Archive for April, 2010


This year everyone is commenting on the abundance of wild violets in gardens...

The little green book that accompanied my childhood was “Wild Life Through the Year” by Richard Morse. It was published in 1942 and I particularly like the sketchbook page for every month.

So every month I am showing these pages on my blog and making my own observations, based largely on my 2010 city garden. I don’t get out much! Read earlier months here.

Traditionally April is (more…)

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This blog post gives me the opportunity to use this lovely illustration of King Nuada from the Celtic Book of Conquests, by Jim Fitzpatrick (Paper Tiger, 1978)

I’ve already blogged about Latin words in the English language, but now it’s the turn of the Celtic languages such as Gaulish, Scots Gaelic, Irish and Welsh (but let’s also put in a good word for Cornish).

These have contributed to our language on several occasions, according to (more…)

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John Bull outfits came in all sizes - but you had to keep on buying more because it was easy to lose the little black rubber letters...

If you play with Meccano do you grow up to be an engineer? Did my childhood toys make me a journalist, or was it an in-born love of writing that made me ask for John Bull printing sets and a typewriter?

On Saturdays we (more…)

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Moss on the wall...

In January when I started my Wildlife through the year “project” I said I intended to make 2010 the year I learned how to identify mosses.

Well, I have tried, and now (more…)

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Squid - an illustration from an 18th-century work of reference, edited by Albertus Seba, a Dutch pharmacist and collector of zoological subjects.


This Faroe Islands stamp of 2004 depicts a squid...

These ramblings were prompted by a mistake the other day on the newspaper letters page I edit. I was on holiday at the time and I was annoyed that no sub-editor or reviser had spotted the error before it hit the press.

The letter-writer’s error was such a common one – referring to something as a “damp squid” instead of a “damp squib”. I usually laugh before changing it.

I would think most squid are damp in their natural environment, although admittedly (more…)

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Cherry blossom pink...

They say “cherry pink and apple blossom white” – listen to the Eddie Calvert instrumental version here or the Pat Boone song here or read the lyrics here – but you also get white cherry blossom.


Probably also cherry blossom, white...

I think these (more…)

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cambridge blue

Cambridge blue sits between Wedgwood blue and eau de nil...

Cambridge blue has made me colour blind. Until I went to university in that lovely English city I knew the difference between blue and green. Now I am lost in the no man’s land between Wedgwood blue and eau de nil.

If you saw Cambridge winning the University Boat Race against Oxford on the Thames last Saturday (April 3), you will have seen them wearing the (more…)

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Concert in the Egg by a follower of Hieronymus Bosch, dating from around 1561 and hanging in the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Lille, France

When I was a child, my mother said that if you touched broken egg shells you would get warts. This may be because the egg shells I was touching at the time were among kitchen waste lying around beside an outside drain and it was a dirty thing to do – warts are caused by a viral infection (human papillomavirus).

My mother also said the inside of a broad-bean pod stroked on a wart and buried in the soil would (more…)

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