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Monday, 19 June 2017

Breakfast in the garden

For the last 2 days we have had breakfast in the garden. It has been hot lately - unusually hot for the UK. It was good to be able to sit outside in the shade at 8.30am and not feel chilly at all. 

One of the pleasures was watching the birds e.g. this Robin. By the way, most of the fat balls in this feeder have gone within 24 hours, eaten by robins, great tits, dunnocks, collared dove, pigeons and jackdaws! Traditionally robins enjoy mealworms, although they much preferred the fat balls.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Museum visitors

We had some visitors who arrived at our local museum in this old charabang coach. This is it parked outside the windmill. The word charabanc is from French 'char-bancs', meaning a carriage with benches, so I read. The coach probably dates from the 1950s. The windmill is 200 years old.

Our home is on the left in the picture.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Bird table visitors

Every day we get jackdaws on our bird table. They are quite big birds, but quite fun. This one is busy tucking in to kitchen scraps. We now get quite a variety of birds. I think they know there is free food on offer!

The starlings love the fat balls. A refill on Saturday was totally empty on Sunday. 

We get a smaller variety of birds here than at our old home. There are fewer smaller birds, although I think this is true widely. We do see blue tits, great tits and long tail tits as well as other smaller birds, but fewer than might be expected.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Poor Mrs May?

For a start, I was one of the many millions in the UK who did not vote for Mrs May (UK Prime minister) and the Conservatives. It looks like the rich are richer and the poor poorer under her party. This is wrong. If we are to have austerity let us all share the pain. As for a working alliance with the Democratic Unionists (DUP) in Northern Ireland, I am sure this will go down in history as a mistake.

To be fair, many expected a landslide with the Conservatives winning a big, clear, majority.  Instead, we ended up with a hung parliament and Mrs May hanging on by a whisker.  Most people rejected her autocratic style.

In some way I feel sorry for her. A week ago she could do no wrong, whereas now she is vilified.

Who knows what the future holds? It will be several years before the dust settles,  but beware any party that ignores the people it serves.

Oh, we still await a true charismatic leader in any UK party.

The letter Y

Many many years ago I attended Salcombe Boy's Club. This was back in the 1950s when I was still very young. We played indoor sports followed by a brief religious service taken by 2 very kind men.

It is funny how some things stick even 60 years later. One of these was Mr Putt telling us how life was like the letter Y. The Y has two ends at the top, like life: you frequently have to choose a direction to go in. Often there is an easier path and a more difficult one. Often I reflect and wonder what would have happened had I followed a different path in life. This is a theme I have mentioned before.

What if I had gone to a different university or no university at all? What if I had got poor grades at A level? What if I had changed jobs and moved? What if I did that PhD that I turned down? I guess we can never know. Life is filled with such Y moments, but we do not realise it at the time. Perhaps in a multiverse we do take every path, but are only aware of one?

Laurel hedge

Our laurel hedge in our front garden needs cutting several times a year to keep it in check. It makes a nice barrier, but we don't want it too high.

I swept up several wheel barrows of clippings. The photos shows me flicking the cuttings from the top of the hedge onto the grass.

As you can see, that 200 year old windmill really is "next door".

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Vote tomorrow

Whatever your political views, you have a democratic right to vote for the candidate of your choice in the General Election tomorrow. A vote not used is just wasted. Use it, please. Even if your candidate is not successful it registers your interest for the party of your choice.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

General Election in the UK

We have a General Election in the UK next week. At the beginning of the campaign, the pundits were talking of a landslide victory for the ruling Conservative Party. Now, in the last week, things are much closer. Last time the experts were wrong. It will be interesting to see who is right.

May Weather

May started off very cold and miserable, but the second half was warm and sunny. We have managed to eat on our patio several times in the last few weeks. The first day of June has been very warm and sunny, which is promising.

Empty House

We have had all our 4 grandchildren and parents here over the last week. These days I find them very tiring, but lovely. It is great having them and it is "clean mess".

Once they have all gone, the house does seem empty, but tidy!

Friday, 26 May 2017

Trident replacement and Terrorism

Some estimates put the bill to replace our "independent" nuclear submarine fleet at more than £100 billion. Most countries don't have nuclear weapons, let alone an "independent" nuclear deterrent.  Even the Labour party supports this nonsense. This is at a time when we complain there are not enough police or people able to analyse people who may be a terrorist threat to the UK.

Why not scrap Trident and spend some of the money on police and anti-terrorism?

No-one in their right mind would press the nuclear button. It would lead to widespread death and destruction. We need things to counter the threats of today

As for nuclear deterrence, how do most countries manage without such weapons perfectly well? Just a small fraction of the Trident replacement costs would go a very long way.

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.