Wednesday 24 April 2024

Steve's Nature Plus


Nature Diary

Spring has well and truly arrived, and even up here in Cumbria, we have the odd sunny day. April is a great month for getting out and looking for those most colourful of insects, the butterflies. This is a set of four of the commoner European butterflies to be seen this month. Over the whole of Europe there are nearly 500 species to spot in April, with about 70 here in the UK. Don't forget to look out for caterpillars and pupae as well. Many caterpillars are dependant on a particular host plant, or plants, which helps in their identification. The black, hairy caterpillars of the Small Tortoiseshell, for instance, can be found on stinging nettles, whilst further south in Europe, the Swallowtail caterpillars can usually be found on fennel.

The Old Git Bit

The inevitable has happened. I have reached pensionable age and am now, officially, an old git. This means that I am required to answer the platitudinous 'How are you?' with a complete litany of all my ailments (mercifully few as yet) and to point out, vociferously and dogmatically, that things in the 21st century are nowhere near as good as they were in the 20th. (This, I shall do with great enjoyment). A lovely quote from Spike Milligan's Puckoon which I always thought would apply to me on my retrement: "He lived on his pension and his wits, both totally inadequate". Fortunately, I was brought up to 'save for a rainy day', which is just as well, seeing as I've retired to Cumbria.

Travels With Ishbel

As a consequence of the above, I can now maintain a comfortable standard of living in my retirement, and indulge my love of travel. Just to update those of you who do not know me from my blogs over the past decade or so, I lived in Crete for the best part of a couple of decades until I lost my wife to cancer. A couple of miserable years followed, I moved here to Cumbria in the UK, met and fell in love with Ishbel, and I'm now happy again. Last month we travelled to the island of Sal in the Cape Verde islands (my first time out of Europe), the highlight of which was paddling with young Lemon Sharks.

Collectors Corner

I've always had a bit of a fascination with old scientific stuff, and since coming to live here, in a converted 18th century watermill, I have collected a few choice items. I have also developed a taste for other antique and vintage items as well. The trouble is, the flat is quite small, and would soon look cluttered if I let this get out of hand. The solution I came up with, to solve this problem, was to buy things I liked, live with them for a bit, and then sell them on. That way, I'd have constantly changing items of interest around me, without the place looking like a pawnbrokers. That was the theory anyway. I've now turned it into what I believe is called a side hustle nowadays, and sell worldwide on line. True, my study looks like a condensed version of Bargain Hunt and The Antiques Roadshow combined, and I can hardly get into it. Still, it keeps me out of mischief. Come in and have a browse. Antique, vintage and retro presents for housewarming, wedding or virtually any occasion are becoming de rigeur, as they slow the pace of modern manufacturing, and offer far better value for money.

Steve's Vintage Collectables. (click to visit)

Books and Boards

I haven't written any books recently, although I'm still playing around with some ideas. Truth to tell, writing a book is the enjoyable part; but promoting it is a pain. Being from a generation when self promotion was known as 'showing off', and actively discouraged, it doesn't come naturally to me and I'm pretty hopeless at it. Consequently, I don't sell many books. Anyhow, you can find a link to them below, and they're really rather good, if I do say so myself.

The other interest I've revisited since coming back to the UK is treading the boards with the local dramatic society. I've appeared on stage with them once, but find that these days I prefer to be behind the scenes, and you'll usually find me tucked up behind the sound and/or lighting desk, where I don't have to learn any lines.

For those of you who live locally, we do monthly play readings where we sit around in a pub and read a play to the annoyance of other customers. (Actually, we usually use a back room to avoid getting barred.) Our next one is at 7pm on Wednesday 1st May in The Swan on Kirkgate. It's a fun evening out, so come and join us.

Steve's Books (click to visit)

I hope you like the new format, even if this first edition has been a bit wordy.

All the best,


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