Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pm2 machine closes today forever – I am thinking back over the last 36 years to 1977 when I started work on this machine and spent 14 years there. World is changing and we have to move with it but that doesn’t mean we have to like it. It's going to be a bumpy 8 months before we finally get the boot in October I think.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Currently reading the Well at Worlds End by William Morris. It is written in the old style and that takes some getting used to (see below) but as there are 2 volumes to get through i better had. The photo ilustrates what the first Kemscott book edition of the story would look like. I should imagine these are the rare of the rare. Why cant they make books like this now?

At last the throng was so thick that he was stayed by it; and therewithal a religious who was beside him and thrust up against his horse, turned to him and gave him good even, and said: "By thy weapons and gear thou art a stranger here in our burg, Sir Knight?"

"So it is," said Ralph.

"And whither away?" said the monk; "hast thou some kinsman or friend in the town?"

"Nay," said Ralph, "I seek a good hostelry where I may abide the night for my money."

The monk shook his head and said: "See ye the folk? It is holiday time, and midsummer after haysel. Ye shall scarce get lodging outside our house. But what then? Come thou thither straightway and have harbour of the best, and see our prior, who loveth young and brisk men-at-arms like to thee. Lo now! the throng openeth a little; I will walk by thy bridle and lead thee the shortest road thither."

Ralph gainsaid him not, and they bored through the throng of the street till they came into the market-square, which was very great and clean, paved with stones all over: tall and fair houses rose up on three sides of it, and on the fourth was the Great Church which made those houses seem but low: most of it was new-built; for the lord Abbot that then was, though he had not begun it, had taken the work up from his forerunner and had pushed it forward all he might; for he was very rich, and an open-handed man. Like dark gold it showed under the evening sun, and the painted and gilded imagery shone like jewels upon it.

"Yea," said the monk, as he noted Ralph's wonder at this wonder; "a most goodly house it is, and happy shall they be that dwell there."

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Quiche and Goats cheese tarts - yummy

Fresh today - signs of spring and some moss on the wall

The worst film I have ever watched and I mean ever. It's in Norwegian with subtitles, the story is crap, the special effects are crap, the actors are crap. Avoid like the plague. You've been warned! As the poster says "you'll believe it when you see it." All you'll believe is that you were convinced to pay out good money for it. Utter rubbish. I cant emphasis this enough.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Fresh photos only one hour old –

Small dusting of snow

Fungus begins to take hold of the old beech trees – it’s always a sign of the end.

High cloud in a clear sky today

Friday, January 27, 2012

This is unusual - 2 icons in one.

Guess who painted this before invading Poland  - (damm!! - gave it away.) It looks a little gloomy and foreboding so maybe all the clues were there.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Biggest solar storms for six years create spectacular northern lights even in the south of the UK

The Northern Lights are sometimes seen from northern parts of Scotland but the unusual solar activity this week means the lights have also been visible from as far south as northeast England, a rarity. This storm is the strongest for radiation since May 2005. The radiation - in the form of protons come flying out of the sun at 93 million miles per hour.

Yep just looked out of the window - still raining and also foggy so no 'aurora borealis' tonight in Lancashire

Monday, January 23, 2012

This almost looks like a watercolour - dogs and wood fires eh!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

What may we say of the season lest it passes and falls withered and spent to spring unremarked? Without some words of tranquil grandeur, we may fail to hear the message it would but give us, through its long, dark intervention of sunnier splendours. I wear neither a heavy coat, nor gloves this season, for the inclemency is favourable. As it is at the onset of autumn when the last leaf drops to a forest floor and trees bereft of rainment stretch upright in sad need of a worthiness that only the rains of April shall deliver. Let them wait and stand sentinel against a darkening sky that to us writes its name in starlight as time without end. Come faithful hound and we shall navigate the dusk by the light of the heavens and when we are done; we shall have freshly baked bread and jam for tea.
Baking the staff of life - it's delicious too even if I say so myself. I wouldn't normally wrap it up but giving it a as present

Friday, January 20, 2012

If I think and so therefore I am
Manifest and absolute in reason
Alive to science and mans’ industry


What then is a dream, hope or wish?
They are fleeting, ethereal beliefs coagulating
The connecting chains to our promised bliss

Thursday, January 19, 2012

“Like a game of chess we move through this life piece by piece carefully considering our strategy. So far we have been guarded and wise in our deliberations but now the game moves to its final phase. It must not fall to any one of us to move the final pieces alone.”
Here's some photos from last June of Sizergh Castle near Kendal. (They were on my Blackberry) I like the idea of a raised bed from withy...might give that a go as forever cutting things back in the garden. Seems a bit more sustainable than using (and carrying) wood from the DIY shop. We couldn't go in the castle as I remember because the family were in residence ( how selfish is that?) - I am joking. Looking forward to a summer walk under leafy trees on rich green grass again.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

He cradled the body of Loya Scrihath in his arms and sang, “Frost comes now to bite deep into the flesh that held against the wind. Its fingers burn and make fall the last petals that echo the now faded summer. It holds the land in its icy thrall betwixt night and the day and only the kiss of the sun shall make it let go. As you have let go sister of the earth so shall we and let our voices travel with you to a better place.”
Of all the things strange seen by them now was that Ibbero began to cry. Tears welled in his ancient eyes and rolling down his sorrowed face fell onto Loya Scrihath. He pressed his brow upon hers and drew her close. To those that watched there seemed a radiance about them both. Ibbero held her tight to him for some time before placing her gently on the floor. Looking at the guards he ordered, “Take her with reverence to a place of beauty and see no one visits her yet. So much time did this great lady give you; now give it back while her soul travels into a new story.”

The guards took the body away and shaken Ibbero turned to the others and said, “This is evil magic my friends; much darker than I could have foreseen."

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I like pictures that show seasonal differences - what a difference water makes

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Frost comes now to bite deep into the fleshy stems that held their own against the wind. Its fingers burn young leaves, solidifies then makes fall the last petals that echo the now faded summer. It holds the land in its icy thrall betwixt night and the day and only the kiss of the sun shall make it let go.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Some frost photos I took this afternoon in the garden.
Ice builds up on a water butt from a dripping branch overhead. Don’t ask me how it did this but it made a perfectly triangular vase filled with water which I put a twig in to show you.

Frost on thyme

Frost on leaves

Frost on angelica

Forecast cold but sunny for the next few days so hopefully lots of good frost pics.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Who would have thought all those tea towel prints would end up at this revelation -  William Morris inspiring J.R.R.Tolkein with the Lord of the Rings.

The Well at the World's End is a fantasy novel by the British artist, poet, and author William Morris. It was first published in 1896 and has been reprinted a number of times since, most notably in two parts as the twentieth and twenty-first volumes of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series in August and September 1970. It is also available in one volume along with a similar Morris tale, The Wood Beyond the World, in On the Lines of Morris' Romances: Two Books that Inspired J. R. R. Tolkien.
Plot summary
Using language with elements of the medieval tales which were his models, Morris tells the story of Ralph of Upmeads, the fourth and youngest son of a minor king, who sets out, contrary to his parents' wishes, to find knightly adventure and seek the Well at the World's End, a magic well which will confer a near-immortality and strengthened destiny on those who drink from it.
Ralph meets a mysterious lady who has drunk from the well, and they become lovers. However, she is killed, and with the help of Ursula, another maiden whom he meets upon the way, Ralph eventually attains the Well.
Although the novel is relatively obscure by today's standards it has had a significant influence on many notable fantasy authors. C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien both seem to have found inspiration in The Well at the World's End: ancient tables of stone, a "King Peter", and a quick, white horse named "Silverfax" are only a few. In an October 1914 letter to his future wife, Tolkien told her, "Amongst other work I am trying to turn one of the short stories [of the Finnish Kalevala] ... into a short story somewhat on the lines of Morris's romances with chunks of poetry in between."
Season Pudding - A traditional savoury side dish from the North. Great with roast beef and gravy. (2 recipes below)

Serves: 6
300ml (1/2 pint) milk
4 free range eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (or dripping)
200g (7 oz) plain flour
2 small onions, chopped
small handful chopped fresh sage
Preparation method
Prep: 30 mins | Cook: 20 mins
1.  Preheat oven to 230 C / Gas mark 8.
2. Beat the milk, eggs, salt and pepper together well, preferably with an electric hand whisk. Cover and place in refrigerator for 15 minutes.
3. In the meantime, put the oil or dripping in a roasting tin and place in the preheated oven.
4. Sift the flour, and whisk into the chilled egg and milk mixture.
5. Once the tin is very hot, add the batter and sprinkle the onion and sage on top, keeping away from the edges. Cook for about 20 minutes or until puffed and golden.

Eileen Morgan: Here's my mom's recipe:


6-8 slices of bread
3 medium onions, chopped
1 egg
sage (season to taste)
salt & pepper
1 cup quaker oats
1 tbsp flour
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pour boiling water over bread, soak & then drain well. Boil onions until tender; drain well. Mash bread, onions together; add egg and mix well; add all other ingredients & mix. Put mixture into a baking dish (can't remember if you're supposed to grease the dish or not); drizzle dripping from pork roast over top; bake 40-50 minutes. Slice, serve with lots of gravy & enjoy! Serves 8, or in my case, 3 (one daughter doesn't like it so there's lots for us that do!)

Should you decide to compile a Yorkshire cookbook, I'd have no objection at all to your including this recipe. In fact, I'd insist! I believe the world should know about this dish!!! Eileen.
Made these Christmas 2012 - Delicious and so easy and great with cheese and biscuits

Scottish oat biscuits with cheese

1 cup (90g) rolled oats
½ cup (80g) wholemeal flour
1/3 cup (50g) plain flour
1 teaspoon caster sugar
¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
90g butter, diced
2 egg whites
Cheese, to serve
Preparation method
1. Line two baking trays with baking paper.
2. In a food processor, process oats until fine. Add wholemeal and plain flours, sugar, bicarbonate of soda and ½ teaspoon salt. With motor running, add butter. Process until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. With motor still running, add egg whites. Process until mixture forms a ball.
3. Divide mixture in half. Roll out each half between floured baking paper into 23cm circles. Place on prepared trays. Chill for 30 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 200°C or 180°C fan. Cut each circle into eight wedges. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool. Serve biscuits with cheese.(obviously ,but also work with savoury relish)

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Hope you like these photos from the National Geographic website (you may have seen them) - the octopus takes my breath away. How can people eat these? National Geographic photos are the best in the world i think. Please visit the site and then i wont get told off for using the pictures :)  I wont be walking under those trees in Bangladesh where the floods drove all the spiders to. That's got to be made into a movie for sure

Friday, January 06, 2012

I think I need some new slippers now. Robbie loves my slippers so it must be the smell - yuk!!!

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Faifisheb demanded answers, “Why has this happened?”
Ibbero gazed into the distant snow clad mountains and began. “Of all the things most precious and yet most daunting to the conduct of the wise is the knowledge that one day they no longer will be able to go on. They will obtain no more life, nor take succour in joy of a new tomorrow. They will simply stop and leave the circles of the world they know now. Only the need to survive and prosper drives most of them along in life, but for the wisest of them they worry most that all the knowledge learned will perish with them. This for them is a greater fear than death itself.”

Bileack held back his protest and let Ibbero continue. “You doubt me and yet examine your hearts and see the gift we have been given as Yasrata; for it is not extended universally. Men are ultimately finite in a world of sorrow. They know that they must spend a lifetime perfecting living only for it to (seem to them,) come at the end to naught. Yet it is not so; we know this. However they cannot and for men it thus lends then susceptible to coercion from the enemy. Nihilism and bitter belief that life is pointless and human values are worthless is easily fostered by those with other ends. Ever the darkness seeks to undermine the intrinsic belief we foster in men that there is another circle for them to ascend at the end. A circle that is of the purest light filled with laughter and harmony where they may spend eternity in bliss.”

Bileack could contain no more disquiet and retorted. “Ibbero how can we end their blindness when it is set hard through years of subversion. I weep for the children of the Earth and yet I despair at the task you seek to undertake. Perhaps it is beyond us and we should return to Golaslo and leave these fools to their fate.”
Ibbero winced and his face grew dark and menacing before he spoke. Faifisheb sensing the change backed away instinctively though she ached to hold Bileack. “Fools, fools are they now Bileack? What manner of idiocy is this talk? Have we not been taught to be better than this? You anger and hurt me with these thoughts. You, who knew what was coming, yet refused to take the burden of leadership which I now carry. Do not talk to me of fools for I see a greater one before me.” With that he turned and strode off into the night.

In the distance an owl hooted and was answered by its mate. They cared nothing for the deliberations of these high folk on a winter’s night; only that they might meet and share some tasty morsel should something be foolish enough to venture out in the dark.
Faifisheb drew close to Bileack and planting her arms around him said. “Do not take his words to heart my love. Oft he is given to rage and though my heart tells me you have deserved his ire this night, still I would comfort you. You are my hearts love and though you committed a thousand errors still my heart would seek to protect and serve you. Heart of the wood and flower of the vein have I not always worshipped you. Take my hand and we will commune under the moon and within silence and the warmth of our closeness shall we find peace again this night.”

While the moon rode across the sky and the embers of the fire turned to grey ash they found shelter within the gorse and lay together for the rest of the night deep in the love they shared. It was above all (had they thought) the reason men are so passionate about life and fear death. Not because of what they will lose, but for that which they shall never once more gain.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

The moon waxed 50% (with some patterning)

A house worthy of renovation isolated on the moor with a splendid view

An Emu; now that was a surprise so close to home. I wonder who keeps that. (Probably the same person as the geese.) Shame the picture is not better but I’ll be back


There were no captive animals kept by the people. One of the central beliefs of all the free people was that nothing should be enslaved. In a remarkable symbiosis many animals chose to stay close to the farms. Perhaps this was for protection or because they knew that they would not be harmed. The people built shelters for them and at night the animals always returned. Cows and sheep grazed the set aside meadows where crops could not be grown and chickens spent days scratching the dirt in the scrubland. Pigs were not kept but ran wild in the forest although often they returned and led the farmers to truffles and mushrooms. In this arrangement the farmers obtained milk and eggs and the animal’s safety and shelter.

Honey gathering was a skilled affair but the people prided themselves on their ordered skep gardens. Atop each skep was the separate honey store the bees laid down for them. In many a cold, relentless winter the people would return the honey so the bees could last until the hazel tree catkins signalled the start of spring.

The people were not naive; they knew only too well that life and death are intimately interwoven. Foxes would kill chickens and sometimes the wolves would come down and take young cattle. Nature was indeed cruel and red in design and yet they had collectively elected to be better. Children learnt by their parent’s example though often they could see natures black heart in the shape of the hawk swooping down on a songbird or the weasel descending into a rabbit warren to commit genocide. It was the game of life and the people had elected to play it as seamlessly as possible. If they had been given life as a gift, then they could not take it away from others; for it was not theirs to take.

Of course the enemy knew this and despised them all the more for it. The Darcrast saw it as the great weakness in the people and delighted in raiding the villages at night to slaughter cattle. Some they took but some they left to rot as sign to the people. For this the people hated them. In the matter of the Darcrast there was no idealism. They knew life when dealing with the Darcrast was to kill or be killed and as ever in all they did; they elected life.

To kill without provocation diminished them as a whole but Asthralain wondered how deep their consideration of sentience in other things went. Was it for a blade of grass or an ear of wheat? If everything around us lives then something must perforce die to allow us to survive. Was it then semantics, or somehow disingenuous to be vegetarians? After all the sentience of the forests was not in question and the people revered these. Should this reverence not be extended toward all living, growing things?

She mulled things for a while but no clarity came. In the end she decided that if nothing else the world was a better place because they actively strove to cause no harm. Besides grass would always regrow and nuts and berries fall without intervention. She would discuss things further with Ibbero when the time permitted.
The dusk began to close in around them and tonight there would be no full moon to help them. Camp was hurried affair, but on the leeward side of a raised, rocky outcrop they found shelter where the weary company could rest and because of its elevated position defence was possible should the Darcrast come.
The naturally occurring rock formation created a hollow at its base with a small promontory above them to ward off the rain, if it came in the night. Below them thorny gorse bushes would surely hinder any foe for a time. Ibbero counselled that there was to be a fire.  Despite the danger the company needed the cheer of warm food and feet. Deadwood lay close to the camp and soon a small fire was glowing in the night air. 

Within their packs they found oats, flour, butter, eggs and cheese. Asthralain within minutes was cooking oatcakes on the large hot stone that had been placed in the centre of the fire. There was no magic involved, only a small wooden bowl and patience. The wooden bowl and spoon was made from lalita wood, wonderfully light and as strong as iron. Nothing tarnished or stained the lustrous grain. It was made by her father and she cherished its sentiment and usefulness. It was rare wood throughout the land and for her father to find a fallen piece of bough was amazing luck. Yet it was known among them that some people learn of the hearts song of the trees and that if they sing it well the tree will cast off a piece of itself in thanks. The more she thought of it, the more she realised there were so many things about her parents that she never questioned. Among the company now perhaps Sonarta was the only one who would be able to sing to the trees.

Close to the camp Asthralain had seen wild rowan berries and while the oat cakes cooked she went to get some. These she mixed in the bowl with some honey and the company sat by the fire with cheese and oatcake with a rowan relish. While they ate Sonarta sang of the trees of old as though she had read Asthralain’s mind. Her voice was a benison of clarity and rose into the night like a flare of crystal that pierces every dread and brings calm.

Ancient forests forged at world’s birth
We serve your songs, value your worth
Your gifts we treasure, so stay your ire
Wood for the home, wood for the fire
No harm can come while we remain true
Forest of old our faith forever is in you
Now the land tastes darkness’s might
All around good people take to flight
An enemy comes with hate and axe
You wood and your death his evil tax
Fear not fair trees, we shall not waver
Our allegiance sworn without fear or favour

When at last the world is renewed
Brighter days return to end this feud
The hatred of old we will never recall
New duty begins, so say we all
We shall rest awhile, then again begin
To talk again to the trees as kith and kin

Ancient forests forged at world’s birth
We serve your songs, value your worth
Your gifts we treasure, so stay your ire
Wood for the home, wood for the fire
No harm can come while we remain true
Forest of old our faith forever is in you

Asthralain moved by the song said “Well met and sang sister. You honour us all. Though we are far from the great forests my heart hopes they may have heard your song.”

Sonarta nodded her appreciation of the recognition and went to the where the horses lay to check they were sheltered. The firelight flickered ruddy tongues of light within the circle of elders and above them the stars traced ancient stories in the night sky. Despite their days exertions there was no thought of rest or sleep yet. The day was old and growing into tomorrow but still the new day and its direction had not been decided.

Ibbero was the first to speak, “Today we have climbed almost to the crest of the Hozusta Mountain. Tomorrow we may see what lies on the other side. My memory says we should see the plain of Giga stretch before us like a wheaten sea. The plains are high above the level of the sea and few trees grow there. Only a few small, rocky outcrops and the mighty Surzest River break across the plain. It is my heart wish that the plains remain unsullied, but it warns me things have now changed. I have seen in my dreams the people of Giga scattered and the wheat crops destroyed. The Gigantis are hardy, feral people but the dark destroyer has no love of these rustic folk.