Hedgehogs eat as much as possible during October and November to prepare for hibernation, as they need to weigh between 500-700 grams in order to have the best chance of survival. Once they have reached the appropriate weight, and the average temperature has dropped to around 5°C, hedgehogs will be on the hunt for the perfect hibernation spot. They may hibernate under compost heaps or under garden sheds or decking, and sometimes they will collect leaves and twigs to create the perfect hibernation spot.
Dormice begin to hibernate in tiny woven nests between October and November, and do not emerge until April. Nesting takes place under logs, moss or amongst dead leaves at the base of hedges; dormice will choose a moist place to hibernate so that they don’t become dehydrated (water vapor is lost as they breathe) and so their fat reserves will last longer.
During November, bats will hunt for appropriate hibernation spots, known as roosts. They will often choose underground caves, but can also roost in hollow trees, roofs and bat boxes, as long as the roosts are cool and remain at a constant temperature. Bats are particularly well adapted to hibernation. They are able to slow their breathing to only five breaths a minute in order to reserve energy.
Other species, such as badgers, do not hibernate but enter a period of lower inactivity which is known as a state of torpor. Badgers will retreat into their setts during cycles of torpor that only last for around 29 hours and survive there without food when the weather is too harsh to venture outside. Other species that go into torpor include squirrels and amphibians.
And here is a term I've never come across before - Brumation: a state of winter dormancy entered into by some cold-blooded animals as part of their normal annual rhythm.
Yesterday I attended an event organised by the Great Western Air Ambulance charity (GWAAC). It is something that they must have done for a while but it was only via email correspondence over the past month that I first heard of it. As many of you know, the Air Ambulance attended my sister in March 2020 and since then I have raised some small funds for them by either selling seedlings and plants outside the cottage, and by promoting their work or campaigns in some way.
The "Celebration of Life" event was sensitively organised, without wall-papering over the cracks or skirting the issue of death. It was gentle and respectful and empathetic.
Below is a scan of the whys and wherefores which were printed on the back of the programme. I think it explains the Sycamore / Forever Flying symbolism very well.
Having said that, I am my own worst enemy and can't switch off, can't sleep and worry too much.
Don't you think it is interesting that what the majority of us would refer to as a 'sicknote' from the doctor is actually called a "Statement of Fitness for Work". I have done a little research and this all changed in April 2010 and it has rather positive intentions, According to the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) in advice to employers:
"Under the sick note system, doctors could only advise their patient on whether their health condition meant that they should or should not work. As a result many people who could benefit from support whilst in work, would be advised that they could not work. Their employers would not have had the opportunity to consider how they could help them achieve an earlier return to work. To help more people get the support they need to get back to work the new fit note system will mean that doctors can advise that your employee is either:
So, now you know!
Add, then, the combination of pagan and religious beliefs and interpretations into the mix and, surprise, surprise, even more convolution! So, a tradition developed whereby demonic faces were carved out of vegetables – originally turnips – called jack-o’-lanterns. This practise originated from an Irish myth about Stingy Jack, who tricked the Devil for his own monetary gain. The myth elaborated that when Jack died, God would not allow him into heaven, and the Devil wouldn’t allow him into hell, so Jack was sentenced to roam the earth for eternity. It was believed that the carved demonic faces would frighten away Jack’s wandering soul. Therefore, when Irish immigrants moved America, they began carving jack-o’-lanterns from pumpkins, as these were native to the region.
So, now you know!
So, it has been a fairly low-key couple of days - and much needed. Although I had a fairly sociable Saturday; after doing a boring 'big shop’ at the supermarket I then caught-up with my Mum and nieces, seeing the ‘new’ house and the recent building work (kitchen and wet room), and then visiting a friend. By time I got home I was ready for just ‘pottering’ about – lovely. Our immediate neighbour then invited me round for drinks and nibbles - that was at 6pm and I left at 9pm, after we put the world to rights whilst also imbibing a few Vodka Martinis! Highly tasty but also highly dangerous; thankfully it is only about ten yards from the neighbours' backdoor to our [only] outside door!! I did actually stagger into the house….!
I did feel a bit fuzzy at various stupid-o’clocks throughout the night but drank a lot of water and have been fine (so far) today. The cloud and early mist cleared to be beautiful sunny day and I was able to enjoy more pottering in the garden and even planted a load of [bought] wall-flowers, sown some sweet-pea seeds as well as gathering up fallen leaves and dead-heading or ‘pruning’ some plants. I like to think that I look like I now what I am doing whilst wielding the secateurs!
I'll fill you in on the significance of this choice of Calvin and Hobbes cartoon at another time, when I can be bothered (!).
Extensive historic details about the building can be seen at:
CROSS HOUSE, Tewkesbury - 1201228 | Historic England
Historic England also state: “Thomas Collins, the one-time owner and working stone-mason, has been referred to as "... the first important conservator..." in Tewkesbury (VCH), and was engaged in many important works in the town from 1860 onwards - before the major turmoil raised by the 1870's proposals to restore the Abbey. There is no doubt that he saved many important structures from loss through decay or demolition. His work at Cross House was substantial, and it is difficult to see what the original layout may have been; as much as possible of the early work was clearly retained, but it is not clear whether, for instance, the detail of the main lobby is as originally located or not. Collins is commemorated in a prominent memorial in the south transept of the Abbey”.
I think it is safe to say that the current project has a lot to live up to!
It makes me smile when I hear people say that they would be bored if they had to retire; I have PLENTY to keep me occupied and cannot wait to finish work so I can get on to do the things that enjoy. Whilst my job is certainly not dull or very demanding, working absolutely gets in the way of those things that are preferable!
Actually, I haven’t heard many people say they don’t want to retire, it’s more that to afford to do so would be unviable and then one couldn’t do a number of those things we dream about anyway. Hey ho. So, it’s down to balancing it all out, isn’t it?
On a practical and logistic note, there have also been a catalogue of irritations – and mainly expensive ones recently too. First off there has been the cracked-tooth-looks-like-a-witch scenario- which is now fixed (as of Thursday) at the cost of just under £1000 . Gulp! On top of that, both of our cars had MOTs… and the extra ‘bits’ like windscreen-wipers, tyre treads, balancing-whatchamacallits and a standard service (on my car) costing an additional £500 or thereabouts. And on top of that, last weekend whilst at the supermarket, a car backed into mine…. and then drove off!! Initially it seemed to be a small bump but on getting home and opening the boot it transpired that the latch has been damaged and subsequently doesn’t do its job (i.e. latch). Because the car is quite old the garage cannot source a new lock mechanism and that means we will have to see if there is anything available via ebay or second-hand websites. It’s not a difficult job – says Paul because he will do it, not me! (ha! can you imagine!?) – but it is an irritation. Also, it’s so disappointing that the person just drove off and couldn’t ‘own up’. This is half of the problem with work to be honest, in the past year or so I just don’t want to deal much with ‘other people’…. and that’s not really a very good outlook on life, is it?
Oh – and on top of that, I had a puncture yesterday too…. in a different car-park! You couldn’t make it up could you?
It's a good thing, therefore, after an expensive few weeks that this little household doesn’t particularly focus on having ‘stuff’ (there’s nowhere to put it anyway!) and as we usually lurch from one month to another, we are not overly panicked. It’ll all come out in the wash, as they say.
Who are ‘they’ though?
Also, where have all these references to “back in the day” come from? It appears to be “phrase du jour” - repeated on the radio, TV, social media, general conversations…
Maybe people always said these phrases - or is it that I am only hearing them now that I’m officially middle-aged? It’s all very disconcerting.
It might have been 30 degrees and humid but that wasn't as hot as a neighbour's new pizza-oven that we christened yesterday!
Fun and games as three of us took instruction from a YouTube video on how to prepare the dough ball into a thin pizza base - following four stages entitled: Finger Press, The DJ Deck, The Steering Wheel and The Parachute.
See: Top 10 Tips for the Perfect Pizza Launch Into Your Pizza Oven - Bing video
Lots of toppings - homegrown tomato paste, artichoke hearts, spring onion, bacon, ham, mozzarella, truffle and artichoke condiment-oil (whatever - posh though!), peppers, mushrooms, parmesan,...and more that I cannot recall!
We struggled with getting a very thin and crispy base and were uncertain of the temperature of the oven itself - but for a first attempt the five pizzas created were absolutely YUMMY!!
The move had been happening over a few weeks but the final push was a fairly intensive two days, and then I was involved in a unexpected move at work as well! The new school building was [mainly] finished ahead of time and it was agreed that to get the two new classrooms set up for start of term on Tuesday 5th September – much more beneficial for the new starters in Reception class and the other young year groups (1,2 and 3). So all staff (and family members and friends) turned up over the days prior to the first week of term and moved in and set-up as much as possible. It is an ongoing project (and has been, as you know, since December 2022). My new office is also in the new building and I found out a day or so ago that the electricity will be cut off to my shed this week, so I have to move too! Short notice, naturally, and of course the IT guys are not available for at least another week. I also have to purchase a new desk and various items of furniture… or nothing will be happening! Hmm… not that it isn’t busy and stressful enough at the moment with the hysteria of a new academic year…. But hey!|?
I am trying to convince and remind myself at regular intervals that there is only so much I can do and ultimately, I have limited authority and am employed on a part-time (30 hours per week) contract, and paid accordingly.
The next point: The beginning of the academic year…. well, that is so horrendous that I shan’t say anymore! And the emergency dental treatment involves cast and caps and a couple of appointments over the next month and is costing £900 – but that is much better that the potential £2-3K that was originally mooted. Oh well, it’s only money.
Actually, whilst away, although I did look at the news headline and the weather reports, it was noticeable how the incessant updates create – for me – a real feeling of doom-and-gloom. Whilst it is probably best to have some idea of what is going on in the world, I think I am going to avoid it as much as possible!
On the day we returned from Kefalonia I attended an online ‘counselling’ session run by the NHS. My doctor directed me to the service because the last few months, as you know, have proven to be rather “challenging”. There are various easy-to-use, standard questionnaires / assessments that can be used as a springboard for treatment:
The weekly sessions that I am attending are via Let's Talk 2gether. (click on the link) but funnily enough - there is no talking from the patients whatsoever! The professionals present different topics and practices as well as exercises and homework, and then all other communication is via the bubble-chat [type] options. I just think that it's quite funny to call it 'Let's Talk'.
Hmmm… but food for thought nevertheless!
Anyway, the big tooth at the front on the left (central anterior / incisor) basically started wobbling after I bit into a bread roll! I could feel it crack or 'shear' and, after panicking, immediately made an appointment. It was enough to make me very concerned especially as just two days later I was going to a wedding and really didn't want to look like the Wicked Witch off the West!
So, the dentist
It was suggested that I might have to have:
Update (24/08/23): I have a THIRD 'rescue' appointment tomorrow... and it seems that any proper or permanent treatment cannot even commence until mid-October. This is interesting, is it not, when this is a private i.e. paid for service, and there is still a long waiting game. And there is such hoo-ha about any NHS waiting times?
I tried to update the website whilst on holiday but it proved to be far too frustrating with slow WiFi, using Apps and my general impatience and incompetence. As it was, there wasn't much to report as we literally didn't do anything! It was very hot and therefore even venturing out was to be avoided at certain times of the day - we only made it "up the hill" to the village shop once! So it was a true holiday for reading, dozing, eating and drinking.
Whilst away we realised that it was our twenty-year anniversary of being together as a couple (29th July) and we therefore treated ourselves to a night out at "the posh restaurant" and even to a good bottle of local wine. Fabulous!
Have a look at the website: Kefalonia Restaurants | Lorraines Magic Hill Lourdas Restaurant Kefalonia (lorrainesrestaurant.gr)
Subsequently, I had numerous medica! appointments with both my doctor and Diabetic nurse; both face-to-face and phone slots. Actually, the week that I'm back from holiday I think there are two more appointments already set up. However, I will be able report a steady and controlled set of readings - due to the fact that I have to reduce the daily insulin injection to counter balance, main!y, against any increase in the heat and risk of dehydration. It all seems to be a bit random, in truth, but must be working (by lowering the insulin dosages by between 10 and 12 units over the past month or so) as things appear to be levelled out and I've not suffered that terrible BGL drop since.
I know realise how important it is to ensure at least a small portion of carbohydrates at regular intervals as well as having emergency glucose to hand. Who'd 've thought 'eh?!
We are sitting in the shade of the apartment terrace listening to noisy cicadas, the humming of air conditioning units and the gentle lap of the waves in the distance. It's all terribly hard work when it's already 33 degrees at 10.30am! As the temperatures are very high and I've already read two books in as many days I've given in and fired up the Kindle and this Weebly site (for editing). It's not the best or most intuitive App so I'm not holding my breath. Bear with....
Some may think that I am sadly inept with the various features of my phone (whereas I don't want my life ruled by it) but recently I was suitably impressed to stumble across a 'portrait' feature in the camera which automatically created some nicely differently focussed images. I am sure I will have a better 'play' over the next few weeks. What's not to like?!
Sculptural works are in a range of media, including stone, wood, metal, glass, bronze, resin, ceramic and reclaimed materials. The pieces are exhibited within a 1½ acre garden of a traditional English style, on a domestic scale with ‘interconnecting rooms’.