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Saturday, July 31, 2010

And the rain stopped on cue!

I was taking Dad out today, so I was a bit miffed to find it raining! We popped into Saffron Walden to the Saffron Walden Building Society.

I was disappointed to find that Eaden & Lilley had closed and a new store had replaced it. Eaden & Lilley was an old style departent store, its replacement is much swankier alas - a sign of the time.

It had seemed to stop at Saffron but as we headed to Anglessey Abbey the rain set in. I fully expected we would be washed out but it suddenly stopped!

Two of the three new gates for the winter garden.

I raided the second hand bookshop, picking up two books for a £1 Frederik Pohl's short story colletion - The Man who ate the World and Stanislaw Lem's The Invincible.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Press ....

"Welcome to the Coventry Building Society

We are regulated....

This call is being ....."


"Now press this to, say this to, press this to, say this to... "


"Please repeat, I didn't catch that"

Honestly I just wanted to TALK TO SOMEONE about the application form they had sent me and after 3 attempts I sent them a complaining email.

Now to be fair someone phoned me back. Apparently if I wanted to talk to someone I could have answered yes to being an existing saver. Well what's the point of that? The questions are surely meant to direct you to the right person!!

As it was he was too late. A nice lady called Katrina at the Barnsley Building Society had answered a subsequent phone call and so my humble savings were invested there.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Natural Sofas

A National Trust survey shows that we are spending more of our time indoors. Apparently the average family spending up to 43 hours a week sat on their sofa, even during the summer months.

78 per cent of parents wanting to get out and enjoy the fresh air with their children but the research reveals that we are spending the equivalent of 13 weeks a year on the sofa. The West Midlands is the sofa-bound region at 50 hours a week, followed jointly by the North West and Yorkshire 47 hours a week.

In response the National Trust have have launched open-air sitting rooms to encourage families to get outdoors together this summer. The "rooms" are made from a base of straw, which has been watered and trimmed to size, and covered in a green grass blanket. Each room contains a natural coffee table and sofa. The biggest reaching eight metres in diameter.

If you want to go behind the scenes click this link.

You can find sofas at:

Plas Newydd, Wales
Little Moreton Hall, Cheshire
Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire
Gibside, Tyne & Wear
Kingston Lacey, Dorset
Sudbury Hall and the National Trust Museum of Childhood, Derbyshire
Uppark House & Garden, Sussex
Osterley Park & House, London
Rowallane Garden, Northern Ireland
Packwood House, Warwickshire
Lanhydrock, Cornwall
Wembury Point, Devon

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


We are a lazy lot (me more so than most :D).

We no longer get up to change the telly - we have a remote control. We don't do the washing up - we have a dishwasher. And even the washing is much easier than our grandparents had it. If you think not you should have heard my mum wax lyrical on an automatic washing machine!

Hell we can't even be bothered to prepare our food. We go to the supermarket for ready meals and pre-packed sandwiches - mea culpa.

Photography has gone the same way - snap snap snap. Delete the rubbish - years ago every picture was money and you had to compose and get it right. There were few quality zooms. There were fixed magnification lenses and you moved your feet.

I will admit I have a collection of zoom lenses but as time goes buy I appreciate that the few primes I have tend to produce much better images. I've spent my last few trips with a 20f1.7 on my Panasonic GF1 and a Sigma 150 f2.8 macro on the d300 and I've enjoyed it. I'm not saying that there is a place for zooms. There is!

My friend twitchibider rented a Canon 100-400 f4-5.6 and a 300f4 prime and thought the prime much the better lens. When/if Nikon get off their corporate backside and put VR in the 300f4 and afs into their 80-400 I know what I'd be temped by. A 16mm f2.8 prime would be nice as well :D

And panasonic can I have a 12mm and 50mm pancake.

The truth is that I'm enjoying the simplicity of not zooming so much.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


There was a report last year that 8 out of 10 Ponds were in a poor state and that many ponds had disappeared in the 20th century.

Last year a campaign was launched last year to build 500,000 new ponds. Since then, the Environment Agency has built 184 new ponds and has restored a further 50 to their former glory.

At one site at the former Wheal Jane tin mine near Truro more than 30 have been built. Conservation groups monitoring the area have reported that ponds are already teeming with frogs, toads, newts and insects including the scarce blue-tailed damselfly, large red damselfly and golden ringed dragonfly.

At Otmoor in Oxfordshire, stonewort plants quickly appeared in a new pond when their spores were reactivated after decades in the ground since the wetlands in the area were drained.

Most Wildlife watchers know that a good pond can greatly improve the diversity of wildlife in an area.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Staying Local

I seem to have stopped going far a field for birding trips. I seem to do Rye Meads and Hatfield Forest and with the exception of the odd day on holiday that's it. The scope(s) have had minimal use.

I'm not really sure why but I've not been to the Norfolk coast since last October and the last time I went to Titchwell was August 2009!

The last few gardens I've been to I've left the bins behind and just stuck my little Nikons in a belt bag.

Now its not that I don't enjoy birding, because I do. It's not like I don't have the time, because I do. Perhaps its that I'm more focused on taking pictures these days.

I seem to plan any longer trips to gardens, houses or places where I'll get to take lots of pictures.

Hey ho - does explain why my year list is so naff though :D

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Another quick trip to Rye Meads

A quick trip to Rye Meads this afternoon.

The garganey's had gone and there was only the one Green Sandpiper.

Lots of young Gadwall as well as Tufty and Pochard broods.

In front of the Draper hide two pairs of Little Grebe squabbled over the borders of their respective territories.

I'm going to chase 'em off!



Common Tern

Black-Headed Gull coming through

Young Tern and a Mallard.