Sunday, 14 December 2014

Busy Busy Busy!

There's a lot going on at this time of the year. Events at the library need planning, extra time worked that we won't get paid for, Christmas cards, presents and work parties to attend where half the staff will be absent on account of yet more planned redundancies next year.

I feel like a dog chasing it's tail.

Meanwhile the cats do what they do best........chill!





Here's Rolly on his favourite day bed....on the kitchen table! I have put a similar photo on here before so those of you who may have a problem with kitchen table / hygiene & cats look away now!

I like a glass of wine or two to relax after work ( or even after a day off!) but I was recently persuaded by a work colleague to try a little GIN AND TONIC (Slimline, lemon zest flavoured tonic, far less calories that a glass of red wine).

I must say, it is very nice! Why didn't I try it before?

I have turned the lights off and lit a few candles, and am fully relaxed.


A lovely fire is going in the stove......





I am surrounded by Christmas......




Including my new, very pretty bird tea light holder I got from a visit to Staunton Harold in Leicestershire last week.








So everything is glowing and warm, and I have well and truly re-charged my batteries.





and Smudge says, "Don't you humans ever learn?"




Friday, 21 November 2014

Famous Author visit!

 Not blogged for ages due to catastrophic laptop failure! That and the fact that our other big old machine was going so slow I always took my book to read while I was using it, so the plan was to buy to get a new desktop computer.
But I changed my mind & got a second hand one, which is very quick and lovely to use and saved me several hundred pounds.











Exciting day at the library yesterday, we had famous author Ian Whybrow visiting!




It's not easy getting people over to the IOW, but
Ian lives on the South Coast and agreed
with enthusiasm.





He is the author of Harry and the bucketful of dinosaurs, among other titles. His two sessions were very entertaining. He spoke to the children the same as the adults, and had their full attention!


He had all sorts of stories to tell, including how he got the idea for Harry. He was taking a rest following a large Sunday roast, when his wife announced they were both going to the garden centre. He reluctantly took her to buy plants, and while she was making her choice Ian spotted a young, and equally bored little boy carrying a blue bucket full of plastic dinosaurs. He asked the boy if he knew what sort of dinosaurs they were, and was instantly told the full names of all of them by the boy, who was about four years old!

The visit was expensive but well worth it. Our friends group paid for it from money they have raised, and with the library yet again under threat from closure next year the attention this event drew from the local press was welcome as well!

Friday, 12 September 2014

WOW!

I was lucky enough to get a Kate Bush ticket! I only got one, as I didn't know anyone else who was a fan!
I have all her albums, but my other half didn't want to go, and my sis has never liked her so I just got the one ticket and took myself off to London.

I felt sorry for genuine fans pleading for someone in the queue to sell them a ticket, offering £300 in some cases. Made me wish I had got 2 then I would have sold one on at the purchase price, as I can't stand ticket touts.

Anyway, the show was absolutely amazing! The lights sounds and effects awesome. Kate Bush's voice was so strong and powerful.

The show was divided into three parts. After singing some oldies there followed two totally different shows, like mini musicals. I have all her albums and know the groups of songs she has put together to tell a story, but to see them played out in stunning scenery, a combination of stage and cinema, was incredible. I don't think I have ever written so many expletives but it took my breath away!
The rules not to take photos were followed. I had a seat right at the back of the stalls so I could keep the chair up and perch on top, looking over everyone's heads. When the show wound up with a finale I quickly got the camera out ( no flash) and took a quick shot. Then Kate went over to her grand piano, that earlier in the show had had a massive tree plunged through it, and sung one more song without the band. It was the last song from her last album, Angel.
So this is the photo I took of Kate Bush singing with a tree through her piano.





The show was 3 hours long, so I stayed in a hostel overnight. It was five minutes from the Apollo Hammersmith, but so quiet!

Next morning got the express coach back to Southampton, caught the Red Jet, sailed past the Orianna docked alongside a ship from the past and was home for lunch.











What a great day, and to think I dithered about when the tickets came on sale, I nearly didn't get anything!


Another sneaky shot, full zoom no flash.



Monday, 21 July 2014

Holiday time!

The school holidays are here! The busiest time of the year at the library, with a huge national promotion called the Summer Reading Challenge. It encourages children to read six books minimum during the holidays in return for rewards such as smelly stickers, zip tags and wrist bands. If they succeed they get a medal. It's been going on a while now, over 12 years, and is thought to prevent the summer holiday drop in childrens' reading levels before they go back to school.
Several thousand children join up on the Isle of Wight alone!

Anyway, I have just returned to work after a very relaxing fortnight off. First week spent up in Leicestershire visiting parents. They have never moved house since I was a baby, and we visited some old stomping grounds such as Bradgate Park. It is a haven for the people of Leicester and the surrounding suburbs to escape to and get some fresh air. Lady Jane Grey, the Queen for nine days lived here, and the remains of her house still stand.

These deer were trying to keep cool in the marshy ground by the river.










There's a genuine working police box in the car park, and a police man had pulled up outside to use it.







Lots of ancient oak trees, including this one that was still growing despite losing a lot of it's bark






Then it was off to a tea room for a cuppa, and we tried out a new one just opened in a nearby farm. Lovely cup of tea, and this beautiful bantam was strutting about outside



Extra large photo to appreciate his beauty!


His name was Brian, and he was given to the owners of the farm. He was very friendly. How I would love to have some bantams!


Back home to the Isle of Wight, and the village was holding the annual Scarecrow competition.



This was my favourite!



In the pub garden!







Money raised goes to the Royal British Legion. Some of the scarecrows look slightly familiar!


Finally, here's a tip for bird lovers who happen to own cats, and I know there are a lot of us out there! I feed the garden birds religiously all through the year, and this year we seem to have had no less than three broods of sparrow chicks from the same nest under the eves of an outbuilding. I know because I walk past the nest site daily, and the noise the chicks made was really loud! Then they fledged, and it was quiet again. We saw the brood in the garden, waiting to be fed from the fat balls.
Then the new lot hatched, and the noise started again! Talk about Sparrows 'r' Us! Then theyt left the nest and we saw them following the parents around.
Now the cheeping has started again! The third brood?

Anyway, back to my tip. We have an old bird table attached to the telephone line, which is in the depths of a nettle bed. A few years ago we put a garden tray, the type without holes, on the bird table and filled it with water. It is a very popular bird bath, on account of it being safely high up and easy for the wet birds to fly to a near by tree after the soaking. In this hot weather we have been filling it twice daily, (usually getting stung in the process) as the blackbirds love to spread the water everywhere. Some of the small birds just perch on the side of the tray when a blackbird is bathing, and get a free shower.





My perennial sweet peas are amazing this year. They grow outside the kitchen window, and the sunlight shines through them in the evening.





The bees love them, but unfortunately they don't have the smell of the annual variety. 



You can't beat sitting in the garden on a summer evening watching the sun go down. We've only had rain once in four weeks, and that was a mighty thunder storm.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Fox On Beach!

Yesterday we did the usual walk down the old railway track by the estuary. It was pleasantly peaceful for a Sunday. Perhaps it was too hot for walkers or cyclists, or maybe they were all down the beach?

The resident pair of swans displayed this year's brood.








I'm so glad they have more than one offspring this year. We witnessed the adult male violently attacking their sole offspring early this spring, then chasing it right down the estuary towards the sea. The poor thing had never had to fly anywhere before, and had never left the sheltered and safe place by the bridge, where they get regularly fed by visitors. I felt so sad for it, all alone. At least when the time comes, these will have each other. I don't understand how the large groups of swans I've seen elsewhere ever come about when they are as territorial as this pair!


We also saw several white admiral butterflies. We have only ever seen them along this track as it goes through the woodlands.



I celebrated the longest day with a bike ride, and finished up stopping by my landlady's fields to attempt a photo of the barn owls hunting at dusk. They didn't waste time catching large prey, rabbits I think, and taking them back to the derelict holiday camp where their nest is.
Not very good photos, though. The best one had the campsite and the electric fence in the shot. I will have to try again.



I've had to change my day off this week, to Monday, so we went to Steephill Cove.It was badly damaged in the winter storms, but now restored to normal, with the exception of the sand, which was completely swept away and replaced by fine gravel.

There was a small fox on the beach! He was so close to the sunbathers, I thought he might be someone's pet at first, but he wandered about looking for food. Everyone seemed to ignore him. Of course, I worried about him being thirsty and was he able to get off the beach, but the staff at the Beach Shack cafe assured me he had been coming down to the beach all week, so therefore
a) he knew how to get off
b) he was not, therefore, dying of thirst and
c) he did not need me to approach him with a bowl of water and a locally-caught crab sandwich thank you very much.

So I just took photos.












Steephill Cove. We had a lovely coffee each on the beach, followed by ice cream as we went back to civilisation. (There is no road access to the cove. If you want to get there, you have to walk up and down some serious hills)




Sunday, 8 June 2014

Barton Manor Flower Festival



A few weeks ago a poster arrived at the library advertising a flower festival at Barton Manor. I have been there once before, nearly 20 years ago when I was studying BSc. Ecology at Uni. I was doing a study comparing orchid growth on the Isle of Wight compared to the Scottish island of Rhum.
Someone told me to go to Barton Manor, where there was a host of wild orchids on the far side of the fish lake. My sister and her then baby went with me then, and I remember it being a blissful place, so peaceful and quiet. The Manor had not been open long to the public, and it was only the grounds you could go round. There was a small coffee shop as well.
The Manor was owned by the manager of Abba. Stieg someone or other, and it was inhabited so not open to the public.

So when I saw the poster I fore-warned himself that we were going, even though it is quite a trek to the other side of the Island.


I found some orchids in the same place by the lake.

This was a new addition. Not to my liking, though.

There were some huge trees




Beautiful far side of the lake. Just as I remembered.









The grounds were lovely, but this was supposed to be a flower festival!

There were stalls, some with crafts, a few with food but mostly brand new bought in products. I counted no fewer than five stalls selling the same sort of patterned, plastic shoulder bags and purses.

The walled gardens were closed, and someone told us they were in the process of being covered with huge solar panels.

There were two plant stalls selling the usual assortment. Nothing special. In fact, I can get more variety from my local village store!

The coffee shop was larger than before, but only sold pre-packed sandwiches and cups of tea, coffee and cakes. Not even a mug!

The advertised BBQ was a charity heating up burgers on a hot plate, not very tasty and the bread was dry as it was left in the sun.

My summer outings are few and far between so this was a disappointment. Highlight of the day was the walk round the lake, which is always open to the public without the crowds of people walking round searching for the flowers!