Saturday, 28 February 2015

Snowdrop Garden Walk

Wordsworth's, 'host," may have been an appropriate descriptive word for swathes of daffodils on a Cumbrian hillside but what alliterative term would he have applied to the cool and delicate snowdrop if that had been the flower that drew his attention? To talk of a carpet of snowdrops may give some indication of the close proximity of the flourescences in established plantings but it ignores the delicate whiteness of each individual flower.


The first bulb of the year. A flower which reflects the snows and frosts which oft try to highlight the plant's naievity in daring to bring a little hope to the cold dark months. A subtle harbinger of spring.


Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Brush With Death

Three miles. Three deaths. I suppose that many of the local dairy farmers would applaud the nighttime carnage. I don't know enough about TB to assess if the fears of the agricultural community are based on substance. What I do know is that within three miles of the homely acres I came upon three dead badgers. At the first blood stained locus two corpses were strewn across the roadway causing me to slalom between them. A mile down the road a third dead badger lay haunched over a cats eye.


I suppose these animals were dazzled by car headlights and froze as their metal predators bore down on them. I would hope that they were not deliberately run over. Maybe a local amateur taxidermist will test his skills on one of the brocks or perhaps there is someone out there who is an agent of a shaving brush manufacturer who haunts the lanes and bye ways in search of raw material.


Saturday, 21 February 2015

Hot and Cold


I suppose that I thought, - had hoped,- that winter had slunk away for another year. I was mistaken. When I pulled back the curtains and parted the shutters this morning a dusting of snow had whitened the lawns. Quite pretty I suppose, but indicative of cold. My outside perambulations confirmed a temperature that was barely positive.

Despite the coldness of the day I determined that today would be the day that I sowed my chilli and pepper seed. I have selected a fairly standard sweet pepper, "Lany," this year together with a red Chilli Pepper, (Hot Mexican), and a green Chilli Pepper, (JalapeƱo). The seed trays are now ensconced in a heated propagator. I suspect that I should see some indications of growth within the next ten days. Summer seems a long way away.



VO2 Testing

It is a long time since I had my vo2 measured, - probably thirteen or fourteen years. In the last week I have had it measured twice, on Monday and Friday. Well that is strictly not quite correct. Monday's test had to be suspended as the seal on the face mask broke. As a consequence the screen showed that my oxygen consumption was decreasing although I was running faster and expending more energy. A neat trick but not possible! Hence the reason for Friday's test.

I had volunteered for the test. A sport's psychologist needed twenty individuals to assist him in his investigations and he had approached various athletic clubs, including my own. The vo2 test was carried out so as to determine base figures for subsequent tests which are also be carried out with the benefit of a treadmill. He seems to be particularly interested in how runners motivate themselves during the course of a race.

Running on a treadmill at speed is slightly disconcerting, most particularly when you have a face mask clamped to your vizog. It isn't so bad at the early speeds of 10, 12 and 14kph but once you are really striding out and coming close to your maximum speed you do begin to realise that the surface beneath you is moving and that it is not advisable to stumble or stop. For safety reasons you do have a harness which would hopefully stop you flying off the rear of the treadmill. Thankfully I didn't have to test the sufficiency of this safety measure and I was able to jump astride the side rests whenever I felt that maximum effort had been more or less achieved.

Despite the elapse of the last thirteen or fourteen years my vo2 has only decreased by some 2%. Clearly my training regime has been reasonably successful in plugging the hole that is age related capacity and fitness.




Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Run at Drive's End

The drive to Sunday's athletic exertions was not as tiring as I anticipated. I picked up my passengers at a,"park and drive," shortly after 9.30 and from thence we headed south in search of Athlone and its Institute of Technology and the attendant indoor track.

This facility is so so different from the cattle shed in Tullamore which was previously lauded as the Republic of Ireland's Indoor National Arena. The new track has decided that it should be called an International venue and I wouldn't disagree with that designation.

This was my second visitation to the track, ditto one of my passengers. For the remaining duo it was to be a new experience. Our fifth club participant, who was travelling separately save for his young teenage son, had also trod the boards a year back.

The event we were participating in was the Leinster, (provincial), Indoor Championships. The two, "masters," within our assemblage managed to achieve three provincial titles between them. albeit as guests, one at 3k and two at the metric mile.

Whilst the drive to Athlone was better than anticipated the return trip was just as tiring as I had dreaded.



Saturday, 14 February 2015

Drive to Run.


A weekend of stretched limbs and long sleeps seemed to be beckoning me. But t'was not to be. Instead of a period of comparative leisure with the mind gremlins comfortably exhausted by prolonged physical effort in the garden and no dreaded and unwelcome telephone calls for at least another day I have committed myself and the seventh day to some eight hours of driving with an indoor race occupying the gap between the end of the fourth hour of driving and the commencement of the fifth hour.


If I was not providing the transport for two others I do not think that I would be contemplating a four hour journey home in the dark. I suspect that the four hours might even drift towards five. I can't say that I enjoy long drives, especially ones that have to be undertaken post the setting of the sun. It's not a reflection of age. I can't remember ever being other than somewhat timorous of long night drives. I acknowledge that I am not a natural driver.


Maybe indoor bowls should replace athletics as my sport of choice. T'would be more parochial.


Wednesday, 11 February 2015

The Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert Andrew McVeigh, B.A., Q.C.

Herbert ( Bertie) Andrew McVeigh son of John McVeigh, J.P who carried on business at Strand Road Londonderry was born on 8th December 1908. He entered the preparatory department of Foyle College in 1914 when he was just four years of age. Subsequently he attended Queen's University, Belfast from where he graduated in 1930. Thereafter he took the bar exams and was called to the Northern Ireland Bar in 1931. He took silk in 1948 and eight years later he was appointed a High Court Judge. In 1956 he was knighted upon his appointment as a Lord Justice of Appeal, replacing Lord Justice Black. He was subsequently appointed a member of the Northern Ireland Privy Council. In 1966-67 he was President of Foyle College OBA. He died on 3rd October 1977.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Down in the Orchard



My embryonic orchard has been the locus of this weekends efforts in the garden. I have cut the frost withered grass with the trusty shears and given the trees a surrounding circle of comforting compost and bark. Two years since the initial planting I am beginning to think that I should have chosen more mature specimens. I haven't had any cobnuts to date and last years apple crop amounted to a mere two fruit. They were however very tasty. Hopefully this year will result in a meteoric increase of produce.


I am hoping that I can clear sufficent ground to enable me to plant at least six more fruit trees in what I insist upon calling my orchard. What these will be I haven't quite decided, but I will need to make my mind up rather quickly if I am to get them planted this year. A mulberry bush is a tempting notion as is a walnut tree. Perhaps a few quince would be a good idea. I shall ponder over the nursery catalogues for another week or so.


Friday, 6 February 2015

Not for Reading

The Dark Palace - R. N, Morris - Severn House Publushers Ltd.

I like to support the local library. If people don't make use of their libraries they will be an easy casualty of Government cutbacks.


Unfortunately I lifted this book by Roger Morris when I last entered the portals of my nearest repository of the written word. It was a real effort to read this detective novel. From page two onwards I was tempted to desist from the task. I cannot remember when I was so disappointed with a book. Maybe there are some readers out there who found this story riveting but if there are I don't think that I would want to meet them.


I found the storyline unconvincing, ditto the main protagonist, (DI Silas Quinn). The characters were shallow, two dimensional caricatures who inhabited a world of melodrama. If the price hadn't read £19.99 I might have called it a penny dreadful. It was - dreadful.



Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Seed Order



When out on manoeuvres over the weekend I called in at the reasonably local nursery where I tend to purchase the bulk of my vegetable seeds. I do prefer to purchase from the local retailer rather than directly from the seed company.


Unfortunately the seed racks at the nursery were lacking the bulk of this season's seeds. The proprietor's son advised me that the balance of their order would be available within the next few weeks. I know that a lot of the seeds that I want will not be sown for a few months yet but things like peppers, celeriac and kohl rabi need to be sown before the end of February so as to achieve the best results.


I bought what seeds I could at the nursery together with a large bag of seed compost. I suppose that salved my conscience for my forthcoming actions. When I arrived home I have to admit that I went on line and purchased the balance of my seed order together with a garden knife. If the retailer had had the full selection of seeds my payment to him might have been almost £100 more than it actually was. My order arrived today.