Thursday, 31 December 2009


I feel I have been remiss, no attention to this detail in a few weeks. Mea Culpa.

This prolonged snap has caught many of the neighbours unawares. Those of us without the luxury of four wheel drive vehicles venture out with trepidation and a 'Twenty In Second' philosophy.

Those with the luxury seem to have a different outlook. The likelihood of allowing a small green Ford Fiesta a black bit of road with a reduced chance of ditching seems proportional to the cost of their conveyance.

Short wheelbase Landrovers with long service and Sheepdogs co-driving are liable to stop and allow your passage. They could move aside with ease but are aware of the likelihood of their having to pull you out in the event of an angular accident.

Four by Four Jeep copies are unlikely to move, not trusting the axles to operate as they should and probably being unaware of the small button marked Diff Shift in the gear well...

Then there are the Porche Cayenne, BMW 328 i xDrive 4dr All-wheel Drive Sedan, The RangeRover ('I should really be in Iraq but thought I'd stay and keep an eye on you at home..') and the Mitsubishi Animal. These will edge gradually over to your side of the road, emphasising the relative value of one of their tires and insisting that you spend the afternoon at 45 degrees, trying to get a signal.

Happily, I have opted to stay in and invent a new bird feeder. Based on two empty fizzy water bottles and soon to be published as a 'How To' on Ehow. (I shall alert when done).

Meanwhilem, I shall evaluate the efficiency and get back to you with results. Since hanging it, filled with protein rich food, two Willow or Marsh tits have shown interest and the afternoon squadron of Long Tailed Tits fed rapidly.

It may look elaborate, but it serves seed better than other DIY bottle feeders since it need not be topped up to the level of the bottom hole every time. We'll see!

This lad needs no such nonsense. He arrived in the garden on Christmas morning, accompanied by the distant sound of a Twelve Bore fusillade. I like to think he escaped a seasonal hanging.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Another branch...

an experimental scratchpad.. quicker and dirtier than Blogger... we'll see....

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Spirited influence on enquiry.. the real costs.

How terrible it is that our forensic system can still be influenced by magic. You have to feel sorry for the Chief Constable that will inevitably have to carry the can for this one...

The Judge who took a victim's belief in the influence of their forgiveness does not deserve our sympathy however.

The catalogue of abuses either perpetrated or sanctioned by sanctimony continues.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Morpeth beware!

A day of seasonal torrential rain resulted in record breaking bank breaking floods just below the cottage.

The road was impassable until leaves had been cleared from the gulleys on the bridge.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Between the devil and the deep blue sea..

Our planet is a small miracle of true Goldilocks proportion. Suspended between two 'Earth Like' bodies we represent the sum of these extremes.

Mars. Cold and empty of useable atmosphere, may hold potential as a next destination. It has had water and may do still. Unlocking it may be a 'Fire and forget' mission for a small bunch of instantly famous scientists. The environment is tamable. The cost may be a one way ticket however.

Venus. Hot to vapourising point. Wet to saturation point but no rain falls as the preciptate Sulphuric Acid boils off before hitting the ground.

Our porridge is just right. Our beds and chairs are just so. It would be good if we found ourselves in this fortunate position by dint of greater awareness of the comparisons with our neighbours.

Exploration has more value than the push to colonise. It may provide the shove necessary to wake us up to our responsibility to this planet. Why try to escape? The bears aren't yet home.

A walk by the Castle and a missed opportunity..

Dodging the rain I took a walk through the local fields, down to the river and by the weir. Returning via fields and over the river.
En route, I was, again unlucky enough to miss recording the first Dipper I have seen locally... This was always going to be a promising spot...

..and true to form, I missed it. Here's another....

The tramp through woods to the Castle fields was remarkable only for the forms and shapes revealed in cut timber. Beech trees tall as masts and in orange piles of offcut disks.

An arm or leg with it's classical reminder..

Some maps or landscapes accidentally reminiscent of ink on parchment. I couldn't think what the lines reminded me of..

...except the line and style of Aubrey Beardsley..

A return to a persistent theme was made possible by piles of beech branches topped by this slice..

...and a shame that this collection didn't include a Cranesbill at it's centre..

Oh, and having missed the dipper... wouldn't you know it? When all you want is a postcard view...

... and. off it goes. Good riddance.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Warm walk in October

The link to the left offers a visit to the 'Map My Walk' site developed in partnership with Garmin. If I publish this button, it may serve as a nudge as the temperature drops and the boots get further back in the cupboard...

The carpark to carpark walk near the old mineworkings south of Shilbottle provides a four mile walk through woods and across fields. Alarmingly warm today, there was a lot of late autumn activity.

Predictably, my camera remained in it's case when Roe deer high tailed it just yards away and when a damselfly buzzed my face by the pond.

Curlew, Plover and Skylark rose from the stubble fields. Grouse and Pheasant all over the place. The only other activity was equestrian.

The Sycamore and Ash that have overpopulated the unused mine railway path are being assailed by fungus. The resultant blemishes look alarming but are, paradoxically indicators of good air quality. I shall venture out again, with tape measure and notebook when I am sure no one is looking. The Natural History Museum and OPAL (Open Air Labs) are asking for interested parties to submit statistics. Whilst this area is fully recorded by volunteers for the British Trust for Ornithology Bird Atlas, I can always turn my spare hard drive space over to leaf data...

Friday, 9 October 2009


I was brought up short by an early evening report from the PM programme.

The phrase 'Is nothing sacred' really doesn't apply.

A bit of a revelation...

Ever eager to add non artery threatening flavours to everything, I experimented with preserved citrus.

My Lime Pickle is tongue twistingly delightful but just this side of too oily. I remembered having Tagines in Morocco that sparkled with a lemon flavour, soft enough to be a memory and sharp enough to make it's presence felt.

Here's a reassuringly Marguerite Patten picture and my recipe for preserved lemons.

A litre Kilner Jar is required for approximately 9 unwaxed lemons. Cheap ones from Aldi were just fine.

I washed them and scored the skin a bit, in a haphazard fashion.

I quartered them from end to end without cutting all the way through. Throwing them into a mixing bowl, inch deep in cheap salt I packed Good Salt into the cuts in the fruit.

The cheap stuff merely serves as a sodium foundation for the assault on the lemon's integrity over the next week or so.

Packing the salted fruit into the jar as full as it would go means frequent hand washing. Beware!

Two weeks on, after turning and shaking, the jar is, as you see. No longer packed. The lemons are soft and almost marmalade. So far, rinsing in a sieve and adding chopped pieces to simple soup, rice dishes and fish has been a hit.

You could buy them online..

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Rising sun???

A team development day at the Rising Sun offered the opportunity for duckwatching but this was a bit scuppered by appropriately autumnal weather. Nice fruit salad though!

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Saturday, 26 September 2009

Fibonacci at home...

The Fibonacci spiral (..see Broccoli by numbers in an earlier post..) is making a seasonal appearance in the garden..

Always a pleasure Leonardo..
The Sunflowers are nearly dropping in sequence..

..and the Sempervivum is just sitting in self satisfied algebra.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Tables turn, slow but sure...

Tonight on Channel 4 News.. Professor Armand Le Roi discussed evolution with Jon Snow. The new film of Darwin's workings out prompts much bristling in some corners of understanding..

Listening to Le Roi terming the creationists as 'The forces of darkness' was a breath of minty fresh air.. There is a wind of change, sweeping across .. well, everywhere we hope. (You may have to start a different article and come back to the Darwin piece.. embedding Channel 4 video is a hit and miss affair..)

Saturday, 12 September 2009

The tenants have gone..

Able to retrieve the nest from the eaves now the weather has finally rendered it obviously abandoned. It is possible to look at the structure close up and make comparisons, draw links and even source the original building suppliers...

An examination of the paper outer walls reveals colours that exactly match the fencepost below the nest. The to and fro of the builder wasps in the spring and early summer rendered the path between fence and wall a daily adventure.

The Dodecahedron

dodecahedron The Dodecahedron (DDH) is the pattern or axial arrangement used by the unit Flux, it is stackable hyperbolically and absolutely the most efficient way to pack space with the least amount of material (Properties of Energy & Matter

by James Clifford Cranwell 2/17/98 )

So far so good.. Wasps agree with physicists. Unbeknown to them, the physicists have extrapolated this property of the movement of energy and have suggested that the universe itself may depend upon a honeycomb structure. The wasp's universe already does.

C is a constant, as is this pattern. Without the simple rightness of the form, the Cern detector, 'Alice' would not function.

(A particle detector, yesterday)

Sunday, 6 September 2009

District 9

Off to see this serious comment on apartheit with a nodding reference to 'Plan 9 from outer space'. I may critique later...
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Saturday, 5 September 2009

With the naked eye..

I stretched the liquorice Leica's zoom capability to the limit and caught this outside a bar in Murcia.

This low tide moon in Whitley Bay derived from this...

....oil drum.

But these images of Titan...

and... an asteroid

are much closer to home.