Thursday, February 28, 2008

Milo re-named Cedric the Centipede

I unequivocally defer to your superior knowledge of the natural world, Jane and Jane, and thank you for correcting me with regards to the Milo/Cedric millipede/centipede muddle.

For those of you as uneducated as me when it comes to these many-legged beasts, here are some facts.


Millipedes have two pairs of legs per segment (except for the first segment behind the head which does not have any appendages at all, and the next few which only have one pair of legs). Each segment that has two pairs of legs is a result of two single segments fused together as one.

Millipedes are slow moving because they have so many little stumpy legs.

Most millipedes eat decaying leaves and other dead plant matter, moisturising the food with secretions and then scraping it in with the jaws.

There are around 10,000 species!

The giant African millipede is the largest species of millipede and can grow to 28cm. Urgh. Would definitely not want THAT crawling round my bathtub


Centipedes have one pair of legs per body segment.

They have a pair of poison claws formed from a modified first appendage. This also means that centipedes are exclusively predatory which is uncommon.

Centipedes require a moist micro-habitat due to their rapid rates of water loss. This is why Milo liked it in my bath.

The bite of a typical centipede can be very painful for humans, similar to that of a wasp sting and can usually be treated with an antihistamine if no infection develops. Some tropical centipedes can be more dangerous, however.

Centipedes have a fossil record dating back 420 million years to the late Silurian

Centipede mating does not involve copulation. Males deposit a spermatophore for the female to take up. Some males undertake a courtship dance to encourage the female to engulf his sperm. In other cases, the males just leave them for the females to find. I’m hoping Milo didn’t leave any in my bath for me to find.

The Amazonian giant centipede, is the largest existing species of centipede in the world, reaching over 30 cm in length. It is known to eat bats, catching them in midflight, as well as rodents and spiders.

The prehistoric Euphoberia was the largest known centipede, growing up to one metre in length.

Thank you Jane and wikipedia for these amazing facts.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Nosey neighbour or neighbourhood watch?

Neighbour: (round for a cup of tea) Have you been away Nick?
Nick: erm, when?
Neighbour: Last Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday night.
Nick: Yes, I was!
Neighbour: Thought so.
Nick: how did you know?
Neighbour: I noticed your car was gone. Normally both your cars are gone by 8.00am and back by 7.00pm, except for Fridays when Rachel’s car is normally in the drive. I saw that your car was gone for 3 week nights in a row and wondered where you had gone.
Nick: (a bit freaked out) errr yes. I was away for work
Me: Did you think we’d had a row and Nick has left me?
Neighbour: (laughs) I’m not nosey or anything, I just like to check that everything is in order and I notice when the routine is disrupted.
Cat: (bites neighbour really hard on the wrist.)
Me: (smirks) Maggie! Don’t bite the neighbours!

Milo the Millipede

Sorry for the lack of posts. I’ve been busy, mainly making curtains and trying to make our sitting room habitable again.

I’ve decided I don’t like making curtains. They are just too big and my weedy arms hurt after lugging 10 meters of heavy fabric around. I chose to make them rather than buy ready made curtains because a) I wanted thermally lined super heavy warm things, b) I wanted them extra long (3.2m) draping on the floor, c) I wanted a particular fabric in a particular colour and d) I am tight.

Ready made curtains are great if the shop happens to have the exact fabric you want, and you have nice modern standard sized windows and a warm house so don’t need them interlined.

Anyway, tonight I will have attached the hooks and can hang them up. I hope and pray after all the effort they look ok and hang nicely. At the moment they are draped down the stairwell and look a bit shit.

On a totally different note, we have had a little visitor in our bath for over a week. This is Milo the Millipede in his prime.

He came up the plug hole and despite being washed down again on numerous occasions he would reappear the next day, prancing around and around the bath like he was on parade.

I named him and would check every evening to see if he was still there. Nick said this was disgusting and swore to kill him. His chosen method of insecticide was bleach, which he claimed was the nearest deadly weapon he spotted. He doused poor Milo with pine fresh Demestos and swilled him down the plug hole.

The next day Milo was back as usual, marching around the bath on his daily rounds. This time Nick covered Milo in bleach and left him there, trapped in a viscous chemical torture chamber of surface tension to suffer an appalling death. I was horrified to see Milo’s little legs contorted and millipede juice leaking out of him.

I have now got over this scene of murderous carnage and am looking forward to a nice hot bath in a millipede free bathroom.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Scary Swans

Arriving at my car after work the other day I felt like I was in a horror movie. 4 huge swans were loitering with intent next to the driver’s door. I climbed in the car from the passenger side and revved the engine to try and get them to move out of the way.

Far from being scared they were actually encouraged by my presence and began to harass me, staring at me from close quarters with beady eyes, pecking at the window and generally freaking me out.

My rational brain was telling me they only behave like this because people feed them from their car windows, but my overactive imagination was bestowing evil motives upon these enormous birds. I was expecting more to waddle up from the loch side until I was totally surrounded by these massive and eerily silent beasts. Not content with meagre breadcrumbs they would beat me to the ground by flapping their vast wings, and peck the flesh off my bones.

Eventually I decided I couldn’t sit in the car park all night so reversed slowly out, attempting to avoid yellow webbed feet, and drove home with all flesh in tact.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Quick Quilting

A couple of weekends ago I spent a really nice day with Lisa in Glasgow, fabric and trimmings shopping.

After spending an hour and a half in VV Rouleux it became clear that Lisa’s current love affair with all things red and white, and her love of the country cottage aesthetic was starting to rub off on me too. I went home and had the burning desire to make a red and white patchwork quilt for Lisa, using one of the most traditional patchwork patterns, the log cabin.

Generally I go to great lengths to design my own quilts, and I’ve never actually made a traditional log cabin quilt before, but Lisa’s description of her country cottage inspired me to rootle through my growing fabric stash and plan this quilt. (click picture for closer look.)

I wanted to use a red and white gingham as the main fabric but as I added more fabrics the gingham didn’t look right anymore, so it got put back in the cupboard for another day. I loved the combination of fabrics here, most of which I got from this company.

The main achievement for me was the speed at which I made it. The combination of using a design I didn’t need to agonise over, nice straight seams, (normally I hand cut wavy lines which is very time consuming to piece together) and repetitive chain piecing meant that I finished the top in about 7 hours and had it quilted and bound in another 5 hours. I think that’s my record!

Thursday, February 14, 2008


I’m increasingly bemused by the rash of laxative adverts that are appearing on the telly. The new breed of ad usually features a group of concerned looking attractive women, sitting around, apparently chatting about their ‘uncomfortable stools’.

Why would you take a pill to make your stools more comfortable? Who are these weedy delicate women who can’t cope with the odd scratchy poo? What’s wrong with eating some good ol’ bran flakes for brekkie? That’ll get things moving!

Flick to another channel and you’re immediately faced with another pair of attractive women flouncing happily down the street, tossing their shiny hair because they’ve taken a different pill to stop their newly liquid yet comfortable stools from escaping unannounced. Maybe the idea is that, if you get the timing right, you can avoid the necessity of ever having to use a toilet other than your own at home. It would be a delicate balancing act between the laxative and the bunger-upper drug, but it could be done.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Romance is dead

Nick: Darling, do you want to do anything special on valentines day?
Me: (giving Nick a hug) No, not really, it’s fine.
Nick: Oh good, do you mind if I go to the pub with the lads then?

Monday, February 11, 2008


I am all for equality, I really am, but sometimes common sense surely must take precedence?

We have a client who is being forced to install 2 disabled toilets into their building. 'Quite right too' I hear you say. Normally I would agree, but in this instance it is pure lunacy.

Our clients run a training facility for employees of a certain dangerous industry that requires their personnel to climb up really very high structures attached only by ropes, and to carry out physically demanding strenuous engineering tasks dangling in mid air 200ft above the ocean. Surprisingly they don’t train many wheelchair bound people.

The whole issue of discrimination has been in the news a lot recently, mainly in relation to women in the workplace earning less than men, and debates over whether businesses should employ women in the first place when everyone knows that all we want to do is rush to pop out sprogs and costs everyone else time and money.

That dreadful woman Katie Hopkins from the Apprentice was on the radio going on about how women in general were a terrible proposition, unless they were like her, childless, ruthless, ambitious and prepared to put work before anything else.

Listening to her espousing her theories that put back women's equality 20 years, I got annoyed but then I felt sorry for her. Yeah yeah, she earns a big fat 6 figure salary, but what a hard, joyless and exploited person she sounded.

I agree that there should be equal pay for equal work, without a doubt, and that suitably qualified people of either sex, with a disability or not should have an equal opportunity to get the same work. However, I will not claim discrimination because my clients aren’t training wheelchair bound people to abseil in gale force winds. It’s political correctness gone mad.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Accidentally escaping flatulence

The dreaded horror! It happened to me yesterday. I was in a meeting with a client and a Contractor and for some reason we were sitting on the floor. The big drawings were spread all about and we were on our hands and knees discussing them.

As I rearranged my limbs and manoeuvred myself into a sitting position a fart accidentally escaped with a small neat ‘parp

At the precise moment of the renegade trump my client was mid sentence, so hopefully she didn’t hear. Also at the critial point the builders outside turned on the digger so I’m hoping my traitorous fart was mistaken for the rumble of the machinery.

After the intial shock of hoping no-one heard there is then the 10 second delay during which you wrack your brains to remember what you ate for tea last night, and the probability of the fart turning poisonous. What an interminable 10 seconds it was too.

Thankfully (and unusually, as my family and spouse will vouch) it was totally odourless.

I think I got away with it.

Moral of the story.
Do not conduct business meetings on your hands and knees. That is the position the medical profession recommend for the easiest passage of trapped wind, and the NHS have saved £millions by using this method instead of drugs to treat the problem in elderly patients.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art

We braved the snow and took Eleanor and Alex for a day trip to Glasgow for shopping and a look round the Gallery of Modern Art. Activities like this must be done in short bursts because Nick get 'Museum Fatigue' very quickly. His time limit is usually around 35-40 mins, potentially stretching to 45-50 if bribed with the promise of a coffee in the cafe at the end.

Despite the countdown element we had a nice time. There was loads of fabulous lino prints in the current exhibition. Unfortunately I can't remember the artists name. The knitted cacti are part of the permanent collection.

Launch of Greenlaces

My sister and I are very similar yet amazingly different too. Our similarities lie in our eccentricities, our ability to find joy in small things, our passion for the things that interest us, and our need to eat regulary or risk going vacant.

Eleanor is a fantastic cook, and also amazing at living well on a tight budget. She never bats an eylid if 15 people turn up unannounced, feeding them magnificently as if she had been preparing it all morning.

I like to think that I have similar talents when it comes to making stuff, and a similar passion for turning something ordinary into something better, and having fun along the way.

I thought that Eleanor and I should write a book based on our passions, a book based around a shared goal of living cheaply and living sustainably. Many of the concepts we both employ are green and cheap, such as recyling stuff in new ways, or making the effort to go out to find free food like elderberries or wild garlic.

Our book would be full of ideas for 21st century home life, including recipes, food tips and ideas, crafts and decorating ideas, all falling under the umbrella of living green and living cheap.

We discussed this idea and in the end decided to tackle the project in installments. And what better way than to make our installments available as we go along. Hmm... sounds a bit like a blog!

And so our new blog Greenlaces was born. It is less than a week old, but check it out here. We are just warming up, so check back in a while!
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