bucket hat

There was once a pale yellow bucket hat, whose owner wished for it to be a little more neutral in colour. No worries, said I.

I started first with bleach, then used coffee grounds to dye it, but even though I simmered it for an hour, the result was too pale. It was time to bring out the commercial dyes, of which I have quite a selection. But Golden Brown turned out to be too peach. Chocolate Brown made it too red. Navy + Black produced purple. We are definitely nowhere near ‘neutral’, so it’s going back into the bleach and we’ll try again.

The adventures continue.

Halichoerus grypus

The grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) is found on both shores of the North Atlantic Ocean. An isolated subspecies also exists in the Baltic Sea.

Marine mammals like whales and seals usually communicate vocally using calls and whistles. But a recent Monash University-led international study discovered that wild grey seals can also clap their flippers underwater during the breeding season, as a show of strength that warns off competitors and advertises to potential mates. This is the first time a wild seal has been seen clapping completely underwater using its front flippers. The research was published in February 2020 in the journal Marine Mammal Science.

Sketched from photos by Chris Bell, with permission.


I never really knew what a katydid was (as opposed to a grasshopper) until the other night. An easy-to-spot difference is the length of the antennae. Also, katydids are primarily nocturnal and grasshoppers are diurnal.

Insects in the family Tettigoniidae are commonly called katydids (especially in North America). More than 8,000 species are known. Many species exhibit mimicry and camouflage, commonly with shapes and colours similar to leaves.

The specimen we sketched is in the Neoconocephalus genus. Gotta love that cone head!