Random Ramblings

Random Ramblings: Personal observations on a wide variety of subjects. Photographs of creatures and things that are taken on seeing the unusual as well as everyday things.

The hair of the dog

When I was young, my father decided that it would be a good idea to get a dog. He discussed it with my grandfather who advised, as was the common practise in those days, that it would be best to get a female (bitch puppy). This was essential along with other things to be taken into account.

My grandfather, who had had several dogs during his lifetime, gave the following advice: there are certain rules when considering the addition of a dog into a family …

    • if a home has children then a bitch tends to be more patient and less aggressive with family members
    • on no account would it be sensible to get any of the bull terrier varieties of dog (they are bred to lock their jaws onto their quarry and once they have done this then they cannot open their mouths – so their bite would be deep and dangerous) ideal for capturing prey but not a quality needed for a house pet
    • cross-breeds are less reliable where temperament are concerned – they may be agreeable on one day and snappy the next although one may make an excellent pet they are more suited to adults as they tend to get over excitable with young children
    • it is best to see where the puppy lives and meet the parents to get an idea of their temperament and health
    • a medium-sized dog is usually easier to train and often more reliable than either smaller or larger varieties in a family home

So …………………………………………………… my father made some enquires and was advised of a farm on the English/Welsh border where a farm dog and bitch had had a litter of puppies. The parents were healthy, well behaved and sweet tempered and so it didn’t take him long to choose a pretty little bitch puppy to take home.

My long haired black and white border collie - at the seaside Long haired Welsh border collie (she was a very sweet tempered and loving dog – well behaved and very beautiful)

Ghostly gossamer

One of the very first flies that I learnt the name of was the beautiful crane-fly. It danced around the living room so gracefully with its long legs dangling downwards. It looked rather like a lost dragonfly - bouncing off ceiling and wall until it eventually found an open window and took off into the Summer breeze. Children affectionately called these wonderful flies ‘daddy-long-legs.’ I used to think that there was just one species of crane-fly but in fact, in Britain alone there are over 300 different varieties. The majority of crane-flies are very small and are often mistaken for mosquitoes.

Over the years I have noticed that the larger crane-flies appear to have the ability to produce a gossamer thread that is much finer than spider web. The gossamer is used by the fly to suspend itself from just over half-an-inch to one-and-a-half inches from a solid object. Once in this position the fly appears to sleep. This form of ‘suspended perching’ may well be a defence mechanism to protect itself from spiders. Occasionally, some crane-flies will suspend themselves with thread from one leg whilst the other front leg is bent and resting against the extended one.

Male crane-fly suspended on gossamer

Crane-fly hanging by gossamer threads

Male crane-fly suspended from ceiling handing by fine gossamer threads

The male crane-fly has a rounded bottom end whilst the female, which has the oviduct has a long pointed bottom end.

Perchance to dream …

When purchasing a pear tree for my garden I was informed that they needed to be planted in two’s so that they could cross-pollinate and produce fruit. I later found out that there was (as usually there always is) an exception to this rule. So for people who have limited space but would like to have a large yearly harvest of pears then it is best to purchase a Conference Pear tree – they do not need to cross-pollinate with other trees to produce fruit. I now have three pear trees – two Williams’ pear trees and a solitary Conference pear tree.

This year has been quite dry … the plums began to wither a bit before ripening as did the damsons. I was, therefore, more than a little surprised at how large the Williams’ pears were growing. They are the largest they have ever been despite the shallow rainfall. Plants are so very confusing and exceptionally surprising – they often do what you least expect them to do. Will we ever really understand the lessons that nature teach us?


Ripe Williams' Pear Williams’ pear by the side of a penny coin … these are the largest pears that have ever grown on my trees