29 August 2012


As it is said "necessity is the mother of invention", one could conversely say that "invention is the surly teenager of what was once necessary".  Hence, things like the charming red phone boxes standing idly like awkward hitchhikers on roadsides across the UK, having become obsolete in the age of cell phones.  Or have they...

We came across this phone box in the nearby village of Cleish, who have reconstituted their old phone box into what is aptly called "Information Exchange".  It held everything from Tom Clancy page turners to Rachmaninoff CDs.  All free I believe.  Genius.

Cleish Information Exchange

Is that a bootleg copy of Downton Abbey I see in there?

24 August 2012


The first adjustment on arrival to Sam’s folks house is always to the cacophony of birds.  Brooklyn is a hyperbolic chamber compared with the racket of Cleish.

Weary with jetlag and achy from 8 hours of being folded like an umbrella into a coach seat, we are welcomed by an army of marching Guinea fowl screaming at us like nasal, honking day traders. Their intelligence is betrayed by peanut sized heads angled atop grey speckled football shaped bodies. They yak away at anyone that comes within 50 feet and sidewind around the yard in a fit of ordered nervousness.

Guinea Fowl (and a soccer ball.  Can you tell the difference?)

Never heard a Guinea Fowl?  Here's your chance (turn up the volume for full effect):

Followed by the Guinea Fowl are the chickens.  Is there anything more inherently comical than a chicken?  They sound like a chorus of tattletales, whiny and alarmed.  The Cleish chickens, however, are extremely friendly, too friendly, and they constantly try to invite themselves into the house, the garage, and the car.  All doors must be opened and shut quickly or you will find yourself with a stowaway. 

Photo courtesy of Sam

This was Roan’s first chicken experience.  He wasn’t quite sure what to do with them.

Aunt Cicely explains the finer points of a chicken

Nope, that's the wrong end!

Watering them won't do much either

Are they pets?  Not really, but they were way friendlier than the cat who disappeared at the first sight of Roan. He got to collect the eggs every day - usually about 4 at a time. “Delicate” is not a word in Roan’s repertoire or manner so we had several spontaneous omelettes being made following the egg run.

Then he would let them out of their coop so they could roam the lawn.  Peck and walk, peck and walk.

Photo courtesy of Sam

These are the happiest chickens I’ve ever seen.  A charmed life for a bird, really. They get to eat spaghetti and sit in the sunshine on the patio. They lay eggs with nice hard shells and luminous yellow yolks that are delicious.



Despite having such wonderful fresh specimens at our fingertips Sam couldn’t wait to get a jar of pickled eggs.  They are foul. (get it? foul? fowl? ha!)

22 August 2012


Since coming back from Scotland I seem to be trying to return there every day.

Today I took Roan to the Prospect Park Zoo.  Behind the sea lion exhibit is a petting zoo abuzz with about 50 kids pawing at 8 sheep and goats.  There were chickens encased behind glass like Hannibal Lecter.  Anticlimactic doesn't begin to describe how pitiful this meager display of husbandry is compared to life in Scotland.

To whit: city sheep...

... and country sheep

This Saturday I've planned an outing to the Dutchess County fair, complete with a goat pavilion and Rosaire's Racing pigs, an improvement I hope.

16 August 2012


We are back from Scotland and, after three weeks almost entirely off the grid, I am simply not sure how to tackle blogging about such an epic trip.  Therefore I have decided to begin at the end, or ends, so to speak.  Behold, a traffic jam in northern Scotland...