Thursday, 25 April 2013

Still Life With Trilobite!

Among other things I'm doing another term of drawing with Claire and her unique style "bigger, bolder, just scribble over the mistakes!" Each week we focus on one aspect of drawing, last week landscape and today still life.

The last high valley heading up towards the Glacier and Parang La last year in Ladakh

Fleetwith Edge from the other side of Butternmere

I don't really have a trilobite fixation, but anyone who does might read Richard Fortey's book of the same name.

Next week architecture, with special reference to gargoyles, another thing I find fascinating .

Spring; an orderly queue.

I wonder how trees know who's turn it is to explode into green next. It's always the same order round here, honeysuckle from mid-winter, then elder and the sticky conker buds. A little gap then weeping willow, rowan in sheltered places and now the silver birches are just putting tentative sprigs out to test the air. Great Uncle Oak is last by a long way, but a few years ago they mistimed it, and the tender new leaves were at their most vulnerable when a late frost stripped them. the had to beginag'in like Poor Old Michael Finnegan. The less gigantic have to get in before the oaks take all the light, and it makes sense for the berry-bearers to get a head (or leaf?) start, but who fires the starting pistol?

Monday, 22 April 2013

Travel Memories 6

51. The smell of Daphne bholua in a blizzard near Ghorepani, then giant Magnolia and Rhododendron in the sunshine.
52. Lizards on the mani wall, warming themselves back to life after the frost, similarly reviving Laura&Amy
53. Amy age 4, needing the loo urgently on a little rack&pinion railway in Switzerland, asking the guard if we stopped long enough to use the station one “Madame, the train will wait!” A first for a Swiss train?
54. Laura 8 months sitting on the beach in Cyprus munching seaweed, no ill effects!
55. Finding a chameleon in Crete, and the girls’ fascination with its eyes and claws.
56. R swearing for the second time ever when the car stuck in a ford, L&A telling someone it was the highlight of the holiday.
57. The excitement of flying for the first time aged 9, L&A were seasoned globetrotters by that age.
58. Humming birds feasting on glitteringly red hibiscus in St Lucia.
59. Red mangrove crabs in Costa Rica, and mudskippers in Malaysia.
60. Being welcomed like royalty into the smartest hotel in Kathmandu, still in smelly trekking gear, then having a proper shower.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Travel Memories 5

41. Fresh apricots after two weeks in high desert.
42.Nearly putting my hand on a scorpion in the desert in Algeria.
43. A horrendously fussy eater on a trek, permanently curing Laura&Amy of any similar tendencies.
44. The soporific effect of a cricket match in Calcutta after an overnight flight.
45. Masala dosa in Madras, giant crispy rice pancakes with spicy potato filling
46. Finding a blue Meconopsis in the wild, a violent dark-sky-blue with violet undertones.
47. Ice squeezing out of mud like contorted pasta in brown sauce.
48. Coming in to land at the old Hong Kong airport, looking into windows and down at the sea, no visible runway.
49. Clare&Rosey’s aghast looks on first driving through Kathmandu, then head-over-heels in love.
50. Bedbugs in Rameswaram, while waiting for the overnight ferry to Sri Lanka, waking on a train in the misty jungle.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Travel Memories 4

31. The first time I went into a jungle, love at first sight!
32. Sending little fireboats made from driftwood out to sea, a fishing boat diverting to investigate one.
33. Trying to catch lizards in Pompeii by throwing Michael’s shirt over them.
34. Anxious sleepless nights before setting off to travel in India for six months.
35. Being told at Delhi railway station that my buckle-up fabric rucksack had to have a padlock!
36. The Zoji La in the dark.
37. After thinking I was going to die from lack of air the first time at 14,000 feet, finding it pleasurably easy on the way down.
38. Ladies in Sri Lanka stroking Amy’s blonde curly hair.
39. Constellations of fireflies, also in Sri Lanka.
40. Tibetan salt tea with rancid butter as a guest of the King of Zangla.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Travel Memories 3

21. Finding a tree frog & a praying mantis in the south of France, keeping them briefly as pets.
22. Driving over the Alps in a 2CV, not the open-topped sports car of my younger imagination.
23. Driving through Algeria & Tunisia after my first year at University, the car finally disintegrating 50 miles after the others had dropped me at home.
24. A farmer offering us hedgehog baked in clay, to remove the prickles.
25. Sleeping in the open on the margins of the Sahara, watching shooting stars.
26. Mint tea, thick with sugar.
27. A caving trip to County Clare, the driest summer for 80 years: Guinness and chocolate Goldgrain, the flowers of the Burren and a stalactite formation iron-stained callled "Bloody Guts"
28. An Italian motorcycle mechanic making replacement piston rings for the 1960 Standard Vanguard.
29. Arriving in Singapore, steamy- fragrant like the “jungle house” at Wisley.
30. The smells, frangipane, Hindu or Buddhist temples, durian, drains.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Travel Memories 2

11. Getting on a train at Tunbridge Wells just with my brother, to be collected at Charing Cross by the fierce Aunt, the smell and smuts of steam trains.
12. Sleeping for hours in the car on the way to Southern France, then not wanting to sleep at night. Trouble!
13. Trying to walk up to the snow in the Pyrenees, finding it was too far in the thin air.
14. Choosing a trout in a large tank for the waiter to catch and take to the chef.
15 .Michael & I collecting sugar lumps in a variety of wrappers. One set, coloured dominoes, was particularly attractive, we had emptied the bowl before the astonished waiter’s hand left it.
16. Hunting for small coins in sand dunes in the South of France, hoping to collect enough for an ice-cream by the end of the day. I was misled into believing it was the Gobi Desert.
17. Finding an octopus and little black fish with luminous blue stripes while snorkelling in the Adriatic.
18. The red soil in Devon, on the way to a favourite uncle whose sons played the “vile-din”
19. Collecting our own coloured sand at Alum Bay.
20. Bringing a white heather plant home in the remains of a broken Brownie Box Camera, it grew for many years in the rockery, and may even still be there.

48. 60 Travel Memories 1

This is a completely random selection of memories of travels to all sorts of places, some wild and exotic, some near to home, some recent some long-gone, but all personal and exciting in their own ways. An extra after thought could be the wish to go to Timbuctu, as a child it was, with Hong Kong and Kota Kinabalu, the sort of place that hovered between reality and fantasy. I've been to the other two, one to go, as well as The Solomon Islands and Fijii where two of my school friends lived. I could add New Caledonia to the list for the number of unique plants.

1. The rattly 1950s ferry from Sandbanks to Purbeck. It doesn't seem to have changed much.
2. Parents, 2 children, 1 aunt, 1 golden retriever (proper gold, not the platinum blondes one sees nowadays) + camping gear in a pale blue Morris Minor, OBP381
3. Mother, Aunt, aforementioned golden retriever & me travelling by sleeper, the "menfolk" driving, to Scotland, & seeing the car trying to race us.
4. Farmer McKenzie letting us camp in his field at Red Point, collecting water from the spring we had to re-dig each year. Giving us ALL whisky when it was horribly wet&windy.
5. Getting salty milk from a farmer, the "coo" had been eating seaweed.
6. Pollock cooked over a driftwood fire minutes after being caught.
7. A campsite in Santa Maria Castellabata with unlimited fresh-ripe-succulent figs, never been able to eat dried ones since; nasty!
8. The Blue Grotto really being blue.
9. The smell of Solfatara & Vesuvius. I still use pumice from the beach.
10. All our holiday souvenirs and films being stolen in Domodossola.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Spring BTs

It must be here at last, the tadpoles have hatched and are growing up. I have some in a tank in the conservatory as in past years they have been eaten by caddis larvae or magpies, for the first time I've been organised enough to get there first. I'll put them back as soon as they're big enough to look after themselves, and choke the thieving magpies!
The hyacinths are smelling wonderful with the warmth, until today they were just lumping around, quite odourless. It inspires the weeding, definitely a BT. Come to think of it, the taddies are too, after all these years I'm still intrigued to watch the way their legs sprout.
A third B & Mysterious T is the way stick insects a centimetre long unfold from an egg barely 2 mm in diameter, much more instant than seeds germinating. We used to have hundreds.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Next few Haiku.

mellowmisty moor
sungilt grass copperysheen
tiara’d cobwebs

tiffanyglass leaves
clear as seablue shoalcloud sky
freezy frostgust wind

Cadair Idris top
far sea glowing blending mist
creamonpudding clouds

wind grassy prayerflag icethin
asking for whatwhy

All Things...

The Cold weather and prolonged frozen ground made the birds bold, although they're always after scraps in cafes.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Lake District, winter.

Winter was definitely still there a little higher

Green & Great Gables from Fleetwith edge

Wainwright's favourite tarn, I believe his ashes are there, what a place for quiet contemplation of eternity.

An interesting effect of dark bracken absorbing the warmth, melting a hole.

Frozen Lake at Watendlath,

Dock Tarn.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Lake District, spring.

The DofE took us to the Lake District again last week, in the valleys it was Spring, always beautiful.

      The bells on the chapel in Buttermere mirror the U-shaped valleys.

Buttermere, West side.

Derwent Water

Watendlath from above Dock Tarn

Derwent Water from Keswick.

World record! Little folk

Looking back at recent viewing figures, I topped 100 in a day, best ever, particularly as it was my birthday! Thanks to whoever you all were, I suspect most came from 3BT for my solar system mobile. Let's hope LTB turns into an astrophysicist or something!

In a slightly different vein, everyone knows about the Little Folk who live in woodlands, here's positive proof of their existence! It's near Watendlath in the Lakes, an Elvish name if ever there was one. Watendlath also has a much photographed lake&bridge, and the best cafe in the universe!

Monday, 1 April 2013

Solar system

I'll be adding to my collection of little relatives in the summer, with another great-niece-or-nephew, babies have to have mobiles, so I thought a solar system would be fun. Not totally accurate, several people pointed out the lack of Pluto, asteroid & Kuyper belts. Ah well, I tried                                       


It's really here! We had a wonderful sunny day in Kent for the generic family Birthday, 5 altogether in 3 weeks. It was good to see everyone, and Rosey just back from Antarctica cooked a lavish lunch for us all, which we had to walk off.


Amongst other treasures we found a puddle full of newts and water-fleas, no doubt yummy for the newts.

I'm told by the experts this is a female siskin, beautiful.