Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve

a star to guide us by, Venus sitting by the newish moon, maybe this conjunction indicates next year will be a happier one for us all

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

more red things

is it midday in Penzance, or New York? The end of a cold fine day is marked by a misty surreal sunset (much the same as last year at this time). Even though I am not that old, I reckon that in my lifetime winter has become very dry, and we have a new season, the monsoon season, that runs from May to September.

Monday, December 29, 2008

classic robin photo

a very friendly, and chubby, robin helping us with our garden chores today

Friday, December 26, 2008

this large grey heron was seen over Carthamartha fleeing the scene, but I doubt that herons top and tail fish, I am sure they swallow them whole

Harriet finds her Christmas lunch

Harriet found and consumed the head of a salmon, and then found the tail about a mile away and consumed that on the way home. No fish as big as this swims in the Inny (it would run aground). All sorts of explanations spring to mind, but I think the most likely explanation is that someone had salmon for Christmas Eve supper, and something has scavenged the remains. Fox? No waste around here.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

at the rock face

intricate and mysterious imagery from the quarry at Kit Hill. It looks like a natural (wild) version of a Japanese garden, or vice versa

Sunday, December 14, 2008

a welcome visitor

a goldfinch, fat from eating thistle seed, pausing to pose. A fugitive from the flock.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

the evidence accumulates

four days later the twig is bare, not a sign of a fungus or lichen. It was a cold morning but not frosty. It seems increasingly likely to me that this is ice, but I am puzzled why we only see it in areas of deciduous wood, and why I have never seen ice in this form before. A question for the New Scientist

Sunday, December 07, 2008

ice fungus

at almost the same time of year last year, and under similar very frosty conditions, we found these peculiar looking excrescences on dead twigs and branches in the woods (see link for more pictures). It puzzled me at the time that I could not find anything remotely similar in the (many) reference books in Spot's library when it was so very distinctive. After much searching, we have found a similar picture on Google images, at the University of British Columbia botanical forum (link). There it is suggested that this is in fact ice, not a fungus at all. This is certainly consistent with its sporadic nature in cold weather, and it looks just like wispy snow. Can this be true? If so, finding it out is yet another demonstration of the phenomenal information power of the internet, and Google in particular.

rapt attention

heavily disguised and almost invisible in the winter canopy, a buzzard watching Spot hare about in the early morning frost.


a delicate little mushroom looking very like a Japanese parasol, one of the many mycena species.

flocking together

I think the birds in the pages below may well be gulls, seen above today gathering in a field. The collective name for gulls, a flock, seems very appropriate.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

more mooning about

flocks of large birds flying south, in great wide V's, plus the occasional straggler("wait for me"). It is difficult to identify them, possibly curlews. They came in wave after wave, like images from world war 2.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Jupiter, Venus and Us

I know, it just looks black but there is Jupiter, Venus (below the moon) and the moon hanging out together, setting over our little village. I knew there was something strange going on up there. Thanks to Spike and the Laurel Cottage crew for pointing out this wonderful spectacle.

more fungi

some sort of bracket fungus, as usual it remains unidentified.

an old bridge

an interesting relic ... these pictures show the remnants of an old bridge of some sort. The stone footings suggest it must have been quite substantial at one time although as far as I can tell there is no bridge marked on the OS map at this point. It is in the deepest part of the woods and looks more than the work of a few boys having fun.

more progress at Beal's Mill

and now the joists are up, and the new flood barrier is looking good. New owners' daughter was almost swallowed up by the mud but was rescued with the loss of only one boot.

Monday, November 24, 2008

on the subject of interesting things 4

two Mary Stork figure paintings, and one figurative sculpture derived from one of her paintings, a William Scott (artist's proof), three Raku figures from the Rudge production line, one John Pollex jug (picked for the image of Nashwan), two lamps from Trago Mills (the most extraordinary store ever, even for Cornwall), and some bric a brac (priceless objets)

on the road to Luckett

on the road to (the bottomless pit of) Luckett, taken for no other reason than to observe the pleasing contrasts between greens and browns.

Monday, November 17, 2008

starling leaves

They look like leaves that should have fallen by now, but are in fact flocks of starlings assembling before embarking on the aerial pyrotechnics that liven up the winter days. They are very noisy; I am sure they are simply chattering away excitedly about feather cleaning, wing tips and holiday spots.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

on the subject of interesting things 3

a stunning sculptural (assemblage) work by John Howlin, made from an infant's crib, and representing the night sky seen from behind bars, and an ominous date (it is called Casement 2, and is one of a pair). It is hard to convey the solidity and strength of this work in only two dimensions

autumn colour 3

in the woods, and an out of season (completely) rhododendron (ponticum) flower, giving the woods a feel of the jungle

autumn colour 2

Endsleigh House surrounded by its autumnal clothes (see link for a Spring view), taken from the peasant's side of the river.

autumn images 1

a deceptive and beautiful image from a long walk by the Tamar today. It was raining leaves, but it is very difficult to capture that image.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

from mariners to midges

this little midge is about an eighth of an inch long (3 or 4 mm), what struck me in the grand scheme of things is that he consists mostly of fluffy or plumed antennae. Detecting chemicals in the air must be extremely important, or maybe lady midges prefer lads with big plumes

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

on the subject of interesting things 2

and 42 years later, aged 50, he has made it to coxswain of the launch (I am not sure what this means in naval terms). I suspect 50 was a good age for a seaman. This is a sort of identity card before the days of photographs.

Monday, November 10, 2008

on the subject of interesting things

these are the indenture papers of Spot's best friend's great great great grandfather, born in 1795, and apprenticed at the tender age of eight on 8 December 1803, two years before the battle of Trafalgar. Painter was, I think, a seaman trade in the merchant navy. By the strange path that these things follow, his grand-daughter met and married the son of a Naval boatswain, presumably because they moved in sea faring circles (lots of tacking?). Her husband went on to design the great battleships of the late Victorian era and the first world war. I showed this document to a friend today, who visits the web site occasionally. His grandfather was a Naval constructor and helped to build several ships, including HMS Indefatigable; his family tradition has it that most of them were sunk at the battle of Jutland. When I checked out HMS Indefatigable today, who should have designed it but my very own great grandfather. It is odd to think that our (g) grandfathers must have spent many hours working together and that a hundred years later, after a multitude of life events and moves all over the world, their (g) grandsons found themselves sitting around discussing life and philosophy, and examined a document that was to link them together in a most unexpected way.

Great GP also went on to write a English Italian dictionary of Naval Terms, the only available copy of which is in the Congress library; can a love of things Italian be genetic? And his son Stanley, my great uncle was a midshipman on a battleship in the battle of Jutland. The ship was beached on the Goodwin sands, and all escaped including the ship's cat. I do not know whether to attribute his escape to good design or sound construction. Great grandpa made a fortune out of it anyway, which he dissipated on the French Riviera, and on an annuity, dying shortly after the purchase of which, thus setting the family on a new and entirely unjustified path of poverty, and proving the old saw of rags to rags in three generations.

More interesting things another day (and see this link to amongst the oaks which set me thinking).

Sunday, November 09, 2008

autumn colour

One of the beech trees in our garden, the leaves are a nuisance on the grass, but look stunning in the pale winter sunlight seen against the dark bark.

Poor Spot has had a nervous breakdown following Bonfire night (see this link for an explanation of this 400 year old ritual), and fireworks all week and especially on Friday when we made the mistake of going out. He tried to eat and scratch his way through the front door, and then disappeared for three hours because everyone else thought he had been a bit of a wuss. He has recovered now. Fireworks and dogs don't mix.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

election result special

the poll of the world for lurcher of the year, and most attractive dog has now closed (see side panel). The result is an overwhelming vote for President Spot (the hairy, black one), with 77% of the vote cast (by 7 to 1 !! (one spoilt vote)). Provided that there are no sudden changes in the count, or vote rigging by GOP (friends of Harriet, the smooth brown one) Spot is declared the winner. May he rule wisely and kindly. And we wish whoever wins the other little election good luck and a fair wind; none of us can afford for you to fail, or to let us down.

dryad's saddle

the top two photos are of a bracket fungus or of Dryad's saddle (the little people and wood nymphs presumably use it for riding on unicorns), and the bottom photo from 2002 and just downstream is definitely a Dryad's. And we found a white feather on our walk.

beals mill

meanwhile, back at the mill there has been some progress (again see earlier pictures by clicking on the label for Beals Mill). The foreman on the site told me that there is evidence of buildings even earlier than the twelfth century, so there may have been a mill on this site for more than a thousand years. I wonder how long it will be before it becomes a mill once more.

autumn has arrived

one of my favourite spots on the Inny meadows (see earlier pictures as well).

Sunday, October 26, 2008

autumn's coming

It hasn't been a good year for mushrooms so far. Unfortunately, we can never sort out what sort of mushrooms we are looking at, milkcaps, honey fungus or something deadly. Every year we try and identify them, and we have always forgotten by the beginning of next autumn.

spike's place

the sun always shines on Spike's house, home of Venterdon's second most famous canine blogger

Saturday, October 18, 2008

a visit to eden project 3

I love the imagery of the Bacchanalian orgy in the mediterranean biodome (nothing new then on the planet), and the torpid heat and steam of water vapour in the jungle

a visit to eden project 2

I love the mixture of real and surreal throughout the project, and the juxtapostion of the materialist landscape with the floral landscape. It reminds me of the work of an artist friend called John Howlin. he would have loved the man of parts

a visit to eden project 1

the first view of the biodomes at Eden Project is always impressive simply because of the sheer scale of the site. The middle photograph shows the site on our first fleeting visit in September 2000. We take our visitors there quite often. It has transformed the local economy. And one of our neighbours is on the poster welcoming you to the site. I think the logos might well be just as apt for our blogs