Thanksgiving

​I tried to capture the beauty of this tree but the sunlight was overpowering. Maybe I was standing in the wrong position. Perhaps I should have had the sun behind me. Dunno. I’m not a photographer, I’m a writer; but I love taking pictures.

Autumnal colours were in full bloom on it. Nature is truly an extraordinary artist. I simply bow as the beauty of creation.

Lately I’ve been taking a lot of pictures on my phone. I post them every morning on my instagram account.  

And I’ve been wondering lately why I’ve suddenly started taking pictures and more importantly, sharing them.

Well my first thought was my route to work is absolutely gorgeous. It makes the gloomiest days perfect. If you ever visit Cambridge, you must go to Jesus Green. I’m sure I’ve said this before. Well it’s stunning.

I digress. As I continued taking shot after shot, day after day, I realised that they are my expression of gratitude.

All my ducks may not be in a row, they certainly aren’t, but as I look around me each day, there is something worthy of my undivided attention. I sometimes stop for a few minutes to take in the view and some days I don’t see it immediately but others, like today, it’s on full display. Not to be ignored or overlooked.

If you look around you I can guarantee you there is something to be grateful for, even on the darkest moments.

We as humans are really doing a great job of messing up this world but we as humans also have a great capacity to make it beautiful every day.

Today I am eternally grateful for life. To be able to wake up each day, get out of bed myself, walk, hug my children, yell at my children 😃😃, and just breathe and look up to the sky. I am simply grateful.

For The Beauty Of Earth

A walk through Milton Country Park today reminded me of this hymn.

    For the beauty of the earth
    For the glory of the skies,
    For the love which from our birth
    Over and around us lies.

    Refrain
    Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
    This our hymn of grateful praise.
    Words: Fol­li­ot S. Pier­point

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Redefining Wonder Woman Series 4: Obsessed With Scuttle Flies

I’m always intrigued by people who have discovered their passion. However, of all the passions I have witnessed or heard about; the subject of this interview has got to be the most fascinating. I interviewed Dr Henry Disney about his passion for scuttle flies. Never heard of them before? Neither had I until I met him. Dr Henry Disney graduated from Cambridge University as an ecologist in 1962. Fifty years later, he works as a Senior Research Associate at Cambridge University Museum of Zoology. I hope you find his interview as inspiring as I did.

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RWW: Could you describe in a few words what you do for a living?
DHD: In my ‘retirement’ I continue my research on the scuttle flies (Diptera, Phoridae) of the world. This family of insects has a greater diversity of larval habits than any other family that has evolved. I essentially identify, or often describe as new, specimens from around the world that I am requested to name; because they have new data or they are of applied importance (as a pest, in a forensic case, as a biological control agent, as a monitor of pollution, etc.)

RWW: How did you go from entomologist to ecologist to taxonomist? Phew!
DHD: In the 1960s I was a medical entomologist in Belize and then Cameroon. Every problem ended up in a taxonomic problem. In the 1970s I was intrigued by the larvae of meniscus midges and ended up writing a Handbook on the larvae, pupae and adults of the British species. I then got interested in the diverse habits of scuttle fly larvae and ended up writing a two volume Handbook on the British species. People from around the world then started asking me to identify their scuttle flies. So I had to write many identification keys and revisions in order to do this.

RWW: What Were your interests as a child?
DHD: I was always interested in natural history and archaeology from an early age.

RWW: I understand your expertise helped solved a crime.
DHD: As some larvae of scuttle flies feed on corpses they are occasionally critical in solving a crime. The commonest question is when was the first egg laid that gave rise to the larvae in the corpse? Thus in a case last year I worked out that this was a few days BEFORE when the accused said he had been talking to the victim!
Other larvae may occur in food. Thus in a French case a company blamed a French supply company, who said they had imported the package from Japan. I found that the species was a Japanese species.

RWW: What has it taken to become an expert
DHD: Obsession! Close attention to detail. Hard work. Being prepared to question the textbooks. My career has had a series of unexpected changes, but I have continued my obsession with small flies throughout.

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    A scuttle fly laying its egg into a prepupa of a ladybird beetle. Its larva develops as a parasite in the pupa.

RWW: Writing is your other passion and you’re also a poet. What do you love writing about the most?
DHD: My poems are meditations on events in my life, on people, on issues of the day,etc. – but all with reference to Gospel values and insights.

RWW: Writing and Entomology are two diverse passions. Do they collide or complement one another?
DHD: They complement each other. Scientific writing aims to be objective. In poetry, one is trying to explore the subjective along with the surface narrative.

RWW: You also explore your faith and science. Can you tell me a bit about that?
DHD: The blurb on the back of my third collection of poems said that I regarded “observed facts and authenticated experience as sacred but all interpretation as provisional”. Where I deviate from Richard Dawkins is in disagreeing with his claim that there is no evidence for the existence of God. I have encountered too many people whose lives have been transformed following their turning to Christ. I interpret this as evidence of the Holy Spirit at work. When asked what is God like I respond that we will be able to answer that question in the afterlife. For now He is the being Jesus referred to as Our Father and My Father. In this life our concern is to allow the Holy Spirit to align our actions and relationships with the values and purposes of His Kingdom. That is all we really need to know this side of death.

RWW: What are your cherished moments of being a father and grandfather?
DHD: My three children and four grandchildren are a great blessing. They are all different and it has been wonderful seeing their differing personalities develop.

RWW: What are your regrets about fatherhood?
DHD: Work leading to me not spending more time with my children, especially when I had extensive admin and teaching commitments when in Yorkshire.

RWW: Do you have any advice for fathers today?
DHD: Spend more time with your children before, too soon, they leave home. Some of those ‘important’ distractions can be postponed or ignored!

My sincere thanks go to Dr Disney for taking the time to answer my questions. You can read more about Dr Disney’s work here.


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*Felix Bennet

PS There’s a lot I could write about after this interview but I’m going to be brave enough to let the words speak for themselves. Note to parents – please encourage whatever passions your children have.

Could You Drink Kale?

I didn’t think I could either until I tried it. I’d heard a lot about the benefits of kale and was really curious about trying it.

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One glass of this and I am energised. It truly is a wonderful elixir of reinvigoration. You should try it. I’m not going to try and pretend that I am a raw food or clean eating expert so I won’t bore you with the details about kale. If you are curious there is lots on the internet for you to read. Believe it or not, there is a discover kale website at www.discoverkale.co.uk. Whatever your thoughts, I am now a genuine convert. It’s easy to be as this recipe is so yummy. The benefits are instantaneous too. You’ll notice an immediate feeling of energy and a change in your mood. I tell you, it’s wonderful.

Recipe for Green Machine Smoothie from www.wholeliving.com

    Detox Cred: Starting the day with this nutrient-dense elixir is a delicious way to charge your system with nutrients. Dark leafy greens are extremely alkalizing, meaning they foster a more neutral body environment for better functioning enzymes, compared with acid-forming foods like meats and dairy.

    Serves 2
    Ingredients
    6 romaine leaves, chopped
    4 kale leaves, chopped
    1/2 cup fresh parsley sprigs
    1/2 cup chopped pineapple
    1/2 cup chopped mango
    1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
    Directions
    Combine romaine, kale, parsley, pineapple, mango, ginger, and 1 1/2 cups water in a blender and blend until smooth.

Playdate, Bubbles And Cake

My sisters and I always had friends over for playdates when we were younger only they weren’t called playdates then.  I remember pretending to smoke by rolling up paper filled with talcum powder; emptying a bucket of water and detergent on the floor so we could ‘skate on ice’; jumping off scaffolding next door pretending to be acrobats and so much more.  By the look of things my children’s lives are quite sedate. 🙂 

They have a friend over and thankfully there’s no rain today so they are out playing football. Oops I spoke too soon. I’ve just seen Wonder Boy charging at his friend with a rake.  They must be playing knights then.  Not so sedate after all.

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We’ve brought out our bubble machine which kids never fail to like.

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And there’s cake for later.

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And I got flowers.

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Now it’s time for popcorn and Winter Olympics. No rest for the wicked. 😉
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A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

I love walking round the City Centre.  I love taking in the sights and appreciating nature all around me.  I love people watching; the myriad of characters that city centres attract – the busker, the market, the sky -all little moments that make a perfect day in the sun.

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My children (Wonder Boy and Girl 🙂 ) decide to walk ahead of us.  Suddenly they hold hands.  The greatest sight of all. ♥

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I Had An Arranged Marriage

This is a joke with a bit of truth about my marriage. My brother-in-law arranged it all. I was happily single at the time but my brother-in-law was not happy about my status and decided to take matters into his hand. He searched high and lo, to and fro until he found a fitting mate right there in the back pew of his church. 😉

He basically harassed my husband into attending an event I was going to. We hit it off immediately at the party but it ended there. This was not satisfactory to my brother-in-law. Oh, not at all. It simply wouldn’t do. Cupid was on vacation and he swooped in fastidiously to take over his role.

I later found out that he had taken my husband out to lunch, wrestled him down and demanded to know why he had not taken things further. I can only imagine what was going through my husband’s head. Maybe not quite psycho but somewhere in that region. To cut a long story short, my husband asked him to organise a date (which was kept a secret from me until an hour before he arrived) and the rest as they say is history.

We’ve been together 10 years today and I know my brother-in-law was my guardian angel. We lost our wedding venue, due to unplanned renovations, six months to our wedding which I think was an act of fate because we ended up getting married on my brother-in law’s birthday. No better way to say thank you.

Happy Valentine’s Day everybody!