Saturday, 31 July 2010


“God in his wisdom invented the fly,
And then forgot to tell us why.”

                                   Ogden Nash

“Flies, strangely enough, were considered good luck charms..... It was also lucky to see a fly in a home at Christmas. Why? Because, it was reasoned, flies are killed off by cold weather, and so any that are still alive in midwinter must be exceptionally lucky ones. The hope was that some of this fly luck would rub off.”
“These folk beliefs embrace not all biological flies but just a few familiar ones, notably the ubiquitous housefly.”
(Peter Marren)

My mother was quite content to let one or two flies live out the winter in the living room. If there was just one it was known as Josephine. If two they were Joseph and Josephine. They would circle around the ceiling and land on the big glass lampshade. Quite whether she thought they were lucky or was simply being kind to them I’m not sure.

These are fly footprints on a steamed up car window - photo taken many years ago on transparency film.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Friday My Town Shoot-out - "Things That Barry Made Me Think Of"

This week's subject for the Friday My Town Shoot-out is "Things That Barry Made Me Think Of" - chosen by NanU. In memory of Barry Edward Fraser – April 3rd 1943 to 20th July 2010.

Those who have followed Barry’s blogs will recall his ‘classic of childhood’ posting showing him in his pram. I couldn’t resist showing you a photo of me in my pram with my bruvver, GB, looking on.

And this photo was taken a few years later and shows three generations of my family – GB, Dad, Mum’s Mum, Mum, and me. I was reminded of this photo by Barry’s death. It hardly seems any time at all since I was that 10 year old youngster and yet two generations have passed away since then and GB and I are the senior citizens of the family. how time flies.

My thoughts go out to Barry’s wife Linda.

If you would like to see other members' shoot-outs please go to the link page.

To learn more about the Friday My Town Shoot-out why not pay a visit to the
home blog.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Rosa Bonheur

In the Walker Art Gallery there is currently an exhibition of art by women artists. Among them is a painting by Rosa Bonheur. (Because photography is not allowed in the special exhibitions I am unablke to show it but hopefully these other excamples of her work will show you what a marvellous artist she was..)

Rosa Bonheur, née Marie-Rosalie Bonheur, was born in Bordeaux on March 16, 1822, the oldest child in a family of artists. She died on May 25, 1899. Bonheur was a French animalière, realist artist, and sculptor. As a painter she became famous primarily for two chief works. The first was Ploughing in the Nivernais (in French Le labourage nivernais, le sombrage ), which was first exhibited at the Salon of 1848, and is now in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. it depicts a team of oxen ploughing a field while attended by peasants set against a vast pastoral landscape. The second major work was The Horse Fair (in French Le marché aux chevaux), which was exhibited at the Salon of 1853 (finished in 1855) and is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York City. Bonheur is widely considered to have been the most famous and arguably the best female painter of the nineteenth century.

"She is perhaps most famous today because she was known for wearing men's clothing and living with women. Her work and artistic talent has now become somewhat secondary in importance to her manner of dress, her choice of companions and her penchant for smoking cigarettes." (Wikipedia) It'sd a sad commentary on modern life that someone's lifestyle should cause greater comment than the wonderful art she created.

To my mind she surpasses the vast majority of modern day animal painters. “Her command of anatomy and the texture of fur has yet to be surpassed. She also painted with a dignity and elegance that places her far above the usual animal illustrators of today.” (Stapleton Kearns)

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Marcus Aurelius

This bust of Marcus Aurelius is in Liverpool Museum. He is shown dressed as a General and probably dates from around 160 AD; possibly being made to commemorate his being made Emperor.

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus (26 April 121 – 17 March 180) was the Roman emperor from 161 to his death in 180. He ruled with Lucius Verus as co-emperor from 161 until Lucius' death in 169. He was the last of the "Five Good Emperors", and is also considered one of the most important Stoic philosophers. His tenure was marked by wars in Asia against a revitalized Parthian Empire, and with Germanic tribes along the Limes Germanicus into Gaul and across the Danube. A revolt in the East, led by Avidius Cassius who previously fought under Lucius Verus against the Parthians, failed.

Marcus Aurelius' work “Meditations”, written in Greek while on campaign between 170 and 180, is still revered as a literary monument to a government of service and duty. It serves as an example of how Aurelius approached the Platonic ideal of a philosopher-king and how he symbolized much of what was best about Roman civilization.

Wednesday wildlife – Pied Avocet

Pied Avocets have long legs and long, thin, upcurved bills (giving their scientific name Recurvirostra avosetta) which they sweep from side to side when feeding in the brackish or saline wetlands they prefer.

Members of this species have webbed feet and readily swim. Their diet consists of aquatic insects and other small creatures. They nest on the ground in loose colonies.

The Pied Avocet is the emblem of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Dunham Massey again

Some more photos from our recent trip to Dunham Massey. (And God Bless the National Trust for allowing photography indoors - it makes the trip around historic houses so much more enjoyable for folk like myself.)

Saturday, 24 July 2010

The Wirral owl sanctuary

I went to a talk by Terry from the Wirral owl sanctuary at Pensby Library on Thursday.

He brought along some of his owls including a Barn Owl (Tyto alba) .

A Tawny Owl (Strix aluco)

And a Eurasian Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo).   Tthe Eagle Owl is becoming more common in the UK and is showing signs that it is becoming established, mirroring the recent rapid increase in the Buzzard population with which it shares some similarities, particularly prey and habitat.

This Eagle Owl has a wingspan of 5' 2" but thay can be up to 7'.

According to a BBC TV programme (2005), a pair bred for several years in a valley in Ministry of Defence land in North Yorkshire. At the time the program was made, they had reared 20 young to independence, and three young were in the nest. The female was illegally shot dead in 2006. Nothing was known of what happened to those 20 young, except that one of them electrocuted itself on power lines in Shropshire. Another bird has been sighted several times in Heaton, Bolton, Lancashire. The BBC also reported a pair nesting and aggressively protecting their brood from dog-walkers on a nearby footpath in Lancashire, England, in late May 2007. A new pair in Bowland, Lancashire, have been attracting public attention due to having successfully reared three young to flight. There have also been reports of a further two pairs active in the local area as well as another pair breeding chicks in Northumberland in 2005. Eagle Owls have also been confirmed breeding in Scotland, with sightings of wild birds confirmed in Galloway, Invernesshire, and Sutherland. The World Owl Trust now believes that the Eagle Owl should be added to the British Ornithologists Union's list of official British birds - indicating the significance of the increase in wild pairs in Britain. (Information from Wikipedia)

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Friday My Town Shoot-out - Feet and shoes

This week's subject for the Friday My Town Shoot-out is feet and shoes - chosen by jarielyn.

If you would like to see other members' shoot-outs please go to the link page.

To learn more about the Friday My Town Shoot-out why not pay a visit to the
home blog.

It's ...

... one of those uphill days!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Wednesday Wildlife - Fritillaries galore

Fritillary butterflies are named after a Roman dice box – the fritillarius - the most exotic of which had a chequered pattern. The same name is used for a plant in the lily family with contrasting dark and light checks on its petals.

There may also have been some punning involved in naming the butterflies since the French word fretiller means to flutter. (There are a surprising number of puns and humorous references in the scientific names of plants and animals – not all notanists and biologists are dry and dusty!)

This is the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, known a few centuries ago as the May Fritillary (in contrast to the Pearl-bordered which was the April Fritillary). Since both are the same size the name ‘small’ is a misnomer.

The Pearl-bordered Fritillary

The High Brown Fritillary was a common species of open woods in England and Wales but is now confined to a handful of scattered locations from Cornwall to Cumbria. The word high was not a reference to its flight habits but to the colouring; high meaning in this context rich.

The Dark Green Fritillary is also confusingly named since the green is on the underside and is not dark; the term dark referred to the upperside so the butterfly was dark and green.

The Silver-washed Fritillary is the biggest and brightest of the British fritillaries and is a beautiful sight gliding along woodland rides or old railway lines.

The Marsh Fritillary was once known as the Dishclout and like many of the fritillaries has declined rapidly in recent years. One year in the 1880s the roads and fields around Church Stretton in Shropshire were ‘blackened’ by countless spiky Marsh Fritillary caterpillars. A similar plague in Ireland was reported in parliament and people barricaded their doors with peat blocks and burned shovelfuls of the caterpillars on bonfires. In the main it is a decline in suitable habitats that has caused the drastic decline of this species.

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