Tuesday 31 October 2023

Traditional pursuits in October

 

            Traditional pursuits in October – part 4

All images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


October 31st is All Hallows’ Eve or Hallowe’en. It is the day before All Saints’ Day when Christians remember the faithful departed. Traditionally, people would attend a vigil at church on All Hallows’ Eve, praying and fasting before the feast day and placing lighted candles on the graves of their dead. 

The modern celebration of Hallowe’en originated in the Celtic festival of Samhain. The Celts believed that the boundary between life and death became ill-defined and blurred on this night and the spirits of the dead, the ‘ghosts’, returned to earth. To keep them at bay bonfires were lit and the people dressed up as monsters and animals to frighten away the fairies who might otherwise kidnap them.

Hallowe’en has developed into a commercial industry, in a similar fashion to Christmas and Easter. The religious elements have been overtaken by Mammon. I have heard some say that Hallowe’en is their favourite time of the year.

I have very mixed feelings about Hallowe’en. It is fun for little children to dress up and go out at night when they might otherwise be going to bed. The outfits may be appealing and are ‘available at countless outlets’.  I must admit that a baby or toddler dressed as a pumpkin looks very sweet. My first difficulty comes with their expectation of receiving sweets from strangers and the expense incurred in acquiring ‘suitable’ costumes.

The youngest children are accompanied by adults and usually go only to the houses of friends at the very beginning of the evening, soon after dark has fallen. This is the most innocent group, usually dressed as fairies or winsome witches or appealing baby ghosts or dashing pirates or junior devils or chubby skeletons, all outfits ‘available at countless outlets’. They are excited and sometimes a little apprehensive. Some are overcome and become frightened and who can blame them?     

                                        A field of pumpkins        

The next group consists of older children, still accompanied by adults. They go only to the houses with lighted pumpkins – a sign that there will be goodies to fill their pumpkin baskets which are ‘available at countless outlets’. Their costumes may be a little less attractive, gruesome masks being a favourite feature among the boys, though the girls may still favour pretty outfits. (Is that gender-critical?)

There is no doubt that the participating adults providing tooth-wrecking confectionery enjoy seeing many different groups of children throughout the evening. For those whose own children have grown and flown or who have never had children it can be a magical experience and I’ve seen the pleasure they gain. Less acceptable is the grab and go attitude of some of the children and the comparison of baskets and the lack of any sort of gratitude for the things they receive. However, some are very grateful and even overwhelmed.

My second difficulty comes with the ‘decoration’ of houses. Some householders go to tremendous efforts to trick out their houses and gardens with artificial spiders, webs, skeletons, severed limbs, ghosts, ghouls, witches, warlocks, devils, bats,(even though the bats are hibernating) gravestones, all ‘available at countless outlets’ and not forgetting the carved pumpkins, which are not always ‘available at countless outlets’. Some people appear at the door in grotesquery to outdo anything the children might achieve.

Once the young children have filled their buckets and gone home, perhaps longing to eat their winnings but being told they must share them with others or ration themselves to ‘one a day’ for ever and then having a tantrum, the older children emerge. Some of the young children will have been stuffing sweets into their mouths as fast as possible as they traverse the streets and will be looking rather green about the gills.

The older children are the younger secondary school children, with more sophisticated tastes and habits, more startling costumes ‘available at countless outlets’ and a greater ability and maybe desire to shock. They prowl the streets in herds, striking fear into the hearts of the unwary. They are not seeking sweets alone but the opportunity to make an impression, good or otherwise.

Following them and probably the final cohort, if you’re lucky, are the older teenagers, grotesquely or seductively clad in costumes ‘available at countless outlets’ and quite possibly carrying cans of cheap, sickly alcohol and therefore finding everything screamingly funny. They travel in tribes and may be inclined to foolish pranks, such as overturning dustbins or lighting fireworks in the street.

Some adults organise Hallowe’en parties, with ghoulish refreshments in the form of coffins, bats, witches’ fingers (!) and repulsive drinking vessels. Guests apparelled in hideous costumes ‘available at countless outlets’ and with make-up bloodthirsty sufficient to make the strongest soul blench arrive to enjoy the evening.

My overriding difficulty is concerned with the reasons for celebrating in the way we do. Why do we manufacture horror when there is so much real terror in the world? Is it a way of inuring ourselves to it? Are we desensitising ourselves?

Nonetheless, I know my grandchildren and great-grandchildren, dressed for the occasion, will be out and about on Hallowe’en, in London, Berkshire, Hampshire and Dorset. They will enjoy themselves, I’m sure, despite their grumpy older relative. 

 From ghoulies and ghosties

And long-leggedy beasties

And things that go bump in the night,

Good Lord deliver us.

 Old Scottish prayer 

                           Squashes  and orange pumpkins  

Monday 30 October 2023

Pumpkin Mice Tales

 

Pumpkin Mice Tales

The Pumpkin Mice liked their home on the Tower. They especially liked the little children who passed by every day, chattering with their friends and their mothers. Then, suddenly, the little children stopped coming. The Pumpkin Mice were puzzled and sad and wondered if they had done something wrong. They didn’t think they had but there was no-one they could ask.

One day they saw a mother with a little child and overheard her saying, ‘Half-term’s nearly over. Back to school next week.’ The little child began to cry, saying, ‘I don’t want to. I don’t like school.’ The mother said, ‘You’ll be fine. You’ll like it when you see all your friends again.’ They wandered off, the little child still sniffling.

The Pumpkin Mice were sorry for the little child but there wasn’t anything they could do and then something rather strange happened which drove out all thoughts of grizzling little children. Coming out of their pumpkins one morning they noticed that there was a sort of umbrella over them. That was nice because it kept the rain off but it felt odd. The umbrella, if that’s what it was, moved. It had eight red and black hairy poles and when they skittered outside the shelter of the umbrella and looked up they saw that it was red and black and had a big smiley face, so they weren’t afraid. You can’t be frightened of a smile.


The mothers and children began to walk past again every day. ‘Oh, look,’ said one mother, ‘There’s a big spider on the pumpkins now.’

‘Will it eat the mice?’ asked her little child.

 ‘No, no,' said the mother. It’s a friendly spider. Goodness, look at the time. We must hurry or you’ll be late.’

The Pumpkin Mice looked at each other. ‘Spider,’ they said, trying out the new word. The smallest mouse, Little Grey, asked, ‘Where is the time? The mother told the little child to look at it, but I can’t see it anywhere. What does it look like?’

Big Brown Mouse, the oldest and wisest of the Pumpkin Mice, said, ‘Don’t worry about it. It’s a thing that humans fret over and nothing to concern us.’

Then White Mouse with the exceedingly long and beautiful green tail said, ‘I heard one of the mothers telling her little child that the clocks went back on Sunday. Where did the clocks go back to? And why?’

 Big Brown Mouse sighed. ‘The clocks don’t actually go anywhere. They stay right where they are. The humans just reorganise the hours to make the most of the sunlight in the mornings. It means that night falls earlier.’

The Pumpkin Mice had noticed that big orange pumpkins were appearing on the doorsteps and in the windows of the houses nearby. They wondered why and then they saw them all lit up one night and the street around their tower was filled with lots of children, little and big, dressed up in strange clothes and going from house to house. 

In their hands they carried small baskets and some of the bigger children had torches that they shone to show them the path. One or two of them held their torches under their chins and that made them look scary. Tiny Grey, Small Brown and Little White were frightened but Big Brown Mouse told them to be brave. ‘They don’t want to hurt us. They’re trick-or-treating because it’s Hallowe’en’ and before any of them could ask any more questions, Big Brown Mouse said, ‘It’s bed-time, Mousekins. Good night.’

Sunday 29 October 2023

A funny turn

 

A funny turn

I'm ready - let's go!
On Thursday morning Jellicoe was on top of one of the kitchen cupboards and didn’t want to come down. Normally he is vociferously harassing me for breakfast. Alarm bells rang. Barry lifted him down and we offered him food and although he did eat, he was twitching and unsteady on his paws. I thought he was going to have a seizure. Having lived with Frodo the Faller for many years I was well aware of the signs.

Knowing how quickly cats deteriorate when unwell, we called our vets and although they didn’t have any appointment slots free, they agreed to do a blood test since we all felt Jellicoe’s glucose levels were low. It proved to be the case and then he went back at the end of the day to be checked again when it was decided that he should spend Friday there for the whole day to have his glucose curve checked. That meant that he was to have no breakfast on Friday morning. By then, Jellicoe was feeling quite chipper again and couldn’t understand why his food was being withheld.

Where's my breakfast?
We had been doing blood tests at home to check his levels but it was causing him distress which we thought might be worse than persevering with them. We decided that we should begin testing again rather than the more stressful, for Jellicoe, twice-daily trip to the vet, or not test at all, and run the risk of another downward spiral. It transpired that the entire testing kit we had was out of date so we bought another one which arrived very promptly.

It looks very straightforward in the videos. A quick prick in the ear flap should produce enough blood to smear the blood glucose test strips. It’s not quite so easy in practice! Jellicoe is a very good-tempered cat but his ears are sensitive - and very hairy. 

We’re told the little prick doesn’t hurt, but it’s not our ears that are being punctured. Ensuring that enough blood appears sometimes means squeezing the ear flap to produce a bubble, again, not something Jellicoe enjoys.

We managed it yesterday evening after he came home and again this morning. We will have to brace ourselves to repeat it this evening. I’m sure (I wish!) that we will get better at it! We don’t like testing his patience and causing him stress but it is in his best interests.

A good wash is required after a meal, starting with the left paw . . .

 . . . and continuing with the right

We changed Jellicoe’s feeding and insulin injection routine. I had been jabbing him while he ate but the problem with continuing that is that if he does not eat all his food, he will have too much insulin in his body. That is serious and can cause seizures and even death. Usually he finishes everything he’s given and immediately looks around for more, but that cannot be guaranteed. So now I hover over him, hypodermic syringe in hand, ready to jab him as the last morsels disappear.

He’s worth it, though. He’s such an affectionate boy – to everyone, apart from his brother!

Saturday 28 October 2023

Morning has broken

Morning has broken . . .


Arthur and Lottie have been enjoying doggy hols with Roxy and Gilbert while their owners have gone off to distant - and warmer - climes. They have settled very well and Lottie has decided we are worth protecting, assuming the responsibility for barking at goodness knows what. She doesn't bark very often or for very long.

Lottie, with the wayward topknot that just begs for a ribbon, (but won't get one!) is a working Cocker Spaniel, like her companion, Arthur.
She sleeps downstairs in the big crate which serves all the dogs, apart from Roxy, as a place to go and calm down during the day, although obviously not all at once! 

She always greets everyone with enthusiasm and has to find something to carry in her mouth while doing so. Arthur does the same. Today's excited greeting was accompanied by her blue blanket for a little early morning dusting before the other dogs came downstairs.

It was followed by a vigorous play session with Gilbert, who is very much bigger and stronger than her. He understands that he is subordinate to her and respects her position in the pack, just as she has learnt that all canines are inferior to cats.


After that it was time for breakfast and a post-prandial snooze. 

Friday 27 October 2023

Meccano to the rescue!

 

Meccano to the rescue! 

Barry spent much time as a boy constructing models from Meccano. There have been many occasions when the skills learnt from hours of construction have come in useful.

The handle on the larder fridge came adrift at the top. We tried glueing it, but it wouldn’t hold.

                                     This is how it should look.

  This is how it looked after the unsuccessful attempt at glueing it in place. Remnants of glue attest to the failure.

We looked at replacement handles. With parts and postage it was going to cost about £100. Better, surely, to repair it if at all possible.

So, with drill and screws and a Meccano-like ‘stainless steel flat straight brace mending bracket’ (its official name) that cost 70p, Barry effected an efficient repair.

                                This is the finished article!

I was grateful - of course I was, but I pointed out that it wasn't straight. It wasn't necessary  - Barry already knew that, but he insisted that it was the door that was crooked, not his handiwork,  so of course I believed him. 

It’s not just the exterior of the fridge that needed attention. The interior also required some refurbishment, particularly after one of the shelves crashed to the floor yesterday. Fortunately, the bottles on it didn’t break, though the shelf itself was now in pieces.

Sadly, Meccano could not help on this occasion, so new parts have been ordered – two new shelves, as one had cracked previously, and a ‘chiller’ basket or is it a ‘crisper’? Whatever, we await their arrival, not exactly with bated breath, but anticipating a slightly more ordered refrigerator. 

Life is so exciting in the Cooke household.

Thursday 26 October 2023

Traditional pursuits in October – part 3

 

Traditional pursuits in October – part 3

St George's church, Hinton St George

In villages across Somerset the tradition of Punkie Night is upheld. One of the best-known, if not the best-known is at Hinton St George, a small village surrounded by farmland, woods and orchards. It has a population of about 450 but retains all the amenities a community requires – church, pub, primary school, shop, post office and village hall. On the last Thursday of October the village celebrates the Somerset tradition of Punkie Night.

Punkie is an old English name for a lantern which has been carved from a root vegetable like a swede or turnip or mangelwurzel. The Jack-o’-lantern has a lighted candle in it. Nowadays, a pumpkin is often used (and is easier to carve, I can attest!)

This year, 2023, Punkie Night falls on 26th October. Starting at the village hall at 6:00 pm children form a procession that sets off to travel through the streets of the village. They are led by the Punkie King and Queen and travel from house to house, swinging their punkies and maybe hoping for a treat or two.

As they go they sing traditional songs like the following:

It’s Punkie Night, tonight,

It’s Punkie Night, tonight,

Give us a candle, give us a light.

If you don’t you’ll get a fright.

 

It’s Punkie Night, tonight,

It’s Punkie Night, tonight,

Adam and Eve wouldn’t believe

It’s Punkie Night tonight.

Legend holds that in the Middle Ages, all the men of Hinton St George went to a fair. When it came to evening and they had not returned, the village women went to look for them, lighting their way with punkies. The punkies gave protection from evil as well as light. Farmers of old would put punkies on their gates to fend off evil spirits.

Punkie Night has echoes of Hallowe’en. The children often dress up, sometimes in something like mediaeval dress, but more likely these days in ‘spooky’ costumes. The procession stops along the way for Morris dancing and the singing of Punkie songs and finishes later at the Village Hall where the Punkies are hung up to be judged. There are first, second and third prizes for the best punkies in different age groups.



Wednesday 25 October 2023

 

More birthdays

Marnie aged about two and a half - big blue eyes, always smiling

There are two birthdays in my family today. My eldest grandchild, Marnie, will be 30 and my youngest, Jack will be 5.

Marnie is my eldest daughter’s elder daughter and Jack is my youngest daughter’s younger son.

Jack aged about two and a half - big brown eyes. He's looking unusually serious in this photograph.

Out of curiosity, I wondered what they have in common, having been born under the same star, Scorpio. As with weather forecasts, I always choose the analysis with which I agree and wish to come to fruition, so I sifted to arrive at the best result.

The first thing I read was that they are well-known for their ruthlessness, not something to be encouraged. I disregarded it. That’s the joy of astrology – you can pick and choose what to apply! The second attribute was single-mindedness and I would agree with that in both personalities. I also liked the third characteristic, with caveats. 

It said that they don’t see limitations in their lives and won’t let anyone tell them they can’t have what they want.  I can see that could be translated as being pig-headed and maybe throwing tantrums when thwarted. Again, not something to be wished for.

I went to another site which told me that Scorpios are loyal and passionate and have an intuitive sixth sense verging on clairvoyance. They are deep and secretive, obsessive and emotional, temperamental, honest, ambitious and brave.

Discarding all that, I can say with certainty that they are both, though 25 years apart, chatty, inquisitive, single-minded and very loving. Jack talks all day, from the moment he wakes until he falls asleep. Marnie is also a talker and they both have a lovely sense of humour.

Marnie has broken her leg badly in two places so will not be gallivanting tonight, painting the town red. Jack isn’t old enough to jaunt yet!

Tuesday 24 October 2023

An axe to grind . . .


An axe to grind . . .

Barry’s got an axe to grind. Should I be worried? 😟 

To be precise, it’s a Fiskars Splitting Axe for splitting logs. That’s such a relief to my jangled nerves. 😉

He’s also bought one of these for grinding the axe blade. He watched a number of online videos to select the right one. 

                                It was fascinating! 🙄 

You can’t ask for the wrong thing in our house and there are usually two of everything because one always gets ‘mislaid’.

I exaggerate, of course. (but not a lot!) 😇

We won’t lose the whetstone, because it comes complete with a storage box made of acacia wood. We might lose the box, though!

Monday 23 October 2023

Once upon a time

 

Once upon a time

In a field full of fat, round, juicy pumpkins, six mice had found a perfect place to tarry awhile and enjoy a feast. They called themselves the Pumpkin Mice. They were related, as all mice are, but they were cousins rather than siblings. They were descendants of mouse aristocrats, the Fancy Mice, and some of their ancestors had won prizes at Mouse Fancy Shows and had their photographs taken with a big silver trophy.

Though the Pumpkin Mice were not show mice, they had beautiful, large ears and bright blue eyes which were quite remarkable, having never before been seen in the mouse world. The length of their tails varied considerably and most of them were pink but one was a startling green and quite the longest tail ever seen in Mousedom.

They had scurried away to hide inside the pumpkins when they heard movement in the field. Too many of their friends and relations had met an unpleasant end at the teeth and beaks of larger creatures. Quaking and shivering, they awaited their fate. After a very long time, they emerged blinking into the daylight and gazed around, thankful still to be alive, but what was this? The pumpkins were no longer in the field but lifted high on a tower. They peered over the edges, wondering if it would be safe to attempt an escape. Where would they go? Everything was so unfamiliar. They decided it would be safer to stay where they were, with shelter and food.

As the days went by they noticed that lots of passers-by stopped by the pumpkins on the tower. When they realised they were quite safe and that the little children and their parents were just looking and didn’t want to take their pumpkins away they became braver and began to peek at the people.

The mothers said, ‘Look at the little mice’ and ‘Aren’t they sweet?’ and the little children said, ‘Ooh’ and ‘Ahh’.

The Pumpkin Mice were happy in their new home. The squirrels didn’t worry them, as squirrels don’t bother with pumpkin when there are so many other delicious things to eat. The crows and magpies noticed them but didn’t disturb them. Life was sweet, just like the pumpkins.

Sunday 22 October 2023

Whistling


Whistle while you work?

Boatswain's call

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Is whistling unlucky? Superstitions abound. In Russia, whistling indoors is believed to ‘whistle money away’ and, as people don’t willingly wish poverty on themselves, they don’t do it, although they’re free to whistle out of doors. It’s also considered unlucky in Romania and Lithuania for the same reason. I shall have to check with Liviu, my Romanian grandson-in-law!

Chinese and Korean people will not whistle at night because wandering spirits will follow the whistler home. That would create a problem – how does one entertain ghostly house guests? Not having any substance, they could not accept food or drink. Maybe some would be helpful and amusing, though again, having no substance, they would be no good at ‘doing things’.

Women should never whistle, not because it’s considered ill-mannered or unladylike but because it is unlucky. The legend giving rise to this says that as the crucifixion nails were being forged a woman standing by was whistling. That is strange because all sorts of things would have been happening at the same time – wearing clothes and breathing, for example. Are they considered unlucky, too?

There was one place where whistling was not encouraged and that was on a Royal Navy ship. There were several reasons for this. One ill-founded belief was that whistling challenged the wind which would be angered and create a terrible storm.

Whistling on board was forbidden on board HM ships following the Nore Mutiny of 1797, when whistling was used as a way of communicating between the mutineers.

The much more pragmatic reason for continuing the ban is that it interferes with the piping of orders. Sailors need to hear the different signals to tell them where to go and what to do. The boatswain’s (bosun’s) call (whistle) is still used to pipe various orders, such as ‘All hands on deck’ or ‘Away Boats’ as well as welcoming distinguished visitors aboard. It has a high piercing pitch that can be heard above other noises. It has various tones, from a single note to a rising and falling note, sometimes embellished with a warble or trill, depending on the order.





Saturday 21 October 2023

Trafalgar Day

 

Trafalgar Day

All images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

                                    HMS Victory,  Portsmouth

On October 21st 1805 the combined French and Spanish fleets were defeated by the Royal Navy at Cape Trafalgar, off the coast of South West Spain, HMS Victory, the flagship of Horatio Nelson, led the attack. Victory is the oldest commissioned warship in the world and is preserved at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, in Hampshire, UK.

Admiral Lord Nelson, born 29.09.1758, Burnham Thorpe, Norfolk, the 6th of 11 children. He suffered from seasickness throughout his naval career.
Painting by John Whichelo (1784-1865)

The Battle of Trafalgar was Admiral Lord Nelson’s greatest victory and the setting for his death. He was hit by a musket shot from a French marksman one hour into the battle. He died in the knowledge that the fleet commanded by him had achieved a remarkable victory over the numerically superior French and Spanish fleets.

Every year a service of remembrance is conducted on board HMS Victory to honour England’s greatest naval leader and those on both sides of the conflict who died that day or from their injuries in the days and weeks that followed. The day begins with the usual daily ceremony of ‘Colours’ when the White Ensign and the Union Jack are hoisted. 

The White Ensign is worn on Royal Navy ships and shore establishments. 
The Union Jack  

On Trafalgar Day this is followed by Nelson's famous flag signal, 'England expects that every man will do his duty'. (His final signal was 'Engage the enemy more closely').

During the service a wreath is laid on the brass plaque marking the spot where he fell as he paced the quarterdeck while directing the battle.
On Trafalgar Night commissioned Royal Navy officers commemorate the victory with a dinner in the Officers’ Mess. A speech is made by the guest of honour, finishing with the toast, ‘The immortal memory of Lord Nelson and those who fell with him’. The Nelson Toast is made standing up and drunk in complete silence at Trafalgar Night dinners across the world. Traditionally, naval toasts are made when seated because William IV had banged his head while standing for a toast and thereafter authorised all naval personnel to remain seated for the Loyal Toast.

Friday 20 October 2023

Polygon

 

Polygon

All images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

A polygon has at least three sides and three angles and cannot have any curved sides. A square is a polygon, and so is a star. The polygon I am thinking of is a regular polygon word puzzle in ‘The Times’. Tuesday’s polygon was a hexagon consisting of six four-sided polygons or Isosceles trapezoids enclosing a hexagon.

Today’s polygon is a heptagon of seven Isosceles trapezoids enclosing a heptagon. Last Friday’s was an octagon and Saturday’s was a nonagon. Whatever the size of the polygon, the challenge remains the same. In the central shape is a letter and the surrounding shapes have one letter each. Simply, the player has to find words composed of at least four of the random letters (sometimes at least three, depending on the size of the polygon), but each word must contain the central letter.

In the course of playing it I have discovered words I never knew existed, thus negating any thoughts I had previously embraced about having a ‘good vocabulary’. Too many times I have to press the ‘Solution’ button, which always kindly enquires, ‘Are you sure you want to reveal the solution?’

Thus it was that I came across ‘tahr’, which can be spelt ‘tehr’ but wasn’t on this occasion, as there was no ‘e’. The letters were a central ‘T’, meaning that it had to be used in any three-letter or more word, surrounded by Y, A, H, R, C, I. There are thirty words to be made from this array. Encouraging messages pop up if you’re lucky - ‘Average’, ‘Good’, ‘Very good’ and so on.

Female Himalayan tahr

Anyway, ‘tahr’ was new to me, but maybe not to a New Zealander or a South African. A tahr, I discovered, is an Asian animal related to goats and sheep. There are three species with distinct differences. The Himalayan tahr is widespread in the Himalayas and was introduced to the Southern Alps of New Zealand to be hunted for sport, along with another introduced species, the chamois. To gain some revenge these two animals are now posing a serious threat to the ecosystems in those areas. They have no natural predators and so must be controlled by other means.


The male Himalayan tahr has a beautiful mane.

The following from Wikipedia:

New Zealand alpine ecosystems evolved over millions of years in isolation without any large mammal browsers (such as tahr), and many alpine plants have no defence mechanisms (such as toxins or spines) to discourage tahr from eating them.

Herding browsers such as tahr and chamois cause two-fold damage; firstly, by eating native plants; secondly by trampling large areas of vegetation and compactable soils, when herds of animals gather together.

Tahr graze at high altitudes, in alpine grasslands and sub-alpine shrublands, and browse on native plants that birds, lizards and insects use for feeding, nesting and shelter. The tahr diet includes some large, succulent herbaceous species including alpine buttercups and mountain daisies. Some of these species are ranked as Threatened or At Risk by the New Zealand Threat Classification System.

Tahr also feed on snow tussock and shrub species which are the dominant vegetation in many of New Zealand’s subalpine and alpine environments. Tahr are a major threat to the sensitive ecosystems of alpine regions as their social nature increases pressure in localised areas. In extreme situations, large groups of tahr can transform tall tussocks and subalpine shrublands to a grassy turf or bare ground.

A pair of Himalayan tahrs escaped from a South African zoo in 1936 and established a small population on Table Mountain. Most of them have been culled.

The other two species are the Arabian tahr of Oman and the Nilgiri tahr of South India. Both are considered endangered, with the Nilgiri tahr being susceptible to poaching and illegal hunting.

Thursday 19 October 2023

Fitting the new panel


 

Fitting the new panel

We had a call late morning from Alan to say that he and Dave would be with us in about half an hour. It’s very helpful when people give an approximate arrival time because it gives us plenty of time to make sure the cats and dogs are safely out of the way. 

             Carrying the old panel from the conservatory to the van.

Left to their own devices the cats would take the opportunity to walk slowly in front of everyone in that insouciant manner cats adopt when humans are trying to achieve something. On the other hand, the dogs, always happy to see new people, would insist on being noticed, licking and wagging. 

Thus, we began the task of herding them upstairs to our bedroom.


        
Vacuuming up all the broken glass fragments from the frame.

‘Would you like a chew?’ I asked the dogs brightly. They needed no second invitation and bounded up the stairs with enthusiasm. ‘Cats, cats, cats,’ I called, rattling the treats tin. Jellicoe appeared instantly, but Herschel decided to take his time and eventually squeezed under the stair gate to join the rest of us, while Barry went downstairs to await the fitters.

                    Carrying in the new unit - long and heavy.
Those of you who are not familiar with this blog may wonder why we have a stair gate at our bedroom door. We put it there when Frodo the Faller started his epilepticjourney. After his fits, in what is called the ‘post-ictal stage’ he would be very confused and stagger around. We were afraid he would stumble out of the bedroom and fall down the stairs. He spent more than enough time with the vets as it was.

 If we didn’t have cats who were able to open doors we could simply have shut the door.
Working outside
The men from Camberley Glass and Windows arrived as expected in two vans and began the process of removing the outer pane and the remainder of the shattered inner panel.
Team work!
 They were very professional, courteous and cheerful.  Barry took lots of photographs and video clips and promised them worldwide fame through my blog. I made that last bit up, but he did tell them that they would feature in a blog post, having first asked if they objected to being filmed. 
It was a beautiful day - blue sky, sun and no wind.
Contrails aplenty
Ladders and shadows
Alan up the ladder
It’s amazing how big the individual panels are, well over 6’ long.
Dave up the ladder, vacuuming
                    A nice cup of coffee after a job well done!

                            Thank you, Dave and Alan!