The GardenDespatches from The Satyrs’ Forest

Posts tagged as “life”

The greatest impulse purchase in history

Step 1: Go on Wikipedia, as one does.

Step 2: Notice the following item in the “did you know” section.

Did you know… that Fabrizio Dori wants his comic book «Il dio vagabondo» to bring attention to an ancient Greek view of death?

Step 3: (See Figure 1.)

A biology textbook diagram labelled "Monkey *sees* action"/"Neuron activation"
Figure 1

Step 4: Activate dedicated hyperlink-clicking neuron that has evolved after years of online brain poisoning.

Step 5: Oh my god the main character is a satyr who lives in a tent in the suburbs.

Step 6: Oh my god it’s beautifully illustrated. (See Figure 2.)

A comic illustrated in a colourful style reminiscent of Ancient Greek pottery
Figure 2

Step 7: Begin seriously weighing up the possibility of The Greatest Impulse Purchase In History.

Step 8: Ctrl-F “English”. No results.

Step 9: Wallow in non-Italian-speaking misery.

Step 10: Ctrl-F “Dutch” as a last-ditch effort. You have been meaning to brush up on it…

Step 11: Oh my god they did a Dutch translation before an English one.

Step 12: Google “amazon” even though you know the URL.

Step 13: Click onto Amazon and look up the Dutch name of the comic.

Step 14: Find out there is one (1) copy left in stock.

Step 15: Look at the price.

Step 16:

Step 17: Pretend you didn’t.

Step 18: Buy anyway.

Step 19: Notice that they’ve finally gotten rid of that 2003-ass UI in the purchase phase.

Step 20: You have now completed The Greatest Impulse Purchase In History. It will be there in a week.

Hey, wanna see the most beautiful thing i’ve ever seen?

I don’t know if it’ll come across too well in photo form. I was lying on the grass, as one does, and lo and behold, there in the sky appeared what i could only describe as a double-backwards-double-rainbow:

Two iridescent arcs intersect in the sky, a smaller version of the same phenomenon playing out below

I’ve never seen anything like it. Maybe that makes me a shut-in? I don’t know. Some quick prodding around revealed it to be not a rainbow, but a halo: a circum-zenithal arc, its iridescent colours made by the low sun’s light filtering through the icy clouds above.

The Sagrada Familia. The view from a Pennine peak. My home town from above, caught by pure chance on a flight to Turkey. The first sight of the Tyne Bridge down Grey Street. And now this. That’s the top tier — sights i’ll never forget in my life.

I remember

This is a repost from the now-deleted old archives of the blog, originally posted on the ninth of February, 2021. I thought of doing it up as its own page, like the article about our Christmas tradition, but it seemed wrong — this is capturing a very specific moment in my (and everyone’s) life, and it would be gauche to put such an emotional rant on the front page.

I remember watching grown-ups’ TV late at night on the sofa in Oma and Opa’s caravan, nestled between them, a tiny TV in the corner, subtitles on, those black circles with the advisory ratings.

I remember watching us lose to Spain, watching crime dramas and not understanding a thing, i remember just being there, the inflatable pool waiting outside for tomorrow, the sofa unfolding itself into a bed. The smell of kitty litter in the toilet, the view outside, the jar of sweets, my bedroom decorated on the walls with maps, like the one under the desk at their house of the 12 provinces, those big books, that one of shape-sjablonen, that maths puzzle book for five-year-olds, the decorated plate, the chicken schnitzel, the horrid smell of their fish dinner, jumping on the trampoline, chlorinating my eyes in the pool, the gravel road, the endless journeys in.

I remember the tacky ceramics, the awful internet back then, falling through the chair (ow!) while browsing on Windows XP, messing with Paint Shop Pro 8, Internet Explorer 7… me always taking down the ‘For Sale’ sign in the window, that little book of the planets and stars, i think there was one about seasonal plants.

I remember them moving the caravan from Schagen to Ede. I remember going to Deventer and meeting that family who lived on a boat (the girl was nice).

I remember Papa’s house, i remember the blackboard where i learned the passcode — 0420 — to an iPod i acquired at far too young an age, i remember that time i sat inside watching videos instead of going outside in the sun, the Chocomel, the Wokkels, that frog-shaped bowl, those letter-shaped stamps op zolder, Opa’s model railway. I remember that tiny “bathtub”, i remember Oma’s scrapbook, her Scooby-Doo plush, i remember watching Finding Nemo over and over, the pond, the playground, the train station, how much the giant robot at Nemo creeped me out, Mouse Paint, that board book teaching me how to tie knots, Corpus, that weird video from the library with the wireframe man, trying in vain to find that specific top-ten episode of Garfield & Friends on Windows Media Centre, that elephant thing at the preschool fundraiser, that kid who would only drink orange juice out of a specific blue cup, my first day at school, watching Nieuws uit de natuur then going home early on Wednesdays, fighting with Nuri over who got to keep the paper Einstein doll we made, founding a country with Emiel, not understanding Ewout’s Pokémon references, the trip to Aeolus, that time a teacher went to go on a pilgrimage along the Way of St. James, de Speelhoorn, de Waterhoorn, toasties, poffertjes, the pick-and-mix at Kruidvat, the climbing frame–treehouse–sandpit thing in the back garden, the stoomtram to Medemblik, visiting the Zuiderzee Museum on a snowy day, swimming lessons, going to Hema for a sausage roll afterwards, accidentally pressing ‘stop’ on the escalator, Cars 2 being the first film i ever saw at the cinema, Fristi, ads for ‘Taxi’ soft drink (never had it), curly fries at Burger King (how i wish they had those over here), the paintings around the house, Papa’s exercise bike in the attic, him playing trance music in the car…

I remember crying when i found out me and Mama were moving back to the UK.

I gave a PowerPoint presentation about Eurovision on my last day of school. I cried as everyone filed out of the classroom. Both because of me leaving, and because i’d made a mistake in it.

They gave me this little booklet as a farewell gift. It’s bound up in a cover of the solar system. Everyone in the class made a little something for it.

I don’t know where it is, and i can’t bear to look at it.

It’s been a year and a half since i last went for a visit. I’ll probably have to skip this year too.

Ik wil naar huis.

Three years now… and i never got to say goodbye to my grandfather. See you on the other side, opa.

Thanks, Ms Bigot

I saw an awful transphobic sticker on my daily constitutional the other day. I shan’t bother repeating the exact contents, because the sad sack who made it really doesn’t need more exposure, but it was just the usual “biological wombyn won’t wheesht!!!” crap. Yi kna the type.

At first it got me down, as it probably would any sane person. But then i thought — Whoever made that sticker, their bigoted views are now so unpopular, so marginalised, that they’ve had to resort to plastering stickers everywhere: the last resort of covid-conspiracy cranks, climate ostriches, football hooligans, and a number of others whose views are utterly unacceptable in polite company.

We might not be there yet as far as the law is concerned — lord knows people still have to jump through an ungodly number of hoops just to change a letter on their passport — but socially, it’s a good sign that the Inexorable March of Progress™ is continuing as planned.

Anyway. That’s how a nasty bigot made my day.

Chrimbo updates

I’ve mentioned a number of Christmas traditions i keep up here in the past, and thought you all might have wanted some updates.

I, alas, lost the Pogues Game on the very first day — i was putting on “Driving Home for Christmas” and failed to notice that The Algorithm had queued the song of my nightmares up for me next. (I proceeded to lose again on the night before Christmas, this time at the hands of Bradley Walsh.)

You’ll be pleased to hear that our annual exchange of Christmas gifts on Minecraft went all according to plan this year. Someone built me a little shrine to do as i pleased with, which was quite nice of them.

Not pictured: the already-burnt Gävle goat.

Finally, i’ve added the annual haul of records to the database for your perusal… but mostly for my own reference. :-)

Some nice local businesses at Ponteland market

A table filled with alkin goods and crafts

The family and i went to a local food-and-craft market at Ponteland’s garden centre this morning. I thought i’d send letters of recommendation for some of the stalls.

Urban Bakery, from Gateshead, make the most decadent cinnamon buns i’ve ever had.

The Alnwick Soap Company produce wonderful soaps inspired by the scents of rural Northumberland. I plumped for the ginger-and-grapefruit and cedarwood-and-juniper myself.

Mrs B’s Kitchen, from Durham, sells jams, conserves, chutneys, honey, sauces — all the things you ever need in the top drawer of your fridge. (I got the rhubarb and raspberry.)

Hops and Dots, of Bishop Auckland, make “accessible craft beer” with Braille on the labels.

Wilde Farm, of Ponteland, are ostensibly running the whole thing, and sell... you know, farm things. Carrots, veg, burgers, sausages, turkey — you get the idea. They’re currently taking orders for the winter holidays.


A small covered shelter in a park surrounded by auburn-leaved trees.
Jesmond Dene in the autumn, courtesy of Newcastle Libraries.

It often feels like, as soon as the calendar ticks over from 22 to 23 September, that autumn, having hidden its face for months upon months, all of a sudden decides to come out all at once. Auburn leaves begin to fall, telling the time until winter like an hourglass; the days get shorter and the nights come earlier, the air gets that particular autumn crispness, and, of course, it begins to rain.i

Not that i’m complaining. Autumn is, in my view, the most wonderful season of the year: yes, summer is nice and warm, and winter is the time for comfort and gezelligheid with family and friends, but autumn is when our festivities are perhaps the closest to how they were millennia ago. Echoes of the last harvest festivals of the year still ring (school assemblies for the young, pumpkin spice for the jaded), and whatever you want to call it — Hallowe’en, All Hallows’ Eve, Samh­ain, Day of the Dead — the atmosphere about that midautumn celebration beats even Christmas for the best time of the year; for a whole month, the western world lets itself get a little morbid for a changeii, and the celebrations have the good sense to get out of the way quietly once November shuffles along.

So. Happy autumn, everyone! Enjoy it while it lasts.