31 December 2008

Words worth

May I wish all my readers as much health, peace and happiness as another spin around our beautiful sun can bring you.

I'll see this one out with a song; Words.mp3

Words are gentle words are strong
Words are used in every song
Words can heal and words can part
Words can even break your heart
Words say nothing or a lot
Sometimes words are all you've got
Words like love or guilt or blame
Snow or fire, wind or rain
Spoken lightly or in jest
Words are used in every test
Words can give and words deny
Words of truth, words that lie
Words begin and words can end
Some you get and some you send
Words can can smile, words can cry
Words can speak but never sigh
Words are spoken, words are read
Some are whispered in your bed
Words like always, wrong or right
Some just drift into the night
Eat your words and drink the sky
Words can make a humble pie
They burn like fire and freeze like ice
Some command a heavy price
Words reveal they also hide

Silence is a word denied

29 December 2008

Laugh or Cry?

Now then, after you've heartily overstuffed yourself and then slathered yourself in the perfume of choice, you will be aware (will be made aware), that now is the time to rush out and buy a new sofa prior to plonking oneself in front of the boob tube for some mind numbingly seasonal entertainment. Yep, perfumes are out and sofas are the next big thing. Goody.
As Jonathan Bignell explains “The semiotic analysis of advertising assumes that the meanings of ads are designed to move out from the page or screen on which they are carried, to shape and lend significance to our experience of reality.”
Oh dear, dear Humanity; such things make me laugh and make me cry.
Fortunately, there are other things in life to make me laugh and make me cry.
This year......
Laura made me laugh.
Nick made me cry.
Over to you then?

EDIT: But srsly; is there not something wrong here? We accrete possessions to fuel our vanity and hope to find that some of their worth will rub off onto our own person and enrich us somehow and we buy (literally) into this delusion while our true poverty is hidden behind an illusion of wealth.

As EM Forster aptly puts it in 'Howards End', "We are reverting to a civilization of luggage, and historians of the future will note how the middle classes accreted possessions without taking root in the earth, and may find in this the secret of their imaginative poverty." Later, he has the somewhat flighty and romantically inclined Helen Schlegel say....."in the end, the world will be a desert of chairs and sofas - just imagine it! - rolling through infinity with no one to sit upon them." I can't put it any better than that really.

23 December 2008

Eau de Plot...because it's worth it.....

For your loved one this Christmas...........
Because you know who you are and you know what you're standing in and you know what you smell like and you know where your plot is and you know what your going to plant and you know where you're going to plant it.

Only £49.99 per 100cl bottle direct from clodhoppers outlet (while stocks last).

21 December 2008


At some point this winter I want to get round to doing something about this soggy area between the shed and the greenhouse on the top plot. It is permanently waterlogged. It makes the left side of the greenhouse too wet and even when it's sunny and hot and you want to collect some water from the barrels at the back you'll find this patch still annoyingly puddlesome.

Truth is, I keep putting it off: partly because I want to do it when it has at least dried out enough to dig sensibly, and partly because I'm not really sure what the best thing to do is. Maybe just dig a soak-away trench? There isn't a natural slope away from this spot and the water butts being where they are probably don't help matters.

Sometimes, you just get those jobs that you'd rather would just go away and leave you alone, but every time you look, there they still are pestering you like an ill mannered Cornish pixie.

Anyone else got jobs like that? What are they?

17 December 2008

Robin's Hoodies

Tibbs lay stretched out on the front room window sill at Malkin Tower gazing out over Pendle Hill, its frosting of ice crystals giving it the appearance of a giant wedding cake. He watched Alizon walking up the path towards the front door; she was enjoying scrunching up the ice in the puddles beneath her black boots.

Demdike sat snoring in front of the fire as usual; it was her favourite place for spending the long cold winter months. She stirred as Alizon clattered in through the door, throwing her cloak across the back of a chair and struggling to cast her boots off so she could warm her chilled toes in front of the fire.

‘W’er you bin?’ Grumbled Demdike, disturbed from her dreams.

‘Bin to London,’ answered Alizon, twinkling her toes in the warmth from the fire.

‘London eh, whatever for?’

‘Folk ‘av bin askin us to sort out this credit crunch business; sum as are losin ther jobs n homes n all and sum ar worser n that even.’

Tibbs stretched out his paws and jumped down off the window sill to come and curl up on Alizon’s lap.

Demdike sat up and leaned forward to stir the pot of onion soup simmering away on it’s cradle in the fireplace. She gave Alizon a quizzical look and settled back in her chair. ‘What av you done?’ She asked suspiciously.

‘Is that soup done?’ Asked Alizon, avoiding the question; Demdike did not always approve of Alizon’s witchcraft: it was too modern for her tastes…. too… method school.

‘No,’ answered Demdike ‘now, what’ve you done girl?’

‘Well...I..er…..oh, not much, really. Just tinkering, really.’


‘Well, just sort or rearranging the government a bit, that’s all.’

‘How, exactly?’

Alizon decided that it was useless to avoide Demdike’s questions: they would go on and on and on, all night if needs be, till the truth came out.

‘Er…..well, I sent Gordon and Alastair away for the weekend.’

‘Oh, good grief…..where to?’

‘More…er… sort of when and where to, really’

‘C’mon girl.’ Demdike gave her a sharp look. ‘Where, when?’

‘Oh, medieval England, about 1263, give or take. Sherwood Forest to be precise. I gave Robin and Alan a Dale the weekend off. Be good if they bump into the oak dragon, don’t you think?’

Somewhere in Sherwood, 1263, give or take…….

“Kind gentlemen and yeomen good
Come in and drink with Robin Hood.
If Robin Hood he be agone
Come in and sup with Gordon Brown.” ..(?..no idea)

“No! those days are gone away
And their hours are old and gray,
And their minutes buried all
Under the down-trodden pall”

“Though their days have hurried by
Let us two a burden try.”…(Keats….no?)

Gordon: You look good in those tights, Darling.

Alastaire: Thanks.

Gordon: And what’s with those eyebrows? Bet they’re a chick magnet.

Alastaire: Sometimes. What are we doing here?

Gordon: *shrugs*

Alastaire: What shall we do about this economic downturn?

Gordon: I know, how about we rob from the rich AND the poor and give it to the banks instead?

Alastaire: Yeah, that'll work. How do you do that thing you do with your chin?

……meanwhile, back in Malkin Tower

A pall of golden light spreads across Pendle Hill as the sun begins to set.

Demdike chuckles heartily. ‘For once, Alizon, m’dear, you’ve excelled yourself.’ She ladles some steaming onion soup into Alizon’s bowl and hands it to her.

‘Got any good ideas for Cameron?’


16 December 2008


It was love at first sight. I didn't really stand a chance. I am cluckolded.

Today we dug up another load of King Edward and Desiree spuds; they are keeping amazingly well in the ground, and some turnips and parsnips to make a fine winter vegetable stew. I gave the mint bucket a short back and sides and snipped out the old rasberry canes.

12 December 2008

Vive La Lune

If you're a bit of a luney like me, tonights the night if you have clear skies where you are. The moon is usually about 385,000km from Earth, but tonight it will be closer at around 363,000km and should appear bigger and brighter than normal, specially at moonrise.


When Ben was a wee nipper we watched a fair bit of childrens tv together. For the most part, I hated it; the modern kids programmes are full of sound and fury and a completely uneccessary manic energy going nowhere. It gave me a headache and left Ben (probably) feeling bemused and over excited. It was TV designed to cater for ADHD kids in the worst possible way. When I (we) could stand it no longer, we would invariably put on something like Tales of the Riverbank with Johnny Morris or Oliver Postgate's Ivor the Engine or the Clangers and breathe a sigh of relief. These were programs with heart, soul, a storyline and above all lots and lots of space. They served me well in my childhood and they have done the same for Ben during his. There really should be a law stipulating that every half hour kids tv show must contain a minimum of ten minutes silence.

Rant over. Fairwell Oliver and thanks. We'll miss you.

11 December 2008


'Girl's pink salopettes. Suit age 7 - 9 years. Elasticated waist, very warm and used for only one holiday and 2 trips to the Chillfactore.'

I saw this on the notice board at work. I am clearly the wrong sort of person to be working here; I do not know what salopettes are and I suspect I would not even be allowed into a 'Chillfactore.' Is it somewhere you have to drink a Latteh?

Postscipt: I have just found out what salopettes and girls are. *blush*

09 December 2008


One of our favourite tunes at the moment is this slinky mazurka (ALIO) from Pascal Rubens. Apart from the main theme being a beautiful melody, the tune lends itself to endless variations and we have never ever played it the same twice yet and probably never will.

Sorry, but you get a chair moving, fridge rumbling, fire burning, clattering version performed in front of the fire on a chilly winter evening last Sunday.

07 December 2008

Pratt St

'Can you tell us where Pratt St is?'

'Camden Town or Kirkaldy, take your pick, and don't you know better than to disturb a lady when she's having a dust bath?'

06 December 2008

The Moon is Falling The Moon is Falling

'Dad dad, the moon fell out the sky!'
'Better put it back then son, can't be doing without the moon.'

04 December 2008

A Touch of Frost

The cold clear bright days are just the best; I feel happy and glad to be alive on days like this.

Apart from cuddling a chicken, there's not much to be done in the garden; the ground is just like rock and even the pile of muck is too difficult to dig into to spread on the plot.

Looking east over towards school in the valley and a snowy Clougha Pike in the background. Be good to get togged up and climb it on a day like this.

Gotta walk down to feed the chooks though and then go to work.

03 December 2008

Living on a Prayer

Since we're on a musical meme it's Ben's turn tonight. He sang with 7,999 (give or take) other kids last night at the MEN arena in Manchester.

I take my hats off to the organisers. Anyone who can get 8k kids to give a passable rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody deserves a big up respec and down pointy fingers with the middle two tucked in....(what is that all about?). I didn't post that one though, it's too big so here is Living on a Prayer by Bye Jovi Bye bye babee bye bye etc..........

29 November 2008

Raise a Ruckus

I was going to post this to celebrate Obama's victory but then the computer blew up and I had to do a Format C: and all the tedious business thereafter and I couldn't find the back up disk with it on either. It's a song adapted from the black slave tradition which is still unfortunately popular.

Since I've missed the boat on that, I'm going to dedicate it to my cousin Cathleen in Oz so that her eyes can light up again. Chin up gal and with loads of love from us all.

Clod's version.... Raise a Ruckus.mp3
It's mp3 format 4 tracked on an ancient tascam by an ancient clod.

28 November 2008

Gorgeous Gorgeous Gingernuts

A Very Young Clod
The incomparable Realdoc has suggested, (for rather unconvincing Darwinian reasons), that we gingers are doomed to extinction. Part of the reasoning is that the UV lighting in clubs and discos reflecting off our frekkly faces produces a sort of putrescent green rendering which makes us unshagabble. Science eh...marvellous!

Obviously I'm not going to take this personally; I have, after all, reproduced entirely successfully, thereby passing on the recessive gene to my son, who is not a gingernut (I would still love him if he was...honest). I have done this against the odds too as I am also a fashion incompetent sensible person who wears socks with his sandals.

Personally, I find redheads very attractive. They tend to be lively, fun loving, intelligent people with a lot of passion for life. Or am I just trying to disguise some latent narcisissitic personality traits?

So, addressing any female readers of my witterings. Do you find redhead guys intrinsically unattractive? If so, why? Or, is it a matter of indifference? Or, are you highly attracted to gingernuts and immediately want to cater to their every whim and fancy & desire. If so you can get me on 07798...*coughs*

27 November 2008

Man Who Killed Boy Attacked Woman In Carwash

This in one of the front page headlines in our local rag tonight *sigh* Makes me think I really should have taken up the journalist option all those years ago when I was offered it.

What can I tell you? The weathers rubbish; but you already know that. We have had a huge steaming pile of muck delivered by tractor and trailer which now sits snugly wrapped at the end of our plot. It is a very satisfying sight and will do the soil a power of good this winter. We have eaten the last of our tomatoes and now have to buy them Grrrrr! Still lifting spuds though, and plenty of cabbages and kale and parsnips and sprouts etc to go at. Really like the Scorzonera roots which are delicious. The girls are on a go slow and from a sort of regularish 4 eggs a day it's down to one titchy pullet egg today.

I cycled home and the low winter sun cast a huge shadow on the road in front making me look like a 40 metre long nodding donkey steam engine on a mission. The pistons looked a bit spindly though but then my legs are not what they used to be.

There was something else I was burning to write about but I've just been put out and I can't remember what it was anyway. C'est la vie.

07 November 2008

Waddle We Do?

I probably forgot to tell you that the East Indian Black ducks are called WaddleYouDo and WaddleYouDont.
Ben likes to give them a cuddle when we go up to put all the girls to roost for the night. Thursdays are especially good because it coincides with the Beano coming out and WaddleYouDo seems to enjoy having the Bash Street Kids read to her though I am not convinced she understands it. I'm not sure I do either, but thats another matter.
Today when I went up the place was crawling with police because 15, yes Fifteen sheds were broken into last night. The crawling with police bit was a bit of an exaggeration, but the 15 sheds bit sadly wasn't. The week before they'd done Tommys shed and got quite good pickings, chainsaw, tools, gas bottles and burners etc and presumably decided that it was worth a second run. Tommy had a clock in his shed which they knocked off the wall and it stopped at two something in the morning so it seems clear to me that it's deliberate targetted thievery and not just local youth killing time. The second attempt seems to confirm that. Apparantly though, they didn't get all of the booty away as a pile of strimmers and stuff was found stashed over the fence; the main gate is hard to get through which gives the only convenient road access. Most of the sheds on the path behind ours were done; they are furthest away from the overlooking houses and tell-tale lights (but who's going to be looking at 2am?). They left our shed alone thankfully and the people that thought I was being extravagant putting on a solid front door (scrounged from our neighbour), and put a five lever lock on it rather than a padlock and hasp can now eat their thoughts. Not that I feel smug about that.....obviously not.

The Sheriff is Near

Well, I'm too old a soak to get caught up in the euphoria but I hope for the best yet fear the worst. Perhaps the world wakes up a little less afraid of America today, recognising that, at last, a little humility has returned to it.

But damn it, Tim beat me to it. Not that that's gonna stop me.
The Sheriff is Near

03 November 2008

Understatement of the Year Award

The above award is unilaterally awarded to the wonderful Real Seeds people for this little gem from their 2009 catalogue.

"Hundreds of thousands of old heirloom varieties (the results of about eleven thousand years of plant breeding by our ancestors) are being lost forever, due to some rather pooly drafted EU legislation. This seems a little foolish." .....badum kerching.

01 November 2008

All Hallows Eve

I wouldn't go out on the streets round my way if I were you. Not tonight anyway.

18 October 2008


The week Lancaster City Council learnt that the capital of Iceland is not Reykjavik, it's about £3.50

15 October 2008


Bigfootitis? Well, it involves being chased around the grounds of a Silesian Sisters nunnery by groups of children demanding to be given one of the three magical ingredients which, when mixed into a potion with the correct incantations, can cure this highly contagious condition. Alternately Bigfoot is either friendly and helpful or mean and surly and sets challenges for the groups to complete, in return for which, they are given magic shiny buttons. Other helper/challengers roam the grounds and can be approached to give challenges in reward for more shiny buttons. When a group has garnered twenty buttons, they are entitled to approach Bigfoot and offer him the buttons in return for one of the three potion ingredients. When all the ingredients of the potion have been obtained they can then make up the brew to give to Bigfoot to cure him from of Bigfootitis and return him to human form.

Well, there you have it, except in this instance when they had gathered all the ingredients they couldn't be bothered to make the potion and give it to Bigfoot. Tch! Woodcraft Folk eh? So, if I meet any of you puny humans this week you just better cut and run unless you've a bag of nice shiny buttons for me. Mmmmm....buttons!

10 October 2008

Blue Skies

Ben and I are off for a weekend in the wilds with the woodcraft folk. Apparantly I have to be Bigfoot in the wide game.
Blue Skies then.

Ha, as if.

19 September 2008

The Purple Torpedo

Reading about the arrival of The Blue Kitten has made me go all broody.

Ridiculous I know but it brought back so many memories of that oh so little, vulnerable, wriggley, squirmy thing of all soft newness that would snuggle into my chest and go to sleep for hours on end.

The pre-match report went something like this:

Early Thur Eve (due day Friday)

SWMBO - No, I'll be fine, off you go and play the ceilidh booking.
Clod - OK *packs guitar and amp into car* You sure?
SWMBO - Yeah
Fri 1am
Clod - *unpacks guitar and amp from car*
SWMBO - Ow ow Owwwwwww OOO Ow Ow - I'm going to have this baby TONIGHT!
Clod - Er.....
SWMBO - double Owwww Oh OO ow.
Clod - Er..........*NCT (national childbirth trust) training kicks in* *rings maternity unit (MU)*
MU - You'd better come in.
Nervous pacing up and down corridor. Manly holding of hands and patting on back type encouragement ala NCT training. Clearing away of vomit bags etc etc
SWMBO - *climbs into birthing pool* *avidly sucks gas and air* La la lar le la lee la lee lar lar.....
Midwife - *takes away gas and air* I think that's quite enough of THAT...
SWMBO - Give that back NOW!!! La Lee la lee Lar Lar - Owwwwww ow ow ow ow ow ow owwwwwwww La la la lee le lee la Owww Owwwwwwwwwwwww
Midwide - I think we'd better have you out of there if the next few pushes don't do it.
SWMBO - *grits teeth* *grips clods arm (still have the bruises) and the side of the birthing pool* *pushes like hell*
Ben - Whooshes into the birthing pool like a purple torpedo aiming for the Bismark. (he still lives life like this)
Midwife - Makes grab for torpedo and just manages to catch it before head detonates into side of birthing pool thus flooding out all of the delivery suit.
Clod - Nice one!
Midwife - *goes to cut umbilical*
Clod - Er....can I do that?
Midwife *hands scissors over with deeply skeptical and surprised expression* Oh...allright then.
Clod - *snip*
SWMBO - Ooooh, that were well ard!
Clod - So were you chuck, well done!

10 September 2008

09 September 2008

Seriously Cool Kit

I'll say goodbye now just in case when they switch this thing on in the morning a hungry black hole is generated and we all disappear up the backside of Switzerland before we've had our first cup of coffee. Not how I would want it all to end I must say and I think the chances are vanishingly improbable; but just in case, I love you all to bits.

If it doesn't, I hope they find a Higgs boson and lots of other dimensions where lots of gardeners tend lots of allotments all over the multiverse.

It is seriously cool though, running at −271.25 °C normal operating temperature; just a tad lower than yer average English summers day.

08 September 2008

Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus

Ben tested positive at the allergy clinic to the house dust mite which is why we spent a good part of the day stripping and damp dusting his room and removing all the books, curtains, carpet, shelves etc etc. Tomorrow some very very nice men will arrive and lay a laminate floor. We will clean out and damp dust all the drawers and the wardrobe and the computer. Every week we will put his bed linen and clothes in the freezer for 24hrs before putting them through a very hot wash. We will have to buy allergenic mattress covers, an air purifier and a vacuum cleaner that actually filters and retains all the crap instead of just blasting it back out of the bag into the air. We will keep his room at -10C summer and winter and play Sibelius at 120db. Now I am just getting silly. SWMBO and I are not the most houseproud people in the world preferring to spend time up at the allotment rather than pratt about dusting stuff. It's an increasing problem though isn't it with more and more children developing this and other sorts of allergies at rates of knots. Why why why? It is very depressing. A single square yard of carpet can contain up to 100,000 mites and I won't even mention how many your mattress can hold. I am going to twat each and every one with my mitey hammer I am. *sigh*

07 September 2008


Our girls do not quite grasp the greenhouse concept, they see it as a nice warm sheltered spot where heavenly dust baths are to be had between the cape gooseberries and the tomatoes. To be fair, in this weather where else will they find soil dry enough? I have indulged them, big softie that I am.

05 September 2008

Duck Cuddling Season

The duck cuddling season gets under way up at Clodhoppers.

Behind Matty is the new shed I've built for them in which they cuddle up at night with the eight Sussex Whites; all very cozy. The whole point of building Chikkin Knox is to prevent the devastation of finding all our birds ripped to shreds by Mr Fox (who seems to be still around). It is mostly finished but I think there are a few weak points where a very determined fox may be able to find it's way in. With weather like this though, it's very difficult to finish the job; in fact, it's very difficult to do anything: the place is a quagmire. If todays forecast is right, by the end of the weekend the whole plot will be a river of mud. We gardeners are not happy bunnys right now!

03 September 2008

Amande's Bed with BOF Alert

I was quite flattered to be asked to
join the mens book club and saw it as
a chance to escape for an evening from
the pit of domesticity in which I seem
to languish overlymuch. This is
entirely my own fault, I hasten to
add, and is cogently explained in
several chapters of learned tomes of
post-natal male psychology. To cut to
the chase, I have become a mature,
intellectually complex, elder
Boring Old Fart.

Oh well, we can't be young forever I
suppose though the list of things I
miss about being young seems to get
longer by the day. The lithe,
muscular torso with six pack (in the
fridge); the wiry ectomorphic energy;
the ability to stay up all night
playing music and still function the
next day. I don't need to go on; or
rather, I do need to go on but it just
gets more difficult as time goes by.
C'est la vie. Anyway, as it turns
out, both nights the group has chosen
to meet up so far have been on nights
when I have been on shift and can't
go. You see, life conspires against
one does it not? The next meet too is
on a night when I am at work and so I
will miss the pleasures of a
testosterone fuelled - preferably even
wine fuelled - deconstruction of John
Aberdein's first novel "Amande's Bed".

On the other side of the coin, it may
be safer to be at work rather than be
exposed as an intellectual lightweight
with the critical abilities of a
nematode. That's just my inferiority
complex showing though - reference
several other chapters of above
mentioned psychological manuals.

Maybe I should just attempt a written review to help bolster my flagging confidence?

02 September 2008

Chikkin Knox

This is one of the East Indian Black ducks. They are extremely shy and wouldn't say boo to a goose. They live inside Chikkin Knox at the moment where I have built them a nice cozy warm shed which they completely ignore, preferring to stay in the corner hiding under a pallet, and out in the main bit I have made them a pond to frolic about in but they are too shy to explore it yet.

This is Chikkin Knox. We have built it to protect our girls from the nightly predations of Mr Fox. Unfortunately it also appears to be Chikkin proof......der.

31 August 2008

Summer Fugit

Blimey! Is it that long? Very little time for blogging as every minute, like every day, is getting shorter and shorter. We have been busy building Chicken Knox which is a fox proof (we hope) run for the tribe which has now increased to 13 hens with the addition of 8 Sussex Whites and 2 beautiful East Indian Black ducks - the most beautiful ducks in the world.

I don't think much of August though: so this one post is all it's getting.

14 July 2008


Now guess who grabbed the first tomato of the year. He did though divide it into three more or less equal portions each of which was declared delicio! Yipee!

07 July 2008


Science fiction is just so fantastic. All you have to do is reverse the polarity of the flow of something or other (in a monolithic crystal matrix of course) and BAM! They, (the baddies), are all toast or scrap metal or whatever it is they're made off - scrap anyway. Go Doctor!

I had severe doubts about Ms Tate as the Doctors sidekick. Seemed a strange idea to use someone who was so well known in another genre and (forgive me) someone so mature as well. I warmed to her though.

Davros is just a memory now - cheers, you old Greek Island you.

30 June 2008

recovered meat

I'm at work and i've just eaten a meal of recovered meat. I don't think it had recovered properly though. Now i feel ill :-((

Big Brother House

No, not the one full of self-serving air heads and der brains. You will have to pay me a LOT of money to watch a single episode of that!

I suppose we all sign up to the idea of wanting to enable the elderly, disabled, sick or vulnerable people in our communities to live as full and as independent lives in their own homes for as long as this is possible. A part of what I do involves helping make this a reality.

More and more of the solutions being developed involve a technological 'fix' to the obstacles encountered.

For example. These are the things we can now monitor and respond to remotely about a person in their own home using what are called 'Telecare' solutions.

You can have:

Bed/Chair Sensor - provides an early warning by alerting that the user has left their bed or chair and not returned within a preset time period.
Enuresis Sensor - Placed between the mattress and sheet, this sensor provides immediate warning on detection of moisture.
Epilepsy Sensor - monitors the user's vital signs to detect a range of epileptic seizures.
Fall Detector - Detects falls
Medication Dispenser - Detects if you've had your pills.
Movement Detector: for example, to check if a person has got out of bed or visited the kitchen.

Pressure Mat - Monitors movement in a specific area, for example to monitor if someone has got of bed or left the house.
Property Exit Sensor - monitors for people leaving a building at unusual times of day or night. Carbon Monoxide Detector - Warns of dangerous CO levels.
Flood Detector - does what it sais on the tin
Gas Shut Off Valve - When combined with the natural gas detector, this cuts off the gas supply to an appliance when a leak is detected.
Natural Gas Detector - Provides an early warning of dangerous levels of gas. Can be linked to the Gas Shut Off Valve to cut the gas supply off.
Smoke Detector - does what it sais on the tin
Temperature Extremes Sensor - Monitors for low and high temperature extremes.

In addition to this various medical sensors can monitor Heart rate, blood pressure, peak flow, oxygen saturation, ECG, temperature, prothrombin time, blood glucose levels........

You know what, call me a simpleton....but how about a sensor that says they've had a caring cuddle or a nice cup of tea and a chat with someone who loves them?


What makes lettuce leaves taste bitter more or less as soon as they go to seed?


Things have taken a bit of a battering in the wind and the rain. The shallots are just falling out the ground because of the earlier dry spell.

some you win, some you lose.

29 June 2008


We've probably planted too many courgette plants this year. This one is trying to take over the greenhouse.

Ben at work....

and at play.......he is trying to take over the New Rope String Band. Probably will.

'...what do you mean Davros is back! Impossible....call the Doctor'!

12 June 2008

How The Fox Got A Bushy Tail


Why The Fox Eats Only One Then Kills Everything Else In Sight.....

(pencil illustrations by Ben)

Surprised, Oh Best Beloved? I should say so! Me too. I have returned, but briefly, to tell you the story of how this came about.

Well, hear and attend and listen then, for this also befell and became and behappened and was. It's just that I forgot to tell you at the time.

Do you remember, Oh Best Beloved, the wild horse stamping with his wild hoof in the wild world saying, 'Oh my friends and Oh my enemies, why have the Man and the Woman made that great light in that great cave, and what harm will it do us'?

Those of you that had a proper childhood will remember this. The Dog thought it was good and was particularly attracted to the smell of roast mutton and offered to go and look and even asked The Cat to accompany him. The Cat, having more wiles than The Dog had the good sense to say: 'Nenni, I will not come. I Am The Cat Who Walks By Himself And All Places Are Alike To Me.'

All in turn and in good order, and despite Cat's misgivings, The Dog and The Horse and The Cow and The Sheep and The Pig and The Hen all gave of their wildness to The Man and The Woman in return for shelter from the bitter winds or a place by the fire and some scraps from the table or a nosegay of hay or some fresh pasture. And so it went.

Until one bitterly cold winter in the wet windy wildness when The Fox, hungry and cold, came to the door of the Cave.

'Go away', said The Woman.

'I am hungry and cold', retorted The Fox, 'can I not in turn make a deal with you as have The Dog and The Horse and The Cat?'

'What have you to offer?' asked The Woman doubtfully.

Fox scanned the comfy looking cave with his wishful wiley eyes. He saw the warming fire and the sheepskin rugs spread before it; he saw the salted hams hanging to dry from the ceiling and licked his lips; he saw a rack of big brown eggs on a rock ledge; he saw the baby teasing The Cat with a ball of wool and laughing delightedly; he saw an IKEA flat pack lying unopened on the cave floor.

'Hmmm.' mused The Fox. 'Maybe I could help you put that together?'

'Oh really!' Exclaimed the women. 'Using your tail as an Allen key I suppose?’

'Well, what do the others do then?' queried The Fox, shaking the icicles from his fur.

'Horse and Dog help The Man hunt; Hen lays the fine fresh eggs; Sheep gives us the curly wurly wool to clothe us from the wet windy wildness and keep us warm at night; Cow gives us the wonderful white milk to grow the baby and make Wensleydale; Cat makes the baby laugh but he is allowed to Walk by Himself.'

‘As I said to The Cat,’ continued The Woman, ‘go back to the wet wild woods for we have no more need of friends or servants in our cave.’

‘I am neither friend nor servant,’ said The Fox, becoming angry. ‘How are you off for enemies?’

‘Are you threatening me?’ Asked The Woman with a glint in her eye.

‘I was told you were wise and beautiful,’ said The Fox, ‘beautiful you most certainly are but I am not so sure about the wise bit.’ ‘At least you could let me have a bash at assembling that flat pack.’

‘Go on then,’ replied The Woman, taking her magic blade bone from a shelf. ‘I hate putting those things together.’ ‘If you succeed you may sit with The Cat by the fire drinking the warm white milk, if you fail, you must return to the wet wild wood forever.’

Do you see, Oh Best Beloved? It was hardly fair. The Fox tore the box to bits but then the diagrams were really complicated and the retaining bolts would not line up properly and some of the holes were in the wrong place and indeed, handling an Allen key with teeth or tail is Just So.

After a time The Fox admitted defeat and The Woman held the magic blade bone and made the singing magic once more to return The Fox to the wet wild windy woods forever and ever.

The Fox became extremely angry at this and, because he was still hungry, snatched the Fat Hen between his teeth on the way out. The Woman saw this and, dropping the magic blade bone, she flung herself forward and grabbed onto The Fox’s tail as hard as she very could. The Fox pulled and pulled, Oh Best Beloved, as best he could and The Woman held on tight as tight as best she could and to this day, you will see that the tail of The Fox is all bushy at one end and this is because The Woman held on so very tight while The Fox pulled his hardest.

At length, The Woman was obliged to let go and the bushy tailed Fox ran swiftly towards the wet wild wood.

‘We are enemies forever!’ Shouted The Woman after The Fox. ‘Forevermore will Man and Sons of Man and Dog and Sons of Dog and Horse and Sons of Horse hunt you down and chase you until an unspeakable death shall befall Fox and Sons of Fox…..at least up until the Labour Government’s Hunting Act of 2004….a long way off mind you.’

Fox stopped by the edge of the wet wild windy wood and dropping The Hen for a moment, screamed back. ‘So be it, henceforth shall Fox and Son of Fox kill not just the one to sate our hunger, but ALL that we are able to kill that live in the light of your cave…...and the Hunting Act of 2004 won’t make one jot of difference….hah…..ner ner ne ner ner!’

And thus it was and so it has been ever since Oh Best Beloved. Do you see?

Before I go though Oh Best Beloved, I must tell you that it is really no inconvenience whatsoever being dead. Honestly, you hardly notice it. You should not fear it so.....really!

Mouldily Yours


(Ben: This is a picture of the cave and the animals in the story. Inside the cave you will see baskets with eggs in. Above that there is the woman shouting at the fox with the dead hen by his feet. The ham is dangling from a long pole above the fire - the problem is, the woman couldn't find long enough sticks with Y shaped ends, so the ham is dangling too low on the fire.

The flying chicken is about to try to roost on the bar hanging across. You will see the dog chasing the cat over the river and knocking over the poor cow who is trying to graze.

Next to the cave is a small patch of plants the woman has planted. The bumpy bits round the cave are rocks.)

11 June 2008


Aw...enough already! Mr Fox ripped through a neighbours shed and slaughtered another 12 hens last night.

I'm warning you, it'll only take one phone call to George. He has a special way with terrorists you know.

I have been pissing for England round the boundaries as Mr Fox is put off by the smell of male urine. I know how he feels.

Edit: A survey of the plots reveals the scoreline is more like:

Mr Fox: 200 Humans/Ducks/Geese/Hens 0

10 June 2008

Causley & Effect

Green man in the garden
Staring from the tree,
Why do you look so long and hard
Through the pane at me?

Your eyes are dark as holly
Of sycamore your thorns,
Your bones are made of elder branch,
Your teeth are made of thorns.

Your hat is made of ivy-leaf
Of bark your dancing shoes,
And evergreen and green and green
Your jacket and shirt and trews.

Leave your house and leave your land and throw away the key,
And never look behind, he creaked
And come and live with me.

I bolted up the window, I bolted up the door,
I drew the blind that I should find the green man never more.
But when I softly turned the stair
As I went up to bed,
I saw the green man standing there.
'Sleep well, my friend,' he said.

(GREEN MAN IN THE GARDEN by Charles Causley)

07 June 2008


At the back of the chicken shack is Ben's Den where the Knights of The Round Carpet meet.

Getting a knighthood is a mysterious process that no adult has a hope in hell of understanding.

This boy however met all the criteria and is duly receiving the honour which involves being doffed across each shoulder by a chicken.

After this follows a nightly session of knightly or boyly armed and unarmed combat in full armour (if you have it). The sessions teach honour; valour; courage; axmanship; and the relative frailty of human skin and bone.

The Den Rules are prominently displayed so there's no excuse is there?

Den Rules

1. Flapping Chickens:
Let Go of flapping chickens

2. Help Out:
Always help out round the den

3. Gates:
Close gates after entry or departure

4. Equipment Return:
Return all equipment to proper place after use

5. Discrimination:
No Sexism or Racism

6. Do As You Would Be Done By:
Treat others the way you would want them to treat you

04 June 2008

Defrag C: Y ___ N ?

There should be an option to defrag ones brain every so often. I have several topics vying for attention at the moment and consequently not a one of them is properly in focus. After a while this gets irritating and is no way to treat a brain.

So, I goes into the garden with me cuppa to unwind a bit and it's lovely: a gentle breeze, sunny blue sky, the odd fluffy white cloud here and there with swifts darting about displaying aeronautical genius that engineers should pay more attention to (maybe they do), and way way up, a rather large bird which could've been a buzzard or couldn't have been as the case may be, doing roughly what you see in the picture before heading off north in a straight (ish) line. Never seen that before; I think he was just 'avin a larf.

03 June 2008

Lettus Prey

Both out of the Real Seeds stable, Sur la gauche, nous avons 'Reine des Glaces' with enough frills to make a respectable TuTu out of. This one is about two hundred years old; well, not this one exactly....it would've gone mouldy by now....but the variety is.

The toothy leaves are really cool and crisp with a light refreshing flavour. Dreary me, I should've gone into advertising. It develops very quickly and just having a bowl of it around of an evening is a delight. Tell you what (phillistine that I am).....I really like wrapping a few pringles up in one of the leaves and munching away. munch munch.

vachement cool!

Sur le Droit nous avons 'Devils Tongue' with bright purply red leaves growing up to a foot long tasting of extreme wickedness with an afterburn of sulphorous debauchery and hedonistic excess. Straight out of the inferno this one. Truly delicious. Here (as the Real Seeds people might say), it is being modelled by Ben with an equally evil carrot.


We only seem to indulge in reverse anthropomorphism when we either wish to insult someone or to elevate them to godlike status. I think this tells us something, only I don't know quite what.

I would not wish to dispose of humanities anthropomorphic tendencies; that would be like throwing the baby out with the bathwater; where would we be without The Jungle Book; Shrek; Ice Age; Ratatouille...(enter your own favourite anthy blockbuster here)?

Stillnall, this charming penchant for ascribing human characteristics to extremely deadly animals is just a tad suspicious isn't it? I expect it's part of our evolutionary heritage in that we needed to ascribe 'intent' to non-human animals and things very quickly indeed; we needed to work out in a few milliseconds whether the best strategy was to fight or run like hell. We got pretty good at it. So did a lot of other animals, we just got better.

'Tis only a small step from ascribing cutey, fluffy bunny, talkee feelee characteristics from T Rex to Quetzalcoatl to the five thousand and one other Anima Deities we've invented. And just a small step further to dispose of the rest of them. There, that's all religion trashed in one short, sweet animated storyboard. Some will doubtless argue that that is bigtime throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Just wishful thinking ducks.

Which, long digression tho it was, brings me to the current score.
Team Fox....73 Team Humans/Ducks/Geese/Chickens....0

That represents kills over the last month or so from all the plotholders with free-ranging birds. That's years and years of painstaking care and breeding work wiped out in moments. That's a lot of very very upset plotholders; an even bigger number of very very very dead birds. That's effectively put an end to free ranging birds on our site.

You'll forgive me if I don't overly anthropomorphise Mr Fox just for a while. Oh.....Go on then.....