Monday 28 December 2020

Radiant Dawn

I'm beginning this piece on the day after Boxing Day, aware that more than a couple of weeks have elapsed since the previous instalment. I say 'beginning' since I know I won't finish writing today - Christmas means that there are other other equally welcome tasks to occupy old Codger

It has been a soggy December - seemingly even soggier as we approached the equinox but this morning has seen a radiant dawn - as shown here. The sun rises late here. Urban housing deceives the eye and often we miss the lay of the land. We sit the wrong side of Ocker Hill (our part of Tipton) so the first peep of the sun is half-an-hour later than GMT at this dark time of the year

There are not many reasons to tempt the normal person into the garden but I am rather conscious of the job left undone in the pre-Christmas scramble. Some progress has been made - I have salvaged a good number of dahlia tubers. These are now safely stored away but it looks as though I have lost my begonias - they were sitting there waiting for attention. Sadly for them the writing of Christmas cards took precedence. Should you live in these parts - and have clay soil like mine - I advise digging up dahlias so the tubers don not rot off. Some say that warmer winters render this unnecessary but Codger has not found it so

As you can see I have, for once, remembered to label the tubers which are now snuggled into a protective layer of old potting compost safely stored in a box in the garage

I am fortunate enough to have three working areas - the greenhouse, the garden shed and the garage. In the run-up to Christmas the shed had become a temporary workshop housing a spray booth as you can see from the photo (left). I wanted to give the Christmassy treatment to a dozen plant pots. This was a bit of a last-minute job but it worked out well. In case it is helpful, here's how ...

Wash the plastic pots in soapy water and dry thoroughly. There's no need to roughen the surface - most spray paint will adhere well to plastic. You can minimise the nuisance of over-spray by placing the pot in a cardboard box with a side removed. Think about the drying process before you start - you can see my washing-line solution below

Good idea, you say - but, surely, a bit late to be of use. Well, it has occurred to me that some readers might wish to colour their pots for other reasons and at other times of the year. After all, black can become very boring! 

If you decide to have a shot at this, here's another tip: get your cans of paints from Wilko. Very much cheaper then elsewhere and the paint is good quality, too. Perhaps 2021 will be the year of colourful pots!

Codger's Christmas dinner

Yes, I was cook this year (Mrs Codger not being too well). So far there have been no repercussions but I am ashamed to say that only one ingredient was homegrown. Which? Well, it was not the chicken - much as I'd love to keep a few fowl. Nor was it the potatoes - I don't have the space to grow many potatoes. It might have been carrots - but ours were consumed long ago. Incidentally, I am constantly amazed at how little we have to pay for fresh veg - a kilo cost me only 20p - how do they do it? Parsnips were also to be had cheaply

As you can see in the photo above, it was the butternut squash that was from our own plot - and very nice, too. With the rind removed, I just cut it into chunks and roast in the oven. The parsnips got the same treatment - the veg was placed on a baking tray and drizzled with oil. Worked a treat

Boxing Day Bank Holiday Monday

We woke up to snow this morning as you can see. What a change! Before I show you - a quick tip. You can still buy bulbs - and cheaply. There is still time to plant tulips - and it not difficult to do if you use planters

Just read back over the last few issues and you will see how to do it. You may be able to find a plastic planter at a  local hardware store. You know the sort - they have piles of plastic goods staked on the pavement outside the shop. Poke around and you may well find suitable pots and planters

Planting in the garden is not a good option just at the moment. Just look at the change in a couple of days. The first picture shows how well my broad beans were doing on Christmas Day. The second shot (below) was taken this morning. Spot the difference!

Incidentally, the broad beans were sown on 20th October. They are a good over winter crop. They cope well with snow but I must check if we get a really sharp frost - too cold and they will be knocked back. They can be protected with garden fleece 

A big Thank You!

Regular readers may remember that I increased the target for donations as we entered Lockdown 2.0 - for the express purpose of boosting giving to BCM's fantastic Toylink initiative

I have just checked, and see that we have now exceeded that target figure. (You can check yourself here). As we go to press the figure stands at £2553.46 and, if Gift Aid is added, that provides £2762.71 to BCM. Of this, about £500 has gone specifically to Toylink

So, a big Thank You to everyone who has helped. Please take a look at this Toylink video, it is well worth a couple of minutes of your time:

[Technical note: if you cannot see the video please try clicking HERE]

Worthy winner
Just before Christmas we pointed you to the BBC Radio 3 Carol Competition. The winner was James Walton. I remember his interview; he was asked why he had entered the competition. He gave, what I thought was, a really pertinent answer. He said that, unlike some previous years, the words centred on Christ - so it was worth putting his mind to. You can hear the result here ...

Secret listener!

So, you have discovered Codger's secret. He listens to Radio 3! Not that the old guy is trying to prove anything - other than he is not a sufficiently intelligent music lover to manage without what might be called curation. That is, I need someone with greater knowledge than myself to guide me along the musical pathway. Not that the R3 diet suits me all the time - there's some squawking I cannot abide, particularly in the afternoons

Mornings tend to be best for me. Essential Classics has a great and diverse range with excellent presenters - I appreciate Ian Skelly most. I also enjoy the regular Saturday afternoon slot: Inside Music. The current programme is presented by Pekka Kuusisto - a Finnish violinist and conductor. What fascinating pronunciation - Finnish sounds so different to other European languages. At one point he advised his listeners to listen again on a system with decent reproduction. I took his advice and listened again via my computer. I knew the melody but this rendition was stunning - a lovely Swedish carol: From heaven came the angel Gabriel. You can hear the programme here 

It is also available via YouTube:

O Radiant Dawn

Another wonderful piece that I have recently discovered is O Radiant Dawn - available on YouTube here:

[Technical note: if you cannot see the video please try clicking HERE]

My encounter with this piece was prompted by my daily readings during Advent from the Gospel of Luke. His account was immaculately researched and is telling in its direct simplicity. Many in my local church read along individually during Advent using a slim volume of readings with the same title as the song: Radiant Dawn (by Tom Parsons, 10 Publishing slight difference the song is O Radiant Dawn). I found the experience very strengthening in these dark days

The words of the title come from ancient lines which I shall reproduce below. The composer of the music, James MacMillan, places a moving emphasis on the word, come. It is central in the piece and, as I often think, the best word in the whole Bible: Come!

Well, there is just time to give you my very best wishes for the New Year. I plan to put together another instalment during January - look out in a couple of weeks

... from your old friend, the Garden Codger

O Radiant Dawn,
Splendour of Eternal Light,
Sun of Justice:
come, shine on those who dwell in 
darkness and the shadow of death.

(Antiphon for 21st December - the shortest day)

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