• Found for a pound

    Sunday meanderings around the ol' car boot sale & it always amazes me just what you can turn up for £1.

    This freeblown wine bottle lurking inside a mucky old crate is actually about 200 years old. French I suspect. All the lovely striations in the glass and the hundreds of tiny air bubbles simply add to its charm. Notice also the very high kick-up from the base, which is where the bottle was blown and then snapped off the pontil rod. The little ring around the lip was applied afterwards as a strengthening feature to the lip. The bottle is still in absolutely mint condition so must have neen languishing in some forgotten corner of a cellar for most of those 200 years.

    These four old, very old horse brasses were mixed in with a load of relatively modern brass nick-nacks and candlesticks and some horrible modern horse brasses. Extricating them and checking the backs verified their authenticity - probably about a hundred years old, maybe a little more for the crescent. Jan not keen, but I'm rather taken with them - medals for horses!

    Okay, if bottles & brasses aren't your bag, then how about this lovely blue & white Doulton bowl? Made at their Burslem factory this is the Melrose pattern, the registered No. 316420 dating it to 1898. Perfect condition and unashamedly Art Nouveau. No chips or cracks either!

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  • Never include more than one sunset

    I always remember my tutor in my final year at college instructing me never to include more than one sunset or sunrise in any portfolio I would show with a view to getting work. "Anyone and everyone can make these shots look great," he told me. And you know he was probably right, but I'm old enoough now to do what I like & tonight's sunset out at the back of the house was a goody. So, here it is. Just one...like the man said.

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  • Random fascinations this week

    On the Downs at present the flowers may be going over a little, but the butterflies and moths seem to have suddenly realised it is summer - mainly ringlets, meadow browns and marbled whites, but lazily feeding on many of the thistle heads are the common, but startlingly beautiful six-spot burnet moths. When the sunlight catches the wings at just the right angle they become iridescent.

    Found a single plant of monk's-hood where I've never ever seen it before. In fact can't say I've ever seen it growing wild in Herefordshire (although I'm sure someone will tell me where it can be found), although it is supposed to be indigenous in Gloucestershire & Monmouthshire (so not far away). How did this plant arrive? It's growing in a lay-by where people stop to walk their dogs. Has it arrived on the fur of a dog, the sole of a shoe or a car tyre? I love these sort of mysteries. The plant is considered as naturalised across most of Britain and has sometimes been planted in gardens, so it may have originated there. I knew it was poisonous, but until I read the books hadn't realised it is probably the most poisonous of all British plants. Certainly not one to eat (why would you?), but even touching it can cause adverse reactions.

    Lastly, a new addition to the historical archive. There must have been something special about this weeping ash tree for Henry Ninham, a renowned Norwich artist, to have drawn and etched this plate around 1830. I have discovered that Charles Turner was a a keen collector of art and very likely commissioned this drawing. Turner was Mayor of Norwich in 1834. His house, hidden behind the tree, would later become the Eye Infirmary and then the City Maternity Hospital. It appears to be a private house again now. Anyone out there with bright ideas about the significance of this tree (if there is any) then I'd love to hear.

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  • It took twenty years....just like the book says

    Yes, I'm pretty sure that we put our variegated tulip tree in the ground about 16 or 17 years ago and I'm guessing it was 3 or 4 years old then, and so, as the books will tell you, it threw its first flowers this year - right on cue. I can only see about twenty flowers, but it's a good start.

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  • Felix Dennis RIP old chum

    Heard the very sad news today that Felix Dennis died yesterday, aged 67, I assume from a resumption of the throat cancer that nearly wiped him out a couple of years back. I'm sure he scrapped hard with the demon, but this time he lost.

    I owe Felix a massive debt of gratitude for putting my name on the map in the tree world. Without his enthusiasm, encouragement and support almost twenty years back none of it might have happened, but then that was always Felix - seeing artists, writers, craftsmen with talent and nurturing them and it.

    I haven't seen him in several years, but his larger than life persona, his raucous chuckle and those odd occasions when he plied me with his fine wine and we talked into the early hours will always be with me.

    I hope that his companion Marie-France and all those around him, who looked after him and loved him, find strength to cope with such a tragic loss, and ultimately to celebrate the life of someone who was quite a guy.

    His Forest will endure and be a fantastic legacy - so good that he actually saw his millionth tree planted.

    Goodbye, and if there is another journey, travel far with joy in your heart.

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