Saturday 1 December 2012

Happy Birthday to Olivia

Many Happy Returns!


And for the birthday sing-a-long:

Thursday 8 November 2012

Why is there always only one?

I am certain there are plenty of you out there who have noticed the odd shoe, or glove, by the side of the road, be it a motorway, A-road or some little one-track lane that takes you on a meandering (and sometimes  nail-biting, white-knuckle) trip down some long ago-tarmacadammed ancient road.  I am equally certain that of those of you who have noticed,  there a quite a few who have wondered...why just one?  For this rather odd exercise I am going to leave out the question of gloves.  In most cases these have been those large, rubber things that workmen wear so in some respects a single glove may be explained - road workers leaving them behind for example.  

I shall concentrate on footwear, but must emphasise that they are not always shoes; they are sometimes walking boots, Wellingtons, trainers, or sandals (I have not yet seen slippers I must admit, but probably just as well as that would really throw a whole new spanner into the works). 

And are they all left shoes?  I have never done an in-depth survey on such things.  It would make sense in a way if one takes into account that they could have been tossed from the passenger side of the vehicle - presuming that said owner was in the passenger seat.  I can only hope that the driver would not contemplate removing a shoe and tossing it out of the window in a wide lob over the roof, or perhaps passing it to someone in the passenger seat, or even just tossing it out of the passenger door window while driving at high speed down the motorway.

Or are these items of clothing part of some initiation exercise?  Will they become part of some future urban myth?

Perhaps the owners were abductees of some UFO that sent down a tractor beam and sucked them up into the bowels of the mothership?  But why leave one shoe?   An untied lace, thus rendering the footwear a tad loose, and - hence - maybe resulting in it escaping from its owner's abduction?    Or perhaps they were from cases of spontaneous combustion - nah that can't be it.  People don't spontaneously combust on motorway verges as a regular rule.

Or is it simply that one person accidently (but how?) did it, then someone else copied just because they could, and over the years since then others have perpetuated the nonsense just for the sake of making everyone else think something weird is going on?

Monday 5 November 2012

Remember, remember the fifth of November

Remember, remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot. 
I see no reason, why gunpowder treason 
Should ever be forgot. 

Guy Fawkes, guy, t'was his intent 
To blow up king and parliament. 
Three score barrels were laid below 
To prove old England's overthrow. 

By God's mercy he was catch'd 
With a darkened lantern and burning match. 
So, holler boys, holler boys, Let the bells ring. 
Holler boys, holler boys, God save the king. 

And what shall we do with him? 
Burn him!

Just remember, remember, please don't pick an effigy of Guy Fawkes to burn .... there are currently plenty of other characters concerned with the Palace of Westminster that would do, in fact a whole darn gaggle of them, most of whom are traitors to our country and her  people.  

Come back my friend and finish the job.......

Tuesday 30 October 2012

Dr Jack Lantern's out of hours call

flash of lightning outlined the shape of a car as it made its way down the lane, its occupant carefully steering it through the torrential downpour.  The driver sat forward in his seat as much as he could so that he could see out of the windscreen.  The single wiper swept valiantly back and forth as it desperately tried to clear away the streams of water that poured down the slippery pane of glass. 

The driver loved his old Austin Ruby, but admitted that she had not been the best choice of automobile to take out in the middle of a night such as this.  Built in 1937, he had found her listed in a used car advert in the local paper a year ago, and had had to buy her.  Her bodywork was in excellent condition, having been lovingly cared for, after all she had only had the one owner and had been garaged since she had been purchased.  He had had no choice but to take her out on this night, as his normal everyday car was in the garage in town to get its brake pads replaced.

He had groaned inwardly when he had received the ‘phone call from Mrs Perks, the sound of her urgent voice down the earpiece giving him no choice but to haul himself from the comfort of his warm sheets and to don the clothes that lay across the back of the bedroom chair.  Her husband had died in mysterious circumstances six months earlier, his half-eaten, twisted body found face down in a waterlogged ditch with his bicycle a few feet away.  It had been first thought that he had been a hit and run victim, and that the local wildlife had predated upon his body. However, investigations from the gallant men in blue had revealed no tyre marks upon the road that would have hinted of a sudden brake stop, no revealing paintwork upon the two-wheeled method of transport and no obvious signs on poor Mr Perks’ body.   He had had to certify him dead at the scene, and had known deep down that something did not quite fit, but he had never been able to fathom quite what was wrong. The coroner had filed a report of accidental death, with the cause of the unfortunate man’s demise put down to a mistake in the steering of the bicycle.  After all his body had been found in a ditch on a bend in the road, and he had been reported as missing on a night rather like the one the man was guiding his car through on this particular night.  So, life in the sleepy village of Morcambe-on-the-Moor had settled back to its usual quiet normality. 

The car crossed the boundary of the village and passed the church on its right, St Egbert’s; an Anglo Saxon building encircled by row upon row of crooked, moss-covered, and mainly broken, gravestones and cracked tombs.   Another lightning flash and the side of the defiant structure lit up eerily to reveal its stonework with a brief view of several gargoyles and grotesques. Their contorting faces moved as if made of flesh rather than stone, and they seemed to twitch and mouth obscenities at each other and to whomever else might happen to notice them.  However, there was only one other in the vicinity so to do, and he was too busy watching the road ahead to notice. 

He shuddered, more with cold than anything else.  These old cars had no heating, and although he was wrapped in overcoat, hat, scarf and gloves, the cold was penetrating through the cloth.  He noticed a few lights glowing through the windows in the vicarage next to the church, signalling that at least someone else was burning the midnight oil, and he mused that it was probably the vicar desperately trying to finish his sermon for tomorrow’s Sunday service.  He briefly envisaged the man poring over his paper, pen in one hand, glass of brandy in the other and smiled cynically to himself at the image.

Something ran out in front of the car and he pressed his foot on the brake, causing the Austin to come to a sudden,  jerking halt.  ‘A rabbit,’ he thought to himself.  ‘But surely that was too big for a rabbit?’ he continued the conversation in his mind.  The engine chugged away causing the chassis of the car to gently bounce, as the wiper continued to sweep back to and fro, its hinge looking as if it would break in two at any moment.  ‘Most likely a hare, much too big for a rabbit,’ he surmised.  He was not good on animals.  Human bodies were his thing.  Ask him a question about the adrenal glands and their respective problems, and he could talk for hours (well perhaps not hours but he could keep an audience reasonably interested for 20 minutes or so).  But challenge him on the difference between rabbits and hares and he was completely lost, other than to say that one had bigger ears and boxed with its prospective mating usurpers in the spring. 

He glanced at the passenger seat and the Gladstone bag that sat there, its leather slightly worn at the corners,  the gleam from its dark leather long faded with the years.  It had been his father’s, and his father’s before him and by carrying on the medical tradition in the family, he was happy and felt privileged to be able to utilise it now.  They would be proud of him he had thought, as he had packed it for the first time after he graduated from medical school back in 1952.  That was four years ago, and now he was practising in the small town of Netherwitch, about five miles from Morcambe-on-the-Moor.  As well as Netherwitch, his medical services were sought from four villages in total, which  - oddly enough - were  situated to the four corners of the compass, Morcambe being to the west. 

Another lightning flash, and the road ahead lit up for a startling moment, showing the continual stream of rain as it buffeted the road surface, forming puddles to the side of the road.  But it also brought with it the shape of something else.  And this time it could not possibly be described as a rabbit, or even a hare; it was much too large to  have been either.  He cleared off the condensation that had started to form on the glass of the windscreen with his gloved hand. He leant further forward in his seat until the tip of his nose touched the cold glass,  to try to get a better look, but before he could discern anything, the light afforded by the flash of lightning had gone, leaving just pitch black ahead of him on either side of the beam of the  pale light emanating from his headlights.  ‘I must be seeing things,’ he muttered to himself.  He would never have admitted it to any of his mates, but this  journey was beginning to scare the shit out of him.  Something was wrong ... eerily wrong,  just as it had  been when he had been called out to sign the death certificate for Mr Perks.

He had not been back to the village until now. It consisted of only around twenty occupied  houses, the others had been left to decay, and  those that were left seemed to be inhabited by slightly unusual people. As prospective patients they seemed either to be as healthy as oxen,  or grinned and bared  any aches or pains, or just did not wish to travel to Netherwitch to seek out help, for he rarely had to treat anyone from Morcambe-on-the-Moor. 

Mrs Perks was just one of a handful who had visited his surgery, and she was – as he had put it when handing his secretary her notes to file one day – a rather odd kettle of fish, eccentric to say the least.  Susan, his secretary, had given him a knowing nod as she had taken the notes, and had intimated in her reply that Mrs Perks was not as odd as some of the people who lived in Morcambe-on-the-Moor.  He had quizzed her on this, but in response she would only suggest that he took the time to visit the local library and look up the village’s history.  He had not.  It was not that he was too busy; he wasn’t.   He had quite simply forgotten so to do.

‘Alright, Jack my old son, let’s get moving,’ he said to himself.  ‘There was nothing there just now, it was just shapes formed by the light and the rain.  Pull yourself together, Mrs Perks is waiting for me, so no time to waste.’  And he put his foot on the clutch, changed from neutral to first gear and gently pushed his foot on the accelerator, vacating the clutch as he so did.  The car wobbled into forward motion and soon he was on his way again. 

There were no lights in the village, and everybody – apart from him, Mrs Perks and perhaps the vicar – seemed to be asleep.  Onwards he drove until he saw ahead, on what he could only describe as a natural roundabout - it being just a largish mound of grass covered earth -  a venerable old oak tree.  His headlights caught the shape of the gnarled indentations and knots on the dark bole. He tried, in vain, to not acknowledge his ideas that he could see faces staring out at him from the bark.  He could see that it had clearly set its roots down many decades before,  and he would have discovered - had he not forgotten to read about the village in the library archives - that it was, in fact, reputed to be at least as old as the church.   It had stood on its solitary mound since the roads had been laid with tarmac, its continued existence owed to the villagers of the time expressing their dismay at the thought of one of their oldest ‘inhabitants’ being ripped from its earthy home. 

In each direction there was darkness, but he knew that he had to turn right on to Old Hag Lane where he would eventually find Mrs Perks’ cottage; she had told him as much in her hurried ‘phone call.  As he manoeuvred the vehicle around the oaken roundabout, the squeaking sound of the wiper blade on his windscreen alerted him to the fact that the rain had stopped. And, he mused, remarkably suddenly considering its ferocity over the last few hours.  It had been raining most of the evening, and had been  hard at it when he had settled himself under his blanket three hours before setting off on this journey.  The sharp suddenness in its abatement just added to his uneasiness, but – again - as to why he knew not.  All he knew was that the hairs on the back of his neck were  tingling. 

‘This village gives me the bloody creeps,’ he muttered as he changed gears clumsily, causing the little car’s engine to rev angrily in protest. 

He inched the car slowly down  Old Hag Lane, occasionally peering into the tiny rear view mirror. As the Austin trundled along, the world behind him was enveloped into darkness and there was no real reason for him to keep checking the road behind him; there was no-one else out on the roads at this time of night.  Or was there?  He turned his gaze back to the road ahead, but something caught his eye and he immediately looked back through the mirror again.  He could have sworn he saw a shadowy shape lolloping alongside the hedgerow on the nearside of the vehicle.  The tiny red lights at the back of his car seemed to pick out something pale, almost human in shape. He checked both rear view mirrors quickly in succession, but  this time could see nothing.  Where was Mrs Perks’ house?  ‘Jeez,’ he said aloud. ‘What the hell is going on in this place?’

He had expected the comforting sight of lights to greet him at any moment, but when he eventually stopped the car outside Rose Cottage, he was slightly confused to see the building shrouded in darkness.  There was not even one light illuminating the cobbled path to the front door porch. ‘That’s weird,’ he thought to himself.  He flicked on his torch to  check the address on Mrs Perks’ patient file....Rose Cottage.  
He looked up from the file just as a shape landed on the bonnet of the car with a thud. He jumped in his seat and an overwhelming feeling of fear swept over him.  ‘What the.....’ he said aloud.  The yellowy  light from his torch caught a shape in its beam and his heart raced.  He laughed manically and slumped back in his seat when he saw the large, rather portly, ginger cat  looking back at him, its green eyes glaring in the light. 'A cat ... a bloody cat.  That is all it is, Jack,' he said aloud.  After sitting for a few moments while his heart rate settled back to near normal, he placed Mrs Perks’ notes into the Gladstone bag, grabbed it, and opened the door of the car.  ‘The quicker I can get this over with, the quicker I can get back to my bed,’ he thought.  Closing and locking the door, he shone his torch at the garden gate and opened it slowly.  He picked his way carefully over the uneven cobbles and reached the front door.  

He knocked.  No response.  

He knocked again, this time with more urgency.  “It’s me, Mrs Perks.  Dr. Lantern,” he called out. At last a light flicked on inside the cottage and a few moments later the door opened. 

“Ah...Mrs Perks.  You telephoned? You have a problem?” he said peering round the door at the woman.

“Evenin’ doctor,” replied the tiny, grey-haired old woman in front of him.  “Telephoned?  Me?  There be nowt wrong with me.  That would not have been me doctor, who ‘phoned you.  What you doin’ out on a night like this’n? You lost?”

‘No, Mrs Perks. I am not lost.  You telephoned me...’ replied Jack somewhat annoyed and unnerved at the same time. 

‘I be tellin’ you I didn’t ..... I ain’t got no telephone,’ replied Mrs Perks.  ‘But come on in, doctor and I can make you a nice cup of tea if you like,’ she continued.  ‘And you can have a piece of seed cake too if you  would care to.’

She opened the door wider and he stepped in, removing his hat as he did so.  His eyes quickly took in every detail of the tiny hallway ... no telephone.  She led him into the sitting room ... no telephone. 

“You sit yourself down there, doctor.  I’ll put kettle on,” said Mrs Perks, and she disappeared back into hallway.  All his instincts were telling him to leave, but Jack really could do with a cup of tea before setting off home again.  He removed his gloves, scarf and overcoat and looked at his watch .... 2.31 am.  He wondered if there was any way that  he could engage this woman in conversation for the next few hours, at least until dawn so he could drive back home in the comfort of daylight. Someone had obviously played some kind of trick on him this evening and he was as angry as hell, but there was nothing whatsoever that he could do about it now.  But to trick the old woman in such a way seemed callous, so he decided that he would just see what happened.

Mrs Perks came back in with a trolley on wheels, full to the brim with teapot, cups and saucers, plates, small milk jug, sugar bowl, spoon and knives, with a plate adorned with a large round seed cake taking pride of place on the bottom shelf.  The trolley clattered as she pushed it across the carpet.  He noticed that the cake had already had one sizeable slice removed from it.

“I am sorry to have awoken you, Mrs Perks.  It would seem that somebody thought it would be funny to have me driving around in the middle of the night.  I am sorry that you have been involved in their prank.”

“That be no problem, doctor,” Mrs Perks replied as she settled herself down in the armchair next to the hearth.  “Since Mr Perks passed on I don’t get many a visitor.”

Jack thought it odd that she appeared so relaxed about being woken up in the middle of the night.  Perhaps she didn’t even realise what time it was?  He put it down to the unfortunate, and rather cruel, result of old age. 

Mrs Perks poured out the tea and handed him a cup and saucer.  “Help yerself to milk and sugar, m’ dear,” she instructed softly. 

Jack settled back in his chair and sipped the hot beverage.  Mrs. Perks handed him a plate with a slice of cake neatly placed upon it and he thanked her.  He took a bite.  The taste of the light, airy sponge on his taste buds seemed to soothe away his anger.  “This is delicious, Mrs Perks,” he said between mouthfuls.  She smiled. 

“It was Mr Perks’ favourite,” she announced.  Her expression seemed to have changed, only slightly, but Jack could discern what seemed to be a slight look of malice in her eyes. “He had a slice that night he passed on,” she continued.  Jack thought it an odd thing to remember about the night of her husband’s passing, but again put it down to the ravages of senility.

He heard scratching at the sitting room door.  “It seems your cat wishes to come in,” he said, taking another sip of tea. 

“I don’t have a cat,” was the reply.  Her voice seemed miles away.  The door slowly opened and Jack saw, through clouded vision, several creatures creeping into the sitting room, on all fours, just as those he thought he had seen in his rear view mirror.  He tried to move, but he had lost all feeling in his arms and legs.  The drugged seeds had done their work again. 

‘I’m sorry doctor, but they are hungry,’ were the last words he heard.

Friday 24 August 2012

Slugs and snails, and puppy dog tails

I found a slug the other day.  Nothing new there, except that this was a rather large slug.  And it was outside.   Aren't they usually you may ask?  Well, I have seen quite a few in the porch and there was one that had a penchant for slithering over the lid of my tea caddy a week or so back, but - at under half-an-inch in length - that was a wee bairn  compared to this fat, juicy specimen with its frilly orange petticoat.  Anyway, I took a picture, as one does.  Any slug specialists out there?

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Happy birthday to Jonathan!

Here are some rather hyperactive birds singing a pretty explanatory song:

It is very peculiar, but then so are we here at the CFZ so its fits quite perfectly.
Happy Birthday, my deario xxxx

Monday 30 July 2012

What the hail is going on and why are your shorts wet?

I have to explain right at the beginning of today’s entry, that the last of the above two questions will not be answered on this blog, but I thought that it added a little spice to the heading, without blatantly shouting, “ Roll up, roll up, hear all about it.  Come on in and be amazed, shocked or even beguiled by the saga of the wet shorts incident in Tesco”.  And I bet there are a few of you who thought the wet shorts were something to do with the hail.  You see, that is why it would make such good reading. They are completely unconnected,  the story behind the shorts is so much more interesting,  but no.....I am not going to stoop to the level of Daily Star reporting, or – perhaps I should write – what I understand to be the level of Daily Star reporting, as I have never actually read the waste of paper myself.

After five weeks of having her to stay, Jon and I took my mum back to Rutland on Thursday, returning here to Devon last night (Sunday).  It was horrid having to take her home and leave her yesterday, and we miss her, but she needed to get back into some kind of routine at her own pace, and also not have to listen to the peculiar music that has a habit of seeping under the door to the office on occasion, as well as me talking to myself about nonsense most of the time.   Jon had planned to be able to update blogs etc., from his laptop using a dongle but unfortunately, the signal in the most expensive county in England was worse than it is back here in Woolsery.  After hours and hours of slow, almost impossible, connections, Sunday’s updates were given up as a lost cause and it was decided to use the free WiFi facilities at several motorway services on the journey home instead. This meant that a couple of jaunts we had hoped to make whilst in Rutland, and a visit to the Eleanor Cross at Geddington on the way home were thwarted and postponed for a later date, as we needed to get to the first services as soon as we could. Corley Services on the M6 was, therefore, the first port of call on our way home.

So three hours later, and many blogs under his belt - and after I had swallowed the contents of two grande cups of black Americano coffee  (which was probably not a prudent idea as I developed a severe episode of hyper-twitchiness and had to eat an egg and mayo sandwich to calm myself down) - we prepared to set off on the next leg of our journey.  That was until the heavens opened up, and there fell to earth a torrent of pea-sized hailstones that were really the last thing you would expect to appear during an end of July  day. And lightning. And thunder.  Thor was obviously not just moving around his furniture, but must have been doing a spot of heavy-duty DIY as well. Perhaps he had been defrosting his freezer and had swapped his hammer for a very large electric drill.   However, Thor is a mighty warrior god and I have no wish to be rude about his home improvements, but I did feel sorry for the  little girl who was running for cover with her mother as the downpour gathered momentum. The poor child was crying her eyes out as the icy beads stung her bare shoulders. 

Anyway, Jon and I hobbled to the car and waited the storm out before continuing down the M6 towards the junction for the M42.  We stopped again at Sedgemoor Services on the M5 so that Jon could finish his tasks on the computer, but this time I had a pot of tea.  From then on it was pretty much plain sailing, apart from being followed at one point by not one, but two, police cars – in fact there seemed to be one loitering by every roundabout/lay-by along one particular stretch of the road.  Conspiracy theories were rife amongst the both of us, but we eventually lost the cortege of ‘jam sandwiches’, as they were once ‘affectionately’ known.

It also meant that my entries for Daily News were hampered, so only one got posted yesterday, and for this oversight I apologise.   

So it is now Monday; there are Daily News stories posted, and some in hand, there is no food in the fridge, but the washing is on the line.  And more importantly, the shorts are no longer wet.

Saturday 21 July 2012

The bells are ringing for him and his girl

Five years ago today, Jon and I tied the proverbial knot.  

Happy Anniversary to my darling husband 

I note that the traditional anniversary gift for five years is wood, updated to silverware for modern day.  I think the traditional is much nicer.  However, I did read somewhere that a travel anniversary gift idea is a cruise or airline tickets.  Hmmm...sorry my dear, but a wooden spoon chasing tonight's dinner around the saucepan may have to suffice as the travel idea.  

But more to the point, the sun is out, the church bells are ringing and all is well with the world.

Sunday 8 July 2012

Wind and Wuthering

I had a surprise on Friday night. My Marigolds and I were busy washing up afterdinner when the back door opened. ‘Hmmm’,I thought. ‘Who is visiting on such a rain-infested night such as this?’ Looking up from my toil, I was greeted with the sight of Olivia entering unto the kitchen – in a style not unlike that possessed of a character from EmilyBront—Ď’s novel. Blown by the wind and morethan a little dampened by the precipitation that fell in a deluge outside, shestopped and said, ‘Surprise!’ I probably gave the impression of a slightly be fuddled goldfish as I stood with my mouth agape, Marigold encased hands raised in astonishment. ‘I couldn’t come for your birthday, so I have come this weekend instead,’ she explained.

An hour or so later, I was making tea (the Marigolds, by theway, were by now hanging on the crockery drainer drying. I add this fact as they featured so heavilyin my first paragraph, and whilst totally irrelevant to this one, I felt Ineeded to give them a quick mention). The kettle had just boiled and I was pouring the water into the mugs,when - again – the door swung open andin flew another vision – this one slightly more drenched and windswept. But again the figure rushed across thethreshold in true Bront—Ď fashion (or perhaps this time more like ElizabethBennett in Pride and Prejudice when it is said of her, by Caroline Bingham: ‘Why she [Elizabeth] must be scampering aboutthe country ........Her hair so untidy, so blousy! ’ after walking in the rain from Longbourneto Netherfield. I must add here, thatalthough this was said of Elizabeth in a more than slightly sarcastic way, Imean it not as such).

Shouting some profanity against the weather (I shall not putin writing what the profanity exactly was, as - let’s face it - the words thatemanated from the lips of this visitor have to be excused under such unseasonalcircumstances) the soggy vision of Shosh tossed down some bags before rushingback out into the night. More than a fewminutes elapsed. ‘Hmmm,’ I thought (yep ‘Hmmm’ twice in one night). ‘Wasthat the shape-shifter at work again, only this time with a battery of props?’I asked Olivia, whose hurried reply was that she hoped not. After a short while, Shosh burst into thekitchen once more, and my early birthday surprise was complete. Both girls had made plans to visit thisweekend as they could not be here for my birthday on Tuesday.

However, as you can see, as much as Pru loves to have Shoshand Olivia to visit, she was a bit miffed at not being able to sprawl out onthe sofa as she usually does, hence the look on her face in these two pictures aftershe had squeezed herself between them both last night. Talk about having a mard.

Thanks girls, for the lovely surprise and brilliant day outyesterday. I love you both and I count myself blessed to have two such wonderful daughters.

Saturday 19 May 2012

All quiet on the south-western Front

It is Saturday, and all is quiet on the south-western front. John and Dawn from Haunted Skies are due soon but in the meantime:

It is one of Graham’s weekly days off, so he is ensconced in his room upstairs. Meanwhile, Prudence is in the sitting room, stretched on the sofa, asleep and snoring, whilst both Jon and Richard are asleep in the chairs, heads lolling back, with mouths open thereby causing any wayward fly, spider - or other microscopic creature that may stroll by in an unsuspecting manner - to get sucked in with a – thankfully - quiet intake of breath.

The cats by the way are also asleep, one curled up on Jon’s lap and the other on the back of Richard’s chair.

My oh my, how the CFZ lives it up at the weekend.

It has left me wondering whether now is the time to start practising my new hobby. I reckon a quick stroll around the ground floor and up the stairs kitted out in my ‘one-man band’ (or is that ‘one-person band’ these days?) gear may go down really well with the other residents of Myrtle Cottage. Bring on that big bass drum.......

On the other hand, I guess I could just join everyone else and quietly snooze.

Whilst I ponder the imponderables, I shall leave you with a picture I took the other night of Mog (at the back) Mrs Miggins (in the middle)and Micawber (in the front). Cane toads are magnificent.

Well that has torn it .... my musical plans have been thwarted. Spider, the orange cat, has just woken everyone up by threatening to cough up a fur ball. Well, not quite true....he woke up Jon, who then woke up everyone else by shouting loudly about the cat threatening to cough up a fur ball.

No worries. All gone back to la-la land again.

Wednesday 2 May 2012

'appy Burfday to my Big Bruvver

 Birthday hugs and kisses,

Have a jolly good day

It is amazing what you find when you click on 'images of ants' on your computer:

Tuesday 17 April 2012

Back in school again, Max plays the ........

Young Max has come to visit for a couple of days during which time, as usual, anything can happen.  This, nine times out of ten, means that whilst I am pottering away proof-reading on the computer, or some such activity, I am subjected to the playing of an eclectic mix of weird and wonderful (or not so wonderful – to my ears at any rate) music from the sitting room.  And last night was no exception.  There is no accounting for taste and, like the oft-used saying ‘beauty lies in the eye of the beholder’, the choice of music was clearly ‘music to their ears’, but more a form of torture for mine.  Ah well, all is almost solved by donning the headphones, if only to blot out the background noise - they are  good, although not 100% successful - at that.  

So while Jon and Master Blake shouted at each other across the room, rather than just turning the volume down slightly to enable them to chat in normal tones, I smiled with gritted teeth at the yelled schoolboy discussions;  dialogue that would not have been out of place at the back of a classroom of twelve-year olds, with accompanying sniggers and guffaws.

In the early hours of this morning, the inevitable happened.  They were both struck down with a bad case of....the munchies. 

Jon persuaded Max that cheese would be a good idea.  So off Max toddled to the kitchen.  And then began a debate between him and me as to whether I would like some too.  I have to admit that I folded in the end.  After at least five minutes of me declining such provinder and Max not moving from the kitchen doorway until I changed my mind, I took the easy way out.  I said ‘yes’, with a fair amount of fear and trepidation in my voice as to what I would end up with.  After a fairly long period of time, and after quite a bit of clanking around in the kitchen, young Master Blake reappeared at the kitchen doorway to enquire as to whether I would like round or square.  

Being as quick-witted as I am, I realised immediately that he was actually enquiring as to whether I wished square or round crackers to accompany this forced-meal of cheese.  “Square, please,” came my reply.

I was not quite sure what reaction to display when a plate with two slices of Stilton, spread rather viciously and  haphazardly with butter before being placed unceremoniously onto one side of a medium sized plate, was presented to me.  No square cracker, not even a round one, was apparent.  When this was pointed out, we went through the ‘square’ or ‘round’ discussion again.   And off he toddled once more, to return with one square cracker adorned with two small slices of Brie.  Then he disappeared upstairs to ‘pump ship’ as my ex-father-in-law used to say (a naval term I am led to believe).  Some while passed and he didn’t return.  I was beginning to wonder whether he had either fallen asleep in the bathroom or had just taken himself off to bed. 

But no.  He eventually re-appeared, only to run off with the snack that Jon had prepared for himself in the meantime. 

It was at this point that I decided the best course of action for me to take was to let Prudence out for her bedtime sprinkle and retire for the night.

But did I eat the cheese and square cracker?  As ever, I like to have photographic evidence of such occasions - just in case of any future blackmail opportunities you understand - so, after taking one look at the pictures below, what would you have done?

I am not sure how this small stray lump of Stilton 
got separated from the rest - perhaps best not to ask.

As my mother would have said to the two recalcitrants in the sitting room ....."you should take more water with it next time."  Wise words indeed.

Saturday 14 April 2012

Pirates in an adventure with.......

cephalopods, in a storm - with ale.....well a squid to be more precise.  However, I think it looks more like an octopus but .. hey let's not quibble.  The video is fun.  A tale of terrors that lurk beneath the waves, a story told that is a cross between the aforementioned jolly, yet pretty ineffectual,  pirates of  Gideon Defoe fame, and the inimitable Jack Sparrow of the High Seas.

So get ready ye sea legs me picaroons, and raise your tankards to the salty seas. And pray to the four winds that Davy Jones' locker be closed up real tight.


Friday 23 March 2012

Birthday greetings

Happy Birthday, Shoshannah
Have a lovely day

Lots of Love 


Wednesday 21 March 2012

Laughing at eggs

My mother can oft be heard to say, upon hearing someone giggling, ‘he/she has spied a titter’s nest and is laughing at the eggs’.  I cannot find any definitive reference to this,  but have found several clues (perhaps).  For example, one of the several collective nouns for magpies is a tittering. 

And at I found the following:

“Animals are often alluded to in phrases of this sort, for example, lion's sharedog's breakfastbird's-eye view etc. Of course, this one is different, in that mares don't make nests - the allusion was meant to be comically ironic. That humour is reflected in several of the early citations of 'mare's nest' (or horse's nest, as some early references have it), which refer directly to laughter, for example, John Fletcher's Jacobean tragedy Bonduca, circa. 1613
Why dost thou laugh? What Mares nest hast thou found?
The joke was pushed further by Dr. [Jonathan] Swift, in the play Miscellanies, 1751:
What! Have you found a mare's nest, and laugh at the eggs?”
Or is it perhaps just one of those old lines quoted by someone such as Frankie Howerd?  His well-known “Oooh no missus, titter ye not” doesn’t really have any connection as such, but somehow I can just hear him saying “Oooh missus, he has spied a titter’s nest and is laughing at the eggs”. 
So, is there anyone else out there who has heard of this saying? And if so, do they know from whence it originated?

Saturday 17 March 2012

Like a fish needs a bike?

I came across this old photo taken – I think – on Redondo Pier, Southern California back in the late 1990s. It would appear that I am chatting to the seagull about the notice. Maybe we were wondering when we could expect to see the arrival of those oft-celebrated fish on bicycles. Perhaps after their annual ride around the pier?

Monday 12 March 2012

Hey Pollywiggle! Hey Pollywog! One of these days I'll be a frog. I'll kick my legs and swim around Without a splash and never a sound.

We – that is Jon, Pru and I - had left Woolsery on a bright, blue-skied, cotton-clouded, spring Sunday morning. Our mission?  To visit a bird auction in Northam, visit Northam Burrows to do a spot of wader-hunting, call in at Asda to purchase some provender, and then on to Huddisford Woods to take Pru for a walk, while visiting the frog spawn we had been noting for the past few weeks.  We also wanted to take a look at some of the well-used animal track-ways that we were keeping an eye on.

The auction was being held in the village community centre, its main eye-catching feature (apart from the birds of course) being  a huge, magnificently painted galleon in full sail adorning the back wall.  Amongst the frightened budgies was an assortment of equally worried-looking avian specimens.  We left Pru in the car, obviously, but she was oblivious to our departure, as she was too busy being briefly occupied in announcing her presence to a rather splendid-looking female basset hound, whose owner was taking her for a short perambulation around the grassy area of the car park, whilst her husband (I assume) unloaded more feathered exhibits from the boot of his car.   

There seemed to be an ongoing skyward battle between the sun and mist – every so often the former seemed to win and shine through, its reign soon usurped by the grey miasma.  By the time we got to Northam Burrows, the latter had definitely won the day – the whole place was covered in an eerie blanket of the stuff.  It was creepy.  It swirled around like a hundred wraiths, wrapping itself around bushes and clumps of grass, leaving tiny droplets of water against webs spun by conscientious spiders.  There were a few golfers about, and a few people walking their dogs, or just themselves, and a small amount of through traffic, but the place seemed devoid of bird-life; the only other beings to be seen being the various horses and ponies that wander around the burrows, chomping their way industriously from one part of the place to the other.  A wooden post provided one pony with an ideal implement on which to scratch its chin contentedly, the beast’s moult in full flow by the look of its rather dishevelled coat.  From out of the mist came shapes  -  odd distorted shapes – that once becoming closer showed themselves as nothing more than a person wearing a stiff, water-proof jacket, its unbending angles no longer taking on the appearance of something completely different and indefinable. 

The tide was out, and whilst you could see the defined tracks of several birds making their soggy way across the pale brown mudflats,  we only saw one herring gull and two other gulls of some description sitting on a rock, undefined due to their distance. 

On the way back across the burrows, trundling carefully and zig-zagging down the slightly pot-holed road, we became virtual tail-end charlies at the end of a queue of traffic.... a very odd situation to find oneself in such a weirdly desolate place on a spring Sunday afternoon.  It was not until our car moved with the line, that we realised what the holdup was.  One of the horses, swathed in a rather tatty looking brown blanket,  had taken it upon himself to stand stock still right in the middle of the already narrow thoroughfare, forcing both lines of traffic  to go alternately, and  very cautiously,  passed the animal.  One wonders what was going through its mind as it stood there – an equine traffic island – completely oblivious to the amusing and not at all irritating disturbance it was causing.  As we slowly moved passed it, I wound down the window and it curiously turned its head and reached its soft muzzle in, a sad left eye recognising the human form inside the metal box beside it.  All this much to the consternation of Pru, who was sitting in the boot space of the car where she has taken to watching where she has been disappear into the distance behind her.    

But the absence of any interesting bird life was excitedly enlivened by the appearance, at the last moment, of a little egret standing gracefully quite near the side of the road.  In my urgency to pull over I must have confused the car behind somewhat as I accidentally indicated to go right rather than left, but considering the other day I discovered that I had driven all the way to Bideford in broad daylight with the main beam on, that was nothing in comparison. Besides, we were only travelling at around 5 mph.  Jon managed to snap a picture of the bird just as it took flight, and it has become another name on the ever-growing list of birds spotted out-and-about with Jon and his camera. 

Asda was...well....a typical supermarket on the afternoon of the seventh day; nothing much to talk about, nothing much to see,  and not a lot of cheapo, reduced-to-clear goods to be purchased either. 

On then to Huddisford Woods, where Pru could have her constitutional, and where we found that ‘our’ tadpoles had hatched and were wriggling around enthusiastically.  Such bigheads, those pollywiggles.  The recent wet weather had done wonders for the track-ways....deer prints were clear as day and so were a few other large prints; the wet earth making an excellent medium for indentation. 

By the time we got home, the mist had won the battle for supremacy over this part of Devon and whilst the day had begun with a promise of warm weather on the horizon, the late afternoon sent a completely different message.  Don’t throw out the thermal underwear quite yet.  

Saturday 25 February 2012

A is for........aardvark.......

......and is commonly referred to as the first word, and animal, in the English Dictionary. And, no children this is not the first in a series of animals from A-Z, whether in the form of a general list or one that includes all of my preferred creatures in an orderly, alphabetised manner. Before I reveal my motives for including the clip that Jon sent to me, I know that I have posted a picture of a baby aardvark before on this blog, many moons ago. However, apart from anything else, I see no reason why I cannot immerse myself, and anyone else who happens to look at this, in a spot of self-indulgence now and again, hence another look at one of these fascinating little creatures.

OK - So my motives other than self-indulgence?  Absolutely none whatsoever.  I hold my hands up and declare my guilt.  I simply have a soft spot for aardvarks, especially baby ones.

"Ethel the Aardvark was trotting down the lane one lovely summer day, trottety-trottety-trot, when she saw a nice Quantity-Surveyor..." (John Cleese, Graham Chapman)

Sunday 12 February 2012

CFZ People: Lars Thomas

Our old friend Lars Thomas has asked us to post this:

On friday, his wife Jeanett left home. She was only meant to be gone a few hours, but she has disappeared. There has been no contact from her.

Lars has contacted the police, but asks: "Please, if you know, or have heard anything, let me know".

Contact Lars:

Our thoughts and prayers are with Lars at this terrible time.

Saturday 14 January 2012

Watcher of the skies

Named after a song from the greatest ever band from my youth, Genesis (with Peter Gabriel I must add), any eagle-eyed persons out there may notice a new link on my sidebar called Watcher of the Skies.  It has recently come to my notice that there are an awful lot of stories concerning birds out there these days, so I mentioned this to Jon and - Heavens to Betsy - I have been given a spot on the blog for writing about such things, instead of including them in my regular Daily News efforts.

So if you are interested in such things, please do hop on over there to check it out once in a while.

I may well have added a video of this song before, but due to a lot of my photos, links etc., disappearing a while back due to that old chestnut, 'technical difficulties', I find this is a really good excuse - and opportunity - to indulge in a spot of  'down memory lane' with a tear in the eye for what once was. And as one comment by someone known as Hatmap on YouTube so rightly states:  "Phil Collins in his proper role and place---in the background! Gabriel and Hackett rule! "  Well....der.........  right on mate.