Saturday, 11 May 2013


This blog is happy to endorse the balloon bending powers of Rodneys Balloons (balloon modelling for every occasion). He was doing his stuff down at the local fair (every year held on the first rainy Saturday in May). Incredibly, some people were not buying them.

Friday, 10 May 2013

New feature random words

Car crash Carlos - he sounds like an amusing fellow.
Exploring Fabienne Delsol - I wish.
Jazz Jesus & Mary Chain - the direction they should have taken after Darklands.
Weird war Welsh Wendy - doesn't mean anything, I just like the sound of it.
Flook folk music - like sweet soul music but hairier.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Jonathan Livingston Parkbench

Exploring, I found this today. Lovely isn't it? Almost too nice to sit on. Overlooking a lake as well. It's in a good bird spotting area, I spotted a Jay (which I class as a minor bird spotting treat) and additionally a largish, green bird. In the brief glance I got I think it was probably crested. Colour and size-wise it could have been a woodpecker. But I didn't notice a bright red head. 

Sunday, 5 May 2013

With the beetles

Tempted by the presence of David Attenborough I wandered down today to a local mini wildlife safari. I didn't catch the great naturalist in the end, but I did have a pleasant time. The first things that caught my attention were some slow worms, such lovely little creatures. Just like little snakes really, apparently they're all over the place if you look hard enough. They were good but I probably spent longer at a table displaying beetles.

I've been fairly keen on beetles ever since I saw a documentary about dung beetles years and years ago. The programme mentioned a theory that the ancient Egyptians may have formed some of their ideas about mummification and reincarnation from observing the dung beetles' antics. I was persuaded.

I love the look of them as well. I bought one once (Acrocinus longimanus it says on the label) stuffed and mounted in a glass case from a shop on Portobello Road, and which my wife won't let me hang on the wall. I've some sympathy - I can admire them aesthetically under glass or at a safe distance, but I admit I do freak if they try to get in the bath with me, or otherwise invade my personal space.

One summer at college we were plagued by may bugs, really horrible things. Everyone was freaked out by them. As the link says, they made a really loud clicking noise when flying, which only added to the terror. And I remember what inexpert flyers they were. I was having an excellent go on Raiden in the games room one evening when we heard the clicking. Transfixed by the game I could see, reflected in the black glass panelling, my mate Syd ducking as the beetle repeatedly dive bombed him. After the last of my spaceships had been zapped I turned round to see that the frenzied bug had flown itself into one of the fluorescent strip light boxes and was stuck on its back.

Happily there were no may bugs on display today, instead we had a live specimen of a rose chafer and about four dead stag beetles. Perhaps not co-incidentally I have actually encountered both these characters in the wild. Well, if you can call the high street the wild. Walking down Twickenham high street (just outside Blockbuster) I saw a rose chafer wriggling away on its back. I know in these circumstances one should adopt an Olympian detachment, but instead, very carefully, with the tip of my shoe I nudged it the right way up. I was rewarded with the sight of a dazzlingly golden beetle which then took off almost vertically.

(I do my best to help little creatures in distress. Apart from big hairy spiders. They get hoovered up I'm afraid. I'd like to get over my fear of medium to large spiders. I have tried, once I staggered in drunk to find the missus cowering from a gigantic spider in the living room. I lunged at it and I remember touching one of its legs. But he sprinted off. He could smell my fearlessness. Or possibly the booze.)

Despite the fact that I always keep an eye out for them when I go to Richmond Park my only sighting of a stag beetle was on my way to a Chinese takeaway at Busch Corner a few years ago. Quite a busy street, there's Syon House over the road I suppose, but it's basically an urban environment. Anyway, I saw a stag beetle there making its way along the pavement. One of its antlers was damaged and it looked a bit confused. After a good gawp I moved on, only to be passed almost immediately by a group of teenaged boys. I feared for the beetle but when I looked over my shoulder the hoodied gang were coo-ing in wonder at the disorientated lucanid. A most uplifting experience all round.