Saturday, 30 January 2016

Shocking News From Romsey



M, reading the Romsey Advertiser this morning, let out a bark of laughter and handed me the paper:

What on earth was the planning department thinking? Everyone knows the construction of a new porch is the beginning of the road to ruin. Thank goodness the local paper was on-hand to report it.

We went into Southampton this morning. Usually, we avoid the shopping centre there like the plague, especially on a Saturday morning, but last night L declared his intention of getting a Gaming Desktop Computer to replace his knackered laptop which puffs out smoke whenever you suggest it do anything, so we went on a fact-finding mission to J Lewis Esq, (who just happen to also have a haberdashery department).

Having had as much Technical Computer Speak as I could cope with without losing my sanity, I left the boys cheerfully pressing buttons on uber-expensive sound systems and took the escalator to the bottom floor. It was my intention to spend a few minutes on my own  among the fabric, but the sudden ricocheting of ear-splittingly loud music off the walls of the technical department meant I reached the haberdashery barely ahead of the boys, who at least had the grace to look sheepish (while rubbing their ears).

There was a sale on. Frankly it's bad manners to ignore a mark down of 100% cotton to £5/ metre from £15/ metre (pink floral one), especially when you need a new pair of pyjama bottoms and are busy producing aprons (hare and flowers) and nice bags (green flowers) for the Christmas Fayre....

I also got some strapping for the aprons, a zip for a cushion that needs mending and a tiny little suitcase-style box to keep ribbons in. M is at a loss to understand my simple but complete joy in such things, but then I don't understand his mania for bicycles :o)

Here is my latest Foxy Creation modeled by my husband. It isn't really wonky, I am just crap  not good at taking elegant showing-off-items photos and didn't notice it wasn't on straight until I'd downloaded it. I think it suits him, what do you reckon?

Talking of lovely new things, look what arrived for me this week.....(incidentally, please ignore the hair, I am due to see Sam next week for a tidy up :o)).....

I know many of you read Amy's  blog so you may have seen this shawl when she made one for herself just before Christmas. I fell in love with it and asked whether she'd make me one, little knowing that she was considering setting up a business along those very lines. So I was her first customer :o) Isn't it gorgeous? You just can't beat handmade lovelies. Do pop over and see her, there is a link to her Etsy shop on her sidebar where you can place orders for things.

Poor Old Ted has another patch of Wet Eczema. It's not as bad as the first one but I'm keeping an eye on it and hoping it won't spread. It's on his neck which means it'll be a bugger to dress if it gets that far. He's about to go and have a bath with some special shampoo in a minute to try and take the itch away and then I'll shave the area to keep it cool. I've got some rosehip oil on its way too to help soothe the skin. Pop is also going to have a bath, but that is because she is scruffy and smelly and looks like a reprobate.

That's all from here for now. Hope you are all well and life is treating you kindly and that you're all wet-eczema-free. Wishing you all a lovely weekend,

CT :o)

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Hedge Laying The Traditional Way (at minus 6 degrees), and Dormouse Goings On

Beetle Larvae tracks on wood, in case you were wondering.

I took a detour early yesterday morning and stopped at Mottisfont to capture the light coming through the Plane trees and sparkling on the bull rushes. It was so fresh and clean and radiating goodness that I wished I could have stayed there longer. Mist was twisting off the surface of the Test as it wound its way lazily through the water meadows, and everything was encased in lacy drapings of fine crystal ice.

Alas (well, not really) a day of hedge laying lay ahead so I only dallied a few minutes. It was -6 when we started and it was f-f-f-freezing. I had five layers on and I didn't really lose any at all during the day. We warmed up with a bit of sawing, as you do, and the bonfire helped too, but mostly it was ch-ch-ch-chilly all day long.

The hedge was rather bedraggled and unloved it has to be said, but by the time we'd finished one section at least was looking much better. The equivalent of being given a good bath with lots of shampoo before being turned out by a tailor with impeccable tastes.

Hedge laying is satisfying work and the end result looks so much better than those poor hedges that have been subjected to vicious flailing from farm machinery. One of the benefits of laying a hedge is that you keep the nuts/ seeds/ berries in place for the birds. Flailing removes them entirely, and because some woodland species have a two-year growth for fruiting, a flailed hedge is often no good to wildlife the following year either. Flailed hedges will also eventually thin from the base becoming gappy, whereas a laid hedge becomes thicker from the bottom up which is better for stock control but also for wildlife. Hedges are so valuable to wildlife in so many ways (providing food, shelter, breeding spaces, safe passage across the landscape, navigation etc etc) that they really deserve good management.

When you lay a hedge the object is to pleach the stems of wood with an axe to the point where it will allow you to bend it down and weave it into its fellows (you can see the pleached poles in the pic above- they look a complete mess now but by spring will look a lot better). The wood must have the bark intact otherwise it will die, and it is a bit of an art to get it to the right thickness (or more accurately, thinness). Trees tell you when they're ready to move and they protest when they aren't, and we become reasonably well-versed in the language of wood as we worked with the hedge yesterday. Different parts of the country have different methods for laying a hedge, ours was the Southern one where you lay double stems in from different sides (does that make sense?).

We were watched by various Interested Birds all day. Most noticeably the Robin (of course) who kept up company by bobbing up and down in the branches above our heads, but also Greenfinches, Fieldfare, Goldfinches, Blackbirds and two Buzzards who kept circling above us gazing down to see what we were doing. There was also a Rather Fat Vole who kept waddling up and down the hedge line, doubtless fed up with all the stamping feet treading in his breakfast.

I whizzed home through the gloaming in time to see a patient, wolfed supper down and headed off again, this time to the Hampshire Dormouse Group's AGM. As the temperature plunged to -4, I got stuck behind the gritting lorry who proceeded to drive the entire length of the not-insubstantial Roman road between Stockbridge and Sutton Scotney at a speed of approximately 25 mph, showering my car with grit the whole way. After five minutes the windscreen was impossible to see through, and it was then that I realised the water had run out of the washers. There was one corner remaining that you could just about see out of, so I peered through that until I could pull into the garage. Then I couldn't remember how to open the bonnet, so chucked a bottle of water over the windscreen instead (praying it wouldn't freeze), zipped back into the car to get the wipers working and drove the remainder of the way with my fingers crossed.

The upshot of the meeting is that I am hoping to get some Dormouse boxes up in the hazel along the lane soon. We've an ancient woodland (or rather, ancient semi-natural) at the top of the lane and another at the bottom (fragments of) and the hedgerow connects the two (more or less) so I am hopeful we may get evidence of small gingery furry folk this summer. I've bought a trail cam which will also work in the dark so will think about putting that up near one of the boxes to monitor it. Exciting.

Right, must go- the kitchen is being surveyed at lunch time and the house is a tip but I don't have time to hoover everywhere so I've rather sluttishly only done the bits that show and will just hope he doesn't need to go anywhere else :o) The only problem with this is that between hoovering and putting the hoover away, T and P have shredded one of their Christmas Trees all over the floor :o( I may just leave it and remark gaily about what naughty dogs they are :o)

Hope you are all well?


ps- the Duck was lovely (1.5 hours and cooked to perfection) but a 2kg bird barely fed us both and at £8 I call that steep (and that was a half-price special offer!) so I doubt we'll do it again.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

This And That



At long last we have some proper Winter Weather. It was -4 when I drove over to the farm this morning to collect some of the cover crop to check for nitrogen levels, and -1 when I drove home a couple of hours later. The pots (buried 90cm down in the Chalk) have only just started yielding water- did you know that the average date for drainage to start in the UK is November 27th? Before that the soil moisture deficit is too high after the summer months (how fascinating will I be at dinner parties). There is still ice in the shady bits in the garden and the birds have been keeping up a non-stop flow too and from the feeders all day and I am eating far too much :o)

Pop had a V.E.T. visit at lunch for a booster. She is Mrs Brave when Teddy is there too, effecting a kind of casual insouciance that compares favourably with Ted's shakes and shivers and fooled me thoroughly last time, but today she was on her own and it was a Very Different Matter. She scrabbled up on my lap the second I sat down and remained there with her tail firmly wedged under her bottom, growling at everyone who walked through the door. The humour aspect was largely derived from each person looking round for the expected enormous dog and then grinning broadly when they realised the source of the ferocious noise was a small, scruffy terrier who only measures about ten inches at best when she's standing. She was fine and told Ted all about it when we got home. She came out running with me through the gloaming this evening so I don't think the experience has left her all that emotionally scarred.

We are having Duck for supper (special 1/2 price offer at Waitrose). I haven't cooked it before and when I googled it everyone said 2 1/2 hours. This seems way too long to me, so I'm betting on 90 mins. If you know different and happen to read this before about 7pm please correct me :o)

Before I go, I urge you all to pop over to Leanne's blog (if you don't already read it) and take a look at her photos of Goose Barnacles washed up on the shore of her beautiful beach in Cornwall. I've never seen them before and have been thinking about them all day. They are wonderful things. On a similar theme (because you'll find Leanne talks about birds a lot too), the two books above are well worth a read. I've learnt masses from both and they are written in a very accessible and easy to digest style. The Sparrowhawk's Lament was only published last year so all info is bang up to date. It has a chapter for each of the fifteen breeding UK birds of prey with info on their ecology and conservation status.

Right, the Duck is calling and the fire needs lighting and there is a mountain of washing in the airing cupboard to sort and distribute among various bedrooms before we all run out of pants and (even more urgent) there are two hungry dogs looking at me telling me it is past their supper time and what on earth do I think I'm doing blogging when I should be feeding them....?

Hope all are well,

CT :o)


Sunday, 17 January 2016

I have been Very Brave


We took the boys to London for the day yesterday. I was born in Westminster and I do have a soft spot for the Capital, but I think you'll agree I am not an Urban Girl by any stretch of the imagination. I break out in Hives if forced to spend too long in Romsey for heaven's sake (population 13,000), so a day in London is usually plenty for me.

The weather was perfect- cold, clear and bright and the journey up (Basingstoke station to Waterloo, plus an underground trip which usually involves at least one person's ticket being lost and/ or chewed up by the machines that let you through and then a panicked race to find a guard to open it manually) ran smoothly.

Usually, when we go to London, M doesn't let me out of his sight because he knows I am likely to get a) lost or b) frightened, so I rather astonished both of us by stating my intention boldly of taking myself off to Libertys on my own. I did and I didn't get either a) lost or b) frightened and even more: I enjoyed it.

We'd gone up so F could ensconce himself in the Celts in Art exhibition which is currently on at the Brit Mus. L (not a fan of museums or Celts) decided the allure of Foyles bookshop was strong enough to pierce the otherwise all-encompassing Sloth Of The Teen, and actually got out of bed and was dressed before we needed to leave at 10am. He didn't manage to resist the temptation of an enormous bag of maltesers at the train station however (which at £2.95 were clearly aimed at desperate mothers who'll pay anything to ensure a peaceful train trip with their offspring). Some of these were consumed on the train in a post-breakfast-dip, and the rest sometime between lunch and the return journey. This resulted in the inevitable stomach ache accompanied by a piteous plea to remove the bag from his sight and a heartfelt statement of intent never to stuff so many chocolates in in one short afternoon again (which will last until the next time). Despite the chocolate binge, he spent four happy hours absorbed in five floors of books, came home with a new one and  read through the entire catalogue of Marvel Comics. M spent an hour with F at the exhibition and came out Moste Impressed at the intricacies of Celtic Artistic Creation, before joining me for a whizz round the National Gallery (which was lovely- I can't think why we don't go more often. I could sit and gaze and gaze and gaze at those wonderful paintings for hours), but before we did that I took myself off to Liberty's.....alone.

You can see the results of my (very abstemious I think, considering) purchases in the pics above. I am making aprons to sell at the Village Christmas Fayre (planning ahead- and is that the first mention of the C word this year? If so I'd like a prize please) at the mo with Phyllis but very much doubt I will use my Liberty fabric for those. I will make one for myself instead :o)

Liberty fabric is both gorgeous and expensive, so three metres was my limit (plus a small splurge in the haberdashery on buttons, pins and needles which I put on a separate bill, allowing me to pretend I'd actually only spent twenty quid). The advantage of flying solo was that there were no grumpy children or fidgety husband hurrying me along so I was able to spend nearly two whole hours wandering ecstatically among the bolts in a fabric-induced daze taking my time and thoroughly enjoying the whole experience.

I fell asleep on the train on the way home and only woke up when M nudged me and said we're back in Basingstoke. Apparently, most of the carriage had fallen asleep too, leading me to surmise that it was comprised of fellow country bumpkiners for whom the exertions of the Big Smoke had proved a little too much.

Back to reality today with non-stop house work and two smelly, scruffy muddy dogs who both needed baths. Pop did two poos on the floor in retribution- one was obvious and was swiftly cleaned up and the floor thoroughly dettoled, the other was less obvious and got trodden on and carried halfway round the house before anyone realised :o(

Hope all are well?

CT :o)

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Could Lynx Be Back In GB In 2016?

The flora and fauna of the British Isles has been shaped by people for the last 7000 years. Before that, it was the great ice sheets that defined what was here and what wasn't. When the ice retreated and before the people came, the sea decided, by rising up and creating the Islands we call home today. What was here before we were cut off from the Continent remained here; what wasn't didn't make it. This is why there are no snakes or moles in Ireland but there are in England, Scotland and Wales- they couldn't move fast enough to colonise Ireland before the waters rose and separated the two land masses.

Right from the time people began to arrive here they altered the landscape. First by hunting grazers and apex predators like Aurochs, Elk, Bear and Wolf into extinction or near-extinction, then by cutting down vast tracks of the Wildwood to create fields for crops and grazing animals, and finally by bringing new species in. 

By the time the Iron Age arrived the UK has lost 50% of it's woodland cover; by the time the Normans were here that figure had risen to 85% and by the start of the 20th century it stood at 95%. Now we're back up to something like 13% woodland cover, although of course you can't replace an Ancient Woodland with a new one (despite what Boris thinks) and hope to get anything like the biodiversity back that you've lost (at least not in the short term).

This changing land use was driven by the need to provide resources to meet the demands of a growing population. The more people on the Islands, the greater the pressure on the land. It's the same problem we face today. How to balance the needs of people with the needs of The Wild (but I would argue that the two aren't as different as some might think).

Unfortunately, as soon as humans alter the landscape they effect change in the ecosystems they rely on to provide their food, water, air, temperate regulation and soil. And invariably this change isn't positive. Ecosystems are the sum of their parts: remove or unbalance one element and the whole thing destabilises.

The reduction in numbers/ ultimate removal of large grazers and the apex predators who fed on them during the Neolithic created a cascade effect in the land that was felt right down to the smallest plant at the bottom of the food chain. A cascade effect we're still feeling today. 

The list of species eradicated here by people is significant. Wolverines disappeared from Britain in 6000 BC. Aurochs went in 1000 BC. Elk in 1500 BC. Brown Bear in 1000 AD, Lynx 400 AD, Wild Boar 1300 AD, Beaver 1300 AD and Grey Wolf 1680 AD. And of course we're still losing species today. Smaller species and so perhaps less immediately obvious to most people as a result, but they are going nevertheless, and at a faster rate than at any point in the last 7000 years. I bought a butterfly ID book a few weeks back that was published in 1967. At least two of the species listed there are seen no more on these shores and The Duke of Burgundy butterfly, once a common woodland species, is now on the red list as endangered and near extinction.

It isn't just the removal of species that has unbalanced the way our ecosystems work. We've also brought things in that really haven't helped us. 
When the Normans arrived here in 1066 they introduced rabbits and fallow deer. Rabbits are prolific grazers that prevent plants from growing. On a SSSI not far from here, baby Juniper trees have to be protected from rabbits inside wire mesh cages if they are to have a hope of surviving. Juniper, a native species, is not doing well here. It needs all the help it can get. On another site, rabbits nibble down plants crucial to Chalk-specialist Blue butterflies (think Kidney Vetch, Horseshoe Vetch and the Small and Adonis Blues). These butterflies can't exist without these specific plants, so too many rabbits = bye bye flutters.

But while rabbits are a nuisance, it's deer that have become the more significant and wide-reaching problem. Every managed woodland I know here locally has a stalker who works at certain times of the year to control deer numbers, but they are losing the battle.

Deer eat their way through new saplings and our woods are not regenerating as a result. Most species require a mosaic of habitat heights and ages to flourish. A wood where everything is old and getting older does not provide that and many species that rely on new or young trees (Wood Larks, Black Caps, Dormice, Sparrowhawks) are either predated more easily as a result, or are pushed out of their optimum habitat and forced to compete with better adapted species for new niches where they have lower chances of survival.

Deer trample and consume woodland flora too. Three of our four species of wood spurge have declined to the point of virtual extinction over the last hundred years and 1% of our vascular plants and ferns have gone in the last 300. This is not solely due to deer of course, but they are part of the problem. And the reason deer are such a problem is that we've removed the apex predators who would otherwise have controlled their numbers for us.

In the 1870s, the Victorians introduced Grey Squirrels to parkland. Greys out-compete the native reds which are now hanging on in a few areas of the country. They also destroy trees by stripping them of bark. I've seen this in action in an ancient woodland near here and believe me, they are very effective at killing trees. There are natural predators still here who will take squirrels, notably Goshawks and Pine Martens. Or they would if we hadn't hunted both species to near-extinction during the 19th Century (largely because they were seen as a threat to Game birds) and then took most of their habitat away in the 20th. Pine Martens are pretty much absent from England these days with fewer than one hundred believed to still be here. I've never seen one.

The concern over woodland regeneration, habitat quality and ecosystem services (the provision of food, water, air, waste removal, soil etc) has led to a huge debate among conservationists in recent years on the benefit/ importance/ likelihood of reintroducing apex predators and keystone species to the UK.

Part of the problem is that we've become increasingly isolated from the natural world and as a result, we have no proportionality in our thinking when it comes to The Wild. People scream when a hover fly comes near them. Hover flies are harmless. People 'ewww' when they see a beetle, little realising that a world without beetles wouldn't function- they clear up a vast amount of the detritus that would otherwise expand and be a perfect vector for disease. Similarly slugs. Gardeners reach for slug pellets which poison hedgehogs and kill birds, but did you know that not every species of slug eats your plants? Many of them feed on garden rubbish, being adapted for decaying matter not fresh. Two years ago I overheard a father telling his daughter that bats were birds without eyes, and when I wrote a post about the rats in our garden a while back people expressed the opinion that if I didn't 'do something' about them (ie put down poison) they'd be in the house before I could blink. They weren't of course, but it is a good example of the hysteria and lack of understanding or proportionality people increasingly have about The Wild.

The real problems happen when the balance that nature is so good at maintaining gets knocked awry by people. Yes, too many rats in your garden isn't good in the same way too much of anything isn't. Yes, they carry disease (but so too do hedgehogs, birds and deer and no one screams about killing them indiscriminately) and if outdoors food is scarce and they can find it indoors they may come in to your house. But rats have their own predators who will keep those numbers in check, provided we haven't removed the habitat they need to operate in or so degraded it that it is impossible for them to use it.

So we're left with reintroductions to try and put right some of the damage that we've inflicted onto our land.

We've just about been able to hold on to the wild populations of Beaver in Devon and Scotland (what Beavers do for river ecology is worthy of a post all of its own, particularly with all this rain and recent flooding) but most of the Wild Boar who escaped from farms in recent years have already been shot. There are some populations left but not many. It seems highly unlikely that wolves will come back, because the perception among people of them being blood-thirsty monsters who hunt people is strong, if misguided. But there is a chance that we'll get Eurasian Lynx back.

The Lynx Trust is seeking to gain permission for a five-year trial reintroduction in parts of Scotland, Northumberland and Cumbria, following the hugely successful pattern previously established in Sweden and Norway. The incentive for the Government, who don't seem to be able to grasp the critical nature of the situation our wild things (and so ultimately we) are in, is financial: eco-tourism around Lynx is HUGE and would pull in millions to the areas ear-marked for them.

Lynx are not predators of people; they hunt deer, specifically roe deer but they will take other species of deer too (including the native Red). Farmers are worried they will take sheep, with the NFU Scotland citing examples from Norway where thousands of sheep and lambs are predated every year (although it should be noted this figure includes predation by wolves), but the reality is that the sheep predated in Norway were kept in woods, and we don't have a strong tradition of keeping sheep in woodland in the UK. We're also only talking about a handful of Lynx being reintroduced, at least initially. Each Lynx consumes 1-2 kg of meat a day on average. Sheep weigh between 45-100 kg and roe deer 22kg. Livestock predation from wolves has been reduced by running dogs with the herds (plenty on the internet about it if you want to check it for yourself). If Lynx did prove to be a problem to sheep (if, as the NFU states, we start running flocks in woodland for eg), perhaps this is a potential solution to that problem?

Lynx are woodland hunters who prefer to lie in wait in deep cover and ambush their prey from above. They are secretive and nervous of people and so are rarely seen. They are also crepuscular (hunting at dawn and dusk) which keeps them out of people hours by and large.

I would like to see them back in this country. I think we need them. I think we can find a way to make it work while safe-guarding farmers' livelihoods. We certainly need to do something to rebalance the scales after more than 7000 years of tipping them in what we thought was our favour, but which, this century, we are at last realising wasn't.

What do you think?





Sunday, 10 January 2016

Weekend Round Up- By Ted

Well, you'll all be relieved to know that I am Feeling Better. I still have an unsightly sore patch on my neck (right where my collar goes so going out for walks is hard at present, unless we go across the fields when I don't need it), but I am back on Rat Chasing Duties and have managed to bark at one or two pigeons too, so it isn't all bad.

Mum has changed our food so we don't have horrible dried biscuits anymore. Now we have wet food from a tin twice a day which we both absolutely love. The only bad bit about it is that it only turns up in our bowls at breakfast and dinner time. I am working on this, but so far I haven't succeeded in working out the spell that keeps the bowls magically full at all times. I knew the one for biscuits, but the one for wet food is proving difficult to crack.

Here is a picture of our new breakfast and dinner menu. Mum couldn't see why you'd want to see it. Honestly, after all the photos of people food she puts on here! Of course you want to see it, don't you? Yum! I mean, what's not to like. Right?

And here is one of us enjoying eating it. Double Yum!

Wet food is meant to help stop the itching. I'm not sure why Poppy gets to eat it too  because she isn't itchy At All and there is nothing wrong with her neck. The only thing she gets is her Funny Turns in the summer and spots on her tummy from nettles, but as it's winter now she isn't even getting those.

You can tell she's fine because she's torn the tail off my Christmas Tree. She hasn't found the Squeak yet though. Ha Ha! :o)

Yesterday, Mum and Dad bought a new kitchen. They got it in a big shop so Poppy and I weren't there from a man who reassured them that he wasn't a salesman, despite his badge saying "salesman". Mum said he was very nice, even though he talked a lot about going free diving stripped, which both fascinated and unnerved her. Mum is Very Excited about the new kitchen, mostly because the oven has a setting for cakes, but also because Granny says it's the first new kitchen she's had in 43 years.

Today we have been at Granny's house because it is her birthday. Mum made her a smartie cake, which they didn't even eat because Mum's niece had also made a cake and everyone ate that instead, as well as the plum pudding Mum has made, and by the time they'd eaten all of those everyone was stuffed, so the smartie cake has come home with us. Mum says this is a Good Thing because it hasn't cooked properly in the middle, which is further evidence that she needs a new kitchen. Apparently.

I have my eye on it.

Dad has had to do a Mercy Dash up to Norfolk to see a very poorly relative. He left at 6.50am. Mum lay in bed and read all your blog posts and we jumped up and down thinking breakfast had come early. Because of this, when we got back from Granny's Mum went marching off down the lane on her own carrying a big stick and wearing a pair of bright yellow rubber gloves and a determined expression. 

Poppy and I thought she looked Very Funny Indeed in her wellies and woolly hat with washing up gloves on. We gave each other the Eyebrows Raised look that we've seen L doing when he thinks Mum can't see him, and wondered what on earth she was going to do. 

When she came home an hour later she told us she'd been unblocking the drain at the bottom of the lane which has been flooded all week. This, apparently, is because she is fed up with waiting for the council to come and do it and if you want a job done, do it yourself.  

She told Pop they'd now be able to run without getting drenched feet and legs. Poppy is happy because, although she doesn't mind running through water, this bit was so deep she would either have been swimming or running underwater if she tried.

We weren't allowed to go and help because the flood was on the road and Poppy is silly with cars.

To be fair, Poppy is silly with most things (as we all know). She isn't allowed in Granny's garden unsupervised at the moment because she jumps the fence on to the road. 


You see? 

I have tried again and again to give her the benefit of my own wisdom, but does she listen? Nope.

Anyway, that's about it for now. I hope you are all well and enjoying Pigeon-Watcing/ Rat-Chasing/ Skunk-Avoiding activities, depending on where you live.

Best Regards,

Ted (and Poppy) :o)