Fishing for rabbits

In the spring of 1945 S/Sgt N. J. Blaska 39378483 and two of his USAAF friends were leaning on this five bar gate (or the one it replaced) in Houghton. Yellow cowslips were in flower all over the field and in the centre were the mounds of a large rabbit warren.

I was sitting on the warren, quietly, fishing. Just seven years old I had decided to catch a rabbit for the pot. Fresh from success in the River Ouse by the mill I’d decided to use a similar technique – the rod was a stick and suspended from it in the mouth of a burrow was a carrot. Another stick was at hand to dispatch my catch. Nothing much was happening until I heard a voice calling “Hey, Kid! Hey, Kid!” – with an American accent! No it wasn’t Brer Rabbit, it was S/Sgt Blaska.

I went over to the gate. The men were friendly and I was given a book of cartoons – Private Buck – which I treasure to this day. Perhaps they were thinking of their children back at home. I learnt recently that Norbert Blaska died June 4, 1993 – very sad because I really wanted to thank him again.

Thank you Iceland?

Thank you Iceland, not for Icesave but for the volcano (has it a name?) spewing a column of dust up from near the Eyjafjallajokull glacier.
Nobody has scribbled on our perfect blue sky for days. The airliner corridor high up and just to the North is empty.
Lower down there are no smaller airliners ferrying people from Norwich to Schipol in Holland (and visa versa) and no helicopters shuttling to and fro from the North Sea oil rigs, and no Eurofighters, no American F15s and no…
Ahh, it is so peaceful.

Bee-fly (Bombylius major). Photo © Brian Stone
Perhaps with what previously has been the usual background noise I’d have missed the the first insect I saw in our garden yesterday. Travelling from flower to flower with a bizzy but not loud buzz was a Bee-fly (Bombylius major). Only the second I’ve ever seen.
Actually it’s a little monster! This large, squat hairy fly resembles a small bumble bee. It has long hairy legs, a very long slender tongue and clear wings with a black band along their front edge. It is usually seen in early spring, hovering around flower borders and it takes an interest in both primroses and violets. The eggs are flicked towards the entrance of solitary bee nests.
The larvae are brood parasites in the nests of these bees and will be found where suitable areas for the nests of hosts coincide with woodlands, hedgerows or gardens rich in flowers. Adult flies feed on nectar, using their long proboscises whilst hovering beside a flower.
Parasite: larvae are external parasites of solitary bees such as Andrena species.
Prey: Bees and wasps

You’ve Gotta Larf!

Brand new sherbet blue

We’re downsizing. Our Honda CR-V has gone and a new Honda Jazz has replaced it.
On arriving home from picking it up I backed our new Sherbet Blue EX into our garage. My other half went indoors.
Right, now to make adjustments to my driving position: steering wheel, seat hight, back rest etc. That done I popped into the back seat to see how much space my 6 foot frame has left for passengers. It’s a bit tight so I need to try putting the driver’s seat forward a little – except that the door won’t open: The dealer’s mechanic has left the child lock on!
There’s little space between the front seats for clambering forward, so what can I do? Fortunately my mobile phone was in my pocket.
GC rang home. “Could you let me out of the car please.” Yes I did get gently ticked off – but, honestly, I wasn’t playing with my new toy. My driving position is important. Isn’t it?