I was called from retirement to be one of four judges at the Beveren rabbit club Centenary Show at Thirsk, North Yorkshire.
Here we are again. Last time was at Leamington Spa about 28 years ago. A table of White Beverens . Note the blue eyes.
And the original Blue Beveren. It came to the UK about 1918 from the town of Beveren in Belgian Flanders
Handing out the awards. Derek Medlock receives the rosettes.
Cutting the cake with a grand old judge of the Fancy, Alfred Aldridge. I could listen to his Lancashire dialect for hours, and not tire. I’d wondered what I was doing here at my age . . then Albert donned a judging coat, and brought a lifetime’s experience.
Bowl with acer leaf stencil, threads and chips.
Bowl with fire scale embedded
Trees: unleaded blue, painted onto leaded white.
Here is a memoir of journeys into deep waters on merchant ships. There are tranquil tropical harbours and violent storms far from shore. We are in the wireless room when ships are calling for help. The story begins with humble origins on the coast of County Durham surrounded by family still coming to terms with the Great War. The author’s father went to war on horseback, yet in this story we are on the brink of the modern world. The writer was fortunate to join the Merchant Navy in the 1950s, and know its most glorious days. Harry Nicholson now lives near Whitby, on the Yorkshire coast. His other books are Tom Fleck, a Tudor novel of Cleveland and Flodden, and its sequel The Black Caravel. His collected poetry is suitably titled, Wandering About.
There it is. Taking a respite from historical novels, I’ve had a go at memoir. I’m cheered to find my first attempt has raised its first review – and from a lady in the USA.
on May 17, 2018
A captivating account of the life of a young man raised in Hartlepool England, who goes to sea in the Merchant Navy as a radio operator and returns home a master of Morse code. He’s witnessed strange and intriguing places that I will probably never see, but thanks to this author’s poetic descriptions and vivid imagery, I feel as though I’ve been there. For us history buffs, Mr. Nicholson offers insight into the history and legends of the places he visited. This memoir is a must-read.
This morning, the Egton Bridge (though we meet at Lealholm) Writer’s Group enjoyed my bit about hens:
Secrets of a Casual Poultry Breeder.
Part1. Not all hens are daft.
My first birds were a quartet of pedigree Marans; forty years ago they were expensive at £5 each. They laid deep brown eggs, as dark as Kipling’s Lazarushian-leather Gunga Din.
The cock was a bit of a bruiser though. He would fly at me with barbed talons. He had delusions above his station and considered himself licensed to attack all who came near, so much so that the kids refused to feed the hens. I cured him by chasing him around the field with a multi-stemmed branch of birch, thrashing him all the while. After that he kept my species at a respectful distance.
Maran hens might be much admired, but they grow boring. They just wander about, looking myopic, and crooning notes in middle C in a pathetic low voice.
To add interest to the tiny flock of four, I bought a trio of bantams, diminutive Black Houdans with feathered feet and tufted heads. I had to clip the long feet feathers – they might look handsome on the bench at Pateley Show, but they could hardly stagger back to the hen hut after they’d wandered around in our Nidderdale clarts.
Then, I could not resist a trio of powder blue Araucanas; they had Dickensian side whiskers and would lay blue-green eggs. They originate on the Pacific coast of South America, and take their name from the untamed Araucana Indians (traditional enemies of the Incas). The other blue egg layer is the Andalusian. Question: Is the Andalusian descended from the Araucana, or vice versa? Did the blue hen travel with the Conquistadores? And, if so, in which direction?
Next came three brown and exhausted battery hens (saved from execution at 50 pence each). The poor creatures, pale-faced and cowering, had to be taught how to perch. They took days to learn to face down the other hens, and dodge the attentions of the Maran cockerel; days to discover that the sunny, grassy world outside was safe to investigate and that they need not be afraid of worms.
After a while I gave up trying to keep the breeds pure; I simply allowed them to get on with whatever promiscuous arrangements they had in mind. The flock grew in size and became highly coloured and gloriously variable; some of the cockerels were most handsome creatures, akin to Old English Game or the wild Asiatic Jungle Fowl.
My favourite was a huge white male, a White Rock, just like Chanticleer who does the opening crow on Pathe News. At dusk one evening I was worried that some new chicks I’d introduced to the flock were not bedded down for the night. They were not to be seen. But there was Chanticleer, on his perch, proud chest puffed out, with the heads of tiny chicks peeping from beneath each wing.
Things to do in the Ice Age:
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Tagged cuckoo, fawns, moorlad