The Moon, Jupiter and Venus.

 

A photo of the Moon, Jupiter and Venus taken by my partner on Sunday night. We don’t have the best of cameras but they are at least all identifiable in this picture. (Well, the Moon definitely is, and if you’re into astronomy and know about the visibility of Jupiter and Venus in the night sky at the moment, you’d know it was them)

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Anyone Know What This Bug Is?

Saw this lovely little bug outside just a short while ago sitting on the lavender bush, so iridescent! It’s about the same size as a ladybird. Anyone know what it is?

UPDATE: It appears the little critter is a Rosemary Leaf beetle. And lavender is a favourite food!

Hello Roma!

There is a rather unsavory back story to this that I am not entirely proud of.

Around about March/April of this year, several new cats arrived on the scene around our street. Two gorgeous grey cats. One a silver tabby – but with very light, swirly marled effects on her fur. The other, a Russian blue with a teddy bear face. They’d hang about our strip of garden in the afternoons and into the evenings during spring and summer. After a short while we gave them nicknames, RB (for Russian Blue) and GT (for Grey Tabby).

At this time I was putting out regular feeds for the foxes we get coming round. One particular fox with a limp, broken, left hind leg (which we imaginatively nicknamed Limpy) was becoming a nightly visitor. I’d put all manner of things out for ‘Limps’, mostly chicken bones, but sometimes cheap scraps of meat, or sausages, or things being sold off cheaply to ASDA, or sometimes jam sandwiches.

Shortly after starting up this routine, another cat appeared on the scene. This time, in the form of a kitten. Whilst I was putting food out for foxes this became a bit of a bane. You see, she would be around at night when I’d put out the fox food and she’d steal some. When putting chicken bones out, this was manifest in both concern and ire. Concern she’d eat bones she shouldn’t, and ire that she’d deplete food for the fox(es).

After a while, to repel her coming, I bought myself a high-power water pistol. When I put out food and saw her coming for it, I’d fire it at her. It didn’t work that successfully, only in so much as deterring her when she was fired on, and making her scared of me.

I thought of her purely as a pest, a bane, and I had nicknamed her f*ckface. This I am NOT proud of.

I just assumed she was owned. I just thought she had one of these ‘laissez-faire’ owners. You know the type I mean. One where a cat is just something that you just get and have outside to prey on all the small birds in your garden and use your flowerbeds as a litter tray. I think the word is, erm..irresponsible? Yeah, that’s it!

As the months wore away it was becoming obvious that the owner was either particularly ‘laissez-faire’, or, despite what we first thought, she actually was NOT owned. Or had been, and got lost. She was outside ALL the time. Day and night – particularly at night. Again, denoting irresponsible cat ownership.

As the summer went on, I fed the foxes less. There was less evidence of them coming around, so I pulled back on leaving food out, and I was getting tired of the ‘battle’ I was having with ****face when putting the food out. In the past 6-8 weeks I haven’t really put much out at all.

Em feeds the hedgehogs on a nightly basis, but it gets put into a covered box which only they (and other small animals – if they chose) can access. But as Em would go out to feed the hedgehogs, she’d have an ‘audience’. Primarily in the forms of RB and ****face. The latter would be particularly vocal about wanting food – having finally found her voice to meow and not run off at first sight of seeing Em coming out the door.

We are now about 2 weeks into a complete U-turn on my feelings for, who we now call, Roma. It came to me one night, thinking about her. Strange really, as she doesn’t “roam” but has always been here – right by us, right in our garden.

I’ve been thinking sometime now that we should try and catch her and take her to the vet to be scanned to see if she is microchipped. But we cannot get near her. I have given her too much fear of us by having tried to warn AND ward her off in the past. We are trying to rebuild the trust. She is now semi-feral. I think due to never actually being owned (or owned for a short time as a kitten, but getting lost).

We have also taken to feeding her regularly now. She seems endlessly hungry. She has a gaping pit of a stomach. But she would do if she’s been out having to defend herself for the past six months. I suspect she has worms, which we will treat as soon as we can by buying worming granules we can add to the food we feed her.

We can’t have her indoors, as our own cat Chrissy would just NOT allow it to happen. So we are caring for her as best we can. feeding her, giving her warm bedding to sleep in/on at night (spraying it with flea treatment to help ward off any fleas she may have – we’ll try to give her internal flea treatment too ASAP), and just hoping over time we may win her trust enough to perhaps see if she’s owned. But there is a little part of me that thinks, frankly, if you can let a kitten out to fend for itself, it goes missing and you can’t even be bothered to try and find it (Em has kept an eye on the local notice boards for missing cats, and one like Roma has never appeared), then well, perhaps we can do a better job!

So, here we are, sort of a two cat ‘family’. Meet Roma…

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Zoo Days

On Tuesday we went to Whipsnade zoo. The first visit in around 5 years.

We arrived shortly after 10 and were there in time for the first display of the day, the lemur feed. There’s a little bridge connecting where the lemurs spend their days with the area that the keepers use for the feeding display. While all us visitors stand on the bridge, the lemurs bound over for their feed. It was a fun little display and I learned things about lemurs I didn’t know.

(The keeper caught midway through explaining why all the lemurs at the zoo are males)

There was a chimp chat afterwards but we decided against that as there was a group of teenage boys on a school trip there and they headed off for the chimp chat, and we were trying to evade them. Instead we headed for the “Birds of the World” display that would be happening in some 45 minutes time. We meandered about, got psyched out by a VERY protective mara mother of her young bub, caught up with the school boys (shit!) and just generally hung about.

"You looking at me?"

The keepers were late with the bird display as they’d been in Dunstable looking for their missing stork which had flown out of the zoo grounds the previous day. As a result we had a shortened display – they needed to continue their search for the stork as their morning search had not resulted in a find, and this day was VERY windy as well, and the birds they DID display weren’t coping well with the winds. We were shown a tucan, a harrier hawk, two scarlet macaws and one military macaw (who was too scared of going MIA to fly). The scarlet macaws are just SOOOO colourful! And the harrier hawk was just gorgeous. Despite the winds Taltos gave us a wonderful display.

After that we went to the sea lion splash and saw the display by Lara and Bailey. Bailey wasn’t really wanting to perform as she should do and then Lara joined in later on, but they are such lovely creatures and sooo mischievous, you can’t not love them!

After that it was a general wander. We went and saw the tigers, which was quite sad really. Ana, the female tiger, had free range of the whole enclosure but appeared to be waiting for food whilst Mickhail, the HUGE male, was in a small compound having just been given a nice juicy slab of meat to eat (I must say, he didn’t seem that enamoured with it – whilst Ana was salivating away like Pavlov’s dog). After eating the meat, Mickhail just paced, whilst Ana, resigned to the fact that she wasn’t going to get a look-in on the food front went and laid down on the lawn in the middle of the den.

Teddy on the menu?

Nom nom nom. Something looks good says Ana.

From there we went and saw the Asian rhinos, the onagers (which I kept referring to as Oligarchs and giving them Russian accents. Lol), gaur and sloth bears (which was another sad sight as one bear seemed quite institutionalised because although it had access to the whole of its range, it was pacing against the caged wall of the space adjacent to an enclosure).

Asian rhinos drying off after a mud bath.

We then caught the bus to do a loop of the whole zoo before coming back round to stop off in time for the penguin feed before leaving the zoo.

It was doomed from the start. Firstly, we had to change buses after one stop as the bus we joined had banged into something and the upper deck was out of use. Soon after we changed to the other bus I was aware of a wasp being on board – and if you know me you’ll be aware of how my reaction to this would be. I tried to stay calm, and the wasp stayed by the second exit doors, but then it started to fly about and I just WASN’T having it! Thankfully we were approaching a stop – and although it meant I HAD to walk past it, we alighted the bus.

But this took us right back to where we’d joined the bus in the first place. Right back to the opposite end of the zoo. It was 1.45pm and the penguin feed was at 2.30pm. I thought we could make it but we didn’t dilly-dally. Despite this, we didn’t make it. The last time we were at the zoo we missed the penguin feed and I was DETERMINED to see it this time. We walked all the way back round and got as far as the zoo entrance before being resigned to not going to make it. It was nearly 2.30pm by the time we got back to the zoo entrance and it would have been another 10-15 mins walk to get to the penguins. I was EXHAUSTED by this time (we both were), so decided to call it a day 😦

THANK YO WASP! More reasons to why I hate these creatures.

So the visit ended on a bit of an anti-climax sadly. We got some good pics from the bus on the way round and we saw Spike, the male lion, with his harem of ladies far on the hill. He was, literally, king of the hill!

Spike and his harem of lovelies.

You can see more photos by going to my Picasa page HERE

All the videos are available to view on a YouTube playlist HERE

Hilda: The Lost Hog, Part 2

RIP Poor Hilda.

She lost her fight overnight. Jacqui called this morning. I was elsewhere so she left a message on the answering machine. She had appeared to be going well. I’d called Jacqui on Wednesday for an update on her. She had lost then regained weight. She still had weight gaining problems, losing then regaining weight since Wednesday. Then she just appeared to have had enough of the fight, the poor little sweetheart, and gave up.

I hope she’s enjoying her new life in the big hog box in the sky.

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Duck Tales (The Movie).

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It’s just gone 2.45am and I have just been outside (around 30 mins ago) to see a duck in the middle of our street. Yes, that’s right, you read correctly – A DUCK!

Just after 2am I went to the toilet and on my return, thought I’d look out the bedroom window to see if I could see any hedgehogs in the garden. Couldn’t really see anything as the window was steamed up with condensation, so I wiped it, had a quick peek at the grass and saw nothing. I then did a quick sweep of the surroundings – the houses beyond, the street…

Talking to myself: “WHAT is that??? It looks like a bird…it CAN’T be, it’s 2.10am!!! But it bloody well is a bird.”

“Em…Em…I can see a bird on the road. It’s a duck! On the road…just sitting there!!”, I’m saying to her. She groggily gets up and has a look. “Yes, it does look like a duck.”

I said to her “Oh this is TOO good. I’ve GOT to see this”, and went outside for a better look.

He was just there, starting to get a bit spooked by our presence, waddling slowly away from us down the road. Em went back in to get some bread for him.

The sound of tawny owls were piercing the otherwise eerily quiet night. I wanted to stand there and listen to them, their call is so haunting and fantastic. I rarely get a treat like that for my efforts, so it was a lovely bonus.

Anyway, here’s a little video of “Donald”.

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.