Julia’s New Project

Julia’s first project of the year was to make me fitter and thinner. I’m going along with it because it’s easier than becoming industrious and efficient.Two months in and I seem to have lost half a stone without inconveniencing myself too much. I can also walk significantly further than I could at Christmas, and my joints are feeling better.

So far it’s down to eating better, rather than eating less. The next stage is to start reducing portion sizes too. You will have to imagine the expression on my face as I type that last bit.

Storm Doris is currently whistling round the house so I’m cutting back on the walking today. I’m in the middle of an Amber Weather Warning at the moment, with gusts of wind of up to 80 mph. That’s the magic of the information age. When I was a lad “windy” would have been the only word I needed. I was certainly never on first name terms with the weather.


Squirrel stealing bird food

Anyway, now that exercise I am (slightly) smaller and fitter she is transferring her attention to a new project.

The Danes have hygge and the Norwegians have Friluftsliv . Even the Germans have Gemütlichkeit, and they aren’t a famously cheerful nation.

Julia’s new project is to discover a suitable English equivalent. We have mindfulness, though I’m not sure it’s quite the same. I incline to morosity myself, which is about as opposite to hygge as you can get. Yes, it is a word. More than that, it’s a word I’ve never used before.

Looks like we need a new word for English-style happiness. I favour something with a Scandinavian twist, because they seem to be the leaders in the field.

Julia favours something more domestic, something along the lines of “middle aged man snoring in front of the TV, which sounds more like the basis of a haiku to me.


Can you see it now?

I have translated  “middle aged man snoring in front of the TV” and my favourite (“ducks and sunshine”) into various Scandinavian languages.

English: Middle aged man snoring in front of TV – ducks and sunshine

Danish: Den midaldrende mand snorken foran TV –  ænder og solskin

Norwegian: Middelaldrende mann snorking fra foran TV – ender og solskinn

Swedish: En medelålders man snarkningar framför TV – ankor och solsken

Is there anything there we can use, do you think?

Julia doesn’t seem impressed; she’s just wandered off muttering “idiot with a laptop” and I don’t think it’s a suggestion for translation…


Julia hiding in shrubbery

Photographs have been selected to show examples of things that make me happy. I don’t have a picture of ice cream.


Egyptian Goose - Attenborough

Egrets and Egyptian Geese

I’m glad to report that the telescope worked well. I’m not so happy with the tripod, but that is a different matter. Eventually it may become the subject of an entire post of its own.

When we arrived we noticed a couple of Egyptian Geese, though they pottered off before we unpacked the camera. There were also two Red Crested Pochard lurking round the entrance looking for handouts, which suggests they are escapees from a collection rather than wild birds from Europe.

The most memorable part of the day was climbing up to one of the hides using temporary scaffolding and stairs. They flexed a bit too much for my liking, and the experience wasn’t helped by having to carry the tripod. On the plus side, it’s better than having the hide closed.

Using the telescope I did manage to pick out some Common Gulls I’d have missed with th

e binoculars, and at the next hide I had great views of a small flock of Goldeneye where the males were starting a bit of courtship, stretching their heads out and swimming round the females. It wasn’t the full courtship, as seen on this clip, but it’s getting there.

We finished with a Little Egret. Someone told us that there was a Great White Egret about on the side of the Trent, but this one was the best we could do. It looked like an abandoned plastic carrier bag at first, sitting hunched and immobile by the side of the path. I’d have preferred to see a Great White Egret, but we’ve seen a couple before so it’s not a tragedy.

Back at the visitor centre we found there were now five Egyptian Geese, and managed to photograph some, despite the poor light.

Meanwhile, looking for a late lunch, we found that they stop cooking at 3.00 pm. I say cooking, but I mean toasting. The choice was therefore a sandwich (just the one) or big pieces of cake, or doughnuts. I’m supposed to be on a diet so we settled for pre-packed bakewell tarts. At £2.25 each they were distinguished more for their profit margin than their culinary excellence.




A Mystery Solved!

Last week, on our visit to Carsington Water, I took some photos of a Redshank and another, unknown, wader. That’s not the real mystery; I’m used to getting confused with waders.

After various searches I’ve decided it’s a Knot, though I’m open to other ideas if you think it’s not a Knot.

Sorry, couldn’t resist.

The mystery was actually where the photos went. I searched everything on my card and couldn’t find them when it was in the computer. When it was in the camera I could see the missing photos perfectly.

Having taken more pictures today and had a revelation I now know the answer.

The missing photos are now being put in the file 101Olymp as the file 100Olymp must be full. I’d often wondered what it was for.

And finally, one for all you Narnia fans…


If you have to ask, you aren’t a fan. 🙂

The Week Ahead

I have an appointment to see the Practice Nurse late on Wednesday. I’m going to be weighed, prodded, bled and, probably, lectured. If I’m very unlucky, and I often am when examined by the medical profession, I will also be diagnosed with something I didn’t know I had when I walked in.

That’s pretty much all there is to my week. I think of it as Broken Tooth Syndrome. You may have 31 good teeth and one with a rough edge, so the chances of catching it with your tongue are 31 to 1. But in practice I always catch the rough edge with my tongue and I find it difficult thinking about anything else. So although I have seven days ahead of me I can only think of one 20 minute spell on Wednesday afternoon.

The new recipes are going well, though the bean burger testing has hit the buffers. There’s only so many tasteless bean burgers you can eat. After doubling the seasoning without producing an edible result I’m going to have to find a new recipe. I don’t mind them being bland, but I do mind that they seem to make my head pucker. There are few things as truly tasteless as badly seasoned beans.

I’m making meatballs again this week, using the other half of the mince from the Post House Pie.  The meatballs need a bit of work on the favours but the construction and sauce were good.The Post House Pie was very good last time I made it. This week I have added the tomato sauce from the meatballs to the spicy meat then layered left-over vegetable curry and roast vegetables on top. Makes a change from soup or bubble and squeak, and it’s always an adventure.

We’ve already had two meals of Parsnip and Ginger soup, another new recipe which worked out well. Unlike the beans it doesn’t suffer from lack of seasoning.

Last week we had boodles. They are butternut squash that has been spiralised into “noodles”, but you have to give them a made up name if you have a marketing department. Nutritionally I’m sure they are great, but the texture and taste aren’t quite as good as proper noodles. This week I’m going to have a go at either courgetti of cauliflower rice.

However, the big event of the week is going to be the unveiling of the telescope. I finally got round to buying one from the RSPB Shop at Carsington Water. Hopefully I’m going to be getting a lot of use out of it, because after the house and car (and kids, if I’m being honest) it’s the most expensive thing I’ve ever bought.

Stand by for reports of me getting really great views of birds I can’t identify.



Heron's head - Arnold

Raindrops and Carvings

Owing to the disorganised nature of my blogging I’m now going to write about Thursday, even though it’s Sunday night. In fact it will be Monday morning by the time I press the button.

It was raining on Thursday  and Julia was busy all day with various tasks. That’s what happens when you are a pillar of society, people keep asking you to do things.  Nobody needed me for anything, so, with no supervision from my better half, I had a whole day in which to loaf.

First call was to some friends with a jewellers shop.  After dragging Julia round Lincolnshire on Valentine’s Day I thought a visit to a specialist in vintage jewellery who gives discounts for cash could be a good idea, particularly as I’d bought the flowers a week early because they were cheaper.

(I may have been put on this earth to be Julia’s soulmate, but I’m not convinced that I was put here to line the pockets of florists at peak times for sales of red roses.)

After that it was off to do some shopping and then, despite the rain, I felt the need for ducks. As you can see from the photographs, the waterproof plumage of waterfowl works well in the rain.

Despite many notices about not feeding the pigeons people keep doing it. They also keep throwing handfuls of food into the pond and around its margins. I don’t mind the pigeons (though I do wish people would read the notices) but I do mind the idea of attracting rats and fouling the water with decayed foodstuffs. At least nobody feeds bread, though I’m not sure what genius decided to dump a box of breakfast cereal .

Last time I visited they had cut down a tree on the island. Today I was amazed to see that it had been carved into a variety of figures, including a duck, a fox, a hedgehog and a heron. They are all good, though the Heron is particularly appropriate as it stands just yards from the place where we often see the real Heron.

It’s also appropriate as Arnold is derived from the old name Ernehale (Place of the Heron). Sometimes this is rendered as Place of the Eagle. but I’ve only ever seen Erne used as an archaic term for Heron.

If you follow the link you will also see a reference to the Hawksley and Davison mill that used the duck pond as its millpond.

Trinity Bridge - Crowland

An Unusual Bridge and an Unusual Word

I’m afraid this is another post about Crowland, but I hope you will bear with me. It will be worth it if you are a pontist, or possibly a gephyrophile.

Pontist is used to denote someone who is very interested in bridges. Gephyrophile, though translated from the Greek, and therefore a very respectable scientific word, is not, in my opinion, as easy on the tongue. It is also a term used to describe people who have a compulsion to cross bridges. This is not quite the same as merely liking them.  The other thing against it as a word is that it sounds rather to close to a term you might use for someone who likes people called Geoffrey.

My preference would be for pontophile, which is easier to say and spell, and is a word people are likely to use. In fact at least one other person has suggested it on the net. I know it’s a mix of  Latin and Greek, but that has not stopped us using the word television, and if it does irritate a few classical purists so much the better. After enduring (or resisting) both Latin and Greek at school I see this as a continuation of my youthful rebellion.

As a result of a mistyped search I can also tell you that a ponyphile is not someone you would like to have in the family and that pantophiles like everything.

Anyway, if you follow this link you will see, about an inch to the left of Bridge Hardware, a three-pointed shape. This, as the shop name implies, is a bridge. Due to it’s three points it is known as Trinity Bridge. It was built to cross two streams that joined at this point. The earliest mention of it is in 716, and it was rebuilt in stone between 1360 and 1390. The figure on the bridge is believed to be either Christ with a globe or King Ethelbald with an orb (possibly removed from the West Front of the Abbey) or sometimes, more frivolously, as Cromwell with a bun.




Banty Feather Poke

I always struggle with titles, so this one, chalked on the board in the RSPB shop at Carsington Water, seemed like a gift.

The story is that an 85-year-old customer asked them if they’d ever heard of one. His grandfather had learned the term as a boy and had passed it on to him when he was doing a school project. They worked out that the grandfather was born in the 1870s.

For comparison, my Dad is 88 and his grandfathers were born in 1871 and 1874 so we are about in the right area.

A banty feather poke is a Long-tailed Tit’s nest, and was in use in the Matlock area in the 1870s – 80s. The customer told them this because he didn’t want the name to die out.

Well, I’m doing my bit to keep it going.

They’d done some internet research and found that a poke is a pocket. Sounds fair enough, though I also think of it as a drawstring bag or purse. Either are quite good at describing this sort of nest, as you can see if you follow the link.

The feather is obvious, there are between 1,500 and 2,000 feathers in each nest. Makes you wonder why they bother, but they’ve being doing it for a long time and I suppose it makes evolutionary sense somewhere along the line.

Banty, could be something to do with bantams, but if you check up on a Derbyshire dialect website banty-legged means bow-legged. Not that it helps. I’ll have to check the legs next time I see one.

Finally, if you check this website for old names for Long-tailed Tits, you will find an extensive list including bumbarrel (the only one I’ve heard before) and Feather Poke.


Lomg Tailed Tit at Rufford Abbey