A Battle-Scarred Red Admiral

Had I had no success with the computer problems that beset me this morning, you would not be reading this post, and I may have gone off my rocker. Yesterday afternoon I found I could not, it seemed, access the internet on my Windows 8 laptop. After much grappling, I realised that the internet pages, through Google Chrome, were automatically minimised and could not be enlarged, having been hidden in the bar at the bottom of the screen. The Hewlett Packard phone help service was only available during the normal working week. On line support was not much use to me in the circumstances.

I usually rise rather early and spend an hour or so on the laptop. This was not possible today. Fortunately my head was clearer than it has been for two or three weeks. I was happily getting on with my iMac, when I received an alert advising me to replace the batteries in my wireless keyboard. I did so. It would not then connect to the computer. I kept swapping batteries around, to no avail.

It was good that Jackie got up early so we could have coffee together, because I couldn’t phone any help desks until 8 a.m. My first call was to Apple Care.  They needed the serial number of my machine, which is accessed via ‘About this Mac’ on the screen. I couldn’t access this because I couldn’t type the password. I was getting a wee bit frazzled by then. A young woman called Sam managed, without the relevant number, to talk me through getting my keyboard and computer conversing with each other. This involved using the technique advocated by ‘The IT Crowd’, which is ‘turning it off and turning it on again’. Apparently I had been sending my Mac to sleep, rather that properly switching it off.

This didn’t take too long, and gave me confidence to telephone Hewlett Packard. A patient and helpful young man, eventually taking over my screen, spent an hour sorting out that issue. He thought ‘a bit of malware had got in there’. Never mind, we both learned something. I now know what a taff bar is, even if I can’t spell it; and my advisor knows what colons and semi-colons are. I can confidently state that a taff bar is not a watering hole for Welshmen, and perhaps my helper now knows that a semi-colon is not found in the human body.

The rest of the morning was sunny and mild. I took a wander around the garden to investigate what has been happening there whilst I have been holed up inside.Snowdrops

The whole plot was now carpeted with snowdrops that had just been poking through the soil three weeks ago.Hellebore

A very large variety of hellebores hang their heads everywhere.Camellia

All the camellias, including some darker varieties than earlier were now sporting blooms.Cyclamen

Winter flowering plants such as cyclamens, pansies, and violas have thrived.

Ever since the first autumn fall, loosened leaves have fluttered in the wind, often initially taken for butterflies. Imagine my surprise when one careened past me and, settling on a gravel path, proved itself to be a very battle-scarred Red Admiral. The wings of this creature looked as if they had fed caterpillars once the nasturtiums had perished in the few days of frost.Red Admiral

So surprised was I that I looked up its life-span on Wikipedia, where I learned that it is possible for these members of the Lepidoptera to survive in the South of England during the period we have recently experienced.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s super sausage casserole (recipe), piquant cauliflower cheese (recipe), mashed potato, carrots and leaks. Sticky toffee pudding and custard was to follow. I finished the chianti and Jackie drank more of the zinfandel.


  1. What a robust little butterfly. It must have been a treat to see him. Love all those flowers. The snowdrops and camelias are favourites because they begin blooming SO EARLY that they make me very excited for Spring.

  2. I just am going to echo everything Crystal said Derrick – so I shall add that seeing that little butterfly so battered and worn made me feel a bit sad, but also glad it had made it so far through your winter! A brave little butterfly!

  3. I.T. Problems are a nightmare, glad it eventually got sorted though … Until the next time! Also glad to hear that you’re flying the flag for English grammar – so overlooked these days that I’m embarrassed to say that even some of my teacher colleagues don’t use it correctly.

  4. Thank you Jenny. The staggering thing was that he was giving me a web address to enter and said he didn’t know the name for the symbols to the left of the @ sign on the keyboard! The ‘two dots’.

  5. Patience won through. Enjoyed the mutual enlightening recollection and your humour.
    Lovely flowers too.
    I also saw a battered butterfly a couple of days ago. I should have photographed it as it wasn’t one I had seen before, but,like you, I was also very surprised to see it.
    It’s too early to say that spring is ‘in the air’ perhaps, but it’s certainly lurking in the topsoil somewhere. A glorious few days of sunshine does wonders for the constitution.

  6. Your photographs are beautiful; as is your garden. I am sorry to hear about your frustrations with your technology this morning. Thankfully, it was only temporary. I really enjoyed this post. You had me in a full laugh with the line: …perhaps my helper now knows that the semi-colon is not found in the human body.

    I’m glad to hear you are feeling somewhat better. It’s a good thing my husband does not read blogs, because I don’t think I could keep up with Jackie’s cooking. I wish she made dinner for us. We’ll be having left-overs tonight.

  7. Computer problems can be so frustrating! I am glad I have our boys on hand to call on when I get computer gremlins! Lovely late Winter blooms in your garden, Derrick. The Red Admiral looks like its had a tough Winter! We had a visit from a battered Red Admiral in November. It stayed around for a few days before deciding to continue its journey south.

  8. Well I’m an Apple girl so my colon is not next to @ ; it is above the semi-colon next to the letter ‘L’ (under our right pinkie). Goes to show Mac users use the punctuation more often than PC users.

    Love every flower on this post. Pity the butterfly but admire its resilience.

    1. Thank you Mary. I’d forgotten the semi-colon joke. Had to read this again myself. I use both PC and Mac, but generally PC when I’m dealing with such problems

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