Friday, 30 June 2017

Friday 30th June's Scavenger Photo Hunt list

Another interesting list of topics reflecting June's 30 Days of Wild.  Not been out much this month so have again had to rely on old photographs. 

1.  The setting sun

Contrails reflecting the colours of the setting sun.  Picture taken from our lounge window.

2. Your local wild place 

(anything from a dusty corner with spiders to nature reserve covering acres of land!)

I'm cheating here.  This is no longer my local wild place but was some years ago.  We lived a few kilometres from the nearest gate into the vast Kruger National Park and we spent many happy days there.  We would book into a rest camp for a few nights.  

The picture below is of a group of young Impala females standing in some welcome dappled shade of a thorn tree.

3. Mug of your favourite drink in the garden

We love sitting in the sunshine having an afternoon far this summer that has not been as often as we would have liked as our garden is a 'wind tunnel' and the wind makes it unpleasant sitting there.  Hopefully in July summer will come  back again minus the wind.

4. My kind of beautiful

I love peonies.  They are not something I grew in Southern Africa but always associated with  an English summer.  So I am thrilled that mine flowers each year, even though they grow in a pot.  I never get many flowers, not enough to pick anyway, so I treat myself to some from the supermarket each year. 

5. Look to the skies

We live under the flight path of planes to and from Manchester, Leeds/Bradford and Liverpool airports so on a clear day have lovely criss-cross patterns made by the contrails. I often wonder who is aboard; are they going on holiday, or perhaps on a business trip.   Then recently I read in the paper that the clouds that form from the drifting contrails have an official name....homomutatus or cirrus aviaticusI looked it up and found the following which I though interesting. 

 Persistent contrails are of particular interest to scientists because they increase the cloudiness of the atmosphere.The resulting cloud forms are formally described as homomutatus, and may resemble cirrus, cirrocumulus, or cirrostratus, and are sometimes called cirrus aviaticus. Persistent spreading contrails are suspected to have an effect on global climate

6. Mini beasts

A Bulgarian Tiger Moth looking for a garden perhaps.

I could not resist using this picture too. 
A bee recharging it's batteries on a solar rock in a tub on our neighbour's decking.

7. Rain

I don't like grey days but the rain does not bother me.  Perhaps because it was so special when it only fell in our  short 'rainy season' in Central and Southern Africa from November to April each year. 

8. Something summery

I love this section of my garden......really summery. Since taking this photograph a week ago (when the sun was shining!) the lilies on the right of the picture have come into bloom. B very kindly made wooden staging on three levels so I could get this effect. 

9. Urban wilderness

We have an unusual garden. Our flat is the last in a row of four so we are able to have a greenhouse, shed, two large compost bins and a garden made up entirely of  small trees, shrubs and annuals in pots of various sizes on the tar driveway without restricting access to the other three residents. But as the building was constructed in the side of a hillside which was cut away and our driveway goes up the hill and round to the back of our flats. our driveway and front door seem to be on  ground level even though from the front we live in a first floor flat.  There is a bridge from our driveway to the front door which crosses over the gap where originally shrubs and trees had been planted but most had been strangled by wild honeysuckle.   We opened up a bit of the railings to make a gate and with the help of a step ladder we are able to access a sort of hidden garden, all green and shady. We had to bring in masses of soil and compost as it consisted of heavy clay and subsoil.  It was on a steep slope so it had to be terraced as well.  Here is a collage picture of our 'urban wilderness' with the bottom right picture showing our bridge and the sheer drop down another eight feet to ground level.  B put up a wooden fence to keep me from falling down that last drop!!  With the help of B and Hawthorn I  have now got a lovely garden with winding paths, steps and an arch that earlier this year was covered by a lovely yellow honeysuckle all irrigated by hidden mist sprays. This is my hidden urban wilderness.

10 My own choice

Keeping with the wild life theme this picture was taken outside the side window of our lounge.  A large Goat Willow (Salix caprea) tree had been growing there and we hung bird feeders from it.  We had regular visitors from a variety of birds and the squirrels would come to the window demanding nuts.  The mother squirrel used to bring her babies here and they would nibble the bark, I liked to think they were after the salacin from which Asprin is derived  to  relieve teething pains as the adults never chewed on it. Sadly the tree was damaging the fence around the school playgrounds so the council came and cut it down.  It is regrowing again at great speed. Perhaps one day we can hang bird feeders up again.

Friday, 26 May 2017

May Scavenger Photo Hunt

Well Hawthorn, you have made it difficult for us to choose which ones to select with your much longer list!  I know I for one prefer to not have to choose,  just do your selection!!  Makes it much harder, even with the greater selection.  But here goes with my eventual selection.....

1.  Piano

This is a picture of my father taken in the Broadcasting studios in Lusaka, Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) in about 1948. Before the war he had his own band and played professionally for Tea Dances in hotels in Eastbourne.  (As a point of interest here he had very flat feet and was colour blind so was ineligible for the Air force or the Army so he, together with his whole band, was called up and became members of ENSA, the Entertainments National Service Association,  and travelled around army camps entertaining the soldiers).   

After the war we travelled overland through Africa down as far as Lusaka where he joined the Central Africa Broadcasting Corporation.  He also played at dinner dances in the largest hotel there as well as recording half hour programmes of 'Music for Sundown' broadcast on a Sunday evening.  He would buy sheet music of the latest musical shows and films and then put his own touch – 'adding the twiddly bits' he used to call it.  When this photograph was taken at Broadcasting  House he must have told me he was working on ‘Buttons and Bows’ which was from the 1948 film The Paleface, starring Bob Hope and Jane Russell.    I was only 6 at the time and misunderstood what he was doing and for many years I thought he composed it! Pity he didn't....think of the royalties!  


2 Group

A group of eager faced Brownies and Guides waiting to shake hands with Lady Olave Baden-Powell when she visited Lusaka as part of her tour of Northern and Southern Rhodesia, South Africa, Swaziland and Basutoland, all British colonies in those days.   (Modern day Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho). I remember how excited we were as all the packs gathered at the Lusaka Girls School in March l950 but although this was a very important day for all the Brownies my main memory of the event was trying to find the girl's toilet and having to ask one of the 'big girls' (presumably a girl guide) where they were!  

Lady Olave Baden-Powell with her daughter Chief Scout Betty Clay.  Our Brown Owl was Mrs Palmer and her daughter Ann with fabric hat is to her right and I am on her left wearing the regulation brown hat. 


3.           Silhouette 

 This was not one of my original choices but after seeing such a spectacular sunset a few  nights ago (the one mentioned in an earlier post by Hawthorn) I decided to use the silhouette of the trees over the road.  I do have a problem with photographing sunsets at certain times of the year.  I get such an excellent view of the vast skies outside our window but the sun often gives too much light which can mess up my photographs, especially such brilliant show as this one.  I was using my camera phone which I had only had a couple of days and have not tried out various settings yet.  In  hind sight I should have taken them with my proper camera. 

4.     Avocado

I love avocados but find the ones available here in the UK very small.  The Haas is minute and the  larger one is only a bit bigger.  Perhaps we have been spoilt.  In the Southern Hemisphere where we lived for so many years, they are huge.  When we were living outside Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second biggest city, we had an avocado tree just outside the kitchen door.  It had not had much of a crop the year we moved in and we were advised of a local tradition to improve yield.  One was to bang some large nails into the trunk - perhaps there was a lack of some mineral in the soil but the one that intrigued us was to take a big stick and beat it!  So B did just that.  Gave the trunk some huge wacks.  Not sure which of the two worked but all the time we lived at Khami it produced the largest avocados we have ever seen. We knew them as Custard Avocados which could only describe the creamiest fruit you  have ever tasted.  I had a Salter scale in those days, one of those with an oval shaped bowl and the fruit filled the dish almost completely.  From memory, I seem to think they weighed 3 lbs or more.  Below is a normal Haas, looks large but it is on a very small chopping board!!  Compare it to normal sized sprig of mint next to it.  

There, I knew I wasn't dreaming. I have just googled 'large avocados' and there they were on sale in a certain supermarket here in the UK described  as a rare supersize fruit weighing an average of 3 lbs and coming from just four trees grown by one of the world's biggest suppliers in South Africa.  (They have forgotten to count our tree in Zimbabwe ..but well that was 40 odd years ago! )  It is described as having a fantastic taste with a rich, juicy, buttery texture and creamy flavour.  Just as I remember it.   

Sadly that is not me in the picture, just some pretty girl in the shop advertisement which I snipped off Images on Google. After typing the above I realise that perhaps neither of our methods used above worked, it must have been a large variety all along and we just made sure it had lots of water!!  

5. Chocolate Cup Cake 

Take your choice, there are at least a dozen there, actually a bakers' dozen, I have just recounted, the rest are lemon buns.  Each year I would bake my daughter-in-law 3 dozen iced cupcakes for her to take to the office on her birthday.  I am no expert but had lovely fun decorating them with butter icing.  Sadly she and our son have now moved to Scotland, a bit far for me to make them for her this year!! 

6.        Weave  

After years of resisting it, I finally learnt to crochet in about 2009.  I had never been interested as most crochet articles in my days in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) were either doilies or toilet roll covers!  So why bother!! 

Hawthorn did not knit or crochet other than the little she had learnt as a school girl. But then suddenly she started crocheting;  her sister-in-law taught her one holiday on a beach in Northumberland.  

I looked with envy at the work she was producing so decided......anything she can do..........I may not do better but at least I can try. So between H, daughter-in-law and other Knit and (K)natter friends I finally managed it.  The first large article I made was this huge blanket.  Looking at the photograph I can see uneven tension and other errors.  But I was not happy with the stripes, too obvious, so Hawthorn suggested I weave (there is the word I was waiting to use) cream wool through the holes in the work using a large darning needle. You can see where I had started it.  I had made it with carpet wool which was heavy enough to start with but with the extra cream wool it became very cumbersome and not very cuddly or sniggly at all.  So it, together with my next similar effort,  ended up with son and daughter-in-law's Labradors.  They loved them, they weren't fussy!! 

7.  Bush

Now here is a word that means different things depending where you live.  Here in the UK it is a plant, a shrub in the garden like a rose bush but to us that have grown up in southern Africa it has a totally different meaning.  Here  you would go for a walk in the countryside, wandering around in woods or forests, across green fields but to me a walk in the countryside is a walk 'in the bush'.  That conjurers up memories of walking in long African grass, more often brown than green or sitting quietly in the car in the Kruger National Park (KNP) watching lion, buffalo, giraffe or the smaller creatures like some of the varied bird life walking through the bush.  In fact just writing about the bush and searching through our many photographs  makes me feel quite 'bush happy' bringing back memories.  These photographs and the one below had been taken with a very ordinary camera, no fancy zoom lens.  The lions had just appeared out of the bush and were about to cross the road ahead of us and the elephants were just browsing by the side of the road.

8.  Long

Yet another African story and again in the KNP.  Hawthorn and G (Himself) came out from the UK to stay with us and we booked a few days in a rest camp in the Kruger.  The advantage of staying rather than doing a day visit was that you could get up early, grab a cup of coffee and get out into the park just as the camp gates open at 5 am, an hour before the main gates for the day visitors.  We had done just that and were driving back towards the camp for breakfast when a leguaan or monitor lizard at least 1 metre long crossed the road in front of us and disappeared into the long grass at the edge of the road. We had stopped and I was peering out the car window watching where he had gone trying to see him again when I realised I was looking between two large, light coloured straight 'poles'.  I suddenly realised these were not poles but the legs of a giraffe just beyond where the leguaan had disappeared and I was staring under his belly. Wow, he was enormous with the longest legs that went up and up.  When you remember that when a giraffe gives birth standing up as they do, the new born baby drops 2 metres or more to the ground, it gives you some idea of how tall they are.  

9.  Green

Today, the hottest day this year, B and I went to Bolton Abbey, near Skipton, Yorkshire for a walk along the river and picnic lunch.  We go each year about this time as my mother's ashes were scattered there some years ago and I know how much she loved sitting by the river where we had our lunch today.  It was lovely and cool walking along under the towering trees. There were still plenty of bluebells about and huge banks of wild garlic were in full bloom, When I checked over my photographs I saw this one and thought 'how cool and green that looks' so it had to be my choice for this topic. 

    10  Sharp 

Well, what can I say about this display I saw in a second hand shop in Colne, Lancashire but .....Ouch!!  

PS   Hawthorn, the long list was not so bad after all.  I kept changing my mind about which topics I would choose as I found more suitable photographs.  

Friday, 28 April 2017

April's Scavenger Photo Hunt

Here we go again.......frantic search for pictures to fit the headings.  I have had it done mentally ever since the new list was put up by Hawthorn and now suddenly the deadline is tomorrow and I have not done anything more than think about it!!

1  New

For many years we have had a compost bin that was given secondhand to Hawthorn in 2004.  It was made up of plastic panels that slid into each other to form two small or one large round bin.   Over the years panels have broken and this year become very brittle and not able to stand up to the heavy winds and had developed a decided list windward!  I tried to replace it with something similar but to no avail.  I eventually realised I would have to find something completely different and chose a slatted wooden compost bin (with a 15 year guarantee against rot, which considering our great age I did not know whether to feel good about that or not as I would be 90!!)   The old plastic bin is to the right of the photograph as I still needed to shift the non rotted  contents into the new bin and all the lovely brown compost into bags ready for use around the garden.  

I must add that the construction of this wooden bin led to some interesting conversations between myself and B as, like all men, he does not follow instructions.  Just by enlarging the photograph on the web page I could see how it all slotted together but............well, you know, I am sure.  Anyway as the article came without instructions other than where to download them from their web page I did just that to prove my point!! 

2  Recently finished

I have changed around the order of words so as to continue with my theme of compost bins!  Our eldest grandson very kindly came across for the day to help us transfer all the non rotted vegetation into the new bin, carefully layering it with soil from last years' flower pots and filling sacks of lovely well rotted compost and in return for his hard work we fed him an enormous pizza, tomato soup and an unending supply of hot cross buns, hot chocolate and orange juice.

The slats came as a flat pack but unfortunately three slats had their ends broken off.  We carried on assembling it but I immediately contacted the seller who apologised and said they would send a replacement.   To our surprise 'replacement' meant a whole new bin, not just three slats, so now as the original one works in its broken state we have two for the price of one!  That is what I call a bargain!

NB   This should  be under new as well as those ladies size stainless steel spade and fork were an early birthday present.

3  Rust

Each year we drive from Lancashire to beautiful Northumberland** to stay in a farm cottage for a week.  When Anthony Gormley's Angel of the North near Gateshead comes into view we start to feel we are nearly there.  The giant art installation is known as Rusty Rita by the locals, hence my link to this category.   The first time we passed it we turned off to get a closer look. It is huge.  See how it dwarfs B as he walks up the hill towards it. If you look more closely you will see a few people standing at the base. 

** My banner picture is taken on Bamburgh Beach, Northumberland. 

I have just enlarged my original picture and read again the amazing details on this information board then looked up more details on a web page.  I thought it would be more interesting if I copied and pasted the details here as I found them fascinating and thought you might too.

  • It is believed to be the largest angel sculpture in the world
  • It is one of the most viewed pieces of art in the world - seen by more than one person every second, 90,000 every day or 33 million every year
  • It is one of the most famous artworks in the region - almost two thirds of people in the North East had already heard of the Angel of the North before it was built
  • Its 54 metre (175 foot) wingspan is bigger than a Boeing 757 or 767 jet and almost the same as a Jumbo jet
  • It is 20 metres (65 feet) high - the height of a five storey building or four double decker buses
  • It weighs 200 tonnes - the body 100 tonnes and the wings 50 tonnes each
  • There is enough steel in it to make 16 double decker buses or four Chieftain tanks
  • It will last for more than 100 years
  • It will withstand winds of more than 100 miles per hour
  • Below the sculpture, massive concrete piles 20 metres deep anchor it to the solid rock beneath
  • It is made of weather resistant Cor-ten steel, containing a small amount of copper, which forms a patina on the surface that mellows with age
  • Huge sections of the Angel - up to six metres wide and 25 metres long - were transported to the site by lorry with a police escort
  • The total cost of The Angel of the North was £800,000
  • There is unique species of daffodil named the Angel of the North due to its orange, rusty hue and lofty height. The Angel of the North daffodil has been verified and registered with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS)

4  Boxes

I looked around the house to see which box I could use but could not decide so have arranged  them all together for a group box photograph.  They all have different stories to tell.  The two wooden ones in the back and two in front were given to me by my son and fav daughter-in-law collected on their travels. The Jak the cat tin and the lovely Papier-mâché box were given to me by Hawthorn and the round one with the lid was made by B while playing around on his lathe.  The little glass one my mother used to store stamps in, both new ones in the days when you still had to lick them and used ones that she used to collect for B.  Today I see it has an  odd selection of bits, a McMillan Daffodil, a spare needle for my knitting machine and odd washer or two and a brass thimble that says Use Humber Soap around the side.  But best of all is the old wooden box in the centre made by my father-in-law as a young man in the late 20's to hold his cuff links.  The workmanship is perfect. No nails  or screws, all minute wooden dowels and small piano hinges on the back with a  little brass lock. 

5  Ingredients

Here I must make a confession.  I very seldom take photographs of my cooking so I  have cheated and pinched this from Images on Google.  Very naughty I know and I apologise.

With so many recipes to chose from I have selected a traditional South African pudding or teatime treat - Melk Tert, which translates as Milk Tart.  It is quite different to the English custard tart and much easier to make as it does not have to set in the oven, you make it like custard, in a saucepan.  You can be good and make a short pastry pre baked case but I cheat and buy them ready made from the supermarket.  

MELK  TERT   (Makes 2 x 8"  tarts)

4 rounded tablespoons flour                          l cup sugar
4 level tablespoons cornflour                        3 eggs
l litre milk                                                       3 tablespoons butter
Cinnamon sticks (Optional)                           Pinch salt.  
Ground cinnamon                                          2 Baked pastry shells

Sift and mix together dry ingredients. Add eggs, beating well. Add a little milk and mix till smooth. Boil together remaining milk, salt, cinnamon sticks (or pinch of cinnamon) and butter. Add hot milk to flour mixture and return to saucepan and cook slowly till thick. Pour into baked pastry shell and sprinkle with cinnamon. 

6 and 9   Something beginning with .....D and R (I know, its cheating!)

I think I will be forgiven for using this photograph of a very young Hawthorn as I need it to illustrate my story.  I was stumped for a while on what to use for the letters 'D' and 'R' that would be different until B reminded me of Damn Rabbit - I actually can't remember his original name.  We had raised him from a very tiny baby, almost hairless and blind, as his mother had kicked him out of the cage. He was fed with a dolls' baby bottle and lived in the house.  But he had one very bad habit.  Living in a rather hot part of the world and as B worked just down the road, he came home for lunch and then had 40 winks on our bed before returning to work. The rabbit sometimes used to sneak into our bedroom and jump onto our bed and snuggle up to him.  The only problem was that on occasions B would be rudely awoken from his nap by a warm, damp feeling. Yes, you guessed it, it was the rabbit having a wee!!  B would hurl him off the bed yelling loudly....That Damn Rabbit has done it again....or actually something rather stronger. So he became known as That Damn Rabbit!!  (or TDR for short)

In the photograph Hawthorn is holding  TDR, Barney her little dog who met an untimely death when we moved into the city where he did not know busy traffic and her cat Sam** who lived to the grand old age of 15, a good age in a country where many cats were killed by snakes.

** Sam was named after Sam the Sham (remember him?) as his mother was Siamese and his father obviously a passing black rascall whom he took after until he opened him mouth and he spoke pure Siamese cat!

Writing about TDR has bought back a long forgotten memory.  RTV - Rhodesia Television was in its infancy with only two stations broadcasting, one in Salisbury (Harare) and the other in Bulawayo. They had a children's 5 o'clock club which Hawthorn and her brother belonged to and when it was their birthday they were invited to go to the broadcast on that day. I had a cunning plan! Only some cards were read out each time so I got my parents in Capetown to send an enormous birthday card which did attract attention.  Little H was called up and her card read to her.  It had been signed from Mummy, Daddy, Granny and Grandpa and all the many cats and dogs, ending with TDR. The presenter  Sally Donaldson asked little H who was TDR and was told it was That Damn Rabbit.  She was naturally asked to explain which she dutifully did, in her clear voice; my rabbit wee wees on my daddy and he gets cross and shouts That Damn Rabbit!  We went from proud parents sitting with others in the viewing room to very embarrassed parents, shrinking down in our chairs.  That will teach me to have a Cunning Plan!! 

7  Mechanical

We came across this beauty whilst in the Science and Technology Museum in Manchester.  It is the 'Pender', Tank Locomotive No 3 and is a Bayer, Peacock Locomotive and was used on the Douglas to Peel line on the Isle of Man.  It has a cut away view of the engine which was fascinating. 

8  Something seasonal

My garden is at last rousing itself from it's winter stupor (or is that a description of me?) and bursting into flower again.  Each year these primulas faithfully come into flower.  I had been given a sack full that had been destined for the council compost tip as they were being dug up to be replaced by summer flowers by the council gardeners. I always think they are rewarding me for rescuing them.

10  My own choice

At this time of the year the squirrels are raising their young in their dray.  When they are big enough the mother brings them to our feeding table.  She keeps her young around her till they are able to defend themselves then chases away the males.  The females stay longer and in fact sometime oust their mother and keep their patch - and supply of peanuts!   We are seeing the present mother squirrel when she comes for food and water.  It is obvious that she is feeding babies.   We had Emma for years, each time raising her  young and sending them away till eventually she was the one evicted.  She would come back occasionally to see us till she stopped coming altogether.  She became very bold, asking for nuts by coming to the Goat Willow tree at the side of the lounge or even coming up the passage and into our flat.  When the babies were weaned and teething she would bring them to the Goat Willow tree to chew on the bark for its soothing effect.  Sadly, as the tree was actually growing in the school grounds next door and was damaging the fence, the council came and cut it down. 

Here is Emma feeding from B's hand.  She even sat on his lap eating nuts he gave her.