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Europe

Monday, 06 November 2006
Box of Box Hill

box plant and fruit

This is a box plant with deliciously fragrant fuit, widely found on the hill of the same name in Surrey, England.  There are a wide variety of plants in the genus (Buxus).

Box Hill was used as an important setting in Jane Austin’s book Emma.

Posted by bigblue on 06/11/2006 at 09:19 PM
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Sunday, 05 November 2006
Toadstool

toadstool

I mentioned the other day that since my recent trip to Wales I have been getting a steady stream of visitors to the site looking for information on magic mushrooms in Wales, despite the fact that I never found (or sought) any there. However the other day I did stumble across a few in Kent.

This is Amanita muscaria:

the original white-spotted red toadstool, it is one of the most recognizable mushrooms and is widely used in popular culture. Though it is generally considered poisonous, Amanita muscaria is otherwise famed for its hallucinogenic properties.

There is quite a bit of information in the wikipedia entry about the psychoactive properties of this mushroom, including that it was sometimes the practice of the shaman to consume the mushroom, and the rest of the tribe to consume his urine. I’m sure this was an uplifting spiritual experience - and nothing like Dirty Sanchez.  Incidentally, wikipedia understates the poisonous qualities of the mushroom in comparison to various other sites I browsed.

While I am in a rare linking mood, why not read Tony on Why Borat is not funny, and a review of the forthcoming book The No Asshole Rule. Unfortunately the book only comes out early next year, so hopefully will not be of much practical use for me. I was interested in sig’s third point (or question) about culture. It’s not a simple US vs European culture thing: one of my best clients was an American company which had an open and colleagial culture which valued and empowered people throughout the organisation.

Posted by bigblue on 05/11/2006 at 02:31 PM
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Saturday, 04 November 2006
Pronounce with care

pinus mugo

This plant is also known as Dwarf Mountain Pine, and is an alpine species native to the mountainous areas of Central and Southern Europe.

Posted by bigblue on 04/11/2006 at 08:37 PM
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Friday, 03 November 2006
Better than my bite

bark

His bark is worse than his bite

This is a strange saying because it is based on the understanding that the person in question doesn’t generally bite. However the fact always remains that if the person does decide to bite, that will be worse than his bark. I prefer the philosophy that sticks, stones, and teeth, can break my bones but words can never hurt me.  Sometimes in our haste to attempt to understand something new we overlook the obvious flaw. For example when I was growing up we often said that our dog had a bark that was worse than her bite. This was despite the fact that my mum had to pay damages on a number of occassions to passers-by who had been attacked and bitten for simply walking past our front gate. The only reason that her bark was worse than her bite to us was that she never bit us. Very often we believe what is comforting to believe, rather than what is born out by the available evidence.

Posted by bigblue on 03/11/2006 at 09:51 PM
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Thursday, 02 November 2006
Feather

image

According to the Kent Tourist Site:

Emmetts Garden is a five acre hillside garden featured in ‘A Room with a View’ [link added by bigblue]. The garden is noted for its breathtaking views, rare trees and shrubs.

Here are what some other bloggers recently wrote on Emmetts Garden:

Yesterday the former head assassin of South Africa died.  He will always be remembered as the President who almost promised to dismantle apartheid but instead gave a speech along more traditional lines:

(Clears throat)
My fellow South Effricans,
I feel it is time for me to tell you the fects as they relly are:
One, bananas are marsupials (crowd cheers)
Two, cars run on gravy (crowd cheers again)
Three, salmon live in trees and eat pencils (crowd goes wild)
Four, ...

While the condolences fly around for Botha’s family, I think about the graffiti that sprung up around Cape Town during a state of emergency during the 1980’s: Burn Out The Head Assassin. Perhaps he will be cremated. Better late than never?

Posted by bigblue on 02/11/2006 at 05:29 AM
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Wednesday, 01 November 2006
Fungus

fungus

I am not sure what this object is, but it looks like another fungus or some other mushroom that grows in a forest or wood.  It doesn’t look poisonous (to my untrained eye). Then again I wouldn’t eat it anyway - people take their dogs for walks in this forest.

Posted by bigblue on 01/11/2006 at 12:28 AM
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Tuesday, 31 October 2006
The Forest Floor

forest floor

I spotted this pollyp-like growth on the trunk of a tree in a wood at the bottom of Emmetts Garden. I have no idea what it is, but assume that it some kind of mushroom.  Talking of which I have been getting a lot of hits from people looking (on google) for magic mushrooms in Wales, since February this year.

Posted by bigblue on 31/10/2006 at 06:44 AM
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Sunday, 29 October 2006
The Weald of Kent

Weald of Kent

This is the Weald of Kent as viewed on a hazy autumn morning from Emmetts Garden.  Click on the photograph to embiggen, or here to see the uncropped original in all its hazy glory with points of interest highlighted.

This morning I had coffee at Emmetts Garden followed by a brisk walk around the gardens enjoying the sunshine and warmth. According to About Britain:

This charming and informal garden at the highest point in Kent was laid out in the late 19th Century, with many exotic and rare trees and shrubs from across the world. There are glorious shows of daffodils, bluebells and azaleas in spring, roses in summer and the glowing autumnal foliage of acers and cornus in September and October.

The area was transformed by the 1987 storm [link added by bigblue] and dramatic new vistas opened up, which can be enjoyed from the hilltop tea-garden.

Posted by bigblue on 29/10/2006 at 05:15 PM
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