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An itinerant observer and thinker about life in general, sharing some moments of wandering and wonderment.

Saturday, 16 February 2013


<<< This is where we walked yesterday along a stretch of the River Cam. The footpath sign showed an eel, a river dweller that was once caught here in large numbers and sold well in London markets but now, sadly traditional eel catchers have declined to the point that only one man, Peter Carter still catches eels in traditionally, hand crafted eel traps made of willow. A real skill that has been handed down through 500 years in Peter's family history. Nearly 50 years old, he has no-one left to carry on these ancient skills. European Eels are an unusual fish due to the fact that they have low calcium bones, the calcium content reducing even further as they get older.
Here along the river banks  >>>
there were hundreds of fresh water mussel shells. Now, it is obvious that something is eating them, most probably otters but it could also be some of the bird species along the River Cam. Along other rivers in my past I have seen much larger shell specimens but it is good to see the freshwater mussel in abundance, a sign of healthy waterways.
The scene and temperatures were almost autumnal and the daft dog decided to go swimming in the river. There was quite a strong current and it carried the mutt what seemed to be upstream, which was a bit confusing as one expects the river to flow North to South, here it is the other way round for some geological reason, but it seems weird.
Anyway ... said mud covered canine was happy. Mud wellied owner felt at peace with the world ... and watching the sun set in the west was peaceful ... if flat unlike being at home.
As the daylight dimmed, through the locally known "Military Bridge" we headed for our temporary home. Content for the day, but longing to get back home to much loved Wales.
We shall soon be on the journey homewards , back to the old well known tracks of home.

Thursday, 14 February 2013


Now don't go expecting anything soppy from Ol' Dafad here. it's not my style. Also the observant amongst you may have noticed that yesterdays post was dated February 14th.
You didn't? Well no matter because I didn't realise until today that this old pooter was a day ahead of it's time, a problem hopefully just sorted, so it really is Valentines Day today.
As for my sheep back home ... methinks it's a bit late for the old ovine chat up lines.
The tups were doing all that back last October/November and are now well rested and as for the ewes, who were scanned quite a while back, they will be starting to lamb soon,
with the main lot being born over March and April when the hills will become alive with sounds of  tremulous young voices as the next generation starts springing over the fields.
Dafad here will be back home by then and ... apart from the worry about how the Schmallenburg virus will effect the lambing rate, I'm looking forward to being home.
Now ... for those who are not Welsh "Hiraeth" is a unique word in the language. Put at it's simplest it means homesickness, but it means far more than that, it is a sense of belonging to the land, feeling firmly rooted in Wales. Also nostalgia for the people, and obviously things like supporting the rugby teams either national or local and of course the wonderful sound of the Welsh male voice choirs. Wales is a land of poetry and song and the feelings of loyalty are strong but ... one can only really appreciate the meaning of the word once one has moved away from the home country and feel pulled magnetically to return ... home. And that is where Dafad will be heading shortly. Unlike me, the mad mutt is Welsh born and his excitement as we reach the border into Wales and increases as we travel over Bleanavon's bleak hills and head up the steep, windy mountain road towards home.
<<< Well at least the ducks may miss the dog or the other way round maybe and much as he has enjoyed the new scents in the fenland around here and has seen deer and hares running wild in the wide open, local fields. I just know that like me ... he would rather be back in mountain sheep country.
A border collie who knows which side of the border he would rather be. I'm looking forward to days on the mountain again, catching up with the farmers.
As the old, weather-wise country lore saying goes "Red sky at night ... shepherds delight!

Wednesday, 13 February 2013


Following my last post "A COP's CAUTION." I had to smile today as I drove along the same Fen road where I got cautioned for parking up for just a few minutes to take a photo. Just half a mile from where I had parked was a large lorry ... hazards brightly flashing ...
and there in the field, followed by a mass of seagulls, was a tractor harvesting sugar beet.
Now what is unusual about that, is the fact that this is mid February ... the harvest here is late, very late! Usually around here, the harvest is completed by late November, but the weather conditions have been so bad that the beet harvesters have not been able to work.
But just this one photograph will show you (poor as it is) what was happening today.
One man busily lifting the beet and a truck waiting to take it to the factory. What you see here is a root crop that will be turned into the sugar that you add to your drinks, food etc etc. The alternative to sugar cane, harvested abroad in "foreign lands" this is a home grown U.K crop and vital to our economy. I personally never buy cane sugar as I believe in supporting our local farmers. I once lived near the sugar beet factory in Bury St Edmunds and ... I have to admit that on processing days, the smell was strong, that combined with the local brewery and a perfume factory ... yes at times ones scent senses went into overdrive ... but it was all local industry hard at work and was acceptable.
Now, going back to me and my sense of humour, just after taking the above photo and ...
having driven off, I passed a police car, similar to that of the other day and I wondered ...
did that police officer, gently reprimand the patiently waiting beet transport truck with it's hazard lights flashing ... "You've parked in a dangerous place." Somehow, I think not.
See there is one rule for some and a different for others and that sadly is the way the world works. There is an old Yorkshire saying "Different strokes for different folks."
How very true that is.
P.S. today 14th Feb lots of "Mud on the road" signs magically appeared after a friend had an accident on a muddy bend late the other night, rolled her car right over on the roof and miraculously escaped out of the drivers window, which was open at the time of the accident. The car a solidly built Volvo got towed away and has been written off. On her behalf I went to see it today, to take photo's and was amazed she escaped without any injury at all. Unfortunately one of the hazards of farming country is that farm machinery, especially in these wet earth conditions, is that they leave mud on the roads, something us country folk accept as part and parcel of living rural life.One simply has to be observant and make due allowances for conditions in all types of weather.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013


I have to share something with you that amused me on the 7th. We went out of the village with a friend going on a shopping errand. As we reached the outskirts of the village there had been a funeral of a well respected local pensioner,the church was obviously packed and there were cars everywhere. They stretched from one side of the church to the other, the cemetery car park was packed and  the farm near the church had cars parked along their driveway ... on top of that there were vehicles parked on the verge of the road leading out of the village. Not being a local. I drove on but noticed the sun in the sky looking rather spectacular ( a moment not to be missed) and me being me had to pull over on the side of the road to take a photograph. I deliberately parked on the verge of a long straight stretch of open road. Fenland ... clear visibility for miles ... I put the hazard warning lights on & walked back, some distance from the car to avoid telephone wires being in the photograph, got just the shot I wanted as seen here below and walked back.
Now here is the amusing bit, I ... got stopped by a police car with his hazards flashing and I quote ... "You've parked in a dangerous place." I told the concerned constable that I was just taking a photograph and he drove on. I had to smile as just half a mile down the road, he was about to encounter cars parked all along the verges, and pavements either side of the village church, the cemetery car park was packed. I later found out that there were 200 cars at the funeral which was for an old, much respected local farmer whose coffin was taken to church by a tractor and trailer. What a lovely way to go that final mile!


On my last post. I wrote that I would tell you about the Anglo Saxon Village I visited on Sunday. It wasn't a long visit due to Dafad being tired and the weather a tad cold but what I saw and learned was so fascinating I got a booklet to read up about it more before I wrote a post about it. But due to other things happening around here I've not yet read up enough in the booklet to give you decent info, to go with the photo's so will give it a miss for now. That'll teach Daft Dafad not to plan ahead and make promises I can't keep. 
Now, for a while now I've been telling you about the Mad Mutt enjoying visiting the ducks on the village pond, but usually it is only a short, last thing at night walk and there has been no chance to photo them, so today I decided to go out in the daylight, to share the thirteen white aptly named Call Ducks. Bred originally to be decoys in duck hunting.
Luckily they are now just ornamental and are fed twice daily by willing volunteers in the village. Last time I was here there were only six, so it is nice to see the number increased.
When we were on the village green, they were all hunting for worms in the grass ... but as we approached they saw us and headed into and across the pond to greet us.
The sound is more quite muted with a long first note "Mwaaack ... mwack, mwack,mwack."
and I've learned to give them my version back, so an untranslatable conversation takes place. The daft dog no longer looks at me weird, but pricks up his ears and waits.
Normally they come close to the edge to look at this friendly four legged creature with his front paws in the water and they come in very close to us but today he dropped a ball in the water as it splashed they retreated to a safer distance. The dog looked rather sad that they'd scarpered. We continued on our way down to visit a friend who lives down ...

Being half term, she'd been busy making pancakes for some six children, only three of her own. The dog made instant friends and was kept amused by the kids as we had a warming mug of coffee and a chat about the local characters that give colour to village life.

Sunday, 10 February 2013


Hello folks ... Ol' Dafad here hasn't been too grand over the last couple of weeks. It took an emergency visit to a human vet to get tests and wait two weeks for the swab to culture.
No I don't have SBV but the results demanded rather dramatic medication which knocked me for six. A course of tablets that left me feeling fairly weak and with horrible side effects but ... one thing that really cheered me up yesterday was that in Paris, we beat the French Blues 16-6! Yep, a good result for Wales  against the blues (who were not at all happy).
It was a a tonic I can tell you. The skies at the end of the day here in flat fenland were holding an unsure promise of snow, though the local weather forecast up here was vague.
I went out with a local friend to check out the local pub ... I was amongst English supporters ... but luckily met one Welsh person whose folks farm in the Welsh borders.
At least there was some solidarity about us winning, but I'm in foreign territory here.
I bet the English felt rather smug today, I missed the match due to another commitment but am guessing they feel rather smug after their win over the Irish today. Apparently it was a rather tense and scrappy match which England managed to win by a 12-6 margin.
Meanwhile I was at an Anglo Saxon Village, which is an archaeological site with lots of reconstructed buildings, it was fun but bitterly cold ... more on that tomorrow! Goodnite.

Sunday, 3 February 2013


Well, I wrote it on last nights post that I hoped Italy would win today and they did 23-18. It was a white win for the Italian side and what I loved about today's match was that in the Stadio Olympico (Olympic Stadium to me & thee) there were 400 ex players that had won caps for playing for Italy. Each cap with the number of the order that the caps were awarded, it was an amazing sight to see them join in with the Italian National Anthem.
I was quite amazed and due to my relative ignorance I've googled the competitions history. I was amazed to read that the competition started between our four "nations" in 1882. France then joined in 1910 to make it five nations and the Italians were very late comers in the year 2000. Hence it now the RBS 6 Nations, supported by RBS, The Royal Bank of Scotland. What I didn't realise until today was that Italy have been playing rugby for so long and as I've written above have at least 400 caps to their team. I think that the presence of those 400 today, helped spur Italy on to win as they did today. I had other commitments today, so missed the match, but thanks to the power of the internet, have finally caught up with the salient points of the match and all I can say is well done Italy.
(just don't beat us when it's our turn to play you. not that I'm nationalistic you understand) Well O.K just a wee bit (a lot). But I also like to see the underdog come up trumps.
Of course I would like to see Wales go back to the heydays of the 70's when we had some very memorable players but ... whoever plays best on the day is the deserved winner.
And that is one of the things I love about Rugby. it is a game mostly for men, not prima donnas, unlike football. Our lads are tough and take the knocks. Here's to the rest of the Six Nations tournament!We've a while to go yet.  And with that folks ... I shall say ... goodnight.

Saturday, 2 February 2013


Well what a day for rugby fans as the RBS six nations kicked off this afternoon but before that all began I went out shopping and ... more importantly gave the mad mutt a run <<< peaceful sunny scenes ... if viewed through a camera lens  but oh my goodness the fen wind was cold and old Dafad here was not quite prepared for just how breezy it was, not that the dog minded at all. This part of the fenland landscape is just on the outskirts of a local town and still has not recovered from rain and melting snow. Did the daft dog mind at all? No ... not a bit of it, he loved it. There was plenty of water to splash around in and ... a long length of wood to play with.
He reminded me of tight rope walker ... except he was on solid ground, but he was proud!
And ... the way he managed to navigate past various obstacles amazed me, unlike our Welsh side later on in the afternoon,  but I shall come to that later, he was happy and, as followers of my blog know, he is a real fan of anything that involves splashing in water.
He realised we were close to getting back to the car and his delaying tactics were just wonderful (if at times frustrating ... I wanted to get back and watch the rugby!) He paddled about in the water, as seen above ... pretending he had lost that rather large stick!
Anyway I finally got him back in the car, navigated through the shopping list and returned in time to see our first match of the RBS Six Nations. It used to be five nations. For those of you who don't know it is a match series played between, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, England France, then late comers in 2000 to make it six nations, the Italians joined in
Now Dafad here (understandably) is a Welsh supporter, but we, sadly  got beaten today by the Irish (Celtic rivalry 30-15 to the green isle ) and later England won over the Scots by a rather large margin. 38 - 18. Tomorrow it is the French v the Italians (outside our borders) but I so hope that the latecomers, the Italians win, they deserve a chance.
As for the long-stick carrying dog ... he doesn't care who wins the rugby, but I do!
Here's to Wales  I say!
Cariad a Cymru.