First - the August bank holiday weekend
Depite a history that said otherwise our continuing belief that this will prove an ideal time to go away ….
Just when we will learn…?
For the third year in a row we have been routed by the weather….
While our minds scream “It’s August so it’s going to be hot with glorious sunshine”, the reality has been rain, rain and strong winds followed by a promising bit of blue sky that only serves to give you false hope that things are improving, followed by bucket loads of horizontal rain. It’s bad enough when you are in a nice B&B or rented cottage but we, once again, were seduced by the lure of open air living. Unfortunately we talked some friends and family into joining us under canvas (well what passes for canvas in this hi-tech world we find ourselves living in)….Sorry Sis, Lisa, Mala, Craig, Alex and Emma
Mrs B and I managed to avoid the worst of the weather on the Sunday as we had booked a nature tour and photography day. If you ever find yourself in Norfolk I can highly recommend Wildlife tours.. Our guide Carl was brilliant. He really knew his stuff and most importantly of all made it interesting. In fact he was so good we have already booked to go on a Red Kite spotting weekend in Wales with him next year. Carl’s attention to making sure we got the most out of the day was incredible. Knowing that the weather was not set to be great he had even spent the evening before trapping some moths so that if the worse came to the worse we would still have some wee beasties to photograph.
Now I’m not normally a particularly patient* person but give me The Beast and the chance of glimpsing a timid wee beasty** and I can spend hours just gazing at an empty bit of sky, water or other, non-specified, natural environment. Thanks to Carl’s local knowledge and animal/bird craft he took us to locations where waiting time was minimal – mainly because these animals aren’t stupid and so find sheltered off the beaten track spots.
* Although unlike most youngsters today I can sit through most films without having to check my texts, go and get more popcorn and fizzy drink which is inevitably followed by at least one trip to the toilet……Aaaarrrggghhh! I just want to watch the film, damn it
** No I don’t mean Kylie Minogue – she’s able to wriggle into minuscule gold hot pants which, for obvious reasons, rules her out of the timid part of the equation….
I think I amused Carl with my determination to catch a shot of a flying Swallow (or was it a Swift or a House Martin?) Anyway, whatever they were (I can confirm they had feathers) they were tricky little buggers, teasing us as they flew around at high speed, banking, diving, rolling and, I suspect, sticking two feathers up in our general direction.
Some facts I discovered:
- There are only about 40 cranes (of the bird variety that is) in the UK – There’s me thinking the place is awash with them…..we got to see one of them but it was just a dot (albeit a large one) on the horizon.
- Mrs B turned out to be a great “spotter”. She picked up the water voles – although she was not quite so good with the birds:
Carl – “That would be a wood pigeon.”
Mrs B – “And that?”
Carl - “A different pigeon.”
Mrs B – “and…”
Carl – “Pigeon.”
Mrs B - “a,,,,,”
Carl – “Pigeon.”
Mrs B – “So I guess that is a pigeon as well…?”
Carl – “No, that’s actually quite rare….”
Mrs B - “Really?”
Carl – “Nope, just kidding, it’s a pigeon.”
- A 200mm lens with a 1.7 converter does not get you close enough to the action – I suspect even an 800mm lens would not get you close enough sometimes.
- Animals and birds just seem to know when you put your camera away….because inevitably that’s when they make an appearance.
- After all this I still can’t tell my "Greater Crested Blue Tit In Hob Nail Boots" from a "Lesser European Stealth Duck With Optional Accessories". What I can tell you is that we had a fantastic day. This swiftly turned around however………………….
At this point we all decided enough was enough and when the wind and rain eased sufficiently to give us a short respite we decamped – the long weekend’s camping trip somewhat shortened. In the final reckoning, of the 5 tents that were in our party, only ours was damaged - thankfully it was brand new and purchased through Amazon who replaced it with no questions asked. The Event Shelter, our second of the year (this was a replacement after the first one was damaged by a slightly playful breeze about 30 seconds after being erected) was also damaged and returned for a refund. A great piece of kit as long as you don't breath heavily in its general direction…..
Second - Italian cooking
I don’t know what you think about when you think of Italy but it brings to my mind (which we have already discovered this week is hardly infallible) sophistication and style. Our Italian friend Vinnie, for instance, is a snappy dresser and an accomplished cook. Bless him he went into shock the day that he found out that our friend Mala uses tomato ketchup in her cooking. He wore a black tie and arm band for months afterwards. So imagine my delight when I discovered that the champion of fresh food preparation uses Dairylea processed (I hesitate to use the word) cheese slices. It turns out that our prince of style would rather spend hours on his hair preparation than slaving over a freshly made sauce. For the record I fully support Mala in this. In her defence, I myself have been known to use ketchup in my cooking and, me lud, I would also like taken into account a number of cases of solicitous Worcestershire sauce use. However, give Mala an egg and it is a totally different story. The poor things are taken to such an inedible state they make Pot Noodles look like haute cuisine…..
I can’t believe I didn’t get slapped for this….
I was sent a list of “and that’s how the fight started” jokes by Mev at work (I may have made a few BlackLOG changes) with my favourites being:
Mrs B was standing nude, looking in the bedroom mirror.
She was not happy with what she saw and said to me,
"I feel horrible; I look old, fat and ugly. I really need you to pay me a compliment.”
I replied, "Your eyesight's damn near perfect."
And then the fight started...
I took my mother out for a meal the other day.
The waiter took my order:
Me - "I'll have the rump steak, rare, please."
Waiter - “Aren't you worried about the mad cow?"
Me - "Nah, she can order for herself."
And that's when the fight started...
So as an homage I am starting the new section - I can’t believe I didn’t get slapped for this….
I suspect it won’t appear very often but it’s here when I need it….
Zumba is the latest fitness craze to sweep Bishops Stortford and possibly the nation. I can’t believe the town is leading the way in anything. Mala is an early adopter and like most converts to a cause has been trying to sign up anyone and everyone. Having failed to spark any interest from her husband Craig or myself she attempted to talk Mrs B into attending a session:
Mala – “They are even starting to sell a range of Zumba clothing.”
Mrs B – “Is it any good?”
Mala – “Actually no, it’s a bit cheap and tacky………”
Me – “Sounds like it’s been styled for the people who attend the Zumba class then…..”
Sorry Mala but if you will insist on leaving yourself wide open…………………
Little Emma also gets a special mention in this section after she told Lisa – “Sorry I didn’t recognise you - I thought you were an old lady” – not bad coming from a six year old.
A record of the week
(well the last two weeks if you want accuracy)
Go wild in the country - Bow Wow Wow (At one with nature, but quietly otherwise nature tends to run away...)
And Your Bird Can Sing - The Beatles (For our feathered friends)
Dragonfly - Blondie (I would not want the insect world feeling they had been forgotten about)
Here Comes The Rain Again - Eurythmics (It was a British bank holiday what did we expect....)
Rip It Up - Razorlight (For the damage done to our tent and Event Shelter)
Rain - The Beatles (More bank holiday weather)
I Wanna Start A Fight - Pink (The song title is actualy "So What" but the lyrics are very apt for the new section)
Loads of wild life photographs for you this week