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!

The Anniversary Easter.

From Antipodean – The Right Side Up

We’ve had a busy week leading up to Easter. Em had an appointment for a check-up at the hospital in Leicester on Wednesday (19th), and as you’ll know from previous posts, we decided to go away for a few days. It was our anniversary (the big 10th anniversary) on Good Friday, so instead of going away right over Easter, we decided to do it just before.

I think we had very good timing because this is what it looked like this Easter Sunday morning.

From Antipodean – The Right Side Up

Happy Easter, welcome to spring!!

Anyway, to the adventures of the break. We headed off late Monday morning. We shelved going to the wildlife park at Shepreth for going somewhere else closer to Leicester. We just made our way up to Stamford, stopped there at the local Morrison’s supermarket, then made our way to the Travelodge. We were both pretty tired from having a late night and early morning, so that’s basically what we did for Monday.

From Antipodean – The Right Side Up

Tuesday we headed over to Leicester and we went to Tropical Birdland, which is in this little village outside Leicester. We were following the signpostings for the place. I swear we went around the whole village before we got to the place! It was a freezing cold morning, around 6-8 degrees, with a slight fog hanging in the air.

From Antipodean – The Right Side Up

The signs for the place were NOT good. We went in. No one was manning the pay window. I wish we’d sneaked into the place because it was TWELVE POUNDS (for both of us – IE: not each) to get in. There were emus and and owls at the front entrance, here are some pics.

We were only there an hour. We saw everything we could see by that time. I’m sure the place would be nicer in warmer weather and more of a crowd there. There were loads of macaws flying free. Apart from the emus, there were different types of cockatoos as well as a red-cheeked bulbul and a lovely kookaburra. It was SSSOOO cold though. I could see some of the birds shivering! The poor things. Not exactly the kind of weather conditions for these birds. They were lovely birds though. They had a few different types of toucans there with different coloured beaks.

Time passed quickly though and so we left tropical birdland and took the park and ride into Leicester. We went into Primark and had a look around. Cheap jeans man!! Jeans for £6 and £8. Em bought a pair of jeans and a cardigan from there. Then we went across the mall to New Look and got some bargain tops as well. We killed a few hours there. Had a big costa coffee. Em had her decaf cappuccino and I had a huge decaf mocha. Em’s cup was so huge it had handles on the side like a toddlers sipping cup!

We left Leicester and stocked up on supplies at a Morrison’s nearby. Then we ended up on our first traffic jam, going to Morrison’s! We ate there and then had another early night. We had to be at the hospital early the next day and negate the ring road around Leicester.

Next day, we did start to get lost around the ring road. We took a wrong turn and went off track for a bit, but recovered, so we still got to the hospital on time. All was wrapped up by midday.

Then it was off to Birmingham to watch U2:3D. We thought we’d overspent the day before so we didn’t have 2 brass razoos to rub together. I thought I had £10 left though, so I knew we had enough left to have something to eat at a motorway services. We stopped at a services on the M6. I got myself a KFC twister meal, got the money out to pay and then realised my £10 was only £5!!! Em had yet to buy anything!! So we bought some milk so she could eat bran flakes that we bought from home!!! Poor love, I felt so guilty!

We got to Birmingham HOURS early. We tried to negate the city centre (frig me, Birmingham is the world’s scariest city! – to navigate around that is) and stop at The Bull Ring shopping mall, but every time we went by, we’d miss the car parks, so we gave up in the end. We went and parked near the Thinktank place that has the Imax cinema. We had to kill around 2 hours, cos we only had enough money to park in the Thinktank car park for an hour, so we decided to wait until 5.30pm when parking would be £1. The movie started at 6pm, so we had time to get in and park and get into the cinema. It was cold in the car, but the sun was out, so it kept us warm for an hour or so, until the sun started to go down.

The movie was really good. Some really good 3D effects and the sound quality was fab!! It wasn’t like being at a concert as such, and in a lot of respects it was better than a concert experience. I enjoyed it. A good playlist of songs and really well edited together. It was good.

Then afterwards as we exited the cinema, we had to go down 4 flights of escalators! They were SSSOOO fast, I missed my footing and ended up on my bum. I hate escalators. And if they are high and exposed (IE: I can see down either side of the escalator), it’s 10 times worse. These particular escalators ticked all the boxes. And they were fast speed. I didn’t want to get on it when I approached it, but couldn’t see any lift available, so I had no choice. The steps were going around so bloody quickly. I kept trying to step on, but it just was going around so bloody fast. Anyway, I went and still didn’t hit the step right, tried to recover, but just kept losing my footing, then ended up on my bum. Thank God that’s what happened and I didn’t end up falling!! I screamed out to Em, who was already half-way down. Like she could do anything. I felt so embarrassed and upset. I was shaking! I SSSOOO didn’t want to get on the next one. But I had no choice. I was shaking like a leaf. Anyway, I somehow managed to get down the rest of them without any further mishap.

We got to the car and were leaving Birmingham, going round a roundabout. Em almost clipped the side of the car to the left of us, wanting to get in the left lane. My leg started to sting. I’d grazed my leg on the escalator edge! We left Birmingham. Em was tired as hell, so we stopped at a services for a rest. Then later stopped again. She was almost falling asleep behind the wheel! She had a sleep at the next services. We finally got home around 10.45pm. Freezing cold and extremely tired!!

For Easter I had my treat of a tub of Ben & Jerry’s Caramel Chew Chew ice cream (which was divine!) with 3 creme eggs, which I dropped into the ice cream every now and then. It was GORGEOUS!!! Our anniversary was quiet, but lovely.

All that scrimping on the last day and we’d been paid early because of Easter and were totally fine!! Damn it.

Long-tailed tits!

Guess what we had yesterday morning in our garden? We had not just one…or two, or even three. We had approximately TEN long-tailed tits!! Up to five of them were on the feeder containing the fat balls. They stayed less than five minutes, and when they were ready to leave, they all left one by one from the tree. I’d NEVER had long-tailed tits in my garden before (either here or at Birchen Grove) and to see so many all at once was just brilliant. Cute little birds – I dearly hope they come back and it’s not a one-off!

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Things coming up (or that have been) that are exciting me.

After you see the list, you’ll see I’m VERY easy to please 🙂

Firstly, I purchased myself a “new” used mobile phone on eBay. When I was in Oz, my niece had a Samsung D520, I thought it was a nice looking phone and had the things I wanted to upgrade my phone for – mp3 playing and ringtones, video play and record and Bluetooth. I knew it was a Samsung, but had to check with her what model it was. After getting her reply, I looked on eBay (before that I’d be chasing a Nokia 5200 but wasn’t having much luck getting one for the £40 mark) and someone was selling a used D520 for £30. I thought great price for a well specified phone, so jumped at it. Now I am EAGERLY awaiting its arrival in the post.

Samsung D520

The other thing that is exciting me is the sight of two baby goldfinches in the garden. They arrived yesterday with the regular pair, who I can only assume are mum and dad of these babies.

Last but not least, the prospect of being able to get out and about next week as we might be hiring a car for several days so Em can help out a mate of hers with his computer stuff. Somehow getting around the UK on public transport is just not very appealing. I’ll give you an example why.

We live around 35 miles (around 56 kms) from Cambridge. When we had a car, we might visit Cambridge 2-3 times a year. Needless to say we’ve not been there since being without a car. That journey to Cambridge by car would take around 45 minutes.  That same journey via public transport would take at least an extra hour and cost £40 (around $95 Australian) for two people!! We could hire a car for the day and be able to buy the fuel to get us to and from Cambridge for the same amount of money! It’s obscene!  That’s why we “don’t do” public transport in Britain. Not because we don’t want to, but because it’s a total waste of time and money.

I Saw A Tit!

I could hardly contain myself yesterday. For the first time this summer (baring in mind I’ve only been back in the country since July 18, after being absent since Feb 28) I have seen a Blue Tittie in my garden! Yay!!! And the said tittie was eating from an apple that was stuck out on a post. I’ve not seen a tittie go for an apple before. Well, not the ones that visit here anyway.
Also at the moment (I must try and record this) we have a female blackbird who seems to like to spend almost the entire day telling every one off in the way only a blackbird can! At first you hear very high-pitched shrill calls, then there is a burst of annoyed tutting which is as loud as a car alarm! She gets SO pee-d off! At what, I have no idea…life, I presume. It borders on both funny AND infuriating as she can go on one of these “tuts” for a good 15 minutes!

Wildlife – you’ve gotta love it!

Albino Sparrows in Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland.

I was looking at the BBC News website this morning. I like Fridays on Beeb news as there is a quiz called “7 days, 7 questions” which I like doing. ANYWAY…as I was looking on the website to try and locate the quiz, I came across this story.

Albino Sparrow story (click to read)

Amazing that there is two of them! They are the CUTEST little things! It was only yesterday while looking for appropriate blackbird pics to add for my previous post that I saw pics of a partial albino blackbird, but this little “knees-up” is totally white. I hope they get to live to a ripe old age. Life is tough for albino animals. Here’s hoping to a long life…

But which Thrush is which?

I only got out of bed around 30 mins ago, and only just come downstairs to my kitchen around 10 mins ago. I was standing in my kitchen, making a cup of tea when I see a rather bedraggled blackbird. Poor thing! It looked like it was either a dad who’d had too much on his hands during the spring and was moulting, or it was a baby that had just got his black adult feathers. Then I see another bird…very speckled on the body. At first I dismissed it as a juvenile blackbird but then thought “no, way too speckled” and then wondered “could it be?”. Could this speckled creature be a Song Thrush?

I think it very well might have been. Here’s the evidence.

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Song Thrush

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Juvenile Blackbird

I’m still not entirely sure, but the bird was quite speckled so I hope it was a song thrush.