Usage Optimization

20140617_093443A bed is like an aeroplane. When the aeroplane is on the stand and not in the air, or when the bed is empty and disused, both aren’t really doing their job.

The cat solved the bed problem for us. The missus by night, the cat by day.

Urban Wildlife

20140112_124358It isn’t the greatest wildlife photo in the world; not wishing to loose the opportunity, I used my mobile phone rather than run and search for a proper camera.

We often see foxes at night.

This is our first full daylight fox. He (or she?) was quite relaxed and in apparently good condition, enjoying the cold wind and a good look around the alley way and back gardens.

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Banana Republic

DSC_0359It’s official! The United Kingdom of Great Britain is on its way to becoming a genuine Banana Republic.

Not that I ever had any doubt, but we are now growing our own, which I would have never thought possible.

We are proud owners of a Banana in bloom.

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Operation Sunshine

operation-sunshineOperation Sunshine is complete and a huge success. See for yourself before, during and after.

The big tree on the right was 17 years old. Basically, when we bought the house, we could have cut it with ease. We made the mistake of ignoring the wild growing trees until we had to make it a fairly expensive professional job.

Ah well, it’s done, and sunshine once again hits the garden not only between 13:00 and 16:00, but pretty much all day.

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Rain Sweet Rain

2011-04-23 1524I never thought I’d be so glad to see it raining, but I am quite happy with the present not-a-downpour not-a-drizzle all-penetrating soggy traditional English rain. I think it indicates the arrival of a warm front form the west, which is most welcome here. Any warmth, indeed.

I have also been watching the minimum overnight temperatures. These seem to hold above freezing now, even only by a small margin. I hope this will be enough for the garden to spring into action, and I am sure it will be enough for the boys to consider a move to the great outdoors.

All I need now is a break from the rain so that I can prepare their summer palace.

[UPDATE:] The rain stopped and the boys have now moved into their summer palace. It doesn’t quite feel like summer yet, but everyone is pretty excited – most of all those furry friends.

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Cavia Porcellus Update

c-and-pI just realised that I have two almost identical photos of myself with Castor (bottom) and Pollux (top), how nice.

You might know that Pollux died in January. Still makes me sad when I see him, he was such a beauty. (And one greedy little gourmand, too!)

I shall team up with the W7 in-house photography department for a similar set of photos once the little General and Castor move back into the great outdoors. They still enjoy their winter holidays in the relative warmth and comfort of our hall, and the little General isn’t little at all any more.


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Cavia Porcellus Update

theBoysSome of you have wondered how the two Guinea pigs are getting along in the snow and cold, and I am happy to report that they are getting on fine in the relative warmth of our hall. It’s too cold outside, especially for the little one which hasn’t had a chance to grow a fat layer or winter fur.

I am mighty proud of them. I really am. They didn’t have much of the gentle step-by-step introductions, but were housed together in a cage pretty quickly (on account of the weather turning cold and snowy). After 36 hours of very high excitement with constant squealing and running about, sniffing and calling each other, but without any significant fighting, they settled in incredibly well. The older one clearly adopted the little one, giving shelter and protection, and the little one clearly accepted. They even call each other when I take one out of their cage, how sweet is that?

So, all is well. All we need now is a turn to milder weather so that they can return to their larger run in the garden.


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A Mini-Cutie

DSC_1564Life is sad and lonely with only one Guinea pig, both for a Guinea pig and a human. Come and meet the youngest and cutest member of the family: he-who-has-yet-to-be-named, approximately 8 weeks old. A coffee and toffee coloured British shorthair. However, the great grandmother must have had a fling with an Abyssinian one, as he’s got a few rosettes over his back.

He’s staying in hiding right now, and has yet to meet and become friends with Castor. We’ll take it one step at a time though; the little one has to relax a little first, get used to me, and will then be gradually introduced to Castor and the outdoors life, some time next week.

As to the name, the race is still on, and you’re welcome to contribute your suggestions. Given that Castor is still with us, I though Sugar would be suitable (as in Caster Sugar), or General (as in General Custer). I’m leaning towards General, considering that the little one is bound to be lower in the pecking order, but suggestions are most welcome.

Edit: the neighbour, also German, suggests P. Rauxel. Not bad, Herr Kern!

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Domestic News

DSC_0855 - CopySad news today.

Pollux, the curly salt-and-pepper Guinea pig, died during the night. Even though the wound to his ear was healing (seemingly) nicely, and in spite of antibiotics, I assume a lingering infection caused his death.

Oh, that’s just too bad.

(Apart from that, yes, we are still well but a little too busy right now for regular blog updates. Give me another few days…)


DSC_0009Many of you will know about the considerable difficulties administering a pill to a cat (for those who don’t, here’s the classic tale of How to Give A Cat A Pill). Many of you will know about the ease of wrapping a pill into bacon for administering a pill to a dog, but how do you give antibiotics to a Guinea Pig?


Grab it under the front arms and lift it. The little bugger will squeak, thus open its mouth. Squirt the medicine into the mouth using a small syringe, and your furry friend goes Nom nom nom food!

Pollox cut his ear somehow, so I took him to the vet to have the dangling bits of ear trimmed off, and to get some antibiotics for him. Great stuff from the vet by the way: rung 9:06 AM on New Year’s Eve, saw the good doctor at 9:30, back home 9:56. Brilliant short-notice service! (

Happy New Year!


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20120512_142628Ah, wonderful. This weekend, and hopefully not only for this weekend, spring has returned after several week’s absence. It’s still a little chilly, but the sun is out and the sky, while not cloudless, definitely shows a good amount of blue.

Recently laid sugar peas (the French “mange tout” variety) are raising tiny heads, and green beans should be coming through the soil one of these days. I sew lots of Swiss chard. I planted some pre-grown chard, planted salads, celery and beetroots. The cherry tree is netted against pigeons, starlings and other birds. The bananas are trimmed, the spring flower bulbs are taken out and stored away.

The tomatoes are coming out of the greenhouse soon, and our herbs are in full production already (minus the rosemary, which appears to struggle).

All we need now is a decent remainder of spring and a glorious summer.


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The Best Season

DSCF8672It’s got to be my favourite time of the year. The tulips are in full swing, the cherry and pear trees are in bloom (the nectarines are already done). The bananas are unwrapped from their winter packaging and grow at the most astonishing rate, the greenhouse is stocked with seedlings. There’s life everywhere!

Even the cat’s got a spring in his old legs, and has been seen to move at speed at least twice recently.

(Picture shows plums in bloom in the Osaka. Also nice.)


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