Monthly Archives: January 2017

Down at the Doctors

Yes, I was down at the Doctors today.

8.30: Arrived at City Hospital – damp Victorian red brick and escaping steam  being the  motif of the morning

8.45: Found parking space and stood in queue behind lady who couldn’t work the ticket machine

8.50: Walked into automatic door, which turned out to be broken and thus not automatic

8.55: Booked in

8.57: Seen by Anaesthetist, who provided clear and practical information

9.15: Back at the car, feeling reassured, but also £4 poorer for car parking (I’d allowed for up to 2 hours) and wondering why the Anaesthetist I saw five days ago couldn’t have given me the information

9.25: Back home eating healthy cereal (see, I have been listening to the doctor) and  croissants. OK, so I’m leading into this health stuff gradually.

 

Blood Pressure,Tranquility and a Simple Solution

I’m generally at peace in three places. One of these is when I’m out in nature (though a cold day at a gravel pit doesn’t work the magic as much as a spring day in the woods. Another is in church. The third one is among antiques.

We seem to be wired to respond to nature, and I suspect church builders knew more about promoting tranquility a thousand years ago than we do now. As to the third, I’m not sure why it happens, but it does. It might just be that I’m strange.

One place I find it hard to be relaxed is in hospital. That probably starts in the Workhouse. They weren’t meant to promote relaxation, which is fine when you are building to scare the poverty-stricken and the elderly. When they were turned into hospitals, as many of them were, a change of emphasis might not have been possible. I’m not saying this is the reason, but it might be.

There is also the well known “white coat effect”. I used to be able to control this by imagining sunlight streaming into a wooded clearing. These days, I can’t hold the picture in my mind and I frequently find myself having discussions with doctors about my blood pressure.

I don’t know why it should be so. I’m overweight, so as far as I’m concerned that gives the blood more room to spread out. I should have low blood pressure, not high. Unfortunately this, according to my doctor, is not how it works.

Plan B then, should surely to go back a few hundred years and do a bit of cupping and bleeding. Looking at it logically this will reduce the pressure, just like letting air out of a tyre. Simple.

I shall have a word with my doctor when I see them on Thursday.

 

First day of the next week

It’s the end of January and the first day of a new week. Being accurate, I suppose it’s the second day of the week, but it always seems like the first. It’s certainly the one that I treat as being the first working day of the new week. Julia, working from 6.00 to 16.30 on Sunday, doesn’t really share my enthusiasm for Mondays.

We originally said we’d have January off, and without us actually doing anything it seems like it’s going to work out just right.

Julia is looking about 10 years younger with the responsibility of running Quercus and the Centre lifted from her shoulders and is slowly becoming more cheerful. Meanwhile, I can feel my enthusiasm returning.

Julia has already had a couple of enquiries from people about her availability for work, but we’re taking things slowly and making sure we only take on work that suits us.

Nobody has asked me if I’m available yet, but I’m trying not to take it personally.

Julia decided to do the laundry this week as she doesn’t altogether trust me with delicate whites. I don’t either, to be fair, which is why I don’t own any. I do own a white shirt, which I wear with one of my two ties for special occasions. White shirt and black tie for funerals. White shirt and rugby club tie for weddings etc.. Everything else can be taken care of by a coloured shirt. (For these purposes lightish grey counts as white).

I went to the park and then shopping. They have been cutting trees on the island in the duck pond. Moorhens, Black Headed Gulls and Wood Pigeons were feeding on the grass around the pond, whilst nothing much was happening on the pond. The Mandarin, the Greylags, the Heron and about half the Tufted Ducks were all absent. I’m not sure where the next nearest pond is – I will have to look into it.

I’m currently perfecting some new recipes as part of my new commitment to eating a better variety of healthy food. We had tragically under-seasoned bean burgers bean burgers on Saturday, excellent sweet potato, ginger and chilli soup on Sunday (even if I do say so myself) and Welsh Rarebit for lunch today, which (after three weeks of trying) was just about right.

Now all I need to do is make it again, note the measurements and write the recipes. That’s the worst bit of the job. Apart from eating badly made bean burgers…

 

A Tale of Two Ducks

Back to Arnot Hill Park and the duck pond again, with two interesting ducks.

One is the Mandarin drake. He wasn’t about last visit, and on the visit before that it was so dull I couldn’t get a good shot.

We have a population of around 2,300 breeding pairs in the UK, with more in Dublin and mainland Europe. In winter there can be as many as 7,000 individuals, including migrants from Europe. All were introduced, either deliberately or from accidental escapes.  In its normal range habitat destruction has reduced the population to around a 1,000 in China, and about the same in Russia. The only stable population is Japan, with 5,000 pairs. It is listed as “declining” worldwide, but is still a species of Least Concern.

The one I saw today, though small, is quite capable of holding his own against Coots and Mallards, two species that are currently getting a bit lively as the breeding season approaches.

 

The other duck caught my eye amongst the various Mallard hybrids is a pleasantly coloured individual with a longish tail that resembles a Pintail. The shape of the neck ring, from certain angles, also resembles a Pintail.

I looked up hybrid ducks and found several records that look like this, plus an analysis of how they happen. Mallards have a bit of a reputation for overly enthusiastic mating and this is one of the results.

The photograph of the duck lacking head was a mistake, but is the only one showing the green speculum which is a feature of this cross-breed.

It’s amazing what you can learn from looking at a duck pond.

Stone Faces of Southwell

We had a walk round the outside of Southwell Minster yesterday. We’ve never looked round the outside properly before, and we didn’t have time for a full tour.

The Minster is actually the cathedral for the Diocese of Nottingham, but it keeps the old title as part of what seems to be a policy of keeping itself hidden. Even its own website refers to it as ” the best kept secret among the forty-two English cathedrals”.

As The Association of English Cathedrals lists 44 on its website I have a suspicion that there are two English Cathedrals that are kept even more secret than Southwell. This might be explained by the presence of Royal Peculiars in the longer list. But it may not. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs is full of examples of why it’s a good thing to keep out of church business, so I’m not going to dig any deeper.

Seen from the winding country roads that serve Southwell, it is a breath-taking building. I will cover it more fully in the Spring, when the light is better for photography, but for now, here is a selection from the carvings scattered around the outside, some from the 12th century, some from more modern restorations.

The ones at ground level are on the wall of the Bishop’s Palace, though I’m not sue if they started off there.

The ones from the Minster look quite crisp so I suspect they are from recent restoration work.

To round off the visit we visited the tearoom for parsnip soup with artisan bread from Welbeck. Unfortunately, for a man looking forwards to a chunk of traditional bread, it was a rather thin panini that arrived, cut to a point at one end then baked crisp before serving. It was more like a crusty weapon that a meal. The soup was excellent though.

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Soup and a dangerous panini

The misty effect was unintended, it was actually condensation on the lens as the warm air of the cafe met the cold of the camera. The perspective makes the bread look bigger than it really was, and the soup bowl look smaller. That’s what happens when a hungry man decides to photograph his food.

Birds in Sherwood Forest

These are the bird photos from the trip to photograph the oaks in Sherwood Forest. It was a bit dull and the birds were quick (unlike the oaks) so they aren’t quite as sharp as I’d like. I missed a couple of Coal Tits that came down to feed, plus Blackbirds, Chaffinches and Dunnocks that lurked in the undergrowth. There were two pigeons too, but I ignored them as I don’t want to encourage them to steal food from small, cute birds.

It’s a lot better than Rufford from that point of virw, as there are more pigeons there, plus a lot of gulls which can polish off a handful of sunflower hearts like magic.

I filled three feeders in the car park and heard a clattering behind me, as birds started feeding before I’d got out of the way.

I need to work out a better way of doing this. Do I just fill one so I can stay focussed on it all the time, or do I fill six so they don’t chase each other away all the time? Even with six there were probably enough Great Tits to chase everything else off.

They were changing places so fast that once I pressed the button to take a Great Tit and ended up with a picture of a Nuthatch!  OK, my frozen fingers were moving quite slowly, which would have helped.

I presume the cold was one of the reasons they were feeding so eagerly.

 

Hospital,taxis and optimism

What did I do today?

I’m having difficulty working it out, to be honest. I did spend several hours in hospital having tests and filling in forms. I was also weighed, bled and patronised. The good news is that I am lighter than I was when I was weighed before Christmas and I will be able to replace the blood. As for the rest of it, they probably interpret it as me being irascible and curmudgeonly. They aren’t wrong.

The diagnosis is that I’m riddled with poor health, if not actually at Death’s door, and I need lots more pills, tests and treatment. This is strange, as I’m feeling pretty good and doing more exercise, so you’d think I was OK. It’s just that if you give doctors equipment they are going to look for a reason to use it.

Worst bit of the day was the taxi service. Their new automated system locked me out twicwe and I ended up being late, which raised my heart rate and blood pressure despite my best efforts.

On the way back it cost me more than the journey to hospital. I’m not sure why this should be, maybe it costs more going up hill.

The photos are from last year, just to remind us of what is to come. Unless you’re in the Southern hemisphere.