Cotswold Wildlife…Watcher or Twitcher?


Another in my series on Cotswold Wildlife. It’s that time of year when this lot will be out again, kitted up with the lenses and binoculars looking for LBBs…little brown birds. See if you can spot one, you might even know one, if so, then don’t mention the subject to them if you’re in a hurry to get anywhere.

This is available as a print from my other site at a more than reasonable price. Well, I think it’s reasonable. Delve right here.



WU liquid and others…


Do we need any WU liquid? Washing up liquid to the uninitiated. How long before it becomes a brand name. You could then get New Recipe WU, Power WU, Automatic WU.

Winston Churchill was a great one for shortening words, an early texter if you like. Or should that be txtr. It’s something I do on a mere shopping list, not on ” A History of the English Speaking People”, as he might have done. Perhaps it was originally called :Hstry v Englsh Spkng Pepl?

Anyhow, I had this thought. Does anyone out there have a family thing like we do for WU. If so I’d be happy to do a drawing of it for you, for free. As long as it’s not thousands of you, but then that’s not likely. If you’re in the UK then I’ll send you the original, nfrmd.

No rush, hurry up!

That’s another of ours, or to be more accurate, mine.


Just the weather to get the spuds in…



It looks like ice will be forming again this coming weekend. This is one of a series of drawings I’m doing on the weather. I started before the recent cold spell, which today was nowhere to be seen. In fact I planted two rows of spuds on my plot and a couple of rows of shallots. So far I have done 45 of these little drawings and am planning to have 52 by the time I finish, one for each week of the year. The Eskimo has, according to legend, over a 100 words to describe snow. I have a way to go yet and have the wide variety of British weather to work on.

Stay warm.





21. Long live the King! It’s the coronation of the century.


Tracy gave up trying to assassinate the King and got on with organising the coronation. Nicky Tams read a lot of books while he was in Scarborough hospital, recovering from his burns, and managed to acquire a certain amount of knowledge and wisdom. He felt far better about this King business and was sure that, after the coronation, he could look forward to a long and just reign at home as King of Nosepipe and, at a distance, Emperor of Ang Gonnaseck. Tracy was willing to change schools, live in Scarborough and be Princess Regent, so that was all right.

It was a spectacular event, the coronation, at York Minster. There were royals and all kinds of Very Superior Persons from everywhere, and all in their best ceremonial gear. The massed bands and choirs made beautiful music and the whole thing was absolutely fascinating. Every person was thrilled and absorbed, except for one small boy called Ranald Dragonsbane, who was a young prince from a strange country way up north and across the sea somewhere.

He knew that when they shouted “Vivat Rex” it meant Long Live The King, because he did Latin at school. But the rest of it was in Ang Gonnaseckian, a totally foreign language to him, so he got bored and began to think his own thoughts in his own language. These thoughts turned into a poem and, after a few mental alterations, he’d got it right. It went like this:

SNIMsnimglik THURPplenit gloffdup pernoop,

PABgaitle padjer nadonker macspoop.

NORFFweffy buxvuj, zakLAXbo binaa,

DOYNkil herGIFgaf, vulnana vulnaa.

Ranald was delighted with his poem. He ran it through several times and then began to count the little dots of light that were floating in the sunbeams.

It was a beautiful day outside and there were hundreds of shafts of glorious sunlight coming into the Minster through the many leaded panes of the vast stained glass windows. Ranald could see no end to the job of counting the dancing dots (‘snerk’ was the word he used in his language for a dot of dust dancing in the sunlight. We would call it a ‘mote’).

He had reached acknip throop (seven hundred and forty nine) snerkim (motes) when the sunbeam in which he was counting disappeared, as if its light had been turned off.

Then it came on again, and the one next to it went off. Then that came back on, the next one went out, and so on. He looked up at the massive window. A small, round black shadow was passing across it, like a bodyless head, switching the sunbeams off and on as it went. It looked like there was a circular, dense patch of fog moving along between the window and the sun, eclipsing the beams.

Or, Ranald might have said, it was like a ghah, which was his word for a little cloud. But it couldn’t have been a ghah, not on a day like this without a single cloud in the sky. Could it?


20. The Exploding Maggot and Other Stories.

Nickytams20_524Our latest episode of Nicky Tams the King of Nosepipe
as told by Gordon Thorburn and illustrated by myself.




Life is never dull with Tracy around the place.

At first, and building up to the coronation, Tracy was happy being the power behind the throne. There were many things to do, especially after the fantastic mess she made of her Economic Community.

You see, Tracy had persuaded Nicky Tams that the Kingdoms of Nosepipe and Ang Gonnasec should be made into one, with the same laws and everything. They couldn’t agree on a name for the new set-up so they called it the Economic Community, or E.C. for short.

Tracy appointed many important people to be Regulators of the E.C. and, as they would, they spent their time thinking up many important Regulations.

Nobody is sure which Regulation it was that eventually caused the riots. A chap in the pub said it was either E.C. Regulation 597 (b) concerning the universal standard distance between the prongs of garden forks, or E.C. Regulation 631 (c) concerning the number of ladies’ hairdressing shops allowed per 100 population. Or, it might have been E.C Regulation 2098 (p) forbidding the term ‘licorice torpedo’ on the grounds that they are not literally torpedoes. They are incapable of self-propelled travel through water and are not carried on submarines for warlike purposes, but some people might buy them thinking they were. Anyway, whichever was the Regulation, the riots showed that the people clearly had had enough.

Tracy had to undo the E.C. and go back to the original ways, during which tangled and headache-making process she convinced herself that it was all Nicky Tams’s fault. She began to wonder why there was a mere male on the throne anyway. Why not a female?

She decided to get rid of Nicky Tams. She would promote herself from Power Behind The Throne to Queenly Personage Sitting On It.

Her first cunning plan was the Exploding Maggot. It worked, to a certain extent, in that it did explode, but not in the fishing-bait tin while in the King’s pocket as intended. It exploded in the River Derwent near Wrench Green on the end of Nicky Tams’s fishing line (yes, yes, it’s private fishing there, we know, and fly only, but he was the King).

There was a terrific sploosh when the Exploding Maggot went off and a trout leaped out of the water and landed on the bank. Nicky Tams had never caught such a big fish before. It weighed half a pound (that’s the Olden Days equivalent of 226.8 grams). He was very pleased with it.

Next, Tracy tried the rocket propelled bicycle. She went to the hardware shop and bought some sodium chlorate weedkiller (such a thing could be done by young persons in the Olden Days). She mixed this half and half with caster sugar, which makes an explosive kind of rocket fuel, and then went quietly one night to the shed where Nicky Tams kept his new dropped-handlebar racing bike.

Tracy unscrewed the bell and drilled a hole in the handlebars where the bell sat, and took the bungs off the handlebar ends. With great care and patience she packed the handlebars full of her weedkiller and sugar mixture, put the bungs back in, and got to work on the bell. She rejigged the insides of the bell with a battery and wires, so that when you tried to ring it, you produced an electrical contact instead.

The contact was fixed to a little bit of soldering she had made earlier, and this was of wires to a torch bulb with the glass very, very carefully broken off so that only the fragile filament remained.

She inserted the filament with extreme caution through the handlebar hole into the explosive mixture. When Nicky Tams tried to ring his bell the contact would be made, the bulb filament would glow red and the rocket fuel would ignite. She hoped.


19. King Canoe. His doom is deemed.

What shall we do with the big fat wobbler?

Walking back from Oliver’s Mount to the DIY store, most of the Nosepipe army stopped off at The Mere cafe for a cup of tea and an ice cream, but Tracy and King Nicky Tams kept walking, discussing what to do about King Canoe. They also had a chat about Nicky Tams’s coronation as King Nicky Tams I of Ang Gonnasec and CCLVI of Nosepipe.

Tracy wanted the big expensive coronation in York Minster. No, absolutely not, out of the question, said King Nicky Tams as he firmly put down the Royal Foot. He wanted a quiet affair in St Mary’s Parish Church, here in his new second capital city of Scarborough. So, they decided on York Minster, and now they only had to agree on the doom, or fate, of King Canoe.

“I deem it meet that his doom should be….the block!” said Tracy, who had obviously seen the same old black and white films as Macdonald.


“What?” asked Nicky Tams. “Meat? Block?” He felt a bit queazy, to be honest, what with the battle and everything and now all this dooming and deeming.

“The traitorous King Canoe shall meet his doom, I deem, on yonder hill, whereat we shall build a scaffold high, an’ it please you, my liege,” declared Tracy, striking a dramatic pose.

Nicky Tams thought that the excitement of the battle had gone to Tracy’s head. They should have stopped at The Mere for a cup of tea and relaxed. Instead, here she was, all wound up, sounding exactly like the time they’d read part of a Shakespeare play in class at Nosepipe County Primary.

When the coronation was over, thought King Nicky Tams, he would slip back there and play Short Tennis again. He didn’t want to change schools just now. Maybe he could appoint Tracy as Princess Regent and she could stay here and have all the bother of ruling the Empire.

“I know,” said Nicky Tams, suddenly decisive and, for a senior government figure, amazingly honest. “King Canoe is no traitor. He didn’t make anything happen. It all happened to him. So, we’ll put him on the island in Peasholm Park. We’ll take the bridges down so he can’t escape, and certain special people can visit him each day in rowing boats to take his food orders, collect his washing and so on. How about that?”

When they got back to the DIY store they asked Canoe which he preferred, the island in Peasholm Park idea, or the scaffold-high idea, so there was no problem there. Canoe thought with relish of those people bringing him all his favourite dishes.

He could have Lasagne for breakfast; Haddock, Chips and Mushy Peas (with tea and a slice) for lunch; and Sweet and Sour Pork with Special Fried Rice for supper. Brilliant. And next day he could have American Hot Pizza, half a dozen assorted Waffles, and…should he have Southern Fried Chicken, Cole Slaw and Chips, or Steak Pie, Chips, Peas and Gravy?

What a perfect life, thought Canoe, with nothing at all to do, ever, except choose what to eat. With a wobble and a flob, he said goodbye to his conquerers and allowed himself to be conveyed to Peasholm Park in the back of a passing bread van.