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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