Wednesday 30 June 2010

Out of Africa

ENGLAND are heading home from the World Cup today after state-of-the-art video technology showed the ball crossing their goal line many, many times.

Wednesday Wildlife - Millipedes

Black Millipede - Tachypodioulus niger

There are 68 species of millipede recorded in the British isles but there may as yet be other unrecorded species. One species Unciger foetidus is known ‘only from Dick Jones’s garden in Norfolk’. Another, Anthogona britannica, was found at Slapton Ley in Devon in 1993 – it has not been recorded anywhere else in the world.

Polydesmus species

Although millipede means ‘thousand feet’ most millipedes possess fewer than 50 legs but one remarkable foreign species does have 750 legs (375 pair). Their resemblance to a ship with its rows of oars have also given rise to the name of galley worm. Some millipedes can live up to 11 years in captivity.

Unlike centipedes – which are carnivores – millipedes feed on dead organic matter such as decaying leaves.

Pill Millipede – Glomeris marginata

Millipedes contain various noxious chemicals designed to deter predators and the pill millipede secretes glomerin, a chemical related to the synthetic chemical quaalude used as a sedative in hospitals. Some species are known to smell of bitter almonds as they release cyanide as a deterrent against predators.

Spotted Snake Millipede - Blaniulus guttulatus

The Spotted Snake Millipede is considered to be a pest of stored potatoes. the spots are stink glands.

Monday 28 June 2010

A re-spray is needed

Well, England have blown it. They played badly and the Germans romped all over us to win 4-1 and knock us out of the World Cup. I guess this guy will need to give his car a re-spray.

Meanwhile, Mark Webber’s Formula One car will need a little bit more than a re-spray.

The Grand Prix at Valencia saw one of the sport’s luckiest escapes on Sunday when Mark ran into the back of Heiki Kovaleinen. Fortunately both drivers walked away from the 180 mph crash which saw Webber land upside down and then flip back again before crashing into a tyre barrier while Kovaleinen was lucky not to have his helmet hit by Webber’s car and then his car went sideways into the wall at almost full speed. What a wonderful testimony to the way they now build Formula One cars.

Happy Monday - Sleep well

Saturday 26 June 2010

A Saturday Ramble

I often bemoan the fact that no windows in our house face East or West and therefore I cannot get decent sunrises or sunsets – even if the surrounding buildings allowed them. This is a photo to prove myself wrong. Mind you, I did have to be up at 4.30 in the morning, standing in the bath, dangling my camera out of the small window in the bathroom....

I’ve had coffee out a couple of times this week. One morning I went into Heswall and sampled the new cafe by the bus station – Rubens. The sunshine, a pleasant coffee and a crossword. Most enjoyable. Then on Saturday Jo and I had coffee at Roses – the award winning cafe in Heswall. Jo had her traditional toasted teacake but I sampled something novel – cinnamon toast with sliced banana on it. I enjoyed its novelty but probably wouldn’t bother with it again.

The World Cup continues to predominate on television and in discussions. One of the main talking points has been the Jabulani – the ball designed specially for this tournament. Judging by the number of goalkeeping errors, the way it has swerved on occasions and the difficulty people have had in keeping it from flying high into the stands the ball has undoubtedly played a major part in the tournament.

Among the early casualties have been the previous World Champions – Italy – and, to the regret of few, the French. Having got into the Finals by cheating Northern Ireland out of their place there was little sympathy for Raymond Domenech and his men.

England scraped through the group stage so at least this chap won’t have to re-spray his car just yet.

Friday 25 June 2010

Friday My Town Shoot-out - Water

This week's subject for the Friday My Town Shoot-out is water - chosen by Nicole Howard.  I've wandered around the UK for this week's subject.

Loch Cluanie, Scotland

Loch Cluanie, Scotland

Loch Garry, Scotland

 The Albert dock, Liverpool, England

 Snowdonia, North Wales

 Plockton, Scotland

 The Isle of Skye, Scotland

 Dee Estuary, England

If you would like to see other members' shoot-outs please go to the link page.

To learn more about the Friday My Town Shoot-out why not pay a visit to the
home blog.

Wednesday 23 June 2010

Wednesday Wildlife - The Lily Beetle

The Lily Beetle (Lilioceris lilii) is native to mainland Europe and Asia, but not the British Isles. It was first reported in Southern England in the nineteenth century but it is believed that they did not become established until the 1940s. They had been confined to the south, but the recent increase in average temperatures has allowed them to move northward. The first reported find in Northern Ireland was in a garden in Belfast in June 2002. They have also moved to North America, first reported in Canada in 1945 and now spreading south in the eastern states of USA.

The bright red body, black legs and head make Red Lily Beetles very striking in appearance, but these 6-8mm long beasts are very destructive to bulbous plants and in particular Lilium such as Turk's cap lilies, Asiatic lilies, Oriental lilies, Tiger lilies, Solomon's Seal and Fritillaries.

 Lily Beetles Mating

From spring to autumn the beetles and larvae feed on the foliage, flowers and stems. The removal of the leaves deprives the plant of food production which severely weakens it and may prevent flowering the following year, or in severe cases kill the plant. Although I haven't seen it mentioned on websites the biggest problem they seem to cause me is that they eat through the base of the stems themselves and kill the whole stem (though it may be that snails or slugs are doing this).

Between April and September the beetles lay eggs on the undersides of leaves. After a week they hatch into reddish-brown maggot-like grubs that feed on the same parts of the plant as the parents. To deter predators or disguise themselves, the larvae cover themselves in their own wet, black excrement.

There are various chemical solutions but I am not in favour of those. The 'greener' way is to pick off the grubs and adults as soon as you see them. The adults will drop to the ground at the slightest touch, so spread newspaper under the plants to catch them. Be quick or they'll fly off. Unfortunately you are then left with the problem of disposing of them. I am loathe to kill things so I tend to drop the whole lot in the garden bin with some of the damaged lily leaves and let the fates decide their future.

Monday 21 June 2010

Bugs Britannica

I have just treated myself to the 512 page Bugs Britannica by Richard Mabey and Peter Marren (Chatto & Windus, May 2010) – at a great discount from Amazon. It follows on from the excellent Birds Britannica and Flora Britannica (and the two equally good though unrelated works entitled Fauna Britannica). It’s a wonderful book and promises to be my book of the year. The word ‘bugs’ is used in its very broadest sense and the book contains all manner of invertebrates and even some ‘nearly vertebrates’. It’s easier to say what the book is not than to say what it is exactly – it’s not a field guide; it is not a coffee-table glossy (despite it’s large size and large pretty pictures); and it’s not a scientific dissertation. It is a general ramble through the world of myths, poetry, and history as they relate to each group of invertebrates. I think the best description is that in the Sunday Times – “outstanding cultural guide to the interaction of invertebrates and man”.

So far I am about a fifth of the way through so it will be a while before it ends up on my book blog.

Happy Monday - It's the way you tell it

Judy Rudd an amateur genealogy researcher in southern Queensland’s, was doing some work on her family tree. She discovered that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's great-great uncle, Remus Rudd, was hanged for horse stealing and train robbery in Melbourne in 1889. Both Judy and Kevin Rudd share this common ancestor.

The only known photograph of Remus shows him standing on the gallows at the Melbourne Gaol:

On the back of the picture Judy obtained during her research is this inscription: 'Remus Rudd horse thief, sent to Melbourne Gaol 1885, escaped 1887, robbed the Melbourne-Geelong train six times. Caught by Victoria Police Force, convicted and hanged in 1889.'

So Judy e-mailed Prime Minister Rudd for information about their great-great uncle, Remus Rudd.

Kevin Rudd's staff sent back the following biographical sketch for her genealogy research:

"Remus Rudd was famous in Victoria during the mid to late 1800s . His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable equestrian assets and intimate dealings with the Melbourne-Geelong Railroad.

Beginning in 1883, he devoted several years of his life to government service, finally taking leave to resume his dealings with the railroad.

In 1887, he was a key player in a vital investigation run by the Victoria Police Force. In 1889, Remus passed away during an important civic function held in his honour when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed."

Thursday 17 June 2010

Friday My Town Shoot-out - Rocks Large and Small

This week's subject for the Friday My Town Shoot-out is Rocks large and small - chosen by ChefE.

Most of the Outer Hebrides of Scotland have a bedrock formed from Lewisian gneiss. These are the oldest rocks in Europe and amongst the oldest in the world, having been laid down in the Precambrian period, up to 3000 million years ago.

Gneiss (pronounced nice) is a common and widely distributed type of rock formed by high-grade regional metamorphic processes from pre-existing formations that were originally either igneous or sedimentary rocks.

The etymology of the word "gneiss" is disputed. Some sources say it comes from the Middle High German verb gneist (to spark; so called because the rock glitters) and the name has occurred in English at least since 1757. Other sources claim the root to be an old Saxon mining term that seems to have meant decayed, rotten, or possibly worthless material.

If you would like to see other members' shoot-outs please go to the link page.

To learn more about the Friday My Town Shoot-out why not pay a visit to the
home blog.

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