Blog Status

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


Friday, September 29, 2006

Reading your own obituary

Paul Vance who wrote "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" was watching TV and was a mite alarmed to be told he had died!

Apparently Paul Van Valkenburg told his wife that he wrote it as a teenager under a pseudonym but sold the rights. When he died his wife told the press that the writer of Itsy..... had died.

His family were ringing up believing there father had died!!

For the full story

The Friday Questions......

As I'm on holiday next week you can have a double dose of Dave's questions...
will add my answers later.

16. you ready for some more?
well since i'm asking

17. what's your favourite animal?
birds!!!

18. of all the 10 commandments, which do you think Pete breaks?
my lips are sealed

18a. most often?
saying nowt

19. what's your favourite beverage?
tea

20. what/who would you have on your desert island? (5 things please!)
Field Guide
Bins
Scope
Wind up radio
laptop with internet access

21. what's the best board game?
chess

22. what is immediately to your left?
pillow

23. what would be your 1st major purchase upon winning the lottery?
a big big birding holiday with some good friends

24. when was the last time you farted?
this afternoon

25. name your top 3 puddings.
profiteroles, bread & butter pudding at the Miners Arms Eyam, Mum's Apple Pie!!!

26. do you know anyone famous?
No

26a. who?
No

27. what age would you like to be again?
Uhm none thanks

28. if you could change 1 thing about your life, what would it be?
I'd be retired!!

29. name the person you shared your first kiss with.
Maggie Fleming

30. what is your favourite film?
None really, like old Hitchcocks and old John Ford Westerns

31. What's the first thing you do in the morning?
go to loo

32. Who in the world would you like to....
a. go for a beer with?
Dave

b. go birding with?
Simon Barnes would be interesting or Jeri Ryan......

c. go shopping with?
no one i hate shopping. Michelle if anyone though

d. snog?
Jeri Ryan

e. punch?
a couple of sad muppets

f. have a secret romantic trist with?
Jeri Ryan

g. serve at the fishmarket?
flipper

h. go to Africa with and film Big Cats with?
no one i'd be birding

i. ermmmmmmm.
indeed.

33. What do you think of the Royal family?
better than the alternative

34. What is your most prized possession?
don't prize possession, but bins most important

35. Who has inspired you?
bill oddie got me into birds

36. Have you ever taken/would ever take hallucinogenic drugs?
no

37. Is there anything more frightening than being chased by a
battalion of monkeys armed with hammers?
being told there's a BV66A audit

38. What's your favourite biscuit?
chocolate ginger

39. What's the most embarrassing thing you've ever done?
BLUSH

40. What's your favourite shop?
bookshop

41. Do you consider fishing a blood sport?
no
a. why?

42. Did you have a happy childhood?
mostly

43. What do you reckon folk in the future will think of us?
a bunch of self centred idiots

44. What will be your next purchase?
uhm lunch

45. Name 10 female presenters of Blue Peter. no google no.
lesley judd, caron keaton, val singleton uh

Book Meme

Well as I've been tagged by Diddums

The Rules of this tag game are:

1. Grab the book nearest to you...no cheating!
2. Open to page 123.
3. Scroll down to the fifth sentence.
4. Post text of next 3 sentences on to your blog.


Well the nearest book is Flight of the Nighthawks by Raymond E Feist

'The castle of the Black Sorcerer,' answered the man.
'Who's the Black Sorcerer?' said Tad
The man looked over his shoulder, grinning.

feel free to play along

Thursday, September 28, 2006

UK has best roadworks in Europe

I'm sure this will please you but apparently we in Britain have the best roadworks in Europe.

Apparently the roadworks on the M42 at Birmingham came out top on a series of roadworks throughout Europe. The M1 at Hemel Hempstead and the M25 Cheshunt are rated very good.

I bet this will make you very happy.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Toys for the 21st Century

When I was a lad boys played with Action Man (with gripping hands or eagle eyes). Girls played with Barbie and Sindy. But oh no todays boys and girls get trailertrash dolls.

The bloke says things like "15 beers and you're still ugly" has a mullet, a broken teeth etc

Where's my Action Man ? Maybe I get his gripping hands around there little necks ;)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Dog Starts Car

This story appeals.

An AA patrolman managed to get a woman's car started by using her dog. The woman had changed her electronic key fob...............


Get the full story here

Are You Happy?

Some of you will have seen this before....

Happiness Survey


Your personal Happy Planet Index (HPI) is 50.1, which is similar to that of Nepal or Mauritius. Not bad. This is above the world average of 46, but still below the target value of 83, so there is more you can do to improve your health and well-being, or reduce your environmental impact.

I have to lose weight - well quelle surprise!! and my life expectancy is slightly below average.

I'm using 2.44 planets.... I'm below average

You reported a life satisfaction of 8. This is the most common response across UK and indeed all of Europe. However, it is above average, so we are happy that you are so happy.

You are very secure about yourself and about your future.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Bugger

Well it seem Mum's cancer has taken a turn for the worse. Looks like she'll be having chemo mixed in with the herceptin.

Poor old thing, life is just one good kick for her at the moment. At least she shouldn't lose her hair with this.....

I appreciate that this is a bit depressing but i can't be with telling all and sundry much easier this way.

Hedgehogs help with Natural Pest Control

The National Trust, in conjunction with a local rescue centre, has released 6 orphan hogs into its walled garden at Knighthayes in Devon.

Its hoped the hogs will help with natural pest control.

Books

As mentioned I've done a bit of book shopping. I popped into Ottakars on Friday and Borders yesterday. I haven't read much fanstasy for a while and there are a few things that I've fallen behind on so my purchasing was all fantasy.

I picked up
Trudi Canavan - Magicians' Guild, I'm currently reading this. I've seen these about for ages and never picked one up. It reads like your typical "downtrodden poor youngster secretly has great powers" fantasy. It's ok, I think I'll pick up later volumes..

Raymond Feist - Flight of the Nighthawks, This is yet another set in his fantasy world of Midikemia. I think he's flogging this a bit but he's an enjoyable writer and he tells a good yarn. My one gripe is that the magicians are so powerful you wonder why they need ordinary people.

Robert Jordan - Knife of Dreams, Volume 11!! please finish this Robert!! This started out as excellent series but recent volumes are moving at an almost glacial pace! He really needs to wind this up, I started this series in 1990!! Its become a habit!!

Robin Hobb - Shaman's Crossing, I still have an earlier series to read but this was the only thing i could find to finish a 3 for 2 offer. I enjoyed the one trilogy of hers I've read.

Elaine Cunningham - Evermeet Island of the Elves, Forgotten Realms, don't know why I bought it. I've been enjoying Salvatore's Drow novels set in Forgotten Realms so......

Deborah Brittain - First Rider's Call. Her first novel Green Rider was an enjoyable read. So I thought it time to pick this up. Its not part of a series!! even if it features the same character from the earlier novel

Marion Zimmer Bradley - Heritage of Hastur/Sharras' Exile and Stormqueen!/Hawk Mistress!, I've been meaning to read Darkover for ages and as these were 2 novels in one (for the price of one) I thought heh, any ideas on which to read first?

Also I discovered in my pile to read an Anne McCaffrey - The Skies of Pern, I've really enjoy the Dragon novels over the years and this is the last one she wrote on her own. My one concern is that later books seem inconsistent with earlier ones. I ought to reread this series one day. I also ought to reread Katherine Kerr's Deverry books and Kate Elliots Crown of Stars series. I've lost touch with what's going on!! Deverry is one of teh more original series. So many books so little time!!

All I've got to do now is pick the group to take on holiday. Probably a Bradley and the McCaffrey, Feist and Jordan since the later 3 all are very readable authors.

Anyway back to Pern, has anyone read any of the books Anne McCaffrey has written with her son? Or the one he has written on his own? I'm intrigued to know if they are worth getting.

One of the things I noticed was how expensive books are. It seems the average price of a paperback these days is £7.99!!! I know I know I ought to visit a library but I am an impulse reader. I'll buy something and then sometimes not read it for 3 years!!!

Books and holidays are my only vice!!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Patch Birding and reading a manual

I didn't set the alarm today and woke up at the really late time of 7:15!!!

I headed first to Amwell Gravel Pits. You can tell its getting Autumnal, Wigeon are starting to come back. Only had one Swallow and had a flyover Grey Wagtail. Lots of Lapwing. A nice group of Goldcrests, totally oblivious to me! I had thought the weather would be horrid but it was lovely.

Anyway I decided to head to London Colney to have a look at Borders. I'm looking around the fantasy section and I'm thinking "I'm sure there was an Author I'm looking for!" EVENTUALLY I twig that I want to buy some Darkover books. They had two omnibus editions one featuring Heritage of Hastur/Sharras' Exile and the other Stormqueen!/Hawk Mistress! any suggestions on the best to start with? I bought some books Friday and they will spark tomorrow's blog.

After lunch I went down Rye Meads. I missed the Whinchat by 20 minutes but had a pleasant stroll, many of the usual suspects. Highlight a Tit flock with Willow/Chiffs.

I also had read about two pages of the camera manual. Anything to keep Diane happy ;)
what do you think? Not perfect but ok....... they look better when opened.





Saturday, September 23, 2006

A day out

Well took the old folks to Bury St Edmunds. A pleasant morning spent pottering about, coffee in the cathedral refrectory, sat in the lovely abbey gardens.

Had our sarnies at Clare country park. Very quiet bird wise. Mallards and Moorhens though were entertaining on the river.

Had a very nice Steak and Chips for tea. Cooked by my dad.

The weather was gorgeous, give rain tomorrow!!!

Friday, September 22, 2006

A day off

Well loads of flexitime and the car needed a service so I was off.

The car was fine, read some of my book (R A Salvatore - The Thousand Orcs, one of a number of his set in the D&D Forgotten Realms series and much better than you would expect) whilst waiting.

I had decided to work the patch and of course it HAMMERED down. Highlights were a tit flock (Blue, Great and Long Tail) with wrens, Robins, chaffinches and a few Chiffchaff.

Also 14 Snipe (all sitting out), a Common Gull, Great Spotted Woodpecker and a fishing Kingfisher!!

Not perhaps a stunning selection but a nice few hours.

Into Bishops Stortford and bought some books decided to pick up Trudi Canavans Magicians' Guild, seen it on the shelves loads of times. Also picked up Volume 11 of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series - please finish it!!!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Fridave

on a birding forum Dave used to regular post a series of questions for us to answer.

so totally ripping off the format and his questions.......

right you lot! I've got some questions for you to answer....
i shall post a new set of questions every friday, unless the idea
drops like a lead balloon! I did something similar elsewhere and it was
fun to read other folks answers. so let's go....


I know its Thursday..................... feel free to use on your own blogs

i'll add my answers tomorrow

-----------------------------------------------------------------

1... what is your favourite bird?
difficult one, uhm pick from Mallard, Blue Tit and Robin

2...how many pairs of shoes do you have?
4 one old pair in the car, gardening pair (old work pair), work pair, brashers and a pair of wellies

3...what did you have for dinner?
Prawn and Egg roll.

4...could you ever eat snails?
no

5...what was the last thing you had in your mouth?
cup of tea but soon to be coffee!

6...what is your best feature?
loyal nature

7...what is your worst feature?
stomach, moodiness

8...who is your best friend?
there are two or three people I trust enough to confide really really important stuff to. The most momementous thing I told to Min.

9...who was your childhood nemesis?
several, they seemed to think remembering things like Vasco Da Gama being the first around the cape made me a swot

10...having fun?
yes see the above blog - when I write it in a minute

11...where in the world would you like to go to tomorrow?
Ecuador, Trinidad & Tobago, Costa Rica - I'm going to Bury St Edmunds

12...when was the last time you lied?
Honestly can't remember - must have done though

13...why?
honestly I can't remember

14...how does bob marley like his donuts?
think he prefers Angel Cakes

15...tell us a secret about yourself.
I've broken one of the ten commandments..........

The Good Wife Guide

Some of you will have seen this in my jokes email but I thought that it deserved a wider audience.



Ah the good old days.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

109 questions

I borrowed this from Kate, who got it from someone who . . . well you get the picture.

1. ( ) Smoked a cigarette.
2. ( ) Crashed a friend’s car.
3. ( ) Stolen a car.
4. (X) Been in love.
5. (X) Been dumped.
6. ( ) Shoplifted.
7. (X) Been fired/laid off.
8. (X) Been in a fist fight.
9. ( ) Snuck out of your parent’s house.
10. ( ) Had feelings for someone that didn’t have them back.
11. ( ) Been arrested.
12. ( ) Gone on a blind date.
13. (X) Lied to a friend.
14. ( ) Skipped school.
15. (X) Seen someone die.
16. ( ) Been to Canada.
17. ( ) Been to Mexico.
18. (X) Been on a plane.
19. ( ) Purposely set a part of yourself on fire.
20. ( ) Eaten sushi.
21. ( ) Been skiing.
22. (X) Met someone in person from the internet.
23. (X) Taken pain-killers.
24. (X) Love someone or miss someone right now. sort of!
25. (X) Laid on your back and watched cloud shapes go by.
26. ( ) Made a snow angel.
27. ( ) Had a tea party.
28. (X) Flown a kite.
29. (X) Built a sand castle.
30. (X) Gone puddle jumping.
31. (X) Played dress up.
32. (X) Cheated while playing a game.
33. (X) Been lonely.
34. ( ) Fallen asleep at work/school.
35. ( ) Used a fake I.D.
36. (X) Watched a sunset.
37. ( ) Felt an earthquake.
38. ( ) Touched a snake.
39. ( ) Slept beneath the stars.
40. (X) Been tickled.
41. ( ) Been robbed.
42. (X) Been misunderstood.
43. ( ) Petted a reindeer/goat.
44. (X) Won a contest.
45. (X) Ran a red light.
46. ( ) Been suspended from school.
47. (X) Been in a car accident.
48. ( ) Eaten a whole pint of ice cream in one night.
49. (X) Had deja vu.
50. ( ) Danced in the moonlight.
52. ( ) Liked the way you looked.
53. ( ) Witnessed a crime.
54. (X) Questioned your heart.
55. ( ) Been obsessed with post it notes.
56. ( ) Squished barefoot through the mud.
57. ( ) Been lost.
58. (X) Been to the opposite side of the country.
59. (X) Swam in the ocean.
60. ( ) Felt like dying.
61. (X) Cried yourself to sleep.
62. (X) Played cops and robbers.
63. ( ) Recently colored with crayons.
64. ( ) Sung karaoke.
65. ( ) Paid for a meal with only coins.
66. (X) Done something you told yourself you wouldn’t.
67. ( ) Laughed until some kind of beverage came out your nose.
68. (X) Caught a snowflake on your tongue.
69. ( ) Danced in the rain.
70. ( ) Written a letter to Santa Claus.
71. (X) Been kissed under the mistletoe.
72. ( ) Watched the sun rise with someone you care about
73. (X) Blown bubbles.
74. ( ) Made a bonfire on the beach.
75. ( ) Crashed a party.
76. ( ) Gone roller-skating.
77. (X) Had a wish come true.
78. ( ) Worn pearls.
79. ( ) Jumped off a bridge.
80. ( ) Ate dog/cat food.
81. ( ) Told a complete stranger you loved them.
82. ( ) Kissed a mirror.
83. (X) Sang in the shower.
84. ( ) Had a dream that you married someone.
85. ( ) Glued your hand to something.
86. ( ) Got your tongue stuck to a flagpole.
87. ( ) Kissed a fish.
88. ( ) Sat on a rooftop.
89. (X) Screamed at the top of your lungs.
90. ( ) Done a one-handed cartwheel.
91. ( ) Talked on the phone for more than six hours on one occasion.
92. (X) Stayed up all night.
93. ( ) Didn’t take a shower for a week.
94. ( ) Picked and ate an apple right off the tree.
95. ( ) Climbed a tree that had a tree house.
96. ( ) Been told by a complete stranger that you’re hot.
97. ( ) Ever had a one night stand.
98. (X) Ever missed someone so much it still hurts to think of them.
99. ( ) Ever loved someone that you knew wouldn’t love you back.
100 (X) Ever been to a professional football, or tennis game in a stadium ground.
101.( ) Went hiking in the mountains.
102.( ) Smoked a cigar.
103.( ) Had a crush on someone you worked with but never told them.
104.(X) Wished you had the chance to change your profession.
105.( ) Ever cremated and kept the ashes of a pet you cared a lot about.
106.( ) Wished you could live your life over again from age 21.
107.(x) Been baptized?
108.( ) Rode a horse.
109.( ) Sent flowers to someone you never met

I'm fairly dull!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A new Tolkien?

Christopher Tolkien has edited into a "completed" work his father, JRR Tolkien's - you know the chap who wrote Lord of the Rings, The Children of Hurin.

I am not quite sure what "long version" means. A lot of Tolkien's early work is alliterive poetry rather than prose. If its a prose work I'd be interested. Well it will no doubt attract alot of interest. It is set much earlier than Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

Christopher Tolkien was behind the Silmarillion and he put to together the 10 volume history of Middle Earth. Another work he put together is Unfinished Tales. This is a collection of notes about the History of Middle Earth, later chapters deal with the coming of Gandalf and Saruman, Black Riders and there are other versions of the search for the ring. I found the later quite interesting. I've never read the 10 volume history.

Monday, September 18, 2006

May I recommend a blog

From time to time I add a new blog to the blogroll - that thing on the right hand side entitled Blogs I read. Usually I add it and make no comment but I've just added a new blog with a difference. And I want to bring it to your attention.

Beki of a backwards in high heels fame has stared a new blog travels with Jean. The blog are the journals of a lady called Jean Ritchie and detail her travels with her half sister Ethel (Beki's Mother's Godmother) and Mrs Ritchie (Jean's Mum and Ethels Step Mum) in the mid 1950's.

Beki has published an introduction and the first day (11th Sept 1956). Beki says she imagines them "as three Miss Marples only without being side-tracked by crime!". Which is exactly the tone. There is also a dash of Famous Five again without the crime bit. They are very fifties.

This promises to be a fascinating piece of social history.

New Comedy News site

Comedy writer John O'Farrell is launching NewsBiscuit a topical news comedy site.

The BBC have an interview with O'Farrell.

I do think one of their first stories Birdwatchers thrilled at first ever sighting of a girlfriend is a bit harsh. Pete looks at the average male birder he sees on travels. Stupid hat, doesn't smile, no conversation other than "anything about". Um may not be quite that harsh!!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

a quiet day at Rye Meads

Went for the usual Sunday afternoon stroll around Rye Meads.

Fairly quiet. Numbers of ducks are up with increasing numbers of Shoveller and Teal. Probably bird of the day was a Reed Warbler (bit different to yesterday). Other highlights Great Spot, Kingfisher along river and 3 Common Gulls.

I found out from one the ringers that Gadwall is 3 times as numerous as Mallard and that Coots are present in record numbers. He was telling me that there were 101 Little Grebe present in the previous days count. I asked why we got so few Great Crested Grebe, apparently a couple of years back a lot of fish died. Little Grebes are probably feeding on snails.

Apparently there are more small fish now so hopefully………….

Saturday, September 16, 2006

And this why I go to Norfolk

I'd mentioned to Dave that I fancied a trip to Norfolk today and he suggested getting to his place early. So I crawled out of bed at 5:00....

The previous day there had been a Red Breasted Flycatcer at Gun Hill (Burnham Overy Staithe) and since its a good place for migrants that's where we went. Its a fair trek but lots of stuff flitting about including a Garden Warbler. Lots of Beardies in the reeds and we soon came across a Whinchat. A few waders including Avocet.

We arrived at the scrub bushes at Gun Hill (Hill in its Norfolk sense) and had a lovely Redstart, loads of Mipits. Also Common Terns. There were four of there and then the chap from English Nature said Red Breasted Flycatcher. This was no skulky little bird this chap was a gorgeous little fella sitting out 10ft from us. He moved about doing what flycatchers do. Superb. Had a brief walkround. Mipits, Chaffinches and went make to watch the RB Fly, at least 2 Redstart, a chiffchaff and a Wheatear.

Time for breakfast, bacon roll at Titchwell. On the walk back to the car there were lots of Dunnocks, Wrens, Robins and a Willow Warbler. Then a chap said Red Breasted Fly. Two? you're kidding. well he wasn't !! Also two Marsh Harriers.

As we sat munching our Bacon Roll we decided to head for the sea but one of the volunteers had seen an unusual warbler in the car park but had poor views. Well lets have a look.... well nowt. Over the back of the car park in the field there was a ton of Pied Wagtails, a Redstart, Blackcap (male and female), Garden Warbler, Song Thrush and an odd Yellow Wagtail. It had a grey head, thin eye stripe and a white throat but was very yellow all over (other than the throat)... nearest to it was the Flava race. Oh well never know for sure. Dave had a Ring Tailed Harrier.

Head to the beach and Dave's pager comes up Yellow-Browed Warbler at Cley. It was supposedly in the reeds near the sea but not seen by us. Still a few waders about, oh and more beardies. Off the coast we had a close Great Skua. Lapland Bunting was also reported but we never met anyone who had seen it.

At the other end of the beach was a Red Backed Shrike. However it proved very elusive before finally popping up. Off the sea was Sandwich and Common Tern, Kittiwake, Two Great Skuas one having a fight with a Gull, Gannets, Red Throated Diver and Guillemot.

Also Brent Geese flying through, ah winter comes!

Stopped at the Red Bull, Stiffkey for a pint and a pack of crisps before popping into Warham Green for a Wryneck.

That did for the day but there was a Buzzard on the way back.

If all days were like this. Still one of those days you dream about.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Ten Top Trivia Tips about Pete

Stolen unshamefacedly from Kate

Ten Top Trivia Tips about Pete!

  1. About 100 people choke to death on Pete each year!
  2. Pete is the sacred animal of Thailand!
  3. Never store Pete at room temperature.
  4. A lump of Pete the size of a matchbox can be flattened into a sheet the size of a tennis court.
  5. If you lie on your back with your legs stretched it is impossible to sink in Pete.
  6. Some birds use Pete to orientate themselves during migration.
  7. Europe is the only continent that lacks Pete.
  8. If you kiss Pete for one minute you will burn six or seven calories!
  9. Pete is actually a fruit, not a vegetable.
  10. The Australian billygoat plum contains a hundred times more Vitamin C than Pete.
I am interested in - do tell me about


I hoping that there are lots of birds orientating them over me tomorrow!

The Hedgehog Song

The following is a song of which the star is The Hedgehog.

I'm sure Pratchett fans will appreciate it.. and maybe that bloke in Sudan :)

The Hedgehog Song

Its not all about weight

Thanks to Kate for mentioning that the Spanish Fashion industry is banning the use of exceptionally skinny models.

I believe that the common view is that the skinny models allow clothes to hang better. Now I am a bloke with the usual enjoyment of the female form, I would like to assure the fashion industry that the super skinny waifs would definitely not make that dress Liz Hurley wore look any better. Most blokes will assure you that the fuller figured Miss Hurley is much easier on the eye than Kate Moss.

Of course Miss Hurley is a rather attractive woman but I think that it still stands that most men would really prefer a bit more than a human clothes frame.

I think many women get too hung up on their weight. You just have to dress sensibly. If, like me, you are overweight then don't wear figure hugging clingy clothes!

If you want to lose weight fine - I really should - but girls we are not all that shallow. Honest!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Protect your email address

Probably like me a number of you receive jokes and, like me, you pass them on.

Now please heed this warning, when you do pass them on make certain you strip off any addressees that may have forwarded them to you.

This can be HIGHLY embarassing, especially when one of the them is your work address. If someone then mentions this to you, under NO circumstances tell them, "But don't go using that information to find our website and look at my god awful picture!" as a certain Ms C Pie did.

The picture is now safely stored for future use............

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Sudan Man "marries" Goat

A Sudanese man has been forced to "marry" a goat.

The goats owner found the man with the goat and village elders decided that as the man had used the goat as a wife he should pay the dowry.

Anyone after a new house?

Cluttons of Bath are selling Conygarth Farm in Chapmanslade, Wiltshire. The former Farm House has 5 Bedrooms and 3.27 acres of land. There are two out buildings which with planning permission could be used as a granny flat or holiday let. It is valued at £1.2 million

Why am I telling you this? Well there is one thing that the above link does not mention. Buyers also get Rosie a Highland cow. Rosie has been on the farm for at least 18 years and the executors in charge of the sale do not wish to unsettle her. Apparently she butted an estate agent recently - a cow with taste!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

And the final new blog

Ok so thesesportingquacks is open for business.

That's it, no more.

I've always wanted to talk more about sport but it didn't seem a popular topic when I did. Hiving it off into its own compartment is good because I won't feel that I'm boring those of you not sports mad.

So that's 3 blogs.... that you know about.......

I stuck with blogger for no other reason than it was quicker to get started. I do prefer the wordpress look but its not as easy to use.

I'm Pete and I'm a Blogaholic

Ok so the new Blog is up and running thequacksoflife.wordpress.com. As you will see its a wildlife blog. Don't worry, most of the stuff that you will be interested in will still be published here, the odd snippet though may be over there. I'm not going to update that anywhere near as regularly.

I do like the pages concept in Wordpress, and if you want to see my life list, or my year list then you will find them there. Both blogs have their pro's and cons.

And now the blogaholic bit!! I'm going to do a sport blog!! LOL !! I'm not sure where to host it though. And Puhlease don't suggest Bloggio or typepad! I can only cope with so much. So Blogger or Wordpress. Have a look and tell me what format you prefer.

Any suggestions on a name? I thought of "these sporting quacks" a bit of a rip off of This Sporting Life. Retains the quacky theme.

What do you want for Christmas?

This is a semi serious question.

Once a year all of us go out desperately trying to buy presents for all sorts of people. We try to buy something for Aunt Ethel and we haven't really got a clue what she likes. How many times do you get something you really really don't like? That Aunt who buys you some "trendy" CD by some really naff band?

These days of course there are various other options.

The RSPB do a range of "Good Nature Gifts". For instance You can "buy" someone a Bearded Tit or Goldeneye Nest Box for a tenner. And there are a whole list of other gifts on the site. You can all sponsor a nest box, but I can never find that on the RSPB site.

The WWT allow you to adopt a bird. You can adopt a duck, goose, swan, flamingo etc.

The Woodland Trust enable you to plant a tree.

Have a think.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Another Blog

I have reserved another blog domain on wordpress (for those of you who don't know wordpress is another blogging software).

I'm told you can do more with wordpress. Its certainly not as intuitive and some stuff that is really easy with beta blogger is not as easy on wordpress.

Now the question is what do I do with it? If anything? Firstly this blog will keep going much as it is now.

Kate suggested making it a birding resource, but there are sites doing that already.

I suppose I could use it as a pure wildlife blog. It would really then be a subset of this blog with perhaps more detail on birds seen, lists etc.

Or perhaps a sport blog or ....

Any ideas even if they are don't bother.

I may just keep it as a backup.

answers on a postcard? or the comments section :D

Five Years on

Well today is five years since 9/11.

I steeled myself for yet another memorial. I am a natural cynic. I felt that if the World Trade Centre had happened elsewhere would we be remembering it? Would so much attention be paid? I think the answer is no but.........

I was driving along and the boss of Cantor Fitzgerald was giving his recollections and I found it terribly moving. He related how he was late for work that day because his son started kindergarten. His best friend also worked at the World Trade Centre. They had gone to college together and he had a son the same age. His son started school on September 12th................

I daresay there are a number of survivors who have similar stories. There will be people who died who just happened to have a meeting that day.

I guess the world is full of What Ifs.

I suspect I will remain a cynic. I think that a dose of cynicism in a society that seems to see things so much more black and white is no bad thing. But that does not, and should not, stop me remembering that 3000 people died for no good reason. That children were deprived of parents. Husbands of wives, wives of husbands. Dreams were shattered and for many innocence lost.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Kingfisher and an American Wader

Where to? Now there was this church in Essex open this afternoon that is on my list, I could bird locally and then pop in. However I'm on call next weekend so I may as well go further a field. Damn that's two churches I could have got this weekend (the other was open Saturday). Oh well next year!

So off nice and early (Robin in the garden, first for ages). A bit foggy. I decide that i'll head to Lackford Lakes. It's a Suffolk Wildlife Trust reserve. I don't expect any rarities but some nice thing will be about.

The Geese were making a right noise! Lots of Warblers in the hedgerows. Dark legs Chiffchaff then, and one was nice enough to sing! Its a bit murky from the first hide and the angle of the sun makes it difficult to get a good view. Lots of Pochard about suddenly and Teal.

On to the double decker hide. Kingfisher is perched RIGHT in front of the hide must 30feet away. They are stunning birds. I manage to pick out a Snipe in the grass and a couple of Green Sandpipers.

A Grey Wagtail drops down in front. A really dapper little chap. Green woodpecker in the distance. Jays making a right racket (sp?)

Onwards and upwards. From Besses lots of Grebes of both sides. A juve Great Crested Grebe is being fed by a parent. Ah!

Dave texts me to tell me about his Pectoral Sandpiper at Grafham Water.

Oh way back to car park more warblers. Look a little brighter but legs dark and the tail bobbing up and down. More chiffies. Long tail flock in bushes as I drive away.

So where now? Well I'll pop over to Welney for lunch and a nose around.

I've arrived at lunch time so a quick bite and then onto the reserve.

Hand over card.

"oh there's a Pectoral Sandpiper at Buxton".

So as I say lunch and ..... no I think we'll scoot on to Buxton first!

Lots of Lapwings, but there next to a Dunlin and a Curlew Sandpiper is a Pectoral Sandpiper (juvenile I'd say, seemed to have the white braces on his back). There's a couple of Snipe, lots of Ruff as well.

Back for lunch and a Kestrel hovering over the fields.

A quick flit back to the reserve (flyover Sparrowhawk) and then back home.

The weather is lovely ah nice day.

For Nic

I know you are in a dark place at the moment but, just so you know, today of all days we are thinking of you.

Hugs.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

A heritage open day

I wanted to take Mum out she's been confined to barracks for a while. She said it would have been easy to phone and say no last night but she decided to go YAY!! Anyway picked them up and went to Saffron Walden.

Walden is a nice small town in Essex. Its Church is one of Essex's finest. We went for a stroll, I bought a bottle of Portuguese wine in Waitrose.

Audley End is near Walden and it was open for a Heritage open day.

The house is magnificent



The interior is excellent and if you are in the area is highly recommended. The house was once much bigger, its still huge. Its well presented by English Heritage.

The Parterre garden was looking nice in the September sun.






Audley End has a fine restored vegetable garden. It has a fine collection of old varieties of Apples and Pears







There was a tasting of English Heritage wines in the garden. The Apple Wine was rather pleasant.

There is a recreation of a gardeners bothy.







Mum and Dad.



Some wildlife by the river. These chaps were not expected.







With House Martins feeding up you can tell Autumn is coming.



I stopped to purchase a bottle of that Apple Wine ;)

And its my blog so....





Mum and Dad had a great day and so did I.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Not much happening really

That's a catchy title for a blog isn't it!!

The highlight of the day has been the change to my fantasy football team. Kevin Davis is suspended and I'm not sure if McCullough is out as well. Anyway I decided not to make multiple changes and get hit with penalty points. Davis is gone and as Reading are at home, and I needed a cheapr striker, I went for Seol of Reading. I've adopted a 3-4-3 formation. Well its Chelsea v Charlton and even if Luke Young is fit he is rested from the quacks of life fantasy team.

As it stands I lead the small league I'm a member of (YAY!!), being chased hard by Dave and Corinna though.

I do admire Cherry Pie's recent post. it takes real guts to open yourself up like that. Please note it isn't going to happen here. That said it would bore the pants/knickers off you - um its a strategy I suppose.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Recyling taken to the limit

This story about Sheep Poo cards made me chuckle.

I heard about it on Radio 5.

Jane Garvey - so who collects it?
Lawrence Toms - well picking up sheep poo, talking to journalists. I get all the dirty jobs.

classic

Where are you on the compass.

In a comment the fair Cherrypie said

I'm also very impressed at your recent comments over at mine. I'm not sure why, but I don't think I'd have expected you to be so liberal.


Well I'm sure a number of you have seen the Political Compass, this seeks to determine where you are on the political compass. For the record I come out
Economic Left/Right -3.13
Libertarian/authoritarian -1.95

Its an interesting test.A colleague of mine came out at similar values but we disagreed on certain questions! Me? I was against legalising Mariujana but I don't care what consulting adults do in the privacy of their own homes. Oh and I'm anti death penalty.

I'm a little surprised on my Economic Left/Right I'd expect it to be nearer 0. Still i'm in the same quarter of the graph as Mandela and the Dalai Lama and the opposite to Dubya so it can't be all bad.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

In the days of the Iron Curtain

This article in the BBC website magazine is a nice story. It tells the tale of the correspondence between the family of a Soviet dissident and a British antiquarian bookseller and his wife.

The story is ever so touching, but also reminded me of just how much the world has changed since I was a lad. Now we are concerned by terroists blowing up planes, then we concerned about a full scale nuclear war.

Books

Diddums is tagging everyone who visits her site so

1. One book that changed your life.

Easy peasy The RSPB Handbook of Birds by Holden and Cleeves. As mentioned in a post earlier.

if we're talking fiction... The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov

2. One book that you've read more than once.

Quite a few but shall we say Magician by Raymond E Feist?

3. One book that you'd want on a desert island.

The complete Isaac Asimov? Uh I know the field guide to the Island? Handbook of Birds the World ?

4. One book that made you laugh.

Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson

5. One book that made you cry.

nothing really but we'll say Lincoln's Dreams by Connie Willis

6. One book you wish you had written.

uhm we'll say Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. I ended up at work without a book for lunch so picked it up and expected very little.... brilliant.

7. One book you wish had never been written.

L Ron Hubbard - Battlefield Earth - garbage

8. One book you're currently reading.

Steven Saylor - Catilina's Riddle. A mystery set in BC Rome

9. One book you have been meaning to read.

uhm uhm actually like Diddum's Tracy Canavan is an author I'm surprised I've yet to read.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Return of Dangermouse

He's The Best
He's The Greatest
He's The Greatest Secret Agent In The World!
He's The Ace - He's Amazing...
He's the Strongest... He's The Quickest.... He's The Best!

Dangermouse

The BBC have bought the right to show repeats. No dates have yet been announced.

Happy Birthday Mum

Well its my Mum's birthday today.

Regular readers will know she is suffering from Breast Cancer. She is currently "celebrating" by having her dose of Herceptin.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Dratted Beta Blogger

I think that if you are on blogger but not on Beta Blogger you may no longer be able to leave comments.

If I am right then to do so please select other!!

I am sorry, I switched ages ago. It stopped working today.

New by-law in St John Newfoundland

Leehane at the Chamber Door has a great post amount a new by-law in St John Newfoundland. Apparently if you want to put out litter in black plastic bags and the like you have to put a blanket (or netting) over it to stop Gulls ripping them to shred.

Its a cracking post. Really made me laugh!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

History Matters Pass it On

The National Trust, English Heritage, Historic Houses Association and the Civic Trust in supporting the biggest free access event to major heritage sites that has ever been held in the UK.

The event runs from Sept 7th to 10th, properties are usually open over one of those days. There are some superb properties which you can get into free.

And the country went mad.

Nine years ago last week the country changed. I was on holiday at the time. I awoke turned on the radio to get radio 4. Now this was surprising since I was tuned to Radio 5! It quickly became apparent that a member of the Royal Family had died, and of course the natural assumption was that it was the Queen Mother, but it soon dawned that Diana Princess of Wales had died in an accident.

Now I was not a fan of the late Princess, but it was of course sad that someone so young had died, I felt sympathy for her sons but I can't say I felt grief. It became apparent though that we were expected to grieve. Every radio program seemed to be a phone in with people in mourning. TV schedules were thrown out of the window.

Workers demanded that shops and factories be closed so they could watch the funeral. Footballers and others demanded that the games were postponed.

Of course being on holiday I was bereft of people to talk to. Its a bit much when Richard Littlejohn seems the voice of reason but he commented that when Churchill died everyone mourned and then got on with it.

I picked up Private Eye which was brilliant. It never once stepped out of line. It took merciless aim at the public and the media but never once at the Princess (who in the past was a prime target), it perfectly summed my feelings. The best bit was a piece with quotes about Diana in Sunday editions before and after she died. Brilliant.

I drove home on the day of the funeral (roads were empty), I avoided the funeral (cut my grass). The only piece of the day I remember clearly is this idiot saying "I never met her she had no impact on my life but I cried more than when my Father died". What a prize buffoon.

What got me in this topic was that the public were outraged the Queen didn't rush back from Balmoral to share there grief.

I was watching Richard & Judy (I was round Mum's at the time) this week and they were discussing a new film called The Queen. It stars Helen Mirren as the Queen and that chap who played Bair in The Deal.

I believe it deals with the week after Diana's death and I think the conversations of the Queen and Blair. The clip I saw went like this (paraphrased) (oh and I believe that it may have come from private conversation Blair had with people at the time that were leaked).

Blair - Ma'am the people expect you to come back and share their Grief!
Queen - Their Grief !! Mr Blair if you think I am going to desert my grandchildren at this moment... I think I know the British People better than that. They will mourn quitely and with dignity as they've always done.................
Blair - As you wish Ma'am

The thing was Blair was right, people did expect her to do just that. My own view was stuff Brenda from Milton Keynes worry about the children. The Queen may of misjudged the mood but she was still right.

To me Britain changed that day. It just happened to change for the worse.

Patch Birding pays off

It's Sunday afternoon so it must be Rye Meads.

It has become a Sunday afternoon ritual really. I never seen anything exciting but I have a pleasant stroll.....

However on the board in big letters is Garganey - yes a patch lifer!! and then the dreaded sign for female. SIGH. Still I ask where it was seen.

At Draper the Goose flock is down slighty. Lots of Lapwings and Litle Grebe. No other waders though which is a bit disappointing.

A few Hawker dragonflies on the trails and a fly over Sparrowhawk.

I reach Tern hide which is where my target was. There are usually lots of ducks but they are outnumbered by Coots and a fair few Little Grebe. Mallard, Shoveller, Tufty - nope, and then sitting next to a moorhen away from the others....

Ok its small, grey bill (comparatively long), stripey head pattern and it seems to have a bit of white on the wing. Looks good but still..... I watch her for ages swimming here there and everywhere and then FLAP !! Yes! No doubts now.

Wander off a happy Pete and at Moorhen see 3 Green Sandpiper.

Just before I reach the visitors centre I spy a Water Vole in one of the ditches. Cute little chap. Not seen one ever and now two in two visits!!

Nice day.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Smarter Birding Experience

I texted Dave my proposed itinerary for today and asked if he fancied joining me....... so at about 6:55 he arrived. There had been a smash on the M25, but it was in the other direction and that way there were big queues. Some debris must have been on our side since we saw 4 cars with double punctures but we sailed serenely on.

At about quarter past eight we parked at Weir Wood Reservoir near East Grinstead. The target bird was sitting in a tree, he was a bit obscured and refused to show well but clearly a Night Heron. There were also at least 3 Snipe, a Green Sandpiper, numerous Grey Herons, a Little Egret, loads of ducks, Great Crested and Little Grebe, a Great Spot and a Common Tern. Oh and a Roe Deer.

Well that was easy! East Grinstead Sainsbury's cafe was a Starbucks. So rather than pay £3.50 for a sandwich we bought from Sainsbury's and ate in the car and planned the next step.

Dave - that was easy, where now ?
Me - we aren't far from Bough Beech Reservoir. We could go see the presumed escape White Pelican.
Dave - looking at map, yeah on way back why not.

With a minor detour (we missed our turn somehow), we arrived at Bough Beech. A few birders were looking at the scrape but we turned to observe how big the Pelican was before giving the scrape our full attention (oh its VERY big, dwarfed the Cormorants).

There were 3 Common Sandpiper, 2 Green Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank (I have a black spot with iding Greenshanks, I keep forgetting about them). It started hammering down so with no cover we were off.

The M25 was clear and we soon arrived at Waltham Abbey and crossed on to Cornhill Dragonfly sanctuary. A few birders happily told us it was "showing well". We arrived at Wake's hide and it was. Two minutes after arriving there it was right in front of the hide a nice Spotted Crake. Very showy. We also had at least 7 Snipe, 4 Green Sandpiper, some baby Moorhens, 2 Greenshank and by way of contrast a Water Rail.

It was now 12 O'clock.

Dave - ok know any good pubs?
Pete - well no not really (I only live here :D ), we could try the Rainbow & Dove near me. Never been but its in the AA good pub guide.

And very nice it was. A very nice Bacon and Brie Baggy with salad and chunky chips. Good pint according to Dave (I was on shandy!). Quaint place and friendly. Another on Dave and my recommended pubs list.

We were unlikely to see anything else so at 1:30 Dave headed home for the Tesco shop. We got the targets easily and had lots of other nice birds a good pub lunch. Scratches head, its not always this easy honest.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Pressure works!!

You know how it easy you are given a petition to sign and cynical old you knows nothing will happen.

Well sometimes it does work!

The Hedgehog Preservation Society has been campaigning for over 5 years to get McDonalds to redesign its McFlurry ice cream containers and finally they have.

From September 1st McDonalds have reduced the size of the lid opening to stop Hedgehogs getting inside the Flurry.