The Kebab & Calculator

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    syzygy @thane16


    ‘fraid I don’t know about that one….

    I have an enquiry, seeing as I love Laura Linney but not so much Jason Bateman who appears to be in everything, does anyone find The Ozarks appealing? This is the actual Netflix series -not the place.


    Missy @missy


    Sorry never heard of this. In fact the only thing I have seen Laura Linney in, is Love Actually and sadly I don’t remember her. Not that I’ve heard of any of the other films she has been in either.


    P.s. I know this because I looked her up.

    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    @thane16 and @janetteb

    My commiserations over the weather. 40 degrees? 46  degrees?!!! It sounds awful. But as a citizen (albeit an expatriate) I am sure we all feel confident knowing that the country is governed by idiots who do not believe in climate change. And whenever they deny it, they always conflate climate with weather. That level of scientific perspicacity reminds me of the opposition to the introduction of daylight saving back in the day…”The extra hour of sunlight will fade the curtains!”

    I hope there is some relief in sight.



    janetteB @janetteb

    @blenkinsopthebrave Thanks. Not looking forward to tomorrow, (today now). Will be 47-48 degrees here. We are about two degrees hotter than Adelaide. We will get by but the garden may not and will be monitoring the pets all day. The cat insists on sleeping outside which is a worry. Convincing him to stay inside is no easy task. A cool change is forecast for Friday so fingers crosses it isn’t tardy.

    Love the story about Daylight saving. Is the kind of reaction I would have expected from my parents, always resistant to change though  I think even my parents, or at least my mother would have respected the science regarding global warming. We have a friend who is a “greenie” and far more environmentally sensitive than us but is an adamant denialist. He “did his research” ie found all the Heartland Institute propaganda he could to support his “belief” and cited it to us yet this man is so well informed about gardening and ecological issues. It just depresses us. My S.O tried to explain to him that the sources he was citing were dodgy but he refused to listen. I suspect he is simply unable to accept that climate change is happening because it is too distressing for him as opposed to the idiots in government who have vested interests, ie protecting their coal industry investments. (Fingers crossed they will soon find themselves on the back bench.)



    winston @winston

    @janetteb  That kind of heat sounds terrible and it must be so hard on both people and animals alike. We have the same sort of idiots in Canada using bad science to back up bad ideas. What I find even worse are the people who know that climate change is happening but refuse to do anything because it will cost too much. Too many taxes , too many regulations, possible job losses and the list goes on and very little seems to get done. Meanwhile, what kind of world are we leaving to our children and grandchildren if we are unwilling to pay the price now? I could go on but it depresses me too much.

    Where I am we are having a very cold week with temps. of -30C overnight and highs of -20 through the day. It warmed up a bit today and dropped a huge amount of snow on us.It is very pretty but heavy to shovel out of the driveway. Our little Jack Russell dog named Newton had a hard time for a few days even with his wee coat on and when he went for a walk it had to be short or he would start lifting up his feet because of the cold. He comes in and curls up in front of the fire to thaw out.

    What do you do when it is too cold to go out anywhere? We have been watching all the extended versions of Lord of the Rings with the 3rd one set for tomorrow. If it was as hot as it is where you are I would lay around and moan and worry about my garden.I hope yours makes it.

    syzygy @thane16

    @janetteb that is bloody awful! “Bloody” tends to be quite an Aussie thing, says Thane. I remember various people shouting “bloddy hill.” 🙂

    45 degrees is no joke. It’s not easy to stay cool, here, but you’re far worse off.

    I know Thane purchased a $2 pkt of ice and tipped it the bath to have an ice bath. Yeah, right. The so-called cold tap water is basically warm water and measured at 30C. How nuts is that! Modern housing tends to keep the pipes closer to the surface so naturally they bake in the hot sun.

    @geoffers @whisht @pedant there’s a clicky on music thread -only if you want, mind. But you might’ve better things to do -or listen to – at any rate. @geoffers you’ve given me some terrific listening hours. Much appreciated.


    Whisht @whisht

    Not sure where to post this, so will take it to the pub.

    Hugh McIlvanney has passed away.
    This is a lovely tribute from BBC Scotland.

    It suggests that rather than ‘just’ call him a ‘sports journalist’ is to pigeon-hole his writing [I guess in a similar way to genre/sci fi writers suffer].
    That tribute has a few passages he wrote and here’s one as I think its illustrative.

    On Johnny Owen, the Welsh bantamweight who died after a title fight in Los Angeles in 1980:

    “Outside the ring he was an inaudible and almost invisible personality. Inside, he became astonishingly positive and self-assured. He seemed to be more at home there than anywhere else. It is his tragedy that he found himself articulate in such a dangerous language.”

    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    I was just reading about the Trump administration’s NSA advisor John Bolton apparently revealing  (because he was holding his notepad in full view of the cameras) that they may be sending 5000 troops to Columbia, presumably because of what’s happening in Venezuela) and I was reminded (because of the rank stupidity involved) of the bit in the Woody Allen movie “Bananas”:


    syzygy @thane16


    I see what you mean about his writing and the prose.

    @blenkinsopthebrave it’s worse than a farce, isn’t it, this ‘administration’? Maybe one day we’ll  wake up and realise it was all a dream 🙁


    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave


    I saw your avatar on the page, and thought: “Brilliant! She has survived the 48 degree heat.” A few days ago Mrs Blenkinsop flew over to Toronto to visit family. It was minus 18 degrees. What a crazy world.

    janetteB @janetteb

    @blenkinsopthebrave  We did indeed survive, the pets survived and even more remarkably the garden survived. Indeed the world is crazy and getting crazier, extreme cold in the northern hemisphere, extreme heat here yet still those with the power to act do nothing.



    Whisht @whisht

    Ok – so I am reliably informed that today is Douglas Adams’ birthday (and its still his birthday even though he did die far too young, many years ago).

    So here is an address made by Neil Gaiman about knowing Douglas, writing, writers and immortality. Its Neil Gaiman, so there are many pauses, a mainly whimsical tone, notes on the difference between metaphor and simile and not being prepared for sharp turns in pathos.

    The camerawork starts as soon as the guy hit the ‘On’ button (which admittedly is the best time for equipment to start) so it means if you watch it, you have about 17mins to find your seat; sort out a drink; nip to the loo; finish that conversation; say hello to someone who you thought might be coming along but weren’t sure but there she is and oooh what is she wearing?
    And then turn off your phone with a bit of palaver but making sure everyone can see you’re doing it.

    And then Neil starts speaking.

    If you do skip the initial mins, just remember that its in benefit of Save the Rhino, something that was dear to Douglas Adams.

    janetteB @janetteb

    @whisht Thank you for the link. I have started listening and thoroughly enjoying it however my laptop did an overnight update and now i have to restart.. Hopefully will get time to listen to the rest over the weekend.




    @winston @thane16

    (moved to pub)

    Ta for the kind words. It was an unexpectedly challenging shoot, since for the first week of March the sun was high and bright, so contrast from heavy was a real problem.

    The pancake race itself has run since 1445 and is open ONLY to the women of the town (pop c8000). Legend has it that it started when the wife of a baker got so wrapped up in making pancakes that, on hearting the shriving bell, she suddenly realised she was going to be late for church, and legged it pancakes still in hand. Hence the race starts at 11:55 and ends with a kiss from the verger. The A509, a primary road, is closed for 30m minutes for the race.

    (for those who don’t follow the music thread, this is what we are babbling about)

    Images from the Olney Pancake Race 2019: finishers toss their pancakes

    Mudlark @mudlark


    In your climate a tank would obviously be more appropriate for rain water storage than the kind of water butt we normally use here, but even so, $5ooo seems extortionate unless the tank is absolutely vast. I have two rain water butts, one 300 litres (66 gallons) capacity and the other 100 litres, and they normally supply enough to water the plants in containers and the lime intolerant shrubs throughout even a dry summer. The two of them together with their stands came in at well under £100. Out of interest I have just looked up the prices of rain water storage tanks in the UK, and one with 10,000 litres capacity was quoted at £1170, which I calculate as equivalent to something like  A$2113 – still on the steep side, but a lot less than $5000.

    Absent a supply of rain water, maybe the tip about dosing the water with coffee grounds would suffice. Either way, you don’t want the gardenia to get thirsty, or it will sulk 😒

    syzygy @thane16


    I should have said the 5-8 thousand models are affixed to the house so they’re used for the entire property. Most people in this suburb have 3 or 4 bathrooms etc -2 kitchens even.

    Not us, though. Just two loos and one small kitchen but we do go thru a massive amount of water. I should look at my water bill and list it.

    Coffee grounds is brilliant . And last night for the time in 6 months we had heavy rain for most of the night.




    winston @winston

    @thane16  I am happy that you got some rain and I hope it helps your garden. I have a plastic tub with a lid that I keep at my sink for coffee grounds and tea bags to be worked into the garden all winter. In the summer I put them in a big bucket of rain water and dish water to use in the garden. My Grandma did it so… must be good.

    We have too much water now as it is raining a lot and melting the snow quickly so our usually lazy creek has broke its banks and is rising into our back yard.Our house is on a rise and we have never flooded but some of our neighbours have in the past. Being Canada it is going down to -10C tonight so it will freeze again and that will help.

    Being a good Canadian I have my pancakes with butter and maple syrup that my son makes from his maple trees.Mmmmm now I want pancakes at 10pm.

    syzygy @thane16

    @pedant @winston

    that’s great history & I didn’t know an inch of it -or a pinch of it (salt) nor a cup of it (flour & sugar presumably).

    Aussies put a pinch of salt in their pancakes, whether savoury or not. The worst crepes I had was in Lausanne. Twice. For some reason between ’93 & 2009 I believed they’d improve. They were SO sweet I wanted to throw myself into “Lac” Geneva. It was also darned hot. After coming down & round the mountain (feel free to sing along: “& she’ll be comin’ round the mountain, comin’ down the mountain….till she comes”) from Zermatt -with the last of the official ski season finishing that week- it was about -2 Celsius. I was faced with 70% humidity and 32 degrees

    But of course Lausanne is beautiful particularly when the fog lifts.  Puro

    PS:  a sing out to all our brothers and sisters in NZ.  xx


    Mudlark @mudlark

    @winston  @thane16

    Pancakes mmmm 😊

    American style pancakes (which in the UK are more like what we would call drop scones or scotch pancakes) are very good with butter and/or maple syrup, if a little sweet for my taste, but pancakes on this side of the pond (crepes in American English)*  are as illustrated in the Olney pancake race (thanks @pedant ) and for my taste are best served straight out of the pan, not piled up and kept warm until they are limp and tepid. For preference they should be eaten with lemon juice and sugar, though I certainly don’t object to them served with jam, fruit or savoury fillings. On Shrove Tuesday evenings my poor mother used to be stuck at the stove wielding the frying pan and dishing them out one at a time to each of us in turn as we lined up with our plates, ate, and then returned to the queue. She only got to eat at the end.  Drop scone batter did include sugar but pancake batter in our house did not, although a pinch of salt was, as puro says, essential. Drop scones, like potato cakes, were a teatime treat.

    *  Way back in the 1970s and 80s I used to spend two or three weeks of my annual leave (supplemented by time off in lieu of overtime) working with friends as a supervisor on a long running summer excavation. In the 1980s the scale of operations expanded greatly and we started employing American volunteers from Earthwatch. We were accommodated in one of the Houses of a well known Public (in the British sense) School, and one year the cooking was being done by students from a local catering college who were very anxious to please and to show off their skills. When some of the Americans asked if we might have pancakes for breakfast they were very happy to oblige. So they got up early to prepare the batter and in due course produced what they understood as pancakes, which were very good but left the Americans completely bewildered: ‘But these are crepes, not pancakes???’  Confusion all round!  But they ate them without complaint, nevertheless.

    janetteB @janetteb

    @thane16, @mudlark, @winston In Australia we call “drop scones” pikelets and I have a very deep affection for them. Mum used to make them in her usual, “measure everything and do exactly as the cooking rule-book says” mehtod and I thought them ok but boring. (Like all Mum’s cooking) until I was a teen. On Saturday afternoons I would go over to a friend’s house. It was the opposite of my home, doors never locked, often no-one home, dysfunctional but casual. We usually had the kitchen to ourselves so would make pikelets. There was no recipe, no rules, no careful measuring of ingredients, not even the correct ingredients half the time as their pantry was not well stocked, The resulting pikelets were burnt on the outside, runny in the middle, and as much fun to eat as they were to make. I learnt that food is as much about the pleasure of making and eating as it is about taste and texture and I learnt to love pikelets.

    I often make them for the boys, half plain, half with cinnamon and sultanas. R.2 sometimes makes pancakes of the sugar free variety but having lived in Sweden where they eat American style pancakes every Tuesday with loads of jam and cream, the boys also make those on occasion.




    @mudlark @thane16 @janetteb @winston

    For preference they should be eaten with lemon juice and sugar

    By which you mean that is how you prefer them. Much as lemon and sugar gives me warm memories of mum, pre-diabetes I would happily swamp them in maple syrup, for the simple reason that maple syrup is the greatest creation of nature But there are innumerable ways to enjoy them. The menu from this place:

    Olney Pancake Parlour

    Illustrates: Sweet or savoury

    syzygy @thane16


    Oh I LOVE drop scones! I’d never even heard of them until a friend of mine showed me almost 10 years ago.

    Jolly delicious.


    winston @winston

    @thane16  @mudlark @pedant and @janetteb   Yup! You are all correct, my pancakes are a thicker version of crepes (I do love crepes) but they are not sweet by themselves just by what you put on them. They are usually eaten for breakfast and yes often put in a pile till they are limp and tepid depending on the size of your griddle and the speed of the cook. But maple syrup makes it better in fact it makes everything better except diabetes.


    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    Talking matters diabetic, have you seen the latest results of the DIRECT study? Apparently the preliminary results are so exciting (about a third of patients go into remission) that NHS England is going ahead with a pilot study and NHS Scotland is already rolling out programmes.

    In matters pancake, I’m currently trying to make almond pancakes work. The ones I did on Pancake Tuesday were … edible. Too much egg, I think. 🙂

    Mudlark @mudlark


    By which you mean that is how you prefer them.

    Yes,  that is exactly what I meant.

    On the subject of maple syrup, I agree that it is delicious. I acquired the taste for it very early in life during the time of post-war food rationing, when relatives in Canada used to send us food parcels which included boxes of maple sugar candy. Since I don’t have much of a sweet tooth I tend use it sparingly rather than swamping things with it, but find it very good drizzled on hot muffins*, split and liberally buttered. Ditto with hot potato cakes, though its a long time since I last made those. Maple sugar sprinkled on hot buttered toast is also toothsome.


    Re drop scones/pikelets. Are we talking about the same thing?  Because where I come from at least they are different. Drop scones here are made with a batter like that for pancakes/crepes but thicker and slightly sweetened, whereas pikelets are made with a batter containing yeast and are similar to crumpets, except that they are thinner and larger in diameter. Both are cooked on a griddle, though.

    * Obviously I mean the kind of muffin made with bread flour and yeast and baked on a griddle, not the other, cake-like type.



    Indeed, also known as the Newcastle diet on account of where the pilot research was done. It’s very promising, but worth noting that it is still early days, and a lot of signal-noise ratio needs to be resolved.

    janetteB @janetteb

    @mudlark Interesting. In Australia there is no yeast in pikelets. From what I have seen the recipe is the same as for drop scones. Australians tend to misname things. For instance we call Satsumas mandarins. So when Doc 10 pulls a mandarin out of his pocket and calls it a satsuma we were very confused.

    I really like bready things that are cooked on a griddle or fry-pan. Of late  I have been trying more and more flat breads, especially as I can’t eat most of the commercial ones. Last night I tried (Chinese) scallion pancakes which are made from a dough, rolled out, several times, and sprinkled with chopped spring onion, which is Oz speak for scallions. Last night I also tried a shiitake mushroom version. Both were gobbled up very quickly. Now I must try making my own Tortilla bread.



    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    That’s the one. The impression I got is that it’s the big topic at this year’s conferences for diabetes professionals, because the Newcastle-Glasgow follow up showed the results could be replicated in general practice. Plus, the whatever-scan-it-is seems to have confirmed the hypothesis of the pilot study – so it’s all terribly exciting.

    Fascinating to me because, at the moment, I’m the only person in my immediate family who does NOT have Type 2 diabetes. For obvious reasons, I’d like to keep not having it. 🙂



    It is certainly very promising, but a) science is only as good as the last replication and b) it needs evaluating for other effects – long term, for instance –  beyond the hypothesised.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    Funnily enough, I think they mentioned something about a) and b) when I did my BSc. 😈

    b) would explain the differences between NHS Scotland and NHS England – the Glasgow study was done with Scottish NHS GPs and nurses, so they’re confident that they can go forward into a wider roll-out. Presumably, gathering longitudinal data as they go. NHS England still needs to trial delivering it – and while they’ve now got several years data from the original patients, they need to figure out whether this is, as it seems, a long term remission or something that will last a few years only. Scotland seems to have decided the possibility that this treatment gives long term remission is worth the effort, given the ‘one third in remission after two years’ results so far.

    And then they’ve both got to figure out which treatment is cheaper in the long run. The medical treatment is well known and can generally be delivered by GPs. Are the associated costs of a new treatment offset by the savings from not having to deliver the old treatments, and are the people in remission requiring less hospital treatment? When people come out of remission, do they still require less hospital treatment than the control group? Etcetera.

    I’m still excited. 😉 Diabetes 2 has always been thought of as inevitably progressive – if that isn’t the case … fun times. Science is at its best when we find that what we thought we knew wasn’t the case. 😀

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    So: we in the UK are possibly days away from a Prime Minister nobody’s ever heard of. David Lidington.

    Nobody’s noticed any hypnotic drum beats on their phones, have they?

    idiotsavon @idiotsavon

    Ah, David Lidington. The man who insisted in Parliament (when he was Minister for Europe) that there would be no need for a double majority – or indeed any kind of threshold – because the referendum was “advisory.”

    And who now, in spite of clear evidence that the whole thing was riddled with fraud, continues to treat the marginal outcome as an unambiguous and inevitable mandate.

    I can’t say I’m David Lidington’s biggest fan.

    Good luck to him though. He’s got quite a mess on his hands.

    That’s if May goes of course. I wouldn’t put it past her to cling on.

    Mudlark @mudlark

    @bluesqueakpip  @idiotsavon

    That’s if May goes of course. I wouldn’t put it past her to cling on

    Given her record of bloody minded obduracy May will have to be dragged out and will cling to the curtains and brace herself in the door frame on the way rather than go willingly.  With her it’s all ‘my way or the highway’, and her typical negotiating stance seems to be to repeat this or words to the same effect with her fingers stuffed in her ears and her eyes squeezed tight shut, ‘not listening, not listening’

    Liam Fox is reported as saying that the problem is we have a ‘remain’ parliament and a ‘leave’ population. I wonder if he has looked at the opinion polls recently, or taken into account the import of the march on Saturday or the petition to parliament, currently fast approaching 5.5 million signatures.  At the very least it’s a 50:50 split, with remain now having at least a slight edge; and therein, together with a totally inept and dysfunctional government, lies the fundamental problem 😒

    janetteB @janetteb

    Ah the Prime Minister who nobody has ever heard of. We have been living with one of those for about six months now. Hopefully with the next election that will change but the stupidity of voters never ceases to shock me.

    Watching the Brexit debacle is like watching a ship determined to sail into the rocks, or at least with a captain determined to sail into the rocks. The one thing May seems good at is sticking to the course regardless of the mounting evidence of just how bad it is. Even the majority of Tory backers, businesses, don’t want it.

    What is so frightening right now is the growth in popularity of extreme right wing parties. I was reading about the situation in Spain this morning with the rise of a Francoist party. We live in alarming times not unlike the 1930s with economic hardship and lack of hope driving people to embrace extreme ideas. What this world needs is a lot more Jacinda Arderns.



    idiotsavon @idiotsavon


    Hilarious, and bang on. She reminds me of Kathy Bates in Misery.

    And it seems she’s survived yet again. Perhaps she’s handcuffed herself to the radiator?


    I cringe thinking about the UK’s international reputation at this point.

    Although I’m a passionate Remainer, I cling steadfastly to my belief that Remainers and Leavers and Inbetweeners should all try to treat each other as reasonable people and find areas of understanding and common ground.

    But at this stage in the game, all of that is irrelevant. It’s obvious that the referendum was corrupt. Democracy was in tatters before the votes were even counted.

    And now we’re in complete crisis, and still no-one with any influence will dare question the legitimacy of the result.

    I’m reminded of the old adage “Cometh the hour, cometh the man.” (When a hero is needed, one will appear.)

    And I’m looking at the potential “heroes” on offer and feeling rather underwhelmed.


    Mudlark @mudlark


    Democracy was in tatters before the votes were even counted.

    Quite so; and when May asserts that public faith in democracy would be destroyed if the results of the 2016 referendum were not treated as an irrevocable mandate I am torn between the impulse to laugh hysterically and the desire to scream loudly in frustration. And yes, the general opinion of those outside the bubble seems to be that the UK has lost its collective mind. Even in the unlikely event of a U turn and a cancellation of Brexit, I doubt if our national reputation will recover within my lifetime – or well beyond it for that matter.

    Sadly, as you say there, there is no credible hero or heroine on the horizon galloping to save the situation. Where is the Doctor when we need him/her?



    syzygy @thane16

    @pedant @bluesqueakpip Late to the party of sugar.

    Wondering if Diabetes is hereditary? Is remission something that lasts for a few years only anyway? I know with Cancer or Crohns (both with unknown etiology) that a few years only can be widely interpreted. Are sounds being made to indicate that the study mentioned would rid the body of Diabetes completely or, as I interpreted, only for a few years?

    idiotsavon @janetteb @mudlark How are things in mudlark manor, Savon Manor etc etc ?

    Yes, the PM no-one’s heard of! And I can see a PM May cartoon mudlark, with your speech bubble clinging to a marble or wooden post (from 1500) “I do not, will not, listen. I am right, right, right…”


    syzygy @thane16

    that’s @idiotsavon above.



    It is considered to be permanent and remission only temporary. But the new diet shows promise in terms of “jump-starting” the pancreas. However, the permanence (as well as unintended consequences) is what further research is needed for.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @thane16 and @pedant

    Wot pedant says. 🙂

    Diabetes Type 1 is complicated in that it appears to be a combination of both genetics and environment, and the honest answer is that we don’t currently know why people get Type 1. Genetic risk factors can be identified: they don’t mean you’re going to get Type 1.

    Similarly with Type 2. But again, genetic risk factors don’t mean you’re going to get diabetes Type 2. According to the risk factors, I should almost certainly have diabetes Type 2 by now – every member of my immediate family has it. Both parents, sibling, the lot.

    And yet, I currently don’t. Why? Is it because I moved down to London in my twenties and wasn’t exposed to the same environment as the rest of my family? Is it weight? What?

    Which is why more research is needed, and why I’m firmly of the opinion that a study that sends about a third of its volunteers into remission should be both followed up and expanded. We know the long term effects of Diabetes 2 and they’re often very bad indeed. Can the side effects of eight weeks on what is effectively a crash diet really make things worse? Given that we already have many, many longitudinal studies on various types of weight loss? Shouldn’t people at least be given the opportunity to volunteer?

    But I agree with pedant that this needs to be studied. If it ‘jumps starts’ the pancreas in some people, that suggests a line of research that we just didn’t have before. And a lot is going to depend on how long the remission lasts – if it turns out that it’s life-long for some patients who’ve provably had Type 2, that means we’ve gone from ‘no cure’ to ‘cure’.

    Science is fun. 😀

    idiotsavon @idiotsavon

    All sounds incredibly positive and exciting @pedant @bluesqueakpip

    @thane16 Thanks for asking, and I hope you and yours are all ok. Savon Manor is looking rather unkempt. This is partly because we haven’t looked after it in the cold weather, and partly because we barely look after it anyway.
    What is more, the groundsman (aka Mr Savon) has an awful habit of disappearing off to do “paid work.” It’s all most unsatisfactory.

    Meanwhile Savon Jr, who has largely spared us the “terrible twos” (and instilled in us an unwarranted confidence in our parenting) now appears set to become the world’s most obstinate threenager. We seem to be in frequent and fraught disagreement about everything from what socks to wear to how much “Paw Patrol” should be watched in one sitting, to whether or not divebombing off the table is a safe activity. He has also picked up some quite unsavory language, goodness knows where from *whistles innocently* and delights in dropping the F-bomb at inopportune moments.

    The dog, who is a huge 7-year-old overgrown puppy, loves Jr’s new “boisterous” side, and any time indoors is spent trying to prevent them both egging each other on. (We’ve been going out a lot.)

    It’s all good fun!

    @mudlark I can’t believe I’m asking this, but… Is Oliver Letwin the hero we were hankering after? It just seems so – well, wrong.

    janetteB @janetteb

    @idiotsavon Enjoy your “threenger” and trust me, you can never take too many photos/video. It is a lovely age and there will be days in the future when you will wish you could turn the clock back or borrow a TARDIS and revisit, even just for a few hours. Our youngest turns eighteen in two weeks time and we are still in frequent and fraught disagreement with him over just about everything. (well not everything mainly homework.). He is about to drop out of school. In Australia at least yr 12 is no longer the determiner as to whether one gets to Uni or not. It is a year’s torture that after two years no longer counts for anything so we are trying not to be overly worried. He just needs time to sort out what he wants to do.



    Whisht @whisht

    Hi @idiotsavon – good lord, if Oliver Letwin is the answer, then we’ve been asking the wrong question.

    do we need Deep Thought

    Is it time to panic yet..?

    Mudlark @mudlark


    Is Oliver Letwin the hero we were hankering after?

    Hmmm. In a situation so desperate that a murmured, ‘Don’t you think she looks tired’? in an influential ear isn’t going to have the slightest effect, I suppose that even the dimmest spark can look like the light at the end of the tunnel. And when I find myself agreeing with Michael Heseltine matters have clearly reached the furthest extreme of Kafkaesque absurdity 🙃.


    Thank you for the enquiry. The rolling acres of Mudlark Manor are still looking a trifle dishevelled after the winter and, in the absence of the deer herd, which seems unaccountably to have left in search of greener pastures, I suppose that I shall soon have to mow the grass.  On the other hand, now that the ornamental lake has been restored to a more healthy state I have hopes that, unlike last year, the current mass of frogspawn will result in an abundant generation of tadpoles.

    I have made some progress in bringing order to the overgrown north east corner of the Wilderness, and in the Pleasure Grounds the shrub roses and the climbing roses have now had a belated pruning; but much still remains to be done and the aged gardener keeps on whingeing about her arthritis.

    The more immediate problem is that the vintage Rolls (currently masquerading as a Suzuki Swift) has a date for its MOT on Thursday afternoon and needs to be given a thorough wash and brush-up if it is not to cause raised eyebrows at the garage. I meant to do it today, but it is standing in a shared driveway and the neighbours for once left both their cars parked closely alongside it all day (washing it in the roadway would be no better, since the road is in fact a narrow close and it would cause an obstruction). So I whiled away the afternoon browsing in the archives of 17th century Rochdale in the faint hope of finding something to shed light on the antecedents of my 6x gt grandfather in the paternal line.

    Mudlark @mudlark


    Is it time to panic yet..?

    Better ask the mice. If they don’t know yet, we’re DOOMED!

    winston @winston

    @mudlark   Mudlark Manor sounds lovely. I hope you have a ton of tadpoles in your lake so a frenzy of frogs can sing to you. I love frogs and toads and I am very happy to see them in my ponds and flower beds. We have a creek and wetlands in our backyard so there are a lot of frogs to hopefully eat some of the bitey insects we have but right now the creek is frozen and the frogs, toads and turtles are still hibernating.

    My old gardener makes some really funny noises when she has to get down on her knees and even worse sounds when she gets up. Maybe my granddaughters will want to work for cookies this spring.

    @whisht  Grab your towel and “Don’t Panic”.

    janetteB @janetteb

    @mudlark Mudlark Manor does sound lovely. Indeed it sounds like the kind of garden I dream of having. By the end of summer I always despair of ever having a garden. I lost three rose bushes this summer. Suspect I am over watering them. But on a positive note today I harvested about twenty apples from our recalcitrant tree, more than enough for a Dutch Apple Pie. Worryingly however I noted blossom in one or two places. I am sure that should not be a “thing” as Clara would say.

    On another less pleasant topic.. five million signatures and over a million protestors are going to be ignored. As the original election(?) has been shown to have been corrupted it does not bolster one’s flagging faith in democracy.



    Mudlark @mudlark

    @winston  @janetteb

    Bear in mind that there may have been the teeniest element of hyperbole in the description of Mudlark Manor 😉 As Puro well knows, the ‘rolling acres’ consist of a plot measuring 54ft x 54ft – about average for the garden of a mid 1930s English suburban house, but unusual in this case in that it is attached to a purpose-built flat of that period*, and square rather than the more usual elongated rectangle

    The ‘ornamental lake’ is in fact a small pool, roughly kidney shaped, with a pebbled surround (constructed by me, using an abundance of rounded pebbles dug from the garden, supplemented with a bag of cobbles bought from the local garden centre), bordered by a small rockery constructed of soil excavated for the pool on a foundation of builders’ debris dug from the garden. The ‘Wilderness’ is not the extensive, artfully contrived arrangement of ornamental trees and footpaths denoted by that 17th-19th century term, but a small shrubbery bordering the garden on the north east and east sides and containing an assortment of evergreen and deciduous small trees and shrubs chosen for contrasting but harmonious foliage colours, with an underplanting of snowdrops, Spanish bluebells, lily-of-the-valley, Brunnera and autumn crocuses, plus self-seeding forget-me-nots and foxgloves.  There is a broad, south facing  herbaceous border along the north side, and a small, hourglass shaped lawn with a central bed containing a Japanese maple and low-growing shrubs. On the west side, adjoining the building, is a raised terrace bed retained by a dry wall of weathered concrete blocks which littered the garden when I inherited it and are, so I am told, the rubble from a demolished WW II air raid shelter. The ‘rocks’ in the rockery are from the same source but, since in their weathered state they somewhat resemble natural conglomerate and so look a little more at home in this region than the limestone normally sold for such use, it doesn’t look incongruous. The roses are, however, as described. I have elected to have shrub roses, species roses and climbers, which are easier to manage and less subject to problems than hybrid teas and are, to my mind, more attractive in a less-than-formal setting. I benefit, also, from a number of ‘borrowed’ trees in the five gardens which border mine**

    Needless to say, there were never any deer. In the rural parks attached to the great aristocratic country houses they help to keep the grass cropped, but in this context they would be a pest since, as the elder of my two brothers knows, they are equally prone to browse on the choicest garden specimens. We used to have foxes but even they seem to have disappeared, so we are left with just grey squirrels and a wide variety of birds.

    The aged, arthritic gardener is, of course, myself. I have always done all the work, including design and some hard landscaping, myself – although in recent years I have once or twice used the services of a tree surgeon to do things that I would have tackled when I was younger and fitter.

    Winston, the noise our native frogs make is better described as a muted croaking rather than singing, and they are only really vocal in mating season, which is now past. I inspected the frog spawn this morning and things look somewhat less hopeful. There are several cats in the vicinity who have been spotted eating it in past years, although I have installed a motion activated cat scarer and I don’t think that is the problem. Today, however, there was a lot less spawn in evidence, but if it has hatched the hatchling tadpoles were elusive. The frog population here is in decline, partly because of loss of habitat in the rural, agricultural areas, and partly because the warming climate seems to render them more susceptible to disease. Many in my garden died last year, and few if any of the tadpoles survived to maturity, possibly because the pond had been neglected and had become stagnant while I was recovering from the last hip operation. I cleaned it and restocked it with oxygenators and marginal plants last summer and  I am keeping my fingers crossed that this will improve matters.

    Janette: Five million signatures is now nearing 6 million and, though the rate is much slower, still increasing at the rate of around 5000 an hour. And despite claims that anyone can sign multiple times and that bots have been involved, they do seem to have ways of identifying fraudulent signatures and do purge the doubtful ones.  Once when I checked the site I actually saw the numbers scroll backwards by several thousand. Nevertheless it seems a futile gesture, since the government is evidently still hostage to the extremist Brexiteers in the ERG, not to mention May’s devil’s pact with the DUP; and though parliament is theoretically sovereign I am not confident they will prevail, even to the extent of preventing a ‘no deal’, fall-off-the-cliff crash out


    *Blocks of four. Upstairs flats get the back garden, downstairs flats the somewhat smaller front gardens.

    ** The gardens to either side are the same size as mine, but at the further end the gardens of the houses which back onto mine are narrower, so mine borders one centrally and half of the two to either side of it.


    A few years ago a violent storm unearthed the thing is this images (click for more). Those aren’t rocks, but petrified trees from a long-since inundated forest. It is quite unlike anything I’ve seen and downright alien (but probably too precious to be used for any TV shows we might admire):

    Petrified forest at Borth

    On an unrelated note, those old enough to remember the spoof posters and tee-shirts you could buy from the ads in Melody Maker by enjoy this update of Fly United, courtesy of Dyfi Osprey Project:

    Monty and Telyn fly united


    CAUTION: These rocks are Silurian:


    Strata, close up

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