About Me

Friday, 20 August 2010


Yesterday, Baz said there had been an feature on BBC Breakfast about the drop in greenfinch numbers but he'd had to leave for work before the detail came on. An article in yesterday's Telegraph gives the cause as trichomonosis, a disease which normally affects pigeons but has been affecting greenfinches and chaffinches for five or so years now. The British Trust for Ornithology, who carried out the research with help from the general public, are very concerned. On their web site they recommend, regular sterilization of feeders and, if sign of disease are noted, to stop feeding birds for a period of around 2 weeks then re-introduce food gradually, keeping an eye on the situation.

I have not noticed any sick birds but there's a clearly been an absence of greenfinches. The population is declining by 1 in 3.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Nature Notes

When out walking, it’s so noticeable how Himalayan balsam is colonising our open spaces, not just the edges of paths but across uncultivated fields and partly dried up streams. Pretty enough, there’s just too much of it. It is far more prolific than rosebay willowherb and may be driving out more familiar plants, affecting diversity. It’s creeping up Nelly’s Clough like a nasty rash. (I’d better explain: Nelly’s Clough is a path that weaves past the golf course and farm land near the end of my road and not an elderly woman with a sexual health problem!)

Despite this intrusion, Nelly is looking good at the moment with hawthorn, elder, blackberry brambles full of fruit and nettles, dock, rosebay willowherb, vetch and ragwort lining the edges of the path. On the slope down to the stream there are crab apple trees and a couple of splendid fuchsias that must have seeded years ago from a nearby garden.

I saw a heron at Wallsuches alongside coots, Canada geese and mallards.There are more butterflies about than last year. I saw peacocks, spotted woods, small coppers and small tortoiseshells along the way. At Wallsuches five peacocks lay sunning themselves on the path till I disturbed them. I also came across some exotic breeds. Two brown and patchy long horn goats (I think they were goats!) grazed in a field near Brinks Row, while a couple of Lamas relaxed in the sun at the top of Green Lane.

In the garden we have seen plenty of goldfinches and sparrows, though not too many sightings of greenfinches at the moment. Earlier I peered in the sunken blue bowl and saw the frog peeping up from the murky rain water. I then made the mistake of saying ‘hello’. The frog jumped. I jumped. It jumped some more and then hid out for a while behind the flower pots. If it’s the same frog that was in there last year it sure has grown.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Fun reading

As well as buying Possession, I also purchased The Adventures and Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes with my birthday vouchers. This has proved to be extremely entertaining, much more so than when I was a teenager, when many of the quirks and theatricalities of Holmes's personality and Conan-Doyle's style were lost on me. The titles themselves are classic: The Adventure of The Man with the Twisted Lip, for example, and the prose is great. The Victorian element is wonderful, obviously missing from the new up-to-date T.V. dramatisations but some of the detail has passed into the modernisation really well. Sherlock's long thin legs toasting by the fire, his haughty self-regard, obsessive nature, fierce concentration and manic mood swings, for instance. Reading Holmes has prompted me to re-look at a book I bought about five years ago but never got around to reading, Arthur and George , by Julian Barnes, which is partly based on the life of Conan-Doyle.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Twittering the holidays away

Finally I activated my Twitter account but now I've got there what do I do? Is there anyone I want to follow? Why would anyone follow me? Mrs Stephen Fry looked fun but what can one add?

It's obviously the holidays: much as I harbour desires to write a novel, I really do prefer lolling and lazying, watching the magnetic Benedict Cumberbatch playing Sherlock on catch up TV, posting incognito at Ship of Fools and signing up to more internet madness.

I did get two ideas for stories but, as always, cried off. What I really need is to attend one of those courses where they lock you in a room for five hours and get you to read your efforts to other would be writers while some published dude gives advice.