Archives for the month of: March, 2011

When Vesla had finished eating the clematis on either side of the gate,

she went and hung around with Holly.

For a fastidious eater like Vesla there’s not a whole lot of opportunity at the moment.  Most of the food is  buried in the snow.

Misty – who will eat almost anything – worked on the beech hedge.  Its leaves from last year hold tight until the new ones are fully out, some time in early May.

The hedge is twenty-something metres long.  It’s a big job really for one goat to demolish the whole thing, but she’s goat enough to give it a shot.

Misty likes to lick my hand and arm.  She also licks paintwork occasionally, but mostly it’s my hand and arm.  Quite often it seems to be an expression of gratitude for having done her some sort of favour – fetching clean water for example – but at other times (like here) I don’t really know why she does it.

Holly would never do that.  Sometimes I think they look a bit like rabbits.

There are angora rabbits as well as angora goats, but their name comes from what’s now Ankara, in Anatolia,

rather than from the two wools.

Since he makes such great use of photo archives I thought that Tom, especially, might find these pictures interesting.  I came across them by googling “British Library Catalogue of Photographs”.  Apparently they’ve got 350,000 and they waited until 2009 to have their first exhibition, in which these five appeared.  They led me to Curated, which as far as I can tell is a photography magazine, I’m going to look at it again later when I’ve got more time.

I won’t repeat what the two articles say about the photos.

All right, I will a bit.  The hippo’s called Obaysch – not very African-sounding, perhaps he or she was captured by Germans – and the photograph was taken in 1852 by Don Juan Carlos, Duke of Montizón.

This one reminds me of The Walrus & The Carpenter:

Here’s a giant parrot perched on a chimney.  Is the blurry part a backdrop?  They can’t have had photo backdrops in them days.  The men are very sharp, though.

What are these women checking, boxes of chocolates? Whatever it is required natural light and (I think) open air.  Anyway, I like the room.

This one below is my favourite picture. They look like tiny men inside a motor car engine, or perhaps the one at the bottom with a pickaxe strikes the bell of a clock on the hour.  Could they be digging a tunnel?

Update: Thanks to MMcM, we now know they’re digging the tunnel for the Central Line.  I’ve made the print a bit clearer and one thing I notice is that, of the 23 men in the picture, every single one has a moustache.

If Misty is the most well-adjusted, said Julia yesterday, why there’s only one picture of her in this post?

It’s a fair point.

And yet the race is not to the swift.  Is Kate Moss, the fashion model, well-adjusted?  Not according to the newspapers, and yet her picture is everywhere.

The FBI never claimed its Most Wanted posters were mugshots of the well-adjusted, and yet they’re in every post office in the United States.

Holly’s temperamental but she’d never rob a bank, she just wants a fair crack of the whip.

Vesla was more friendly today.  She rubbed her horns against my trouser leg and butted my head.  She’s still baaing very loudly, though; I don’t know what that’s about.  In the picture below she’s chewing a clematis stem.  She had quite a go at the clematis on Sunday.

I think Misty will appear tomorrow.  It’s not very imaginative, but I’m presenting these pictures in the order I took them.

Here are all three goats with their heads neatened up.


Vesla.  Since I took these pictures on Sunday, Vesla hasn’t been at all pleased to see me.  She won’t gently butt heads with me, and if I stroke her she starts, and then bolts as far away as she can get.  Yesterday evening, she hid her head behind a sack so that there was no possibility of eye contact with me.


Vesla.  On Monday, I took a big pile of manure away from her perch by the window.  Since she’s quite short it’s made it harder for her to see out over the window-sill.  I’m wondering if she’s cross with me because of that.

Holly.  Holly’s been in a very good mood recently.  I suppose Misty is really the most well-adjusted goat; she hardly ever gets cross without it being pretty obviously my fault.  She’s not as temperamental as the other two.


…All new except this one, this is a “before” photograph:

I can’t even tell which goat that is, I think it’s Holly.

It’s not warm enough to give them a proper shear, but they had so much hay lodged in their coats that last weekend we decided to give them a trim around the face so you could at least tell which end is the front.  They also needed their hooves trimmed, so we did that.  Although a professional goat wrangler could do the whole job in five minutes we’re amateurs, and it required all three of us to work for two days (ok, only one hour on each day).

As you can see, while we’re preoccupied with giving Holly the full treatment, Misty seizes the opportunity to nibble someone’s trouser pockets:

Holly seemed to love the whole thing.

Afterwards, she looked less like a sheep and more like a goat.

I think this is what they’re supposed to look like.

I took lots more pictures, so I’m going to put some more up – but I’ll do it over the next few days, so it doesn’t take hours & hours to load on your computers…

The moon, yesterday evening in the snow.  It’s the closest it’s been for twenty years but frankly it always looks about this size to me.

Paul (Canehan) has sent me a story from a Wired article about Larry Page, the co-founder of Google:

Larry always has far-fetched ideas that may be very difficult to do,” Google software engineer Eric Veach says. “And he wants them done now.” In the early 2000s, Veach worked on what would become the company’s advertising system. Page was adamant that the program be simple and scalable—advertisers shouldn’t have to deal with salespeople, pick keywords, or do anything more than give their credit card number. That approach helped create the most successful Internet commerce product in history. But some other suggestions were baffling. During one session, Veach pointed out that not all countries commonly used credit cards. Page proposed taking payments appropriate to the home country—in Uzbekistan, he suggested, Google could take its payment in goats. “Maybe we can get to that,” Veach responded, “but first let’s make sure we can take Visa and MasterCard”.

I can’t see them putting up with a lot of inter-continental travel.

The goats have been spending the past few days in the sun in front of the house.  It’s comparatively warm, about 5C.  (The rope in the foreground is Topsy’s, nothing to do with the goats.)

They look very bedraggled. They have long wool with bits of hay fastened to it:

Misty has a new hobby.  She likes to stand in the wood shed.

And chew the bark off the birch logs.

She loves it in there.

Her teeth seem to be getting longer.  With horses they have to be filed down, but I’m not sure about goats.

On Monday and Tuesday immediately following the ice-cutting festival, a film crew set up in the same spot on the lake.  I counted about forty people, from which I inferred that it’s either a major motion picture starring – I don’t know – Colin Firth, say… or it’s a commercial for something cold and “fresh”.  I suspect it’s the latter.

I had thought I heard a chain saw, and this does look kind of look like one.  In fact it’s some kind of snow-mobile.  They’re actually illegal here, the lake is a “nature area”.  I quite like it, though.

You can see the saws for cutting the ice are still here:

I saw some people coming from the lake this afternoon, and then I remembered it was ice-cutting day.

So we went down there.  There was quite a crowd.  Every so often there was a huge cheer and some applause.

The fact is I don’t really know what was going on.  By the time Topsy & I arrived, all the action was over.

I’m not sure what the horses & sleighs were doing.

These men may look like total wallys, but you can tell they’ve been looking forward to this for months.  When I asked about the horse, the one on the left was quite nice.  These are cold-blooded Gudbrandsdal horses, and they’re used to hauling loads.  I don’t think anyone rides them.  I like the brass bells on the horse’s back, the sound reminds me of Father Christmas.

The main event today was the cutting of these blocks of ice.  It’s some sort of old tradition, I think I remember hearing that they used to send some from our lake to Queen Victoria before she got her own refrigerator.  The blocks are about the same size as she was, about two-feet square (60cm).  In the foreground are the saws they used.

They’ve sawn out the blocks in four or five neat rectangles, and they’ve roped-off the area so no one falls in.  You can see the depth of the ice.

I think one or two people may have gone in the water, perhaps to push the blocks up onto the ice, but I can’t be sure.

On a voyage across the Atlantic Le Corbusier had an affair with Josephine Baker. Adolf Loos was in love with Josephine Baker, in fact he designed a famous house for her that was going to have Lego-like black & white marble stripes:

Except Lego hadn’t been invented.  Loos’s father had been a stonemason and Loos liked marble.  Sadly for Adolf, I don’t think Josephine cared for him at all. Actually I don’t think anyone did, poor old Adsche.

So, in March the sun is my friend.  Here it peeks through – I don’t know, is it clouds or fog?  I suppose it depends where you’re standing.

Behind my back when I turn round the sky is blue and there’s no cloud at all:

Further down on the lake it can’t decide. The sun flickers on and off like a malfunctioning fluorescent light fixture.

Here, by the way, is that little island I showed last week.  There’s another person skiing past it. Or perhaps it’s the same person.

The sun can’t quite reach our house, below. That’s probably good; sunshine will turn our driveway into a bobsled run.

The diving-board raft is still icebound, like the ship in the Casper David Friedrich painting:

This will be a dog rose in a couple of months.  It’s hard to see how that’s going to happen, but it always does.

On the whole, it’s still winter.








No, forget it, it isn’t blossom after all.  They’re snowy crystals growing on the trees; they’ve been accumulating all week, it’s from all the fog.

It won’t be spring for at least another month, but at least the fog is clearing.  We’ve been living in the clouds for a week, and I’ve been reading a biography of Le Corbusier. He grew up in the Swiss watchmaking town of La Chaux-de-Fonds, in a valley in the Jura mountains.

He was obsessed with sunlight – not a bad quality for an architect – and that’s perhaps because for half the year La Chaux-de-Fonds gets an average of three hours of sunshine a month day (scroll down in here if you don’t believe me). During the summer, the figure soars to five or six hours of sun per month day. So he had every reason to worry about sunshine, poor old Corb; he loathed La Chaux-de-Fonds and fled Switzerland at his earliest opportunity.  He reinvented himself: he changed his name to Le Corbusier from Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, and spent the rest of his life designing in warm places like Rio, Marseilles and Algiers, and building Chandigarh, in the Punjab.  By that time, 1950-ish, he’d learnt that the sun is not always our friend.

But in March, in Norway, I tend to think it is.



Tomorrow, Part II:  Adolf Loos & Josephine Baker.