Monday, 31 December 2012

Where did it go?

Well, another year has gone. That was quick! I hear the rather depressing quote from my mother 

"As the years go by they get quicker and quicker"

But really I think it has something to do with the lovely hot weather we had very early on, followed by the wait for summer. We waited and waited and waited until we finally realised the days were getting shorter, and the leaves were turning. Before we knew it, winter was upon us, dark, dismal and damp.

I thought I would just put a photo of each of my Chine Cats. (No more arrivals this year!)

But as I was trying to upload them, I accidentally uploaded a photo I had taken from my kitchen window of my perennial sweet peas, that apparently thrived on the wet weather! 
Isn't it nice to look back at a summer scene on these dark and wet days!

Here's hoping we get some better weather next summer! My daffodil shoots are already a few inches high.

Happy New Year !

Friday, 21 December 2012

Shortest Day

A very wintery walk followed by a nice sit by the fire, with just the Christmas lights on as the shortest day comes to an end.

And the world didn't end, after all.

Sunday, 9 December 2012


We can go weeks without seeing any, then we see three in five minutes!

This chubby chappie was the only one who waited long enough for me to take a picture. He was eating something pink, probably an upturned mushroom.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Pyrography & Knitivity

We had a Christmas Craft Fayre at the library on Saturday. There were quite a few going on elsewhere, and we found it slow progress booking all the tables, a snip at just £5. I reluctantly offered to sell some pyrography pieces. I say reluctantly because there's a difference in doing the burning, which I enjoy, and preparing them for sale by adding several layers of varnish, which I find exceedingly boring. However, I got down to the task.
I've sold pieces online and individually, and also through a local shop but I had never had a stall before. Less than an hour to go I remembered I needed change. Then I needed something to wrap the things in!

The doors opened and, amazingly, I sold a wood slice with the picture of a sleeping hare for £12. Other sales followed, and all in all I made about £40. Not bad considering I soon got bored of sitting behind the stall and wandered off downstairs where the Friends of the Library were serving tea, coffee and mince pies!

I will never make a business woman. The owner of a local community arts shop asked to have all items I didn't sell to put in her shop, so that saved me bringing them home. My little shed looks quite bare now.

We asked out Knit & Natter group to knit a Nativity scene. We gave them 3 days notice & they rose to the challenge like the dedicated knitters they are, churning out Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus in his cot with a blanket, one shepherd and one sheep before their session in the library ended. Over the next two days more figures were added, hot off the knitting needles, until we had this lovely display for the Craft Fayre.


Sunday, 11 November 2012

Random scribblings.....

Last year, at the age of 48, I carved my first pumpkin.
I had the opportunity to do so without feeling slightly stupid because we had a Halloween storytime at the library. I enjoyed myself so much that this year I did two, and brought them home with me when we had finished dressing up and running round the  library (closed!) with the other witches, skeletons and ghouls. It was great fun, and much appreciated by parents who want a safer environment for their children to have fun rather than trick-or-treating.
Earlier that day I had seen a pair of swallows flying into my neighbours barn. I haven't seen them since, though. It made me sad to think they were probably still feeding late hatchlings, and perhaps they have had to abandon them now. I know I think about these possibilities too much, but many years ago we found an abandoned nest of swallow hatchlings in a church porch. Two babies had fallen out of the nest. I was just visiting the area, so I left them in the care of a lady who came to do the flowers. I was relieved that she seemed as concerned as I was. It's happened to me before that I seem to be the only person concerned about an animal's welfare.
For the last seven years I have been caring for an elderly pair of cockatiels for my landlady. They are the only birds in a large aviary, but when I went to feed them one morning recently, one had died and it was being eaten by a huge rat!
The other poor bird was still perched next to the body. I felt so sorry for it, I was determined it was not going to stay in the aviary by itself that evening, but I had to go to work! No body else seemed to care one hoot about it. At work I arranged with a lovely, caring friend to take the bird. She has an elderly cockatiel that shares an enormous cage with two diamond doves.

 That evening, with my landlady's blessing ( actually she couldn't care less what I did) I caught the poor bird and kept her overnight in a bird cage I keep for emergencies ( of the cat / bird variety). My friend told me cockatiels adapt very easily to living in a cage, and so she did, eating her seed and seeming quite content.

My friend sent me these photos the day after I took the bird over to her. You can just see her little bird, Mono, the black and white one who has not seen another cocky for years. They settled down together straight away. My little bird didn't have a name, but my friend will soon amend that. She has a room full of birds, and the African Grey in the next door cage said, "new little birdy" quite clearly when he saw the cocky. It's such a relief to me that this little bird has a warm and interesting place to live out it's remaining years.

Meanwhile, the new stove has been lit and enjoyed by all.

Lovely, sunny walk today down by the estuary.

Not many migrant birds yet.

Lastly, while out filling up the peanut holder, this cheeky mouse came right out in front of me to eat some very old cake!
Not a very good photo, but he made me smile, darting to and fro from beneath my shed. Seems the cats are just too happy sleeping in the firelight to bother with the rodent population!

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Car Boot finds

It's the last car boot of the season. I know there are others, but this one's just down the road from me, on a windy, coastal recreation ground prone to instant fog and wind, and it's my favourite.

True to form, it was much windier here than five minutes up the road! Only about half the sellers out, today, but luckily this seller was there:-

I can always find something in his jumble of house clearance stuff, and today I found two nice old books (50p each), an old, wooden box in excellent condition, and a plastic frog.

Plastic frog?

Yes, a plastic frog. He not only clears houses, but gardens as well and always throws (no exaggeration) lots of old, stone ornaments on the grass. I saw a concrete frog with a saucer-shaped space on it's back for a flower. It looked really old. I picked up some stone gnomes, kittens and owls to get to it. It was obviously too heavy to lift, so I asked him for a price.
"Is that the plastic one?" he said. I picked it up, not prepared for the lightness of the hollow plastic. Well, it looks just like old stone!
"50p" he said. I got the cash, with the words "Don't bring any junk home" annoyingly going through my mind.

Well, I like it!
 Also found a nice little salt cellar, plated with a pretty, blue glass insert. I thought the blue would look nice with the sun shining through it, and it was a snip at £1.50. The seller had been watching too much Antique Road Trip, I feel, for he kept repeating how rare it is to find them with the glass intact. I don't know why he felt the need to repeat this information so many times as I opened my purse straight away. He was still saying it as I walked off, smiling!

Back to the books. There's a leather-bound George Borrow, The Romany Rye, with illustrations. I got it as my father liked his book on Wales, but this is a fiction. The second book is A Flower Book For The Pocket, by someone called Skene. I rescued both books from a crate full of kitchen items. I was about to put the flower book back when I noticed some hand-written notes inside, dated from 1961 and 1962, a year before I was born.

The places look like Wanstead Park and Bartlow? I'm going to look them up on Google map. I find it fascinating to make connections like this from history to the present day.  A shame the book isn't signed by the owner.

Later we went our walk, but found it interrupted with a race. This was the view from our bench.

There were hundreds of runners! On the way here we got stuck behind a vintage car convoy, and there's a cycling event going on here as well. The price we pay for living on the Isle of Wight, I suppose! On the subject of vintage cars, there were some very pretty little boxy-shaped ones, I think from the 1950's, sorry, no good with names & I couldn't take a photo as I was driving! I just thought, if they designed quaint little cars like that today, with modern engines, I'm sure females like me would buy them!

We still have flocks of swallows flying overhead. I like to think we're their last call before leaving our shores for the winter.
On the walk I found these strange acorns, and I haven't found them in my books either! Another thing to Google!

How lovely it would have been to return to the warmth of a fire, but alas my new stove is still sitting next to my old (and unusable) pot belly. How lovely and red it looks! I have to wait until the old man decides the weather is suitable for the major job he will have to fit it in.

Meanwhile, I've learnt not to say anything..................

                                                                     like "Can't you just.....?"

Friday, 31 August 2012

Estuary Walk

Every week we walk down the estuary from Freshwater Causeway to Yarmouth. Sometimes we do it twice a week. The scenery could not be more varied, from waterside to woods and fields and back to water again. One of the best things about doing a regular walk is looking out for familiar sights.

Like all estuaries, the bird life here is about to rise dramatically leading up to the colder weather, but for now it's just the regulars who have been with us throughout the year.
The five ducks at the bridge have been there for a couple of years now, racing out of the reeds in an orderly line the minute a bread bag rustles.
 Last week we saw changes.
The pair of swans with their two babies had gone. We assumed they were up one of the cuttings in the thick reed beds, but as we looked for them no fewer than seven swans flew up the estuary and landed by the side of the bridge.
We expected the regular pair to show, as they are very territorial, but no sign. We have not seen so many swans there, all look like adults. We left, puzzled.

We returned today,but now there are nine swans. Have the missing pair joined them? Are the babies there as well, with grey feathers replaced by white?

We parked the car on the bridge and ate chips. There was no sign of the Famous Five. We hoped they had not been chased away by the swans, but as we watched people coming and going, it seemed like they had gone for good.
Then someone started feeding the swans, and they drifted to the far side of the bridge. Suddenly we could hear manic quackings from the reed bed, and out they appeared right next to us, following the leader as always!

They had to paddle really hard to reach the other side of the bridge before the bread ran out, but luckily the kind man saw them coming and made sure they got their share, even if it meant some very long throws over the heads of the swans!

The seagulls didn't even bother to compete.

This place is popular with walkers, cyclists and locals just coming to feed the birds. The other side of the bridge has far more reeds and lots of mallards. People stop on the bridge in their cars and just enjoy the view down the wide estuary and the bird activity.
Unfortunately this tranquil scene is frequently spoilt by people sailing small boats or paddling canoes up the estuary from Yarmouth, ignorantly pushing right through the birds, even in the winter when there are huge flocks of wading migrants. They have no regard for either the birds that they disturb, or the birdwatchers and people feeding them on the bridge. They usually tie their boats up to the bridge, completely unaware of their actions, and mostly looking smug as if they are showing off.

As we were watching today we saw what must be the most ridiculous form of entertainment I have ever seen!. A man slowly paddled towards us, standing up on what looked like a surfboard. What fun (not!) He wouldn't even be able to lift a leg without tipping over!

As he came close, the people on the bridge stared at him. I think his intention was to come ashore at the bridge, but the closer he got, the noisier the swans became, and finally he decided to turn round and head back again.
If that's one good thing about the swans, I hope they stay!

What a lovely, sunny day off I've had. Still trying to cling on to my relaxed, holiday mood after my leave, three days back at work not too bad. There's nothing like an early morning cup of tea in the sun with the cats. Well, two of them! Whiskers has to sleep off his night-time activities.
Rolly loves the sun! He's the first one out.

Half an hour later Kitty appeared, and distracted Rolly by looking at a small, crawly thing with far too much interest.

I did try to take a nice photo of Kitty, but she's such an affectionate little cat, she doesn't let me get close to her without getting up to greet me with a rub, so this is the usual picture of her......

Much easier to take a photo of a bug than Kitty!

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Deserted Beach

The Isle of Wight is a small island, packed at this time of year with holiday makers, but it's still easy to find an isolated beach. The reason is, most visitors gather at the popular, sandy beaches with convenient car parking and other facilities, and even then they don't stray too far along the coast for fear of getting cut off.
We ventured to the North Western edge yesterday, and had lunch at a popular beach-side park, but just five minutes walk along the coast and we had left everyone else behind with their BBQ's and ball games.

The cliff at this section of the beach has been falling into the sea, creating strange tree skeletons. It also means access has been lost, and you have to know the tides to safely walk any distance.

To further complicate things, the North side of the IOW, ie, the Solent side has not one high tide but two each day. (Excellent for shipping into & out of Southampton and Portsmouth).

We walked along it as the tide was going out, but I still had to wade through water to get round one dead tree. On the way back it was possible to stay dry footed.

There were quite a lot of shells. I always try NOT to collect shells, I mean....what do you do with them apart from clog up some windowsill reserved for this?

These somehow found their way into my pocket.....

As I type this I look out the window at Whiskers. My wild boy is patiently waiting for the light to fade. He will stay in all night in the winter, or when it's raining, but on these warm evenings he will disappear at about 10pm, and return home just before dawn.

I would love to know where he goes all night. I think it may be the stable yard across the field, in search of mice. He never brings anything home to show for his endeavours, thankfully!