Remember the birch our lovely neighbour
bought for us a present?

The last few days have been really warm so
it has just sprung into life! The leaves
appeared almost overnight!

This year we can celebrate
(Midsummer) under our very own
birch ... well, next to it.
It's not quite
tall enough to be under just yet!

Oh, hang on, I'm actually going to be in
Finland then (mother's 70th birthday).
Oh, never mind! Next year then.

Some lovely colours have popped
up in the garden as well.




Well, no actually, love, it's because you can't
see f*** all. End of. You might as well put
an iPod and some blinkers on.
Same effect.

I wonder what the weather
is like in Belgium?


I've spent this week elbow deep in
various of types of paint, hence
the lack of action in here.

The windows in my bedroom were in a sorry
state after the winter so I got some wood filler,
damp seal paint, primer and gloss and
hey presto! They look like new.

It's taken all week as each layer had to dry for
24 hours. First the filler, then damp seal, then
primer and finally gloss, which, as luck would
have it, did the job in one coat. I had earmarked
tomorrow for the second coat but looks I'll
be hanging the curtains instead.

Next job is to find ladders tall enough
to do them on the outside!



Now these pics were funny but these ones of
a marmot who's built its nest in the middle
of a motorway are even funnier!

A yellow-bellied marmot was spotted taking
death-defying peeks from a hole in
a highway in Montana.

Photographer Zack Clothier noticed the crafty
creature - a type of ground squirrel - while
stopping to shoot scenery. He watched
amazed as the creature ducked in and out
of a hole in the asphalt on the Beartooth
All-American Highway
near Cooke City.

Zack explains: "I first noticed the marmot at a
distance but did not realise that it was in
a pothole. I thought it was just sitting in
the road as they do this quite often, but
while setting up my tripod I saw a car
approaching the marmot out
of the corner of my eye."

"I thought for sure it would scurry out of the
road to avoid being hit but when the car got
almost on top of it it seemed to just melt into
the road. I could not see the pothole from
where I was standing so at first I was just as
confused as the motorists. I knew that the
animal did not just vanish without a
trace, so I approached closer and
saw the hole in the road.

"He soon raised back up from the hole when
the next vehicle approached and I began
shooting, moving slightly closer every time
he was out of sight. I am not sure if he
actually lives in the hole but he never left it.
When it finally stopped popping its head
out I walked over to the hole it seemed to
be quite deep and tunnelled to
one side underneath."



Yesterday the sun was out so I grabbed my
camera and took a few shots in the
garden and the nearby park.

Also Sunday (18.4) was the first proper "summer"
day of the year, wall to wall sunshine and
virtually no wind. I spent it leisurely
reading the papers in the garden.

And Mira the cat was checking
out the action as usual.



This is so funny!

It's Phileas 'Frog'... a globe-hopping couple's
photo diary of their adventures with
a Kermit the Frog puppet.

The green star of the Muppets TV show was
a travelling companion for Markus and Conny
Morgenroth from Frankfurt, Germany,
on a journey spanning four
continents and more
than 50,000 miles.

"I have been a fan of Kermit for years", says Markus.
"There was a funny TV advert featuring him
driving a BMW and it made me laugh every
time I saw it so we had the idea to start making
pictures with Kermit about two years ago,
and it just took off from there
- quite literally".

"My wife bought me the Kermit puppet and
we saw some other people had taken pictures
with the toy on a skyscraper in New York, so
we decided we could do better and set off on
this amazing journey," said Markus.

"If there was one place in the world I think
we would love to take him it would have
to be a little place in Texas which
is actually called Kermit"


How cute?!

A piglet called Lowrie has becomea real life “Babe”
and a Facebook hit after being spared the
chop and adopted as a family pet in Wester
Quarff, in the Shetland Isles.

The two week old piglet was the runt of his litter
and had to be hand-reared indoors by his
owner Heather Davidson. Lowrie has charmed
his way away from the butchers as Mrs
Davidson admitted she "could
never eat him now".

The diminutive piglet now enjoys the luxuries of
Mrs Davidson's sitting room in her croft. The
animal has also become an internet hit,
garnering almost 3,000 fans on
Facebook, the social
networking site.

Mrs Davidson said she originally set up the
fanpage for the piglet "for a laugh" so her friends
could see him. But as word spread people signed
up to the group from all over the world
including Australia, New Zealand
and Canada.

"It has just gone mad. He got 300 fans in half
an hour,” she said. "He was the runt of the
litter, he was tiny. He was so small he could
fit into the palm of my hand. He is double
that now and he thinks he rules the roost.
He squeals a lot if you pick him up.”

She added: "If he hears the microwave he
comes running because he knows he'll get
fed and he nibbles on people's
feet to get attention."


These have got to be the funniest
photos of the week so far!

The orange-coloured brave butterfly took its
life into its own hands, or wings, when it
landed on the snout of a hungry
– a reptile very similar to an alligator.

Unruffled, the Caiman let the butterfly make
its way from the end of its snout up to
its eyes before fluttering off.

The breathtaking sight was caught on camera by
Mr Huwiler, an amateur photographer from
Switzerland, during a trip to the
wetlands in Brazil. The 41-year old spotted
the beasts one evening but then returned
the next morning in better light
to capture some shots.

Mr Huwiler said: “Early one morning I saw several
Caimans lying on a river bank. I decided to go
back the next morning in the hope of finding
them there again so I could get
some head shots."

"I have no experience with reptiles but I went
quite close. Then I saw a butterfly landing
on one. I felt like all my luck had come at
once. The insect landed on the Caiman’s
nose and then went up to its eyes.
It was so exciting."


Remember the Battersea stamps? Well, now
there is some adorable mammal ones.

Norfolk Wildlife Trust has backed a new set
of stamps which feature some of the
area's threatened animals.

As Royal Mail’s contribution to the International
Year of Biodiversity (IYB) - a United Nations
conservation initiative, their Action for Species
series continues with the fourth edition Mammals,
which features ten of our most engaging yet
endangered indigenous species. Previous
sets have featured birds,
insects and plants.

The giant Sperm Whale, the tiny Dormouse, otter,
water vole, hedgehog and brown long-eared bat
all appear on the stamps. Each of these species
has to contend with dangers caused by
man’s continuing incursions into their
natural habitats, as well as predation
by non-native species.

Conservation efforts have been enormous
and the stories of their success make
this delightful set particularly

According to the Mammal Society, Britain and
its coastline is home to more than 60 species of
mammals and while many are thriving, others
have seen their populations decline. Even the
seemingly prevalent hedgehog has seen a fall
in population through loss of habitat from
more intensively managed farmland,
pollution and growth in
roads and housing.

Dr Robert Bloomfield, UK co-ordinator of the IYB,
said: "
These stamps illustrate that even some
of the most loved UK species, which we
consider common or familiar,
are under threat."


Can you spot the animals hiding under
their brilliant camouflages
in these photos?


It has been a close call but the future
of the world’s largest banana museum
has finally been secured.

‘Top banana’ Ken Bannister has painstakingly
gathered some 17,000 banana-related exhibits
but it all went pear-shaped when he was
turfed out of his premises in January.

He put the likes of his banana-shaped golf putter
and banana tent in storage and thought it was
time to split – until fellow fruit loop Fred
Garbutt saw his a-peel on eBay and
stumped up £30,000
for the collection.

He runs an off-licence and hopes to
drum up business by launching the
‘Intern­ational Banana
Museum’ next door.

Californian Mr Bannister, who started the
Guinness World Records-approved collection
in 1972, is confident he has found the
best custodian, and hopes for a
smoothie transition.

Mr Garbutt, the ‘big banana’, has ambitious
plans. "We’re going to add to the collection,
we’re going to sell banana-leaf wallpaper
and make banana-printed
clothes for kids," he said.

Fancy visiting some other bizarre museums?
How about the
Barbed Wire Museum in Kansas?
Or the
British Lawnmower Museum
in Southport,Lancashire.

Leila's Hair Museum in Independence, Missouri.
Fancy looking at some pens? Well, the

Cumberland Pen Museum is just the ticket.
Old washing machines?
Antique Washing
Machine Museumin Eaton,
Colorado, does the job.


Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is the
beauty currently adorning my arm.

Couple of nights ago I got up to go to the loo and
in my sleepy state miscalculated the steps,
missed the bottom one completely and
went head, or rather arm, first
into the bathroom.

I didn't fall over but my arm collided with
the latch. I suppose I'm lucky I didn't
crash into the radiator which is
sideways just beyond the door.

What do we learn from this? Put the
hallway light on and don't rush.


First thing today I hopped on the tube
and went to the pound shop in Tooting.

I loooo-ve that shop, plant pots, big 10 litre
ones, £1 each. Homebase price for 1/4 the
size £1.79. Also bought netting, 6 meters
for £1. Homebase: 4 meters £3.99!

Did buy some new plants in Homebase though.
A new
Azalea to replace the one that didn't
survive the harsh weather, a
Vinca minor
(lesser periwinkle) and some Pansies.

I'm too impatient to grow flowers from seeds
so these ready-to-go plants give the garden
some instant colour. I will keep all of them
in pots and bring them inside next winter,
even if it's not as bad the winter just gone.


I'd been looking forward to Guy Ritchie's
take on Sherlock Holmes and it
doesn't disappoint.

Ritchie spins a heavily CGI'd flashy, thunderous,
all-action blockbuster around the Victorian
super-sleuth and his sidekick.

At points very violent (luckily the remote has a
forward button!) the film reveals Sherlock as a
slovenly headcase who can’t look after himself,
not an opium addict but a neurotic,
perma-bantering student of
crime and combat.

Jude Law’s pally Watson is trying to have a life of
his own but ends up being the stolidly reliable,
long-suffering foil to his friend’s quicksilver
brilliance. Together, they confront a serial killer
Lord Blackwood, who is caught, sent to the
gallows, pronounced dead, and then pops
up to cause mayhem once again.

The game's afoot, old boy, and I can smell a
sequel or two. And why not, one never gets
bored gazing at the gorgeous Robert D Jr.



A horse with the markings of a
Dalmatiam dog has been
discovered running
wild in Devon.

Born to
a chocolate brown mare he is a British
spotted pony whose father shares
the same unusual colouring.

Perhaps rather predictably named Spotty,
he was born just over a week ago at Wembury
Point, near Plymouth although his family
usually grazes on Dartmoor.

The markings were a natural camouflage for
ponies roaming the heaths and forests of
ancient Britain and are included in
several Stone Age paintings and on
ancient manuscripts.

During Roman times the horses were presented
to important officers as a sign of their
power. Around 170 are born
in Britain every year.

Staying on the subject of strangely coloured
animals an "astonishing" black penguin
has been photographed by
wildlife enthusiasts.

The penguin, believed to be suffering from a
condition known as melanism, was spotted on
Fortuna Bay, a sub-Antarctic island of South
Georgia, about 860 miles off the Falklands.

Andrew Evans, who was on the island to observe
wildlife took this picture (above) of the
penguin, one of several thousand.

“Seeing him waddle across South Georgia's black
sand beach revealed no different behaviour than
that of his fellow penguins. In fact, he
seemed to mix well,” he wrote on a
National Geographic blog.

“Regarding feeding and mating behaviour
there is no real way to tell, but I do know
that we were all fascinated by his presence
and wished him the best for the
coming winter season.”

Biology experts say that because black penguins
are particularly rare there is very little research
discussing the subject. Melanism is however
common on other animal species such as
squirrels. It is estimated that about one
in every 250,000 penguins shows
evidence of the condition.



"I'm still doing it."

I had a bit of DVD marathon at the weekend
whilst waiting all my paint jobs
round the house to dry.

As a fan of the late Heath Ledger and the Madness
Meister Terry Gilliam, The Imaginarium of
Doctor Parnassus was a must. The plot is
secondary to the visual feast, every
detail beautifully executed.

The sideshow troupe of Doctor Parnassus promises
the audiences a journey to the "Imaginarium",
an imaginary world through a mirror
where dreams come true.

The most pleasant surprise of the whole film is
model turned actress
Lily Cole as the Doctors
daughter Valentina. She can actually act!

Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell
famously stepped in to fill the bits Ledger
didn't finish before his death and all three of
them have got his mannerisms down to a tee.
They even look exactly like him!

The Happening, starring Mark Wahlberg, is a
spooky tale of a mysterious neurotoxin that
causes any person coming into contact with
it to commit suicide. Almost Hitchcockian in
places, not the best film I've ever seen

but not the worst either.

Zooey Deschanel, who plays the main
character's wife, ruins it somewhat

though with her soppy
wooden acting.

Surrogates, starring Bruce Willis looking
as rough as a badgers ass, is a weird
story of
physically perfect mechanical
representations of humans or
who own them.

Set in the future, people stay at home, plug
themselves into a machine and interact
through the surrogates. Only a few people
live in reservations the traditional
way of life without the use
of substitutes.

Tom Greer (Willis) and his partner are FBI agents
assigned to investigate the destruction of two
surrogates that caused the unthinkable:
the human hosts were also killed.

Strange and bit short


We had a bit of a clear out in the loft and
I found these two chairs buried in the back
in need of TLC. So I painted them and
made new seat pad covers.

I'll put them in the conservatory with a little
table once we get all the stuff cleared out from
there into the shed which is being built
in August when my friend Tommi
and his dad come to visit.



I want one! And not just because they've
become the new "let's carry it round
in a handbag" Chihuahua, I've
always wanted one!

Ferret ownership is now higher in
the south-east than the north
according to a new study.

Possession of the mammals used to be
synonymous with the north where 'ferret legging'
(an endurance test or stunt in which ferrets
are trapped in pants worn by a participant)
became popular, particularly among miners.

But celebrity owners, such as Hilton, Madonna
and Jonathan Ross have now made ferrets
fashionable in the affluent south.

Retired miner Reg Mellor, from Barnsley, set
the world record time of five hours and
twenty-six minutes at the age of 66 on 5
July 1981 at the Annual Pennine Show
at Holmfirth, Yorkshire.

Mellor, who had hunted with ferrets in the dales
outside of Barnsley for many years, had grown
accustomed to keeping them in his trousers
to keep them warm and dry when out working
in the rain. His "trick" was to ensure that
the ferrets were well-fed before they
were inserted into his trousers.

The decline of the need for poaching with
ferrets to feed families in the north has also
contributed, according to the survey by

Ferret Education and Research Trust.
The report found owners in the affluent
south-east, including London, account
for 27% of the pet ferret population.

The North of England's three regions account
for 24% between them. Yorkshire manages
just seven per cent. Typically lovers
of the species keep two animals,
with the record being 160.

Steve Shillitoe, one of the north's remaining
enthusiasts, said there had been a"rebranding
of the ferret from a working animal owned by
a Yorkshire man in a flat cap to a companion
animal for a young Essex woman".

The pet's renaissance in the South
will be celebrated on National
Ferret Day on May 5.


Check out these amazing pictures
of divers with sperm whales.

The playful whales have proved themselves
genuine gentle giants of the sea by allowing
divers to get up close and personal.

The 57-tonne mammals, which can grow up to 20.5m
(67ft) long, were happy for snorklers to swim
with them - and even wanted the humans
to rub their big bellies.

Hunted for their oil, and demonised as monsters
in fiction such as Herman Melville’s Moby Dick,
the whales showed their softer side in
Dominica, the Caribbean, to divers
including Dr Peter Allinson.

"When they interact with us they approach
us closely, rolling over again and again, trying
to get us to rub their abdomens and bodies,"
said the 61-year-old, from Florida.

"When you start getting close to them you feel
nervous, intimidated and then, as they interact
with you, intense pleasure. You realise
they are intelligent."

The is was named after the oily white
spermeceti found in its head and used
in candles, cosmetics and soap.


Yes, he can. With Lego.

A German artist has spent the last
three years travelling the world
fixing crumbling walls and
monuments using Lego.

Jan Vormann, 26, has taken his project from its
humble beginnings at an art fair in Rome and
brightened up thousands of people's days
with his brightly coloured plastic
version of Polyfilla.

From the old quarter of Tel Aviv in Israel to the
grand Bryant Park of New York, he has acted
either independently or with the city's
permission to leave a little part
of his childhood behind.

He estimates he's used more than 1,000
of the little Danish building blocks.

"I like to think of my work as a Repair
Manifesto," says the Berlin-based
installation artist.
"My work draws
attention to the smallest parts
of our cities that are falling apart
because of the brightness
of the Lego."

"My favourite work was done in Berlin.
I filled in some holes left by guns and
shrapnel from the Second World War.
That drew peoples attention to the
Lego and hopefully they would
ask themselves why the
it was there."



Remember Ratty, the Jack Russel who
achieved worldwide fame for taking
the bus to the pub alone?

Sad news this week: he's been knocked
down and killed - at the bus stop.

The ten-year-old pooch became a celebrity
in 2006 when his owner Gary Kay revealed
how he loved to hop on the Number 10 and
travel five miles to join regulars at a
North Yorkshire pub.

He would charm the bar staff at the Black Bull
in York where he was fed sausages while
sitting with the locals - and his amazing
adventures featured in newspapers,
magazines and even a
Japanese TV show.

He was then barred from the Black Bull
when new owners took over but
simply changed his visits to the
nearby Rose and Crown.

Mr Kay, 45, said he was 'absolutely gutted' after
his beloved dog died last Thursday when he
was hit by a speeding driver just yards from
where he used to hitch his bus rides.

Shocked passengers waiting for a service saw
the horror and raised the alarm.
Ratty has now
been buried in the garden at his owner's farm in
Dunnington, near York.
Mr Kay had owned Ratty
since he was just eight weeks old and used
him to control rats on the farm,
hence his name.

The father-of-three said his young sons adored
their pet and have been left extremely upset by
his untimely death. Two of Mr Kay's other
terriers have been pining for him by
his graveside, he added.

"I believe keeping a dog chained up is unnatural
and he was very crafty and had never had an
accident before this. He really liked that little
part of the village. He loved sitting at the bus
stop. He was always very careful when
crossing the road so I blame the
driver for this", Mr Kay says.

"It's a 30mph limit outside my farm but they
speed along here like crazy. The people at the
bus stop who saw what happened were mortified.
They said the driver must have been doing
about 70mph and made no attempt
to avoid Ratty, and
he didn't stop."

While on the subject the BBC has an
article about mourning your pets.


I'm not a what you might call a Self Indulgence Queen.
I've never bought a designer face or any other
kind cream and I've never had a facial or any
other salon treatment. I don't think I've ever
spent more than £5 on any type of cosmetic
product! Well, apart from hair
bleach which is about £7.

Feet are one area I've never paid particular attention
to but when my friend Heidi bought me Avon's

Renewing Foot Cream (no Avon link as they
don't actually sell this one anymore, it is
available elsewhere) as a Xmas
present I'm hooked!

It tingles nicely and smells a bit like mint
mixed with ... something! My tootsies
have never been in better shape!
It really revives and refreshes.


"Spring is in the air
I know it's very near
It warms me to the heart
It just fills the atmosphere"

Now that the thermometer has finally climbed to
very respectable double figures the spring is
definitely in the air. And about time!
This winter has been so miserable!

Mille aka Fats the cat has hibernated all winter
next to the radiator in the lounge, occasionally
wandering to my bedroom, but today I
found her on the backside
in the garden!

She was trying to catch Mira's tail and
she just sat next to her thinking
are you doing?"

A few plants have sprung into action as well, the
one was I most pleased about is the rhubarb
(below, on the left) because when the
three fell
last November all of that area got trampled
over and stomped down when we
cleaned up the aftermath.

I didn't think the poor rhubarb would
survive but there it is, poking its
head through the soil! Isn't
Mother Nature wonderful!

The Tiger Lillies (middle photo) have come up
as well and the strawberries (on the
right) are doing well (with Mira
(arrow) guarding them!).

Couple of
Azaleas I planted a few years ago
didn't unfortunately survive this harsh
winter so I'm going to pop to the
garden centre next week
to get replacements.




Congrats to Davie on the 10th anniversary
of the best Toyah fansite in the
world, Dreamscape.

It's not very often an unofficial website lasts
this long and is better than the artist's own
but this fantastic source of all things Minxy
beats the
official one hands down.

Not that there is anything wrong with it, it's
just that Dreamscape is superior simply
because it's more up to date and gives
us our daily T fix! The whirlwind known
as Ms Willcox never stops (the woman is
52 (in May) for Chrissake, how the hell
does she do it?!) so there's plenty to
report on a daily basis!

The new comments feature is great
as well, it's nice to interact
with other fans.

For Toyah novices there's the
The First Ten Years Archive.

Also, inspired by Davies new look site I re-did
(which explain the lack of posts in here!)
the side bar of my own Toyah page,
Interview Archive.

The new bits include the covers of all of the
re-issues, rare and collectible bits,
embedded videos and classic images.


Royal Mail has released a set of stamps of some
of Battersea Dogs and Cats Home success
stories to celebrate the rescue
centers 150 anniversary.

The charity began as the Temporary Home for
Lost and Starving Dogs in Holloway, North
London, back in 1860. They started taking in
cats when when they moved south to
Battersea in 1883.
12 000 animals
come through their door
every year.

Here are some of the models.
From the top left to right:

Mr Tumnus lives with his new owners
in London. He enjoys playing outside
or sitting on the kitchen shelf.

Pixie, a mastif, arrived at Battersea in 2007
as a tiny stray puppy and now lives with
her new owner in East Sussex.

Herbie, who came to Battersea as a puppy
and is a now flyball champion.
He lives in Berkshire.

Boris the Bulldog. When he arrived at the home
he had a bad skin condition but is now better
and lives with his owners in London.

Leonard came to Battersea because he was a
stray in Essex. He was very thin and scared
of people. But he's now well and lives
happily with his new family in Kent.

Tigger is an older cat and came to the home
when his owner died. He was shy at first but
now lives in London with his new owners,
where he loves his garden and
lazing in the sun.

And here's our little superstar Mira,
looking soooo cute sleeping I
had to take a photo!



Lost? Well, I am. The mega "where are they, what's
is going on" saga
Lost is drawing to a close
and I for one am none the wiser.

The island moves around? Locke is dead but he is
also The Black Smoke. Jacob has visited every one
of them at some point in their lives. The guy
who looks like he' got eyeliner tattooed on is
immortal. Hurley sees and hears dead
people. Sawyer is a police officer
in a parallel universe.

Huh? It's got to a point where they could
make another 10 series of it and it wouldn't
make any sense. I am going to watch it
to the bitter end although it is like
running through treacle at points.

Another favourite of mine 24 is trundling along
nicely with Jack declaring "There's no time for
that" in a heavy breathed whisper a lot as usual.

The gun fight scenes seem to getting a bit long-winded
though. I suppose they have to stretch it out
somehow, terrorists looking mean and
threatening to blow up something or
other doesn't quite keep us on the
edge of our seats for 24 ours.

New character Dana Walsh played by Katee Sackhoff
is also disappointing, not only has she got the
mobile superglued to her ear but she rather
predictably turned out to be a psycho
working with the baddies.

The new series of Flash Forward is also a letdown.
The storyline is overshadowed by the unnecessary
violence and it seems to go nowhere,
same old same old every episode.

But homegrown Ashes To Ashes saves the day. Gene
"Get your knickers on" Hunt is on form and
so cool even the political parties (above)
are using him to score points!

I love it the way it backfired on Labour!
They used it first but Tories nicked
it and made it better!


One my favourite reads at the moment is
The Time's monthly science

This months edition includes a fascinating
article about people who can't experience
music in a "normal" way.

"Some "amusics", as they're known, just don't
understand music but others find it actively
unpleasant", says Dr Lauren Stewart, senior
lecturer at
Goldsmiths University.

The condition is believed to affect about
4% of the population whereas 15%
claim to be tone deaf.

"Socially it can awkward as most of the time
we are surrounded by music. One woman I
worked with told me she actually fled a concert
hall in tears because she found it so unpleasant.
Another said that although she hated music
she bought CD's to play when friends came
round because she knows it's important
to them", Dr Stewart says.

It seems there is some difference in the amusics
brains develop but it's specific to music:
they're not deaf, there's no effect on IQ and
they can understand other forms of sound
such as speech without any difficulty.

There's also an interesting article about how
music affects animals. Click on the
image below to read it.