Sunday, March 18, 2012

Garden Tour and a Small Plea for Cultural Heritage

A couple of lighter stories so that it's not all Gloom and Doom

(Thanks for this one T!)

No it’s not spring. It just feels like it, so I have been out inspecting the “garden.” I was so inspired by my son’s magnificent strawberry patch, that I planted some myself.  I am pleased to report that the sole survivor is at last getting new leaves. The orphan tomato seedlings are also doing well as are the companion weeds. Despite the fact that I use tons of rosemary on things like rosemary potatoes and Portuguese chicken, the rosemary plant also continues to thrive. Anyway, I took some to a garden swap last week and one of the ladies gave me an excellent tip. Use it instead of skewers when making shashlik or satay beef and the flavour will go right through it.  Haven’t tried that yet, but I’m sure it will be delicious. 

Not my Strawberry Patch
I love the garden swap, not that I ever have much to bring except rosemary, but you always find interesting things you rarely see in shops like kale, heritage tomatoes and striped zucchini. This time I came away with sorrel – potato and sorrel soup coming up, a lovely old fashioned herb called lovage and some cherry sauce. As well as finding out what grows well here you also get to know the neighbours. It was a lovely atmosphere so  thanks for putting up with me.

My Strawberry Patch

Thanks too to the Botanic Gardens for identifying some of my mystery plants and no, you can’t eat them. The one with the black berries (Portuguese Laurel) looked quite delicious and eminently suitable for making jam, but it turns out that they are probably poisonous even though the birds love them. 

The Orphan Tomato Seedlings which I also got from the Garden Club

A Plea for the  Retention of a Little bit of Cultural Heritage


As I have been walking I have been wondering why it is that most Europeans, Australians and Americans deplore the mistreatment of animals, yet the concept of animal welfare seems almost unknown in many other parts of the world.

I suspect that we owe this at least in part to the writings of late C18th romantics who, as the ugliness of the industrial revolution became apparent, began to laud the simple life and nature, just as it was slipping away. These ideas also found expression across the Atlantic a few decades later in the works of John Muir and Henry David Thoreau who had the time to contemplate nature. Muir particularly was instrumental in having a few natural areas of great interest and beauty set aside, before they too were ‘developed’ and this idea also spread to Australia, giving us many of our National Parks today.

As children these ideas filtered down to us as via books and stories. The first book I can consciously remember is Bambi ( by Felix Salten, first published in Austria in 1923 but subsequently burned by the Nazis),  being read to us one chapter at a time. It not only gave wonderful insights into seeing and feeling things from an animal’s perspective but also contained valuable life lessons, though I can’t claim to have understood that then.  Nor was it just a case of anthropomorphising animals. We could see from the sick owl we tended and our other animals, that they felt pain just as we did and that they responded to care and attention. When my own children were young, it was books like Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows (1908) and Richard Adam’s Watership Down (published in 1978 and still Penguin’s best -selling novel of all time).

 I was very sad then to learn that Sandleford Park, the place which inspired Watership Down was under threat of development.  A.A. Milne’s Hundred Acre Wood (Ashdown Forest) which was the setting for his Pooh Bear stories is now a national treasure, so why not the downs, especially given that alternatives are available. Cornwall is a magical place.  Please don’t take away the magic.

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