Thursday, April 29, 2010

There was a silly prime minister called Brown
Who visited Rochdale; a small northern town
He met a sweet granny and called her bigoted
Then watched in horror as his popularity plummeted
Labour will lose the election due to that clown

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sunday 25th April 2010

We’ve had some welcome rain this morning and the air is heavy with the smell of spring. Everything is erupting into green and as the rain hits the warm soil, the scent of the earth is everywhere, in heavy robust aromas of humus and pine.
I have made good progress on the pond but it will take longer than I initially thought...but that’s always the way with these things. I took Robbie out for a walk and saw what appeared to be a Robin/Blue Tit cross. Perhaps it was just an odd colour, but it was certainly strange?

Soft sun warms birdsong like the heat of the oven rises bread. Both elemental and necessary. The birds swell the morning in joy, even though I do not know why they expel such exuberance to usher in the dawn. Like a breathing organ, in a tall cathedral, the crescendo reaches fever pitch as the lengthening fingers of sunshine poke deeper through the trees. Then all stills and work begins. Night has paled to dawn and dawn always brightens to a day. Day’s lengthen and fade away to dusk in an arc of east-west heat. Then night comes and quiets the never ending motion, that is this world and what a canvas to paint the avian symphony on. It is spring, the birds matter the world, because hope takes wing, while the music of the trees is here, to take us into summer.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sat 24th April 2010

It’s 7am and I’ve just polished off 2 crumpets with a cup of tea. I have tried to give them up but can’t so have now given up trying. Ok i'm a bit weak in the willpower department unlike Nick who has cast iron determination.

Took a picture of the sky the other morning because we may never see it again free of plane trails. We had some beautiful skies while all the planes were grounded. It certainly makes you think. Felt for all the people caught up in the all this travel worth it?

Been a busy week at work with a couple of external assessments but the weekend is here and it’s going to be a beautiful day today with lots of sunshine so perfect day to make a pond. I got the pond liner last night and it was rather expensive but hopefully will last for at least 15 years. It’ll be the biggest pond to date and because the land slopes I will have to raise a corner but in a strange way it makes it easier because there is a little less digging.

Can you see the face in the tree...yes...well; you’re quite as mad as I. I can see one and no wonder people thought spirits lived in trees. Ok it’s not quite Treebeard but close. Perhaps the Entwives came to Lancashire!

Little Robbie is great, but boy it’s a barker...barks at everything, but isn’t in the least aggressive. It’s a plea for attention and to say notice me. He just needs some good training and he’ll be that’s probably never going to happen. But he’ll be great whatever. So long as he will come when called (currently doesn’t) and isn’t aggressive, he can have the autonomy to do whatever he wants. He is after all not a circus performer.

Put 4 ghost Koi carp in the pond last week but haven’t seen a suggestion of them since...hopefully they are hiding under the weed so we’ll see but I rather have a feeling that they have been snaffled. Other than that the garden is doing well despite the frosts this week.

Whatever you’re doing have a good weekend and if the sun is shining enjoy it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Whaling peace plan to go forward this year
By Richard Black
Environment correspondent, BBC News

Proponents of the deal say it would mean fewer whales being killed
A proposal aimed at bridging the split between whaling nations and their opponents will almost certainly come to governments for decision this year.
Sources say it could involve Japan accepting quotas below current levels; but Iceland is opposing proposed catch limits and an international trade ban.
Some anti-whaling countries see such a "peace package" as the only way to constrain whale hunting.
But others are likely to hold out for a complete end to the practice.
A small group of countries including the three active hunting nations - Iceland, Japan and Norway - and opponents such as New Zealand, Australia and Germany has been holding talks in Washington DC exploring a possible compromise on quotas and other issues.

Sources close to the talks say Japan appears prepared to contemplate scaling back its annual Antarctic hunt to a size that anti-whaling nations might find acceptable. In return, it would expect to gain catch quotas in the North Pacific waters close to its shores, which would benefit coastal communities where whaling is still practiced. Although commercial whaling was banned in 1982, Japan hunts under regulations permitting whaling for scientific research, while Iceland and Norway lodged formal objections to the moratorium and so mount openly commercial operations.

Nordic nations hope to sell whale meat into the Japanese market. Last year, Icelandic boats caught 125 fin whales and 81 minkes - a significant increase on previous years, though still substantially below quotas in the years before 1982. At a previous preparatory meeting, the anti-whaling side had proposed quotas of 60 fins and 60 minkes per year, Mr Heidar said. Knowing these were not acceptable to Iceland, the anti-whaling bloc then lowered their offer still further, he related - subsequently adding the rider that under the new agreement, whales would have to be caught for local consumption only.

As Iceland's ambitions include exporting fin whale meat to Japan, this was absolutely not acceptable.

International trade in whale meat is banned, but Iceland, Japan and Norway have registered exemptions to the UN wildlife trade convention for some whale species. The importance of international trade has been demonstrated in recent weeks by the interception in a Dutch port of an Icelandic whale meat consignment apparently destined for Japan, the disclosure of a small export from Iceland to Latvia, the closure of a Los Angeles restaurant that was selling whale meat, and a DNA study claiming to show that at least some of the meat sold there and in South Korea came from Japan's scientific whaling programme.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Elizabeth David CBE (26 December 1913 - 22 May 1992) was a pre-eminent British cookery writer of the mid 20th century.

David is considered responsible for bringing French and Italian cooking into the British home (along with now ubiquitous items such as olive oil and the courgette). In a Britain worn down by post-war rationing and dull food, she celebrated the regional and rural dishes of the Mediterranean rather than the fussier food of the gourmands and aristocrats. David's style is characterised by terse descriptions of the recipes themselves, accompanied by detailed descriptions of their context and historical background, and often laced with anecdotal asides. Her criticism of bad food, including much of the food of England that she and her readers had grown up with, was often scathing.

1. Early life
Born Elizabeth Gwynne, she was of mixed English and Irish ancestry and came from a rather grand background, growing up in the 17th-century Sussex manor house, Wootton Manor. Her parents were Rupert Gwynne, Conservative MP for Eastbourne, and the Hon. Stella Ridley, who came from a distinguished Northumberland family. They had three other daughters. Her uncle, Roland Gwynne, later became Mayor of Eastbourne and may have been a lover of suspected serial killer Dr John Bodkin Adams.

She studied at the Sorbonne, living with a French family for two years, which led to her love of France and of food. At the age of 19, she was given her first cookery book, The Gentle Art of Cookery by Hilda Leyel, who wrote of her love with the food of the East. "If I had been given a standard Mrs Beeton instead of Mrs Leyel's wonderful recipes," she said, "I would probably never have learned to cook."

Gwynne had an adventurous early life, leaving home to become an actress. She left England in 1939, when she was twenty-five, and bought a boat with her married lover Charles Gibson-Cowan intending to travel around the Mediterranean. The onset of World War II interrupted this plan, and they had to flee the German occupation of France. They left Antibes for Corsica and then on to Italy where the boat was impounded; they arrived on the day Italy declared war on Britain. Eventually deported to Greece, living on the Greek island of Syros for a period, Gwynne learned about Greek food and spent time with high bohemians such as the writer Lawrence Durrell and Norman Douglas. When the Germans invaded Greece they fled to Crete where they were rescued by the British and evacuated to Egypt, where she lived firstly in Alexandria and later in Cairo. There Gwynne started work for the Ministry of Information, split from Gibson-Cowan, and eventually took on a marriage of convenience, more or less as her aunt, Violet Gordon-Woodhouse, had done. This gave her a measure of respectability but Lieutenant-Colonel Tony David was a man whom she did not ultimately respect, and their relationship ended soon after an eight month posting in India. She had many lovers in ensuing years.

2. Cooking and writing
On her return to London in 1946, David began to write articles on cooking, and in 1949 the publisher John Lehmann offered her a £100 advance for Mediterranean Food, the start of a dazzling writing career. David spent eight months researching Italian food in Venice, Tuscany and Capri. This resulted in Italian Food in 1954, with illustrations by Renato Guttuso, which was famously described by Evelyn Waugh in The Sunday Times as one of the two books which had given him the most pleasure that year.

Many of the ingredients were unknown in England when the books were first published, as shortages and rationing continued for many years after the end of the war, and David had to suggest looking for olive oil in pharmacies where it was sold for treating earache. Within a decade, ingredients such as aubergines, saffron and pasta began to appear in shops, thanks in no small part to David's books. David gained fame, respect and high status and advised many chefs and companies. In November 1965, she opened her own shop devoted to cookery in Pimlico, London. She wrote articles for Vogue magazine, one of the first in the genre of food-travel.

In 1963, when she was 49, she suffered a cerebral haemorrhage, possibly related to her heavy drinking. Although she recovered, it affected her sense of taste and her libido.

3. Awards
David won the Glenfiddich Writer of the Year award for English Bread and Yeast Cookery. She was also awarded honorary doctorates by the Universities of Essex and Bristol, and the award of a Chevalier de l'Ordre du Merite Agricole. However, the honour that most pleased her was being made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1982 in recognition of her skills as a writer. In 1986 she was awarded a CBE.

She died in 1992 at her Chelsea home, where she had lived for forty years.

4. In popular culture
•Elizabeth David: A Life in Recipes, 2006 BBC made-for-television film starring Catherine McCormack as Elizabeth David and Greg Wise as Peter Higgins.
5. Books
•Mediterranean Food, decorated by John Minton, published by John Lehmann (1950)
•French Country Cooking, decorated by John Minton, published by John Lehmann (1951)
•Italian Food (1954)
•Summer Cooking, published by Museum Press (1955)
•French Provincial Cooking (1960)
•Spices, Salt and Aromatics in the English Kitchen (1970)
•English Bread and Yeast Cookery (1977)
•An Omelette and a Glass of Wine (1984)
5 Posthumous publications
•Harvest of the Cold Months (1994)
•South Wind Through the Kitchen: The Best of Elizabeth David (1998) (Editor Jill Norman), posthumous anthology
•Is There a Nutmeg in the House?: Essays on Practical Cooking with More Than 150 Recipes", a posthumous anthology edited by Jill Norman (2000)
•Elizabeth David's Christmas (2003) (Editor Jill Norman), posthumously produced from David's notes
•Elizabeth David Classics (Mediterranean Food, French Country Cooking, and Summer Cooking.) preface by James Beard Knopf (1980) ISBN 0-394-49153-X
6. Further reading
•Writing at the Kitchen Table: The Authorized Biography of Elizabeth David by Artemis Cooper
•Elizabeth David: A Biography by Lisa Chaney

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

They came today without any saving grace
For in nature’s body did they see no face?
They entered my garden of green and mace
To destroy it all; leave ugly scars in its place
Well I finally got the beehives out of the garage after 15 years and put them up on display on the allotment. It took hours to paint them white, but they look really cool. Mike also got some Ghost Koi carp (only tiddlers,) for the pond the frogs appear not to like. They look cool and ghostly under the water and can swim really fast but most of the time they appear to be hiding. About the strangest thing Sunday was watching a mini tornado swirl a pile of dry beech leaves in a version of arboreal twister. But it was a good weekend with lots of sun and gentle winds. Little did I know the storm was coming today?

The council in its infinite wisdom has taken the top 20 feet of the garden to make a bridal way (for horses) that crosses the top of the garden and through the demolished wall into the cemetery. No consultation or warning if you please. I am a little annoyed by it, but it’s done now as they’ve ripped up the fences and smashed down the wall... I think I am stunned by it all at the minute. I cant believe they’ve smashed up the garden and never mentioned it. Welcome to local’s like being in another country.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Where did we think we’d be now?
When long ago in our youth
We made all those decisions
They now blur and become ghosts
Haunting a fast receding distant past

We live now with the choices made
By us, by those who ruled us
But we are allowed; to wonder
What were we, (them) thinking?
As we gaze now around at this land

All we ever asked for was fairness
But received only increments of intrigue
A circus of petty media distractions
That slowly drives society to ignorance
Woven in a nightmare of fractious rules

Bound up in crippling taxes on the willing
Each of us hoping never to see the ending
Of the land made unworkable, untenable
A green and pleasant land greening in envy
Welcome to the countdown to another election

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

I stand under the tremulous guard of an oak and I can hear the world in whispers that speak of the pain of trees. It is not conscious vocalising to the ears, but somewhere within stirs the memory of a long forgotten consensual language. It sweeps down from the sky in the gentle rain or on the soft blowing winds and I know that withal I am one among many that bring the world to hope once again in a small way. I deem it not enough to sustain the pain the world feels for the indignity man has brought. We are the dominating species; that has caused irreparable damage to millennia of harmony. But at the last now we begin to see that many hands can effect a great change even though that change may never be seen. It has all happened before and it will all happen again, but maybe next time we will learn and see that there is another way.

So I stand under the tremulous guard of an ancient oak and I can hear the world in whispers that speak of the pain of trees. I feel it too and the soul asks that I stop and I shall, for it is spring and the rapid growth brings forth chaos. How shall I answer the world if I have torn so much of it apart? I shall answer that never did I harm beyond the bounds of which I was taught, till I taught myself there was a better way. And the world answers with a rainbow that sits at my feet and birds sing and my heart flies for the mind does not need to harbour secret thoughts when we have a beautiful world to share them with.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Professor James Lovelock, the scientist who developed Gaia theory, has said it is too late to try and save the planet. The man who achieved global fame for his theory that the whole earth is a single organism now believes that we can only hope that the earth will take care of itself in the face of completely unpredictable climate change. Interviewed by BBC Today presenter John Humphrys, he said that while the earth's future was utterly uncertain, mankind was not aware it had "pulled the trigger" on global warming as it built its civilizations.

'We're not really guilty. We didn't deliberately set out to heat the world' What is more, he predicts, the earth's climate will not conveniently comply with the models of modern climate scientists. As the record winter cold testifies, he says, global temperatures move in "jerks and jumps", and we cannot confidently predict what the future holds. 'The world doesn't change its climate conveniently'
Prof Lovelock does not pull his punches on the politicians and scientists who are set to gain from the idea that we can predict climate change and save the planet ourselves. Scientists, he says, have moved from investigating nature as a vocation, to being caught in a career path where it makes sense to "fudge the data". 'Science has changed in our lifetime'

And while renewable energy technology may make good business sense, he says, it is not based on "good practical engineering". Renewable technology 'doesn't really work'
At the age of 90, Prof Lovelock is resigned to his own fate and the fate of the planet. Whether the planet saves itself or not, he argues, all we can do is to "enjoy life while you can".

If you’re interested here’s the makes sense if you think of the earth itself as the highest form of life within the planet.
The Gaia hypothesis or Gaia principle is an ecological hypothesis proposing that the biosphere and the physical components of the Earth (atmosphere, cryosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere) are closely integrated to form a complex interacting system that maintains the climatic and biogeochemical conditions on Earth in a preferred homeostasis. Originally proposed by James Lovelock as the earth feedback hypothesis, it was named the Gaia Hypothesis after the Greek primordial goddess of the Earth, at the suggestion of William Golding, Nobel prize-winner in literature and friend and neighbour of Lovelock. The hypothesis is frequently described as viewing the Earth as a single organism. Lovelock and other supporters of the idea now call it Gaia theory, regarding it as a scientific theory and not mere hypothesis, since they believe it has passed predictive tests.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

‘We Were Warned’ – well the warning must have been not to buy it as it doesn’t like Bluray players and the internet is full of people having problems playing it. I managed to watch it on the PC but it wasn’t the same.

Recommendation – wait for Avatar to arrive
1st April 2010

Well another year older and here I am in my 56th year in the world and the snow has come back once again. Nothing serious but certainly much colder than last week. Hopefully though I’m going to get my potatoes in the ground this weekend at some point. Other than that no plans for the Easter weekend, (well other than not to be at work.) Oh, and go visit the dentist this morning. Yes, I thought that perhaps April fool’s day is the wrong day for doing that, but there you go. Perhaps he’ll pull out the wrong one and go “April Fool.” Oh and I’m actually 49 so ‘Happy April Fool’s Day