Missing Dora

Long long ago we bought a house in Oxford, and with that house we acquired Solomon, a lovely ginger cat who stayed with us for the next 11 years.

When Solomon died we really didn't have any immediate plans to get another cat.  However, the word had clearly gotten out around the local cat community that our house was a great place to spend a feline retirement, and Dora came calling.

Having checked the place out Dora (at that point already 13 years old) announced her arrival and moved two doors down the street to join us - and she then stayed for another 7 years, until the years finally caught up with her this week.   She's been a fantastic companion over the 7 years and is sorely missed.

At the moment it's difficult to imagine getting another cat, but there again we really don't know what the local cat community has planned.


No, not me, although it’s very tempting at times.

Retirement beckons for my first digital SLR.  My elderly Nikon D70 is finally going to be traded in for a new shiny Nikon later in the week.  

Still with original packaging!
The D70 was my main camera from 2005 to 2007, and my ‘second’ camera until 2010.  Other than going out on loan to a budding young photographer a couple of years ago, it’s not seen much action since 2010 so it’s finally time for it to move on.

When I first bought it (for £699.99, in case you were curious) it really did have a pretty decent specification - including a 6.1MP sensor and a battery that seemed to last forever between charges.

Over its career this D70 has taken over 20,000 images and travelled as far north as Iceland and Greenland, and as far south as the Falkland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula.  It’s been to both the east and west coasts of North America, including lots of Canada and about 15 US States.  It been to China and  Kyrgyzstan and stopped off in Nepal and Bhutan too.  And closer to home is been up and down the length of the Outer Hebrides and had the chance to document our initial explorations of Shetland.

Here are, just a few, of my favourite images from the D70 collection.

Takla Makan Desert, China
Ice, Greenland
Solomon, Oxfordshire
Great Wall of China
Wester Ross, Scotland
Paradise Harbour, Antarctic Peninsula 
Glacier National Park, Montana
Chinstrap Penguins, Half Moon Island
Up Helly Aa, Shetland Islands
Saunders Island, Falkland Islands
Gentoo Penguins, Sea Lion Island, Falkland Islands


M-Day is a moveable feast.  

It doesn’t cling to any religious or astronomical cycle, it just depends on when I can get hold of a big bag of (preferably organic) Seville oranges to make my annual supply of marmalade.

M-Day, traditionally celebrated on a Sunday, has been as early as 13th January and as late as 18th February over recent years.   This year M-Day is relative early (22nd January).

Each year (and we have records going back to 1993) the marmalade gets a name.

1993 Frostie’s Valentine’s Day Marmalade
1995 Flying Toaster Marmalade
1997 Seaforth Marmalade
1999 Stile Road No. 1
2000 Ross’s Organic Seville Marmalade
2001 Real Millennium Marmalade
2002 Candlemas Marmalade
2003 Crystal Marmalade
2004 Poacher’s (Pocket) Marmalade
2005 St Clement’s Marmalade
2006 Quandary Marmalade
2008 China Marmalade
2009 Stile Road No. 10
2010 Stile Associates Corporate
2011 St Ninian’s Marmalade
2012 Aurora Marmalade
2013 St Scholastica’s Marmalade
2014 Remote Marmalade
2015 Mountain Marmalade
2016 Scatness Seville Marmalade
2017 Pomerans Marmelade
2018 Moon Dog Marmalade
2019 The Black Douglas
2020 Burns Night Marmalade

(list updated in January 2020)

And this year, I bring you Pomerans Marmelade - feels appropriate, this year, to give a European nod to the Danish cousins.

And just in case you feel the urge to celebrate your own M-Day - my (very simple) recipe requires 3 kg of organic Seville oranges, 3 or 4 lemons, 6 kg of sugar and 3 litres of water.  For that lot you’ll need a muslin bag, a pan that holds about 12 litres to boil the marmalade up in and 25-30 jars to put it in later on.

  • Step 1 (on M-Day Eve) chop up the fruit and put the pips into a muslin bag.  Leave chopped fruit and water (and bag of pips) to stand overnight.
  • Step 2 (on M-Day) gently boil fruit, water and pips for 2 hours.
  • Step 3 Remove pip bag, add sugar then boil rapidly for another 2 hours.
  • Step 4 Let it cool a bit then pour into the jars.
  • Step 5 (Daily for rest of year) Put marmalade onto hot buttered toast.

Pictures from 2016

Another 366 pictures of the day - and another 12 pictures of the month.

January - Wave Watching at Scat Ness, Shetland
February, Starling Murmuration at Otmoor, Oxford
March - Strange Goings On at Warwick
April - Spanish Bluebells, Oxford
May - In Search of Strudel at the Tiernsee, Austria
June - Searching for Wildlife, Oxfordshire
July - Summer on Scat Ness, Shetland
August - Summer Waves at Scat Ness, Shetland
September - Ice and Whales, Ilulissat, Greenland
October - Sunset, Findhorn Bay, Scotland
November - First Storms of Winter, Scat Ness, Shetland
December - Christmas Eve Sunrise, Headington, Oxford