Monthly archive

Haven’t you got better things to do?

Plymouth, Citie of Onne Thousand Surprises

Drake’s Island and Plymouth Sound

Old and new buildings jostle together in Plymouth, Citie of Onne Thousand Surprises!

The war memorial on Plymouth Hoe

Disaffected gulls hanging out at the Barbican

Fluffy pub cat at the Rashleigh, Polkerris (not near Plymouth, but it is nice)

Enjoying a pint at Polkerris and watching the sun set over St Austell Bay

Coppett's Wood

Coppett’s Wood is a wizzo nature reserve just right next to the 24-hour Tescos at Colney Hatch. It is right up the road for me so when I accidentally went for a drive around in the Audi yesterday, I thought I’d pop in and investergate the progress of SPRING ekcetera.

I had a happy afternoon wandering around the woods and fields looking at various birds, insecks and flowers and such like. There are many things of intrest in the wood including the remains of the old sewerage works, hem hem, not pictured.

Where will the twisty little pathway lead next? Perhaps to the wonderful magic land of the bacon pixies. Or round the back of Tescos.

It’s all gone a bit Blair Witch.

I know it is a bit annoying just posting pictures all the time. You will have to put up with it though, and enjoy the misery.

Tits!

It is a cheap joke I know

This blue tit was having a bath in the little pond. Splish, splash!

Meanwhile his friend watches nervously in case the attendant comes to tell them off for bombing.

There was a large flock of these great tits swooping around, chirping and gossiping in various trees, but this was the only one brave enough to come near me when I was sitting by the pond. This is the hardest bird that the others are all afraid of, a bit like Ross Kemp out of East Enders.

Insecks

If you do not like bees, or do not want to know the score, look away now.

Two of those guys are living in windmills!

Four hours stuck in a wigwam with a bunch of sad-acts who know more about me than I do. Two of those guys are living in windmills! That’s like one step away from Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver.” — Jonathan Creek

The scary thing is that I do want to copy Jonathan Creek and be exactly like him including living in a windmill. And the other day I was stalking him by nearly visiting his windmill at Shipley in West Sussex, although that was by accident.

I think the appeal for me is that he is a tall intellergent man with messy hair who lives on his own, solving impossible murders and doing mortgage adverts, and is immensely attractive to women. That is nearly like me except for the adverts. And the murders.

Photo by Garry1968

The life of keithlard

I took the camera out for a wander to try and get lots of pictures of WILDLIFE ekcetera. I was a bit glum at first as I did not really get anything much, it is very hard taking pictures of birds especially, as they keep moving around and flying off. So I spent a lot of time hanging around suspiciously in the woods.

It was a beautiful day though and it was nice sitting quietly in the sunshine by the river watching blue tits fluttering around and listening to woodpeckers. It is awful hard to identify little songbirds as they tend to be (a) quite small, and (b) very good at not being seen. So it is bird listening rather than bird watching, I am trying to learn what all the different birds’ songs and calls are.

One thing I learned from watching David Attenborough’s wizzo series The Life of Birds is that birdsong actually means something, and they are not just messing about and jamming. Generally a male bird sings for the same reason that you do when using a public lavatory where the door doesn’t lock properly: to say ‘Hey I am here and occupying this territory, keep out!’

Birds tend to stick to their patch of territory and they will know their neighbours. If one day they don’t hear a neighbour singing, it is a good sign that he has died or flown away, and the territory is ripe for takeover. So the song is also like the Soviets rolling hundreds of tanks through Red Square every year: it is saying ‘I am strong and powerful, do not mess around with me or you will regret it.’

At breeding time it also attracts females of course, and the louder and more varied and impressive your song, the more of a chick magnet you are. It means ‘I am so genetically well-endowed that I can waste precious resources sitting here warbling all day long’, in much the same way that a ridiculously expensive and oversized SUV asserts your status as a human being.

So it is all very interesting and the more you sit in the woods and listen the more different types of songs and calls you realise there are. It would be good if there was a Michel Thomas course on bird songs.

In the end though I got lots of great photos (coming soon!) and returned home in time for a snack before zooming out again to a meeting of the Finchley Guitar Trio (it is now the Archway Guitar Quartet as Matt’s housemate Chris has now joined us on mandolin). So much musical fun was had by all (MP3s coming soon once I’ve edited them to cut out the mistakes and laughing).

Then when I got home I made and ate delicious home made samosas!

It does not get any better than that really.

Photo by Jim Higham

Samosas

This is how I make them anyway.

You will need:

  • Samosa pastry (ask at your local wizzo Indian grocers or they might have frozen spring roll pastry at the supermarket, it is the same stuff basically. Ideally, go to ‘Goodeats’ in Long Lane, Finchley, where the man is really friendly and has loads of delicious Indian snacks and ingrediments. I am not affiliated with him though except that I like his shop, and enjoy eating its contents.)
  • Potatoes
  • Chick peas
  • Regular peas
  • Some meat if you like it
  • Optional sweetcorn
  • Green chillis
  • Seasoning: you can use whatever you have, I like to crush up some cumin and coriander seeds, and then add some fresh coriander, which I always have in massive bunches around the kitchen, because it is delicious. Lots of chilli powder if you like your samosas spicy.

How to make:

  • Boil the potatoes
  • While they are boiling, cook the vegetables and/or meat.
  • Defrost the samosa pastry but do not let it dry out too much, keep it in the wrapper or wrap it in a damp teatowel. If it dries all the sheets stick together and then it is a pain to separate them.
  • Mash the potatoes and drain the veg and bosh everything together in a big pan with the seasoning.
  • Add enough water to give it a nice mushy clumpy consistency, not too wet, not too dry.
  • In a wok or big frying pan, heat enough oil for deep-frying.
  • Take a strip of pastry and put a spoonful of goo at one end and then roll the other end around it in a roughly triangular sort of shape. Brush the loose end of the pastry with water and press to seal it.
  • When you have made enough samosas, pop them into the oil three or four at a time and fry until crispy and golden. The oil must be nice and hot as otherwise the samosas will just disintegrate into limp, sad little parcels. Let it heat up again for a few minutes in between each batch.
  • Dry on kitchen paper.
  • Using a hand or other instrument, put each samosa into the large hole in the front of your face and chomp thoroughly until eaten. Wash down with LAGER or other cold, fizzy beer.

Samosas are great because it is like a little curry pack lunch. They are also delicious cold, if not more so. The nice thing is you can make the goo and keep it in the fridge and make a fresh little batch of samosas whenever you want them, or if a tall handsome curry-loving man comes round to visit, such as me.

Welcome to Jazz Club

Here are some bits and pieces that we recorded last night in Matt’s living room. It is the Archway Guitar Quartet’s debut release! I hope you like it.

Plants

Forsythia

Cherry

Magnolia buds

Horse chestnut. The teardrop explodes!

Not sure about this pretty shrub, I think it is a Photinia, probably P. glabra.

Animals

A cheeky robin. It is not the one that lives at Henrietta’s Pond, whom I call Reginald, but a little way further along the brook. I do not know how big a robin’s territory is so it might be Reginald’s next door neighbour. I will call him Richard.

This is Henrietta the Pekin duck who is the undisputed boss of the pond. You can see her cruising majestically around with various of her subjects tagging along in her wake, and she often hangs about (as here) with Martin, the mallard drake. I do not know what his wife Martina thinks about it, but she is probably too scared to take on Henrietta, who is quite aggressive and once tried to eat my shoes.

Generally if a squirrel realises it’s been spotted it will freeze quite still and hope that you don’t notice it. This one is doing a semi-convincing impersonation of a twig.

One of the pair of Canada geese who have just returned from winter holidays. They are big, big birds, you have to get up close to them to realise. I was trying to take some photos of the coots and moorhens, and the geese kept coming up and menacing me for food. Everyone has heard the saying that a swan could break your arm; I think one of these could give you a nasty Chinese burn if it had a mind to.

Blue tits are very pretty, and it is great to see them flitting and fluttering from branch to branch in the golden spring sunshine. Their song seems curiously inappropriate though, as it sounds like Butt-Head laughing.