Teacosy gets Boldre

The sun broke out again this morning and so ere long, we broke out from a stupour of mild inaction to head for Beaulieu where summer bedding plants (red geraniums, dark blue lobelia and white alyssum) where purchased for the potager garden back home.  

Thence to Lymington and, more specifically,our target destination Waitrose, followed by a meander back through the forest for TC’s delectation and delight..

After spending far too much money, purchases included a tray of sushi for lunch, at which Marion initially turned her nose up but I insisted she put presumption (not prejudice) against the contents aside, to just wait and see – plus a couple of delicious butterscotch yum yums from the patisserie.

On the way back we diverted via Sway in the hope of calling upon a couple of friends of mine who live on the edge of the forest, but they weren’t in, thus thwarting our second attempt to ‘pop’ since I arrived down here at the end of March. Maybe third time lucky (that is, the next time we hit Waitrose)!

And then it was TC’s time. Ah, perhaps not quite yet. Lunch beckoned from the carrier bag. And out came the sushi tray.

Out also came the presumptions, that it was all raw fish and yuck. One tentative bite from my companion was followed by a distinct ‘Mmmmm!’, and thereafter I had to wrestle to get anything from the selection tray myself.  “Houston, we have a sushi convert…”

From Sway we meandered over to the delightful village of Boldre. I’d said that the first pony we saw we’d have to stop and introduce TC, or in Marion’s words: “The first pony gets it [an introduction]!”. In the village centre we saw not New Forest ponies but donkeys, including a very young one that Marion said is known as a Jenny (not sure why).

Then headed for home through the forest snapping location pics as spotted ideal ‘Kodak moments’ to share with TC’s fanbase:

I got some very puzzled looks (and smiles) from folk driving or walking past as I composed a brightly-coloured teacosy into position for my various photographs. Needless to say it was a drive home full of mirth and much giggling. Marion even admitted that it wouldn’t have occurred to her to do anything nearly so silly, but she hadn’t had as much fun in a long time!

TC’s off to Dorset tomorrow morning to spend the weekend at Kingcombe with Marion. It’ll get a walk through the stunning wildflower meadows where early spotted and southern marsh orchids, yellow rattle and ragged robin will all be easy to spot and provide yet more photo opportunities.

So pop over to http://chorlkie.wordpress.com for an update (hopefully she’ll find time to post some pics over the weekend but knowing her she might wait until she’s home on Sunday afternoon).

And then I believe our visitor will sadly be leaving us, heading northward to Glasgow to stay with Auchenshugglegranny. I understand Granny is already planning an ambitious itinerary for what is now a very well travelled teacosy.

I hope someone is tallying up the miles for the Guinness Book of Records because after Glasgow, Saint-Chaptes, 1160 miles south in France, is its next destination!

Maybe TC should have its own traveller’s blog?

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TSM, the radio star

Hello, this is BBC Radio Solent. We’d like to do a feature about Kingcombe’s Wednesday Walks programme on our afternoon show in around an hour’s time? Are you available to do a live interview?

So went the telephone call TSM received at 2.30pm.  

The next hour was a mad rush to ‘get it right’. When opportunity strikes for a slot on the radio the last thing you need is to be ill prepared.

We quickly updated the Kingcombe website so that people listening to the radio programme and looking for further information about the guided walk would be able to find it easily.  

solentThe next walk (27 May) is a family walk through the wildflower meadows, not an arduous hike but a gentle meander, offering the opportunity to spot stunning flowers, meadow landscapes and the odd badger if you’re lucky.  Click the Kingcombe link above, then ‘Guided walks’ if you’d like to find out more.

Next interview prep. A radio interviewer will usually ask questions he/she thinks the public will want to know. These are likely to be based upon the ‘four Ws’ – what, when, where, why, and then the all important ‘how’:

  1. What is it about?
  2. When will it happen?
  3. Where will it happen?
  4. Why is it happening?
  5. How will it take place?

So TSM set to and wrote a couple of paragraphs of what the walk was about, and reasons to travel to Toller Porcorum for it. As it’s half term week next week she focused on children and ‘something to do’ issues in a natural environment. With the wildflower meadows just coming to their stunning best at the end of May, we decided that would be the angle should go with.

Next she devised a list of bullet points based on the general description she’d written.

In any media broadcast you need to aim to get your message across in clear points, and must prioritise the information to be passed on (what do the public need to be told, should be told, could be told).  Having more bullet points available, just in case you’re given more time, is always a good idea.  I said that after the general description it was essential to say the website address carefully.

And come 3.30pm, just as we’d finished fixing the website and the prep, the phone rang and off she went.

I was listening online in another room. She wasn’t on air more than three minutes as anticipated, and her preparation shone through. Her voice was calm, she was relaxed in tone, and knew exactly what to say.

Marion got her bullet points across, and charmed the presenter Charlie Crocker – so much so that at the conclusion Ms Crocker finished the interview by saying it sounded just like her kind of place.

TSM, you’re a radio star!

The Travelling Teacosy has arrived!

Yesterday a much-anticipated Jiffybag arrived from the Isle of Bressay in Shetland, direct from Mirlnlass (to whom many thanks for safe receipt) and Morrolessocks.

But TSM was away down at Kingcombe for a trustee meeting and not expected home until late. So the Jiffybag sat on the dining room table, kept company by various pieces of my broken mobile phone (someone who shall remain nameless dropped it on a stone floor last Thursday), until this morning.

We had planned to take it with us along to a hospital appointment in Lymington, then hold a grand opening ceremony on the way home in the heart of the New Forest but – dur! – the Jiffybag got left behind in our rush to make the appointment. 

So a slightly less picturesque, though still very colourful, opening was hastily organised ‘up the garden path’ at Chez TSM here at the eastern edge of the forest.  A short gallery follows. Watch http://chorlkie.wordpress.com for more pictures of Teacosy’s New Forest Safari.

More Travelling Teacosy news and pictures to follow …

Passionate about compost

The big news from the Chelsea Flower Show is that a number of prominent MPs have designed a special garden. This is thought to be part of an attempt to win over Middle England after last week’s expenses revelations. Personally I don’t think it will work.

19-23 May - click for website

19-23 May - click for website

Sources say they are “passionate about compost” and intend to spend the next few weeks travelling round the country, listening to delphiniums.

The theme of their garden is Targets for Growth. Let us take you on a conducted tour, starting at this charming rustic gate where you pay your £30 entrance surcharge.

Immediately, you have to admire the imaginative use of polytunnels, all leading to a central focal point. This is to convey the idea that they are keeping all their most exciting horticultural policies under wraps.

Now we must follow this winding path, where Gordon Brown has laid down psychologically flawed paving, and on your right you can see his borders. I really like the way he has displayed all those seed catalogues here, suggesting that these blooms may one day appear, because he believes this is the right thing to do. Behind them, over there, Gordon is planting his hardy quinquennials which, provided global conditions remain stable, will make a lovely show every five years.

And here’s a trellis for aspirational climbing plants, like clematis. When they have grown halfway up they will be removed for retraining. Now I like this: it’s a fiendishly complicated box maze devised by Ed Balls. Sadly, we haven’t seen anything of Mr Balls since he walked into it during last night’s BBC preview.

Alongside the path you can see Gordon has placed terracotta urns, which look very special in this setting. He believes it’s important to show restraint here and not display too many, which is why he tries to put a brake on increases in average urnings. By the way, in that waste patch beyond the rockery over there, he is planning a massive investment in begonias.

The garden is on several levels and this winding path is leading us up to the main focus of the whole thing. That object up there, which looks like a sundial, is a moral compass, which could be the next big thing in gardens. Mind you don’t trip and bash your head on it. Below us, to the left, is another of Gordon’s clever ideas: an estate of 200 affordable eco gazebos.

Be careful as we come off the path here, as it’s muddy; I’ll tell you why in a moment. First I want to show you this: a policitian’s whole new take on the traditional English lawn. They see it as a perfect trampling area and that’s why it looks a bit knocked about. Every morning Alistair Darling comes here and puts in 20 minutes of good solid trampling. It’s his variation on t’ai chi.

Now this muddy area is part of a fascinating experiment Oliver Letwin is conducting. It’s a fresh start scheme for slugs, giving them incentives to enable them to become useful members of the earthworm community. Interesting things are going on inside this garden shed. Oliver has a team of 40 people administering his “water credits” scheme which ensures that water is targeted to the plants that need it most.

I’m going to have to ask you to jump over this fast-flowing stream here; obviously there’s been a glitch in the computerised sprinkler system. Oliver says its something to do with a pipe under his tennis court over there.

Finally every garden needs a quiet spot for contemplation and Gordon’s is just beyond those bushes. He calls it his happy place and he likes to spend time there alone, practising smiling. I’m sorry the fountain is not yet working; he is still looking for a lone-parent nymph he can get back into mainstream water-feature employment.

Well, that concludes our little tour.

Under new management

Under New ManagementAs a result of last week’s announcement of a policy of ethnic cleansing on the Island Blogging website, I am delighted to report that this blog is now part of the Global Media Holdings Group, of PO Box 310, Gander, Newfoundland.

Global has a wide range of media interests. It owns a number of listings magazines, most notably What’s On In Tblisi and It’s All Happening In Lochinver.

There is also the award-winning monthly publication, Terrapins for Pleasure and Profit. In television, Global has not only the world’s premier Swahili shopping channel, but also Light to Variable Inc, the unique Adult Weather Forecast Channel where hunky male weather presenters strut their stuff. Global also has a majority shareholding in one of the most prestigious worldwide dotcom feng shui companies.

How will this affect you, the reader? Very little. The independence of the blog is absolutely guaranteed and you will receive the usual “product” – with major improvements, now that I have the back-up of Global’s massive media resources.

I am also in negotiation with one of Global’s partners, Gander Vision Ltd, to produce a DVD of this blog with additional features, such as the editor’s cuts, alternative punctuation and enhanced spelling quality.

Enough of this business talk. It is time to get on with the show – as they say at the lovely old Scala Theatre in Tblisi, where, incidentally, the heartwarming musical Up Yours Putin! (backed by Global) is opening shortly.

Readers have a chance to win tickets to the opening night; start collecting the tokens in next week’s blog postings. But I digress. 

You can get endless fun from pets, can’t you? My terrapin, Tomasz, is such a character and he can keep me in stitches all day. He has such a cheeky expression on his little face. I named him Tomasz after Tomasz Schafernaker who was voted “Mr Severe Weather Warning of 2008” by the discerning viewers of the Adult Weather Channel.

To get to the point, the hilarious business started when I had Tomasz’s tank moved from one end of the sitting room to the other after I had gone online to check my feng shui. It’s great; you just type in where everything is positioned in the room and it comes up on the screen how you should rearrange it.

Anyway, after I moved the terrapin’s tank he went into a decline. He got depressed and refused all food, even his favourite crumbs of pie which I get delivered to the door overnight from Lochinver Larder which won the gold medal for its pies in a competition organised by a major local listings magazine.

I was at my wits’ end with Tomasz, when suddenly I had an idea. I moved all the little rocks and gravel around in the tank and he immediately began to perk up. In his little amphibian way he wanted his own feng shui! What a great idea, I thought. Feng shui for pets. I could make a fortune.

Then I discovered that Global has thought of that. It goes online next month – http://www.petshui.com.

Tomasz flashed his yellow tummy at me and gave me that impudent sideways look, as if to say “Caught again, sucker!”

You know, sometimes I think I’m not ready for this world. I get this lost and bewildered feeling, like a man at a loose end in downtown Tblisi without a decent guide.

When I get that feeling, I just wish somebody would walk into our newly feng-shuied sitting room and say “Nikupatie kinywaji cha pombe?” Which, you may not know, is Swahili for “Can I get you a drink?”

No part of the above article may be reproduced, read aloud or otherwise disseminated without the express permission of the Whimsical Blog Directorate, an arm of the Global Media Holdings Group, of PO Box 310, Gander, Newfoundland. Neither the GMH Group, nor any of its agents or subsidiairies takes responsibility if the above article, in part or as a whole, is deemed to be unfunny or faintly embarrassing. No terrapin was hurt in the preparation of this article.

Norvège: trois cent quatre-vingt sept points

Alexander Rybak

Alexander Rybak

Well done to Norway!

I really didn’t think it would win because of Eastern Bloc political voting that has dogged the Eurovision in recent years, but I’m delighted to observe (and acknowledge) that last year’s reforms appear to have worked and we’re back to what the Eurovision should be about – the songs.

Alexander Rybak deserves all the laud and praise being heaped on him. But will we remember him in six months’ time? That remains to be seen 🙂

See you in Oslo!

Et finalment, douze points pour La…

The United Kingdom entry for tonight’s Eurovision Song Contest Final (BBC1, 8.00pm) has had to be changed at the last minute. It was a pretty dreadful song to begin with, now its been ‘improved’.

The development comes in the wake of Georgia being faced with the same issue when their lyrics were deemed to contain political content that was offensive to the host country. Georgia, which withdrew from this year’s contest in protest, had been told to revise its Eurovision entry following protests from The Kremlin.

Georgia’s entry was considered to be a political statement. But ‘Up Yours Put In’ is in fact a traditional Georgian greeting, which is still tremendously popular in Tblisi. Just wander down Haussmannized Rustaveli Avenue saying it and you will receive warm thanks, free beer and offers of a sexual nature.

But do the same in Tsverskaya Street in Moscow and you will receive several beats to the head, bruised limbs and offers of a sexual nature.

In the UK’s case, the lyrics concerned were the title lyrics of the song, plus the chorus and the verses. The complainant, a Mr Lloyd-Webber, claimed that the words are “a bit rubbish” when compared to the obvious brilliance of the musical composition.

eurovisionNow the UK contestant, Jade Ewan, has been forced to learn a second set of words to the soulful number, and is said to be worried that she will get confused ‘on the night’ and sing the wrong ones. If she did sing the original words, or, in her confusion mentioned putting, pouting, pewter tin or pooh-chin the UK would be disqualified. The pressure is really on because the UK is currently 12/1, 4th favourite.

Meanwhile, a Mr T. Rice has postponed his current work to concentrate on the new lyrics. His new words are thought to be some of his best work. Just put to a new tune.

Verse

I’ve been down, drew back the curtain
To see for certain what I thought I knew
But those days are gone now
I closed my eyes,
Far far away, someone was weeping
But the world was sleeping
To show you any dream will do tonight

Chorus

It’s my time, it’s my time
So give me my coloured coat
My time, it’s my time
My amazing coloured coat
There’s nothing I’m afraid of
Give me my coloured coat
Because heaven knows it’s my time now

Meanwhile the Norwegian Minister for Culture, Olaf Smelzovfisch, has admitted that his country, famed for a series of “nil points” song entries in the past, originally took part in the event by mistake.

He said: “Due to an error in translation, my predecessor of some years ago thought it was the Eurofishing Pond Contest and that it was in support of our distasteful, national fixation with whale hunting. Although, the Spanish have bullfighting, the British have foxhunting and the Irish have River Dance, so who are we to be told what to do?

“We do now admit that most of our entries did sound like they were originally composed to frighten elephants, which I do say is one of the distinguishing features of our entries for the competition. There have been no reports of wild elephants in Norway in all the years we have been in the competition.

“We also thought that like our fellow Scandinavian country Finland, the idea was to come last in the competition.”

Are you a Eurovision anorak like me?

Can you remember where you were and what you were doing when ABBA won the Eurovision in Brighton on 6 April 1974? I can! 😛 

My favourite for 2009

Sweden’s Malena Ernman, an unusual opera ‘star’. I doubt she’ll win though – current odds are 33/1.

A mezzo-soprano from the far north of Sweden Ernman comfortably fluctuates between the high culture opera houses of Vienna and Paris to comedy sketches at award shows (apparently).

I thought she was a transvestite the first time I saw her, and initially her voice gives that impression as well – until she starts to sing like a canary – when I realised she’d have to be a pretty special tranny to be for real!

Runners and riders

This year Norway are the 4/5 favourite to win.  Yeah right!  The favourite rarely wins!!

The Eurovision Song Contest has become such a Slavic stitch-up so that Anglophone, Latin or Germanic nations have little hope of winning again. Which means that yet another former Eastern Bloc nation will be hosting the competition next year. 

The hoot that is the national tele-vote is being supplemented by a jury system as well this year, but I doubt the new fangled system will result in any other nation than an Eastern Bloc one winning as usual. Personally I think our song is one of the worst we’ve had for years despite The Lord’s input.

Perhaps Azerbaijan or Bosnia & Herzegovina  will win this year (because neither have won before and of the pack their songs aren’t too awful – but I’m not saying their good either). Perhaps Estonia will get the bloc’s votes for singing in Estonian rather than English as most nations do these days.

The Greek adonis’s (not my idea of an adonis fwiw) funky light box is novel (love the conveyor belt!) but I don’t think that gimmick makes the song a vote winner.

The show can be viewed online at either www.bbc.co.uk/bbcone/watchlive (UK only) or www.eurovision.tv.