It’s a small world

Beach view Horsey Norfolk with seals

The plans for today were centred around visiting Horsey Wind pump at Horsey, so following a leisurely breakfast we left the hut, and headed off. We are staying only about 10 minutes form the pump, which is run by the National Trust our plan was to do a circular walk, so see some seals by the sea and possible take in a boat trip from the mill, however just as we arrived outside Horsey I had a spontaneous change of plan, and we parked up at a beach car park. The car park was pay and display but the pay and display machine was locked up inside a mini container, so we saved ourselves a couple of quid.

The beach is accessed via a gap in the dunes which run along this part of the coast. The weather was great for taking photos as the haze of the last few days had cleared and the blue skies were covered in fluffy clouds. The weather forecast for most of the country was gales and rain but there was a chance that we were in a corner that would just miss all the bad weather. On the beach the wind was increasing but the sun was out and it was pleasant enough. The tide was going out and there was a stretch near the surf that was solid thus making walking easier. We headed south which was where we were told by Helen’s colleague the seals hang out. We soon started to spot waders on the beach ; Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Dunlin, and also Little Tern hunting over the sea. We walked for about a mile and spotted plenty of seals in the sea popping their heads out of the water to keep their eyes on us, then we came across probably about 200 seals lying on the beach between two break waters.

View from top Horsey Wind Pump NT Norfolk

We headed up into the dunes so as not to disturb them, where we found somewhere to site down and watch them and have a snack of Christmas cake. I took the opportunity to take some time lapse photos with the GoPro. Next we headed back to the car the weather was still holding out but the wind was building as forecast. We drove the mill itself and parked up at the NT car park , another free be as we are members. The nice man at the cafe invited us in and explained about the mill, told us to get on the boat trip you need to put your name on the “automatic” booking system and was happy for us to us the cafe to eat our sandwiches. Helen when off to put our names on the booking system while I went and got her binoculars form the car, then we went had had a look at the Mill/Pump, which if you don’t mind steep steps gives a great view from a platform at the top. Back at the cafe we got a coffee and the man tempted Helen with a box a bargain cards, how did he know that Helen is a sucker for a card? We took our coffee’s outside and sat in the lee of the building and had lunch.

Ross’s boat trips from Horsey Wind Pump

We took a stroll round the broad for a bit to kill the 30 minutes before the boat trip. It turned into a private boat trip, as we were the only people booked on it. Ross Warrell who runs Ross’ Norfolk Broads River Trips it turns out has a connection, I mentioned that I went school fairly locally and he said did I know his borther Adrian turns out he was in the class below me, what a small world we live in. The boat trip was great Ross really like bird watching and essentially the trip turned into a bird watching trip. We saw loads of Marsh Harriers, Sedge Warblers, Reed Buntings, as you would expect but we also had a fly past by a Cuckoo and great views of two Hobby’s. We both really enjoyed the trip and would thoroughly recommend it, Ross is really the star of the boat with his knowledge of birds and his relaxed attitude to the whole tour of the broad.

Back on dry land we went back to car to decide what to do, we had probably an hour to do something but could not see anything on the map that took our fancy. We had been out in the wind all day and wanted something a bit more sheltered. We headed to Winterton-on-sea to see if we could get a coffee and found a gem of a cafe called Dunes Cafe just off the beach car park.We went in expecting nothing special, but inside it clearly was not you usual beach cafe, they had an expresso machine, a great collection of cakes, and the menu looked great too. On the wall there was evidence that it had featured in the press, with framed articles.We opted for the homemade red velvet cake which was a chocolate cake with beetroot and a butter cream icing, it was lush.

Coast watch tower at Winterton Norfolk

Whilst we had coffee I noticed there was a coast watch hut and a couple had been invited in to take a look, so after we left the cafe I wandered over to see if I could have a guided tour too. The man in the watch tower was just packing up as his shift finished at 16:00 but he very kindly agreed to show me around and tell me what he was up to. The watch is run form 08:00 to 16:00 each day and concentrates on smaller craft i.e. those not on the AIS system. Apparently the one at Winteron is covered by only 8 volunteers. I noticed on the table he had a note about a dead dolphin being reported on the beach to the south, backing up his comments that public treated them a lot like to the place to report anything from lost keys to lost children. We talked about local pubs and he recommended the Nelson Head at Horsey.

We got home we checked out the website for the Nelsons Head it looked good and promised to yo accommodate any diet,  Helen gave then a call and checked that they did veggie food and booked a table. The pub is a strange place in the back next to the var park there was a car van with a staffie at the window. In the pub it was like your tradition establishment with all sorts of brick a brac hanging from the walls including, a very large shot gun with a six foot barrel with a gauge of about an inch and a half, apparently it was used to shot many ducks with one shot. The food was average but the beer was great. I had Brain’s Bitter and Helen had Nelsons Revenge.

A day bird watching

Church in Norfolk

Up at reasonable time with breakfast sorted, we left the house at 09:22 destination Cley Marshes, and a day bird watching. The route was familiar along the A149 which runs from around the North Norfolk coast from the broads at Yarmouth to Kings Lynn. We usually don’t like to spend too much time driving around when we are on holiday but the draw of Cley Marshes and the potential for bird watching was too much to resist.

The one hour journey was shortened somewhat by three episodes of The Archers, and my attempt to break my fuel usage record. The adaptive cruise control on the golf tends to accelerate smoothly and economically and the A149 has some long stretches of 50mph, by the time we parked up at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust car park we had achieved 61 miles per gallon which is very impressive.

Cley beach view

We checked in at the visitors center had a pee and set off around the reserve, in a clockwise direction, which is not the way we usually walk around. At the first group of three hides it was great to see plenty of waders out on the scrapes; Ringed Plovers, Godwits, Dunlin, Sandpipers, Turnstone to mention a few. We then headed out to the beach car park where alas the cafe and loo are no more, following a storm a few years back the temporary structures have been removed. We walked on to the north most hide where we had some of A’s great Christmas cake that we had frozen just after Christmas. Then we stopped for sandwiches at the bench on the south east corner, where I also tried a timelapse with the go pro. We checked out the final hide nearest the visitors center, before we went in for a coffee and some well deserved apple cake.

Next stop was Cley Spy binocular shop where I had an opportunity to try our loads of binoculars, including a tempting set by Opticron at £299 DBA 10×25 Oasis W/P which give a great bright image, and pack down really small so would be perfect to keep in my rucksack when out for a walk. I picked up a bargain mini ball tripod head for £39 instead of the usual £55.

Fly on Alexander

On the way home we picked up some supplies at Waitrose North Walsham. I had a plan for the evening after we had eaten, which was to try our the raptor watch point at Stubb Mill, apparently you can often see 10’s of Marsh Harriers and other raptors. I drove up to and parked at the visitors center but when I walked up the lane as I understood you were supposed to, I noticed that the gate was lockable. Despite looking at all the notices at the reserve there was not indication of when the gate would be locked, so I got back in the car and drove down to Stubb Mill. There were signs that suggested that they prefer people not to park there, I squeezed the car up against a bank next to the watch point, and kept my fingers crossed that no one would come and tell me off.

The sun was about 30 minutes from setting and was shining on the scrubby fields in front of me, but apart from the odd crow, cow and deer there was not much happening. I took some pictures and set up the gopro to do some timelapses, as I waited. Just as I was thinking I had wasted my time and that they only roost in the winter, I started noticing Harriers arriving in their ones and twos! My guess is that they were all Marsh Harriers but I did see one that I thought was grey on top which would make it a Hen Harrier, but I will not be putting it on my list. Then I started to hear not only a Bittern booming but a Cuckoo, well Cuckooing. I can imaging that in the winter when they are not breeding and it is cold they the sight is quite spectacular.

Serial boat trippers are we

Greylag nesting at Hicking NWT

We were up early had, breakfast then left the hut at 09:20, destination Hickling Broad NNR, about two miles walk. It was a pleasant walk, mainly by track and footpath, we arrived at the visitors center and attempted to book a place on the 1030 boat trip but unfortunately it was full, but there were some places on the 13:30 so we booked that one in instead.

As we had three hours to while away we started off slowly with a coffee, whilst we sat and drank our coffee we were surprised at the number of birds we spotted just sat there; Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Whitethroat, Blackcap, Robin, Tits etc. We set off around the reserve stopping off at the Cadbury hide, named after the family who purchased the land and then donated it to the NWT some years ago. The Cadbury family still have a link with the reserve as they lease a lodge deep in the reserve and next to the edge of the open water. When someone is staying they raise an appropriate flag, today a flag with a Marsh Harrier was flying. We did not see much from the hide the I think because the water levels where so low the habitat was not how they had intended it when the hide was built.

In the next hide we thought that a situation was in front of us until Helen spotted a Water Rail. The Water Rail is a very elusive bird normally only observed briefly when they venture out of the reeds. The low water level was to hep us in this situation, the edges need the reeds where the rails would normally feed was dried up forcing it to wander out into the open. We saw it forage slowly and then go into a small patch reeds where we lost sight of it but our patience was rewarded when it came back out into the open for a while before a short flight back into the reeds. Along with the Black Tern yesterday the Water Rail wold be added to the weeks highlights.

Observation tower Hickling NWT

Next it was down to the far edge of the reserve and past the Lodge leased by the Cadbury family, where we headed back towards the visitors center making the walk into a circular one. We ate the sandwiches we made back at the hut with another instant coffee then we walked back into the reserve to find the mooring for the boat trip.

There were not many birds to see on trip I think we were just there at the wrong time of year, all the winter wildfowl had left and the spring/summer migrants delayed by the delayed spring weather. The guide had some interesting facts to convey to us, one that stuck out was the story of Emma Turner who was a victorian naturalist who got permission to use an island on the broad which was used for hunting. She had a house boat built and a hide then lived there for the next 25 years, photographing and recording the birds.

We walked back to the hut and got back at 16:30 so we had a long day out in the field. We ventured out to the The Swan pub at Stalham an Adnams pub where the food was great.

Dogs on the loose

Control room at RAF Neatishead Norfolk

We were up and about at a reasonable time of 08:00, and we had a plan. Near by at Neatishead there is an retired RAF station which since the 2nd world war, and through the cold war was a radar station. There is museum there run by volunteers, and it opens at 10:00 with a tour starting at 10:30. We had breakfast then headed out following the sat nav, but because we could not find the (well spell) Neatishead, we set the destination as Horning. Helen then took charge and put the correct spelling in but then we then had to go anti-clockwise round the broad we had been travelling clockwise around!

As it happened we got there at bank on 10:00, and there was plenty of room in the car park. The entrance fee is only £6 but we opted to pay the slightly extra fee and agreed to the gift aid deal, which means that the charity can claim back the tax. A couple arrived behind us and the guy was explaining to the manager that he had been posted at Neatishead twice during hs career in the RAF, both times in the 80’s. The place reminded me a bit of Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire, the place would be nothing without the volunteers, but I can imagine that the committees and working groups behind the scenes must be a bit of a nightmare for the only paid employee, the manager.

Douglas Baders bunny at RAF Neatishead Norfolk

The tour was very interesting and the speakers all very skilled at explaining the way that RADAR works, and how the RAF had perfected and used the technology to monitor the aircraft nearing the United Kingdoms airspace over the years. The first exhibit started with WWII where everything had to be done by hand, with token, and telephone lines being used to push the information up the chain of command. As RADAR improved the systems became slightly more sophisticated  and eventually, crude by today’s standards, computers were introduced. The final exhibit was a bit like the NASA mission control room, but all the large screens on the wall were maintained by operatives writing backwards on glass screens, to relay the information. When the tour was over we looked at most of the other exhibitions all RAF and RADAR related, including one where they explained how space was started to be monitored as satellites became the norm. We finished off by having a toasted sandwich and coffee at the cafeteria, which was find and good value.

My parents headed off home from the museum and Helen and I had a date with and NWT nature reserve at Ranworth Broad, so sat nav programmed we set off. As is tradition in this part of Norfolk you have to pass through Wroxham if are going anywhere, and today was no exception. It was comforting to know that Roys of Wroxham is still thriving in what one can only describe as Norfolk Broads on Sea, I would not be surprised if you an purchase “Kiss me quick” hats at Roys. Wroxham is at the cross roads of quite a few roads and has a bridge that joins the roads in the South to the roads in the north. Add to that the moorings and boat trips you can take from there, and everyone wants to be there on a bank holiday Monday, the place was Sergio Ramos. Luckily we were just passing through.

On the way to the Broad we stopped at the Woodfordes brewery of Wherry Bitter fame, we were hoping to get a take out 4 pint container of beer, but unfortunately they did not have the facilities to do that in the shop, but hey did sell the containers, which could be filled at the pub next door. We purchased a container but decided we would get the beer at the pub near the hut, where we knew we could get Bure Gold and kind of summer ale at 4.3%. We parked up in a conveniently placed field below the church at Ranworth, which was free and just a short walk to the nature reserve. To get to the reserve visitors center there is a board walk, which is just a short walk. The building is floating and there are plenty of viewing points on the upper deck where you can look out over the broad. We inquired about the boat trips and as luck would have it there was one due in 15 minutes, so we paid the £5 a head, members price, and waited.

Ranworth Broad floating visitors center

The boat trip was very relaxing the boat just pootled around the edge of the broad at about 2 mph which the informative volunteer told us about the wildlife and management of the place. We saw quite a few species, even though the winter is the busiest season for the broad, including Great Crested Grebe, Teal, Cormorant, Common  Tern as well as the less common Black Tern. We thought that the boat trip would take us back to the floating visitors center but it took us to the next door broad called Malthouse broad at a pub called the Maltsters inn. From there it was just a short walk back to the car.

We took the opportunity to have a look around he church, which had a tower you could climb up to take a look at the view. The notices warned on many narrow steps so I was left on my own to tackle it. And narrow the steps were then there was a metal m ladder followed by a final set of wooden steps which lead to a hatch onto the roof. Luckily for me we only passed two people on the way up could fit into a doorway as I went past. The view from the top was great because not only was the church on a hill top but the tower was a tall one too. I joined about 8 other people heading down I thought that we would have the strength of numbers where it came to who would back off if we came to and impasse. Luckily we did not but at times it was a bit of a squeeze especially as I had a rucksack on my back.

We had a drink and piece of cake at the church cafe, the cake was a bit disappointing as I was expecting home made cake but the Honey and Cream  was obviously shop bought and frozen. The journey home was short and we seemed to be going the right way as there seemed to be lots of cars going the other way but stuck in several queues. They would probably be at work tomorrow, we wouldn’t.

You may be wondering about the title of the blog post, well on two occasions today we had to give way to dogs wandering onto the road from the drive of two houses, the owners seemingly oblivious to the potential fate of their canine friends. Perhaps it is a Norfolk thing?

Home to Hickling Green for a holiday

Ickworth Hall NT

We were up early (well I was) in anticipation of going on holiday, to Hickling Green for a week. We had booked a cottage, and my parents were joining us for the first couple of nights. The cottage would be ours from 16:00 so we had plenty of time to get there, and had left the packing to the morning of the day of departure, however as usual we were all packed and ready to go by 10:00, we had 6 hours to do a 3 hour journey.

The plan was to stop off at RSPB Sandy to buy some binoculars that Helen had promised me for my birthday. It took only just over the hour to get to Sandy the RSPB headquarters. We parked up and it started to chuck it down with rain so we ran to the shop and visitors centre, however we did not stay for long, there was no cafe and the optics selection was not that great and no one seemed interested in selling, I would wait till we are next at Minsmere where they have a bigger selection and knowledgeable staff on hand.

Now we had a dilemma where to stop off next? There were a few options, we fancied making the most of our National Trust membership, Wimpole Hall and Anglesey Abbey were near, too close in fact, but we had visited previously. We settled on Ickworth Hall which would take us via Bury St Edmunds thus avoiding Thetford which I feared would be busy as there was a 40mph long stretch of road which was being widened. Thetford has always been a bit of a bottle neck and we have experienced delays passing through on the way to the North Norfolk coast in the past.

Primroses at Ickworth Hall NT

We stopped for a paper to distract Helen from my driving, and arrived at Ickworth Hall at about 12:30. The weather was warm with blue skies and white fluffy clouds, perfect spring weather for taking photo’s, although we would have to be wary of possible down pours. The main feature f Ickworth Hall is the massive rotunda building that forms the middle of the hall which had two impressive wings as well, one of which was an up market hotel.

First things first we used the facilities then headed for the restaurant, which was not the usual queue up with a tray and choose your fare variety but a wait here for a table and the be waited on variety. We stood by the wait here sign and despite catching the eye of one of the waitresses stood about dong nothing, it was not until two further groups of people had turned up that we got some attention! We ordered spring vegetable gnocchi (Helen) and smoked salmon and bread (Neil) from a waitress who called Alune who quickly came over and took our order when we looked up from our menu, excellent service. The food tasted great and the coffee was great, the next challenge was to pay, we went over to til,and again despite being noticed by a couple of waitresses no one came over to take our money, until we had waited a few minutes!

We exited via the shop, but Helen forewent the shopping delaying it till later in our visit. Next we went out to the sunny side of the building to get some pictures. There were plenty of Cowslips and Primroses under some Magnolia bushes which kept me distracted while Helen smoked the evil weed. The gardens were well maintained, and manicured around the back of the house, and around the front the landscape was more parkland but there were thousands of daffodils in flower to add some foreground to my pictures.

Magnolia at Ickworth Hall NT

The house was quite interesting it seems that it had been built in phases over the generations as each generation fell on good and bad times. The rotunda must have cost a bit with all the curved components required to build it. Helen and I speculated how they might of done the floor boards were the cut curved or cuts straight then bent to shape. I reckon they were bent to shape it would have been very difficult to get the curve correct and I guess you would have ended up bending them a bit anyway to make them fit with the others.

We left the hall at just after 14:00 and the sat nav was predicting and arrival at Hickling Green at 15:57 perfect. The drive was pleasant especially with the Golfs adaptive cruise control dealing with the throttle pedal. We passed through territory that was familiar to me as we got closer to and passed Norwich. We were soon following signs for the broads and arrived at Hickling Green at 15:58 not a bad prediction by the sat nav.

View of field from Hickling village

The cottage we had rented from Norfolk Country Cottages was well appointed and equipped, we would be very comfortable for our week. After settling in we took a stroll down to the broad at Hickling itself and took in the area on the way. We decided that many of the houses were weekend cottages but there also seemed to be a really good sense of community, with many notices for clubs and society meetings and events going on.

That evening we went to the Greyhound Pub to eat, we had booked a table but judging but we probably had not needed to. The fare was pub food mainly fried but that suited me fine, Helen and I had veggie burgers dad had seafood medley and mum had some chicken dish which to her surprise came in a bun. Helen and I decided not to have a dessert but I ended up eating half of dads lemon meringue sundae which was really tasty, you really can’t go wrong with cream, ice cream and meringue with a lemon sauce.

After getting up early we were in bed early too!

Tommy Cooper walk

Trees abstract

It was not raining so only one thing to do, make the most of it and go for a walk. We picked up the inlaws and headed up to Swan  Bottom, and parked up at the Swan inn, then headed out for the usual circular walk.

The weather was grey but no rain, temperature was about 10 degrees. The ground was quite soft under foot on places. The whole walk took about 2 hours and looped round towards The Lee and back.

Valley view

At the pub we all had sandwiches and shared a couple of bowls of chips. There were plenty of locals at the bar one of then thought he was a comedian and decided to test out some of his jokes, ready for his performance at the local talent show. Some of them were good and he did a good Tommy Cooper impression. Turns out he was a skier, had a German mother and was born in Australia, quite some ancestry.

The food was duly washed down with a pint then we headed back home for some Raspberry Pi hacking. The plan was to get one up and running on a wireless LAN with a static IP.

Busy weekend

Stag and deer

Helen was away at the weekend and I am off to Belfast this morning so you will be treated to a blog post of my busy weekend. I dropped Helen off at the train station of Friday evening then settled in for an evening in front of the TV, followed by going to bed early, as I had plans.

I was up at a reasonable time grabbed some breakfast and a strong coffee and headed out to the woods at Ashridge, the rut had started so I might be able to get some pictures. The weather was perfect for photography a clear atmosphere and a few whit fluffy clouds against a deep blue sky. I parked up in a car park which is close to a large open field where the stags tend to congregate and do their strutting about.

Walking through the woods I spotted the odd deer and a couple of stags, but they are hard to get pictures of in the shaded woods. 100th of a second at ISO 800 is about all you can hope for, still the new 40D I’d slightly better at high ISO’s than the old 20D. I did a circuit of the field and took a few landscape shots of the trees which were just starting to turn autumnal. The deer were gathering but there was not a lot of action, and I had other things planned.

Thames view around Little Wittenham

On the way back through Tring I called in at R’s but I got know answer, so I went home and had some lunch then headed over to Wendover for a haircut, which was more eventful than usual when the guy having his haircut in the chair next to me had his ear snipped with the scissors. He got a free haircut and I thanked my luck stars I was not their 5minutes earlier is I might have been in that seat. I grabbed a paper and went home.

I gave R another call and got hold of him, and popped round for a coffee, it was good to catch up. Then I was back to the woods to have another crack at the rut. I was not disappointed. Two stags were on the rise in the field and occasionally challenges came from the edge of the field, which drew the stags down closer to where I had positioned myself and within lens shot. At one point I saw charging and crashes as their antlers clashed. I left at about 17:30 clearly sunset is the best time of day.

I grabbed an M&S curry on the way through Tring then went home to watch Hard Candy on Netflix, which although got good reviews was rubbish, I lasted 30 minutes in. Again I had a fairly early night as I was going to give the deers another chance in the morning. There was not much action in the morning at 08:30, but it was nice to be out in the woods when it is quiet, on such a nice morning. Next it was back to the house to make Tumbet for a quick Sunday evening meal, you can make it ready to put in the oven for later. This time I used new potatoes which I boiled and skinned red peppers for a jar, which made it easier to prepare and tasted great.

Ewelme view

I was due to pick Helen up at 1600 from Didcot so as the weather was again great I headed out early to Little Wittenham to get some pictures around the river Thames. I grabbed my 10-22mm lens and polarising filter, it was to be one of those days. Over and around Little Wittenham there is some thing called Earth Trust, which I must find out some more about, it looks like they have been planting trees and putting up walks and generally doing stuff for nature conservation.

Helen’s train was on time and the Tumbet was great we watched the film Tyranosaur, which although very hard hitting was very well made, a great story and well acted. That’s what I call making the most of a weekend.

Panorama service resumed

If you have been reading my blog you will know that I have battling with php and the  javascript created by PtGui but finally I have a script that will display panorama’s that I can store on the site. See the example below example, I took it when we were away at New Year, near Snape Marsh, in Suffolk.

A productive if wet weekend at home

Vegetable korma 4 portions

Luton Airport Monday 07:50 it must be EZY181 to Belfast, and just because it has become a tradition here is a blog post.

The weekend was a real wash out, but we did manage to get some stuff done round the house.

We went to the pictures on Friday to see Salmon fishing in the Yemen, which was not a cinematic great but an excellent film with a great story line, well worth watching. On the way home we went to Tesco for the ingredients for a Korma curry paste.

On Saturday I was up early and gave the kitchen a quick wipe, then once helen was up I put up two roller blinds, one at top of stairs the other in the back bedroom. Two more windows and we will be 100% blinds.

Then it was off to Wendover for me to get a haircut and Helen some shopping therapy. Luckily for the bank balance there was no queue at the barbers so Helen’s spend time was kept to a minimum. It was still lashing down with rain.

Once home I got out my laptop with the aim of finding a way to present my panorama tours on the web. The method needed to have an HTML5 option as I want it to work on ipads and iphones. I found a project on google code called Bigshot http://code.google.com/p/bigshot/ it looked promising. It used the Microsoft deepzoom format, but also came with a wrapper that allowed the directory structure to be stored in a single file with a php script to serve the images out on demand. It was interesting to see such an approach.

Tried as I might I could not get the thing to work, my javascript knowledge is just not good enough, I did however learn a lot about debugging js using chrome and firefox, so the hours were not wasted. In the end I have reverted back to using the utility that comes with ptgui http://www.ptgui.com/which produces a set of images and page with html5 and flash options, it is also gyro scope aware which means you can move around with a device and the panorama moves with you. My plan is to develop a php script to display a panorama directory based on parameters passed to it. As for Bigshot I might have to revisit it someday.

Helen made the most of the day by putting the stuff in the garage that belonged in the dining room back where it belonged, and sorting out a couple of the kitchen draws that have become draws of small stuff we can’t be bothered to put away in the right place. Later in the after noon I made the curry paste, a massive two large Bonne Maman jam jars full. I got the recipe from Jamie Olivers website but used it as a guide. So in summary despite the continuous torrential rain we got quite a lot done.

We watched a film whilst eating home made Pizza, which this time we left to rise rolled out for a more puffed up base, it was called The Ides of March staring George Clooney. We were not very impressed, the story was a bit difficult to follow and I think you needed to have an interest in American politics.

On Sunday we had booked up for dawn chorus walk at Dancersend NR, but the organiser phoned up the Saturday evening and cancelled, the reason was weather and the slight risk of falling branches, but the main thing was that we would not really be able to hear anything with the appalling weather.

Cholesbury church

I dropped Helen and Gladys off at church then continued with the panorama project. The rest of the day was spent at home relaxing, and making tea for a couple of visitors. Abida (arriving with an excellent homemade banana cake)reported that there were trees down all over the place as she tried to get to Tring station but ended up at Berkhamsted.

Later I made a vegetable korma with the paste I made the night before. I used Cauliflower and baby aubergines as a base, and included green beans and peas at the end. It turned out really well which is good because of the amount of paste I now have! I made enough for 4 portions to be frozen.

Mixed bag day

Blakeney sunset

The weather so far had been great but this morning it did not look as good as it had been. We got the bus t0 Stiffkey with a plan to walk back to Blakeney. The bus as usual was on time and we were soon walking out to the sea on the foot patch that runs from the antique lap ship, in the centre of Stiffkey. It was dry.

Once we got to the marshes it started to rain and continued all the way to Blakeney. On the path we saw quite a lot of birds, including a flock of I think Golden Plover and two Spoonbills. We emailed the Spoonbills in to Bird Guides dot com and got a polite email back thanking us.

Salthouse

We had some lunch back at the hut then we all went separate ways, some went shopping, but Helen and I went to Salthouse for a short circular walk via the Quag, where we have seen some interesting birds on the past. When we parked up we noticed that the old post office at Salthouse was now open as a shop/butchers, previously it has always appeared closed, and derelict. We walk down the lane to the Quag not much about apart from a flock of Goldfinch. Once up on the sea defences the going got tough with all the shingle, and Helen spotted three seals or the sane seal three times. It was a very pleasant walk over familiar ground.

When we got back I had a shower then  noticed that the sun was out, and very low, looked like there could be a nice sunset, so I headed down to the quay at Blakeney to get some pictures. The sunset was not as good as it could have been because there was some cloud low on the horizon. I made the  most of the low sun light and tried a series of pictures which I home to turn into a panorama.

All in all despite the weather a great day out in the fresh air, better than work any day.