Friday, July 20, 2012
I thought I'd give a little update on my last blog...the kidney infection was due to kidney stones. I've since passed two and feel a whole lot better.
I've still got a little bit of back ache and related shoulder pain but the infection's clearing well and though I have some small grain of sand sized calcium deposits in my urine they say there are no more larger stones. The 'gravel' as they call it should pass on it's own but can cause discomfort when it moves about.
As a consequence of feeling much better DH suggested he take me out for a ride with the chance of a short walk. I have difficulty with walking just now as the back ache seems to get worse and worse until I feel absolutely done in. This walk was before I passed the second stone just last night so I didn't feel as good then as I do today.
We decided on a visit to the seaside as the weather has been quite nice this last few days, we've had so much rain it was really lovely to see the sun.
However the day we chose looked as though it would disappoint us!
That morning appeared with rain, rain and yet more rain...lol...it bounced off the road, ran down the windows and generally looked set in for the day.
We kept looking out of the window hoping it would clear and eventually around eleven am we decided to postpone our ride.
We made a sandwich for lunch, and sat in the conservatory to eat it to the accompaniment of the rain beating a tattoo on the glass roof.
It's funny how you don't notice things but all of a sudden I was aware that the rain wasn't playing it's tune any more.
I don't know when it stopped but stopped it had!
Within half an hour there was a blue sky, white clouds and a gentle breeze...our ride was back on!
The weather's always ready to surprise and the day turned positively balmy with a nice cooling breeze, hot sunshine and blue skies stuffed with high billowing white fluffy cumulus clouds looking like giant pillows in the sky, at last it felt like summer.
We drove with the windows wound down to let in the cooling breeze, we watched the countryside flash by all lush and green from the rain. There's not a lot of other colour this year but we glimpsed the occasional flash of yellow buttercups, white Queen Anne's lace and rich purple thistles in the roadside verges and the bright splash of red poppies in the still green cornfields.
I can't believe the height of the grass this year, waist high and the thistles came up to my shoulders when I stood next to them...must be a record!
The wind farm turbines appeared in the distance, gradually growing taller and taller as we neared them, their huge sails turning in the wind like giant windmills set in the ground and the sunlight glinted off the sea sending tantalising little sparkling flashes of light dancing along the horizon.
We were almost there!
Parking would be the big problem, we saw that as soon as we arrived. The lovely weather had attracted the world and his wife, it was packed to the gunnels with a throng of humanity.
We circumnavigated the town twice like explorers in a new environment, luckily we found a parking spot close to the harbour top and pounced eagerly, backing in before anyone else could claim it...our car parking angel was definitely with us that day!
It was so warm we left our coats in the car and ventured forth in T shirts, me with my camera and DH with binoculars.
I wanted to visit the Pembroke Garden, a newly refurbished area which has caused a lot of controversy in the town, and the parking space we found was literally just across the road from it and in an area where there were no parking charges either...thankyou parking angel!
The garden is a triangular piece of land set between roads full of guest houses and fronted by a busy main road but with magnificent views out to sea. It's always been a lawned area with flower borders and wooden benches for the weary to rest on and though it's adjacent to a busy road it always felt serene and peaceful.
Now it's contemporary, modern and artistic with eight huge 12' by 6' toughened semi-transparent glass panels depicting magnified items from the local environment which are backlit as night falls, large polished black granite benches and small domed trees set between part sandstone tiles and part gravelled pathways with flower beds behind and traditional wooden seats set in little bays.
The controversy arose as local guest house owners said the trees looked like 'lollipops' and spoiled the view, the garden resembled a cemetery with the granite seats looking like coffins and being nothing but glorified dog's toilets and the glass panels would be broken in a week...that was last year but the garden went ahead and is looking pretty pristine and colourful with it's lovely plantings of kniphofia (red hot pokers) and underplanting of sedums and yellow stone crop...
I like it.
After sitting in the gardens under the shade of one of the 'lollipops' for a while we crossed the road to the harbour top.
It was heaving with people enjoying the sunshine.
The line of National flags were cracking and fluttering gamely in the wind, seagulls scried and voices hummed.
We found a vacant bench and sat taking in the colourful sights and sounds around us.
The new pontoons in the harbour were filled to capacity with small crafts of every description whilst out in the bay yachts with brightly coloured sails pactised their manouevers as a bright yellow speedboat wove in amongst them.
A tattered Union Jack above our heads waved gamely in the wind.
We ventured a little further down to the pier walkway set above the harbour, now and then leaning on the railings watching the activity below us or looking out at the yachts and distant coastline through DH's binoculars.
I rested on a bench whilst DH went off for sustenance...not very Sparklike I'm afraid but it did taste good...lol...we shared a bag of steaming hot crisp golden chips dusted with salt and piping hot burning our fingers as we scoffed the lot...so much more enjoyable when eaten straight from the bag with fingers in the cool fresh air... they always taste better from paper too instead of those horrible yellow or white polystyrene boxes!
Then we made our way back to where we parked the car, we hadn't walked very far but I felt as if I'd done a marathon. My legs felt like jelly and my steps grew slower and slower, I was almost at stop and felt so glad when I reached the car.
I almost collapsed into the seat, it was absolute bliss!
I was thirsty too, so much so that I downed half a litre of water in one go...lol...but I really enjoyed our pleasant little walk, it felt like an achievement.
Motoring home again the sky stayed clear and blue, the sun still shone and the white pillowy-billowy clouds sailed majestically over head...it had quite simply been a perfect afternoon.
A few photos for your delectation...lol...
Pembroke Garden with the 'lollipop' trees
traditional wooden seats surrounded by kniphofia
glass art panel and granite seat
national flags crack in the wind
the new pontoons
looking across the harbour from the walkway
brightly coloured buoys on this trio
a tattered Union Jack flutters as yachts manouevre in the bay
the pirate ship heads out to sea
the harbour's resident population of mallard ducks seem to have their own berth!
fishing coble 'Mary Ellen' returns with her day's catch...baskets of silvery blue mackerel
a raft of herring gulls bob gently on the swell
the harbour top was thronged with humanity
the fleet was in and unloaded
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Sorry about this blog but I really need a moan!!
I can't do it to DH as he's been wonderful, he's cooked, cleaned, nursed and ran me to hospital and doctors appointments...a real tower of strength apart from one comment of 'you look yellow'...but having said that, he isn't wrong either!
So here goes!
I don't seem to have blogged for a while, mainly due to ill health.
I seem to be picking up every little thing around just lately.
I know my immune system is low but I'm getting pretty hacked off now, just when I feel I'm doing ok something else crawls out of the woodwork and knocks me down again.
My defences are low and I seem to be having a job getting them back up.
Things were looking better at one point but since December of last year when I had a severe allergic reaction nothing seems to have gone well.
That in itself took until the end of March to finish treatment and then I had a couple of weeks of feeling good before I had an arthritis flare up in my knee, not so bad as I'm used to that but after that was out of the way I had a period of lethargy and a bout of jaundice caused by a liver complaint.
I worked my way through that and was beginning to feel well.
I started walking again and enjoyed a few weeks where I didn't feel too bad.
I began going to all my clubs and meetings again and was really looking forward to the Queen's five day Jubilee celebrations.
I wish I hadn't bothered, I got absolutely soaked through on the first day and ended up with a sore throat and achey muscles, my voice disappeared for five days and a chest infection set in. Eventually I was told it was a virus and there was nothing they could do.
Then the coughing spasms and breathlessness started and was told I also had a bad bout of bronchitis!
Phew...it never rains but it pours...but that's a different story, the weather is atrocious!!
Eventually the cough was almost cleared and for a week I felt good, really well, better than I'd been for ages, DH even took me out for a ride and I managed a short walk.
But nothing ever lasts and on Sunday I awoke with a dull stomach ache and low back pain which throughout the day got worse and worse.
I couldn't pass urine properly and what little I did was thick and dark pink with blood...
More tests ensued and I've now got a kidney infection...
I feel achy, lethargic, headachy, I've a high temperature, chills and the abdomen and back pain is awful.
It's uncomfortable to sit, it feels as if my inside are dragging down if I stand, I just can't get comfy!
So I lie down which sends me to sleep...not a restful sleep either!
I've to drink loads of water to clear the infection (I'm normally good at drinking around 12 glasses a day but I've more than doubled that) which results in frequent agonising trips to the bathroom and on top of that the antibiotic medication has given me the runs...lol...maybe it'll help! and hopefully all that water is flushing the infection out.
Roll on next week!
Moan over...thanks for listening, I'm going back to sleep now!
Saturday, June 30, 2012
I've been 'confined to barracks' this last few weeks, firstly with a virus which knocked me for six then a bad bout of bronchitis.
Inbetween coughing sessions I decided to have a little foray into the back garden to see how Mother Nature was coping with our weird and wonderful weather.
We had drought conditions earlier on this year and now June has been the wettest on record.
It's so up and down...heavy thundery showers, strong winds interspaced with hot spikes where it's humid or hotter than the continent, we've even had thunderstorms, flooding and hailstones...but mostly rain, heavy rain and lots of it so consequently we've got what I call a 'green year' where the garden is myriad shades of lush green growth with hardly any other colour to it.
What has flowered hasn't lasted long, there are no butterflies, few ladybirds, no hoverflies, not even many flies or bees either so I was pleased to see a white tailed bumblebee on my aquilegia and 'mourning widow' geraniums.
The aquilegia have done well this year but the flowers haven't lasted long, on the other hand the 'mourning widow' geranium has flowered profusely, attracted what few bees we have and then after the flowers have died brought in the greenfinches, goldfinches and chaffinches to it. They balance delicately on the thin stems as they greedily strip the seeds.
When all have been consumed I chop the foliage back to ground level and within a couple of weeks it's flowering and the cycle begins again...in a good season I can maybe do this three times, it's a really good insect and bird friendly plant...I've even seen woodmice collecting the seeds too!
The lovely lime green leaves of the 'creeping Jenny' shine like a beacon through the wet weather but even this hasn't any flowers, it's usually smothered in little yellow blossoms by now but I can't even see any buds.
A beautifully irridescent bluebottle landed on it, it looked so pretty against the foliage that I couldn't resist a photo, they've such rich colouring but I don't like them if they get inside the house!
A mother hedge sparrow brought her family of fledglings to the lilac tree, they sat in the branches and pluffed out their feathers to sunbathe in the shaft of warm sunshine, it didn't last long but they took good adavatage of it all the same. They had that 'I've just washed my feathers and I can't do a thing with them' look!
Down under the soggy undergrowth of the bog garden I spied a frog, it was so unusual.
I thought it was a common frog but they're usually green and blotchy, this one was a lovely shade of orange. I shouted DH to come and look but he was none the wiser.
It hopped into the waterfall and sat there quite happily, the water is off at the moment as DH is relining it when the weather allows.
I googled it later and it is a common frog which apparently can come in quite a range of greenish yellow colours but just lately people have been reporting red and orange varieties too, they're not sure why maybe they're adapting to our changing environment...anyway we're lucky to have out unusual visitor...he's still hopping about and comes down on to the patio at night looking for insects, especially after a rain shower.
In the ivy along the side fence I found a nest, a beautiful construction of woven grass intertwined with the ivy stems, the rim is edged in dried mud and it's built tight in against the fence. It's hidden from view by the ivy leaves and the dried grass blends in beautifully with the silvery old wood of the fence.
It's blackbird's nest.
I've been watching and waiting, first the eggs were laid, gorgeous turquoisy-blue blotched eggs, three of them on separate days.
Then I waited around a month and the first egg hatched, the second the following day and the third the day after.
The chicks are almost ready to leave the nest now, they're losing their down and have feathers. The yellow gape is changing colour and they seem to be permanently being fed by the attentive parents.
Today when I peeped in one of them was flapping it's wings fit to bust so it won't be long before they're off...I'll be sorry to see them go but I'm hoping they stay around the garden until they're bigger.
Seems there's quite a lot going on in the garden even with the rain!
the unusual coloured frog
fledgling hedge sparrow
bee buzzing through the aquilegia flowers
irridescent bluebottle on creeping jenny
a hungry greenfinch
my baby blackbirds are all mouth...lol...
Monday, June 11, 2012
It was quite a nice morning on Sunday, a bit overcast, a coolish wind but dry which makes a refreshing change from the downpours we've been getting.
I hadn't been far for a few days as I have a chest infection which was making me breathless and cough a lot but after getting shot of the bad headache which came with it I was feeling a lot better so decided I could manage a walk along the stunning Bempton Cliffs with their RSPB bird reserve.
We set off laden down with all the paraphernalia we thought we'd need...cameras, binoculars, boots, cagoules, a flask of hot chocolate and my medication!
The reserve was packed to the gunnels, I think everyone else had had the same idea of getting out whilst it was fine...lol...even the overflow car park was full and we had to join other cars parked along the grass verges on the road down to the cliffs...'at least', DH remarked, 'we won't have to pay'...what is he like?
It was actually quite warm and humid with a cool breeze blowing in off the sea...it was also blowing in ominous looking clouds too!
I was warm though and decided to chance it without a coat and so did DH...aren't we brave?
I've never minded getting wet or mucky, in fact, perverse though I may be, I kinda like it!
As it happened, we were lucky and though the sea roke rolled in damping us a bit it didn't rain and it made for a lovely misty picture of the cliffs looking down the coast...ever the photo opportunist!
The stoney well worn path along the cliff top was rather muddy with large puddles every now and then but the view was gorgeous with it's waves crashing far below and the cloudy horizon and the breeze was pleasant even though it wafted the smell of the birds guano towards us instead of away...they certainly smelt ripe!
Winsome gannets, with their beautiful golden heads and pale blue eyes sailed majestically on the wing whilst little guillemots and razorbills with their short stubby wings and bodies made erratic flights to and from the cliff face which was lined with birds.
Some sitting on eggs, others with chicks and yet others still making up their minds!
The cliffs are stunningly white chalk, around three to four hundred feet high, it's a sheer drop straight down to the churning sea below!
Crowds of people armed with binoculars, cameras and big tripod affairs vied for a place at the strategically placed lookout points which look down the sides of the cliffs at an angle. Built right on the edge they offer the best views along the coast.
Each person trying to get their shots and hopefully see the elusive puffins with their pretty multi striped beaks...there was one but it wasn't playing ball for a photo call and winged it out across the open sea.
There were gannets, guillemots, kittiwakes, razorbills and fulmars by the score, the smell was phew! and the noise was deafening!
The nests are pretty precarious to say the least, they aren't even proper nests just bits of seaweed and grass laid flat on the ledge but Mother Nature has helped evolution by making the bird's eggs pointed at one end so instead of falling from the cliff they just roll around in circles on the ledges. Some birds don't even bother with the seaweed and grass and just lay their precious cargo straight onto the rocky ledges. Often they only have one egg so it's a bit of a hit and miss affair.
Some of the kittiwakes already have chicks, little fluffy slate grey bundles poking out from between the parent's legs whilst others were still courting, nodding their heads in unison and bringing in little presents for each other, their raucous cries echoing on the wind.
The little stubby bodied razorbills looked as if they had just started, no eggs, no nests, no nothing! They were perched on ledges sleeping most of the time. I love the way they never face the sea when perched, always looking at the cliff face...maybe it's a bit daunting looking down a three hundred foot drop!
The gannets are so beautiful, they have peachy-golden heads and piercing pale blue eyes which are also edged round in blue. Their feet are black with green stripes up the ribs and their white plumage is dazzling on a sunny day. They use the air up currents to advantage and soar past majestically on the wing at eye level.
It's puffin time and one of the reasons why people go to Bempton but they're pretty elusive. We've been going for years and it's rare to see one as they nest on the cliff tops just outside the reserve area in underground burrows so what you usually see, if you're lucky, is their flight to and from the burrows to collect food for their young. They occasionally land on a ledge but not for long.
Even though they're similar to razorbills in colour, shape and size they're easy to spot if perched as they have wonderful multi coloured striped beaks ringed around in bright yellow and sad pierrot clown's eye faces.
You can tell them flying too as they have a distinctive flight which is easy to spot. Their wings don't seem big enough to fly and they flap them ten to the dozen...lol...I did get a couple of photos of one but he was too far away for my camera and they're pretty blurred!
Across the open flower bedecked meadowland which leads back into the fields behind the cliffs there's an old World War 2 pill box area, it's falling down but is a haven for the small birds.
Skylarks were singing their fluting song, rising and falling as they sang, disappearing down into the meadow and then soaring up to the skies again in joyous jubilation.
Meadow pippits seemed to shiver on thin grass stalks, collecting seeds or just proclaiming their territory with their piercing songs.
Pretty little hedge sparrow flitted around in their family groups and swallows skimmed the surface of the flowers catching insects whilst winging their way silently over the blooming meadow.
Rows of chattering starlings lined the now wire less concrete fence posts, jauntily perched and twittering away they made beautiful animated silhouettes against the greying sky.
Swathes of pink clothed the skyline as the red campions and purple vetch bloomed in glorious colour. It's a bit of a misnomer red campion as it's actually a beautiful shade of cerise pink, there are white varieties too but mixed in with them were some really pretty delicate pale pink ones which I hadn't seen before...nature in the throes of change!
They were interspaced with Queen Anne's lace flowers which seemed to be abuzz with insects and little brown Wave day moths with the wavy pale green line across their wings.
The aged wooden fence along the path was studded with pretty white lipped banded snails, each one glued on the underside of a strut away from the birds, wind and sun.
The sea mist came rolling in late in the afternoon, hiding the cliffs behind it's dew filled greyness. It was 'proper moozy' as we say around here so we reluctantly made our way back to the car, stopping off at a bird feeding station along the way but it was empty, a friendly young man informed us there was a falcon about but we never saw it even though we stayed a while. The birds didn't return either so he was probably right.
Back in the car we had a delicious cup of steaming hot chocolate and then made our way into the town where we ate delicious locally caught fish and fat golden chips...with our fingers, from a white plastic carton (not quite the same as newspaper!!)...as we strolled along the seafront...not good for the diet I suppose but very enjoyable nonetheless!
There's a couple of pictures here for you but most won't load, it says the file's too big so there's a link at the bottom which will take you to my Bempton set on my Flickr page if you feel the inclination to look.
Click on the thumbnails to see the larger picture, then click each in the line at the right hand side for the next one.
one of the smaller gullies where the birds nest
flic.kr/s/aHsjqFrGiS My Flickr link...enjoy!
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