RIP Sam: The First (and possibly last) Aberaeron Terrier

With a heavy broken heart, I have to report that Chez Snail is now one dog down, after Sam, that doyen of squeaky balls and eaten zips, passed away a couple of weeks ago. She was 15½ and had still been trying to eat the post and see off those audacious neighbours who dared to open their car door or worse, close their car door, up to about a month before she reached the end.

Sam was a rescue. She had been found living on the streets of Newport in South Wales and had been in the dog pound for the allotted nine days. She was due to be put down but was rescued with about three hours to spare. We happened to be at the rescue looking for a dog the following day. I picked up Sam (then called Ripley for no reason) and she put her head on my shoulder and went to sleep. Two days later, Sam was in the car, coming back home with us.

She wasn’t an easy dog in that she was HYPER all the time, but we were given some great advice which was “get another dog, but with the opposite energy to Sam”. So we did, and Sam and Max formed a great partnership, what with Max being half dog, half soft furnishing. Sam calmed down, Max sped up and I think they bonded in a quite extraordinary way. After Max died, Sam went into a decline so, by happenchance, we acquired Daisy, who Sam seemed to rub along with very well.

Sam leaves two squeaky balls (with no squeaks) and what looks like an antler bone but may be a piece of the postman. She is at rest, facing the setting sun, next to her Max, in the raised bed she so loved to climb in and dig up.

To say we at Chez Snail miss her is an understatement. She was a part of our lives’ fabric, the part that used to have a zip.


Categories: Universe | Tags: | 17 Comments

Village Life

“Look into my eyes – you’re going to take me for a walk”


A walk through an English Village on a Late Spring Evening…

“I reckon we could have our own show, or at least maybe our own proverb.”

High as a kite

A green patchwork of potential

A thistle, its niche found, watches over as the bell sounds

In or out? No need to decide.

And, as the sun calls it a day, there is some last-minute pollen to be collected

A bee’s work is almost done for the day

The sun-gold yellow of the laburnum glows as the laburnum-yellow of the sun fades into a warm night.

Have a Happy Summer* everyone!


* Other hemispheres/seasons are available.

Categories: bees, birds, Universe, wildlife | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

Science and Art (with a couple of beasties too) Part the Second…


DoMe a favour… beasties on the Meridian

All that science! After the Science Museum, it was a quick hop on the Jubilee Line to North Greenwich and the NOW Gallery, where I had seen that there was an interesting new piece of art to do with time. Well, I am a sucker for time-related things so it was ironic that when I arrived at half past one, the gallery was closed for lunch. If only I had remembered my time machine…

I had lunch in The Greenwich Kitchen which I recommend for its genuine friendliness and fantastic scotch eggs.


Timey-wimey art

This particular installation is comprised of numbers, cut out of paper, suspended from the ceiling and was created by the artist Emmanuelle Moureaux who does this sort of thing all the, er, time. Here is how the gallery describes it on their website:

“Inspired by the gallery’s location on the Greenwich Peninsula, near to the Meridian, marking time and composed of layers of numbers in 100 shades of colours and white, the installation expresses the flow of time. Each layer of numbers reflects the now, the past and the future, the exhibition will be a round representation of the earth floating in the gallery space.  A moment, a slice of time.” 


The low light level and multitude of individual objects meant my phone camera wasn’t very happy hence the blurriness of the pictures, but, hey, I claim that time is fuzzy anyway so the pictures make the art more realistic.

There was a certain peacefulness about those numbers hanging there, gently swaying, not touchable (really, don’t touch), marking out years and dates in no particular order. Perhaps this is a view of the passage of time that makes more sense…

The Beasties and I headed back to Reading, our heads filled with colourful artistic representations of time, which was just as well because our train was delayed.



Categories: Artwork, Universe | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Why I’m Walking for Wildlife


It’s a waste bin, it’s the Earth – go on, guess the symbolic meaning…

I promise this will be my almost probably last post about my sponsored walk! On 28th April 2018, I will walking from Aberaeron (in West Wales, UK) to Lampeter (er, still in West Wales, UK). I thought you should know why (apart from the obvious “because he’s totally bonkers” reason).

Wildlife worldwide is in crisis and it isn’t just cute furry animals, pretty flowers, or the other living things lucky enough to have come under Sir David Attenborough’s scrutiny. There is pretty much no order of life that hasn’t been negatively affected by human activities. One of the problems that humans appear to have is why the loss of an ape, a snail, a frog, a tiny water-borne flea or a mammoth elephant might matter.

When I say every living thing is connected to every other living thing, some of you will roll your eyes and zone out, probably thinking I am a lost hippy from the 60s. OK, feel free to do that. It doesn’t change the fact that every living thing is connected to every other living thing. So what you do to stuff affects everything else, and vice versa.

Places like Denmark Farm provide a sanctuary for wildlife, a place where nature happens, despite human activities. If it were to close, it wouldn’t be too long before another native habitat of a pile of British flora and fauna would disappear forever.

It seems no government ever really cares enough about the global environment to protect its native wildlife. It gives huge grants to companies to build infrastructure deemed “essential” whilst failing to see anything other than political and financial gain. Conservation Centres like Denmark Farm struggle on, feeding the rural economy and maintaining the precious ecosystem as best it can. Without that most unnatural of things, money, it simply cannot survive just like the short-tailed bumblebee (declared extinct in 2000).

Here’s the bottom line: destroy the flora and fauna and you cease to have a viable planet to live on. Unless there is some infrastructure company about to build us a new one (where are the Magratheans when you need them?*) then being able to travel from Leeds to London in an hour or so will be utterly, utterly pointless.

That is why I am Walking for Wildlife, for Denmark Farm and the Planet Earth.

Please give generously at: https://localgiving.org/fundraising/21miles4denmarkfarm/




  • Legendary planet builders, according to Douglas Adams.
Categories: bees, birds, insect, Sustainable Stuff, Universe, wildlife | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

A Small Blue thing

Pale blue dot image with a wider field of view to show more background

We are here… for now (Images courtesy of NASA, Public Domain)

“Today, I am

A Small Blue Thing.

Like a marble

Or an eye.”

Small Blue Thing by Suzanne Vega

When Suzanne Vega sang these words, I don’t think she had the picture in mind. I’m sure she didn’t, in fact, but somehow the words resonate both with the picture’s title and its subject.

Pale Blue Dot is a photograph of planet Earth taken on February 14, 1990, by the Voyager 1 space probe from a distance of 3.7 billion miles. The scientist Carl Sagan requested that NASA turn Voyager round to photograph Earth one last time, before this human-made object headed into the space between the space. It has now travelled the furthest from its origin than any human-crafted object has, and is currently still communicating with us at a distance of 13 billion miles.

We did that. As a species, we did that. In doing so, we have helped us all to understand our place, both physical and metaphysical, in the Universe.

“As we begin to comprehend that the earth itself is a kind of manned spaceship hurtling through the infinity of space — it will seem increasingly absurd that we have not better organized the life of the human family.”

— Hubert H. Humphrey, Vice President of the United States, speech at San Fernando Valley State College, 26 September 1966.

“Oddly enough the overriding sensation I got looking at the Earth was, my god that little thing is so fragile out there.”

— Mike Collins, Apollo 11 astronaut, interview for the 2007 movie In the Shadow of the Moon.

“If somebody’d said before the flight, “Are you going to get carried away looking at the Earth from the moon?” I would have say, “No, no way.” But yet when I first looked back at the Earth, standing on the moon, I cried.”

— Alan Shepard

Perhaps the first group of people on those much-hyped commercial space flights shouldn’t be a random collection of wealthy individuals. It should be the leaders of every nation on the planet. They should see what it is that they, collectively, represent.* Maybe they can stay up there until all of them can prove they understand what it is to affect the future of A Small Blue Thing.


As I started gathering quotes for this post, the so-called “Doomsday Clock” (not, as the BBC article was at pains to point out, a real timepiece) was advanced by 30 seconds, largely because of the expected problems caused by one individual, living on that pale blue dot.

For Humans, that dot disappearing would be apocalyptic. For the Universe, not so much. It really is time we all remembered that.


* Plus there could be a TV show public vote to decide who we allow back to terra firma.

Categories: News, Universe | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

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