Leading you up the Garden Path

The Intrepid Ark was on the prowl this morning and while practicing my Standing Still Doing Nothing routine this chap settled on the paving by the pool. I gingerly stepped out of its way and nipped inside to fetch the camera, came back and took a few photographs.

First time I have seen this butterfly at The Ark’s spot.

It is called a Garden Commodore.  And it is a male ( according to the trusty Butterfly Guide I have)

Photographs ©Moi.   ;)

Garden Commodore Garden Commodore 2 Garden Commodore wing Garden Commodore wing 2 GardenCommodore front

Nite, Nite – For two dear friends.

I am busy watching Avatar  for the second or third time. ( I have never managed to watch the entire film in a single sitting and I think this time will be no exception)

As much as I love the graphics , the first time I watched it I thought the story and the dialogue  were dreadful.

I still do , even though I am trying to get over my prejudice.

In the scene where Jake first has to ‘ride a dragon’ he asks “How will I know he chooses me?”

The answer: ”He will try to kill you ”  and Jake replies “Outstanding! ” ,  is the same word said in the same tone and style of delivery as Corporal Hicks uses in the movie Aliens, which I felt was a much better Cameron movie and Sigourney Weaver was hotter then. She still is, mind!

If one were to substitute European Settlers/ General Custer for the  Humans and  Native Americans for the ”Blue Monkeys”, the Na’vi you have a  smaltzy tale told a hundred times.


Anyway, the graphics etc are impressive.

I love the  Hallelujah ( floating)  mountains in the film –  they remind me of  some of the artwork on classic Roger Dean Album covers.


Roger Dean also designed albums covers for the band Osibisa




And talking of album art work…… I saw the Welsh band Budgie, at a club called Quaintways in Chester when they toured promoting the album Bandolier.


David Sparling did the cover art.

Here’s the track, Slip Away.

For my mate Nigel and his beautiful wife Nikky, who have recently  celebrated thirty years of marriage.

Good one guys!









Book Excerpt – a smile before dinner.

Thanks to blogpal Tish Farrell for once again providing inspiration for a post.  Her mention of lead roofs in her latest post prompted this excerpt  from The Nine Amendments, the third book, in a comic fantasy series titled The Meaning of Lif.

The Trois. Wholly Order of the One God.

Chapter 3

The room was large but not ostentatious, containing a small oak desk, a swivel chair and a bookcase against one wall.  The other three walls were bare stone. A single, grubby window, high up towards the ceiling, allowed only wan light to filter through. Hence, the two large candles on the desk. These provided adequate light to read by but did little to dispel the crepuscular atmosphere.

For such a high-ranking Judysear official, the highest in fact, the room was austere. Precisely the way the individual who used it wanted it to be.

He did not like visitors to feel warm and cosy and for this reason the cavernous fireplace remained unlit.

Poop Gothly LXIX had seen the light, and he knew where it came from. Although he did not worship the sun, no matter how one chose to spell the word, he recognised the power, and therefore preferred to keep it at a distance. He did not overtly challenge it and it did not appear to challenge him.

Gothly sat at his desk reading a scroll listing the latest proposed revisions to the Wholly Bye Bill.

He studied the proposals in very much the same way a predator might consider its next meal, which was in keeping with the man’s character; being somewhat mantis like in his mannerisms. It was always difficult to know whether he was considering how best to pray or how best to prey. Unfortunate was the person who misread the signals.

His stick-thin, two-metre frame gave him a permanent look of hunger.  Although this look was one of avarice rather than for food.

On the scroll rested two of a set of three onyx paperweights. The third, with its simian hand across its mouth, sat at one corner of the desk looking accusingly at Gothly.

Word of Isack’s departure had already reached Gothly’s ears.

If there was any substance to the nature of Knewtun’s trip to Sunniclimes, then there was a real danger of compromising the word of the Trois. And of course, that would not do. Not do at all. Therefore, it was incumbent on him, as spiritual leader, to ensure that nothing and in particular, no one, rocked the analogous boat.

A drop of water splashed onto Gothly’s crimson velvet skullcap causing him to look up.  The next drop caught him flush in the face.  He wiped the water away with his coat sleeve then jumped his chair to the right. The third splash landed on the floor.

Gothly looked up at the very large person standing on the opposite side of the desk. He raised an eyebrow a fraction and the person moved with more alacrity than should have been possible for one so large. Or one with such a pronounced limp.

As he came around the other side of the desk, Gothly handed the man a large, gold chalice.

‘Thank you, Hirtliffter.’

Hirtliffter placed the chalice on the floor underneath the dripping water, where it pinged in metronomic fashion as each successive drop hit. It was not long before Gothly began unconsciously counting out an irritating adagio and he also realised he was blinking in time. Looking up, he noticed Hirtliffter’s eyes doing the same.  And worse, between each blink, the man sniffed. Before Gothly could stop it, the rhythm lodged itself in his mind. Blink, sniff, blink, sniff, blink, sniff, blink.  He cursed under his breath, knowing that the annoying little ditty would be with him for the rest of the day, rolling around inside his head like a tiny pebble in a shoe.

Gothly cleared his throat. Hirtliffter snapped out of his reverie and flashed a look across the desk. His gaze fell upon an ornately carved wooden box. He reached for the lid.

‘Not the chocolate ones, please, Hirtliffter.’

‘Sorry, y’Worshipfullness,’ Hirtliffter apologised then opened a smaller, plain box and retrieved a handful of ordinary wafers. He bent down and filled the chalice, thus muting the sound of dripping water.

‘Thank you, Hirtliffter.’

‘Yes, y’Worshipfullness.’

‘I think perhaps you should see to it that the roof is repaired, Hirtliffter.’

‘Yes, y’Worshipfullness.’

‘And also, someone ought to have a word with some of those poor little fatherless mites responsible for removing the lead, don’t you, Hirtliffter?’

‘That would probably be in order, y’Worshipfullness,’ Hirtliffter agreed. Not that he was likely to disagree.

‘Not an order, Hirtliffter, merely a suggestion,’ Gothly corrected.

‘Right, y’Worshipfullness. Suggestion. That’s what I meant to say.’

‘One of your better suggestions, Hirtliffter. Thank you.’

‘My pleasure, y’Worshipfullness. Should I proceed with my suggestion at once?’

‘In your own time, Hirtliffter, in your own time.’

Senior Warden Rumply S. Hirtliffter considered this with a certain amount of consternation. He did not, in fact, have any of his own time so the suggestion threw him.

Gothly saw the man’s brow crease. He sighed.

‘Off you go, Hirtliffter. Off you go. And please tell Mister Perry I will see him now.’

‘Yes, y’Worshipfullness,’ the man acknowledged, clearly relieved at being given a direct suggestion.


The Nine Amendments. Copyright ©Douglas Pearce

Leading you up the garden path – watch the birdy!

Coffee in one hand, camera over my shoulder I went for a wander  round the garden just after breakfast hoping to do my best Gerry Pearce impression.

If one treads lightly and tries not to be there and listens – amazing how little we actually listen to things – you’d be surprised how many animals and birds will not tear off in fright at the first whiff of a human.

I was standing quite still the other day, just watching a  Cape White Eye nosh on half an apple I had speared on a thin branch of one of the wild plum trees  when out from under a shrub appeared a tiny mouse.

It scurried across the   brick paving to within a metre of my feet to grab some seeds I had dropped for the pigeons. Mouth full it turned and scurried back to where it had come.

I didn’t have the camera on me, but what a treat, nevertheless.

I managed to snap these two this morning.

The Hadada Ibis perching on the back wall, and on my return to the house, the Grey Heron – who, after I had taken a couple of photos took flight ( sans fish, thank goodness) as the dogs came haring down the garden woofing for all their worth.

hadeda on wall Heron 21



When I wandered out to the garden first thing this morning, munching my cornflakes , I saw this…

fire on hill Fire 2


Every  now and then we see plumes of smoke on the other side of the valley; I always hope it is merely someone burning  winter grass.


When you see smoke what song immediately comes to mind?

Of course, is there any other?

Not quite Smoke on the mountain but…..

One of the most recognised  riffs in rock music. Richie Blackmore’s signature…

From the remastered album, Live in Japan.

and of course there’s this….


Nite Nite….

Watch the Birdy

Another new visitor to The Arks spot.

An excited call of “Dad, bring the camera!” from Ems had me legging out to the le jardin as I know when I get ”the call” there is going to be something worth seeing and photographing.

We get visits from the Feral Pigeon ( not too often) and a pair of Rock Pigeon nests under one  of  the eaves of our house – no prob.

This is a Rameron Pigeon   or African Olive Pigeon and although they are quite widespread this is the very first time we have seen one at our place. So this was a treat indeed!

Handsome looking bird too.

rameron pigeon Rameron Pigeon 1



Baby Bert drops in for a visit.

We have rain spiders in South Africa. They can grow up to as big as the palm of the Ark’s hand and during the rainy season in Johannesburg they tend to come indoors and one is  quite likely to find a Bert, as we call them, clinging to the inside of a cupboard door or  sitting inside a glass!

To see one at this time of year, which is effectively winter and ( almost always) rainless is rare indeed and if you don’t mind spiders, it is a treat.

We opened the back door and found this Baby Bert swinging merrily in the passage leading to the kitchen.

This one, with legs fully open, is about the size of  my thumb

In the third and fifth shot the flash caught its thread (web).

bb3 bb5 bb6 bert big bert big2


Oh, for god’s sake! Being averse to verse

So, come oh Son of Man, walk with me a while.

Through fields of wheat, let us count the grains.

Let time wear our bones to the finest dust, then sieve us once again,

Now reduce them to the nuclei of life.  Of matter.

And does it, in fact, matter?

Of protons, electrons, mesons,

Of such things are universes made – and ants.

Can you see a conscious thought?

Can you see a soul?

Can you see a god: any god?

Of course not. We are dust –So blow me.


And talking of things wheat.  A tune for Tish from the magnificent Wishbone Ash. You have to listen to the words! 

Time for me tea…like.



Nite, nite – Summer breeze.

Was generally a quiet day all round. I occasionally enjoy days where little or nothing much happens.

I got a really nice email from  my publisher…which is always cool. They are proofing one of my books and  with any luck it will be available in the not too distant future.

So…I’m off to grab a cup of tea and watch a movie – Something’s got to give, with Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton. Love this film.

The opening song in the film is by Earth Wind and Fire and this is not what I am going to close with..

I was inspired, yet again, by another sweet thing my dear Gibraltar blogpal,  Roughseas wrote on her blog about moi.

‘Ark has a wicked taste for vile music (you may like it), is appallingly sexist, and I’m sure I can think of many other things to accuse him of.’ 

How could I not love someone who considers I am sexyist?



Here y’go, Kate. How’s this for ”vileness”   smiley face, smiley face…. :)

The Isley Brothers.





Story Post – for the kids out there.

Roughseas made mention of frogs on a comment on the previous post and this came to mind: one of  a couple of children’s stories I wrote way back  when to read to my kids – only so’s we could all have a go at doing the noises.

Time for some lunch, I reckon.

Henry the Frog



Henry was a frog. He lived in a pond at the bottom of a field on the farm of Farmer David brown. It was not a large pond. But it was big enough for Henry. In the centre of the pond was a large lily-pad. During summer, Henry would swim out to the lily-pad and sit on it all day long. He liked to warm himself in the sunshine and watch Farmer Brown’s cows grazing in the field.

The cows would  often come and graze by the pond. Henry would always greet them by saying, ‘Nee-deep’. But the cows took no notice of Henry. Although he was not a lonely frog he would have liked someone to talk to occasionally.

There was a little boy who also lived on the farm.  His name was Joey and he was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Brown.

Sometimes he too would come by the pond. He would pick wild flowers or rushes for his mother. But he never stayed very long. Farmer Brown had warned Joey never to go too close to the edge of the pond just in case he fell into the water.

One day, during summer, Joey came to the pond with farmer Brown. He had brought something with him. It was a toy sailing boat with a large white sail.

Farmer Brown had made the boat out of wood. He had fixed a metal keel to the bottom of the boat to keep it upright in the water. The boat was painted bright red. Mrs. Brown had made the sail out of an old pillowcase.

Farmer Brown had attached a long piece of string to the back of the boat so Joey would be able to pull it back if it sailed out too far.

Henry thought that the boat looked wonderful.

He said ‘Nee-deep.’

This was all very exciting for Henry. He watched as Joey knelt down and put the boat into the water. Joey gave the boat a little push and as a small gust of wind filled the little sail it sailed out onto the pond.

Joey cheered with delight. Farmer Brown smiled and Henry said, ‘Nee-deep.’

Joey noticed Henry sitting on the lily-pad.

‘Hello, frog,’ he said.

Henry was surprised. Nobody had ever spoken to him before. Henry smiled to himself. He felt very happy. Henry was a well-mannered frog so he replied, ‘Nee-deep.’

The bright red boat with the large white sail floated right past and continued until it had reached the far side of the pond. The boat bumped into the bank and stopped.

Joey had kept hold of the long piece of string and began to slowly pull the boat back across the pond. But when the boat was halfway across the string became tangled in some reeds that were poking out of the water.

Joey tugged and tugged but the boat would not come free. Farmer Brown also tugged but he too could not free the boat. Joey was upset. Henry was upset too. He gave a sad ‘Neee-deeep.’

But Farmer Brown had a plan.

‘Joey, you wait here. I will go back to the house and fetch my wading boots. Then I will wade out to the middle of the pond and untangle the string.’

Joey thought this was a good idea and he was soon smiling once more.

Henry also thought it was a good idea. ‘Nee-deep,’ he said cheerily.

‘Don’t go too close to the water’s edge, Joey,’ Farmer Brown reminded him.

‘I won’t, daddy,’ Joey promised his father.

While Farmer Brown was gone Joey picked some flowers to take home for his mother. Some of the cows came to graze by the pond and Joey patted and stroked them. The cows tried to nibble the flowers he had picked so he had to hide them behind his back.

Henry was so happy. He had never had so many visitors to his pond in one day.

He called out, ‘Nee-deep.’

Joey smiled and said, ‘Hello frog,’ again. Even the cows ‘mooed’ at him.

A short while later Farmer Brown returned with his big black wading boots. He sat down on the grass, took off his shoes and pulled on the boots. Then, he walked to the far side of the pond, carefully stepped into the water and waded out to the boat. He untangled the string and Joey was able to pull the boat back across the pond. As Farmer Brown was about to climb out of the pond he noticed Henry.

‘Hello, frog,’ he said.

‘Nee-deep,’ Henry replied.

Farmer Brown waded back across the pond and climbed out on to the bank. Joey was very pleased to have his boat back.

‘Thank you, daddy,’ he said, gratefully.

‘You are very welcome, Joey,’ Farmer Brown replied.

And Henry said, ‘Nee-deep.’

Just then Mrs. Brown called from the farmhouse.

‘David, Joey, time for lunch.’

They both waved at Mrs. Brown to show that they had heard her call then began to gather their things before going home.

Joey asked his father.

‘How deep is the pond, daddy?’

‘I’m not sure, really. Not very deep,’ Farmer Brown replied.

Farmer Brown thought for a moment.

‘Hmm,’ he said.

Henry said. ‘Nee-deep.’

‘That’s it!’ exclaimed Farmer Brown.

‘What is, daddy?’ Joey asked a little confused.

‘That is how deep the pond is. It is knee deep. The water came up to my knees.’ He pointed to the mark the water had made on his boots.

Farmer Brown turned to Henry and said,

‘Thank you, frog for telling me how deep the pond is.’

Henry smiled to himself and thought, ‘You’re welcome.’ Then he said,


Joey and his father laughed. Joey picked up his boat and the flowers for his mother. Farmer Brown picked up his shoes and they both went home for lunch.


Copyright  ©DSP

Leading You Up The Garden Path

Around the pond.

A few bits of interesting information about the history of  koi..

They originate from eastern Asia – in the Black, Azov, Caspian and Aral Seas – and from China, where the earliest written record of these fish is found.

Confucius is said to have been presented with a koi by King Shoko.

Koi were first introduced into Japan by the invading Chinese and were first kept by an emperor around AD200.

In the 17th century koi (carp) were introduced into the irrigation ponds of some rice farmers to supplement their diet.

Colour mutations were first noticed between 1804 and 1830.

Courtesy of the Practical Encyclopaedia of Koi. Salamander books.


We first began keeping koi a few years ago after I was standing in the middle of the garden at our old house and announced , “Let’s dig a pond!”

So we did. After laying out the shape with the help of a hose pipe  we dug our first pond. A 2000 litres job complete with plastic liner, a couple of  water plants and several gold fish.

After a week, when everything went fruit shaped, we bought a book, read up what to do, extended and deepened the pond, and cemented it.

Then we added plants, a proper filter, plus a small water feature. That done, we waited a fortnight for the water to ”mature” and then gradually introduced a few fish. This version was around 5000 litres and the fish  were a lot happier.

When we moved we had a ready-made pond in the form of a 100,000 litre swimming pool.

Heaven! ( for the fish at any rate) AD comes and  swims in it with the fish during the warmer months. The fish have never complained!

We have bought a few fish from time to time – an African Darter once paid us a solitary visit and cleaned out an entire crop of new fish –  but since they breed quite happily we have not added to the collection from outside sources in a number of years. Although we did adopt several large goldfish from a friend whose small pond was getting overcrowded.

The goldfish too now breed  and this year we must have around ten new fish.

Many of the fish we had in our old home are still alive and ‘swimming’, ( Koi are very long lived animals) and many of those featured in these photos, were born in the pool. Notably, Ariel, Europa, and Sirius.


Sirius, Ariel,Triton

Sirius  and Ariel








cropped-219.jpgkoi 2


Ritual Hate.


I didn’t pay too much attention to much of the written word on this post from DP, but the pictures, and his views on shooting animals for fun tend to make me almost want to gag.

But that’s me….

Maybe you won’t find the pictures offensive?

Why not go and see and tell DP what you think?

One for you John, perhaps?


If I had two mistresses...


DP believes that this would be one of two women that would be his ideal mistress.

So, not only does he get a hard-on for women that kill for sport he is not averse to considering taking mistresses. Nice! Married AND a Christian.

Good one , DP. Moral and ethical all wrapped up in one.


Originally posted on Truth and Tolerance:

Three times this year a girl has been ritually crucified on the internet for the sin of shooting an animal. The first was an eleven year-old who shot a mountain lion that got too close to the family ranch and appeared to be stalking her brother. The second, a Texas girl who posed with a picture of a lion she shot (with a bow!) while on safari, and the third a Belgian girl who was given a modeling contract after the cameras discovered her at that World Cup thingy, only to have the contract yanked away when she posted a picture of herself on Facebook with a gazelle she’d shot (along with the promise to do the same to the American soccer team. I take no offense.)

The general tone of twitter and comment sections of newspapers was one of maniacal hatred, wishing death and destruction on these intrepid Dianas.

View original 771 more words

Consumer Advice Required…

which_magazine_coversIn the UK there was ( is ?) a monthly magazine called Which? in which (eek…here come the grammar Nazis) a range of experts vet various consumer products. But not vets, strangely enough.

My dad sent me a copy one summer when I was in the market for a new PC.  I found it very  useful. Especially in rolled-up format for belting the occasional Parktown Prawn that wandered into my office after a thunderstorm.

They only come out at night.  Sounds like a cheap and nasty B horror movie.

Sorry, getting sidetracked there. Shudders…those bastards just freak me out.

So, back to Which?

I was wondering if it’s possible  to do a similar vetting job for religion?

Therefore, this is a call to all you religious folk out there: Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Jehovah Witnesses, Quakers, Catholics, Young Earth Creationists, Old Earth Creationists, etc.

The Ark is currently a staunch atheist, but is now considering a ”Lifestyle Change”.

Perhaps imagine I am a (metaphorical) lifelong Windows user and you now want to sell me an Apple.

I would like to hear from the religious out there and for as many that are prepared to participate  explain to me why I should become a ”believer”: the benefits of me hanging up my atheist hat and accepting god….your god.

It should be fairly easy, I would think. Each person of faith is passionate about their belief. You all consider it infallible, that your god and religion are the right one. I mean, if you didn’t feel this way you wouldn’t be a believer, am I right?

Convince me. Maybe I truly am missing out on something?

The Ark.