Category Archives: Bristol

Woodland Walk in April

April is the month of showers and young shoots in England and once again the nettles and the wild garlic are overwriting the brown manuscript of faded winter leaf litter in vivid shades of green;  baby saplings are shooting from where the squirrels have planted forgotten acorns and hazels – and when the sun shines, muddy puddles glint and poodles dive in for a quick paddle.


We walked through the woodland at Ashton Court, passing by the new mountain bike trail along the deer park fence; it has weathered and is not as intrusive looking as it was when it was all raw and new and finally came out on this dusty path down the hill with a view to the sky and Dundry Hill in the distance.

The buzzards were busy carrying nesting material around, beautiful big birds outlined against the blue.  There was much rustling and squawking and the alarm calls of birds which I couldn’t quite identify; tall trees creaking and rubbing alarmingly against each other in the wind. We walked softly down the side of the hill and along the lower wall.

Wood pigeons flew out of hollow trees, wrens whirred and fizzed on their short flights from woodpile to streams, goldfinches bathed in the shallows and for a big city there are always surprises. We heard talking up in the air at one point and realised there were two people chatting in one of the ancient pollarded oaks that are cared for at Ashton Court. I took a picture of the tree they were in two years ago almost to the day. It is a miniature ecosystem in itself, with ferns and fungi and grass growing in its centre.

Pollarded Oak Ashton Court

Celandine and wild violets were a couple of the more common wildflowers that we recognised. I nibbled a blooming violet and it was gently sweet.

If you can identify nettles, then at this time of year you have a free source of the most wonderful healthy (and, dare I say it, fashionable)  green vegetable to add into your supper dishes. I saw a piece by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall about them the other day here in the Guardian. Brian’s Dad and Gran always ate nettles in the springtime and Brian says his Dad could pick them with his fingers the way he can – must be a special nettle picking gene!

Last year around this time I made nettle gnocchi and wrote about them in this post. I haven’t made them since, but I remember they were very good and I really should make them again!

 Yesterday we picked (that is the ‘royal we’ – Brian picked the most because he has asbestos fingers and I didn’t have any gloves, good excuse!)  the top four leaves of young nettles on our walk and I picked a bunch of wild garlic.

Both nettles and wild garlic are fairly easy to identify and I have written about the wild garlic on a page here. If you are unsure about any wild plants find someone who is confident about their identification skills and go out with them the first time. Better safe than sorry.

You could always borrow Zeb as he is expert at finding wild garlic.

We made a risotto with the wild garlic and the nettles that we picked which I will post about next.

Lost and Found – One Font! (Hidden Fonts on Mac Os X)

My father once summarised the plot of Jane Eyre for me as :

Lost, found, lost, found, lost found

But what did I want to tell you about?  As some of you might know I use a Mac, I have always had Macs and never the other sort. They have their issues, paradoxically one of the things which causes problems is their superb user interface which makes it easy for people like me never to have to delve around in the workings or know where stuff is stored on their Macs.

I bravely took the plunge and updated the operating system the other day to the latest version and in the process I ‘lost’ something. Well I probably lost lots of things that I haven’t noticed yet, but why worry about things I haven’t missed? But I did miss this. I missed Bradley Hand. Bradley is a font. I think of him as an American school kid with neat handwriting. He’s the one I use to write Zeb Bakes on my photos for the blog. That’s his job. To write Zeb Bakes on the photos I have a little sub routine, maybe not the best, but it works for me. It’s not a watermark (I tried one of those programmes and couldn’t be bothered, I looked at Picassa and Flickr and decided I didn’t want to edit my photos somewhere else, I wanted to do it here on my own drive.

Anyway Bradley had gone AWOL from the Preview programme I used to add him to my photos. I sighed, resigned myself to Apple’s mysterious ways and started to use another font the last couple of days, but I don’t like it. I miss Bradley.

Then I was doing something in the iPhoto programme and noticed that Bradley was still showing up there…. hmmm….. I googled on and off for several days, posted on a forum at Apple, asked a patient Twitter friend who has a Mac and then googled again and changed my terms and hey presto! Bob’s Your Uncle and I claim my £10 because I have now found where the fonts hide on the mac and all thanks to Nomulous.

His post explained it all and I have found Bradley where he was hidden and installed him in the Fonts folder for all my applications to use.

I feel so very pleased with myself, because my inner Geek is rather pathetic most days. I struggle with taps and slides and finger gestures on the trackpad; I spent two hours last night trying to bluetooth some photos from the new phone that he-who-loves-new-gadgets-we-don’t-understand persuaded me to buy and failed. I then emailed Ricky who sold it to me at Carphonewarehouse and he said ‘try the usb cable’ and that worked. That was kind of him as well to answer my emails so late on a Sunday night.

So what am I saying? I am saying thank you to people who blog, people who share, people who help because they can, people who tag their posts so you can find them with Google, and I am giving myself a small pat on the back too for finding Bradley after looking for him everywhere.

What you really want to know about is the cat though…

That is a happy story too. My neighbour rang me with a cat that had started haunting the newspaper shop and never went home. The newspaper man was worried about him, so we took him to the vets to see if he was chipped. He wasn’t. The vets said take him back where you found him and hope he finds his way home. He’s a dear old chap, very gentle and sweet. We took him to the library across the way from the newspaper shop and they kept him there for a few days, and put up posters with his picture on them in the shops and finally someone recognised him and he was reunited with his owner who has a broken leg and couldn’t get out to look for him. Apparently he is a Russian Blue and 16 years old. He had a lovely time in the library being fussed over. I have a warm fuzzy feeling now, knowing he is safe home again.

Z is for Zeb Bakes, answers to the Quiz and an extra Competition

And now the end is here…. Thanks for suggesting this to the wonderful Chiots Run. It’s been great fun!

ZZillions of Zinging Zippy Zappy Zigzagging words later…

Z is for Zeb Bakes and for Zucchini Chocolate Cake, the cake of the season, I am sure everyone who has either grown or been given zucchini  has made a version of this cake this month. Continue reading