Sunday 31 August 2008

When is a tree not a tree?

When is a tree not a tree?

Answer - when it's a sapling.

But what, one of us asked the other day, is a sapling? When does it stop being a seedling and when does it become a tree?

The answer proved somewhat elusive. We finally concluded that it was a pretty loose term for a young tree. But, on route to this conclusion, we came across a number of definitions which conflicted. More than one site seemed to have directly translated 2-4 cm into 2-4 inches (or vice versa!!)! What was particularly amusing was the idea that the following would have fitted into one or other definition - a forty year old Oak tree, a fully grown Apple tree, and a twenty five foot high Birch...

Among the definitions were the following:-
A young tree, but bigger then a seedling.
A small tree, usually between 2 and 4 inches diameter at breast height.
A young tree normally more than 4 1/2 feet (1.5 meters) high and less than 4 inches ( 10 centimeters) in diameter
A loose term for a young tree no longer a seedling but not yet a pole, about 1 - 2 m high and 2 - 4 cm DBH (diameter at breast height), typically growing vigorously.
A tree more than 0.9 in (3 ft) in height and less than 10.2 cm (4 in) in dbh.
A loose term for a young tree more than a few feet tall and an inch or so in diameter.
A young tree, shorter than an adult and not yet producing seeds.

Richard Hooker

Since Victorian times street art has tended to move away from statues of recognisable people to modernistic structures or unidentified soldiers who were simply symbolic of particular conflicts. So far I have only found one identifiable person in Exeter - Richard Hooker - but there is plenty more art for me to blog about in days to come.

Saturday 30 August 2008

Collecting things

One big difference between Jo and I is in relation to collecting things. Over the years I have collected all sorts of things but Jo is not a collector by nature. Similarly, Helen is a collector but Ian and GB are not (unless you count gadgets in GB's case and drills in Ian's.)

I wondered why some people collect things so I Googled the concept. One museum site had a heading of my exact words - "Why do people collect things?" But it then totally failed to give the answer.

In an article by Susan Pearce, who has written seven books on the subject of collecting, various reasons are put forward as to why people collect but I think the one that most strikes a chord with me is the hunt. Tracking things down, or simply the joy of serendipitous discovery, is the main fun of the collecting habit. Displaying the collection is secondary and any financial gain is definitely very low down on the list for me.

Among the things that I have collected over the years are the following:-

Liverpool Football Club memorabilia
Beer mats
(Did you know collectors of beermats are called tegestologists)
Fruit labels
Conifer cones
Model Formula 1 cars
Ornamental owls
Rock and mineral specimens
Letter Boxes (not the letter boxes themselves but I hunted them down so as to photograph them)

I also treat a number of my natural history interests as one would a collection. For example, I record the moths I have seen and each one added to the collection is a delight. I suspect that in Victorian times, prior to decent and easy macro photography, I would have been one of those chaps with lots of glass topped drawers full of butterflies and other insects, all neatly pinned and labelled.

Those who don't collect things are missing out on the excitement of the chase and that great buzz you get when another item is added to your collection. But, I guess, if you are not inclined to hunting you wouldn't feel the same.

Jersey Tiger

I added a moth to my life list on our visit to Otter Nurseries the other day. But, without Helen to aid in the identification it would have gone down as a UFO. (I have two standard abbreviations for items that I see / photograph but cannot identify - UFO [Unidentified Flying Object ] for birds and insects and UGO [Unidentified Growing Object] for plants.) It was a Jersey Tiger. In flight the red / orange underwings are very obvious and it has the fast, fluttery flight of a butterfly.

This species is only found in the Channel Islands and parts of the south coast . On the mainland it is most common in South Devon, but colonies have recently appeared in Dorset and the Isle of Wight, and it has also been found in Somerset. One of its foodplants is Stinging Nettle. Helen has seen plenty of Jersey Tigers in flight by day and these photos are courtesy of her. My next challenge will be to get my own photos of them.

My life list of macro-moth species seen now stands at 259. This is the first species I have added for over a year though I have yet to identify a moth I saw and photographed at GB's in the Spring.

Friday 29 August 2008


One of my bamboos (Fargesia murielae).
GB and I are always on the look-out for plants that might do well in his rather harsh garden environment. He was inspired by Otter Nurseries to think about having a grass garden. In fact, the thought struck us at exactly the same moment - a typical example of our telepathy (or of great minds thinking alike?). It was only the next day that it occurred to me that I could have a grass garden at Pensby. After all, I have lots of grasses already. I just don't have a border of them. So I have decided to create one - probably in the front where there is a border that currently has no real theme or plan and will require little to be moved out.

In addition to the various grasses I already posses I have been given two more by Helen - Bunny's Tails or Bunny Ears (Pennisetum villosum) and Stipa tennuissima.

A number of on-line garden sites sell grasses including which has over forty species available and Pase Seeds which has 141 varieties. Helen has bought grass seeds from Nicky's Nursery.

One of the grasses which I must have in the new border is Festuca glauca, seen here at Helen's.

Uncinia rubra, of which I currently have two lots, is another of my favourites.

Investigating grasses on the web I came across a good American site which has some free grass garden designs on it - Plantation Products Inc.

I love some of the annual grasses like oats and wall barley which often appear at random in my garden but they tend to be too erratic to try any of those in the bed.

I doubt if either GB's or mine will ever rival that of Kew Gardens which is 26 years old and currently has over 550 species. But if they satisfy us that is all that matters!

Making a Spectacle of Himself

Ian has joined those of us who wear specs. There's no doubt he can see better but Helen said "You cannot wear your new glasses until you've had a shave..." I thought "That's a strange thing to say". So I asked the obvious question - "Why?"
"Because until then he looks too much like Gary." Gary is Ian's brother; I decided it was safer not to delve into why looking like Gary might be a bad thing....

Thursday 28 August 2008


One (of a number of things) thing that has impressed me about Helen and Ian's garden is how many things they have grown from seed and how successful these have been in the space of a single year. Most people would grow a few new plants at a time but they have a huge variety and there are signs of success everywhere - not just among the flowers but also the vegetables and fruit - like this melon.

Some day I'll be a Pumpkin.

When we grow up we want to be a Norway Maple wood.


During one of my local walks in Exeter, hunting insects and other creatures of interest, I discovered a small group of Caerwyscians. Or perhaps they were Dumnonii since Isca Dumnoniorum was once the Roman name for the city. A friendly tribe.

One of the male Dumnonii had an unusual way of cutting his hair - but I saw no signs of woad!

Wednesday 27 August 2008


"What do you mean, you're not really my Daddy?"

Watering cans

We all went to Otter Nurseries near Ottery St Mary on Monday. I just loved this colourful display of watering cans.

Tuesday 26 August 2008

Murder victim

We came across this on Sunday. If I had had a piece of chalk upon my person I would have drawn a chalk outline around it and then put an arrow to the rope in the background, labelling it 'Forensics - check if Murder Weapon'.


When GB and I are out and about we usually end up photographing those establishments in which we have coffee or something to eat. On Bank Holiday Monday we had lunch with Helen and Ian in the Feathers at Buddleigh Salterton.

Instead of our usual habit of photographing the food or coffee or crossword I photographed Helen and Ian and then the latter photographed GB and I.


Monday 25 August 2008

Ah Sweet Mystery of Life...

GB and I both passed by this work of art in Exeter the other day and were convinced that we had taken photos of it last year. So I just grabbed a swift photo in passing. When we checked, neither of us could find a single photo of it among those of our visit to Helen and Ian's last year. Without such evidence to the contrary we would both have sworn that we had taken them. Weird or what?

No doubt I'll get a chance during the coming couple of weeks to rectify the omission in which case it will be added to my Exeter blog.

More Useless Information

Charlie Chaplin once won third prize in a Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest.
American Airlines saved $40,000 in 1987 by taking out an olive from First Class salads.
An adult giraffe's kick is so powerful that it can decapitate a lion.
The word “lethologica” describes the state of not being able to remember the word you want.
The brain continues sending electrical wave signals for 37 hours after death
In ancient Rome, when a man testified in court he would swear on his testicles.
Between 1902 and 1907, the same tiger killed 434 people in India.
Every year approximately 2,500 left-handed people are killed by using object or machinery designed for right-handed people.
50% of female polar bears also have a penis.
The longest word in the English language, with all of the letters in alphabetical order is "Almost".
During their periods womens middle fingers shrink. No one knows why.
A raisin dropped in a glass of fresh champagne will bounce up and down continuously from the bottom of the glass to the top.
On average, 12 newborns will be given to the wrong parents every day.
75% of people will believe any made up statistic.

Sunday 24 August 2008

Distinction, merit, merit, merit, merit....

Richard having a distinction and a whole host of merits has received his BTEC National Diploma in Media (Moving Image)with the triple grade merit, merit, merit and has been offered a place at Liverpool John Moores University - his first choice. Whether he is going to take it up, he is, as yet, unsure but the offer has pleased Jo and I greatly so I had to mention it and wish him well for the future - whatever it holds.

Decisions, decisions...

PRESCRIPTION for a long life

Saturday 23 August 2008

A Harley

This beauty was parked next to us in a motorway service station on the M4 yesterday.

Down to Exeter

GB and I came down to Exeter yesterday and an account of the journey will be found on my Pensby et al blog....

As with my Hebridean wanderings, I have decided to put my Exeter and Devon diary in their own blog. So, for the next couple of weeks, you are welcome to visit cje in exeter.... For future reference, this link will be found in the left hand column of this blog.


This is another toy site that I came across recently – it’s a kaleidoscope in which you create the designs by transferring some basic shapes to a circle. You’ll soon get the idea. The possibilities are endless and it’s a great way of wasting, I mean whiling away, ten minutes.

Friday 22 August 2008

D.V., N.p., w.p.

Later on today I shall be down in Exeter with Helen and Ian - D.v.    I have really been looking forward to it for weeks.

Of course, it is possible that GB may not take me now because I put the postscript d.v. in the first sentence. For those not brought up in the Edwards household or with a classical background it stands for Deo volente or God willing. GB is in great doubt as to the likelihood of there existing a Supreme Being (other than me). To my amazement my Penguin dictionary of Abbreviations did not have d.v. in it. By contrast, a quick websearch by gave 57 different suggestions as to what it might stand for - from Darth Vader to data valid and direct voltage including four versions of God willing / God wills it.

To understand the rest of the heading you definitely had to be brought up in the Edwards household. Our next door neighbour was called Nelly Dowd and everything her husband, Uncle John, said he had planned was given the qualification "D.v., N.p." - God willing; Nelly permitting.

Our household adapted that for various activities and it became "D.v; N.p.; w.p." - God willing, Nelly permitting, weather permitting. Or, more simply, when were not feeling quite so naughty, "D.v.; w.p." - God willing, weather permitting.

What's this

What is this?

A heart attack, of course!

Thursday 21 August 2008


Wednesday 20 August 2008


Jo and I have had a couple of coffees at Wetherspoon’s this last week. I’ve never been in a Wetherspoon pub before and I was most pleasantly surprised.
The first visit was to Hoylake Lights when we went to the viewing of the auction. We just had coffee (or in Jo’s case tea) and a traditional breakfast. Good food in pleasant surroundings with excellent service.

On Saturday we went to Mockbeggar Hall in Moreton and apart from the pre-football match crowd in part of the pub it was equally good.

This time we shared a couple of starters – chicken wings with cheese and piri-piri (African bird's-eye chili) dips and a plate of Greek dips. Very enjoyable.

I went to the Wetherspoon’s website – I’m not sure that this photo was the one I would necessarily have chosen to put on the site as advertising the Mockbeggar Hall’s facilities but I was very grateful for them later in the day!

I shall certainly be visiting Wetherspoon’s pubs again.

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