Going Dutch

Monday, May 9th, 2016 02:40 pm
tamf: jade dragon belt clasp. (Default)
The saleswoman at the garden centre was shocked and doubtful when I said I'd carry the bag of compost home on my bike. "Well, if you're sure..." she said anxiously after I'd told her about my bike's fabulous rack. Having a mishap after such confident assertions would have been embarassing, so I made sure I picked a bag without a hole in it and strapped it on. Wheeling off with 50 litres of compost at the back and a proud hydrangea in my basket, I imagined I looked quite Dutch. They are the ones that carry everything on their bikes, right?

It was in this frame of mind that I spotted my first pro-EU display in someone's front window. A cute and rather discreet garland of EU flags. The display was not in my village. The other display I've seen, which is, has much more of a pro-Brexit attitude.

This is the second time I'm the specator to an EU debate. The first one was in Norway in 1994, when I was too young to vote. It's interesting to compare the two. In the UK today, it seems to me that campaigners are talking mostly about economic issues, whereas most people have actually made up their mind pretty firmly already and mainly for emotional reasons. Either you hate the EU and think it's holding us back, or love it and therefore think we can't live without it.

In Norway there was a huge emphasis on the "Union" part of the EU, with the understanding that having fought hard and long to leave a previous union with Sweden (and now we're supposed to join a union with the Swedes and sundry other Europeans?!?!?!). The no camp won the referendum, which may of course also have had a teensy bit to do with the buoyant economy. And fish. Norwegians are precious about their fish.

There's less anti-union talk in the United Kingdom, not surprisingly. The no camp here seems to be really into the issue of immigration. Well, let me just point out that Norway, as an EEA partner, has had plenty of the same immigration that Brexiters so loathe. Also, now that the economy's less buoyant, many immigrants are leaving again. Seriously, immigrants are a good sign, it means there's hope in a country.

If I had a say and thought it would help, I'd vote against the unaccountable multinational companies that are taking over transport, cleaning and who knows what other services everywhere, from smaller local companies. Guess what? They're both in Norway and in the UK, and I doubt any single referendum's going to solve it. And I had another look at that hydrangea. Turns out it was grown in the Netherlands. It's globalizaaaaation... and it's here.

Timing

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014 05:05 pm
tamf: jade dragon belt clasp. (Default)
There are a lot of deadlines in this gardening lark. There are certain times which are good for sowing, taking cuttings, cutting back, and for moving plants. I'm starting to get the hang of things, but still, several strongly anticipated windows did pass me by in the last growing year.

Now I've got moving trees on the agenda. No, not Ents - there are various self-sown trees I'd like to tidy up a bit. So off I go on the net to see which time is suitable for these particular types of tree. Turns out it's winter/early spring, so all I've got to do now is remember then. Sooow easy.

I also came across this facinating story about moving an enormous oak tree. How wonderful that they managed to do that rather than felling it! And that there's now expertise and machinery for performing such feats.
tamf: jade dragon belt clasp. (Default)
Dragon hug by dolanhThe traditional way to mark St George's Day in England, at least among journalusts*, seems to be discussing why, or how, it's celeberated*. Obviously, I'm on the dragon's side. But I thought I'd try something celebratory this year -- such as defeating evil.

I'm talking about nettles. Stinging nettles that hide in the tall grass, then suddenly, as you're innocently gathering foodstuffs for bunnies, or walking around barefoot, or possibly doing handstands, they leap in the way only plants can. Nettles are rather a useful sort of plants, apparently, which can be used for their fibres, as a fertilizer, or to make all sorts of food and drink (within limits**) -- yet people rarely sing their praises. In fact, I doubt these plants are coveted anywhere, even where they're most exotic and difficult to grow.

So today I put on my fightin' rubber gloves and went out to face the beast. A few hours later and they've been boiled, blended and seasoned beyond recognition. Washed down with a good English ale as suggested by the Beeb, I think that's a suitable way to mark the day of the George. It's either that, or hug a dragon.

* All typos intentionally left in.
** Nettle tea will always seem a bit like grass tea.

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