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Sunday, December 31, 2006

The final outing of the year

Well I had intended the last one to by my last post but as the weather has turned damp I returned early from the Birding.

First trip to Amwell quarry for a while. Highlights Water Rail, Smew (2 drakes), Goldeneye and Amwel patch tick Marsh Tit ( I was so busy watching it I missed the fly through Goldeneye that would have been an Amwell tick!!).

Only there an hour and a half and saw.

  1. Mute Swan
  2. Greylag Goose
  3. Canada Goose
  4. Wigeon
  5. Gadwall
  6. Mallard
  7. Pintail
  8. Shoveler
  9. Teal
  10. Pochard
  11. Tufted Duck
  12. Smew
  13. Goldeneye
  14. Pheasant
  15. Little Grebe
  16. Great Crested Grebe
  17. Cormorant
  18. Water Rail
  19. Moorhen
  20. Coot
  21. Lapwing
  22. Black-Headed Gull
  23. Herring Gull
  24. Lesser Black-Backed Gull
  25. Great Black-Backed Gull
  26. Common Gull
  27. Wood Pigeon
  28. Pied Wagtail
  29. Wren
  30. Dunnock
  31. Robin
  32. Blackbird
  33. Song Thrush
  34. Marsh Tit
  35. Blue Tit
  36. Great Tit
  37. Magpie
  38. Carrion Crow
  39. Starling
  40. Chaffinch

And another one gone!

Well there you go and so that was 2006. A year that promised much and delivered? Well it happened. They always seem to go so quickly!

Mum's tribulations with Cancer have of course overshadowed most things and losing my voice for the whole of November was a bit of a low light.

It was meant to be year full of Sun. Spain in May and Trinidad & Tobago in December! I think that was off the agenda by ooh 7th January.

That said as years go it wasn't all bad. Hell it was nowhere near as bad as 1991. I saw some great places and had some enjoyable days birding. I met Cherry Pie!! For all that there are things about my life I'd like to be different I'm generally quite content. Doesn't take much, a good book, decent glass of wine, some good birds etc.

When 2006 had started I had never heard of blogging! Yeah I know I know and some of you wish I never had ;).

Bird of the Year? It should be the Red-Flanked Blue Tail, attractive and rare BUT it gets edged out for me by the incredibly showy Red Breasted Flycatcher at Gun Hill. The bird had it all.

Plans for 2007? I hope Mum will be ok. I just sort of drift through life really. Always have always will I guess. Must think about Holidays though!

Anyway tomorrow is January 1st. So I'll wish you a Happy New Year. I'll be up over the forest!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

It Stopped Raining, the Sun came out!!

I decided not go looking for CP's Pendulous Tits sorry the Penduline Tits at Rainham. Which as I type has not been seen.

Instead I headed for Hanningfield Reservoir. I did run into some big tit flocks and there were lots of ducks including female Scaup, Goldeneye (males and females) and Ruddies!!

And the list was:
  1. Mute Swan
  2. Greylag Goose
  3. Canada Goose
  4. Wigeon
  5. Mallard
  6. Pintail
  7. Shoveler
  8. Teal
  9. Pochard
  10. Ruddy Duck
  11. Tufted Duck
  12. Scaup
  13. Goldeneye
  14. Great Crested Grebe
  15. Cormorant
  16. Grey Heron
  17. Kestrel
  18. Moorhen
  19. Coot
  20. Lapwing
  21. Black-Headed Gull
  22. Herring Gull
  23. Lesser Black-Backed Gull
  24. Great Black-Backed Gull
  25. Common Gull
  26. Wood Pigeon
  27. Pied Wagtail
  28. Wren
  29. Dunnock
  30. Robin
  31. Blackbird
  32. Goldcrest
  33. Long-Tailed Tit
  34. Coal Tit
  35. Blue Tit
  36. Great Tit
  37. Magpie
  38. Rook
  39. Carrion Crow
  40. Starling
  41. Chaffinch

Kicks floor

Its horrid out there!! Wind!! Rain!! So I have just made a cup of tea and come back to bed. If it cheers up later....

Oh I've ordered a Panasonic FZ50. I was deliberating and deliberating and deliberating but EVENTUALLY I was convinced dSLR was wrong for me at this time. It would have cost me over a £1000 to get that much poke on a dSLR. I appreciate I have made a compromise on optical quality but as photos are for here and use on the net I think its one worth making. Maybe a TCON one day as well!

I may end up the dSLR route one day but its not now.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Seen walking around my house

Huffed Off with the weather

I had anticipated today being a quiet day, you know the sort of thing last day of the year not many people about.....

so of course I had two jobs down when I came in. Anyway all sorted!

Looks at weather forecast... rain, wind!! Bugger the chances of Penduline Tits flying about.... I am not going to spend Saturday indoors and I am not going to go to any shops!

Gets on knees please don't rain please don't rain!!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Some stuff that amused/interested me

whilst some of you are enjoying your extended breaks some of us are providing a public service. Oh ok I'm saving the two days for a trip to Norfolk in January.

It did come as a shock when the alarm went off and I had to get out of bed. Perhaps more so for Dad as he had to get up and get the morning cuppa, Mum tells me he was tempted to phone and ask me to pop in on my way to work. HA!

The journal Nature Neuroscience asked people to follow a scent as a dog would (nose on ground) and found that they two thirds of people could follow a scent.

The researchers from University of California Berkley laid scent trails, including one of chocolate essential oil, in a grassy field, and asked 32 people to find the 10 metre trail and track it to the end.
Those who took part were blindfolded and wore thick gloves and earplugs to force them to rely exclusively on smell.

Have you heard of "Paris Syndrome"? Apparently its something about a dozen or so Japanese suffer from every year. Its cause? Visiting Paris and having to deal with rude Parisian waiters or taxi drivers etc. The Japanese embassy has a 24-hour hotline for those suffering from severe culture shock. The sufferers are mostly women in their thirties.

I wonder if there is a Yorkshire Syndrome?

Apparently some brave (or stupid dependant on your point of view) souls queue up overnight to get a place in the King's College Carol Service. They don't do this once, oh no siree bob, they do it year by year. Once chap comes from Dallas every year. I eman its lovely but I'd rather watch it on BBC2 with a nice glass of wine thanks.

Oh and were you online Christmas day? Well I wasn't but if the folks had a broadband connection......

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

I'm Dreaming of a Grey Christmas....

.... just like the ones we always get.

I don't want to wake up to snow but blue skies would be nice!

Christmas Eve I took my folks to Tesco/M&S. The "plan" was dad would pop into Tesco and Mum and I into M&S. When we arrived at 9:15 Tesco was already open for "browsing". Anyways Mum picked some flowers out and we went looking for Dad, this should have been easy the bargains section but no Dad!! Still they had some pork steaks reduced so in the basket. We eventually found him. They were reducing there finest range and when I say reduced I mean reduced. stuff for £3.99 - 40p and stuff £4.99 - 80p to a £1 the freezer is now FULL of stuff ;) They also put some other stuff i like at half price!!! We did sneak in to M&S saw the crowds and went home!! Back by 10:40!

After lunch I popped down Rye Meads for the last trip of the year. Very quiet best bird was a Green Sandpiper.

Back to the folks for dinner and the duration.

Christmas Day I got folks a cup of tea in bed (my job) and went for a post breakfast stroll. Highlight of walk a Green Woodpecker. Dad and I had a pre dinner stroll before the Turkey - which was rather yummy.

Lazed out all afternoon reading and watching telly.

Boxing Day - again got folks tea. Sobbed at Cricket score. Went for a ride and had a morning stroll around Thaxted. I've mentioned Thaxted before in this blog. You know you are close the town is dominated by the finest Church in Essex.

It also has loads of old buildings and many of the cottages/houses are painted (and the colours can be hideous!!)

the last one shows the Guildhall.

Spent another afternoon and evening lazing about!!

Today? I was going birding but its grey and a bit of drizzle!! Got the folks there tea ;) Apparently Dad's is never as hot - don't ask me!!

I did pop into another camera shop but they didn't stock the Canon S3IS either. Anyone want to tell me what to buy the Panasonic FZ50 or the Canon S3IS.

Oh well lets enjoy my lazing about and see if you lot have blogged.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Happy Christmas

I'm not at home tomorrow so I'm wishing you a happy Christmas, I hope wherever you are whatever you do it will be a good one. I'll be around my folks so normal service will be resumed on Wednesday.

I thought I'd leave you with a few festive songs. They may not be trendy but hey its Christmas.

oh and it wouldn't be Christmas without the choir of King's College Chapel. The second video gives a glimpse of this wonderful building.

so have a Happy Quacky Christmas

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Shops, Cameras and Birds

I had a few bits and pieces to get this morning. I got to Tesco before 6:30 at there was still lots of people there!! Anyway my parents will moan about the loarge bars of chocolate and then appear every so often with pieces ;)

I then popped in Bishops Stortford. There was a camera shop and I wanted to hold some of those 12x bridge cameras. They never had the Canon S3IS but did have the Panasonic FZ50. Felt like a "proper" read dSLR camera. The chap asked me if I had seen it elsewhere when I asked him the price. He had quoted £450 and whipped the camera out of my hand when I quoted him £350!! I'd have liked to feel the FZ7 but decided he wasn't impressed. I didn't like to tell him that I could get the camera, case, spare battery, usb reader and 2gb card and STILL have change. I'm tempted.

So I headed to Hatfield Forest. Enjoyable stroll pity about the dog walkers who don't understand that keep dogs on lead in lake area refers to them!! Stopped for a cup of tea and a healthy breakfast :)

Birds seen
  1. Canada Geese
  2. Mallard
  3. Pochard
  4. Tufted Duck
  5. Grey Heron
  6. Kestrel
  7. Moorhen
  8. Coot
  9. Black Headed Gull
  10. Stock Dove
  11. Wood Pigeon
  12. Great Spotted Woodpecker
  13. Green Woodpecker
  14. Dunnock
  15. Robin
  16. Blackbird
  17. Mistle Thrush
  18. Fieldfare
  19. Redwing
  20. Goldcrest
  21. Long-tailed Tit
  22. Marsh Tit
  23. Blue Tit
  24. Great Tit
  25. Nuthatch
  26. Magpie
  27. Jackdaw
  28. Carrion Crow
  29. Chaffinch
  30. Greenfinch
  31. Goldfinch
  32. Bullfinch

Friday, December 22, 2006

Putting up the decorations

Well I have decided that I ought to really get a move on and get the decorations up.

I've taken a photo to show you the job I've made of the tree.

ASDA responds - the quacks ain't impressed

Dear Mr xxxxxx

Thank you for your email regarding the house sparrows which have entered into our Great Yarmouth store.

I understand that you are very disappointed with the way we have decided to remove them from the store, and can fully appreciate your feelings on this. I would like to assure you that matters of this nature are not decided lightly, and we do require our colleagues to explore all possible alternatives before a final decision is made.

I have spoken to my colleagues at the store who have confirmed all necessary organisations were contacted to seek advice on how to remove this protected bird safely from the premises. They have discussed possible solutions unfortunately, these were rejected as it compromised the security and health and safety of the store, its colleagues and customers alike.

It is always to difficult to deal with such issues and sometimes we have to make tough decisions we might not entirely agree with, but due to the hazards surrounding fresh produce we have within the store my colleagues have agreed this would be a necessary course of action. I know you will remain unhappy with this and must apologise but would also like to assure you they had no alternative. I would also like to point out that as a company we put great emphasis on high standards of animal and wildlife welfare.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact us, although I am sorry that I cannot be of further assistance on this occasion.

Yours sincerely
ASDA Customer Relations

well I'm sorry ASDA I am not impressed.

The health and safety argument doesn't wash. Ok its possible that a Sparrow may shit on your Apples but I think you'll find that in the real world birds do that. Only in the supermarket world of perfect food is everything clean and without blemish. Still what do you expect from a company owned by Walmart.

Excuse me while add ASDA to the bunch of corporate tossers file.

Holiday Greetings to Everyone

I wanted to send some sort of holiday greeting to my friends, but it is
So difficult in today's world to know exactly what to say without
Offending someone. So I met with my lawyer (Ms C Pie) yesterday, and on her
Advice I wish to say the following:

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes
For an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress,
Nonaddictive, gender neutral celebration of the winter/summer solstice
Holiday, practised with the most enjoyable traditions of religious
Persuasion or secular practices of your choice with respect for the
Religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their
Choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.

I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and
Medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally
Accepted calendar year 2007, but not without due respect for the
Calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society
Have helped make our country great (not to imply that it is necessarily
Greater than any other country) and without regard to the race, creed,
Colour, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of
The wishee.

By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms:

This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely
Transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no
Promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for
Her/himself or others and is void where prohibited by law, and is
Revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted
To perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for
A period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday
Greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement
Of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the

Disclaimer: No trees were harmed in the sending of this message;
However, a significant number of electrons were slightly inconvenienced.


You've decided that you want some sun at Christmas. You've booked a holiday on the med and what happens? England strikes back and you get caught at Heathrow.

Still the fog rather scuppers my plans I had intended two solid days birding before the festivities started but if its going to be damp, dull, grey, cold and miserable I may just not bother! Then again ;)

I made a sarcastic comment on Sharon's blog about Mills and Boon. It struck me last night that the book I was reading could almost qualify as Mills and Boon. The book is Arrow's Flight by Mercedes Lackey and though the book is fantasy (set on different world, some sort of magic etc) it qualifies as Romantic Fantasy and for girls everywhere it has "horses" that can talk (Dawn would be in heaven).

The book is not very demanding and escapist tosh. Enjoyable though and of course there are times when we don't want something heavy. Before you say all fantasy is escapist tosh I say well maybe but some books demand more of you and give you an emotional roller coaster ride along the way. The characters are real and flawed whereas in this one all the heroes are wonderful. Its all a bit sugary, you can't be chosen by your talking horsey if you aren't nice.

My first thought was that the series was conceived for young adults but there is rather too much sex going on (ok not descriptive and much off it off stage) for that to be the case.

Its curious I am enjoying the book even if its lightweight etc etc but if stuck Mills and Boon on it I wouldn't touch it with a barge pole.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Your Own Christmas Concert

Type in a Christmas song or hymn and they will sing it for you - they know just about any one you can name. Then, just for fun, type in something that isn't Christmas-related and see what they say....

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Obssessed moi?

My mate Dave and I always used to chat about birds. Phone conversations would go something like.

"You fancy going to see that if its still there Saturday?"

nowadays its

"Bloody Lee McCullough's been suspended!"
"has he? bugger I'll have to transfer him out"

"Why didn't Robben play?"
"injured himself in warm up"

Coming back from a birding trip the radio can bring joy (your player has scored or you've kept a clean sheet) or disaster as when Dave said "I bought a Man City defender. Wigan Man city has 0-0 written all over". Wigan 4 - 0 Man City. We saw the Red Flanked Bluetail that day so pain was assuaged!!

its not that we are big footy fans but we've signed up for the FA fantasy football league. Now neither of us has great pretensions to win but in our little sub league of 24 we're doing ok. He's 3rd and I'm 4th Corinna is 2nd.

Nowadays I'll check the net for the most stupid of games and whereas before I'd happily see Chelski and West Ham stuffed now its a little bit different. I have Lampard and Drogba you see so there two goals were a godsend Sunday and as much as I normally want to see West Ham lose (oh the wind ups) on Sunday they were playing Man U and it was good that Man U conceded - I don't have a Man U defender the three above me all did!!

Obsessed? No well maybe a little!!

The Leader - 926
Corinna - 910
Dave - 898
Me - 866
the bloke in 5th 865

I was going through a torrid patch but I've picked up a bit.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

What do they see in him?

Beki has beaten me in to commenting on Lembit Opik (an MP who backed about 300 different Lib Dem leadership contenders BUT never backed Menzies Campbell).

For those of you who don't know, the rather odd looking Lib Dem MP has broken with his long term fiancee weather "girl" Sian Lloyd. Hed is now, as Beki so eruditely put it, "munching a pop tart for breakfast" as he's going out with one of the Cheeky Girls, Gabriela Irmia (they enjoyed five minutes of fame with The Cheeky Song (Touch My Bum) ).

Mr Opik assured party officials there was no overlap in the relationships (or please don't sack me) whereas Ms Lloyd claimed that Ms Irmias relationship with Mr Opik was a "pantomime" and that the "affair" had led to the couple's break-up.

Anyway if you REALLY want to read more about this then...........

But that isn't what I wanted to talk about.

Now what is it that Ms Lloyd and Ms Irma (both undeniably reasonably attractive) see in Lembit Opik? I mean I can see what woman see in current Strictly Come Dancing heart throb Mark Ramprakash or in a number of famous actors and the like BUT Lembit Opik?? You what?

I remember some years ago a female colleague lamenting that according to some female colleagues she had slept with the entire office. I replied well you haven't slept with me and if you've slept with FDC I am mortally offended - she laughed thank god!

I don't regard myself as gods gift to women but ye gods Lembit Opik (if you are reading this and are thinking whose he kidding then sod off ;) there is a photo of me somewhere on here April I think) . I remember when I bought my HiFi the dealer and I chucking that Julia Roberts marrying Lyle Lovett gave hope to men everywhere!

I am well aware that Women often say "what does he see in her" and us men think said female is a bit tasty. So girls, what do two moderately attractive women see in Lembit Opik? Because frankly I don't get it.

Monday, December 18, 2006

How it Happens

In the beginning there was The Plan.

And then came The Assumptions.

And the Assumptions were without form.

And the Plan was without substance.

And darkness was upon the face of The Workers.

And the Workers spoke amongst themselves, saying, "This is a crock of shit, and it stinketh."

And the Workers went unto their Supervisors and said, "It is a pail of dung, and we can't live
with the stench".

And the Supervisors went unto their Managers, saying, "It is a container of excrement, and it is very strong, such that none may abide it".

And the Managers went unto their Directors, saying, "It is a vessel of fertilizer, and none may abide its strength".

And the Directors spoke amongst themselves, saying, "It contains that which aids plant growth, and it is very strong".

And the Directors went unto the Vice Presidents, saying, "It promotes growth, and it is very powerful".

And the Vice Presidents went to the President, saying, "This new plan will actively promote the growth and vigor of the company with very powerful effects".

And the President looked upon the Plan and saw that it was good.

And the Plan became Policy. And that my friends, is how Shit happens.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

A new Telly!!

I virtually live in my bedroom. Don't ask why but I do, I eat downstairs but normally I'm upstairs. But disaster had struck and the telly in the bedroom stopped working!! Given its easier to use the laptop upstairs......

So action had to be taken and I now have a shine 23 inch flat screen digital telly in the bedroom. It picks up freeview but there is one problem and that is I don't have an outdoor aerial (it is in the attic, was easier to do when I moved in.). So some digital channels have poor reception. I've flicked it to analog and the picture is MUCH better than the one downstairs. Anyway this means I'll have to move the aerial outdoors, I think my dad and I have been talking about doing it since ooh October 1994.

Two of my Amazon orders have been arrived. I finally get a chance to reread a Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge. Mum - Pete on Christmas Day "Have you come to see us?" LOL


I was asked in yahoo if I would give someone a call at 7 this morning because they didn't have an alarm. Anyway at 7 I rang and the person was awake ("I was wide awake at ten to 7").

Have you noticed this phenomena before? If you really must wake up you do! I set the alarm clock every morning but invariably I am awake before and if its something REALLY important I am always awake. This doesn't stop me setting the alarm (ah that should read clock, radio and mobile phone! oh we subsequently found out the person had an alarm on their mobile) .

My Dad is even worse in that he doesn't sleep when he has to get up. Now I can understand why he does this if he's taking Mum to the hospital for results but he does this at other times. When I take them on holiday he doesn't sleep. He used to do this when I was young he'd worry about the journey, do I turn here do I..... but he still does it. Me I just go soundo. We get up and he's bleary eyed and usually I know exactly where I'm going oh the joys of streetmap.

My Dad is an inveterate worrier. As Mum says if he has nothing to worry about he'll worry about it. He also can't relax. On a Sunday morning I go round for my roast and Mum and I will be reading paper, book or chatting and he'll disappear only to be found washing my car. If that doesn't need doing it'll be the grass or something. Thankfully I take after my Mum in that respect.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Staying Local Again

Well I awoke at 7:20 this morning I should have thrown back the sheets and gone birding somewhere further a field but I just pulled the duvet up.

So anyway I went to Rye Meads, its not often I go in the mornings these days. The hedgerows were alive with birds. Not seen so many Chaffinches there for a while. For a change I went through the one way turnstile on to the HMWT bit of the reserve.

I didn't seen anything rare but had a thoroughly enjoyable morning.

  1. Mute Swan
  2. Canada Goose
  3. Gadwall
  4. Mallard
  5. Shoveller
  6. Teal
  7. Tufted Duck
  8. Pheasant
  9. Little Grebe
  10. Cormorant
  11. Grey Heron
  12. Moorhen
  13. Coot
  14. Green Sandpiper
  15. Black-Headed Gull
  16. Lesser Black Backed Gull
  17. Common Gull
  18. Feral Pigeon
  19. Wood Pigeon
  20. Collared Dove
  21. Great Spotted Woodpecker
  22. Green Woodpecker
  23. Pied Wagtail
  24. Wren
  25. Dunnock
  26. Robin
  27. Blackbird
  28. Song Thrush
  29. Redwing
  30. Goldcrest
  31. Blue Tit
  32. Great Tit
  33. Long Tailed Tit
  34. Jay
  35. Magpie
  36. Crow
  37. Rook
  38. Chaffinch
  39. Goldfinch
  40. Reed Bunting

Friday, December 15, 2006

A bit early isn't it?

As some of you know I get up early. I was within 5 minutes of work at 6:50 this morning when I stopped at some traffic lights there were a few cars behind me.

I happened to glance in the mirror and watched the chap behind lean over and stick his tongue down his passengers throat. He still doing this when the lights went.

Now don't get me wrong I'm sure we've all done things like this (and "naughtier" ;) ) in cars but at 6:50 at traffic lights? Thinks, well there was that night coming back from.... . Anyway it was her... ah but enough of that.

Festive Spirit?

Well I went for a Christmas lunch today.

It was all very festive, we went to Pizza Hut ;) We went for the buffet eat as much as you want option and including drinks and things came to a tenner!! It was rather enjoyable.

I'm not a big fan of Christmas lunches. I invariable have to drive and therefore can't drink and so I feel I'm being short changed. Also the food is invariably not all that. Its not that I am tight I am more than happy to pay if the food is good. The truth is you get warmed up food and I'd rather wait to after Christmas and go out with a good friend.

Haven't been to the Starr in ages. When you up Jan?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Blogging to peak next year

Analysts Gartner reckons blogging is set to peak next year. Apparently the number of blogs is set level out at 100 million (that would make your blog roll fun wouldn't it ;) ).

Gartner analyst Daryl Plummer said the reason for the levelling off in blogging was due to the fact that most people who would ever start a web blog had already done so.

He said those who loved blogging were committed to keeping it up, while others had become bored and moved on.

"A lot of people have been in and out of this thing," Mr Plummer said.

"Everyone thinks they have something to say, until they're put on stage and asked to say it."

According to technorati (all hail) there are 100,00 new blogs created every day and 1.3 year million posts.

Technorati is tracking more than 57 million blogs and it believes around 55% are active (updated every three months).

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Bringing some culture into your lives

The Quacks of Life likes to bring you the latest in culture. Whereas some blogs play you dirges by some Scots bloke called Paolo we here give you the release of Jingle Bells by the Baarmy Sheep. The Baarmy Sheep are a flock of sheep from the Lake District.

The single was initially released last year was featured on the Cumbria Tourism website and received thousands of downloads.

The tourist board have received lots requests for the tune so it is now on the website.

You can download it as a ringtone or MP3. Press here to go the page where you can watch the movie and listen to this piece of classic pop at the same time. Oh they are better looking than Paolo as well.


Well had the results to my chest X-ray yesterday. I had no idea who I was seeing could I get a 5th doctor!! There was a message flashing Dr P is running 45 mins late so I KNEW who I was seeing. I settled in with my book but soon my name was called for a Doctor I had seen!! No 3 I think!! and I'm fine.

Mum is losing her hair again sigh :( She noticed last Wednesday (before her trip to the specialist) and was quite tearful apparently. Although she is still upset the good news Thursday has sort of softened the blow and the fact she is now feeling better obviously helps. So it looks like it'll be back to the wig for Christmas. Sigh

I think she finishes Chemo in Feb so lets hope it grows back again.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Asda declares war on the House Sparrow

I appreciate this should be on the wildlife blog but....

The Great Yarmouth branch of Asda has got a licence to shoot two Sparrow holed up in the branch.

I can understand that they want to remove them but they have really tried all options? Bad publicity. Don't think I'll be shopping with Asda soon.

Our Fascination with the Royals

As it was lunchtime I did some browsing of the web and 3 stories about the Royals caught my eye.

The first was that yesterday the 70th Anniversary of the Abdication Crisis and Brian Walden has done a piece for Radio 4. It does seem odd how this event still has the power to engage our interest. To modern eyes it all seems very archaic a man giving up the throne to marry a divorcee. But I suppose the 1930's were a different age and the social and moral code of the time is different.

In todays disposable society we almost regard marriage as something we can just discard as the whim takes us. Take back our attitudes 70 years ago and we would horrify the society of the time. I am not saying that either attitude is right but I do think we are to quick to rush for divorce and the next big thing. Perhaps that, more than anything else, has caused the lack of respect we have in our society today.

Prince Charles must look at the world with puzzled eyes. Though he married his divorcee there are still people calling for him to step down when his time comes. 100 years ago his ancestors could do what they want and no one said anything. The press didn't report it and the ordinary person on the street thought they were the guardians of moral values. Indeed his own parents were treated to different standards than Charles.

Of course the public will never forgive Charles and especially Camilla because they still love St Diana. Of course dying young is a great career move. Everyone remembers you as you were (please note I was not a Diana fan and I never thought she was the most beautiful woman on the planet and a saint). Anyway her sons are going to mark the 10th anniversary of her death with a concert. I an not certain that a line up of Elton John, Duran Duran and Andrew Lloyd Weber would please me but I seem to remember she was a Duran Duran fan and anyway Elton John is a "close personal friend" of just about everyone moderately famous. Note to self avoid TV that week as it'll be full of St Diana crap.

You have to feel sorry for Zara Phillips she wins the European and World 3 day eventing Championship and then the public vote her BBC Sports personality of the year. Now I appreciate that Eventing is a bit elitist (you need money) and is a minority event and like all horsey stuff bores the pants off me but she has had to work hard to reach the top. Of course some muppets have taken to phoning phone-ins to say this is the BBC pleasing middle-England. According to these muppets to win this sort of thing you should be in a mainstream sport. If Phillips grandmother happened to be someone else would they object? Of course not. Muppets.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Has it rained?

I had the day off today and it would have been easy to have pulled the duvet up this morning but no!

It was horrid so I went to Cambridge to do some book shopping. I didn't get all I wanted so I'll be on amazon in a mo ;)

Cambridge is often regarded as our second university city. Oxford has more fine buildings than Cambridge and the latter doesn't feel as ancient as Oxford. Oxford has a fine set of college buildings and chapels (one of which is a Cathedral) but lets say one thing Oxford has nothing to compare with

King's College Chapel.

It has a fine collection of 16th century stained glass by Barnard Flower who worked on Henry VII chapel at Westminster Abbey and it has a MAGNIFICENT fan vaulted roof. I'd love to take you inside but entry is £4.50 and anyway you can't take photos. Please take my word for it it is magnificent.

Across from the chapel is Great St Mary's a rather nice parish church (which I have ticked) totally overshadowed by its collegiate neighbour.

Well it was still raining so I went to Welney. There was a sign saying the road to Welney was closed but on I pressed and the road to the WWT centre was this side of the flood - phew.

But the floods had affected the reserve!

From the back of the observatory....

Only the observatory was open. As you can see the rest of the hides were inaccessable.

The Sparrows were after shelter!

In front of the observatory the odd the Pochard. They are a very pretty little diving duck.

There were a few Whooper Swans.

There were Mallards, the odd Tufty, Wigeon (in the distance) a few Pintail but mostly...

There were Kestel about and flying over Lapwing.

Very quiet. One of the volunteers said that the reserve had not been so flood for 3-4 years.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Bit parky

It was the coldest morning of the winter and I was strolling around the Lee Valley Country Park. I didn't go that far.

No Bitterns from the watchpoint but some VERY close Great Crested and Little Grebes. The hedgerows were full of common woodland birds. I got some VERY close up views of Blue Tits, they truly are pretty little birds but of course dismissed by many birders.

Spent the afternoon reading! I want to finish this darn book! Getting there

Happy Birthday Min

It's my good friend Min's birthday today. Have a good one.

She may leave a comment one day!! There is no way a photo will ever appear on here, I like living too much ;)

RIP Jack Williamson

I've just heard that Jack Williamson died aged 98. He published his first SF story in 1928 and published his last novel in 2005!! He predated the "Golden Age" and was one of the few established authors who thrived after John W Campbell became editor of Astounding.

Famous works include The Humanoids, Darker Than You Think, Seetee Ship and The Legion of Space series (that introduced a young Pete to SF)

Saturday, December 09, 2006

A Nice Winters Day out.

Well I took the folks out today. Mum and I had to visit a branch of the Britannia Building Society. There are closer branches but the one at Sudbury has very friendly and helpful staff and you can go on somewhere else.

Actually Sudbury is a nice little town 3 excellent churches and they have food covered with a Waitrose and a M&S Simply food.

Mum tells me she is feeling the best she has in ages since stopping the tablet so that is good.

After completing business and having a cuppa in Waitroses new coffee bar we went to Clare. It's excellent Clare Country Park. I can park by river, folks can watch the world and I have a nature walk.

Saw a butterfly (Red Admiral). Lots of common birds including a nice Goldfinch flock.

Dad cooked Fish and Chips for tea very nice!!

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Past and the Future

Archaeologists in Rome believe they have discovered the tomb of St Paul. The Cathedral of St Paul Outside the Wall was long believed to home St Paul's tomb. The sarcophagus is on view for the first time in 1700 years and inscription on the top reads: Paolo Apostolo Martyr - Latin for "Paul Apostle Martyr".

The sarcophagus will be on public view for the foreseeable future but the church is yet to rule out the possibility that one day the interior itself will be opened and examined.

At the otherend of the spectrum NASA has announced plans to build a Lunar Base by 2025. In those heady days of 1968 it was believed a base would be in place by 2001.

Still lets hope they don't find a large black monolith.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Woo Hoo!

I apologise to Boofy for being on my blog when I SHOULD be working but.....

as some of you will remember Mum's cancer has spread and she is back on chemo and has a hormone tablet everyday. And on top of this she has Herceptin.

She has been a bit down lately as she has been off of her food and felt run down (a symptom of the tablets we think, its listed under side effects).

Anyway she has JUST been to the Specialist who is very pleased with her progress. She has to continue the chemo for a bit BUT she can leave off the tablets! She is well chuffed.

Think she deserved some good news for Christmas after spending last year in Hospital

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Its an exciting life.

I woke up at 3:35 yesterday morning. Obsentively this was for a "comfort break" but of course I turned on the radio. There was no reason to turn on said radio. England were 59 for 1 and some 90 odd runs in front at close of the fourth day, the game was meandering to a tame draw.

"Giles plays back"

Gi...? what its only half three how can..... my half asleep brain tried hard to compute.

"He's edged it caught behind England 98 for 7"


I went back to sleep waking in time to hear our total abject humiliation.


That said it wasn't a bad day. The follow-up PSL meeting went well (it perhaps helps if you can talk!!) and I came home and wrote all my Christmas cards. Well all bar a few as I ran out so I need to get somewhere with cards I approve of. Yet more excuses to go birding at the weekend! It was a bit of a shock to run out. If you want a card then you'll need to email me your address won't you.

Kate mentions Hogwatch and the Times survey to vote for icons for the environment and posts the link to vote for the Hog. You are urged to do so. I was sent this last night by the blogger Hog mafia and have already voted.

We've arranged our Christmas lunch. What do you mean we're late? Well we get two hours credit for Christmas lunches and normally if you don't go you get 2 hours credit for "christmas shopping" but not this year so we're going for a team pizza!!
Probably the only thing we could all agree on anyway and all us poor local government officers could afford.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Turning Pages

Why is it that some books you struggle with and others fly?

I have been reading the 11th book of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time Series. I had read 350 of the 800 pages but I was plodding. Some of this is due the writing. The series badly needs editting to remove the padding. What was once entertaining has become stodge.

On Sunday however I left it around my folks. I don't like having two books on the go but I wanted to read something and picked up Mercedes Lackey's Arrows of the Queen. A light 320 page coming of age fantasy in her Heralds of Valdemar series. As I write I've read 219 pages and I should finish it before tomorrow evening.

Unlike the Jordan this flies and I want to pick it up. Its not stunningly well written. I expect the writing is at the Mills & Boon level (sorry Sharon couldn't resisit it ;) ). Indeed many fantasy novels are quasi romance novels. But Lackey doesn't pad she doesn't try to be more than she is. She tells her story and gets on with it and as such I want to turn the page instead of feeling I have to.

Monday, December 04, 2006

10 things I'd never do

I have been tagged by Sharon J. I have to list 10 things I'd never do.

1. Get a tatoo. Ok when you are 22 they may looks cool but there are going to be a lot of grannies with tatoos one day.

2. Get an ear ring.

3. Wear a pony tail.

4. Be cruel to an animal

5. Stop reading books. This is a physical impossibility.

6. Appear in a reality TV show.

7. Desecrate a church

8. Become a vegetarian.

9. Buy a porn mag.

10. Smoke.

if any one wants to join in......

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Living Icons

The culture show on BBC 2 is trying to find the great living icon.

The original list of 10 is now down to 3.

Anyway 10-4 goes

10 Vivienne Westwood
9 Kate Moss
8 Alan Bennett
7 Kate Bush
6 Stephen Fry
5 Michael Caine
4 David Bowie

the top 3 are Sir Paul McCartney, Morrissey and Sir David Attenborough.

Needless to say I've voted for Attenborough.

Pete likes a Celeb TV program shocker

As a rule I hate Celebrity based shows BUT I have a weakness I like Strictly Come Dancing. The show is great fun and the work and effort put in by both the celebs and the pros is amazing. Its what used to be called Family Entertainment.

My own thought is that Louisa Lytton will win. She's young and in Eastenders but I hope she gets kicked out becuase her partner, some loud mouthed Italian, irritates the hell out of me.

Emma Bunton is very good and consistent and both Mark Ramprakash and Matt Dawson are good.

But as time goes by though I'm warming to Carol Smilie!! Firstly she comes across as a very genuine person BUT god the woman looks good!!

Shallow ? Me ? ;)

STOP PRESS: Carol is out!! Emma was in the bottom two AGAIN!! Matt had to go.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Ilford to Brentwood via uh Manchester

This had me in fits of laughter. An ambulance transferring a patient twelve miles between Ilford and Brentwood, a journey of some 12 miles or so, ended up in Manchester 200 miles away.

A fault on the Sat Nav meant they got sent Oop North for an 8 hour round trip!! A spokesman for London Ambulance Service said

"We believe that the crew, who had not been to this particular hospital before, followed the directions given by the navigation system, without manually confirming their destination."

"We understand that they reached the outskirts of Manchester before realising they were heading to the wrong destination."

The patient is fine by the way.

Christmas Cake Recipe

As we've reached December I thought you might appreciate a recipe for a Christmas Cake.

Vodka and Red Bull Christmas Cake
1 cup water
1 cup of brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp salt
Lemon Juice
4 large eggs
1 bottle of Vodka
1 can of Red Bull
2 cups dried fruit

1. Sample the vodka to check the quality
2. Take a large bowl, check the vodka again
3. To be sure it is of the highest quality, pour one level cup and mix with a little red bull and drink
4. Repeat
5. Turn on the electric mixer, beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl
6. Add one teaspoon of sugar. Beat again
7. At this point it is best to make sure the vodka is still ok
8. Flavour with red bull to taste
9. Try another cup – just in case turn off the mixerer
10. Break two leggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit
11. Pick fruit off floor
12. Mix on the turner
13. If the dried fruit gets stuck in the beaterers, pry it loose with a drewscriver
14. Shample the vodka to check for tonsisticitity, flavour with a little Bed Rull
15. Next ssiffft two cups of salt. Or something – Who giveshz a shi**
16. Throw a pinch of Bed Rull over your shoulder
17. Pick up the can, mop the floor
18. Check the vodka
19. Now shift the lemon juice and strain your nuts
20. Add one table
21. Add a shpoon of shugar, or somefink. Whatever you can find
22. Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall over…
23. Don’t forget to beat off the turner
24. Finally, throw the bowl through the window, finish the vodka and kick the dog
25. Fall into bed

Thursday, November 30, 2006

An appeal

Annie at Annie and the Spice Rack and the Alternative Anna has had a disaster. In her own words......

For those of you who don't know me, I'm Anna, and I'm a member of the University of Sheffield Singers' Society (SingSoc).

Basically we have three choirs open to staff and students and also members of the public - we focus on singing to a high standard and having fun at the same time. Usually this time of year we're busy singing Christmas carols to raise money for charity.

But this year is different.

Our choir director's car was stolen on Friday night, and along with it the 160 copies of Carols for Choirs that we'd borrowed from the University's Music Department. Neither the director's car insurance or the Music Department's insurance will pay out for the books, which will cost almost £2000 to replace. That's about 2 year's budget.

So we're on hands and knees, grovelling. We already have around £300 which we collected at our last concert, but obviously there's still a way to go yet. Please please donate something to help us, even if it's only a pound or a dollar or whatever you can spare - if enough people contribute we might even get to buy some replacement books before our carol concert!

If we don't raise enough money we won't be able to afford to hire music and concert venues, or pay orchestras. We have an outreach project planned for next year, where we will create a large choir of local kids - we'd have to cancel that. If we can't put on concerts, the Society will go bankrupt. So please help us - I really don't want to lose my choirs.

We've set up a PayPal account for donations, which you can access as follows.

1. Go to
2. Sign up for a personal PayPal account - if you've used eBay you probably already have one so you can just use that, if not it's pretty easy to set one up. Just click Sign Up at the top of the page .
3. Log In to your account.
4. Click Send Money at the top of the page.
5. In the Recipient's email box, enter
6. Fill in the amount you want to donate.
7. In the Category of purchase box, select service.
8. Click Continue.
9. Check all the details are correct. You don't need to add your postal address.
10. Click Send Money.

Thank you so much for your help. :)
On behalf of all at SingSoc.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

If you're this thick

A man has been fined $140 in South Africa for taking a week off sick ....... telling his employers he was pregnant!

The bloke stole the form during his girlfriends pregnancy checkup.

The chap was unaware that only women consult a gynaecologist.

For some reason his employer became suspicious.....


The highlight of my journey to work from a Fox scampering across the road near to Chigwell Row. He made it.

I've just discovered that year-end is totally different this year. Not certain whether this is good or bad but one of the weekends I normally work I won't need to. It's good as I won't be in bad as I won't get time in lieu towards a break......

May I direct your attention to my wildlife blog. I'm interested to know what RSPB members think of the RSPB's decision to buy land in Poland.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Yet Another Trip to the Doctors

As my cough and voice continue to give grief (both improving but at glacial pace) i had another doctors appointment this afternoon.

On my way home I stopped in Comet to get a new mouse as my freebie from a conference broke. I eventually picked one up for £14.99.

Checkout Girl - £4.99 ooh that's a bargain me
Me - not bad is it.

£4.99!! Result.

Anyway I saw my fourth different Doctor !! She examined me and reckons the Bronchytis is just slow to go but as a precaution I got sent for a chest x-ray results in 2-3 weeks.

Monday, November 27, 2006

White Rabbit Update

I left the office to football rattles or if you prefer a pair of Mistle Thrushes!

I was pleased to see the White Rabbit sitting in its field today. Haven't seen him in a while.

Some blog admin

I've been receiving a few "anonymous" comments lately. All of these have been constructive and appreciated BUT one poster has not left their name so I have no idea who they are. So please please leave a name, so much less impersonal don't you think.

If your comments don't appear blogger has lost them. I have never not published something and always will unless I find the comment insulting (or you're an Aussie gloating over the cricket ;) ).

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Joys of New Technology

I did battle with a video this morning. I was trying to fit my parents old video to there new telly. The instructions made no sense and I almost gave up. I eventually stuck the video to playing a cassette and auto re-tuned every station and luckily it found the video - woo hoo!!

My USB mouse has broken. Ok it was a freebie and a conference but it is a right pain. I'm have to use the mouse pad :(

Diddums reports that bloglines has not been reporting updates to the blog. Not sure why. I've noticed that bloglines is missing certain blogs and all seem to be blogger.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Nostalgia Again

I awoke to wind and rain oh and England being crushed by the Aussies.

When eventually I dragged myself out of bed I went to London Colney. No I wasn't visiting the In-focus branch there to look at optics, I went to Borders bookshop.

As I was browsing I came across the graphic novel section. I was surprised by the number of reprints of comics from when I was a lad. There were reprints of Batmans and Supermans, I was never a big fan of DC comics (who published those two comics) Superman who was virtually all powerful was never up against opponents who believeably could beat him. They also had reprints of Marvel comics, Spiderman, Thor, the Avengers, X-Men all of whom I fondly remember and had real opponents. They had a volume of the Fantastic Four which featured the classic battle between the Thing and the Hulk. I remember this vividly as I was about 8 when it was eventually published in the UK and I was ill and my Dad went and bought it for me before going to work. It's odd the things you remember but I can remember many of the old comics i used to read and the characters and the stories.

They also had collections of a comic called Commando which was war stories. I don't remember commando but I do remember War Picture Libraries and Battle Picture Libraries which were similar. Harlow market used to have a stall where you could buy back issues of these cheaply.

Sea side holidays used to see a different type of comics. They had titles called Uncanny and Astonishing (and others) which had vaguely supernatural stories all of which were American. Curiously you never saw these titles inland. Of course this variation doesn't happen now.

I know all my old comics are in the parents attic, they've probably rotted I guess but i bet if I took them down and they were readable I'd spend many a happy hour reminiscing.

Friday, November 24, 2006

So would you commit perjury?

Laura Campbell is going to prison for 4 years. Her crime? She gave her brother a false alibi for the night he committed murder. Not only did she give a false alibi she later repeated this under oath in court.

Of course lying under oath for a loved one is not that unusal. Maxine Carr did it in the Soham case.

Loyalty to ones family and friends is seen as a admirable quality these days. You don't stitch up your mates you stand by them. Loyalty is one thing but lying is another.

I am not certain what I would do? Do any of us? I suspect I am a) too much of a coward and b) too honest. I think I probably would say no but who knows until you are in that situation.

So what would you do if a family member or friend asked you to lie on oath to give them an alibi in such a situation?

Thursday, November 23, 2006


I have booked an appointment with the Doctor for Tuesday. My voice is coming back sssoooo slowly and I have had enough. Hopefully the voice will now come back so I can cancel the appointment!!

It's nostalgia central time folk. The "stars" of The Multi-Coloured Swap Shop are reuniting for a one off "special". Obviously Noel Edmunds is "box office" after the sucess of Deal or No Deal.

Not to be out done Chris Tarrant is doing a similar "special" for TISWAS.

It's all very exciting isn't it. TISWAS was supposedly "anarchic" although I'm sure most people watched it for Sally James. Swap Shop involved kids offering to swap one toy for another.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


My alarm is set for the ridiculous time of 5:40, I know its always hard getting up this time of year, its dark!, but after two weeks off its harder than normal.

My body has decided it really really doesn't want to get up! The alarm goes and I really have to struggle to get up and then get moving. Last night I even went to bed 20 minutes early just so I could have some "quality" time snuggled up under the duvet.

The weather forecast looks poor for Satruday so I expect I won't be picking the bins up and flying off. More likely just pulling the duvet up and snuggling down.

Ye gods is that sad.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Robert Goddard

I've been struggling to read recently. I'm not quite certain why this should be, ok I haven't been at my best but still I should have been reading more.

Of course yahoo chat and blogs eat into time but given how little time I spend watching telly I'd have thought I would have made more progress.

Anyway Sunday afternoon I FINALLY finished the Dark Room by Minette Walters which was ok but not one of her best. I immediately reached over to pick up the latest by Robert Goddard - Never Go Back.

For a group of ex-comrades, it is to be the reunion to end all reunions: a weekend in the Scottish castle where they were guinea pigs in a psychological experiment many years before. They haven't seen each other since. But the convivial atmosphere on the journey north is quickly shattered by the apparent suicide of one of their party. When a second death occurs, a sense of forboding descends on the group. It appears that the past is coming back to haunt them, a past that none of them have ever spoken about. Their recollections are all frighteningly different. So what really happened? Then when one of them uncovers an extraordinary secret, he becomes convinced that they will never leave the castle alive...

I read the first page and the protagonists name rang a bell.... Harry Barnett..... Oh he was in Into the Blue (one of Goddard's very best) and Out of the Sun.

Anyway I read 149 pages of this Sunday and I didn't spend my lunch hour perusing the net but read another 80 pages and finished it last night. There is something about Goddard, he has that ability to make you read on to find out what happens.

Never Go Back is only average Goddard but still eminently readable, I ought to add that even at his worst he is readable at his best addictive. For anyone new to him I'd recommend Into the Blue, Caught in the Light or Past Caring (his first and the first I read, read on one Sunday afternoon if memory serves).

I'm now reading Book 11 of the Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan. I HOPE there is only one more. Don't think this will zip along quite as quickly. But after so long I want to see how it ends.

Monday, November 20, 2006

A good motorway service station!

If you are anything like me you hate motorway service stations. Petrol is expensive but that is nothing compared to the price of a cup of coffee or a sandwich. Refrains of "£3.50 for a pre packed cheese sandwich" are known to utter my lips.

So for me they are places to eat the sarnie I bought from Tesco, drink my flask, buy a paper and have a "comfort break".

So I was intrigued to read about Tebay service station at Junction 38 on the M6. Tebay is family owned it has homemade food, with beef and lamb from the farm. The sandwiches are fresh daily. The farm shop offers local produce - meat, cheeses, fruit and veg. Sandwiches are still expensive but if they are tasty and fresh that is an improvement on the normal prepacked rubbish. There are views over Howgill Fell, while outside picnic areas are made of sympathetic stone. There is even a pond. With ducks!!

A pity I didn't know this last summer, sounds like it was worth a detour.


Well I'm in the office working away! Not too many emails to get through. Voice still awful but it'll come back in the next few weeks or so.

I have to admit that its sort of ok to be here but getting up was a pain in the neck. I got used to the lay ins!

Sunday, November 19, 2006


One of the trees had its trim the other week. Look what we found.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

There is an outside

Well after it chucked it down yesterday it was bright and sunny today so I decided I had enough of four walls.

I first went to Bishops Stortford as I wanted to get hold of the 2007 editions of Hudson's Historic Houses and the Daily Telgraph Good Gardens Guide. Hudson's is the bible for the visitor to historic houses, it contains all the open houses with opening dates and times and facilities. The Telegraph book does something similar for gardens and has some ratings - with which I don't always agree. Will have to try Epping next week.

Went on to Rye Meads. Very quiet but when you've seen nothing for weeks common ducks, moorhens and coots have an appeal. Makes you appreciate how attracitve Blue Tits are. A few Common Gulls about and the Fox was about.

I've decided that i want to visit Hay-On-Wye next year and will amalgamate with a trip to Buckinghamshire. This will be in May, annoyingly West Wycombe Park doesn't open until June but there are loads of places in Bucks to visit.

I won't see as many birds next year as my holidays will be less bird orientated as I'll be avoiding the coast, with the exception of two long weekends in Norfolk.

Did some changes to my fantasy footy team and guess what two players I dropped scored. Kicks floor.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Me - An update

Well I feel fine. My appetite is returning. That said I never really feel hungry. This is a very rare situation for yours truly. I have a packet of biscuits and I've eaten .... 2. Shakes head in shock.

The voice is still naff BUT very slowly getting better. I reckon another week before its back to normal.

I'm not moaning my Mum now has got a bad cough - not from me, I've kept out of her way - does she need this on top of her other problems? No!! So of course I know I'm not badly off.

The last week has been interesting I've pottered about and not been too bored. You would think if I had any sense I'd have read my camera manual!! You would think I'd have read quite a lot but i have read very little. I don't really know where the time has gone. I know for the first week I was VERY lethargic.

Whats curious is the book I'm reading is by the very readable Minette Walters (The Dark Room) and the next the new Robert Goddard (equally readable).

Oh well two days and then back to work. Unless of course I win the Euro Millions tonight. So back to work Monday ;)


For all you Terry Pratchett fans out there......

It seems that Hogfather has been turned into a film. It'll be shown on Sky at Christmas

Thursday, November 16, 2006


In a fit of boredom yesterday I took my paperback copy of England's 1000 Best Parish Churches yesterday (the one that sits in the car) and ticked off all the churches I have visited. The idea being that I could then see where i need to go to give the list a boost.

Given I can discount Greater London I was left with the following destinations.

North Devon & Somerset. Nice area. I specifically need to go South of Bristol and North of Wells which is ok by me as I'd like to visit Tyntesfield.

The midlands. Notts, Northants, Leicesershire, Staffordshire, Shropshire and Warwickshire. I want to go to Northants as it has some lovely houses (and villages) as well as churches I haven't visited. I just wish the houses didn't ALL have the same restrictive opening hours!! But trips to Staff/Shrops and Northants/Leics look likely.

South/West Yorkshire - shudder it has to be done but the area around Sheffield and Doncaster is not the same as the North Yorks Moors. Might get put off for a year.

Durham - I have driven through it and indeed stopped to look around Durham cathedral but somewhere else I ought to go to.

Still I reckon trips to Staffs/Shrops, Northants/Leics, and Devon North Somerset are on the cards for the next year.

I need to do Cornwall but that will have to wait. Comments like why didn't you this year come to mind.

Going back to London not only are there some churches I need there are some lovely buildings. Syon, Kensington Palace, Chiswick, Ham and Osterley are all places I'd like to visit. One day...............

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The State Opening of Parliament

I got to watch the State Opening of Parliament today.

Its a strange event. The Crown is delivered separately by the Master of the Queens Closet (or some other implausible title), the chap from the BBC made big play of how important it was that it was transferred to the right cushion.

We got to watch lots of soldiers wander around in strange costumes from the 16th century.

Then black rod marches to the commons who slam the door in his face. He raps the door 3 times they let him. He tells them the Queen commands their presence in the House of peers and off they trapse. Tony and Dave having a nice chin wag. Oh and Dennis Skinner asked if "Helen Mirren was doing the gig".

I do wonder what those overseas think of it. I appreciate that many of the jobs once had real purpose but now they are purely ceremonial. It does seem a bit anachronistic to see Beefeaters wandering around.

Then again there is alot that is anachronistic about our democracy. 26 Bishops can sit in the House of Lords, they are CofE Bishops I might add. God forbid any nasty catholics get to sit there (there are good historical reasons for this). You also get the Law Lords. Then again they aren't there by donating money to political parties so you could argue they are better than all the cronies.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Watching DVD's

well I've had enough of day time TV so for the past two days I've been watching Battlestar Galactica Series 1.

The basic premise is the same as the "classic" series of the eighties. The Cylons destroy the 12 Colonies and a rag tag armada of civilian craft led by the lone surviving Battlestar (the Galactica) search for the mythical 13th colony.... Earth.

Annoyingly I haven't seen the mini-series which sets the scene and shows the colonies destruction.

A big difference to the original is that some Cylons have evolved and look and feel like us. Our friend maybe a Cylon.

Is it Science Fiction? well it has a space setting but like most SF it reflects the times it was made. Its dark and edgy. Lots of dark pyschology. Lots of origina characters are there if different. Balthar for example is not quite the dark traitor of the first series. He has a female cylon some how infecting his mind like a virus. And may I say this Cylon is ever so HOT!!!

Enjoyable? Watchable? Well I want to get hold of the mini-series and the series 2. I don't think its as good as Babylon 5 but its a damn sight better than 99% of most TV SF.

Monday, November 13, 2006

in out shake it all about.

So the alarm goes off and I can't decide if the rash was better.

Still off to work. answer emails etc. My head of department questioned whether I should be in, "I feel fine" but she was nice enough to say I've lost weight - woo hoo.

Anyway phone doctors up about rash and was told had to see Triage Nurse. At 11 saw Nurse who said "oh my word I haven't got a clue". She stuck me in a side room (in case I was "infectious") and made an immediate appointment.

The doctor says it looks like an allergic reaction and has changed my drug. Oh I'm signed off til Wednesday. I've had 7 days off and in my previous 24 years had 6.5 days off.

I can't take day time TV luckily Tesco had the first series of Battlestar Galactica (doesn't include mini-series but stuff it) so excuse me.....

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Back to Work

Well I think I am back tomorrow. Still lost voice so lots of communications by email. I have a rash now but I think its due to the drugs so unless its worse tomorrow morning....

I don't think I could take another week of daytime telly.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Is there a Spielberg Western on BBC2?

One of the "joys" of being off work is day time TV. I have at least managed to avoid the trashy programs like Trisha.

There seem to be loads of shows where members of the public try and sell there antiques. One such is Cash in the Attic. The idea is that an "expert" goes around your house finding stuff you can take to auction to raise the money you NEED for that special purchase.

On Monday an elderly Mother was raising money to send her daughter and best friend to a Health and Beauty Spa. She needed to raise a £1000 ooh the tension!! Well there was none, for a start the Mother and Daughter often visited the Spa so they obviously had a bob or two. The daughter was that type of woman who thinks she is twenty years younger, undeniably "good looking" for her age but dressed like she was 25 not 50. The fact that they easiy "found" £2500 stuff just went to show they were well off. Struck me as an exercise is self grandisement.

David "perma tan" Dickinson has a new show where members of the public there goods to experts who make them an offer or they can go for Auction. I did chuckly at the expert who offered £25 for two Moorcroft vases "well they've got some damage" which subsequently went for a lot more. Should have stuck to Bargain Hunt Dave.

There is the odd good film and program and its not really any worse than the rubbish fed to us at night.

The other thing is for some reason I think BBC 2 have a Spielberg Western on tonight. I mention it because if the BBC do yet ANOTHER advert for it I'm writing a disgusted of Tonbridge Wells!!

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Poppy

John Snow, presenter of Channel 4 news, is refusing to wear a Poppy on air.

Mr Snow says he wears a poppy off-air but refused to wear any symbols on on-air.

The day before a Christian lobby group urged people people to exchange the traditional red remembrance poppy for the "more Christian" white poppy.

Firstly I've never seen a white poppy and anyway red was selected as that is what found on flanders field.

On the wearing of a Poppy? Well I seldom do. I rarely wear a suit jacket (I wear a collar and tie to work but a casual jacket) for a start. I haven't bought one this year but if there is a box in the office on Monday I'll throw some change in but I still doubt I'll wear one it'll sit on the desk.

Its not disrespect its personal choice. Remember in your own way.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Interest Rates

Well my god the Bank of England have raised interest rates to a massive 5%!!!!

I bet you are all gnashing your teeth over this huge amount.

Now it makes me laugh because when I took the mortgage out on my flat back in 1986 I started off paying 11%! I bet that would get a few people windy. I remember the day Norman Lamont went mad and interest rates hit 15%.

I remember the day when the Investment Bank I worked for gave us a package when they'd pay us anything above 8%. I was in heaven as I was promoted that day.

In all the years I had a mortgage I never paid less than 7%. My father in all the year he had a mortgage never paid less than about 9%.

I do wonder what would happen if we ever had a return to high inflation and high interest rates.

Of course nowadays you can stick your money in a savings account and get 5% which for a basic rate tax payer is a 4% return given inflation is "officially 2.5% you are getting a real return on your money. In the past we got high rates BUT we never got more than inflation.

So folks don't panic 5% is nothing. It can get much much worse.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

What you find out

As I write this I am listening to the Radio. They happened to mention how West Virginia became split from Virginia (North West Virginia refused to secede and so split from the rest of the State during the American Civil War).

Anyway it had lots of info on the state and so I thought I do a search on my home county and then town.

On my home town I discovered that Old Harlow used to be simply Harlow. The new town was started in 1947 and is an amalgam of "Old Harlow" and the villages of Great Parndon, Latton, Little Parndon and Netteswell. My gran for instance always addressed cards with Great Pardon in the address line.

Anyway i started looking at Election results and the Harlow Constituency only goes back to the Feb 1974 election and I wondered what happened before. Well apparently we were lumped with Epping (in 1974 Epping Forest and Harlow were created as separate constituencies).

Now the MP in 1974 was a fellow called Stan Newens. So what happened before?

Imagine my horror to discover that in 1970 Newens lost the Epping Seat (he had been MP since 64) and that for 4 years my MP was .... Norman Tebbit.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

An Update

Well I've been off the past few days and this afternoon I decided I was not getting better. I drove to the surgery explained that I had seen a doctor and that it seemed to be making no impact. The receptionists in the flesh are human ("he's obviously not well") and fitted me in and so I am now signed off to Monday (first time EVER!!!) and on a stronger drug.

I still have no energy, can barely talk and have no appetite. Flu and Bronchytis.

So I have a diet of day time TV to look forward to for a few days.

Lock Them Up or Let Them Out?

Did anyone else watch this on BBC 2 9pm? It was the first of three programmes showing the deliberations of the Parole Board. It was interesting listening to the different panels and how they reacted to the individual cases.

It was pretty easy to guess who was going to be released. Well it was if you had read the Radio Times because their reviewer admitted to coming to different conclusions on all 3 cases. The Parole Board have to determine if they are likely to reoffend whilst on parole, not likely to reoffend ever.

Last nights cases were
Mukhtar brutally murdered his brother's wife in 1987, three months after he arrived illegally into Britain. Since his conviction he spent time at a secure hospital believing he was God. Now, back in a high security prison, he says he's safe to release. His brother believes he is still evil and should die in prison.

Barry led a gang of armed robbers, the proceeds of his violent robberies were used to feed his £600 a day crack cocaine habit. Sentenced to twelve years he wants to get out after serving just six years and claims he is no longer a danger.

Michael settled a personal vendetta with the police by firebombing his local police station with Molotov cocktails. Diagnosed with a personality disorder he says his score is settled and will not re-offend.

The only one not to get out was Barry. The Panel weren't convinced that his "business plan" was viable if his relationship broke up (he met the women whilst in prison) and that it could drive him back to drugs, oh and a Canabis admission last year didn't help. I felt a degree of sympathy for him since he seemed sincere and had obviously put alot of effort in trying to get something "out" of prision.

Mukhtar looked lossed. He didn't speak English, he apparently showed some remorse. He was deported and he was deported. His brother, whose wife he and his sister murdered, was devastated.

Michael was a bit scary. But the panel thought he was unlikely to reoffend in the brief period of time he was getting parole and that is the thing they consider.

Strangely the panel only get to meet the parolee if he's a lifer, for Michael and Barry its a totally paper exercise.

I found it a compelling hour.

Monday, November 06, 2006

US Mid Term Elections

Our Cousins across the pond have a big election tomorrow. Its always fun to see what the big issues are.

You have the odd sex scandal, Iraq, Tax etc but I'm always puzzled to see that for many people its gay weddings and abortion. In America these are BIG issues in the UK I suspect they don't even register..... yet!

Over here the leader of the Conservatives David Cameron is positively embracing the idea of gay weddings. Wonder how our Dave would get on with Dubya and the Religious right?

I've no idea who will win, but I do believe Bush needs some checks. That said it would be sad to see the one Republican, Senator Lincoln Chafee, who had the guts to vote against Bush over key issues get kicked out because he's a Republican.

To few politicians have conviction these days.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


For the first time in over 4 years I spent a Saturday confined to the house. Got out of bed at 10 lazied around, drove to Tesco to get papers and then spent spent the afternoon watching Star Trek repeats and doing suduko's.

I still have little appetite. Food yesterday was soup and cereal. I think I can afford to lose the "odd" pound ;) Its odd I've not felt this rough since the xmas I moved into the house (1994).

Watched Strictly Come Dancing and lazed around again.

I got cat naps last night but did get some sleep just fitful.

I went around Mum's for lunch it was like being a kid I had my old standby Tomato Soup and Mashed Spuds ;) But I felt awful, I kept nodding off but it was the effing heat as soon as I got home I was much better. No wonder mum is always nodding off.

What to do this afternoon? I've stuck Fellowship of the Ring on. Peter Jackson has done a super job.

I think i'll be off tomorrow I need a bit more rest. My first sicky in 4 years.....

Saturday, November 04, 2006

A bit Gross - you've been warned.

I awoke at 3am Friday hacking away.

I at first thought this was good as I was bringing "stuff" up. I never got back to sleep and went into work.

The thing is at home you can sit and hack and at work you can't. Annoyingly I had two meetings Friday afternoon one at 3:30 luckily this was cancelled (the ograniser Sick!!) and good old Denis told me we could do the first next week.

So I thought stuff this I'll head off (when I talk I cough). I was feeling like there was a vice around my throat so I went in the Doctors.

R - is it an emergency
Me - well I'm not going to die. COUGH COUGH YEURGH
R - ok 6:10

At about 6:20 I saw a doctor. I fully expected to me told it would go of its own accord. But he examined said I had had a touch of flu and minor Bronchytis was mentioned I think!!!! And no I wasn't infectious.

He gave me Penicillin and some syrup to open me up so that when I coughed.....

I shot to a chemist and took the first dose.

John arrived at 9:30 to pick the tripod up and I coughed away.

I took another dose at 11 and told Nic and Jan I'd have to dip the lunch we had planned..... :(

I awoke at 3 and continued bringing stuff up but I got back to sleep.

I felt lethargic this morning, eaten very little but I'm starting to pick up a bit. Stuff STILL coming but I'm feeling a bit more human.

I'm gutted over the meet and the ratbags won't send me photos. But I haven't had man flu!!

Friday, November 03, 2006


76. Did you think/hope/wish/worry i'd forgotten about this????

77. What's the best thing you've done this week?

78. Recall the last time you were frightened.

79. What makes your skin crawl?

80. Which film/book has scared you the most?

81. Maybe hypothetical, but what would be your costume for Halloween?

82. Do you derive much pleasure from frightening people?

83. Seen a ghost? Any interaction?

84. Have you ever used a Oueeja board? And?

85. Got E.S.P? Did you 'feel' i was going to ask this question?

86. What's this question about then.....Huh cleverclogs?

87. Trick or Treat?

88. What did you give the kids who 'come a knockin' on Halloween night?

89. What do you do (which could be seen by others) that's kinda autistic?

90. There are no more questions. (but are there really?)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Cough Hack Cough

I treated my colleagues to the 1812 overture this morning. I'm not entirely certain they were impressed.

I decided no enough was enough I'd make an appointment to see a Doctor.

Ring Ring Press Button.
Receptionist - Hello
Me - Can I make an appointment to see a doctor
R - Is it an emergency?
Me - Well uh no.
R - Well its emergencies only today (I later learned it was townwide training this afternoon)
Me - ok tomorrow?
R - No you'll have to phone at 8:30 for a morning appointment and at 14:00 for an afternoon one.
Me - next week?!?
R - 14:20 Monday ?
Me - SIGH ok

I later spoke to the pharmacist who said that it was probably a viral infection and could take 3 weeks. no treatment keep taking the cough medicine to ease it!!

So I am sitting here sucking a Halls soother.

If I feel better Monday I'll cancel the appointment.

Now I do understand what the doctor is doing. By restricting appointments he can claim he is actually seeing people within the deadlines improving his BVPI. Its called working the system. I work in Local Government, been there mate. To be fair that isn't what the Government intended but if a doctor doesn't do it his BVPI is low and questions are asked..........

Of course you and I are partly to blame, we moan about taxes so the government introduces some stat to ensure your money is well spent. I seem to be spending most of my time on these jolly whizz wheezes

Luckily I work in IT and don't have to deal with the public. But next time you moan about lazy council officers I suggest you get a job on the front line. There is a lot wrong with Local Government but it employs some hard working people who of course get no thanks.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Wednesday 1st November

Note to self when you make a flask you put the stopper in!! Doh!! Still I managed some breaky today.

It was freezing and started raining so I headed straight home.

BUT I decided to visit West Walton Church. Its one of the few on the area on my list I've not done. So 607 (I had miscounted by -1 a while back!! only 393!!)

It was open. It has no stained glass so is so bright!!

The bell tower is separate and in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust.

Rather fine I think.

Not my top holiday of the year as I haven't been 100%. Still nice to meet up with some great people.

Tuesday 31st October

Ok this is serious!! Breakfast was toast!!!! I stopped of at the land of the Chelsea Tractor (Burnham Market) to get a bottle of cough medicine.

I went to Holkham to try and find the Black Guillemot but no joy, I later found I had to walk further. Still Red Throated Diver, various auks and a nice Slav Grebe.

Dinner comprised a Jam doughnut!!

The weather was getting rather nasty so I parked up and read.

Managed a main course ( I sound a total wimp!!) then finished my book and watched the footy!

Monday 30th October

After an even lighter breakfast!!

Malcolm had asked if that really was a spire on Titchwell church. Its called a Hertfordshire spike.

Off to Salthouse for some seawatching. I won't bore you as I saw much that I had already seen.

My appetite was fast diminishing, lunch was a pack of biscuits.

I've always meant to pop in to Burnham Thorpe church. Its not on my list but its fame is that Admiral Horation Nelson's father was rector there and the young Nelson worshipped there.

Really struggled with dinner!! Still doing well on the book reading front!!

Sunday 29th October

So after a light breakfast!! Off ot Cley. 8 of us met up and went to find the White Rumped Sandpiper which seemed to have flew for a while. Still loads of Ringed Plovers and it was nice to find two Little Stint so Tricia had a size comparison with Dunlin. One Pipit that Diane, Keith and I failed to id before it flew.

Perhaps the stars for me though were some very showy Little Grebe and Stonechat.

So down the famous East Bank.

Off coast John put us on to Little Auk and there was also Gannets, Puffin, Guillemot, Razorbill and Red Throated Divers.

We broke up at lunchtime. I was feeling tired so thought I'd go to Felbrigg for lunch and a stroll but I really struggled to eat my sarnie and couldn't face a walk. So dear readers I went to Binham Priory to take some photos for you! Binham is a lovely church it was a priory but was dissolved at the reformation. 7 of the 9 bays of thee old nave are still in use as the Parish Church.

You can see how much of the church and priory was demolished!!

The rest of the priory is in ruins and is in the care of English Heritage.

Whilst taking the above photos I had a Barn Owl fly through!!

Had a very nice evening with EB and Malcolm.

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