Our local pool has a mixed reputation. At one time a rumour circulated that a stray poo had been seen floating in the water, so understandably I have not been there in quite some time. However, hearing that things are much improved these days and it being years since any confirmed poo sightings, I decided to take the plunge (see what I did there?) and go for an Early Morning Workout last Thursday.
I was the youngest person there by quite some distance. Initially I joined in with the sedate up-and-down swimming of Old Ladies In Floral Hats who reminded me of large galleons under sail, but soon realised that if I continued at that pace it would be about five days before I completed my allotted twenty lengths and got out of the pool, so I ducked into the next lane and ploughed up and down with the Faster Old Ladies, who put me to shame because I had to stop at the end of my lengths to get my breath back while they just carried on swimming.
One of them paused beside me (out of pity I expect) and treated me to an in-depth and lengthy talk on the condition of her cataracts. Fearing that we were about to Move On To Further Medical Details that I didn't really want to hear, I took advantage when she paused for breath by pleading the cold (despite the fact it was about 100 degrees and I had my pink vest on too) and zoomed off up the pool. She followed in hot pursuit, doubtless thinking she would get me when I stopped at the other end. I suppose I should thank her really, because it was largely fear of getting trapped with her again that made me to swim the remainder of my lengths without stopping. I was knackered by the end but tried to put a brave face on it by waving cheerily as I got out.
It was good to do it and I will keep it up until I get faster and can confidently out-swim the elderly.
Running-wise I can already feel I am getting fitter as I don't need to stop and catch my breath quite so often and no longer suffer muscles as stiff as boards for days after that wouldn't have me out of place at the Ministry For Funny Walks. I even out-ran Teddy this week, which, given that he goes marathon training with his dad, is quite some feat (or would be if he hadn't had a Kennel Cough mixture shoved up his poor nose by our grumpy vet earlier in the day which had evidently slowed him down).
Talking of the furry people in the family, Cleo (puss cat) had us all worried last week because she was off her food. I switched to fresh fish and lo! she is eating again. As she is 14 and we have been together since she was a teeny weeny rescue kitten,and she has seen me through many things good and bad, I do not begrudge her her fish suppers. She is looking much better already and has started meowing when she sees me to remind me that breakfast is due.
Ted finds the whole thing Extremely Unfair and considers the appearance of the fish suppers tantamount to a Declaration Of Favouritism, as he still only gets his dried biscuits. But (I tell him) he is only four and there is nothing wrong with him. He doesn't accept this and has become adept at Making Me Feel Guilty by staring expectantly at me when I'm preparing Cleo's fish, only to assume a Deeply Dejected Expression as the fish is carried past him and set down in Cleo's room. After nearly two weeks he has this off to a t, and I have completely fallen for it. He now gets a piece of fish or some cheese by way of a sop to my conscience (Ted loves cheese and still hasn't worked out that it is usually a disguise for a worming pill).
I have witnessed TWO orange and black buzzy things commit murder before my very eyes this week. The first, a wasp, took one of my moths :-( This was In Broad Daylight while they were sleeping :-(
It hovered above the moth for a few seconds then suddenly descended, grabbing it with its legs and tucking it under its body before tearing it apart and spitting out the wings which floated sadly to the ground. After it had finished it started looking for more moths. I don't usually kill things, but as I had a beautiful Dagger as well as a Frosted Orange sleeping peacefully on the window and the wasp found them, I squashed it before it could kill them. I was incensed.
Apologies for the poor pic quality- the moth is by the wasp's mouth.
The second murder was committed by a Hornet who caught a Wasp in much the same way the wasp had caught the moth, so I suppose it was an example of Karma In Action (except I'd already done for the wasp, so Lord knows how we sort that one out). This was outdoors and was again, very violent. I'd not seen this happen before, so to get two in as many days was strange.
I've been continuing with the Hedgerow Harvest, this time Figs from ma's garden. I made a figgy cinnamony version of the wild plum tartlets from the other day, which went down well.
As she'd kindly provided the fruit, I dropped a couple of the tarts round to Ma, who texted later to say the "foggy tarts" were delicious. Realising her mistake she sent a correction which was no better and came out "tiggy farts." M was on the phone at the time I received the text to his folks who'd just got back from a wedding in Ireland and raised his eyebrows when I collapsed in laughter. These cinnamon and fig tartlets will now forever more be known as Tiggy Farts in our respective houses.
Continuing the theme of wild harvests, on last weekend's walk I spotted a bullace tree which looks about ready to pick. Bullace, a kind of wild plum, are delicious in jelly with apples, but can also be added to gin, as a kind of early version of sloe gin (sloes not being ready traditionally until after the first frost). As I'd denuded the bullace trees in the vineyard last weekend I think I shall go back to this tree with a bucket and hope no-one's beaten me to it.
There was also ample evidence of the harvest in the fields, with these enormous straw bales.
Butterfly numbers have dropped off a tad this week as cooler weather comes in. We managed to see this Silver Washed Fritillary on our walk last weekend enjoying the buddleia.
And there has been a recent influx of Speckled Woods locally in the past few days, presumably fresh hatchings. This one was in the garden, but I have also seen them out in the woods this week.
I found a few escapee moths dotted around the house last night, left over from the last time the box was out. This lovely Black Arches was sitting on the window in Cleo's room, leaving me to wonder how he'd managed to get in there, because the door is usually shut to prevent any Ted/ Cleo Wars developing (and recently to stop Fish Stealing, which would undoubtedly happen otherwise)....
I received a letter from my MP this week. It contained a communication from Owen Paterson, the Secretary of State For DEFRA, the Dept for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (a man I consider to be wholeheartedly in the wrong job) regarding the badger cull which is now underway in two trial areas in the UK. Two phrases he used caught my eye. The first was that the cull was a "science-led" policy of badger control, and the second that it would be accompanied by "monitoring to test our assumptions."
I highlight these because I happen to know that of the 5000 badgers licensed to be shot in the two trial cull areas only 120 of them are to be tested for bTB (Bovine TB). How can the testing of so few provide the basis for a "science led" policy, or indeed be confidently classed as "monitoring to test assumptions" ?
How can they scientifically prove the efficacy of the policy if they don't scientifically test the carcasses and prove beyond doubt that the shot badgers were, as claimed, heavily infected with the disease? They need these tests and others to demonstrate beyond doubt that badgers are responsible for passing the disease to cattle at the rate that is claimed, otherwise the whole thing is a sham. This lack of transparency does nothing to further the Govt's cause in this. It simply serves to make me even more doubtful that the badgers are carrying the disease at the level the Govt has claimed. I am deeply mistrustful of the ethics involved in this cull. From where I am standing it looks like nothing so much as a sop to the farming and landed community, and the votes they stand for.
I'll leave you with some happier thoughts and shots of things that are soldiering on in the garden. The Sweet Peas, after a Very Poor Show, have suddenly all come to life and are blossoming like mad and investing the house with their perfume (as well as their greenfly, who leave sad little carcasses on the window sill)...
And M's peppers are looking good too
Well, the sun is shining here and we're off to the library and the sweet shop for Friday Sweets on a Saturday, and then later a walk through our fast-turning-into-autumn-landscape.
Have a tremendously lovely weekend all,