Friday, February 29, 2008

Mwah from moondreamer

Thanks to the generous and ever-informative and inspirational moondreamer who has passed on the 'mwah' award to me.

I am having trouble copying the picture small enough for some reason. No don't tell me, I'll work it out. And then to find anyone who hasn't already received this one...

Energy Saving Day? Oops!

I blinked and I missed it.
The first I heard about E-Day was when someone mentioned it on Writers' Dock at 7.20pm, almost an hour and a half after it was supposed to start. I don't listen to radio or watch TV as much as I used to, so it could just be that I was ill-informed. However it seems to have been one of the biggest non-events in recent months.

I quote from the article on the BBC website . My comments are in bold type.

The E-Day concept started life as Planet Relief, an awareness-raising BBC TV programme with a significant comedy element.
Why do we have to have comedy with everything ?
But in September the BBC decided to pull the project, saying viewers preferred factual or documentary programmes about climate change.
Thanks, guys.
The decision came after poor audiences for Live Earth, and public debate over whether it was the corporation's role to "save the planet". Dr Prescott then decided to see whether he could mount E-Day as an independent operation, and secured the backing of important partners such as the National Grid and the UK's major energy companies.
As though we're going to do what these people suggest, when we're constantly bombarded with information about how much money they make out of us.

Funny how we're all so ready to complain about the cost of energy and the price of fuel, when one of the reasons we pay so much, is simply that we waste so much.

Now E-Day has been such a flop, I guess it will turn into a joke. We have such a cool sense of humour:
'Ho ho, let's make today energy wasting day.'
'I'm going to switch everything on at once for an hour.'

Well, I hope Earth Hour has more success. Or don't we care at all? (See my blog January 25th)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

On yer bike!

The swimming pool was taken up with a schools gala, so we took to the road again this afternoon. Red kites are becoming a common sight, and the two we saw today were close enough for their markings to be clear. Of course, by the time I had extricated my camera from my bum bag, and found the right buttons, the birds had flown off.

Then I saw what I thought were two large woolly sheep, until they lifted their heads. No, sheep don't have necks that long. Alpacas, or llamas? I'm not sure. And by the time I had the camera out, they had their heads down grazing again. Besides which, my zoom is nowhere near good enough for detail at that distance.

It was hard work today - a longer ride than Monday, and quite a struggle against the wind.

No great shakes?

I have vague memories of a couple of small earth tremors in childhood, too vague to talk about.
Another happened while I was teaching at the top of a four-storey building. This may have been in 1984, but I wouldn't swear to that. I didn't feel it, perhaps because I was standing and moving around, but the kids did.
Then there was the one under Dudley in September 2002. This measured 5.0 on the Richter scale, and happened in the early morning. I woke up under the impression that someone was shaking the bed. I spent the next two hours listening to Radio Five reports from various places in the country.
We experienced a small one (4.1) in San Francisco on August 2nd 2006 - the epicentre was Glen Ellen, near Santa Rosa , about 60 miles north. Harry was making the evening meal. He said it felt as though some huge animal had run past the window. I felt as though someone had given my armchair a hefty push.
Early this morning , a roaring noise woke me up and then it felt as though someone had grabbed the bed and given it a good shaking. The epicentre was near Lincoln and, according to the BBC, the quake/tremor measured 5.2. This time I turned over and went back to sleep. How blasé is that?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Cabin fever and a breath of spring

This morning, sunny, still cold, even windy. And yet, I felt I needed to use my bike for the first time since around November.

So off I went on the standard seven mile ride around the Welland Valley. The floods have gone completely now, and the river is at its lowest for several weeks.

Nothing of note, no red kites, no kingfishers, just me in my bright yellow wind and rain proof top.

On the way back I stopped to take a couple of snaps of this 'welly wall' - the work of the local 'beaver scout' group.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Yeah? Write?

Ok this month's 'score' - nothing submitted to anywhere serious.

On Writers' Dock I have posted:
  • one challenge poem;
  • three flash poems - written from a prompt in less than 30 minutes - usually a lot less;
  • three flash 'stories' or more likely 'writing dumps' or 'expressions' - again from prompts and taking less than 30 mins;
  • eighteen mini-epsiodes of stories (up to 100 words).

The mini-episodes are more fun than I expected, though it can be frustrating when someone changes a character's personality, or (in one of these stories) whizzes everyone off in the time machine, just as I thought I'd set up an interesting situation.

Hey, it might just teach me a little about plot and character though.

All of these have something in common. Because they're all generated by an external stimulus, I feel less exposed and less constrained by the writing that emerges from them. Interesting.

Are we font snobs?

It’s clear; it’s simple; it’s easier for dyslexics to read. Why do so many people hate Comic Sans?

Is it too informal? Does it give a false impression of being friendly? Or has it been overused by teenagers and those who wish to appeal to them?

I’d love to know.

And I'm really disappointed - I thought I'd invented the phrase 'font snob', but googled and there are loads of examples of its use. Ho hum. It seems there is indeed nothing new.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Eclipse eclipsed

At half past ten
a full moon shone
surrounded by a halo

By three am
the cloud had come
and thereby hangs no tale-o.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Three, four days of glorious sunshine. Icy nights, chilly days, but sun and blue skies. Today, fog and hoar frost on the trees, a painter and tracer of outlines more meticulous and accurate than a human artist. Waiting for it all to drip, drip away.

We’ve been doing family stuff - birthdays, cooking food – two days of hearty meals and puddings. Baked lemon pudding just to test the recipe, and Devil's Food Cake to celebrate. We were ready for them after walking, one day along the farm track, the next day, out in Fineshade woods, where we saw our first ever siskins (as far as we know) on a window feeder, and soon afterwards in the trees eating the seeds from pine cones. A couple of birdwatchers pointed these out to us, or we'd probably never have known what they were. The one on the feeder flew off before the cameras were ready, and the ones in the tree were out of range. There is a  picture on the RSPB page  .  It's a great site for info and you can hear each bird's song as well.
Later we passed a contender for the title of 'world's grumpiest birdwatcher' with a face like an old zinc garden bucket, battered into odd planes and angles. Our greeting was obviously over-familiar and unwelcome, for it was met with a disapproving stare. Just our interpretation, of course.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Good timing?

It can't be coincidence.

On Valentine's Day, sent me an email about how many new burial records they have, including details of Thomas Hardy's burial - the ashes in Westminster Abbey, Poets' Corner, and the heart at Stinsford, in Dorset. No he wasn't buried on 14th Feb, but on 11th January 1928.

The death of Thomas Hardy in 1928 resulted in much deliberation. His executor wanted him to receive a burial befitting his status and insisted upon his being interred at Poet's Corner, in Westminster Abbey. This decision seemed to directly oppose Hardy's own wishes, namely to be buried near his parents in his beloved Dorset. A compromise was reached whereby Hardy's ashes were set amongst the great and good and his heart was laid to rest in St Michael's Church, Stinsford, with his first wife Emma.

Either they, or I, or all of us, have a warped sense of humour. Or maybe it's the ultimate in 'romantic'?

And now for something quite different - here's my contribution to romance on a grand scale.

The Science of Attraction

Hey, don’t slag us off if we fail to find your mate.
It’s complicated setting up an online date.
Though the algorithm’s perfect, you are not.
You think you’re pretty cool, but he’s not so hot.

We try to match your neurochemistry,
align your psychometric similarity,
adjust our information by the dyadic scale.
It's a hell of a surprise if all that should fail.

When push comes to shove, will he be the one
who can make you laugh? Will he turn you on?
Will he light your fire, or rub your sacred itch?
If not, it's down to life, she's a perfect bitch.

Recycle it.

Ok, I get excited about silly little things. Who knows how much difference this makes? But surely something is better than nothing. I've been annoyed at having to chuck these in the non-recyclables for a while.
Spotted this morning outside a local supermarket:

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


A meme from moondreamer...Five ways to 'raise your vibrations' (aside from operating a pneumatic drill?)

Walking, always walking - in the countryside, in the hills, in the city, on my own with a camera, with friends, with family. This is a picture from today's walk.

Swimming - We usually go once a week - I love the water, and the way swimming feels like gliding. If it's warm enough I especially like swimming outside, in the sea, or a lake.

Travelling from place to place, preferably with no timetable to keep to, on my own or with others. I like driving or taking public transport. Once we cycled and camped for two weeks. I think Bruce Chatwin was right - we are a nomadic species.

Reading and writing - for the escape from the everyday.

Watching Mastermind and University Challenge - though why they make me feel good is a mystery. I can't answer many questions.

There are other things which I do from time to time, like knitting, making bits of patchwork, and I really should start playing the keyboard and weaving again. Hey, I haven't mentioned surfing the internet either.

I'm going to tag Rich Sampson

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Public Lending Right - petition

Someone has brought my attention to the following. I've copied it directly from the petition page. It won't affect me in my unpublished state, but it is one thing I don't object to giving some of my taxes to.

PLR’s funding settlement for the three year period 2008/09 – 2010/11 has been announced by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The figures are as follows:

2007/08 (current funding) = £7,682,000

2008/09 = £7,432,000

2009/10 = £7,582,000

2010/11 = £7,682,000

A reduction in PLR funding will adversely affect the earnings of thousands of UK authors and illustrators. Many are self-employed, and in an industry as unpredictable as publishing, the annual PLR payment is a highly valued and reliable contribution to earnings. The Government is urged to retain the current funding level (2007/08) for PLR for each of the next three years. There should be no reduction in funding

If you wish you can sign the petition here.

All the cows of the rainbow.

Blue cow?
Moo cow.

Red cow?
Dead cow.

Yellow cow?
Mellow cow.

Green cow?
Mean cow.

Indigo cow?
Where’d ‘e go, cow?

Violet cow?
File it, cow.

Orange cow?
Don’t be silly.
Everyone knows nothing rhymes with orange.

This took about five minutes - and it shows. I think it needs pictures. A rainbow for each couplet, with colours merging into the appropriate cow.

It was another flash - prompt 'blue cow'.

Monday, February 11, 2008

To write perchance?

I would like to set myself a modest task - in February to average one brief post per day on WD. I really did very little writing for any sort of audience in January.

So far I have posted two flash poems, one poem for a 'challenge', and three 100-word parts of a communal story. That's six items by the 11th. I've been away for four days, but I ought to do better than this.

I have commented on several poems, some in detail. I have written the blog, and my own personal notes.

Back to civilisation?

,A Yorkshire speciality I forget about until I see one. Then I have to have it. Curd tart.Back in the big city. Could be anywhere, but this is Leeds.

Yorkshire continued

Lunchtime, in the shelter (if you ducked down a bit) of a dry-stone wall. This water wheel in Marske beck was on our way down.
But there was still some uphill work, and the ground was wet.
The petrol station in Kettlewell.
Melmerby Moor at sunset.

A few days In Yorkshire

Coverdale runs between Wensleydale and Wharfedale. We were at Melmerby, about four miles from Leyburn.This was the view from my bedroom window at about 7 am.
If I looked to the right I could see this tree. The clouds were scudding in one direction and birds - rooks or crows - were flying directly into the wind.
When I saw this sign I thought someone wanted to keep peasants like us out. I'd never seen the word 'pheasantry' before, but my dictionary assures me it exists.
We followed a route from a book called Walks with a Pushchair. These all-terrain pushchairs are pretty tough. Luckily the three 'pushers' were tough as well. I may be over-dramatising slightly in the picture above, but the terrain was pretty rough.
Isaac was certainly wrapped up warm. It was windy.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Thank you, moondreamer

Thanks to moondreamer for this award. My big problem now is to find 10 people who haven't had one yet...Give me time
And watch this space.

Home again

I'm back from the wilds of Yorkshire - I don't realise how much I've been missing the hills and dales until I see them again.

I hope to catch up later today or tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Bloggery, MP3 ...and snowdrops

I've often said that my mind is like a vacuum cleaner, it sucks up all the rubbish. And often drops it back on the floor. But there are nuggets of gold in there, and , since I'm also a magpie, or a jackdaw, and love gathering shiny objects, blogging suits me perfectly.

I've just been downloading a few files to listen to as I drive up to Yorkshire today. One of them was Sally's story, The Donkey Driver's Wife. I shall listen to it as I drive through the Notts-Derbys (ex) coalfield.

I said the other day that all our snowdrops had disappeared. I found some poking through the gravel outside our garden shed.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Charles Simic

I just came across this interview with the 'Poet Laureate of the United States' , Charles Simic.
He seems very down-to-earth. I didn't even know there was a poet laureate of the US. I enjoyed his comments about 'happiness', especially the very last answer in the interview.

What advice would you give to people who are looking to be happy? For starters, learn how to cook.

St Brigid's Day poetry in cyberspace

A day or two late but I've just come across this poetry reading in cyber-space for St Brigid's day, February 2nd.

You post a poem of your own or someone else's on your blog and link to the page. Maybe next year.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Shock Horror - Myth Exposed

Exposed : myth that convenience food is unhealthy.

Another case of the headlines telling one story, the details saying something a little different.
This article in the Independent on Sunday online has all the LOOK AT ME tactics you'd expect from a tabloid, or an advertising campaign funded by convenience food manufacturers.
Read the article more closely, and you'll discover ( surprise, surprise) that frozen fruit and veg are very healthy, that if you add high-fat ingredients such as cream to home-cooked food, you are increasing their (unhealthy) fat content, and that it takes more time to cook from scratch. No news there, then. But there we go - the 'myth' has been 'exposed'.

Friday, February 01, 2008

A walk in the wind

We went outside in the sunshine and walked for a couple of hours.
The massed snowdrops were the best I've seen so far this year. The ones in my garden have vanished.

This fine figure of a youth stands on a hill in front of a copse. We saw him from the path, and had to investigate in spite of the Private, No Public Right of Way sign . I wonder who he is, with his cloak, his fig-leaf and his right arm leaning on a treetrunk with a snake coiled round it. He stands on a hefty plinth with carvings on.

He probably belonged to Blatherwycke Hall, which was demolished in 1948. The Hall was used by troops in World War 2, and was in a poor state.

We were making our way back down the hill, when the landowner arrived in an impressive vehicle, pulling over directly into our path. 'I hope you're not causing damage, ladies. Now, I think you'd better stick to the path today. The lake's private, you know, and there's a shoot on. ' So, we were warned. I don't think we looked like vandals, but you never can tell. I suppose we might have been shoot saboteurs.

These plants, in a narrow strip along the field edge, look a bit like maize. I hoped the photo would capture the movement of the dry leaves in the wind.

We followed the path across a footbridge, over the road, and through the woods, along a disused railway line and past a bridge that looked ready to collapse.

We walked past Fineshade Abbey - an eighteenth century building on the site of a previous Priory. Only the stables remain now, and someone lives there. In front of the buildings a flock of friendly horned sheep, with brown and white coats, stopped their grazing and came over to see what we had to offer. This one was happy when I stroked it. Are they Jacob's sheep?

After all this we had lunch in the cafe, walked back to the car, and drove home before the sleet arrived.

Oh yes, we found plenty of mud, and I was glad of the plastic bags.

Happy New Month

The month has begun with brilliant sunshine and a very chilly wind. I'm going out for a walk this morning with a friend, to take a few pictures, and chat. It may be a day for my patent waterproofing - a plastic food bag over each sock, before I put my boots on. It could be muddy out there.