Friday, 28 November 2014

Questing Vole cards


The Questing Vole cards are proving popular... I was distributing them around Bristol on Wednesday, and this morning was in Devizes and Seend, and sending a parcel of them off to Australia! If you'd like some, they're available in my Etsy shop. I've also had some printed up as giclee prints, and the picture is available in a limited edition of 50. You can get one here,  again in the Etsy shop.


Monday, 10 November 2014

questing vole


Here's this year's Christmas/Solstice/ Winterval picture. I've thought of renaming Eve so that she becomes Questing Vole, but Eve is easier and quicker to signwrite.... and a good name of course.

Why shouldn't voles have their own constellations? I was chuffed this year to learn that the Welsh name for the Pleiades is Saith Seren Siriol, or the Seven Friendly Stars. Here they've become a vole... if you look for them in the night sky they'll look far smaller than this, but my artistic licence is still valid so nerts.

I'll be printing these off ASAP, and putting them up on my Etsy shop and on Gert Macky, of course....


Thursday, 23 October 2014

more baking on narrowboats



The last time I tried to make bread in the solid fuel stove, it was pretty disastrous. Unless you count as success a loaf that is carbonised on the outside and doughy on the inside. 

So I've added a wire shelf inside the Morso Squirrel, as you see. It is made from one of those big cages that people (some people) keep their dogs in, and which I rescued from the rubbish bins on the canal a few months ago.

We made pizza in there the other evening, and v tasty it was too. But we were so hungry that I didn't pause to photograph it. So here is a baked potato, baking.

You have to let the fuel (in this case, logs) finish flaming and settle into a good glow, before putting in the food to be cooked. And then it's a race against time. The potato was just cooked by the time I needed to throw fresh fuel on.

(postscript) Here's a loaf baked today. It's a bit burned underneath, but it's OK and was v nice to eat some slices with my dinner....


Friday, 17 October 2014

rotten


naughty boy, Brendan

The Spectator thought it a squeal
To have their own potty-mouthed heel
But they couldn't afford
To get Burchill on board
So they settled for Brendan O'Neill

There was a time when I occasionally read the Spectator, though admittedly it was in the 70s and then only because it was in the school library. Still, it was quite readable. So it was a surprise yesterday to read a bit of clickbait that they'd commissioned from one Brendan O'Neill.... 
Why are trannies so touchy? So touchy that even that use of the word ‘tranny’ – which, yes, is designed to make a point – will have them reaching for their pots of green ink so that they can pen outraged missives about what a transphobic monster I am?
...it doesn't really get any more intelligent than this, sadly. So rather than respond with outrage, here's a limerick for Brendan, and a lament for another publication that's gone down the toilet.



Sunday, 12 October 2014

git along little dogies


My pan of bacon, black pudding and mushrooms was just about ready to eat. Above the sizzle and spit of well-cooked breakfast came a deep rumbling. "Thunder? Surely not", I thought. The window darkened as the view became one of cattle legs and flanks heaving by.

I switched off the gas and popped out onto the foredeck, in time to see the last of a herd of cattle and calves hurry along the towpath. The two speed skater walkers who go by every morning, arms swinging wide, appeared from the trees. "We hid in the bushes!" they said, and continued westward, arms a-swinging.

I watched the receding herd, and pondered. No question of heading them off at the pass- the towpath was entirely filled with cow. But- what was this? They were getting bigger again. They had turned back! I jumped on my bike and pursued the speed walkers, tinkling my bicycle bell furiously. "Can you help get them back into the field?" I asked.

They looked a bit uncertain, but were game for giving it a go. At the swing bridge, the gate into the field from which the cattle had escaped was closed, and had been closed for years by the look of it. There was a gap by the stile where the cattle had evidently pushed through. I parked the bike across the swing bridge, and we three made a line across the path, using our most dauntless expressions, as the lowing herd wound swiftly up the path, pursued now, I saw, by Craig, my boating neighbour and one to whom dauntlessness comes naturally.

It became obvious that the cattle were not going to push their way back through the small gap, so we revised the plan. I moved the bike out of the way, and shooed them towards the swing bridge. There were a few anxious minutes as they shuffled uncertainly, and a calf and a cow jumped into the canal. But then the first adventurous cow advanced to the bridge, and crossed. And then the rest followed. The cow in the water made her way over and clambered up the bank of the winding hole. Finally the calf scrambled up onto the towpath and Craig shooed it across to join its mum.

Presently the farmer and his hands appeared, and after much running up and down, flicking of sticks and shoutings of "Hup!", got the herd back into their field.

The Wiltshire Times covered the story, but our part in the business was, naturally, unsung...



Saturday, 11 October 2014

the Tao of Morris


In the pulsing heart of Bristol, I established my very own Island of Unmoving. This was simply attained by the Traveller's clutch rod snapping as I negotiated the St James Barton roundabout. I rearranged some useful traffic cones to reduce the likelihood of a taxi getting all Zen on my rear bumper. Some passing drivers scowled at this imagined impediment to their progress, and others smiled. A familiar-looking bearded chap waved cheerfully, and shortly after I got a text from Matthew, whose beard it was, offering assistance if needed. But I'd already called the recovery service, which duly arrived in the form of a flatbed truck with a winch on it, and a cheerful Geordie driver who was the sensible type of chap who was able to accept immediately that I knew what the problem was, and that here was no place to attempt repairs anyway.


With the car safe in Cotham, I called Mal, who took some time out from her busy day to take me down to the Morris Centre where I bought a new clutch rod.  "Guess how much?" said the chap at the spares counter. 
"Um.... £8?" 
"I'll just change the database... no,  £6.13!"
Bargain. They threw in some washers and a split pin too. And ten minutes after returning to the car, it was ready to go again. It is not the breaking down that is important, Grasshopper, it is the fixing.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

peacock and wrens



Here's a picture I did for the new edition of Broadsheet, the poetry magazine broadsheet for the South West, and brainchild of Simon Williams. It contains heaps of good poetry, including, by remarkable coincidence, a poem about a peacock and a wren, and it is v cheap. Go buy!


Meanwhile, this photo I took the other evening has become the most-viewed pic I've ever taken, with it having just passed the 27,000th view on Flickr. Which just goes to show what I sometimes* say; that technical ability has got nothing to do with a good picture; you just have to point the camera at something good. The camera in this instance being my iPhone in panorama mode.

*but not always, for that would be boring.