31 August 2008

All's quiet...

There's been very little going on this week but, seeing as it's Sunday, I'll post a quick update anyway!

Once again I managed a full week of commuting to work on the bike this week and on Friday evening the ride home took my mileage since June 13 to over 400 miles. At the end of Bike Week 2008 (June 21) I posted a Blog here saying that I'd like to have covered 500 miles, or more, by the end of the year. I'm now changing that to 1,000 miles!

Yesterday evening Lynda and I spent the whole of the late afternoon and evening sat out in the garden reading, having a drink or two and keeping an eye out for any wildlife that may pass by. Lynda also went "walkabout" with her camera for a short while too!

By the time we finally came inside, which was well after dark, we had seen a couple of mice feeding at the bird table, numerous Lesser Black-backed Gulls going to roost, a couple of Blackbirds, a few House Sparrows that came for their supper and also a Collard Dove that came to see what we were doing.

Later in the evening a fox put in a couple of brief appearances and a bat was flying around over the gardens. The garden lights attracted quite a lot of months but I know nothing about identifying months so I didn't even try! I think that one was possibly a Hummingbird Hawk-moth though. Lynda concentrated on looking for stars and had a lot more success in identifying those.

28 August 2008

All things musical...


Just a very quick blog to give a “shout out” to a couple of things musical!

The first is to introduce you to a new band that have just started to record their first music and go public with it. Their name is Eden’s Hill and you can find them at....


Anyone that is familiar with the bands I follow will recognise one name in the Eden’s Hill line-up, the one and only Lizzie Prendergast!

As I say, it’s early days yet but if the first four tracks are anything to go by Eden’s Hill are going to be BIG!

If you do nothing else, check out the version of “Black Is The Colour” that is on the MySpace site - it’s just awesome!

If you have a MySpace page, please add the band as friends and leave them a message.


Now onto my second “shout out” - not a new band this time, just a new track. The band is Neverland and the track is “Town With No Name”. Below is a video clip taken at "The Brewery Tap" acoustic gig that Adrian & Mick, from Neverland, did a couple of weeks ago.

You’ll have to forgive the quality of the filming as it was taken on my stills camera, and I’d also had a few beers by the time they played this song!

Again, Neverland have a MySpace page so drop by and take a look. They have some great music tracks on there too, including the superb “Stars And The Blues” - one of my all time favourite pieces of music!


Adrian Dent & Mick Doyle - Neverland acoustic.

25 August 2008

All's well that ends in Neverland!

It’s been a “fun packed” few days, one way or another! I’ve had to sit in on a disciplinary hearing at work (not mine, a work mate’s!) and I’ve had to go through the stress of one of the filter pumps breaking down again in the fish tank at work. This last happened back in February and almost cost us a lot of fish!

On the plus side, my mate gave me a rather nice bottle of malt whisky, as a thank you for my support, I was also able to get a new pump for the fish tank a lot quicker than in February and, due to the warmer weather, the fish didn’t suffer at all this time.

Yesterday things started to settle down again and I was able to get out birding for a few hours. Once again I took myself off to Willington Gravel Pits - Derbyshire’s premier birding site? I had been hoping to add both Wood Sandpiper and Ruff to my “10-Mile List”, as both species had been reported over the past 24 hours or so. As it happened, I didn’t locate either bird and had to make do with adding Water Rail to my list as a “heard only” tick.

The 4½ hours spent at Willington resulted in a total of 59 species being located with the most notable birds being Pochard, Common Buzzard, Greenshank, both Green and Common Sandpiper, Dunlin, Kingfisher and Yellow Wagtail. A count of 300 Black-headed Gull was my 3rd highest ever for the site. The warmer weather also bought out a few butterflies with Red Admiral, Peacock, Large and Small White, Speckled Wood and Gate Keeper being seen.

The addition of Water Rail brings my “10-Mile List” to 133.

Last night I went into the centre of Derby for the “One Big Place” event in the Market Place. There had been live music and entertainment going on all day to mark the end of the Olympic Games and the handing over of the Olympic flag to Great Britain, but I was there to see NEVERLAND play a half hour gig starting at 7:30PM.

Neverland take the stage.

As usual, Neverland played a superb non-stop rocking set! I lost count of just how many tracks they played in their allotted time but I’m sure it will have been more than any other band/artist that played yesterday! This band ALWAYS give 100%. Highlight for me had to be the band playing “Stars and the Blues”. If every band had to have one track that they were known for then this would have to be the Neverland signature tune - it’s a classic!

Adrian Dent - Neverland.

Justin Monkton - Neverland.

Mick Doyle - Neverland.

More Neverland photos - HERE!

After the Neverland set I hung around for some of Gabriella Cilmi’s show - well, she was headlining it all and is the latest “pop star” to hit the charts. My thoughts... good at what she does, none too bad to look at, but not my cup of tea music wise. The crowd seemed to enjoy what they saw but many of them looked to be less than half my age and I reckon that the “hype” had just a little to do with their reaction! Or am I just getting old?

At 9:00PM I headed off to The Brewery Tap pub for a drink or two and to meet up with some of the Neverland crew. Once again the Double Mash was my drink of choice, this time with whiskey chasers! Ah what the heck... it’s a Bank holiday weekend and I have all day today to recover!

16 August 2008

You Little Egret...

The weather forecast for this morning wasn’t too good, heavy showers by mid-morning, but I decided to go out birding anyway. The plan was to be at Willington Gravel Pits by 6:00AM, have a couple of hours birding the main reserve and then check the Canal Scrape before heading home when the rain arrived. As it happened, I didn’t get to Willington until just before 7:00AM (blame the whisky last night) and I came home at 11:15AM without seeing any rain!

The walk to the end of the lane was very quiet; long gone are the spring mornings when the sound of bird song filled the air. The only warbler that was, half-heartedly, singing was a single Chiffchaff. Blackcap, Common Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat were the only other birds of note, none of which felt the urge to sing under the grey, overcast sky. A handful of Sand Martins were hunting for insects over the treetops, but I doubt they were finding too much food first thing this morning.

Out on the water things were a little more interesting - a Little Egret was fishing a short distance from platform 3! Like the Marsh Harrier I finally added to my Derbyshire list last September, Little Egret has been a bird I’ve wanted to see in the county for a long, long time. Even before I could get my ‘scope focused on the bird for a closer look it was up and gone. Years of waiting and I get less than two minutes of the Little Egret! Still, it was a county tick and also another new species for my “10-Mile List” so I couldn’t complain.

The next hour was spent waiting/hoping for something “good” to turn up - it never did. In the end I took to counting the birds that were lazing around on the two main pools. Counts of note were... 23 Great Crested Grebe, 15 Cormorant, 95 Canada Goose, 140 Mallard, c600 Lapwing, 65 Black-headed Gull and 6 Common Tern. There was a brief lifting of spirits at just after 8:00AM when a Buzzard flew low over Gull Pit, spooking many of the other birds in the process. All too quickly the moment, and the Buzzard, passed. The birds all settled again, I continued to wait.

By 8:45AM the (lack of) excitement got the better of me and I set off for Canal Scrape and the chance of a few different birds. The walk back up the lane gave me good views of Song Thrush, two Green Woodpeckers and a Stock Dove. A brief stop at the first platform rewarded me with close views of two Kingfishers that were flying around, and also perching, close to where I saw one back in June.

Canal Scrape proved to be a little quiet too but I did add a few more birds to my day list. The notable species were Common Redshank, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper and Lesser Black-backed Gull. A Hobby spent a short time trying to catch one of the hundreds of Swallows that were flying around, but it soon gave up and moved on when it realised that it wasn’t having any success.

Whilst adding Little Grebe, Shelduck, Pochard and Tufted Duck to my list I suddenly became aware of three big white “blobs” flying towards me - it turned out to be three Little Egrets! I guess that the egret I had seen earlier in the morning had been to fetch his mates. The birds didn’t land and the last I saw of them they were heading off north. Interestingly, Birdguides reported three Little Egrets flying over Wyver Lane, Belper less than an hour later. The same birds maybe?

The addition of Little Egret brings my “10-Mile List” to 132 species.

Young Swallows - waiting for the next flight to Africa!

15 August 2008

Two new pubs...

Last night Lynda and I went to the official opening of a new pub/restaurant, The Carnarvon in Teversal, Nottinghamshire. In keeping with the rest of the pubs that are run by the owner, it’s a great place. The Carnarvon has been totally stripped out, re-fitted and given a whole new lease of life. No doubt the restaurant will become very popular, as have the other four venues that are run by Mike Staniforth and his team.

The Carnarvon.

As I was the designated driver for the evening I stuck to the soft drinks all night, Lynda enjoyed the non-stop free wine that was on offer! The magician that was walking around doing card tricks at the tables all night met with Lynda’s approval - she is still asking how he managed to change the playing card that she had in her hand! The flower made from balloons, by a stilt walker, proved a hit with Lynda too!

The only minor problem I have with the pub is it’s location, it’s around 30 miles from home. On the plus side, it’s not too far from the M1/A38 so we can be there in a little over half an hour. I’m sure we’ll be trying the food there soon!

Today, I ticked off another year in my life - I’m 21! I am! Honest! For the first time in years I didn’t have to work on my birthday, I had decided to book the day off work last Monday. Lynda already had the day off so it meant that we could have a nice long weekend.

After an extra couple of hours in bed we got up, had a light breakfast and watched the Olympic cycling on TV - I don’t think I’ll be trying for a place at the 2012 games! By late morning our thoughts turned to food, as they often do, and I set about finding somewhere new for us to try. I came up with The Waterfront, at Barton Marina near Burton upon Trent.

The Waterfront.

The Waterfront turned out to be a little gem! Actually, quite a large gem - it’s a big pub. The building/setting is great and the food even better. My choice of calve’s liver, with bacon, on a bed of mashed potato and spinach was delicious and the Summer Pudding with clotted cream I had afterwards was equally good. Lynda tells me that her Caesar Salad, followed by Vanilla and Raisin Cheesecake was also very good, even if I did have to eat the Anchovies that topped her salad! I’d never bothered with Anchovies before, I’m NOT a big fish eater, but in small amounts I found them to be okay.

After a very enjoyable meal, a pint of beer and then a Glayva liqueur to top things off, I decided it was time for us to have a look around the rest of the marina complex before I became too settled and ordered more drinks!

Views from the walkway.

The rest of the afternoon/evening has been spent back at home just enjoying the time off work. Now, we have a bottle of wine open and, no doubt, the bottle of whisky that Lynda bought me for my birthday at the Glengoyne distillery whilst we were up in Scotland will be opened soon!

Tomorrow I may, or may not, go out birding in the morning. That one depends on how my head survives this evening.

11 August 2008

Feeling a little flat...

Well, I guess it had to happen sooner or later and tonight it happened - I got a puncture on my mountain bike on the way home from work! I suppose I’ve not done too badly really, I've been cycling to work for just over two years and this is the first time that I’ve had to walk. Running the bike on Slime Tubes has helped prevent more than the odd walk to or from work but even they couldn’t cope fully with tonight’s 2-inch nail in the rear tyre.

The tyre punctured around 2½ miles into the 5½ mile ride and as soon as I heard the air starting to escape from the tube I stopped, pulled out the nail, spun the wheel to circulate the sealant and was pleased to hear the “hiss” of escaping air stop. “Great” I thought, “the Slime has worked yet again”. Another mile down the road and the tyre started to feel soft. I stopped, pumped up the tyre again, spun the sealant around once more and carried on. Just a few hundred yards more and the tyre was “hissing” worse than ever - I was beat, the tyre was flat! After a walk of around 1½ miles I arrived home.

Now, the tyre is fixed and the bike is all ready for the rest of the week’s commuting. The only problem now is the weather forecast... rain, rain and more rain. Maybe I should have left the tyre as it was!

10 August 2008

I'm back...

Well, I’m back - I may not make too much sense, but at least I’m here! If this is all just a little random then blame it on the beer! Today has been one of those great Sundays that just happen along every now and again.

The day started somewhat later than a normal Sunday, I rolled out of bed at just before 10:00AM. After checking my e-mails and one or two web sites Lynda and I headed off into Derby for lunch. We chose to give the Chinese buffet a go at the May Sum Restaurant; I can highly recommend it! So far as eating out goes it was cheap - £6.90 each for as much as you can eat - the choice of dishes was very good, the food was excellent, the service first class and the atmosphere was good too. At the price, you can’t ask for any more. We enjoyed it and we’ll definitely be going back.

After eating (more than) our fill at May Sum it was time for a little window shopping around Derby - just to pass the time before heading to the pub! The reason for being in town on a Sunday afternoon? Adrian Dent and Mick Doyle, of Neverland fame, were playing an acoustic gig at The Brewery Tap, a recently renovated and re-opened pub overlooking the River Derwent. It’s the first time I’ve been in the pub but it won’t be the last. It’s a great little place!

As for the gig, it was one of the best I’ve been to for a while. Hearing Adrian and Mick cover so many of the Neverland tracks just as an acoustic duo was great; the weather was on it’s best behaviour which meant that they could play outside in the “courtyard” area; the crowd packed the place and made for a great atmosphere and the beer was pretty good too! In fact, the beer was very good! I can recommend a pint or two of “Double Mash” produced by the pub's owners, Derby Brewery Company. Lynda and I had a minor debate about just how many pints I had but hey, who’s counting!

As for the music, we were treated to almost 2½ hours of Neverland tracks, a couple of cover tracks and also five new tracks that will be getting an airing at future Neverland gigs. I tried making a list of everything that was played but somehow got one or two tracks wrong/down twice - I blame the beer! The tracks that I know for certain were played include....

Elephants Can Dance
Doom Garden Jelly Fish Blues
The Talking Tree
The Ship
Town With No Name - (a new track)
Kebab No More
Cartoon Planet - (a new track)
Thirteen - (a new track)
Hey Joe - (a cover track)
Seagulls - (a new track)
Rain Like Stars And The Blues
Never Learned To Speak
Summer Time - (a cover track)
Up The Wall
Shake This Way - (a new track)
The Heartman
Hello (Tomorrow Is Here)
Gingerman - (I think that was what it was called!)
Stoned As A Wall

I also gave Lynda’s new camera a test run for the first time - the results aren’t my best ever photos but I put that down to me having never used it before - and the beer! The camera also does video clips too - again, I’m sure it works better without the “Double Mash” ale!

Adrian Dent.

Mick Doyle.

Andy (Boz) Borys.