I usually post a picture of the last light of the year on New Year’s Eve, but there wasn’t much of it today. Instead, I offer you these swans, which I photographed as I walked into town to buy a loaf of bread. (Get me! I’m olde worlde!).
The field across the road is sown in rape (it’s a cinch nobody consulted a PR before naming it “rape”, isn’t it?) and for several weeks, the new crop has been home to a flock of swans. Mute swans. Cygnus olor. Dozens and dozens of them. I don’t know why the farmer doesn’t shoo them off; perhaps foraging swans are protected.
Wild, unmarked mute swans have been the property of the crown since the 12th Century, but Her Maj only claims the ones on the Thames these days. She graciously shares ownership with the Companies of Vintners and Dyers. Once a year, the Queen’s Swan Marker and the Swan Uppers of the Vintners and Dyers dress up in little red suits, climb into six little red skiffs and spend five days rowing the Thames upping swans.
How dost up a swan? Carefully, I prithee! Ho ho ho!
Swan upping: the Worshipful Company of etcetera paddle about on the river, shout “all up!” when they spot a brood of baby swans, circle the boats, lift the cygnets out of the water, weigh them, check them, tag them, count them and let them go again. When this gay party passes Windsor Castle, they stand up in the boats, raise oars, and salute Her Majesty, Queen of the Swans.
Weasel doesn’t make this shit up, you know.
As luck would have it, the bottle of shampoo next up in the booze rotation was my favorite. And it’s kosher! Soon, my beauty. Happy New Year, y’all!
December 31, 2008 — 6:21 pm
We had our first sit-down meal at our favorite Chinese takeaway this evening. It was nice. It was large. It was sweet. I find Chinese sauces here sweeter than I’m used to.
Fortune cookies are unusual here, but we got them. This really was mine. Uncle B’s was something about an angry man closing his eyes and opening his mouth.
We had a walk in the woods (saw a badger sett! And a barn owl!) and came home for a nice, long nap.
A couple more days of enforced idleness like this, and even I might long for a job to do.
Or, you know.
December 30, 2008 — 7:39 pm
Tesco’s roasted monkey nuts. Roasted monkey nuts. Say it with me: roasted monkey nuts.
Yeah. It’s what they call peanuts.
This isn’t my picture, though. I slung my camera off my shoulder in Tesco’s to snap a stealth photo, and my battery died.
So I nicked a pic off this person‘s Flickr stream. I tried to log into Flickr to leave a comment confessing, but I fell into Corporate Consolidation Hell.
Turns out my new ISP — British Telecom — uses Yahoo webmail, Yahoo owns Flickr and I can’t be logged into more than one. Can’t remember my Flickr or Yahoo details, and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t tell Yahoo my real birfday or anything, so I’m stuck. Here’s my account for historical purposes, anyhow. Everybody wave to it.
Feh. Roasted monkey nuts.
December 29, 2008 — 8:48 pm
We got invited ’round to the neighbors for Boxing Day afternoon. We got the time wrong and landed in the middle of family celebrations. Awk-warrrrrd.
Still…on the way home, I got Uncle B to take a picture of me next to The Sign.
December 26, 2008 — 8:47 pm
This? A British Airways place setting…from the Concorde. This is just the sort of brilliant, clever gift-giving Uncle B excels at and I…do not. I made him circle shit he wanted in a gardening catalogue. I’m pretty darned sure this is the first time in my life I’ve ever bought anyone vermiculite for Christmas.
We’ve just polished off the champagne…the turkey is in the oven…it has been an good Christmas. Hope yours was, too!
See you on Boxing Day! (Don’t ask).
December 25, 2008 — 9:02 pm
The time when Stoaty risks detention by serruptitiously taking picture of the most expensive unbought turkey on the shelf. This fat boy weighs in at £96.58, in money. That’s $142.31 by today’s exchange rate, making it a few dollars cheaper than last year’s winner. If we were still working on last year’s exchange rate, though, it would win easily at $191.65. Currency is magic!
Of course, last year’s bird had the charm of looking like proctology waiting to happen.
Appledore is a town in East Sussex. Bronze is a variety. We had a bronze breast (or ‘crown’) last year, and I thought it was vile. Gamey, like it was all dark meat.
But hark! What is that I hear? The tinkling of…booze glasses? Quick, minions — time to get falling-down drunk or Sandy Claws won’t come!
December 24, 2008 — 6:40 pm
Stoatpr0n, actually. Badger gave me this present early, presumably to keep me quiet while he did his end-of-year accounts.
It’s the September, 2008 issue of the BBC’s nature magazine, Wildlife, which features the best goshdarned weasel photography I’ve ever seen.
The photographer is Spaniard Oriol Alamany who chased a family of stoats in the Pyranees to get these shots (the little one looking into the camera is Mama Stoat, with her three fine sons. They grow to weaselhood so quickly!).
The whole magazine is slick and impressive. I’d ask Uncle B for a subscription, but magazines always pile up on me and become a throbbing locus of angst and guilt.
Not really something you want for Christmas.
December 23, 2008 — 8:57 pm
…needs a 40″ widescreen TV.
Okay, this isn’t quite the act of aesthetic vandalism it looks. Instead of having a big glommy tube television perched like a shrine in the focal point of the room, this will fold flat against the wall when we aren’t watching it. And…display a slideshow of classic Tudor portraits, or some shit.
And it isn’t quite the act of devil-may-care profligacy it looks, either. Uncle B’s been saving for quite some time. It’s amazing the sweet deals you can get in the teeth of a global financial meltdown!
Me, I played this one just right. “A widescreen TV?” I yawned, languidly flashing a full set of gleaming weaselfangs, “oh, I guess that would be okay. I guess.”
Hahaha! Stoopit badger! I’m a Namerican! The moment he hit the ON switch, I *pwned* that sucker. My eyeballs stuck to that big boy like duct tape sticks to duct tape. Eet ees so verra verra beeeg and shiiiiiiny!
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to watch the latest installment of CSI:Pulaski. Or the Wheelbarrow Channel. Or…whatever. Does it fucking matter?
December 22, 2008 — 9:22 pm
Though I gather my former neighbors in Rhode Island are digging out from under a foot of the white stuff, it’s unseasonably warm and sunny here. It’s nice, but let us hope for something a little more Christmassy next week.
December 20, 2008 — 10:26 am
Britain has been inching toward a semi-official two weeks off at Christmas and New Year’s in recent years — and, okay, nothing gets done Christmas week and New Year’s week; it does make a sort of sense — but, actually, everybody buggered off TODAY. I think taking the Friday before is pushing it, don’t you?
Poor old Uncle B was trying to get a little last-minute work done, and nobody was answering phone. So we said a merry “screw it!” and began our holidays, too.
That’s Old Skullcrusher draped in misteltoe, in case it isn’t immediately obvious. He’s the main housebeam, and that’s the front hall now — but we’re pretty sure he was once outside the house and that was an animal run, ending in what was an open-air stable and is now the kitchen. It may have been enclosed as recently as the 1970s, which is when the front door was built in its present location. It’s a whole forensic dealie, trying to work out the many phases of Badger House.
Anyhow, here come the holidays — Merry Preemptive Christmas, minions!
December 19, 2008 — 6:51 pm