Wednesday, 28 July 2010


I haven't posted a word since 9th July. I'm mortified, ashamed, filled with remorse, shocked and contrite. Sorry. Sorry. And sorry, too, for being so behind with everyone else's post. I see there are Garden Monkey posts. Goody! But no JAS posts - or am I missing them since he went all Wordpressy.

BTW - the title refers to the dragon in the Mediaeval Tapestry of the Apocalypse, at Angers.

The garden at L'Hôpital Saint Jean, Angers - in Anjou - built by Henry the Second as penance for having Thomas Becket bumped off. It now accommodates a museum featuring the work of tapestry artist Jean Lurcat. See about him here.

The garden was dry and dead. Now it's wet and dead. I walk like The Curse of the Mummy and will need surgery on spine and hip. Harrruummmph!!!! My days are made tolerable by iPod, iPhone, iPad and iBuprofen - ha! ha! The latter I take in gargantuan doses, but I'm more seriously addicted to the iPad which I absolutely love apart from one or two MADDENING things . . . but there'll be some serious colborning on that one, soon.

The hyped up ibuprofen pills are a shockingly bright pink, presumably designed as lures for small children and have to be taken with food - pills, that is, not children. I find whisky a good accompaniment, especially if there's also some dark chocolate.

Our most riveting garden event since 9th July was the flowering of my tuberose Polianthes tuberosa. The fragrance is complex and erotic and for some days, Wendy has been smelling like a scene from the Tales of a Thousand and One Arabian Nights. She's also burgeoning with tomatoes and cucumbers, both kinds - 'lunch box' and 'impressively endowed.'

The best tomatoes are 'Sungold.' The new variety 'Cherry Falls' has as much flavour as a tissue moistened with distilled water. It's high-yielding, but what good is that if the flavour is so feeble? I shan't grow it again.

The old variety 'Tigerella' tastes almost as bland as 'Cherry Falls' but it looks prettier when ripening. The big, Marmande tomatoes I bought in Carrefour, in Calais, last week, tasted better than all of mine mine, apart from 'Sungold' which, as I've already said, is the best.

I promised a little more about Angers and Terra Botanica. I think it's best told in pictures so I'll keep the wordage brief.

The interior of the Saint John (Jean) hospital, now serving as a museum whose main treasure is a modern Apocalyptic Tapestry by Jean Lurcat. It was inspired by the Cold War. Lurcat served in trenches, in the First War and was a member of the Resistance during the German Occupation in World War 2.

The city is totally charming, with masses of ancient buildings - cathedral, one of France's largest Mediaeval castles, the Cathedral of Saint Maurice, abbey, churches and much more besides. Narrow cobbled streets in the old part of town are almost traffic-free and the view from the river bank, looking back to the oldest part of the Angers is delightful.

Outside the Musée de Beaux Arts. Sorry, I didn't record the name of the artist - rubbish journalism!

My assignment was to write a travel piece about Angers and particularly to report on Terra Botanica, a new theme park occupying a 17 hectare site on the city's outskirts. What a dream of a job!

Terra Botanica - the restaurant, looking through the animated fountains. The food was designed by local Chef Pascal Favre d'Anne (see him here) and and includes top notch hamburgers - yes, hamburgers BUT eco-friendly and made exclusively from local farms. He calls them 'Hambur 'verts'

The 17 hectares are divided into four big theme gardens covering plant hunters, crops and economic crops, botany and horticultural science and local Maine-et-Loire horticulture crop farming and viticulture. There are lots of gardens, film shows, animated shows and boat rides. You can learn more here.

Stylised washing as an art form in Terra Botanica

A quiet place - unusual in this frenetic theme park.

Grass gardening at Terra Botanica

I'm Listening to, would you believe, the Yin Tong Song from the Goon Show. Ying tong diddle I poh!

This time last year I could walk five miles without aching. Now I do well if I can cover five hundred yards.

The film - well, Telly Programme was Sherlock, the new BBC 1 drama. It was OK, up to a point but irritating at many levels. Great story, intelligent transmogrification from Victorian Baker Street. BUT - the filming drove me nuts and a taxi chase, with the anaemic looking Holmes and Watson on foot was daft. But thank heavens for a Dr Watson who isn't a knucklehead - now that's far closer to the real Conan Doyle. Plus, they're sort of metrosexual, type thingies. Tom Sutcliffe gave it an orgasmic review in The Independent. I wonder if he's a good friend of Mark Gatiss????

Good Byeeeee


  1. Ahe.
    There are posts. Don't you come over all sniffy about my forthcoming Wordpressery, Colborn. It will be in both places for a while anyway. No effort will be spared.

    I like the look if Terra Botanica: what a very good gig you got there.
    I am longing to hear about your iPad rants: I only have one particularly serious complaint but will save it until after you have ranted. apart from that it is marvellous in every way.

    Sorry to hear about upcoming surgery. Will send grapes and excellent chocolate when the moment comes.

  2. Whilst I'm flattered that you deem my blog worthy of anticipation, that's tempered with feelings of inadequacy, because it is almost entirely twaddle. Maybe that's the point.

    I think this blog, with it's mixture of erudition and mild grumpiness, is really something you might appreciate. When I read it I think of him as Mycroft to your Sherlock.

  3. Nigel, if you have an iphone and an ipad you have no excuse not to tweet. Then you can let us know when you post on your blog. Or need kind visitors in hospital, etc.

    Best (from Canada).

  4. I couldnt agree more Fiona...even if all you do is let the lazy amongst us know you're posting it'll be very gratefully received...or ignored, but it will be handy.

  5. Sorry to hear you creaking, but much enjoyed this post ;-)

  6. I love Sungold they are the best flavoured cherry toms IMO. They are the first to ripen in my greenhouse so I now have my first small glut. I've got some great looking Italians in there too but they won't seem to ripen yet.

    I love Angers - that Terra Botanica sounds like a good excuse for a visit. You have to wonder why the French need Gourmet Burgers when they have the inestimable Buffalo Grills (I have never knowingly eaten at one of these but I'm sure they must be inestimable).

    I hope the creaks get fixed - recommend several spoonfuls of fish oil a day.

  7. Sorry - I hate Sungold. Far, far too sweet and nowhere near enough tartness to offset it and make it interesting. Like eating a little bag full of sugar. Eeuw.

    Gardeners' Delight is the best cherry tom if you ask me (it's red, too :D)

    Costoluto Fiorentino, if you can persuade it to make an entire tomato without splitting and going mouldy, has a flavour which I think may rival your Marmande from France. As does good ol' Brandywine. I do lurve beefsteak toms.

    Angers sounds fabulous - you lucky, lucky thing.

    Sorry to hear your hip is giving you gip (that should be in a Roger McGough poem). I hope it gets sorted out soon - and what The Sock said about fish oil. If you take it as a capsule you don't even have to taste the stuff.

  8. James, I rediscovered you. Somehow you got Stalined out of my 'blogs I follow' heap - no idea how. Gosh how busy you are! And a belated Happy Birthday. Can't believe the year has gone so fast.

    GM - thanks for arneblog - what a gem!

    Fiona, Mark: Twitter - I'm really not sure. I know I should but. . . indolence, I suppose.

    Arabella and CG - I'm already taking so much fish oil that I sweat the stuff - and it's absolutely great. The PG and I discovered its virtues a good while ago. Without it we'd be like the Tin Man in Wizard of Oz.

    I agree about sweetness of Sungold, but I love that. Gardeners Delight is superb for flavour and, yes, I'll grow Brandywine again next year. Thanks for reminding me of its existence.

  9. Sorry about upcoming surgery... that looks like one fab trip! Love the swaying pants. ALways plentiy of off-the-beaten path here! :)