Seventy at Seventy

Life Begins at 70


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[17] Walk into my Parlour

[17] Walk into my Parlour – A Blog about Flies

(This post mainly covers Diptera but also includes Spiders and other small invertebrates that are not insects.)

This is one of three blogs about insects. See also [15] Lepidoptera (and Odonata) and [16] Hymenoptera (and Hemiptera and Coleoptera). Blog [15] also has a general introduction to the world of insects.

I have taken pictures of insects over the spring and summer in many locations. I won’t say much about where each picture is taken and I will more or less stick to a sort of taxonomic order.

DIPTERA

The insect order Diptera are flies but sometimes we have to call them ‘true flies’ to exclude many other insects that use the word ‘fly’ (such as damselflies, mayflies, scorpion flies …) The word ‘diptera’ comes from the Greek for ‘two wings’ because these insects use just one pair of wings to fly. The hindwings have become ‘halteres,’ tiny stubs that can help the insect to perform some advanced aerobatic manoeuvres.

It’s a large order with about a million species (only about 125 000 formally described) in dozens of families. To a non-expert most of the ones that are large enough to be seen more or less look like flies – although crane-flies with their elongated bodies are not so typical and some hover flies try to look like bees or wasps (or other insects.)

Flies have a mobile head, with a pair of large compound eyes, and mouthparts designed for piercing and sucking or for lapping and sucking. They have great manoeuvrability in flight, and claws and pads on their feet enable them to cling to smooth surfaces (including ceilings.) They undergo complete metamorphosis. The eggs are laid on the larval food-source and the larvae, which lack true limbs, develop in a protected environment, often inside their source of food. The pupa is a tough capsule from which the adult emerges when ready. Flies mostly have short lives as adults.

Hoverflies

Syrphidae, normally called Hoverflies, are the most obvious flies throughout summer with about six thousand species. They vary in size and are generally seen either feeding on nectar from flowers or hovering nearby. (The larvae may feed on decaying plants and animals or other small insects.) Many of them are brightly coloured and mimic more dangerous bees and wasps.

[I won’t attempt to explain the difference in usage between ‘Hoverflies’, ‘Hover-flies’ and ‘Hover Flies’ etc. and I may not even be consistent in my own usage!]

There are several anatomical differences that distinguish hoverflies from other flies. Apart from the colourful bodies there are usually two identifying features in the wing veins. Hoverflies have a false rear edge to the wings and a spurious longitudinal vein. I find that the best ways to tell hoverflies from other flies and identify them is to post pictures on Facebook where UK Hoverflies and UK Diptera both have excellent groups. I normally get species identification within hours although some male insects can only be identified to genus without a detailed microscopic examination.

Here is a typical hoverfly, Syrphus Sp (male.) Males are generally recognized by larger eyes that almost touch at the centre.

I have cropped and enlarged the picture above to show one wing and I have marked the key features – the spurious vein (RED) and false rear edge (BLUE.)

Most hoverflies just have a scientific name. Common names when they exist are not standardized. In no particular order here are another Syrphus (S Torvus,) a Parasyrphus (P punctulatus) and an Episyrphus (E balteatus, sometimes called a Marmalade Fly,) then Eristalis Pertinax and E Tenax, Epistrophe eligans, Melanostoma scalare (two pictures) and Syritta pipiens.

I won’t attempt to identify the differences in these flies, which are basically yellow and black in appearance. Next we have Chrysogaster solstitalis, Meliscaeva auricollis, Helophilus pendulus (sometimes called a Sun Fly), Parhelophilus Sp., Cheilosia illustrata and Myathropa florea.

Sphaerophoria scripta, Xanthogramma pedissequum, and Merodon Equestris (Narcissus Fly) will be immediately recognizable for you.

I have left some of the large prettier ones until last. Here are Leucozona glaucia, L laternaria, L lucorum (two pictures), Volucella pellucens and V zonaria (two pictures.)

This last fly, known as the Hornet Mimic Hoverfly is the largest of those found in England.

Crane-flies

Tipulidae – called ‘Daddy Longlegs’ in Britain, but not elsewhere – have elongated bodies. Most of them do not feed once adult. We have about 300 species, generally very small. The larger ones are species of Tipula or Nephrotoma.

A closely related family is the Ptychopteridae, Phantom Crane-flies. Here is Ptychoptera contaminata.

Other Flies

We have about 5000 species of flies in Britain from many different families. Without a microscopic examination of a pinned dead specimen you can generally get to the family and sometimes the genus. I have about twenty more families to show you. I will do them by family (briefly!) in alphabetical order.

Here are representatives of the families Bombyliidae (Bombilius Major, the Bee Fly); Bibionidae (Bibio sp, a St Mark’s Fly); Calliphoridae (Calliphora vicina a blue bottle); Chironomidae; Chloropidae (Thaumatomyia notata a tiny grass fly); Dolichopodidae (Poecilobothrus nobilitatus the Semaphore Fly) and Empididae (Empis livida a Dance Fly or Dagger Fly with its long mouth.)

Next we have Micropezidae; Muscidae (Mesembrina meridiana, the colourful Noon Fly); Psychodidae (Pericoma sp, the Moth Fly or Drain Fly); Rhagonidae (Chrysopilus asiliformis, the common Snipe Fly); Rhinophoridae, woodlouse parasites (Rhinophora lepida); and two from Sarcophagidae (a female and male Sarcophaga sp.)

Now we have Sepsidae (Sepsis Fulgens, an ant mimic fly); Stratiomyidae, Soldier Flies (Chloromyia Formosa, the Broad Centurion, two pictures); Tabanidae, Horse Flies (Tabanus sp); Tachinidae (Estheria cristata and Tachina fera) and Tephritidae (Terellia tussilaginis.)

I didn’t want to leave out the next four but I haven’t been able to identify them even to family level.

Spiders

We have seen that Insects are included in Arthropods, the phylum that also includes lobsters and shrimps. If we go down another branch via Chelicerates and Arachnids we get to the order Araneae or Spiders, terrestrial animals with an exoskeleton but having eight legs unlike the six of an insect.

There are other differences. In spiders the head and thorax are fused into a cephalothorax. They do not have antennae but have a pair of pedipalps (much larger in males) a pair of chelicerae and spinnerets producing silk. They have eight eyes and the patterns of the eyes often identify the family. Almost all spiders are predators eating insects and other spiders. [Sometimes the males are much smaller than the females and they have to be careful to avoid being eaten.]

I don’t like large spiders indoors. I normally trap them and release them outside. Just for you I photographed this Giant House Spider, Eratigena atrica before taking it to the garden.

Cellar Spiders, Pholchus phalangioides, are not so bad. They are bigger if you count the very thin elongated legs but the body is much smaller. Here is a close-up.

All of my other spiders were seen outside. Here are Agelena labyrinthica; Amaurobius ferox Black Lace Weaver; Araniella cucurbitina Cucumber Spider; Diaea dorsata a Crab Spider; the Garden Spider Araneus diadematus; Philodromus dispar a Running Crab Spider; Pirata Sp a Wolf Spider and Salticus scenicus a Zebra Spider, one of the jumping spiders.

[As for all animals the scientific name is more standardized than common names.]

Other Arachnids, Arthropods and Others

All Arachnids have eight legs (with pedipalps and chelicerae sometimes almost acting as legs.) Harvestmen (Opiliones) differ from spiders in having a single body that combines the cephalothorax and abdomen. They have just two eyes and quite poor eyesight. I see them sometimes just waiting on a leaf. (They do not make silk.)

Here are Platybunus triangularis and Leiobunum rotundum.

Because of their very long thin legs Harvestmen are sometimes called ‘Daddy Longlegs,’ a name also given to crane-flies and cellar spiders.

Like harvestmen, this tiny Velvet Mite, Trombidium sp, is quite loosely related to spiders and has eight legs. Gardeners call these tiny pests ‘red spiders.’

I just have a few more small animals to include. Here are two woodlice, Armadillium vulgare and A depressum.

Finally a pair of Grove Snails, Cepaea nemoralis.

[Of course snails are hermaphrodites so the word ‘pair’ just means that there were two of them.]

The woodlice just about come in as arthropods but entomology sometimes loosely includes all small invertebrates like these snails.

 

I have to admit that I put spiders and flies together to fit my title ….

Mary Howitt published a poem called The Spider and the Fly in 1829. It tells the story of a cunning spider who ensnares a naïve fly through the use of seduction and flattery. It’s a cautionary tale against those who use flattery and disguise their true evil intentions.

The opening line, ‘Will you walk into my parlour?’ is one of the most recognized and quoted first lines in all of English verse. Often misquoted as “Step into my parlour” or “Come into my parlour”, it has become an aphorism used to indicate a false offer of help or friendship that is a trap. The line has been used and parodied numerous times in various works of fiction.

“Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly,

‘Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;

The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,

And I’ve a many curious things to show when you are there.”

 

“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “to ask me is in vain,

For who goes up your winding stair can ne’er come down again.”

“I’m sure you must be weary, dear, with soaring up so high;

Will you rest upon my little bed?” said the Spider to the Fly.

“There are pretty curtains drawn around; the sheets are fine and thin,

And if you like to rest awhile, I’ll snugly tuck you in!”

 

“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “for I’ve often heard it said,

They never, never wake again, who sleep upon your bed!”

 

Said the cunning Spider to the Fly, “Dear friend what can I do,

To prove the warm affection I’ve always felt for you?

I have within my pantry, good store of all that’s nice;

I’m sure you’re very welcome — will you please to take a slice?”

 

“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “kind Sir, that cannot be,

I’ve heard what’s in your pantry, and I do not wish to see!”

 

“Sweet creature!” said the Spider, “you’re witty and you’re wise,

How handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes!

I’ve a little looking-glass upon my parlour shelf,

If you’ll step in one moment, dear, you shall behold yourself.”

 

“I thank you, gentle sir,” she said, “for what you’re pleased to say,

And bidding you good morning now, I’ll call another day.”

 

The Spider turned him round about, and went into his den,

For well he knew the silly Fly would soon come back again:

So he wove a subtle web, in a little corner sly,

And set his table ready, to dine upon the Fly.

 

Then he came out to his door again, and merrily did sing,

“Come hither, hither, pretty Fly, with the pearl and silver wing;

Your robes are green and purple — there’s a crest upon your head;

Your eyes are like the diamond bright, but mine are dull as lead!”

 

Alas, alas! how very soon this silly little Fly,

Hearing his wily, flattering words, came slowly flitting by;

With buzzing wings she hung aloft, then near and nearer drew,

Thinking only of her brilliant eyes, and green and purple hue —

Thinking only of her crested head — poor foolish thing!

At last,

Up jumped the cunning Spider, and fiercely held her fast.

He dragged her up his winding stair, into his dismal den,

Within his little parlour — but she ne’er came out again!

 

And now dear little children, who may this story read,

To idle, silly flattering words, I pray you ne’er give heed:

Unto an evil counsellor, close heart and ear and eye,

And take a lesson from this tale, of the Spider and the Fly.

 

 

[When Lewis Carroll was finishing Alice’s Adventures Under Ground for publication he replaced a parody he had made of a negro minstrel song with a parody of Howitt’s poem. “The Mock Turtle’s Song”, in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, is a parody of The Spider and the Fly. It mimics the metre and rhyme scheme, and parodies the first line, but not the subject matter.

“Will you walk a little faster?” said a whiting to a snail,

“There’s a porpoise close behind us, and he’s treading on my tail …]

 


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[67] Let Them Eat Cake

[67] Let Them Eat Cake – A Blog of Food and Drink

The first thing to say about this familiar saying is that it is a mistranslation. It never meant ‘Let them eat cake.’ We have to see it in the context of French culture and French cuisine.

‘Qu’ils mangent de la brioche’, meant, ‘Let them eat brioche,’ and what the French call a brioche is not a cake. It’s a luxury form of bread enriched with butter and eggs, perhaps more like pastry.

(You may have a pain au chocolat as a nice treat with your coffee. If this is your only experience of this delicacy you would think of it as a cake. You may not think of it as a breakfast item. But the French have croissants and pains au chocolat with their breakfast where we have toast and marmalade. The word ‘pain’ even means bread or it can mean a loaf. Sorry about the correct French plural.)

So if the French peasants didn’t have baguettes or croissants for their breakfast it wasn’t quite so outlandish suggesting brioches. It didn’t mean ‘Why don’t they have Black Forest Gateau?’

The other important thing to note is that it was almost certainly never said by Marie Antoinette, the wife of Louis XVI. It’s not the only popular saying to be misattributed!

It appears in the Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and was written when Marie Antoinette, then Archduchess Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna, was nine years old living in Austria. He attributes it to ‘a great princess.’ It may have been said a hundred years before Marie Antoinette by Marie-Thérèse, the wife of Louis XIV.

It is unlikely that Mari Antoinette would have made such a callous statement.

 

I looked at various possible titles for something about Food and Drink and its provisional title was ‘Food, Glorious Food,’ from the musical ‘Oliver.’ You will see soon why the emphasis on cake seemed appropriate.

It’s going to be a relaively short blog post. You have already seen some of what I had to eat on my Birthday.

And you have seen some of my cooking skills at Christmas.

I don’t only do desserts at Christmas.

The first one is a sort of Bakewell Tart – the same recipe as Christmas but a few weeks earlier. (It’s a posh Bakewell. Officially it’s a frangipane.) The second one from a couple of months later is completely different – with rhubarb. (I’m an unbiased commentator. They were all delicious!)

Breakfast

There is something about the ‘English Breakfast’ that keeps its name even though we hardly ever have it at home now. It is still offered routinely in hotels and until recently it was always sold at Motorway Services and at Slimbridge.

Very recently it has disappeared from many places. Motorway Services now just have the familiar Costa or Starbucks coffee and national burger chains. Slimbridge now just does Bacon sandwiches.

Lunch

I sometimes have lunch out and I have to admit to Fish and Chips as a favourite. If it come with posh ‘Fine Dining’ presentation it soon gets tipped on to the plate!

There are other options and sometimes it’s a toasted sandwich or even just a sandwich. [Toasted sandwiches can have foreign sounding names like ‘Panini’ or ‘Croque Monsieur.’]

You may notice the odd cake or biscuit in the background of the pictures above. To complete my research for this blog I had to try a proper dessert.

Coffee

I have a lot of coffee out and this almost always includes a cake of some sort.

Marks and Spencer do a nice apple turnover but I think they only have one each day. It I miss it there is always something else.

Waitrose is my more usual haunt. I have a free coffee every day but I have to buy something to get the coffee free with my My Waitrose card. Sometimes it’s a couple of toffee waffles but I am sometimes I am tempted by pastries and cakes.

 

Here are some more from my travels around the country and abroad.

You may recognize some of them.

 


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[35] A Cumbrian Property – A Blog about Lakeland

[35] A Cumbrian Property – A Blog about Lakeland

It’s about a holiday visit to Merlewood, a Holiday Property Bond site in Cumbria to the south of the Lake District. The county of Cumbria was created in 1974 from the previous counties of Cumberland and Westmoreland with small parts of Lancashire and Yorkshire.

The Lake District

The Lake District, also known as Lakeland, is a mountainous region of England located entirely in the county of Cumbria. It is popular for its lakes, forests and mountains and its associations with Beatrix Potter, William Wordsworth and John Ruskin. Nearly all of it is covered by the Lake District National Park, the largest National Park of England and Wales.

Merlewood

The Holiday Property Bond (HPB) is a life assurance bond serving as a points based time-share holiday. It’s too complicated to explain here but bondholders can visit any site at any time of the year – as long as they have enough annual points unused for the year.

We visited Merlewood, an HPB site near to Grange-over-Sands in the Lake District (but just outside the National Park to the south). Like most of their sites Merlewood is a historic house modernized and augmented by surrounding holiday apartments.

We stayed in one of these apartments with a raised garden and woods behind us.

You can always find greyhound statues at HPB sites.

We went there for a week and fitted in a few local walks and attractions.

Grange-over-Sands

Morecambe Bay is an estuary with the largest expanse of inter-tidal sand and mudflats in the UK. At low tide it can be crossed on foot with careful guidance but it is notorious for its quicksand and fast moving tides.

Grange-over-Sands is a small town overlooking Morecambe Bay. It is effectively part of the west coast of England but faces seas to its east. It developed from a fishing village into a seaside resort in Victorian times with the arrival of its railway. The River Kent used to flow past its long promenade and a lido was built on the sea front in the Thirties. Now the course of the river has moved and the sand and mudflats have become a marshy grass meadow sometimes grazed by sheep. The lido closed in the Nineties.

It is now a relatively unspoiled town with easy access to the Lake District. Its large ornamental gardens had a number of resident Bar-headed Geese. You have to go over or under the railway to get to the Promenade, which still has excellent views over the bay even without a sandy beach!

Cartmel

Cartmel is a small town just two miles from Grange. It has a small racecourse and its parish church is the former Cartmel Priory. The town claims rather dubiously to be to home of sticky toffee pudding.

Muncaster Castle

Muncaster Castle is a privately owned castle near Ravenglass a little west of Grange. It is still used as a family home but the castle and grounds are open to the public. Unfortunately photography was not permitted inside.

Ravenglass Steam Railway

The Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway is a narrow gauge heritage railway running for seven miles from Ravenglass to Dalegarth station in the valley of Eskdale. It is known locally as La’al Ratty. The original line opened in 1875 to carry haematite iron ore. It carried some passenger traffic before being closed in 1913.

In 1915 it was converted to the narrow 15 inch gauge and reopened carrying passengers and granite. When threatened with closure again in 1960 it was taken over by a Railway Preservation Society. It now carries over 100 000 passengers each year.

We took the train there and back again. [Hobbit fans will understand the reference.]

Coniston Water

Coniston Water is the third largest lake in the Lake District, five miles long by half a mile wide. The Victorian artist and philosopher John Ruskin owned Brantwood House on the eastern shore of the lake, and lived in it from 1872 until his death in 1900. Arthur Ransome set his children’s novel Swallows and Amazons and its sequels (about school holiday adventures in the Thirties) around a fictional lake derived from a combination of Coniston Water and Windermere.

In the Twentieth Century Coniston Water was the scene of many attempts to break the world water speed record by Sir Malcolm Campbell and his son Donald Campbell, both in boats called Bluebird. In 1966/7 Donald Campbell attempted to exceed 300 miles per hour to retain the record but he was killed on the return leg of a record-breaking attempt.

The steam yacht Gondola is a rebuilt Victorian, steam-powered passenger vessel running trips every day on Coniston Water. Originally launched in 1859, she was built for passengers from the Furness Railway and the Coniston Railway. She was in commercial service until 1936 when she was retired, being converted to a houseboat in 1946. In 1979, by now derelict, she was given a new hull, engine, boiler and most of the superstructure. She is back in service as a passenger boat, still powered by steam and now operated by the National Trust. Gondola is one of the inspirations for Captain Flint’s houseboat in Swallows and Amazons.

From beginning of March to October there are anti-clockwise half lake cruises from Coniston pier taking place every day. We took one of these trips.

Tarn Hows

Tarn Hows is a popular tourist location with a small lake and an easy circular walk. It was rescued by Beatrix Potter and sold to the National Trust.

Elter Water Walk

Elter Water is a small lake near to Ambleside on Windermere. From here we took a walk following the river Brathay, with a small waterfall on the way, as far as Skelwith Bridge.

 

 

 

Holker Hall

This privately owned country house near Cartmel dates from the Sixteenth Century with later alterations and rebuilding. In 1871 a fire destroyed the front wing, which has been restored and is now open to the public. Stable buildings have been converted to a café and shop. The older parts are used by the owner, Lord Cavendish, and are not open to the public.

This has been difficult. I have had to delete dozens of good pictures to get down to a manageable size. I can’t fit in all my wildlife shots but I am just going to squeeze in a rabbit from Merlewood and a Robin from Holker Hall.

[As always some of my notes come from Wikipedia.]

 


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[03] By any Other Word

[03] By any Other Word – a Pictorial Blog of Roses.

You may recognize my quotation from the play Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare although it is often misquoted as ‘By any Other Name,’ and it’s probably often misunderstood. It really says nothing about roses!

It comes after another misunderstood quotation, ‘Wherefore art thou Romeo?’ which does not mean, ‘Where are you, Romeo?’ It means, ‘Why are you Romeo?’ or ‘Why are you the person called “Romeo”?’

The trouble was that Romeo was a Montague and Juliet was a Capulet – and the Montagus and Capulets were bitter rivals in a long-standing family feud. Juliet wanted to say that the person she loved was exactly the same person he would be if he was not a Montague and she used the analogy,

‘What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other word would smell as sweet.’

I won’t give away the plot but Romeo and Juliet isn’t considered a Comedy. It’s a Tragedy.

But my blog definitely is about roses. I left them out of Garden Flowers and I left them out of Wild Flowers.

I have gathered lots of pictures from lots of places. They come in various sizes and types but the best I could do is a very rough sort of grouping by colour.

 

 

 

 


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[51] Funny But It’s True

[51] Funny But It’s True – A Pictorial Blog of Pedestrian Signs

When I thought of signs I certainly included road signs and street signs in my ideas. But the signs for motorists weren’t quite so easy. I saw lots of them while driving or as a passenger but I wasn’t going to take pictures from moving cars. I do a lot of walking and here are lots of signs for pedestrians. I have included signs aimed at cyclists because often we share the same facilities.

I start with the Thames Path as I’ve done a few sections of it this year. I could have taken many, many more such pictures:

Here are some more footpath signs. Some of them tell you where you are going but some don’t. You will notice lots of other long distance paths sometimes two or three together on the same footpath.

Although we think of footpaths as rural some signs with paths for pedestrians are now found in towns.

The next ones don’t so much go anywhere. They are short usually circular walks taking you on little nature trails.

As a diversion here are some aimed at cyclists.

A few signs aimed mostly at tourists and then some for walkers (and cyclists) that don’t actually point out where to go.

Maps

I was going to do a post just about maps but I decided that maps were for pedestrians. They are not useful for passing motorists. Here are some maps from some of the places I have visited over the year at home and abroad.

I spent a lot of time considering the title for this blog. I have gone for one of my early heart-throbs. Helen Shapiro, born in the same year as me, released a song in 1961 when she was fifteen. ‘Walkin’ Back to Happiness’ made number one on the charts for three weeks. It’s vaguely about walking.

 

Funny but it’s true what loneliness can do

Since I’ve been away I have loved you more each day

Walking back to happiness, woopah, oh, yeah, yeah

Said goodbye to loneliness, woopah, oh, yeah, yeah

I never knew I’d miss you now I know what I must do

Walking back to happiness I shared with you

……..

[Yes, in those days they really had little bits like ‘Woopah oh yeah yeah.’ ]

 

 

 

 

 


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[43] Afterwards Our Buildings Shape Us

[43] Afterwards Our Buildings Shape Us – A Pictorial Blog about Old Buildings

It has been hard dividing ‘Buildings’ into two separate areas for blogs. This one is about the old ones so it covers most of the buildings we see every day.

I will start with Hampton Court Castle or Hampton Court in Herefordshire. The building is Fifteenth Century but the internal décor owes much to an American billionaire (Robert Van Kampen) who refurbished it to look like his view of Mediaeval England. It includes guest bedrooms for when the castle becomes a venue for weddings.

Next in a fairly random order are some old castles, some timber-framed Elizabethan architecture, some ordinary houses, some grand public buildings and some shops, pubs and banks. Some pictures came from Cheltenham and my usual haunts and some are from Oxford, Cirencester, Tewkesbury or further afield.

 

I have picked out a few for some brief comments.

There is an area of unused industrial buildings by Lydney Harbour. There are notices about redevelopment but I have seen little change in the years I have been visiting.

The next one is an old mill at Tewkesbury. It has also been unused for many years.

The next two do represent change. The Midland Hotel opposite Cheltenham Station was a thriving pub. When we have horse racing it pits out a marquee at the front to supply Guinness for our Irish visitors. Recently it closed suddenly so maybe it’s now a ‘development opportunity.’

And the remnants of a large wholesale and retail builders’ suppliers are shown above as they started to clear the site when it closed at the end of last year. There will be hundreds of houses there soon. The first show houses are already ready.

The last picture below is a magnificent crescent of Regency buildings in Cheltenham.

In October 1943, following the destruction of the Commons Chamber by incendiary bombs during the Blitz, the Commons debated the question of rebuilding the chamber. With Winston Churchill’s approval, they agreed to retain its adversarial rectangular pattern instead changing to a semi-circular or horse-shoe design favoured by some legislative assemblies. Churchill insisted that the shape of the old Chamber was responsible for the two-party system which is the essence of British parliamentary democracy: ‘We shape our buildings and afterwards our buildings shape us.’

 

 


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[19] Some are More Equal

[19] Some are More Equal – A Blog about Animals

Well it’s about all the other animals. I’ve done Farm Animals and Zoo Animals and a few posts about Birds and Insects. This is the rest, so it’s more or less wild animals and pets. And the border between farm animals and wild animals is a bit vague.

I start with this Buffalo that isn’t wild but probably isn’t a farm animal either. It was on the Teifi Marshes Nature Reserve near Cardigan.

I’m not sure about Donkeys either. I found these at two locations on farmland but I don’t think the animals are farmed or even used as farm animals. Maybe they have been rescued from employment elsewhere and given sanctuary.

And these fish, probably Koi Carp – in ornamental ponds – are not exactly wild. One pond had some very large ones and the other pond had much smaller goldfish.

Of course the trouble with really wild animals is that they are wild. You have to be lucky to see them and even luckier to get them near enough and still enough for pictures. I’ve seen a few Rabbits in unexpected places, generally scuttling away at speed, but this one at Slimbridge almost seemed to sit and pose for me.

I suppose the wild animal I see most often is the Squirrel – in parks and gardens and at home. It’s the Grey version, which has replaced our native Red Squirrel over most of Britain.

My next one is the Brown Rat, not normally loved quite as much as squirrels (although there are those who view squirrels with equal contempt.) I often see rats near bird feeders. Sadly, in some places the feeders are taken down because of the rats.

You can probably guess by now that I don’t have any stunning pictures of wild elephant or crocodiles or even deer, foxes or badgers. I’ve done all the mammals I’ve seen this year. I’m going to include some very small animals with the insects but I just have one or two more here.

Here’s a Toad spotted in the streets of Cirencester.

And some Lizards from Croatia.

Pets

Of course when I say ‘Pets’ I mean well-loved family members who just happen not to be human. In no particular order here are Doug, Simba, Tilly, Lola, Cidu, Chester, Baileys and Newcastle and an unnamed Siamese cat.

Eric Arthur Blair, better known by the name of George Orwell, was most famous for the novels Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm, both of which were satirical allegories of the communist states of the time. Animal Farm alluded to the rise of communism in the USSR with a story of a farm being taken over by its animals. At first they were well meaning and started with rules like ‘All animals are equal.’ But by the end the pigs ruled as dictators and the rule had changed to ‘All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.’