Friday, 7 March 2014

From China: Sepia Saturday 218

I was struggling to find a picture and a link to this weeks theme.

The picture shows " the areas in Sydney affected by the outbreak of Bubonic Plague in 1900" and the suggestions for a topic are " fences, back yards or bubonic plague." Well, I have no interesting pictures of backyards, or of fences and I didn't think I had anything I could connect to bubonic plague either. However, having always been interested in things medical, I started to research around the topic of bubonic plague, or 'The Black Death' .
According to research "The first outbreak of plague occurred in China more than 2,600 years ago before reaching Europe via Central Asia's "Silk Road" trade route" and then went on to kill around one third of the population of Europe in the middle ages.  It's a zoonotic disease, meaning it's caught from animals, and in this case rats and fleas. Without treatment, the bubonic plague kills about two thirds of infected humans within four days.
So here is my link to the old pictures of China, maybe with or without Bubonic Plague:
European Gardens Shanghai
I can't find any reference to these gardens in modern times and my guess is they were removed as part of the cultural revolution in China.
Hankow Road, Shanghai

However Hankow road still exists but looks rather different now!

Picture Wikki commons
A Chinese houseboat

And this Chinese houseboat may well have attracted the odd plague infected rat!
I learned about the Black death at school but thought it had died out, but apparently a case was reported as recently as 2012 in China, and also in parts of Africa and South America. I remember this nursery rhyme I learned at school
Ring a ring o' roses
A pocketful of posies
A tishoo A tishoo
We all fall down
We thought it was sweet but it is supposedly about the Black Death.
For more on this theme go to Sepia Saturday

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Sepia Saturday 216: Three men - a mystery

This weeks prompt for Sepia Saturday is of three men in hats.

I couldn't find three men in suits but I did find a picture of three men in hats.

The picture was amongst the collection recovered from the house of Ian's neighbour. It's in poor condition but you can definitely see three men and by the looks of it they are in some kind of costume. Perhaps they are in a play or a charade of some sort? I hope that's what it was because if you look closer....

... you can see that one of them is pointing a gun at the other man. They don't look too worried however...

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Sky's on Fire

Last night's sky really looked like it was on fire.
View from the office window

Sky and clouds

Monday, 17 February 2014


Pingy is the name we give to the extending lead that we used when walking the dog when we don't want to let him run free but we want him to be able to sniff and explore things nearby. We use it when we are in parks, or out on long walks where we might come across other people or other dogs, or where we might go close to a road. It's a solid, professional standard lead, that extends to about 10 metres, but can quickly be pulled back in when we need to.

It's not that the dog doesn't understand 'come', and most of the time he is very obedient and does just that when called. It's just that he is a little wilful and if he is doing something interesting he will hesitate before returning. He also has a very high prey drive, and if he sees something fluffy or fast, such as deer or a sheep, a red mist descends and he becomes deaf and blind to anything else other than the chase. He will take off instantly and chase whatever it is he has seen until he has calmed down or lost the scent or until he remembers himself. This can take anything from two to thirty minutes.

Today we went for our evening walk and I noticed that our neighbours sheep were in our field, so we ventured out with pingy. For a while he didn't notice the sheep, but then he got a scent and got exited. He still didn't see them, but then as we came over the hill they were there. I thought I had the lead locked short but it must have slipped, so he took off at full pelt. Realising that when he got to the end of the lead I was either going to dislocate my shoulder or he was going to strangle himself I had no option but to let go.

I watched the stinky dog charge 100 or so metres with the extending lead flying behind him. I watched the sheep run through the hole in the fence from whence they came, and I watched him jump over the fence trailing pingy behind him, getting it caught in the fence for a while and then pulling it free. Dog and sheep disappeared.

I ran over quickly calling him all the time, worried that he had gone down into the woods with the lead trailing behind him; imaging him hanging from a branch or tree, with the sheep gloating in glee at the bottom.

I got round the corner and saw him wandering back, lead still there, looking annoyed that he had been hampered in his sheep chasing activities. Panic over!

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Floods and Eggs

I have been watching the news reports of the extreme weather in Britain, with storms, gales, tidal surges and flooding and actually feeling rather glad that I am not trying to get to work or travel anywhere as I can imagine the sense of panic and the disruption that would permeate everywhere. Of course the sense of catastrophe always seems worse for those of us that are not actually there, whereas if I was 'in the thick of it' I would just be getting on with it and probably wondering what all the fuss is about.

Here we have also had unseasonable weather. This winter we haven't had more than about 5 frosts, and none of them have been severe. Instead we have had day after to day of heavy rain. The ground is now waterlogged, every time the dog goes outside for a wee he brings in more mud, my coat is covered in mud, my wellies are just about holding up and the grass is growing but too wet to cut! We have had our own flood to deal with. Our house and garage are on a slope and the garage is lower than the house. We have always had problems with run-off from the fields when the ground is saturated. It used to hit the rock below the cellar and then sit there. This was solved by building a moat style drain in front of the house and installing a pump. However, we made a beginner's error when the electric and water supply were laid going down to the garage.

We laid the conduit for the pipes but failed to realise that when it rains they become a channel for the water and take the water straight down the pipes and up into the floor of the garage. Ian spent a week out there in the rain, digging and laying another drain to divert the water away from the garage, and we had to unpack everything, check it, dry it all out and put it back afterwards. It wasn't really a problem we wanted to have to sort out, but at least it was something that we could solve, unlike the people living by the River Thames, who can only wait for dry weather and the waters to subside.

Closer to home, the Gironde flooded in Bordeaux a couple of weeks ago, and the left bank and Bastide area was under half a metre of water. The towns of Marmande and Tonniens in the Lot et Garronne were also affected.

So.. what has this to do with eggs? Well apparently the chickens like the milder weather and our local farmer friend in currently getting a dozen eggs a day. He has been giving them to us at the rate of 2 dozen a week! We pass some on to other neighbours but I am running out of ideas of things to do with eggs! I think we will having quiche tonight!