Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pararge aegeria

Speckled wood butterfly (Pararge aegeria)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Kershaw Conspiracy

There I was, looking forward to possibly the radio highlight of the year, an interview with DJ and journalist Andy Kershaw for Radio 4's 'On The Ropes' series, which they'd been plugging all week, only for the announcer to say, "In place of our advertised programme, here's some toss about The Wizard Of Oz."

I might not have heard him correctly, such was my frustration.

Whassup ? Did the BBC lawyers have a last minute collywobble ? Did his ex take out another injunction ? Did he go on the lash and do something silly, come off a motorbike ?

At the moment, it just looks like the Beeb are doing everything they can to prevent the return to the airwaves of one of the best broadcasters since John Peel.

UPDATE: I was right the first time - 'twas the lawyers and a last minute concern about privacy.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Reap what you sow

If you've any spare daylight hours at the moment, chances are you're not a gardener. It's one of the busiest times of year, with every windowsill at home crammed with seed trays. Barely a day goes by without sowing something. Today it was more parsnips, lettuce, beetroot, broccoli and brussel sprouts.

Still getting a good crop of purple sprouting broccoli, loads of chard, spinach and more leeks. Just as well, 'cos there isn't much food in the shops I can afford these days. 0 % inflation my arse.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Upwey

Found an old demo on a minidisc.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Old Smoothy

Great grandma Mary Byford, nee Smoothy, with Violet, Archie, Daisy, Stanley and Ivy, c.1897. Great grandpa Edwin seems to have been otherwise engaged. Collectively, they appear resilient, inquisitive, forlorn, haunting and haunted.

Daisy, possibly the one in the hoodie, later met Henry, aka Harry and together they became my grandparents. I remember great uncle Stan and great aunt Ivy but have no memory of Violet and Archie.

Mary's paternal grandfather, Stephen Smoothy, was born in Essex around 1798. Her father, William Smoothy, was born in 1837 and married Essex girl Elizabeth Mynott who was born in 1836, daughter of James and Letitia.

Edwin Byford's father was another William, son of George, born in 1782, husband of Sofia.

The photograph only turned up this week and is the oldest family portrait by years, unless you count the painting reported to be of Elizabeth Mynott, c.1860 (below) which came to light last year.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Good Hoot

(Press Play for a hoot)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

No-Anchor Zone

The westernmost part of Studland Beach, aka South Beach. A voluntary 'no-anchor zone' has recently been introduced to protect the local seahorse population..

Hope it's more successful than the mandatory 20 mph Home Safety Zones back in the big smoke.

Shag watch

Perched on the cliffs at Old Harry Rocks, looking for shags, or are they cormorants ?

Cormorants and shags

(Press play for Sealoop)

A dozen canoeists paddled by.

Wild Garlic Wood

Walked along the coast path and through the wild garlic wood.

My mother reminded me that wild garlic is also known as Ramsons.

Enjoying it's culinary properties tonight - leaves or flowers, it doesn't really matter. A few sprigs with a salad or mixed with oil or a dressing is a nice treat.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


(Press play to hear field recording)


Walked along the beach to Shell Bay then wandered over the sand dunes, trying to find a path to the Ferry Road. Our way was blocked by a wood and a boggy swamp, on the edge of which we found this antler.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Spider Orchid

After much tramping around at Durlston, involving my father walking in one direction, my mother another while I practised rounders with my daughter in the middle, we found a rare spider orchid, near to where we were playing. One day, I'll remember not to get so close with my camera phone that I blur the piccies.


Up past the cowslip meadows at Durlston, near Swanage, my parents remembered a pond that they had seen being constructed fifteen years ago. When we found it, smaller than they'd remembered, it had become a habitat for the indelicately named but rather beautiful bogbean, rising from a bed of water lilies.


Walked to the village shop to get a newspaper and found this female badger by the road. The speed limit here's 30 mph so I guess she didn't stand a chance, especially if the car was travelling that usual bit faster.

Upsetting start to the day.

The shop didn't have any copies of The Guardian either

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dorchester Brewery

When you've missed your connecting train at Dorchester and you have to wait for an hour, thanks to First Great Western's incompetence, there are worse sights to stare at than the old brewery. Part of the site has been redeveloped and this bit will be getting a makeover soon.

BBC : Brewery Square Development

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Garlic & Artichokes

Now that it's warming up, things are starting to put on some growth, like the garlic and artichokes.

James Wong was using artichoke leaves and hawthorn berries to make a chewy low cholesterol bar in the last of the series of Grow Your Own Drugs last week. My Dad takes artichoke pills to lower his cholesterol and help the digestion of fatty foods.

I like combining the garlic, with artichoke heads and a bit of butter, in about three months time.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Coming Up

A few seedlings are emerging - spinach, carrots, beetroot, lettuce, radish. The lines of string help me to know where to look and are supposed to deter puss cat..

.. who is now in training for the low hurdles in the Olympics.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Tree down

Even when you can see that maybe it was getting to be a problem, blocked out some light and perhaps might have posed a risk to local residents in a violent storm, it's still gut wrenching to see another mature tree felled, like this cherry in Edward Street, Redfield.

It was heavy with gorgeous pink blossom a couple of weeks ago. Had I known of its impending execution (what happened to tree preservation orders and published notices of intent ?) I would have photographed it then.

Monday, April 06, 2009


It was the first time it had happened to me and I felt awful. I was a relatively late adopter and I'm not a heavy user, but losing your mobile phone can ruin your day. It was initially in a pouch attached to my waist, but as I reached to use it in a side street, I noticed to my horror that the pouch wasn't there. Had I left it on the train ? Had some nimble fingered thief unfastened it from my belt hoop ?

The first thing you think of doing is to phone and / or text your phone, but for this you need a phone and of course, your number. These things are not always easy to come by at the time and once they are, it's a bit sad to hear your own voice on the ansaphone . Once you've texted it too, from another mobile, all you can do is wait.

If the mobile that you used to text your own phone isn't your own and by chance someone else does find your phone and attempt to contact you, there can follow a confusing sequence of relayed messages. But even getting to that stage is immensely satisfying and immediately sets your mind to thinking about how to convey this gratitude, reward the kindness and honesty and sees you knocking on a door in another part of the city later that evening.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Przeczytać Podręcznik

I've been reading my friend Yaro's blog with the aid of an online translator, which sometimes gives it quite a surreal and unpenetrable twist. The last one was about reading manuals, which, clever chap that he is, he's able to do in English. He's well familiar with the acronym RTFM (Read The Fecking Manual) which doesn't seem to translate into Polish.

I'm not very good at reading manuals myself, although I do often refer to them. I remember photocopying 100 pages of a manual for Cubase for my Atari for £10 and taking them to Poland 18 years ago. I still find pages of that manual floating around today.

Recently I've been getting into Ableton Live, but I haven't glimpsed a manual yet. Instead, the marvels of YouTube provide a load of professional and amateur video tutorials, which help me bumble around.

Despite sticking to the manual / recipe, this banana cake didn't quite turn out right first time and was uncooked in the middle although looking fine from the outside. Trouble is, I don't have the manual for the oven and without it, I don't know how much the fan assistance contributes to overall cooking time, or whether cooking time stays the same and the temperature should be reduced. A handy YouTube video about Phillips ovens would help - or more cake practice.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


Having played at being god in recent years, raising froglets from frogspawn in jars at home , I'm leaving it all in the pond this year.

Purple Sprouting Broccoli

Despite the pigeons having a go at it over the winter, the half a dozen purple sprouting broccoli plants have survived, thanks to a bit of netting and make a tasty, healthy harvest.