The Weymouth Way.

Hmm. What an interesting (if only) adventure that was!

The night before, we were doing some last minute packing, etc, when I could feel my left heel starting to play up really badly. It’s been like it for weeks. The ball of my left heel gets PAINFULLY sore, like I’ve got an Achilles tendon or gout or something. After a while I can hardly walk and look like a hobbling old invalid. Obviously, the longer I’m on my feet, the worse it gets. It can even be painful when I’m sitting if I have no way of keeping my leg elevated or manoeuvrable. I think it was brought on by compensating so much for my right leg when my knee was at it’s most painful.

Anyway, I could feel the pain coming on and went to bed with a dull thud in my left heel. Unsurprisingly I woke early next morning to put my foot on the floor and feel instant pain. “Oh fabulous! Thanks! We’re off to Weymouth today!” I was thinking.

We were up before the crack of dawn at 5am. We were like zombies. We had barely four hours sleep. Well I did anyway. Em might have got an extra hour. We had a cup of tea, got changed, fed the fish, made sure Chris’ food was plentiful and her water clean, then we called a cab.

I was really nervous and apprehensive, partly because I was worried things (the coach, the tube, the train to Weymouth) wouldn’t match, but mostly because my foot was already aching. We were on the coach and leaving Luton airport at 7am. It all looked smooth on the motorway (small mercies) and we ended up at Victoria station in plenty of time. Luckily, as Victoria was HEAVING with rush-hour commuters. We had to wait for the 3rd train to come by before we could even board! We had to change lines to get to Waterloo at Westminster, which was a *little* quieter, thankfully.

We were at Waterloo by 9.10am and the train to Weymouth was leaving at 10.05, so we refueled. We had a strawberry yoghurt each, and Em had an apple (she was extra peckish) and I had a lovely M&S vanilla and maple syrup smoothie.

We were on the train by 9.53 waiting to go!

It was a surprisingly pleasant journey down. The train was really lovely. Comfy, roomy seats, nice staff, a good, clean toilet. A nice quiet carriage, apart from a bloke directly behind us wheeling and dealing on TWO mobile phones. All you could hear when he called someone was him saying “can you hear, can you hear me?” and then him hang up and try his OTHER mobile! God knows what network he was on. A crap one by all accounts! He finally left the train at Bournemouth. Peace, at last!

We arrived in Weymouth at 1pm and the sun was shining. We headed straight for beach front. It was nice. Not as shingled as Brighton, but not entirely sandy like I thought it would be. There was quite a number of people around on the beach for a Thursday and for October 1st. It was a bit mild, around 20 degrees. There were even a few men with their shirts off (all over 50, so there wasn’t really anything worth gawking at!)!

We slowly (we had to, my foot was stuffed by now) made our way to the Premier Inn we were staying at. Em kept thinking we had to be on the road and kept worrying we’d overshoot or go too far, despite my reassurances. And despite me forgetting to take a map to show the way from the station to the motel, we found it easy enough. It was amazingly close to the beach front. No sea views, which I wasn’t expecting anyway, but the beach was only a few minutes walk away. Luckily for me, as I wouldn’t have got to enjoy any of the beach front at all otherwise.

We settled into our room, had a cup of tea and then went to the restaurant next door to eat. It’s a pub food chain called Brewer’s Fayre. We used to go there a lot when we had a car. Our nearest one is not really accessible via public transport, so we haven’t been to one in years.

We filled up our bellies and went back to the room. I was knackered by now. I was tired, bloated from eating, and my foot was at its worst. I stayed in the motel while Em went back off to the town centre for a gander, take some shots and find a few provisions for later.

Having been so knackered sleep eluded me until late in the evening, around midnight. I read from about 10.30pm onwards in the hope it would help me drift off. I didn’t fully wake the next morning until around 9.45am. Once I’d gone to sleep, I’d slept like a log.

With my foot the way it was, I had no plans to do anything that day other than eat! We eventually moved our butts out about midday. Well, I moved mine. Em had already been off and into the town centre again in the mean time. We spent an hour or so on the beach (well, more accurately, on a bench BY the beach), then we went to the Brewer’s Fayre again. Last time Em had a cheese and onion pasty with mash and baked beans, and I had gammon, eggs, chips and peas. This time, Em was going to have the only meal she normally has when we go to Brewer’s Fayre (they’re not normally fab with the vegie meals Em likes, they’ve had the odd thing she likes – like the cheese and onion pasty for example), fish and chips, and I had the most GORGEOUS liver and onions, with bacon, mash and peas, in a giant square Yorkshire pudding! And afters, Em had an caramel apple crumble cake with ice cream, and I had a banoffee waffle with pouring cream. Divine! We were so stuffed (again), we spent the afternoon (and the rest of day, admittedly) in the motel room.

Em was starting to feel the effects of a head cold. I was hoping we could go to the Sea Life centre next door as a last day treat, but of course Miss Tight-wad almost went into cardiac arrest when she heard adult tickets were £17 each. A Sea Life visit was looking VERY unlikely. I felt rested, but my foot was not any better. Miss Cardiac-Arrest had a horrible nights sleep trying to breathe with her head cold.

Last day we had to be out of the motel by midday. We were out by 10.30am and my foot was feeling better initially. We walked along the beach front into the town centre. Looked through some of the shops, realised we had HOURS to kill before our 5pm train, so decided to see a film. The weather wasn’t conducive to being on the beach. It had gotten chilly in 48 hours, and was now 15 degrees and blowing a gale! It was also overcast and drizzling with rain on and off.

We had a fish and chip lunch, then went and saw Creation, the film about Darwin completing The Origin of Species. It was a good film. The plot wasn’t quite what I was expecting. It was quite sad, but wonderfully done. There was a kleenex moment for both of us. Nice bit of irony when we paid for the tickets, little vouchers offering 2 for 1 tickets to Sea Life with a cinema ticket! Oh how I laughed – not!

After we came out of the cinema, there was STILL time to kill, so we wandered a bit. Sat in the local library before it shut, then went to the station just after 4pm. The train was already on the platform, so by 4.25 we were already seated, waiting to get back to Waterloo. Not as nice a journey home. The carriage was quite full, and there were a few Saturday night revellers getting on and off, and the toilet was small and there was urine on the floor – always nice!

We got to Waterloo at 7.50pm and the fun hadn’t quite finished yet. Of course we had to get back Victoria. We were going to go back the way we came, which meant a trip on the Jubilee line to Westminster, and then from there on the District and Circle line to Victoria. Only problem was, the Jubilee line was closed!!! Flipping hell! So we had to change our route. We had to go on the Bakerloo line to Embankment (which is MILES further underground than Jubilee – it’s like a mile just to get to the Bakerloo platforms FFS!) and then from there on the District and Circle back to Victoria!

I was about ready to collapse when we got to Victoria. We had some food there, then got on the coach back to Luton. From there, a quick cab ride back home. We were back at home around 10.45pm and as we were scrabbling for the keys I was saying to Em “I can hear something that sounds scarily like one of our fire alarms.” Lo and behold when we opened the front door, the wailing became louder. Sure enough, it was one of ours! Fig! It took Em a minute or so to turn the damn thing off. Chris was nowhere to be seen. God knows how long the flipping thing had been activated. Hopefully not 15 minutes after we left.

We eventually found Chris cowered under the sofa. Poor sweetheart, she was as jumpy as anything for the next few hours, poor baby girl 😦

A fitting crescendo. Still, it was time away. I was hoping to see a few different birds down there, but all I saw were gulls. Gulls, gulls and even more flippin’ gulls!

Pictures will be put online soon.

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Kookaburras.

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Kookaburras, originally uploaded by Powerhouse Museum Collection.

“Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree. Merry, merry king of the bush is he. Laugh kookaburra, laugh. Kookaburra gay your life must be.”

Saw this picture going through a photo collection that the Powerhouse Museum has on Flickr. Too irresistible not to use 🙂

Timber!

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wooden heart, originally uploaded by gobayode photography.

Yesterday one of the nearby neighbours had three large conifers chopped down. It’s JULY. That’s still in the nesting season.

Now I know for certain that Mr & Mrs Blackbird had their nest in one of these conifers. Yes, their two chicks had fledged quite some time ago, but it proves to me that other bird species would have been nesting in those trees.

All afternoon I watched endless pigeons fly around wondering where their “houses” had gone. It’s so terrible to see animals in distress.

This morning there was a juvenile blackbird in our garden, sitting on the lawn looking sorry for himself. What if Mr & Mrs B had bred again? There was time enough in the year for them to do that. Lots of bird species have more than one brood if there is ample time in the season to do so.

It is illegal to fell trees that have active nests. You are meant to inspect before going ahead with any fells. I really get the impression this did NOT happen yesterday.

I haven’t seen Mr B at all in the last 24 hours. I’m sure poor Mr & Mrs B will move on now and we’ll no longer have resident blackbirds 😦

I want to cry!

I’m not against the peoples right to fell the trees in their garden. But what I *DO* object to is them doing it at this time of year. They should have waited until September, when the nesting season was fully over with.

It made me feel SO sad yesterday. I couldn’t help but feel for the birds.

The misanthrope in me was at its highest yesterday.

Nothing Doing.

Just thought I’d stop in and have a little talk and update. Sitting here listening to Barber’s Adagio for Strings at the moment. The only piece of classical music I truly love, that actually tugs at me emotionally. Probably because it’s used in Joseph Merrick’s dying scene in The Elephant Man.

I’ve been going through lists of new release albums in the UK and sampling them on Spotify, and this adagio compilation was one of them. Classical is the one genre of music I’ve never really given enough time to. I’d like to change that if I can. I sampled several albums yesterday, but only really liked one other, from Duke Special. I could listen to that again.

I’ve been listening to “Tonight: Franz Ferdinand” for the last few weeks on Spotify and had reserved the album at the library, now it’s finally become available, yay! Now I’ll be able to stick it on my X-Fi.

I’ve been doing a bit of bird watching too. At home in our garden and via a webcam watching the peregrine falcons nesting on Derby cathedral. All four of their chicks have hatched now. I was watching them being fed yesterday and you can see survival instincts kicking in already. Two of the chicks were at the front of the queue, the other two behind them. The two at the front were getting the bulk of the food. I don’t hold out a lot of hope for all four chicks to live to fledge, but I hope I’m wrong.

In the garden we had two baby blackbirds hanging out with dad yesterday. Mr B is a very good daddy. Even though these fledglings were adult size, with fully formed tails, and even displaying foraging behaviour, he was STILL feeding them periodically. Bless him 🙂

We’ve been being serenaded on and off for the last two weeks by a chaffinch (as I’d mentioned in a previous post). Well, I actually got to get a fleeting glimpse at him on Monday! Em even saw him, but it was STILL too brief to get a picture.

Lately I’ve been doing a bit of telly catch up too. Em got all of season three of Dexter for me, which I just finished watching. I never thought after the first season it could get any better, but they just seem to be able to build and build on the plot. I am LOVING Dexter. It’s my fave US TV program at the moment.

I’ll have to finally get onto season three of Medium. I bet season five has been and gone in the US now! Season four has already aired here, but I had trouble recording some and got lost with it, so I’ll have to get season four on DVD now.

I’m watching The Mentalist as well. I wasn’t too impressed with the first episode and almost gave up on it. But I stuck it out and it’s slowly growing on me.

The thing being raved about over here for last few months, even though I think the series has been and gone in the US is The Wire. It started being shown on BBC Two a couple of weeks back. All of series one, now series two started airing as of Monday night. I think the plan is to show the whole thing for the next however many weeks it is to get through the whole run.

Apart from that, I’ve just been surfing, tweeting, etc.

Bird Calls & People Watching.

We went into the town centre yesterday. Em had an electrolysis appointment and I wanted to get to the local Snappy Snaps photo store to get my passport photos done.

 

I went to Snappy Snaps, approached the guy at the counter saying I wanted passport photos for my Oz passport done. He said “no probs”. He grabbed a folder to look up the specs of the photos. I said to him that I had the info he needed on photo spec with me. He looked at it and again said “Yep. No problem. I’ll just grab my camera.” It cost me £5.49 – only slightly more expensive than the photo booth, which was surprising! He took me through to a room in the back. I stood against a white wall and he fired away. Shot done! I was surprised how quick it was. Quicker than a photo booth actually!! He gave me a receipt and said my photos would be ready in about 20 minutes.

 

Em went off to her appointment and I had some time to kill to wait for her return.

 

I had a look in WH Smith (newsagent/book store) and remembered it would be Mother’s Day in Oz soon. Unlike other years when I was canny enough to project forward on Brit Mother’s Day (which is in March), and buy mum a card at the same time we buy Em’s mum one – this year I forgot. Not a Mother’s Day card to be seen now!! So I thought of buying a blank card and “Mother’s Day-ing” it up! I got her a lovely looking blank card which most looked like it could work for Mother’s Day – an image of a cat, relaxing asleep on a pile of cushions. I thought I could have some kind of “relax and take it easy on Mother’s Day” sentiment in the card 🙂

 

From there I had a look around Evans (the big ladies clothes store). Went to the cheap rack, but there wasn’t really anything there. I just meandered for a bit.

 

I went off back to Snappy Snaps to collect my photos. He showed me them. I looked like death! But they looked to be the right spec and all. He cut them to size for me and that was it, job done.

 

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I then went round to the post office to send my application off. The queue wasn’t too bad. But I go to the post office in town SO infrequently that I didn’t realise that when they renovated the shop, they took away most of the counter with the pens on chains FFS! The only “counter” with a pen-chain was the little lottery stand by the door. I had to stand at the lottery stand and work out all my passport stuff there. It was a NIGHTMARE. There are some counters inside the store, but there are no pen-chains on them! I was NOT going to buy a pen. And I didn’t have one with me.

 

So there I was for 10 minutes, balancing everything on an oval writing surface the size of a small cooking dish, while I wrote my name on the back of one of the photos and wrote out the address on the envelope. Thankfully I was served quickly and the letter was on its way. I hope everything is in order with the paperwork. I don’t want it to be sent back ‘cos it’s wrong and I end up having to go into London anyway!!

 

After that, I went back into the mall and went to the supermarket to stock up on UHT milk. I still had LOADS of time to kill so then went to the department store and had a couple of flavoured steamed milks. Then I just sat on a seat in the middle of the mall and people watched for over an hour! Gawd, it drove me crazy! I get really into it. Watching people’s faces. Looking at among the hoards if there is anyone I fancy, or looks good. It’s SO bad!

 

When Em came around the corner to rejoin me I was in a reverie about how I’d feel when I finally saw her coming to rescue me from the people watch. There was only one other time I was SO relieved to see someone. I was at Liverpool RTA (Roads and Traffic Authority) getting a “proof of age” card (the RTA handle issuing driver’s licenses – akin to the DVLA in the UK). My then boyfriend Roger had dropped me off. He was meant to be picking me up 30 mins later. I can’t remember what happened. I think his car broke down or something. It was before the age of the mobile phone and I had ZERO money on me to call from a phone box. And I dare not walk off in case he arrived and couldn’t find me. I was there for TWO HOURS! When he finally showed up, I was SO relieved. The RTA is not in the centre of Liverpool. It’s a little way out of the CBD, so I couldn’t occupy my mind by looking around shops in a mall or anything. It was just on a highway. All I could do was watch cars fly by at 60mph.

 

While I’m thinking all this, Em comes round the corner, sees me in my reverie and looks all forlorn and feels sorry for me. I wake from reverie to notice her notice me and I felt bad ‘cos I’d lost expressing the joy I knew I was going to feel once I’d seen her turn the corner! The moment was lost. But I’m sure my expression when Em saw me was priceless.

 

Before we left yesterday, we were being serenaded by a chaffinch outside. I tried to pinpoint where he was. I could see him, but I could definitely hear him! I found him, sitting at the top of the oak tree. I’d just reached for the binoculars to have a look when he up and left. I swear birds have a some kind of binocular sensor built in! I’d just literally got hold of them and was about to put them to my eyes when off he flew!

 

Anyway, he’s been at it again today. Serenading us. I’ve been able to hear him alright, but visually he’s being even MORE elusive than yesterday! They are such a gorgeous bird to look at too. Wish I could see him as well as hear him. We got a sample of him singing on the camera.

 

Caffinch call click to play.

 

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This isn’t “our” one. It’s just a pic of one so I could show you how pretty they are.

Baby Blackbird Drama

I was just settling down to watch the Doctor Who – Planet of the Dead repeat (just to give it one last try to see if I didn’t change my mind about it) when a REAL drama unfolded.

Earlier in the day I’d spotted our resident male and female blackbirds (who I refer to as Mr & Mrs B). They were behaving quite erratic and seemed to be getting very flustered over the presence of a magpie. They both kept flying onto the fence on the other side of our strip of lawn, and going from there to the roof of the house opposite, to the fence again, and back and forth from the tree.

As I started to watch Planet of the Dead, Chrissy kept looking at the shrub outside. Then, suddenly Em spotted what must have been the cause of Mr & Mrs B’s earlier frenetic behaviour. There was a blackbird chick in the shrub outside our front room window! Chris was obviously in raptures. And I became enthralled too – and frantic – no 3rd chance for Planet of the Dead I’m afraid. Please be mindful there is sound on the video and it does contain some strong language (sorry).

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Here’s poor little bub looking defenceless in the shrub. Mr & Mrs B were fab though. They kept coming back to check on it and feed it. When they could find it! Mr B sort of knew where it was and came over to the shrub and fed it. A little while later Mrs B came over and did the same thing, then bub got the courage to try and fly back over to the other side of the garden.

What I think had happened earlier in the afternoon was that bub got lost in the shrubbery on the other side of the garden, by the fence. And I think Mr & Mrs B lost it for a while. It certainly explained their behaviour to me once I’d seen the baby.

So, now here is bub as he gets the courage to try to get over to the other side of the garden.

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We were watching with hearts in mouths. As you will see below, the poor bub JUST makes it over, flutters a bit on the fence, then takes shelter in the conifer tree. We kept watch. Mum and dad were still looking out for him. Mrs B even managed to feed bub while it was in the conifer.

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Eventually bub moves on, as you will see below.

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It’s on the compost bin now. Mum comes along with the BIGGEST worm to give to him, but can’t land near him. She keeps the worm for him! Bless!!

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From there he ended up in the hebe bush above, and stayed about 15-20 mintues. Then, finally, finally, after a bit of coaxing from mum and dad, he took a plunge for the oak tree. He made it!! Mum and dad kept on flying back and forth from the large conifer trees in the gardens beyond (where we think the nest might be). They were trying to entice him to fly with them over to the conifers. After a few minutes of wing flexing and branch hopping, he took one final leap. From what I could see he had just about enough energy to make it to the first branch of the conifers. There are three large ones in a row. I think he got to the first one, but I think the nest is in the third one, so he had a little bit of branch hopping to go to actually make it home.

Mum and dad were taking really good care of him the whole time though. I didn’t intervene as much as I wanted to. When I watch Springwatch, they say time and again, if you see a baby bird in peril, try not to intervene as you can make a bad situation worse. All I could do was keep watch and make sure he didn’t end up on the ground and look out for cats. The magpie was hanging around a bit, but mum and dad kept him away, and I don’t think he was even aware of the chick anyway.

I just hope the little thing made it and is okay. I haven’t seem Mr & Mrs B much today. They’ve only visited the garden once since I’ve been up. Mrs for a drink and a bite to eat, and Mr for his obligatory bath.

PS: In the time it’s taken me to upload the videos, I have seen a baby blackbird flapping around the conifers beyond where the nest is. I can’t be certain it’s THE baby, but I hope it is. At least I know it lives to fight another day 🙂

Was That A Kite?

Yes, but not THAT kind of kite! It was one of THESE kind of kites!

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I saw it as we got near to our place. We’d just been shopping with Em’s dad, and were in the last half a mile home and I saw it circling around. Not THAT particular kite mind you, but one just as spectacular. What a sight to see.

It was HUGE!