Tag Archives: 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

Food in the Lake District

Conveniently close to the Travelodge at Skipton – next door in fact – is a branch of the Keelham Farm Shop.  It has a good selection (as you will see if you click the link) of fresh fruit and veg, bread, booze and pies. It also has an exchange scheme where you can take in home-grown produce and swap it for other things, a cafe, and a varied programme of events.

If you are up that way it’s worth a visit.

Later we visited Tebay services. You can buy a small pork pie at Tebay for just £2.20, if you can get to them as all the gangways seemed to be clogged up by members of staff who were doing frightfully important stuff. You can buy one at Keelham for £1.10, though their pies lack the plastic packaging. Next time I will buy my pies at Keelhams as they are (a) cheaper and (b) better for the planet.

You can buy hot pies for £3, so we had them for lunch. Julia had the Lamb and Mint and I had the Steak and Ale. They both had plenty of healthy vegetables in them, which lightened them up a bit as a pie full of meat can be a bit hard to digest.

I have mixed feelings about Tebay. They have a massive selection of items, including books and clothing plus the usual farm shop stuff, but with pots of jam over £5, for instance, I always feel this isn’t my natural habitat.

They also fall down on minor details – water on the floor in the Gents, a missing knob on the teapot lid and the muddy surroundings to the duck pond, which always look a mess. I just have the feeling that the quality stock, and the excellent dining areas, deserve attention to detail.

So – if you want a Farm Shop go to Keelham. If you want a gift shop go to Tebay. I can’t really comment on the pies because I haven’t eaten at Keelham.

A Misty Dream

Actually, there is no mist involved, but I think I used the days of wine and roses quote as a title before. I also used it in a comment I made on a blog last night, so I don’t want to overdo it.

Yesterday I visited the local duck pond for the first time in months. Even when I’ve been well, I’ve been tired or out of sorts and the trip has seemed too long. Last time I went the yellow flags were just starting to flower. Now they are finished. Being somewhat morose at present, I can’t help seeing it as a metaphor for my life.

A cup of tea soon dispelled that thought (no biscuits – I’m on a diet) as very few depressing thoughts survive tea and sunshine. Even a comparison to the pond couldn’t dampen my spirits – I’m happy being shallow.

Anyway, enough of the introspection, and on with the character assassination.

Earlier in the year I mentioned that a woman thought the white ducks were swans. I was, I think, a little critical. In fairness I shouldn’t really have a go at her for being as dim as a 40 watt light bulb, or say that there…

No, I still think there should be a permit system for breeding. Two kids per family and none at all unless you’re smart enough to distinguish a duck from a swan.

While I was reflecting by the side of the pond yesterday a group came to feed the ducks, led by a woman who, to be chivalrous, was older than me. This is old enough to know that geese don’t have cygnets!

The pictures show geese with their goslings, some young moorhens and coots and some ducks in eclipse plumage. Eclipse plumage is the dull, almost camouflaged, plumage that ducks grow when they moult after all the hassle of raising a family. I can sympathise.

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Mallards in eclipse plumage

Later there was a small child called Sam (name changed for Safeguarding purposes, and because I forgot it). His mission in life seemed to be to feed birds and use huge amounts of energy as he ran round saying hello to people. I would have been happier if he hadn’t introduced himself to dogs by holding out his arm in such an appetising manner, but even the Staffordshire Bull Terrier with leather harness and tattooed owner merely licked his hand and allowed itself to be stroked.

 

 

 

 

 

The Odd Couple and Strange Pigeons

We went to the park today to see the ducks. The first thing I saw was a Wood Pigeon in a tree and a charm of Goldfinches drinking from the stream which acts as an overflow for the pond. The pigeon looked a little rumpled and the Goldfinches were too quick for me, so there are no photographs of those two.

We were surrounded by feral pigeons at one point. I counted them twice, getting 57 in one count and 62 in the next. Call it 60. That’s a lot of verminous skyrats. It may be that I’m being unfair to them, as they do look quite tidy, and even seem keen on taking a bath.

The odd couple are still there, though the goose does seem to be paired up with another goose too. The three of them were together on the grass at the far end of the pond. It now looks a bit like one of those situations where a man has married but still has one of his old mates hanging round, or playing gooseberry.

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The birds seem to be paired up and defending territories, but apart from daffodils and a few mahonias there is nothing much happening to suggest Spring. Outside the walls Spring is definitely here but inside the park things are a bit behind. It may be the trees, or the stone wall holding cold air in, but it just seems like the park is a couple of weeks behind the surrounding streets.

 

Shiny Ducks and Spurious Swans

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A Spurious Swan

You can’t blame kids for being ignorant when you see a parent tell them “Look at that Swan.”

That’s the “Swan” in the picture above. The white bird that’s the size and shape of a duck and has a curly tail just like a drake. It walks and talks like a duck too. I’m not one to take the moral high ground on bird identification, having already proved I’m shaky on waders and not good on gulls. (And if you wait for summer I’ll parade my tragic lack of warbler skills).

However, a Swan is a basic bird, like a Pigeon, a Sparrow and a Magpie. In an ideal world such basic knowledge would be part of the Parenthood Exam and if you couldn’t ID a Swan you wouldn’t be allowed to breed.

That should also weed out people who feed pigeons even though told not to.

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Who? Me?

 

Meanwhile, the Odd Couple seem as close as ever.

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I worry about these two…

 

Ducks and Sunshine

It’s one of those Saturdays where I had nothing in particular to do.

Leisurely breakfast, drop Julia off at work and take a walk round the park in the sunshine.

It’s not a bad life. I didn’t go shopping because there was a queue for the car park (which would have dispersed my feeling of well-being) and I couldn’t go on anywhere to take more photographs because I really needed to get to grips with something that looks like work.

Life can’t be all ducks and sunshine.

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Arnot Hill Park – ducks and sunshine

My sister reminded me last night that I have a cookery book I haven’t used yet. She didn’t actually say that, she told me it was currently on sale at half price and did I want her to get me a copy.  At that point I guiltily recalled buying it just before Christmas, flicking through it and putting it to one side for later.

I have two sorts of cookery books – ones “for later” and ones with food stains. Really I should get rid of them because these days I mainly get my recipes from blogs I follow or from the internet. That means one pile is redundant and the other is a health hazard.

Time, I think, to open the book, work out a menu and write a shopping list.  Julia has already started it with three items. For those of you who like shopping lists, it reads:

Union Tea

Black Sloe Potash

Bears

You may gather that I have trouble reading her writing. It’s not a one-sided problem, as everyone has problems with mine. I have, over the years, managed to use a squiggle to replace most letters of the alphabet and developed a style of handwriting which even I have difficulty reading. This probably disqualifies it from being called writing.

However, bad as mine is, I still have to buy three items based on the list.

I’m off for another go at shopping now, before picking Julia up. I’m going to buy Lemon Tea, Black Shoe Polish and Beans. If there’s a problem I’ll tell her TESCO doesn’t stock Black Sloe Potash. Or bears.

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…