Thursday, April 23, 2015

UK Goodbye

And so we say farewell to pub pies, hard green peas, and UK orchid  societies. Someone said only  three in Scotland, but soon be more with Dr. Motes' talks on "cool-growing Vandas." He says most of them quite happy on the lower slopes of  the Himalayas, which certainly sounds like the English weather I used to know. And "dour Scots?" and "uptight English?" Not among the orchids.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Heathrow and hijab

Glasgow to Heathrow. Commented to a young girl on passport control, how attractive she looked in the black Moslem head covering, joking how any self-conscious teenage girl would love to cover herself from head to toe in black. She burst out thanking me, thanking me because fellow workers didn't like it. She quoted the Bible, Jewish traditions, women covering the hair! And I told her tell them all that only a few years ago you weren't allowed into a Catholic Church unless your head was covered! "Make sure you've got a scarf," potential English tourists to Italy and Spain were warned, "or they won't let you in!"
Fresh off that encounter, I helped a little old Turkish lady, as the taps seemed out of order in the Ladies. The Turkish I know, remembered from old hospitable Albanians in Kosovo, is not much help:  " Sit! Sit" "Eat! Eat!" "I don't understand!" But I did know the authoritive: "Nothing, None!" for the lack of water.  What a world traveller! Next time in the Ladies, a nice young woman, sweet accent from somewhere, showed this old lady, on her way home to Miami, how the taps worked.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Look, no pictures!

 We've been taking pictures with our phones. But that's as far as they've got which right here does limit the dreaded:  "Look at my holiday pics!"  There are the Cathedrals: Winchester, St Albans, Durham -  arches, pillars,  inscriptions, ("Died of cholera, the Siege of Delhi, July 1857.") Then there is the statue of Alfred at Winchester,  great Anglo Saxon king, holding up his sword like a cross, his cloak swirling round his ankles, though from behind he looks like an old lady getting a cab. My favorite, an anxious lamb on Hadrian's wall, looking down at all of four feet to the grass below. And sheep everywhere, spread out calmly over grassy slopes, heavy with winter wool and close up looking exactly like Robin Williams as Mrs. Doubtfire.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A nation of gardeners

Sunday morning TV gardening program, "England, a nation of gardeners," someone is saying. Maybe that's why we've sold out of our vanda seedlings and only two Orchid Territory's left! Unlike many of our American citizens, who back off and say, "I don't grow, I can't grow Vandas... " Or "They take too long to bloom," - you know who you are! Maybe it's because the sun is shining. But all these hardy gardeners are snapping everything up, no questions asked. By the way, we're in Scotland. Told you it's a blast.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Who's the tourist now?

Wonky wifi, and on the road so spotty connexions between dim blogger and blog. Early days, lyrical: daffodils, daisies and dandelions along the roads, magnolias and tulips in front gardens, trees greening by the day! And SUN. Returning to England after so long, I'm an American tourist now: "Take those cars away and this street is total Jane Austen!"
Growing up, wan Thames Valley kid, talk of market towns and cathedral cities was just same old same old. "The pictures" kept us going: Cowboys, cops, all bright and shiny stuff or dusty open spaces. Now, Dr. Motes is on a speaking tour to UK orchid societies, and it's a total blast.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Talk!

At the European Orchid Conference, cont. Dr. Motes' Talk Well Attended, Well-Received! Especially considering the title: "In the steps of  Rumphius." It takes an orchidist to know that Rumphius is not a new breed of lovable shaggy dog but a 17th century Dutch botanist. And the story is an Indiana Jones tale of old drawings,  distant  tropical islands in Indonesia, a search for botanical truths after centuries of scholars' ignorance. Too much for a blog! Let the South  Dade News Leader explain to us ordinary citizens: "The orchid species Vanda furva was once thought lost to science for over 300 years, but was re-discovered by South Dade grower Dr. Martin Motes."

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Native drivers

Every taxi driver has been a Brit, local Londoners from the sound of it. All this talk of multi-racial London, I was expecting at least some chats on Somali politics or Pakistani cricket. But from Heathrow ("Is that white Hawthorne blooming in the hedgerows?"  " 'aven't a clue!") to the one at Victoria who's wife rescues sick orchids, it could have been fifty years ago. Except the bit about the orchids. "She puts them on the windowsill and I've found if you don't water them too much they do quite well." Wow. Dr. Motes, it seems even in London, you are no longer required.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Orchid-loving London

Floppy King Charles spaniel sniffing MIA arrivals at Heathrow customs, while a group of English lads hang around, in black, with guns. Not your English constables but at least half look Indian or Pakistani, so not so bad! As an expat I'm checking, just checking. Sun outside! All the way to central London. And row upon row of white and cream Victorian and Edwardian terraces. After so much History Channel, Wow! Look what Hitler missed!
At the hall, they're putting in the exhibits, the European Orchid Conference will open tomorrow.  Everywhere, Paphiopedilum, Phragmipedium, Cymbidium, brilliant colors. Cool-loving orchids! Disconcerting. I'm so used to saying, "warm loving orchids" for our Vandas as though "warm-loving" and "orchids" just belong together, like "freedom-loving Americans."Tonight, the premier party, among the orchids, both cool and warm.