shades of summer

Everywhere you go in the UK at this time of year, there are geraniums and pelargoniums of all shades blooming in tubs and window boxes, in the middle of roundabouts and in other public spaces and gardens.

Most seem to be the sort with pom-pom cluster flowers like old-fashioned floral bathing caps.
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tiger tiger

Q. What’s black and white and red all over?
A. A sunburnt penguin.

or, possibly,

Yesterday’s newspaper.

I guess that that traditional gem becomes less and less appropriate as an answer as newspapers are now printed in colour, and, anyway, we tend to read them online as a never-ending rabbit hole of hyperlinks, not as a monochrome printed artefact.
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no more tulips

I recently wrote a couple of posts inspired by a bunch of tulips I had bought. I talked about the personality they reveal when they are picked and subjected to the constraints of a vase, and about the way they twist and writhe in a kind of dance of death.

Unsurprisingly, those flowers have now been discarded – even I can’t live with dead flowers on the kitchen table for very many days, however interesting the photos of decay may be – and I don’t suppose there will be any more tulips to be found at the supermarket until next Christmas.
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too early

I realised this morning that it’s been a long time since I went for a walk. That’s not to say I have been shut up indoors. Nor that I have been entirely sedentary: I may not complete my 10,000 steps each day, but I actually do walk quite a lot.

But taking the short-cut across the park in a rush to catch a train, racing off to the bus station, or scurrying round the supermarket in a lunch break don’t really count as going for a walk. Nor does tottering in high heels from the bus stop up the mile-long drive of a country hotel to attend a business meeting, however rural the setting and however much wildlife one sees en route. (I’ve noticed that many such hotels are on bus routes, though I’m pretty sure the guests don’t use pubic transport; I assume it’s so the staff can get there without them needing to be able to afford to run a car.)
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dance of death

Despite the supermarket’s conservative estimate of a mere five-day lifetime, the same bunch of tulips has kept me entertained now for a full two weeks.

Last weekend I wrote about how they are more expressive than some cut flowers, struggling to escape captivity in the vase and writhing in torment as they die.

It was a mixed bunch, of which the variegated flowers seemed to be the least repressed, stretching wide open, then folding back on themselves, scattering the sooty powder from their stamens and eventually shedding their petals.
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floral personality

I never used to like tulips. The colours were pretty enough in the park flowerbeds of my childhood, but the neat rows of tight scarlet blooms perched atop rigidly straight stalks reminded me too closely of redcoat soldiers. I was never much of one for the military or for regimented discipline and precision.

Then, some years ago, I read a poem that made me look at tulips afresh and see that they express more personality and attitude than many cut flowers.
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(not very) centred

Apparently today is World Oceans Day, in honour of which, I have spent a stupidly long time researching things online. I started with the innocent question “How far am I from the sea?” and then fell down the rabbit hole of “What’s the centre of England?

The answer to the latter question is by no means clear cut: according to the Wikipedia page on centre points of the UK, depending on the calculation method used, and on how much of Great Britain or the UK is included, you can even find a centre that is in the middle of Morecombe Bay. That would be a centroid point, the calculation of which is described by Rob Andrews from the Ordnance Survey in a BBC article as: “If you imagine cutting out the whole of the UK with a giant pair of scissors and balancing it on a church spire, it’s the balancing point.”
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