Thursday 30 March 2023




All images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Unusually, I am preparing well ahead – well, a day or two, anyway – for the 2023 A to Z Challenge. It is several years since I undertook this challenge.

I am basing my posts on ‘Nature’, a fairly wide-ranging theme, I think you’ll agree.

One of the wonderful things about ‘Nature’ is that most things have at least two names, the official, usually Latin name, and the accepted common name or names. Some things have many different local names. It also means that one ‘thing’ may appear in several categories, though Q, U and X are a bit thin.

For example, woodlouse can be categorised under W (obviously!)

but also under crustacean (C), Oniscidea (O), Isopoda (I), Armadillo bug (A), butcher or butchy boy (B), cheeselog (C), gramersow (G), pea bug (P), roll up bug (R), slater (S), wood pig (W). See how I have, in true teacherly fashion, emphasised the concept of multiple categories, otherwise known as ‘hammering it home’?   

 Their only form of defence is to roll into a ball. I don't think it's very effective
I discovered, thanks to Wikipedia, that the mother woodlouse keeps fertilised eggs on the underside of her body in a marsupium (lovely word) or brood pouch. The eggs hatch into little white baby woodlice, though they only have six of the eventual seven pairs of legs. Females can also reproduce asexually. 

If you should be tempted to try eating these tiny crustaceans, be warned that they taste unpleasantly of strong urine. (Would weak urine be a more acceptable taste?) 

As an aside, how many woodlice would one need to create a starter?

They are also a popular pet! Some are bred specifically for their colour.

Blue woodlouse

 Should you so desire it, the Rubber Ducky will set you back more than $100 (£100) for six individuals.

Rubber Ducky Isopod, (Cubaris sp. "Rubber Ducky")

   £25.00 GBP

The collective noun for woodlice is ‘a quabble’. I really want an opportunity to use that lovely noun in company. (I am a fount of useless knowledge and can close down any conversation.)

Oh, damn, now I can’t use woodlouse . . . !

From a plethora of photographs in Lightroom, I have compiled a list of ‘things beginning with’ and now have to select one or two for each letter, otherwise my posts will be unconscionably long. I just hope I can continue to the end, to Z, (there I go, ramming it home again) rather than fading out ignominiously around the half-way mark.

Tuesday 28 March 2023




All images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

I was horrified to learn that plans have been made to create an octopus farm in Spain.

Octopuses are incredibly intelligent animals, capable of using tools and dealing with problems in a multitude of ways. They are largely solitary and territorial, the females meeting a male once only to mate.

Once they have laid their eggs, they cease feeding, devoting themselves to the care of their young. When the youngsters are independent and the last one has swum away, the mother octopus dies.

Sy Montgomery’s book, ‘The Soul of an Octopus’, provides a fascinating insight into creatures with complex habits. The prospect of corralling these amazing invertebrates into pens is abhorrent.

Where is man’s humanity? Are we now so degraded that we cannot see beyond our own greed?

Monday 27 March 2023

Lovely day for a dip


Lovely day for a dip

Labradors, particularly of the working variety, love water.

Lakes, ponds, even puddles, attract them like iron filings to a magnet.

We had decided to give Gilbert a gentle introduction to water, remembering Roxy’s first venture. Following her friends, she dashed into a large pond and was soon out of her depth. Probably she would have been alright, but I panicked and hauled her in on the end of her retractable lead, like a furry chocolate fish. I didn’t worry about her after that.

 For many months, she doggy paddled in an upright position, looking for all the world as though she didn’t want to get her hair wet.


 Bertie showing Roxy how to do it

Today was a beautiful day for a walk and we went to an area of the forest very familiar to Barry, who used to run there before the advent of the chrome alloy knees. The well-defined paths had disappeared and we followed an animal trail, probably made by roe deer. to where we thought there was a small pond.

A few minutes beforehand I had commented that I thought Gilbert would be quite cautious, as he seems to be a rather careful puppy. How wrong I was! We were upon it before we realised. There was a loud splash and Roxy and Gilbert were in it immediately.

 They loved it and splashed to their and our great delight, galloping in and out and around in the tussocky grass.

Gilbert's flying pig impression

They are both sleeping soundly now, dreaming sweet dreams of sniffs and sights and sounds – and water!

By chance

I came across this by chance a few moments ago. 
Wait until the boy at the front sings.

Saturday 25 March 2023


 Update on the missing defibrillator

Apparently, there was CCTV footage available at the site of the defibrillator and it has been established that it was indeed stolen.

 A fundraising campaign has been started to replace it. 

I still cannot fathom why anyone would steal such a device. What possible use could it be? F from Tigger's Wee-Blog suggested . . . 

Somebody is looking for the small amounts of valuable metals in modern electronics possibly.... 

 The following appeared on Facebook a few hours ago.

Can you help save a life today? ❤️
You fabulous lot have already helped raise nearly half the cost of a replacement defibrillator! Thank you ❤️
Full story …
After some research and viewing of CCTV it has been confirmed that unfortunately the defibrillator has been stolen.
A Defibrillator is most effective when administered within the first minute of someone collapsing. If used within the first minute, the survival rate can be as high as 90%. If however, a defibrillator is used within the first 3 to 5 minutes, the likelihood of survival drops by 16%, showing that having a defibrillator close by makes a huge difference.

Crowthorne Parish Council 


Thank you, Liz Penn Roe, for setting up this fundraiser and to Pam who fundraised for all the community defibrillators on behalf of the First Responders and SCAS all those years ago.
This equipment could save a life.

Gilbert the horticulturist

 Gilbert the horticulturist

After a bracing walk in the forest followed by an excellent lunch, Gilbert decided to relax with a little indoor gardening.

He chose the plant he wished to work with and recognised that a little pruning was required. Plants benefit from careful trimming.

It was quite a healthy plant . . .
Then he expertly removed it from its pot, spreading the earth neatly on the floor. He had intended to put paper down first but forgot. There was a little paper on the floor, so we can assume that he remembered, but too late.

The label, somewhat faded said 'Grapefruit', but we can be fairly certain that was not the plant in the pot!  

He was just beginning the next phase, which might have been repotting, when Janice asked him what he was doing. She may have been a little sharp with him.

He was clearly very sorry and promised never to do it again . . .

 . . . and how could you be cross with a little face like that?

Sensing that something was happening that might involve her, Roxy came to find out what he had been doing. After some conversation, and a gentle reprimand from her, they both repaired to bed for a well-earned snooze.


                                                             In a little while, Janice will attempt to identify the remains of the plant and pot up what's left. It is/was a trailing plant. Now it's more of a fallen plant.

Friday 24 March 2023

A rare moment of togetherness

 A rare moment of togetherness

Jellicoe and Herschel are litter brothers, but spend more time batting each other than sleeping together.

They are Ocicats. Jellicoe is a Classic, now called an Aztec (!) and Herschel is a standard Ocicat.

We did have three brothers, but Isambard died very young after a strange and short respiratory disease.

Isambard, Herschel and Jellicoe as kittens


Problem solving

I'm linking with Feline Friday, hosted by messymimi of messymimi's meanderings



Thursday 23 March 2023

Training continues

 Training continues

Training recommenced after breakfast at 7:30.  

Jellicoe provides a soft, warm pillow for Gilbert.



One of the community defibrillators has gone missing. In order to use it, the user has to call 999 to get the access code, but the 999 call handlers are finding it hard to trace the individual who called in. The parish council has contacted the ambulance service but without success.

As someone said, ‘You can’t just shock someone and then send them home’.

Defibrillators cost around £1200 and are situated in busy local areas. Cheaper ones are available, but presumably there’s a standard that must be adhered to for community use.

The missing one was next to a hairdressing salon. Others are at schools, leisure centres and local shops.   

Wednesday 22 March 2023




Jellicoe crept in alongside Gilbert to continue the cat familiarisation training. He and Herschel are quite determined that Gilbert will be bowed to their will, just as all the other dogs have been. 

No matter how often he rags them - and those sessions are less frequent now - they always, always persist in snuggling up to him when he's quiet. 

He's lost his voice

He's lost his voice

This is Gilbert's lion. He enjoys ragging it and it's beginning to look a little the worse for wear . . . 

. . . particularly at the back. 

This morning he was enjoying a good old rough and tumble with it, making it squeak loudly.

The squeaking seemed to increase in volume, which was a little strange, until I looked at Gilbert more closely and saw that lion and squeaker had parted company.

Gilbert looked a little disappointed, though not entirely surprised, when I prised the squeaker from his slavering jaws . . . no, I exaggerate . . . when I took it from his mouth. 

'You spoil all my fun,' he said.

Gilbert does not need assistance from a squeaker to make a noise. He is more than capable of making a lot of noise all by himself.

I cleared up the stuffing that had been generously spread around the sitting room. The lion is not noticeably slimmer and will look much the same as ever after I've repaired him, but, alas, he's lost his voice.

On a different note, I await fine, sunny weather so that Gllbert's toys can be washed and then quickly dried outside. It's one of life's little joys, to see toys hanging on the line.

p.s: Gilbert and his lion were almost the same size when Gilbert came to live with us!




My parents loved and nurtured all kinds of plants, both indoor and outdoor. It would be fair to say that they had green fingers. My father loved fuchsias and grew many varieties, but my mother particularly enjoyed house plants. She was also an amazing flower arranger, entirely self-taught.

About thirty years ago, long after my father died, I gave my mother a clivia, which flowered beautifully just once. No matter what she tried, or where she situated it, it never flowered again for her, though all her other plants thrived and rewarded her care with beauty.

After she died, I inherited her clivia and brought it home to our conservatory. To my surprise, it flourished and flowered. Eventually, it grew too big and had to be repotted and still it grew.

Finally, I had to divide it and from one plant gained three, all strong, strapping plants. They all produce large heads of blooms, but all flower at slightly different times, so that our conservatory has a long sequence of gorgeous, bright orange flowers. Soon, they will need to be divided again. Every time I look at my lovely clivias I think of my mother.

 Perhaps, after all, I inherited just one of her green fingers.

Tuesday 21 March 2023

In the wee small hours


In the wee small hours

Damp leaves . . . be careful of the sweet chestnut husks . . . they're still sharp

Gilbert usually sleeps through the night, waking around 6:00 a.m. We are very grateful for that.

On Saturday night, well, Sunday morning, really, he woke at 3:00 and he and I stumbled downstairs while the Lord and Master snored on, accompanied by Roxy and Herschel. It’s quite a chorus when they all participate.

A lesson from Roxy in how to whittle
I say ‘stumbled’ but that’s not strictly accurate. Gilbert is keen to race ahead, but isn’t allowed to. I concentrate on not tripping over him or my feet or anything that might present itself on the stairs, like Jellicoe, always alert for food and assuming that if someone is awake, it might conceivably mean a meal is in the offing.

Anyway, Gilbert trotted into the garden, did what he had to, came back in and refilled his tanks from the water bucket. We then went back upstairs. All was as we had left it, everyone sleeping peacefully. After a bit of ‘bitey’ from Gilbert, something he does when he’s tired, and easily remedied with a chew toy, rather like a dummy for a baby, we drifted back to sleep. No problems!

It was a different story last night. Gilbert woke at 1:15 and we traipsed downstairs, leaving the rest of the mammals deep in the arms of whoever it is, oh, yes, Morpheus. Gilbert went out, came back in, forswore a drink of water and prepared to return to bed.

While he was out, I looked for Jellicoe. Usually, he’s asleep on one of the chairs, but he was nowhere to be seen. I checked the conservatory, although that’s a bit chilly at night for a fussy cat. I looked at the tops of the kitchen cupboards but he wasn’t there, neither was he lying on top of the grandfather clock. The radiators weren’t on, so he wasn’t resting there, either. I felt the first twinges of alarm. Cats tend to hide away when unwell, and an absent cat augurs problems. Jellicoe had been extremely ill a few months earlier and I feared a recurrence.

 Quietly, not wishing to disturb the peace – well, apart from the snoring – I called, ‘Cats, cats, cats.’ There was a thump on the bedroom floor, soon followed by the surprisingly heavy footfalls of Jellicoe. I hadn’t realised he was on our bed. Herschel, of course, slumbered on. He’s driven by comfort and warmth, while Jellicoe’s motivating force is hunger.

                                                      Feed me . . .

I was relieved to see our little cat, and, of course, had to give him a treat as he had come when called. Then Gilbert and I trailed back upstairs. There was a little ‘bitey’ play and he fell asleep. It was now 1:45.

                              When not campaigning for food, Jellicoe enjoys relaxing on the bridge over the pond and indulging in some ornithology

Our animals like to be close to other living beings, either of their own species or another. Gilbert’s head was resting on my leg and Jellicoe was pressed up against my side and next to Gilbert, while Herschel maintained his position next to Barry. I wanted nothing more than to go back to sleep but couldn’t. I was very warm, with two virtual hot water bottles alongside. I tried ‘counted breathing’, which almost worked but suddenly there came into my brain an old advertising jingle.

‘You’ll wonder where the yellow went when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent’. This advertisement first appeared on our screens in 1957. I don’t remember anything about it other than the refrain.

Attempting to stop the incessant repetition of this jingle, I wondered which other advertisements I could remember. In 1958 we had a P.E. teacher called Mrs Bradshaw. Unfortunately for her, that same year a washing powder called Surf was advertised featuring ‘Mrs Bradshaw.’ Our teacher withstood the ridicule from know-it-all adolescents with remarkable aplomb, at least, in public.

In the 1960s a carpet cleaning liquid was advertised that claimed to clean ‘a big, big carpet for less than half a crown. So, the adverts that lodged in my brain were all to do with cleaning things.

By 1973 the focus seemed to shift to comestibles (love that word - so quaint!)

Strictly speaking, lemonade is not a foodstuff, but R. Whites’ advert of 1973 featured in my recollections in the wee small hours. 'I'm a secret lemonade drinker - R. Whites, R. Whites'.

‘Everyone’s a fruit and nut case’ came along in 1975, and finally, before I fell asleep just after 2:45, I was humming along to ‘Just one Cornetto’, which appeared on our screens in 1982.

Amazingly, all these things are still available. It is possible to avoid televised advertisements now, so I am not au fait with current advertising trends, but I wonder if any of them stick irritatingly in the brain and if they achieve their aim – to part people from their money? There is one I sometimes hear and which annoys me and that is ‘Go compare.’

Are you resistant to advertising?