Friday, June 27, 2008

Anglesey Abbey

We went to Anglesey Abbey today, which was lovely. Anglesey Abbey has: a stately-ish home;

hosts of delphiniums (blue);

and lots of cheery pagan sculpture.

On a slightly less cheery note, I saw a blackbird that had caught a vole and had pecked its eyes out (who knew? Apart from Hitchcock?) while the vole was still alive. I thought the best course of action was to chase the blackbird away and stamp on the vole in order to hasten its inevitable end. James Womack, the Jack Kevorkian of the Arvicolinae.


Marsupial Scandal

For an animal species with only 65 remaining members, the Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombat is causing a lot of trouble. In the course of my researches, I discovered that the fumet (or is that just deer, dear?) of the Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombat tends to be produced as cubes.

Octopus Eats Shark

The title is self-explanatory; the commentary and incidental music are annoying, but the footage is worth seeing.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


We went to Germany to visit some friends. They were in Dülken, and so therefore were we. Dülken has: a nicely self-aggrandising civic motto ('Gloria tibi, Dülken'); a mad and voluble canary called Ludwig II;

connections with a host of desirable properties all over the globe;

a beautiful house full of large secret rooms which are themselves full of trinkets and remembrances and light and laundry;

a huge amount of excellent food;

well-maintained and surprisingly beautiful car engines, inside a number of well-maintained and designedly beautiful cars;

large numbers of well-behaved young women who lose their inhibitions whenever Germany beat Poland in a football match;

and, of course the real reason for our travels, a fairly pleasant church which was happy to baptise our friends' son.

It was a wonderful weekend: I strongly recommend getting to know people who will get their children baptised in Dülken. Or just go there on the off-chance of finding a baptism you can crash. Or even go there sans baptism, to enjoy everything else (not so fun, surely) Dülken has to offer: the Fool's Mill, or the Fool of the Flowers. Dülken has a great carnival tradition, but in my opinion you can keep it.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Current Favourite Sentence

They were all glad to laugh, but the Procurator, secretly sentimental, remembered a pot of cyclamen which he had put outside his door two days ago to be thrown away as dead, its white petals soft and flabby, its beauty extinguished, and how the charwoman, instead of throwing it away, had stood it in a bowl of water, and in an hour it was blooming again, every petal taut like a little sail.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Reasons to Move to Spain: 1. Cake Aesthetics

Not just the quality of their patisserie (for if you wanted really fine cakes, why not move to Vienna?) but the packaging and presentation. For those of you still unconvinced, a close-up:

You see, they put the cakes on a tray, then loop a cardboard band over the top, and only then wrap it up: the cakes are prevented from sticky and potentially unaesthetic collision with the wrapping paper, while all the while being protected. I don't suppose saber-como is the Spanish for know-how.

Nature Red in Beak and Webby Foot, or, the Cannibal Ducks of Cádiz

We went to what was until the following happened my favourite park in Cádiz. It has a pleasant man-made pond and lots of exotic ducks.

We were watching the ducks ducking around, and then Marian pointed at this one below and said, 'what's it eating? What's it eating?'

It had what looked like a couple of dessert spoons sticking out either side of its bill. Is it a frog? I hope it's a frog.

No, it was one of these pleasant little fluffy children. With a couple of strenuous peristaltic jerks of its neck, Saturn finished eating his child and continued to stomp around the park, looking as innocent as all get-go.

And we left, just as another adult started enquiring into the nutritional value of its own offspring.

There was a scandal about it in the papers. Apparently lots of gaditano children have been traumatised by this and similar sights over the past few weeks: there isn't a professional duck-wrangler in residence in the park and so unpleasantnesses happen.

Feral Cats of Cádiz