Thursday 30 April 2009

To market, to market.......

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

To market, to market to by a fat pig!
Home again, home again, jiggeddy jig!
The children's rhyme that comes to my mind when thinking about markets!

I love shopping in Bath, Somerset as the city is so beautiful. There are usually things to be sold on the open stalls that are scattered along the main streets, but they also have an undercover market. During last winter I noticed that these hats, in the photo below, were very popular and they are really cosy and warm. The one I bought, kept my ears from freezing on playground duty. Don't these hats look lovely and colourful altogether on a stand?

There were flags on sale from most major countries of the world and I thought that they made a lovely picture and had to stop and take the photo below. Bath gets many visitors from all over the world but I wonder who does buy them though?

It was St. George's Day recently, our patron saint and although England is fairly insipid about being patriotic, compared to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland who go to town with celebrating their Saints Days, the media are trying to enthuse the English to fly a flag on each April 23rd! There is even talk about having a National Holiday at some point in the future. Maybe I will buy one next year....... though not as big as these ones!

Why shouldn't we be proud of our country? Maybe we would do something to help put ourselves back on track, if we were more patriotic! All working together and being proud of who we are, in our many diverse ways!

I will have to go back with my camera and see what other things the market is selling, next visit.

Photostory Friday is hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek. Why not come over to see them?

Tuesday 28 April 2009

The One That Got Away

There was something about the reflections on the water that made me take this photo when I was passing this ornamental pond.
It is quite near the sea and unfortunately, when ducklings hatch out they are seized and eaten by seagulls, so the locals tell me. However, this fine drake was one of the lucky ones, as he obviously got away with his life when he was young!

Why not visit my son Sam's blog and see the lovely photo of a duck that he took with his new camera!

Sunday 26 April 2009

Sock Shock

When we were on holiday at my daughters over Easter, I found myself alone. Deb and Harry had gone out for some supplies for the garden project and I was looking after the boys. Well in actual fact, they were looking after themselves, doing their favourite thing, heads pressed against the computer screen, eyes down, playing a game of some sort. They seemed happy to be left alone to get on with what they were doing.

I noticed a huge pile of ironing that needed to be done and after a while I had turned it into a lovely stack of pressed clothes, ready for the airing cupboard.
Deep down at the bottom of the washing basket was a net bag, full of socks.
"Oh," I thought, "Deb must be too busy to sort these out." I proceeded to empty the bag and intended to put them out into pairs. Only there weren't any pairs at all. Each of these socks has lost it's mate. Some of them were toddlers socks so they must have been lost a long time! As you can see, there were dozens of odd socks of assorted colours, shapes and sizes.

She told me later that she kept them just in case the matching ones turned up.
Where DO the missing socks end up, though? Does anyone know? Does the washing machine eat them up? If so, you'd think that the machine would have died of indigestion by now. Or is there a sock snatcher at large, breaking in at night to take what he fancies?

Short of wearing odd ones, what can be done with all these lovely socks?
Any ideas?

Thursday 23 April 2009

The Working Holiday

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Harry and I knew that the visit to our daughter's on the east coast would be a working holiday, before we even got there.
You see, the brick wall on the side of the front garden had been hit down for the second time by traffic turning in the service lane nearby.
Harry, who is a *retired* builder, put as many tools as he could carry into a hold all because, as usual, we were travelling by express coach.

It took all of us, including the boys, to knock the fallen wall into moveable chunks so that we could dump the bricks into the skip.

As the wall had been shoulder high the bricks covered a great part of the lawn and because the insurance refused to pay the second claim, we had to think of a cheaper way of fencing the garden off, so it was decided to put in wooden posts and link fencing. This was well over two days non stop work for Harry and it didn't look very nice when it was finished. Deb came up with the idea of putting a reed/bamboo screen in front of the chain link fencing for privacy.

This was a favourite flowering shrub that had been shaped into a little rounded tree. Unfortunately it was felled by the wall so had to be sacrificed.

The screening did look much more pleasing to the eye and I hope by the next time we visit, all will be as we left it.
We visited several local garden centres and were pointed in the direction of Photinia shrubs to make a hedge. We were assured that they would grow as high as we wanted up to eight feet, and would thicken into a hedge fairly quickly. The ends of the branches are a lovely red colour at this time of the year. Obviously named Red Robin for a reason. I had never really paid much attention to this plant before but noticed it in many gardens in that part of the country, so it obviously thrives there.

There is quite a pretty outlook in the front of the house but it is more built up at the back. There are birds nesting nearby and lots of wild life all around. Makes my city garden birds seem more precious though, as we don't get as many visiting, nor a fraction as many of the different species that I spied in this garden. The bird song seemed very loud and lovely.
Harry and I were extremely tired by the end of the holiday and our arthritic limbs were screaming out. However, we had a great sense of achievement after shifting such a large quantity of bricks and mess which was an eyesore and leaving Deb with a more pleasing fence to look out on.
We are now home from holiday for a long earned rest!

Photostory Friday is hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek.

Tuesday 21 April 2009

The Canoe, the Egg and The Fox

'Messing about on the canal"

Don't quite know what these people were actually doing in the middle of the canal, but they eventually got everything sorted and paddled on their way to where ever they were going, passing me as they did so.
My daughter and two grandsons spent a pleasant time walking along the embankment with me, last summer on a lovely sunny day. Made a good walk.

For those people who read my last post Mystery of the Hidden eggs, I am pleased to announce that the mystery has been solved! My next door neighbour told me that a fox has been running up his path and jumping over into my back garden.
Another neighbour tells me that she had an egg left on her front porch once and she thinks that foxes grab crates of eggs that the milkman leaves on door steps in the morning. She thinks that the foxes eat what they want and then take eggs and bury them for the future and one chose my garden!
So customers might wonder what is happening to their egg order that never seems to arrive and I dare say the milkman will be scratching his head at the mystery and wonders why his customers never seem to get their eggs.

Working Mum had the same thing happen to her last year and her husband thought it was a fox! I was quite relieved to know that someone else had the same thing happen to them. Made me feel less isolated with the problem!
I also had the perfect answer from Hilary who sent me a very useful link about the way foxes steal eggs! Fascinating look it up here.
One less thing to worry about! I can cope with a fox!

Sunday 19 April 2009

Mystery of the Hidden Eggs

I know it has been Easter and people expect to see all sorts of chocolate eggs about but I have had a mystery in my garden and so far *it* has happened twice!
Not far from here, I was pottering in my garden and I noticed that there had been some disturbance in a pot of chives! Looked like an animal had scraped some of the soil off the top of the pot and had thrown it on the patio. There was a little mound on the edge of the pot and I dug my hand in, hoping it wasn't cat's mess and found an egg! It could have been laid by a bird but it was a brown hen's egg and to make matters worse, there was a sell by stamp on the side of it! I know what you are all thinking. It's a joke! The family are playing a prank on Maggie May!

Well let me tell you, it isn't a joke. I had watered that pot of chives the night before and there was no sign of the egg then. My son and family were on the south coast having a break and although my older grandsons had been here one of the weekends previously, the eldest has an aversion to eggs and certainly wouldn't handle them (one of his autistic traits) and the younger one could never have kept a secret like that. Besides....... no one has been outside the back door but me because of the nesting wrens.
My daughter would have thought it was a waste of an egg and I would have set her off laughing when she saw my puzzled expression if it had been her, so I know it had nothing to do with Deb.
Harry is as mystified as I am and he really isn't good at jokes. What you see in him is what you get..... he couldn't have anything to do with it I am one hundred per cent sure. So my family has been ruled out!

My garden is fairly secure though I suppose anyone could get in anywhere if they really wanted to.
The first time it happened was some weeks ago when I noticed an egg in the gravel by the side of the kitchen, following the underpinning work. It was sucked down tightly into the wet gravel and when I prised it out, it broke. That was also a brown hen's egg with a stamp on the side of the shell.
So it looks like an animal deposited the eggs. What could it be, do you think?
Could a cat have carried one without breaking it? Could a squirrel or a rat? A magpie? A fox?
If they could, why would they do it? Why not eat the eggs? Where did they come from?
All you people who live in exotic places, need not tell me it was a raccoon or a posssum or anything that we don't get here. I want to know what British animal could have done this?
Any ideas gratefully received and it really is not a joke!
In case any of you are wondering why I have a photo of pansies and not chives, well it is raining today and I already had a picture of my pansies but not of chives! Saved me getting wet and I am also a little scared of going out and finding another egg!

Not sure why but my Blogroll gadget didn't show up my last post The Main Attraction on anyone's blog.

Friday 17 April 2009

The Main Attraction

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Just before the Easter holidays, my son, Sam asked me to accompany him and the grandchildren to a small zoo, which is situated in Somerset and naturally, I jumped at the idea. It wasn't the first time I had been there but it was my granddaughters' first visit.
We arrived as the zoo opened and the first thing we saw was the lovely peacock strutting about. There was an albino one too, completely white, but I didn't get to photograph that one as there were always too many people in the way of it.

The girls soon started rushing about wanting to see everything all at once! We raced here and there, looked at the giraffes, rhinos, buffalos, camels, emus and many other beasts, great and small.

These three capaburras remind me of rats or guinea pigs but they are not rodents at all but are related to hippos! Hard to believe, that. They look rather inoffensive sitting huddled together in a row. They are about as big as a small sized dog.

Meerkats are lovely little creatures and there is always one on the lookout while the rest of the group relax in the sun. Apparently, they live in a tightly organised community and each one has a place in the hierarchy from the highest position to the most lowly.

Well after all those exotic animals, what do you think held our interest for the longest amount of time?
This ewe had started to give birth right in front of us and naturally we didn't feel we could move away until she had delivered her baby safely. I had never seen a sheep give birth before and found the whole thing fascinating.
One lady ran to get one of the workers and after a while three girls dressed in green overalls stood observing nearby, occasionally speaking on a mobile to report or query progress. The birth took about twenty minutes from the time we first noticed it. I felt rather sorry for the ewe as she keeled over to push hard. Eventually the little lamb slid out and after she licked it clean it began to stagger to its feet and the helpers left.
However it began to dawn on all of us who were still watching that she was having another lamb but this time she seemed to be really struggling. Another three people arrived, one of the men seemed to be in charge and with the help of the other two holding the sheep steady, he had to pull the lamb out. The new arrival was very limp and still and at first we all thought it had died. The helpers rubbed it and shook it gently and we were all getting quite upset, when suddenly there were little twitching movements on the ears and feet. Quite soon afterwards, the tiny black headed sheep staggered to its feet and joined its completely white sibling who now had wool that had fluffed out a little bit and it seemed much stronger than the other newly born twin.
I was enthralled by the births and I know that Crystal Jigsaw sees this kind of thing many times over, being a farmer's wife and she might well smile at me going over the top with this account. However, I was truly moved by this brave sheep and her lambs.
Out of all the more exotic animals....... this ewe and her babies had me enthralled for over an hour and as I write this account, I am still feeling quite emotional!

Photostory Friday is hosted by Cicely and MamaGeek.

Wednesday 15 April 2009

Never Enough

Once again it is time to write my story for the April entry for Portrait of Words, hosted by Jeff B. This is pure fiction and this months contestants were asked to write about a Jamaican man in his fifties, a court room, a cafe, a drill on a stand and a chess board. For anyone like me, who finds it hard to think of subject matter for a story, this meme proves to be the challenge that I need. Why not look up the rules and have a go?

I looked around the courtroom in panic. "Do you find the accused guilty or not guilty?" The judge asked the jury of exactly six men and six women.
"Guilty," Replied the foreman.

I waited while the judge considered the sentence. I was expecting at least ten years. What had I got myself into? Why had I taken those parcels?
My dreams of going back to Jamaica were now shattered. I knew I'd never see my homeland again. I cursed the day I had met Arnie. He was supposed to be my friend. He had dropped me right in it and he was free. I was left facing the music.
He'd taught me to play chess and was a mate. I used to go to the pub with him for a drink or two everyweek. That was all there was to it at first.

Arnie had come over from Jamaica at the same time as I had in the 70s. I was joining my Aunt and Uncle who had been in England for twenty years and had become managers of the cafe. They had been successful and had been accepted and people liked them and that is how I managed to settle in London, only I never felt like I was settled. Man, I hated London from the start. I hated England. The weather was cold, the skies were grey and everything seemed dull. I never felt I belonged.
Why did my mother put me on that boat?
She told me. "Colin, you will have a better life. I got too many kids to look after. You're the first born. You get a good job and send money over. It's up to you, man....... you are in charge of the family now"
My dad had left home years before and I had to provide for my brothers and my sick sister.
I worked in the cafe at first doing all sorts of things but the money wasn't very good. Man, I needed more money. I managed to get a job in a factory drilling out holes in wood for flat pack furniture. It was the same day in, day out. Man, it was so boring.

I lost my self in dreams of going back to Jamaica. I could almost taste my mother's chicken and rice cooked up in a pot outside our house on the open fire. The yams and the mangos. The sun beating down on my body and the way everything went at a slower pace. One day I would go back but I was still not earning enough so I worked in the cafe at the week ends. I watched my Aunt and Uncle mixing with the local people. They were happy and worked hard, taking pride in everything they did. I would never be like that. Apart from Arnie and our chess nights, I kept myself to myself. I never got close to anyone.
I started off by taking the odd pound or two out of the till. No one seemed to notice. It was easy. I couldn't take too much though, else it would be noticed. I still needed more.

I was sending money to my family in Jamaica. My mother died and I had to pay the funeral expenses and I never got to go back. There wasn't enough money left over for the fare, after paying for the funeral costs.
The years went by and I supported my brothers and my sister. I still hankered after the ideal life back in Jamaica, though the memories were fading a bit. My sister was now seriously ill and I was struggling with the medical costs for the treatment she had to have to keep her alive. I needed more money if I was to go back to her and stay. I had to save more.
It was then that Arnie got me involved with the parcel run. I had to go to the airport and collect a parcel from a man who had just flown into the country. All I had to do was to take it to an address that Arnie had given me. Child's play.
It was big money, man and then I found myself taking another parcel and another. On my sixth visit to the airport I was arrested and here I am waiting for my sentence.
Arnie had disappeared and I didn't know it was drugs, man. I mean I wouldn't have done it if I'd known.....
My elderly Aunt and Uncle disowned me and said I was a disgrace to the family and that I had brought shame on everyone.
My sister, what about my sister? Will she die now? Man, what a mess.

The judge ended his summing up. It was decided that I was guilty of carrying drugs but Arnie was the true supplier. I was to be deported immediately and would never be allowed back into Britain ever again.

Man..... I nearly collapsed with happiness, but put on a face of shame for the sake of everyone present.
I had money stashed away........ and I reckon I could pay my sister's bills.
If all else failed, she could appeal to my Aunt. She wouldn't let my sister die.

I held out my hands to be cuffed and the two officers led me to the van that was to eventually lead me to my freedom.

Tuesday 14 April 2009

The Trickling Taps.

I have always loved the idea of having a water feature in my garden but have never had an outdoor electrical point installed. Maybe one day I will get round to it.
In the mean time, I like to look round garden centres and noticed this one. Not sure if I would be able to stand the trickling noises with out needing the loo all the time! Sorry to lower the tone of the post!

Saturday 11 April 2009

Easter Greetings

Happy Easter Everyone.

No matter what Easter means to you, whether it is just a time to relax on holiday, Easter bunnies, flowers and chocolate, or whether you are celebrating the fact that Jesus died for you and rose again ....... may you have a peaceful and happy time.

This post was scheduled to publish itself while I am away on holiday, visiting my daughter on the east coast. We shall be back on Tuesday 14th. She probably has no internet as she is switching her broadband company so will have a lot of catching up to do when I get back!

Monday 6 April 2009

Springing into Action

The weather has been lovely for the last few days and after being stuck in the house because of the wrens (see last post), I finally decided to have a little look round my garden armed with a camera and snap what is in flower.

My garden is far from perfect and I should have swept round the pots before I took photos. Never mind, this is what it really looks like. The primulas have got a bit of wind damage or water damage, or sun damage....... not sure which, but never the less, it is heart warming to see them flowering after the long winter days. The violets have appeared from self seeding and I like the way they just take over other pots.

I had these hyacinths for Mother's Day and they were in tight bud when they arrived and now they are opening up with the sun. I do love hyacinths and their lovely perfume.

I also love primulas when they are flowering but find they can look a mess during the summer, with withering leaves. However, I cannot find it in my heart to throw them away after flowering and usually repot them and find after adding a bit of fresh compost, they do look lovely again the following Spring.

These were also Mother's Day presents and they were also in perfect condition when I received them. They have been out on the patio on some rainy days, when I couldn't get out because of the wrens. I was amazed to see wrens going back to the nest yesterday but I decided I couldn't stay in all through the holidays, so I hope I haven't frightened them away again. Maybe there is one sitting on eggs. Time will tell.
Speaking of eggs...... A very strange thing happened the other day and I really have no idea how it came to be. I was amazed to spy an egg in the gravel that has been put down over the damaged ground caused by the underpinning. We are waiting for the ground to settle before we can concrete over it. I thought the children had planted a rubber toy egg and I started to carefully scrape back the gravel which was wet and sort of sucked the egg deeper down and I had to tug it to get it out. The egg was a brown hen's egg and as I pulled it, the shell broke! Now how did an egg get into the gravel in the first place, that's what I want to know?

I took the picture below because I am very fond of bamboo and have mine growing in containers so that it won't take over my garden. Two or three containers together look good, I think. There is an old mirror behind the bamboo. I wonder if I got my reflection in it? I think it is too dense..... phew!

I had my daughter and grandsons over for the weekend as they had arranged to meet up with a friend who happened to be visiting here from Scotland and they do not normally get see each other from one end of the year to the next. Deb's friend has children too, so while they played in a park, daughter and friend caught up with all the news from a bench nearby. The weather kept fine for them. Some how or other, ten year old Dean ended up in a pond...... but that's another story. His clothes had to dry out in the sun! Just as well he is a tough little guy!

I am soaking up that delicious feeling of the beginning of a school holiday that is stretching out before me.........

We have decided that we are going to visit our daughter from Thursday 9th - Tuesday 14th April, so forgive me if I don't get to visit your blogs as I know my daughter's broadband is in the middle of a change over, so will have to manage without the internet till I get back. However am I going to manage!

Friday 3 April 2009

A Happy Event

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

We are expecting in this household!
No, not me, silly, I am a bit long in the tooth for that and even if I were to have hormone treatment, some of my *bits* are not there now. Nor is my daughter in law, Kaiko expecting (as far as I know) and the girls are far too young!
No, the mother to be happens to be a wren! I first noticed a pair of wrens going backwards and forwards towards the kitchen roof. Then I noticed that they were collecting things from the ground. Leaves and twigs, sometimes as big as themselves.

Years ago, I bought these little pouches and nailed them under the overhang of the kitchen roof. No bird has ever taken the slightest bit of notice of either of them before until now, that is. It seems that this dwelling is a wren's version of a superior detatched home and isn't it Sod's law that we were about to take the kitchen roof off and now our plans will have to be put on hold? Wild birds nesting are protected in this country and we cannot move them. Nor would I want to. I am now going to have to Google for information on how long it takes for all this nesting, laying, sitting and fledging to take.

As most of you know, my blog mentor for photography is David Mcmahon from Authorblog and I know that if he visits this post he will not be impressed with these photos that seem to be blurred and not in good focus. The wren looks like a tiny dot under the nest but that is as far as I could zoom in. My camera is lacking in ability to catch moving birds and does not have the capacity to enlarge the tiny creature any further.
However when I saw this tiny pair of wrens, I rushed to get my camera and I had to take the photo through my not so clean window, in order not to disturb them by opening the back door which is right by the pouches.

My camera is a Pentax Optio and has served me very well for ordinary photos and long distance views and snapshots of people. However, the time has come for me to specialize a little more and I am wondering whether to get a Canon Powershot SD990 IS (USA) otherwise known as Digital IXS 980IS in Aus and UK. My son Sam has bought one of these and has taken some good shots of close up creatures that has really impressed me.
Or shall I update my Pentax with the new Optio S12 which has a more powerful and faster lens than my old one and it is cheaper than the Canon?
I would love to know what you all think and which way I should go. Do any of you amateur photographers have either of these cameras?

I wrote this post a few days ago and thought that I would leave it for Photostory Friday and do you know what has happened? The wrens have abandoned ship! Maybe they thought we were too close to their nests or maybe its the four cats next door, who might have had them for their tea. Anyway, whatever it is, we are not expecting anymore and I feel really sad!

Photostory Friday is hosted by Cicely and MamaGeek.

Wednesday 1 April 2009

Big Pond, Little Pond

This picture was taken in a park last summer in Weston Super Mare. There were many koi and smaller fish and the water lilies were out in flower.

This picture was also taken last summer when my miniature lilies were in flower in my mini pond! A bit of a contrast size wise. However I can look at mine whenever I want to!

I wonder what my son Sam is posting today?