30 January 2006

For Bleunwenn.......

Stones Island at Carsington Water is, as far as I’m aware, just a “tourist attraction” that was built sometime after the completion of the reservoir in the early 1990s. The stones themselves are carved from Derbyshire gritstone and vary in height from 1.7 to 4 metres in height and the heaviest weighs 7.6 tonnes - or so I’m told!

The reservoir is England’s ninth largest and can hold something like 7.5 billion gallons of water. There is some natural water run off into Carsington Water but most of it is pumped up from the River Derwent via an under ground aqueduct of over 10km in length.

All the above facts are things that I’ve learnt today too! Isn’t is always the case; you live close to somewhere for all your life, or in the case of Carsington, all it’s life, and yet you know nothing about it really! Thanks to Flore, I’ve found out one or two things today!

One thing I did know about this place… back in 1977 my dad won one of his best ever Autograss races right where the reservoir is now! Our club had their track in fields that were purchased as part of the reservoir build. I often look out into the water, from the end of the road that used to lead to the field, and think back to that day!

To this day, I can still picture my dad crossing the finish line, throwing both arms up in triumph and nearly turning the car end-over-end as he hit a big rut in the track!!!!

29 January 2006

Two good days!

Saturday was quite a fun day in the end! If you can call standing out in freezing conditions, for 8 hours, fun! It was the second day of our big sales weekend at work, we'd had a “preview day” on Friday and, after I had helped clear all the frost and ice from the cars on show, I took up my place as “meeter and greeter” on the entrance gate.

Just about everyone arriving on site took very well to having their details logged as they arrived - name, address etc - with only one vehicle driving through our “check point” without stopping! Try as I might I just could not make myself wide enough to block his path! Still, at least the driver did steer around me and not drive over me! By the close of business last night, 25 orders had been confirmed so if today has been as busy then the event should be a success.

So, onto today. I had decided that I would have a second attempt at getting to see both the Red-necked Grebe and the two Black-necked Grebes at Carsington Water that I had missed last weekend due to the fog. The alarm was set for 6:45am and, after ignoring it for a short while, I was up and out of the house by 7:40am. As the grebes had been around for some while, I decided to head for Cromford first in the hope of catching a glimpse of the Hawfinches that can sometimes be found there.

After being at Cromford for only a matter of seconds I had 12 Hawfinch located! What a cracking start to the day! I’ve seen these birds on a number of occasions but never in such numbers and never showing so well. They sat in the treetops for around half an hour before moving off in smaller groups. With another “year tick” in the bag, I headed for Carsington Water.

The Black-necked Grebes proved that not all birds are so easy to find - I had to walk almost 150 yards from the car to find them! This was going a little too well. Most of the reports over the past few days had been of the Black-necks being in the Hopton Arm section of the reservoir and sure enough, that’s where I found them. Even though they were still in winter plumage these two little birds looked stunning in the bright winter sunshine. After watching the grebes and a number of other wild fowl for a short time, I moved onto the Sheepwash car park.

My next target was the Red-necked Grebe. This was the one I knew would be a challenge and that’s just what it turned out to be. I checked all the open water, in sections, between the car park and the sailing club with no luck. I then spent some time scanning the more sheltered area around Stone Island, again with no joy.

Two views of Stone Island

Time was now getting on and I decided to head back for some lunch. On the walk back to the car, around two miles, I did manage to see two Little Owls, 44 Barnacle Geese (feral breeders), around 200 Pink-footed Geese (in flight) and a few Goldeneye, all new birds for the year.

As I had to pass by the Lane End hide again I decided to have another quick look for the Red-necked Grebe from there, as the light was now better - no direct sun on the water. After a quick look around with my ‘scope I had found my final target of the day! Again, it was another winter plumage bird but that didn’t really matter to me, it was another Derbyshire tick!

On the drive home, I also added Common Buzzard to my growing county list for the year. In the end, I finished up with 17 year ticks today giving me a Derbyshire total of 70 species for 2006.

25 January 2006

More of the same...

Today ran to current form - more problems! Then, at lunchtime today, I'm informed that we have a sales meeting tonight after work! Thanks for the prior notice! All thoughts of going to the gym went straight out of the window again!

On to brighter things… just finished a haggis supper, as it’s Burns Night, and very shortly I’ll be sat enjoying a Whisky or two to help me celebrate - or is it to try and forget the past two days?

The Band From County Hell have updated their gig reports today with an account of Saturdays show. It can be found here! They even used some of my photos again!

24 January 2006

Another crazy work day! Why is it that when you're having a good day, and everything is running as planned, there is always ONE that can mess everybody else’s day up? My ONE did it again today!

As always, there is a way out of it… I rang and booked tickets to see “Last Nights Fun” when they play their gig in Belper next month! Made me feel much better!

The healthy eating took a bit of a step backwards today… I couldn’t drag myself out of bed in time for breakfast so I picked up a sausage and bacon cob on the way to work! I’ll think of it as a little treat - after all, I have lost 5lbs in the last 10 days or so! Then, just to make the day a little worse, I backed out of going to the gym tonight. Oh well, there is always tomorrow.

I’ve just finished updating my first bird list of the year, which, after just one walk without my binoculars on New Years day and one trip to Carsington Water in the fog, now stands at 54 species for Derbyshire. Not a huge total but a reasonable start I think. I’ll be adding a separate Blog page onto here very soon so that I can keep track of both my Derbyshire year list and my UK year list.

22 January 2006

A better weekend....

I had been looking forward to this weekend for the whole week - and more - and it turned out just great! Well, apart from today's weather!

Work on Saturday morning turned out to be nothing more than checking off a very small order that came in - took about 10 minutes - and then a full clean of the fish tank in the showroom. That took just over two and a half hours as it was time for a full sort out! At 12:30pm it was out the door, a quick drive into Derby for a hair cut and back home for some lunch.

By 5:30pm, we were back out of the door and on the road to Lincoln. The traffic was good and that, coupled with the new roads built between Nottingham and Lincoln in the past few years, meant by 7:00pm we were parked up and looking for the venue for the evenings gig. As it turned out we had passed the place we were looking for, a new music venue and bar called Christopher's, about 400 yards before the car park!

With drinks in hand, Lynda and I got settled into a rather nice leather sofa and listened to the sound check going on upstairs. The Band From County Hell have been a favourite of ours for a few years now but this was the first time we had seen them since the Derby Beer Festival last July. I was ready for this one!!!

At 9:00pm, they started playing to a packed house! I'm not sure just how many the room should have held, but I'm pretty sure that is was not as many as were packed in last night! There were even people stood four or five deep on the stairs that led into the room!

Many of the old favourite songs came out in a set that lasted for just under two hours, including "Do These Things Happen To You", "Boom, Boom, Boom", "Irish Rover" and "Roddy McCauley". In amongst these were also a few new songs from the latest CD, "Ghosts & Spirits", such as "Glasgow Hills", "The Ballad Of Charlie Dowd" and "Billy Allen".

All too soon, the last song was played and it was time for us to head for home. Happy, but wanting more! The band already has quite a few festivals lined up so it looks like it could be a fun summer!

BFCH gig photos here!

So onto today. Whilst driving home last night it soon became clear that the weather we had enjoyed during Saturday, nice, clear, and sunny, was going to cause problems for Sunday! Mist and fog was starting to form over the Lincolnshire fields. Sure enough when I looked out the bedroom window at 6:45am I was met with thick fog - not good for bird watching! Back to bed for an hour. By the time I had had breakfast, driven the 30 minuets or so it takes to get to Carsington Water the gloom had lifted a little, but it was only a little. Visibility was down to around 200 yards all morning.

I did manage a total of 39 species in just under 3 hours, not bad in the end. Highlights, if you can call them that, included 105 Ruddy Duck, 10 Snipe, a pair of Bullfinch, 2 Tree Sparrow, a single Lesser Redpoll, 1 Willow Tit and a party of 12 Long-Tailed Tit that showed down to less than 10 feet from me.

It was also nice to see that the first signs of spring are showing in the form of some early Catkins. Now if only we could get a run of dry and bright weekends I may just shake off the winter blues and get out like this more often on a Sunday!

19 January 2006

So I messed up!

Not quite sure how I did it but I've just found that the post I wrote on January 7 was still waiting to be published! Oh well, it's up on here now! Better late than never! Who knows, some of the other stuff on here may make a little more sense now..... then again!

I also slipped up on the healthy eating a little this morning as well - I couldn't drag myself out of bed for a proper breakfast before work again! I'm sure it must have something to do with this weather and also the dark mornings!!!

Still, at least I'm still putting the work in at the gym, been twice this week so far and will be there again tomorrow night. Not that it's having much effect on me! I'd managed to shift 4lbs of Christmas excess by the start of this week but that's been replaced by 2lbs of cooked breakfast! Some you win, some you lose!

The weekend is looking a little more promising weather wise so with a bit of luck I'll get out and add to the bird list for the year. There's one or two "good birds" around at the moment so it's time I went and picked up a few year ticks!

17 January 2006

Today was a good day!

Well, just over 12 hours ago I wanted to start and sort tickets and things out for some gigs that I fancied.

Two phone calls, and a few text messages, and I'm off to see The Band From County Hell on Saturday, and then in February it's the Oysterband here in Derby! Big word of thanks to my mate Paul for the Oysterband ticket - saved me trying to get into Derby for it!!!

The BFCH gig is over in Lincoln, not a place I know well at all but that's one of the reasons for going! A new venue and a trip out and about! To be honest I'm really looking forward to this gig - not seen this band for a while and they are always brilliant!

Tomorrow I'll start and look at gigs for later in the Spring - why not? I'm on a roll!

Oh, the healthy eating went real well today, as did the gym! I could do with a beer right now though!


There needs to be some, and it has started today!

Late last night I told Lynda that I would get myself back into my old morning routine, and start getting up in time for a cooked breakfast again (that made her laugh) - well, I managed it, no problem! That should help with the second change, cutting down on the amount of "rubbish" I eat during the day at work!

Since Christmas I have been eating far too much chocolate and crisps - that will stop! We're already hitting the gym 3 or 4 times a week so it's just a case of working a little harder whilst I'm there - starting tonight!

Now that the new PC is all up and running it can become a "work tool" again and not have me sat at it for hours - more time for doing things that actually matter in life!

Now, if only the weather will stay dry for a day or two over a weekend, I can get on with some "serious" bird watching, if there is such a thing, instead of sitting in the house all the time!

Later today I'll start looking into tickets etc for some of the bands I want to see in the next couple of months. Live music..... beats talking about it every time!

15 January 2006

Oh well, another weekend is almost over! Where does the time go? If only Monday to Friday went as quick.....

We went for our lunch at The Bulls Head on Saturday, had a cracking meal again, then I spent the rest of the afternoon sorting stuff out on the old PC - again! At least it's all done now!

This morning, I looked out of the bedroom window at around 8:30am and it was dull, grey and damp again! Straight back to bed! No walk or bird watching today! It's starting to get me down now this winter! Think I must be suffering with S.A.D. or whatever it is!!!

By the time I got up around an hour later the sun was out! Great! Why couldn't it have been like that first thing? Oh well, another easy Sunday. I cooked breakfast again - two weeks running now that Lynda has had a cooked breakfast! - then sat and read the papers whilst listening to a few CDs.

I've just finished looking for tour dates for some of the bands we follow and the next few months are already looking quite good. Two chances of seeing The Band From County Hell in January. Last Nights Fun and the Oysterband in February. Then Bluehorses in April; and thats before all the spring and summer festivals start!

I'm even looking at a trip to Scotland for a couple of bands - but that's a "wait and see what happens" thing at the moment!

Right, time for a small whisky and a read of my book!

13 January 2006

Friday 13th !!

A bad workman blames his tools!

The best things in life are free!

Every cloud has a silver lining!

Some you win, some you lose!

It’s not the end of the world!

Don’t get mad - get even!

Don’t worry, be happy!

It’s only a game!

Life goes on!

Just about says it all for today!

12 January 2006

At last, the weekend is almost here! And I can’t wait! It’s been one of those weeks this week - work's been crazy busy, not the nice sort of busy! Anything and everything has been a problem - orders not turning up, others arriving damaged, some just plain wrong! Most were late! Oh, and tomorrow is Friday 13th! Great!

On top of all that it’s been hard getting back into the old routine now that Christmas and the New Year are behind us. I still can’t drag myself out of bed in a morning in time to make breakfast before work, going back to the gym after a two week break is killing me and we just don’t seem to have time to do anything other than come home from work, eat, catch a bit of TV, then sleep! I need this weekend!

So, what am I going to do with my two days off work? Err, I’m not sure! Saturday, Lynda has decided we will go out for lunch, so that will be either The Bulls Head at Denby or The Risley Park as we have some money off vouchers to use up! Lots of good food, and cheaper than it should be! That will do for me! In the morning I may go and have a look at getting a new fish tank for home - my two goldfish are in need of more space!

If the weather is OK on Sunday then I hope to be out early either bird watching or walking. I don’t really mind which, just so long as I can get out and away from people, phones and cars for a few hours! If it’s another wet day then I’ll stay in bed for half the morning and then sit around the house with either some music playing or the TV on! I NEED A DRY DAY ON SUNDAY!!!!

09 January 2006

Note to self......


It's just over a week now since I decided that enough was enough, booted the old PC off my desk and set up the new one! And I'm still finding things that need transferring from one to the other! If it's not photos, it's e-mail addresses or favourite web sites, or sound files, or video clips, or birdwatching records - that was fun as there were over 6000 of them! Never again! OK, rant over with....

Yesterday the weather wasn't up to much at all so we had a lazy start to the day and didn't get out of bed until around 10:00am! Not like me at all! Lynda walked to fetch the Sunday papers and I then cooked "brunch", scrambled eggs on toast! I cook a great scrambled egg!! The rest of the morning and afternoon was spent in front of the TV, and the old PC, as I downloaded files onto CD for transferring (boring job!).

Lynda cooked a late lunch/early tea of Chicken Casserole which, I must say, was one of the best chicken dishes I've tasted in a good while! And there was plenty of it!

The highlight of the day was the live football game on Sky TV - Man Utd v Burton Albion! On paper this one was a walkover for Man U, but this was an FA Cup match so anything was possible. Burton's ground was a sell out of just over 6000 people and they managed to hold on for a 0 - 0 draw against a side that is over 100 places above them in the Football League - what a result!

That was enough to earn them a replay at Old Trafford, Manchester, a game that will earn the small Burton club over £800,000 when they play at the home of Manchester Utd. What a difference that will be for them playing in front of a crowd that could be up to 68,000 or more! No doubt Utd will take the replay with ease but there's no taking Sunday's result away from Burton!

07 January 2006

2006 is up and running.....

Well, the new PC has been in place for almost a week now and I still haven’t loaded all my software and files onto it yet! I guess I must be about 75% there by now so at least the worst is over - be pleased to have it all finished though! Tomorrow will see the rest finished with luck as it looks like the weather will keep me in the house. I’d hoped to go for a walk in the morning but the forecast is for rain, mist or even fog. That’s if we don’t get snow, which we did for a while this afternoon.

The past week has been really busy at work with a number of decent orders for accident repair parts - I love the bad weather! We have also been notified of a rather large re-call on one type of vehicle, which will result in a substantial number of them coming through the workshop in the coming weeks. It’s also only two weeks now until we have a 3 day car sales event planned - we all get to work longer hours on the Friday, Saturday AND Sunday! Great!

The Christmas and New Year break didn’t have quite the effect on me as last year did; I only gained 8 lbs in weight this time! Obviously didn’t eat enough! Lynda and I have been back to the gym twice so far this week so no doubt I’ll soon move the extra few pounds again and, no doubt, Lynda will hate me for losing it so easy!!!

Tomorrow I’ll start looking into forthcoming gig dates for some of the bands we follow. One or two of them will be playing within easy travelling distance for us over the next few months so I need to be getting tickets organised now before they sell out.

03 January 2006

OK, things are starting to return to "something" like normal again! That is if you don't look at the state of the spare bedroom that my PC desk is in! I've sort of trashed the place over the past two days!!! I've two PC's on the go - one on the desk, one on the floor - and the whole of the spare bed is covered with cables, CD's, all sorts of packaging and associated rubbish! SORRY LYNDA!!!
So, what's been going on......

New Year's Eve was a quiet night home for us, can't face all the nutters in the pubs these days, with plenty of food, a good few drinks and the TV. Jools Holland's show was pretty good again, some decent music from James Blunt, Kaiser Chiefs and, at midnight, the 1st Battalion of Scots Guards made the run up to 12 o'clock go off OK. Then, as expected, the streets around us exploded! Ever since the millennium I'm sure that more fireworks go up at midnight on New Year that on November 5th! Still, they put on a good free show!

New Year's Day and we were up and about by 9:00am - obviously didn't drink enough the night before - had a quick breakfast and pulled on the walking boots. The idea was to walk from home to Elvaston Castle, walk around the grounds then return home. In the end we finished up walking for over 4hrs! We did get to the castle but sort of kept on going and adding bits on to the walk as we went along!

Having walked through the grounds at Elvaston we carried on towards Borrowash before following the banks of the river Derwent towards Derby. On two more occasions we added to the length of the walk rather than head for home! In the end it wasn't until we reached the outskirts of the city centre that we decided it was time to leave the river path and head back for some dinner! In the end I'd guess that we walked around 9 or 10 miles. In the evening Lynda went to her usual pub quiz whilst I tried to catch up with things on the internet. Sunday night was the final straw as far as the old PC was concerned - it crashed every few minutes and I decided that it's days had finally run out!

Straight after breakfast on Monday we headed into Derby, returned a short while later with my new PC and that's when I trashed the spare room! In the end I'll have a lot more desk space with the new flat screen, it just doesn't look like it right now! I can't believe the difference in speed between the old PC and the new one, it's already making things so much easier here on the Blog and with sorting digital photos out. Then again, with 320GB hard drive and 1GB of RAM it should be a bit quicker than my old system!

That just leaves today, Tuesday. Back at work for the first time since Christmas Eve! In the end it wasn't too bad at all. OK, I'd been left with a fair bit of paperwork to sort out plus one or two "problems" that needed my attention but on the whole a nice steady start to the year! We even went to the gym for around an hour after work! Come to think of it that hurt more than work!!!

New Year walk photos

02 January 2006


I've not forgotten about the Blog, but have been having major PC problems over the past week!!!

This has now been solved - a new system is now in place and I'm in the process of changing all my files and photos over!

I'll post a re-cap of the past few days very soon!