1 EAGLETON NOTES: October 2020



Saturday 31 October 2020


Call me a party-pooper if you wish but I have always detested participating in Guising or Trick or Treat (depending on where one was brought up) and other Halloween shenanigans.

The only thing I can ever recall getting involved in at Halloween, and enjoying, was as a child in Liverpool where we called it Duck Apple Night and had a tradition of ducking or bobbing for apples as well as trying to eat apples suspended from a line across the room suspended between the picture rails. Somewhere I have a photo which I had hoped to use of my family dookin' apples (they were brought up in Scotland) but it hasn't been digitised and I can't find it. However we used to host a party of our friends and their children in our barn with a firework display added:

Years ago the following appeared in, I think, the Liverpool Echo:

I'm recalling bygone traditions
That never cost the earth
Do you remember duck apple night?
What a gear family night!
Apples bobbing up and down
In an enormous enamel bowl
A silver tanner embedded in a bruised apple
The winner takes all
Snap apple was next on the agenda
A line of string rigged up
By my ever-resourceful mam
Rosy apples strategically places
Some high, some low, our hands tied securely
Behind our backs, quite a difficult task.
Laughs galore as well as crafty cheating
By the older siblings of course
How sad our old-fashioned traditions
Have been sabotaged, duck apple night
Has been Americanised, trick or treat, 
Halloween, witches and broomsticks

Author unknown (to me). 

Having said all that, when I was in Canada in 2005 visiting a friend from my teenage years I happened to arrive at the time when they were getting the pumpkins ready. Pumpkins like I had never seen before. (It was just before my New Zealand life). I carved my first, and only, pumpkin.

My friend (who died last year) and her daughter.

Monday 26 October 2020

It's Not Edgy Enough

Kay recently posted on being positive. In the post she used the term 'Pollyanna' with the words "but I hesitated because there is always someone who will take me for a "Pollyanna" with my head in the sand and not fully comprehending the problems of the world.".  I stood up for Pollyanna and Kay said that she thought that people thought it "not edgy enough" for the modern world.

Ten years ago on Thankful Thursday on A Hebridean in New Zealand I wrote about the best-selling novel Pollyanna by written in 1913 by Eleanor H. Porter"

Pollyanna's philosophy of life centres on what she calls "The Glad Game", an optimistic attitude she learned from her father. The game consists of finding something to be glad about in every situation. It originated in an incident one Christmas when Pollyanna, who was hoping for a doll in the missionary barrel, found only a pair of crutches inside. Making the game up on the spot, Pollyanna's father taught her to look at the good side of things—in this case, to be glad about the crutches because "we don't need 'em!"  Of course it didn't end there.

I've noticed, too, that the term 'Pollyanna' has been used a lot recently about Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand. (Whom I happen to admire as a person with humanity who can also act decisively with an iron ruthlessness).  The references have not appeared entirely complimentary. 

In this day and age a good positive outlook is no bad thing because the world and its news is centred on negativity. Not just with Covid-19 but with politics in general in many countries. Okay, there are a lot of positive initiatives but even then organisations like Extinction Rebellion concentrate on a negative way of putting over what is supposed to be a positive message.

So I'm very sad that we feel it necessary to be 'edgy' to get our message across.

Wednesday 21 October 2020

There's No Such Thing As Bad Weather

, just soft people.

The weather is part of the British (and I use the word with care) psyche. We can't have a conversation without it cropping up, we can't write a letter without mentioning it (as if anyone really cares what my weather is like when I write to them), so much that we do is dependent upon it and our moods are so often governed by it. Generally speaking I claim (incorrectly of course) that my moods are not governed by the weather. I am too logical and independent of thought. 

What rubbish. What cant! Who am I to be so superior and different? Never has this been made aware to me as it has this morning. After a full day's rain and wind yesterday this morning has turned out to be even worse. I'm not sure whether it is the state of semi-lockdown we are in with socialising so restricted or whether it is just a change in me but this morning I am really peed off with the weather. Yesterday I didn't set foot outside the house. I didn't even visit The Polycarb. Mind you I got one helluva lot done indoors. 

Usually I'd don all my wet weather gear and set off for The Castle Grounds and walk in the relative calm of the woods and end up at The Woodlands, divest myself of all my wet weather gear and settle down to a companionable coffee. Not today. Even if The Woodlands was open for morning coffee (it opens late for lunches at the moment) I'm not in the mood. I'm sulking and I don't like this 'me'.

Even the poppies in my garden, which were in profusion at the weekend have all been blown flat. That's the last straw.

Fortunately by the time I've had my virtual coffees and discussed the weather ad nauseum I will doubtless feel on top of the world again.

Monday 19 October 2020

The Polycarb

If you live in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland the term 'Polycrub' is trade name synonymous with a polycarbonate garden tunnel which is the updated equivalent for windy places of the ubiquitous polytunnel. Mine is not a Polycrub but is similar so instead of calling it a polycarbonate polytunnel which everyone understands but is long-winded I have decided simply to call mine a polycarb or The Polycarb.

I've already posted photos of it when it had just been constructed. I don't thing they are actually 'built'. Or are they? One builds lego models.

The very first creature (apart from humans) that I am aware of entering The Polycarb was this Red Admiral Butterfly. I thought it had decided on a winter hideout because after two days it was still very reluctant to leave. However it did eventually just fly out of the open door. I regarded it as a good omen. Had it been a cabbage white I might have been less sanguine.

I decided on just one raised bed along one side of The Polycarb. 900mm x 5m will give me quite a bit of space and then any extra I need for growing things, in the first season at least, can be large square planters.

One of the problems as anyone trying to do DIY in the UK at the moment will know is that, because so many people are spending money on improvements instead of holidays, there is a national shortage of wood. Anyway having ordered wood in lots of time, a few days ago the wood suddenly arrived and I built the staging for working and bringing on potted plants.

The Polycarb has ventilation at both ends in the form of a barn door (to keep cats out) and a window at the other end. Despite that the biggest summer problem will be keeping plants shaded and cool when needed. In the few weeks since it was constructed the maximum and Minimum temperatures have been widely apart. Particularly given that the outside daytime temperature even in the sun has hovered around a maximum of 12ºC. 

Friday 16 October 2020

Following Blogs

When JayCee commented on my last blog it made me go to my side-bar to see whether she had started blogging again. I discovered that somehow I had missed the fact. I went to my sidebar where the blogs I read are mentioned and it wasn't there. Possibly I had deleted it when I thought JayCee wasn't going to blog any more. Who knows?

Anyway the real point was that if it's not in my side bar then I don't regularly check for posts.

Now a lot of people don't have other blogs in their sidebar so it started me wondering how they decided which blogs to follow and read. I know one person who only reads another blog when someone comments on his blog so he could follow the link back. However, I like a bit more structure to things.

Many years ago I used a program which allowed me to read all blogs and posts and comment outwith the blogs but that was discontinued.

Anyway I decided recently to do something about it and started writing this post to seek suggestions. When I got as far as the preceding paragraph I suddenly had a brainwave that perhaps there was something in the Dashboard which perhaps wasn't there in the 'old days' or which I had simply overlooked. Ecce! There at the bottom of the Dashboard was 'Reading List'. So I went through it only to discover that JayCee wasn't even on that. Then I realised that I had never actually followed her blog even though i read it. Now remedied. The question then came into my mind as to how I managed to follow YP's blog because he doesn't have a followers widget. Then I discovered that I can do that in the Dashboard too. Sorted. 

Do readers ever look to see who is on the blog list on other blogs?

Another question. Does anyone know why someone who comments on Eagleton Notes appears in the comments but never in my emails?

To lighten this post I thought I'd show a photo of a Rozanne Geranium with a little visitor. The Rozanne is unusual in that it is a perennial Geranium but does not spread or reproduce via runners or seeds. 

Sunday 11 October 2020

Blogger's Block

I'm conscious of the fact that it's a while, even for me, since I posted. I've had Blogger's Block. It's not quite the same as writer's block because I write a lot of letters and emails constantly. The difference is that on my blog I have various 'don'ts': I don't do controversial topics (and almost every current topic is controversial); I don't go long walks in interesting places most days (so I don't have a variety of photos to post every day); I lead a busy life in my garden (not the greatest blogging topic in a garden like mine) and socially (definitely not of interest to anyone else) and whilst croquet gave me a great many interesting blogs in New Zealand and when I won the Scottish Golf Croquet Open but bowls is probably as boring a topic for blogging as I can think of (not that I've been bowling this summer with lockdown); and I don't generally blog about my family (my grandson is of great interest to me but many people have their own grandchildren). 

Do you ever do aides memoir for blog topics or anything else that happens to take your interest? I do all the time. Today, however, I found one that I'd put in my phone shopping list when I was out on Friday because I didn't have a paper and pencil handy. It reads "A stake through the heart is not a good way to die." The problem today is that, although the words are crystal clear, I have absolutely no idea what they are supposed to remind me of. That and many other things can join the 190 draft and partly finished and occasionally incomprehensible blogs that I have started and languish in the dashboard.

Despite the atrocious weather we've been having and despite the fact that I don't think poppies are generally associated with this time of year my poppies are still flowering daily: