Tuesday, 21 September 2010

For The Love Of Trees

I love spending time in the garden.  When I need to think or read, or just relax, I often head out there and sit underneath the trees, listening to the birds and watching my dogs wandering through the plants in search of cat trails.  My garden has thirteen mature trees in it, along with a selection of young fruit trees and some rowan saplings grown from fallen berries.  I  enjoy being near them and if I could have my own little patch of woodland to wander around I would be a very happy woman.

Other people clearly do not feel the same way.

Yesterday, one of my neighbours cut down a beautiful bronze-leafed cherry tree that was planted in that garden long before he moved in.  Blue tits, goldfinches and greenfinches often nested in it. Blackbirds and thrushes ate the cherries.  The tree itself looked beautiful in any weather and it was always the first to become covered in white blossom in Spring. 
Now it is a stump.

Over the past few years I have seen neighbours cut down conifer trees, rowan trees and cherry trees of different kinds.  Many of them seem to want a plain patch of grass in their gardens and the trees are just getting in the way.
I think that is very sad.

If everyone who had gardens large enough grew a few trees the air would be cleaner, insects and birds would thrive and gardens would be beautiful, instead of bland boring spaces of trampled grass.  The trees on my land are home to wood pigeons, dunnocks, chaffinches, greenfinches, blue tits, coal tits, doves, wrens and sparrows, even the odd woodpecker.  They house countless insects - including many solitary bees - and a colony of bats has roosted among them for years.

If you are thinking of taking down a tree, please consider the wildlife that may already be using it.  Or if you have space, why not think about planting a few of your own?  Autumn is the best time to do it and there are some useful guides here.

Fortunately, there are still some people in the area who love their trees.  Hopefully theirs will remain standing for many years to come, unlike the bronze-leafed cherry, whose branches have just been left to curl and die upon my neighbour's grass.

Our gardens do not end at the walls and fences.  They are part of a larger ecosystem that lives around us and that ecosystem relies partly on the patches of land that we look after.  Nature wants to thrive, and so long as people stop getting in its way, removing established habitats for no good reason, it will.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Roald Dahl Day

Whizzpopper! 
Snozzberry! 
Scrumdiddlyumptious!

Without Roald Dahl, those words and many more would not have become engrained within my childhood memory.  I would not have known that children could become sealed inside paintings, or that a Big Friendly Giant wandered the streets delivering dreams to children as they slept. 

On the other hand, if I hadn't read The Twits, I could still eat spaghetti without thinking about squirming worms, and see huge beards without wondering what might be festering inside... but that is a small price to pay.

The worlds within Roald Dahl's books may not be pretty, predictable or safe, but the journey you take within their pages is always a magical one.  The Witches is deliciously frightening, The Twits is foul and disgusting.  But my favourite book has always been Fantastic Mr Fox.  I still haven't watched the movie version because I don't want to spoil the adventures of Mr Fox and Badger that live within my imagination!

As I got older, I enjoyed The Wonderful Story Of Henry Sugar, and Boy and Going Solo were brilliant reads, made even better by the fact that they were drawn from the author's real life.  I grew up with the editions illustrated by Quentin Blake and I still love his artwork today.


I'll always be glad that I discovered Roald Dahl's books.  They are weird and wonderful and well worth a second look if you haven't picked one up in a long time.  You can find a good list of titles here and you can find out more about the man himself at the official website - http://www.roalddahl.com

I'm off to drink some Frobscottle and seek out the recipe for Wonka's everlasting gobstopper.

Which book is your favourite?

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Back To School: Writer-Style

When September arrives, I can't help feeling a little bit envious of all the students heading back to school for a new term. Not that I'd want to lug a school bag around and trudge through the rain to face the endless horror that was P.E. - *shivers* - but because September means just one thing for me: stationery shopping.

Who else couldn't wait to stock up on pens, pencils and cases for the new school year?  Would you go for a soft pencil case, or choose a pencil tin so you could scratch names and pictures into it with the tip of a compass point? Did you pick black biros or blue, splash out on a fountain pen or go completely wild and add paperclips and correction fluid to your shopping list?

The first day back at school may not have been exciting in itself, but who can honestly say that they did not get a secret glow from having a clutch of new stationery in their bag?

Anyone?
Maybe it's just me, but I love it.

So, this week I have embraced the school spirit once again and restocked my stationery supplies. Pride of place goes to a purple fountain pen (which has its own special place upon the desk) and the best buy has to be a pack of pencils, which I intend to sharpen in my brand new automatic pencil sharpener whenever I need to use them.

Who else is stocking up?
Share your secret love!
Stationery lovers unite!