Sunday, July 01, 2012


As I write this, I occasional look out of the window. Just a glance. Just to see if anything interesting is happening in the Close. It isn't, so its back to the screen. The one thing that doesn't seem to change when I look out of the window is the sky, or rather the clouds. We don't seem to have seasons in Buxton, just different varieties of greyness accompanied by rain of different intensities. Okay the temperature varies a little bit but basically its grey and damp for most of the time. There are four different types that I have identified;

Dark Grey with bits of black. This means that it is raining, usually heavily.

Light Grey with hints of darker grey. Light rain and drizzle.

Light Grey with streaks of sun. It has been raining but has temporarily stopped. Won't be long before it starts raining again.

Very Light Grey. Snowing.

Today it has mostly been light grey with hints of darker grey, but recently we have had a streak of sunlight but it has been chased away by more grey of the darker variety. No doubt tomorrow we will have unbroken sunshine so my gloomy classification will be redundant, but I think it holds for probably 90% of the time up here, and that's a rather depressing thought.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Cats and Lawns

Next doors cat creeps through the long grass of our back garden and makes its way to one of the large bushes. There it settles down to stare at me. I stare back it. Its a strange cat, a throw back to the days when wildcats roamed freely through the ancient woodland that used to cover the hillsides. It has the markings of a wildcat and the facial features to go with them. Not ugly, but not very cuddly either. So it sits beneath our foliage, a sleek muscular moggy, menacing the innocent. The innocent being of course being JC our one remaining cat and Lilly the Collie. Since next doors sabre tooth tiger has taken to coming in to occupy part of our garden JC remains house bound, unwilling to defend her territory. Lilly doesn't like cats and avoids them where ever possible. So its left to Mrs BW or I to shoo them away.

This cat seems to like our garden. So much so that now it has taken to inviting its friends round. Now next doors garden is no good for cats. The grass is too short and the bushes are too neat and tidy and offer little in the way of foliage to lie up in and ambush unsuspecting pets. In fact their lawn resembles a bowling green. To keep it so it requires three cuts a week, regardless of the weather and whether it needs it or not.

So our garden is more attractive to cats. Both Mrs BW and I are firmly in the “Gardens should look natural” school, though I lean more to the wild and unkempt look than she does. Of course as she does most of the gardening she gets to make the structural decisions and I am left to agree with her. The neighbours may not be happy, but at least their cats are. Perhaps they won't shit on our lawn! I mean the cats of course.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Interrupted Ball throwing, Collie not amused.

Taking Lilly for her walk this morning across the back fields on another perfect cloudless early spring day, I noticed that there were a lack of small birds tweeting in the trees and bushes. The reason soon became clear. High above the fields a couple of common buzzards were soaring on the thermals with lazy flaps of their wings, calling occasionally. I stopped to watch them. Lilly's ball lay a few yards away, unpicked up and unthrown. I have noticed more and more buzzards in recent years, not only here in the Peak District but across the country generally. This is a healthy sign of a robust ecosystem. Buzzards are at the top of the food chain and would be the first to suffer decline when things get tough. They are magnificent birds. Their flight is effortless and their eyesight outstanding. The pair I watched drifted away down towards Woo dale. One of them suddenly swooped ground wards and landed in a field. It obviously had picked out some prey. It stayed on the ground for a few seconds, before with a few flaps of its wings pulled itself and its prey into the sky and resumed its flight to join its mate. Of course I hadn't brought any binoculars, so it wasn't long before it was hard to see them in the clear blue sky. By now, Lilly was growing impatient with me. Adopting the classic Collie position she stared at me and then at the ball that was some yards away. "Come on stop wasting time with those birds and throw the ball for me" her eyes told me. So with a final glance towards the buzzards, I strolled over to the ball. I sensed Lilly tense. Normal service was about to be resumed. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Moaning Monday

The self service checkouts at our local Morrisons are a pain even when they work, with their patronising instructions, and random refusal to accept items. But at least they do something to reduce the queues especially at busy times. So when half of them were out of action tonight, you would have thought that the Worlds Best Northern Supermarket might have opened a few more checkouts. But no. Out of the fifteen checkouts only four were open. And the queue for the self service ones was snaking back into the aisles. Of course the warm weather has brought people out to get BBQing stuff so it was a little busier than a normal Monday evening, and I had to queue behind Captain Slow. Just to make matters worse my phone started ringing when it was my turn. Of course I ignored it so as not to annoy the people behind me, who all pulled their phones out thinking it must be there's that was ringing. And while I'm on why are people panic buying fuel already? The sun is shining and its quite warm outside. Stop panicking and chill a little.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Perfect Cup of Instant Coffee

Yes it is possible to make a decent cup of instant coffee. It needs a little more time and care but not that much. I always use Alta Rica, but the method will improve any blend from the humble supermarket brand to the top of the range. The key to making the perfect cup of coffee is to put the milk in first before you put in the nearly boiling water. This is critical, the other way round and the day is lost. But putting the milk in first is only the start. Once you have the milk and as much of the instant coffee as you require in your mug, pour a little of the nearly boiling water in. Not too much maybe a tablespoonful. Then stir the mixture vigorously until the coffee has dissolved. You can then add a touch more milk if you wish but continue to stir. Finally add the rest of the nearly hot water. The taste is different, richer with more depth to it than if you put the hot water in first. Its the only way to drink instant coffee. Add sugar if you must, but personally I don't see the point.  

Saturday, January 07, 2012

A Squirrel has a lucky Escape.

Another windy and overcast day with a hint of rain in the air. Lilly the Collie looked at me and then padded over to where her lead hung amongst the coats and scarves. She sniffed it pointedly and then glanced round at me. Ten minutes later we were parking the car at Poole's Cavern. It was fairly quiet for a Saturday morning, just a few dog walkers and visitors braving the gloom. Once in the woods, Lilly set off in pursuit of the various scents. One in particular seemed to attract her attention and not even the squeaky ball could tempt her back as she snuffled amongst the rotting leaves and vegetation. And then the object of her interest broke cover. A squirrel had been minding its own business near the edge of the path. Lilly gave chase and gained on the small furry animal as it darted left and right. She closed in on its tail and was within a second of grabbing it when the squirrel changed tactics and forsook the leaf strewn floor of the wood and scrabbled desperately up the trunk of a nearby tree. Its panic diminished as it got higher and it realised that the dog, its equal on the ground could not climb trees. Lilly wandered around the base of the tree wondering where the squirrel had gone. She looked up at the tree and spotted the squirrel on a branch. She leaped up at the squirrel but soon realised that this was pointless, and came running back to be wagging her tail. I threw the ball for her and she set off after it. Much more fun. Balls can't climb trees.  

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Belated happy New Year

The last few days have been a bit challenging weather wise to say the least. The background to this stormy spell has been the constant wind, which when its not trying to pry away our roof tiles, makes do with chucking the garden furniture about and rearranging the bird feeders. Even Lilly the Collie has been reluctant to step outside at times. Luckily we have not had any trees down and despite the best efforts of the wind,the roof is still attached to the house. During a brief lull, while the wind died down for a bit, I took the Christmas tree, stripped of its finery and looking a bit forlorn, out and put it in the back of the car. A trip to the tip later, once I have dropped the Weasel off at work. It seemed a bit sad taking it down. Another Christmas done, another year gone, and already a week into the new one. I'm not sure about 2012 to be honest. Its a bit scary. Everyone is growing up, leaving home, and moving on. A fresh start? Or the same old? Decided not to make any resolutions again. (Is that a resolution?) They don't work for me. Well its a bit late but happy new year, I hope 2012 brings you what you want.