Saturday, January 31, 2009

Great British flavour combinations

Part 1 in a series of 1.

Chicken and Leek

Thursday, January 29, 2009


I've been a bit remiss on the blogging front recently - both posting on my own blog, and also visiting the blogs of others. More the Infrequent Gardener than the Inelegant Gardener. Work has been getting in the way of the important things in life. I hope to catch up on peoples' blogs over the next few weeks, so expect my normal service of banal comments on your blogs to resume shortly!

I'm not even going to post about gardening now, but about a website I discovered a while ago, and rediscovered yesterday evening, when I should have been working. Needless to say, once I rediscovered it, I didn't get much work done. The website is called ARKive and describes itself as ..." a unique collection of thousands of videos, images and fact-files illustrating the world's species."

It is an amazing collection of images and information on a whole host of animals and plants, which is continually being updated. It covers most animals you'll have heard of, and many, many you won't have heard of.

Some favourites chez Mouffetard include:
- Goodfellow's Tree Kangaroo (otherwise known as the Ornate Tree Kangaroo, which suggests the creature is decorated with curlicues and perhaps patterned with paisley). The tree kangaroo may have evolved to take advantage of an empty ecological niche, but it doesn't look particularly at home in its new niche.

- The Pangolin - how cool are they?

- Allen's Slippery Frog - you can just imagine the conversation between the people who discovered that as they decided what to call it. Dave: "what shall we call it?"; Allen; "Argh, I've dropped the darn thing".

- Flightless Scaly Tailed Squirrel. why they had to specify its flightlessness in its name, I don't know. I know that there are some 'flying' squirrels, but flightless is pretty much the default setting for a squirrel. Perhaps it's related to the Flightless Hippo and the Flightless Aardvark.

- Maputaland Cannibal Snail - I could do with a few of those to put the fear of god into the many snails in my garden.

- Satanic leaf-Tailed Gecko - amazing looking creature with a wonderful name. Its species name is phantasticus, which it most certainly is.

Edit: I've added Verreaux's Sifaka - which bears an uncanny resemblence to Barry Cryer

Another edit: I wasn't going to add another one, but I challenge you to guess what a Tasselled Wobbegong is before you look. Half animal, half bath mat.

I could go on listing them forever - every time I look I discover lots more wonderful organisms.
Please do have a look at this wonderful website, and if you come across something fun or fascinating, let me know!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Ivy - a study

It has been sunny this afternoon, so I have been playing with the macro lens again. There aren't many flowers about, but plenty of buds and new shoots - the hellebores are just about ready to burst into a floral chorus ion the next week or two.

The best photos of the afternoon, however, have turned out to be of something which I haven't planted - wild ivy growing up a cherry near the end of the garden, and a visitor from next doo, which clothes some of the fencing. The sun brings out the beautiful colour of the stem.

A useful plant for wildlife, flowering late in the year when nectar is scarce, and providing berries. Natural England lists the animals which use ivy.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

New Year Inertia

I think that we have safely passed the point in the new year when we all rush to make resolutions, only to feel like failures when we fail to go to the gym/lose weight/be nice to small kittens and so on.

I don't make resolutions.

So, this year, I wish to celebrate New Year Inertias - the things I do wrong or fail to do every year, each time vowing that next year I'll do it properly.

Amongst my many inertias that I will continue this year are:
  • failing to label seedlings and rows of veg properly, meaning that I have no idea what I've planted. I'm always certain that I'll remember what I've planted. I always fail to remember what I've planted.
  • Not putting fleece over the carrots, thinking that the carrot root flies will magically forget their raison d'etre and fly over my carrots. I'm doomed to tunnelled carrots forever.
  • Not promptly planting out new purchases, but leaving them to languish on the patio until I eventually get around to it.
  • Failing to sow veg successionally, so that I have a huge glut for a fortnight, where we eat solely one vegetable, and then have to wait a month for another veg to mature.
  • Failing to plant out delicate young seedlings at the right time, so that they become angry, contorted seedlings desperate to escape from their pots.
  • Not thinning out seedlings, as it just feels wrong and evil to pluck out healthily growing plants, just bcause they're too close together. This is despite the fact that I know that they grow much better when thinned.
  • Buying too many seeds. I have enough lettuce and carrot seed packets to keep Chester fed with these veg for the next 10 years.

To mis-quote George Satayana: "Those who do not learn from their foolish gardening mistakes are doomed to repeat them."

Happy 2009 - may you learn from your mistakes.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Cold spell hits Cheshire - alpine wildlife move in

No, it hasn't been quite that cold in Cheshire, but not far off. This handsome chap is made of bronze and can be found at the top of a mountain in Obergurgl, Austria.

Just in case anyone has been wondering, the pork pie has now disappeared.