31 July 2021

First trip in nearly 18 months

First travel blog and I spent most of the past week with a friend in west Scotland.  This was the first time since March last year that I had been more than 20miles away from my house.  It involved a 160-mile drive, taking the best part of four hours, each way.  Most of the journey was on A & B roads, a bit on a motorway and also a ferry.

I was excited about seeing my friend but was also pretty nervous about leaving the house and travelling away.  Before retiring I was used to driving a 100miles a day to get to and from work on a major A road, but with the combination of not having left the area and the COVID lockdowns I had several sleepless nights and spent the days looking at the route, and packing and unpacking my case before leaving.  I am not sure why I felt like this, it is not like me, but I guess a lot has happened – or not really- that change is difficult.

The journey went very well, with no hold ups, and arrived at the time expected, so why the worry? As soon as I walked in the door we started chatting as if it was only the day before we had seen each other. 

We had a lovely tea and then we went for a walk down to the promenade and sat and soaked up the evening breeze and sounds of the water.

My friend is a stargazer, (not sure if that is the right word) and on the first evening we waited up to see the International Space Station and I was amazed to see it for several minutes travelling across the sky - no pictures of that I am afraid, but it is truly amazing to think that there are people living and working up there.

29 July 2021

A Gentleman in Moscow

 


A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, is one of the Duchess of Cornwall’s Book Club suggestions, I managed to borrow a hard copy of the book from the library. The copy I borrowed was over 460 pages and the text was smaller than usual.  I am so glad I read it rather than listened to it on an audiobook.  For one reason alone - all the Russian names, I think if I had been listening to it, I might not have got all the characters sorted out, but as I saw the names written down, I could refer back to make sure I had the right details for the right person. Sometimes when I start a book with lots of characters, I write down who they are and how they are connected, I don’t always refer back to the list. I suppose just the act of writing them down helps.  Is that an age thing???

The book starts in 1922 when Count Alexander Rostov, who is seen as an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol Hotel in Moscow’s Theatre Square.  The book tells the story of the Count’s life in the Hotel and the characters he meets over the years. There is a certain amount of humour in the book and the historical facts that I checked or knew were accurate.  I really enjoyed this story and despite the size of the text, it was an easy read. In fact, I was disappointed when I got to the end because I didn't want it to finish.

I have never been to Russia let alone Moscow. I use to think I would like to go to see St Petersburg and Moscow, but don’t think I will get there now.  The only object I have that I could link to the book is this set of Russian Dolls. I am not sure where I got them from but it may have been during my trip to Berlin, well that’s the nearest I have ever been to Russia anyway.

My little great-niece loves these when she visits me, I think mainly because I hide sweets or little toys in them.  She loves it when I hide things for her to find and she is getting to know my hiding places now too. So, when I look at these, I always think about her.

When I went to take the photo of them for the blog, I found that each of the inner ones was upside down, I think maybe my little great-niece was testing me.


27 July 2021

Visiting Hedgehogs

The hedgehogs are coming back, but not every night.  This one cannot remember where the door is, but he found it in the end.




It's nice seeing the hog walking about, hopefully looking for snails or slugs.


A few nights later and I really must get a heavier bowl for the food so the hog doesn't keep hitting its head.


I have seen some birds bathing in the water bowls, but as they were quite shallow I found some deeper bowls.  Now, do I need to get a step ladder for the hedgehog?

26 July 2021

The Berlin Wall

First object post at long last.

In March 1993 I went to Berlin for five days.  It was while I was stationed in Germany and I went to stay with some friends who were also in the RAF. I remember going to the Zoo, but not much else I am afraid. And this little piece of the Berlin Wall is a souvenir I bought back.  A reminder of the exciting and eventful life I had while in the WRAF.


It was all because of  the Berlin Wall, is the first line of Liane Moriarty's 2013 book
 The Husband's Secret.

I listened to the book as an eAudiobook borrowed from the library.  During the coronavirus pandemic, the library started BorrowBox, an app where library members could borrow eBooks and eAudiobooks free of charge. 

At the start of the book, Cecilia blames her troubles on The Berlin Wall.  Her daughter is fascinated by the Wall and Cecilia goes into their loft to find a piece of the Berlin Wall she has from a visit she made there and finds an envelope and written on the front in her husband's handwriting, are the words 'only to be opened in the event of my death'. Her husband isn't dead, so she asks him about it, he tells her not to open it, but eventually, she does.  The stories of Tess, a school friend, and Rachel, the mother of an old school friend, and their lives and problems are interwoven with Cecilia's, there is a lot of guilt and bad timing in the story. I am not sure I liked the ending - should what happened have been told earlier?

I did like the book and the way the characters were bought together, the individual stories were interesting.

24 July 2021

Hedgehog making a liar of me!!

After yesterday's post, I have some good news. One of the hedgehogs came back the next night (18th July), after a total of no sightings for five nights. 

I decided to make a barrier a little bit away from the fence on the bit I had cleared.  There are some bits of wood underneath the greenery, hopefully, they will rot down and become a home for some insects for the hedgehog or birds to eat in the future. 

I didn't think it would work so quickly and here is the proof, please be patient.


It didn't eat much, if any of the food, I may boil an egg to tempt it.

23 July 2021

Don't tidy the entrance!!

The hedgehogs - I am now convinced there was more than one visiting - came every night from the night of the 21-22 June until the night of the 12-13 July BUT I have not seen any since then. 

So what happened to stop them visiting.  

Well, now that the tennis and football have finished I have time to do some work in the garden. One area, in particular, had been annoying me as all that was growing there was creeping buttercup. I wanted to clear it and plant some flowering plants.  It didn't take me long (sorry no before photo), and I will have to go back to check for runners, the soil isn't that good either so some kind of improver will need to be added.  

This is the after, as you can see it's not a very big bit, but can you see the gaps at the bottom of the fence?  

That is where the problem lies. 

I had noticed these gaps and wondered what was making them.  I could clearly see something was coming into the garden - my fear was rats - but as I now know it was hedgehogs. I had read that hogs like to live in unkempt parts of the garden and the advice is that we should leave some areas untidy. I have stopped clearing under the shrubs so thought I was doing my bit. I also know these hogs are fussy, (see last post). 

This film is one of the last ones I have.  In all the other films the hogs have gone around the brick.


And this was the last photo of one, it is on the left hand side of the photo.

So now after a week or more of not seeing one  - there have been birds and the cats - I think the hogs are upset as their entrance is too open now. I have continued to put food and water in the feeding station, so hopefully, they will return one day.

I really do feel so sad and stupid for clearing that area, I should have known better.

21 July 2021

Are hedgehogs fussy?

On the night of the 28-29 June, I decided that the hedgehog might like a change of food.  So I bought a tin of dog meat for it to try.  I put some out and then sat and waited for it to arrive and enjoy the new food.

At about 9.45pm it arrived, it walked to the feeding station and stood in the doorway sniffing for a few seconds, and then it turned tail and left!! It didn't even go in the box.  I didn't know hedgehogs were fussy. Well, it does turn out they don't like change, who does???

Even the rook wasn't keen on the tinned dog meat.


But on this occasion, I did go and put some dried food for the hedgehog and it did come back and a little while later.

19 July 2021

A hearty meal

The hedgehog had been coming for 4 nights in a row. I was sitting in the conservatory hoping I would see it and at about 8.45pm it was in the feeding station eating the cat biscuits. 

I got these films on my phone. It was eating for about ten minutes, sometimes it would stop and I thought it might have fallen asleep, then it would start eating again.  Then it went to the water bowl, can you see it is sitting in the biscuit bowl while drinking?

I filmed it leaving too.  I wonder if it is pregnant or very old as it is low down.  Others I have caught on film seem to stand higher up on their legs. Maybe there is more than one!!



P.S. Yamini sent me this link about the 'slinking' behaviour.  Very interesting and thanks for sending it.

17 July 2021

An active night

Third night in a row.  
The first capture on the camera was at just before 11 pm on the night of  23rd June. 

It is at the back, can you see its eye?


And it continued to be about all through the night


I hope it didn't hurt itself.


And finally at just before 5 am on the 24th  June.
I wonder if it is the same one or are they different ones?



15 July 2021

Feeding station success

Two nights running!! A very active hedgehog visited again on the 23rd June 2021, to eat the food in the box.

And a couple of photographs too.




13 July 2021

The Keeper of Lost Things

I thought I should say a little bit about The Keeper of Lost Things which was the debut novel by Ruth Hogan and why I thought the premise of the story would be a good idea for a blog.  

I have loads of ornaments, pictures, and odds and ends that I have collected over the years and some that were my mother's, and even some that belonged to my grandparents. Just to give you an idea here are just a few things I have managed to take out of the boxes. 



During lockdown, I joined an online bookclub that has been set up by the Primary Care Network (NHS) for my area, and The Keeper of Lost Things was one of their choices. 

The book starts with Anthony finding an old biscuit tin on a train, he takes it home where he has a room full of items he has found over the years. Each is labeled and throughout the book, the tales of some of the items are told. I found that premise so interesting, although some of the stories in the book are pretty dark, I wanted to do something similar with all my 'things'. My stories will be memories of where they came from and maybe why I have kept them.  

Maybe once I have told the story I may start to depose of them as I know I will never be able to have everything on display again.  At the very least it will make me think about the items that are most precious to me and those I want to keep. 

I enjoyed the book once I had sorted the characters out, who are likable, it has a lot of puzzles and twists, which are all brought together at the end. It is certainly a feel good book, but as I mentioned some of the tales of the lost items are a bit dark. 

11 July 2021

A feast

During the night of the 21-22 June 2021, I was so pleased to see pictures and videos spread out over an hour of the hedgehog enjoying a feast in the garden. Sorry about the time stamp on the videos, but I bought a solar panel to use with the camera and I took the batteries out of the camera to make sure it was working and hadn't realised I had to reset the date and time. 

The first film is it eating a snail and in the second I think it is eating a slug!!  So pleased to see it taking care of the snail/slug problem.

I also decided to buy a bag of dried cat food instead of using the tinned meat, hope the hedgehog likes it.  I have put two bowls of water out too.




09 July 2021

Pied Wagtails and Sparrows

I saw some of these cute little wagtails in the garden last year and was pleased to see them back again this year. This time the parents are getting food for their youngsters. They are a noisy bunch too.


I have a family of 6 house sparrows visiting my garden nearly everyday and they seem to have so much fun hopping about and looking for food. I certainly enjoy watching them. 
I just read that house sparrows are on the RSPB Conservation Red list.


06 July 2021

More Visitors

More visitors arrived on the night of 25-26th May 2021


The mouse came back for several nights in a row before the cats returned.


Supersonic Hedgehog

05 July 2021

Manic Monday

My mother loved tennis.  Every year she would apply for tickets in the Wimbledon annual ballot which I think was held in January or February.  In those days you had to send a cheque and enclose a self stamped addressed envelope too, which if you were lucky, would be returned with your tickets inside, or, if not your uncashed cheque.  She was lucky in getting tickets a couple of times. One year I volunteered to be a steward at the Championships and mum came down and queued for tickets a couple of days running. 

While mum was still working she use to take a radio to work and listen to the commentaries using an earpiece and then as soon as she got home the TV was on for the rest of the evening for whatever coverage was on.  My brother, Philip use to hate that fortnight, but thank goodness for light evenings at this time of the year, he was able to go out into the garden and do odd jobs.


Mum would have loved all the coverage on the BBC nowadays.  You have the choice of seeing every match and choosing your favourite players to watch, as can be seen in the picture on the left.  She would have been glued to the TV from 11am until the close of play which nowadays with the roofs (should that be rooves!!) on Centre and Number 1 courts can be until 11pm!!  If they were both still here today I don't know what  Philip would do, but maybe like me, he would have had a TV in another room too. Or maybe like me, mum would have had both!!

There has been so much sport on this summer I have had to bring the TV, I have one in the conservatory, into the living room so I can watch, the tennis as well as the football or two different tennis matches at the same time.  I like cricket too, but I much prefer the radio commentary, which is ok as there is hardly any live cricket on terrestrial TV these days.

Another week of tennis and the Euros, bliss.  When do the Olympics start???

02 July 2021

Determination

The next night 14-15 May 2021, the cats were back and determined to get the food



In this one, you can see the cat moving the paper inside the box.


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