Posted on January 27, 2013 in Oddities by Jay15 Comments »


Since you mostly found last week’s puzzle a bit of a doddle, I bring you something a little more challenging.

Well, I hope it’s more challenging. Since I’m pretty bad at guessing what you lot will find easy, the chances are that you’ll all guess this one in a split second – or maybe even less!

This was photographed while visiting Papworth hospital. The first clue is that it is not a piece of specialist hospital equipment, heart/lung related or otherwise.

The second clue is that it can also be found in many other places, but if you were to find it in a shop, it would probably be slightly different.

The third – and last – clue is this: there is a bit missing.

There. You should be able to go off and take a shot at it, now! Pop your answer in the comments and I’ll be back tomorrow evening around 10pm UK time to add the answer in the form of a picture link.

Have fun! And when you’re done wracking your brains over this, do visit Lisa’s Chaos, for more Macro Monday fun!

WOO-HOO! Seems I win this week! Although, to be fair, Silverback came so close that I’m going to declare him the winner – so, congratulations, that man! Go on, pop over to his blog. He’s a great humour blogger and it will amuse you.

The rest of you – actually ALL of you, because Silverback isn’t exactly, right, can go take a shuftie over here to see just exactly what it is you’ve been looking at.

Thanks so much for playing along! I hope you’ll be back next week, when I might be feeling a little kinder. One can only hope!


It’s been a little bit of a difficult week for dog walking.

First of all, the snow that fell about two weeks ago is still hanging around and much of it has turned to ice. Temperatures have been hovering around freezing or below, and the air has been viciously cold and it makes life a tad difficult for those with a three-legged greyhound who hates wearing a coat or boots.

Sid recently had a leg injury which took over a week to recover from. There were three or four days when we had to virtually carry him everywhere, which was no fun for anyone, and we certainly don’t want him slipping and falling on the ice and injuring himself again. So when it’s been particularly bad, we’ve made him wear a boot. The funny thing is that when it’s really slippy, he’ll accept it, but when he thinks he can manage, he’s a cantankerous old fart.


Even so, we’ve been managing to keep up with the 30/30 challenge until this week, when OH had an appointment with the Department of Nuclear Medicine at Papworth (all the while saying ‘there’s nothing wrong with me, I’m fine!’). Since the weather was so bad, and this appointment was so important (‘Aaah, don’t worry, I’m FINE!’), we booked a hotel room so that we could make our way there the day before. This proved to have been an excellent idea when we woke to freezing fog on top of the snow and ice. It was a relief to know that from our hotel we had a seven mile journey instead of an hour thundering (or not) down the A1 and the infamous A14. At rush hour.

Naturally, we had to take our dogs to their holiday resort hotel, otherwise known as Brambleberry Kennels, where Sid bounced in all happy and excited, and Jeffie looked at me as if he were being abandoned. For LIFE. In a PRISON. to be tortured. They live in the house with a bunch of other greyhounds, by the way, with a choice of dog beds, couches and armchairs,not in a concrete kennel block with a shredded paper bed, but you’d never know it if you listened to Jeffie.

They were to stay for two nights to make sure we could keep our appointment and get home safely, because those little fen roads out to the kennel are narrow, caked with ice, and bordered on both sides by dykes, some of them containing very deep water indeed. We didn’t want to attempt them in the dark, having survived Papworth’s stress test* (‘There’s nothing wrong with my heart!’) only to die of a lethal mixture of hypothermia and drowning. I don’t know about Sid, but Jeffie would sure miss us!

But then the nurses at Papworth said they needed to do another round of tests (‘I don’t know why, because there’s nothing wrong with me … ‘) and could we come back? OH asked how soon that could be, and on hearing that they could fit him in the next day opted for that, which meant we couldn’t spring the dogs from prison fetch the dogs from Brambleberry for yet another day.

So, there were three days when walking the dogs for thirty minutes was simply not possible. If it’s any consolation, they got plenty of exercise running about the Brambleberry farm, and we probably got even more exercise negotiating the corridors and stairs of Papworth hospital!

On the days we were home, the dogs did get walked for a minimum of thirty minutes, and we’re just going to have to be content with that, this week.

I can’t tell you how the test went at Papworth, because they have to send the results to be converted into a 3-D model on a special machine in another part of the hospital complex and then they wait to be read by a consultant and are finally sent to our doctor.  I’ll let you know, when I know.

But if you ask OH, he’ll tell you it’ll say he’s fine.


* The stress test – for vulnerable, as-yet-undiagnosed patients – involves lying on a bed and being injected with something that simulates taking part in a fun run. Apparently there is a CRASH team on hand because some people can’t take it, but in fact OH (‘There is nothing wrong with me!’) did just fine, and only experienced some tightness in his chest and rapid breathing .. oh, and hot flushing. Ha! What with the daily nausea caused by his anti-smoking pills, and now the hot flushes, he is at last beginning to understand what it’s like to be a woman!

Posted on January 24, 2013 in Life, the Universe and Everything by Jay12 Comments »


See what I did? By means of a little creative time management, I’ve actually managed to post Illustration Friday on … um … Friday!!! Well, nearly.

OK. I admit it. I had a bit of trouble with this one.

Having decided to try my hand at acrylics for the first time in my whole life, and paint on pre-prepared acrylic-friendly board, I then looked at the prompt word and my brain emptied of every single imaginative idea. ‘Myth’! I ask you. Which myth to choose? Or should I try to find a way to embody the whole idea of ‘myth’?

I thought I’d do an ancient Greek theatre mask, which would nicely combine all the elements: from a place where many of our modern myths were born, a method for all men to put on a character and play .. well, any of the main mythical characters. Brilliant.

So I went online and researched some images, and among the terracotta masks which came up from various museum sites, I found a couple of pictures of golems. Now the myth of the golem is a very interesting one, and I thought ‘Great! That’ll be perfect!

My first introduction to golems was in the Terry Pratchett novel ‘Feet of Clay’, and from this and my own interested research into the subject afterwards, I now know that a golem is a living creature made from (loosely speaking) mud, and it’s a product of Jewish folklore. Apparently, the first were made by holy men, and the legend says that they were animated either by writing certain Hebrew letters on their forehead, or on a piece of paper which was placed inside their head or hung around their neck. You could kill – or deactivate – them by removing some or all of the letters. And later legends speak of them being used as workhorses.

Since they are basically terracotta, and therefore need to be fired to become solid and useable, I have depicted my golem walking out of the fire. He brings fire with him, and his injuries – mended with an iron band – leak fire. He is a man of fire. I guess I’ve taken some liberties!

But boy, did I have trouble with this one! Acrylics are difficult, because they dry so quickly you hardly have time to use what’s on your brush, and if you’re not careful, the paint dries in the palette before you’ve used it all. Guess who doesn’t have any retardant gel?

Golems look kind of easy to paint, since they’re such a simple form. But terracotta is not easy to represent in a setting where there is a lot of reflected light. And let’s face it, I lack the skill.

Still, I wanted to explore new media and new subjects, and way out of my comfort zone as I was, I’ve done my best with it, and I present it to you for what it’s worth.


Well, some would say there’s not much to be happy about when the snow starts to thaw, apart from the fact that you can drive to your destination without ending up in the ditch. It turns to slush, and it’s patchy and messy.

However, if you really look around you, you will find that there’s still plenty to make you smile.

All these pictures were taken this morning in our little garden. The bulbs are starting to poke through the melting snow, and the hazel catkins are out. There are already new buds on my Captain Jack rhododendron, and the hydrangea petiolaris, but everyone knows about those kind of things, don’t they? Ho hum.

Up there at the top, a single red cotoneaster berry is highlighted against the snow – one of the few to escape the attentions of the birds. It made me smile.

I thought I’d go and see what else there was, and look!


Was this a visit from the Amazing Four-Legged Blackbird? Or perhaps the Miniature Garden Yeti? Who knows!

I took a few pictures of snow, because some of the formations did make me smile, but they don’t look as amazing in photographs as they do in real life. I found some interesting patterns, especially where drops had fallen from branches. These ones made it seem as if we aren’t the only ones who like to write our names in the snow …


… this clearly being a thrush, since she has signed herself ‘M’ for ‘Mavis’.

But it was on the way back that I found something to really light up my day. A yard or two from the thistle feeder, which I keep topped up with niger seed for the goldfinches, a single feather, probably from a blackbird. It must have been there a day or two, because it’s kind of sunk into the melting snow.


Isn’t that perfect for ‘How to be HAPPY!’? Feathers are common wherever there are birds. Snow isn’t unusual in winter (depending where you live). But by a happy accident, this particular feather has made itself a little cave without being at all damaged in the process, and it’s survived the many to-ings and fro-ings up the garden by the dogs, often at very high speed. Isn’t it enchanting?

Oh yes – and we got our dogs back this morning, after our little jaunt to Papworth two days running. That made everyone happy! And they’re so exhausted from the excitement of being with all those other dogs for a few days that they are both flat out and snoring!


‘How to be HAPPY!’ is a brand new meme. It’s about finding the little things in life which bring a smile or a glow of warmth to our hearts and souls during our daily lives. Why? Because it’s the way all these little things add up which truly determines if we are happy people, not the big stuff like a lottery win.

To enter, write a post about one thing which has made you happy in some small way recently – it could be birdsong, a favourite smell, a particularly good loaf of bread, a blue sky, anything! Then scroll to the bottom, click the Mr Linky graphic and add your blog post details to the Linky which will appear in a new window, and you’re in.

If you’d like, copy the badge (up at the top of this post) and paste it into your own.

Oh, and it would be nice if you popped round to visit and comment on a few of the others, too!