Monday, October 30, 2006

Cranberries. Of course.

Hiya folks.

I've had a busy week ignoring Uni work. I made the mistake of actually attempting to get ahold of the materials I am supposed to read for the trade marks course. One week's reading is in the order of 700 A4 pages. This is for one course out of the three examinable courses, and for the patents course, which I am only auditing, there is always at least one reading per week which I dare not fail to do if I want to show up in class. And then, of course, there's the small matter of the reading for a 15,000 word dissertation. In other words: I am potentially in a spot of bother, and without a single research paralegal or dedicated librarian to do it all for me.


On Friday night (limited LozFest 2006 - concluding remarks) as prefigured in previous entries, we went to see a stand-up comic's show on the French Revolution and it was absolutely awesome. If Mark Steel ever makes his way to your local, see the man. His rendition of the German word for "purr" made Grant almost spill his beer, and that is high praise indeed.

On Saturday we had big, big plans but accomplished absolutely none of them, because we could not be bothered, and also because those nice people at Amazon had sent me new DVDs for my birthday. This was terribly generous of them, but perhaps not really very helpful in terms of actually getting me to do the uni reading. Totally worth it though!

Therefore, on Sunday we decided to get our skates on. We hit Kew Gardens in the morning, photos here. This is basically London's botanical gardens and the place is HUGE. It has a number of different outside habitats - redwoods, conifers, a holly walk, and a few giant ponds, one of which was for some strange reason being used to grow cranberries. Together with the proliferation of jack o' lanterns all over the place and the gardens train driver who shouted "grr" at me as he drove past, scaring the living daylights out of me, seemed to be a concession to the American tourists as well as an excellent opportunity for a cross-promotion with the good people at Ocean Spray. The Ocean Spray organisation should by the way be given due credit for not concealing the origin of cranberries from the public - "Straight from the bog," indeed. The free craisins they gave us were appreciated though.

The holly walk was something of an eye opener. I had been of the view that holly was a shrub. Even when I saw an example of the species taller than the outside rank of battlements at Windsor Castle, I assumed it was a freak example, much like my parsley tree that grew beside the compost heap in Underwood Road. As it turns out, there are hundreds of different kinds of holly, and the shrub kind appears to be in the minority when compared to the 20 foot monster trees. My education as to the genus Ilex alone was almost worth the (extortionate even before conversion to AUD) price of admission. For once thing, I now know that this kind is really, really sharp.

Rather more famously, the gardens include several internal habitats to cover temperate, desert and tropical zones. These tend to be huge Victorian glasshouses which are very fabulous but also even hotter than the Pixieflat when it has been shut up for a few hours. The Palm House houses allegedly the world's oldest potplant, a cycad brought to Kew in about 1770. It also houses humidity of about 120%, making photography and, for Grant, vision basically impossible as everything fogged up the second we walked in the door.

"Wildlife" in the gardens included nice black sheep, a whole bunch of peacocks, peahens, and peababies or whatever they are called, the usual hordes of squirrels, seagulls, Canada Geese and pigeons, and even fake badgers in a fake badger set, which I regard as false advertising. We tried to get through the whole place in 3 hours, and had to skip a few chunks of the gardens to do so. Thinking of an even more extortionate season ticket so we can go back and do it properly!

In the rather late afternoon we headed out to Jen's near Richmond for what turned out to be an extremely late lunch at a Shepparton pub - my fault entirely. Nice lunch/extremely early dinner though! The Shepparton section of the Thames has a lock and we got to see it in operation, which was pretty cool. Very, very nice boat going through, crewed by a father and son team. The father seemed a little paranoid about tar getting on the decking, but we won't judge him.

Many birthdays this week - lots of electronic happy returns and virtual cake products to Jen, Ro, Vron, and most especially to our wonderful nephew K and the lovely Miss Hol, both 5 already!

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