Archive for the ‘Wildlife’ Category

Resident hedgehog

August 6, 2011

That’s right, the hedgehog who has been visiting our garden for a couple of weeks is now resident!  We made him (could be her, but we always say him) a home in the vague hope he’d find it useful, but hadn’t really expected it to work.  All of the hedgehog homes we found online were expensive and most were also ugly, but one or two were promising.  Sadly we don’t currently have money to splash on hog-homes, so we were going to do without…until A had a brainwave.

We were browsing the garden dept of a shop in town, when he spotted a hanging basket liner and it reminded him of some of the more natural looking hog-homes.  We bought one, cut a small hole in it for a door, stapled a carrier bag over it to make it waterproof and stuck it in the garden with a brick on it to stop the cats turning it over.

Of course, it’s almost impossible to tell whether a hog-home is in use, but one night this week when we peered out with a torch to see if our hedgehog was about, we spotted him legging it across the garden to the hog-home.  Hooray!  We got really excited, which is not good at bedtime 😉

In other news…last Saturday we went out with a crowd of friends and I surprised myself by actually enjoying it.  We just went to a pub in town, one we used to hang around in when we were younger, and had a few pints.  I’d forgotten the joy of drinking pints (yes Mum, very ladylike) and chatting nonsense to people, and it was lovely to wake up next morning with nothing worse than a mild hangover.  Not so long ago I’d have paid for that evening with 2 or 3 days of severe pain, if not worse.

On Monday A looked after his brother’s boys.  I had to work in Bristol, but managed to get away early enough to see them before they went home.

Apart from that, it has been a relatively uneventful week…the calm before the storm…we are both off work for a week now and have all sorts of adventures planned.  But more about that next weekend.

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The third sea-creature-creation

July 30, 2011

It’s Fish!

Other knitting has been very boring (not to me, you know, ’cause I’m really enjoying it…but nothing exciting to show at this stage).  Some progress on forest path stole, more on the current shawl, a few more blanket squares made.

In other news, not much there really either.  The only thing I can think of is that we have hedgehogs!  I mean we have hedgehogs visiting our garden on an almost-nightly basis to scoff the mealworms we are still putting out for the birds even though the birds no longer seem to want them.  Hooray!  That’s the first mammal (apart from damn cats) we’ve enticed into our tiny little semi-wild space 🙂

This week promises to be fairly quiet, apart from a night out tonight, but next weekend it all kicks off and gets a bit manic for a while.  Probably.

Hooray! It’s raining!

May 7, 2011

And I’m not even being sarcastic, I’m really pleased that it is raining after an almost completely dry month.  A probably doesn’t agree with me, but then he had to walk to work at 5.30am and almost certainly got soaked.  I’ll attempt to remember to pick him up at lunchtime when he finishes though, save him one drenching.

But for my garden’s sake, and all the other growing things out there, I’m really happy that it is raining at last.  I don’t know what happened to April showers, but I almost can’t remember when I last smelled that wet earth smell.  I’ve been especially worried about our cherry tree.  It has had a slightly disrupted spring, with builders digging around its roots to put in fence posts, us excavating a dead australis plant and we even gave it quite a severe pruning itself.  It blossomed in spectacular style and is now heavy with tiny little cherries.  Unfortunately, the process of blooming and producing fruit will drain its resources and it is essential that it doesn’t get too dry.  We’ve been watering it a little, but it is a full grown tree and we just can’t give it enough.

Anyway, worry over, it is raining.  Of course, now I can start to fret about my poor apricot trees, recently planted out…hope the rain won’t be too much for them…

This week has included work, knitting, the snooker world championship final, and a very painful migraine.  In the wake of the migraine though, I sat out in the garden for an hour, enjoying the sunshine and saw an impressive array of birds.  Impressive for our tiny garden that is, especially in just an hour.

A pair of magpies are now regular visitors, carrying away the dried-but-soaked-in-water mealworms we put out.  They are becoming braver and braver, now hopping in even when we’re out there, as long as we keep fairly still.  We still have our pigeon fan-base, although they will be disappointed for a week or two as we’ve run out of peanuts and they’ll have to wait for payday for more.  Also appearing from time to time, including while I was sat there on Tuesday, are our pair of blackbirds.  Mrs B just flew right in and grabbed a beakful of soaked mealworms, flitting off to (I assume) her nest to feed young with them.  And most spectacular and surprising, several goldfinch.  One landed on the bird bath right in front of me, had a drink, looked at me with its head on one side…called ‘Tweeter Tweeterer’ a couple of times, then darted away.  A few minutes later they were back with friends, sitting on the washing line and the tree, calling to and fro.  We keep the niger seed feeder topped up for them, but rarely see what takes the seed.  I think I know now!

So, in knitting news…there is no knitting news this week.  I’m plodding away at my stripy knee-high socks and slowly adding blocks to my forest path stole, but there’s nothing much to show at the moment.  I did manage to see Sandra, and handed over a bunny and a pair of socks for her new grandson.  Sandra has asked me to embroider something for Noah, to include his name and date of birth.  She has some big ideas…this is not going to be the usual framed picture, I think!

This coming week…just work, I think.  This will most likely be the calm before the storm though, as we’re in for a busy few weeks of doctor/dentist/hospital appointments along with Important Briefings at work and a trip to Plymouth.

Things we saw on holiday…

April 20, 2011

…originally titled ‘Wildlife we saw on holiday’, I decided to rename it and include one or two of the 100+ photos we took 🙂

So, amongst the usual list of rabbits, small birds, large birds, coastal birds, (all of which still get us really excited as well) we saw:

  • Ravens
  • Dartford warbler
  • Stoat
  • Dolphins
  • Yes, that’s right, dolphins!  Right there from the centre of Westward Ho! town.  Dolphins!

I’m sure there was more, but those were the most exciting highlights, things we’ve never seen there before. 

Also:

I’m missing it already, after less than two weeks at home.  We’ll retire there someday.  I swear it! 

We seriously did take over 100 photos…if you want to see more of the beautiful Westward Ho!, they are all on Flickr.

Quick update

December 18, 2010

I hadn’t planned to write today, knowing that we would be at Gethin’s christening most of the day.  Only it snowed last night.  And it snowed all morning.  Then it snowed almost all afternoon.  Two thirds of the guests were unable to get there and the reception venue was snowed in, so David and Sam cancelled the whole thing.  They will rearrange it for another time.  I’m really disappointed for them, they had invested a lot of time and money in it, but they made the best decision. 

Weirdly though, today has disappeared in a rush of nothing done.  We dressed in many layers and good sturdy boots and wandered off to the supermarket.  We fell asleep for a couple of hours.  We got takeaway for dinner.  It was chilled.  Totally unproductive, but relaxing 🙂

To be honest it was probably a good thing, relaxing today, after starting back at work this week.  As predicted by the consultant, it was exhausting.  I have had to sleep for an hour most afternoons (thank goodness for home-working), but I made it through most of the 5 days.  I even went in to Bristol on Tuesday, as planned, and made it from 9am to 3pm.  Not a full day by any means, but not bad for a first day in the office.  While there, I couldn’t help showing off my Fetching fingerless mitts, which my boss really admired.  She plays netball, and they are just what she needs for matches.  So this week I’ll leave them on her desk as an extra xmas present 🙂

In the meantime I have made another pair, also Fetching, using some Aran silk/merino I bought in October:

Of course, with my return to work, my knitting output has decreased a lot.  I have been knitting away at two scarves and a pair of socks, but progress feels slow compared to a week or two ago. 

Thanks to the cold, snowy weather, the wildlife in our garden has been exciting for the last few weeks.  We now have regular visits from a robin, a dunnock, several magpies and a blackbird, as well as the endless supply of pigeons.  We’re putting out a fortune’s worth of food for them every day, and working really hard to make sure the bird bath has stayed clear for at least a couple of hours a day.  This seems to be much appreciated, so it is all worth it. 

This week coming…3 days at work, including one in Bristol (assuming the trains are running).  Then Christmas!  I’ll almost certainly miss next Saturday’s regular post as we’ll be getting excited and sharing presents and going out for lunch, but I’ll either post before or soon after. 

Hope you all have a lovely Christmas! 🙂

Being brave

July 24, 2010

I’ve had a slight issue lately, which I think largely arises from feeling better.  Who’d have thought that feeling better would come with problems of its own?!  I have an itch to do stuff.  Any stuff.  I used to be satisfied with, to crave even, time in front of the television just knitting or stitching and not thinking too much.  While on the painkillers especially, that was enough for me. 

Just lately though, I want out.  I want adventure and excitement and…okay that’s not true, but I’m feeling smothered and constrained and wonder why it is we never do anything or go anywhere. 

Largely, it’s because I don’t like to…I find small details to worry about and so end up cancelling any plans we do make. 

Am I explaining this clearly?  It’s a dilemma, and it’s all of my own making. 

Last night I was trying to explain this to A yet again (he tries, but just doesn’t get it), when he pointed out that I do stuff all the time.  In fact I go to Bristol twice a week, completely on my own.  Lightbulb moment!  So this morning I have already been into town, and bought all the shopping we’ll need for the week.  So the rest of the weekend is our own, to do what we want with.  Of course now I’ve scratched the ‘going out’ itch, I’ll probably be content to just sit around and watch the telly-box! 

While I was in town earlier, I splashed out and bought some new work shoes.  They’re hardly exciting, but I like them:

new_shoes_2

I already have two identical pairs, one in red suede (very old and heading for the bin very soon) and one in red leather, so I know they are really comfortable and practical for walking the distances I do in my commute. 

The rest of the week has been okay.  I took Mum to the hospital on Tuesday, where the consultant took some tests.  She has to go back on Tuesday this week for results, so fingers crossed for good news and not the ‘something sinister’ possibility.  I also have an appointment on Tuesday, with the private gynae consultant.  He’ll be reviewing my current medication and I predict will leave it alone for another 3 months.  After that, who knows.  On Tuesday afternoon, A and I went shopping and bought a new fridge-freezer.  It should be delivered this coming Friday.  We also bought an unplanned printer – oops! 

In knitting/cross-stitch news, I’m still knitting away at the elephant for Gethin.  I had almost finished last night, then noticed that his ears were different sizes and shapes!  There will be a lot of sewing up necessary once all the pieces are done, which is a shame.  The cross-stitch picture I’m making for Holly is coming along nicely.  It just needs 3 sides of the border finishing, then it’s done. 

This coming week, apart from the hospital appointments and the fridge-freezer delivery…not much really.  Let’s hope it stays that way! 

For this week’s cruise story, I’ll list some of the wildlife we spotted.  Some of this was seen on route, some in ports/harbours/ashore.

  • Puffins
  • Dolphins (!)
  • Black Guillemots
  • Eider Ducks

That’s just the unusual stuff.  Eider ducks are cool.  We’d seen them a few weeks before, at Slimbridge, where we couldn’t help laughing at the way they say ‘ooo-oo-ooo’, like an old lady when you’re telling a story she doesn’t really understand but wants to show an interest in.  When a few of them start doing it together it is really comical. 

Black Guillemots were everywhere.  We noticed them a couple of times, but couldn’t identify them, then one day we saw them swimming around in a harbour (Greenock?) while we were walking along the esplanade.  We produced binoculars and bird book and soon pinpointed what they were, especially once we realised that they were nesting in holes in the harbour wall. 

We didn’t see Puffins until fairly late in the cruise, but having spotted them once, we saw them repeatedly for a couple of days.  They are so funny looking, flying like clockwork toys over the surface of the water, then diving straight in. 

The most exciting though were the dolphins.  It was just a few short seconds when they were swimming alongside the ship, jumping above the waves, right in front of us.  We just happened to be in the right place at the right time.  So cool.

The usual Saturday catch-up

June 19, 2010

It has been a fairly normal week (whatever that means).  I’ve been working, including two days in Bristol.  It looks like we’ll be keeping our jobs, at least until next April, despite all the public sector budget cuts.  That’s a relief, but not very reassuring in the long term.  Never mind, something will turn up. 

A has been off work for most of this week, after pulling a muscle in his back.  He’s been on strong painkillers and has also been making use of my hot water bottle for a few days.  It’s kind of strange, seeing the hwb lying around on the sofa,  the bed or in the dining room, but it isn’t for me.  It’s usually me desperately clutching it.  I’ve had to fight an urge to pick it up every time I see it! 

That reminds me, I’ve hardly had need of the hwb for the last few weeks – I think the latest hormone treatment suggested by the consultant is actually having an effect!  I can hardly believe it, and still feel as if I’ll jinx it if I speak about it.  The pain is certainly much less frequent, sometimes I can even go a whole day without any pain at all!  I’ve also got more energy, I’m not tiring as easily.  It seems miraculous.  I had the second four-week dose administered yesterday, so I’m hopeful that it will continue to improve.  Or at least stay not-as-bad.  There are of course side-effects, but I’ll tolerate a lot if the pain stays away 🙂

In garden news…I saw three sparrows in the cherry tree.  That’s exciting (and I’m not being sarcastic – I find all wildlife exciting)!  Most of our plants are doing well, with the exception of the last tomato to be planted out and the raspberry cane my friend Mrs Jarge gave me.  They have both been stripped of all green matter on every attempt to grow.  Most of our plants get munched on to some extent as we encourage the insects as well as everything else.  But these two, and they are right next to each other, are completely destroyed every time they peep up above the ground. 

There is a rule in our garden, that everything must be able to survive without intervention, as we just aren’t reliable enough to nurse stuff along.  We water most things on most non-rainy days, but don’t do much more than that.  But I’m getting frustrated, especially at the fate of my poor raspberry cane.  I actually want to grow raspberries, especially as it was a gift.  I don’t know what I can do though, except hope the plant is tough enough. 

Moving on to knitting/cross-stitch news…two finishes! 

Firstly, my silver stole.  Finished and blocked:

That’s Gerda, made with silver laceweight yarn from YarnAddict, lovely to knit with and I only used about half of the 100g skein. 

Also, my cousin’s wife had a baby, so I finished one of the many cross-stitch pictures I have hanging around:

It’s in the post now, hopefully should be with them early next week.

So much to catch up on

June 12, 2010

So, I missed a post last weekend, just didn’t get around to it.  Over the last two weeks we have:

  • Been to Slimbridge for a day out;
  • Walked around our local ‘patch’ a lot;
  • Had a few days leave;
  • Had our nieces over to stay;
  • Tidied up the garden and planted more stuff out;
  • Given away all the excess tomato plant seedlings (we grew 30, but only wanted 12 or so);
  • Been off sick with a throat virus;
  • Knitted a lot.

And probably loads of other stuff which I’m forgetting. 

The knitting has been all about the silver stole, which just needs a border then it’s done.  I’ve completed all six repeats of the main panel and started the border, so hopefully it should be ready to go away on the boat with us.  Yay!  I don’t have a photo at this stage, as it’s so close to being finished. 

Here’s a photo of the garden instead, taken from the bedroom window (hence the weird reflections/blurring):

Both roses are now flowering, as are the aqualegia and the love-in-a-mist.  Although, neither of those latter two were specifically planted where they grow…we planted them once upon a time, and now they pop up through the cracks in the patio.  I kind of like it though.  The rain we’ve had lately has caused a massive bloom of green-ness in our garden, it has become quite an adventure to get to the compost bin, complete with a variety of cats and many, many small spiders. 

Our little garden, with its feeders (invisible behind the cherry tree), now attracts more and more wildlife.  There are many bees, and a lot of other insects.  Mr and Mrs Blackbird have not been seen much for a few weeks – I suspect they have a second brood of youngsters and are too busy for lingering in our garden.  Hopefully they’ll pop back in soon.  The mealworms we leave out for them certainly disappear frequently. 

This week there has been a lot of tweeterer activity.  Tweeterer is the name we’ve given to all the small birds which fly over too quickly to identify, usually tweetering as they go.  They have now begun to hang around a bit more though, not just flying over.  I’m fairly sure I surprised one on the feeders one day, and on another occasion looked out of the window in time to see a goldfinch on the fence.  It has taken some time, but now it looks like our perseverance has paid off. 

It makes me happy. 

Also making me happy this week is weight loss.  I’ve lost over 1.5 stone, and lots of clothes fit a lot more comfortably than they did.  In fact I got put a whole box full of stuff that didn’t fit a few months ago, and can wear most of it now!  It’s hard to maintain…I want to celebrate with chocolate!  No doubt I’ll have regained most of it after a week on the boat (did I mention that we’re going on a cruise?), but I don’t care because I know I can lose it again. 

This coming week…let me see, work.  We might go out tomorrow afternoon to see some friends in their band.  Other than that just the usual.

Magnetised?

May 22, 2010

This week my weirdo magnet has been on full strength.  It has been a few years (5 at least) since it worked this strongly, although it used to be my normal state.  I’m blaming last week’s MRI scan!  And I’m refusing to wear the shiny new name badge I’ve been given at work, as it has a magnet on the back instead of a pin! 

In fact, this week hasn’t just been weirdos…it’s been weird generally!  Here are a few highlights. 

On Tuesday, as I left work to walk back to the train station, I passed a man in the street who half smiled at me.  I scanned my brain and couldn’t find any memory of him, so I kept walking.  A few seconds later he ran up behind me, shouting ‘Hey’!  I stopped and turned to face him…he had run the length of the street just to tell me how cute I am, and try to persuade me to stop and talk to him for a while.  Now that’s an experience I haven’t had for a very long time!  It took me a minute or so to persuade him that I really had to dash…couldn’t miss my train…husband on his way to meet me…and in the end I walked away.  The really weird thing was that this guy was younger than me and not bad looking. 

I got on the train, sat down, and breathed a sigh of relief that no-one sat next to me.  Then the train manager started the usual announcement.  “Safety information cards blah blah blah…luggage and security blah blah blah…buffet car open blah blah blah…well it has been a lovely day hasn’t it?  Beautiful sunshine, nice and warm.  It’s a bit cloudy now, but I’ve checked the forecast and we’re in for a fantastic couple of weeks, so that’ll be nice.  Next station stop will be blah blah blah…”.  WTF?! 

Wednesday wasn’t much less weird, with seagulls flying right at my windscreen, cyclists riding right in front of me, and one confused old man desperately trying to park his car straight, by lining it up against my very wonky, badly parked car! 

Those are just a few highlights…you get the picture. 

Speaking of pictures, I have finished Dinosaur Island:

I’ve now just got one project on the go – my travel socks.  Which are almost finished.  I’m itching to start something new, but cannot decide what.  Time for some ravelling I think. 

This week was a good one for wildlife in our garden.  In fact, our garden has become quite a busy place over the last few months.  We now have at least 3 regular blackbird visitors – an adult male, an adult female and a juvenile.  They love the mealworms we put on the gravel, and have been seen using my Nan’s birdbath for both drinking and bathing.  It’s so exciting!  We still have frequent visits from a number of wood pigeons, who prefer peanuts but will eat almost anything we put on the feeder.  And on Tuesday morning, while getting ready for work, I saw a blue tit flitting around the cherry tree!  It’s the first time we’ve seen a blue tit in the garden, and it made my day.  Perhaps the weirdo magnet works on birds too?! 

This afternoon I hope we’ll see more wildlife, as we’re off for a guided walk of the Thames Water lagoons.  The lagoons are tucked away behind the River Ray Parkway, where we often walk at the weekend, but they aren’t open to the public.  This afternoon there are a series of exciting events going on, for International Biodiversity Day.  I’m really looking forward to it. 

We would have liked to go to the bat walk this evening too, but we’d already promised our niece, Morgan, that she can stay over tonight.  It’s her birthday present and we hate letting her down.  We’ll take her shopping to choose something nice for dinner, then after eating she’ll pick out a DVD from our limited collection and we’ll chill out for the evening.  Morgan is being picked on at school for being clever, so her Mum has asked me to chat to her about it, as I went through something similar.  I don’t know what to say to make her feel better, but hopefully it will help to know she’s not the only one and it is possible to get through it. 

In health news I had the first of 3 zoladex implants done yesterday, as suggested by the consultant I saw a couple of weeks ago.  I have to take HRT as well, to counteract some of the worst side-effects.  I’m hoping for an improvement, fingers crossed.  Especially if it helps in time for our cruise.  It would be lovely not to have to calculate exactly what and how much I can eat today, if I want to be able to go ashore for a long walk tomorrow.  Or if I go ashore today, how will I cope with formal night tonight. 

Speaking of formal nights…I bought my new dress yesterday :).  It’s so pretty!

While looking for the formal dresses in Debenhams, I also spotted another pretty dress, which I fell in love with.  But I can’t find a picture of that one. 

I also got talked into buying a pair of swim shorts.  I have some issues with swimwear…mainly about it being so revealing.  I do not like to expose that much of my upper thighs or my top.  As a consequence, no-one ever gets me near a swimming pool or jacuzzi or anything else which requires swimwear.  A loves that stuff though, and self-consciously goes by himself rather than miss out.  It makes me feel bad for letting him down, and there’s also a sneaking suspicion that I’m missing out myself.  So, I have swim shorts, which cover the worst of my backside and upper legs.  If I can now find a top or costume that covers enough, I may just be talked into the pool.  We’ll see! 

Anyway, this coming week…apart from walking this afternoon and Morgan this evening…tomorrow we need to do some garden stuff.  On Monday we both have check-ups at the dentist.  Work is suddenly really busy, with two major deadlines at the end of the week, so our entire team will be hard pushed to get everything done.  I may even have to go in to Bristol an extra day or more!

Unplanned Babble

February 27, 2010

This has been a busy week, lots going on work-wise, including the usual treks to Bristol and back and a clear-out day in the Swindon office (which is closing very soon). 

On Monday we collected our Bunny-Raddit’s ashes from the vet, and buried him under the cherry tree in our garden.  It was sad, but not unbearably so, and instead of the harsh sobbing of the days before there were just a few quiet tears.  It felt like saying goodbye, and starting to move on. 

Knitting has been happening, at a slightly slower pace than usual.  Mum’s shawl is finally getting there – just 8 rows of the last chart to complete, then the border and cast-off.  I haven’t taken any new pictures as it just looks like a bundle of (very pretty, soft, delicate) fabric.  Hopefully it will block well! 

I’ve made some progress on the travel socks this week, turned the heel of sock 2 and started the gusset decreases.  That should be done in the next week or two. 

Last night I even picked the lap blanket back up, for the first time in a few weeks.  I didn’t really feel like it, but I was too tired for the complications of the shawl.  Sadly, the blanket was at a stage where I needed to wind a new skein of yarn, and that took me the rest of the evening so I didn’t actually knit any blanket. 

On my visit to the Swindon office yesterday, I took some sketches and pattern ideas for a new cross-stitch picture for my friend Avril’s new grand-daughter in Australia.  Avril’s daughter requested ‘cupcakes and butterflies and fairies and things like that’, so I trawled through my shelf of magazines and found a few examples of each item.  Then I drew up a rough layout, which I took to show Avril.  She really liked it, suggesting pastel colours look good and requesting blonde hair for the fairy.  Avril is visiting Australia in early May, so I need to get this done by then if possible. 

Before that, I’ve got to finish my Mum’s shawl for Mother’s Day (2 weeks away) and knit a shawl for A’s Mum for her birthday in early April.  Luckily the yarn I picked out for A’s Mum’s shawl is sock-weight, not lace-weight, so should knit up fairly fast. 

What else…?  Oh yes, spring is here!  The birds have started singing their spring songs, they are evident everywhere I go.  I even say a blackbird and heard a great tit in the middle of Bristol last week!  And a single lonely male blackbird has taken up residence in our garden, which is so exciting.  We’ve seen him around before (I’m assuming it’s the same one), but never for long, but since the snow in January we’ve been throwing the odd handful of dried mealworm on the floor by the birdfeeder.  Mr B has taken to sitting in the cherry tree, watching for us and waiting for us to come out with food…he no longer flies away even a short distance.  Then last night, so exciting, we heard him singing.  Looked out of the window and he was sat on our washing-line post, singing his little socks off.  Calling out that our garden is his territory!  Sounds like a small thing to get so excited about, but that means we now have regular visits from 2 wrens, a number of pigeons and a blackbird, having never seen anything except cats before last year. 

Anyway, I’d better get to work – got some hours to make up, even though it is Saturday. 

This week coming I’ll be in Birmingham once, Bristol once and not a lot else that I know of at this point.  Let’s hope for a quiet one!