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Fog of war

attack

I don’t have any local insights on this one. We are, fortunately, nowhere near Westminster.

The map is making the rounds of Twitter. It supposedly shows people on Al-Jazeera’s Facebook(?) page reacting to the news, but why would it put the laughing faces and thumbs ups dotted around the map like that? That’s not how likes work.

Twitter also was first to report that the shooter was hate preacher Abu Izzadeen (born Trevor Richard Brooks of Jamaican descent in East London) and the first to report that Izzadeen’s lawyer says it can’t be him, he’s in jail. (Sure looks like the guy, though).

So basically all we know is four dead (including the, or a, attacker and a policeman), twenty injured and Twitter is an unreliable narrator.

March 22, 2017 — 8:15 pm
Comments: 13

And two that got away

tamworthtwo

January of 1998, Tamworth pigs were being unloaded at a slaughterhouse in Wiltshire, when two shot off to one side, wriggled through a hole in the fence and escaped into the wild. The Tamworth Two became a sensation. No, really.

It was the most important story of the week – by far […] It had become impossible to avoid the story. A contributor to Radio 4’s Thought for the Day mused over them; the editor of The Independent, Andrew Marr, wrote about them in his letter to the readers. They even featured in an editorial in The Guardian.

Almost 100 reporters from all over the world turned up. The Times got the story going, but the Daily Mail (in true Daily Mail fashion) played it like a fiddle. They put some muscle into it, naming the pigs Butch and Sundance (they were sister and brother, but w/e) and sending their best out pig catching.

The two were located in someone’s back garden after a week of freedom and eventually captured, Sundance first and then Butch. None the worse for wear. The Mail bought them for an undisclosed sum and they lived out their lives in the Ashford Rare Breeds Centre.

Yes, the picture is posed by pig actors. They made a made for TV movie about it.

Turns out one or both of them had a wild boar for a daddy, so there’s that.

So. I do understand this, but I am embarrassed. I am embarrassed to admit I posted a tribute to my dead chicken yesterday and then tucked into a bowl of Chinese chicken and rice. One day, mark my words, I’ll end up a vegetarian. Or dead at the bottom of a huge karma pile.

March 21, 2017 — 8:50 pm
Comments: 15

Rabbit holes

caynton

This thing has just popped up in my Facebook feed, so you may well have seen it. It’s a photo essay of a cave underneath a Shropshire field that was used as a place of worship by the Knights Templar. It’s a cool story: you squeeze in through a hole not much bigger than a rabbit hole, and there’s this 700-year-old maze of twisty passages carved out of the rock.

Bonus: if you follow this link in the Independent and you’re lucky in the ad rotation, you’ll get to see an animated version of the Lloyd’s ad I posted about yesterday. You know, the interracial gay wedding proposal one.

ANYway, the reason this story has popped up now (not immediately apparent unless you dig around) is that someone has been let in to take photos. Actually, the caves have been known about since forever (I guess, I couldn’t find a date) but they’ve been sealed since 2012.

The owners (it’s on private land) tried to accommodate everyone who wanted to go in, from pagans to satanists to the merely curious, and so, naturally, the graffiti, vandalism and garbage leaving got out of hand. Put up gates, gates torn down, so they sealed the whole thing. With earth, I guess.

One of the links I followed from Facebook promised video. Then I realized I was visiting the dang old Knights Templar themselves!

An organization calling themselves that, anyway. And very peculiar it is, too. The site is full of typos and grammar-os. The graphics look borrowed from video games. Their FAQ takes pain to describe the organization as non-political, not racist and welcoming to women. So, naturally, it appears to be ultra right wing, anti-feminist and all about the cultural defense of Western Christian civilization. Its centered in Brussels, of all places.

Cultural push-back. We’re going to see a lot of this.

March 8, 2017 — 8:06 pm
Comments: 13

Yay! Candy bars!

picnic

Boo, candy bars will cost more in future. Is there nothing they won’t blame on Brexit? Though, in this case, they probably have a point…our currency hasn’t entirely recovered from the shock yet.

One of the great pleasures of being a nimmigrant is getting to try new junk food. I think I’ve worked my way down most of the candy bars — the novel ones, anyway — and this is my favorite. It’s called a Picnic. It’s raisins, peanuts and cookie stuck together with caramel and coated in chocolate.

It’s got an awesome texture. Me, I’m all about the textures. (No marshmallow. NO MARSHMALLOW).

Wikipedia tells me they’re sold in Australia, parts of Canada, New Zealand, New York City, India, Ireland, Russia, Ukraine, South Africa and the United Kingdom. New York City? New York City!

The Australasian version doesn’t contain raisins. Go figure.

The slogan was “Deliciously Ugly” — which. I dunno. Aren’t all chocolate bars somewhat turdlike in appearance?

One of the downsides of being a nimmigrant is I get blamed for all things American. Snickers bars, apparently, have always been sold as Marathon bars in the UK. And now Mars, Inc is selling them as Snickers here. And everybody is sore at me.

Mmmmm…Snickers.

March 6, 2017 — 9:32 pm
Comments: 20

Happy Pancake Day!

pancakes

It’s Pancake Day, calloo callay! Pancake Day is what the Brits call Shrove Tuesday. They make pancakes on this day to use up rich ingredients (like eggs) before Lent. My mother in law made pancakes today, and she’s older’n dirt.

It’s hard to see British pancakes as rich, though…they’re usually more like crepes. Imagine my sadness when I ordered pancakes in a restaurant once, expecting to get a fat stack of flapjacks oozing butter and maple syrup, only to be served one thin crepe, folded over on itself with a dusting of powdered sugar. It was a sad, anemic little object. To be fair, if that’s not astringent enough, you can order them with a twist of lemon.

O wherefor art thou, IHOP?

For Pancake Day, they more or less lose their food status and become athletic equipment, where they feature in pancake races.

Meh. Think I’ll have a hamburger.

February 28, 2017 — 9:11 pm
Comments: 27

No, not this one

moons

I think this would be a difficult piece of furniture to live with. “Twin moons stare down one-eyed space aliens fresh off the mothership, 1769” we’ll call it. It’s got a certain…mmm…I dunno.

For our anniversary this year, Uncle B bought a beautiful 17th C coffer to replace the Ikea entertainment center eyesore in the living room. It arrived today, and it’s spectacular. It’s the first thing you see when you walk in and it’s perfect (and, yes, it has the set-top box on it, but somehow it still manages to look dignified).

We’ve been meaning to buy one for that spot, like, forever. When this house was built (sometime between 1500 and 1610), oak coffers like this would have been the one for sure piece of furniture they would have had; probably a number of them. The chair was a newfangled contraption (at least in terms of furnishing a humble household), so these things would have served as storage, seating, working surfaces. We had no lack of ones to choose from — Britain is lousy with them, still.

Anyway, I found our friends the moon-aliens while looking for a picture of a coffer similar to ours to show you, on account of I’m too lazy to try and get the difficult shot of ours in situ. Mostly, though, I wanted to tease you guys with the sort of antiques easily available here. Tease, tease.

Oh, and thanks to Brexit jitters, the pound is nearing parity with the dollar. You can buy a whole English £ for $1.20 today.

February 22, 2017 — 10:10 pm
Comments: 8

Think of the lettuces!

lettuce

Whenever I hear about the severe vegetable shortage, I wonder — who the hell wants to eat severe vegetables? But, yeah, you’ve probably read that we’re having Vegetable Issues.

The story is, we in the North are dependent on growers in the South if we want Summer veg in Winter. England relies mostly on the Spanish for things like peppers and spinach that won’t be available from local growers for months. And Spain has had a shit Winter. Much of their February crop was rained out.

How serious? Eh. Two weeks ago, I paid £.45 for a head of iceberg lettuce at Aldi. Last week, the same store was asking £1.10. They had plenty, though.

Frankly, I think 45p is super cheap for a head of lettuce, anyway. I remember in college there was a spike in lettuce prices and a head climbed over $1. We were horrified. We seamlessly switched our salads to cabbage and felt quite pleased with ourselves…until a few days went by and the gastric consequences of a diet rich in cabbage began to present itself.

God, we were stupid.

The oldies I work for aren’t impressed. Summer vegetables in Winter are a danged newfangled idea, like digital whotsits and the gramaphonium. We have plenty of local veg, and all the better for not coming from the Continent.

So, don’t worry. We aren’t facing scurvy any time soon.

p.s. No, I didn’t buy the lettuce. We’ll do our weekly shop tomorrow and I’ll tell you what it’s up to now.

February 6, 2017 — 8:02 pm
Comments: 23

What is this sorcery?

fog

For the past two days, we’ve had intermittent bouts of a thing the locals call ‘freezing fog’. I don’t remember encountering this in Rhode Island (or Tennessee, for that matter).

Super thick, super cold. Visibility was so bad yesterday afternoon, I had to go slower and slower on my bike because I couldn’t see jack. Turns out, the fog was hitting my glasses and progressively coating them with ice.

Ohhhhh…I guess that’s what makes it freezing fog.

The picture isn’t mine. It’s from this Yahoo article about the phenomenon. Only, they call it ‘freezing smog’ and claim it’s down to still air and pollution, with so many people burning coal and wood for heat during this cold snap.

I call bullshit. I don’t know what it is on the Continent, but it’s just plain old (clean breathing) freezing fog here in the rural South of England. Most of the people in the comments are calling bullshit, too, but only because it’s Yahoo and nobody trusts them.

For the kzillionth time, wouldn’t it be great if there were a news organization that earned a reputation for reporting the facts as accurately as possible, so we didn’t have to squint at Every Single Thing we read?

January 24, 2017 — 8:12 pm
Comments: 24

Come in, Lord Satan. Have a seat.

satanchair

One of our oldest local inns is closed this week for general renovation. I got a chance to walk around and take pictures today. Hoo boy, was there some beautiful furniture! Not original, except for some spectacular wall carving, but they’ve bought antiques appropriate for the period.

Hard to photograph dark brown furniture, alas. I hate using flash, but there was no other way to get sharp images.

This guy lives in an inglenook AND SOME DAY HE MUST BE MINE. I don’t know anything about him except he’s real, probably 16th or 17th C, and they call him the Unlucky Chair.

There was an article in the Mail today about how Ikea is killing the antiques trade. Probably Mail hyperbole, but it is true that so-called ‘brown furniture’ is at a very low ebb at the moment. We must start haunting the auction sites — O, how I love me some brown furniture.

But they’re talking about the 19th C stuff. Beauties like Goat Chair don’t go cheap.

January 18, 2017 — 10:20 pm
Comments: 7

If you don’t hear from us for a while…

flood

We got a robo-call about an hour ago, GLaDOS letting us know we’re in the flood plain. Here’s the map. They’re updating continually, but we are currently in a red zone.

Property flooding is expected for this evening’s high tide, as a result of today’s North Sea surge combining with high water springs.

What happens is, when there’s a high tide and a surge, the narrowness of the Channel squeezes the water onto the land. Violently. I wasn’t much worried at first, but Uncle B has been gleefully telling me stories of whole towns wiped away overnight and, errrrm. Well. We’re packing a couple of bags and cat/chicken carriers, just in case.

I don’t think it’ll be tsunami fast; if there’s a problem, we’ll have time. High tide’s in six hours.

See you on the other side!

UPDATE: well, it’s 45 minutes to high tide, and nothin’. I think we’ll live. Have a good weekend, everyone!

January 13, 2017 — 5:50 pm
Comments: 19