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Sunday, 22 February 2015

Kiss my arse goodbye!

Well the time has come.... tomorrow I'm off to the hospital after lunch and my surgery is on Tuesday. I haven't been in the mood for blogging or even reading your blogs this last week. Instead I've been perusing blogs and youtube videos relating to my surgery* and what happens afterwards, and getting inspiration from young slim pretty things with bags, who are happy to demonstrate publically how easy it is to change the bag and to wear all your favourite clothes, plus lots of tips and hints. I hadn't even realised that it's not just people with cancer who have colostomy and ileostomy bags, but many people who suffer from Inflammatory Bowel Disease too. The more I look into the subject, the more I know I'm not alone. It's still scary but when I see that twenty somethings can live with it and look cool and sexy it does help tremendously!

I'm sharing a picture that one of my photoshopping friends did for me a little while back which made me laugh. Just so you know it's not ME who forgot the apostrophe! ;-)

I shall catch up with you all during my convalescence as I won't be doing a lot else - the craftsters amongst you will be pleased to know that I have dug out my chunky cardigan that I started knitting a few years ago and haven't touched since! It'll be good to be able to do something constructive rather than just read and watch TV. I've no idea when I'll be able to sit comfortably again so blogging may well be on hold for a while - I may be able to write a few lines via my Kindle to update you but I won't be taking photos for a while or doing any proper blog posts from my desktop.

So for now I'm signing out and I'll see you on the other side. xx


Sunday, 15 February 2015

Garden birds and a surprise moth

Yesterday I heard the first bird song of the year - a chaffinch singing. I don't count robins as they sing all through the winter. Other birds are getting more noisy in their calls and it's a nice thought knowing that in about four weeks time, not only will we be hearing the dawn chorus of the all year round birds, but the summer residents will be returning and we'll be hearing the chiffchaffs, followed by the return of the swallows in about five weeks, and then the blackcaps towards the end of March, whose melodic song is my favourite.

I've been attempting some bird photography but trying to get close enough to the bird feeders to get shots is not easy, and only the tits would brave feeding with me anywhere nearby. So I managed to persuade my OH to move one of the feeding stations closer to the kitchen window, so I could watch the woodpeckers and hopefully get some better shots. He grumbled about the lawn being trashed and having to move it every couple of days to prevent this, but I won out!

A Dunnock which actually sat still in a willow tree and posed; unfortunately in willows
(and many other trees) there are always branches in the darn way!

Mostly shot through double glazing - clockwise from top left:
Blackbird, Nuthatch, Starling, and the Dunnock again which was shot outside.

A Jay.

Before moving this bird feeder this is best I could get at max zoom as it was miles away....

And now.... Great Spotted Woodpecker. There is room for improvement if I clean
the windows and better still when it's warm enough for me to open them,
though the birds might see me then.

Woody again, this time with a tripod, but still through double glazing.

No need the caption the following which are lots of blue tits. We have so many of these little cuties there must be eight of them for every great tit. They are the most abundant bird in the garden, and even outnumber the sparrows! What's interesting though is that since we moved the feeder, there seems to be even more birds attracted to it!

After moving the bird feeder, I can get the dogwood in the background which adds an interesting colour to the bokeh! The next two birds are great tits which I find much harder to capture.

Finally managed to get a decent one of a Blue Tit and a Great Tit together!

Since taking this photo my OH has fixed the wobbly metal holding up the feeders and we bought a new fatball holder, which is bigger. The old one has been hung up from an arch near where this home made feeding station originally was. I was feeling a bit worried that I'd moved the food further away from trees, and the birds were still flitting backwards and forwards to the trees for cover whilst eating their beakfuls, expending their precious energy, just so that I could see and photograph them better. But now that there's another lot of fatballs near the trees I feel better. We've also got another feeding station with a seed dispenser and a hanging table, elsewhere in the garden, not far from our boundary hedge and my wiggly hazel tree, which is the one the sparrows like as they like the hedge. I've also counted up to 15 tits on this feeding station at the same time, but six birds is the best I've managed so far in a photo!

The feeding station is basically a broom handle stuck into an outdoor
parasol base, with a piece of metal put through the hole
and bent to fit and to hold up the feeders. Voila!

Changing the subject completely, I had an unexpected surprise in the form of this pretty moth. I found it in the spare bedroom where I overwinter my geraniums. I can only guess the pupa came in with the pots and the relative warmth inside (even though they are in an unheated room) caused it to eclose? I believe it is a Plain Golden Y (Autographa jota) although the Y shape marking is more of a blob. These moths should be on the wing from about June to August, not in February!* It must have been thirsty because I had been watering the plants and had some water on my hands, and when I picked it up it started to drink the moisture, and I could feel its proboscis moving around over my hand, which was fun! So I tipped a little more water into my hand and it drunk deeply. As I didn't know what to do with it (putting it outside wasn't an option as it would have died from the cold) I made up some sugar water which I blobbed on a saucer, but I never did see it again. 

Thanks to Countryside Tales, who knows a LOT about moths, the correct ID of this moth is the Golden Twin-spot (Chrysodeixis chalcites), which flies as late as November. It is classed as a pest as the larvae eat a number of food crops as well as other plants. Thanks CT! 

I've about given up with the gardening now as being active again has caused my tendonitis to flare up, in a new place (from lower back down into buttock! My bloody bum, I won't say it will be the death of me because that's chancing my luck but it's pissing me off!!!), as well as niggling in the old place (thigh). Dammit. It actually got better when I was unable to garden much through the late summer and autumn. I need to review the way I garden as I do far too much squatting and gardening low down as I like to see what's going on, like plants that have self seeded, but the enforced rest period after my op should at least mean it all eases before I attempt gardening again. With a hoe and/or my kneely pad thingy which reverses into a low stool! Though I've just discovered these really cool low garden stools on wheels which also hold your tools, which might be a great idea..... 

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Meet Randy!

We have a new addition to the menagerie - a cockerel! It's been a bit quiet since Freddy died and I always said I'd be happy to take on another cockerel, especially if I was saving it from the pot. Well guess what, last week I luckily noticed a plea on facebook from a friend of a friend who I'd met once at a party. She has lots of chooks and breeds Buff Orpingtons and had a six month old cockerel who needed a new home, or else her husband was going to turn him into pie, and they only live about 20 minutes away. How could I resist?

As soon as we let him out at home, he jumped straight on top of one of my little red hens so it was hardly difficult to find a name for him! He dwarfs my bog standard 'red hens' and is a good size match for my enormous North Holland Blue. I hadn't noticed how big he is at Sue's house, because all the Buff Orpingtons were large including the females, so neither he nor his father seemed particularly big. 

Randy's father is the one in the foreground on the left. His name is Coq au Vin!

Glad I wore my old gardening jacket as I didn't know
I was going to be holding him for a photo shoot!

Back home and all is going very well. He's settled in fine and the girls seem perfectly happy and going about their henny business as usual. Randy is a little timid with us at the moment and is a bit wary when he sees one of the cats, as he's used to dogs, not cats. But this is so much easier than introducing new females and none of that pecking and being mean, as I think given his size the pecking order was established straight away! Randy is not 100% Buff Orpington as they don't have white feathers in their tails, but I think he's more interesting looking because of it.

With the girls - Marleen the North Holland Blue is the large grey speckeldy one.

Blurred action as Andrea gets a seeing to! ;-)

Where am I?

Only decent picture I could get of one of the hens - not sure if this is Gaby or Carly as they are
very similar and I can't tell them apart! She's been stuck in a half moult for a while but
at least she is still laying.

I've taken a few more photos of Randy since but it was on one of the days when the icy NE wind was blowing so he looks amusing with his feathers all ruffled.

Windswept wattles!

Oooh that wind's a bit chilly up me bum!

Ahh I thought that was water for the dogs!

Tastes good enough to me!

When he's a bit more settled I'll let him out into the garden with the others so he can have a good roam around and eat grass, and it'll be interesting when he gets to meet the cats properly...... it might actually teach the cats - particularly Bertie the hunter - a lesson if Randy gets aggressive, and hopefully they'll leave the chooks alone in future.