Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Instead of Gardening

I am both an avid reader and TV watcher. I don't consider the two to be mutually exclusive. I have very eclectic tastes in both. In the wintertime I usually do a lot of both since I have more time on my hands not gardening.

Lately Nigel and I have been watching a British quiz show called Only Connect. Quiz shows are part and parcel of English TV, a piece of cultural television heritage that is popular, and that many Brits are (and I think justifiably) very proud of. The questions are incredibly esoteric and there is a distinct lack of melodrama. The quiz shows Mastermind and University Challenge are famously difficult and intimidating.

Participants on the show Only Connect are asked to find connections between seemingly random clues, such as "Newfoundland dogs, Joseph Stalin and Donald Duck." Topics range widely from complicated math to pop culture. The show takes its name from an E.M. Forster quote, from the novel Howard's End.

“Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer. Only connect, and the beast and the monk, robbed of the isolation that is life to either, will die.” 

There are 14 series of Only Connect available on YouTube, and Nigel and I have been making our way through them for the last several weeks. Every so often we get a question right, and it makes us feel smart. On one episode we watched recently there was a question that I knew the answer to because I'm a gardener. It was a progression where you have to fill in the blank for the fourth item.

1. Phloem   2. Cambium   3. Sapwood   4. ??????

Do you know what comes fourth and the connection between them?

Here's a link to the first episode of the current 14th series of Only Connect on YouTube, just in case you want to give it a try. You can find all the other episodes if you search. Nigel and I have found it to be addictive.

Only Connect

You can also check out the BBC's Only Connect webpage here.  Oh, and I should point out, the people who win Only Connect get a trophy and bragging rights, but no money. Not a farthing.

Are you a reader? A TV watcher? Is there something you're addicted to, like we are to Only Connect?


Newfoundland dogs, Joseph Stalin and Donald Duck all had webbed feet.

And of course I'm sure you know the fourth item on that list is heartwood, and that they're tree layers.


  1. Avid reader! I'm in an unusual book club - no common book to read we just meet and tell what he have read and recommend. Because other members are interested in other things I have ended up reading books I never would have known about. We also discuss DVDs and movies. Other than that I have a friend that reviews books so she sends me her latest finds and after reading them I pass them along. I'm never without a book and seldom an empty space on my list at the library. With books you have the world at your fingertips.

  2. Looks like an interesting and fun show. I mostly dream of hibernation in winter.

  3. I've been watching British gardening shows on Netflix on occasion, but I'm just not much of a television watcher. Andrew might enjoy Only Connect, I'll tell him about it.

  4. I love television: I'm a huge fan of any and all British mysteries and dramas on PBS. I'm less of a game show watcher because I never know the answers to anything... after a while its burdens my self esteem :-D
    Joseph Stalin...Webbed feet... got that image stuck in my head now.

  5. What a great concept for a show! It's so much more intriguing than what passes for a game show in the US. I got the link on the "garden" question to tree but I hadn't come up with the 4th item in the sequence. I read - a lot, mostly mysteries. My husband and I watch mostly mysteries on TV too, peppered with sci-fi when we can find movies or series that grab us. We're watching 'Nightflyers' and 'Counterpart' now. I'm less enthused by the former than the latter.

  6. I read some, when I can find time, and we watch TV in the evenings, especially in winter. Nothing as mind stretching as this game show though.

  7. Would like to add that I am an avid reader, avid garden blog reader and also watch Only Connect, University Challenge and Mastermind. Although living and gardening on the Island of Madeira, I can still watch live UK TV. Not got into blogging myself, too much else to be doing as plants and especially weeds grow all year.
    Love reading all your blogs and seeing all the different plants. Just wish I had access to some of the fabulous nurseries that you have in the US.
    Happy Christmas.

  8. Joseph Stalin had webbed feet???

  9. Only if you believe the lies of the capitalist press.


Gardening is a solitary activity. But blogging about it is a social phenomenon! I don't make money from my blog by advertising, or use it to drive customers to a business. If you liked my post, or my writing or photography, or even just one picture or turn of phrase, I'd love to hear from you. That's how I get paid.