The Cormorant and the Heron

I am almost exactly the same age as Keanu Reeves, I am older than him but just a day and a bit. His mother’s maiden name is also Taylor.  This means that we are both “Virgo” wood dragons. He is allegedly an introvert too.


So, there you go…

This morning something unusual happened I saw both the Cormorant and the Heron at the same end of the pond. The Cormorant was on the water and the Heron was a few metres away on the land. The Cormorant saw me and flew off South.

This means that we are a bit of a breakfast diner for the local predators.

We won’t know the stock levels in the pond until it gets warmer and the fish are more active. Two birds of prey will eat quite a lot of fish…

Felix, the back and white stray cat, is a bit confused. He can see Bowie indoors and is wondering what is going on. He lets me get close to him now. So maybe, I need to check him for an identity chip…Guess is that he has not got one and it would take weeks of patience to earn his trust.

The weird thing about being 58 is that loads of people who are roughly the same age and famous, start dying. It is always mooted as a “tragedy”. It reminds one of mortality. The various life expectancy tools suggest that I should live into my eighties. If that happens, I am financially buggered. My guess for an expiry date, for me to be taken off the supermarket shelves, is very early seventies, assuming nothing untoward happens.

Anyway, Keanu has been seen drinking in pubs in and around Tring near where I used to live and where a copy of the I Ching jumped off a bookshelf and fell at my feet…

If he tips up near here, it will freak me out a little.

Spring at Traou an Dour 16-3-23

Before getting back into the DIY I took the camera for a spin around the garden…


The heather has started to flower…


This rockery flower is ~0.5cm across…the bugs are back


The magnolia is starting to unfurl…

This has been dipped in sherbet…


Daisy plus bug with psychedelic wings…


Simple yellow primrose … there are loads of these starting just now

Monsieur Le Heron has started to chill a bit

Grape hyacinth in full bloom…


Pine cone in the making…


Baby dandelion with assorted bugs…

Pine needles close up

Rescued azalea coming back to life..

Her Royal Highness – Bowie

Chainsaw Oil, the Resident Heron, and Vegan Food

Having been Avant Garde by three decades and thereby much less pretentious I can still knock up tidy vegan meals. I don’t need my soapbox anymore nor my Instragram or TikTok. There are alimentary consequences including meal volume and human induced methane related global warming. But if one eats plants direct one cuts out the middle men, the cattle, the sheep and the pigs. There is less methane per incident solar Watt if humans eat direct from the plant source. There is an added bonus in that it helps us reduce our food budget, vegan food is less expensive than fillet steak.

Three pulse based vegan dishes in one meal is perhaps a tad too much.

There is a bit of a problem sourcing Tofu here but I think I may have found an answer…

We are trying to cut back on expenditure and aiming towards €200-250 per week on groceries including a couple of bottles of wine. I am on the wagon. Our electricity consumption is down ~30% thanks largely to the induction hob. I am looking into water butts thanks to the “drought” and have filled the central section shed with wood for next winter. We are currently saving a lot of money by decorating the office and the last bedroom ourselves. It is a lot of work and not great for the arthritis. Most of the preparation work is done. You can see doing this where previous people have taken shortcuts and bodged. {Grrr…} There is maybe another two days of preparation.

When we first bought the chainsaw the geezer in the shop pointed us at 5 litres of chainsaw oil. I thought he was a bit mad. But no, I am now near the bottom of the 5 litre container of chainsaw oil. I need a new chain and a new bar. I did not understand scale. I think I probably will get a Hyundai two stroke chainsaw, one day. Proper country folk get scale in a way that I never did before. I am learning.

The heron has been standing around the pond on a semi-permanent basis. He is there before dark and soon after dawn. I wonder if he overnights. He sometimes looks to be sleeping. He has been in the water, there are “grey oil slicks” from his feathers. He/she seems to be almost resident. I think this hereon is the “new” one because it is less of a stress bunny than the old one. I can’t be sure.

Anyway, it colour coordinates with Bowie the cat… who is sat on “my” cushion… as I write. Her Majesty seems to have settled in well. She had Carrefour budget bonito for lunch…

Letting the Cat Out of the Bag – Bowie Update

This morning we found Bowie’s sticking plaster on the mat by the door. Slowly she has been trying to remove it and now she is free of it. Of late the cat has been getting a little stir-cray. Her operation was nine days ago.

We have just taken her for 1/3 of a kilometre accompanied walk around the garden.

I understand how she feels, a little, when they brought me out of hospital after I broke my hip, in the gap between door and ambulance, I felt fresh air and rain. They were the nectar of the Gods after the overly hot, dry, hospital air.

Outside Bowie went into sensory overload. All the smells, the sounds and the textures had her hyper alert. Slowly she pieced together her olfactory map of the great outdoors, the places where she used to hang out like her bed tree, under which she slept. Also, all the piss markers around the garden.

So, she has had her first outing into the garden, like a president with her “security”. She is back in the house and had a sniff of food…

She is one curious cat.

I will sit in the veranda with the door open and let her explore…

Tomorrow, she goes to the vet for her post-operative check-up. She seems alert and well to us.

105 Toads and Bowie Settling In

Bowie seems to be making a good recovery from her surgery and this morning the erstwhile nervous stray cat is roaming around the house tarting for affection. A cat that would not let you within a few metres, is now rubbing herself against your legs and asking to be stroked. She is purring. She does not like the kettle or the toaster, nor for that matter the fan oven. It will be interesting to see how she likes the log burner later on today. The vet says that we need to keep her indoors for ten days. Luckily the ground floor is big and she can pace about. She is vocal and friendly.

I have not long been down to the pond and I counted 105 toads!!

Of these there were over twenty couples on the job. The females are small suggesting that they are not too old. Luckily for them they are not getting gang banged this year. There seems to be a better male – female ratio. So far none of them have asked me to use they/them pronouns.

This suggests that should the weather remain clement there will be a bumper crop of tadpoles.

I will have a look to see if I can see the salamander in the pampas grass.

End of March the slow worms will come out of hibernation, as will the grass snakes and adders.

Traou an Dour, place of water, is good for reptiles and amphibians…

Differing Notions of Reality

I’ll kick this off in the mundane. Today the wife has been to hospital for her Zometa infusion to help strengthen her bones against disease.


Tomorrow morning before dawn we will try to get Bowie into her cat carrier and take her up to the vets to have her bits done and vaccinations updated. After that, assuming all goes well, Bowie needs to be indoors for ten days. The stray cat will get central heating…it already knows how to use a litter tray. We should pick her up before close of play tomorrow.

I read in the news that Western Australia is looking to recruit Brits. There is a job going as head of Molecular Sciences at a university in Perth. Unfortunately I no longer fit the bill, nor do I have any referees, so there is no point in me applying. I know {briefly} one senior member of staff there.

After the work done to repair the Clio the lights on the trailer have stopped working. I have isolated the problem {I think} and should be able to have a crack at fixing it. This will save a few hundred euros.


There are many people who might be afraid, bricking it even, after a dream like the one I had this morning. In general people do not speak to/with disembodied dead people. But how else could you speak to a dead person? They are not going to be walking around all meaty and perhaps malodorous, despite however many zombie films/programmes you may have watched. The essence of the dead no longer animates the form. They must by definition {almost} be disembodied.


A lot of people pooh-pooh the notions of ghosts and ghouls and things that go bump in the night. Yet their unwillingness to enter a so-called haunted house at midnight is directly proportional to the volume and adamant nature of their pooh-poohing.

I can make an unverifiable statement.

I have communicated with people who are dead as per the criteria of the medial profession. The number of “people” I have done this with exceeds a dozen, in this lifetime. Some were very distressed, others not, they were simply swinging by.

So, while people may pooh-pooh, I will say, “place your bets”. If you are right then we will never speak again. If not, then maybe you {the disembodied you} might just drop by one evening to say hi. I would resist the urge to say “I told you so…”

There are two different notions of reality here.

1) There exists no communicative entity after death. Alan is therefore a complete loony-tune. He has lost his marbles and is a few cards short of a deck. That a “scientist” like him should fall so low is a shame. Sad.

2) A fragment, a part of the essence of being remains after death and is able to communicate with appropriately skilled beings.

I personally am not overly fussed if people believe me or not. If they are adamant, I would like to invite them to hang out in a haunted house overnight with me. Put your money where your mouth is, balls out and all that. A soap box is a good place, a good height, from which to shit a brick. Armchair and keyboard warriors may feel more courageous in their executive or gaming chair in front of a computer.

In front of peers, and with the courage that proffers, many are insistent that their notion of reality is the only one.

At twilight, in the middle of the bush or on a dark unlit inner city street, the rigidity of that professed reality starts to shimmer, refract and change.

The “reality” if context dependent, is not universally real, it is a perceptual context dependent ersatz.


I can switch comfortably between talking about diary entries in mundane physical plane reality and talking with the dead in the wee small hours. I have no need to change my trousers. I know which world I am in and when.

Do you?

The Bowie Saga Continued

Over the last couple of days we have let Bowie, the stray cat, into the veranda so that she can get used to it prior to her capture and operation later this week. She will have to go without food from tea-time the night before her opp.

As usual for a cat she has made herself comfortable and instead of going into the fluffy cat home which we have bought she has taken to lying on my sweaty and malodorous gardening t-shirt. This particular one is not yet ultra-ripe. It will be interesting to see if her olfactory senses can hack a truly ripe garment in due course.

Bowie will have to remain indoors for ten days after her operation, chipping, and vaccinations.

She has taken to following the wife when she circum-ambulates the pond.

Bowie is starting to tart about coming into the house…

Now she is up on the balcony sunning herself, all the visitor cats like it up there. It is south facing and warm in the sun.

By the weekend we will have formally adopted her…