Tuesday 28 April 2015


For the last 20 or so years I’ve enjoyed many cycling jaunts with my friend and former Judge Ricardo. The other week saw us in the Lambourne area. Lambourne village is the epicenter of fantastic downland area bi-sected by the M4 west of Reading.

Tiny villages nestle in rich pastures providing fodder to breed racehorses.

It was a lovely day. After an uphill road out of West Ilsley village and we rested, for me to make a drawing and for Ricardo to take a small nap.

West Berkshire Downland  

After the ride doing a little bit of research I realise that we were cycling through the battlefields.  

The name Ilsley appears to be derived from Hilde-Laege meaning 'Place of Conflict'. One of the villages (West or East) bearing this name is thought to be the site of the Battle of Ashdown (AD 871), which is known to have taken place on the Downs. It was here that Prince (later King) Alfred won his magnificent victory over the invading Danish armies.  

Source: http://www.berkshirehistory.com/villages/westilsley.html

Thinking about this, it is not difficult to imagine the military hoards charging down these now peaceful slopes.

Sunday 26 April 2015



The other evening some friends brought a wonderful posy of flowers collected from the local playing field. 

The language of the Chiltern Landscape 

In April and May The Chilterns is a Flower Show of some 300 square miles.

On the downlands we have grasses and an  abundance of herbs: horseshoe vetch, rockrose and dwarf thistle as well as scarce plants like Bastard toadflax and Chalk Milkwort.

In fields there is Eyebright, Wild strawberry and the rare Candytuft, and where grazing is less intense Sheep's fescue and broad-leaved herbs including rockrose, Purging flax, Salad burnet, Dropwort, Ploughman's spikenard, clustered bellflower and wild thyme.

Look carefully for Chiltern gentian with its bright purple petals, prettiest of the gentians and rarest in the UK.  And along our lanes and hedge banks often support species such as spindle, dogwood, wild privet, hazel and field maple.

The language of flowers is the language of our landscape in the Chilterns.

Sunday 19 April 2015


Life on the Allotment

Canes every where 
A lovely day on the allotment (for drawing) using Sian’s kneeler the wrong way up provided the perfect sketching stool. 

The Allotment plot(s) are definitely thickening; several now sport elegant potato trenches. And there are onions everywhere.

Sian has removed her mypex duvets from her plot and is hoeing for England (prior to Digging for Victory).

Proud Onions Set Fair
Notwithstanding a thinly obsession with my own verbal excesses ‘a chaos of canes’ came to mind as I surveyed the scene.  A chaos of canes is surely right up there with a tok of capercaillies and a kindle of leverets.  Unfortunately I have yet to discover how one registers a new collective noun.

Friday 17 April 2015


Its an Allotment life.

Palpable signs of life this sunny Sunday morning with other holders singly or in pairs hard at it, preparing their ground for an onslaught of planting.

Be a Yurt, the country needs Yurts

I saw several wigwams of canes and wondered if these might be part of a larger initiative to introduce the idea of yurts portable, round tent popular the steppes of Central Asia. 

Aside from the on shed (to store the mowers and strimmer) sheds are not permitted on our allotments and I wondered if the construction of yurts might be a way around this byelaw.

Sian put me right, talking a well-earned rest from her hoeing, she explained these cane constructions where for the runner beans. Phew !