Saturday, February 22

Maisy stands still for more than 1/50th of a second.

Spring? Possibly.

Not posing for anyone

I swear this fellow has a sixth or seventh sense that detects me lifting a camera. This was just a lucky chance when I already had it ready when he landed.

Wednesday, November 6

A tripod, marmalade and good lunch

I always enjoy trips to St Albans and today's was no exception. AT took me to The Wicked Lady, one of the best restaurants I've frequented for simple fare, where we managed to make three courses last over three hours!

I can recommend a visit to the gents where some nice scraperboard drawings can be viewed. AT made several visits during the afternoon.

Returned with a good full-size tripod which I have often wished I'd had so perhaps I can produce a few steadier images in the fading light later this year - particularly those involving the moon as I continue to chase that photo of a thin crescent in a clear sky. There was a price but only the equivalent of what AT paid for it in Malaya some years ago which worked out at a very modest £8.

Free were two jars of Mrs AT's tremendous marmalade, still warm from being brewed earlier that same day. And some stamps as the pair are some of the few people remaining who actually seem to get mail bearing stamps these days.

One of the problems of returning rather later than planned was the roads getting busy and, in particular, the M1 was pretty unpleasant. I thought I'd see what the new car's navigation system would make of the journey and hit the Home button. Strolling up the M1 was all well and good to start with and I was happy to give Dunstable a miss at that time of day. However, when it didn't suggest breaking off at the A43 or whatever comes next I began to wonder just where it was taking me. It had, a little oddly but perhaps understandably as it had been quite quick, taken me north up the A5 and then across some lanes to J16 (A45) to get to St Albans from Astcote. So maybe it was heading me back the same way. Er, no, it wasn't looking that way. The traffic was getting slower and slower so I decided to get off there anyway. Then I realised that 'Home' was wherever the last owner had set as home - probably somewhere in Wales!! That didn't explain the strange start in the morning but it did explain the home run directions.

Collected some trousers and a jumper from Tescos in Towcester (I really should have taken that A43 turn!) and finally home around 6pm. I was half expecting to see a client in Cambridgeshire tomorrow but today has been the seventh in a series of long car trips nearly every day. Collecting Kirri from school on Tuesday. Dodders on Wednesday. In and out of local villages on Thursday. London with Marta and then running around Buckingham later at night with Bryony on Saturday. MK and back Sunday. Leyland and back Monday. St Albans today. Phew.

I think the car deserves a rest tomorrow. I am looking forward to the marmalade.

Sunday, October 13

Things you see when you walk


For the first time since moving to the village, I actually walked from Astcote to Fosters Booth. On the way I met some new neighbours, shown above. Lovely, cheerful and friendly-looking animals just wandering around in a field between two houses and easily visible from the road. I must have driven past them hundreds of times but never knew they existed.
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Saturday, September 21

Blue bins, bags and bonfires

We now have blue and grey bins to go with the black and the green. Now the blue is a very pleasant blue, admittedly, especially when compared to the slightly over-cooked pea colour of the green bins and the grey slate of the other that always looks dirty and isn't something you want to leave outside the house for any longer than necessary. The new blue bin also takes almost all of what I throw away which before had to be carefully distributed between small green and dark grey boxes. I always had trouble with envelopes because we weren't permitted to put the window part in the same box as the paper part. And I never figured out where phone directories went.

So all seemed comparatively sweetness and light. I have nothing for the green bin at all and my waste should split simply between the blue bin and the small light grey caddy. The caddy is for food waste and is the big brother of a slightly smaller one we can keep indoors. So far, so good. I started using these exciting new places to dump stuff this week and hit the first hurdle a few minutes in. The bags, and I use that term loosely as a bag is usually something that retains its content, for the little caddy that were supplied are made of some natural floppy, rubbery, gooey-feeling stuff that I believe has something to do with corn. You put one in the little caddy and it looks reasonable enough until you go to lift it and whatever it should contain. It droops unnervingly and starts to stretch if you happen to have anything heavier than meringue in it.

If you are lucky you can make it outside to the bigger version before the thing breaks and splatters the food waste all over the floor or driveway. You may even make the bigger caddy but it cracks on entry and that is going to smell pretty foul after a few days so requires gouging out and cleaning and you begin to wonder why you used the bag in the first place.

Before, I had a supermarket plastic bag in a waste bin and that did the trick nicely. Every so often grab it and chuck it in the bin. Job done, no mess, not even when I had the old oil to deal with. But we're not allowed to use those bags. They don't deteriorate quickly enough. Boy, the corn ones certainly do, though!

The other problem is that the old plastic bag would take stuff like cartons where there was food still stuck inside, trays with chunks of burned food round the edges if I'd not kept an eye on the time and a range of combinations of the edible and inedible which were not at all easy to separate. Now it requires a great deal of scraping and negotiation to get the right bits into the new caddy and I have to admit that I am beginning to wonder whether all this effort is really going to make much difference to the planet.

Speaking to neighbours who have vast quantities of waste that make my little bagfuls look pathetic, it would seem that I am not alone in beginning already to avoid the little grey caddy and dump most stuff in plastic bags destined for the big black bin. Chunks of bread, the odd banana skin and things that don't mess it up still make it to the right place but not a great deal more. Having to pay for a new roll of the instantly degradable bags once the free roll runs out will also further the resurgence of black bin content.

The only rubbish that anyone collected from my parents' home was one medium sized metal dustbin. I'm not so sure an occasional bonfire really was that much worse than all the packaging and waste service energy use that we have now.

Friday, September 13

Moon rise or something.

For some reason I woke up at 2 in the morning and noticed that there was a quite bright band of lighter colour in the sky. It was like dawn or sunset but at 2am neither seemed quite right!

This rather hazy photo (looking vaguely East) was the best I could do to capture it through my window. It just looked strange. I am familiar with the glow of town lights but I haven't noticed them here before. Perhaps it's a 2am thing for a particularly reflective cloud formation. Or even a moon rise?
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