Tag Archives: ducks

A Man who is tired of Blogging…

Yesterday I spent hours researching a post. Despite the time I spent on it I couldn’t get the tone right and, even worse, couldn’t maintain my enthusiasm. If I can’t be enthusiastic about the post I don’t see how I can expect anyone to read it.

That is now stored until I can get it right.

Today I started another post, meaning to finish in half an hour (in line with my new target) and found I couldn’t manage that either.

I thought of Writer’s Block then I thought Writer’s Block is for amateurs.

First I loaded up a serene picture for the post. Imagine that scene. Now hear the gentle quack of the resident mallard family and look for the convoy of ducklings following mother. I let my mind wander back to other days at that pond, with a goldcrest flitting through the trees calling with an high-pitched squeak. The Victorians called them golden-crested wrens. In turn, that reminds me that it is time to read some of my old bird books again. I remember the water voles I have seen on other days and the jays that used to call from the trees on the slope above the pond. Up the slope there is fragrant wild garlic, also known as ramsons. That reminds me of one of the posts I have stored as a draft. We haven’t been able to go to the slope where the ramsons grow this year, but it doesn’t matter – I have memories and good times will come again.

Of course, in the background there is also the noise of distant traffic, shouting from the owners of undisciplined dogs and the cawing of a crow as it flies over. Every time I hear or see a crow these days I think of the family name corvid, and my mind jumps to covid 19. They are different things but they both signify death in different ways.

That is 320 words and including a little tidying, it has taken me twenty six minutes.

As I say, Writer’s Block is for amateurs.

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” — Jack London

I’ve just been reading the Jack London link and found this part (where the western nations bombard China with infectious diseases) particularly ironic when you think of current events.

 

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.

Scone Chronicles 33 – Yes, we have Scones

I had meant to space the food reviews out a bit more, but I’ve been forced into this by a certain amount of heckling about the lack of scones.

Move smoothly on from Sunday evening, ignore the next couple of days and that brings us neatly to Wednesday and time for elevenses. We are at the Peak Shopping Village, the ducks are clustering round looking for food, and a small scone shaped gap is opening up in my middle regions.

We went to buy half-price boots for Julia, as her expensive ones had started letting in water. This was easy – by the time she had made her selection I had made a circuit of The Works, failed to buy a book, and had left in disgust. We then went to the hospice charity shop where the only thing I wanted turned out to be part of the display. I hate it when that happens.

By that time I was definitely in e of refreshment so we entered Massarella’s cafe and while I sought a table Julia went to get tea and scones.

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A mediocre scone, with badly applied egg wash

As we breakfasted late (porridge followed by sausage sandwiches, using the sausages left over from the night before), other people were already lunching. My quest for a clean table did not go well and left me elbow to elbow with a stocky elderly lady (I select my words carefully) chasing the final clean table. She had a fine set of elbows and a surprising turn of speed, and laid her walking stick across the table to claim the prize as I floundered in her wake.

Massarella’s always sounds like an Italian restaurant, with tiled floors and lots of chatter. Add the barking of a dog to that and the whole ambiance falls apart, and not just for me. Several other people were clearly irritated by the dog-friendly aspect of the cafe.

However, compared to the scones, the barking dog was no problem. The scones were dry inside, and lacked flavour. My mother used to mutter “cheap baking” at times like this. It certainly seemed to lack the rich, fluffy, buttery sensation you get from a decent scone.

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OK, not as disappointing as England’s woeful rugby performance, but still pretty disappointing

I have a feeling they may have been frozen, and dried out in thawing.

We will go back because we like the atmosphere, and the Italian gent behind the counter charmed Julia. And, of course, because they offer Afternoon Tea at £18 for two people. But, like a trip to the hospice shop, we won’t expect too much.

That last comment could also apply to the charity shops of Bakewell where we visited later – they don’t seem to have much in, and it’s getting harder to justify the time spent looking round when there are no decent books.

So, Massarella’s, the Charity shops of Derbyshire and The Works (where I failed to buy a single book) had all better pull their socks up. This is just not good enough!

Because they have ducks, a nature trail and a carved owl archway, I will visit again, but they would be well-advised to get a grip. Carved owls cannot replace decent scones.

Parenting, Porridge and Pessimism

We had a lie in until just after eight and got ready without having to rush to a deadline, then, in case the luxury of the moment should spoil us, we had porridge. Without sugar.

If porridge had a family tree it wouldn’t be far from wallpaper paste on the chart, probably a second cousin, but it’s good for me. It’s full of dietary fibre, it’s economical and it helps build stoicism.

I will spare you the next few lines, but let’s say that they weren’t cheerful and the spirit of optimism has taken a holiday too. All I have left to look forward to is five and a half years of work before I retire and embark on life with some very poor pension arrangements. Stoicism is going to come in very useful.

I know I’m getting old as I’m entering the penultimate stage of parenthood. I’ve pushed them around in a pram, worried about their health, maturity, education and careers. I’m now worrying that I won’t be able to leave them anything when I die. That only leaves the final stage, where they have to worry about my health and push me around in a wheelchair. I only hope my brain lives long enough for me to appreciate the irony.

Julia has gone to town to renew her bus card. I have sorted out my car insurance details, moved stuff round to give access to the electricians, and taken waste paper out. With all the pizza menus, seed catalogues and generally useless waste I reckon I’ve just dumped a good couple of pounds of waste paper in the recycling bin.

According to the 2011 census figures there are 126,131 households in Nottingham so that’s over 252,262 pounds of waste, and that’s accumulated in just a couple of months so the annual figure will be 1,513,572 lbs of waste paper. That’s 686 metric tonnes of paper that need never have been produced.

I just looked Nottingham City Council up to see if they had figures that I could compare and they don’t. They do, however, tell me that they give out 160,000 single-use recycling bags last year. They are for people in flats. They are taking steps to end this, but it seems that it’s taken a long time to get round to it.

Apart from seeing the seals, as mentioned yesterday, I don’t have many plans for the next week. I’d better think of something fast, as worrying about death, children and recycling isn’t what I had in mind when I booked a week off.

I may give some thought to feeding ducks. What people don’t realise when they talk about “feeding ducks” is that there are people out there who will quite happily tip out a pack of white bread and then, after five minutes of laughter, will walk off leaving bread floating on the water and cluttering up the shore. The result – apart from a nutritionally dodgy meal for ducks – rats and festering bread.

Blanket Weed

We went for a ride out yesterday afternoon and I thought we’d have a look at  Budby Flash. All was not well.

The smell should have alerted me, a very ripe and festering cabbagey sort of smell. However, it didn’t, and as I scanned the pond, looking at a few apathetic mallard, it was Julia’s observation from the other side of the bridge that alerted me to the full horror of the situation –  “I don’t think the Kingfisher will be diving into this lot!”

I had a look at the other side of the Flash, and was amazed at what I saw – acres of blanket weed. Thick weed, too, not just a light covering but swathes of weed several inches thick.

In the distance a Moorhen was actually walking on the weed instead of swimming.

It’s a hazard to fish,  though the few we saw seemed healthy enough, and I’m not sure what, if anything anyone will do about it. So there you are – a useless report, which proves that facts, though factual, are not necessarily interesting.

I could use that as a subtitle.

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Blanket Weed

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Blanket Weed

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Vile Vista of Blanket Weed

Geese coming in to land - Budby Flash

Geese coming in to land – Budby Flash

Scone Chronicles XII

When I was looking for the cactus photographs I used in the first post of the day (this is the 3rd!) I found some photographs I’d forgotten about.

We went to Springfields while we were off for the week. While we were there we bought turmeric capsules, criticised the bookshop stock and looked in the craft shop (well, one of us did, the other sat and watched the ducks in the water feature).

While Julia was looking at other stuff, I sat in the cafe and waited. Patiently. It’s a skill I have developed over 30 years of marriage. It’s a lot like sleeping with your eyes open. Or sleeping with your eyes open and nodding your head in time with the conversation. All useful skills for a married man.

Anyway, when Julia returned she get us scones and tea from the counter.

They were surprisingly good. We tested the fruit scone and the cheese scone – both had good open texture and good flavour. They were well up with the top scones, though the shape of the fruit scone was ather alarming. That is, partly, what happens when you twist the cutter when you cut the scone out.

This is part of the same group that made me the worst fish and chips ever, so I was surprised.

Unfortunately, there was food trapped under the glass top of the table, so there is still oom for improvement.

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Trapped food – lovely!

Now I remember I was going to do the write-up about Brierlow Bar

A Rare Visit to Arnot Hill Park

I’ve tried several posts today but none of them worked for me. The day started badly when all the driers in the laundrette were taken by a couple of women who brought their wet washing from home. This forced me into being rude to someone who turned up with more washing from home.  He asked me to move because I was sitting in front of the only available dryer.

I refused, pointing out that I had three machines full of washing coming out in the next five minutes. I’m not sure what the correct etiquette for this sort of thing, but I can get very irritable when people bring their wet washing from home and fill the dryers.

This follows on from some thoughts I have been having recently about an error I made in bringing my kids up. I always taught them to consider others. The only problem is that other people don’t always consider them, which tends to make good manners a bit of a problem. The nicer you are, the more you lose out.

After a long drawn out drying session, using one dryer for the contents of three machines, I decided to go to Arnot Hill park. You can rely on ducks, and I haven’t done much walking recently.

A selection of ducks, followed by some photographs of Black Headed Gulls. They are only just getting their black heads back. Well, brown heads. They are badly mis-named.

And finally, a picture of a Japanese Quince. It looked better in real life than it does in the picture.

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Japanese Quince – Arnot Hill Park, Arnold

Spring is Coming

You don’t have to take my word for it – look at the birds.

The Black-headed Gulls are regaining their black heads.

The idiots are also out in force. This prime example spotted the perfect spot to stand and ruin my shot. Then he moved a few feet away before coming back for another go.

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Idiotus Domesticus

Robins were singing in the dogwood hedges (Cynical note to self – Robins are always good for attracting likes).

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Robin and dogwood

And the ducks are looking in fine fettle for breeding.

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Finely fettled ducks

And finally – it’s clear what is on this pigeon’s mind, even if the object of his desire isn’t interested.

 

After the Lord Mayor’s Show…

…comes the dust cart. That is one of the versions, anyway. There are others.

I’ve been having a good time recently, with a good selection of medallions for eBay and some interesting history to learn.

It all came to an end today when we found several hundred coin sets shoved at the back of a cupboard. They are the sort that come in card inserts inside plastic cases. Over the years the cases have been damaged and the coins they contain don’t seem very popular. The answer is to take the coins out and put the empty cards on eBay.

They sell well.

In fact they sell so well that one of the cards I put on today has sold already.

That is some recompense for the boredom of the day, and for the coughing and sneezing as I sorted the dusty cases.

I would add some photos but I seem to have left my camera plugged into the computer at work.

You’ll have to have a few photos from Clumber Park instead.

Walking in Clumber Park

Walking in Clumber Park

 

And finally – more ducks.

And Finally…

We ended up in Windermere, though the photos are taken in Bowness, on the side of the lake. There was plenty to see. This included raindrops, though there were also Jackdaws, pigeons and boats.

We once went on a boat trip in weather that was only marginally better than this. However, we are older and wiser and less able to put up with freezing rain these days, so we just walked round a bit, took photos and went in gift shops. We went into a shop called Pitlochry in Lakeland. It turned out to be the Edinburgh Wool Mill under a different name. If you want tweed, Scottish knitwear and shortbread biscuits, this is the shop for you.

It also includes all those essential ingredients of shopping in England – a shop assistant on the phone whining about working conditions, another swapping phone numbers with a passing friend and a third taking ages over a simple task. Serving customers? Don’t be silly.

There was quite a lot to see, even in a short walk. I resisted the temptation to post too many leaves. I couldn’t resist the shrink-wrapped boat though, or the sculptures. According to the local paper there are plans for sculpture trail between Bowness and Windermere, but sadly no clue to this load of scrap iron in the park.

They look a bit like leeks, I don’t know. What I do now know, after googling “sculpture bowness” is that Dame Barbara Hepworth had a son-in-law called Alan Bowness and that there is a lot of sculpture, including fibreglass Herdwicks, in the Lake District. I’m not sure if any of the sheep are still about to be seen – I will, however, have a look next time we go.

I tried to be artistic, but people aren’t very adventurous in their choice of umbrella. Some people really have no consideration for photographers.  They also kept moving and others got in the way, destroying a well-composed shot of the big green and white umbrella group. One of the culprits with a random head in the frame, was my own dear wife. Pah!

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The view from Bowness – mainly rain

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Boats on Windermere