Tuesday 30 July 2013

Basking blackbird

This bird is really into getting the rays.
We see him taking every opportunity to relax
but today is the first time I have been able to catch him
on camera, taking a brief siesta on next door's shed roof.

First he swivels round to catch the sun on his back,
then he slumps down and spreads first his tail 
and then his wings.
He fluffs up his feathers,
his eyes glaze over and if he is really zoned out
his beak gapes.

He will stay in this position for long enough to look
very vulnerable to attack,
but I am told that they are still on full alert and 
their acute hearing will warn them of danger.
The purpose of this behaviour is to help to spread
the preen oil throughout the feathers
and to drive the parasites out from the plumage,
but it is possible that they also just enjoy
the warmth of the sun.

The sun was rather elusive today
but I hear there will be a brief return
 to high temperatures later in the week.
It might be the last chance to top up the Vitamin D.

Wednesday 24 July 2013

Food fight

 There's been a great deal of cooking round here lately.
It can seem like quite a battle to keep
ahead of the hungry hordes.

Especially in a hot kitchen.

I am always astonished by the ratio of time taken to
consult the recipe books, plan menus, make lists, buy ingredients,
assemble ingredients, cook the meals, clear away and wash up -

to the time it takes to eat said meals.
That is not to say that I don't enjoy cooking for
and feeding friends and family,
I do,

but maybe I should plan an orderly retreat
 in which for one week
 each meal consists of just three ingredients,
preferably eaten raw
with your fingers.

Then again,
where would we be without 
gooseberry purée meringues
with a custardy cream made as per Nigel's Delightful Trifle,
with egg yolk, sugar, mascarpone and cream.
Indeed why not go the whole hog
and make the trifle too now that
blackcurrants are coming in.

I'm my own worst enemy.

Do you  ever suffer from catering fatigue?

Tuesday 23 July 2013


During the course of works at the Retirement Home
I have unearthed many shards
of blue and white china.

Cathy has a few pieces missing from her collection
of willow pattern china.
Can I complete the jigsaw?

Monday 22 July 2013

Sun and air

The highest temperatures for seven years.
What a day to go into labour.
It is to be hoped that the Lindo Wing was air-conditioned.


Derek Jarman's Prospect Cottage garden at Dungeness.

Friday 19 July 2013

The view from the rug

The blanket came from Melin Tregwynt -
one for each of the children's beds.

I remember bringing this tree,
Gleditsia Sunburst, back from the nursery
in the boot of my car.

The old teak bench sat in the backyard of my childhood home.
It seems to be indestructible.

The book on the bench is
Queuing for Beginners -
the story of daily life from breakfast to bedtime
by Joe Moran.

Thursday 18 July 2013

The view from the swingseat

Spot the difference.

Midday today was perhaps not the best time

Gas mark 9 (475º F) for over an hour 
to add to the 30ºC (86ºF) outside?
(That's hotter than  Mumbai.)
Utter folly.

Monday 15 July 2013

St Swithin's Day

The 15th July is St Swithin's Day.

St Swithin's Day, if thou dost rain,
For forty days it will remain.
St Swithin's Day, if thou be fair,
For forty days t'will rain nae mair.

St Swithin was the Bishop of Winchester in the
ninth century. He was a kind and humble man. 
When he died he asked to be buried outside his church
so that his grave would be trodden on by the feet
of passers-by, and he would receive
the raindrops from the eaves.
The story is that when the monks wished to move his body 
many years later, it rained so hard
for forty days that they gave up the idea.

It was pretty fair today,
so I'd say we're in for the 
nae mair rain for forty days forecast.

The ceremony of swan-upping takes place in July.
The swan-markers (wearing special uniforms)
row up the Thames from London Bridge
to Henley, collecting all the swans
and marking the beaks of cygnets.*

* All information from
Something to Do. Never far from my side.

You turn your back for five minutes

While we were away 

having a jolly time here in North Yorkshire,

 riding on the North York Moors railway,

 climbing up to the Bridestones,

 visiting Castle Howard,

where they were filming Death Comes to Pemberley),

the neighbours did this

to this.

We used to call it the apartment tree
because so many birds used it on different floors.
Well they've all been evicted.
I do see that it must have deprived someone of light
but it looks ridiculous now.
I hope they finish the job.

Monday 8 July 2013

Azores High

What is the Azores High?

It is a semi-permanent anticyclonic region;
part of a belt of subtropical anticyclones
on the northern hemisphere.
Movement of the system poleward in summer
has a major impact on the climate of Europe.
When the pressure centre shifts towards 30ºN
across the Iberian peninsula, a ridge might build as far as
the south-eastern UK.
(That's where you are my dear.)
This is when the typical mid to late summer heatwaves arrive,
with very hot temperatures and persistent dry weather.
The temperatures can easily climb to 30ºC, 90ºF.*
But it is a feature that has been missing from
the past few summers.

I see. And what should I do when it arrives?

Why then you should seek cool and pleasant places.

Perhaps the White Garden at Sissinghurst
before the crowds arrive.

Or a river 

with boats for hire

and a willing oarsman.

For this is the stuff that memorable summers are made of.

*Information gleaned from weatheronline.co.uk