Thursday, 8 April 2021

bimbling around the Vale of Pewsey

I hopped into my neat little Nissan Micra, and popped over to All Cannings. (The old Morris Traveller has finally gone, closing the door on over fifteen years of adventures in it, and many roadside emergency repairs. "Don't you miss it?" people ask. "It was fun," I say, "But now I've got a heater that warms more than just my left knee on a good day...")

Gill, at the village community shop, had asked me to do a picture for them, and we wandered around the village admiring the varied building styles, and meeting the cows at Manor Farm where they produce the milk for the Moo2You vending machines they have in these parts. 

The rooks were busy repairing their nests, and it was too early to tell from their labours whether it is going to be a good summer (nests high in the tree, foretelling balmy days) or a rotten one (nests skulking in lower boughs).

Here's the finished picture, which will presently be available as a tea towel from that village shop, yet another reason to go there. 

It's fine country for a bimble. At the moment there's a good chance you'll see golden plovers flocking; and peewits will probably be nesting presently around Allington. And there's a great egret taken up residence on the canal. There it is, loo, in the picture.

Talking of bimbling, I got a rather excited email from Richard Beard a few days ago: 

Be still my beating heart. Look at us, officially approved by the OED. As flagged by one of my former graduate teachers in Cambridge. What are the chances of anyone ever finding it?


and lo, we are indeed in the OED, and so is my little Traveller. I wonder if the new owner knows of her illustrious literary career?

Saturday, 6 March 2021

a Mystery Owl

A few days ago, Pip, who's moored in Widbrook Woods three miles away upriver, messaged me to ask if I could identify this bird that was calling outside her boat. I couldn't; it sounds sort-of tawny owl-ish, but different to the usual to-whoo..... tut-tuddly-hoo that they do.

Two nights later I heard the very same sound here, around midnight. And posting this recording on Facebook, Liz Brownlee, over in Chew Magna, said she'd heard a similar sound.

So for want of a better ID, it seems to be a call peculiar to tawny owls at this time of year; maybe a courtship thing. 

Saturday, 23 January 2021

the Lundy rabbit's complaint

Who’s this odd bloke puffed up there outside my hole?
I only nipped out for some dandelion, and when I got back
There he was, bold as you like in his black dinner jacket,
Saying “Come in here dressed like that? That won’t do at all!”

The cheek of it! We came over with the Normans, I’ll have you know.
In fact, my people have often dined with royalty.
And now here’s this blow-in, shirt still wet from the sea.
Maybe he’s drunk? He’s got a nose on him like a rainbow.

Nasty nip to it too.
Says they’re only here for the summer season
And then they’ll be off cruising down to Spain, when the puffling’s
Gone away to college. Empty nesters eh, he said, feathers ruffling
Not empty enough if you ask me thought I, with reason,
Thinking of the kit’s old nest down there, my belly fur and hay,
The pong of fishbones and old guano that’ll never go away

...I started off writing an entirely different puffin poem, but there you go, you never know what'll happen when you start writing. Here's more

You often read nice things and stuff in
Books for kids regarding puffins
But sadly there is not a jot
On gannets, or the guillemot

Thursday, 14 January 2021

new map of Genderia

Three years ago Yvonne Aburrow mentioned their survey of the continent of Genderia, demonstrating that it is rather more of a complex landscape than often represented by a binary, a line or spectrum. And I did a hasty map to accompany that work. But we thought it was time to update and improve it, so here's the new version. Yvonne's blog is here.

You won't find the Secret Volcano Base of the Trans Cabal, of course, because it's secret. But there is Transgender-am-Berg, in the Transalpine region across the hills from the happy village of Little Cisgender on the Wold. Upriver are the mountains where the Fierce Femmes hang out, while down in the Queer Archipelago there's all sorts of nonbinary stuff going on. 

You can get a copy of the map in my Etsy shop; it comes in A4 or A3 sizes. Here's the A4. And here's the A3.