Friday, April 20, 2012

Trellis and the crisis

Mrs Trellis reacts to the latest moves in the deportation saga:
Dear Abu Qatada, she writes, you poor man, you must be tired of all this argy-bargy about whether to send you back to Jordan, when all you really want is a quiet life in Britain praying and preaching and blowing up people who disagree with you.
If you do get let off, you might think of finding another job . You could ask that oriental Untied Nations person, Mon-key Boon, for a job helping him to paficy Syria. You'd have lots of chance to kill people there, and no Teresa May breathing down your djellaba telling you what a naughty naughty boy you are.
By the way, have you ever thought about shaving your beard off? It might make you more acceptable, though with your horrible eyes you are probably just as ugly underneath if I'm any judge.
Shalom, as you people say.
Blodwen Trellis, Mrs, widow, retd, non-political

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Home prettified

Well, it's done. And high time, some say. I think the kitchen was last decorated about twenty years ago. And now, thanks to Terry the Paint, it's all white gloss and periwinkle. 
I've had the sittingroom*** done too. And the hall. Now all that remains is for me to leave the windows open to get rid of the smell of paint and builder's tea.

***Am I the last person left in Britain to resist the word "lounge"?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Get a grip, girl!

To quote Butch Cassidy: "I couldn't do that. Could you do that? How do those guys do that?"

Monday, April 09, 2012

Trellis's burden

A somewhat plaintive note from my indefatigable North Wales correspondent:

Dear Emily, she writes, I don't know your first name, but you seem like an Emily to me, ageing and running to fat and gabby with it. A bit like myself really. Tomorrow, think about me, I'm going for my yearly dilatation and curettage. Do you suffer from excessive earwax too? "It must be a burden", I hear you say. Well, I will be able to hear you say that after they've scraped me out tomorrow.
Yours medically
Blodwen Trellis, Mrs, widow, retd, up for it.

Saint Waldetrudis

Here is a splendid saint of the day:

Also known as Waltrude or Waudru, she was the daughter of Saints Walbert and Bertilia and sister of Saint Aldegunus of Maubeuge. Marrying Saint Vincent Madelgarius, she became the mother of Saints Landericus, Madalberta, Adeltrudis, and Dentelin. When her husband chose to become a  monk about 643 in the monastery of Hautrnont, France, he had founded, she established a convent at Chateaulieu, around which grew up the town of Mons, Belgium.

What a holy family!

Friday, April 06, 2012

Is that a badelynge I see before me?

Have you ever read "The Sports & Pastimes of the English People" by Joseph Strutt, Chatto and Windus, 1876? I didn't even know I had a copy till I cleared out a bookcase to make way for the decorators. It's full of baffling stuff, and the part that I really enjoyed was the section on "Terms used in Hawking", with some splendid nouns of assembly:
"a sege of herons, and of bitterns, a herd of swans, of cranes and of curlews; a dopping of sheldrakes; a spring of teels (sic); a covert of cootes; a gaggle of geese; a badelynge of ducks; a sord or sute of mallards; a muster of peacocks; a nye of pheasants; a bevy of quails; a covey of partridges; a congregation of plovers; a flight of doves; a dule of turtles; a walk of snipes; a fall of woodcocks; a brood of hens; a building of rooks; a murmuration of starlings; an exaltation of larks; a flight of swallows; a host of sparrows; a watch of nightingales; and a charm of goldfinches."
Let me know if you ever run into a dopping, a sord, a dule or a badelynge of anything.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Panic? Not me!

Tanker drivers at five of the seven main supply companies have voted in favour of industrial action over terms and conditions. Industrial action in fact means industrial inaction, ie, a strike. The union must give seven days' notice of its intention to call its members out on strike. In the meantime, the government and all the other pundits say to Joe Public "Don't panic. Be sensible."
So, what's the sensible thing to do? Fill up your tank, right? Right. So, everybody and his brother go out and, as a sensible precaution, fill up their tanks. Result? Petrol stations run out of fuel.
This isn't panic buying, of course, but the outcome is the same. Makes you proud to be British. And, as a bonus, you can always blame the government.

"There's a crow in my owlbox!"

This cri de coeur has become more frequent in recent years. In fact, the "crow" in question is a Jackdaw, which is a cavity nester, unlike the Rook or the Carrion Crow. And the reason the complaint about "crows" taking over nestboxes meant for Barn Owls or Kestrels has increased is because the number of Jackdaws has increased, and quite markedly so over the last few years. You may or may not love this small corvid, beady of eye and grey of nape, often seen tumbling around in groups calling its name, a sharp "jack", but you can't deny that it's a successful creature.
According to the BTO, the reason it has increased is because it adapts very quickly to changes in the environment, and in particular can exploit new food sources, which means it has an improved chance of raising more young. It also exploits nesting opportunities, and will usurp a Barn Owl or Kestrel nestbox given half a chance. In other words, it's a generalist; the more specialist a creature is, the more vulnerable it is to change, because it simply can't adapt. Think of the Giant Panda, one of Nature's dafter inventions.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Let's hear it for Lord Lilford!

There it is, a pretty box made from offcuts, lovingly installed in a tree, base lined with cosy woodshavings, a really fetching circular entrance and a dinky inspection door. All it lacks now is a pair of Little Owls to take up residence. In some East Midland counties, this diminutive owl is known as Lord Lilford's Owl, after the aristo who introduced it from the Continent and on to his estates. It's a fronzy wee beastie, with frowning stare and an endearing way of bobbing its head which suggests impatience, irritation or curiosity, but is simply the bird's way of establishing parallax to determine the distance of objects. Why is it that scientific explanations are so often so dull compared to popular beliefs?
Anyway, here's a Little Owl frowning - or whatever you think its facial expression means.