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Friday, November 30, 2007

Religious Kitsch

Each year the satirical Christian website Ship of Fools publishes a selection of religious themed goods it has seen for sale. The BBC has a set of photos up.

I don't know about you but number 9 one is just a little bit odd.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

You learn something new everyday

There are historical figures we have all heard of but really know nothing about.

Lets take an example Mrs Beeton. You will have all heard of her and know that she is the author of Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management (popularly known as Mrs Beeton's Cookbook). And that's all I knew.

Except that I find she really isn't the author, most of the recipes were taken from other sources and she is really the compiler and/or editor). I've always assumed that she was a middle aged woman when she wrote the book (Well the book is a series of supplements for a magazine The Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine), so I was surprised to learn that Mrs Beeton was aged 23-25 when writing and that she died aged 28 a week after given birth to her fourth child.

Her Mother had 21 children apparently.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Newts Get Luxury Treatment

The Great Crested Newt is protected under European Law, so when builder Anwyl Construction found evidence of the newts at an on-site pond they spent £140,000 on building a special habitat.

In 2004 almost 200 local residents signed a petition protesting against the development. But the company obtained a Welsh Assembly Government development licence and work began on a suitable habitat. There was a bit of a sting in the tail for the builder because there was a grand total of 2 Newts.

Company director Matt Anwyl joked: "We could have built them a three-bedroomed house instead".

Anwyl technical director Andy Davies said:"Because great crested newts are protected by European law we have to provide them with a new purpose-built habitat and that can take up to 18 months to develop.

"Then we have to trap them and transport them to their new homes."

The company has had to spend £300,000 at Aberkinsey Parc in Rhyl where there was a much bigger colony of newts close to a site where 320 homes and a school are planned.

New Meaning to the term two faced

My thanks to Elizabeth to pointing me to this story in the telegraph.

Lil'Bit the cat
has two mouths, two noses and four eyes. Vets believe it may have two brains as one face can go to sleep while the other remains awake and it can blink independently on each one.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

ACHTUNG, GOTT IN HIMMEL

I received an email from Amazon on Sunday that prompted an idea for a blog. I did a quick search on the blog and found I had used the idea before..... on the 25th November. Exactly a year before!!

The email told me that Prion Books had released two Anthologies of comic books. One was of War Picture Libraries and the other Battle Picture Libraries comics. When I was a kid I used to frequent a market stall in Harlow that used to sell secondhand back isses of these, made the pocket money go further. Apparently the anthologies feature early stories when they were "less politically correct".

The war comics came in a smaller size than the British Weeklies and the American Imports, War Comics told an unrelated story every issue. There was no biff baff bosh they told a story, ok they were fairly one dimensional like 1940's war films. Early stories were written by men who had fought in WWII and in todays politically correct times they are a bit stereotypical, especially of how the ememy was depicted. Still as my folks would say, they told a darn good story. War Picture Libary was published by IPC and first appeared in 1958 (IPC was soon to publish Battle Picture Libary and Air Picture Library) the other big publisher DC Thomson published Commando from 1961. At one time these sold in spades but today Commando is all that's left.

A bit of nostalgia is fun, and I thought the coincidence must mean something, so I added them to the shopping basket.

Earlier this year BBC 4 had a series called Comics Britannica. At the time I discovered comics as a kid the British Comic was moribund, so I gravitated to the the Fantastic Four, Spiderman etc. It helped that in 1972 Marvel started publishing a weekly comic the Mighty World of Marvel reprinting stories from the 60's. The British Comics for boys were much less exciting.

It was sad therefore that I missed out on the new wave of British Comics like Battle Picture Weekly, 2000AD, Starlord, Tornado and Action. Many of these were shortlived but they feature early work of some of the greats of the Comic Book industry. Action in particular was controversial for its time (it was attacked on TV and by Mary Whitehouse and would you believe in the House of Commons)and was a precursor to the excellent 2000 AD. 2000AD also appealed to a more adult audience and introduced to the world Judge Dredd, Zenith, Strontium Dogs (originally from Starlord), Durham Red and the excellent Halo Jones. I got into 2000AD thanks to a colleague at work some years later. It's still going I believe.

A bit after my time was Warrior which published V for Vendetta and Marvelman and the horror comic scream.

Battle Picture Weekly published one of the most praised Briish comic book stories, Charley's War which was set in World War I and I added an anthology of this and the complete Halo Jones to the basket.

Right stop waxing lyrical about my youth.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Me and my camera AGAIN

Went for a stroll to Amwell Gravel Pits.

Lots of ducks, Mallard, Wigeon, Shoveller, Teal, Pochard, Tufty and Gadwall. Also a Goldeneye. A few Little Grebe and quite a few Great Crested Grebe. Other birds seen Lapwing, Snipe, Stonechat, Reed Bunting, Canada and Greylag Geese, 4 types of Gull, Swans, Blackbirds, Song Thrush and a Grey Heron.

Went for a stroll to the hide and came across a mixed flock of finches and tits, was well chuffed to find some Siskin.

And finally Photos.

Great Tit


Female Chaffinch





Robin


Female Chaffinch


Blue Tit


Dunnock



Robin




Great Tit


Blue Tit



Mum was/is meant to be out today. But the district nurses were meant to have done something and haven't. She won't be happy I bet. SIGH

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The latest Simon Barnes

Anyone who has enjoyed Simon Barnes excellent "How to be a Bad Birdwatcher" and "A Bad Birdwatcher's Companion" will no doubt be keen to get hold of a copy of his new offering, "How to be wild".

The synopsis on amazon reads
:

We are all wild. It's just that civilisation keeps getting in the way. And the more civilised we become, the more we need the wild: wild places, wild creatures, and wild experiences. As every one who has patted a dog, smelled a rose, taken a walk, or even had a drink in the garden well knows, humans have a soul-deep need for non-human forms of life. This book is about pushing our birthright of wildness just that little bit further. In "How to be Wild", Barnes takes us on a journey through a year, from one raucous spring to the next - with sparrows and flying squirrels, blackbirds and elephants, badgers, butterflies and mosquitoes, as his companions. And again and again, in myriad different ways, he helps us to realise an essential truth: that by enjoying the wild world, by saving the wild world, by seeking to understand the wild world, our own lives become richer and more satisfying. That is what being wild means.


Barnes is an entertaining writer and it will make a good christmas presenter for those interested in wildlife.

It's now out and I'll have to get a copy.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Of Churches, Old Houses and Birds

I thought I'd would do something that would please OC. Go somewhere I could take loads of photos ey OC!!

So off to Hampstead. London is odd, you go through areas of obvious poverty and right next door will be somewhere obviously wealthy. Hampstead and its Heath are obviously not short of a few bob but the Heath is one of those lovely parks that to me give London its soul. I would never want to live in London but if I did there are worse places than Hampstead Heath.

Anyway before that we have 658 St John Hampstead. And apologies my flash batteries ran out - darn!!

St John is a "modern" church. It opened in 1747!! Now I'm not a big fan of post reformation church architecture. The outside generally looks so ugly, obviously i'm a goth at heart.







There are a few famous people buried in the churchyard. Constable for instance and John Harrison the inventor of Longitude.


So back to Hampstead Heath.

On a warm summer day it would be lovely but today was cold and grey still there is much to see. It supports a sizeable number of birds. Parakeets and Jays were obvious today. There are a number of ponds.



And where you find ponds you find?















But other than ticking a church why was I here? Ah what's this!





Kenwood House. What you see was remodelled by Robert Adam. Sadly most of the furniture was sold in 1922, luckily it was bought by Lord Iveaghin 1925 who left it to the nation together with its art collection in 1927. The park was incorporated into Hampstead Heath.

Today Kenwood is in the care of English Heritage and it is open to the public for Free! Sadly not all of it was open today but it was well worth the trip. It still lacks furniture but the Libary is magnificent with ceilings by Zucchi. Kenwoods paintings have artists of the first rank. Turner, Van Dyck, Gainsborough, Reynolds, Vermeer and Hogarth.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Out and About

Firstly let me state I am not ruling myself out of being the next England Football Manager. I am more than happy with a 4 year contract and if we fail to make the world cup in 2010 then than a 2 million quid pay off will be fine.

So its a nice day out and I went to RSPB Fowlmere. Not sure why as I never see much there, its ok in spring when the warblers arrive. Still it was a nice walk and I did see a Kingfisher.







Also saw a Sparrowhawk and a Blue Tit climbing reeds.

I came back the scenic route meant to stop off at either Duxford Chapel or Clavering chuch but did neither. Did stop to look at the river running past Audley End Mansion and found this chap with the Canadas.




Quick stroll to Hatfield Forest Lake, nothing exotic but you can tell winter is coming. 5 male Pochard and one female. 6 Tufties, 6 gadwalls and 20 plus Teal. Great Crested Grebe pair still present.

oh and this fella

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Staying Home

I was meant to be away this weekend visting Digi and CP and taking lots of photos of Seals. Mum is still in hospital and Dad has no way of getting in of an evening so I've had to cancel. Luckily the pub never charged me (Thank you the Queen's Head at North Kelsey Moor, I'll definitely use it again).

That said I have bags of flexi and still have some holiday I must use so I'll take the time off. I can go out birding here and pick Dad up of an evening. IF the weather decides to behave itself I should have some photos on the blog.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Eagles over East Anglia.

Apparently plans are being drawn up to release White-Tailed Sea Eagles on the Suffolk coast! If the plan goes ahead the birds would be released some time in 2009.

As I reported a few days ago there are 42 breeding pairs in Scotland following a successful retinroduction.

For your info there are no records of a WT Sea Eagle ever attacking Humans, even a child. There normal food is rabbits and gulls, so coming to a rubbish tip near!

Seriously these are magnificent birds with an 8 foot wingspan! Will certainly enliven a walk in Suffolk!

Stowaway Piglet

There are some unthinking people in the world.

Staff unloading a lorry of toilet rolls at Tesco's Ilkeston Branch got a bit of a shock when they found a 2-3 week old piglet.

No one knows how "Andrex" came to be on the lorry but it is believed to be a prank (oh how "funny" ). The Piglet suffered cuts and bruises to its snout.

Tesco staff kept the piglet warm and contacted the RSPCA and the piglet is now awaiting rehoming.