How to go Veggie? Click this link

Want to go veggie banner

Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone! Wishing you lots of health and happiness for 2011.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

In praise of........

I wonder if you can guess who the following quotes belong to,  someone who is deeply sensitive and writes as wittily as Oscar Wilde, loves animals and became a vegetarian at the age of 14. 

"I like animals very much - lovable, dumb chums, loyal, decent and lovely - and if I'd had my way I'd've been reared in a menagerie." 

"I really craved the company of animals - the wordless simplicity of it.  Even now, with my cat Morrissey, I cherish the moments that I'm absolutely alone with him, and the unrecorded tenderness that no one will ever know of - I don't even feed him that much any more, 'cos Lynne, the housekeeper, does that now.  But he seems to want something from me that isn't food, and perhaps that thing is love."

"When I was eleven, I got a gerbil, Barney.  I worshipped Barney the way primitive people worshipped the animals they hunted, seeing in the creature a connection to the natural and the divine.  My devotion was swiftly rewarded when Barney, with scant regard for his gender, quite brilliantly had a litter of babies.  I treasure the memory of these tiny, pink, squirming chipolatas.  It was miraculous - like how Christmas should feel."

"It's difficult to believe in yourself because the idea of self is an artificial construction. You are, in fact, part of the glorious oneness of the universe. Everything beautiful in the world is within you. No-one really feels self-confident deep down because it's an artificial idea. Really, people aren't that worried about what you're doing or what you're saying, so you can drift around the world relatively anonymously: you must not feel persecuted and examined. Liberate yourself from that idea that people are watching you."

"For me happiness occurs arbitrarily: a moment of eye contact on a bus, where all at once you fall in love; or a frozen second in a park where it's enough that there are trees in the world"




Well I never! 

Russell Brand, twice voted The Sexiest Vegetarian Alive (2008 & 2009)

All quotes taken from 'My Booky Wook' by Russell Brand

I was inspired to find out more about Russell Brand because of something I'd seen on t.v.  I can't remember which programme it was, but the production company had arranged for a woman, heavily laden with parcels and carrier bags, to drop them in a busy London street, viewed by a hidden camera.  They did this numerous times to see if anyone would stop to help her.  No one did for ages until along came a lanky lad with a woollen hat hiding his hair.  At first they didn't recognise him - it turned out to be Russell Brand!   

Sunday, December 26, 2010

If the Christmas tables were turned.....

 You go!

Christmas has got me thinking of all those turkeys, geese, chickens and ducks that have ended up on our dinner plates (not guilty!). I'm having fun thinking of how animals could wreak their revenge on humankind.  Heh, heh.

Disclaimer: I apologise for the images portraying humankind as male - if I come across any with female images, I will include them. :D


Tit for Tat ~ get those slimey peeps!

This Zebra is Crossing



Stuffing the Christmas Peeps


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Oh my goodness, it's so long since my last blog post!  The main reason for that is because I haven't been able to do any gardening since moving to the new house.  We had one half-decent weekend when I managed to cut the grass down with shears - the garden has been neglected for quite a long time so the grass was long and coarse.  Since then it's either been raining or snowing and the back garden, we've found, is a perpetual bog!  This is because of damaged underground pipes in the next-door-neighbour's garden - the pipes are linked to ours so our garden gets flooded as well as hers.  Unfortunately the neighbour, an elderly lady, spends most of the time down south with her sister, so we're waiting to see what she's going to do about the pipes.  Meanwhile, I'm considering just turning the whole of the back garden into a huge pond. :) 

I have to confess I've been a teeny weeny bit down in the dumps at not being able to get started with the garden, but I'm telling myself that it will be worth the wait.  Anyway, because I have no garden photos, I'm posting ones that I took while out walking today.  Part of my walk took place during a 'white-out' - a man stopped to offer me a lift.  I told him it was okay, that I was out for a walk to take some photographs and thanked him.  "Yer mad," he replied and sped off before I could come up with some witty retort, such as, "Madness is relative" or even accuse him of being mad for driving in such dangerous conditions.  Ah well, I enjoyed my walk nevertheless and if it hadn't been for me needing to go to the loo, I'd have stayed out longer.

Here's two lovely cows I met while walking along the old railway line.  They were sheltering in the corner of the field and were totally indifferent to the interest I showed in them.  One of them glanced round briefly at me, the other didn't move at all. :)

A road bridge going over the old railway line - it leads to a farm

Horses in the snow

You didn't know Narnia was in County Durham, did you!  It isn't really - this leads into the nature reserve at Oakenshaw.

 These reeds are growing in the lake, which is now frozen over, at the Oakenshaw nature reserve.  I love the contrast of the straw-like texture and golden-yellow of the reeds with the dark green conifers in the background.

It's dusk now and the light in the photos is changing.  This is the frozen lake with a little island in the middle.  There are usually lots of ducks here, but I think the cold must have taken them somewhere else where they might get more food..... I hope.

Having left the nature reserve and village of Oakenshaw behind, I am now approaching my home town of Willington.  These sheep made a peaceful and restfull scene, but when I approached them with my camera they jumped up and moved off.  I apologised for disturbing them.

I make my way along the farm track that takes me to the top of the pit bank.  I'm very fond of this particular spot - it looks scenic whatever the season.

At the top of the pit bank looking down on Willington

My walk was just over 4 miles and I was out for only a couple of hours but I enjoyed it so much, except for the bit when I couldn't find the exit at the nature reserve and got a bit disorientated...... it looked different all covered in snow.  I didn't much like the thought of me stumbling through the trees in the dark..... not with my imagination! 

Update on my NaNoWriMo novel - I didn't get it finished within the month, so I didn't get a winner's T-shirt (boo-hoo), but I've since finished it and now at work with the editing. It was a really fun experience, one that I would thoroughly recommend to everyone.

And now I would like to wish everyone a

Sunday, October 31, 2010

See you soon.....

'Fall Day' by Phil Morin

We're off to our new house and garden and I wont have my internet connection for another week, so I wanted to say cheerio for now.  I'll miss you all and have a good week everyone! :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Nostalgic Farewell

We only have until the weekend in this house before moving to our new one, so I've been looking through my photographs of some of the plants and creatures that have made the time in the garden special.

Here's Charlie strolling up the path.  This was in the midst of Summer and all the plants are in full growth. One of my favourite plants is the Angelica which you can see in the middle foreground, with the large lime-green seed heads.

These Anemone de Caen were a gorgeous surprise.  I planted the corms not knowing what colour they would be and I was delighted.  I never knew flowers could come in such a shocking pink!  They looked stunning on the patio.

This is Esmerelda who lived in the greenhouse a few Summers ago.  She laid eggs and I saw all the little babies after they hatched - hundreds of them!

This is a beautiful climbing rose called Cecile Bruner.  I can thoroughly recommend it.  It's a strong grower, but doesn't get out of hand and it produces flowers in early Summer with a repeat flowering in the Autumn.  The flowers are gorgeous, especially when the buds are just beginning to open.  The flowers are tiny and produced in abundance.

Here's a very special friend, the robin who nested in our greenhouse and kept us company from early Spring right up to late Summer.  It was pure joy to work in the garden with Robin flitting backwards and forwards with food to feed its chicks.

A favourite fuchsia, 'Blue Heaven'.  This one is the closest to a blue fuchsia you can get, in my opinion.  It's a robust and beautiful plant and I still have one flowering strongly even though it's nearly November.

'Bart Comperen', my favourite of all fuchsias.  The dark aubergine of the corolla and the rose-pink sepals is an entrancing contrast.  If I could only grow one fuchsia, this would be it.

This is our friends, the collared doves.  They visit our garden daily.

This little nettle is one of my favourite wildflowers in the garden.  Growing at the base of a birch tree, it produces a neat bushy plant and the flowers provide early food for bees.  I think it looks very pretty, especially intermingled with the Geranium Johnson's Blue.

Robin again!
Seeing the garden like this in its full glory reminds me of all the happy days spent in it, or just watching the wildlife from behind the windows - the frogs, mice and all the different birds and insects.  The house we're moving into is smaller and will be more economical to run, but it has a garden to three sides of it and I know that we'll spend many happy years there too.  It's only a few minutes walk from this house so I'm hoping that we'll get the same birds visit us at our new garden.  I'm not sure what distances they travel to feed but I'm hoping it's within their boundary.  We have really appreciated the pleasure that the garden and its inhabitants have given us - I hope that the next people who come to live here respect and care for it.  


Friday, October 15, 2010

I'm a versatile blogger - Ethelmae says so!

I apologise to all my blogging friends for not posting & commenting recently.  This is because we are moving house on the 1st November, the very day I start my novel!  (see no.1 below)  My visits to blogland will probably be few and far between but once November has been and gone, normality should resume.

Having got that out of the way, I'd like to thank Ethelmae for this award.  I feel honoured to be one of her nominees.  With this award goes the custom of revealing eight facts that no one knows about moi - I had to do this some time ago but here's another eight unknown facts ...... full of surprises, eh? :O)

Here we go:-

1)  I am about to write a novel in thirty days, along with thousands of other people!  National Novel Writing Month takes place between November 1-30th.  It's exciting and fun ..... and completely bonkers.  The NaNoWriMo website is here.
2)  I have an alter ego called Eliza.  She lived in a house that I once lived in.  She and her very large family occupied it during the 1860s.  I got very strong feelings about Eliza and sensed that she was a strong person with a personality to match.  Whenever I find myself in a difficult situation I think, "What would Eliza do?"  The grown-up's equivalent of an imaginary friend?

3)  My hubby was once a jockey and also a bantamweight boxer.  When he left school, he wanted to join the army but was too light.  He was sent away and told to come back when he had put weight on - he tried for almost a year but couldn't increase his weight.  He is still petite with lovely firm muscles to match. :D

4)  My hubby is my second husband.  My first husband Robert (Rab), and I went to school together and got married when he was 16 and I was 17.  He died when he was 23.  I have two sons to Robert who are both over 6 feet tall and a daughter to present hubby, who is the smallest in her class at school and who, at the age of 13, has to wear clothes for ages 10-11. :O) I also have a stepson (from hubby's previous marriage).  Anth's a good-looking chappie and a dead ringer for the gorgeous Tom Hardy (pictured right).

5)  I have recently taken up hula-hooping, a wonderfully creative way of keeping fit that has been all the rage in the USA - we Brits are slowly .... very slowly catching on.  I have since bust the living-room chandelier fittings and put a huge scratch on the t.v. screen, as well as almost scaring the dogs to death.  They scarper when they see me reach for my hoop! Here's Chrisabel Zamor showing how it should be done, and there's a YouTube film of her at the bottom of my blog page. 

6)  My first job when I left school was as one of those glamour girls who work on the cosmetics counters in posh stores.  I worked for Gala Cosmetics in Lewis's at Glasgow, Scotland.  It was the ideal job for a sixteen year old girl with all the freebies!

The Forth Rail Bridge, Edinburgh, Scotland (opened 1890)

7)  If I was given the chance to go back to being school age (the gods forbid!), I'd want to be an engineer and build beautiful bridges. 

8)  I had wanted to call my first-born son 'Jason', which was a really cool name in the late sixties/early seventies.  However, my mother got her way (as she always does) and he was named Jon-Paul.  She must have been a visionary because this name has become a popular choice in the past few years.  Feeling piqued at having given in to mum's choice, I got a kitten and called it Jason - Jason turned out to be a girl cat!  I still called her Jason though. :D

The rule of The Versatile Blogger Award states that I have to forward it on to 10 more bloggers.  If I had my way, I'd award this back to Ethelmae, but I don't think she'd thank me for it somehow!  She has brought me much pleasure and laughter with her blog posts.  Thank you Ethelmae.  Anyway, without further ado, here are the numbskulls..... er, I mean nominees:-

1. Gf, sorry - you're it again! Go here to enter the world of Greenfingers at his blog, A Gardener's Life in Motion.  Gf truly is a versatile writer - he can take any subject ..... and I mean any subject, and make it a literary gem!

2. Everyday Goddess is here.  This blogger can turn her hand to anything .... poetry, fiction and simply telling it how it is.  A must read.

3. Phil's the man.... and we're priviliged to have him belong to County Durham.... nah nah nahnah nah :D  He's a botanist, author and university lecturer at Durham University.  Take yourself here and here to poach some of Phil's vast store of knowledge at two of his blogs, Cabinet of Curiosities and A Digital Botanic Garden.

4.  You need to go here to catch up on the shenanigans of John at Sedgedunum Warbler.  John is very committed to the blooms and beasties of the world and he always manages to make me smile with his funny posts.  He's a terrific photographer too.

5.  Visit Helen here at her blog, Downland Views.  She's not afraid to get down and dirty with all the work on the land that she does.  Her lifestyle sounds idyllic but hard work and it's a pleasure to read her posts.

6.  If you like photography, visit Adrian's blog here at Adrian's Images.  I never appreciated fungi so much till I saw Adrian's photos of them!  He always manages to come up with something beautiful, exciting and unusual - a real visual treat...... er, I'm talking about his photographs peeps!  This is the effect Adrian has on me - his latest post is about flashing. :O)

7.  Visit Syd here at his blog I'm just F.I.N.E. -- Recovery in Al-Anon.  Syd writes about many things.... his journey in Al-Anon, the things he gets up to in his retirement, his garden and his pets, etc.  He writes with understanding and empathy and I always feel a warm buzz when I've looked in on Syd.

8.  You'll find Michael and his blog, Spice of Life here.  This man has been everywhere!  I've enjoyed the many locations he writes about from my comfy computer chair.... mind you, with his fantastic photographs and the way Michael describes the locations, I want to be there for real!

9.  You must pop into David's blog, Orchids, Nature and my Outdoor Life.  You'll find it here.  David writes about his wonderful garden and posts equally wonderful photographs of it.  He's also a very keen walker and I love the posts he does about that and the magnificent photos, especially of Lancashire and Yorkshire.

10.  For a sheer visual delight, go here to see Andrea's colourful photographs of the exotic flowers and landscapes she writes about in her blog, Andrea In This Lifetime.

That's it *takes a bow* - curtains close ...... now off you go and get acquainted with all these fab blogs!

Monday, October 4, 2010

A rainy Sunday walk

Hubby was in a self-righteous mood with a self-righteous air to match, as he went about the house tidying things away. I'd been doing that all week and decided I needed to get out for a dose of fresh air, so off I went and left him to it, hee-hee. :) The rain was pelting down but it wasn't icy cold, in fact it was refreshing.

Leaving the town behind

This is a view looking back towards the small town of Willington. I was heading towards the village of Hunwick on what used to be the railway line and is now a popular path used by walkers, cyclists, horse riders and runners.
As I walked along the old railway line I thought of what it must have been like when trains ran along the route and of all the people who journeyed here. At dusk it can be quite eerie. My daughter sometimes claims to hear the sound of a distant train - childish imagination perhaps?

The old railway station at Hunwick

This building used to be the railway station serving Hunwick, and is now somebody's lovely home. It doesn't appear to have changed that much though, and it's quite easy to imagine travellers waiting on the platform for the train to arrive. My dad and his brothers would have boarded the train here on their trips to Durham and Bishop Auckland, as his family belonged to Hunwick after moving from Ireshopeburn in Weardale.

The Oak Tree at Rough Lea Farm, Hunwick

Just off the railway line is Rough Lea Farm. My dad's best friend lived here when he was a child and it was a working farm then. They used to climb this tree which is hundreds of years old. Rough Lea Farm no longer belongs to that family as they have all passed on and it's since been transformed into a very posh residence, but it's lovely to see the big oak tree still there. Children are seemingly still enjoying it as there's a rope ladder hanging from one of its branches.

Back down at the old railway path, I saw lots of different kinds of fungi. I don't know what kind these are but they looked so beautiful I just had to take a photo of them.

Despite the pouring rain - or maybe because of it - I really enjoyed my walk. There weren't many people about except for two cyclists and some fishermen as I walked back home by the river. Glancing up at the grey sky two geese flew overhead, and a Jack Russell dog was barking as it playfully jumped in and out of the river. That wouldn't please the people fishing!
Usually when I go out walking I powerwalk, but today I just wanted to relax and take my time. I wanted to see things I usually miss, like some hazelnuts lying on the ground - now on my kitchen window-sill waiting to be planted. Besides, the longer I took the more industrious hubby would be at home and he might even have the dinner ready for me on my return. :)

Monday, September 27, 2010


Every morning, one of the first things I do is go on to the patio to throw some food out for the birds.

"I'll just finish this and then clean up that poopsie one of the dogs has left," I thought, still dazed and bleary-eyed - that is ..... until I noticed the 'poopsie' was moving. :O)

"Oh! It's one of those big orange slugs," I thought to myself as I took a closer look. On googling I found that it is the orange form of the large black slug. There's some more information here.

I measured him and he was 6 inches (15.5 cm) long, but he could extend himself up to 7 3/4 inches (20 cm) if he wanted to.

I laid a fuchsia flower beside him to illustrate his proportions. He showed a little interest in the flower before heading off behind a large flower pot.

When I was googling for information on slugs, much of it comprised of methods on how to kill them. I'm horrified at many of the suggestions and wonder at the kind of people who could carry out such grisly actions.

This particular slug, I discovered, prefers to feed on rotting vegetation rather than living plants which is probably why I have since noticed him hanging out round the compost bin. As you might guess, you wont find any Hostas in our garden - though I'm considering growing one or two as a treat for 'our' sluggies! I have to say that the slugs in our garden have been kind to us and have never caused any destruction to the plants. Maybe it's because of all the frogs that live here...... or maybe it's because I'm such an untidy gardener that there is always plenty of available foodstuffs already provided for them.

I liked this.
(Taken from Hill-Stead's Nature Blog by Dianne Tucker.)
"Slugs can stretch themselves up to twenty times their original length, enabling them to fit into tight spaces. Their slime is laid down in a continuous trail that they can retrace to a satisfying food source. Their friends and relatives can follow it too. Snails have an interrupted slime line."

Your single foot it leaves no print,
It just sets down a slimy hint
For you to follow later when
You go back for a snack again.
A body-made roadmap comes in handy
When you hanker for some greenery candy!

You can read the full blog post and the rest of the poem here.

Some random facts about slugs.

* There are between 50,000 and 200,00 plus mollusc species alive in the world today. Many species have yet to be discovered and many recently discovered species are yet to be identified and named.

* It travels at a speed of 2 feet in 43 seconds.

* When slugs' teeth wear out, new rows move forward to replace them, conveyor-belt style.

* They have 25,000 teeth.

* Only 5% of the slug population appears above ground at any one time.

* Slugs have four noses!

* They can live up to 6 years.

* If a slug loses an eye or an ear stalk, it can be grown back.

* A slug's blood is green.

* A slug lays 20-100 eggs several times a year. They can lie dormant in the soil for years until conditions are right for them to hatch.

Final word because I love this. :)
"Slug slime is a natural anaesthetic. If you lick a slug enough, your tongue will go numb. In fact, some Native Americans used to put slugs in their mouths when they had toothache and let them crawl around. I don't recommend licking a slug because I'm sure it's not good for them."

I love that! A person after my own heart. :)
Taken from Tser's 'All About Slugs' which is here.