Explorer and Independent Biologist

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Windermere - quest for Bownessie

At just over 11 miles (18 km) long, Windermere is the largest natural lake in England. It was formed after the retreat of ice at the end of the last Ice Age.

Aerial  picture of Windermere
Internet picture source here

There are a number of reports over the years of a large aquatic animal (possible prehistoric) that inhabits the lake. The Windermere creature has been named Bownessie, hybridising the name of a village on Windermere (Bowness) and Nessie (the Loch Ness Monster of Scotland). A recent report (with photograph) prompted me to spend a few hours kayaking around Windermere today, to see what I could find...

A recent photograph of Bownessie. 
Read the full report in the Daily Telegraph here.

Looking north up Windermere through the channel between 
Belle Isle (right) and the west shore of Windermere

Windermere is a very popular place for boating and 
water leisure activities of many kinds
But who wants to be a tourist...

And who wants to be a millionaire...

When I can paddle off in my own little boat with perfect freedom...

...quietly, close to the banks of the islands,
sliding under the overhanging trees  in shallow water
watching the wildlife...

 ...and choose my own little island to pull ashore 
to brew a pot of tea with a picnic lunch...

Provided that it is not right underneath the Cormorant colony!

So, did I find Bownessie? No.
Not this time...

Monday, 21 February 2011

Nigella's Kitchen

There is no doubt that domestic goddess Nigella Lawson is one of Britain's most popular television celebrity chefs. Personally, I have made a number of culinary choices under her influence.

Nigella Lawson slaving in her kitchen

I study her cookery programmes avidly, and have picked up a number of tips. I visited my favourite kitchen hardware shop (Dolings in Barrow-in-Furness) and asked for "one of those things that Nigella uses in her TV show". The kind manageress immediately found what I was looking for: it's called a mezzaluna . 

 Nigella shows off her... errm, her mezzaluna

Then a friend told me that in order for it to work properly, I needed a special mezzaluna board. This is like a normal chopping board, but has the centre chiselled out to make a depression corresponding to the radius of the mezzaluna. I searched in Amazon and was delighted to find that Nigella has created her very own board which I immediately bought, and it was delivered today.

My very own mezzaluna and mezzaluna board
direct from Nigella's kitchen (it says so on the box).
Now I shall cook like Nigella.

Nigella Lawson pours herself a drink...

...before taking a well-earned break
after slaving over a hot stove all day

(Pictures of Nigella Lawson in this post are from the internet)

There is a demonstration (not by Nigella) 
of how to use a mezzaluna in the clip below

Sunday, 13 February 2011


Thirlmere is a reservoir that was created in 1889 by flooding a valley to merge two smaller lakes into one in order to supply drinking water to Manchester. Two villages were "drowned" in the process. I decided to explore the lake by kayak on a mild, calm, February day.

Thirlmere is 3.5 miles long. 
I launched some somewhere below the bush in the foreground 
and paddled to the far end of the lake, passing the small islands.
For internet picture source click here

I launch at dawn while patchy fog-banks 
still enshroud parts of the lake

The fog-banks give a mysterious look to the lake...

...and some ethereal scenes.

A swollen beck pours from the fell into Thirlmere

Reaching the head of Thirlmere
I pull ashore for a snack 
before the 3-mile paddle back

After lunch the fog has lifted enough 
to reveal the summit of Helvellyn,
England's second highest mountain

By mid-afternoon the fog has gone and 
sunshine through the cumulus  clouds
illuminates the surrounding mountains

You can read more about Thirlmere here

Thursday, 10 February 2011


Hazel catkins in late winter sunshine
at Roudsea Woods and Mosses National Nature Reserve