Posted on April 16, 2014 in Life, the Universe and Everything, Wildlife by Jay9 Comments »


Today, in the garden, a Lily Beetle in all his (or her) shining loveliness.  I’ve actually stopped trying to grow lilies because of these little guys.  Their larvae are quite unpleasant and can strip a plant within days.  However, they don’t eat day lilies so I have tubs of those instead!


This is a Banded Snail resting high up in a branch of euonymus.   We get a lot of Roman Snails in our garden and I have no particular love for them, since they are voracious eaters of anything I plant.  These little fellows do less damage, and they’re much prettier!


Hoverflies!  I’m very fond of hoverflies. They are so pretty – just look at this guy’s beautiful bronze thorax and huge eyes!  And they are mostly harmless, meaning very few of them will eat your plants. None of them will sting or bite you.  I like to attract hoverflies into the garden and I’m always pleased to see them emerge in the spring. This one, I’m reasonably sure, is epistrophe eligans.

One of the things I love most, and find most relaxing, is photographing the smallest forms of life: mostly insects, but I also enjoy taking pictures of snails, woodlice, mites, spiders, and anything else that lives and breathes and shares my space.  Even the humble ‘greenbottle’ fly, this is one of the Lucilia species, I’m not sure which.  These are extremely wary flies and don’t let you get too close.  I guess that’s what comes of living the kind of life that they do and getting swatted a lot.


I realise that some of you might see this as rather bizarre, but … to be honest, to me it seems odd not to find these tiny creatures fascinating.  That’s what makes the world go around.  You may hate ‘bugs’ and love inner cities, or Pink Floyd, or something equally weird to me.

There are very few insects that I will kill.   Among them are fleas, ticks and mosquitoes and the disease-causing mites and lice.  Also wasps – but only because OH is allergic to them and they are persistent little beggars once they decide to come indoors.  If they stay out once I’ve caught and released them, they get to live. If they come back inside, they don’t. It’s as simple as that.

And just to show that it’s not all creepy-crawlies with me, here’s a macro of a spotted laurel flower. Did you know they flowered?  No?  Well, that’s because the flowers are so small and insignificant.  Insignificant until you look at them closely, that is, then they are quite lovely.


Posted on April 14, 2014 in Hounds, Life, the Universe and Everything by Jay1 Comment »


This is detail from a bracelet which I made to help to raise funds for my local Retired Greyhound Trust kennel, Brambleberry Greyhounds RGT.  It’s not made with precious metals or priceless jade beads, it’s just a piece of costume jewellery, but I was quite pleased with it.

At the weekend, I added it to an auction. The auction opened Monday at 8am and already the bids have reached £16 – it may not go much higher, but the auction does run for two weeks, so who knows?

I’m telling you this, not to blow my own trumpet, but as a part of my ‘happiness’ project, and also (shamelessly) to promote the auction.  You see, there is a group on Facebook called ‘Dogs Guardian Angels’ which exists solely to host auctions for dog charities.  Running an auction can be extremely hard work, and if you don’t have experience and have to find hosting, it can eat into your profits.  Dogs Guardian Angels ask nothing, with the money going directly into the PayPal account of the chosen charity.  And this time around the auction is for Brambleberry.

The only problem is that you need to join the Facebook group to take part, and publicity is also hard work!  I hate going round nagging all my friends with reminders and continual ‘please go and take a look’ posts, so I’m kind of spreading it about.  This is the only post I’ll make on the subject (unless I do one later to let you all know how much we made), so don’t worry – I’m not turning the blog into series of begging letters.

But if you do have any interest in greyhounds (or dogs in general) it might be worth a look.  We have many items which aren’t dog related at all, like DVDs and toiletries and children’s bath puppets etc, but we also have some interesting dog stuff, like a consultation with an animal communicator, and a huge collection of greyhound-related PDF knitting patterns.   And the usual fancy dog wear and Brambleberry tee shirts etc.

Of course, much of this will only be any good to those living in the UK, on account of the postage costs, but some things are really quite light and easy to post, and some don’t need posting at all!  Can’t hurt to take a peek, can it?  More items are still being added, even though the auction has already started – I have some neat little painted wood greyhound brooches to add myself, when I get a chance to photograph them.

You’ll find the auction here.

Oh – and if anyone wants to donate anything, of course, I’d be delighted!  It’s not too late – it runs for two weeks, remember!


I’m backdating this one because I want it to count towards the 100 days of happiness thing, and I didn’t get it up yesterday.  I’m cheating, but at least I’m owning up to it!  Does that help?

Posted on April 13, 2014 in Hounds by Jay9 Comments »


Today was Brambleberry Greyhounds first greyhound ‘play date’ of the year.

The kennel where Sid goes for his hydrotherapy sessions is kind enough to loan us the use of one of their fields in exchange for a donation to the Retired Greyhound Trust – we only charge £1 per dog, so it’s affordable for everyone – and with a few simple rules in place, the dogs are introduced to each other and if everyone gets along, let off leash for free running and play.


It’s always fun to see greyhounds meet each other.  Even the least sociable will perk up when they meet others of their own kind.  The dogs in the pictures are muzzled, but only because dogs running together in a group can get excited and nip as they run, and greyhounds have such thin skin that injuries can result.  The exception is Amy, a lovely old soul of fourteen years, who pottered around on her shaky old legs and did no running at all. The others were all pretty respectful of her and for the most part left her alone, although Sid took a shine to her, and she apparently liked him, too.


Pretty little Poppy kept throwing herself to the ground and rolling around in delight.  I didn’t manage to get a good picture of her wriggling, which is sad, because it was most amusing.


After the first flush of freedom wore off, everybody settled down and they all just trotted around exploring the field, the agility equipment and each other, and making friends with the humans.  And of course, trying to get the silly plastic things off their faces by goosing everyone.  Poor OH is at exactly the wrong height .. from his point of view.  The hounds seemed to think he was exactly the right height to use as a scraping tool, and seemed oblivious to his yelps.  Perhaps they thought he was enjoying the game.

They did it to everyone though.  No favourites!


And Sid proved that he’s feeling much better, now, thank you.  He ran so fast today that my heart was in my mouth.  He did step awkwardly at one point and yelp, but he carried straight on and doesn’t appear to have done himself any lasting harm.  He had so much fun, bless him.

Here he is proving that you can’t catch him, no matter if he is missing a leg.







A bag of lentil chips.

Yes, it really is.

I first bought these when I was on a gluten-free trial but they are just so delicious that I continue to buy them – when I can find them. Well, I haven’t been up to going shopping lately, but OH popped out this morning and brought back three bags of these delicious morsels.

And I can even feel relatively virtuous, because I have discovered that pulses count towards your five seven a day*!

I’m trying to eat healthily while I’m fighting off this damn bug, so I’m doing my best with the ever-increasing portions of fruit & veg we’re supposed to suck down each day.  Today I’ve had a banana, a portion of tinned peaches, a big bowl of home-made vegetable soup and a couple of large handfuls of lentil chips.  that’s good right?  And it’s not even dinner time yet.


* Which might be nine a day by next week.