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.