30 December 2012

Reasons to be Grateful: 59

So that was Christmas was it? Didn't feel much like it to me but then I was all out of kilter having not been well — I just lost the rhythm of everything. But I'm OK now (I hope) and the second course of antibiotics has meant I did actually enjoy doing nothing over Christmas. So here is my selection of five things which have made me happy or grateful during this, week 59, the penultimate week, of the experiment.
  1. Sparrowhawk. I think it was on Christmas Eve I was looking out of the study window when all of a sudden every bird in the garden disappeared into cover. Followed in a flash by the appearance over my head of a female sparrowhawk, which alighted in the apple tree. It didn't get lunch, but sat there for 2-3 minutes looking to see if there was any unwary meal around. I see the sparrowhawk in the garden a handful of times a year, but only once have I seen a kill. They are such fine birds that I always feel privileged when one appears.

  2. Gin. What better Christmas present than not one but two bottles of special gin. The blue one (yes it really is blue, it isn't just the bottle!) is rather good. Have yet to try the Adnams.

  3. Roger Brun Rosé Champagne. We had a bottle of this delightful very small house Champagne with our Christmas dinner. It really was a delight. A dark rosé, as one would expect from a Pinot Noir. Pretty raspberry-tinted mousse. Dry but not too dry. And with loads of fruit. It came from Nick Dobson Wines, and sadly they don't have any more; I bought the remaining handful of bottles!

  4. Royal Institution Christmas Lectures. This year's RI Christmas Lectures (on BBC2 TV) were on chemistry, given by Dr Peter Wothers of the University of Cambridge. He has a reputation as an excellent science communicator, and I see why. As a chemist, I thought the lectures were excellent: just the right mix of information, curiosities and some whiz-bang for the target audience of 11-ish year olds. They reminded me why I found chemistry interesting, and made me realise how much better a chemist I could have been if someone had enthused me with teaching like this when I was 11 or 12. The down side? There were only three lectures; there used to be six; I wanted six! As of writing the lectures are still available on BBC iPlayer.

  5. Orchids. I haven't written about orchids for a while, but I still have orchids in flower. I now have 10 or 12 plants and have had at least one in flower continuously since last March. In fact I currently have two in flower for the second time this year. And they are nearly all starting new flowering spikes. A windowsill, a weekly-ish soak and feed and they just seem to go on and on.
Next week is the last week of the experiment. And then we have to anaylse the results. Could be interesting. Watch this space!

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