Nature’s bubble wrap. And ants.

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“Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise”

Word of the day: myrmecophilous – having a symbiotic relationship with ants

This morning my train got cancelled! Which means I ended up sitting in a carriage with all the wrong people, going from the wrong station. I’ll have to wait until Monday to see Angry Staring Man and the twins again.

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Melianthus seed pods ready to be stamped on

 

However I did make two interesting discoveries today. One was that the seed head of Melianthus (pic above) makes a very satisfying popping sound when you squeeze it, far more delightful than bubble wrap. I showed some to Dan and his eyes grew wide as he began popping feverishly away, then I showed Jessica and she was soon jumping up and down on them. I reckon I could market them:

Melianthus bubblepop! The all natural way to relax.

Bubblepop, no plastic, no toxins, just soothing pops to ease your mood.

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The other discovery happened when I pulled back a dead leaf and discovered an ants’ nest underneath. They hadn’t even bothered burying their army in the ground. The swarms of flying and pedestrian ants quickly fled to hid under another leaf, but I got a  photo.

Oh AND the brilliant Calmgrove has been doubting the veracity of some of my words of the day and has challenged me to use them in a story. I’m not sure how that would prove anything, but I think it’s an excellent idea all the same. It won’t be easy, but I’ll see what I can do.

London’s many stone babies

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Somehow, Hamoudi has now got Jinjing into the drumming. This morning they were emptying out all the kitchen cupboards trying to find makeshift maracas (rice in tupperware) drums of different sounds (buckets, saucepans and the bin) and cymbals (they hadn’t figured this one out, but mugs, metal spoons and a frying pan hanging on the wall were all possible candidates.)

This led to Neville being annoyed and slamming doors, playing his music loudly (Miley Cyrus???) and singing.

So I ran off to central London.

Wasn’t sure where I was going, but ended up at Bank, first spotting this weird doodah on top of a building. Couldn’t get any closer to work out what it is. A machine anteater? A caterpillar tank? An alien invasion happening very slowly – like Tripods, but not tripod shaped? Any ideas?

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I know this doesn’t help much. But, what the fuck?

Anyway, then St Paul’s appeared.

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One thing I love about London is there is no uniformity to the buildings. Shiny new chrome can be next to a dome over 1,400 years old.

St Paul’s, like many English buildings, is filled with statues of toddlers and babies, which suddenly occurred to me is a bit weird.

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Especially when so many don’t look very happy.

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The carvings below were especially disturbing to me, since they seem to show two winged babies being whispered to by evil ghost babies.

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Look!

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I know some of you (Calmgrove?) are knowledgeable about old buildings, so maybe someone can tell me a reason.

The din had calmed down by the time I got home. Hamoudi had a plan about going busking with their makeshift drum kit. I suggested they got Neville to sing with them and he was quite enthusiastic. Sorry London.

 

 

I’m finding out! …Oh.

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Finally we find out who’s been invading our rooms and leaving dog hairs, sweetie wrappers and moving my ketchup.

Word of the day: Heuristic – helping to discover by trial and error

So it was tense when me, Jinjing, Hamoudi and Neville sat down beneath the watchful eyes of the cat picture. Did I only imagine that those eyes followed us as we sat down? Yes, I did, but it would have happened if this was a horror movie. I tried to keep things light, but Neville looked shrivelled and wary, Jinjing was cool and sharp and Hamoudi was a big innocent bear, as always. I suspect I looked like I’d wandered in by accident, that’s kind of my thing.

Jinjing started by saying we all had to remain calm and honest and work out a resolution, fair enough. Then I shared my news about the perfume wafting around the flat when I got home.

‘Isn’t that just the landlady though?’ said Neville. ‘She always makes the place smell.’

‘What?’ we all said. Because of course we know the landlady, we each met her before we moved in, but she shouldn’t be in the house, not without us knowing, not without 24 hours notice. And here is Neville talking like it’s a common occurrence we should all be aware of.

‘What do you mean always?’ asked Jinjing.

‘She comes round quite often in the afternoons,’ said Neville. ‘I guess it’s when you’re all at work.’

‘Why didn’t you tell us?’ said Jinjing, she was getting shrill, which summed up how I felt.

‘Does she have a dog?’ I asked.

‘She had a dog when I had my interview,’ said Hamoudi.

‘Does she eat sweets?’ I asked.

‘Does it matter?’ said Jinjing.

‘Well, yes, because she if she eats sweets, she’s been in my room. And if she’s been in my room, then she’s the one who broke my laptop. In which case,’ my turn to get shrill now, ‘I want some bloody money for it.’

‘Why didn’t you tell us that she’s been coming in the house?’ repeated Jinjing to Neville, I think she wanted to continue blaming him for something.

‘I assumed you knew,’ he said.

After that there was some general annoyance and tetchiness. The only thing we could agree on was that one of us needed to tell the landlady to stop turning up when we were at work, but that none of us actually wanted to do it. Stalemate. We left it at that.

So, aliens, Illuminati and sleepwalking are out, and a small middle-aged lady with a bad perm and a yappy dog is in. My life just got 43% more dull.

So I got back and I found…

 

 

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Picture from my trip away

Today I returned to London from my three day escape, feeling much calmer, if totally knackered. I was nervous about what I’d find at the flat. Would Jinjing and Neville still be fighting? Would the walls be splattered with blood?

Actually, they were all at work, as normal. However, what I noticed on opening the door was the smell. Sickly perfume. The kind that station toilets leak into the world. Then I noticed the Quality Street sweet wrapper on the kitchen floor – of course, that’s a communal space, so Neville is free to eat chocolates there. Then I went in the lounge, and did a double take to see these eyes staring at me from the wall:

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Where in merry Hell did that come from? It’s like something my nan would buy, surely not Neville, Jinjing or Hamoudi. It this some kind of home decoration housebreaker? I’m too exhausted to work this out now, I’m going to bed.

 

Meeting the pigeon lady

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Word of the day: Engastration – stuffing of one bird inside another (I’m not sure why this word exists, but it’s beautiful).

Weather: patchy

Mood: patchy

I went out for a wander around London today. I like to walk under the railway tracks. I was walking towards one archway, when I saw a cloud of pigeons rise up, flutter about for a bit, then land again. I stopped to watch and this happened a couple more times. Then I walked closer and saw a woman was feeding them, whole bags of seed tipped onto the pavement. She was a bit hostile at first, but when I bumped into her five minutes later doing the same thing in the park, we gave each other a nod of recognition. It was good, I like to feel I have points of contact around the city. That I know what’s going on, the important things.

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It’s Friday! And I’m wrecking things!

Every act of creation is first an act of destruction.”      

Pablo Picasso

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Weather: somebody washed out the world and left it colourless

Mood: see above

Word of the day: POETS – learned this today, it means Piss Off Early Tomorrow’s Saturday. Mike is trying to introduce this to boss Jill as a concept, talking about it loudly when she’s around, asking her “Who’s your favourite POET, Jill?” Jill responds to most of Mike’s schemes with a weary sigh. She has the patience of a table.

I waited until everybody was out of the kitchen, then threw the hedgehog cake-face away. Couldn’t stand the decapitated cuteness anymore.

I was driving the van in our yard today, and had to do a 360 degree turn in a space that doesn’t really allow for it. I still haven’t figured how to know how close you are to things behind you, so I managed to back into a fence. Got the wire hooked into the back of the van, didn’t realise, drove forward and ripped it apart. No one was around, and it was a lazy day, so I spent it putting up a new fence. The one I damaged was pretty shoddy anyway, and I found a nice bit of hazel fencing out the back. For the rest of the day Mike was being all nice, saying,

“You see, you just saw that fence didn’t look good and sorted it out. That’s what you’re like, you’re a fixer. You always sort things out, don’t you?”

Which was a very sweet thing to say, so I didn’t mention that it was my fault the fence was wrecked. Think I got away with it.

I was hoping to see Hamoudi and hear more about the dead people he says he sees. Does he see them here too?

Instead the kitchen was filled with Jinjing and Neville. Neville was cooking up a roast. I don’t want to be judgemental, but he either eats a LOT of meat or he’s throwing it all away. Neville was lecturing Jinjing on Chinese history, listing the dates of all the dynasties. Luckily I’d bought some popcorn on the way home, so dinner is sorted.

The Abandoned Hotel

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“Jess?”

“Hmm?”

“You remember the hotel?”

“Which one?”

“The haunted one.”

“Oh that. It wasn’t haunted, it just had squatters.”

“Squatters don’t howl like that.”

“Sure they do.”

“Squatters don’t make you shiver like that.”

“No, but being soaked through and standing in a derelict and draughty hotel can.” She sat up and stared at David. He was gazing into the distance with a look that would have been dramatic if it wasn’t so obviously rehearsed. “It was just a building, David. It’s fine.”

“Some places you can’t ever really come back from,” he said still staring straight ahead. She wasn’t impressed with his melodrama anymore and just assumed the faint flicker of darkness in his eyes was a trick of the light.

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Photos my own

A Break from the Norm

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I haven’t posted up many stories on here recently because I’ve been away in Munich on a work trip. During that time I went up to see the alpine garden at Schachen. If you have an interest in plants, or just pretty photos, then you can find it here. There are also other blogs about plants there, plus orangutans and weird jungle insect pictures.

Tentative Plant Scientist

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