26 February 2006

Not as planned...

Well, the rugby was good to watch! Pity that England didn't play as well! I can't remember the last time I saw them make so many basic errors. But hey, it's only a game and at least I had the consolation of seeing Clann An Drumma play live on TV! I'm sure that's why the Scots won the game - all the extra tribal energy that was on the field after CAD played!!!

OK, yesterday I said that today I would either be "chilling out with my CD’s, watching TV or just sleeping! Then again, I may just go and get some of the troubles of the world out of my system at the gym." Well, I did fall asleep for a very short time this afternoon but that was all!

The weather was much better than forecast this morning - no rain or sleet - so, after I'd made breakfast for Lynda and myself, I went off bird watching again. Nothing special, just a couple of hours at Willington Gravel Pits. Best bird of the morning was a superb Peregrine Falcon that was hunting over the main area of water. It made a couple of high-speed attacks on a group of around 800 Lapwing but failed to make a kill.

The walk down to the gravel pits.

The view over one of the pits.

25 February 2006

So, that’s what the Oysterband can do then! Two hours of great music, with a great sound system and lorry loads of attitude on stage! Yep, the Oysterband can rock! I would say that they set the stage alight but they didn’t quite manage that! It did look as though they may at one point - I’m sure that the electric squeezebox of John Jones was smoking away to it's self while it was left on the drum riser! The stage tech. soon moved it away and replaced it with another!!

The music came thick and fast and included many of the regular Oyster tracks… NATIVE SON; ONE GREEN HILL; HERE’S TO YOU; EVERYWHERE I GO; WE’LL BE THERE and UNCOMMERCIAL SONG. There were also one or two tracks that were new to me, but that came as no surprise as it is a few years since I last saw them play.

As usual with an Oysterband gig, the crowd were up for this from the start. From the moment the band walked on stage the crowd were up and bouncing - I love standing gigs!

As for the rest of the week, well, I didn’t make the gym last night! The draw of pizza, garlic bread and a bottle of red wine were too much for Lynda and I, so it was straight home after work and an evening in. Today I couldn’t find the enthusiasm to get out of bed early and go bird watching so, after an hour or so extra in bed, I spent the morning sorting through the piles of paperwork I had scattered all over my desk! I can now see the desk!

Only just over two hours to go before the Scotland v England rugby game; fingers crossed that we get to see Clann An Drumma on the TV! That, and an England win!

Tomorrow, I’ll do whatever the day has in store for me! It could be a day chilling out with my CD’s, watching TV or just sleeping! Then again, I may just go and get some of the troubles of the world out of my system at the gym.

Oh, got the KT Tunstall CD, Eye To The Telescope, today. On it's second play right now and I think this will become a favorite play for me!

22 February 2006

Was it you???

I've just checked my web page hit counter and (drum roll) someone became my 1000 visitor tonight!!!

So, if you checked this page at 7:02PM UK time, through BT, it was you!


A very quiet start to the week so far, no major dramas at work, nothing out of the ordinary going on at home. I did make it to the gym on Tuesday and although my knee was playing up, again, I had quite a good work out. I'll be back there again on Friday.

Tomorrow, I go and see the Oysterband play in Derby. Another gig I've been looking forward to for a while, another gig that should be a great night out! It's been a couple of years since I last saw this band and then it was in a pub that didn't have a very good sound system, or stage, so this one should be much better.

The next "big thing" I'm looking forward to is the rugby on Saturday - Scotland v England! Now that should be a good one! As a bonus, I may just get to see one of the bands I follow on the TV. Clann An Drumma are playing before the game and also welcoming the teams onto the field! Let's just hope the TV producer shows them!

20 February 2006

Birthday girl...

OK, I give up! I've started this post four times now and still can't get it right! I've got writers block! So.... it looks like the photos will tell most of the story of the past two days!

Our room at the Hunting Lodge restaurant and hotel. The Louis Room was first class - right down to the huge four-poster bed. The food in the restaurant on Saturday evening was equally good, as were the staff and the atmosphere.

Camera balanced on the end of the bed, self timer on, run, TRY and look casual! No! It didn't work with me!

On Sunday we had planned to go and explore Bradgate Park, former home to Lady Jane Grey, who was Queen for nine days following the death of Edward VI, and prior to being imprisoned in the Tower of London, accused of treason and beheaded. Well, we had almost as much luck as she did! The morning dawned misty and damp. By the time we had finished a rather excellent cooked breakfast, it had turned to rain. Bradgate is now to be visited at a later date, when the sun is out!

Sunday evenings see Lynda out with her friends at a local pub quiz, this Sunday was no different, except this week I joined in to!

Lynda and Sheila... don't be deceived by the innocent looks! When these two get together, there's going to be trouble for some one - usually me!

They got me! Trying not to laugh when you have a mouth full of cider makes your eyes sting real bad!!! Quite what I'm doing with my hand I don't know!

Another drink anyone?

Stand up Lynda! The whole pub sings Happy Birthday - including the barman with the microphone!

There will be a follow up to this in the coming weeks, when Lynda gets to take a ride in a hot air balloon, a trip I bought for her as a birthday present.

18 February 2006

Last Night's Fun

I just knew it! Last night's gig was a cracker! Denny Bartley, Nick Scott and Chris Sherburn - together they are Last Night's Fun.
Denny... Nick... Chris...

They were introduced as the best Irish music band in England; I'd say that is more than true! This band aren't just about great music, they are an evening's entertainment! The jokes, stories and fun starts from the moment they walk on stage and doesn't stop until they leave at the end of the gig. Last night was no exception!

I didn't make a list of all the tracks played, I never do with any band, but some of the one's that stood out were...Next Market Day; The Tinkerman's Daughter; Tom Joad; The Watchmaker and the most amazing version of Whiskey In The Jar!

Whiskey In The Jar...

If you get the chance, go and see this band! Before that, check out their music at...

http://www.lastnightsfun.com/clips.html .

All three clips need to be heard, and then there are three video clips! And all for free!

Nick playing the uilleann pipes...

17 February 2006

TFI Friday!

You know how sometimes a week just goes on for ever, and the weekend never gets any closer... that's been my week! Now, there's just under 5 hours of work left before I can run out of the door screaming!

A great weekend will then start - and I'm going to make sure it is a great weekend! The gig we are going to this evening will be a good one, of that I'm sure, then, after a few hours in work tomorrow morning, the weekend is all about Lynda's birthday!

Excuse me... coming through... man on a mission!

A crazy man? May be! Then again, this world has gone crazy this week!

16 February 2006

Today; well what a nice day it was! Yes, I'm kidding!

Tomorrow, we go to see LAST NIGHTS FUN.
I've been looking forward to this gig since I first found out about it - now I'm REALLY ready for what will be a great night!

If the above doesn't make any sense, don't worry! Today hasn't made any sense to me either!

15 February 2006

Why bird watching?

That's the question I was asked today by someone I work with!

My answer was that it gets me away from people and phones, and that it is a great way to just relax! A quick look around the internet and I found three quotes that also got me thinking.....

That man is richest whose pleasures are cheapest.

Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you!

How strange that nature does not knock, and yet does not intrude!

Okay, I think I'll stop there... getting a little bit too heavy for me!

14 February 2006

Valentines Day - with a twist!

I was sent the following in an e-mail this morning - by Lynda, my wife! Not quite sure how I should take that! :-)

Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet, and so are you.
But the roses are wilting, the violets are dead, the sugar bowl's empty and so is your head.

Of loving beauty you float with grace.
If only you could hide your face.

I want to feel your sweet embrace.
But don't take that paper bag off of your face.

My darling, my lover, my beautiful wife.
Marrying you screwed up my life.

I see your face when I am dreaming.
That's why I always wake up screaming.

What inspired this amorous rhyme?
Two parts vodka, one part lime.

13 February 2006

Two easy days...

A weekend off work and what did I do with it? Nothing! And it was great! Okay, so we went out for a meal on Friday night, which was very good I must add, but apart from that, I've not really done a thing!

I stopped in bed until almost 10:00AM on Saturday and then went and did battle with the shoppers in Derby. I only needed to get my hair cut and buy a couple of things but it took me the best part of 3 hours! I HATE going into town! The rest of the afternoon was spent in front of the TV watching the rugby. Another England win. On Saturday evening we went over to see our friends, Rob and Jane, in Nottingham.

On Sunday I did make an effort to go out birding but when I looked out of the bedroom window, at around 7:45AM, it was raining. End of that idea! Back to bed for another couple of hours! The rain continued, in a rather patchy way, for the rest of the day so I watched the Winter Olympics on TV. Such a hard life!

The rest of this week... well, apart from work, it's a couple of trips to the gym and then on Friday evening we are going to see Last Nights Fun, in Belper. We've seen this group a few times now and they never fail to entertain! This is one gig I'm really looking forward to.

Next weekend is Lynda's birthday, so we are going for a meal at The Hunting Lodge in Barrow Upon Soar and then staying the night there. We have The Louis Room booked, all very grand, complete with four-poster bed! On the Sunday, Lynda wants to go walking at Bradgate Park so I'm hoping for good weather!

12 February 2006


The Renaults gone with a bent front end,
A man from Derby was willing to mend,
He paid five fifty of his hard-earned cash,
Then towed away the crumpled smash.

I stood there with money in hand,
Feeling quite sick cos I still owed 2 grand,
I started to search every magazine,
To find a new car to fulfill my dreams.

There it was in black and white,
One careful owner and the price was right,
I'd found a man who was trying to sell,
His Austin Allegro 1.3 HL.

When I told Tracey about my find,
She said I must be out of my mind,
If I bought that from me she'd walk,
Was she serious? Or was it just talk?

I picked up the phone and started to ring,
But her love for me meant more than anything,
So it wasn't the Allegro that I rang,
But for something just as grand.


I was given the above by someone I used to work with a couple of years ago - not sure if he wrote it (I think he did!) but I've always found it rather good; must be my motor-trade sense of humour!!!

10 February 2006

Great start...

Well, a day can only get better when you start by putting a two inch industrial staple into your finger end! That’s how I started my day! It didn’t hurt that much going in but pulling it back out did – I think it may have been the little “hooked end” that did it! At least the blood only dripped down onto the floor a couple of times, so not much cleaning up to do.

Hopefully the rest of the day will be a little more fun. Tonight Lynda and I are going out for a meal with our friends Mark & Sheila again. This time we’re going up to the Bulls Head at Denby. It’s a late birthday meal for Sheila – her birthday was on Monday – and an early birthday meal for Lynda – her birthday is a week on Sunday.

Not sure what I’ll be doing over the weekend yet; may go out birding again if the weather is OK or, I may have a nice easy couple of days at home as I’ve seen most of my “target birds” that are around in Derbyshire at the moment. I may even finish off sorting all the junk I’ve left all over the spare bedroom after swapping PC’s!

07 February 2006

Feeling rough...

Today, I am ill! In fact, I could be dying!

Don’t you just hate having a head cold???

I know I do!!!

Right, must go… got a couple of parcels that need sending to America!

06 February 2006

A quiet Monday.

After having an extra couple of hours in bed this morning, followed by a rather nice breakfast, I set off for a walk around Elvaston Castle and the surrounding grounds. The weather wasn’t very good again but at least it was dry and a little warmer than the past week or so! In the end, I walked for just under 5 hours.

The only new bird for my year list was a Mistle Thrush but I did see a total of 44 species, so not a bad few hours of local birding. Birds of note included 12 Nuthatch, 5 Goldcrest, 4 Jay, 4 Bullfinch, 3 Grey Partridge, 2 Grey Wagtail, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker and 1 Sparrowhawk.

Winter silhouette.

The old driveway.

The Golden Gates entrance.

Spring is on the way...

05 February 2006

Super Bowl Weekend!

Okay, not the best photo of a Short-eared Owl, but it will do as a reminder of a great bird!

In the end I didn’t go after the Great Grey Shrike on Saturday afternoon - I didn’t have enough time and also the bird had not been seen during Saturday morning - so I just went for the owl instead! The bird was out hunting by 2:00PM, so even though it was a dull and cloudy day the views were very good as it flew around. Even better was the fact that the bird I saw wasn’t even at the site I had intended going to, but at one of the local patches that I visit!

On the lookout for prey.

This first site (no, I am not naming it!) also gave me my first Green Woodpecker, Shoveler, Shelduck and Grey Partridge of the year. All reasonably easy birds to find in Derbyshire, but they still need finding each year! After watching the owl for around an hour, I moved on to my second site of the afternoon, Aston-on-Trent gravel pits. These lakes are still being worked for gravel and are strictly private so my viewing was from the works access road alongside the A50.

I had stopped off here in the hope of adding Smew onto my list and, after a short while searching the lakes through my ‘scope, I had located a stunning adult male! Another great “tick” as these winter visitors are rather scarce in the Derby area. As a bonus, I picked up Golden Plover and Dunlin here too! By now, it was just after 4:00PM so I headed for home with eight new year ticks in the bag!

Saturday evening did not run quite so well…. The plan had been to go and see our friends, Paul & Ali, so I could get them started on the basics of running a Blog. All was going fine until we tried uploading some photos; they just would not publish to the Blog properly! After trying everything I could think of we gave up! I’m still not sure what the problem is, maybe an issue with the Blogger upload, maybe their PC, but it has me beat! Still, it gave us more time for the red wine and the Play Station!

This morning turned out to be dry, if a little dull and overcast, so I decided that I would try for the shrike. After a quick breakfast and then a drive of just over half an hour, I was at Walton-upon-Trent for 8:20AM, far too early for the Shrike as it didn’t decide to join us until just after 9:00AM! The first views of the bird were rather distant and, what was more worrying, it was on the far side of the river, which meant it was in Staffordshire! Not good when you're doing a Derbyshire year list! In the end, it all worked out OK as the Shrike came over onto the “right side” of the water to see a Kestrel off from what must have been the shrike's territory.

With all the birds I had hoped for this weekend all located, I decided to head back towards Derby and some local patch working again. I chose to go to Ambaston, a small area of old gravel pits, open farmland and newly planted woodland. Nothing too out of the ordinary here but it was nice to just have a steady walk around and see what I could find. More notable of the species here were Buzzard, Snipe, Redwing, and a feeding flock of around 200 Wood Pigeon. I also added a couple more year ticks with Yellowhammer and Skylark.

Not pretty whilst they are working...

...but old gravel pits can help the wildlife in the end!

Now it’s time for the American Football Super Bowl, so I’m about to go and get settled in front of the TV with a bottle of whisky and some Pringles! Tomorrow, I have an extra few hours in bed!

03 February 2006

Casserole, birds and Super Bowl!

Friday! At last! I'm so glad that I'm almost done with this week! Just a few hours at work in the morning, then I'm off until Tuesday! Yes, it has been one of those weeks.

Still, no time for looking back, it’s the weekend! And it’s started rather well. Tonight Lynda let me loose in the kitchen on my own! How brave was that then? Not just of Lynda but also me! That is one dangerous place! As you may guess, I do not do much cooking apart from my own cooked breakfast 3 or 4 times a week.

This evening’s little adventure is all down to Donna, one of the Albannach forum users, over in America. A short while ago she posted a recipe on the forum for Breakfast Casserole and I liked the idea of trying it. Tonight I made some, all on my own! It’s gorgeous!!!!

Sausage meat, eggs, cream and cheese = Breakfast Casserole!

So, what about the rest of the weekend? After work tomorrow, I hope to go in search of a Great Grey Shrike, that has been in South Derbyshire for a few weeks, and then Short-eared Owls later in the afternoon. Both the shrike and the owls have been showing well but the weather may not be too good tomorrow so I’m not over confident of a result just yet.

In the evening, we are going around to see some friends, Paul and Ali, so that I can help them set up their own Blog. I just hope I can remember how I started this off!

Sunday will depend on the weather. I’d like to have another morning out bird watching but if the weather is anything like the past 4 or 5 days then I may just stay home and relax.

Sunday night is the American Football Super Bowl so I’ll be staying up to watch that. The coverage doesn’t start on TV until around 11:00PM here so I’ll not be getting to bed before at least 3:00AM on Monday, which is why I’m off work!

01 February 2006

I've so much stuff I want to get done tonight, but I just can't be bothered!!!


Good night!