Friday 30 September 2011

It's hot

It’s hot. I’m sitting at the dining table using the laptop at eight at night. It’s now dark outside and all I have on are my shorts. Not a pretty sight - but it is hot! Yesterday was 29th September, Michaelmas Day – often regarded as the beginning of autumn. Ironically, the temperature was higher than any Michaelmas since 1895. Today was hotter and tomorrow could be the hottest October day on record. We’re having a summer at last. I’m glad I didn’t put the fans away in the loft for the winter.

And talking of the loft. After doing some gardening in the beautiful weather I then spent a few hours yesterday and today starting to tidy up the loft and get rid of some of the stuff we have stored there. Some trips to the tip and the charity shop will definitely be called for.

This is the point where I access the loft – after having cleared three sacks, a duvet and seven boxes…. You’ll have to imagine how difficult it was to crawl into it before I did that.

This is the rest of the loft. It’s the whole width of the house – about 35 feet - and two boxes deep on either side and one cannot stand up in it – only kneel. It’s a really fun job I’ve taken on. Oh, and in case I didn’t mention it – it’s hot. At the moment you could roast a chicken in the loft without any difficulty.

After complaining about all the rain I’m never satisfied, am I?

Thursday 29 September 2011

Friday My Town Shoot-out – Stairs (or ladders)

I have some brilliant (he said modestly) photos of stairs in a Victorian house we lived in. In black-and-white, they are among the photos in the loft that haven’t been scanned into the computer yet. And you should see my loft – it’s up a ladder and I’m not brilliant at managing those nowadays – at least, not with my hands full. So I’m going to cheat and instead of stairs I’m going to show you some ladders I’ve found recently – after all, they are simply the forerunners of stairs…

A ladder stile - Lleyn peninsula, N Wales

Ladder at the Ambleside Mill on Stock Ghyll (now the Giggling Goose restaurant about which I’ll blog another day)

This climbing frame is called Jacob's Ladder.

Ladder stairs in Otterton Mill, Devon

Notice requesting the public not to use the stairs at Otterton Mill.

Why not visit the link to other bloggers and see what pictures they have chosen?


 Teasel or teazel or teazle are tall herbaceous biennial plants whose seeds are an important winter food resource for some birds, notably the European Goldfinch; teasels are often grown in gardens and encouraged on some nature reserves to attract them. Our Goldfinches seem to prefer the ease of picking niger seeds out of the seed feeder.

In 'the good old days' the seed-heads were used for teasing wool (or perhaps that should be teazing wool) - they didn't make fun of or attempt to provoke the wool in a playful way; they fluffed or separated the fibres by brushing them in the wrong direction.

Presumably the women did the teazing but the men did the harvesting - unless the women were a lot taller than Jo!!!!

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Gairloch again - the starfish

Jo rescued this starfish - once placed on soft sand it buried itself in less than 30 seconds.

More rescuing to be done...

There's a starfish under there somewhere.

Tuesday 27 September 2011

A watercolour or two

I've been playing with my image editor (Imagefolio) and came up with this attempt at making one of my photos into a watercolour -

Here are a couple more -

And this is my favourite -

Monday 26 September 2011

Happy Monday - Your Number's Up

"When Pope Clement VI asked his advisers how many people had died in the Black Death they told him the total worldwide was 42,836,486. This was, of course, a complete guess. In 1349, most of the world remained undiscovered and the rest was plunged into administrative chaos. What the Pope's advisers were telling him was 'A Hell of a lot, Your Holiness, so stay away from the poor for a month or so.'

They were employing the Frederick Forsyth technique of storytelling, which is based on the idea that if you lard anything with unnecessary technical detail, people are more likely to believe in it. If I told you, for example, that I was writing this at gunpoint, you'd probably scoff. But if I told you I was looking down the barrel of a Smith and Wesson .45 calibre revolver with a silencer you might just believe me; unless, of course, you were enough of an arms enthusiast to know that you can't put a silencer on a revolver.

Anyway you're not reading this to be made a fool of, so here are some interesting facts: you have 1.5 million hairs on your head, 40,000 hairs on your eyebrows and 70 million hairs, most of them invisible, on your body as a whole.

Actually, this is all nonsense as well. I don't know how hairy you are, and it's all fantastically irrelevant. The point is that, even when one is primed to be sceptical, it's very easy for someone to bamboozle you with detail, and among the most effective details are numbers.

...Statistics on how many poor people there are have not been collected since 1985. When such figures are collected, the ploys by which they are kept out of journalists' hands would not fool even Pope Clement VI. Sir Douglas Black's damning 1980 report on class-related health inequalities was limited to 260 copies and published on an August bank holiday. The depressing Health and Social Services report of 1986 was published the day before the Royal Wedding, and last year's Budget Day was chosen as the date on which to publish embarrassing figures on hospital waiting lists and homelessness."

Dr John Collee Observer 4th Nov. 1990

Sunday 25 September 2011

Thoughtful Sunday - Happiness

In The Observer in July 1992 Dr John Collee wrote:

"There are many paths to happiness, but here's what the psychologists recommend:

Let your chosen path be one which you can pursue for a good length of time, one which will tie in with your past and future experience so that your life as a whole makes some sort of sense.

Let it break down into small, easily accomplished tasks.

Let there be an opportunity for people to congratulate you when each of these tasks is accomplished.

Ideally, let it be something you do with other people so that, when your faith in the project begins to flag, there is always someone around to encourage you.

And let it be a project that evolves, so that the more you do the more complex and rewarding it becomes.

That, it seems to me, is as close as we can get to a formula for lasting happiness.

There's an anonymous quote in Michael Argyle's book – ‘If you want to be happy for a night get drunk, if you want to be happy for a few years, get married, if you want to be happy for ever, get a garden.'"

The above thoughts of Dr Collee’s were inspired by reading the thoughts of a psychologist "with a name that must cause him problems: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi."

Saturday 24 September 2011


In August, on the way down from GB's, Jo and I spent a few hours in Gairloch, Wester Ross on the West coast of Scotland. It's a super place and even provided us with some sunshine!

It even has a bookstore!

Jo - looking to rescue crabs and starfish that have got stranded.

I'll show the starfish in another post.

Thursday 22 September 2011

Ben Dorain

GB and I had our first trip to Scotland in the early 1960s (any photos GB?) with Mum, Dad, family friend, Phil Moss, and a caravan. It was great fun and a lot easier to stop by the side of the road in those days. Phil’s Rollei with its square format slides was in use frequently. Unfortunately, when Phil died his slides disappeared so we have no record from his perspective. On our way up through Scotland in July GB and I could not resist stopping to take a picture or two of one of Phil’s favourite mountains – Ben Dorain.

Ben Dorain (Gaelic: Beinn Dòbhrain 'hill of the streamlet' or 'hill of the otters'), is a mountain located in the Bridge of Orchy hills of Argyll and Bute, Scotland. It is one of the most recognisable mountains in Scotland, as it curves gracefully up from the West Highland Way. It is the subject of Duncan Ban MacIntyre's best known Gaelic poem, "Moladh Beinn Dòbhrainn" (English: "In Praise of Ben Dorain"); MacIntyre had worked as a gamekeeper in these parts.

An t-urram thar gach beinn
Aig Beinn Dòbhrain;
De na chunnaic mi fon ghrèin,
'S i bu bhòidhche leam…

English translation:
Honour beyond each ben
for Ben Dorain;
Of all I have seen beneath the sun,
she is the most glorious for me.

The English composer Ronald Stevenson composed a work for full chorus, chamber chorus, symphony orchestra and chamber orchestra based on MacIntyre's poem in 2007.

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