My very own wee pig!

29 May, 2009

peelham 01

I’m so excited this morning 🙂

Last Saturday Humphrey emailed to alert me to a scheme about to be run by a wonderful farm, not far from where he lives.

Peelham Farm raises organic, free-range rare breed pigs. They’re committed to the ethical and compassionate treatment of the animals in their care, and they produce pork, lamb, mutton and even veal of the highest standard. See their ‘Meat Manifesto’ here.

Anyway, they’ve decided to run a Peelham Own-a-Tamworth (or POAT) club, whereby 12 lucky families can own their own Tamworth pig. In exchange for a contribution towards the cost of caring for the pig, the families can choose a piglet, visit the farm, have fun with like-minded families, follow the piglet’s progress and–ultimately–eat the piggly.

There was a feature about the scheme in The Observer last Sunday, and there’s been massive interest. I was very keen to join in, but it occurred to me that it might be possible to do it a little differently. Maybe I could sponsor a piglet to live out its life happily on the farm without going to market…?

Well, I wrote to the farm and asked, and they wrote straight back to invite me to choose a she piglet (a gilt) to become a breeding sow. I can contribute towards the cost of her care, and visit her. I can meet her piglets when she starts to breed at about 7 months, and she will effectively be mine for the whole of her life (up to 8 years, apparently). I can even choose her little name! (Suggestions welcome, btw.)

This is a real thrill for me 🙂 I love bacon sandwiches and the odd sausage as much as the next person, but I’ve become increasingly distressed by the terrible conditions in which most of the animals that sustain us subsist. Compassionate farming seems to me to be the way forward, and it’s hugely exciting to be able to be involved in this way.

Wee Piglet is also very excited, and has started building a small sty in the garden under the large bush in the corner, even as I type. Puss-Puss is licking her lips and sharpening her tooth. Um…

I’ll keep y’all updated, but in the meantime a thousand thanks to Humph for the tip-off ♥ ♥ ♥

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MP3 headphones recommendation — Philips SBC HS430

28 May, 2009
Philips SBC HS430 Headphones

Philips SBC HS430 Headphones

I listen to my MP3 player loads when I’m walking/running/cooking/doing stuff around the house, and so I’ve had a lot of headphones. I’m always screwing them into a ball and stuffing them into a pocket, and eventually the little wires give up the ghost and I need to get new ones.

I don’t use the ‘ear bud’ type, partly because I find it difficult to keep them in my ears but mainly because I’m almost sure they’ve given me an ear infection in the past. I like the ones with a little clip that I can slip behind my ear. They stay on, and they’re comfy too as they have lovely soft padding. They’re probably less likely to make me deaf as well, though at this advanced stage I think it may be a little late to be thinking about that.

Anyway, my pair before last was a cheap set by Philips: the SBC HS430. They were only about £8 from (I think) Curry’s, but they’re some of the best I’ve ever had. They come with extra bass, and sound *much* better than many other, vastly more expensive sets I’ve used. I couldn’t get another set when they eventually wore out, but yesterday I needed some more and — lo and behold — they had them again at Curry’s 🙂 They’re just as good as the first pair.

The only negative thing about them is that the end of the clip is a little sharp, and so after prolonged use (I mean in the order of 8 hours or so, when I’m walking) they can get a bit sore behind my ear. When that happens I just use one, and alternate from time to time. I suspect I could cure the problem fairly easily, though, by wrapping something around the end. Perhaps I’ll get round to it some day 🙂 I’ve used several pairs with adjustable clips, btw, which do away with the ‘ear rub’ problem, but they didn’t sound nearly as good.

I’ve just been looking them up on the net and they don’t seem to be widely available, and so perhaps I’ll buy a spare pair in case Philips are doing away with them, in the rather peculiar way that manufacturers often seem to get rid of their best products.

Very highly recommended.


Wow! Almost 50,000 views on YouTube!!

23 May, 2009

Ooh! My Housevid, Blooper-Dooper!, has had almost 50,000 viewings on YouTube!

Whooohooo! 🙂


Right. One last music vid and then I’m off to collect the puppy.

23 May, 2009

Here’s a tune I did manage to listen to during the Challenge. It was playing on my wee thingy as I climbed Munros in unfeasibly blizzardy weather with Caburn on day 2, and I spent quite a long time after that trying, unsuccessfully, to find it again. I found it this morning, though. Here’s a random recording of it, culled from the ever-wonderful YouTube.

xxx PW xxx


Home and back to the music player, whoohoo!!!!

23 May, 2009

I took music with me on the Challenge, but I walked so much with other peeps this year that I didn’t listen to a lot. I can’t really manage for long without it, though, so this morning I’m indulging myself with a trawl through stuff I really love.

Here are a couple of recordings from YouTube of Joni Mitchell’s indescribably beautiful A Case of You, which really has to be just about the most unutterably lovely non-classical thing I’ve ever heard sung! The line “I am a lonely painter” somehow never fails to bring a wee tear to my eye.

The first one sounds as it normally does, but the second is performed with James Taylor. I love JT’s guitar playing, and so I’ve put it up as it’s unmistakeably him. For me the arrangement loses something of the subtlety and hauntingly wistful qualities of the original, but on the other hand those exquisite little signature JT guitar licky things definitely add something special.

Anyway, here they both are. Sigh…


Challenge finished. Knackered again.

23 May, 2009

Well, the Challenge is over for another year and I’m still more-or-less in one piece. Phew! Early route planning for the next one has just begun. Can anyone give me a GR for Ben Alder cottage? I can’t spot it on my little Anquet mappy thing.

At 8am this morning I was woken from my first real sleep for more than a fortnight, by the postman. He wanted to deliver the Atmos that I abandoned in Aviemore, in favour of my new Exos. Early exhumation from my snuggly, warm bed was a bit of a blow, but at least I’m up now and that’s no bad thing, as today I have to drive to Birmingham to collect my wee darling, Piglet, and to a cattery much closer to home to reclaim Puss-Puss. Tomorrow I’ll visit my father.

I suppose I should go and make some coffee, and miss another breakfast. At a campsite in Ballater I saw Humphrey boiling up his magnificent Turkish coffee, flavoured with cardamom and, quite possibly, a few even more interesting substances. I plan to write and request the recipe.

The single most exciting event of my whole Challenge was a manic fling around the dancefloor at the Braemar bash with Humphrey, to Blur’s magnificent Song 2. Wow! Thrill to that magnificently growly bass!! Apologies again for breaking your hip, Humph 🙂

Well, Let’s see if I can put up some pictures of my little Piglet.

Piglet in Glencoe at 5 months old, just before her coat was stripped.

Piglet in Glencoe at 5 months old, just before her coat was stripped.

Little Piglet, immediately after her first coat stripping, taking stock of the woods at home.

Little Piglet, immediately after her first coat stripping, taking stock of the woods at home.

Baby Piglet, sleeping on a chair.

Baby Piglet, sleeping on a chair.

Piglet Monster!

Piglet Monster!


Help! Product safe to use in reproofing my Laser Competition?

4 May, 2009

Being the organised sort of person I am, it occurred to me this morning that maybe the time was right to wash and reproof my tent. Less than 72 hours before I leave for the Challenge… A spray down with the hose didn’t get rid of the nasty Corsican dust, and there are the skeletal remains of many thousands of nematodes clinging to the bottom, I’m sure…

I’ve washed it in the bath with pure soap flakes, but I can’t find anyone near me who has the Terra Nova tent reproofer. Does anyone know whether I can use one of the Nikwax products, or another good one? I’d like something I can wash in, ideally. I see in the info sheet that the flysheet. groundsheet and inner are made of nylon, but I can’t seem to find anything more detailed.

Please help if you can. Otherwise I may have to buy a new tent! *cough cough*

Edited to add: I see a product on the Nikwax page called ‘Tent & Gear Solar Proof’ which is a spray-on waterproofing product. It’s the one they suggest for nylon products. Being a total techno-ignoramus, though, I’m just not quite sure whether it’s okay for the Competition or not.