Friday, 28 April 2017

The Edible Thistle

It is over fifty years since I first saw globe artichokes being cultivated. They appeared to be very exotic to a young school boy, tall and strange. It was in the kitchen garden of Aberfoyle, (formerly know as Richmond), that I espied this member of the thistle family. It would be four or five years after that when I had my first opportunity to taste this vegetable which is just at home in the herbaceous border as the vegetable patch.

Two years ago I determined to grow on my own specimens. Although five of the seeds germinated and the resultant plants were planted out in the raised border surrounding the yard four of them succumbed to the local slug and snail population. The sole survivor should provide me with at least three or four flower heads for cropping this year. Not a big cropper.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Tales from the Discorectangle

Training did not stop for Easter. In so far as it it is enjoyable to push your body towards the extremes of its ability I enjoyed Tuesday's session. The usual ten minute warm up run was followed by dynamic stretching and running up eighteen flights of steps. That completed the main course of the session ensued, 5 X 300m with three minutes recovery between and thereafter 6 X 120m with a walk back recovery.

The 300m efforts were to be run at 800m pace or better. For me that is now a rather depressing 51 seconds. Thirty years ago that would have been 44 seconds. Tempus Fugit but not me! It's strange how decades of training enables one's body clock to select the right pace. My first effort resulted in a 51.3 timing. Thereafter the times became progressively quicker ending up with a 47 second result. The 120m efforts were really strides helping to get rid of the lactic acid that had built up as a consequence of the 300m runs.

Although he didn't succumb to the joys of the 300m efforts we were joined at the track by Malcolm East one the UK's best ever marathon runners. A near contemporary of my self he has a 1981 pb for the distance of 2 hrs 11mins 36 secs. That is serious running.

Friday, 7 April 2017

A Threatened Species

Whenever I spot a branch of the Ulster Bank or indeed any bank my thoughts are drawn to Alan Brownjohn's poem, " We are going to see the rabbit." For those of you are unfamiliar with this particular poem I should explain that it is about the last rabbit in England.

We might be a few years away from the total decimation of branch networks but the small town or village branch or sub office is now a rarity. Nine branches of the Bank in Northern Ireland are to close their doors for the last time in October of this year. In the Republic of Ireland the Bank is closing twenty two branches. I know we are told that most people now bank online but many don't, particularly the elderly. For a small business that could previously lodge its takings in a bank that was a few hundred yards away a twenty five mile round trip to the nearest remaining branch does not just incur an additional cost but also adds a greater security risk. Maybe government should impose a community obligation upon Banks to force them to keep branches open even if they are not particularly profitable.