Archive | May 2018

The Amazing Tulou of China

How wonderful they have survived so long.


I have always been fascinated by the architectural ingenuity of humanity, especially in periods or places where resources seem lacking. One case in point is the tulou, a type of large, multi-storied communal home built with wood and fortified with mud walls. Built between the 15th and 20th centuries in China’s subtropical Fujian province in the south, these structures were not only durable — 46 survive to this day — but they conformed with feng shui principles and are cleverly sited to be close to tea, tobacco, rice fields, and lush forests, giving their denizens access to crucial resources and livelihoods.


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This entry was posted on May 31, 2018. 2 Comments

Last May Blog, 28-5-18.

Last May Blog.   28-5–18

Hérb plants

(Picture of last years tubs)




Greek Basil,


Lemon Thyme,

Thyme, regular,


My herb tubs are not doing too badly.  Last years mint has gone woody and the tub is overrun with its roots.  Autumn or next year, it has to come out.  It seems easy to buy a pot of mint each spring in the supermarkets to re-plant in the tub.  I did buy a new pot of mint but have planted it in its own container a little way away from the main tub.

My Rosemary from last year, is still alive, though it is tending to be a bit spindly.  Still, the aroma when you run your fingers through the leaves, is wonderful.

I split my Sage pot ( the ones I planted last year from cut stems I bought in a packet, (two of which survived to become small  sage plants) into the two separate plants that survived being cut then planted,  then go through winter.   I put one in my big tub and replaced the other sage plant back into its smaller pot.  Seems to be ok so far.

The pot of chives I planted earlier in the big tub are not looking so good.  May have to replace them and I think the mint roots are choking them.

Earlier this spring I also bought some Basil.  Seems ok though not especially abundant.  I also bought some more Lemon Thyme to plant in the smaller tub with the regular Thyme from last year.   That also appears to be surviving, so far.

A couple of weeks ago I bought a beautiful Greek Basil, growing in a kind of ball-shape in its packaging.  It is also competing with the mint roots in the large tub but appears to be holding its own.  Think I bought it at Sainsburys as a herb plant, hanging out near the vegetable section ( not in the plants and flowers section).  It has delicate small leaves.  The  scent is not quite as strong as the ordinary Basil, but lovely to touch and have the scent on my hand.

So, all in all, not so bad.  There is little space for any more smelly plants, and basically I just grow them to inhale their aromas.

I almost forgot the Borage, given to me quite a few years ago and now pop up like weeks.  But their little blue flowers are pretty and I let them grow a bit wild until the spring is past or they outgrow their space.  The bees need their early flowers and they are around when the bluebells open their buds, they make a pretty sight, lots of blue with a touch of pink on the reverse side of the petals.

I sat outside to get some sunshine.  Was hot.  I have quite a few dwarf raspberries ( the bees have pollinated well) a few gooseberries but not as many redcurrants as I thought there would be. I have a few blueberries too, again, not as many as I had hoped and still no flowers on the pink blueberry bush.  Such is Nature.

The birds were singing for a while, it was as quiet as it can be ( traffic  a few gardens away) and somewhat peaceful but oh, so hot.  So only a short time in case I damage my skin.

Keep safe out there.


This entry was posted on May 28, 2018. 1 Comment


Very true

The Silent Eye

I came across an old post while I was rummaging through the files. It looked at the decades of an ordinary life…my life… and how the things that seem ordinary to you, while you are living them, can look very different to an observer. As I skimmed back through the paragraphs, I was watching the fish in the aquarium out of the corner of my eye. Two of the little loaches had ventured out to feed. They are shy creatures and I seldom see them, so I stopped to watch.

One of them was the original hitchhiking loach that had survived an almost waterless journey on a plant, the other was one of the juveniles I had procured to keep him company. The original loach has grown, losing the ‘vermisimilitude’ that had horrified me when I found him, and is looking far more like a fish, while the smaller…

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This entry was posted on May 27, 2018. 1 Comment

WWII’s Forgotten Allies

I feel the citizens these countries should be applauded, lauded and more than anything, remembered for they part in hlpung the Allies.


A lot of people forget that the Second World War, by definition, involved a lot more countries than the U.S. and U.K.

Increasingly better-known, but still underappreciated, is the role of the Soviet Union, which took on 90% of Axis forces, dealt the first decisive blow in Stalingrad, and ultimately took the fight to Berlin, ending the war at the cost of 25-27 million citizens — about half of whom were civilians.

China, which is barely acknowledged as a combatant, served a similarly morbid but crucial function: its large population, tenacity, and willingness to be as brutal as the enemy meant that it took up the bulk of Japanese manpower while losing tens of millions of people in the process, including many civilians. Hence why it is one of only five countries with permanent seats on the U.N. Security Council, as acknowledgement of its role as one of…

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