Category Archives: Ramblings

The Rhythm of A Feeding Bird

On a cold December morning sitting in our sun lounge I become aware of a small bird feeding from the peanuts in the bird feeder, as I watched I noticed a certain rhythm in his table manners where he would take a beak full of the morsels on offer and then look from side to side, after filling his whistle again he would suddenly look behind before returning for more nourishment, this continued until he took to the air well satisfied.

If I where an Ornithologist perhaps I would understand the psychology and interpret the body language but surely that would make the extraordinary common place!

“Hope” is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all

And sweetest in the Gale is heard
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm

I’ve heard it in the chillest land
And on the strangest Sea
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb of Me.


An Ever Increasing Reading List, David Hume and A Victorian Novelist

I have this knack to find myself reading two books at the same time, some would say this shows an inability to concentrate, but I do have an explanation.

For example

When I find myself reading E. C. Benson’s Trent’s Last Case with G. K. Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday, the justification would be that Benson dedicated Trent’s Last Case to Chesterton and was also returning the favour for The Man Who Was Thursday.


When on my bedside table lies open Micah Clarke by Arthur Conan Doyle and by my arm chair The Last Royal Rebel, The Life and Death of James Duke of Monmouth by Anna Keay, the defence would be that Micah Clarke is a historical adventure that is set during the Monmouth Rebellion of 1685.


I find myself currently reading Hume An Intellectual Biography by James A. Harris and Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens.

The explanation

Well I have no explanation, unless it is “An Enquiry Concerning The Principles of Morals” or “An Enquiry Concerning  Human Understanding”, but more than likely it is an attempt to reduce my ever increasing bookshelves catalogued To Read!

Information Links:

Hume An Intellectual Biography by James A. Harris

The Last Royal Rebel by Anna Keay Review

Micah Clarke

Jane Austen, Bath, A Church In Rutland and A Line From Northanger Abbey

Now I must own up to being partial to a Jane Austen story, I have a preference for the written rather than the celluloid but that does not mean that I have not indulged in watching Amanda Root in Persuasion.

It still remains a favourite although Northanger Abbey with Peter Firth comes a close second, not because it is a purest version or is faithful to any preconceived notions of how a Jane Austen novel should be represented, it is simply because Bath features in all its splendour and secondly due to the final declaration by Mr Tilney to Mrs Moorland ,

“I promise not to oppress you with too much remorse or too much passion; but since you left us the white rose bush has died of grief.”

Yes I know it is not Jane Austen and therefore not in the novel but it does appeal to my sense of the romantic or some would say the ridiculous.

The pictures Below are of St Peters Church, Brooke in the county of Rutland it featured In the 2005 film version of Pride and Prejudice staring Keira Knightley as Miss Bennett.

The Element of Surprise, A Pair of Sturdy Boots and Winters on Leith Walk.

Life is full of surprises, when you think that the whole world has gone to Lucifer’s party someone will thank you for opening the door to allow them to enter the doctor’s surgery first, a car will give way to you as you try to cross the Zebra crossing or the supermarket shopper will give you the first pickings of the last remaining Greek yogurt on special offer.

But surprises do not come any larger than when your better half takes you shopping to select and purchase a pair of brand new walking boots in your size.

Now do not get me wrong, it is not that my wife is slow to shower me with gifts, the opposite is true, in all our married years and there are many I have been blest abundantly.

It is the nature and the timing of the item.

At my time of life and bearing in mind that autumn has now arrived (yes it can be applied metaphorically) surely it should be carpet slippers, a thermal vest or a new pair of woollen pyjamas not a pair of well shod hiking boots with a pedigree fit for the Cuillin Mountains.

Once the astonishment had diminished, I was left contemplating that there is a lot to be eternally grateful, for one the landscape of the fens in which we live is flat and inclines are limited both in nature and size, the winters in Cambridgeshire are never as severe as a December evening in Leith and last but not least my soul mate still thinks I am good for a few miles yet.


The River Great Ouse Cambridgeshire

The Crest of A Scottish Clan, A Peel of Bells, Lord Peter Winsey and The Art of Cation Writting.

Walking in the Cambridgeshire fens along the Ouse Washes between The Bedford Rivers is always a comfort to a weary soul and evocative of The Nine Taylors by Dorothy L Sayers especially when the washes are in full flood.


With camera in hand it is always tempting to capture the wide open space, the large sky, reflections in the flood plain or Fortrey’s pumping station standing on Engine Bank against a cloudy sky.


There are endless possibilities in the detail of the landscape like the bee seeking substance from the thistle on the bank of the hundred foot drain. The problem arises when trying to find a caption appropriate for the composition.


Now as mentioned this is the land where Lord Peter Wimsey applies his analytic mind to discovering the location of the Wilbraham emeralds and the murderer of the butler Deacon but try as I may I can find no correlation to the thistle and the bee but if we take a leaf out of Lord Peter’s book and apply some meticulous reasoning, like the landscape itself there are endless possibilities.

Shakespeare’s Midsommer Nights Dream could be applied where Bottom states

Mounsieur Cobweb, good mounsieur, get you your

weapons in your hand, and kill me a red-hipped

humble-bee on the top of a thistle; and, good

mounsieur, bring me the honey-bag. Do not fret

yourself too much in the action, mounsieur; and,

good mounsieur, have a care the honey-bag break not;

I would be loath to have you overflown with a

honey-bag, signior. Where’s Mounsieur Mustardseed?

or we could turn to the poet Ted Hughes for The Thistle

Against the rubber tongues of cows and the hoeing hands of men

Thistles spike the summer air

And crackle open under a blue-black pressure.

Not to mention Sylvia Plath for the bee or perhaps Emily Dickinson

and her poem entitled There is a Flower that Bees Prefer

There is a flower that Bees prefer —

And Butterflies — desire —

To gain the Purple Democrat

The Humming Bird — aspire —

And Whatsoever Insect pass —

A Honey bear away

Proportioned to his several dearth

And her — capacity —

Her face be rounder than the Moon

And ruddier than the Gown

Or Orchis in the Pasture —

Or Rhododendron — worn —

We could even use a quote or two from A A Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh due to his love of honey and his friend Eeyore’s passion for thistles.

If we were looking for a more modern example then A Single Thistle by Raymond A. Foss could be appropriate but as he reminds us, if we need reminding that the thistle is the flower of Scotland

therefore it has to be the motto and the crest of The Clan Fergusson as this uses both the bee and the thistle and also appeals to my Scottish roots.


Title: dulcius ex asperis

Caption: A Bee on a Thistle

The crest of The Clan Fergusson

Their Motto: dulcius ex asperis (sweeter after difficulties).

Found living on The Ouse Washes, The Fens, Mepal, Cambridgeshire

A Guilt Complex, Espresso, Burns Suppers and A Little Help From Oscar

I am currently suffering with a severe bout of guilt, I blame it primarily  on all the experts, commentators and their advisers that are constantly  instructing or should that be coercing us into reducing;

  1. Our alcohol,
  2. Take less salt
  3. Consume less fat
  4. Drink less coffee
  5. Avoid growing old

to mention just a few.

Now I can put my hand on my heart and ease my guilt a little, by having  very little difficulty in satisfy their demands with items one, two and  three.

But in all conscience to drink less coffee seems a step to far, as a  freshly made espresso as the day dawns and before I throw a leg out of bed in  the morning is as essential as a single malt whisky and a haggis is to a Burn’s supper.

As far as halting the progress of age, remaining child like or even  youthful I fear it already is too late. I never was that fortunate to know a  painter named Basil Hallward anyway and my name is not Dorian, it would also be my  misfortune that someone would find the portrait and do the honourable  deed.

“The old believe everything: the middle-aged suspect everything: the young  know everything.”
Oscar Wilde

Tea pot


An Italian Tenor, A Redundant Bread Bin, A Cat Called Finbar and Reincarnation Theory


Once upon a time, we had a feline called Pavi, well to be precise he was christened Pavarotti after the famous Tenor, not our doing I may hasten to add as he was given to us as a present and he came fully grown.

He was of a loving persuasion and had traits that were all of his own, a corner of the Kitchen work surface became a favourite perch it was where the bread bin once had its rightful place. Over time Focaccia made way for a Birman cat with an Italian name that would place himself in such a way that there was not even room to store the thinnest of Pizza bases.

This place of refuge was also of strategically importance as it was by the back door where the world entered, so there Pavi would sit awaiting our return from the pet convenience store.

Now sadly he has gone to the big opera house in the sky or so we thought.

As you may or may not be aware we have taken possession of two Birman Kittens within the last few months one named Finbar the other Fingal. Now Finbar is showing all the signs of a pure Bel-Canto and was found strategically sat on the Kitchen work top.

Leading to the realisation that reincarnation is not just a theory but a possibility, or perhaps it was just a hint to buy a new bread bin.


High Notes, Watering Eyes and Two Kittens called Finbar and Fingal.


We have reached the end of a two week period were our stress levels have been souring to new heights, added to heart ache and worry, it has not been a pleasant experience.

Why you may ask, well it is all down to a pair of lovely five month old birman boy kittens.

We adopted them or so we thought and gave them a home when they were thirteen weeks old and like all these things they have won the heart, taken procession of all they survey and are now in total control.

A decision was made at a very early stage that we did not want to breed or allow them to have the ability to add to the population, so a trip to the cat doctor to change their vocal register for ever was inevitable .

Now I known on the day that I had tears in my eyes (interpret as like) at the thought and an uneasy conscience, but we did not tell the boys what the day would hold for them in the hope that they would forgive and not hold a grudge.

What we did not anticipate on their return was that they would get their own back in spades for the trauma we had inflicted. They would not eat or play, they developed symptoms that were consistent with man flu at least.

On a return trip to the vet adding insult to injury, we were told it may just be stress, which maybe a plausible explanation considering the procedure involved, but we were not sure if the veterinarian was diagnosing the felines or the homosapians.

Now two weeks on, pills and potions have done their work and we have the kittens back we originally took to the vet, well almost, bless them.




Independence Day, Robert Burns, Iron Bru and A Scot as Long as I Breathe.

I confess that I have been watching with interest the manoeuvres for an independent Scottish Nation.

I am intrigued that it is being reported that it is the Scottish people who will be given the vote, that is to say that if you live in Scotland you can partake in the most important decision that has been placed before the Scottish Nation in 300 years.

As a Scot living and breathing English air, for more than 25 years I still feel as patriotic today as the day I left so there is one half of me that cannot understand why the vote is not open to all who were born in Scotland.

The other half knows It would throw up the dilemma which way would you vote in the circumstances, do you adopt a political approach, take a romantic stance or as a displaced enthusiast for Scott, Burns and Iron Bru with no current commitment to return to my place of birth perhaps would it not be a difficult to impossible discussion?

Perhaps it is a blessing that Dear Mr Salmond will not be seeking my opinion and I can take comfort no matter what the outcome that there will always be Scot’s Novels, Burns poems, haggis and single malt not to mention that they are building a factory to produce Iron Bru in this part of the British Isles that they call England.

But most importantly of all it will not change the reality that as long as I live and breathe, I will always be a Scot.

A Scots Emblem in a English Setting Mepal Cambridgeshire


An Irish Original, A Castaway, Dorothy L Sayers and An Unexplained Coincidence.

March 27, 2012_Cambridgeshire-1300_001.jpg

My reading list has always had an eclectic feel, is subjected to whims of fancy and unexplained meanderings. Some would says it is undisciplined and chaotic, lacking structure although in my defence I do have a comprehensive reading list.

I have been spending sometime in the company of Leopold Bloom of Dublin of late, I have to be  frank and say it is an experience not without its difficulties. Now I have read The Dubliners and was entertained and pleasantly surprised but Ulysses, to be honest I have closed the covers (Switched Off The Kindle) for present at the end of Part Two with the intention of reacquainting myself at a later date when I can collect my thoughts and courage and rejoin Bloom and Stephen in Episode sixteen.

To try to find an antidote to post modernism I though being shipwrecked on a desert Island would be a perfect solution and therefore decided Robinson Crusoe would be ideal.

Now you would think after spending time in the company of Daniel Defoe I would be ready to return to The Great Northern Railway Station, but I found that The Life of D L Sayers was a more attractive proposition, so wandering of into The Fens, Bluntisham, Oxford, Christchurch Cambridgeshire and the world of Lord Peter Wimsey developed an appetite for detective fiction, so was inspired to take up The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins.

I do not know if you believe it is fate, Devine providence or pure coincidence but it did come as a comfort that I was not the only lost soul like Gabriel Betterridge who had sought comfort and inspiration in the company of Robinson Crusoe.

Today we love what to-morrow we hate,
Today we seek what to-morrow we shun,
Today we desire what to-morrow we fear.

Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe.