Thursday, 31 October 2013

Happy Halloweeeeeeen!

Here are our efforts in the Pumpkin Carving Stakes:

I am concerned that M's attempt may well Frighten Small Children, but for all the wrong reasons (it certainly terrifies me)

This is mine. The pineapple hair do is because the stalk fell off so you can't get the lid off without prising it with a knife

F's take on the traditional Halloween Pumpkin reminds me of a giant

This is J's, neat and feminine, as she herself is. L declared he was too old for pumpkin carving so hasn't done one. Although interestingly, he is not too old to want to go to trick or treating (which we never do) and to get grumpy about not going trick or treating. I suspect the allure is more to do with the thought of copious quantities of sweets being available than any notion of the ancient festival this evening piggy-backs on (either that or it's the appeal of terrorising old ladies)

They are all now outside the front door, scaring off potential trick-or-treaters, although to be honest I am more worried about any passing moths being attracted to the light of the candles and getting singed and pumpkined in the process.  


Being primarily an Old Pagan at heart, I shall take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy Samhaine. May you be guided well through the year ahead and may it bring you many blessings, light, peace, happiness, contentment, an abundance of learning and the achievement of goals.

CT :-)


Wednesday, 30 October 2013

A Merveille du Jour Pays Us A Visit, and Causing Mayhem At Danebury Hill Fort

You know how I said a couple of weeks back that I have been wanting Very Much to see a Merveille du Jour ever since I discovered their existence? And that I got very excited when one of these most beautiful of moths visited the Oxfordshire garden of my blogging pal Martin, because traditionally his moths have visited us a few days after they've been to see him? Well, the box was out last night for the first time in quite a few days (due to a combination of inclement weather and college commitments), and although I wasn't holding out much hope for many moths at all (let alone my Holy Grail Moth) because it was a clear night with temps down to 3 degrees here and Mothy People don't think much of clear weather and cold nights, guess what was asleep on one of the egg boxes when I brought the trap in to empty it.......


A Merveille du Jour!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I took Quite A Large Number Of Photos (well, I may never see one again so I had to make the most of its visit didn't I? Not unlike the time I came downstairs to discover M dressed as a woman doing the washing up), so if you're not Moth-Proof I suggest scrolling down to the bit about the male members of my family mistaking themselves for Iron Age Warriors and scrapping at Danebury Hillfort this afternoon.....

Sunlit (love the bobbly detail on the coat)

I want a pair of stripey stockings like these

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful

Sigh......

More Sighs......

Look! I have an MDJ actually sitting on my hand! (in fact, it turns out MDJ's are Quite Capable of scooping several Oscars for their convincing ability to Play Dead In Dramatic Ways. This one fell off the table and plummeted to the floor where he lay upside down on his back with his legs in the air for quite some time after I suggested he might like to sit on a pencil for some photos- not, I have to admit, something I would be overly keen on doing myself, but then I am not a moth). Fortunately he was only pretending, and so we compromised on my hand and I put the pencil away.
 
Although I found it hard to Tear Myself Away, we did also visit Danebury, our local Iron Age Hillfort, this afternoon for the regulation Weekend Walk With Teenagers.

They were overjoyed, as they always are at the prospect of a walk in the country with their parents. F and J bickered constantly all the way there about who was wearing whose boots (despite them now being so close in size as to be virtually indistinguishable, as evidenced by the mix up in the first place), and L proceeded to puncture every step he took by either punching my arm or requesting that I try to punch him so he could demonstrate how to block them. When I replied that mothers generally don't enjoy thumping their sons unless they have done something Very Bad Indeed To Deserve It, he said: "Oh, come on mum! It'll be a useful thing for you to know. What happens if someone tries to attack you?"
"I'll sing them your "oh baby, why did you leave me?" song," I replied. "I expect that would make the Run AwayVery Quickly and quite possibly regret ever coming anywhere near me." 


I think he has forgotten that it is possible to walk beside someone without attempting to a) push them over or b) give them a dead arm. I was about to complain to his father about this Overly Boyish Behaviour when glancing ahead I saw M and F engaged in more or less identical behaviour. They were walking side by side each trying to kick the other up the bum by flicking their feet sideways.

No chance of any help from that quarter then.

Thankfully, a better target presented itself before my arm turned purple and I got so fed up with the punching that I pushed L over in a sheep poo.
 
Not some random stranger, this is in fact his father


F joined in too





I took advantage of their attention being otherwise engaged to make good my escape and wandered off to look at some Gorgeous Sunlit Beech Trees and the Wonderful Views that circle the Hillfort....





When I returned most of the male members of my family had got themselves under control and were more or less behaving, although J had mysteriously fallen over in the middle of the path for no apparent reason (she is given to clumsiness). But now Teddy was disgracing himself. He had rushed enthusiastically up to a rather primped and polished poodle who was having a discreet poo on the side of the track. I watched in silent horror as our ragamuffin squealed to halt and shoved his nose rather too close for comfort towards the poodle's busy bottom in a very unsubtle way. This proved too much for the effete owner, who started flapping his empty dog poo bag at Ted in what proved to be an entirely ineffectual attempt to shoo him away. 

Teddy (who is the friendliest dog in the entire world) clearly thought the whole thing was an enormous game and started leaping excitedly for the poo bag, yipping joyfully at full volume as only a Westie can, thereby drawing the attention of everyone on the hill. The poodle man shrieked as if Ted was trying to kill him and flapped the bag even more vigorously, which of course made the game even more fun.

I looked round for help and found M trying to dunk F's head in a sheep poo and therefore blissfully unaware of Ted torturing the poodle man (this is because men can only do and concentrate on one thing at a time).


In the end Ted got bored with the game and trotted nonchalantly back to us, apparently blissfully unaware of the mayhem he had left behind.
The man gave me an anguished look. I smiled apologetically and collected my various Badly Behaved Thugs and hurried them off down the hill before they could get into any more trouble.


It will probably be a while before we go back to Danebury.

I hope your weekend is proceeding more peacefully and that you haven't unduly upset any sensitive poodle owners.

CT :-)


Tuesday, 29 October 2013

To Friendship, and The Garden In Autumn

Yesterday was a Wonky Sort Of Day for me. I sort of lost my way and Got Stuck. It was one of those "can't see the woods for the trees" days. Thankfully I don't get many of them, and when they do happen, however unsettling they are, it's generally for a good reason and ultimately results in the way ahead being cleared. It was, I think, the culmination of several days of restlessness and change, and it interests me that it coincided with all that windy weather, which, as I have said before, does not suit me. It was turbulent yesterday, inside and out.

Anyhoo, I have Denise to thank for clearing my head for me, and so, in the Best Tradition Of Friendship, I have penned her this little ditty. She is Proof (if any were needed) that you don't need to physically meet someone for them to become Important in your life. Everyone should have a Denise (although I've laid claim to her now, so you'll have to find your own). I'm also going to extend the poem's dedication to encompass all of you whose blogs I read and who are kind enough to comment regularly on this one. You have all enriched my life over the past few months and I consider you all my Friends, so the ditty is also for Em, Lou, Margaret, Christa, Kate, David, Martin, Jess, Wendy, Sarah, Caroline and Suzie (and anyone else I have left off by accident).

I have a great Blogging Pal,
Denise is her name.
When I am feeling wonky,
She helps me to feel sane.

When I've got in a muddle and
Can't see the woods for the trees,
She sends me Words Of Common Sense
And an over-the-ether Squeeze.

This ditty is by way of thanks
Bound up in rhyming letter,
Because my head is feeling clear
And my heart is feeling better X


 Right-o, on to Other Things.

This is what is looks like here today:

 
 Blue sky! Blue sky! Hooray!

I have been Out In The Garden Looking At Things, and found a surprising amount considering it is Autumn and the nights are Drawing In and the weather is Cooling Down and the air is Getting Damp.

Sun-Sparkled Acer
 
Bamboo For Boys (the energy in this plant relates to young male folk. Our lads certainly couldn't get enough of bamboo when they were little and are still drawn to it now)  

Johnson's Blue
Chillies 

A solitary blueberry, ignored by mice and squirrels
Any Thoughts? Not a Crane Fly I don't think - the wings look too small.
Fuschia
Common Fleabane seed heads
Old Man's Beard
Clematis seed head (also known as Old Man's Beard!)
The Moon
 Guard Duty beside the wellies
Caterpillar (?) pupa on the window sill

M's Kale, which has performed a Miraculous Recovery after being decimated by caterpillars this summer
M's Leeks
My Sorrel, which I share with the Fat Green Beetle I showed you the other day. There is plenty of it to go around so I don't begrudge her, especially as she looks pregnant at the moment.

Squash
An accidentally sun-dried tomato (this would be worth a fortune in Waitrose. Perhaps if I washed it...?)
Willow Bark (from which aspirin (ish) cometh)
The Fire Pit. It transpires that boys aged eleven and twelve are Quite Willing to leave their computers and Go Outside to get come Fresh Air if there is the Promise Of Fire somewhere in the equation.
A Single Quince left on the tree. I can't help but think that it looks like a Fat Green Bottom wedged between the branches,
Robin
"I spy the lady in the house"

Hope you've enjoyed all of those on this beautiful sunny and at last (more or less) mercifully wind-free day. 

We are pondering the idea of getting a puppy. I have broached the subject with L, who thinks it's great, and tomorrow will run it by F and J when they arrive (I'm not expecting Enormous Resistance). I also tentatively suggested it to My Beloved this morning just as he was getting ready to cycle to work (good timing I thought- his mind is more than half-occupied with work-readiness therefore he'll probably say yes without thinking too much about it) and surprisingly (all joking aside) he is happy to discuss the matter, so we'll see. I think a Small Dog would work, that way Ted would remain In Charge and also wouldn't be flattened, which wouldn't be Very Nice. Cleo (puss cat) will be APPALLED so I haven't said anything to her about it yet. Mind you, she'd be more appalled if we were thinking of getting another cat, so maybe I should explain it that way? It's by no means certain, and I blame my friend Mrs M who texted me last week so say they are getting one. 

In the mean time I'll leave you with some pictures of The Faithful Hound, who (as usual) accompanied me on my Garden Perambulations this morning, and then sat down to enjoy the sun.


Note the New Hair Do (and rather narrow tail- I think I took too much off it because it now resembles a pointy stick more than a tail. Oops)

"Ponds exist so that Thirsty Dogs can drink when they want to"


Wishing you all a good Rest Of The Day, and.....Remember your friends XX

Monday, 28 October 2013

Mrs Peckham Is Moulting and We Survived The Storm

Woke up at 5 (becoming a pattern) to crashing wind threatening to take the roof off and driving rain hammering against the windows. By 7 it had more or less blown itself out.

During the Last Great Storm of 1987 when I was fourteen (which will be forever immortalised by Mr Fish the Weatherman confidently asserting the night before the storm tore a swathe through most of Southern England, that all rumours of an impending hurricane were nonsense), we lost several ancient oaks on the farm where I grew up in Sussex. I still remember the sound of them falling in the night, great heavy thuds that were unlike anything else. We didn't know till morning what the noise was or indeed how much damage had been done. The winds raged most of the following day then and we had to dodge slates that had been torn off the roof and were slicing through the air like vicious knives when we went out to check the ponies in the morning. In a village a few miles away an oak had come down across a stable, killing the three horses inside. Fortunately, ours had all been out in the field and that way I suspect avoided serious injury, although the ground was torn up pretty good and proper from where they had been galloping about. Five oaks came down across the farm track and we had to chainsaw our way out up to the lane that was 1/2 mile away. Nothing so spectacular happened here last night, and friends in the forest nearby also escaped any major catastrophes too, which is a blessing, all told.

I went out first thing to check the hens who'd been tucked up in their shed all night and found them none the worse for wear, all except for Mrs Peckham, who is looking half-plucked and very nearly oven ready as a result.

She's moulting, an event overdue by about five years. Looking good isn't she?





I am still feeling groggy from the migraine and unsettled by the wind which is buffeting around outside. L has a mate over today- they are predictably ensconced in the study playing Minecraft and rabbiting away with the various friends they have formed round the world on Skype. One positive aspect of the internet. How else would L have made friends with and be able to chat on a daily basis to a lad who lives in China? I think it's good for them- we're very quick as a society to mutter doom and gloom predictions about children's interaction with and time spent on computers, but as long as they get outside and have some fresh air every day and provided you take steps to protect them from innapropriate images I don't see it as a huge problem. L has recently discovered a server which is all about bees and trees, and he is now talking confidently about Larch and Elm and pollination. On the whole I feel this is better than blood and guts and gore.

I have two assignments for college to get on with before F and J descend and M is home from work on Tues eve. I don't suppose I'll surface then until after the weekend - the thought of going back to college and resuming studies is appealing!

Hope you are all OK and everyone who reads this in the UK survived the storm intact? I was looking at the stats for the blog yesterday, and while I'm sure many of them are spam related, I thought I'd better say hi to those of you who check in with us from the US, Ukraine, China, Canada, Malaysia, Germany, Russia, Australia and Indonesia. Your reading is appreciated :-)

Have a good day all,

CT