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Garden report

August 2, 2011

It’s very temperate here in Auckland, New Zealand, and so even though it’s technically winter, my garden is getting all springy. I’ve been neglecting it terribly but thankfully it’s just kept on doing its own thing. On occasions I go through a pique of planting and then a few months later I return to find that some of my plantings have flourished; others have been devoured by tiger slugs.

I got into kale when I was living in the States. It’s not really common here even though it grows abundantly. It’s just so robustly green and when you eat it you feel like you are being iron-lined. One of my favourite ways of eating it is first blanching it in salted boiling water, then sautéeing it in olive oil with crushed fennel seeds and garlic.

I always keep flowers in a pot by my door because they cheer me up. And I have rogue irises in my veggie garden. Every year I think I’ve dug out all the bulbs but every year they spring up in greater profusion. Perhaps they like being culled. They are the iris resistance movement. Of course I’m not complaining.
This is my magnolia tree. I love magnolias. I like their furry little buds that might turn into Totoros. This variety is one of my favourites – pink on the outside, white on the inside.

My apple tree is still doing what it’s meant to be doing: forming buds for spring. We planted this tree a few years ago, shortly after we moved here. It was only a single stick; it had no branches. But now it’s got lots, sprouting all over the place.

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Oranges are not the only fruit, part 2

August 2, 2011

If you missed the first part of this Ruth Manning-Sanders collected folk tale, read it here.

Oranges are not the only fruit

August 1, 2011

This is an adaption of another Ruth Manning-Sanders collected folk story: Selim and the Snake Queen. Read other adaptations I’ve done here and here.

Tune in tomorrow for part 2!

The enemy of obscurity

July 28, 2011


My sister, an artist, told me about a short film she saw by Tacita Dean. It filmed Michael Hamburger, a poet and translator, walking through his East Anglian house and orchard, showing the filmmaker the rare apples he grew from pips. I love this idea – that someone is ensuring that the beautiful old varieties don’t die out, that they are taking the time to cultivate them from seed, surely a difficult task. I can imagine him, picking an apple from over a fence, eating it, then spitting the pips into a small paper bag he might keep in his pocket for that purpose. Folding the bag over on itself three times, then pencilling a note about its origins on its bumpy side. It seemed fitting that he also translated literature so that wonderful books, previously unavailable to non-German speakers, could now be read. Michael Hamburger died in 2007; you can read his obituaries here and here.

Do you remember the fruit you ate as a child? It was different, wasn’t it? My next-door neighbours had a giant plum tree with the darkest, juiciest of plums. We’d scramble up the woodpile, stand on the corrugated iron roof of the shed, and hoist ourselves into the branches. We’d gorge on all the plums we could reach. There was another tree that grew yellow plums, but you could pick those by standing on tiptoe, which made them seem not quite so delicious. Whenever I see a dark plum in the shop I buy it, in case it’s the same variety as that special tree. But it never is.

Stuffed apples

July 28, 2011

The Big Apple comes to Pt Chevalier

July 27, 2011

I did a bit of googling, and I discovered that it’s 26 years since Desperately Seeking Susan was released.  I googled the shop and found out that it’s a Pop-up shop, only there till the end of the week, which is cool.

I also realised that I had remembered all wrong, and they were black sequined boots, not leopard skin ones. But there were definitely some coats in the shop like the ones in the East Village store. Here is the youtube clip of the ‘Love Saves the Day’ scene:

Brave new apples

July 26, 2011

Would you eat one that looked like this?