Thursday, 31 May 2012

Trying Harder With Pictures

So after cancelling our holiday, I went to the coast a couple of times this week instead.  I didn't feel I could motivate myself to go to work, so took my days off anyway.  Hubby went to his office, I went to the beach.  This is a nature reserve about 60 miles from our  home.  I was pretending to myself that I was, in fact, in the Outer Hebrides, and it was not that difficult.

This was on Tuesday.  Not a single person in sight.

Monday, 28 May 2012

More Surprises

All around the week of my birthday:

1. I won £25 Premium Bond prize.
2. Equitable Life Compensation Scheme sent me a cheque for £2,000.  I never even applied for any compensation.  I just assumed it was a lost cause.
3. Older daughter sent a wonderful bouquet of summer flowers by Interflora.

Not so bad, after all.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Footnote to Previous Post

Letter in The Times, Saturday 12th May 2012, from eminent person,  Dr Malcom Ogilvie, hailing from distant wildlife haven of Islay (pronounced "Isla").

Quoting statistics, Dr Ogilvie disputes the well-established theory that mute swans mate for life.

A study shows that there was a divorce rate of 3% among pairs that had bred successfully, rising to 9% for pairs that had not bred.  

"A lack of success definitely stimulated a search for a new partner.  However, comparisons with any other life-form, including human beings, are unwise."

OK, I have been told.  I will depart now from this line of thinking. 

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

What Does It Feel Like to be a Gosling?

I worked at home today, and did not speak to a single soul from 7.30 am to 6.30 pm.  For a break, I walked to the small field at the end of our road.  This patch of green has three medieval ponds in it, fed by a natural spring. Legend has it that they were built to breed fish, as Friday suppers for the monks at the cathedral, two miles away.

Two geese  have been sitting on a nest in turns for what seems like weeks.  They have hatched a brood of goslings, eight dusky yellow balls of fluff, each the same size, the same shape, the same swift, darting movements, the same little black beak and round, alert head.  They are never seen more than a few inches away from their parents.  When swimming, the goslings file along in a straight line, with one parent leading from the front and the other bringing up the rear.  At other times, they feed on water weed (as above), or peck energetically at the grass on dry land.

What does it feel like to be one of eight siblings, all born on the same day, identical, no names or quirky little habits to distinguish them?  They have no purpose in life other than to learn to eat and to swim, to stay close to Mum and Dad, and avoid being eaten by foxes, dogs, poachers or illegal immigrants.

Mum and Dad are model parents, teaching, protecting, and staying together.  The parents stand or sit on guard the whole time.  Neither wanders off, or seeks other entertainment, or flirts with the swan or the moorhen seen from time to time on the water.

Why have humans evolved so differently?  These goslings have no need to fear Shakespeare, Latin, French, algebra or quadratic equations.  They will not overfeed themselves to the point of mortal illness. They will not damage their livers with toxic chemical concoctions, or pounce ecstatically on a passing stranger goose, thinking that a new coupling will solve all their problems and drive away the fear of death. They simply live to feed and breed and start all over again next year.

No one will tell them they don't have to do this.  No goose has developed a contraceptive which will save all the trouble. None boasts of enjoying much more stimulating and fun activities without the responsibilities of bringing up young.  They don't have a choice.

I wonder where the human race is going next, with its control over everything but its own passions.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Cake Recipe

Since it is a holiday weekend,  I break my rule just this once, and post a cake recipe.

I do not hope to compete with, but as two people have recently asked for this recipe, here it is.

Chocolate Yoghurt Cake
(popular with extremely hungry children and teenagers, and useful for storing in the freezer and eating straight from frozen, in a cake emergency situation).

First find a largish square roasting tin, about 28 by 28 cm,  5cm deep.  Grease and line with baking parchment, leaving a "sill" at each end to lift the cake out.

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 3. or usual electrical equivalents.

Assemble the following:
100 ml of  light vegetable oil
A 500 gram pot of natural full-fat yogurt
350 grams of caster sugar
5 medium or 4 large eggs
5 tablespoons of golden syrup and 5 tablespoons of demerara sugar
450 grams of self-raising flour
100 gm cocoa powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon of salt.

Place oil, yoghurt, golden syrup, sugar and eggs in a mixing bowl and beat well.  Sift the flour, cocoa powder, bicarb of soda and salt into the bowl and mix well. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 1.5 to 1.75 hours.  Lift out using the paper edges and leave to cool before cutting into squares.

This is nice with creme fraiche or double cream.  Melted chocolate icing is an enhancement, but not essential.

Happy eating!