British history, Psychology, Thoughtful

Is this a train, a bridge or a river?

In response to my last blog — on rivers, my friend Steve sent me a copy of his favourite river scene…

It set me thinking… As we look out at the world, what we see depends not so much on where we are standing but who we are.

When the children of our reconstituted family were young, I noticed that if they witnessed an event, an altercation in the street, for instance, when they each told me about it they often interpreted it quite differently. It was startling.

My 15 year old step-son came back from town one day and reported, ‘We were going down the Headlands and this hoity-toity lady had a go at a man who was trying to park his car but he wasn’t going to be bossed about by her, he told her where to get off and no mistake!’

Later my daughter described the same incident, ‘We saw this lady, she was a bit like Gran, and when she asked a man to move his car because it was blocking her drive, he went bananas! He was really rude.

Both perfectly nice kids with eyes and ears that worked, heard the same words but what differed was the way they each saw the world — different genders, different characters, different formative experiences, different viewpoint — they saw it from a different angle.

I think we all have an idea of the world and as we look about we mould what we see and hear to fit this view — it is our nature to want to confirm our preconceptions.

So, is this a river, a train, somewhere to fish or a health and safety issue? Steve says it’s 92 Squadron, a Battle of Britain Class locomotive, built in 1948 to a Southern Railway design at Brighton works. Now at the Nene Valley Railway where it is lovingly tended and where you can visit it.

The name commemorates 92 Squadron which flew Spitfires very successfully in the WW2 Battle of Britain, financed from the East India Spitfire Fund.

Card sold in aid of East India Spitfire Fund and salvaged from wreck of SS Gairsoppa which was torpedoed off Galway on a voyage from India to Britain in Feb 1941 — Salvaged because it went down with £150 million in silver bullion!
Spitfire overhead!

Thanks Steve!

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landscape

Down by the River Side!

Lazy river — the Nene in Northamptonshire

Standing on a bridge in the early morning listening for nightingales
Checking for cattle egrets.
Noticing the first midges of the year.

All the time watching for the blue flash of a kingfisher:

Busy River — the Afon Hafren (Severn) near it’s source.

Looking for dippers and grey wagtails.

and now calm but powerful.

220 miles further down stream — the Severn Estuary on the English side at Clevedon. We are looking for lunch.

Magic river– Cwm Tydu in West Wales

Deep in the temperate rainforest looking for the way out!
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Not easy walking!
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insects

What’s have we here?

Perfect timing as the green fly appear an odd looking ladybird on the roses.

I go and look him up — how do you know he is male? I hear you ask.

This is how.

But his gender would not be given away by his colouring. This is one of the most variably marked species of ladybird — the harlequin ladybird Harmonia axyridis — it has many forms. The female (I hope I am not making a false assumption here) is f. succinea, orange or red with 20-22 black spots and a white pronotium, the plate over the thorax, with a black M on it — you can see that quite clearly. The male in f. spectabilis, black with four red spots and again 2 big white splodges on his otherwise black pronotium. There are completely red ones and black ones and all sorts of variations. The first thing you notice is that they are bigger than our native species.

And they are bad news for native species as they are very successful — not surprising. These have appeared first and, as you can see, are getting on with the job — very active and difficult to photograph as they would not stand still!

Native to eastern Asia they are voracious predators and were evidently introduced to control aphids on commercial crops here in Britain, Europe and also North America .

A threat to diversity but good news for the roses.

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Armageddon

Plea to broadcasters!

A quote from my letter today to the BBC ‘Not a complaint! The news is full of premonitions of biblical famine, not without cause, and mental health doom. During lock-down your organisation promoted fitness — good for mental health — bravo. How about a swift response to the news with items on planting vegetables — need experts (you have plenty) on popular magazine shows to tell us if it is not to late for spuds and what we can safely plant and how. You have such retail power that this will immediately be responded to by the supermarkets with seeds and compost. We all need a bit of a push to grow things and share our gluts with the food banks. Get a celeb who gardens to endorse it… Go on!’

Local urban front garden — you can do it too!
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Writing

The trouble with being a superhero

The trouble with being a superhero

Click on link above to read my article published recently in pulse. It is a confessional piece

but is resonating with younger members of my erstwhile profession — seems nothing changes!

Motivated by a desire to promote my book —

but now maybe opening another door — brace yourselves for a few more lifestyle articles.

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adventure, British history, Communication, Cornwall, Entertaining

Running the Helston Branch Line

Film by Bill Carr featuring his dad, my daughter’s partner, Pete. The project is part of Bill’s university course and takes ‘helping with the homework’ to a whole new level!

Seven minutes and well worth watching!

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Architecture, Birds, British history, History

We get more than we bargained for!

Stonehenge 10.04.2022

On our way to Cornwall we stopped off at Stonehenge — free for National Trust members so we thought we ought to get our money’s worth! Both of us had last visited more than half a century ago and were sure we would hate the modernisations.

You park miles away and take a shuttle bus — very quick and restful — especially as you can see all the walkers striding out on the horizon — forging their way across Salisbury Plain to the ancient monument.

Bill was slightly appeased for the loss of birding time by the receptionist at the monument:

Large rook meeting and greeting the shuttle bus.

But what is this — marching to meet us?

Is it a goose? ‘It’s a wild turkey’, an American lad informs me. Oh no it isn’t — it’s only one of the rarest bird in Britain!

Recently re-introduced to a secret location on Salisbury Plain nearly 200 years after the last British bird was shot in 1832. This one has been named Gertrude by Stonehenge staff and has been making personal appearances since 2016. Nobody had told us so we were surprised and delighted, no one more than Bill who travelled to Hungary in 2019 to see their bustards who were very shy and only to be viewed though high powered lenses!

And the 4-5 thousand year monument… Since we last visited you can no longer touch the stones and some of the stones have been re-erected giving a better idea of how it might once have been. The circulation of visitors has been changed so that you can get the full visual impact without people getting in your way.

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Hill Farming

Making a Mountain?

The little men in velvet jackets have been busy over winter and the sheep have eaten most of the grass and gone home to lamb.

So it’s time to get in the jolly giant to rake the molehills.

There, that’s better — that’ll soon grass over. Note the newly laid hedge!

One hour later!

Brand new molehill!

What is the point?

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Birds, weather

April Fool’s Birdwatch!

Just spotted a little ringed plover — suddenly the sky looks ominous over Rutland Water.

Here’s the little plover.

Little Ringed Plover
Then came the blizzard!

Batten down the hatches of the hide as the snow blasts in.

Peeping through the shutter our little ringed plover has disappeared — and can you blame it?
Considerable precipitation!

Ten minutes later:–

Don’t you just love British weather?
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Birds, Ecology

Housing Scheme for Fly Catchers

Our friends from the Species Habitat Protection Group have turned their attention to the sad lack of properly constituted tree holes in our woodland — a flaw underlined in our recent ecology survey.

Here they are erecting armoured, pecker-proof, nest boxes in the dingle.

They are particularly keen to promote the habitat of pied flycatchers which already nest in our deficient holes — the oak trees are just too young (unlike the humans involved) — not gnarly and creviced enough!

Here is one that nested 2 years ago

We have it on authority that the pied flycatchers are due back from Africa tomorrow so, as always on our land, there was an imperative! Jan, Jon and Roger arrived this morning with 12 new nest boxes and got them up in the nick of time.

Locations documented by satnav.

Ready for the arrival of our little avian orcas.

On their behalf I’d like to thank Jan, Jon and Roger and we look forward to more of these beautiful little birds nesting here in future.

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