Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Springing into Action

I have to give the English credit - they do a good Spring. The end of Fall that I experienced wasn't anything spectacular and Winter was a wimpy affair. But Spring is here and it's very very nice. There are flowers everywhere, the sun is shining, the air feels soft, I even saw lambs gamboling in the fields yesterday. It really is nice around here. It's so nice, I'm even considering spending more time in the great outdoors by renting an allotment. An allotment is a patch of ground that you rent from the local council to use as a garden. Most people grow vegetables, although there are some flowers amongst the mixtures too. I phoned up the Cookham parish council and rent for a "5 pole plot" will cost me the great sum of 5 pounds per year. I think I can afford that; even if I only get one line of carrots out of the thing, it won't be much of a waste of money. What's a 5 pole plot you ask? So did I. It's apparently an ancient measuring system that has been kept around to refer to allotment sizes. Must be from the same person who came up with the idea of measuring your weight in rocks. A short Internet search leads me to believe it's roughly 10 by 10 metres, so plenty big for plenty of back-breaking labour if I have to turn the soil. I'm keen in theory, but I'm not certain if my keenness will continue in practice, but as I said, at 5 pounds a go, it wouldn't be the end of the world if slugs ate all the lettuce, would it?

In other news, we went to Thame Country Show yesterday. It was interesting, very much a country thing to do. Lots of demonstrations of hunting with spaniels, with falcons, with spaniels and falcons together and even hunting with ferrets. We missed the ferret hunting demo, so I'm afraid I can't tell you how to do it. But the falcon display was pretty cool. The falcon came shooting in from a great height like a rocket, she was very impressive. There was a rabbit judging contest and the winners were out on display in a tent. Who knew there were so many different types of rabbits? Hamsters too! There was a chance for people to show off their own dogs' skills, which was quite amusing. The one event we saw was a retrieving contest. The owner held the dog (a black Lab) while the organiser put 3 balls around the course. He showed the dog where all 3 balls were as he did it and then when they were down, the dog and owner went out to get them. The owner could help by encouraging the dog to the direction of where the ball was, or by showing the dog the tunnel to get into the fenced off part where the ball was. Of course, being just an average dog, it did a pretty average job at retrieving. Meaning it remembered where the last ball was put, but not the first 2; so it took a fair amount of animation from her owner to get all three balls. There was also scurry driving, which was something I hadn't seen before either. Two little ponies pull a cart with a driver and rider through a set course as fast as possible. The driver obviously steers and the rider is there for leverage to help make tight turns. It's pretty fast and exciting, well worth a watch if you get a chance. There were also lots of stands selling all sorts of things, food products to binoculars to straw baskets to folding chairs. Everything you need for life in the country. I enjoyed the show quite a bit and it made for a nice day out. There is another big Thame show in the Fall, with lots of judging of prize-winning cattle, potatoes, cakes and that sort of thing. Not quite the same idea as this show, but I might keep in mind for us for later anyways. As C'lonials, we should take these opportunities to get to know the Brits and their ways and their award winning strawberry jams.


susan_rn92 said...

I am so jealous! I would have loved to see the hamster show.

ZeeBride said...

They even had a castle there for some. I think they were Siberian minature hamsters in it. Seriously, Siberian.