Sunday 26 October 2014

All alone

Wall Flower.  Fuji F10
16th October 2014

On the way back from school this morning, I noticed that the flowers that hang out of the wall at the top of the field are still well in flower.

Despite not having any visible signs of soil or nutrients, they all seem to be surviving very well.

This plant is alone on its own stretch of wall, in the shade but well protected from the elements.

It seems happy enough.

Brown and Wrinkly

Autumn Leaves.  Fuji F10
15th October 2014

Autumn is progressing slowly and hopefully, with the summer having been quite warm, there are lots of sugars stored in the tree leaves which may turn a decent colour.

These horse chestnut leaves have fallen early along with the crop of conkers, but there are a variety of brows, reds and yellows, rather than just dull brown.

Fingers crossed.

Soggy Monkey

Muppet's Monkey.  Fuji F10
14th October 2014

Muppet has a range of toys, but Monkey is special; he sleeps with Muppet in his cage at night.

When Muppet wants a sleep, he has taken to dragging Monkey out of the cage and curling up with him where ever it seems most comfortable.

Sadly Monkey has been chewed and slobbered on well so really he is best confined to the cage;

Or the washing machine....

Do your ears hang low, do they wobble to and fro...

Muppet with added peg.  Fuji F10
13th October 2014

Being a Spaniel, Muppet had infeasibly long ears.  As his food consists of both wet and dry ingredients (especially on Sundays if there is some gravy left over from tea), his ears become decidedly smeggy as they dangle in his food.

This evening we had some success with the first 'prototype' which was a peg clipped to the loose fur at the tips of his ears (do not worry, he did not feel a thing).

All went well until he tucked his head right down and the peg flopped over to his nose, making a blindfold from his ears!    Time to surf the web for ideas....


Lisa Simpson in Lego.  Nikon D7000
12th October 2014

I continue to be amazed at just how prolific and inventive merchandising and the exploitation of children's pocket money is these days.    I spotted that there is (a very ugly) version of Lisa Simpson now in Lego figures too!

It is a month until Alex's birthday; I am sure we will end up funding more blatant merchandising in the quest to find a present that may captivate and educate ....

Artichoke Flowers

Artichoke Flowers.  Nikon D7000
11th October 2014

The wind has blown the Jerusalem Artichoke stems over in the veg plot.   They are still just about standing, but for once the flowers are at eye level rather than being 10 foot in the air.

The flowers are only a few inches across and really quite out of proportion with the rest of the plant.

All we need now are some good hard frosts to sweeten up the tubers :)

Abstract: Well Packed

Cardboard Packing.  Fuji F10
10th October 2014

I am very impressed these days at how resourceful shops are becoming at packaging goods without resorting to polystyrene in one form or another.

The company who sent this box must have an industrial shredder for old cardboard boxes, but the result was very effective at keeping the box contents safe.

The twists and turns of the cardboard has also made for quite interesting shapes and patterns.

I did consider making it black and white so just the patterns remained, but leaving the picture in colour almost has the same effect but 'sepia toned'.

Tick tock

Clock face.    Fuji F10
9th October 2014

By reception in the hotel, there is a rather splendid grandfather clock.   It was a tad to dark to capture a decent picture of the swinging pendulum, so I went for the dial instead.

There is something satisfying about the rhythmic tick and clunk that large mechanical clocks make, however I am glad there is not one in my room as the ticking would drive me nuts overnight.

I remember as a kid lying awake some nights as the ticking on my mechanical alarm clock seemed to get louder and louder as the hours grew smaller.

Although not as pretty, the digital age has however made time 'quieter'.

The Castle's Backside

Edinburgh Castle.  Fuji F10
8th October 2014

We had a good walk around the city this evening; we were not lost, just 'misplaced' as we could not quite remember how to get to a particular street of interest.

Our journey did however take us around the 'dark side' of the castle where we do not often venture.

The purple lighting used to illuminate the stone works rather well though.

Drip, Drip, Drip

Candle Wax.  Fuji F10
7th October 2014

In the restaurant this evening, I was taken by the sheer quantity of wax that had built up on the old wine bottles that are used to hold candles.

There must be many months of build up on this particular bottle.

I could not see any 'fresh' bottles with no wax, so either the bottles do not break very often, or they burn a few candles on them out the back before putting them on the tables for the customers.

There was very little wax on the tables either, so the process seems to be quite an effective way of catching the fallen molten wax after all.

Union Flag

Union Flag.  Fuji F10
6th October 2014

I am in Edinburgh again for the week.   It has only been a few weeks since the Scottish vote for Independence, but life seems to be settling back to normal here.

I did however see that the Union Flag hanging on the outside of Jenners on Princes Street looks as though it has seen better days.

I assume they we waiting to see which way the vote went as to whether it did actually need replacing or not!

Monday 13 October 2014

Planning a Bath

Jo's Soap.  Nikon D7000
5th October 2014

Personally I prefer a shower to a bath, but Jo's latest batch of soap looks and smells fab.

It has been a while since we had made any new soap, but we are at the stage where all the good stuff has been used and only the 'misfires' or 'experiments...' are left.

Many of the lonely bars that looked or smelled a bit odd were consigned to a box for use as hand washing bars or cooker cleaner only.   Many now smell more like chip fat than the nice peppermint they were originally!

In a few weeks, we can use the new soap, rather than use the bars that go best with a little salt and vinegar.

Everyday objects: 2nd Class Royalty

Stamp.  Fuji F11
4th October 2014

We get post most days, but rarely has someone actually stuck a stamp on it; it is just machine franked and bulk mailed.

When a stamp is used, often I am late with whatever I am posting so use a 1st class so it gets there 'yesterday'.

It is only organised people who can get away with 2nd class stamps!

Late or Early?

Clematis flower.  Nikon D7000
3rd October 2014

The clematis on the patio has started to flower again.   Given that it is a Spring flowering variety, I am not sure if it is very late, or super early!

I assume it is the warm Autumn that has made it take a last chance at setting seeds.


Glass in the kiln.  Nikon D7000
2nd October 2014

Today was the first cook of glass in the new kiln.  It was not easy to get a picture; the white balance went mad with the dark viewing tunnel and then a red scene inside.

The test piece was an ornament to hang on the Christmas tree; it came out all in one piece which was good!

Saturday 11 October 2014

Season End

Dead Crane Fly.  Fuji F11
1st October 2014

The profusion of Crane flies that have been around for the last few weeks is now subsiding.

They have not gone away however and can generally be found now as spider food.

This one tried to find refuge in the outside tap; but found a web to rest in.

Everyday objects: Zips

Big Zip.  Fuji F11
30th September 2014

Katie's fencing bag has an enormous zip on it.   The scale of the picture does not convey its true size.

Big enough to catch your whole knob in if it was on your trousers.

Everyday objects: Hard Knob

Gear Knob.  Fuji F11
29th September 2014

There are many items that we take for granted.  Today I realised that each time we drive the car, we get to handle a decent sizes knob.  

These knobs have lines and numbers on however and help to remind us which way to push the stick to find reverse.


Beetle.  Nikon D7000
28th September 2014

The Poppies are over now, but the seed heads are forming and are playing host to many an insect.

This beetle was hiding under the seed head when I started taking pictures, but soon came out and displayed its vain side.

Late Flowers

Nasturtium flower.  Nikon D7000
27th September 2014

There are still a few Nasturtiums in flower in the veg plot.  Despite being the start of Autumn, the flowers are still vibrant with their punchy colours.

The peppery taste of the flowers is still there too.

Said the spider to the fly...

Spider Lunch.  Nikon D7000
26th September 2014

When looking at a spider web this afternoon, I noticed that the spider had just trapped its lunch.   

It spent some time wrapping up its prey in a lovely silk jacket.

There are some silk coats that are nice to wear; this is not one of them.

Dog Acrobatics

Muppet with the tennis ball.  Nikon D7000
25th September 2014

Muppet is just big enough now to carry the big tennis ball.

As he runs with it, sometimes the bottom catches the ground and he goes right over it.

It is cruel to laugh, but I do :)

In Vein

Leaf Veins.  Nikon D7000
24th September 2014

Autumn is progressing still.   These leaves on the shrub by the house are beginning to turn.  

The contrast between the yellow of the leaves and the green of the veins is really quite appealing.

In a few weeks, all the leaves will hopefully turn a vibrant yellow.


Web.  Nikon D7000
23rd September 2014

There was a good dose of dew in the night, and this morning, the spider webs were all shimmering in the morning sun.

I am always impressed about how the spiders manage to create such a delicate and well formed structure; with 8 legs I am sure I would be all fingers-and-thumbs and bugger it all up!

Sunrise and contrails

Sunrise.  Fuji F10
22nd September 2014

As the mornings are getting darker, the sun is rising just as I get up.  It is just about the equinox today so we should get an even split of day and night.

The sun rose just between the houses an lit up all the contrails of the early morning aircraft that had passed over.

There seems to be more contrail than cloud in the sky these days.

Not long and I will be up there again.   I wonder if flushing the aircraft loo adds to the trails?  They are the brown and yellow ones.

Banana Concrete

More Concrete.. Nikon D7000
21st September 2014

I managed to get the chance to add a little more concrete to my latest banana sculpture.

I had to barricade it with upturned chairs though as Muppet decided that concrete felt good against his teeth!   I thought it would not do him any good however.

Wednesday 8 October 2014

Creeper Mask

Big Steve with a Creeper Mask.  Nikon D7000
20th September 2014

Alex set to once again with the 3D CAD software today.

His first job was to get me to print Steve again, but this time scaled up to 3 times bigger in all directions!

The new Steve looks much more solid.

He then designed a small green box that would slip over the head of Steve as a mask so that it looked more like a Creeper figure from minecraft.

After some persuading, I eventually gave in and put the glow-in-the-dark filament in the printer and did a two-colour print for the mask: Steve now has eyes that glow in the dark!


Minecraft 'Steve'.  Fuji F10
19th September 2014

I showed Alex how to use CAD software this morning for making models that can be 3D printed.

He set to work quickly and modelled a 'Steve'; one of the characters in the game 'MineCraft'.

I put the design file onto a memory stick and then we set the 3D printer running.

I should have thought to ask him, but he soon realised that when in the CAD software it said the Steve was '33 units high', it meant it would print as 33mm high.

He now has a mini Steve that is a good match for his Lego figures :)

Long Legs

Male Crane Fly.  Nikon D7000
18th September 2014

We had a rain shower last night and this morning.   By this afternoon, the flutter of Crane Flies was everywhere in the house.

Xena has been having great fun catching them.

They are trapped in the net curtains, drowned in the sink, and one was even floating in the loo!

Conkers Bonkers

Conkers.  Fuji F10
17th September 2014

The conkers are falling fast now.   After the spell of good weather with low wind, they seemed to have all ripened well on the tree; there were none of the white ones that can be around when they have fallen early.

There are some quite large ones around too.   I think I may avoid challenging anyone to a conker tournament however as last time I did, I lost but came away with some spectacular bruises on my knuckles and wrist.

Empty Shell

Chrysalis. Fuji F10
16th September 2014

I spotted this empty Chrysalis stuck to the side of the water butt today.   Given it is quite long, I am amazed that I had not noticed stuck there before while the caterpillar inside was transforming to a butterfly (or moth).

The thin shell is super delicate but with wonderful delicate patterns.

Play with me!

Muppet with Xena's ball.  Fuji F10
15th September 2014

Despite only being able to see in one eye, Muppet has been doing his best to wind up Xena today.

He has been dragging her ball around the garden in order to tease her with it; an attempt to get her to play, but it only has induced growls so far.

At least when I throw this big tennis ball for him, he can see it and chase after it, despite it not having a bell inside.

Yellow and Blue

Sweetcorn.  Nikon D7000
14th September 2014

I remembered to check the sweetcorn today; it looks as if the lack of rain and long time standing has not done it any favours.

The guinea pigs and chickens are in for a treat I think given that the cobs are looking a bit past it.  Drat.

Muppet is not 100% today either, he has gone down with a dose of Canine Blue Eye which is rather startling and very worrying.   When the vets get interested in the unusual symptoms your pet has, it is not a good sign.

His 3D vision is non-existant at the moment; he will chase after the ball with the bell in, but not much else.

It is really difficult not to laugh though when he misjudges the distance to the step and runs straight into the wall :)  :(

Blue Eyed Boy.  Nikon D7000

Born to Chew

Muppet having a chew.  Nikon D7000
13th September 2014

Muppet is settling in well and has identified many objects around the house that make rather good 'chew toys'.

Jo has a 'puffle' on her laptop bag (for those without young children, google 'club penguin') that he seems very attracted too.   It can be a bit startling when he looks around and has a face covered in green fluff!

He has also taken to chewing the concrete of the floor in the kitchen.  I am not sure if he is trying to wear his teeth down, or to sharpen them.  

Tuesday 7 October 2014

The Dog's Balls

The Dog's Balls.  Fuji F10
12th September 2014

We bought Xena a super-size tennis ball in the hope that she could not get her mouth around it and puncture it.

No luck there!

Advent of Autumn

Autumn colours.  Fuji F10
11th September 2014

Although only the start of September and the weather has been warm, this Virginia Creeper has decided that Autumn is here and it is changing colour rapidly.

Its leaves have actually started to fall which seems a little premature!

On the Fence

Cat on a Fence.  Fuji F10
10th September 2014

We see this cat sometimes on the walk back from school.

It does not seem phased by the dogs and this morning was lying on the gate, waiting for the sun to warm its back.

It did not look the most comfortable position, but the cat did not seem to mind.

Thistle Fluff

Thistle heads.  Fuji F10
9th September 2014

The thistles in the field have started to 'explode' and this morning were covered in dew.

The seeds pack so tightly while they are growing, but create quite a mass when they expand out.

There is quite a lot of potential thistles in this cluster, with more to come by the look of it.


Bees for transit.  Nikon D80
8th September 2014

This afternoon I helped out in moving a bee colony to a new home.

They had used their hexagon magic to form comb in all directions in their top-bar hive, making maintenance tricky.

How they will like their new square-box home I am not sure, but they were not happy at being moved and got quite loud with their buzzing.

Wot no Cabbage?

Cabbage White Butterfly.  Nikon D7000
7th September 2014

There was a Cabbage White butterfly flapping around in the garden today.

It seemed a bit dismayed that we have no cabbages.

The nasturtiums seemed to be attracting it, something green at least!

Monday 6 October 2014

Poo Hound

Muppet.  Nikon D7000
6th September 2014

Given that dogs have a fantastic sense of smell and taste, they do sometimes seem to be attracted to the unusual tastes in the garden.

Muppet has now discovered the delights of chicken poo.

He has taken to licking my boots after I have let the chickens out in the morning.

I must tell the kids not to kiss him; I would say he will probably grow out of it, but I doubt it somehow.

Slimy Sex

Mating Slugs.  Fuji F10
5th September 2014

After a brief rain shower in the night, this morning there were a number of couples in the garden engaged in slimy sex.

These slugs seemed to be turning themselves inside-out with joy at the sight of a little rain.

Not wanting a new host of slugs in the garden, I separated them before they went too far...


Pecked Fig.  Nikon D7000
4th September 2014

Despite our mass fig picking session, there are still many ripening.

The blackbirds however have taken to eating 1/3 of a fig, and then moving onto the next one.  The result is a tree with lots of trashed figs on them.

I have tried picking off the pecked figs and placing them in heap for the blackbirds to finish, but they do not seem to get the hint.


Another processing session

Peeling Apples.  Nikon D7000
3rd September 2014

I decided to make the most of the harvest and have another apple peeling and processing session today.

These cooking apples start turning brown super fast after they are peeled and ideally need to go straight into the pot for cooking.

They disintegrate into a fantastic mush quite quickly and have both sweetness and bite.

The chickens like the peelings too!

Small and Furry

Muppet.  Fuji F10
2nd September 2014

We have an addition to the family today; we collected Muppet this afternoon.

He is tiny compared to Xena, but should grow to be a similar size.

From a photography perspective, a black dog is about the most difficult for the camera auto focus and exposure to handle.

I will have to wait until he nods off before I try with one of the big cameras to get a picture!

Through the eye of a needle

Kilo's of ripe figs.  Nikon D7000
1st September 2014

The fig trees have been spectacular this summer and we had a session of picking the ripe ones.   We have a few kilos of them so there are plans for Fig and Ginger Jam, but also some home-made Fig ice cream that has no added sugar so I can eat it too.

I have a feeling though that if we eat too many, there may be side effects.....

Are we there yet?

Blackberries not quite there yet.  Fuji F10
31st August 2014

We have been out and about today and managed to find some blackberries worthy of picking, but many others need another week or two before they are ready.

It looks like there could be quite a stunning crop however this year.

Spied by the chickens

Elderberries.  Nikon D7000
30th August 2014

There are quite a few ripe Elderberries now on the trees which overhang the chicken pens.

Chickens can jump surprisingly high (in a very comical fashion too), but these berries are just out of their reach.

With me being tee-total, Jo does not consume enough wine to warrant fermenting these berries these days, however I am sure they will be consumed at some point by something.

A little Wind

Windfall Apples.  Nikon D7000
29th August 2014

After a little wind and rain in the night, the garden is covered in windfall apples again.

There are quite a few which have avoided the dreaded brown rot, so they are now peeled and in the freezer ready for transforming into crumbles for the winter months.

All I need now is a good picking of blackberries :)