Friday, October 31, 2008
Its always great seeing an audience's response to different topics. Gags about peudos and cerebral palsay were well received, but one gaga about Stephen Hawkins drew a single 'hiss' which didn't go unnoticed!
Crackin gig Frankie. Please come back next time you're on the road - and bring ya Ulster buddy Martin back with you - he was cool too.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
I was disappointed mainly on the point that Maconie appears to have lived in the south for far too long and hasclearly become very soft and soppy about t'north.
Now, I ain't thick (some would argue with that). I'm no academic neither (no one would argue with that). But I consider that I have a pretty average vocabulary, but Maconie, as a journalist and broadcaster, has a far better one, and doesn't he like to show it. For me, a good simple book about t'north could have done with being written more simply. Not 'showing off' as Maconie's, and my own Mam, would have said.
Maconie's basis for writing about any of the towns visited is largely based on a single recent re-visit. As a northerner I'm disappointed. As someone who lived in 'Skem' I can see that Maconie's view of at least this (and a few of the other towns I'm most familar with) is very accurate, but his commentary is dull. He seems to have written a book for a very southern audience where he can come across as the educated northerner taking them on a wee tour of t'north - some nice bits and some of the dirty bits (nice balance).
Pies and Prejudice, In Search of the North - well, based on a few day trips back home and a little beyond, Maconie was never going to find it was. And he didn't. If this was the other way round and someone had written a book about 'down south', then I would have come away thinking that it was small and deeply dull. This book gives no sense of scale of the north. It doesn't come close to delving into its depths or feeling its breadth. He would have been better writing a book about his home area, west Lancashire, and providing us with a more meaningful, deeper, grittier view of the area he knows intimately. As it is, his lack of knowledge of the wider north shines - simply cos he missed so much of out.
Pies and Prejudice scores 3/10 - and I'm being generous.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
More of my and other Camb moth pictures on the Cambs Moth Gallery.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
A new species for the garden and TL29SW. Caught at light (160w MVB).
Twin-spotted Wainscot, Farcet Fen, 14 Aug 08
Only the fifth I have caught here. Caught at light (160w MVB).
More of my and other Camb moth pictures on the Cambs Moth Gallery.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Pebble Hook-tip, Farcet Fen, 6 Aug 08First record for garden and TL29SW. Caught at light (160w MVB).
Canary-shouldered Thorn, Farcet Fen, 6 Aug 08First record for garden and TL29SW. Caught at light (160w MVB).
Pine Hawkmoth, Farcet Fen, 6 Aug 08 First record for garden and TL29SW. Caught at light (160w MVB).
Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (left) and Least Yellow Underwing (right), Farcet Fen, 6 Aug 08Two of the scarcer yellow underwings I catch here. Caught at light (160w MVB).
Brown China-mark, Farcet Fen, 6 Aug 08Caught at light (160w MVB).
Silver Y, Farcet Fen, 6 Aug 08Caught at light (160w MVB).
Webb's Wainscot, Farcet Fen, 6 Aug 08I do well for wainscots here, Webb's is one of the rarer species I catch here. Caught at light (160w MVB).
All photos Panasonic Lumix FZ-30
More Cambs moths on the Cambs Moth Gallery.
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Whilst the builders continued with the house, Liz and I went on a long-awaited, once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Arctic. I'll get a trip report with photos (like above!) on here asap.
By the way, the above Polar Bear cub was seen with its mum and brother at 'Binnebukta' which in Norwegian translates as Bay of the Mother Bear (bukta = bay, binne = mother bear).
I've already posted an update on how Jon and the guys have progressed during our absence on our Crowtree Renovation blog. What an amazing difference in just eight working days!
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
A new species for me and my square. Caught at light (160w MVB).
Lilac Beauty, male, Farcet Fen, 14 July 08
A new species for me and my square. Caught at light (160w MVB).
Early Thorn, Farcet Fen, 14 July 08
One of two caught.
The best night by far this year, with 37 macro species and year firsts of Fen Wainscot (one of my fave moths), Brimstone and Marbled Beauty.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Until this evening, I had rarely been on YouTube, just followed the odd link from other blogs etc, but searching for Mock the Week content took me to the dark side of the net. But . . . if I can find gems like this from immenstrides I'll be heading back! That even sounds like Mark Gatiss (he of League of Gentlemen fame) doing the narration. I could imagine him putting this together.
Mock the Week \ some great lines from this great show - wait for the Hazel Blears/sporum gag. More here.
Dara O'Briain \ host of Mock the Week \ don't miss the line about the planner! "You don't even build the houses, you just say, 'Well, that'll fucking fall down" (from Live at the Theatre Royal 1/9). We saw him live a couple of years ago and he was a riot. His improv with the front row is superb! Be warned - don't sit in the front row of a Dara gig!
Russell Howard \ regular Mock the Week guest \ another great pussy gag in part I and the fox routine in part II is side splitting!
We saw him live in the spring - what a laugh!
Frankie Boyle \ regular Mock the Week guest \ some crackin', and some definately non-PC, snippets from Mock the Week! Wait for the haunted pussy gag! We're off to see him in October.
Interesting, given that they market this as a go anywhere charger, it don't come with a wee case or cover to protect the exposed panel when folded up. Sure I can sort something out.
Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, Farcet Fen 13 July 08 One of my favourite species, and the first for 2008. Caught at light (22w actinic).
Elephant Hawkmoth, Farcet Fen, 12 July 08I never tire of catching elephants - big or small. I catch Elephant annually but have to date only caught a single Small Elephant. Caught at light (160 MVB).
Poplar Hawkmoth, Farcet Fen, 12 July 08 The commonest Hawkmoth here, but still stunning. Caught at light (160 MVB).Cambs Moth Gallery website.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Anyway, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME etc, etc, etc.
Thems of you who know me well know I'm a big kid at heart. And I love birthdays! Liz loves birthdays too, so we do tend to spoil each other rotten. We take the day off. Maybe go out or laze around, enjoy some good food, etc. We just have a good day together without distractions. And today was no exception.
I've always had my birthday off (well, nearly always, but more of that a little later). Having a mid-summer birthday meant no schoolground birthday bumps, beats, etc. Come adulthood it also meant no work as I always took the day off and went dragonfly or butterfly hunting. I've had all bar one birthday off work. The exception was when I was leading a wildlife holiday on Shetland and Orkney. The day of 10 July was spent (with a bloody stinkin' cold) on the wonderful isle of Rousay, Orkney amidst the lands and shores of our Neolithic ancestors. Since technically I was also on holiday (from my day job) I didn't really count this as working. And, it was the day that I 'met' Liz. It was half-way through the holiday, but it was on this day both of us knew we had 'clicked'. So, work or no work, it turned out to be my best birthday ever!
But back to the present birthday and my prezzie haul, which was jolly good indeed! Mum-in-law, Elsie, surpassed herself (alright, Liz does Elsie's buying as, bless, at 89 Elsie don't get to the shops as much as she once did) with a book. Ah. Again, those of you who know me well will have just spotted something - me and books aren't a natural mix. And those of you who know me really well will know of the time I was heard to utter the line 'I dont read books' to which someone present retorted 'well what do you do with all yours then?'. Fair question! Well, what I meant at the time was that I wasnt one for novels, travelogues, autobogrphies or books where half-baked celebs tell us their opinions on everythings from footballers wives to clonic irrigation. No, thems the sort of books that aren't for me. This book however looks like it is. Pies and Prejudice, in search of the North by Stuart Maconie. So, what do I think is so special about this book? Well, just reading the cover whetted my appetite. I know you shouldn't pay too much heed to the cleverly edited quotes and crafted publisher's blurb on covers, but it does seem to bode well. Peter Kay (you know, the chubby northern comedian who shouts and sweats a lot and tells 'jokes' about real life stuff such as 'the big light' and like Maconie and me, he's a northern sort - actually you could probably throw a hankie over the area where Stu, Pete and me were raised - OK, a blanket) says, very simply, on the cover 'Bloody crackin'. Nice. The Sunday Times (ooh!) says 'an heir to Alan Bennett . . . stirring and rather wonderful'. Now this is a back-handed compliment from where I'm sat. At the literary level its pretty good being compared to Mr Bennett, but, on a northern level, in particularly at the Roses level, this is not something that I as a Lancastrian can agree with - being compared to a White Rose Yorkie! Nope, and forgive me for speaking on your behalf Stuart, if The Sunday Times reviewer doesn't get the north enough to know the difference between the red and the white side of the Pennines, then they aren't qualified to review a book about t'north. I said you had to be careful about the cover blumph didn't I! I expect Stu's book has at least a mention of the War of the Roses and how we keep up the pretence on the cricket field. I love the fact that my Nan is 'real Yorkshire' and three of her four grandchildren are Lancs! OK, rant over, and turning to the back cover, The Times starts to get carried away a little (at least no northern faux pars) - 'The new Bill Bryson [just an antipidean faux par - exusable]. If he keeps this up he'll be on the National Treasure list pretty soon'. I'm pretty sure they're not referring to the awful Nick Cage film either, so this sounds like reasonable praise too. Oh, but what of the publisher - what do they say? Well, thats the bit I really like (I think I'm meant too - it is after all called the 'sell'). It states -
A Northerner in exile [like me], Stuart Maconie goes on a journey in search of the North [I think this is figerative, as I think he knows where it is geographically], attempting to discover where the cliches end and the truth begins. He travels from Wigan Pier [know it well] to Blackpool Tower [ditto] and Newcastle's Bigg Market to the Lake District to find his own Northern Soul [neat reference], encountering along the way an exotic [!] cast of chippy [thats one word for 'em] Scousers [you don't actually have to travel to the north to encounter Scousers cos as everyone knows they get everywhere. In fact, I'm expectin to encounter at least one when I go to Spitsbergen later this month], pie-eating woollybacks [me again!], topless Geordies [see reference to Scousers], mad-for-it-Mancs [less travelled, stay at home types], Yorkshire nationalists [sedentary of course] and brothers in exile [more about the likes of me and he]. So, it sounds like I should at least enjoy reading about all the stereotypical images of my beloved homeland! And there's nowt like something northern to put back the northern in northern tosser [re. me again].
Amazingly this birthday included two books! Petrina and Jeremy (hi guys) from over in the Deutschland, sent me a fab book by Graham Swift, Waterland. I have read this book before (funnily enough that to owas a present, from my Uncle Paul when I moved in to my fenland gaff here), and re-reading the cover blurb I forgot how great this book is and it will be read again very soon (well, its in the queue after the pile of library books, Pies and Prejudice, etc). Thanks P&J for thinking of me.
Sunday, July 06, 2008
Crowtree, Farcet Fen, 5 July 08
I've yet to see an adult Harlequin, but last weekend I found larvea at Haddenham, and this weeken I found this on our garden Birch tree. For more information, including reporting your sightings of larvea and adults, on 'the most invasive ladybird on earth' to quote the Harlequin Ladybird Survey, see here.
Leicester Llama has asked me to point out that his site does contain a few swear words - you have been warned!
Saturday, July 05, 2008
Buff-tip, Farcet Fen, 4 July 08 Not suprisingly, for a relatively open arable fen, this is only the fifth record here, with all the others caught in June-July 06. Certainly one of my favourite species and highlights the joys of moth trapping when you open the lid and among all those regulars is something as stunning as this, albeit a relatively common species. Caught at light (160w MVB).
Green Pug, Farcet Fen, 4 July 08
Another scarcity for me, this is only my fourth record, all the others caught in June-July 05. I love the way some moths melt into backgrounds such as this. Caught at light (160w MVB).
Friday, July 04, 2008
It inspired me to pen this very brief For What is Chatteris 2008 tribute to HMHB.
The butchers and cake shop have now all closed
Fen subsidence has left pot holes in all the roads
For sale signs now outnumber the town's few trees
And nothing has sold cos of the credit squeeze
There’s no sign of a linnet, or even a bunting
Just fields of pheasants for the farmers' hunting
Chatteris is no longer looked at with fenland envy
For what is Chatteris if you’re not in it, its empty.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Diamond-back Moth, Farcet Fen, 23 June 08 Fifth record for the garden for this migrant. All previous records during the great migrant summer of 2006.
Dark Sword-grass, Farcet Fen, 24 June 08.
The first record of this migrant since the 14 I caught during the summer of 2006.
Small Dusty Wave, Farcet Fen, 23 June 08.
Sunday, June 01, 2008
On the Tree Sparrow front, I make it that we have around 15 pairs this year, with three broods (of 2, 3 and 4) seen in the garden during the last week.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
In the end, the resident male Pheasant drove them off - paranoid git!
Saturday, May 10, 2008
1 May 08
Metochi Lake - Eleanora's Falcon 2, Spotted Crake 1, Little Bittern 3, Middle Spotted Woodpecker.
2 May 08
Kalloni Saltpans - Ruddy Shelduck 16, Red-throated Pipit 6, Collared Pratincole 1.
Tsiknias River - Temminck's Stint 3.
Kalloni Mini Soccer Pitch - Scops Owl 1.
Kalloni Bandstand Raptor Watchpoint - Honey-buzzard 1 (m), Levant Sparrowhawk 1 (f), Goshawk (imm m), Long-legged Buzzard 4+, Short-toed Eagle 4+, Black Stork 1.
Petra Reservoir area - River Warbler 1, Temminck's Stint 4, Red-backed Shrike 6+.
Hotel Pasiphae - Long-eared Owl 1.
3 May 08
Lardia Valley - Eastern Bonelli's Warbler on territory, Eleanora's Falcon.
Voulgaris River - Ruddy Shelduck pr with 10 young, Bee-eater 50+.
Ruddy Shelduck with 9 (of 10) young on Voulgaris River
Lagkada Valley - Levant Sparrowhawk (m), Masked Shrike 2, Red-backed 4+.
nr Sigri - Levant Sparrowhawk (f), Red-footed Falcon (f).
Sigri Old Sanitorium - Red-backed Shrike 6, Masked Shrike 1, Lesser Kestrel 1, Peregrine 1.
Meladia River Ford - Blue-cheeked Bee-eater flock of 7 in off sea and over to north at 6.45pm, Hoopoe 1, Spotted Flycatcher 80+, Black-headed Bunting 40+, Whinchat 30+, Bee-eater 30+.
4 May 08
Platania - Thrush Nightingale 1, Honey-buzzard fem, Ortolan Bunting 4, Red-footed Falcon 8+, Black Stork 5+, Long-legged Buzzard 6+, Short-toed Eagle 4+, Woodlark 4+, Rock Nuthatch 4+, Orphean Warbler 4+, Hoopoe 4+, Masked Shrike 9+, Red-backed Shrike 6+, Raven 11+.
View from Platania looking south down the Napi Valley
Tsiknias River - Black Stork caught and ate a snake! Black Stork with snake
Kalloni Saltpans - Osprey 1, White-winged Black Tern 11, Whiskered Tern 1, Red-footed Falcon 5m, Temminck's Stint 2, Spotted Redshank 2, Ruff 465+, Little Stint 50+, Curlew Sandpiper 18+, Raven 1, Marsh Harrier 1.
Tsiknias River mouth - Mediterranean Gull 2 ads, White-winged Black Tern 2.
5 May 08
Meladia River Ford - Pallid Swift 110+ in one hour, Olive Tree Warbler 1, Red-breasted Flycatcher 2, Lesser Grey Shrike 1, Red-backed Shrike 18+, Tawny Pipit 2, Black Stork 2, Ruddy Shelduck 2.
Sigri Old Sanitorium - Rufous Bush Chat 1.
Ipsilou - Imperial Eagle 1, Honey-buzzard 1, Collared Flycatcher male, Marsh Warbler 6+, Red-breasted Flycatcher 1, Thrush Nightingale - lots of Blackcaps, Lesser Whitethroats, Willow Warblersm Pied Flys, etc.
Skala Eresou - Eleanora's Falcon 1, Garganey 5 in off sea.
6 May 08
Kalloni Saltpans - White-winged Black Tern 11, Whiskered Tern 3, Curlew Sandpiper 3.
Achladeri - Kruper's Nuthatch, young just hatched by activity.
Platania - Olive Tree Warbler 6+.
Olive Tree Warbler at Platania
Kalloni Saltpans - Spur-winged Plover 2. Dipped on Broad-billed Sandpiper!
7 May 08
Alykes Wetlands - Citrine Wagtail 1 (m), Collared Praticole 5, Grey Plover 5, Spotted Redshank 1.
Messa Wetlands - Purple Heron 1.
Skamnioudi Pool - Temminck's Stint 1, Wood Sandpiper 70+, Ruff 36, Little Stint 24, Goshawk 1.
Polichnitos Saltpans - Eleanora's Falcon 1, Curlew Sandpiper 52, Little Stint 110+, Grey Plover , Black Stork 2.
Almiropodamos River (little ford north of bridge) - Ortolan Bunting 1, Little Bittern 1, Serin 1.