An Internet-based photo-sharing application

I’ve been using Instagram for a few years now, and I think maybe I use it differently from say my friends and family. They mostly put up photos or videos or ‘stories’ which they have taken elsewhere, choosing particularly good pictures, the best maybe of several they have taken. They also add plenty of hashtags, and ‘@’s.

Just in case for some reason, Instagram has passed you by, here is Wikipedia’s description of it:

 Instagram is a mobile, desktop, and Internet-based photo-sharing application and service that allows users to share pictures and videos either publicly, or privately to pre-approved followers. It was created by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, and launched in October 2010 as a free mobile app exclusively for the iOS operating system.

I use Instagram as a sort of diary of places I have been doing and things I have seen. I don’t randomly fire off a lot of photos and upload them all, I do discriminate, but I don’t use filters or effects of which there are about thirty-eight and i don’t crop or otherwise edit them… I take photos and if I like them I share them.

So what and where have I most recently taken photos of? In reverse order:

  • the ‘winter moon’, last night’s full moon, supposedly a super-moon
  • Clevedon – 3 photos including a single leaf on a path, and a water fountain
  • ‘Goodnight Rock and Roll ‘ Robert Reynolds’ latest album
  • evening clouds above the houses on our road
  • Christmas decorations at Cribbs Causeway shopping mall
  • the Wills Building in Bristol at night (x2)
  • hydrangeas in their autumn colour
  • view of an old railway line, Bristol
  • the Everyman cinema, Bristol
  • a notice attached to a rabbit’s cage in a pet shop “Where do I come from? I come from the Western Mediterranean. I was introduced into Britain by the Normans in the twelfth century.” (spot the mistake!)
  • a giant spade outside a garden centre
  • a car transporter unloading cars
  • the inside of a renovated domed building in Cheltenham
  • Cheltenham (x3)
  • a garden centre (x5)

… and so on… little glimpses of where I have been and what has interested or intrigued me… some are a bit fuzzy or blurry, some are a bit dark .. but it’s just a nice memory for me!

Indiscriminate manuring is wasteful

If you are a gardener, then you might welcome these helpful tips for what you should be doing in the garden in November (yes, I know this is slightly belated – I could say that’s it because of climate change and the difference between the weather we have now in 2017, and the weather they had eighty or so years ago when this advice was written!)


Cold and misty, perhaps frosts, but usually not so severe that they last the day. Just right for pruning, tree and shrub planting and winter digging, unless an exceptionally cold spell occurs

November work

Sweep the leaves; these will have all fallen and the garden, including lawns and paths can this month be cleaned up thoroughly for the winter
dig and ridge all vacant land
Plant protection becomes an urgent matter. newspapers, mats, straw, mats made of the old broad bean stems, hessian, cloches, evergreen twigs, bracken – all these are useful protective material.
keep the bonfire going; woody waste matter and any seeding weeds or diseased plant waste that might cause future trouble should be burned.
Tree prunings should be burned and large wounds made by cutting out branches of forest trees should be painted over to keep out rains

Food plots (part 1)

Dig and trench vacant ground.. If no manure is available, and the compost pit does not provide sufficient humus. Use hop manure as a substitute.
Spread lime over dug soil, particularly over heavy soil; it helps to break down the lumps so that a fine tilth can be secured.
Soil infested with pests such as wire-worms should be treated now with soil fumigant, which must be dug in below the top spit.
Lift and store all root crops. Parsnips are best after a light frost has touched them, but if left in the ground too long there may be difficulties in digging.
Indiscriminate manuring is wasteful, and some fertilisers are quire expensive. Ground to take peas and beans should need little nitrogenous food and therefore will be sufficiently manured with the contents of the compost pit. Ground to take cabbages would benefit from a rich dressing of poultry manure.

Reading this practical guide gives an insight into people’s lives and not just their gardens. Where would we these days find hop manure? I guess even when this was written there would only be certain areas of the country where it was available, unless it was a product which could be bought from hardware shops or garden nurseries. Economy and not wasting anything was important, resources were valued – even manure – Indiscriminate manuring is wasteful, and even the waste and byproducts of something was recycled into use – broad bean stems and poultry manure for example.

Tomorrow I’ll share what else you should be doing when tending your food plots, and also what you should be doing in your fruit garden and flower patch, general maintenance and under glass.

This advice comes from Practical Gardening and Food Production in Pictures by Professor Richard Sudell.

The story of a house

No this isn’t the story of my house, or a house owned/occupied by friends or family. This is not the house in my featured image – that is a house which was empty when I took its picture, but might have a family living there now and look very different, on the inside at least.  This isn’t a history of a house in the same way my friend Andrew Simpson has places chronicled in his blog… here’s a link to Andrew’s latest:

The  house I’m thinking of is about thirty years old, so quite young compared to some. I’ve only ever been inside it twice, and that was many years ago. As you can imagine from its age, it’s a modern type of house, four bedrooms (although two are tiny) a small upstairs bathroom, a tiny downstairs lavatory,  main room, dining room kitchen, integral garage, smallish but not too small back garden and smallish front garden with a drive.

When I first knew of this house it was owned by an elderly lady, a very elderly lady, a widow. She had lived in the house since it was built, but I’m not sure whether she lived with her husband, or whether he had already died. She was a very friendly nice lady, and although quite frail, she went out to her various clubs and activities, and seemed to have regular visitors. However, she grew too frail to be on her own and moved into sheltered accommodation, leaving the house empty. After a while she died,.

After another while a young family moved in, a couple and their toddler. They were also very nice, very friendly and pleasant and really active and busy people. The husband worked in some sort of practical trade, maybe an electrician. They had big plans for the house, and set to with zeal to transform the rather old-fashioned interior. They knocked the kitchen and dining room into one lovely room, built decking out the back, put in fabulous new bathrooms, wonderful modern but tasteful features, decorated throughout in a very current yet appealing way – in fact they created a truly marvellous home for themselves – and for any visitors and friends! There was a new heating system, new windows and doors, everything eco-friendly and efficient, stylish and tasteful. The garden had a little wooden house  and a play area, which was great because before long the toddler had a little sister, and the two children grew up in this beautiful and happy home. However a growing family needed a different house and the family wanted to be out in the country so they moved.

A single lady moved in. It was such a beautiful house, so wonderfully brought up to date, tasteful, comfortable, there was no doubt she and her two dogs would be happy there. However, no sooner had she moved in, then the builders moved in too. All the recent fittings and carpets were seen on the back of the lorry or carried out to a truck, new cupboards and radiators and doors were carried in, and more carpets, and decorators moved in to paper teh walls and paint the woodwork. The decking was cut away, the children’s little wooden house used as a shed. After a while chickens arrived in the garden in a hutch with a run… they didn’t last very long, but a new dog joined the other two. Sadly the lady became ill; once again the builders arrived, more things were taken out and more different things were moved in. Plumbers, carpenters, plasterers, heating engineers, they seemed almost in residence for months. Unfortunately she didn’t win her struggle against her illness, and once more the house was empty – all her possessions taken away, and the dogs rehomed.

After a very long time on the market, people putting in then withdrawing offers, people hoping to buy and then being disappointed when things went awry, another family moved in. This family had a boy and a dog; friendly pleasant people they soon began to make their mark on the house. Once again fittings and fitments were removed and new ones brought in; radiators out and radiators in; bath and shower out new shower in; new kitchen units arrived, new carpets, new everything. This family was making a comfortable and happy home for themselves.

Did the house wonder to itself how many more renovations and refits there would be? Did the house imagine that at last it was perfect, nothing more could possibly need doing? If it thought so it was disappointed… the garage was converted into another downstairs room… more builders, glaziers, plumbers, electricians, plasterers, fitters, carpet fitters, decorators…

Is this a common story for modern times?


The spoon of redemption

Many years ago when I had a day job, there was a member of the team, a senior member who was a lovely person but had a tendency to mix metaphors, adopt Mr Spooner’s way of expressing himself, and generally not always hear what was coming out of their mouth! I know I have shared some of these before, but I can’t help but laugh when I look at them again.

I haven’t include the most spectacular flights of linguistic creativeness ( “a gunpowder plot boy” – who knows what was meant? An anarchist? He liked playing with fire? Who now knows?) but here is just a selection:

  1. Bend over backwards and make a rod for your own back
  2. bushy eyed and bright tailed
  3. Can’t see the light for the trees
  4. Handed a spoon to redeem himself
  5. He sets himself up as a tangent
  6. I don’t want this to go between these two walls
  7. It’s good to have bolts and braces
  8. Lying out of his seat.
  9. Oh that old cherry (chestnut)
  10. Smoke on your face (egg on your face)
  11. Speaking hand on head
  12. That was a bit below the table (below the belt)
  13. The ears have walls
  14. Thorn in the ointment
  15. You could cut the ice with a knife

Unusual names

I came across the unusual name of Windrum in a churchyard in Somerset, and wrote about it a couple of years ago:

I came across the name Windrum and wondered where a family with that name might have originated; it was so unusual, I’ve never heard of it or seen it anywhere before.

I looked back in the nineteenth century censuses and the first time it appears in 1851; in Scotland there was a family of Windrums, the father William was a fisherman and he and his wife Mary had two little girls, Helen and Jennet, pretty names. Jennet is obviously a Windrum family name, because in the same place is another family, a Chelsea pensioner named George, and his wife Jane, and their children, Jane, Peter, and another Jennet. There is another family of Windrums in Pailey and they work in the textile industry; however in the workhouse in Anwick it is a different story, poor Harriet Windrum and her five children are in the workhouse, described  as paupers – it doesn’t mention whether she is a widow, but nor does it mention a husband. There are Windrums in subsequent censuses, but never very many of them; it is indeed an unusual name!

I’ve returned to this lovely sounding name a few times, but have not really found an answer to its origin, although it may be Scottish. In the early censuses, all the families lived in Scotland or North-east England; in later censuses there were a few families in southern England, mostly London. I did find there were quite a number of Windrums in Canada; when I looked at some nineteenth century shipping lists there were indeed a number of Windrum passengers to Canada, but also a great many to Boston, and also New York. I guess from these North American Atlantic ports people would travel into the west and would probably settle all over the place. It wasn’t unexpected to see a lot of people had also gone to Australia and New Zealand, and a few to South America which may have been on business rather than to settle. My own grandfather travelled to Brazil, for example, but not to settle or live there. There were a lot of Windrums, particularly men from Ireland who served in the forces, but I also found another statistic which showed that many people with that name worked in agriculture.

Having an unusual name myself, first name, last name, married name, I guess I am interested in other people with distinctive names. I think the Windrum’s are even more distinctive than mine!

On this day…

October 14th was my mother-in-law’s birthday; she was born in 1914, a significant year for many reasons, and probably most remembered as the start of WW1; on the very day she was born  the Canadian Expeditionary Force arrived on thirty-two ocean liners into Plymouth Sound to take their part in the conflict.

Before I ever met my mother-in-law, I associated today’s date with another time of conflict for our country – with maybe an even greater effect on our lives – even though ti took place nearly a thousand years ago… I’m thinking of the Battle of Hastings. The effects of the Norman conquest on ordinary people all across these islands was profound and affected all the countries of what became the United Kingdom for centuries afterwards, and even today some of the difficulties faced have roots going right back to the defeat by William of Normandy’s forces of those of the English king.

Looking over a list of significant events on particular days, and looking down those for October 14th, there do seem to be a preponderance of negative rather than positive events:

  • 1066 – Norman Conquest: Battle of Hastings: In England on Senlac Hill, seven miles from Hastings, the Norman forces of William the Conqueror defeat the English army and kill King Harold II of England.
  • 1322 – Robert the Bruce of Scotland defeats King Edward II of England at Byland, forcing Edward to accept Scotland’s independence.
  • 1582 – Because of the adoption of the Gregorian calendar this day does not exist in this year in Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain.
  • 1586 – Mary, Queen of Scots, goes on trial for conspiracy against Elizabeth I of England.
  • 1773 – Just before the beginning of the American Revolutionary War, several of the British East India Company’s tea ships are set ablaze at the old seaport of Annapolis, Maryland.
  • 1882 – University of the Punjab is founded in a part of India that later became West Pakistan.
  • 1913 – Senghenydd colliery disaster, the United Kingdom’s worst coal mining accident claims the lives of 439 miners.
  • 1926 – The children’s book Winnie-the-Pooh, by A. A. Milne, is first published.
  • 1939 – The German submarine U-47 sinks the British battleship HMS Royal Oak within her harbour at Scapa Flow, Scotland.
  • 1940 – Balham underground station disaster in London, England, sixty-six people in the station were killed during the Nazi Luftwaffe air raids on Great Britain

So The University of the Punjab is founded – hurrah! Winnie-the-Pooh is published – hurray! My mother-in-law is born – happy birthday!!

The bowman, the tusked creature and the three diamonds

I guess like lots of people who are not superstitious and don’t believe in fortune telling or horoscopes or spiritualism, I still have an interest in it! I haven’t yet written anything which has a story line to do with other worldly things, but I think one day I might.

I can’t remember where I saw it now, but I saw an image which had lots of funny little symbols all over it, and in my almost OCD way, I noted down the different images and gave them names. I guess I was thinking they were similar to runes, maybe. I have no idea now what the image was or where I found it, or even if it was something significant or just random scribbly patterns on wallpaper for example. I was looking through some old things, and came across the list of symbols, although not the images:

  1. Seated bowman
  2. Bowman
  3. Bow
  4. Pattern
  5. Simple pattern
  6. Diamond
  7. Squirl
  8. Deer
  9. Buffalo
  10. Jellyfish
  11. Scorpion
  12. Turtle
  13. Standing man
  14. Pushing man
  15. Speaking man
  16. Crane
  17. Vulture
  18. Square
  19. Tusked creature
  20. Three diamond
  21. Leaf
  22. Goat
  23. Frog
  24. Concentric squirl
  25. Fork
  26. Nothing

There is no significance in the order, or the number beside each, it was just as I jotted them all down at random. Now I have found the list I am intrigued by the idea of it, and I’m beginning to think of ways I could use something like this in my writing… Something to play around with… hmmm… some ideas are swirling…