Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Pies and Prejudice

Well, I was bought Stuart Maconie's Pies and Prejudice for my birthday last month. I was really looking forward to reading it, but to be honest, apart from the very occasional chuckle, it bored the fillings out of my teeth.

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

Building progress!

Currently my favourite few of the house now the oak windows are being installed! The pace of things is now relentless. Full update on our renovation blog.


A new species for me. This fabulous Chocolate-tip was one of two new species in the trap this morning, but the Small Waved Umber scarpered before I could get photograph it! If my database from Barry Dickerson is correct, the last (and only?) record for Chocolate-tip for my square is from 1878! Caught at light (160w MVB).

More of my and other Camb moth pictures on the Cambs Moth Gallery.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

White-spotted Pug

Its not been great for moths in recent days being largely cool and wet. A few year firsts and my first White-spotted Pug (caught at light, 160 MVB, 14 Aug 08).

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

Garden moths

It was probably not the best idea to stick the MV out last night having just arrived home from Svalbard and not even unpacked! But the muggy evening had a good night written all over it and this morning I wasn't disappointed as it included three garden and 5km square firsts - Pebble Hook-tip (2), Pine Hawkmoth and Canary-shouldered Thorn. I had such a good catch I had to leave many, and the photos, until lunchtime so I could get some work done!

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

Just back from the frozen north!

Female Polar Bear cub nr Binnebukta, Wilhelmøya, Svalbard, 30 July 08. Digiscoped from the MV Aleksey Maryshev using Leica APO Televid 77 c/w 20xWA eyepiece and Leica D-Lux 3.

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!