Bird feeder excitemint

I have got a bird feeder! I went up to the Welsh Harp reservoir to fly my kites today and popped into the super garden centre they have there, with a little cafe and everything. They have got a massive bird care section, with every type of feeder and bird bath and computerised electronic jet-wash where you put 10p in the slot and huge soapy rollers come out and scrub the bird clean from top to bottom, and then give it a coat of wax. Actually no that last bit was a dream.

Anyway I got a little bird feeder that sticks on to your window with suckers, because I do not have a garden sadly. So now I am sitting waiting for some birds to come and investergate the food that I have put in it. There is a choice of chef’s specials including a mix of exotic seeds, and some lovely fat out of the grill. If there was a bird Michelin guide my establishment ought to have at least three crossed knives and forks. Anyway I am trying not to get too excited because apparently it can take up to a month for any birds to notice that you have a feeder there.

I had another super walk along the brook the other day and noticed some pretty amazing birds! They are Mandarins. They are quite rare I think as there are only about 1,000 pairs in Britain. It is also a symbol of happiness in China where it comes from. So that has cheered me up!

It was a nice day at the reservoir flying kites, except unfortunately I managed to break a leading-edge spar on my Matrix. Carbon fibre is terrific stuff, until it breaks into about a million little sharp pieces, luckily it did not poke a hole in the sail, but I nearly got a big splinter of it stuck in my finger. So now I need a handy source for Skyshark Competition Airframe 5P which ideally would not cost any money.

I brought my fighter kites as well but it was really a bit too windy for paper kites, so I flew my brilliant little MAC ripstop fighter which is very fast and twitchy like a racing motorcycle, except it can survive being piled into the ground at high speed unlike a motorcycle. Hurray for the return of kite flying season!

On the way back I sat by the lake bathed in golden evening sunlight and watching various coots, ducks, geese and swans ekcetera. There was an Indian family there with possibly the two cutest little girls ever, who were very excited about the birds, and one little girl was totally amazed by the swan and kept trying to reach towards it and touch it. She was pretty much in love with the swan! I thought that was brilliant. I love it when kids get excited about things because they have never seen whatever it is before so they are not bored and jaded like most grown ups.

In conclusion then, it is a wizzo world.

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.

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.

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.

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.