Wednesday 29 February 2012

Leap Day Leap Year

My Leap Day started with me being unable to get out of the shower room. Frodo the Faller, my Velcro dog, had lain down with his back to the door and I couldn’t move him. Obviously, I managed eventually or I would still be in the shower room and not writing this. I mean, I like my laptop but it doesn’t go everywhere with me.

February 29th doesn’t come around very often, not even every year. No, it has to wait four years before it makes an appearance but it is important. It’s more to be noted and feted than common or garden April 18th or November 27th or any other day of the normal or ‘common’ year. February 29th only shows up in out-of-the-ordinary years, those whose last two digits are divisible by four, but even that formula doesn’t always work. It’s really much more complicated, all to do with solar years and Gregorian calendars. It’s a rough rule of thumb, though. Whoever said there were not enough hours in the day was on to something.

This is the day when confirmed bachelors hide for fear they should receive a marriage proposal. There are fines for refusals – a kiss, £1 or a silk gown. These seem quite arbitrary or are they graded according to the class and expectations of the girl concerned?

Tomorrow is March 1st, St David’s Day and our daffodils have just come out – they must be WelshJ

Tuesday 28 February 2012

Support for the Woman Behind the Cancer Campaign

My middle daughter, Susannah, is a freelance TV producer and has been working for several weeks on Breast Cancer Care's first major advertisement. It’s about to be released and will be seen on cinema screens and on billboards from March.

It’s a very different, startling approach to breast cancer. I hope it will encourage people to see the woman behind the cancer, not just the cancer treatment. Illness doesn’t change the intrinsic needs and wishes and interests of a person.

You can see the advertisement here and read more about it here.

Monday 27 February 2012

Mag 106 I was Andy's assistant

Warhol at the Grocery Store
photo credit Bob Adelman 1965

I was Andy’s assistant in the early 1960s when he was in his thirties, just around the time his name became the buzz on everyone’s lips. Yeah, I was his gofer. He was always sending me out on errands – that’s when I wasn’t washing brushes or mixing paint or preparing canvases.  Mostly, though, I ran his errands.

He liked soup, Andy did. His favourite was tomato and he’d eat that while he watched television. One day he asked me – told me – to go out and buy one of each of the different flavours of Campbell’s soups. I said, ‘Gonna try a different soup tonight, Andy?’ but he just told me to get a move on. So I went down to the local convenience store and picked out the soup cans. I’m telling you, thirty-two cans of soup are heavy, man, and not in a good way.

You could have knocked me sideways when I saw what he did with those cans. Who would ever have thought it? We parted company after that. I liked working for him but it was time to move on.

Yeah, it was fun working for Andy, a lot of laughs. I’d have done anything for him – well, almost anything.  I was never one of his pissers, though. I drew the line at that.

 Tess hosts The Mag here. Thank you Tess.

Limerick-Off Monday

It's Limerick-Off Monday at Mad Kane's Humor Blog. The first line is given as 'A fellow/woman who looked like a hick.'

A fellow who looked like a hick
Tried to master the three-card trick
He got in a mess
And had to confess
‘I’m clearly as thick as a brick.’

A woman who looked like a hick
Got cross when folk took the mick;
She hired a life coach
Now there’s no reproach
Because she’s a beautiful chick.

Saturday 25 February 2012

Blogging from A-Z April challenge - again!

It seems that I was mistaken in thinking I had signed up for this challenge nearly four weeks ago. I know Blogger was bloggering about but I’m convinced I saw my name on the list. Today it is  . . . G O N E . . . cast into the outer darkness . . . so I’ve signed up again which means that I can show the nifty badge again (okay, I know it’s on my side bar!) and post the bloghop list once more. There were 75 the first time I signed up (of which I was one, I thought) – now there are 727 – and I’m 727th!

Thursday 23 February 2012

The Adventures of Frodo the Faller (2) reworked

This is a reworked post in response to interest shown by some of my commenters.

Deciding that the dog show world was not for our beautiful naughty boy was a blessing in disguise. Frodo had not started his Falling career at that point so we, or rather I (for my husband is patient with my wild dreams and ambitions but does not commit himself as readily and foolishly as I) was regretting his foreshortened profession as a Top Stud Dog since to achieve any success or even desirability (in the eyes of breeders/owners, that is; I don’t think the brood bitches care one way or the other what their mates look like) he would have to be paraded, sorry, exhibited, at many a Championship Show in order to gain his ‘tickets.’

Now to the general public tickets mean travel but in the rarefied atmosphere of the Dog Show World they mean kudos for the breeder/owner and the chance for the male dog to get his leg over. The bitches stand to be ‘served’ and it doesn’t seem like a very enjoyable experience for them. Unfortunately, they cannot lie back and think of England. In addition they have to suffer the indignity of being ‘tied’ for anything up to an hour, twenty minutes being the average.

This is the time when free-mating dogs in public can find themselves doused with cold water as shocked humans who find the whole process disgusting and even more so when displayed by dogs and cats, attempt to separate them. A torrent of water merely panics the dog and bitch who cannot escape from each other even though, soaking wet and cold, that is probably their dearest wish. It’s Nature’s way of ensuring ejaculation and impregnation.

On one occasion many years ago we had a dog and bitch mating. In our innocence we thought we would be able to keep our recently acquired three-year-old ex-stud dog away from our six-year-old frothy bitch. (We now have our female dogs spayed when they’re young!) He was much wiser than us! The resultant tie was observed by our eldest daughter, then nine years old. It didn’t have a damaging effect on her though she did enquire whether it happened to humans!

In my imagination Frodo had achieved and excelled in all the necessary stages of his calling and had become Sovereign Top Dalmatian, indeed Supreme Super Stud of the Natural World, were there such a title (though there’s much that’s rather unnatural and ill-advised in the Canine Canon – consider that the tiny Chihuahua and the stately Great Dane are both descended from the wolf!) I had not considered how I was going to manage his active life as a Dog in Demand. Where were the matings to be performed? Should the trysts take place in the kitchen or maybe the conservatory? How was the bitch to be accommodated during her stay? Perhaps the spare bedroom would suffice.

Even more, I had not thought about the times – and there certainly would be some – when his services would not be required. Did we really want our boy humping everything in sight, including our other dogs, our cats, the furniture, my mother-in-law’s legs?

No, Frodo the Stud Dog was really a non-starter, particularly when he began his Falling career, of which more anon.

Wednesday 22 February 2012

The Adventures of Frodo the Faller - repost

This is a republication of a post from my early days of blogging and is the first of a series about our remaining Dalmatian. He is ten years old now but it tells of him as a pup.
When Frodo was a little chap, before he became a Faller, we would occasionally take him to dog shows. He was always very excited to see all the different breeds of dog and could barely contain himself. Eventually it would be our turn to enter the ring – yes, Frodo is a dog. What did you think? Who would call a child Frodo? J.R.R. Tolkien did, for one, although now I come to think of it Frodo Baggins was a Hobbit, not a human. I digress – something I frequently do. I ascribe it to having had four children and spending my entire working life with young children. It’s almost impossible to hold one’s train of thought when interruptions are frequent, repetitive and insistent. Many are the profound ponderings, grand philosophies and life-enhancing schemes that have been half-developed and abandoned; rather like a lovely dream from which one is abruptly woken and to which one longs to return but cannot, or like the floaters in your eyes that you can never quite focus on. Maybe the fruition of such deliberations would have proved them to be half-baked so better they were left embryonic. The first time Frodo and I ventured into the ring – on which occasion, by the way, he qualified for Cruft’s, the supreme beauty show of the canine world, though for a puppy to qualify the requirement is a first, second or third place in a class, so it’s not very exacting. Why should it be? A puppy is full of promise. To resume, the first time we went into the ring, neither of us had much idea what we were supposed to be doing although we had attended Ringcraft classes – well, only one actually, as Frodo was five months old when he came to live with us and his breeder had already entered him for his first dog show just after his six-month birthday.
Not wanting to disappoint and convinced we had a puppy that was going to become an instant star we bravely went along. With hindsight we would have let the breeder down less if we had not fetched up at the show at all. Notwithstanding, we galloped around the ring, Frodo leaping and prancing like a circus horse and biting his lead, me trying to look as though I was in control. Finally, we were called to a halt so that the judge could ‘go over’ the puppies. I was now an unattractive shade of puce, which clashed with the purple jacket I was wearing, and panting heavily. In fact, I was panting more than the puppies. All the other handlers looked calm and collected. With good grace Frodo allowed himself to be handled. This could be the start of something big! During subsequent shows, however, it became apparent that Frodo was enjoying the whole shooting match rather less than I was (and I was not happy to be careering round in front of so many people – I’m not a shrinking violet, but I don’t like to be on public display) My handling abilities had not developed noticeably and added to the requirement to keep Frodo moving at a steady pace, showing off his superb conformation, gait and spotting (he’s a Dalmatian) was the necessity to prevent him taking lumps out of the other exhibits as we charged past. The final indication that the show world was not for Frodo was when the judge was gently examining him and he growled (Frodo that is, not the judge) – a soft, back-of-the-throat, please stop growl, a warning that he was not enjoying the whole experience. So our beautiful boy was to be for our eyes only, never to receive the highest accolade in the show dog world, Cruft’s Supreme Champion. As it was, it would never have happened anyway because shortly before his third birthday Frodo became a Faller, of which more anon.

Limerick-Off Monday

While reading Kay's blog I came across Mad Kane's Humor Blog and decided to have a go. The first line is given as 'A fellow who had a degree' or 'A woman who had a degree' - the rest is up to the writer;-)

A fellow who had a degree
Was stung on his lip by a bee;
He uttered a curse,
And then did much worse
By flattening the bee on a tree.

A woman who had a degree
Decided to work in TV;
She fronted the news,
But stated her views
And was told that wasn’t PC.

A fellow who had a degree
Decided to set out to sea,
He donned sailing boots
And severed his roots
Leaving home with prodigious glee.

A woman who had a degree
Worked hard to update her CV;
She wanted a post
To give her the most
Enjoyment and autonomy.

Sunday 19 February 2012

Speedy J - Drill

Speedy J – Drill
I’m listening to this as I type and can feel the vibrations through my laptop. It’s quite extraordinary – mesmeric and numbing. It’s also quite long (8.01 minutes) and I would advise you not to listen if you have even a shadow of a headache or are attempting to do something that requires careful concentration


Tomorrow marks the third anniversary of my step into the Blog world. I shall probably forget it on the day so I'm reminding myself of it now with a repost of one of my earlier, unread posts. Enjoy!

Cling – to hold tightly, be emotionally over-dependent, refuse to let go

I'm a reasonably independent woman, not often prone to temperamental outbursts. I love the members of my family and I think they love me. We embrace affectionately, support each other emotionally and respect each other's privacy. Why then, given these parameters, can I not cope with clingfilm?

Other people efficiently manage to encase widely differing objects; jugs of stock are staunchly refused permission to spill, cakes are neatly parcelled and hermetically sealed, the onions of winter salads resolutely try but fail to send their fumes beyond the plastic. Portions of fruit and slices of vegetables, roast chicken carcasses and too-generous casseroles all consign themselves to the constraints of this thin clear self-adhering plastic material.

They do all this until I try to marshal them. To be more precise it is not the contents that prove problematic but the clingfilm. Does it recognise in me a person who secretly longs to be enfolded in strong arms and held close till, breathless with passion, I beg for release? Well, of course not, but I have to distract myself with idle thoughts as I wrestle with the wretched wrapping that clings to itself and to me as if scared to let go. I mutter and curse as the film tightens and thickens and eventually manage to reduce it to a sulky pellet which I would love to hurl into the rubbish bin but cannot as it still seems loath to leave me.

Thus, the contents of my fridge are left unwrapped, tainted with onion and curry, the chicken carcasses dry out to firewood consistency, the lemon halves shrink to husks, the cabbages wilt and everything that was once fresh and crisp limps into unappetising decrepitude.

Ah me, such is life!

Last night I had the strangest dream

Altogether now, sing – ‘Last night I had the strangest dream I’d ever dreamed before.’ Having established that firmly in your brains so that you will be humming it for the rest of the day I will continue.

Image courtesy Louisville Zoo
Copyright L T Shears

I often have very vivid dreams but usually forget them soon after waking. Last night’s dream puzzled and amused me. I dreamt I had been given a camel. It’s not clear whether I was simply looking after it for a while or whether it was to be a permanent member of the household.

Regardless, it was in my house which had suddenly developed a fifteen-foot high door into the conservatory. At this point my camel was sharing characteristics with a giraffe, at least in my mind. My husband and son-in-law were not in the least surprised to see me riding towards them on this beast which had now acquired a wonderful woven harness of red and gold cord.

After a while I realised the camel was probably hungry but had no idea what it could eat. I found some slightly mouldy corn cobs in the fridge which it munched with enthusiasm and then looked pleadingly for more food. I gave it some bananas and then a few potatoes. After that it seemed rather restless and said in a deep voice, ‘Mooloo.’ (If you want an approximation of the voice think of Brad Garrett as Robert Barone in ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’) Although I don’t speak camel I asked, ‘Do you want to go to the loo?’ and the camel replied that it did.

I led it out into the garden, warning it to be careful where it stepped and wondering what sort of dung it would produce and in what quantity. I thought it would probably be good for the compost. My next-door neighbour was in his garden and I told him, ‘I’ve got a camel now.’ He wasn’t interested, barely looked, and carried on with what he was doing.

By this point I was rather tired and went to bed. I left the camel downstairs but it followed me and lay down at the side of my bed. It was just lifting its front leg prior to climbing on the bed when I woke up.

It was a dromedary, by the way

Word verification continued - Anonymous!

Since disabling word verification and moderation I have had a flurry of comments from Anonymous in its various guises and languages so I have now banned it and am allowing Registered Users only. I refer to Anonymous as ‘it’ since it cannot or will not acknowledge itself.

I sent the following link, which I found on Raindrops and Daisies, to Amanda at Amanda's Musings, as she was getting very frustrated too.
Why not read it – it argues the case very clearly.

Saturday 18 February 2012

Something very odd!

Something very odd is happening in my Hotmail account. Many emails, some from our old friend Anonymous, and others from bona fide bloggers, are apparently coming through one particular blogger. I know they’re not but I cannot fathom why they should appear to be.

However, the good news is that Blogger is quite good at catching spam. The bad news is that sometimes it catches non-spam so please check your spam folders – there may be golden comments caught up in them

Life is like . . . (1)

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Copyright Cary Bass

Life is like a bowl of cherries. Imagine a bowl filled with beautiful ripe bite-sized fruits. They range from almost white through pink to a deep red that is nearly black but they are always inviting, tempting and so delicious.

Children play with cherries, hanging the doubles over their ears, searching for the triples. Cherries are fun. Even the stones can provide pleasure and they might foretell the future, though to be honest the following rhyme is more usually associated with eating prunes!

‘Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich man, poor man, beggarman, thief.’
When shall I be married? This year, next year, sometime, never.
What shall I be married in? Silk, satin, cotton, rags.

Cherries can be eaten slowly, though it is difficult, and always at the heart is the stone. ‘Don’t swallow the stone – a cherry tree will grow inside you’ but you swallow one anyway, occasionally, a kind of daredevilment, and nothing happens.

When the bowl is full it is impossible to imagine it empty. There are so many to enjoy and it’s easy to eat them quickly, one after the other. Suddenly, or so it seems, there are just a few left and it’s time to slow down and savour each one. The stones are sucked clean of clinging flesh and rolled around your mouth.

The last cherry lies in the dish. It must be eaten or it will be wasted. You want to taste that sweetness one more time, feel the juice spurting as you bite into the firm but yielding skin. You want it to last for ever but it cannot. All too soon it has been consumed and the bowl is empty. To one side of it are stones and stems, the only reminders of the fruits that once gave such pleasure.

Thursday 16 February 2012

Erik Johansson

Erik Johansson is a professional photographer from Sweden, now living in Germany. His photo manipulations are quite extraordinary. Some made me laugh, others I found quite disturbing. You can find out more about him at

Sunday 12 February 2012

Magpie #104 Maggots

Photo Manipulations by Christophe Gilbert
copyright Christophe Gilbert
Look at this in negative and see squirming, desperate maggots seeking to consume the fresh young flesh of a dead woman but yet she looks enraptured so this may not be so.  Switch perspective and see spermatozoa, swimming to the ova, each hoping, if they had such ability to feel and aspire, to fertilise and procreate. Look again, are these not the wrinkles of the brain surrounding the pearl that is the hypothalamus, the reason for our waking and walking and thinking and feeling?

When the image is enlarged some force beyond renders it dark, forbidding, the hair like Medusa’s locks, so many snakes to poison man. In death she brought forth Pegasus, the winged horse of poetic inspiration and Chrysaor, the giant with a golden sword, so is this image one of hope for mankind?

Disturbing, so white, so black, a puzzle obscene and beautiful, a perfect tessellation of form and shape.

To read more interpretations please click here.

Saturday 11 February 2012

Not for arachnophobes!

Image courtesy National Geographic

I've just come across this and thought it absolutely fascinating.

One of the astonishing side effects of the 2010 flooding in Pakistan was that in some areas millions of spiders climbed into the trees to escape the rising flood waters. Because the waters took so long to recede the trees became cocooned in spider webs, a phenomenon that had not been seen before in this area.

The scene is quite surreal and strangely beautiful. 

The five-minute writer

I ordered a book from Amazon yesterday and it arrived this morning. (Actually, I ordered two but I knew I would have to wait a few days for the second.)

Today’s delivery is called ‘The five-minute writer’ by Margret Geraghty and comprises examples and exercises to stimulate just five minutes writing a day. I’ve been dipping into it and it looks promising, though being loquacious I cannot imagine restricting myself to five minutes.

I should never suffer from writer’s block again . . . yes, and pigs might fly!


Friday 10 February 2012

Comment moderation

I know lots of people dislike comment moderation and I agree it can be something of a pain, slowing down the fleet of finger but I retain it; I don’t know of any other way to see that people have commented on my posts. I could consult the post list but that would involve remembering how many comments there were ‘last time’.

Anyway, that’s really beside the point. When I comment on my own posts I don’t have to verify my words so I don’t know what other people see. I’ve noticed that many people have, ‘Please prove you’re not an idiot’ when inviting commenters to verify. 

What I really want to know is, Do I? and if not, Why Not?

Wednesday 8 February 2012

Crow Lake

Swans are graceful and elegant so it is appropriate that they have a ballet dedicated to them. Other birds, too, inspire poetry and music, crows among them.

Now, crows would be the first to admit that they do not have musical voices –far-reaching, attention-seeking, interesting, yes, but not musical. That is not to say that they do not appreciate the finer things in life – a cordon bleu meal, a night at the opera, glorious architecture, stunning art and ballet. We did not realise this – perhaps you, too, are ignorant of their sensitive nature.

The two crows who greet us each day in the forest (their names are Bill and Beatrice, by the way) noticed our scepticism about their aesthetic tastes and resolved to persuade us of their artistic leanings. We were treated to an impromptu performance of their latest oeuvre. Unfortunately they were still working on the choreography for their pas de deux so I can only show you stills from their solos. I think you will agree that their footwork is faultless. 

The photos were taken in poor light at sunset.
petit jeté(small jump)
petit jeté(small jump)
beginning of pirouette
petit saut (small jump)
 en pointe
completion of chassé 
For comparison I have downloaded a YouTube clip of Gillian Murphy, Principal Dancer of American Ballet Theatre, dancing Odile.

Sunday 5 February 2012

Free me!

A grave at the Novodevichy Cemetery, Moscow

My first irreverent thought was ‘We gotta get out of this place, if it’s the last thing we ever do’ which I’m considering having played at my funeral but then it was followed almost immediately by the sense of beseeching implicit in this monument.

Free me!

Free me, I beseech you,
Free me from this world of woe,
Dead roses and cold rubies
Are not enough to hold me.

See my hands outstretched,
Fingers splayed and reaching
Out from the grave below -
Release me from this clay.

My spirit fled my body
Yet you strive to keep me here,
Your tears and words restrain me,
Please let me go.

Remember the person I was
And laugh at the memories we made –
Don’t enclose me in your sadness,
Please let me go.

You can read more Mags here, thanks to Tess Kincaid who organises this meme.

Winston's February 2012 blog

Winston here . . . p’rrrrr . . . p’rrrrr

Mrs H told me I hadn’t blogged for AGES – what would I know, I’m a cat! I know night and day (you are the one, only you ‘neath the moon or under the sun) Can you hear that – she’s singing!

Anyway, as I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, I know night and day and breakfast and supper – oh, and watching birds - and that’s all so I don’t know what AGES is. It might be something nice for all I know and maybe it’s a reward for blogging – there must be something in it for a tiger cat like me.
Well, last time I told you all about the buppies. Do you know what, they’ve grown ever so big – well, bigger than me and that’s quite big. Mrs H is still banging on about me losing wait. I don’t want to lose wait, don’tcha know, ‘cos I’m very good at waiting and what would I do if I didn’t wait?

Now, I’ve told  you before, I’m a pashent sort of a chap and I can put up with buppies but only ONE AT A TIME and when Buster comes to stay he and Bertie make my life a livingell, jumping on me and chasing me round the house. It’s enough to drive me to drink, don’tcha know. I don’t really know what that means, ackcherly, but I’ve heard the humans say it. It don’t make much sense to me, ‘cos I don’t need to be driven to drink, I can walk to it and it’s only water anyway, so I don’t know what all the fuss is about. I think it means that it’s all too much to put up with, so why don’t they just say that? I don’t know, humans make life sound very complicated sometimes. I think it’s ‘cos they’ve got so many words. Us cats can say all we need with just miaous and purrs and the humans know what we mean. I s’pose we’ve trained them well.

We had some excitement here don’tcha know. You know I like bird-watching. Well, there was a big bird chasing little birds and that was good, then just now there was lots of birds in the holly tree and they kept coming back and pinching the berries. I thought that was naughty but the humans were really pleased and took thousands of photos.

I poked my nose out of the door and Mrs H said I wouldn’t like it out there ‘cos it’s really cold. Then Mr H decided to light the fire in the conversatory and it filled the room with smoke so he opened the windows to let the smoke out then he couldn’t find me and he was worried so he and Mrs H searched and searched. I knew they was looking for me and I didn’t quite hide but I didn’t come when they called and when they was getting really worried I sauntered into the sitting room and said ‘What’s the problem?’ don’tcha know and they was ever so relieved. 

I know it was a bit naughty of me but my stars, do they think I want  to go out in the cold dark? Intruder cat does that. She waits by the pool room and makes all friendly with little miaous, but I’ve seen her stalking Bertie down the garden path so I don’t think she’s as sweet as she makes out. I wouldn’t want any harm to come to Bertie – if anyone’s claws are going to be used they’ll be mine but I won’t ‘cos he’s just a buppy still and I can keep him in line perfectly well by batting him with my velvet paws.

It was Mr H’s birthday on Friday and Bethan and Robert come to stay on Saturday. I like it when they come 'cos they really like me, don’tcha know, and it’s always nice to be liked, isn’t it?

The world is covered in white stuff. The dogs seem to like it. Bertie even managed to walk on the pond - Mrs H said he was learning to ice-skate, silly human! 

That’s all I’ve got for now. Be good!


Friday 3 February 2012

Where is the Giant's pencil case?

The Giant was striding home from Giant School and stopped to draw a sketch of the changes in the forest. As he opened his knapsack he realised he had lost his brand new pencil case. 

His mother would scold him, he was sure. In panic he retraced his steps, desperate to find it, and dropped his freshly sharpened pencils on the ground.

Poor Giant! I hope he found it and remembered to pick up his pencils.

Keyhole bread

Having trouble  sticking to your New Year’s diet??

Can’t resist another piece of toast?

Why not try the new Keyhole bread?

All the satisfaction of cutting another slice but with fewer calories.

Try it today – you won’t be disappointed!!

Wednesday 1 February 2012

Bertie's complaint

When we came home from our run yesterday we looked for our beds because we were tired but they had all been moved into the kitchen. There was talk of washing all the bedding. I don’t know why Mrs Boss does it, just when we’ve got it smelling the way we like it. Anyway, we decided we’d leave the comfort of the sitting room with its warm fire and slum it in the kitchen.

It wasn’t too bad because the bedding was next to our freezer. (We have our own freezer for all our food. It makes sense. Boss and Mrs have theirs and we have ours.) 
Frodo came with me to keep me company and we were soon fast asleep and dreaming.
 Then Gus barked and woke me up – he frightened me. 
So I cuddled up next to Frodo and I was able to relax again. Frodo looks as though he’s got devil eyes in this photo but he’s all right, really. 
We were soon asleep once more.
I don’t know what happened next but I woke up to find Gus had taken my place and pushed me onto the floor – the floor without any bedding. That was a bit mean but I am the youngest, nearly eight months old, and Gus was here before me and he really likes Frodo. It was quite brave of Gus, really, because that noisy floor-cleaning thing was nearby and he's frightened of that but Frodo was between it and him so I suppose that was all right.

ps: I must admit clean bedding does feel nice and it doesn’t smell bad, either, so I don’t think I’ll complain again, not about that, anyway. 

pps: Jenna was on a chair somewhere, naughty girl!


Yesterday I was pleased to see a Redwing (Turdus iliacus) eating berries in the holly tree. We didn’t see any Redwings last winter and I had been wondering if we would see any this year. Soon I realised there were two birds in the tree and many photos were taken. 
Today there have been regular excursions to the tree by several Redwings – I counted seven in and on it at one time and there may well have been more. Sometimes this small flock perches in the tree gorging berries. 
Occasionally they fly off carrying berries in their beaks as well as in their crops.
The Blackbirds and Wood pigeons have steered clear of the holly during the last couple of days giving the Redwings free range.

The Redwing is a widespread winter migrant in Britain and Ireland. The greatest concentrations are seen in central and southern England and southern Ireland. Redwings arrive in September, leaving again in March or April. Those in Scotland have probably flown from Iceland while those from Scandinavia winter in the south of England and as far south as North Africa and the Mediterranean. Fewer than fifty pairs breed in UK – some sources say fewer than twenty - and there is concern about the decline in numbers.
The Redwing is the smallest of the thrushes, just 21 cm (8½”) long. I couldn’t identify males, females, juveniles – they all looked much the same to me. What I found really fascinating were the sequences that Barry shot of them eating, well, swallowing anyway.  I shot some too, but his are much better.
This looks juicy
 Carefully does it - don't drop it
 I can do it - I know I can
. . . and again from the front . . .
 It looks a bit more of a beakful from this angle
 Open wide!
Down the hatch
Much of today has been spent reporting – ‘they’re back’, ‘they’ve gone’, ‘there are four, no, five, six, no, seven’ (voice rising to an excited shriek at seven) We may not see them again but that’s part of the entertainment of amateur bird-watching. I was expecting to see a Sparrowhawk dive into the tree but that didn’t happen. I was glad about that though of course poor Sparrowhawk has to eat too.