Library Loot/Saturday Snaphot

After my last post about reading from my own shelves I’m almost ashamed to write about the library books I’ve got out on loan at the moment.

Mobile Library Van

But you see they’re from the mobile library and if we don’t use it the service will close down and that would not be a good thing!  The library van comes once a fortnight and is an invaluable resource. And it’s so convenient as it stops just a short walk from our house.

Lib Loot Nov 13 P1090297

The books from top to bottom are:

  • In the Woods by Tana French – a book I’ve read about and have been hoping to find in the library. It’s crime fiction, a psychological thriller, a murder mystery about a little girl’s death in an Irish wood. It has very mixed reviews on Amazon UK so I’m not getting my hopes too high.
  • Below Zero by C J Box. I keep seeing Box’s name on other book blogs and have wondered about reading one of his books. This is the 9th in his Joe Pickett series – Pickett is a Wyoming game warden. Below Zero is another book about a young girl who had been killed years earlier – or had she?
  • Perfect by Rachel Joyce. This book looks intriguing – in 1972 two seconds were added to time and the question that bothers James Lowe is ‘how can time change?’ I still haven’t read Joyce’s first book, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (I have a copy which will be a TBR next year), but as they are two stand-alone books that isn’t a problem.
  • The Day of the Lie by William Brodrick. I’ve read two of his earlier Father Anselm books, so I’m hoping this one is just as good. It’s yet another murder mystery – this time with a monk as the detective, described on the book cover as ‘an unforgettable tale of love, death and redemption.’

For more of this week’s Library Loot posts see The Captive Reader.

For more Saturday Snapshots see Melinda’s blog West Metro Mommy Reads.

Saturday Snapshot: Cat in a Box/Basket

Heidi tries out this box, before deciding to find somewhere more comfortable.

Heidi in box

‘Ah! This is more like it and it’s padded with some nice clean clothes’, (all ready for ironing!):

Heidi in a basket P1010906‘Now leave me alone – I want to go to sleep’.

For more Saturday Snapshots see Melinda’s blog West Metro Mommy Reads.

Saturday Snapshots

A few weeks ago I posted about the Attack of the Sparrows on the House Martins’ nest. A couple of weeks later the house martins all left and flew off to spend the winter in Africa. Each year they use our house as a building site for their nests. They are beautiful little birds and I love to see them flying high in the sky above our house and the chicks as they poke their heads out of the nest waiting to be fed.

It’s illegal to remove their nests whilst they are building or using them as they’re protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and you could get fined up to £5,000 and/or a 6 month prison sentence for every bird, egg or nest destroyed. And as they’re on the Amber list (because of recent decline in numbers) the RSPB is encouraging people to help them nest.

Well, they didn’t need any encouragement from us and built four nests in the eaves of our house. One was above the living room window, so you can imagine the mess their droppings made on the window and window sill. But now they’ve gone David has taken the nests down and cleaned up the mess they left behind, so he could sadolin the soffits and fascias. The nests came away mainly in one piece. My photos show how they’re constructed – mainly of mud and sticks formed into a cup shape.

House Martins nest P1010917

House Martins nest P1010918For more Saturday Snapshots see Melinda’s blog A West Metro Mommy Reads.

Saturday Snapshots

It’s been wet this week – too wet to do much gardening. This has encouraged the Ink Caps to grow. They seemed to spring up over night.

It first appears as just a small white mushroom which then grows into a cylinder with a pretty black frill:

Coprinus Comatus 1

But it soon opens out:

Inkcap P1010900and eventually, having released its spores it looks like this, and then it dissolves:

Coprinus Comatus 3

It’s also known as Lawyer’s Wig and Shaggy Mane. Apparently, it is edible, but I don’t fancy eating it.

For more Saturday Snapshots see Melinda’s blog West Metro Mommy Reads.

Saturday Snapshots

I’ve been spending more time in the garden recently and so have had less time to write on my blog. The garden has definitely been looking as though it needs tidying, deadheading and cutting back to do, and weeds are getting on top of everything!

So when the weather hasn’t been too wet I’ve been out there with my secateurs, garden fork and my dumper truck, cutting, digging and pulling up weeds – nettles, bindweed, ground elder, creeping buttercups, and other weeds whose names I don’t know.

The dumper truck is one of the best things we’ve bought recently and it has made collecting and moving weeds so much easier. Here it is empty:

Dumper truck P1010882and here it is full:

Weeds P1010892These weeds all have strong roots (don’t I know it!) and spread enormously with long, white runners forming a dense network. If you simply break them off they regenerate (I know that too!!). Even though I tried to get rid of these in the spring, they are still in the ground.

The nettles are difficult to tackle earlier in the year when their stings are so painful and they’re growing next to, behind, and in between rose bushes with particularly sharp thorns. What makes it worse is that their roots are the other side of the fence. At this time of year the effect of their sting is only minor and soon disappears and I managed to get at them better.

I hate bindweed – it chokes everything within its reach. I read in Richard Mabey’s book Weeds that the vernacular name for bindweed is ‘Devil’s guts’ – how appropriate.

I think I shall have to resort to weedkiller!

For more Saturday Snapshots see Melinda’s blog West Metro Mommy Reads.

 

Saturday Snapshot – Flodden

It’s the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Flodden this year – it was on 9th September 1513 that the armies of England and Scotland met at Flodden Field, near Branxton in Northumberland. There have been events this year to commemorate the battle and the men from both nations who died in this last medieval battle between England and Scotland.

Living not far from the site of the battle this week we went to see what had changed as a result of the anniversary. There’s now a surfaced path leading up to the Monument.

(Click on the photos to see them enlarged)

500th anniversary P1010826

There are some more information boards and signs to guide you round the Battlefield Trail:

Battlefield trail signpost P1010837The monument isn’t actually on the site of the battle but stands on Piper’s Hill.

Flodden MonumentFrom the monument you can look towards the north down on the village of Branxton:

Branxton P1010831The two armies lined up south of the monument with a marshy dip between them. The Scots advanced first, unaware of the of the ground conditions below them. Now it’s a ditch but in 1513 there was a brook surrounded by a reeded quagmire downhill – where the Scots were bogged down, the rear ranks pushing forward into the front ranks, crushing the fallen bodies and causing chaos. They were then easy prey for the deadly English billhooks.

It looks like this now – the ditch between the hedge and fence is now nearly dry, after weeks of rain in 1513 it was a quagmire:

Boggy Ground P1010835

 and the two armies came face to face:

Tthe Killing Fields P1010858

Flodden 1513: Scotland’s Greatest Defeat by John Sadler is an excellent account of the strategies and tactics of both armies, with maps and plans showing how the battle began and a time timeline of the various conflicts giving a detailed account of events.

Having read this book and the information boards around the trail I was able to visualise the battle, even on a peaceful weekday afternoon 500 years later. The Scottish troops had moved from their original position on Flodden Edge as the English approached the battlefield, putting them at a disadvantage. The outcome could have been different if they had seen the dip below them as they charged down the hill – or even if the English had attacked first.

But then, the battle needn’t have taken place at all if James IV of Scotland had not invaded England in an attempt to divert English troops from their fight against the French. Indeed he had entered into a Treaty of Perpetual Peace with England in 1502. But in 1512 he had also renewed the Auld Alliance with the French, putting him in the position of either declaring for France against Henry VIII (James’s brother-in-law) or remaining neutral, which would make him vulnerable to any further English expansion, as Henry had revived his claim to the Scottish throne.

Despite pressure from senior members of his council to avoid an outright breach with England, when Henry arrived in Calais preparing to wage war against the French, James decided to go to war against the English. Prior to the battle at Flodden he had crossed the River Tweed into England where he then attacked and captured Norham Castle, and then destroyed both Etal and Ford Castles whilst the English were still mustering their troops. But the outcome was a disaster for Scotland and James was killed on Flodden Field:

The king’s was but one of many hundreds of bodies, sprawled and piled on the bloodied turf. The whole hillside from the brook northwards was a killing ground, the dead, maimed and horribly injured competing for space, severed limbs and streaming entrails spilling fresh gore. The din would have been terrific, with hoarse shouts and the screams of the dying men, the crash of spears, a crescendo rising and spilling like breakers against the shore. (page 82, Flodden 1513 by John Sadler)

Each time I go to Branxton, or see the monument as we drive south along the A697, I think about the battle and all those who died there in 1513.

For more Saturday Snapshots see Melinda’s blog West Metro Mommy Reads.

Saturday Snapshots

It’s been a busy time here recently, as these photos of some of the places we’ve visited show:

We’ve been away visiting family. We stayed at Marlow in Buckinghamshire. The photo below shows the Marlow Bridge – a road and footbridge across the River Thames. The original crossing probably dates back to 1309. The current suspension bridge was built 1829 and 1832 and was restored in 1956-7.

Marlow Bridge P1090134

There were the usual boats, ducks and swans but we were surprised to see this driving up the Thames:

Amphibious car Marlow P1090141We had a flying visit to Eton and Windsor, not far from Marlow. We had lunch at the 300 year old George Inn at Eton on one side of the Thames:

George Inn Eton P1090082and then we crossed the bridge into Windsor for a quick look at Windsor Castle:

Windsor Castle P1090097

 Other trips out were to Silverstone in Northamptonshire where our nephew has a hospitality suite and we watched the practice for the British MotoGP. His suite, located right over the pit lane, has fantastic views over the start/finish straight.

Silverstone P1090230And then we were off to Coventry to see our other nephew’s show The Prodigals (he’s the musical supervisor/director). Before  the show we managed to go to Coventry Cathedral, but only to see the outside as it was near to closing time for the Cathedral and opening time for the show. The photo below shows the entrance to the Cathedral through the huge Screen of Saints and Angels, with a reflection of the ruins of the old Cathedral:

Coventry Cathedral P1090236and finally the next photo shows the enormous bronze statues, designed by Sir Jacob Epstein, of St Michael defeating the Devil:

Coventry Cathedral P1090238

I’ve got more photos – plenty for several Saturday Snapshot posts!

For more Saturday Snapshots see Melinda’s blog West Metro Mommy Reads.