Thursday, 30 October 2014

How does your pumpkin grow?

pumpkin patch pumpkin and watering can ripening pumpkin pumpkins at the allotment pumpkin vine  pick a pumpkin pumpkins three in a row jack pumpkin
A long wait well worthwhile for the best fruit in the world. I love its sprawling vine across the allotment and its trumpeting yellow flowers. And then the beautiful orbs. Some lifted off the ground by bricks, some climbing trellis and poles. A few sat on top of compost heaps like kings of the plot.

Huge varieties like Cinderella or mini Munchkins. Some still green and some bright orange. Some alone, hiding under leaves or those in patches, huge groups of them I love to see.

Twisting them carefully off the vine, keeping a little handle and carrying them back home. Such a joy to line them up on a window sill. Streaks of green, still to ripen fully and spots of mud and the odd wart. I can gaze them for ages, I do not know where the obsession started.

This week has seen them at their best. A few for carving traditional style, jagged mouths and glaring eyes. Flesh and pulp used in soups, seeds roasted in spices and olive oil. The smell, the smell I breathe it in - autumn at its best. Friday night they will stand proud at the front of the house with tealights flickering and telling local children that there is promise of sweets in skeleton hands.

I'll keep the pumpkins around for a couple more days after that, until the first signs of rot. Job done for another year and still some pumpkin soup or stew to warm us up. Then it will be looking at the seed catalogues for the next year's display - Crown Prince, Hokkaido, Atlantic Giant, Wee B Little....

Cucurbit heaven.

Happy Halloween!

Manneskjur

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Five Reasons You Should Get an Ultrasound before Your 2nd Trimester

We are lucky to live in an advanced age of medical technology. For expectant moms, this means earlier opportunities to learn about the baby that will soon be cooing and crying its way into the world. While many women traditionally wait to have their first ultrasound during their second trimester (around 18 weeks), there are many reasons why you should schedule an ultrasound during your first trimester.

Ultrasounds not only allow expectant moms to monitor the progress of their baby as it grows and changes, but can also help predict any complications that may arise throughout the pregnancy. Because of the information an early ultrasound provides to an expectant mom and her doctor, you should think about scheduling an ultrasound appointment before you reach the second trimester mark.

Here are some common questions you may have that a first trimester ultrasound can help answer:

Am I actually pregnant? The first weeks of pregnancy can cause uncertainty about whether or not you are indeed expecting a new addition to your family. Ultrasounds as early as 6-8 weeks into the pregnancy can confirm your baby’s heartbeat and also ensure that the fetus is properly implanted in the uterus.

When is my due date? Pinning down the exact length of a pregnancy can be difficult, particularly for women with irregular menstrual cycles. An early ultrasound can accurately determine how long you’ve been pregnant and provide you with an estimated due date.

What is my baby like at this stage? One of the most exciting experiences about an ultrasound appointment is that it allows you to get to know your baby before its official arrival. A first trimester ultrasound will provide you with an early image of your baby and will also identify the number of fetuses present. Multiples may pose more risks for the pregnancy and early identification will help your doctor plan accordingly.

Am I healthy? A first trimester ultrasound is a great checkup not only for baby’s health, but for mom’s as well. Through an early ultrasound, your doctor will be able to check that your reproductive organs are functioning healthily. This is especially important for women with a history of fibroids or ovarian cysts to ensure a comfortable journey for both mom and baby.

Is there a possibility of complications? Pregnancy complications can be scary, but early detection can help you and your doctor determine the best response. A first trimester ultrasound may indicate changes in the initial stages of pregnancy that could be associated with an increased risk of complication. For women over the age of 35 or those who have a genetic history of high-risk pregnancies first trimester ultrasounds are particularly important to learn if there are any potential concerns for you or your baby.

A first trimester ultrasound is a safe, easy way to help you and your doctor plan the best options for your prenatal care. By meeting your baby in the first trimester, you will be able to better prepare for the exciting future ahead.


This post was written for HappyHomeBird.com by Glenn Josephik. Glenn is an account representative and the marketing coordinator at MedCorp LLC the industry leader and premier business source for used portable ultrasound systems. You can follow Glenn Josephik on Google+

Monday, 27 October 2014

Rockpools, castles and a stack of pebbles

castle at the beach Manorbier Castle sand castles Autumn breezes and soft sun rays for our exploration of the coastline near Tenby on the Pembrokeshire coast. Down a hill and past a Medieval castle, across dunes held together by Marram grass is a beach perfect for rock pooling. The best I have been to for looking under rocks for crabs and searching out tiny fish. Also the best for a little boy to collect pebbles and splish splosh them into the pools. Manorbier Beach rock pooling  rock pools at Manorbier Beach
It is an unusual beach with all the slimy bright green seaweed. Most of the other beaches in this area are either mostly sandy or pebbly but this is a rock pooler's dream and we saw many a family wading in with nets and buckets. The terrier did not want to get his paws wet as per usual and skipped over the rocks whilst our collie plunged straight in. Manorbier, Wales LB had a good look into as many glassy pools as possible, holding on tight to our hands. You could see tiny creatures darting around and in a beam of late season sunshine was a little shore crab. Rock pools can be such treacherous environments but this little crab picked the right pool that wasn't going to dry out any time soon and in a couple of hours would be languishing under the waters of the bay.little crab Pondering and day dreaming, T that is and not the crab, although who is to say that crabs don't dream.....of side scuttling on warm beaches and eating bacon.  sand boy Throwing pebbles with your dad up on the rocks. They reach up quite high so he was very brave climbing up them. pebble throwing rock pool dog A dog friendly beach too so our pair enjoyed themselves with lots of doggy friends running about greeting each other. Love this beach so much, very inspirational and I have recently found out that this beach inspired Virginia Woolf to start writing in her early 20's. In fact, I think Manorbier Castle holds writing workshops and it must be a real treat to practise creative writing in such an atmospheric environment. 

We did not manage to visit the castle itself, just admired the amazing view of this prominent landmark but we will be returning next year  and will be sure to explore some more. 
dogs on the beach Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Saturday, 25 October 2014

The Animal Scare

Halloween lights
I went to the animal scare
The bats and the beasts were there
The ghostly baboon by the light of full moon
was combing his grisly hair....

full moon By full moon and Halloween magic stir the lost creatures of the zoo. Like whispers on a frosty, bewitched night, they stir from enclosure, tank and pool and head to the Animal Scare.
spooky Elephant Halloween fish The bears carry Jack o'lanterns that sway from side to side, candles burning bright.
Be careful of my fur yells one grizzly to another as he heads into the night.
Crocodiles snap. Wolves howl. Hyenas laugh. They all walk along, this cacophonous lot.
A ghostly parade of fluff, fur and feather and screech, slime and slither, through the zoo at dusk whilst the living animal kingdom snores......
pumpkin lights Don't step on my tail growls the tiger to the trick or treating chimps
and he bares his sharp teeth like a malevolent imp.
The cobra has the party hats, the ducks have the banners
and the lion carries party favors in his proud poised manner.
They wander past the penguin pool and hear a waddle and a splash,
here come the Kings and the Emperors of many zoo years past.
The creatures gather up with their Halloween food - pickled, spicy anchovies and meal worm gruel.
 trick or treat But who has got the costumes, the pointed hats and cloaks,
 the broom sticks and the vampire teeth, the spiders and the bats?
 I want my magic spell book cries the parrot to the stork
 I have a trick to play tonight upon that noisy wildebeest herd.
Turning past the lost child desk, although the python checks
even though his guzzling days have long since left.
With a few screeching grumbles these creatures of the dark
form a spectral parade right across the park
For animals like a party even when they're gone,
through the transparent haze of the creature underworld.
spell books The zoo animals sneek, tiptoe, pitter patter, past the entrance kiosk and sleeping security guard - quietening their voices to a gentle stirring roar.
This is finally their time on All Hallows Eve,
 to make a shadowy return and do just as they please.
Halloween night when magic's abound,
so the mammals, reptile, amphibians  return from the ground.
Slipping through tanks and bars that once penned them in
Free to roam, jump, fly, creep or swim.
turle and gourds lion  Lion roars to start the party, time to be afraid,
Handing out the costumes for this creature masquerade.
Croc won't wear his false teeth, he's got enough already
and viper thinks it's ridiculous with his fangs at the ready.
Monkey's tail is in a knot, tangled in elastic
and cheetah thinks his spotted garment is looking rather fantastic.
Porcupines on face paint duty, to the horror of the clan, all prickles, paint and glitter.
and spiders dipped in jam
Parrots started with his spells,
fizzbombing frogs and critters.
Sending jars of centipedes spinning from side to side,
worms and wiggly bits cascading from the sky.
witch casting spells The zebra wants to be a witch, the aardvarks like being clowns.
Flamingo doesn't break tradition, wearing a long pink princess gown.
The giraffe has worn his stretchy skeleton suit which looks rather unique
but not as much as toucan with a red nose on his beak.
Why am I always Dracula sighs a bored fruit bat
and rhino does look a treat with his horn stuck in a hat.
Tortoise has had his shell painted orange like a pumpkin with a face.
The hippos clutch their tickets - just hurry up and let us in this spooky place.
giraffe
 hippo Halloween ticket
 Halloween dresser 

The crowd gathers quickly, jostling past plum fairy lights,
Marvelling at the decorations and confectionery delights.
A sparkly pumpkin disco ball is dancing to the beat
Causing several chimpanzees to juggle with their feet.
Everyone is hyper, everyone is happy
Even vultures and alligators, who normally are snappy.
disco pumpkin The elephant lumbers along dressed as a ghoul,
 a phantom pachyderm with swishing white floaty voile.
Time to find the potions and mix together for some fun
Make bubbles for the okapi that gleam like a million suns.
elephant potion skeleton The flying squirrels have been busy hanging up yards of bunting
with orange, purple and green balloons tied with grass and hay.
Rows and rows of pumpkins carved and doused with sprinkles,
sticky toffee diamonds and gems that taste of honey.
Apple bobbing rhinos sulk and ruin the game
Parrot in payback for all his mischief, feather tail catches a flame....
a I It starts as a slow burning and soon becomes apparent
That unless we find the pumpkin juice, we'll have a frazzled parrot.
Hyenas can't control their laughs, they really are no help
Zebras panic and so do wild dogs, letting out a yelp
Luckily the quick thinking meerkats who scamper, nose and scurry
Throw the pungent, sticky jack drink on old squawk beak in a hurry.
So now he's learnt his lesson, he tried to make amends
by dishing out the candy corn, cinammon pie and sweet gourd ale.
candle flame little pumpkins
cheetah Halloween ale
Lemurs hang from branches wearing sugar skull disguises
To frighten passing rodents who were handing out the prizes.
Huge great bug rosettes that all the animals covet
The wait to find out who has won is causing quite a ruckus.
There's lizards dressed as red devils with horns and great long talons
Tapirs taped with bandages to be Egyptian mummies.
A wizard of a warthog thinks he looks the best
and a zebra zombie bickers with a puma that's possessed
Best costume goes to orang-utan with his long matted ginger hair
That he plaited into monsters tentacles to give them all a scare.
glitter skull lit Jack O LanternsNow there is a barn dance starting with music by a professional ape skeleton band
Helped out by shrivelled snakes on percussion, and guitars strummed by jaguars.
Dancing herds of gazelle and a singing panda bear
Karaoke with the tree frog troupe and slimy salamander.
Scarecrows stuffed with straw wink at  hungry marsupials
Greedily filling up pouches with chocolate and bilberry fools.
A grande gateau of insects is at the centre of the buffet
With a hoard of hungry anteaters, they've not eaten for an age.
A ghastly ghostly menagerie feast on magic dragon stew
Pecking, gobbling,devouring and drinking witches brew.
toothy jack witches brewAs the dawn begins to peek through wispy clouds and the moon is growing pale
We are slowly drawing to the end of this dark tale
Footsteps can be heard, stomp, stomp, jangle of keys
Is this the zoo security guard, what if he sees?
 ghosties
spider biscuits
ghostly people
The animals start to fluster and get into a fright
And turn back into vapour, apparitions out of sight.
But this isn't the living come to check tonight
It is the two old zoo keepers, also passed from this world
They heard the noisy creatures, having all their mirth
And have come to have a toast with them to creatures of the earth.
For time has past but we don't forget the animals we have loved
who roamed the forests, plains and seas and in the sky above
Remember as you stroll on this Halloween night
That a ghostly lion, aardvark, chimp or a tiny frog may just be hiding out of the light ...................

Happy Halloween to people and creatures everywhere!

Do join in with the party at A Fanciful Twist for there are some haunting parties to visit.
lion