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Saturday 30 November 2019

First snow of the Winter!

As Linda and I were buying the last few bits and pieces for tonight's music quiz (prizes, nibbles and so on) we were astonished to see light snow falling - more powder than anything else. As the cloud that was dropping it moved south towards Norwich, you could see that the vast majority of the precipitation was evaporating / sublimating before it reached ground level. The colours in the images below have not been enhanced: a beautiful sight!

Tuesday 26 November 2019

Masterchef: a travesty!

Firstly, can I apologise for the absence of any bird-related posts recently? I've been in bed with a bad cold for a couple of days and - with the big music quiz on Saturday - I didn't dare risk a day out with Brian and Norman!

Tonight, for a bit of light relief, I watched 'Professional Masterchef' and, IMHO, any pretence of equity and impartiality went right out of the window. A 'chef' who had never even seen an artichoke and who had no idea how to prepare or cook one - nor a beurre noisette - went through to the next round on the basis of a soggy choux bun. Meanwhile, a real chef, who was told that her skills test was faultless, cooked a delightful signature dish, but was sent home because her plate was 'a little crowded'.

What amazes me is how cooks with only basic skills dare participate in this programme: anyone watching tonight's edition would be appalled to see the lack of skills of so-called 'Chefs de Cuisine' and 'Head Sous-Chefs' who are putting out food at £60 a plate in their 'home' restaurants.

Monday 25 November 2019

I went down to the crossroads...

Funny thing: as I get older, I realise that the only music I've ever really related to, tried to emulate and listened to with total passion is the blues. I'll never play like Peter Green, Eric Clapton or Robert Johnson, but that doesn't stop me trying. I have several good friends who can blow me away when they play blues: there's Tim Parker and Ross Coupland on guitar and Ross's dad, Garth Coupland on harmonica. To play with these guys is as near as musical heaven as I've experienced: add in a bassist as good as Colin Roberts or Michael Elliott and I feel genuine empathy with my favourite music and its exponents....

I've just rewatched (for the millionth time!) a film that comes close to explaining what blues music is about: "A good man feeling bad"

If you've never seen 'Crossroads'. don't be put off by the youthful male lead - it's a terrific piece of cinema, with astonishing guitar playing by Ry Cooder and Steve Vai.

Sunday 24 November 2019


After a fabulous couple of decades, Linda and I have decided to sell 'Spacerocks UK' and retire next year! It's been terrific fun - and very worthwhile, both financially and in terms of the people and places we've come to know.

We've both just about had enough of the A14, M11 and M25 and, as we creak towards three score years and ten, it's time to enjoy the weekends, rather than spend them in traffic jams!

We've had two offers already, one of which looks promising - watch this space! Meanwhile, we can't finish before the end of the financial year, so if you want to visit a show, we're at several in the New Year: Collier Row, Kettering and Cambridge...

Saturday 23 November 2019

Getting into the Christmas spirit!

Yes I know: 'Bah, humbug!' but when you're retired Christmas can very easily become just another roast dinner! Linda and I always enjoy the run-up to the festive season, particularly since Norwich does it so well! Today there was a Christmas market at the Forum, at which Linda and I bought each other some little extra presents, before enjoying a drink in front of the 'Light Tunnel'. Linda had mulled wine, while I experimented with a Prosecco and Limoncello cocktail. This was so delightful that we bought a bottle in the Adnam's Store! Along Gentlemen's Walk, Norwich's famous 'Puppet Man' was just setting up....

Friday 22 November 2019

Everything but an owl!

Three years ago Linda and I put up an owl box in the garden: the first year it was occupied by Starlings, the second by Jackdaws and, by the looks of it, the third year it will be Stock Doves!

Actually, Stock Doves are so beautiful (almost on a par with Turtle Doves) that we hope they do decide to stay...

Thursday 21 November 2019

Pot of gold!

A beautiful double rainbow during the brief period of Sun today! Until I had a decent DSLR (eight years ago!) I had never noticed that the sky inside a rainbow is brighter than that above it! I'd love to know the reason for this!

Wednesday 20 November 2019

Seconds of the Isabelline Wheatear and odds & ends elsewhere!

With a sunny day promised, Brian and I started the morning at Titchwell. A walk out to the sea produced some decent seaduck (Goldeneye, Pintail and Merganser) as well as a dapper Spotted Redshank lurking among the Godwits! A Muntjac fed close to the path in the 'Water Rail Ditch'!

After a detour to retrieve Brian's phone from where he'd lost it at Syderstone, we stopped at Wells Sewage Works to look for the long-staying Rough-legged Buzzard. We saw several Commons and Red Kites, as well as a pale-headed individual that some people claimed as the Rough-legged...

Last birds were at Cley, where the Isabelline Wheatear seemed much fitter than last week as it fed happily among the shingle and grass.

Tuesday 19 November 2019

Silver wedding!

Today is Linda and my silver wedding anniversary. It seems astonishing that we've been married for a quarter of a century - two years longer than we managed with our previous partners!

There've been plenty of hard times, but even more good ones... I put our 'success' down to the fact that we both share passions for birding and astronomy, but also have other interests: Linda has her bees and I have my guitars!

Together we've run five successful businesses, seen well over 400 species of birds in the UK and made some incredible friends. We've travelled the length and breadth of Britain and visited France over 100 times, enjoying some fabulous birds, amazing food and memorable wines together.

To everyone who has been part of our wonderful journey: many, many thanks from both of us!

Monday 18 November 2019

Snow Buntings at Cley and a special birthday!

Yesterday was our great friend Sue's birthday: since it was a 'special number', she decided to throw a lunch party at the delightful Pheasant Hotel at Weybourne. It was a lovely occasion with great food and great company.

Here are just a couple of videos of some of the fifty or so Snow Buntings that have taken up residence nearby on the shingle between Cley and Salthouse.

Sunday 17 November 2019

The International Astronomy Show - an incredible weekend!

Linda and I are giving serious consideration to retiring from full-time dealing next year, so this weekend's IAS might well be our last... We've attended every show since the start and, thanks to our good friends the organisers Graham and Martin, we've had plenty of laughs and put a few bob in the kitty!

This weekend the event was held in a new, more intimate venue and was thoroughly rewarding in every way. To our surprise, the IAS team (having discovered that this week is Linda and my silver wedding anniversary) decorated our pitch with balloons and banners! What's more, they'd had a beautiful cake made for us, which was presented at the traditional buffet at the end of the first day's trading: many, many thanks to everyone for their good wishes!

Since it was a special weekend, Linda and I stayed at a beautiful hotel nearby: the Mill. As the name implies, the hotel is a converted watermill, and the continuing floods had brought the river levels perilously close to the building!

Old friend Paul came down from Derby to visit, and we had a lovely day of 'catch up' with him: he enjoyed the opportunity to hold the UK's largest lunar meteorite (worth a six-figure sum!) courtesy of Graham Ensor, its owner. The vintage car was Sir Patrick Moore's lifelong ride, which was on display in Rother Valley's large trading area...