Thursday, 22 March 2007

Wren; dumb ducks mad mallards and brainless birds foolish pheasants; larks ascending

Just to stop the nagging, I'm updating my postings.
A couple of weeks ago I went to Brighton to see Wren. It is always so lovely to see her. She suggested a walk for our first day, so we drove out into the country, left the car at a likely looking pub, and set off across fields and heath. Wren has been doing a field biology course, so we stopped every now and then and she explained the difference between mosses, lichens and heathers. We even found three heathers growing in the same area. She explained about the 'leaves' of moss, some hang up and some hang down, but as she pointed out, when it is raining all the leaves hang down.

Wren examining some moss with her powerful little magnifying glass.

As we carried on our walk Wren casually mentioned we would be crossing over the famous Pooh Bridge. I was delighted when we found it. A.A. Milne was a favourite when I was little and 'When We Were Very Young' was my first book. I knew a lot of the poems by heart and used to recite them to the children when they were little. When we reached the bridge I wanted Wren to have her picture taken playing Pooh Sticks, but as she pointed out, you need at least two people to play Pooh Sticks competitively. Needless to say, she won. My small stick got tangled up with a blockage under the bridge and didn't re-appear. There was a very polite notice asking us 'to bring our own sticks and not to pick any'. I assume the local shrubs and trees had been stripped bare in the past. We found a few crabby little sticks on the ground and used them.

Wren about to play Pooh Sticks.

Watching for the sticks.

Eventually we got back to the pub and had a wonderful lunch. We toyed with the idea of going into Tunbridge Wells but sod it, we ordered another jug of coffee and stayed in the pub for the rest of the afternoon.

The very nice pub where we had lunch.

I have been doing a bit of running again with Badger. Today we went along the canal for a while and saw a very strange thing. Perched on the top of a shed with a corrugated iron roof stood a male and female mallard. They had obviously taken a fancy to the spot and had layed an egg. I know birds have very little brain, but SURELY they would have had the sense to build a nest before laying an egg?

One very thick mallard.

On Tuesday driving over to my parking spot near Lyme Park, a pheasant sat gaily in the middle of the road. I slowed down expecting it to fly away, but when I was in within a yard of it I slammed on the brakes, shooting Badger out of her basket and into the well behind my seat with her basket jammed down on top of her. After a lot of honking, the pheasant wandered off. No wonder so many are killed. This was so almost a nearly pheasant and if Maalie had been behind the wheel there would have been casserole for dinner.

A Nearly Pheasant.

Just after the incident concerning pheasants, I met up with Pallie and had a run in Lyme. Badger survived her tumble in the car. During the run I was transported back to my childhood by the sound of a skylark. When I was a little nipper we used to go sailing at West Mersea, and if the tides were either too far out or too high to get to the boat, we used to take a picnic up to a field behind the Yacht Club until the tides became more co-operative. Lying in long grass in the warmth of the sun, I remember staring into the sky to search for the black dot young Maalie assured me was a skylark. We used to watch the bird and if it suddenly dropped to ground we used to creep on our tummies Red Indian (sorry, Native American) style to see if we could find it's nest. At the time I thought it was because Maalie was interested in the bird, but now after seeing what he does to pheasants, I suspect he was after some eggs for his next breakfast.

A skylark wondering whether to ascend.


ann said...

Enjoyed that! Lovely pictures.
my word was 'zpeab'

Maalie said...

I would certainly have had that pheasant in my casserole. The skill is in gnocking it senseless with your bumper, not squashing it flat by running over it with your wheel. I claim a 85% success rate after many years of practice.

lorenzothellama said...

I'm speechless Maalie!

Maalie said...

So was I when I had my mouth full of juicy pheasant last weekend... They seem to be extra tasty in the closed season.

TCA said...

"...and used to recite them to the children when they were little".

How those long winter evenings must haveflown by.


lorenzothellama said...

TCA: Did you never have 'James James Morrison Morrison Wetherby George Dupree' chanted at you when you a sprog? Or perhap knowing your patriotic background 'They are Changing Guards At Buckingham Palace' would have been more appropriate!
Maalie: After you have gnocked a poor wee pheasant sensless, I assume you have to kill it? What method do you favour? It's always useful to gnow these things, just in case. Or maybe you just let it's poor life ooze slowly away in the boot of your now highly road taxed van.

The Fairtrader said...

flYou must NEVER go down to the edge of the town without consulting ME! ... I used to love mum chanting James James Morrison Morrison Weatherby George Dupree at me, infact I frequently read it in the same style to the Elderly People where I work when we do poetry sessions. We have an agreement, I'm not very good at reading out serious poems to them, I'm not that sort of person, but they love it when I do silly ones. I did a great one the other day entitled "I'm a shrimp, I'm a shrimp" that they seemed to enjoy a lot. I also do a good Macavity, the mystery cat (he's called the hidden paw).

lorenzothellama said...

How about reciting 'I had a little beetle so that Beetle was his name and I called him ALEXANDER and he answered just the same'. If I remember correctly that was another favourite!

Maalie said...

TCA: Used to get:

Mary had a little lamb;
She also had a bear;
I've often seen her little lamb;...etc.

Maalie said...

Sorry, meant to add, the quickest way is just to yank its head off and chuck it in the hedge. It might flap around like a headless chicken in your boot for ten minutes, but it simmers down eventually.

lorenzothellama said...

Tit Tart:

Buy one packet of frozen short crust pastry.
One onion
Four Mushrooms
Sage, Parsley, Fennel (optional)
two eggs (if using Skylark's, use six)
Single cream
Grated New Zealand Red Leicester Cheese
Four Marsh Tits

Pre-heat oven to 200C

Roll out pastry and line a tart dish
Gently fry onion and mushrooms in a little olive oil
Prepare Tits by stripping all feathers, decapitate but leave beak.
Fry whole (the beak and bones make a good texture) with the onion and mushroom mixture.
Mix eggs and cream with a little black pepper and the herbs if using.
Pour onion, mushroom and bird mixture into tart.
Pour over egg mixture and top with Grated New Zealand Red Leicester Cheese.
Bake for about twenty-five minutes until bubbling nicely.

Serve with mashed swedes, beetroot and boiled cabbage.

Maalie said...

Goodness, there's not enough meat on 4 marsh Tits to put on a tea spoon. I've eaten pheasant, partridge, oystercatcher, eider, puffin, fulmar, Great Black-backed Gull, woodpigeon, Stock Dove, guinea fowl, guillemot, Great Crested Grebe, Mute Swan and otter. Never a grouse, oddly enough, I must get one. I think the only passerine I've eaten is starling. Yum!

lorenzothellama said...

Isn't HM Queen the only one allowed to eat swan? Perhaps being the Maalie King entitles you to this honour too.

Maalie said...

I can't imagine her wanting to eat anything that had killed itself on overhead cables.

lorenzothellama said...

I think if you pick up a dead swan you have to keep it for three months to see if the Queen claims it. If she doesn't, you can then legally own it, but I still think you are not allowed to eat it.
I will research some more interesting recipes for you.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mum,

Nice pictures. I have a number of experiences of Jimmy saying that a speck of black a few miles away was some kind of bird.

Love Jack

TCA said...

"TCA: Used to get: Mary had a little lamb..."

EVERY night was a long winter night for me



TCA said...

"James James Morrison Morrison Weatherby George Dupree"


lorenzothellama said...

... took great care of his mother, though he was only three
James, James said to his mother,
mother he said, said he,
You must NEVER go down to the end of the town
Without consulting me.

If you want the full version I would be delighted to type it out.

Maalie said...

Of course, he was commonly known as "Jim".

Read about it here