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Monday, February 28, 2011

You're never alone with a plastic duck II

Almost 4 years ago i wrote a post about a ship hitting a storm and a consignment of toy yellow plastic ducks being set a drift at sea.

I mention this because Donovan Hohn has written a book called Moby-Duck. The book chronicles the ducks odyssey and and what it has taught us about currents, it also tells us about the threat to the marine environment from the vast numbers of containers that fall off the world's cargo ships.

Says Hohn

I've heard tales of containers getting lost that are full of those big plastic bags that dry cleaners use....I've also heard of crates full of cigarettes going overboard, which of course end up having their butts ingested by marine animals. In fact, one of the endnotes in my book lists the contents of a dead whale's belly: it was full of trash. Plastic pollution is a real problem. It's far from the greatest environmental danger to the ocean, but it is one of the most visible, and that means it can be important as a symbol of less visible damage, such as overfishing, agricultural run-off and the warming of the oceans.

Apparently the ducks have washed up in Hawaii, Alaska a few passed over the site of the Titanic near Newfoundland and one washed up in Scotland.

When the book comes out in paperback I may give it a go!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Daffs and a Little Grebe brighten the day

Thursday - Warm and sunny.
Friday - Warm and sunny.
Saturday - Wet and grey.

Wow what a surprise.

I decided to head to Rye Meads before I got there I espied this at Rye Gate House

Oh Rye Gatehouse

It was fairly quiet at Rye Meads, the resident birds were in good voice with Robins, Chaffinches, Dunnocks, Blue and Great Tits singing. A few Long Tail flocks.

Highlights? Pair of Grey Wagtails and two Green Sandpipers.

This little chap gave my camera some exercise.

A few buds appearing

Friday, February 25, 2011

Fox enjoys the high life

As you may know the Shard in central London is Europe's highest building.

So you can understand that builders were a bit shocked to find a fox was found living on the 72nd floor.

The Foxl, nicknamed Romeo by staff, entered the building through a central stairwell before climbing to the top. It was living off scraps left by builders.

Pest control officers from Southwark council captured the fox after two weeks and took it to an animal sanctuary. It was released later near London Bridge.

Les Leonard, a pest control officer, said:

At first I didn't believe it was up there, I thought it must be a hoax. I've got a fear of heights and getting the hoist lift from the 35th floor to the 72nd was terrifying.

On the second day it ran straight past us then scrambled up a 10 foot ladder onto the rafters. It was surreal, we couldn't believe that a fox could go that high.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My Life in Books

So anyway inspired by My Life in Books here are my five offerings that have inspired me, entertained me and got me to where I am.

Childhood reads.
It would be very tempting to pick an Enid Blyton Famous Five novel since I loved these as a child BUT the one book memory that is so clearly etched in my mind is Bilbo and Dwarfs going up the side of the mountain after Smaug's Treasure in JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit.

Moving on not many more years we come to Richard Adams' Watership Down yes the story of talking bunnies. But it's not all sweetness and light. Adams' creates some memorably dark images and I can still see in my mind the skeletal images of tree roots and Bigwort defending a tunnel against General Woundwort.

And so we move on and there are any number of books I could choose but my third.?

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I have always enjoyed Holmes, there have been many fictional detectives but you can keep your Poirots I'm a Baker Street Boy! Doyle's stories capture a different age you can almost touch the late Victorian age. Go into any National Trust Victorian property with cluttered rooms and you can sense Holmes and not forget the good Dr Watson. The stories are for the most part 20 pages but Doyle captures an ambience and the relationship between the brilliant Holmes and his foil Dr Watson (brilliant portrayed by David Burke and Edward Hardwicke). The stories are not all about the great and the good or even murders. One story, The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle, comes about over a stolen goose! The master!

I am seldom without a book but when I was working in Romford I found myself sans book. I wandered in WH Smith's and just out was a copy of Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. Now I had read and not enjoyed a short story of Willis but I was without a book and this had won loads of science fiction awards and it was a time travel story and sounded interesting. I expected to not like it and LOVED it.

Young historian Kivrin Engle is sent back in time and arrives at the time of the Black Death 20 years later than was intended. It shows her struggles with the language (the version of middle english she has learnt is different to the local version), the clothes they have sent her back in are way too fine and that here she is a woman who can read and write at her time where it was very unusual. It's incredibly bleak as Kivrin has to watch so many people die and also very moving.

Guilty Pleasure

Jane Austen - Pride & Prejudice. WHAT? it's a classic! Well when I was at school I was forced to read Emma. As an arrogant 15 year old I dismissed Austen out of hand as Mills & Boon fiction. We roll forward many years and I bought my friend Min the video of Sense & Sensibility she LURVES Austen and raised her eye brows when I said I'd watch it but probably 10 minute chunks was all I could endure. And and you now what? I enjoyed it and also enjoyed Andrew Davis adaptation of P&P.

I've read Sense and it was quite good but P&P is different. In the adpatations its easy to see why Darcy should like Elizabeth Bennet. Keira Knightly is far too pretty and Jennifer Ehle has her pneumatic chest BUT in the books we aren't distracted by such things and Elizabeth's wit and intelligence shine through and you can see why Darcy is really attracted to her. It is, and Min will be tutting at me saying I told you so, a really really good book and she tells me Mansfield Park is better!

These aren't the best books I'v'e ever read but they fit best! I will admit they I really agonised over leaving out The Time Machine by H G Wells and The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov!

Anyone care to give there's?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My Life in Books

It was a pleasant surprise to find an accessible and intelligent programme on the telly last night discussing books.

My Life in Books, presented by Anne Robinson, features two celebs who share five books that they either enjoy or have been important in their lives. The first was last night and I'm afraid I missed the first part (busy cooking for a friend) but it featured PD James and Richard Bacon.

The idea is to talk about...

the books they discovered as children to the books that make them the people we know today, Anne delves into the reasons behind their choices.

It's a pleasant listen and unlike normal booky programmes the books were accessible, I had actually read 1 of Bacon's selections and 2 of James' and a third I may have read(certainly read the author), definitely worth a look.

It is broadcast daily for two weeks at 6:30 on BBC2.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Wimpole Hall

It was chucking it down this morning. It would have been easy to put my feet up stick some music on and read but the National Trust is starting to open up its properties and Wimpole Hall was open today so....

A nice display of snowdrops.

I popped into the newly refurbished restaurant and had a nice pea and ham soup with a nice chunk of home made bread.

St Andrews Church which is next to the church was open so...

Not seen anything like the swan on the right!

I was travelling light - stuck the 14f2.5 on the GF1 and a 35f1.8 on the d300. The speedy primes are handy as the National Trust doesn't allow flash.