Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy New Year!

May your year be filled with love and vegetables.

At last? No, THE last

Yesterday, on arriving back home after an exhausting hour discussing polyfilla and sawdust (don't ask), I looked out of the back window and there was a Waxwing in the guelder rose bush. It immediately flew off. I then went into the sitting room and, on drawing back the curtains, again saw a Waxwing (the same one?) in the bush. It flew off after three seconds. The photo above is not mine, there was no time for that sort of flimflammery.
Today, after nailbiting hours of covert ops, I can now report that my guelder rose is at no risk whatsoever from attack by Waxwings. So, you Starlings and thrushes, help yourselves - no hurry, because no competition - the Bohemians have buggered off back to Waxwingland.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

'Twas Xmas Eve and all over the house....

Anyway, determined to make Midnight Mass this year, I had an early dinner, and went for a snooze so as to be fresh for the big event.
I set my alarm clock for ten to eleven, giving me plenty of time to get ready, drive to church and enjoy the carol service, which started at eleven thirty, to be followed by midnight mass.
Alarm went off, I got up, visited the bathroom, got dressed and, by chance, glanced at the clock on the wall. The time was five minutes past midnight. I had set the alarm for 2350 instead of 2250. Talk about a head full of sweetie mice.
Oh well, there's always next Christmas....

Pretty thing

Isn't this pretty! It's a bathypelagic ctenophore from the benthic boundary layer, but I guess you already knew that. Yup

Merry Christmas all!

As for New Year wishes, the Irish have said it best:
May the road rise to meet you, May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, The rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of his hand.
And, knowing the wicked ways of my readers, another Irish prayer:
May you get to Heaven half an hour before the Devil knows you're dead.

OK, now you can attack the turkey and the mince pies.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Midnight Mass

I believe that a lot of people in our apparently godless society have a yearning for spiritual nourishment, and I am no exception. I also believe that a lot of people who are not Catholic or High Anglican will go to Midnight Mass tonight (Christmas Eve), because it is "traditional" and because it will give them a warm glow, a fuzzy feeling. It's all of a piece with holly and mistletoe and mince pies. I am not belittling it, not at all, I am all for people breaking out of the materialistic culture, if only for an hour or so.
So, the question is, will I be going to Midnight Mass at our lovely little church, St Etheldreda's, in Ely? Every fibre in my body tingles at the prospect, except for that part of my brain that is crunching meteorological data, nonstop. The road surfaces are wet during the day, often after a light powdering of snow, and it freezes enough at night to produce treacherous "black ice" everywhere. And this despite the efforts of the salters and gritters to keep the roads open.
Come on, wimp, you've got a 4x4 on the drive, it's not that far to St Etheldreda's and it will do your pagan soul good, geschweige denn your lungs when you join in the carol singing!
We will see.
At this moment, I envy Angit - she and her family will go to Midnight Mass in the cathedral in Izmir, where the weather is balmy. Wish I were there, not just because it's warmer and safer, but because the Mass is in the vernacular, viz, Turkish. Now that WOULD be spiritual nourishment for a glottophile like me.
Pax vobiscum.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Priorities

My thanks to Angit for this little gem:

Devant l'entrée du siège social de la banque, un trader gare sa Porsche Panamera (Turbo!) flambant neuve, histoire de frimer devant ses collègues.

Juste comme il commence à sortir de la voiture un camion à toute allure passe si près qu'il arrache la porte et disparait aussi vite. Le trader se rue sur son portable et appelle la police.

Cinq minutes après les flics sont déjà là. Avant même qu'un des policiers n’ait pu poser la moindre question, le trader commence à hurler : "Ma Panamera, ma superbe Turbo est foutue. Quoi que fassent les carrossiers, ce ne sera plus jamais la même !" et il gueule et il gueule encore : "Elle est foutue, elle est foutue !"

Quand il semble avoir enfin fini sa crise, le policier hoche la tête avec dégoût et dit : "C'est absolument incroyable à quel point, vous sacrés banquiers, vous êtes matérialistes ! Vous êtes si concentrés sur vos biens que nous ne pensez à rien d'autre dans la vie."

"Comment pouvez-vous dire une chose pareille à un moment pareil ?" sanglote alors le propriétaire de la Porsche.

Le policier répond: "Vous n'avez même pas conscience que votre bras gauche a été arraché quand le camion vous a heurté."

Le banquier regarde avec horreur.

"BORDEL DE MERDE!" crie-t- il ... "Où est ma Rolex ????..."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Every day something new

Know what's special about today? Me neither, but I have just learned that 22 December is the Feast Day of none other than St Hunger, 866AD. Who he? All I can find out is that he was Bishop of Utrecht, Netherlands, who fled the diocese during an invasion by Normans. He died in Prüm, Germany.
Prüm? Hell's bells, I'd never heard of that either. We miss out on a lot here in the remote East Anglian fens.

The ever-helpful Mrs T

Dear Lady Thatcher, she writes, may I suggest to Your Eminence, a surefire cure for depression? It's an old Welsh remedy using leeks and sheep's offal. It makes a really thick stew with lots of flavour, lots of grease, and lots of unidentifiable chewy bits in it. The trick is, you feel so ill after eating it that you forget all about being depressed.
PS I saw your son Carol on TV the other night. He looks very girly to me. I do hope he's not one of those, you know, homophones. Still, as my friend Mrs Cohen used to say, "Oedipus shmoedipus, as long as he loves his mother...."
Yours etc
Blodwen Trellis, Mrs, Widow, retd

OMG!

I have been on an anti-depressant for over a year now, and decided it's time to reduce the dose with a view to giving it up altogether. Idly, I read - for the first time - the little leaflet that comes with the medicine, hoping to find some advice on how to do this. Foolishly, I started by reading the contraindications. OMG! I have been exposing myself to, amongst others:
distressing restlessness - got it
haemerrhoids - got it
nighttime urination - got it
abnormal dreams - got it
joint pain - got it
vaginal haemorrhage - small consolation, not got it
There's lots more, but I skipped to "Symptoms that occur when treatment is discontinued". Cop this lot:
dizziness, numbness, sleep disturbances, agitation or anxiety headaches, feeling sick, being sick and shaking, increased risk of bone fractures....
Doomed, cari amici! Doomed if you do, doomed if you don't. All this has really depressed me. Anyone know a cure?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

SPIT!!!

Anyway, there I was, binoculars round my neck and my heart pounding in anticipation of some good birds. And suddenly, there they were: literally dozens and dozens of Waxwings, noisy in a musical kind of way, and restless as farts in a bottle. It's the sort of moment that makes birdwatching worthwhile. I am sure you know the spot, the Cemetery, the one with all the big trees, a mecca for all kinds of wildlife. And, at last, I had got my Waxwing fix!

I know that everyone in the Cambridge area is at the moment finding Waxwings everywhere, everyone, that is, except me. So I thought I would pen this note so as not to be left out. Trouble is, my Waxwings were in San Diego, California . Cedar, not Bohemian. SPIT!!!

Menefregista

You all know the French expression "je m'en fous", meaning "I don't care", "I don't give a ...." Well, I was reminded today that the Italian equivalent, "me ne frego" has led to a beautiful coinage: "un menefregista" to describe anyone who is constantly shrugging his shoulders and letting you know that he doesn't give a .....

Even better was the word I learned when I was in Milan to describe the kind of person who dashes from bar to bar, gulping down a coffee and apologising the he can't stay long because he's "got things to do", in Italian, "ha da fare". He isn't really busy, but he likes to give the impression that he is a busy and important man. He is, in a word, "un daffarista".

The above note is gender-neutral, ie, man stands for man or woman, he stands for he or she, etc. If anyone is upset by this linguistic convention, well, to tell you frankly, sono un menefregista.

Friday, December 17, 2010

I know it's just a squiggle, but......

Todays grumble. Its Friday, so Im a bit grumpy. Youve probably noticed already that theres something odd about todays text. Blame it on Samsung. While doing my weeks shopping in Tescos a couple of weeks back, I foolishly went into the mobile phone section - Im a sucker when it comes to gadgetry - and was seduced by the salesladys patter into abandoning my yearslong loyalty to Nokia, and bought a Samsung instead. Its got more bells and whistles than a Mississippi steamboat, but theres one thing missing: it doesnt have an apostrophe. Dont ask me why, its a quirk, and Im really at my wits end how not to appear illiterate to you all. Maybe its Samsungs reaction to all the misplaced apostrophes you see on notices around the place: Maybe, but I've gone back to my old Nokia, so there.


A bit o' grammar

"Jetzt sind die Dãcher der Häuser mit Schnee bedeckt".
(Now are the roofs of the houses with snow covered). The phrase leapt into my mind this morning when I looked out and saw that another blast of Arctic weather has arrived. I created that German sentence 58 years ago, in the year when I was preparing for German O Level. It was part of a longer paragraph, a mnemonic for all the common German nouns which are (so weit ich weiss) neuter and monosyllabic, and which form the plural with an umlaut + -er where possible. So, das Dach, die Dãcher, and so on. And this is the first time that the above snappy sentence has been fired in earnest.
OK, that's it, you can wake up again now.


Mrs T apologises

Letters from Mrs Trellis are like London buses - nothing for ages, then three arrive together. Clearly she is in fine fettle:
Dear Mrs Samoyed, she writes, I am sorry I got your name wrong last time. I know that a Samovar is a Russian teapot, and I am sure you are neither Russian nor a teapot. Anyway, I haven't heard from you for a while and wondered if you were still considering publishing my autobiology. As you know, I have had a fascinating life, though for a lot of the time I wasn't really in it, being too busy ministering to the needs of Mr Trellis, my late husband. He was a difficult man - aren't they all? - but his heart was in the right place, possibly the only part of him that was. In later years, he described himself as being "partly-retired", which I took to mean that parts of him had retired. I can vouch for that, dear.
If you are ever in Llanfair pg, do call in and we can have a girly talk over a nice cup of leek broth.
Yours effectionively
Blodwen Trellis, Mrs, Widow, retd.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mrs Trellis has the answer

Always eager to be of help, my North Wales correspondent sent me a message:
Dear Mrs Palin, she writes, I'm sorry you have a sore throat. It must be even more galling for you, seeing that your neck's gone. Try the old Welsh remedy: make a poultice by wrapping the boiled entrails of a sheep round your throat and covering them with goose poo. It won't cure your bad throat, but it will keep you from giving it to other people.
PS, I hope you get to be the next President of the Untied States. We all need a laugh in these troubled times.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Vicolo San Clemente, Brescia, Italy

I used to live in this little street, in the house of a widowed lady, Signora Donzelli Lucia (I don't know why she put her surname first). She was tiny and I was tall and lanky, and we got on well. I left after a year and never saw her again, although we corresponded for a while. She had a beautiful copperplate hand and her Italian was a joy to read.
The only reason I am telling you all this is to take my mind off my bloody sore throat. When it comes to making a fuss out of a minor illness, nobody can outwimp me. Signora Donzelli Lucia could have told you the same thing.

Ge-bloody-froren, pardon my tmesis

I hope the bloody struggle aught availeth, because, believe me, mes potes, putting up yesterday's two Barn Owl boxes was a real battle against gnarly trees, grumpy weather and dropped tools. I was gefroren to the marrow, and now I have the beginnings of a vicious sore throat. This being the case, I shall suspend all serenity until it gets better. I fricking hate colds, and I fricking hate gnarly trees, and at the moment I am not all that enamoured of Nature and its trickery. Grrrump.
PS The Ladder Course went well, and we now know when we are doing things wrong. But sometimes it's the only way to get the job done. I guess we'll have to pay an annual visit to the Health and Safety Confessional to receive Absolution...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sorry, Monday's out for me

If you want me to rub your back, neuter your cat or dig over your vegetable patch, please note that I will not be available next Monday. The reason is that I shall be taking a course called "Safe Working Procedure: K8020 Portable Aluminium Ladders". That's right, mes potes, I shall be in the grips of Health and Safety. This is at the behest of one of the agribusinesses on whose land we put up and monitor Barn Owl boxes, bless their cotton socks.
My fervent hope is that, after four hours of instruction in how to interact with a ladder, I shall no longer be a hazard in the countryside.
When it's all over, you may call round to my house to have your back rubbed, your cat neutered, etc, but I should warn you that you will first need to go through an induction course on how, healthily and safely, to stir a cup of tea, eat a garibaldi and flush a toilet without drowning. I'm not taking any chances.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Monday, December 06, 2010

A rose by any other name....

An elderly couple had dinner at another couple's house, and after eating, the wives left the table and went into the kitchen.
The two gentlemen were talking, and one said:'Last night we went out to a new restaurant and it was really great.I would recommend it very highly.'
The other man said:'What is the name of the restaurant?'
The first man thought and thought and finally said:
'What is the name of that flower you give to someone you love? You know, the one that's red and has thorns.'
'Do you mean a rose?'
Yes, that's the one,' replied the man. He then turned towards the kitchen and yelled: 'Rose, what's the name of that restaurant we went to last night?'

Friday, December 03, 2010

Les subtilités de la langue française

I am grateful to Kerkenez for sending me the following gem:

Une vieille demoiselle se présente chez un notaire pour enregistrer l'acte d'achat de sa maison récemment acquise.

Le notaire l'invite à s'installer, appelle son clerc, et lui demande textuellement :
"Veuillez, s'il vous plait, ouvrir la chemise de Mademoiselle, examiner son affaire, et si les règles ne s'y opposent pas, faites une décharge pour qu'elle entre en jouissance immédiatement!"

On n'a toujours pas rattrapé la vieille fille ........

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Breakfast

It's nice to have company for breakfast. While I was munching on a bacon butty, the friendly neighbourhood Sparrowhawk was demolishing a Collared Dove, right outside my back door. She's a greedy bitch, but at least she doesn't lust after my bacon butties.

Mahonia

It's not the most beautiful shrub in the garden, and its holly-like leaves are vicious if you brush against them, but my Mahonia has the merit that it is the only winter-flowering shrub in the garden. It's nice to have a splash of yellow at a time of year when everything is falling off the brass monkeys.
The name, which I always thought was from the first line of a music-hall song ("Mahonia a girl in a golden cage..."), is from a botanist called Mahon, who popularised the shrub from specimens brought back from the Lewis and Clark expedition. It has edible purple berries (the shrub, not the expedition), but I have never seen any wild creature noshing them.
There is no charge for this information. I got it from Wikipedia anyway.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Garden friend

He's getting bolder by the day, my friendly Muntjac. Here he is taking little notice of me when I opened the back door to take his photograph. Between you and me, I think he is a little vain.

Guelderlicious

Be honest, if you were a Waxwing, wouldn't you take your shoes and socks off and jump into this bush?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Hawk

Hands up those who know what species this is. If it were in my backyard, it would be a Sparrowhawk....

St Nerses the Great

I knew there was something special about 19 November, and not just the fact that I am awaiting delivery of a new washing-machine. A propos, does anyone know the patron saint of Household Appliances?

Bishop and martyr, the father of St. Isaac the Great. A native of Armenia, Nerses studied in Cappadocia and wed a princess who gave birth to Isaac. After she died, he served as a chamberlain in the court of King Arshak of Armenia. In 353 he was made Catholicos of the Armenians. Nerses devoted much effort to reforming the Armenian Church, including convening a synod in 365 based on the principles he had studied under St. Basil at Caesarea. Though he established hospitals and monasteries, his reforms and denunciation of King Arshak’s murder of the queen led to his exile. He returned after Arshak’s death in battle, but relations were not much better with the new Armenian ruler, Pap, whose dissolute lifestyle caused Nerses to refuse him admission into church. Nerses was invited to a royal banquet at Khakh, on the Euphrates River, and was assassinated by poison.

And did you know there was a king called Pap, whose hometown was called Khakh? It makes Elizabeth and Windsor sound very tame.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Porcelain Unicorn

My thanks to Angit for drawing my attention to THIS. Watch it and give your faith in human nature a boost.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Where's my waxy?

My guelder rose is a mass of translucent berrries again. The last time this happened, I waited for the Waxwing invasion. I checked every morning, until one morning the berries had disappeared. What ate them, I do not know. This looks like being another Waxwing winter, so I am keeping an eye on the guelder rose berries again.
But whatever happens, I doubt if I shall have an experience like the following:
Taken on Fair Isle a day or two ago. Lucky beggars!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Not dead yet

No, I am not dead yet, folks! The summer has been hectic, and the autumn is looking to be just as frenzied - lots of Barn Owl boxes to repair, to make or to erect, lots of surveys to do. And on top of that, I am involved in a local project to build a "Swift Tower" on a small nature reserve on the edge of Cambridge.
And, on top of that, I am pursuing a wonderfully inspiring course called "Journey in Faith", about which I will tell you nothing unless you ask me.
So, with apologies for my recent silence, I leave you with this picture, courtesy of my lovely friend, Deborah, of a gorgeous Nightjar perching on something unspeakable. At least you can see that I am not ready to join the Choir Invisible just yet.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Trellis on Mandelson

The good lady from North Wales is still freely offering her advice to the deserving.
Dear Miss Mandelson, she writes, my mother-in-law, that is, the mother of my late husband, Mr Trellis, has sent me a copy of your recent book, "The T'urd Man".
I didn't realise until I got it how much she hates me. She always thought herself a cut above other people. A bit like you really, very lah-di-dah. All swank and no knickers, as you might say. A bit like you really.
Be that as it may, ours was a happy if disjointed marriage, and I hope one day you too will find someone to settle down with, but do try to avoid those heavy women on motorbikes with facial hair - they could do you a serious mischief.
Yours sympathily
Blodwen Trellis, Mrs, Widow, Rtd.

Muntjac in the garden again

The other misty morning, I looked out of the kitchen window as I munched on my muesli and saw that I was not the only one having breakfast. This muntjac deer was under the bird feeders hoovering up bits of sunflower hearts that the birds had let fall from their beaks.
He must have spotted movement in the kitchen as I prepared to take the photo, because he is in alert posture, presumably a stance he learned by watching nervous lerts.

It's getting better!

Thank you, all, for your messages of sympathy and shock. As you can see, the hand is still far from beautiful, but it is much better that it looks. I have been practising waving it the way HM the Queen does hers (languidly), and I should be ready for a stately drive up the village High Street in another week, acknowledging the forelock-tugging peasants as I go. Languidly, of course.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Hand out

If this is my lifeline, it must be a palmist's nightmare.
Anyway, it's not as bad as it looks, should be healed in another 2 weeks or so. Meantime, I am milking it for all the sympathy I can get.....

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

si Þin nama gehalgod

Fǽder ure, Þe eart on heofonum, si Þin nama gehalgod. Tobecume Þin rice. GeweorÞe Þin willa on earÞan swa swa on heafonum. Urne dǽghwamlican hlaf sielle us ti dǽge, And forgief us ure gyltas, swa swa we forgiefaÞ urum gyltendum. And ne gelǽd Þu us on costnunge, ac alies us of yfele.

No prizes for recognising the above, but isn't it fascinating how near and how far we are from this now?

PS Yes, my hand is mending nicely. Still bandaged, and a spectacular scar from annular finger to wrist, so I will really be able to show off once the stitches come out next Monday.


Saturday, July 31, 2010

crocked

i am temporarily crocked as my left hand is out of operation, so no postings for a few days. i dont know how you guys manage to write with your right hand exclamation mark.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Meadowsweet

Meadowsweet, a wild flower as lovely as its name. I have a clump of it in my garden every summer, and I treasure it.
Be that as it may, you know that I was recently jilted. That is to say, my ducklings deserted me. I guess Mother Duck thought they could make a better living in a drain.
So be it, I thought.
Then, just as I was wondering what I could do with my life and with all the food pellets I had bought, behold, two cute baby rabbits turned up on the back lawn. I was no longer alone! Every morning, there they were, lolloping back and forth over the sward, nibbling at this and that - this and that being mostly my clump of meadowsweet. It's all gone, and so have they. No, I didn't shoot or trap them, but I think the sight of three Common Buzzards circling over the garden might have decided them to try pastures new.
Anyway, If you have meadowsweet in your garden, get the netting out right away: the killer bunnies are coming.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The 'Ole in the Ark, etc

Oh the shame of it! I now discover, thanks to HGJones, that Marriott Edgar is the poet laureate of the north. And me with a Lancastrian mother too.
Thanks, HG.
Click here for all the poetry of Marriott Edgar.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Weasel again


My thanks to Peter W for sending me a copy of the photograph of the headless baby weasel, temporarily wrested from the jaws, so to speak, of a hungry baby Kestrel.
I think the wee beastie is quite endearing in a gruesome kind of way.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Albert and the Lion

Get someone to recite this to you in a broad Lancashire accent:






There's a famous seaside place called Blackpool,
That's noted for fresh air and fun,
And Mr and Mrs Ramsbottom
Went there with young Albert, their son.

A grand little lad was young Albert,
All dressed in his best; quite a swell
With a stick with an 'orse's 'ead 'andle,
The finest that Woolworth's could sell.

They didn't think much of the Ocean:
The waves, they were fiddlin' and small,
There was no wrecks and nobody drownded,
Fact, nothing to laugh at at all.

So, seeking for further amusement,
They paid and went into the Zoo,
Where they'd Lions and Tigers and Camels,
And old ale and sandwiches too.

There were one great big Lion called Wallace;
His nose were all covered with scars -
He lay in a somnolent posture,
With the side of his face on the bars.

Now Albert had heard about Lions,
How they was ferocious and wild -
To see Wallace lying so peaceful,
Well, it didn't seem right to the child.

So straightway the brave little feller,
Not showing a morsel of fear,
Took his stick with its 'orse's 'ead 'andle
And pushed it in Wallace's ear.

You could see that the Lion didn't like it,
For giving a kind of a roll,
He pulled Albert inside the cage with 'im,
And swallowed the little lad 'ole.

Then Pa, who had seen the occurrence,
And didn't know what to do next,
Said 'Mother! Yon Lion's 'et Albert',
And Mother said 'Well, I am vexed!'

Then Mr and Mrs Ramsbottom -
Quite rightly, when all's said and done -
Complained to the Animal Keeper,
That the Lion had eaten their son.

The keeper was quite nice about it;
He said 'What a nasty mishap.
Are you sure that it's your boy he's eaten?'
Pa said "Am I sure? There's his cap!'

The manager had to be sent for.
He came and he said 'What's to do?'
Pa said 'Yon Lion's 'et Albert,
'And 'im in his Sunday clothes, too.'

Then Mother said, 'Right's right, young feller;
I think it's a shame and a sin,
For a lion to go and eat Albert,
And after we've paid to come in.'

The manager wanted no trouble,
He took out his purse right away,
Saying 'How much to settle the matter?'
And Pa said "What do you usually pay?'

But Mother had turned a bit awkward
When she thought where her Albert had gone.
She said 'No! someone's got to be summonsed' -
So that was decided upon.

Then off they went to the P'lice Station,
In front of the Magistrate chap;
They told 'im what happened to Albert,
And proved it by showing his cap.

The Magistrate gave his opinion
That no one was really to blame
And he said that he hoped the Ramsbottoms
Would have further sons to their name.

At that Mother got proper blazing,
'And thank you, sir, kindly,' said she.
'What waste all our lives raising children
To feed ruddy Lions? Not me!'

The author is someone that nobody has ever heard of. This is his moment of glory: his name is Marriott Edgar.

Mustelids

Warning: some of what follows might be distressing to vegetarians. Fortunately, it does not contain flashing lights, so epileptics can relax, unless, of course, they are epileptic vegetarians.

A feisty family, the mustelids. The two species most frequent in this country are the weasel and the stoat. I am sure you are all familiar with the advice on how to tell them apart: "the weasel is w'easily recognised; the stoat 'stotally different." Yup.
Anyway, the reason for this note is that yesterday, my colleague Peter found an unusual, if not unique, prey item in a Kestrel box - to wit, a baby weasel. It was headless and one of the Kestrel chicks was already chomping happily on the rest of it.
Here, at no extra charge, is a picture of a weasel. Authorship acknowledged here.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Mrs T on the case

Mrs Trellis is a close observer of the contemporary international scene:
Dear Mrs Erdogan,
she writes, I don't know what all the fuss is about you wearing a headscarf. We all do it, don't we dear, to hide the curlers. If men wanted curly hair, they'd go round with headscarves too. Fortunately Mr Trellis, my late husband, lost his hair in a poker game, so all he ever needed was an occasional polish. By the way, forgive my indiscretion, but is your hubby as miserable as he looks?
Your solidly

Blodwen Trellis, Mrs, Widow, retd.

Mrs T and HM

Mrs Trellis comments on the news.
Dear Queen, she writes, forgive me if I get the eticket wrong, but I have never addressed a royalty before.
I loved your speech to the Untied Nations, specially the bit where you told all those foreigners how many nations you are in charge of. I bet you'll get a rush of applications now to become Queen of lots of their countries too, though I would advise you against any country ending in -stan. Stans are full of mosques, and problably mosquitoes too.
PS If your infinite majesty is ever in Llanfairpg, please feel free to make use of my faculties - we've just had a new loo installed. It would make a grand throne.
Your submersively
Blodwen Trellis, Mrs, Widow, retd.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Monday evening

I told you I'd be back! A memorable day, and the wonderful company of two of my best friends, George and Tricia.
One day, when I am all growed up, I will tell you a story, but for the moment, I just want to kick back and have another cup of tea (with milk, of course: we are not Americans).

Monday morning

It is the morning of Monday 5 July, a bit muggy but otherwise a pleasant day. The ducks have not returned, the field below my garden is full of ponies and the wild birds are eating me out of house and home. As are a couple of baby rabbits, not that I begrudge them one mouthful of my delicate shrubs.
It is my great ambition in life to make another blog entry in a few hours' time. If I don't, please don't fret: I will be back.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Duck update

Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green...
I'll be honest with you, I don't lilt as much as I used to, but it's a lovely day and there are still ten ducklings young and easy under the apple boughs. And it's going to stay that way as long as I can keep the cats, rats and foxes out of the back garden.
Envoi: the sharp-eyed among you will have spotted that it's a plum not an apple tree. Poetic licence.

What can ail thee?

Oh what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
Alone and palely loitering?
The answer is in the next two lines:
The sedge has withered from the lake,
And no birds sing.
David H and I went round the fen yesterday checking Barn Owl boxes. Not too bad, with 5 boxes containing young Barn Owls, and another 6 containing breeding Stock Doves. But the fens themselves were devilish quiet: no Marsh Harriers, just one Common Buzzard, a smattering of Corn Buntings and, in one spot, a fever of Yellow Wagtails. Oh yes, and Reed Buntings, Skylark, Common Tern.....
Wait a minute, I think I have woken up grumpy this morning. Time for some roughage

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Hacked

Someone has hacked into my yahoo contact list and is sending, under my name, an email to everyone on it. The email contains a url ending in .com.
It is not from me. Don't open it.
And if you know how to put a hex on the bastard, please do!

Friday, June 25, 2010

No dice, says Mrs T

Another misguided missile from the fiery widow from North Wales:
Dear Mrs Samovar, she writes, I understand you are in the publishing business and would like to publish "The Collected Letters of Blodwen Trellis".
Nothing personal, dear, but I don't think I could work with a woman who goes around encouraging peasants to touch their foreskins.
Yours sincerely
Blodwen Trellis, Mrs, Widow, retd.

Aristo

I knew there was something aristocratic about me. It's not just the thin ankles after all. I bet I have as noble a pedigree as any Old English Sheep Dog, and it would be quite proper to breed from me (ceteris, unfortunately, are not paribus).
Well, it's a lovely evening, time for me to take a stroll through the village to give the peasants a chance to touch their forelocks.

Tip of the day

You will like this.
That is not a comment, that is an order!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Day-old Wesleyan chicks

Even hairy bikers are allowed to use the word "cute" to describe these little beauties. My thanks to Claudia for sending the pic to me. They are Wesleyan, by the way, not out of religious conviction, but because that is the name of the farm where the Kestrel nest is located. For all I know, they could be Osmagalian, an ideopathic faith if ever there was one.

What was that again?

I love mistranslations. It seems to me that God's purpose in destroying the Tower of Babel was to give us all a good laugh. I could be wrong, of course.
Anyway, I remembered a gem, when a German couple got on a London doubledecker. The bus was crowded, so she sat downstairs while her husband had to go and find a seat upstairs. When the conductor came to collect the fares, the lady pointed to the ceiling and said "The Lord above will pay".
She meant, "my husband/the gentleman upstairs will pay" In German, "Der Herr oben wird bezahlen". I add the original German for the benefit of any Englishwoman who might one day find herself in a similar situation on a Berlin double-decker bus.
PS A small prize goes to anyone who can tell me what the English translation in the sign below should be.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Маша Черепанова

This will mean nothing to most of you, but I am bursting with pride to tell you that I just had an email from my young Russian correspondent, Masha (that's her in the picture), telling me that her final dissertation has been accepted and that she has been awarded her degree. Masha had written to me a little while back asking me to explain why I chose the titles I did for my Penguin short stories. That really gave the old scrote-brain a workout!
Today I persuaded a lady in Norfolk to put more Swift nestboxes on her house, so you can imagine that I am cock-a-hoop about that too.
Then I made a small detour to visit St John's Cathedral in Norwich, a breathtaking piece of Victorian Gothic.
Oh yes, and there are still 10 ducklings in the back garden.
After a day like this one, I'm not even waiting for the other boot to drop. Who cares?

Trevor Herriot

My heartfelt thanks to Prairie Mary for introducing me to Trevor Herriot's blog. I can earnestly recommend it for interesting text and gorgeous wildlife photography from around Saskatchewan (I think). The above photo is Mary's favorite, and it's mine too. Click here for more.

XKCD

Don't be put off by the title of this website. Thanks to Claudia's witty friend, Mia, I was introduced to its zany humour. I don't understand all of it, being a bit too long in the tooth for some of the pop allusions, and not geeky enough for the computer stuff, but there's a lot in there that is hilarious. Click here and enjoy.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Trellis on food

Dear Mrs Scrote, she writes, re your request for a recipe for a quick and easy pudding, the late Mr Trellis swore by his Spotted Dick. Here are the ingredients:
10oz Self-Raising Flour
5oz Shredded Suet
¼ pint) Milk
4-6oz Raisins
3oz Castor Sugar
1 Lemon, zest only, finely grated
Pinch Salt
If, like my late husband. you prefer a Plain Dick, just leave out the raisins.
Yours culinarily
Blodwen Trellis, Mrs, Widow, retd but still able to stir a pudding.

Monday, June 21, 2010

BOCN

There are a number of organisations in Britain dealing with the conservation of Barn Owls. The one that my colleagues and I support is the Barn Owl Conservation Network.
Admit it, the footie on the telly is mega-boring, you'll be much happier clicking on THIS.

Moving swiftly on...

Those of you with nothing better to do will doubtless have observed that the link on the right"Action for Swifts" is no more. It has become "Swift Conservation". Worth a visit, especially for those who are sick of football on the TV.
Duck update: down to 10 ducklings. Highlight yesterday was Mother Duck, head down, aggressively driving off a rat that was drooling for its dinner.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Knees and Climate

In my village, we judge the seasons by an examination of the postman's knees.
As soon as the temperature rises a few degrees Celsius (or whatever system you use) above freezing, he takes off his trousers and dons his shorts.
Those knobbly knees tell you that winter is over and that spring, if not summer, is on the way.
Mind you, there's a vicious north-easter blowing this morning. At this rate, his knees are not going to last long.
PS Mrs Duck is back, but with only eleven fluffies this time. At the moment they are all tucked warmly underneath her. THEY aren't fooled by the postman's knees.

Friday, June 18, 2010

New shed - progress report

As you can see, I have the first toolrack erected and stocked. In fact, it's so beautiful, I haven't got the heart to disturb it. What I need is another shed.....

Early morning, June 2010

What a lovely view to accompany one's morning dish of muesli! Good karma.