Australian fires

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I’ve been watching the news about the bush fires in Australia an it is awful and devastating. Not only are there hundreds of fires, but they have spread over a huge area. The started around Sidney which has been smothered in smoke for weeks. But then more have started in the West and South of the continent. The Southern hemisphere is moving into summer and the temperatures are rising. They have measured the highest ever temperature there in the last couple of days. Over 40°C and rising. The fires are being fanned by 40 mile an hour winds. They are burning out of control in some places, and the drought affected land is so parched there isn’t the water to put them out. I have friends out there and I worry for them. Meanwhile their prime minister went away on holiday to Hawaii and is only  coming home because of the outcry from its population.

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Fire

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One thing that did happen was that there were great clouds of smoke drifting across the road just up from the waiting room gallery. I went to look what was happening, fire was burning in a big pile of rubbish and palettes just across the canal from me. This was at the rear of the Price and Kensington pottery factory in Longport next to the bottle kiln there.

The fire was burning rapidly so I rang the fire brigade. They said they had already had a call and were on the way…

A funny thing, I posted this to Facebook and had a strange response, apparently there are fires there all the time, they are just burning rubbish. Why had I bothered to call? My answer. The fire was quite big, the smoke drifting across the road was as thick as gig. I drive up there quite a lot now at weekends and I’ve never seen this. Finally it was burning next to a caravan and a car.. It needed reporting.

Firework night

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Remember remember the fifth of November, gunpowder, treason and plot….

That’s the rhyme we learn as children in the UK to remember the date of the gunpowder plot when Guy Fawkes tried to blow up parliament in the reign of James 1st I think? Hopefully no one will try to do the same thing again.

There is a party mood around this time of year. People build bonfires and place effigies of ‘Guy’ on them. (Children go out and collect change from people by making their own Guys and asking for ‘a penny for the Guy’.).

Fireworks are set off to celebrate. Nowadays people tend to go to organised displays. There sometimes are private bonfire parties and you can buy very big fireworks. However there are quite a few injuries every year with burns being a major factor.

I remember spinning Catherine wheels, volcanoes, bangers, rockets and roman candles and other old favourite fireworks from my childhood. My best memory was writing my name with a sparkler (a metal stick with a burning chemical on it that sparkled when you waved it about when it was lit).

Food was jacket potatoes cooked till the skin was flakey and black, with lots of butter and salt. Fried onions and sausages and tomato ketchup.

We always built the bonfire high over several days. We didn’t know you were supposed to build it on the day as hedgehogs could be hibernating under the pile of wood.

Good memories. Now I stay in and keep the cats safe and secure.

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Phoenix

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I drew this a couple of years ago. I was trying to find something magical but not the usual Halloween images of pumpkins or spiders webs. The story of the phoenix rebirth from fire is quite ancient. There was a children’s programme in the 1970’s that had a phoenix at the heart of it. I remember it being quite badly done because it was before CGI, but I think I enjoyed it. Perhaps it was on at Sunday tea time? It was in the era before children got their own TV channels. I don’t remember much more about it.

Chimney

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Redundant, no longer used

Chimney up high. Reflected in the surface of a picture. Once these were so important in heating the home. People had ranges to cook on, heat water and heat the house. Coal was the main fuel, with wood if you were not able to afford it.

When I think about it I can remember my grandmother having a gas fire installed. The old hearth was sealed off so that only the exhaust fumes from the  fire went up the chimney. The World changed again and suddenly heating was from gas central heating, then combo boilers. Some homes had chimney breasts and chimneys removed to make more space. But with gas prices increasing people are now converting to wood burning stoves. They need the chimneys again. But beware. Legislation may be brought in to stop people using them as the particulates they expel are causing breathing problems in places like London. And chimneys? The juries out on whether they will continue architecturally.

Dragons

Found these three cuties in a shop in Llandudno. Well the red dragon is the symbol for Wales. 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿. And the country is full of mountains and valleys where they could be lurking, strangely England’s patron Saint is St George, although he was Turkish as far as I know. By the way, Scotland has Nessie (the Loch Ness monster) that could be of dragon like proportions. I’m not sure about Northern Ireland, perhaps they have their own myth. Although snakes never made it to Ireland and dragons seem to be a distant relation to snakes and lizards.

Being mythological doesn’t mean they may never exist. Maybe a bit of gene slicing could bring about something similar to fire lizards described wonderfully by the fantasy and sci-fi author Anne McCaffrey. She is a splendid author and I would recommend her books. Hopefully though they would not include breathing fire!