Friday, December 21, 2007


Collared doves

I know they're not as glamorous as collared doves but these wood pigeons are still rather beautiful in their own way.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Monday, December 17, 2007

brilliant ideas!

save paper, save the planet...

from WWF - worth taking a look at their tips for a greener Christmas...


I was really pleased to get these shots - the new lens we have - a VR 70-300mm is fab and allowed me to get a steady image of the thrush on the roof opposite. He looks really proud.


Monday, December 10, 2007

Sunday, December 02, 2007


This was really exciting - we've never seen a Field Fare before and it came really close to the house - ideal to capture a quick pic!

blue tit

Saturday, November 03, 2007

birds in our garden

We have recently found that the number of different species of birds visiting our garden has gone up a lot. I am so excited by this that I have decided to share some photos of them with you. It's good to have a great new lens that helps to get better pics - it's got VR and that stops the camera shake which helps to take pictures at full zoom in dingy autumn afternoon light!

So here's the chaffinch - the first in a series of not-so great pictures......!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Friday, March 09, 2007

a cause for celebration...

I am bloody chuffed to read today that Gormley's "Another Place" is to remain on the beach at Crosby forever. Just needed to say how great it is - go there!

PS - this is a link, thanks to the Valley of Lost Things, to other weird works of art - air powered robotic sculptures.

Monday, March 05, 2007

our allotment.....

is not actually ours, it's Patsy and Mark's.
But they have generously given us a share - which will help them out of course.

Even better than that, it's near Jude and Al who have two plots, one of which is a share of Will's.

And the icing on the cake is that Scott and Cath have a share of someone's, just across the way, by the gate.

It's fantastic! Fresh air, exercise, the promise of fresh organic veg and with some brilliant people including our best friends. What more could we ask?

We first worked on it 3 weeks ago, we cleared some couch grass and picked off litter.
Last week I went with my Dad to pick up a load of horse manure from the people who keep horses opposite his field. We bagged up 8 sacks of it, and loaded up the campervan. It was in there from Friday to Sunday when we unloaded it..... only to find that the paper sacks did not have sealed bottoms, only stitching and so the liquid that had settled to the bottom of each sack had leaked out onto the plastic bags that I had stood the sacks on, and beyond. There was a stream of brown liquid horse poo running down the edge of the carpet and cupboards of the van! Oops! (It did not smell at all, thank goodness).

On Saturday, in beautiful weather, we spent 2 hours up there, spreading out the manure, and the compost that we had liberated from one of our 2 garden compost bins. We also took that empty compost bin up to the plot. We planted 6 fruit bushes and marked out 6 small planting areas according to our initial planting plan. I have consulted Bob Flowerdew, Alan Titchmarsh and Geoff Hamilton as well as Gardening Which and Jekka McVicker. Everyone says something slightly different and contradictory, but we have settled on a basic rotation plan with companion planting.

Tone has started some crops off as seeds in a propagator. We should be getting my Dad's old home-made cold frame. And thanks to freecycle we have an offer of a free water butt which I plan to collect tomorrow, that will collect water from a drainpipe off a shed. All we need now is the shed!
(photo by Tone)


I love 'em.
You'd think, therefore that I would have followed in Tone's footsteps and done a list of the month on this blog.
But I haven't.
So I'm going to give it a go......

This is a list of my most memorable performances (the ones I can remember right this moment).

  • Singing with the Moorlands Music Youth Choir at the Albert Hall when I was about 13.
  • Being in "the Hired Man" with Stoke Amateur Operatic Society Youth Section when I was 19.
  • Playing drums at a gig for the first time ever with Tone, Scott and Cath in a pub in Clayton a few years ago - I'd been playing drums for exactly 12 months at the time and we played "Moondance".
  • Singing "Ozymandias" in the same youth choir at the Victoria Hall in Hanley.
  • Being Pitti Sing in "the Mikado" at school.
  • Singing "Here There and Everywhere" for my Mum's 60th Birthday accompanied beautifully by Tone on guitar.
  • Singing "I Dreamed a Dream" from "Les Miserables" at a concert when I was studying music at Stoke Sixth Form College.
  • Performing a monologue of the first part of "the Color Purple" for my first year of drama at University.
  • Being Florence Nightingale in the local NHS show to celebrate 50 years of the NHS.

Saturday, February 03, 2007


I offered the wood on freecycle yesterday. Within half an hour of posting the offer on the site - I had two replies and within 3 hours had a total of 7 replies. It has been taken today by the first person to respond, who had it for their father's coal fire. Brilliant that is!

Freecycle is an international network of local groups. People can offer, or request items - for no charge, on the group's website. It's based on the principle that one person's waste is another person's need. We have had a futon mattress from the local group. People have had 3 bikes and firewood and we have offered and are waiting for collection of a film camera and some very small-capacity compact flash and SD cards.

A couple of people have asked for help with jobs like bricklaying. I have suggested to them that they contact the Potteries LETS group, but I don't think it's still running. One freecycle member has said she is interested in helping set up and LETS group again. Tone and I are considering joining her to do so. LETS is a local exchange trading system based on a non-monetary currency. You offer your skills and people pay you in LETS currency. You then pay other people to do things that you need with your LETS currency. Skills offered include babysitting, bricklaying, baking, music-teaching....... Good eh?!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Climate Change......

is a fact, a human-made fact and a scary one.

The IPCC report was announced today. It's a vast report on the science of global warming written by the experts of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The science report is the first of three major IPCC reports this year; similarly weighty analysis of the impact and possible solutions will follow in April and May respectively. The full triumvirate will then be given a final once-over in November, in time for key UN climate talks in Indonesia in December.

The report states that the weather is likely to warm by between 1.8 and 4 degrees c in the next 90 years and it could be as much as 10 degrees. It forecasts a rise of between 18cm and 58cm (half a metre!) in sea levels by the end of this century, a figure that could increase by as much as 20cm if the recent melting of polar ice sheets continues.

"This is just not something you can stop. We're just going to have to live with it," co-author Kevin Trenberth, the director of climate analysis for the US-based National Centre for Atmospheric Research, said in the Guardian today.

Another article in the Guardian last week which pre-empted the report said "Crucially, the report points out that a lag in the global climate system means that average temperatures would continue to rise by 0.1C a decade even if all sources of emissions were frozen today. And it says various positive feedback effects - such as forests, oceans and soil becoming less able to absorb carbon dioxide - could contribute another 1.2C of warming by the end of the century."

So no matter how much recycling and energy saving we do, the change is unstoppable - all we can do it to limit the scale of the change. The scale is very important. A 1 degree increase is frightening. a 3 degree increase means "In southern Europe, serious droughts occur once a decade. Between 1 billion and 4 billion people will suffer water shortages. Agricultural yields will be higher in mid-latitude countries such as Britain and the US, but there will be sharp drops in the tropics, putting 150-550 million people at risk of hunger. Between 1 million and 170 million more people will be affected by coastal flooding. One study suggests that between 20% and 50% of species will face extinction. On current trends, temperatures are predicted to rise 2C-3C by mid-century, which would result in 150-200 million climate refugees."

A 5C rise or above is called "Catastrophic impact - This is equivalent to the temperature rise since the last ice age. Most Himalayan glaciers will disappear, depriving 25% of China's population and hundreds of millions of Indians of water - melt water provides 70% of the water in the Ganges, for example. Sea level rise threatens cities such as London, New York and Tokyo. Rising ocean acidity will disrupt ecosystems and fish stocks. Feedback effects such as carbon dioxide release from soils and methane from permafrost kick in."

"This day marks the removal from the debate over whether human action has anything to do with climate change," Achim Steiner, the head of the UN environment programme, said - according to today's Guardian article.

This needs massive political commitment - it's useful to all do our bit, but we need to put our time and energy into calling for systematic change. December 2007 sees the UN climate talks in Indonesia. This will be the big chance for world governments to show that they understand the urgency of the problem.

our garden (2)....

is looking great this afternoon.

We could not resist the blue sky and warm air, so we got out there and did lots of sorting.
Over the last week Tone has been going out there and doing a little bit at a time - trimming back the damaged trunks of pittosporum. Today he got his circular saw out for the first time in years and cut it all up. This is what's left of the tree and the space where it snapped off.

I loaded it all into the back of the car, except the thick trunks - which we realised would be good firewood for someone. I put the back seats of the car down - it's a hatch-back, and it was full to bursting. Then I popped down to the tip/ recycling centre and chucked it in the garden waste skip. It felt really good!

Whilst we were out there I saw 2 ladybirds and we heard a wood pigeon cooing. There are irises flowering. It is very strange. Is this Global warming?

Update - Tone has posted about this today - Sat 3/2/07 - even more strange and beautiful spring-like phenomenon.....

Sunday, January 21, 2007

our garden....

is in a bit of a state at the moment.

We have not done any real gardening for months - most of 2006 it was largely ignored, or at least I should say I didn't do much apart from sit outside on the days it was dry and not too scorching hot. Tone did some weeding and we both mowed the lawn when it got too long.

But it has now got to the point where it is in minor chaos. The pittosporum which is about 35 feet tall (it's only supposed to get to 20 feet max) has split in half and one half has collapsed over onto the garden. It seems to be alive - it has not snapped off, nor has it uprooted, it appears to have bent at ground level! It's a real shame. It's one of only 4 trees in our small garden and it's the only evergreen one - which of course is why it suffered in the wind. And the birds love it.
Two of the fence panels on that side of the garden were already knackered - and they our neighbours responsibility, but he disagrees, so they've been down for a few years - since the last very high winds. The one behind the pittosporum has gone now too.

Tone has already planted a few bulbs last week, so today I have finally got round to planting a lot more - rather last minute as the earliest should flower in about 8 weeks time. There are still some left to plant, Tone will do those tomorrow - weather and RA permitting.

Altogether there are around 170 crocus, 20 tulips, 75 narcissi, 75 iris and 10 allium. We also have the large pot on the porch with white tulips from Jude and Hywel's wedding (see pic taken by my Dad), that we added narcissi and crocus to that are shooting away.

Most of them were bought cheap, because it's late for planting them, from either Garners or a stall on Hanley outdoor market - yesterday I got 6 packs of bulbs for a fiver - bargain!

It should be a riot of colour from late Feb to June! - I'll post photos as they progress......

Saturday, January 06, 2007


Gill Gill died last week.
Gill was so full of energy - where has that gone now?
She was Director of B Arts from the start in 1985 when they were a co-operative, and what a wonderful organisation they are now. She was a Loud Mouth Woman* and that is how I will remember her - the last time I saw her we were singing the bass line together. Thanks for your voice, your laughter and your energy Gill.

Loud Mouth Women is the singing group that I am a member of.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy 2007

It's a new year and you deserve to be very happy throughout it and beyond!

Tone and I didn't make it to Zoe and Warren's earlier. Tone hadn't the energy and although the sky was beautifully clear all evening and the moonlight was very bright he couldn't even face getting his telescope out. We went to Scott and Cath's for a couple of hours. It was lovely seeing lots of friends. It was a big effort though so we came home at 11 ish.

Tone got a second wind so I encouraged him to get out his telescope as the sky was still clear. I also had the idea to take a photo of the moon. Tone took some pictures and this is the best result. We saw the moon through the telescope - it was fantastic - all the craters at the edge of the shadow looked very high. We tried to find the three stars of Orion's belt but the scope was not aligned so we couldn't - we plan to take the telescope to Cumbria when we go. If we get a clear night, we should see a lot as there will be a lot less light pollution.