hotel is at Cuckoo Brow, about which Beatrix Potter wrote one of her tales, and although it calls itself a hotel, in reality its a pub with rooms, 19 of them. It has been serving beer for more than 300 years, the last 42 of them by the Brayshaw family, but from today by Dan Shrieber, who became the Landlord, in a joint venture with South Lakes Hotels. Soon after we had completed all the formalities of the purchase I got chatting with an elderly couple who were staying in the hotel. They told me that they had been coming to the Sawrey Hotel for 55 years and stayed 8 times last year. I’m sure this makes them the Lake District’s most loyal customers- which says a lot for the Brayshaw family and gives Dan quite a lot to live up to.
When I was a child I remember watching my grandfather sit down to a tea which consisted of nothing but new potatoes and butter. If the truth be told I thought this rather potty. I couldn’t have imagined that now I’m old enough to be a grandfather myself I’d be doing the exact same thing. I can now understand the pleasure which my grandfather got from digging the first new potatoes of the season, boiling them with a little salt and lots of mint and then eating them with no accompaniment at all except butter.
It was a spectacular and triumphant night for the Heroes of She at the 02 Arena, where they performed an amazing set in the final of the Live and Unsigned competition. The panel of judges included Noddy Holder and Annie Nightingale who was the first female DJ on Radio one, and, since the death of John Peel, is the station’s longest serving broadcaster. Annie was asked if any of the acts stood out and she replied: “I’m very impressed with the Heroes of She. They’ve really worked on their act. You can see them on the telly, I’m sure”.
If Christopher Lloyd wasn’t the greatest gardener of the last 50 years, he was certainly the greatest gardening writer. His writing was an inspiration to me long before I saw his garden at Great Dixter. I first got to know about the Echium Pininana from reading about it in a Christopher Lloyd book and straight away I ordered a packet of echium seeds. The echiums which I planted became some of the best plants in my garden and they now self-seed all over the place.
When I looked at the scene of desolation this February, after a miserably cold winter, I likened the scene to the Killing Fields. Someone suggested we put up a sign saying “In Memoriam. A Garden once existed here” Now, five months later it is difficult to imagine the despair we felt then- and in fact all of the main structural plants and trees are not only alive but thriving. But below the big structural plants there have been many smaller casualties, among them a ten year old Dasylirion Serratifolium and an Aloe which made a lovely summer display as the picture shows.
I turned on the coverage of the Hampton Court Flower Show on BBC2 tonight, anxious for news of Philippa’s Girlguiding Centenary Garden (it turns out that we’ll have to wait until Friday’s show before Philippa’s garden is featured). The programme began with Rachel de Thame and Joe Swift enthusing about the highlights of the show and Joe Swift told us very excitedly that a species tree Dahlia, the Dahlia excelsa had flowered for the first time in the UK, in the Heritage Plants collection.
When I opened the bedroom curtains first thing this morning I heard a pitiful squalk from the duck which lives on our Japanese pool. I looked up and saw the duck watching plaintively as her newly born ducklings fell, one by one, over the infinity edge of the pool. The ducklings were too feeble to be able to swim against the gentle current and were being swept over the edge. This has happened before and we knew, although the poor duck didn’t, that the ducklings hadn’t fallen to their deaths, but had landed in the drainage channel just below the infinity edge. Margaret rushed out in her dressing gown and was able to fish the ducklings out and replace them safely in the pool. This video shows the ducklings swimming happily with their mother, an hour later, safely away from the edge.
The fruit picking season has started in earnest. Last week, while I was away, Margaret picked 7 lbs of strawberries and today I picked the first of the blackcurrants (3 1/2lbs) and raspberries (1 1/2lbs) plus 4 lbs of gooseberries. I forgot the first rule of fruit picking in our garden- wear wellington boots, whatever the weather. If you don’t, the red ants will be up your trouser leg in a jiffy. The bite of the red ant is pretty vicious and gets more painful the higher up your leg they reach. Today I was reminded very forcibly that there’s no gain without pain.
Getting ready for our first Open Day of the year on the first Sunday in June is always a struggle. There’s more to do at this time of year than at any other as all the plants which have been put away for the winter, such as the dahlias and the cannas, have to be planted out. It’s impossible to get it all done in time as the window of opportunity between the last frosts and the first open day is so small. But it doesn’t really matter if we aren’t fully ready as very few of the summer plants are in flower anyway and our visitors are happy just to come out and see the first glimpses of summer beginning to emerge in the garden.
The idea of Slow Life is to take the principles of Slow Food, which are “good, clean and fair”, and extend them to life in general.
Here in the Lake District, the air is clean, the pace is slow and the atmosphere is calm. If we don’t grow food ourselves, we can buy it in friendly small shops, where you know the quality is going to be the best.
This blog is a celebration of the Slow Life, with forays into the world of design, music, the arts, gardens, and my particular weakness, Japan.