My 800th post on Sue’s Trifles

I was looking for inspiration for a post other than a book review this week, when I discovered that I have already published 799 posts on Sue’s Trifles; this is my 800th! It is also the 78th since this time last year. I have also added some more pages.

In the past I have occasionally written posts looking back and taking stock of what I have done. This  helps me to plan what I might write next.

Sue’s Trifles, as I was explaining the other day to a writer I had met for the first time, is my second blog. My first blog, Sue’s considered trifles, had a particular purpose. When I posted other material there it was not welcomed by some of my original followers. So I started a new blog. That was in March 2013.

Looking for additional ideas for posts, I searched for challenges and discovered I was just in time to take part in the Blogging from A to Z in April Challenge. It was a steep learning curve, but I have taken part every year since then.

Perhaps the forty five new people who have followed my blog in the last 12 months (thank you!) would be interested in its history. (My other valued followers will no doubt have read any posts that caught their attention!) My What’s new? page is a record of my writing/blogging activities.

My inspiration for posts on this blog (other than A to Z, which I mentioned earlier)  has included writing prompts from WordPress’s the Daily Post, craft projects I have completed, social activities I have been involved with, books I have read and (for posts like this) my earlier blogging.

This may also be a good opportunity to share my reaction to reading my New Year ‘s post, which ended:-

To conclude, in 2019 I am going to try to

  • be more focused on my writing
  • communicate better with the people around me
  • listen more
  • be less irritable
  • improve my fitness by spending less time sitting down
  • use my skills to help other people
  • remember to trust God and not to rely on myself
  • rejoice in the Lord always Philippians 4:4

So how am I doing? I’d like to think that I am making progress at least some of the time. The last one brought me up short, though. There has been much sadness locally this year. A number of friends/spouses of friends have left this earthly life behind. Others are suffering. Perhaps my Bible verse should be, ‘Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn’. Romans 12:15 (NIV)

To end on a lighter note, there have been some amusing incidents, when I have been out and about. Two relate to my wild flower spotting activities.

When I was pointing my phone at a wall, a couple watched and the man said, “That’ll make a good photo!” I don’t always recognise sarcasm. In this case, I suspected it, but I explained that I was taking photos of flowers and asked them if they knew what they were. They didn’t, so I told them. They were probably underwhelmed.

A retired gentleman with walking sticks was stopping every few feet and leaning on the sea-defences. Hubby asked, “All right?” He replied, “I’m looking at the wild flowers.” On learning that I was also interested, he queried what a particular plant was. (It was a stunted specimen near the sea.) We chatted for a short time. He explained that he had taken up the study of wild flowers instead of his former hobby of bird spotting. His children used to frighten the birds!

If you’ve made it to this point – thanks for reading!

Wild flower books

The first book about wild flowers I ever read was the Ladybird book I mentioned previously. The next one I became aware of was a beautiful book of botanical drawings by W. Keble Martin: The Concise British Flora in Colour. Two lovely sisters of the generation whose potential husbands did not return from the First World War showed me a copy. One of them had taught my mother at primary school. They were most enthusiastic about the book, pointing out how much work was involved.

When a book club I joined several years later offered this book I bought my own copy.

Over the years three other wild flower books have arrived in our house. The most attractive of these is Dorling Kindersley’s Eyewitness Handbook: Wild Flowers of Britain and Northwest Europe. It is the book I consult first. The flowers are arranged by family. There is a identification key which starts by separating dicotyledons and monocotyledons. I find this of limited help and usually hunt through the pages.

The second one, which has far more subspecies pictured, is Collins New Generation Guide to the Wild Flowers of Britain and N. Europe. I have to admit that I have only used it as a reference book for identifying flowers. I ought to take the time to read all the background information. The author of this book was Alastair Fitter and David Attenborough was the general editor.

What I like about the third one is that it has an identification section organised by colour and by the size of both the flowers and the plant. I discovered it on my mother’s bookshelf; she allowed me to take it home! The Concise Flowers of Europe by Oleg Polunin also has over 1900 colour photographs. There is also a ruler (similar to those often provided on knitting patterns) so that the size of the flowers can be measured. (However I do not usually encumber myself with books outside.)

Learning about wild flowers has become much easier with digital photography. Instead of following in W. Keble Martin’s footsteps and making detailed drawings, which must have taken hours and hours, it is now possible to take a snap and consult books and/or the internet later. Fortunately there are still people, who make beautiful botanical drawings and paintings.

The naming of flowers in Latin has changed since the books I own were written. Serious botanists have the latest book with all the up-to-date names. An example of the changes is that the daisy family, which includes dandelions and thistles, used to be called Compositae. The modern name is Asteraceae. Twitter (especially #wildflowerhour) can be very educational! I am happy to remain an amateur botanist with out-of-date books.


What I read in July 2019 (Part 1)

Ghost Trees: Nature and People in a London Parish by Bob Gilbert was on a display of books shortlisted for this year’s Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize. Having returned a book about woods, I picked one about trees!

The author had moved to the East London parish of Poplar as his wife was appointed rector there. He conducted research both on the ground and from written records in order to write this very readable and informative book. There is information about the time of writing, the past, people with connections to the area, people with connections to the flora of the area, traditions and beliefs both past and present. The language is poetic without being pretentious.

I do not know the area around Poplar. It was only when I had read all but three chapters that I decided to look at online maps (including satellite images) of the area. There are no maps included in the book, but with so much information readily available, that is not a great loss. Maps would have increased the production costs. The hardback volume is relatively light to hold and well set out. Chapters are divided into sections. The seasons of the year, the local people, wildlife, plants, waterways and much more have been carefully observed.

I learned a lot about the history of urban tree-planting, how some plants were named and more besides. This is a fascinating book with an index and bibliography.