Crab Spider

Crab Spider

I believe that this pale green specimen in a crab spider. It’s the first time that I’ve seen a spider this colour.

Critters Gardening

Bee on anemone


This plant has been at the bottom of the garden, spreading its ugly leaves wider and wider, and Karen and I were slowly appreciating it less and less. Then, suddenly, flower buds appeared – dozens of them. And we like it now.

Critters Gardening



A butterfly on my son’s sand-and-water play table.


Cracked Disc


The other day, I beat up a CD with a drumstick in order to set an excellent example to my son. The results were beautiful.


Another aquatic tale

Driving home from work on Friday evening was an ordeal. My main route home was impassable, and my second choice was even worse.

My third choice involves a very narrow country lane, but I figured that I might as well give it a whirl, because the alternative was a very, very long detour.

Things were looking promising, and I encountered three cars coming the other way, in quick succession. This was a good sign, because it meant that the road was passable. If it had been impassable, then these three cars would have either been reversing, or much more spread out. I reached the very lowest point on the road, where a large, deep puddle crossed my path. I slowed down, but not too much, and went through.

As I drove through the puddle, I became aware of two things.

Firstly, a quantity of steam coming off the bonnet of my car. This was a little worrying, but I kept my faith.

Secondly, a motorcyclist coming in the other direction, with a look of terror on his face, hollering something incomprehensible. We must have entered the water at about the same time.

It wasn’t until late that night, trying to get to sleep, that I cast my mind back to the motorcyclist. With the clarity of hindsight, I could now picture him in my rear view mirror, totally submerged by the wall of water being thrown up by my car.

And I racked my brains to try and figure out whether he had entered the water before or after me. Because my conscience really wants it to be the latter.

For the record, I did get home eventually. My third route was impassable, as was my fourth, but by this point I was close enough to home that I could park the car on high ground, roll up my trouser legs, and it was only a five minute walk home. All in all, it took me an hour to get home, where it normally takes me 10-15 minutes.



There is no exact right time to start toilet training. 12 months is almost certainly too early, but Karen and I figured that there’s no harm in assembling Bernard’s awesome Seat-A-Kid and plonking it on him every now and then.

This morning, I was changing his nappy, and put him down on it for a few seconds. He looked at me, smiled briefly, and then attempted to dismount.

However, his dismount was clumsy, and the yellow insert (see the picture in the link above) was flipped through the air behind him, spraying a quantity of urine all over the carpet.

“Hooray, I think!” I called, gave him a brief smattering of applause to show my approval, then grabbed a couple of flannels to sop up his little puddle.

This task completed, I rushed through to the bedroom to awake Karen, who was in the middle of a totally pointless nap that would be ten minutes long, at most, as it was nearly breakfast time. I told her the story, and she shared my enthusiasm.

Bernard was excited too. So much so, that he had another wee, and I grabbed three more flannels and a change of clothing.

Gardening Photos



Lots of these growing by the sides of the roads in my town, and also in my garden.

This is pretty insanely close-up, by the way. Each of these little flower heads is just a few millimetres across.

Parenting Photos

Small object of desire

On Thursday, I was pushing Bernard around the supermarket, as I do. We reached the last aisle, where I saw a display of cheap toy cars – 69p each, or 2 for £1. A huge “3+” emblem in the corner of the box made it clear that these were not going to be suitable for Bernard for nearly 2 more years.

“Well, baby, ” I said, “I’ll buy a couple and then look after them for you.”

And now, I hold my red 1/56 Honda S2000 and my yellow 1/57 VW Golf ((yes, the different scales do mean that the Golf looks awkwardly small and the S2000 looks awkwardly large)) in my hands, and think “By golly, these feel good.”

Toy cars. Where have I been all these years? I’ve been in a wilderness for the last decade or two, but I have returned.


Here, do yourself a favour. This weekend, buy yourself a toy car. You’ll feel fantastic.

*UPDATE: I’ve taught Bernard to push the cars around on the floor and make vrooming noises. Karen is most impressed. Truth be told, so am I. Vroooom!*

Original Music Parenting

Soundscape 1

My son asked me to help him record a song that he’s been working on. I’ve put it up here for you to listen to.

The song launches instantly into a dynamic and rhythmic first movement, with an up-beat tempo and airy feel. The listener is then startled when the music suddenly ceases, and is replaced by a very short, but very profound, acappella passage.

The artist can then briefly be heard adjusting his position in the studio. The second movement comes in at about 34 seconds, and it is an altogether much darker affair. It is a veritable assault on the ears, and contrasts superbly with the poppiness of the first movement. The lyrics here are much more sinister, chilling in what they don’t say, almost as much as what they do.

The artist is clearly exhausted, and spends the subsequent 40 seconds regaining his composure, while remarking on the quality of the coffee.

The third movement begins at exactly 1:29, and indicates the artist retreating into his shell, musing on his purpose and offering deep philosophical questions to the listener. It is by far the longest movement of the piece, and it tapers off gradually, in anticipation of the superb fourth, penultimate, movement.

The fourth movement, at about 2:25, is unlike anything that this reviewer has ever heard before in his life. Consisting of just the same note played three times, each time quieter than the last, it symbolises mankind’s lack of faith in his own judgement, gradually becoming less and less confident of his decisions as time goes by. Remarkable.

More studio noise, and then the final movement at 2:58. This movement is presented in a minor key, I think. By now, the artist’s exuberance has caused the guitar to go completely out of tune. Which says it all.

If I had to use one word to describe this piece? Majestimospheric.

(mp3 no longer online – email me if you are interested)

Displeasure Food

High fructose, low satisfaction

Karen was forced to rescind on our lunch arrangements, leaving me somewhat up in the air. This is a figure of speech. I was not really up in the air. I was stood on the ground, and then shortly thereafter, sat back down in my chair.

So I went to the nearby sandwich shop for the first time in months. I used to go there every day, before realising exactly how much money I was wasting, and all the marvellous things that I could do with that money instead.

I purchased a can of Coca-Cola to go with my sandwich and my bag of crisps. Upon taking my first sip, I was unimpressed. It didn’t taste quite right. Close, but not close enough.

I turned the can over in my hand and realised the cause. Again, I didn’t *literally* turn the can over, because this would have resulted in the drink pouring over my lap. I actually rotated the can, whilst craning my neck to silly angles until I could read the (very helpfully) vertically-orientated text.

This drink had not been canned in the UK, but it was actually made to the US specification. For the last 22 years, Coca-Cola from the US has been made using High Fructose Corn Syrup, or HFCS, instead of sucrose. This is for the simple reason that it is cheaper, because importing sugar into the US is ridiculously expensive, and corn is ridiculously cheap. Other soft-drink manufacturers do it too, along with producers of other processed foods across the nation.

The Coca-Cola corporation, unsurprisingly enough, claim that there is no difference in flavour between Coke made with HFCS and Coke made with natural sugar. To which I counterclaim: O RLY? ((Now that O RLY has passed out of vogue, I feel like I can get away with saying it))