Friday 31 January 2020

Burns Night Haggis Redux

This week, when my sister visited for her birthday, I ended up having haggis (both standard and vegetarian) three nights in a row.

The reason being that my stepfather threw a really rather excellent Burns Night supper for 16 neighbours, and there was an awful lot of haggis kicking around, haggises that just a few days before had been freely roaming the grousey highlands until being cruelly shot for our culinary pleasure.

We had no piper, but an iPad was able to play Burns' "Address to a Haggis" in all its incomprehensible glory to the guests, who then toasted the haggis and my mother with whisky shots I had poured.

I had one and then got a stinking headache straightaway, reminding me why I never drink the stuff.

My sister and I had two more Burns Night suppers of our own when she arrived the next day.

We love our haggis.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 31.01.20

Wednesday 29 January 2020

Cycling to Venus and the Moon

The close conjunction of Venus and the thin crescent moon last night captured a lot of attention from casual observers, and many pictures found their way into my twitter feed of this beautiful celestial conjunction in various settings. Over Salisbury cathedral, in a glowing twilight, over peaceful waters and quiet towns and farmer's fields.

My picture is a rather more urban capture from my ride home last night!

Also in the night sky, the dimming of the star Betelgeuse - don't even think of pronouncing it Beetle-Juice no matter how many times Brian Cox says it that way - in Orion has also attracted a lot of attention. Normally one of the ten brightest stars in the sky, this vivid orange-red star is typically easily identifiable as the left shoulder of Orion, the most distinctive constellation in the sky.

But in late 2019, it began to fade, and now in late January 2020 it has become fainter by a factor of 2.5. Now Betelgeuse's eventual fate as a supergiant star has long been thought to be exploding as a type 2 supernova, and there has been much speculation that this sudden fading is a precursor to its collapse and explosion.

I wish so much that this would happen in my lifetime - when it does so it will be as bright as the full moon for a few weeks and as I read today it would be the most significant event in the history of astronomy on this planet. But chances are it may still have the odd hundred thousand years to go.

Spectacular though it would be for us, for any civilisation within 50 light years of the star the resulting radiation from the explosion would destroy it utterly.

At 700 light years, we believe we are safe...


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 29.01.20

Saturday 25 January 2020

A Voyage of Two Churches

First up, I've just returned from a Burn's Night supper at the family home, which was really nice, but alas the shot of whisky I had to mark the "piping in" of the haggis - actually the haggis being taken from the oven accompanied by a rendition of Burn's famous "Address to a Haggis" via a tablet - has given me a thumping headache and reminded me why I never drink the stuff.

I've had a very good walk today, taking myself out to Hawton and then to Farndon, visiting the churches, and looking out for a new bike at the second hand bike shop. It took me about 2 and a bit hours, probably covered about 7 miles, and enjoyed the radio and the sense of being outside on a rather crisper day than we've had recently.

It was grey, and I didn't really see much if interest to be honest, no winter thrushes in the fields although plenty of finches and tits around the hedgerows. There are highland cattle in the muddy lowland fields, and roach being caught in the river.

Sadly my bike hunt came to nought; the second hand bikes are nice, but no cheaper than new ones! Need to find one better for longer distance rides.

And changes gear when I ask it to from time to time.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 25.01.20

Tuesday 21 January 2020

And Now Sunset over Work

During the week I don't have a lot to show you; the workplace isn't exactly brimming with life I can photograph well at the moment, other than a few daisies that have braved the frosts to poke up in the garden area where the blue and great tits munch upon the fatball and seed feeders.

The rabbits are plentiful, but wary; a flash of white tail suddenly erupts from beneath your nose almost, and is gone in an instant. Kestrels in the sunrise look beautiful, but they are mere dots in a mobile phone shot.

My hip is still bugging me, my neck too after some fairly violent ticcing today. But I will get it sorted, and I will get through.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 21.01.20

Monday 20 January 2020

Sunset to Coddington

So my Race to the Stones training continued today, with a long walk out to Coddington and back, on another day of cloudless skies and crisp temperatures leading to icy puddles and frost dusted pavements.

I've not been out this way for a long while, and such a trip would not be complete without being held up at a train crossing, luckily it was only the one LNER train thundering through, sometimes I've been held up for over twenty minutes at Barnby crossing!

i've not seen any winter thrushes until today, but in the trees alongside a farmer's field there was a flock of about 30 Fieldfare - I think - flying about, their pale bellies glowing orange in the lowering sun. Lots of sparrows in the hawthorn hedgerows, chattering away in their endless grey squabbles.

I'd timed the walk so I could get to the top of Coddington Hill as the sun set, and for once my timing was on; I had lovely views and was able to follow the sun until the moment it set; not long after Venus began its Evening Star role, shining brightly as I walked down Beacon Hill.

I've made over 20000 steps for the day, Race to the Stones will need probably 70,000 on consecutive days. It's daunting, but I'm looking forward to it.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 20.01.20

Sunday 19 January 2020

Well that was Bloody Freezing

This morning was a rare bitter and frosty one by this winter's standards, and a hat and gloves were very much needed as I walked around the park admiring how finally the puddles had iced over, and the grass' hair had gone grey overnight.

I was profoundly glad not to be cycling to work this morning, that's for sure.

This evening saw our first cricket net practice session of the new season, at a rather impressive new facility at a local school where the ball bounces higher than ankle high for a change. Not for me alas, as my bursitis hip told me as I ran in that I wasn't allowed to bowl today; it gave way straightaway, and although I was able to bat, albeit with discomfort, I couldn't bowl any more that horribly ineffective left arm spin that 12 year olds were able to smash around the hall.

However, on the positive side I only got bowled when I had three balls left and tried to play a shot by walking a yard to the offside and missing it completely.

My reverse sweeps didn't get a much better result, or response either from the amused onlookers. But it was a well attended session, with some new players to boot!


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 19.01.20

Saturday 18 January 2020

Winter Colours for You

It's been a very cold but savagely bright day today, and I've been about three and a half hours outside today, taking my bursitis hip and cervical radio-something neck and heel blister out for a couple of walks.

The aconite and the snowdrop are now at peak, and crocuses are starting to open up like palms to the sun, although there aren't many around as yet. The sun was dazzling bright off the surface of the blue lake, where 6 smart drake goosander glowed crisp and white.

Children fed the gulls, I listed to a superb adaptation of "Animal Farm" on Radio 4 as I strolled along. This is one of my better mental states to be in, the thought of doing it for ten hours or more on The Race to the Stones is a wonderfully gruelling thought.

Have to look after my mind and body first.