Blog Status

If you want to use any photos on this blog please see this link.


Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Irritating

I've long held that Piers Morgan is one of the more irritating people in public life. Perhaps it's being called Piers, perhaps it's his association with The Queen of Hearts and her butler I don't know. Or perhaps it's because I regard journalist, as worse than politicians, estate agents and solicitors/lawyers (I am dead now eh Cherrypie!!).

That said Mr Morgan pales into insignificance to Mr J Clarkson. Anything vaguely environmental and he waffles on and on and on. I'm sorry but the man is tosser of the highest order. Any chance we can get him to Bempton trip? Push! What is sad is that he can be quite funny but has this annoying habit of talking out of his arse on anything about the natural world.

I mention Solicitors/Lawyers not to wind Cherrypie up (although I admit this would be a good reason normally) but because I was listening to a law program on Radio 4 on the way home from work. This Lawyer was telling how he had got a woman off of a drink driving charge who was over the limit. Apparently she was so bad police didn't/couldn't caution her so he was able to get her off on a technicality. He was happy that she was guilty and was VERY proud about getting her off and said it was due to bad parliamentary law. I think he makes a habit of this sort of case, I came in late to the program and he was going on about how many drink drive cases he had won on this basis.

Now perhaps it is a technicality but I think the lawyer needn't bother asking WHY the general public have little faith in the whole legal process. It's a sad day methinks when justice makes way for lawyers looking for technicalities to get people who they know to be guilty off. I wonder if any of the drink drivers go and knock down someone in the future if he feels so proud.

I have a personal anecdote I might share about the law and justice one day.

I don't like modern society. It is often said we get the governments we deserve. The current regime is getting a lot of stick, some of it warranted, but one of the things that irritates me is the criticism of the Nanny State nature of the government.

Now don't get me wrong it irritates me but is the government wholly to blame or should we look in the mirror?

An example when I was school I was stabbed. Nothing serious it was an accident the guy was playing with a pen knife and I got a cut hand and have a miniscule 1/2 inch scar. Nowadays parents would sue the school (it was on a school trip) and probably get £250,000, in those dim and distant days the chaps mother came to contritely apologise and it was over.

It irritates me that accidents don't happen anymore. Trip up? who can you sue. Some lawyer will appear on telly telling you to contact them. Whatever happens someone is to blame. I'm sorry but human errors make mistakes and we have to accept that. Compensation maybe necessary in certain cases but I think this blame culture is what fuels the nanny state look in the mirror Britain and you will see Nanny.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Pass the sick bucket

As some of you know in just under two weeks time I'm going to Bempton to meet some bloggers and birders. Of course all of us will want to see some wonderful birds BUT everyone wants to see PUFFINS!!

I think the Bempton area is one of the best areas in England to see Puffins, the RSPB reserve though had less Puffins than nearby Flamborough head. The best place I've ever been to for sooper dooper close ups was Skomer in Wales, they literally walk in front of you and I will definitely go back next year but then again I want to go the Farnes as well!!

Oh the sick bucket!! Well Cherrypie is organising a jaunt on an RSPB cruise along the Bempton cliffs. I am not the worlds greatest sailor so I will be visiting the chemists before going. Cherry of course is hoping to swoon and be picked up by some hunky lifeboatman..... oh so predictable ;)

I hope its calm or you may get some "colourful" pictures.

Monday, May 29, 2006

I'm just not a lister folks

I could have gone to see the Wilson's Phalarope at Hillesden. I've been there before and the church is lovely and worth a second visit. I did go to Lakenheath to see an Oriole but I arrived saw loads of birders and turned around and went to Weeting Heath. Just me, Stone-Curlew and Woodlark lovely.

So there you go I'm not a lister. The idea of driving 100's of miles to JUST tick a bird and then drive 100's more is not for me. Especially not surrounded by the people who do it. If you do I'm happy for you.

After Weeting went to Welney nothing rare some lovely Islandica Black Tailed Godwit about.

The rain started so I thought I'd come home and have a read.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Anglesey Abbey

Well nice sunny day so went to Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgshire. The house contains the art collection of Lord Fairhaven however its Fairhaven's gardens that the visitors flock.

For those of you into gardens it's given the top ** in the annual Daily Telegraph good gardens guide. It has year round appeal.

Enough waffle from me.



The House.















The visitors entrance to the house.




























I just love the colour of these leaves.











Plenty of garden statues about the place.



















Lode Mill and its river.













I thought these tree trunks look interesting.


































And some further views for your enjoyment.










































Saturday, May 27, 2006

Charles De Lint

This is the first in an frequent series of posts on favourite authors.

De Lint is a Canadian writer of predominantly fantasy. Fantasy usually means elves, heroes with swords, beautfiul princesses etc not for De Lint (although one or two very early novels were a little derivative).

I first encountered De Lint in the early 1990's I think. A colleague of mine, Anne Broderick, recommended to me a book called Greenmantle. Greenmantle is very much rooted in today but entwined with the myth of the Green man very much like a modern Lord Dunsany. It was very much urban fantasy.

I was hooked and went on to discover the Tamson House stories Moonheart and Spiritwalk (collection) set in modern Ottawa and The Little Country set in mundane Cornwall and a turn of the 20th cenutry fable version of England.

But De Lint is best known for his loosely related Newford Stories. Newford is an imaginary North American city. De Lint has populated it with a set of totally believeable characters. Old Newford friends may not be central to a Newford novel but they do pop up and are often heavily featured in short stories.

I've snaffled this from De Lint's website

"The books have all been written in such a way that you should be able to pick up any one and get a full and complete story. However, characters do reoccur, off center stage as it were, and their stories do follow a sequence. The best place to start is the collection Dreams Underfoot. From there they go pretty much in this order:

The Dreaming Place
A Whisper To A Scream (originally credited to "Samuel M. Key")
I'll Be Watching You (originally credited to "Samuel M. Key")
Memory And Dream
The Ivory And The Horn (coll)
Trader
Someplace To Be Flying
Moonlight And Vines (coll)
Forests Of The Heart
The Onion Girl
Seven Wild Sisters (also available in Tapping the Dream Tree)
Tapping the Dream Tree (coll)
Spirits in the Wires
Medicine Road
The Blue Girl"

The Dreaming Place and The Blue Girl are YA novels. A Whisper To A Scream and I'll Be Watching You are, respectively, a horror novel and a thriller; they're darker fare than the other Newford books and aren't really that integral to the underlying, ongoing backstory that takes off center stage in so many of the books and stories."

I haven't read all of those. I'm not bothered about the Kay books but I was suprised I had missed the Dreaming Place even if it is YA. I've read all the rest down to The Onion Girl and all are **** to ***** stuff.

I have Tapping the Dream Tree on order from Amazon. Spirits in the Wires is yet to be out in paperback. The one I want to get my hands on is the new one Widdershins its all about Jilly Coppercorn (a frequently occuring character) and the chap who is her soul mate Geordie Riddell (they just don't know it yet).

I'd agree that a good starting place is Dreams Underfoot but the novels Memory and Dream (possibly my favourite), Trader, Someplace To Be Flying, Forests Of The Heart can be read in any order. I suppose the same can be said of The Onion Girl but this is about Jilly and you need to have read more of the others and perhaps the collections to appreciate her importance. Its a super book.

Excuse me I need to see if Amazon has the Dreaming Place. Get reading.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Books

So what is the worst book you've ever read? I pondered this question after coming across a blog entry this morning referring to a site where you could review books, films, albums etc that you particularly hated.

This got me thinking what books did I particularly dislike.

Now then I am not one of these people who struggle on manfully for 500 pages just to finish something. If I suspect a book is a pile of poo I'll ditch it and start something more interesting. So here in no order are some books I reckon you should avoid at all costs.

L Ron Hubbard - Battlefield Earth. I actually finished this! Ok so your lead character is called Jonny Good Boy Tyler and he takes on the whole of the psychlo empire single handed. I'm sorry but single handedly ? This is the type of stuff they turned out in the 30's for pulp magazines, think EE Doc Smith and Jack Williamson but nowhere near as good. I must have been very undemanding back in my early 20's.

L Ron Hubbard -- Mission Earth - l0 volumes. Look I didn't read all 10 never finished book 1. Given that Battlefield Earth is bad why oh why did I buy Book 1 The Invaders Plan? and shouldn't it be The Invader's Plan? I gave up after 50 pages or so. The story continued even after Hubbard's death.

annoyingly I've never read any of Hubbard's 1940's stuff before he got into scientology.

Robert A Heinlein - The Number of the Beast. Now Heinlein is often voted the best SF author of all time, not by me he's not, and he has produced some very good books. The Door into Summer, Starship Trooper, Starman Jones etc but come the seventies he produced some total drivel and boy is this drivel. The premise sounded really good and involved trips into parallel universes like EE Doc Smith Lensman universe. After 10 or so pages Ziggy's teets had gone spang, or whatever his phrase was, so many times I gave up and threw it in the bin. When Heinlein published Friday some years later Harlan Ellison called it the best thing he had done for years. Ellison was quite right since the last three he had written were rubbish (Time Enough for Love, I will Fear No Evil, and The Number of the Beast).

William Gibson - Neuromancer. This will offend some people but I tried very hard to read this book. I got to page 9 or so 3 times!! Its the first Cyberpunk novel. Very influential apparently. zzzzzzzz

Clive Cussler - Atlantis Refound. Obsidian Black Skulls Made 10 millennia ago, secret organizations. This book looked to have it all, a rip roaring beach/airport best seller - and everyone needs a bit of R&R. I had never read Cussler before and never will again. I finished it but whereas this could have been a gripping page turner it ended up being plain silly. The hero is super man ( we all have frailities don't we!), the science inaccurate and the bad guys totally incompetent.

Wilbur Smith - River God. Now like Cussler he's a writer I had never read before. I had had him recommended a few times so when this was in Tesco for £3.99 I thought I'd give him a go." Set in ancient Egypt, the story of a gifted eunuch slave and his proteges, the beautiful young daughter of a lord and a proud young army officer, who plan to seize the throne from the king and restore the kingdom to its former glory. ". Doesn't sound all that promising to me but ...... off I go. The gifted slave is so gifted he makes Leonardo seem a bit backward. I could forgive the stereotyping as there is a good tale here trying to get out. What lets it down is the writing. 500 pages? seemed more like 1500. It was slow it was turgid. I really would like to give him another go because I think this might have been me. Anyone want to recommend something.

I read a few books on my recent travels

Karin Fossum - Calling Out For You - ***
"Gunder Jomann, a quiet, middle-aged man from a peaceful Norwegian community, thinks his life has been made complete when he returns from a trip to India, a married man. But on the day his Indian bride is due to join him, he is called to the hospital to his sister's bedside. The local taxi driver sent instead to meet the bride at the airport returns without her. Then the town is shocked by the news of an Indian woman found bludgeoned to death in a nearby meadow. Inspector Sejer, and his colleague Skarre head the murder inquiry, cross-examining the townsfolk and planting seeds of suspicion in a community which has always believed itself to be simple, safe and trusting. For what can only have been an unpremeditated and motiveless act of violence, everyone is guilty until proven innocent."

I'm really not sure about this one. It was entertaining and well written as ever but I just didn't feel quite as engaged by it as I did earlier books. The ending is ambiguous and thought provoking and certainly the book has plenty of emotional impact.

Stephen Booth - Black Dog - ***
"When smart, sexy teenager Laura Vernon goes missing one long, hot summer in the Peak District, local police mount a full-scale search operation. But it's retired lead miner Harry Dickinson who finally discovers Laura's body, and he seems bent on obstructing their investigation. Even her parents are holding something back. But what could be more important than finding Laura's murderer? Ben Cooper, a young DC living with tragedy, has known the villagers all his life, but his instinctive feelings about the case are called into question by the arrival of Diane Fry, a ruthlessly ambitious DC from another division. As the investigation twists and turns, Ben and Diane discover that to understand the present, they must also understand the past - and in a world where no one is entirely innocent, pain and suffering can be the only outcome."

Your typical police procedural. This is a first novel an I think this shows. The characters aren't particularly three dimensional. That said the plot zips along and the interplay between the female copper, new to the area, who has been promoted to a DS over her male colleague promises for the future. I'll be seeking out the next volume.

Stephen King - The Drawing of the Three - *****
"The second book in Stephen King's fantasy tale, "The Dark Tower". The gunslinger comes alone to the endless shore of the Western Sea to find, amid the mindless menace of the flesh-eating lobstrosities, the doorways between void and void through which he must draw The Three."

It sounds daft but King's writing is so good I just got engrossed in it. What really sells this is the characterisation. Roland, Eddie and Odetta/Detta feel like real people. The characters have to make tough decisions and life isn't just black and white but myriad shades of Grey. Book 3 is on my book shelf ready to go.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

it's the waiting that gets to you

Ok I have spent the morning waiting for my phone to ring. Ye gods time drags. Wonder what my blood pressure was like.

Eventually my work mobile rang. Dad must be well stressed, keeps dialling wrong mobile!! Anyway sounds like good news. She gets the new wonder drug by injection in 3 weeks or so and seems unlikely she will need further chemo. Apparently she has an injection every 3 weeks. She has had a back pain for the past two weeks and they xrayed her but the specialist thinks its nothing to do with the cancer.

Mum said she was quite relieved - understatement or what.

God I feel better!!!

Snaffled from Janice's blog. I wonder if this is true. Oi Girls note the lover bit ;)) GUFFAW!!!!


You Have a Phlegmatic Temperament

Mild mannered and laid back, you take life at a slow pace.
You are very consistent - both in emotions and actions.
You tend to absorb set backs easily. You are cool and collected.

It is difficult to offend you. You can remain composed and unemotional.
You are a great friend and lover. You don't demand much of others.
While you are quiet, you have a subtle wit that your friends know well.

At your worst, you are lazy and unwilling to work at anything.
You often get stuck in a rut, without aspirations or dreams.
You can get too dependent on others, setting yourself up for abandonment.

Garden Activity

I am undoubtedly on edge today worry worry worry but at least the garden is cheering me up.

For ages my garden provided very little birdlife but things have changed in the last year. For instance Goldfinches are now seen regularly and over the past week I've discovered Greenfinches are regular. I've now had a Blue Tit visiting my feeder two days running!

Yesterday I saw my first fledged bird - Starling. Well today I've baby starling, blackbird, greenfinch and House Sparrow! Ah bless.

Squirrel about this morning.

Annoyingly in winter I haven't got a clue what visits because I leave the house in darkness.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Sounds about right to me

Your Political Profile:
Overall: 45% Conservative, 55% Liberal
Social Issues: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal
Personal Responsibility: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal
Fiscal Issues: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal
Ethics: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal
Defense and Crime: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal

I really don't get it

I don't get the world today. I mean lets take Big Brother. I've never really watched it I've turned the telly on and it happens to be on and after two minutes you realise that these really are a bunch of w*nk*rs or you hear the announcment "Day 9 in the Big Brother Household and everyones asleep" - cor that's gripping.

Now don't get me wrong if you want to watch the activities of a bunch of hyper active wannabees desperate to be "famous" then fine, but, why do I have to turn on the radio to hear it reported as "News" that some bloke was so "stressed" he threatened to kill himself and walked out. Stress is not being able to pay the bills, or having a loved one ill or you get my point.

I'm sorry but frankly if they took everyone who wants to be on Big Brother and "deported" them then the country would be a better place.

Do I sound like disgusted of Tonbridge Wells?

I will now go and get my copy of the Daily Telegraph.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Da Vinci Code

What is the fuss?

Critics say its poorly written, and inaccurate. For instance Kate complained about his "interpretation" of the Last Supper that one of the apostles was a woman.

Its a work of fiction, its a novel or have I missed something. He's taken a few bits and pieces stretched stuff and produced an entertaining read. Angels and Demons is equally entertaining. Now I suspect its the subject matter that entertains because his other two novels Deception Point and Digital Fortress are fairly dull.

I have no way of knowing whether Jesus was married and frankly nor does anyone else. I really can't see why the Roman Catholic church is getting so hot and bothered about it. Its a novel..... if your faith can be hurt by a novel.......

Equally its a novel so how can anyone say ooh I know about Da Vinci, The Templars, religion, opus dei from reading it. Beats me.

Perhaps more interesting was the prog on Channel 4 called The Da Vinci Detective. It was about Dr Merachio Serachini's search for Leonardo's Masterpiece The Battle of Anghiari and the work Serachini did on The Adoration of the Magi. It was an engrossing couple of hours. I'd love to know if the Anghiari was actually hidden by Vasari in the Palazzo Vecchio. Lets hope Serachini can prove it.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Alarm went off.

Reality has bit back and here I am in the office. To be fair its not too bad!!

I've yet to book another day off ;)) I intend to go to Bempton on June 10th so will book the Monday off but haven't done it yet.

Mum goes back to the doctor on Thursday (she was diagnosed with breast cancer last year) and if she is on tablets rather than further treatment I intend to slip in a week off in June (YES I KNOW)to take her away again. Fingers crossed for her.

I'm not going into the rights and wrongs of John Prescott BUT the following got me thinking.

I heard some female TV journo type (can't remember her name) say that her and her friends played a game "would you rather shag them or die" and that Prescott came into the die category.

Very funny ha ha but could you imagine if some male TV type said the same about Women live on national tv? The PC mob would have a field day with that!!

I watched some of Eurovision at the weekend. Ok the songs were risible but there was some very tasty totty on it. That said I was cheering on the Finns as frankly they were hilarious.

As everyone else says the judging is hilarious. Cyprus gave Greece 12 points!

Thank god for Terry Wogan. "So which countries border you then".

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Hotels

The Yorkshire Bridge Inn, Bamford, Derbyshire.













Rooms are ok, mine had a double bed but there is no way you would want two people in it. Still it was comfy, very quiet and tastefully decorated. The shower worked!

Food was of a decent pub standard and portions were ample. Service was a bit chaotic as Cheryl noticed but it never affected me. It seemed to attracy a lot of family parties and was busy. The Copper Ale from the Skipton Brewery was the tipple of choice.

B&B was £50 and you could have a 3 course meal plus two pints for between £20-£25. I'm not likely to stay in the area in the near future but if I do I'll checkout the nearby Rising Sun (food better!). The Miners Arms at Eyam also has better food but rooms are basic.


The Queen's Head, Hawkshead.












Big minus, parking is in a nearby pay & display but you get a pass (I didn't know this on booking!).

Room comfy and more spacious. Bath not a shower (which I'd prefer). It had all the desired features and the complimentary chocolates were a nice touch. The room was above the bar you could hear a degree of noise but the House Martins woke me up!

Food had been awarded an AA rosette and had pretensions. It was better than the Yorkshire Bridge but more of a good pub standard than restaurant standard. Serving staff were very pleasant.

Beer from Harley's & Robinson's was good. Breakfast was 8:30 t0 9 and I would have preferred an early start.

I had stayed at the Fat Lamb Ravenstonedale previously and chose the Queen's Head for its more central location. In reality the roads meant that for my purposes the Fat Lamb with quicker access to the M6 would have been a better choice.

Price paid ? If you go Sunday - Thursday then Dinner Bed & Breakfast is £70 but Friday and Saturday no such offer exists and it is £60 plus food. For my five night break it worked out at £80 per night including beer.

Saturday 20th May

I can be a funny bloke. It chucked it all morning and I wasted it. I meant to track down some churches but they were mostly locked and then I lost my enthusiasm and wasn't prepared to find a parking space.

So I wasted 1/2 a mornings holiday mutter mutter still at 1pm I arrived at Townend a small National Trust Yeoman's house built in the 1620's by the Browne family. Townend gets *** by Jenkins, its one of those "important" small houses. ***? interesting it maybe but I think not. Nice example of domestic rather than grand interior. But all credit to the National Trust that it is open.



I then stopped just outside Ambleside at a picturesque spot for a walk.



I discovered I had been driving past a church (Bathay) and hadn't noticed. Not on my list but I'm not just a lister! The church is 19th century and unlike most churches of that period its architecture is of an Italian bent.



The view from the churchyard.



I could have joined the throngs paying homage to St Beatrix Potter at Hill Top but went for a stroll around Hawkshead

Friday 19th May

Well it rained all night but it wasn't when I woke up. I went first to RSPB Leighton Moss, it was windy.


Lots of Black Headed gulls about but not a single Tern.












Lots of warblers hunkered down. There were Marsh Harriers about, 2 male Garganey and some Black Tailed Godwits and a couple of beardies. Went to the Eric Morecombe hide part of the reserve for 3 Red Breasted Merganser, Avocets, more Black Tailed Godwits and a Bar tail. Although bird of the day was a Kingfisher with fish.

I had intended visiting Levens Hall but on consulting Hudson's found it was shut so went to Holker Hall.





The hall was mostly gutted by fire in the 1870's and was rebuilt by Paley and Hall. It contains some nice furniture and portraits BUT for me it is the gardens that are the real star.





Thursday 18th May

Well after a rough night weather wise I woke to find it a bit windy but dry so lets find a Golden Eagle.

The previous evening I decided I needed a decent pair of waterproof walking shoes. As there were lots of shops here and I had done some research off I went and when the assistant suggested a pair on my shortlist.

So shod in Brasher Diablo lo's off I went to



Haweswater.











Lovely scenery and a Haweswater rarity (Dunlin) but no Eagle. The RSPB warden tried all the favoured perches but nope. Obviousy it had hunkered down. Bet blondie chuckles. Still I have seen it before.




The Eagle watchpoint.










So off to Hutton in the forest



and a chance to sit in the sun! Interesting guided tour and a nice strill in the garden finished off a pleasant day.








Oh and walking to Haweswater I went through some very damp ground and my feet? Dry!! lovely!!

Wednesday 17th May

I headed off to St Bees to look for Black Guillemot. Annoyingly there was a thick sea mist so not a hope.

Still the church was on my tick list.


Nice art nouveau screen.












Nearby Whitehaven was also on my hit list but I decided to go to Bassenthwaite to see if the Ospreys were performing.



The view from the watchpoint. The Ospreys showed well including dogfighting with a Crow.











As Mirehouse was opposite I wandered over. Nice house, pretty garden and a half decent vista !!








Stopped in Grasmere to tick another church. It contains Wordsworth memorial and grave and an interesting restored roof.

Tuesday 16th May

The views from the Snakeshead pass are superb, pity about the local drivers - mad sods.

Anyway bombing up the M61 to Leighton Moss when I see a sign for Martin Mere. Ooh Black Winged Stilts! From the Ron Barker hide two of them and they have nested!! Finger crossed. Later another one from the united utilities Hide. Nice reserve although £6 is steep. Welney is only £3.50, must be the collection which I bypassed.



The Harrier hide.












So lunch? I had two choices but chose Sizergh Castle. A couple of years ago I had seen Spotted Flycatcher. Guess what, still there. Saw quite a few. For a typical LBJ they are quite attractive.







The castle is a 13th century core with many tudor additions. The garden is small but attractive and I enjoyed it more than on my previous visit.

And finally Conniston Water, seen on my way to my hotel.

Monday 15th May

Oh its wet!!

So off do some churches,

Ashover becomes 583. I've got to admit it would not make my top 1000. Nice tomb though.

















I thought Wirksworth was to become the next but as soon as I arrived I realised I had been before.


Saxon coffin lid.









My next step was Morely but since Oct 2005 it has very limited opening hours and was locked. This sort of deflated me and I decided to head to Kedleston Hall


from the front and











from the garden.











Wandered around the gardens and grounds (Grey Wagtails always to be found by bridge).







The church isn't in Jenkins but would make my list.








At the hall you are greeted by a lady dressed as the 18th century housekeeper who gives an introductory talk. The hall staterooms are magnificent.

So where now? Popped ont Carsingon Water. Some nice birds, Tree Sparrows, Garganey, Yellow Wags and Common Tern. Couldn't find Black Tern but the rain was setting in again so headed for a beer!