Friday, 13 August 2010

Weekend Ahoy

Friday afternoon (late). Can't wait to be off although I still have to work over the weekend as I will be delivering a progress report first thing Monday. Been a fairly good week, work went well with a couple of nice results (which means I shall never have to repeat them ever again!). Everyone else has left and the lab has a bittersweet, melancholic air about it. It feels even emptier than it actually is because of some unresolved issues, but once, once....

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Humongous Fungus

We found this at the base of a huge oak tree. It looks like a rotten bun from far. The droplets are very fluid and of a clear golden colour.
Taken a few weeks later. Its almost budding like a yeast.
We returned to the spot a few days ago and someone had broken it off leaving an ugly white scar on the trunk. J was very cut up about it but I managed to convince him that it was for the better otherwise the oak would have ended up being hollowed out and this consoled him somewhat (he's waiting to collect acorns in the fall).

Parenting tip: always have a bait-and-switch type explanation handy! (until they get older and wise up to you).

Update. Its an Inonotus dryadeus. Pretty sure of it as its also supposed to grow on oaks as well.


An assortment of fungi growing around our house.

These ones sprout like crazy over a 20-30 sq. metre patch in our back garden after a heavy rain. They bloom(?) for a day then decay leaving a powdery, black stain.

We've never observed them before this summer but they seem to be following the roots of a birch tree that was cut down about 3 years ago.

Different sort with a leathery, appearance.

Young puffball found in a play-ground

We returned a few days later and it had matured. It was fun squeezing it slightly and watching millions of tiny brown spores puffing out. Ah, the simple joys :-)
These were fairly numerous and were always mottled, moth-eaten etc.

Another rather unattractive species. Can't all be babes :-)

Monday, 9 August 2010

OK, off home soon. It was the first day of the new school year today and J started primary 3. When I think how many years he still has ahead of him..............Jesus wept. Get the news when I get back, I don't expect he'll have any problems academically, he's a bright kid and being typical Asian parents we've been pre-preparing for Maths, reading, GK etc.....but we hope he has the chance to have fun with the other kids without getting into too much trouble.

Have to get him to finish learning Bach's Minuet in G before tomorrow as well when he resumes piano lessons (what did I just say about typical Asian parents?). He's come along quite well under my coaching during the vacation (pretty amazing as I don't play the piano!). I should hang my head in shame as I still haven't completed learning Minuets I & II from the first Cello Suite (BWV2009) after 3 weeks :-( I foolishly tuned the guitar to open G a couple of weeks back and its been like a drug, just doodling out delta-blues licks.

MORAL: Have several guitars for different tunings!

Thats my guitar, a Yamaha APX4. Pretty nice electric-feeling neck but its cut-away a bit too high up.

Fun guys (ouch)

Another consequence of the warm spell is that mushrooms literally, well....., mushroom after an intermittent shower. J is crazy about them and we have quite a gallery of different kinds just from within our immediate neighbourhood. Nevertheless it was still a surprise to find these guys growing indoors in our potted pitcher plant the other day. We've had the plant for over 10 years and this is the first time this has ever happened.
The pitcher plant (Nepenthes alata). Its quite happy in an east facing window.

And right in the pot! We've never actually seen this growing outdoors in the wild. They have a very vivid powdery yellow dusting on the cap.

Needless to say, J was thrilled.

Bloomin' heck

The recent unseasonally warm weather has been really great for our orchids. We've amassed quite a decent collection of somewhat rare orchids (i.e. not your common garden run of the mill Phalaenopsises, pun intended) over the years mainly because her indoors used to paint them (extremely well I should add, she was awarded a Gold medal from the Royal Horticultural Society). While an unfortunately large fraction perished due to ineptness or sensitivity to indoor heating, we still have a pretty decent collection of hardy survivors that occasionally delight us by blooming. At the moment though we have several in flower simultaneously which is a rare delight.

Dendrobium pierardii. This usuallyflowers in early spring after an enforced drought (I stop watering in October until all the leaves have fallen off and resume in March when the first buds have formed, yes you read that right).

Diocentrum (Doritis x Ascocentrum interspecific cross)

Epidendrum pseudepidendrum
(Well is it or isn't it?)

Psychopsis papilio or the famous Butterfly orchid

Gone and sadly missed: Barkeria and Phaeus tankervilliae