Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Life Changes

Those who know me reasonably well will tell you three key things about me.

1. I read books (When I first met my friend Jan it was outside the Royal Albert Hall, her husband Tony said oh you'll recognise Pete, he'll be the tall chap with his head in a book - whoops!)
2. I like Holidays. Or as Diane would say "ANOTHER HOLIDAY!!"
3. I like birds.

Lets forget number 1 since I've had my head in a book for as long as I can remember.

Up until 1996 I didn't do holidays. I would just waste my annual leave entitlement drifting about at home. Anyway at some point towards the back end of '96 maybe early '97 I read an article about Hay-On-Wye at the fact that it had 30+ second hand bookshops. Now I ought to point out I seldom buy secondhand books but for some reason I was intrigued. I contacted the tourist information office for a list of B&B's and selected the Old Black Lion in Hay (may I say this is HIGHLY recommended especially now they have a single en suite room as well as one with a private bathroom). Anyway I really enjoyed myself so thought what the hell and had a long weekend in the Cottswold and as I've always like Norfolk since a child had a long weekend there staying at Briarfields Titchwell.

Over the years I've revisited Hay and Titchwell (and the hotels many times - one of the staff at Briarfields recongises my voice on the phone!!) . And as those who know me well will tell you I spend my annual leave allowance on as many holidays as I can.

Now it s a curiosity that Titchwell is home to one of the RSPB's most famous reserves. During a trip there in 1999 fellow guests asked me what I had seen and were surprised that I wasn't there for the birds. During a long weekend in March 2000 I took an old pair of bins with me but it was cold and grey and this was a boring hobby.

We scroll on to April 19th 2002 and I was made redundant. I was out of work for 7 months and during that time something happened. I suppose it was Bill Oddie's fault I saw Bill Oddie goes live at Wicken Fen I had some time and so took the same old bins and started wandering around Hatfield Forest and down Rye Meads. And gradually something happened, I got really excited at finding a Common Whitethroat, my first ever Blackcap and ooh a Green Woodpecker. I learnt the difference between a Common and Green Sandpiper (I had never heard of a Sandpiper a few months earlier). Upon getting back in work the first thing I did was buy a decent pair of bins and a small scope I was hooked.

Scroll forward to April 19th 2003 I was sitting in a hide at Lackford Lakes. There wasn't much about but I was quite content, I glanced at my watch to see if it was time to eat my packed lunch and noticed the date. Then it struck me that if a year earlier you had told me I'd be sat over a scope looking at ducks and gulls I'd have keeled over laughing.

Its funny isn't it how our lives change and I suppose how often what you think will be for the worse works out for the better.

Everyone has Up's and Down's

The Yahoo gang have this thing about singing and poetry. So I thought a mate of mine might like this.

Taken from http://www.freewebs.com/genericdisorder/

and it remains the copyright of that site

Sometimes life is tough and things go wrong,
But you can’t give up, you have to be strong.
You have to accept what life throws in your face,
You don’t always have to be number one in the race.

Often something happens and it’s too hard to bear,
Sometimes you feel your life is going nowhere,
When everyone burdens you with problems not your own,
Keep your chin up; know that you’re not alone.

Nothing can ever be accomplished without faith,
For if you believe it won’t happen, you’re digging your grave.
And if you think that everyone has forgotten your name,
Remember a million other people feel the same.

Sunshine will come after the rain,
Rainbows will help ease the pain.
When you’re sick of it and you’ve had enough,
Think about it, when there’s a big down, there’s always a bigger up.

The journey ahead has many obstacles to pass,
It doesn’t matter if you come last.
But you have to remember; you know it’s true,
Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Its not looking good

Driving to work listening to Aggers tell us how Simon Jones has just collapsed with a knee injury only to hear that Michael Vaughan is returning home and maybe out of the tour. No captain no vice-captain oh and the pitch looks like it will take spin. Come on Freddie!

So what will our team be? I presume
Strauss, Cook, Bell, Pieterson, Collingwood, Flintoff, Jones (G), Blackwell, Hoggard, Harmisson, Panesar

I can't see Udal playing since he hardly seems to have bowled. Plunkett barely bowled a ball in the last match and they call up Anderson who no one seems to trust to bowl anyway. It hardly inspires you with confidence does it. At least it gives the likes of Owais Shah and Alastair Cook a chance to impress however current tour scheduling means that neither have a warm up game AND we are playing three tests without another game. Oh yeah that is good planning.

India 3 - 0 England

Last summer seems a VERY VERY long way away.


I walked downstairs from writing the previous entry to find a repeat on the telly. Now this doesn't bother me per se. There are a number of good sitcoms and other programs that I 'd like to see repeated.

BUT the one I do not enjoy and frankly never have is "Some Mother's Do 'ave 'em" with Michael Crawford this is total garbage and as a Licence Payer demand that if the BBC want to show it they do it on some satellite channel and not at tea time on Sunday afternoon.

thank you

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Some Musings on Film and TV

My friend Min sent me an email about this blog saying "it was very you dear! the bird stuff was a complete mystery, all over my head!!"

So I won't go on about birds except to say that I had Lesser Redpoll at Rye Meads today and a lovely little Goldcrest who caught the sun perfectly - delightful little chap.

I'm not a big movie goer or for that matter TV watcher. That said.......

Some authors hold a great fascination for the cinema/tv business. One of those is Agatha Christie. ITV have dramatised the Poirot stories very well so I suppose high standards are to be expected by the latest adaptation of Miss Marple. I hadn't been moved to watch earlier episodes, howevert over Christmas I watched the repeats of the series broadcast by the BBC with Joan Hickson as Jane Marple so as ITV were doing The Moving Finger the other week I set the DVD and watched it the next night.

Oh dear, oh dear. What are they on about? The characters are the same but Miss Marple this isn't, all high camp with comedian guest stars. What a waste. Christie is good solid entertainment when done well. Actually Christie may be the perfect novelist for TV as characterisation is not her thing.

Sherlock Holmes is another favourite. Normally though they make Watson out to be a complete idiot (Nigel Bruce j'accuse!!) but at least the ITV adaptation starring Jeremy Brett  had Watson superbly cast as a middle class everyman. A solid sensible and reasonably intelligent chap but no genius. That said I always thought Brett overacted. The BBC adapted all the Holmes canon for the Radio, they are not perfect but are reasonably done.

The Movies I was really keen to see was Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings. My own view was it would be a great disappointment. How would they do it? Well bloody well really. I have major gripes for intansce they cut out to much from the Shire/Bree which showed how the War of the Ring affected normal people and the relationship between Legolas and Gimli is not really developed. Oh and Faramir and Eowyn get dropped  rather to quickly 
(I really will have to get it on extended DVD ). What else? Saruman is much more a servant of Sauron in the film than he is in the book, in which he is after the main chance.

But ok that aside it's really well done. There was a review in Interzone I think (could have been The Third Alternative) where the reviewer said that if you took the view that LoTR is just a novelisation of the events portrayed in a few pages of The Silmarillion then we have 3 versions. Tolkien's, Jackson's and my own favourite the BBC Radio 4 adaptation. The later is really well done but I guess Jackson had to cut and edit more to fit it all in . If Jackson just fails to do his full justice he comes close enough to succeed beyond most Tolkien fans wildest hope.

I rarely regret having Sky but I would like to watch the new version of Battlestar Galactica. The original was tosh if fun. The new one is critically well received and maybe a challenger for Babylon 5's crown for best SF TV series. Star Trek is ok whereas Babylon 5 was engrossing having a real narrative drive.

On a total change of pace I'd also like to watch the new Pride & prejudice, I once described Austen as 19th century Mills & Boon - sorry Min blame being 14 and made to read Emma - but after watching Sense & Sensibility I went to to watch P&P with Jennifer Ehle and some bloke ;) and enjoyed the adaptation of Persuasion so I'm intrigued to see how it compares. Austen is someone I have no real desire to read but works well on the screen.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Where are the Penguins?

Well met up with Dave at Hunstanton and spent an enjoyable hour or so sea watching. Picked out Black and Red Throated Diver, loads ofFulmar and a couple of Auk species. A few Red Breasted Merganser as well.

We then adjourned to Tesco for breakfast and to plan strategy.

So Titchwell it is but ye gods has it turned grey. The wind is enough to blow migrants to Wales and sand is rasping into your face at the end of the boardwalk. Still we perservere to see lots of Scoter, Goldeneye and Eider. Two Long Tailed Duck are a nice reward. A few waders on the shore but we decide we'll be dudes and head for a hide. We pick out a few bits and pieces and then head back to the shop. The chaffies and Robins are singing there hearts out and there are some House Sparrow.

Off to Great Massingham but not before texting Dawn with a weather report. Reponse from the blonde one? a very sympathetic "Ho Ho Ho, snigger snigger". I treated this with a dignified silence.

We were told the Rough Legged Buzzard had been there 5 mins ago. Dave - "Bloody Typical" still we got a Buzzard and then Dave pulled out the RLB distant but nice white on the tail and lots of hovering. Nice. Adjourn to Three Horsehoes Grimston with real fire for Fish & Chips(the later being merely ok). Text Dawn with news of BT Diver, Long Tails and RLB. Revenge is a dish best served with a real fire HA HA HA HA

Went off to Welney to watch Swans and see Tundra Bean Geese. and loads of attractive Pochard. The Bahama Pitail (escape) must have been frozen poor mite. Dave and I were!!

Friday, February 24, 2006

A few mid-week birds

One of my colleagues has just become a dad again at 49. Shakes head must be mad.

Anyway we "had" to wet the babies head this lunch time. At the local watering hole is a lake and I of course had to be kicked to get me back in the conversation. I had spotted Coots and Mute Swan but was particularly pleased to be watching a Great Crested Grebe - so bird of the day!!

I'm hoping tomorrows jaunt maybe a little more productive.

Bit cold out today

Yes I know you may well have seen this photo below a caption saying how bird flu can be prevented. But I fancied a photo on the blog today and this image made me smile.

Anyway the Canada Goose has the right idea its absolutely perishing out there!!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Views from a country churchyard

Apparently I am odd (no giggling at the back) I like looking around old churches but mainly I suspect because from time to time I enjoy sitting in churchyards reading books! I wonder if all the folk who dutifully troop to our major Historic Houses realise just how many treasures are contained in our parish churches. The medieval stained glass at Fairford(Gloucs) and St Neot (Cornwall), the monuments at Bottesford (Leics) and Exton (Rutland) and the pure atmosphere of the crypt at Lastingham. These rank with anything the great houses can offer. Country churchyards are often great places. They can be havens of wildlife if cared for properly (this does not mean mowing to inch of there lives and being nicely tidied up) and usually support a number of bird species.

Is there any chance we'll beat India? Or will one of my colleagues be gloating for the next 2 months? I'm not optimistic. Vaughan flatters to deceive, looks superb whilst getting his 27 and then contrives to find away to get out. Harmison is another who had a glorious patch and is now struggling a bit. I also don't think there is enough runs in the team. Given we don't have a test match spinner there is going to be a lot of reliance on Freddie and we really have to hope that the quick unit can fire and that we field like demons. As usual us brits overplay our successes (the Ashes - wonderful but we could all see the Aussies weren't firing and we still only JUST won) and overplay our failures. Truth is England are a decent team but the middle order is inexperienced and we need that spinner.

Winter cricket series are always odd affairs for me. You look out of the window and see a horrible dull grey morning but on the radio they are discussing bright sub tropical sunshine and that Vaughan has an injured knee - I get this feeling of deja vu. I sit depressed because I want to to feel the sun on my back. To be fair it wouldn't be so bad if was freezing cold with bright blue skies but this constant murk gets me down. It was lovely Saturday over Hatfield Forest watching Great Crested Grebes building a nest and 'peckers hammering on tree trunks - lovely stuff.

Luckily the weather for Saturday looks good. Not sure where I'm off to Saturday hopefully Norfolk unless something good comes up locally.

Well better be a bit more sociable with the crew on yahoo tonight eh Nic?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Nothing on the box- AGAIN

Opens up the Radio Times and uh nothing! A mix of soaps and reality rubbish. So I put my feet up with a book. I leave the winter olympics on oh yawn its curling. But hang on it gets quite interesting and GB lose on the final stone to the ice cool Finns (stereotyping moi?!). To be honest Curling looks like one of those games that would be fun to play. Still it beat watching a bunch of overpaid footballers!

Well as I type this. I'm listening to Paula Cole's album This Fire

I hate DJs

You know how it is you are driving to work and suddenly the intro comes on to a track. You turn it up and the git of a DJ talks over it AAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH

And then to make matters worse they don't actually play the track!! Tossers

Right need a cup of tea and better do some work

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Home from work

Ah the Winter Olympics . And the commentators are getting very excitied about a possibility of the Brits getting a medal in the women's 2 man bob. But do we care? I somehow doubt it. Any medal winner will get an MBE and forgotten about until the next olympics. We aren't a winter sports nation.

From the title of this blog you may guess I like ducks. But sadly one duck is becoming much harder to see. Yes the good old Ruddy Duck. Various wildlife bodies and DEFRA have decided that this comical looking yank ahs to go because a) it's an escape and b) if they reach Spain the lady White Headed Ducks prefer it. So now the poor little Ruddy is being shot. I'm sure that there are good scientific reasons for this but being totally selfish I'll miss the cheeky lttle yank. Lets hope a few hang about.

Seriously I like ducks. And I like Mallards! Your Mallard is pretty easy to see and gives good value for money. Throw it a bit of food and it will be your mate. Of course proper birders don't like ducks particularly I suppose because they have this habit of shagging things they shouldn't. Like ducks of a different species.
But me? I like 'em. Then again I'm a bit odd - no sniggering at the back. I like blue tits, blackbirds and other common birds. Tell me that there is a rare gull down the road and I'd still rather watch Great Crested Grebe's build a nest, or a Great Spotted Woodpecker hammer on a tree trunk or just listen to a Robin or Blackbird serenade me.

What is about listers? They are full of I NEED a (insert species here) for my year/life list. Yeah right. Some of them couldn't tell the difference between a Linnet and a female House Sparrow but got a list of 74billion. I mean sorry but get a life. I've seen birders get very excited because they've just seen (insert species here) and then say "of course we saw 6,535 whilst in Florida".

I'm sorry I don't get it. Obviously its nice to see a lifer or other "good" bird but we need a sense of perspective here.

Equally why are some birders so bloody miserable. My mate Dave and I were off to see the Grey Cheeked Thrush last year (it was just down the road don't you know almost on my doorstep ahem) and the blokes coming back who had seen this bird this VERY RARE BIRD who should have been cock a hoop were as glum as if they had just heard a Sparrowhawk had taken it 5 minutes ago, come on folks its a great hobby SMILE!

Of course there are some friendly birders about (like the folks I usually bird with) take the bloke at Rainham Marsh. I had used a long lunch to try and see the Sociable Plover and the bird was being elusive. I had to give up and head back I had gone 20 seconds before this chap says "oy mate found it" and let me admire it briefly before I fled back to the meeting I had to be at. Top bloke.

And whilst I'm at it can we all lighten up. Just because some newby can't tell the difference between a female Pochard and Wigeon who cares? we all had to learn somewhere. And in most instances still are. There isn't some secret police that says right you are now a fair to middling bird you can buy Opticron/Minox/Bushnell but don't let me see you with a pair of Swaros until you can id the call of a Yellow Browed Warbler.

I also like Chuches. my church list is struggling because I seem to gravitate to places I can see birds. On a holiday in Somerset/N Devon last year instead of visiting various churches on the hit list I'd find myself at the back of ooh Hinkley Point power station picking out Rock Pipits and get excited over a juve Arctic Tern.
Still this year I want to add a good 50 churches to my Jenkins list. If I'm not at a minimum if 627 by 31st December I'll be annoyed! I really must visit North Lincolnshire.Wonder what the birding is like :)

Not my fave time of the year

I hate this time of year. Why? well its year-end. I wish my life away so I can go birding and even more so so I can get to April and go on holiday.

And I'm not going to Trinidad & Tobago. SOB!

Anyway who am I? Just this bloke who enjoys birding - oh it keeps me sane you know. I can remember being in a vile mood and then picked up my bins looked at the first Chiffchaff of spring and all was right with the world.

The yearlist is 136 and if I get anywhere near last years 226 it a be a miracle. Pete's stated target to Dave is 170-180. Privately I want 200!! Lists ? nah nothing to do with me mate!!

When I was young I was a BIG SF fan nowadays I'm into mysteries. From time to time I'll mention the book I'm reading .

For instance I've just finished Fiona McIntosh's "Bridge of Souls". Pretty generic fantasy. Bloke and beautiful princess overcome trials and tribulations to get it on. Ok it was alright but original it was not.

And whilst I'm at it I've finished Colin Dexter's "Last Seen Wearing". Its hard to read Morse without seeing John Thaw. The thing is that the books are different. Probably the first crime/'tec show where the TV is perhaps as good as the book. Anyway the book passed a few days at a fair old rate.

Currently reading RD Wingfield's Hard Frost and that is NOTHING like the TV series!! Funnier and darker!!

I am also an avid viewer of Churches and old buildings. So expect the odd thought or two on those.

You're still reading this crap?

Suppose I had better do some work hadn't i?

Well why am I doing this?

I haven't got a clue.

Its lunch time and I'm bored.

Don't expect pretty pictures or any such. I intend to ramble on about birds and books and whatever else I feel like.

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