Thursday, September 24, 2009

Oh what a lovely Pair | Pear


I thought that might grab your attention - Oh what a lovely Pair, I think I may have misspelled the title though, A Lovely Pear would have been correct, but possibly not so attention grabbing.

The summer in our part of the world was rather lousy again this year and for this and other personal reasons, I abandoned my planned gardening projects. Mrs Pecker persevered with the Runner Beans and although they were very late to get going, eventually proceeded to crop very well.

We do have in the garden two small Apple trees and one Conference Pear, all totally neglected, never pruned, fed or cared for in any way. The amount of fruit they have produced this year has been phenomenal. The branches of the pear tree have been bent down to the ground in spite of many of the fruits having fallen when at an early stage of development. Likewise the apples, enormous quantities from such small trees, the fruit of these however have been plundered by wasps.

This Autumn I must be sure to get these trees pruned as they should be, then give them some proper care and attention next year. That little bit of effort will surely then bear fruit.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Courtesy isn't Automatic

I realised just in time that the service was due on the car whilst we are away in Australia. Going beyond the due date could cause problems with the warranty so I managed to squeeze it in before we go. With having to be squeezed in at short notice I could not be very selective as regards dates and times and also the service customer options.

My local dealer offers either service while you wait, a half day at a local Leisure centre or a courtesy car. Well with my arthritis and lack of mobility the leisure centre option is about as much use to me as a tissue umbrella in a thunderstorm, not that I don't think it is a good idea. On the contrary, it is an excellent offer for someone who can make good use of it.

Service while you wait was (surprisingly I thought) almost fully booked with the only slots available being at times when I just could not be sat there sitting in the waiting room, drinking coffee and watching the world go by.

I opted instead for the courtesy car, automatic if possible I stated, because I only drive automatics now and have done so for quite a number of years. Having to use both legs when driving proves to be particularly uncomfortable for me and strains the area of my back where the arthritis is present. I know to you who are drivers, it may seem the easiest thing in the world to operate three pedals but please believe me it is difficult for me.

At 9.00 am on the dot I arrived at the dealership, hand over my car, signed the necessary paperwork and took the keys of my car for the day, the courtesy isn't automatic.

They have given me a tin box with a wheel at each corner, I thought as I drove away, indicating to turn right then seeing the windscreen wipers sweep across the front window. Why after all these years have Kia decided to move the controls onto the other side of the steering column. I nodded and made a face that I thought would look as if I wanted to clean my windscreen. There that is much better, cleaner now, wave to passing car, cause I usually Bloody indicate.

I now start to wonder why anyone buys a car with manual gears. This is becoming a right pain in the backside, literally, all this clutch moving, gear knob shifting, it seems so unnecessary when you are not used to doing it.

Coming up to the traffic calming bollards in the road I signal to the oncoming driver that I am letting him through by spraying 4 jets of water onto the windscreen. I can't wait to get my own car back.

They are calling me when the service is complete and I can collect my dear beloved car again. after lunch I decide to call into Hanley, there are still some things I need to get for our trip, I will tell you all about going to Australia later. Is it not exasperating when they have the style you want in the wrong colour and the colour you want in the wrong style, shoes that is. There was also the brown shoes, very trendy I thought when I first saw them last time I was here. Maybe a little too trendy for an oldie like me and a bit pricey too, but in my mind I had decided to throw caution to the wind and buy them. If only I could find them now!

I was thankful when the dealers rang to say my car was ready to be collected, I had had my fill of fruitless shopping. I returned to the car park realising as I got there that I had not a clue as to what the courtesy car actually was, but as I approached it soon came to mind, the little blue tin box with a wheel at each corner.

I pressed the key fob to unlock this little noddy car and nothing happened. I pressed again a little harder this time, with the same result. I now poked the key forward as I pressed, we all do that don't we with the telly remote when the channel wont change, thrust it towards the TV harder and harder, quicker and quicker as though it will really make a difference. So yes, back to the car, I was stabbing again with the key fob when this smarmy, clever clogs sort of bloke ambled towards me and said,
"Why is it that when you press that key fob, the car in the next row locks and unlocks itself?"

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bees and Wasps

The Bumble Bee:
A Bumble bee is taking advantage of the sunshine to collect pollen from the Buddlea which still bears some flowers though most of them have now died away.



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The Wasp:
Look carefully at the background and you may be able to make out that the Wasp is dissecting the remains of a butterfly. I do not know if the wasp actually killed this butterfly or simply took advantage of finding one that had already perished.

When I first discovered it (top picture) it was removing the head. Once the head was free of the body the wasp carried it away, though I do not know where. It did not travel very far because it soon returned to continue taking apart, with razor sharp pincers, the body until just the wings were left discarded on the ground.

I feel these pictures reflect the beauty and the reality of nature where nothing is wasted.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Great Read Award | 10 Childhood Memories

It is always good to know that you or something that you do is appreciated by others. I often wonder when writing these blog posts if they will be of interest to anyone else and if other people will enjoy reading what I have to say or looking at my pictures.

It brings me great pride and a sense of achievement to read the very encouraging comments from some of my blog visitors and fellow twitterers, and now I have had passed to me by Tim Worth The Great Read Award which I accept very graciously. The challenge that comes with this reward is to share ten things about yourself.

After thinking long and hard about this, I decided to share with you ten memories of my childhood. In fact ten memories from the years before I reached the age of ten.

I remember:
1) One of my earliest memories is of my first day at school. I see myself in a long sterile highly polished corridor full of sterile strangers and I am crying my eyes out. I continued to cry so much that they fetched my elder sister from another class to sit with me. Unfortunately she could not sit with me in school for the next 10 years. I guess from that day onwards, I learnt to be on my own.

2) Having no bathroom and the toilet being a small brick building in the yard. Toilet paper was squares of newspaper hanging on a hook. Luxury toilet paper was in the form of the tissue that was used to wrap apples and could occasionally be obtained from the greengrocers. We would sometimes have a bought Izal toilet roll, that hard shiny, slippery stuff, but only when we were flush. (pun very much intended).

3) A coal fire, this being the only form of heating in the entire house. During winter we went to bed in freezing cold bedrooms, dressed in thick fleece pyjamas and woolly socks. We had rubber water bottles to warm the beds before we got in.

4) Having the Fire Brigade come to the house to put out the fire that was roaring high up inside the chimney. I was rather miffed that I was made to go to Mrs Roberts' next door and could only watch by craning my neck over the hedge.

5) A small black and white television with one channel that broadcast for just a few hours each day. I remember watching The Woodentops, Muffin the Mule and Andy Pandy. The TV stood on top of a wooden cupboard that my Dad made. It took about 5 minutes to warm up before the picture appeared, I liked to look through all the little ventilation slots at the back to see the glowing valves inside.

6) Steam trains, dirty, stinking, smelly but fascinating and the main Crewe to Derby railway line ran behind our house where I grew up. Also close to us were the coal sidings where coal from some of the Staffordshire pits was transferred onto the main line coal trucks. The trains would wait at the points behind our house, fill with water there and wait for the signal to join the main line. For some reason, many trains missed or passed over the points and crashed into the buffers or even the bridge. This of course caused great excitement for us kids especially after dark when I would go with my dad collecting buckets of coal that had been shed from the wagons.

7) Waking up on Christmas morning to find a stocking at the foot of my bed containing an apple, an orange, nuts, sweets, a bag of marbles and a few other small toys.

8) The first egg laid by the chickens that we had raised from chicks. My dad built a wooden chicken coop for them to live in and they "free ranged" all over the garden. We ate the eggs that were wonderful and fresh with golden yolks and tasted superb. We later ate the chickens.

9) Going fishing for the first time with my dad. I thought it was brilliant to be in the countryside, in a field on the bankside of a canal, with a rod made from bamboo canes. We (or more probably dad with me watching) caught two fish which we took home in a bucket. Next morning I discovered the fish were floating upside down, stiff, slightly curved, and very very dead.

10) Going fishing again, in another field, by a different canal, then running like hell as my dad noticed the bull charging towards us from the other side of the field. This showed me that grown-ups do sometimes make mistakes and that there are some things (as dad pointed out) that you do not tell to your mother.

So there we are, ten of my early childhood memories. I would now like to pass on the great Read Award to the other side of the Atlantic, to Dawn, Jeff and Ballie who are travelling around the USA in a motorhome. It's Dawns Bloggy Blog - please take a look.