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Saturday, 19 August 2017

Burwell Fen

We went for a brief walk this afternoon up near the "cock-up" bridge on Burwell Lode. We saw several birds including some swallows, a tern and 2 mute swans as well as these fine highland cattle with big horns.
Although the fens are bleak, they have a certain beauty, especially the wild fen skies. Burwell Fen is now owned by the National Trust.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Swifts

Well, I thought they'd all gone now until next year. As this evening was so nice, we had tea in the garden. Six swifts were on the wing high above us. These may be northern birds passing through, but it made my day.

Swallows and house martins usually stay until well in to September, but there are very few locally.

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

Parsonage Farm

This was a workers co-operative with everyone earning the same. The company (Delta-T) is still there making scientific instruments mainly for plants. It is in our village.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Swifts gone?

We spent about 40 minutes outside this afternoon enjoying a cup of tea in the late sunshine.

Although looking, I saw not a single swift overhead. A few weeks ago and I'd have seen maybe 20. Most have started to move south.

They only stay for a few months then they are gone. Ephemeral. A few may still be around, but most have left us until next spring.

Kangaroo

My younger son is with his family visiting the Australian in-laws. Here is a shot of one of our granddaughters feeding a kangaroo. Actually, I think the joey is helping itself from the bag!

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Swifts

So, the swifts have nearly gone until next year. I heard some screaming this morning and saw one this evening, but already they are moving south to warmer climes.

Most swifts have gone by mid-August although swallows are often seen much later.

With swifts you just realise they are no longer here. Sad, but they will be back. To me, the screaming swifts are a mark of an English summer. When I see my first swift each spring my heart is lifted. They have been making their perilous journey for thousands of years and, hopefully, they will still be doing so long after I am dead and gone.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Blackberries

Our neighbours have been away and said we were to help ourselves to their blackberries. We have picked 6 punnets and the grandchildren have eaten many off the bush! There are loads left.

We have made some great blackberry crumble and my granddaughter made a blackberry drink.

The ripe ones are really great to eat.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Simple Pleasures

Well, some blackberries made it to the crumble, but quite a few got eaten! Simple pleasures to be for ever treasured long after the grandchildren have grown and flown. I hope they do this with their children and grandchildren long after I am pushing up daisies and feeding worms.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Wild Flowers

On Parker's Piece, Cambridge, UK. I think these were planted by the pupils at Park Side School.

Parkers Piece was the focus of a big celebration in 1838 to celebrate the coronation of Queen Victoria.

It is also acknowledged as the home of Association Football rules. It is a famous park in Cambridge.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parker%27s_Piece

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Storms

A quick look at the lightning map shows that storms are still some way away. I shall watch this map with interest to see if the storms get nearer.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Blackberries

There is a wild blackberry bush just outside our garden. When they come to stay these next few days, our "London" grandchildren will really enjoy picking the ripe ones and eating them. These are wild fruits and they taste delicious.

"Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness" - well almost!

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Stroke Update

Some are interested to know how I am progressing since my stroke in September 2013.

Well, things are much the same: I still feel very tired (no, exhausted) after quite brief physical or mental exertion - normally this is after about 15-20 minutes.  My voice is poor.

I am able to drive, but I estimate it is now about 5 times harder. I also drive slower as 50mph seems like 70 mph. It is as if my brain takes longer to process things. Also, subtitles seem to change too fast and I find it hard to keep up.

Although most foods are fine, I take an age with drinks, especially tea and coffee. For some reason cold drinks are easier.

Daft things are I find spelling harder, my writing is poor now and I feel tired much of the time. I think I get more anxious too.

Outwardly, I look "well". Others do not realise that life is a real struggle most of the time.

Overall, I find it hard to see improvements now. In most ways I feel like I did a year ago.

Summer colour

This is a photo of the impatiens in our front garden. We bought these by mistake! We meant to get begonias. Luckily, they look good.

Slowly our sun baked lawn with brown patches is returning to green, but we need more rain. I do not, as a rule, water grass knowing it usually recovers.

So far, our sweet peas have disappointed with not a single flower.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Malmsbury

On our way back from Devon late last week we stopped at Malmsbury, Wiltshire. As well as visiting the famous abbey, we stopped for a bite to eat at a pub near the market called "The Whole Hog".

Although the sausage and onion sandwiches were fine, the service was appalling. It took ages to get the waitress to take our simple order and over 30 minutes for the sandwiches to arrive. We were very very close to walking out.

In this day and age this poor service is totally unacceptable. There were no warnings that they were busy, just rubbish service.

Later that night we ate in Cirencester. Our orders (far more complex) were taken immediately and the meals arrived quickly. Now, they deserve to do well.

BBC salaries

The BBC was made to disclose (by the government) the salaries of their top stars and presenters. Quite a few earn more than £500k a year and some over £2M a year! Sorry, but I think this is insane and immoral: I am sure there are people who could do as good a job on much lower salaries.  BBC? Big Bangs Corporation or Big Bonkers Corporation.

Remember we pay for these people with our licence fees. Shame!

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Bourton Model Village

On our way back from Devon we called at Bourton on the Water in the Cotswolds. We went to the model village that started 80 years ago. It is well worth a visit.

See http://www.bourtoninfo.com/tourist-attractions/the-model-village/ .

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Devon

Bolt Tail in the distance.

This groundsman's hut at Thurlestone Golf Club is being rebuilt. It was a corrugated shed. I expect the next time I see it, it will be completed!  The second view is a typical Devon scene with Burgh Island in the distance.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Are we becoming totally stupid?

So an MP has been suspended for using a word that is no longer politically correct. All I can say is, "what is this world coming to?".  Clearly she just said the words in error and deeply regretted this. 

People are not allowed to play conkers in case they hurt themselves. Yet, we can house people in dangerous tower blocks.

A railway season ticket holder fell asleep and missed his stop. He was fined because a "jobs worth" was unable to use his discretion. Stupid!!

I cannot communicate with my bank anymore: I get a call centre that is abroad and doesn't know who I am: I am just a sort code and account number.

Sorry, but I think we are becoming stupid. We should worry about real issues.

By the way I well remember a 4 hour training course at work on lifting heavy boxes. For the previous 38 years I had managed to lift heavy test gear without training. Oh, in the last minute of the training I got to lift a box! The course was more about my manager being seen to have given the training than really making things safer.

All I can say is rubbish!

Will things swing back? Probably.

Rain

As it is still raining heavily, I think we'll give our after-dinner coastal walk a miss this evening. I suspect watching TV is more probable.

The forecast for the rest of the week looks OK.

UPDATE 1815z: The rain stopped, so I managed a walk after all.

Dad's seat

When my dad retired, he got a job with the National Trust running a job creation scheme maintaining the coast paths near where he lived. When he died (1987) they put up 2 seats in his honour. They are still well used today! On each there is a small plaque which I expect few read. Nonetheless, it is a fitting memorial for all his hard work. He loved this area in the South Hams of Devon and so do I.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Bee

This bee (and lots more!) were busy on a lavender bush at Anglesey Abbey near here yesterday.

Monday, 3 July 2017

50th Wedding Anniversary

This weekend my wife's brother and his wife celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a party in Cheshire. It was a good chance for my wife to catch up with relatives not seen for a while.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Old College Friend

For the last few days, my wife has had an old college friend staying with us.

We visited a few local National Trust properties and managed one meal on the patio before the weather broke.

Yesterday we went to Ely Cathedral and ate in the Almonry, which is very close to the cathedral and also very old. Parts of the Almonry date back to the 13th century.

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.

UPDATE 4th July 2017 0825z: The fat balls go quickly. We have had big and small birds eating these and the food on the bird table.

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.