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Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Robins Gone

A pair of robins were busy feeding in a nestbox in our garden before we went on holiday, but it is empty and quiet now. Either the young have all flown or they have deserted.

There was a robin announcing his territory earlier in a tree near the nestbox.

We see quite a few robins. I have just re-read the David Lack book about robins based mainly on research in Devon before WW2.

Stroke Update

One of the side effects of my stroke in 2013 is that I get totally exhausted doing anything physical or mental for about 15-20 minutes.

My worst time, normally, is just after breakfast when I am "done in" and have to rest. After a short rest I am OK. I much regret being as I am, but it has left me with a great deal of sympathy for those with conditions like ME and MS. Before, I had no idea what total exhaustion meant.

Today, I put some plants in the garden. In the past this would have been trivial, but I was totally exhausted and had to rest to recover. It is very hard for others to understand.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Dragonfies, swifts and swallows

A few days ago we visited the Blue Eye spring in southern Albania. I have never seen such clear water anywhere. These small blue dragonflies were everywhere.

The seem to be two sorts of swift here: the alpine swift and "our" swift. Also two sorts of swallow: the red rumped and "our" swallow. Swifts seem to be everywhere!

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Swifts

Well, today was more promising. A bunch of swifts eating insects high in the sky, a sparrowhawk and a buzzard nearby. All spotted from the breakfast table at around 0730z.

UPDATE 1220z:  For the first time this season there were about 10 swifts overhead screaming on the wing. Oh joy, really.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Birds

According to Facebook, I saw my first swifts of the season on this day last year. As yet, I have still to see one this year, but I think I spotted a red kite out of the lounge window earlier. It was some way off and I cannot be 100% sure. There are plenty about over here now, mostly near roads and motorways.

See http://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/bird-and-wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/r/redkite/index.aspx .

Voting today

A reminder that there are local elections, as well as elections for some mayors, in many parts of the UK today. There is a general election in June.

Use your vote!

If you do not vote and the wrong people get in, you can only blame yourself. It is no use moaning! Voting is your democratic right. You can vote as you want. Your vote counts as much as anyone else.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Where we live

We are quite lucky to live at the end of a quiet Close with no through traffic. There is a walking short-cut so we can be at the Post Office, Bank, Chemists, Doctors and food shops in about 4-8 minutes on foot. It also means children can play in the street most of the times if they want to. We like where we live.

Mandelbrot sets

As I get older, I get very frustrated trying to recall names.

One example was the Mandelbrot set. I knew about repeating patterns as you zoom further in, but I just could not bring the name out from the depths! I had a similar problem trying to recall the name Keely Hawes a few days ago.

It is not a worry, just frustrating. So much effort is taken trying to remember these names.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandelbrot_set

Sepura and Hytera

My old company (I have been retired 9 years now!) is in the process of being taken over maybe by Hytera, which is a Chinese company. They are waiting on the UK government who are possibly concerned about security being compromised. Both the Spanish and Germans have said "OK".

It is OK to have our nuclear plants funded by the Chinese, but possibly not our public safety organisations like the police who use a system that is due to be replaced next year. Muddled thinking? 

There is also the small matter of a General Election next month. It is anyone's guess what the government will decide. Maybe they will delay until after the General Election? If they do, Sepura could go bust and lots of job losses in Cambridge. Politically, this would be bad.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Turkey block Wikipedia?

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-39754909 .

This online encyclopaedia is one of the most famous in the world. Access to it is a sign of a nation being at one with itself and one that trusts its citizens. Countries that ban access to it usually have something to hide.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

New Patio

Our new patio has been finished and, with decent weather, it will be used this weekend. The new patio is about twice the size of the original.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

East Anglian Churches

We are fortunate to have well over 1000 medieval churches with a 90 minute drive from here. Norfolk and Suffolk, UK have some of the oldest and most beautiful churches in the entire world.

We try to visit many of these and those we do I record in another blog. See http://eachurches.blogspot.co.uk/ .

More stroke

No-one, and I really do mean no-one, seems to understand how I am inside. Most of the time when on my feet I feel giddy and exhausted, but outwardly I look well. I cannot begin to explain how hard this is.

Anything mental or physical taking over 15-20 minutes and I am done in - totally exhausted.  Until my stroke I had no idea what total exhaustion was. After a rest I am back to "normal".

My short-term memory is also poorer.  It is now over 3.5 years since my cerebellum brain bleed, but I think there has been little improvement over the last year or so.  Walking on pavements with traffic is very hard.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Macron win?

He is the book favourite to win the final contest against the far right Le Pen in France. As Trump and BREXIT warned us, experts are often wrong.

Overall, I hope Macron wins. There is a lot wrong with the EU, but Macron has the chance of putting these things right. If Le Pen wins then the EU is dead and with it European security in the next 50 years. France needs Macron in my view.

Althurium

My wife has a way with orchids and those we have live for years.

I had to look this house-plant up as I did not know its name.

It is not an orchid - well I don't think it is! As you can tell, I am no plant expert!

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Dunnock

We get a few of these dunnocks (aka hedge sparrows) on our rear lawn. Mostly they lurk in the undergrowth, but they come out onto the grass. We get far fewer small birds these days, although we have a robin in one of the nest-boxes and I saw another robin feeding a young one yesterday on the lawn.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Brampton Woods

Brampton gets several mentions in the diaries of Samuel Pepys. Today we went to Brampton Woods in search of bluebells. This ancient woodland is at least 900 years old and is a few miles west of Brampton village. We ate at a pub used by Pepys.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Roses

Our roses are out early this year. Daffodils were late, but things suddenly seemed to speed up in the last month. This lovely rose is in our front garden where it gets plenty of sun. This year, my wife did the pruning.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

More Swallows

Yesterday, we spotted a couple more swallows. As April progresses there will be more and more until they leave later in the year. The next thing will be the swifts. Screaming swifts to me represent the height of summer and bring joy to the heart.

Cuckoos often lay their eggs in reed warbler nests, so a trip up the nearby lode (waterway) is likely to result in a sighting of a cuckoo in May/June.

North Korea

So, the North Korean missile test failed. I am not that surprised as I feel the USA had something to do with this. Of course, I may be totally wrong, and indeed I hope I am.

The Trump administration would be unable "neutralise" the North Korean nuclear threat without unpredictable consequences, but the USA Secret Service was probably in a position to do something to put a "spanner in the works".  Of course, the USA never uses such underhand techniques.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-39612095 .

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Easter Egg Hunting

Easter egg hunting. 2 of our grandchildren a few days ago in our garden.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Easter Cake

The grandchildren enjoyed the cake which they decorated. Here they are at the kitchen table.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Repair time!

With springtime comes lawn cutting and hedge cutting. Although the lawnmower was fine, the cordless hedge-trimmer seems to have seized blades. Sadly the blades did not respond to WD40, so I shall have to try to separate the blades and clean them.

Unfortunately the screws used have non-standard heads and I shall have to see if my neighbour has the right sort. I thought they were Allen keys but they are the sort of head you find a lot these days in things they would rather you replaced. I shall have a go at mending. You can buy these screwdrivers, so I may invest in some.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Swallows return

Today we spotted our first swallow (bird) this year flying N-S over the allotments behind Burwell Museum at breakfast time this morning. In a few weeks they will be common!

April 7th is one of the earliest times I have seen these up here, although there have been reports in Devon a few weeks ago. There were days when I thought I would never live to see this day. The cycle of life goes on.

See https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/bird-and-wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/s/swallow/

Thursday, 6 April 2017

No Russians today

Today appears to be the first day in a while when the Russians have not been looking at this blog. Legitimate views are welcomed, but hacking probes are not.  I suspect many are the latter.

I noticed some referring sites were definitely dodgy taking me to nudes. This blog is pretty innocent. If you want porn, look elsewhere. I am not judging you. Each to their own as long as no-one is harmed.

Cambridge Concert

My wife's concert is coming up.

Cambridge Grand Arcade

A few days ago we walked through the Grand Arcade in central Cambridge. This is a covered pedestrian shopping centre. I don't think I have bought much here.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Birds

Certainly swallows (birds) are being seen in increasing numbers in Devon. Cattle egrets are also being increasingly seen. The cattle egret sightings remind me of the first  little egret sightings in Devon 30-40 years ago.

I suspect several species will become far more common in the years to come e.g. bearded tits, bee-eaters. At the same time, some will be lost. Back in 1955 to see a collared dove in the UK would have been amazing. Nowadays they are one of the most common birds in our garden.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bee-eater .

Thursday, 30 March 2017

UK Pound and BREXIT

OK it is very early days, but the day after the letter triggering the BREXIT process the UK pound is up against most currencies including the euro and US dollar.

UPDATE 30.3.17 1630z: Still up.

Going Home

After a few days with us, my brother returned home today by train. Here he is with me in our front garden.

The primroses get replaced with begonias in the summer.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Leaving the EU

Article 50, the trigger to leave the EU, has now been invoked, with 2 years ahead to negotiate our exit from the "club".  Although we have some tough decisions and negotiations ahead, the UK pound has not collapsed. If anything it is a little stronger against the euro.

Although I voted to remain in the EU, I am pretty sure we'll be fine in the UK.  The rest of the EU faces quite difficult times ahead. In truth, Europe needs us as much as we need them.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business/market_data/currency/default.stm .

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Hacking intent?

Yesterday numbers of visitors were up on a couple of my blogs. Now, I welcome anyone from any part of the planet, but it is strange how numbers seem to double and most of these are from Russia.  This is a pattern I have seen before and I know others have seen similar.

It looks very suspicious to me like they are probing for vulnerable sites to hack with malicious intent. Sorry but I think my content is pretty innocuous! 

Should my blogs suddenly go you will know the reason. If you suddenly get links to porn sites or sites offering you lots of money you'll know I have been "got at". I try to screen and delete dodgy comments that are clearly outright ads or with links to dodgy sites, but please let me know if you find any that I have missed.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Gardening

In the last few weeks with some decent sunshine the garden has "come alive". There is new growth everywhere.

Here I am in the garden earlier. Lis (my wife) has done most of the work.

Today has been good too. I cut the grass.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Cattle Egrets

Before the late 1980s, seeing a little egret in the UK would have been rare. Now they are everywhere. I have even seen these in our village.

Now it is the turn of the cattle egrets, which are becoming increasingly common in Devon. These are slightly smaller than little egrets with a different bill colour. They tend to be near cattle.

See https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/bird-and-wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/c/cattleegret/

North Norfolk

Yesterday we drove up to North Norfolk. We ate at "The Old Reading Room" in Kelling. This is a simple place run by real locals and serving simple, no nonsense food.

Later we went to the coast for a short walk where we saw these hardy fishermen.

Lady Day

Today, March 25th, is Lady Day. Years ago, this marked the start of the year. The UK tax year starts April 6th, which was Lady Day before calendars changed. This day had great non-liturgical importance too. I remember my parents moving house on Lady Day 1959.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_Day