Saturday, 6 December 2014

Strewth, the things one sees from one's garden, but no Xmas lights

I've commented before on things seen in the sky from my garden, but this takes the biscuit. Faffing about in the shed this morning, and aware of the noise of a chainsaw setting about the trees around Cliffe Place, I became aware of a sort of roaring sound too, shortly followed by Nancy calling me outside to "LOOK AT THAT"
Crikey, I had to do a quick double-take. Mushrooming up from beside the drive down to Lower Townsend Farm were these two hot air balloons - now that is a first. They rose majestically and quitetly (or was it quietly), at least when the burner wasn't roaring away, and floated off to the South
One presumed they were bound for France, given the wind direction, if so, bon voyage
My only regret is that the photos were taken directly into the sun, so they've been brightened and contrasted a lot to show the logos etc 


There's nothing more I can say, other than on the subject of hot air. The promoted and pleasantly anticipated Christmas lights in the village plainly haven't happened. So far the blame has, according to the gossip, been laid at the feet of the Parish Council, hence the reference to hot air (I claim some right to make this connection as I went to a meeting - ONCE). I hope to talk to those closer to this non-event after the weekend, so as to get both sides of the story before coming to any conclusion, but it seems a great shame if last year's very enjoyable "lights on" hasn't been repeated as planned because of a lack of planning and communication. Maybe an explanation might be forthcoming from those in the know via the Parish Magazine?

Friday, 31 October 2014

Hummingbird Hawkmoth, and no apology

Last day of October, the eve of All Hallowed Saints Day, we were sat in the warm sun with a well - earned cup of coffee this morning when these clouds took my eye, like Jellyfish in the sky
Lucky for me, because I dived indoors and found my camera for a picture. So it was that when this very late-flying Hummingbird Hawkmoth appeared, feeding on the Verbena bodensii, I was able to get some photos, thanking my lucky stars the recent bad weather and other commitments had stopped us from clearing them up
Lucky, too, that the light was good and a fast shutter speed was possible

Although I struggled with the accursed auto-focus, eventually it got it's brain in gear, et Voilá

No apology for several photos, I'm almost proud of these

Monday, 27 October 2014

A short visit to Berlin

 Uploading picture files onto here is a doddle these days. Some time ago I was in despair at the time taken to put pictures on this blog. Sometimes it was impossible. Then, I called the company which provides t'internet access for me to complain. Then, a man came from BT and put in a new phone connection from the pole in my neighbours garden, and my account was moved to a new set-up. Blimey it took just over a minute to squirt these 27 pictures up the line
Philip and I went off to Berlin for a few days last week, to have a look-see, and try out our German. It was a good trip although the weather let us down badly. We flew Squeezy Jet and headed for town on the train from the airport, having bought a 3 day Berlin Welcome Card which gave us unlimited travel, and discounts at lots of places. This panel on the train couldn't be clearer, but please note that in Germany not all trains run to time. It's 12.55, the train was due at 12.53 and we're still a minute off
The Hotel Pension Kastanienhof was good, very welcoming and in a good quiet street not far from a surviving section of the wall, which we checked out that afternoon. This was the East side, from which many tried to escape

and this is the "no man's land" escapers needed to cross without being shot. It seems the space was completely clear then

During our walk we came across this little gem, complete with Carlos Fandango super wide wheels, a real memory jerker for Grandad, much to Philips amusement, tho' he did like the car

This is a typical street thereabouts, and young Philip noted that it was all very forbidding and austere looking, a sentiment I agreed with, even without the rain the architecture wasn't exactly light

One of our "must do's" was the Fernsehturm, but not, we thought, in weather like this. That ball towards the top is a restaurant and viewing gallery. Oh well, maybe tomorrow

We were amused by this Art Gallery, made of a stack of shipping containers. Imagine what UK planners and nimby's would make of that!

Graffiti and murals were everywhere too, this was one of the better ones we found

It was on our way to the German Technology Museum,  superbly brilliant place, with a DC3 Dakota from the Berlin Airlift days parked on the roof.  is the website for it

Inside we were fascinated by, among other exhibits, some reconstructions of early computers dating back to the mid - 1940's, worked on by Konrad Zuse. If only he and Alan Turing could have worked together. This is an early electro-mechanical device with about 6 trillion miles of wire to make it work
On the 3rd and 4th floors were real aeroplanes, including this MIG 15, an A A gun and, in the background, the remains of a crashed Lancaster bomber recovered from a lake

Philip was fascinated by it all, especially this lump of moon rock

Part of the museum complex is railway related in an old engine shed, or Lokschuppen, where blowing down was forbidden, according to this sign and my dictionary

Back out in the rain, here comes our underground train, becoming and overground train. We were glad it wasn't Henry from Thomas the Tank Engine (You remember, he's the one who stayed in the tunnel 'cos it was raining)

We also took in Checkpoint Charlie, a complete tourist trap. There was, however, a very evocative display of pictures and stories about the wall, including some quite harrowing scenes of would-be escapers being shot. Even though the wall came down 9 years before Philip was born, he'd heard enough about it to be interested

Sat in a nearby café enjoying Kaffe and Kuchen, or Diet Coke in Philip's case, this group of Trabants came by, leaving a nice blue fug behind as the lights went to green and they puttered off

Later we went to see the Currywurst Museum, advertised by this contraption

That afternoon was the only time the very top of the TV tower was out of the cloud. Fine weather was forecast for next day so we didn't go up then, doh! Should have known better

When we eventually did go up the tower, the ground was only just visible, but as it was the last morning we had little alternative. We were there at opening time and enjoyed a smashing breakfast while going round in the rotating restaurant, at 1 circuit an hour, which we managed.
He looks as though he's enjoying it, too
The Brandenburg gate had to be visited, and the resident Hooded Crows photographed


Best visit was to the Aquarium down by the zoo, where Philip spent ages trying to get a selfie with these huge Amazonian fish about to eat him

I can honestly say that Currywurst is not for me, but Philip enjoyed his very much. In this café the Wurst was chopped up and covered in Tomato Ketchup with a Chilli powder dusted over. You can also take it in a bread roll, if you must

Finally, on the way back to the airport, we looked out for and photographed this different apartment block first seen on the way in. As you can see the façade and windows are at an angle but the window styles are horizontal, must be weird to live in and look out of
Can't resist showing you the 4th batch of Father Christmasses made to sell at the village shop to raise cash for the Xmas lights - I decided to make some little helpers this time, too. They're selling well apparently - an idea bought back from another Germany Trip - to Trier a couple of years ago  (See blog for 17/12/2012)
The New Moon was a bit special this evening, I did remember to turn over the few pence I had in my pocket

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Moths and a Tornado

A selection of moths from an interesting couple of weeks, first up being this Scorched Carpet, not a common moth for my garden, and I'm not sure why it is so called, but it would make an interesting insurance claim

More prosaic is this Common Carpet, a species which has been a little more numerous this year. I like the "face" on the rear of it's abdomen

I haven't the faintest clue what this is, presumably it's a micro moth of some sort
No it's not, you dunderhead, it's a Yellow Shell - thanks Phil

This is an unusually pale Small Emerald

which shared the trap one morning with these two micro-moths, also unidentified

No such problem with this Small Blood-vein though, what a lovely moth

better still it shared it's bit of egg box with this Vestal, a first for this garden, and a little beauty

They all obligingly posed for a group photo

Black Rustics have been uncommon as well this year, but Large Yellow Underwings have been present in hundreds

and finally I caught sight of this mini-tornado a couple weeks ago, it was only visible for a few minutes, with no time to do "storm chaser" impressions

I contacted Phil Smith who was out on the cliffs, and who was hoping it would become a waterspout which it apparently did not. I've been watching his blog for pics but none so far - did you get any, mate?