Saturday, September 18, 2021
HomeNewsNotes from the sticks: Within these (two-foot-thick) walls

Notes from the sticks: Within these (two-foot-thick) walls

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THE online BBC weather forecast is not at all reliable round here. One of the things that annoys me is that the summary at the top of the page is often unrelated to the hour-by-hour forecast. For example it may say ‘Light rain and a moderate breeze’ when the details suggest downpours and gales. Either way it can easily be wrong. However to be fair this week it has been spot on: having predicted sub-zero temperatures, that is what we got. Luckily our 1710 or thereabouts stone-built cottage has thick walls – in this picture the wall is 25ins wide (64cm).

I am afraid it is a bit grubby at the bottom because when the dog comes back wet and muddy from a walk he shakes himself there.

We have a wood-burning stove which makes the place cosy. Though not for much longer if the green zealots have their way – we do use kiln-dried logs but I don’t suppose they will be permitted indefinitely.

Talking of green zealots, the great thing about the cold weather is that we don’t hear much from them about global warming. I am sure they have arguments that low temperatures are in some way an indicator that the earth is burning up, but even they must have the sense to realise that they need to put a sock in it while people are shivering.

I stick to the BBC forecast because although it is useless it is easy to read. Can anyone recommend a better one?

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A friend who lives in Warrington (34 miles from us as the crow flies) sent me this picture of a grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) relishing a pike in the Mersey near his home on Thursday.

It’s about 20 miles to the open sea so it’s a long haul for a fish supper.

On the way the seal had to negotiate Howley Weir, which is the tidal limit of the Mersey.

Here is a video taken last month of a seal in an overflow channel, and it is clear that the weir is quite an obstacle.

There is a stronghold of grey seals around Hilbre Islands off West Kirby at the mouth of the Dee, on the other side of the Wirral peninsula, so the chances are that these were on a day trip from there (or maybe it is the same intrepid individual).

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I regret to say that the butterfly which took up residence in my bedroom around September has died. It hibernated motionless for months but a few weeks ago started moving around, just changing its resting position a bit, keeping its wings closed. It has been far too cold to let it go outside, so I tried leaving small amounts of sugary liquid on a plate. I don’t think it understood what I was trying to do. On Wednesday I found it on the windowsill, its wings open in death. It was a small tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae), fairly common, very beautiful. (This is a stock picture, but it is just as I see them on my buddleia in the summer.)

I think if I find a butterfly indoors in the autumn again I will put it straight outside in the hope that it can find a better place to hibernate. 

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Margaret Ashworth
Margaret Ashworth is a retired national newspaper journalist. She runs the Subbing Clinic in a hopeless attempt to keep up standards, and co-runs A & M Records where she indulges her passion for 60s pop.

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