Tag Archives: birds

The Second Post

I made the mistake of pressing the button to look at the new editor and now I can’t get out of it. As with the last attempt at a new editor I don’t see it as an improvement and I don’t know what a “block” is. I’m not keen and would much rather either (a) have a proper explanation or (b) only “improve” things that need it.

Anyway, back to work. This post is about what we did yesterday. As usual my writing lags considerably behind my life.

The Mencap garden was pleasantly sunny, though not quite as colourful as it has been in past years. I’ve noticed this in the garden at home too, where the marigolds seem to have disappeared. It might be neglect or it might be a dry spring, I’m honestly not sure. It might just be a case of it being a dull time of year. Some times of year just aren’t colourful.

I just looked to see how I was doing on the word count, but that doesn’t seem to be a feature of the new editor.

That’s 186. I know that because I counted it three times. Once I lost count myself. Then I lost count again, this time assisted by Julia. It was a fraught five minutes.

In the garden I sat down and watched as Julia started work. A couple of brown birds dropped in followed by another dozen squeaky companions. The long tails and the squeaking were diagnostic of long-tailed tits though, as usual, I couldn’t get a decent photo.

There were blue tits at the end of the garden, where they have a brood of youngsters in one of the nestboxes.

Apart from that it was the normal suspects – blackbird, kestrel, magpie, herring gull, As we lunched, Julia dropped part of her Scotch egg, so she broke the bits up and threw them onto the grass for the local magpie, which had been looking very blue as it posed in the sunlight. Before the magpie could get to it a crow swooped in and started clearing up. It’s amazing how quickly things can appear.

The breeze was quite brisk and the few butterflies we saw (mainly whites with a few peacocks) didn’t linger. I was able to try photographing a few pollinators, including a few cooperative bumblebees, but again, there weren’t that many about.

I am finding the new editor a trial to work with and have just returned to add photos and a link after transferring back to the old editor.

 

A Happy Selection

Things that make me happy - Number One - Julia at a tearoom

Things that make me happy – Number One – Julia at a tearoom

Just a few photographs of happier times when I could actually get out into nature. I’m still allowed out, but as I’m not allowed to drive anywhere to exercise all I can see is tarmac, concrete and gardens. Unfortunately I can’t see myself being welcome if I start poking my lens into people’s gardens. Looks like photography might be severely restricted.

I’m having a bit of trouble searching for photos, and some of the ones I’ve uploaded don’t seem to be loading properly so I’m just going to press the button and see what happens.

I will be writing another post soon but that probably won’t be as cheery as birds and flowers.

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Julia with enigmatic smile

Deflation, Doom and Disappointment

I was feeling quite buoyant when I returned home.

The morning had been mildly challenging. One customer wrote a note with his order asking us to pack his parcel properly. I wanted to write and thank him for his advice, finishing with the words “…because it had never occurred to me to pack the parcel properly.” However, shop policy dictates that they never let me use my first idea for a reply.

Two customers wrote in with “offers” of approximately half our asking price. I wasn’t allowed to write to them either.

Another, who is from overseas, wrote a note in English words, but used in an order which conceals the actual meaning. You have to admire his bravery in using a foreign language, and the originality with which he uses it. We think he’s asking for a discount. They are always asking for a discount.

And then we have a case of theft – an envelope of coins was delivered with a slit in the side and a complete lack of coins. It’s insured, but it has already taken over an hour of emails and insurance claims, and is going to take more time before it is all settled.

Eventually I arrived home and went to see the couple next door. They have concerns about our conifer and I have arranged to have it topped before the nesting season starts. Tomorrow it will, at what sees great expense, be shortened by about 12 feet.

This leaves the lower half to act as a windbreak and wildlife habitat.

As I left, after letting them know the plane they asked “Have you thought of taking it down completely?”

As it happens, I have. There are many reasons I’m just having the top taken out. It acts as a windbreak for my garage, and partly for the house. It is a great wildlife habitat and we usually have pigeons nesting in it. It is one of the last mature trees left round the area as all the neighbours have taken their trees down (I may return to that subject later). It’s cheaper. I can’t think what to replace it with. And, finally, it’s my bloody tree and I can do what I like with it.

People seem to hate trees in gardens these days.

Apparently it casts a lot of shade over their garden. Well, when they bought the house a few years ago it was just as big and just as shady.

I’m very disappointed in them. There are a lot of reasons, as I explained, leading to me wanting to keep the tree. And they kept repeating that it cast a lot of shade and they would be prepared to help with the cost.

They might be prepared to help with the cost of cutting it down, but what about the cost to the local wildlife?

I am now downcast, deflated and disappointed.

An Average Day, Ending Well

We went out for breakfast this morning, took a ride in the countryside, looked at some ducks, who were enjoying an unusually full pond, and dropped stuff off at the charity shop. It was not a particularly full or active day, but it still left me feeling tired, as I am once again feeling a bit fluish.

It may be corona virus, man flu, ordinary flu, fatigue, cold, or hypochondria. It’s too early to say, but I will keep you up to date with developments.

I’m fairly sure I just need some Lemsip and a good night’s sleep, but we will see what happens overnight.

The day was not quite as bright blue as yesterday but it was still good in places. Similarly, the magpies were not quite to numerous or as perky as they were yesterday. As compensation, we did have three good views of buzzards and two of kestrels. We also watched some frolicking tufted ducks, as mentioned above.

On the plus side, there are more flowers and more blossom.

My sister went out for a walk this morning and recorded gadwall, kingfishers and red kites too. We might have to visit her and see some of her birds next time.

When we returned home we were surprised to have a knock on the door – it was a postman with a parcel from eBay. It was a boxed medallion, and would fit neatly in the palm of my hand. It was in a box big enough to hold half a dozen hardback books. You can’t say they had skimped on the postage.

I will probably take a photo tomorrow but the light is a bit too dim at home.

Finally, because this isn’t going to be a long post, I have just been told that an article I wrote has just been accepted for publication in the April or May issue of Medal News.

All in all, apart from the cold/flu/hypochondria things have been quite good.

Birds on Banknotes

 

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Sudanese Banknotes

Last night I started writing the looming presentation then made sandwiches. I always leave them until late as it keeps them fresher. This is more important these days as I no longer wrap them, just put them in a plastic box. So far it has worked, and we have cut down on plastic and foil.

I made my normal tuna filling – tin of tuna, chopped spring onion, black pepper and mayonnaise. I often add lemon juice or zest, but had no lemon last night.

I had no cobs either, so used sliced bread. Two rounds each, because Julia works hard and I’m greedy. That was when I discovered something interesting. The surface area of two slices of bread, being larger than that of two cobs, means that the spread only makes three sandwiches. That was why I had one cheese and pickle sandwich and one tuna sandwich.

Then, off to the living room to fall uncomfortably asleep in my chair. That wasn’t actually my intention but it was what happened. I fell asleep shortly before midnight and woke slightly after 2.30. Crawled up to bed, woke Julia, agreed with Julia that I was (a) inconsiderate (b) cold and (c) old enough to know better. Two hours later I rose, as my body has developed the habit of producing more liquid than it takes in, and managed to slip back into bed without Julia noticing.

Another note from Suriname

Another note from Suriname

At 6.40 I woke again, as I have developed a habit of waking just before the alarm goes off. In the days of mechanical alarm clocks I put this down to the preparatory click that my clock used to give. In the days of electronic technology I can only suggest it’s a primaeval instinct. And a bloody nuisance.

Smugly, after a brief chat with Julia, I snuggled back under the covers and enjoyed the warm and virtuous feeling of a man who, because of circumstances beyond his control, need not get out of bed to give his wife a lift to work an hour and a half before he really wants to get up.

There really is no better feeling than lying under a stack of covers feeling warm and relaxed. Well, warm relaxed and with a bacon sandwich would be better, if I’m honest, but Julia seems resistant to suggestions that she cooks my breakfast before leaving.

At work I took 85 photographs of banknotes and dealt with twenty one phone enquiries about rare coins and similar things. My world tour has moved from Sudan to Trinidad and Tobago. I prefer the designs of the latter, but Sudan is a lot easier to type.

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Swedish 20 Kronor – the figure on the back of the goose is Nils, from the books by Selma Lagerlof -a very interesting writer I had never heard of until today.

I wish I’d worked harder at school and got a proper skill…

 

Lottery Winner!

I won the lottery today, or, to be more accurate, I remembered to check my two-week-old ticket, and promptly invested the win in two more tickets. I even have 30 pence left over to treat Julia. I may buy her a stamp.

If tonight’s ticket comes up I will buy her some flowers to go with it. However, based on past experience, I won’t win tomorrow. I rarely win, which is probably part of the definition of lottery – losers buying tickets in the hope of solving life’s problems.

I may buy some flowers even if I lose, because I had a reasonably successful day at auction yesterday and have to explain why we will be eating a lot of plain, meat-free food for the rest of the month.

In work terms it was a dull day, just four parcels to send and a pile of coins and low grade medallions to enter on eBay.

I would show you some pictures, but I left the camera at work, so there won’t be any  photos until tomorrow.

There are some interesting developments in the garden at the moment with Great Tits (as per header picture) and blue tits being engaged in unseemly behaviour with much calling and fluttering. They have also been seen with feathers and moss in their beaks. We expect that several nestboxes will be occupied in the next couple of weeks.

 

The Scone Chronicles – Number 5

The last scone report was a bit of a cheat because it featured oatcakes rather than scones.  However, it seemed a bit of a waste not to mention oatcakes as we were in Stoke. This one, also from Wednesday, does feature scones.

After the various trials of the day we ended up at Westport Lake. It’s not very impressive at first sight – muddy surroundings, idiots with bread and lots of domestic geese.

It was actually quite pleasant once you started looking at the birds. I don’t need rarities, I can amuse myself with common birds, and the sight of tame geese chasing toddlers for food never loses its appeal.

The cafe is in the visitor centre, which is a wooden building that looks a bit like an ark and is mainly balanced on legs over an artificial pond. I’m not quite sure why they built it on legs, but it’s quite interesting. We ordered scones and tea and sat on the balcony. The seats are a bit tight for a man of ample posterior.

The scones were too dry and crumbly for my taste, but once buttered and jammed looked OK, though one pat of butter isn’t really enough for a large scone.

The first half of my scone had a slight, though not unpleasant, tang of baking soda.  Julia confirmed that hers did too, though she thought it was a bit off-putting. By the end of my second half I was beginning to agree with her. Early in my scone baking days I made a batch where I failed to mix the baking soda in properly so I do sympathise, though it should be easy enough for a professional baker to avoid the problem.

I think we’ll be back – it’s a pleasant place to spend time and they have oatcakes in the cafe too.

 

Lazy Sunday

After dropping Julia off this morning I was in plenty of time to pick up Number One Son and we are home before 8.00. There’s no washing to do so I’m going back to bed after writing this. I will rise around 10.00, have elevenses and plan the menus before shopping.

I say “plan the menus”, but I really mean is “make a list of the food we will be eating”. Or even “select a day for vegetable curry” because that’s the day before we have Spicy Vegetable Soup.

There doesn’t seem to be a spell checker with the new editor, or a word counter. 

Cancel that last comment, I found the word count. It’s not gone, it’s just inconveniently hidden.

During my stay in the car park I noted that the birds all seemed to come to life just after 7.00 and that the 4×4 vehicles of Highways England keep their engines running while one of the crew members goes for coffee. I really don’t like it when people keep their engines running like that. 

I was planning a sophisticated essay on poetic forms or world peace (I was undecided) but it hasn’t happened, as you can see.

Maybe I will manage it after a little more sleep.

More Pictures from Bempton Cliffs

There are other birds apart from Puffins at Bempton – here are a few, though they aren’t quite as photogenic as Puffins.

And a few more.

Finally a few shadow selfies, because the Devil finds work for idle hands.

Oh, alright then. And a Puffin.

Pride Coming Before a Fall

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
Proverbs 16:18

Only yesterday we were discussing driving in the shop, with particular reference to the idiocy of other drivers. I stayed quiet on the subject. This was partly because I have done a lot of driving and done it safely, and am therefore quietly confident (possibly even smug) about my abilities. It was also because over the last year or two it has begun to occur to me that I’m not quite as good as I used to be. I’m less alert, not quite as quick-thinking and have more trouble looking over my shoulder than I used to. It’s a troubling thought as it involves admitting I’m getting old.

This was driven home forcibly at lunchtime.

However, before telling you about that, I will briefly describe our activities of the morning.

First we looked at the snow that had fallen overnight. It wasn’t particularly impressive, but it was a complete covering. It was also much fluffier than usual, and brushed off the car easily. I’m told that this is because it’s coming across land, where our normal snow is soggy from a journey across the sea.

Then we went for a late breakfast at Harvester in Wilford. I had a smaller breakfast than usual. I probably isn’t such good value for money as the bigger one but I left feeling I could have fitted a few more morsels in. This is how it should be. Ramming the last few forkfuls home like I’m loading a cannon is uncomfortable, and probably not helping my diet.  Anyway, having fitted in fruit, yogurt, an extensive Full English and several crumpets, I really didn’t need any more.

Next stop was the MENCAP garden. It’s closed for the week as it’s likely to be too cold to work, particularly as it has no electricity and little shelter until the polytunnel is re-built. There is a container, but Julia has increased membership of the group as part of her job and they can no longer fit in it comfortably.

While we were there we collected some paint and woodstain, filled the bird feeders and noted that something in the garden likes kale. The obvious culprits are pigeons. Even though kale is generally considered safe from pigeons we can’t think of anything else likely to have done the damage – it certainly isn’t caterpillar weather.

Kale, Wilford

Wrecked Kale at Wilford

Finally the long-suffering taxi-driver was allowed to listen to the radio in the car park outside Hobbycraft as his wife made a dent in their extensive stock.

This proved to be the highpoint of the day.

On the way home I turned onto a steep road. It’s called Mapperley Rise at one end and Winchester Street at the other. In between it is quite steep. However, it’s a reasonably busy road and it’s used by buses, so road, I assumed there would be no problem using it.

How wrong I was.

About half-way down one of the cars in front of us started fish-tailing and skidding wildly. It didn’t seem to do anything, the slide just started. Fortunately it regained control after about twenty yards.

The same thing happened to the one in front of us.

Me next.

I was very careful. I was gentle on the controls. And I didn’t slide where the other two had slid.

However, I did seem to be going a bit too fast.

I tried a bit of cadence braking.

It didn’t work.

As the rear end of the Peugeot in front loomed larger I had three choices.

Choice One – overtake. which might involve the front end of an oncoming car. Did I mention we were on a bend and I couldn’t see what was coming?

Option Two – hit the Peugeot. My experience of French cars is that they are quite soft.

Option Three – hit the kerb to slow down or mount the pavement and squeeze into the narrow space available between the Peugeot and the somewhat menacing wall that runs  along the side of the footpath at that point.

(Please note that these “options” were more like swift thoughts accompanied by a touch of panic. I’ve dressed them up in hindsight to make myself look more competent than I actually was.)

I completely failed to find the kerb and was most of the way past the Peugeot on the footpath when the tyres started to grip.  At that point it occurred to me that I hadn’t thought of pedestrians. Fortunately there were none.

Looking back, I think that there was a layer of melting water running down the hill on top of ice, and nothing short of snow chains was going to prevent us slipping. When the cars in front skidded they scrubbed speed off by going sideways and hitting the kerb. My careful approach prevented me skidding, and meant I was going too fast when I finally lost control.

I’d have been better off skidding in the first place.

I still have a few errands to do, but they can wait until the weather improves. Until then I’m going to sit at home and consider the benefits of humility.

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Julia struggling

The final picture shows Julia struggling with the feeders. I could have helped, but then I wouldn’t have been able to take the photo.

Photos added later.