Monday 31 October 2011

Happy Monday - The ten most pointless things in the world

The ten most pointless things in the world
From Journolists (12th January 1992) -

Gazing out of the window on the tube
Saying 'Come on, come on' to a red traffic-light
Urging your horse on while watching the Grand National on the television
Writing 'I hope I've got your address right' in a letter
Looking at the stereo when listening to a CD
Saying 'And this is the bathroom' when showing prospective buyers round your house
Changing queues at the supermarket check-out
Sending a stamped addressed envelope to America
Gesticulating while on the telephone
Returning the 'No' envelope expecting to win the prize draw

Can you suggest another one?

Sunday 30 October 2011

Clocks for Jo

Time is what prevents everything from happening at once.
                                                                                                    ~ John Archibald Wheeler

When I looked through my blog postings I found that I had quite frequently made reference to Partner-who-loves-tea and her views on time. In particular this post showed how she lives in a world with its own time zone which often bears little or no relation to GMT.

A year later I found a clock in Spesh's house that would suit Partner-who-loves-tea very well.

Now I've come across another one (thanks to Monica who pointed me at Ginny's blog where there a number of humorous clocks).

This is most decidedly a Jo sort of clock...

And a similar one is this...

And this ....

Nowadays she tends not to be so late as she was when I first started going out with her nearly twenty five years ago. So I have achieved something but even then Partner-who-loves-tea was...

But, of all the clocks I've seen this one has to be the most appropriate for Jo...

I love this clock.

It uses the famous poster art of Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen. Le Chat Noir poster was created for what is claimed to be the first ever cabaret club which was opened by impresario Rodolphe Salis in 1881 in the bohemian Montmartre district of Paris.

And here is a clock that really suits me down to the ground!

(If you want to buy any of these clocks, most of them - or similar - are available at Cafe Press ).

Saturday 29 October 2011

A Thursday Toddle – on Saturday!

Most people think of toddling as being those first staggering steps that a toddler takes but the dictionary definition is not only to walk with short, unsteady steps but also to walk leisurely; to stroll. In other words I'm going to be rambling again, in fact this post is so leisurely that it was begun on Thursday and I only got around to publishing it on Saturday...

The week has been spent working on Jo's business (mostly helping to advise on things rather than any actual work!) and sorting the loft (an unending task when every trip up the ladder is an effort). I also lost a couple of days being poorly (and sorry for myself). Another doctors appointment was deferred because I was too ill to attend – there has to be a funny comment there but I can't think of it.

At least a lot of the loft contents are now sorted and – thanks to Richard – back up the ladder. The result so far is about thirty photo albums downstairs waiting to be scanned into the computer; one box of books for the charity shop; ditto a box of miscellaneous stuff; five boxes of books (mainly obscure natural history ones) for Daughter-who-takes-photos to sort through to see if she wants any; one (large) box of books for Daughter-who-loves-food to do likewise. Any that the daughters and sons-in-law don't want will be off to the charity shop. By my reckoning that makes about 150 books have cleared out. A brave effort and the rafters will be relieved.

Back into the loft have gone nine boxes of diaries/autobiographies/journals ranging from Victorian rectors to Swiss philosophers. Many of these I have read but their prime purpose is as research material for a couple of books I hope to write at some stage.

A further eight boxes of books – general non-fiction and fiction – have also gone back up. I just hope the loft flooring I put in a few years ago is adequate....

What else have I done? Well, I've blogged, of course, And I've enlarged the font on my blog. A comment made by Sandra on another blog made me look at mine and I realised how small it was. Hopefully it will now be easier to read.

And it is nearly November. On November 1st I had intended to start writing my next book but the comments I have received on my last one have made me realise it still needs a fair bit of work. So it will be back to Victorian England for a while until I've ironed out the glitches. Then it will be off to the publishers again though they are going through such a bad patch that finding one willing to take on my work will not be easy. Perseverance will be the name of the game. Terry Pratchett didn't become a household name overnight. Well actually he did but never mind...

Which reminds me. In between other things I've read a few books. I must review them for my blog. One of them was a re-read of Terry Pratchett's 'Once More* *with Footnotes'. Even if you are not a Discworld fan it's a really instructive and humorous read. (Why does the spillchurcker reject the word 'Discworld'. Surely that should be part of the English language by now.)

Believe it or not this post was intended to be about the book marks I've found in all the books in the loft but I reckon I've toddled along enough for now so I'll leave those for another time.

Toodle-oo  (or should that be Toddle-oo?)

Friday 28 October 2011

Friday My Town Shoot-out – Creepy-Crawlies

It was a brave soul who suggested creepy-crawlies as a topic for this week's FMTSO. Even the professional entomologists I know have an aversion to at least one type of creepy-crawly. I love most insects and invertebrates but earwigs send a shiver up my spine. My daughter is fascinated by dragonflies and many other insects but has a real aversion to spiders...

Here, I hope, is s selection of creepy-crawlies that will not upset anyone too much...

Even snails have a love life (and a complicated one it is, too).

Ants will save their larvae and pupae from harm if the nest is disturbed.

And they farm aphids – tickling them to extract honeydew.

Here are some bugs that I think are attractive...

Orthops campestris

Rhododendron Leafhopper

Corizus hyoscami

And some beetles - Seven-spot Ladybirds making more Seven-spot Ladybirds...

Green Tiger Bettle

Cardinal Beetle

Fourteen-spot Ladybird

A very pregnant Gastrophysa virida.

Strangalia maculata - one of the longhorn beetles.

Keeled Skimmer dragonfly

Broad-bodied Chaser dragonfly

As you will have gathered I am mad about creepy-crawlies! To see what other creepy-crawlies have been chosen this week please visit this link.

And may I take this opportunity to thank Rebecca, Sarah and Doreen - the organisers of FMTSO for all the effort they put in to maintaining it. I know it's not easy committing yourself to doing something every week - posting assignments, keeping the link going and selecting ones for the FMTSO main site. So a big thank you to you all.

Thursday 27 October 2011

Postcards from Abroad

Well, not quite abroad....

These were a few postcards I came across in the loft recently...

Addressed to Mrs F Body with a 3d stamp and postmarked Ambleside 21st August 1963
Dear Nana,
We got to the cottage at 4.30 on Sat, after a very uneventful day. All that happened was we got a flat tyre in town. We were stuck in a traffic jam and the rain was so hard we had to stop the car because the driver couldn’t see. It’s a lovely cottage. We went to Wast Water on Sunday.

(That was the wettest holiday we ever had and which I referred to in the Ambleside Bridge House posting.)

22nd October 1967 Dear All,
The weather has been overcast but it has not rained. Derwentwater is a couple of feet higher than I have seen it before and one or two of the footpaths are 6" deep streams. So far I have remained dry and cheerful, and have used up a fair bit of film on everything I could see. Hardly seen a soul on the tops but there were plenty of folk at Ashness on Saturday and Keswick is pretty crowded.

Postmark illegible but sent during my August 1968 youth hostelling trip
Tuesday Dear All
It has been very wet though there was fine spell from 1pm -3pm. I went up to Stickle Tarn which was hidden in mist and down again then over Silver Howe to Grasmere. Boy I'm tired.

Whilst I don't remember the exact date that the above card was sent I remember the day like it was yesterday. Actually at my age I recall 1968 somewhat better than yesterday! The card is a masterpiece of telling half a story. I not only went up to Stickle Tarn but I carried on to Blea Rigg in thick mist. (The above ohoto on the shore of Stickle Tarn shows the 'view'.) For the first, and only time in my life I got lost in the mist notwithstanding a few years experience of walking the fells and having done this path twice before on my own. Even though there was no distinct path I was reasonably confident about my route and was heading down a stream that would join Sour Milk Gill and take me to Easedale Tarn. I was both surprised and a little horrified to find myself coming down the Langdale side of Blea Rigg. Exactly 180 degrees from my anticipated route. I made my way down into the valley and then headed up over the ridge again by Silver Howe. Near the summit my left leg (injured less than the right one but nonetheless injured in an accident in 1966) started to have muscle spasms and bleed internally. The last couple of miles into Grasmere and up to the youth hostel were agony but it gradually eased. Certainly a memorable day but 'Boy I'm tired' ranks as a masterpiece of understatement.

Grasmere in the mist.

(You may have noticed I have increased the size of my font and emboldened it. Hopefully those who were finding it hard to read will now find it easier.)

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Alphabet Wednesday - O is for Oak Eggar

Once more I'm Outdoors for my letter O and if you are not Over-joyed at seeing a moth I hope you'll be Open-minded because I'm Obsessed about them.

Oak Eggar   Lasiocampa quercus


The Oak Eggar is one of the UK's larger resident moths with a wingspan of 58 to 85mm. The darker, smaller male flies by day in sunshine and the paler female at night, sometimes coming to light as did the one above. 

The Oak Eggar is single-brooded, flying in woods, hedgerows, dunes, downs, commons, and sea cliffs. The normal flight period in lowland southern Britain is July to August, and in the north from late May to early July. It is found only in Europe and the British Isles but is locally widespread throughout S England and as far North as Durham and Lancashire.

The Oak Eggar, despite its name, does not feed on Oak, but is so-called because the shape of its cocoon is acorn-like. The hairs of the caterpillar can cause a violent itching skin allergy in some people. The Oak Eggar overwinters as a larva which feeds from September to June on heather (Calluna) and bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), but also include bramble (Rubus), Sallows (Salix), broom (Cytisus scoparius), sloe (Prunus spinosa), hawthorn (Crataegus), hazel (Corylus) and Sea-buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides).

The Oak Eggar got a mention in Charles Darwin's 'The Descent of Man' when he commented “The British moths which differ sexually in colour are all brown, or of various dull yellow tints, or nearly white. In several species the males are much darken then the females. I observe in my son's cabinet that the males are darker than the females in Lasiocampa quercus...”

Tuesday 25 October 2011

R.I.P. Marco Simoncelli (1987-2011)

It’s been a bad month for motor sport - it can be such a cruel sport at times. On 16th October Dan Wheldon, a British IndyCar driver died from injuries sustained in a horrific multi-car pile-up at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Dan was the 2005 IndyCar World Champion and won the Indy 500 that year and again this year. He was 33 years old.

Then on Sunday 23rd October I sat working on my computer with the television on, aiming to watch and enjoy the MotoGP at Sepang in Malaysia. After four minutes the race was red flagged. I’d watched but like any sports fan I had not enjoyed. Marco Simoncelli – my favourite rider after Valentino Rossi – had been involved in the most unpleasant motorcycling crash I have ever seen. It was apparent from the second it happened that this was the sort of accident of which nightmares are made. The re-start of the race was delayed and then further delayed and finally cancelled as the news came through that Marco had died of his injuries. It was the first fatality in MotoGP since Japan's Daijiro Kato crashed at the 2003 Japanese Grand Prix.

Simoncelli, from Emilia-Romagna in central Italy, rode motorbikes from the age of seven, taking the Italian Minimoto title at 12. In 2008 he won the 250cc world championship with Gilera before finishing eighth in his debut MotoGP season with Honda last year. Last week in Australia he finished second and he was sixth in the championship.

Popular with fans thanks to his good looks, Jimi Hendrix T-shirts and wild hair, Simoncelli's enthusiasm for motorsport – he once said he would race for free or even pay to do to it – won him friends including his fellow Italian rider Rossi, who was in tears at the track in the long minutes before the announcement of his compatriot's death. Marco loved racing and the fans loved him. It was bad day.

Nothing will console his family but in the long run it may be possible to look back and say that he died doing something he loved and his name will live on with the fans.

Monday 24 October 2011

Happy Monday - With apologies

With apologies to those who are visually challenged I couldn't resist blogging about Windows helpful page for those with eyesight difficulties....

If you are blind tick this tiny box. Duh!!

Sunday 23 October 2011

Thoughtful Sunday - In Pensive Mood

I cut this photo out of a magazine many years ago (don't know which or when so my apologies to the photographer that I cannot acknowledge it or ask his permission)  My notes tell me tha the girl was in a makeshift classroom in Pokrovskoye near Lake Baikal but I think she typifies children in classrooms the world over - such a marvellously pensive look.

Saturday 22 October 2011

A SylvaC Bunny that watched me being born…

This SylvaC bunny sat on the mantelshelf of the fireplace in Mum and Dad’s bedroom. Having had enough of hospital hospitality when GB was born Mum decided to have me at home – despite dire warnings from the health professionals about all the risks involved. Once she set her mind on something Mum would not easily be shifted!

I don’t know if bunny was turned to face the wall or whether she watched the whole grisly process but she was certainly there!

SylvaC bunnies were produced from the 1930s to the 1970s and fakes continue to be introduced to the market to this day.

The original bunnies were produced in a variety of colours and sizes. The catalogue shows Mum’s to have been the smallest of those produced and it sold (wholesale) for three shillings a dozen – i.e. three old pence each.

(Thanks to Wendy for permission to use this picture of some of her collection).

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