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Sunday, 20 August 2017

Stone-curlews

Thanks to a very kind man who pointed them out (otherwise I'd never have seen them!) I saw my first ever stone-curlews at Cavenham Heath on our walk this afternoon. The heather there was just amazing.

See https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/bird-and-wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/s/stonecurlew/ .

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Burwell Fen

We went for a brief walk this afternoon up near the "cock-up" bridge on Burwell Lode. We saw several birds including some swallows, a tern and 2 mute swans as well as these fine highland cattle with big horns.
Although the fens are bleak, they have a certain beauty, especially the wild fen skies. Burwell Fen is now owned by the National Trust.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Swifts

Well, I thought they'd all gone now until next year. As this evening was so nice, we had tea in the garden. Six swifts were on the wing high above us. These may be northern birds passing through, but it made my day.

Swallows and house martins usually stay until well in to September, but there are very few locally.

See https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/bird-and-wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/s/swift/

Parsonage Farm

This was a workers co-operative with everyone earning the same. The company (Delta-T) is still there making scientific instruments mainly for plants. It is in our village.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Swifts gone?

We spent about 40 minutes outside this afternoon enjoying a cup of tea in the late sunshine.

Although looking, I saw not a single swift overhead. A few weeks ago and I'd have seen maybe 20. Most have started to move south.

They only stay for a few months then they are gone. Ephemeral. A few may still be around, but most have left us until next spring.

Kangaroo

My younger son is with his family visiting the Australian in-laws. Here is a shot of one of our granddaughters feeding a kangaroo. Actually, I think the joey is helping itself from the bag!

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Swifts

So, the swifts have nearly gone until next year. I heard some screaming this morning and saw one this evening, but already they are moving south to warmer climes.

Most swifts have gone by mid-August although swallows are often seen much later.

With swifts you just realise they are no longer here. Sad, but they will be back. To me, the screaming swifts are a mark of an English summer. When I see my first swift each spring my heart is lifted. They have been making their perilous journey for thousands of years and, hopefully, they will still be doing so long after I am dead and gone.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Blackberries

Our neighbours have been away and said we were to help ourselves to their blackberries. We have picked 6 punnets and the grandchildren have eaten many off the bush! There are loads left.

We have made some great blackberry crumble and my granddaughter made a blackberry drink.

The ripe ones are really great to eat.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Simple Pleasures

Well, some blackberries made it to the crumble, but quite a few got eaten! Simple pleasures to be for ever treasured long after the grandchildren have grown and flown. I hope they do this with their children and grandchildren long after I am pushing up daisies and feeding worms.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Wild Flowers

On Parker's Piece, Cambridge, UK. I think these were planted by the pupils at Park Side School.

Parkers Piece was the focus of a big celebration in 1838 to celebrate the coronation of Queen Victoria.

It is also acknowledged as the home of Association Football rules. It is a famous park in Cambridge.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parker%27s_Piece

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Storms

A quick look at the lightning map shows that storms are still some way away. I shall watch this map with interest to see if the storms get nearer.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Blackberries

There is a wild blackberry bush just outside our garden. When they come to stay these next few days, our "London" grandchildren will really enjoy picking the ripe ones and eating them. These are wild fruits and they taste delicious.

"Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness" - well almost!

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Stroke Update

Some are interested to know how I am progressing since my stroke in September 2013.

Well, things are much the same: I still feel very tired (no, exhausted) after quite brief physical or mental exertion - normally this is after about 15-20 minutes.  My voice is poor.

I am able to drive, but I estimate it is now about 5 times harder. I also drive slower as 50mph seems like 70 mph. It is as if my brain takes longer to process things. Also, subtitles seem to change too fast and I find it hard to keep up.

Although most foods are fine, I take an age with drinks, especially tea and coffee. For some reason cold drinks are easier.

Daft things are I find spelling harder, my writing is poor now and I feel tired much of the time. I think I get more anxious too.

Outwardly, I look "well". Others do not realise that life is a real struggle most of the time.

Overall, I find it hard to see improvements now. In most ways I feel like I did a year ago.

Summer colour

This is a photo of the impatiens in our front garden. We bought these by mistake! We meant to get begonias. Luckily, they look good.

Slowly our sun baked lawn with brown patches is returning to green, but we need more rain. I do not, as a rule, water grass knowing it usually recovers.

So far, our sweet peas have disappointed with not a single flower.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Malmsbury

On our way back from Devon late last week we stopped at Malmsbury, Wiltshire. As well as visiting the famous abbey, we stopped for a bite to eat at a pub near the market called "The Whole Hog".

Although the sausage and onion sandwiches were fine, the service was appalling. It took ages to get the waitress to take our simple order and over 30 minutes for the sandwiches to arrive. We were very very close to walking out.

In this day and age this poor service is totally unacceptable. There were no warnings that they were busy, just rubbish service.

Later that night we ate in Cirencester. Our orders (far more complex) were taken immediately and the meals arrived quickly. Now, they deserve to do well.

BBC salaries

The BBC was made to disclose (by the government) the salaries of their top stars and presenters. Quite a few earn more than £500k a year and some over £2M a year! Sorry, but I think this is insane and immoral: I am sure there are people who could do as good a job on much lower salaries.  BBC? Big Bangs Corporation or Big Bonkers Corporation.

Remember we pay for these people with our licence fees. Shame!

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Bourton Model Village

On our way back from Devon we called at Bourton on the Water in the Cotswolds. We went to the model village that started 80 years ago. It is well worth a visit.

See http://www.bourtoninfo.com/tourist-attractions/the-model-village/ .

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Devon

Bolt Tail in the distance.

This groundsman's hut at Thurlestone Golf Club is being rebuilt. It was a corrugated shed. I expect the next time I see it, it will be completed!  The second view is a typical Devon scene with Burgh Island in the distance.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Are we becoming totally stupid?

So an MP has been suspended for using a word that is no longer politically correct. All I can say is, "what is this world coming to?".  Clearly she just said the words in error and deeply regretted this. 

People are not allowed to play conkers in case they hurt themselves. Yet, we can house people in dangerous tower blocks.

A railway season ticket holder fell asleep and missed his stop. He was fined because a "jobs worth" was unable to use his discretion. Stupid!!

I cannot communicate with my bank anymore: I get a call centre that is abroad and doesn't know who I am: I am just a sort code and account number.

Sorry, but I think we are becoming stupid. We should worry about real issues.

By the way I well remember a 4 hour training course at work on lifting heavy boxes. For the previous 38 years I had managed to lift heavy test gear without training. Oh, in the last minute of the training I got to lift a box! The course was more about my manager being seen to have given the training than really making things safer.

All I can say is rubbish!

Will things swing back? Probably.

Rain

As it is still raining heavily, I think we'll give our after-dinner coastal walk a miss this evening. I suspect watching TV is more probable.

The forecast for the rest of the week looks OK.

UPDATE 1815z: The rain stopped, so I managed a walk after all.

Dad's seat

When my dad retired, he got a job with the National Trust running a job creation scheme maintaining the coast paths near where he lived. When he died (1987) they put up 2 seats in his honour. They are still well used today! On each there is a small plaque which I expect few read. Nonetheless, it is a fitting memorial for all his hard work. He loved this area in the South Hams of Devon and so do I.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Bee

This bee (and lots more!) were busy on a lavender bush at Anglesey Abbey near here yesterday.

Monday, 3 July 2017

50th Wedding Anniversary

This weekend my wife's brother and his wife celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a party in Cheshire. It was a good chance for my wife to catch up with relatives not seen for a while.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Old College Friend

For the last few days, my wife has had an old college friend staying with us.

We visited a few local National Trust properties and managed one meal on the patio before the weather broke.

Yesterday we went to Ely Cathedral and ate in the Almonry, which is very close to the cathedral and also very old. Parts of the Almonry date back to the 13th century.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Breakfast in the garden

For the last 2 days we have had breakfast in the garden. It has been hot lately - unusually hot for the UK. It was good to be able to sit outside in the shade at 8.30am and not feel chilly at all. 

One of the pleasures was watching the birds e.g. this Robin. By the way, most of the fat balls in this feeder have gone within 24 hours, eaten by robins, great tits, dunnocks, collared dove, pigeons and jackdaws! Traditionally robins enjoy mealworms, although they much preferred the fat balls.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Museum visitors

We had some visitors who arrived at our local museum in this old charabang coach. This is it parked outside the windmill. The word charabanc is from French 'char-bancs', meaning a carriage with benches, so I read. The coach probably dates from the 1950s. The windmill is 200 years old.

Our home is on the left in the picture.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Bird table visitors

Every day we get jackdaws on our bird table. They are quite big birds, but quite fun. This one is busy tucking in to kitchen scraps. We now get quite a variety of birds. I think they know there is free food on offer!

The starlings love the fat balls. A refill on Saturday was totally empty on Sunday. 

We get a smaller variety of birds here than at our old home. There are fewer smaller birds, although I think this is true widely. We do see blue tits, great tits and long tail tits as well as other smaller birds, but fewer than might be expected.

UPDATE 4th July 2017 0825z: The fat balls go quickly. We have had big and small birds eating these and the food on the bird table.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Poor Mrs May?

For a start, I was one of the many millions in the UK who did not vote for Mrs May (UK Prime minister) and the Conservatives. It looks like the rich are richer and the poor poorer under her party. This is wrong. If we are to have austerity let us all share the pain. As for a working alliance with the Democratic Unionists (DUP) in Northern Ireland, I am sure this will go down in history as a mistake.

To be fair, many expected a landslide with the Conservatives winning a big, clear, majority.  Instead, we ended up with a hung parliament and Mrs May hanging on by a whisker.  Most people rejected her autocratic style.

In some way I feel sorry for her. A week ago she could do no wrong, whereas now she is vilified.

Who knows what the future holds? It will be several years before the dust settles,  but beware any party that ignores the people it serves.

Oh, we still await a true charismatic leader in any UK party.

The letter Y

Many many years ago I attended Salcombe Boy's Club. This was back in the 1950s when I was still very young. We played indoor sports followed by a brief religious service taken by 2 very kind men.

It is funny how some things stick even 60 years later. One of these was Mr Putt telling us how life was like the letter Y. The Y has two ends at the top, like life: you frequently have to choose a direction to go in. Often there is an easier path and a more difficult one. Often I reflect and wonder what would have happened had I followed a different path in life. This is a theme I have mentioned before.

What if I had gone to a different university or no university at all? What if I had got poor grades at A level? What if I had changed jobs and moved? What if I did that PhD that I turned down? I guess we can never know. Life is filled with such Y moments, but we do not realise it at the time. Perhaps in a multiverse we do take every path, but are only aware of one?

Laurel hedge

Our laurel hedge in our front garden needs cutting several times a year to keep it in check. It makes a nice barrier, but we don't want it too high.

I swept up several wheel barrows of clippings. The photos shows me flicking the cuttings from the top of the hedge onto the grass.

As you can see, that 200 year old windmill really is "next door".

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Vote tomorrow

Whatever your political views, you have a democratic right to vote for the candidate of your choice in the General Election tomorrow. A vote not used is just wasted. Use it, please. Even if your candidate is not successful it registers your interest for the party of your choice.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

General Election in the UK

We have a General Election in the UK next week. At the beginning of the campaign, the pundits were talking of a landslide victory for the ruling Conservative Party. Now, in the last week, things are much closer. Last time the experts were wrong. It will be interesting to see who is right.

May Weather

May started off very cold and miserable, but the second half was warm and sunny. We have managed to eat on our patio several times in the last few weeks. The first day of June has been very warm and sunny, which is promising.

Empty House

We have had all our 4 grandchildren and parents here over the last week. These days I find them very tiring, but lovely. It is great having them and it is "clean mess".

Once they have all gone, the house does seem empty, but tidy!

Friday, 26 May 2017

Trident replacement and Terrorism

Some estimates put the bill to replace our "independent" nuclear submarine fleet at more than £100 billion. Most countries don't have nuclear weapons, let alone an "independent" nuclear deterrent.  Even the Labour party supports this nonsense. This is at a time when we complain there are not enough police or people able to analyse people who may be a terrorist threat to the UK.

Why not scrap Trident and spend some of the money on police and anti-terrorism?

No-one in their right mind would press the nuclear button. It would lead to widespread death and destruction. We need things to counter the threats of today

As for nuclear deterrence, how do most countries manage without such weapons perfectly well? Just a small fraction of the Trident replacement costs would go a very long way.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Robins Gone

A pair of robins were busy feeding in a nestbox in our garden before we went on holiday, but it is empty and quiet now. Either the young have all flown or they have deserted.

There was a robin announcing his territory earlier in a tree near the nestbox.

We see quite a few robins. I have just re-read the David Lack book about robins based mainly on research in Devon before WW2.

Stroke Update

One of the side effects of my stroke in 2013 is that I get totally exhausted doing anything physical or mental for about 15-20 minutes.

My worst time, normally, is just after breakfast when I am "done in" and have to rest. After a short rest I am OK. I much regret being as I am, but it has left me with a great deal of sympathy for those with conditions like ME and MS. Before, I had no idea what total exhaustion meant.

Today, I put some plants in the garden. In the past this would have been trivial, but I was totally exhausted and had to rest to recover. It is very hard for others to understand.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Dragonfies, swifts and swallows

A few days ago we visited the Blue Eye spring in southern Albania. I have never seen such clear water anywhere. These small blue dragonflies were everywhere.

The seem to be two sorts of swift here: the alpine swift and "our" swift. Also two sorts of swallow: the red rumped and "our" swallow. Swifts seem to be everywhere!

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Swifts

Well, today was more promising. A bunch of swifts eating insects high in the sky, a sparrowhawk and a buzzard nearby. All spotted from the breakfast table at around 0730z.

UPDATE 1220z:  For the first time this season there were about 10 swifts overhead screaming on the wing. Oh joy, really.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Birds

According to Facebook, I saw my first swifts of the season on this day last year. As yet, I have still to see one this year, but I think I spotted a red kite out of the lounge window earlier. It was some way off and I cannot be 100% sure. There are plenty about over here now, mostly near roads and motorways.

See http://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/bird-and-wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/r/redkite/index.aspx .

Voting today

A reminder that there are local elections, as well as elections for some mayors, in many parts of the UK today. There is a general election in June.

Use your vote!

If you do not vote and the wrong people get in, you can only blame yourself. It is no use moaning! Voting is your democratic right. You can vote as you want. Your vote counts as much as anyone else.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Where we live

We are quite lucky to live at the end of a quiet Close with no through traffic. There is a walking short-cut so we can be at the Post Office, Bank, Chemists, Doctors and food shops in about 4-8 minutes on foot. It also means children can play in the street most of the times if they want to. We like where we live.

Mandelbrot sets

As I get older, I get very frustrated trying to recall names.

One example was the Mandelbrot set. I knew about repeating patterns as you zoom further in, but I just could not bring the name out from the depths! I had a similar problem trying to recall the name Keely Hawes a few days ago.

It is not a worry, just frustrating. So much effort is taken trying to remember these names.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandelbrot_set

Sepura and Hytera

My old company (I have been retired 9 years now!) is in the process of being taken over maybe by Hytera, which is a Chinese company. They are waiting on the UK government who are possibly concerned about security being compromised. Both the Spanish and Germans have said "OK".

It is OK to have our nuclear plants funded by the Chinese, but possibly not our public safety organisations like the police who use a system that is due to be replaced next year. Muddled thinking? 

There is also the small matter of a General Election next month. It is anyone's guess what the government will decide. Maybe they will delay until after the General Election? If they do, Sepura could go bust and lots of job losses in Cambridge. Politically, this would be bad.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Turkey block Wikipedia?

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-39754909 .

This online encyclopaedia is one of the most famous in the world. Access to it is a sign of a nation being at one with itself and one that trusts its citizens. Countries that ban access to it usually have something to hide.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

New Patio

Our new patio has been finished and, with decent weather, it will be used this weekend. The new patio is about twice the size of the original.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

East Anglian Churches

We are fortunate to have well over 1000 medieval churches with a 90 minute drive from here. Norfolk and Suffolk, UK have some of the oldest and most beautiful churches in the entire world.

We try to visit many of these and those we do I record in another blog. See http://eachurches.blogspot.co.uk/ .

More stroke

No-one, and I really do mean no-one, seems to understand how I am inside. Most of the time when on my feet I feel giddy and exhausted, but outwardly I look well. I cannot begin to explain how hard this is.

Anything mental or physical taking over 15-20 minutes and I am done in - totally exhausted.  Until my stroke I had no idea what total exhaustion was. After a rest I am back to "normal".

My short-term memory is also poorer.  It is now over 3.5 years since my cerebellum brain bleed, but I think there has been little improvement over the last year or so.  Walking on pavements with traffic is very hard.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Macron win?

He is the book favourite to win the final contest against the far right Le Pen in France. As Trump and BREXIT warned us, experts are often wrong.

Overall, I hope Macron wins. There is a lot wrong with the EU, but Macron has the chance of putting these things right. If Le Pen wins then the EU is dead and with it European security in the next 50 years. France needs Macron in my view.

Althurium

My wife has a way with orchids and those we have live for years.

I had to look this house-plant up as I did not know its name.

It is not an orchid - well I don't think it is! As you can tell, I am no plant expert!

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Dunnock

We get a few of these dunnocks (aka hedge sparrows) on our rear lawn. Mostly they lurk in the undergrowth, but they come out onto the grass. We get far fewer small birds these days, although we have a robin in one of the nest-boxes and I saw another robin feeding a young one yesterday on the lawn.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Brampton Woods

Brampton gets several mentions in the diaries of Samuel Pepys. Today we went to Brampton Woods in search of bluebells. This ancient woodland is at least 900 years old and is a few miles west of Brampton village. We ate at a pub used by Pepys.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Roses

Our roses are out early this year. Daffodils were late, but things suddenly seemed to speed up in the last month. This lovely rose is in our front garden where it gets plenty of sun. This year, my wife did the pruning.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

More Swallows

Yesterday, we spotted a couple more swallows. As April progresses there will be more and more until they leave later in the year. The next thing will be the swifts. Screaming swifts to me represent the height of summer and bring joy to the heart.

Cuckoos often lay their eggs in reed warbler nests, so a trip up the nearby lode (waterway) is likely to result in a sighting of a cuckoo in May/June.

North Korea

So, the North Korean missile test failed. I am not that surprised as I feel the USA had something to do with this. Of course, I may be totally wrong, and indeed I hope I am.

The Trump administration would be unable "neutralise" the North Korean nuclear threat without unpredictable consequences, but the USA Secret Service was probably in a position to do something to put a "spanner in the works".  Of course, the USA never uses such underhand techniques.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-39612095 .

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Easter Egg Hunting

Easter egg hunting. 2 of our grandchildren a few days ago in our garden.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Easter Cake

The grandchildren enjoyed the cake which they decorated. Here they are at the kitchen table.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Repair time!

With springtime comes lawn cutting and hedge cutting. Although the lawnmower was fine, the cordless hedge-trimmer seems to have seized blades. Sadly the blades did not respond to WD40, so I shall have to try to separate the blades and clean them.

Unfortunately the screws used have non-standard heads and I shall have to see if my neighbour has the right sort. I thought they were Allen keys but they are the sort of head you find a lot these days in things they would rather you replaced. I shall have a go at mending. You can buy these screwdrivers, so I may invest in some.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Swallows return

Today we spotted our first swallow (bird) this year flying N-S over the allotments behind Burwell Museum at breakfast time this morning. In a few weeks they will be common!

April 7th is one of the earliest times I have seen these up here, although there have been reports in Devon a few weeks ago. There were days when I thought I would never live to see this day. The cycle of life goes on.

See https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/bird-and-wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/s/swallow/

Thursday, 6 April 2017

No Russians today

Today appears to be the first day in a while when the Russians have not been looking at this blog. Legitimate views are welcomed, but hacking probes are not.  I suspect many are the latter.

I noticed some referring sites were definitely dodgy taking me to nudes. This blog is pretty innocent. If you want porn, look elsewhere. I am not judging you. Each to their own as long as no-one is harmed.

Cambridge Concert

My wife's concert is coming up.

Cambridge Grand Arcade

A few days ago we walked through the Grand Arcade in central Cambridge. This is a covered pedestrian shopping centre. I don't think I have bought much here.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Birds

Certainly swallows (birds) are being seen in increasing numbers in Devon. Cattle egrets are also being increasingly seen. The cattle egret sightings remind me of the first  little egret sightings in Devon 30-40 years ago.

I suspect several species will become far more common in the years to come e.g. bearded tits, bee-eaters. At the same time, some will be lost. Back in 1955 to see a collared dove in the UK would have been amazing. Nowadays they are one of the most common birds in our garden.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bee-eater .

Thursday, 30 March 2017

UK Pound and BREXIT

OK it is very early days, but the day after the letter triggering the BREXIT process the UK pound is up against most currencies including the euro and US dollar.

UPDATE 30.3.17 1630z: Still up.

Going Home

After a few days with us, my brother returned home today by train. Here he is with me in our front garden.

The primroses get replaced with begonias in the summer.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Leaving the EU

Article 50, the trigger to leave the EU, has now been invoked, with 2 years ahead to negotiate our exit from the "club".  Although we have some tough decisions and negotiations ahead, the UK pound has not collapsed. If anything it is a little stronger against the euro.

Although I voted to remain in the EU, I am pretty sure we'll be fine in the UK.  The rest of the EU faces quite difficult times ahead. In truth, Europe needs us as much as we need them.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business/market_data/currency/default.stm .

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Hacking intent?

Yesterday numbers of visitors were up on a couple of my blogs. Now, I welcome anyone from any part of the planet, but it is strange how numbers seem to double and most of these are from Russia.  This is a pattern I have seen before and I know others have seen similar.

It looks very suspicious to me like they are probing for vulnerable sites to hack with malicious intent. Sorry but I think my content is pretty innocuous! 

Should my blogs suddenly go you will know the reason. If you suddenly get links to porn sites or sites offering you lots of money you'll know I have been "got at". I try to screen and delete dodgy comments that are clearly outright ads or with links to dodgy sites, but please let me know if you find any that I have missed.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Gardening

In the last few weeks with some decent sunshine the garden has "come alive". There is new growth everywhere.

Here I am in the garden earlier. Lis (my wife) has done most of the work.

Today has been good too. I cut the grass.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Cattle Egrets

Before the late 1980s, seeing a little egret in the UK would have been rare. Now they are everywhere. I have even seen these in our village.

Now it is the turn of the cattle egrets, which are becoming increasingly common in Devon. These are slightly smaller than little egrets with a different bill colour. They tend to be near cattle.

See https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/bird-and-wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/c/cattleegret/

North Norfolk

Yesterday we drove up to North Norfolk. We ate at "The Old Reading Room" in Kelling. This is a simple place run by real locals and serving simple, no nonsense food.

Later we went to the coast for a short walk where we saw these hardy fishermen.

Lady Day

Today, March 25th, is Lady Day. Years ago, this marked the start of the year. The UK tax year starts April 6th, which was Lady Day before calendars changed. This day had great non-liturgical importance too. I remember my parents moving house on Lady Day 1959.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_Day

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Cowslips

The first cowslips have appeared here and, by any measure, we are now officially in spring. The clocks go forward this coming weekend.

100 sand martins (birds) have been seen in Devon. These are migrants often seen returning about now. I remember my dad telling me when he first saw these over the golf course. He died in 1987 sadly. I miss him.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

365project - a photo a day

For several years now my wife and I have (separately) taken a photo every day and submitted them to 365project. For $19.99 a year you can make the images private so only the people you choose can see them. You can then also have more albums if you want.

Some of the photos sent in are "arty", but many are just a record of ordinary life. Looking back over the years, you can see what you were doing.

Often the most mundane subject matter is popular. Some years ago I remember a photo of mine of a mole hole being widely viewed, whereas something I thought would interest many turned out not to be.

We mainly do this for a record of what we did rather than to be particularly popular. It is great fun. The secret is not to take things too seriously.

Heathers in UK gardens

Heathers are usually associated with moorland.

At this time of the year, heathers are in flower in UK gardens. This show was in a nearby garden on our small Close. 

Sadly, they do not look so good all year around. They look very good at the moment and make good ground cover.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Martin McGuinness Dead

Martin McGuinness has died of a rare heart condition at the age of 66. In his younger days he was a key member of the IRA and wedded to violence.

In later years he was deputy first minister in Northern Ireland working with Ian Paisley and was one of the "chuckle brothers", showing that mutual respect between two very different people is possible.

I am sure to the end he was very much in favour of a united Ireland, but he came to realise votes not bullets would bring this about.  He changed, as did Ian Paisley.

My hope and prayer is that those that follow will walk in the path of peace. Jaw, jaw is always better than war, war. This applies whatever your political beliefs.

See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-39185899 .

Rare sunny day

We live in the last bungalow on the left overlooking the restored windmill. The windmill is nearly 200 years old. Today we have had a rare sunny day, although the rest of the week looks rainy. We are lucky to have a nice spot.

The museum, of which the windmill is a just a small part, goes on and on. It must be one of the very best local museums in the whole country. It is open from Easter to late October on Thursdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays. If you visit, you may be surprised by what is there.

See http://www.burwellmuseum.org.uk/ .

Monday, 20 March 2017

Visitors to Cambridge

As a famous university town, Cambridge gets a fair number of visitors. With BREXIT, I guess the money now goes even further.

This was a group of visitors from the Far East outside St Johns College. Of course, you have to take a few photos! This café, Le Pattesier, just opposite St Johns, serves decent meals at decent prices, with a smile.

Backs (Cambridge), UK

Recently, we visited the Backs (of the colleges) in nearby Cambridge, UK. With all the flowers out, this really is a sight. This is in the grounds of St Johns College.

We really are quite lucky living so close. As residents, we get free entry into the colleges.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Soul shards

This was first posted here in November 2011:

Michael Rainey, a ham radio friend from New Hampshire posted this on Facebook today.   I thought I'd share it here too. It is the chapter called, "Soul-Shards" from Douglas Hofstadter's book, "I Am A Strange Loop", a book I have not read (yet).
"One gloomy day in early 1991, a couple of months after my father died, I was standing in the kitchen of my parents house and my mother, looking at a sweet and touching photograph of my father taken perhaps fifteen years earlier, said to me, with a note of despair, “What meaning does that photograph have? None at all. It’s just a flat piece of paper with dark spots on it here and there. It’s useless.” The bleakness of my mother’s grief-drenched remark set my head spinning because I knew instinctively that I disagreed with her, but I did not quite know how to express to her the way I felt the photograph should be considered.

After a few minutes of emotional pondering - soul-searching, quite literally - I hit upon an analogy that I felt could convey to my mother my point of view, and which I hoped might lend her at least a tiny degree of consolation. What I said to her was along the following lines.

“In the living room we have a book of the Chopin etudes for piano. All of its pages are just pieces of paper with dark marks on them, just as two-dimensional and flat and foldable as the photograph of Dad - and yet, think of the powerful effect that they have had on people all over the world for 150 years now. Thanks to those black marks on those flat sheets of paper, untold thousands of people have collectively spent millions of hours moving their fingers over the keyboards of pianos in complicated patterns, producing sounds that give them indescribable pleasure and a sense of great meaning. Those pianists in turn have conveyed to many millions of listeners, including you and me, the profound emotions that churned in Frederic Chopin’s heart, thus affording all of us some partial access to Chopin’s interiority - to the experience of living in the head, or rather the soul, of Frederic Chopin. The marks on those sheets of paper are no less than soul-shards - scattered remnants of the shattered soul of Frederic Chopin. Each of those strange geometries of notes has a unique power to bring back to life, inside our brains, some tiny fragment of the internal experiences of another human being - his sufferings, his joys, his deepest passions and tensions - and we thereby know, at least in part, what it was like to be that human being, and many people feel intense love for him. In just as potent a fashion, looking at that photograph of Dad brings back, to us who knew him intimately, the clearest memory of his smile and his gentleness, activates inside our living brains some of the most central representations of him that survive in us, makes little fragments of his soul dance again, but in the medium of brains other than his own. Like the score to a Chopin etude, that photograph is a soul-shard of someone departed, and it is something we should cherish as long as we live.”

Although the above is a bit more flowery than what I said to my mother, it gives the essence of my message. I don’t know what effect it had on her feelings about the picture, but that photo is still there, on a counter in her kitchen, and every time I look at it, I remember that exchange."

Northern Ireland

One of the thorny Brexit issues will be Northern Ireland (Ulster). This has a land border with Eire which will remain in the EU. Currently, there is free movement north and south across this border. What happens when the UK leaves the EU?

Most unionists do not want a united island of Ireland. Most in Sin Fein would like to see the island reunited. I, for one, do not see how this will be resolved. Maybe a political "fudge" with the north somehow independent? No, I think Theresa May, the UK PM, has a really tricky issue here.

Ancestors

My ancestors come from South Devon. Many still live near here. I have a continuous genealogy back to the mid-1500s and one of my ancestors owned a piece of land near here in 1428. It is good to think of them enjoying this all those years ago. The cycle of life goes on.

Mr Trump

A lot of people in the USA voted him into office. As yet, he has still to demonstrate true statesman-like behaviour on the world stage. He will be judged by this. We have not yet had him in office 100 days, so it would be wrong to judge him too soon, although personally I have not been impressed.

Signs of life in the garden

There are stirrings in the garden.

After what seemed like a long, dull winter, the daffodils are in flower, snowdrops are past their best, and there are buds on the trees and bushes. Only a few weeks hopefully and we'll see the first swallows back from Africa. I have seen them April 1st in Devon, but they are usually later here in East Anglia.

So, the cycle of life goes on.