24 April 2012

Yorkshire holiday...

It already feels like a long time ago but last week we spent a very relaxing few days in North Yorkshire, at Keldy Cabins near Pickering. The weather wasn’t great but, then again, it could have been a lot worse! We had rain, sleet, hail, snow and even clear blue skies with sunshine. All in the space of just a few hours too!

Actually, looking back, it wasn’t quite as bad as I make it sound and we did manage to fit in most of the things we had wanted to do - but there is a lot more left on the "to do list" for the next time we are there.
Our cabin in the forest...

We had a few sitting tenants...
...carved snails on the living room wall!

...and "Penny Bear" who had
hitched a lift from home!

Being in the forest meant that the birds soon find any food that is put out for them...

...and we were visited by a number of species including Pheasant, Wood Pigeon, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Crow, Starling and Chaffinch.

Whilst out and about around the site we also came across Mallard, Grey Heron, Sparrowhawk, Moorhen, Curlew, Collared Dove, Wren, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Treecreeper, Jay, Magpie, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow and Siskin.

Best bird of the week is a close call between the group of around 40 Crossbill we watched feeding high up in the treetops on the day we arrived or the Woodcock that flew over our cabin one evening whilst we were sat outside in the hot tub! Sat in a hot tub, drinking beer, watching the birds fly over... my kind of birding!

Although the weather wasn't great I did manage to get a few photos from a walk around the forest, including a few of a Roe Deer that I managed to "stalk"...

The deer appears in the distance.

Getting much closer,
before being spotted.

And off it goes.

On the one day we had planned a full day out, Tuesday, we woke up to the worst of the weather - it was cold, windy and snowing. Not ideal for a trip to the coast on a steam train. But, we set off for Pickering station determined to enjoy the day no matter what. In the end, it turned out to be the best day of the whole week. The snow stopped, the wind eased and by the time we arrived in Whitby the sun was starting to break through the clouds. By early afternoon it felt (almost) like spring!

Pickering station.

Our steam loco - 75029 The Green Knight.

Snow up on the moors, from the train.

This was the first time that both Lynda and I had visited Whitby and, I have to say, it's a rather nice place. From the limited time we had to look around we got the feeling that it has, mostly, escaped the usual seaside town transformation into an amusement arcade and has retained much of its fishing port feel. Maybe a return trip in the middle of summer would change our minds on that though! Still, in the middle of April it looked pretty good to us.

Part of Whitby old town.

Whitby harbour entrance.

Whitby Pier.

Looking towards Whitby old town.

The whale bone arch, Whitby.

Looking across the harbour towards Whitby Abbey.

Whitby panorama.

Sunny, but not too warm.

Food. Those that know me will testify to the fact that I like my food. In fact, love my food would be more accurate! I blame the amount of cycling I do for the amount of food I can put away - calories in, miles out and all that. Having said that, one thing I've never been a fan of is seafood, other than a plate of fish, chips and mushy peas that is, but in Whitby I decided to brave a first for me, dressed crab!

Whitby crab.

I can't see me going to the trouble of buying fresh crab to cook and prepare at home but, I have to admit, it was pretty damn good and is something that I will now be happy to have again. Who knows, I could well be on the verge of becoming a seafood lover. Hmm, one step at a time, Richard!

Just to prove it WAS me!

And if I hadn't have liked my food then I'm sure the birds would have been more than happy to help out. The Herring Gulls were never very far away and even a couple of Turnstone were running around on the harbour wall looking for an easy meal.

Herring Gull.


One of our plans that the weather did put a bit of a dampener on was a visit to the village of Hutton-le-Hole. It was dull, cold, very cloudy and raining whilst we were there and so we didn't spend too much time walking around outside, instead choosing the warm and dry of the craft shops. We also stocked up on some very nice hand made chocolates too! This is another place we have put back on the "to do list" for when we return in the future.

The village green, Hutton-le-Hole.

Hutton-le-Hole view.

Lynda, braving the rain.

On the way to Hutton-le-Hole we took the long route, over the top of the moors, and paused briefly at one of the view points...

...something we need to do again when the cloud cover isn't down to ground level! And when the snow isn't still on the ground! And when the wind isn't blowing a gale! And when the sun is out!

But, at the end of the day, no matter what the weather, there was always the hot tub and a bottle of beer to return to at the end of the day!

15 April 2012

It’s raining. Birds and cash...

The last time I was here I was rather happy about the way my cycling had been going. I also mentioned how I expected it all to fall apart over the Easter weekend. And fall apart it did. Apart from Good Friday, it rained and rained and rained some more. Needless to say, I didn’t get out on the bike at all that weekend! Between Tuesday and yesterday, I tried to rescue something from the week by riding longer routes to and from work and managed a total of 110 miles.

Extra cash in the back pocket is always rather nice isn’t it? And the past couple of Saturdays have been rather productive on that front with two lottery wins for me! Last Saturday I picked up £60 from the Irish Lottery and last night I managed another £49 on the UK Lottery! Next week I’m going for the full six numbers and so this will be my last post here, as I will be going into hiding to avoid any unwanted publicity! Oh, how I wish!

Now, a rare bit of birding news. Rare for me to post birding stuff nowadays and also a rather rare sighting too. A Glossy Ibis almost right over the garden was a HUGE surprise on Friday evening! After a rather hard ride home from work, I was sat on the doorstep looking out over the garden when I saw a rather large bird, some way off, slowly heading my way. At first I thought it was just a Cormorant - dark coloured bird, broad wings, long neck.

Then things started to set the alarm bells ringing. The bird was getting a little closer and just did not look quite right somehow! It was too small for Cormorant, the head and neck were all wrong and what the heck was that bill all about! Having quickly grabbed my ’bins and returned to the garden things started to fall into place, it was a Glossy Ibis. Hell, it’s almost enough to make me quit my cycling and get back out birding again full time! Things can, and do, turn up at the most unexpected times and that part of birding will always give me a buzz.

Oh, and I’ve also seen my first Willow Warblers and Swallows of the year too. Maybe I should start some sort of bird list? LOL!

Next week we’re off to Yorkshire for a few days so I hope to have a few photos to post, if the rain doesn’t wreck all of our plans that is.

Thank you, and good night.

01 April 2012

Two great results...

Wednesday October 7 2009, Lynda and I went to a garden centre and purchased a couple of Camellias. Lynda was delighted to have found the plants, even more so as they were a “two-for-one” deal. We planted them and waited for them to flower. And we waited, and waited and waited. Not a thing! Until now that is. At last, we have flowers - even if it is only on one of the shrubs! Now, if only the red Camellia would join in...
The Camellia.

March 2012, and my best ever month of cycling. During the past month I’ve covered a total of 701.92 miles, over 100 miles more than my previous best months of March and April last year, when I rode 600 miles in each. In achieving that mileage I’ve burnt around 30,700 calories and spent a total of 41 hours in the saddle.

My total mileage for the year now stands at 1531.21 miles, 246 more than the first three months of last year. The coming month will probably see much of that advantage wiped out as we have a week's holiday coming up and so I’ll not be able to ride for at least 5 days. Another deciding factor may well be the weather - we’re heading towards the Bank Holiday weekend, so the rain is bound to return!
Good night all!