I spent a couple of hours moth hunting last night. I don’t mean going through my wardrobe in case there is anything munching through my jumpers, I mean going to Whitmuir Organics at 8pm to spot moths, like some people spot trains, butterflies or birds. Only one person in the group of about thirty had the foresight to bring anti-midge cream (what on earth were the rest of thinking, forgetting such a vital piece of kit?) and, bless her, she passed it around.
The official Moth Recorder for Peebleshire (yes, really! Apparently all counties in the UK have one. There is more about Peebleshire’s here, go to page 8), gave a talk and set up traps. Not elephant traps for the unwary, but containers with fluorescent lamps attached to their tops to attract the moths.
Most moths seem to be brown, but there are pretty ones. Taking photos of them flying around in complete darkness is a skill I might never acquire. Someone brought along a rope soaked in wine and sugar, that moths seemed to like. I managed to get a photo, in focus, before the moth fell off. Note that it is brown.
Moths weren’t the only things attracted to the lamps. After an hour or so the few that had arrived were heavily outnumbered by midges. At the other end of the scale I noticed an aircraft heading towards us from the direction of Edinburgh with its landing lights on. Fortunately it turned towards the airport before it reached us.
The moth trap attracted larger flying creatures. The observant will notice that these are not moths (also, that ducks don’t do photo ‘red-eye’).
The falling timeball (see here), as a means of indicating the time to ships in the Firth of Forth and to the gunner on the ramparts of Edinburgh Castle, hit a snag. Edinburgh and its environs suffer dense sea mists known locally as the haar (think ‘Arr, Jim lad’, Robert Newton’s interpretation of LJS by RLS…or the much better take-off by Tony Hancock – and if you don’t know what I’m on about, I’m sure Google will come to the rescue). The haar obscures the Time Ball, rendering it useless both to ships at sea and to the one-o’clock gunner on the castle ramparts, who probably had trouble finding his gun in the mist anyway. New technology came to the rescue. A wire was strung from the observatory to the castle (the mind boggles at this) so that at precisely 1pm somebody in the observatory could throw a switch to actuate an electric bell in a box on the wall beside the gunner on the ramparts. Though the Time Ball could not be seen from ships, the bang could be heard.
These days the gunner tugs a lanyard. Back then he would have lit a fuse. Did the delays matter? Did someone calculate the time it would take for the electricity to reach the bell (a bit more than the speed of light, probably) and the time for the fuse to burn down and fire the gun? You bet they did. From small beginnings like this, men flew to the moon.
Today I was told that my blog contains adverts! I was gobsmacked. They don’t appear on the version I see and I certainly didn’t know they were there. Some, I am told, contain advertising logos and pictures. A quick check on the Internet showed me that other WordPress bloggers have the same problem and are similarly gobsmacked. Apparently I need an upgrade to stop this happening. To me this is rather like buying a car and finding its brakes don’t work, then being told that I need an upgrade to fix it. Not the best analogy, I know, but you get my point. I’m hoping the ads have gone now, because I have just paid out $30 for that privilege. An upgrade? Isn’t it odd how the world of computing has corrupted our language, not simply the words but their meanings. I have bought an upgrade to stop something happening. Seems ass-about-face somehow.
While I’m on about advertising, marketing and the like, I wonder how much firms like Unilever pay for design and marketing advice? I stopped off today to get my usual brand of washing machine liquid. Not only has it been discontinued, the replacement (upgrade?) product is in a narrower and taller plastic bottle than my usual one, and too tall to fit between the shelves in my cupboard. The solution, of course, was simple. I bought another brand.
The Bike Station has moved. The elves no longer toil in darkness under Edinburgh’s Waverley. They are now above ground, behind the BP garage in Causewayside. I came across them on my way to photograph the evergreen caterpillar / Loch Ness Monster thingy. I really must get around to donating my old bike.
I have spent time re-doing my other website, it is here. It still doesn’t compete with the best (far from it), but it has extracts of some of my as-yet-unpublished novels. I know it’s a competitive world out there, but I often wonder what you have to do these days to get your work into bookshops. A previous MD of Random House, one of the UK’s biggest publishers, did a ‘red-pen’ job on the first few chapters of one of my novels. He told me that I would, eventually, get published. I believed him. Ten years on, I still believe him.
What puzzles me is that for every five or so books I buy ‘at random’ from bookshop shelves, only one is any good. Two are just about readable, and two are rubbish. So who, in publishing, chooses the four turkeys? (This isn’t sour grapes, I have been around too long to bother with stuff like that – though I do regret wasting my money buying those turkeys, probably a good reason for me to stick with authors I like).
I have been told that even J K Rowling initially failed with agents and publishers, eventually succeeding by having her work shown by a friend to someone connected with publishing, though I don’t know how true that is (it could be a herd of bullocks). I’m no Rowling. I just write stuff that people, apparently, like to read.
I am reliably informed that the Whitmuir Organics’ farm dog is Lily, not Millie. I must get my ear trumpet fixed.
If it isn’t the Loch Ness Monster then it has to be a cross between a caterpillar and Brian the snail from Magic Roundabout. It is certainly green enough to be a caterpillar (though I acknowledge that not all caterpillars are green). And if it is a caterpillar, I find it surprising that some enterprising graffiti artist hasn’t added legs. Or perhaps I shouldn’t have said that…
Well, not exactly. Dances with pigs, possibly, as this tipi (teepee, if you are a cowboy or from Hollywood) has been erected not far from us at Whitmuir Organics at Lamancha. Nearby, on the other side of the hedge, are families of a dozen or so piglets and a couple of sows so big that you really would not want to get into an argument with them. The Whitmuir Organics sheepdog (Millie, so not exactly a dog) decided to round up all the piglets but was spotted by one of the mothers. Have you ever seen a pig chasing a dog? It’s a sight to behold, especially when the pig is faster… hard to believe, but true. The dog jumped the gate. The pig didn’t.
Nice relatives who shall remain nameless bought us tickets for the Edinburgh Tattoo. We have lived here for twelve years but for some reason have never seen it (well, you don’t, do you? When I lived in London it was nothing short of a miracle that I actually managed to visit the Tower of London, Hampton Court and Kew Gardens while I was there. When you visit a place on holiday you make sure you see everything but when you live there you don’t. Well, I don’t. Not the Tattoo, anyway. Not until last week). I had hoped to take photos, but the sun was in the wrong place (astronomers might tell you otherwise). Don’t think I’m complaining. The weather was marvellous. The thought of sitting there for 90 minutes in pouring rain is probably why I have never been before.
The highlight for me was the bikes. I had never heard of The Imps. Their display started with a five-year old riding around the arena on a small motorbike. He came back in a similar sized sidecar, ridden around the arena on two wheels with the sidecar in the air. The only time I have managed to do that on my own bike and sidecar is when I have taken a right hand bend too fast. It’s scary when you don’t expect it.
The Imps are aged between 5 and 16. They are VERY impressive. As I said, when I watched them the weather was good. Since then some performances have been wet. I liked the Twitter comment on their home page last week ‘No injuries yet…’
The photo above is stolen from the web but it is the Imps’ own picture so I’m sure I’ll be forgiven.
Also, check this.