Oh for the life of a sparrow

“Come to the edge,” he said.
“We can’t, we’re afraid!” they responded.
“Come to the edge,” he said.
“We can’t, We will fall!” they responded.
“Come to the edge,” he said.
And so they came.
And he pushed them.
And they flew.

Guillaume Apollinaire

The house sparrows that nest in the eaves of my humble abode have produced their second clutch – I know this because I witnessed the first of their young take its first awkward flight this afternoon. I also know it is their second clutch, as I often hear the chicks chirp through my open office window when an adult turns up with their grub. If only my life was so bloody simple…   Yours_Aye.

‘This seat is defiantly taken!’

We all have our favourite chairs, couches, settee’s, etc… My preferred winter chair is a leather recliner – where as my summer chair is an identical recliner, but covered in thick cool cotton fabric. My outdoors ‘all seasons seat’ is a tree log, which has a ‘small’ shallow hollow formed in a natural manner to receive my left and right buttock cheeks perfectly.  Nature provides, and we should always take advantage when she does…Outdoor seat spikedHaving returned from this mornings walk I decided to sit outdoors with my reward; a tin mug of tea, and a couple of obligatory digestive biscuits. Imagine my surprise to find a Bull Thistle seated where my buttocks would normally be supported. More astonishing is the fact that it wasn’t there five days ago, which was the last time I was perched upon the same spot. All was not lost, it just meant taking a back seat on the long ‘settee’ tree logs near the wooden fence – to leisurely slurp and dunk my tea and digestive’s.Spike Cotton Thistle As it happens my two favourite ‘flowers’ are weeds, one being the Poppy, and the other the Bull Thistle. The Poppy for its potent symbol of remembrance for those who made the ultimate sacrifice in past wars. And the Bull Thistle for its arrogant standfast ‘come and take it if you think you’re hard enough’ nature, and the fact it’s also edible.

The thistle root can be eaten, and is best used when mixed with other vegetables. Young flower stems can be cooked and young leaves can be eaten in a salad or tossed into a sauté. (The taste is similar to that of a semi sweet artichoke – the prickles MUST BE removed from the leaves before the leaves can be eaten!) The flower buds can also be cooked and used like globe artichokes – the thistle seeds can also be roasted. The thistle root is rich in inulin – a natural storage carbohydrate that is good for diabetic sufferers. Nature provides, and we should always take advantage when she does… Yours Aye.

Solar eclipse with an ill wind

Eclipse over east YorkshireAccompanied by my three Staffies – I watched the first solar eclipse of the century through breaks of light cloud cover. Sustenance being taken via a tin mug of char accompanied by a heavily laden bacon sandwich (reluctantly shared with the canines!)

It’s an odd feeling when nature shuts down for a few dark moments – bird song halts completely, as does flight for the obvious reason. With my back against the beech hedge I almost fell asleep – until the execrable smell of chicken manure being spread wafted across on a light breeze – forcing a hasty retreat back indoors. It’s an ill wind that blows nobody good.   Yours Aye.Sunburst following eclipse 2015Not just an eclipse – today sees THREE astronomical phenomena take place as the super-moon and spring equinox align with the moon at its closest point to Earth, which is very rare for the three events to occur at the same time…

5 minutes worth of words & wisdom.

look up 1

‘Look Up’ A spoken word film for an online generation ~ Five minutes of words & wisdom.

look upThe digital tool is a way of life and a necessary evil that does not have to take over ones existence. I make a conscious effort throughout the day to down such tools and take to the great outdoors, even if it’s only a short field walk of twenty minutes – five times daily. Texting is my foremost pet hate, so much so that over the past several months I have now sent five text messages, each business related.    Click pic below to enlargeThunderstorm cloudburst On such a field walk just before lunch today ‘young Nipper’ and I endured an incredible thunderstorm, his first ever experience of such from which he did me proud. As an ear-splitting thunder-clap detonated over head he rushed by, only to stop dead in front of me – squaring up to the heavens – teeth bared emitting a low growl. He then stood-fast unflinching as lightning forked through the black clouds directly above. ‘Stand Behind Me Master-Non Shall Pass’ A Jack Russell in Bull Terrier clothing, a coiled spring ready to tear down the sky as well as the monster that dwelled within it. Then without warning the clouds burst releasing a teeming deluge; ‘rock beats scissors’ – just as ‘common sense beats valour’ – so we both legged it back to the sanctuary of home conducted a tactical withdrawal and returned to base. Where I now find myself a slave to the iMac god, as it hasn’t stopped raining for almost three hours.    Yours Aye.

Sequoia semper vierens ‘forever living’

Ancient California redwoods decimated by poachers who are hacking out giant burl’s to sell on to furniture makers. Northern California park officials say that poachers are endangering 1,000=year-old coastal redwoods as by hacking off chunks of their wood, mostly to buy drugs or get them through tough financial times.article-0-1DA119C400000578-291_636x382The poachers are after giant gnarled knots on the tree called burl’s where the interesting grain fetches more money. Concerned park rangers say the giant scars leaves the 1,000-year-old organism vulnerable to fire and disease.article-0-1DA12DA400000578-742_306x423 California has shut down long stretches of state park during the night, when the poachers tend to strike. The beautiful redwood burl wood can be sold to make anything from pricy furniture to souvenirs. 


Jungle rules should be applied to those caught ‘poaching!’ They should be chained to the tree they hacked and have a gallon of honey poured over them. If they survive three days ‘then’ arrest and charge them.                  Yours Aye.

A tall strong ‘President’

01-sequoia-climbing-team-670“The President” is one of the biggest trees in the world, and until now, there’s never been a photograph of its entirety. The tree is 247 feet tall and is 3,200 years old. It has an estimated two billion leaves! A team of photographers from National Geographic worked with scientists from California’s Sequoia National Park to get an image of The President. Screen-shot-2014-03-04-at-12.28.17-PMMultiple photos were used to create the final image. As you can see, the contraptions created to get the higher photos are pretty incredible! And here’s the incredible ultimate image. It’s a combination of 126 different photographs.     Click on pics to enlargeNGS Picture ID:1507300Magnificent Giant Tree: Sequoia in a Snowstorm          Source: National Geographic

Just one mighty limb from this beast would keep me in firewood for fifty years! If only the current President could stand as tall and strong…      Yours Aye.

“Can you hear some thing rumbling”

Rocks in the tyrol 2Mean-while, the occupants of a hamlet on a hill-side road west of Tramin, Bolzano, around the Tyrolean mountains of Italy; thought they could hear thunder rumbling in the near distance… Or was it a freight train? Nope, purely because there are no freight trains at 1053 feet above sea level on or around the Tyrolean mountains. So what could it be? A quick look out of the window reveals… A couple of hundred tonnes of rock fall, moving as fast as a freight train, without a steam hydraulic breaking system to stop it… ‘Merda!’rocks in the tyrol 3Drone footage showing a barn attached to a hamlet, that was hit and totally destroyed by two large boulders that carried on until they ran out of steam. Generally there are two types of luck; good luck, and no luck at all… Rock in the tyrol 1 In this case there happened to be an instance of bloody good luck, even for the little white car parked at the gable end! The full aftermath of the mammoth rock slide can be seen here: Large rock slide partially devastates a hamlet The luck of the draw!      Yours Aye.

Mother nature dictates the rules

The debate about climate change is distracting us from the true causes of flooding, a group of eminent scientists warned yesterday. Concreting and building over flood plains, cutting down trees and expanding cities is making flooding much worse – and we need to act on that knowledge, they said. The exact link between global warming and flooding is much less certain, and those who keep pursuing the topic are taking attention away from the true problem of over-development, they said in a research paper. David Cameron ignited a row at the height of the recent UK floods by proclaiming that he ‘very much’ suspected the devastation had been caused by climate change.article-2543600-1A4E694200000578-508_634x437Environment Secretary Owen Paterson refused to endorse the Prime Minister’s views and the Met Office said there was no evidence that the winter floods had been caused by man-made global warming. The 19 scientists, from prestigious universities and institutes in Britain, the US, Japan, Australia and across Europe, said that while greenhouse gas emissions are ‘strongly linked’ to flooding, there is insufficient evidence to accurately describe the connection. They said that until there is firm evidence about the role of climate change, it is better to concentrate on what we do know – that the way we are changing our physical landscape is making flooding worse. article-2543600-1ADCA32000000578-944_634x389Many of the authors, all respected climate change scientists, have contributed to UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports. They include Professor Nigel Arnell, from Reading University’s department of meteorology, Robert Muir-Wood, a  London-based consultant who advises the OECD and UN. MORE HERE: Climate change is NOT main cause of floods, say experts: Building on plains and cutting down trees are to blame

We have a Prime Minister who is as much use as two men missing, though the alternative party would be as much use as a whole regiment missing! You don’t require the brains of an Arch Bishop, or a rocket scientist to understand the reasons behind the flooding that the UK has suffered these past 12 years or more. When engineers divert rivers to build swathes of new homes on flood plains (the reasons it’s called a flood plain is a bit of a give away) mother nature will eventually return and severely punish their folly. Lack of government funding over the years has seen the cessation of dredging rivers, streams, and waterways essential for such control.

Green ManThe font of all knowledge around here is a 90-years-‘young’ gentleman affectionately referred to as the ‘Druid’, who has 78 years experience of toiling and working the land. Cameron and his ‘environment experts’ may well be better off coming around to tarry a while with him, and hoist in some valuable information that comes through true experience.

You may find the following ‘dit’ referring to the Druid interesting, which can be found in the last  reply of this previous post: Reply to old NFO january 14, 2014 at 13:04      Yours Aye.

A murder mystery solved

For the past fortnight we have endured a heat wave, with a still wind temperature cracking the pavement sidewalk at 30 degrees. On the odd occasion whilst sat with my back against the tree log, I have caught a whiff and a reminder of the past, death; in its most odious scented form! Yesterday was as bad as it could get, so I decided to trace the departed source. Upon which, I discovered that there had indeed been a murder most foul, for under a large laburnum bush lay a dead ‘jasper’ (adult male rat). From snout to tail it was at least two foot long. The thought that mystified me was what ever killed it had not taken it for its tucker; after all it’s the law of nature to do so?

As I have used controlled poisoning in the past to lace a few deep rat holes, I knew that this termination had not been the result of such. Rather than take a chance and toss the departed creature over the hedge, I buried it deep less it had been poisoned. I had no wish to see the poison work twice, just in case a buzzard or some other carrion claimed it.

As late evening approached to a sensible cooler temperature, I whistled the dogs and we moved off into the fields for a clearing patrol casual bimble. I tend to be a bit loud as we walk the fields as it gives the pheasant’s and partridges time to scatter with their young, as well as the rabbits and foxes. Hannah the young pup tends to walk point as lead scout, and Joss the elder is happy to be tail end charlie, obviously I assume the role of team commander (well, why have two dogs and bark yourself)? 

As we turned the corner of the cut track I saw some thing dark flash across the corner of my peripheral vision, which I presumed to be a weasel. The lead scout took off like a rocket through the chest high meadow, though I called her back as she knows weasels are classed as friendly forces (without them we would be inundated by rabbits). Either the lead scout had lost comm’s, or she had disobeyed a direct order, as there followed a high pitched-hissed-scream, then silence, save for the movement and sound of high swishing grass, as the lead scout re-appeared wearing a Staffordshire Bull Terrier grin. I summonsed the scout and cajoled her, promising her a place at the cats & dogs home as her fate, iron discipline being my trademark.        Click the pic for a true Staffie grin…Joss n Bren

On with the final leg of the patrol walk, upon which, I noticed that Joss was no longer watching our six-o- clock, he too had decided to abandon his position of responsibility and left our rear exposed. His movement was easily followed as the long grass gently swayed, comm’s were once again down as I was receiving no response from my ordered commands, which is some thing that has never happened in the past with Joss. Lead scout was ordered to sit and stay, and observe her arcs , as I crawled walked towards Joss’s position.

Joss was stood with his weapon snout covering the object of the pitched scream, it was another ‘Jasper’ now deceased, as long and as big as the one previously found. Lead scout, was summonsed and Hannah approached gingerly and sat next to her kill (they always say the first is the hardest, and it gets easier thereafter).

Many a field disciplinary action has been rescinded, after a singular act by the individual gained redemption for their sin. Hannah’s court martial was dropped on the spot, her reward being a field promotion small bonio treat (the last one in my pocket) much to the disgust of the old ‘time served’ tail ender, who turned in disgust and blundered across country cutting a new trail leading back to the fence gate (knowing full well that there was a half tin of bonio treats awaiting). 

This time “Jasper’ was tossed unceremoniously over the high hedge to allow nature to benefit from its demise. Hannah now has two confirmed kills accredited to her; it appears I chose her name wisely. Joss will always be tail end charlie, as he is the most passive Staffie I have ever owned, he would only ever chase after a ‘Jasper’ if a bonio treat was taped to its back, even if caught, he would probably sit and share it with him.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way… It’s a jungle out there!                    Yours Aye.

Nik Wallenda, Skywalker of the Canyon

So I am watching Nik Wallenda walk the Grand Canyon. And I can’t help but to think that this is not a career that has a lot of longevity. Nik is halfway through or so and doing fine:

His father, Terry Troffer, and his uncle, Mike Troffer, are serving as his safety coordinator and chief engineer in charge of the rigging of the wire. Terry Troffer is communicating with Wallenda during the attempt via Wallenda’s earpiece.

“I’m really not that worried,” Terry Troffer said on TODAY Friday. “I know his capabilities. I’ve been through it. I walked the wire for 38 years, so I kind of know what’s going through his mind at that time. I’m just kind of watching everything and how he’s feeling. We communicate back and forth. If he’s got a question, I try to look for the answer for him right away.”

Also on site watching his walk is Wallenda’s wife, Erendira, who is an eighth-generation circus performer, and their three children, Yanni, 15; Amadeus, 12; and Evita, 10. Wallenda is making the walk in jeans and a T-shirt while wearing his special high-wire shoes, which are part moccasin, part ballet shoes, and were custom-made by his mother, fellow wire walker Delilah Wallenda.

 14 minutes gone on the skywire. Keep going Nick… (Update: He got it!)

A Sheepish Puya Chilensis

The puya chilensis, a native of Chile, is a very sheepish plant. And the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) at Wisley promised the public that it would finally bloom. (The Surrey green thumbs have not been fertilizing puya chilensis with its normal food, sheep, but have settled on an alternative. No surprise that it is called the sheep-eating plant.)

An open-air asylum for nutter’s


Stonehenge is perhaps the most famous prehistoric monument in the world. Begun as a simple earthwork enclosure, it was built in several stages, with the unique lintelled stone circle being erected in the Neolithic period in around 2,500 BC. Stonehenge remained important into the early Bronze Age (2,200–1,500 BC), when many burial mounds were built nearbyHistory and Researchstonehenge_diagram

Well, its that time of the year again, when, as dawn broke this morning at 04:55 hrs, a mixture of 21,000 pagan’s, druids, mystics, truth seekers, shamans, aged hippies, new age travellers, students, nutter’s, drug addicts, ‘Japanese tourists’, and five hundred ‘Coppers’; all attended the Summer Solstice at the open air asylum known as Stonehenge.article-2345638-1A6F21AA000005DC-502_470x626 Go back in time and you would have added several marines to the list (yours truly being a SNCO, and one of them). Not through choice, but through necessity, as one of my marines had attached himself to a party of Norwegian blue-eyed-blonde students (all female) in a pub in Salisbury, who were heading off to the asylum gathering to party hard prior to sunrise. The problem being, the marine with the breaking strain of a warm chocolate bar was required (as were we all) to attend a final four hour ‘team’ exam at 09:00 hrs, followed by a course photograph at a specialist establishment known as ‘Winterbourne Gunner’ (History of the Defence CBRN centre)! Fortunately the lunatics throng attending the asylum gathering tend to swell in heavy numbers around two hours before sunrise, we had five hours to find him and kidnap him from his bevy of beauties, other wise the shout of “watch your fingers mate”! would have reverberated around the guardroom as the cell door slammed behind him; not only that, but collectively we would have also have failed the ‘team’ exam. We approached the gathering in almost pitch black conditions, and noticed a group of illuminated ‘Bobbies’ upon which the predicament was explained. After much radio chatter the bevy of (by now scantily clad chanting) blondes were discovered, as was a disgruntled bootneck; who was even more so after the group photograph that day, as I put him on ‘watch-on-stop-on’ duty the following weekend, over his birthday!article-2345638-1A6F2238000005DC-768_964x597

A midsummer day’s scene: Revellers rise at dawn to celebrate the solstice with drumming and dancing QUOTE’ from an elderly lady druid; “The scene was so emotional that even a group of police officers were stood with tears in their eyes”~ (Er, no… They had just pepper sprayed a violent drug addled hippy to restrain him)!

Yours Aye.

Tornado Strikes Attack OK

Should you be the praying sort, please add Oklahoma to your list. They have had quite a rough day with brutal tornadoes:

A tornado at least a half mile-wide with 200mph winds churned through Oklahoma City’s suburbs Monday afternoon, killing at least 51 and causing significant property damage for the second day in a row, forcing rescue crews to search for survivors in the debris of flattened homes, businesses and two schools.

Amy Elliott, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office, said the death toll is expected to rise. Oklahoma City Police say seven of those deaths were children at Plaza Towers Elementary School, which was hit by the tornado, Fox 25 reports. Oklahoma police also told Fox News’ Casey Stegall, on the ground in Moore, Okla., that at least four people were killed at a 7-11 convenience store.

I can think of several blogger and reader friends who live in this region. I hope they, their friends, and family are okay.

Cherry Blossoms Complain about Mass Shooting

People photograph one of the few trees displaying a large number of fully-opened cherry blossoms along the Tidal Basin in Washington, April 7, 2013. Washington's celebrated cherry trees, which have been slow to bloom in 2013 due to a colder-than-normal springtime, originated as a gift of friendship from the people of Japan in 1912.
People photograph one of the few trees displaying a large number of fully-opened cherry blossoms along the Tidal Basin in Washington, April 7, 2013. Washington’s celebrated cherry trees, which have been slow to bloom in 2013 due to a colder-than-normal springtime, originated as a gift of friendship from the people of Japan in 1912.