Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sunshine and early spring flowers

Iris ret.
crocuses too

and drops of snow...

Iris reticulata are showing colour in their spikes, snowdrops are more than just bundles of green leaves. And the sky has shrugged off yesterday's clouds.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Once again the Welland is full of water. Spreading out into pools, no longer snake-fragments along the valley floor, all the way from the viaduct to Stamford, there are new lakes, and in Stamford itself the river is almost level with the land.

And still snow patches linger in the hedge bottoms and on some sunless fields. They're shrinking fast as the temperature reaches dizzy heights - well 9 degrees Celsius.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Shingles - a nasty joke

...which our bodies and the varicella-zoster (chicken pox) virus play on us decades later! I have vivid memories of a five-year-old me, trying to run away from my mother, who was chasing me armed with a bottle of very cold calamine lotion to daub on my spots.

So for the next forty, fifty, sixty years you go around feeling invulnerable whenever you hear of chicken pox, and indeed you won't catch it again. But the sneaky little virus hasn't gone away. It's found a cosy hiding place, usually in a bundle of nerve fibres near your spine.

Then one fine day, your immune system's a little low, or perhaps your body no longer realises it needs to fight this one, since you haven't met anyone with chicken pox for years. Grabbing the opportunity, the sleeping beauty wakes up. It starts to tingle and stick pins in to you, and bursts out in nasty painful spots. Spots which generally follow a band of skin along the nerve on one side of the body. They can itch and make it difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position. Sometimes the pain can persist for months after the initial attack.

There is a vaccination against chicken pox, not used in the UK, but offered to children in the US. This vaccine can also offer some protection against shingles when given to older people. I'd like to hear more about it.

My suspicion is that it's not a sexy topic, for several reasons:

*The disease isn't life-threatening, as a rule.
*It doesn't occur as an epidemic - you can't 'catch' it from anyone else.
*It affects mainly older people - so it's not as important economically. Not 'cost-effective' to vaccinate.

But possibly more so than the repeated attempts at introducing an effective computer system into the health service?

Monday, February 09, 2009


Those icicles have disappeared this morning, and the pipe to the garage has thawed enough to let the (cold) water through to the washing machine. Seize the day, it could freeze again tonight. Small things lift the spirits! So I don't have to resort to 'Victorian Farm' style washing with dolly tub, coppers and mangles.

Saturday, February 07, 2009


The cold weather continues.

A while since I've seen icicles like these.

Monday, February 02, 2009


...and it's cold enough for me to leave my ivory tower, and bring my laptop downstairs, and put the fire on.
Blackbirds, starlings, robins, a pied wagtail, chaffinches and sparrows are practically knocking on the windows to ask for more food.