Note to Dominic Cummings – when you make a mistake, own up.

So yesterday I posted about a misidentified plant, calling a wall lettuce a nipplewort. In the great order of things it’s probably not that important, but I’ve corrected the posting and here’s the reason why I was wrong. From a distance – like for example the photo on the right of the group – it would be easy to misidentify a plant, which is why it’s all the more important to get close up and personal, and here are some of the reasons why this really is a wall lettuce plant.

  • Flower isn’t remotely like nipplewort which has a larger dandelion type flower. This flower is small and has distinct petals.
  • The plant is not hairy
  • Parts of the stem have a purplish colouration.
  • The leaf shape is different.

So by way of reparation I decided not to eat my hat but at least to re-wax it after a wash because it got too disgusting even for me to wear. This is a highly therapeutic activity for two, with Madame wielding the hairdryer and me on the tin of old-style Barbour wax. It’s not a Barbour hat at all, but it’s some sort of waxed cotton so it got the luxury treatment while I bathed in the memory of the smell of my old Solway jacket that fell apart decades ago.

Not content with that, I finally managed to contact Shipton Mill and arrange to collect enough flour to get us through the next expected lockdown; so as soon as I’ve finished this, we’re off on a scenic jaunt across North Wiltshire and Gloucestershire to the mill, where I’m told our flour will be waiting in the back of a white van with the invoice. No people, no contact – oh so dodgy sounding!

If this posting is a bit episodic it’s because I hardly slept last night after reading about the behaviour of a bishop I once worked under who’s just been found out for making a racially stereotyped entry in a reference which prevented someone from getting a job. Having been at the sharp end of a bit of C of E bullying myself, I couldn’t sleep for thinking about what might still be lurking in my personal file, but now mercifully I no longer have to deal with the venality and ambition.

Below is a photo of a ladybird larva. If you see these on your plants rejoice and forswear the spray; their voracious appetite for blackfly more than grants them an amnesty.

Author: Dave Pole

I've spent my life doing a lot of things, all of them interesting and many of them great fun. When most people see my CV they probably think I'm making things up because it includes being a rather bad welder and engineering dogsbody, a potter, a groundsman and bus driver. I taught in a prison and in one of those ghastly old mental institutions as an art therapist and I spent ten years as a community artist. I was one of the founding members of Spike Island, which began life as Artspace Bristol. ! wrote a column for Bristol Evening Post (I got sacked three times, in which I take some pride) and I worked in local and network radio and then finally became an Anglican parish priest for 25 years, retiring at 68 when I realised that the institutional church and me were on different paths. What interests me? It would be easier to list what doesn't, but I love cooking and baking with our home grown ingredients. I'm fascinated by botany and wildlife in general, and botanical illustration. We have a camper van that takes us to the wild places, we love walking, especially in the hills, and we take too many photographs. But what really animates me is the question "what does it mean to be human?". I've spent my life exploring it in every possible way and the answer is ..... well, today it's sitting in the van in the rain and looking across Ramsey Sound towards Ramsey Island. But it might as easily be digging potatoes or making pickle, singing or finding an orchid or just sitting. But it sure as hell doesn't mean getting a promotion, beasting your co-workers or being obsequious to power, which ensured that my rise to greatness in the Church of England flatlined 30 years ago after about 2 days. But I'm still here and still searching for that elusive sweet spot, and I don't have to please anyone any more. Over the last 50 or so years we've had a succession of gardens, some more like wildernesses when we were both working full-time, but now we're back in the game with our two allotments in Bath.

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