Trees in the sky

On BBC Plant Earth II, they had a remarkable feature on “Gardens by the Bay” in Singapore. It was a futuristic design of a modern city – with a twist. Usually when we think futuristic cities, we think of metal and silver, but this was a vertical forest of vegetation and trees.

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Photo by Jeremy Hui

It is a visual feast and also a haven for wildlife. It stands in the heart of Singapore – skyscrapers of vegetation, next to the more conventional skyscrapers. Continue Reading →

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Art imitation

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In the past few weeks, I have been ill and often house bound. I’ve spent a bit of time looking through selected art books at those artists who inspire me. My range of appreciation is relatively narrow. At least after the start of the Twentieth Century, it becomes (according to my taste) harder to find art with real soul.

Nevertheless, it gave me the inspiration to try my hand at painting. It is not false modesty to say this is one subject where I have no talent or even what you might call capacity. The only thing I remember from art class, is the ability to draw a straight line without a ruler. I’ve learnt this only takes you so far, if you aspire to be an artist.

Lacking any technical capacity or artistic inspiration, I started off with basic imitation. It would be a fair assessment to say my Mona Lisa looked more like Edvard Munch’s the Scream, than an illuminating creation. Continue Reading →

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A rose amidst the gloom

It is mid November and the last flowers of summer have mostly faded away. This particular rose is defying the bleakness of the season to provide a last pink flower. It is a rather curious and unexpected specimen on this rose plant devoid of any leaves.

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The flower has survived an early frost and stands proud amongst the fallen leaves and bare stems.

According to the rhythm to the seasons it shouldn’t really be there, but it is a late gift from nature, who likes to throw a few surprises every now and then.

It is a special wolf moon tonight – the closest the moon has passed to the earth for 60 years, but it is cloudy so we can’t see it here in Oxford.

 

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Autumn leaves

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Autumn leaves.

Autumn in the full sun is a beautiful time of the year. There is also a strong feeling of impermanence with the leaves falling from the trees as you photograph the trees. It’s the kind of beauty you want to catch and hold onto, especially because you know in a few weeks or even a few days, the garden will be empty and bare until next spring.

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Nature’s last magnificent flurry before the quiet of winter. Continue Reading →

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Matlock hills

Fate keeps taking me back to Matlock.

Aged 17, I took part in a school cricket tour based in Matlock. We drank a lot of beer and played a little bit of cricket. I wasn’t very good at playing cricket or drinking beer, so I never went on another cricket tour.

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A few years later – after joining the Sri Chinmoy Centre, we had a joy weekend at a youth hostel on Bank Road (and met in the church on the left). Bank Road is a very steep hill and I thought what a great steep hill to cycle up. The funny thing is I took my bike to Matlock, but left my pedals in Oxford – so my thoughts of cycling never got further than that. It made a change from forgetting my front wheel (which I had a habit of doing at that time). Still, I had a good time on the weekend with a bit of meditation and walking in the environment of Matlock.

In 2008, the National hill climb championship was on Bank Road. I hadn’t done much cycling that year, but thought I would give it a go. I finished 14th, which was quite good. I was definitely better at cycling up steep hills than playing cricket or drinking beer. Though I still preferred longer ones to the short steep Bank Road. Continue Reading →

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The joy of compost

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This past year I’ve been doing a bit more gardening. In particular I’m quite proud of my compost heaps. I used to just put things in a pile and it would take years to rot down (too dry). But, I bought three compost bins and have sought to keep it the right moisture and mix of materials. Producing good compost is almost as satisfying as growing a good plant, and any kitchen leftovers get put on the heap – every scrap helps – as they say in the manual of organic gardening. Continue Reading →

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