Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Chimpanzees bond best over a good movie...

or so The Guardian reports today. Researchers in the US studying the matter say chimps are more sociable after popcorn and a good weepie. Bit like the rest of us, then, methinks.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Monday, October 08, 2018

Racehorse shakes up bar...

shock. The overexcited European press got, well, overexcited recently reporting, as Horse and Hound Magazine so pithily described, a 'loose' horse paying a French bar an unexpected visit. Some years ago another horse was found where it should not have been, that time in the UK food chain.

One can only admire horsey enterprise even if it’s a little hit and miss sometimes.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Our dog Benson...

on the Rochdale canal yesterday. A sunny and quiet morning but for the buzzing of insects and splash of ducks fleeing Benson's eager jaws. In the 18 months we have walked this path Benson has not come close to catching a bird. Methinks those wily birds are giving Benson the bird. Benson’s 100% failure rate has discouraged him not one jot nor dampened his enthusiasm for the chase which for him, I suppose, is the point. Oh but how he must also long for that ducky flesh, the tearing of the gizzard, the quack of despair. For Benson, the chase is a many layered thing or a many lumbering thing because the poor dog has no guile. He has enthusiasm in spades but at catching birds he might as well wave a flag. Of course he doesn’t need to eat duck what with the smoked salmon waiting at home.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Mid August and so far...

me and Lisa have picked 5 kilos of blackberries from the wild briar that lash and tumble over dry stone walls and down the vertiginous hillsides of West Yorkshire where we live. We baked those sweet dark berries beneath two crumbles and boiled the remaining into six jars of jam. There’s probably another fortnight of fruit yet to ripen before this year’s harvest is over.

Here's a poem by Seamus Heaney called Blackberry Picking.

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and it's flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea cans, jam pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full,
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard's.

We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat grey fungus, glutting our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn't fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would not.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

I am retired. After 49 years of work. Free at last... free at last! And just in time for the hottest UK summer in many a long year. Below is a panoramic photo from the Oban to Castlebay ferry.

I'd recommend Barra Gin and Isle of Harris Gin to any aficionados who like the Atlantic wild and Scottish sea air rich. Both gins are Outer Hebridean brews heady with the salt and tang of westerly blusters roaring and ferocious. To be truthful both gins are subtle and delicious especially over ice with a good tonic to crisp them up. Lisa and me have polished off a bottle of the Harris Gin already. Lucky we bought two of each. Wey hey!