Friday, April 18, 2014


Sheep being a signpost

Hornby Road

Sheep having a special feast
Hornby Road

Sheep laughing at the stupid mountain tandemmers
Hornby Road

Sheep being Zen rocks
Kentmere sheep rocks

These sheep look a bit funny to me. Lots of them appeared in the fields just this week. Maybe they are a special Easter variety.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

great spotted peanut-eater

Otherwise known as a greater spotted woodpecker... I suppose that she is probably sparrowhawk proof.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Feeding the birds

We have a bird feeder each, set up in trees outside our "office" windows. James' healthy seed mix was quite popular, until I got ... a peanut feeder. It seems that like Westerners, birds prefer fatty food to healthy food. This is a coal tit getting its beak full.

coal tit
But today we had our perceptions realigned, when we realised that the peanuts are not the food after all. This is a Sparrowhawk, trying to look nonchalant after failing to catch a long tailed tit on the peanut feeder.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Scottish flowers

Unlike England, Scotland has flowers other than snowdrops!! And they are colourful!


Yes - that top one really is camellia!! Here is a close up to prove it. Two months too late, but still...


Friday, March 21, 2014

Scottish sea

Ailsa Craig (it's geology)

Ayrshire beach
Ayrshire beach


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Amadeus the Amaryllis

Sorry for the lack of pickturs. As James suggests, a slow intertube is a big disincentive, but also, most of the photos I have been taking recently are quick snaps of the inside and outside of other peoples' houses, which one can hardly then go and put on flickr. We realise now that we have always previously cheated the housing problem by having the constraint of living within a 35-45 minute tandem bicycle ride of work. Now the home is the workplace, the problem is unconstrained! However, James has decided that we should settle close to Settle. Hopefully this is a sufficient constraint to make the housing problem tractable.

Meanwhile, Amadeus, the Amaryllis which the Mother In Law gave me for Christmas, has flowered. Dad is mightily impressed and says he has never seen anything like it. Neither have I, except, of course, at the mansion of the green fingered Mother In Law.


The powdery bits


Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Whernside and Ingleborough, are two of the "three peaks" of North Yorkshire. They aren't really peaks at all, but that makes the area all the better for mountain biking. Today we finally got our act together sufficiently to view the third peak, Pen-y-ghent.

This view was thanks to The Return Of El Conquistador, the mountain tandem.
El Conquistador
James now thinks he wants to live in Settleswick (Settle or Giggleswick), which is a place that is close to a lot of this mountain biking. Apart from the colour of the sky, the surrounding landscape is surprisingly Wyoming like, with tufty grass, cliffy hills, and pronghorn antelope sheep everywhere.


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Wot no camelia?

Culture shock continues unabated. "Normally" at this time of year the grass is brown and the hedgerows full of common-or-garden pink camelia. Instead zillions of white snowdrops are poking through the luminous green grass. The snowdrop previously featured in this blog in November(!) 2009, when we found a small patch of them in Jomyoji English garden. I wonder in which months the camellia will flower here in ole blighty.

We also "normally" have about 6 weeks of almost no rain at this time of year. I'm not sure, but this year so far there may have been about one day when it did not rain. That isn't to say it rains all the time, and indeed the rain is much lighter than Japanese rain. For example, we've done quite a lot of running and cycling have only got properly wet while running once and not at all while cycling.


Monday, January 27, 2014


When I were a lass, Lancaster University was a small dignified establishment which endured a lot of wind and rain. These days it looks  more like a district of Yokohama with glistening modern architecture and blocks of student accommodation scattered among the original buildings. And they've got really serious about learning. So serious that there are now specialised zoned rectangles set aside for this particular activity:
Lancaster University
The language spoken at the university also seems to have changed in the last few years. I'm not sure what it is, and I don't understand it very well. Some weird kind of business speak, perhaps. Presently it is all about Quality, and they are going to employ a Quality Assurance boffin instead of some of the usual boffins. As someone who has read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, I find this quite disturbing; that way lies madness.


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Swapping grey for green


No regrets yet on swapping the grey walls of my cubicle in Yokohama for the green fields of NW England. Our main occupation is now viewing in the real world all those properties we researched online from Japan. Once we viewed one, we had to look at others for comparison, and thus it has snow-balled into having to view ALL of the ones on the rather long shortlist. Huge range of stuff for sale, so it is a matter of working out which works best for us: great views but bitter winds; no views but sheltered; mountain biking but no shopping; new house but tiny rooms; old house but inefficient; lots of everything but too big and expensive... etc.

Meanwhile, in blueskiesresearch, we have gained unlimited internet access (wooo!), but are still sharing a laptop until our stuff arrives from Japan  in mid-February. This is enough to keep a few things like coding and paper revisions ticking over, which will hopefully be sufficient for another month. Amazingly, James earned a small about of money this week, copy-editing a paper for a colleague from JAMSTEC. Even more surprisingly, he seemed to enjoy doing it! Yesterday we went to an excellent  seminar at LEC, Lancaster University, and met up with a couple of people we know there.

Post originally appeared on Jan 16th as "Swapping grey for green" at


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