It has been some time since I did a blog post, so here is one to cover the weekend. Friday was quiet I had noodles for tea while Helen was out for an early meal at the pub. We found the comedy series “2012” on Netflix so watched a couple of episodes, then retired to bed early to make the most of Saturday.
Saturday morning we were up early Helen, had a few things to do, so I busied my self in the garden. We now have a big flower pot with mixed herbs in it. I actually excavated our composter and spread some of it about on the veg patch I created a couple of years ago. I have onions and garlic growing which I planted before Christmas and they seem to be coming on well. The gap between the onion rows seemed wide enough to get another crop in between, so I put in three rows of different lettuce and a row a radish seeds. I have some seeds which have started to sprout, in a plastic tray divided into one inch square plugs, I need to wait before transferring them to the veg patch.
I put some dough ingredients into the bread maker, before picking up Helen, the plan to have a walk around College Lake. The weather was gorgeous, the sun was shining and it was pretty warm. Having not been out bird watching for a while it was a real treat to see some of the spring birds. On the trees were the usual tits, but Helen spotted a Willow Warbler, and could then hear a Chiffchaff. In the scrape viewable from the octagon hide, we saw Snipe, Little Ringed Plover, and Redshank as well as the usual ducks, geese and swans. Next stop was to be Tesco for some Pizza ingredient, remember I put on the bread dough before i went to pick up Helen.
Suitably stocked up with pizza toppings we headed to Wilstone reservoir, I had heard reports of Arctic Terns passing through. We parked up and climbed the bank, but there was no sign of any of the bird we might expect. No Martins, Swallows, or Terns not even a common Tern, so we jumped back in the car and headed home, to find the dough had not risen very well probably something to do with the out of date yeast. As it turns out the dough did rise when in the oven but not as good as it could have been, but the pizzas were divine.
Sunday started with a trip to church for Helen and a lazy start for me watching the London Marathon on the TV. Before Helen got back I decided I would have a go a making some bread by hand. I chose a wholemeal recipe and added some walnuts and seeds to the mix. I used some yeast that was almost out of date (there is a pattern emerging here) which needed mixing with sugar and warm water to make it work. I mixed everything in a bowl and then kneaded it for about 10 minutes before putting the dough in a bowl to rise. Helen got back and we decided so make the most of the weather by having a walk round Dancersend Nature reserve. We left the dough to rise.
The reserve was pretty quiet considering that this the the first real warm weather we have had fro some time. Spring was here for sure, leaves were emerging from the tree branches and wild flowers where staring to bloom. We spent about an hour and half strolling around the perimeter of the reserve, highlights included Chiffchaff (heard by Helen), Nuthatch, Buzzard and a couple of Greater Spotted Woodpeckers trying to attract the attentions of a female. We headed back to the house and I finished off the bread, knocking it back, kneading then covered it in seeds and left it to rise before scoring it and chucking it in the oven.
I then mowed the lawn and did some weeding in the flower beds, I have plans that this year I am going to make and effort with the veg patch and the rest of the garden, whether it lasts all summer remains to be seen!
To celebrate my 50th birthday we are meeting up with my family at my brothers house near Huddersfield. We took the Friday off with the aim of taking our time driving north. He weather promised to be unusually winter like for the time of the year, snow was predicted in the North East, but would only last till Saturday.
We were up fairly early, and left the house a 09:30, the aim was to get right up to Wakefield way where there was a National Trust property we have never visited. As we got further north there was evidence of some snow on the fields surrounding the M1 but nothing significant, and the temperatures were just above freezing so nothing was freezing. As we got to Meadow Hell Hall we decided to stop off and see if we could get a thank you gift for my brother and his wife for hosting my birthday weekend.
Helen and I were like fish out of water, in the shopping centre, there was not much on offer for us, just the usual chains of shops that you see on the high street, there did not seem to be any independent shops, or ones with anything others than household goods, clothes and shoes. There was a couple of department stores. We soon realised we were not going to find anything worth buying so headed back to the car, to decide what to do next. We put the NT house into the sat nav but on rote we decided that because there was a bit more snow about perhaps we would go some where more local, to my brothers to find a gift.
Helen found a vineyard near Holmfirth we we put into the sat nav, and followed. The route took us over the tops of the hills where we found that every so often we came across snow drifting across the road where there was a gate in the stone wall, but on the whole the roads were clear, even if there was some slush on the road. We headed down towards the valley that Holmfirth is in when the sat nav told us to take a smaller lane which had a bit more snow on it. We followed the directions for a while, but eventually had to turn around as the lane got narrower and narrower, then steeper, and more covered in snow.
My brother would have to have a box of wine from he Cooperative supermarket instead of from a local wine merchant. Down in Holmfirth the supermarket car park was covered in about 3 inches of slushy snow, so we parked up and grabbed some decent bottles of wine. Suitably stocked up we drove to my brothers house, where we had to park in the lane because the last 50 yards was covered in the snow drifts. It is surprising how just a small rise in altitude can make such a difference to he temperature.
We got into the house about 5 minutes before my brother got in form a meeting, it was just after 14:00 so we had a late lunch, then let him get on with the rest of his days work, while we relaxed and drank tea and coffee. Not long after the rest of the family got back from a shopping trip, by which time the snow seemed to have settled in, and the wind was really starting to blow the stuff about. So we went out and cleared the paths again.
For dinner we had homemade pizzas which always go down well, much better than shop bought. We relaxed in the kitchen with some wine whilst the snow continued to fall, and the drifts just out side the windows got higher. Both the back and the front door seemed to be just in the right spots to accumulate snow up against them, opening them in the morning was going to have to be a delicate operation.
We were in bed quite early which was probably a good thing because my brothers kids are early risers not helped by the excitement of snow and the anticipate of spending the day with their favourite uncle. For breakfast we had waffles, with which ever choice of topping we wanted, I had Nutella which went down well with expresso coffee. The first job of the day was to clear the paths again so that the olds could get to and from the house, and we also cleared a space for their car. Many of the locals have tractors and were busy trying to clear the tracks so they could get to the sheep who are lambing, and needed food and attention. It was not small task clearing the snow in places we found extensive drifts where we sunk well over our waits and still didn’t think we had reached the under lying ground.
My brothers next door neighbour did a grand job clearing the snow from his drive but it would not be till the next day that the drive could be used because further up the track towards the road where it goes between some houses, that form a wind tunnel the volume of snow was a job to be left till the animals had been seen to. We did not spend too much time outside be sue the wind combined with the sub zero temperatures made a warm drink by the fire far more inviting.
Next on the list was to make my birthday cake, which would be a Black Forest Gateau, which we hoped would be as good if not better than our all time favourite that they make and sell in the Swiss supermarkets called Migros. We rejected the French cookery book recipe for one by Herve Cuisine on his Youtube Channel, he appeared to know what he was talking about and had a Swiss accent.
In the afternoon the diddlies had a birthday party to attend so dads 4×4 was the only option. I went along for the ride and to get some video footage, of the snow down in the valley. Once we were out of the lane the roads although slippery with slush that was not really melting, the going was ok. Much of the road surface was clear but in places the snow had been blown across the road where there was a gate way in the stone wall. Any of the roads off the main road were still pretty much covered, so much care was taken as we turned off into the housing area where the party was. Kids dropped off we headed back to the house. When we picked them up later on the temperature had dropped, the wind was freshening and the slush was starting to freeze. The snow continued the fall, and the kids were all sugared up, after the party food they had consumed.
My brother had arranged for a cheese fondu to celebrate my birthday so we we grated the cheese and prepared all the ingredients into a mine en place, ready for later. We had a bit of trouble getting the mixture to the right consistency we wondered whether the President Emmental cheese was the cause as we think it may be a processed version, of the cheese, and we assume French and not Swiss. The consistency did not detract at all from the taste and fun of dipping bread into the hot wine and cheese mixture. We finished off the meal with a slice each of the Lack Forest Gateaux which was delicious especially when some liquid from a jar of cherries in Kirsch was trickled over the sponge. All in all a great birthday meal. We finished off he evening with a couple of games of Perrudo they let me win the first game as it was my birthday.
We were all up by about 08:00 and had toasted hot cross buns for breakfast, then we went outside to see how the land lied for getting away down the lane. It was clear that without some help it was not going to happen. The lane was exposed to he wind and for about 100 yards it was full right up to the stone walls with snow. We tools some photos and and then went back into he warmth of the house thinking we might need to spend another night. This was especially bad news for my parents as they had bought everything they needed with them except for the bag that contained the stuff they would need for an over night stay.
At about 10:30 we took another look outside the local farmers had been hard at work clearing the road. I decided that it was now or never so we rushed back to the house and grabbed shovels to dig the cars out. It took some time to dig them out by which time the lane had started to fill up again. I got my car out onto the snow covered road with the help of people pushing, but then got stuck again trying to drive to the main road. We quickly said good bye to everyone then, a farmer came down with his tractor and suggested the only way would be a tow to the main road. A young lad was sent to get a chain, which was soon hitched up, then we were dragged down to the main road.
Once on the road all seemed good but in places as we drove to the M1 there were parts of the road where the snow had drifted over, in one place a JCB was being used to dig out snow from a drift that was over 6 feet. We took it steady, and were soon safely in the motorway, which was almost completely clear apart from the off strip of slush every few miles. We made really good headway home and got back in a normal time. Ironically later on after we had left my brother reported the sun shining and the lane clear for all traffic.
That was definitely a birthday weekend to remember, as well as brilliant company some dramatic weather to boot, and I just love a bit of extreme weather.
The weekend we are away with Helen’s cousins for what they describe as a cousins weekend. The venue was to be Winchcombe, a small town in the north west of the Cotswold. I picked Helen up from work at about 17:20 and we headed out following the sat nav in the new Golf MK 7, delivered only on Tuesday if this week. The car is the 2.0 GT Diesel, and is full of gizmos in the standard spec. For a gadget man like me it is great : auto head lights which come on when it is dark and switch of main beam when another car approaches, cruise control that adjusts the speed to keep you from getting too close to the car in front, sat nav, reversing front and back beepers. The journey was in the dark, so although we could not see the scenery as the sat nav took us on the scenic route we were able to test out all the features.
We got to the hut just before 19:00 and dinner was soon prepared by N a lovely vegetarian chilli with rice, followed by a choice of cakes. The cottage is well equipped most rooms have en suites and downs stairs there is plenty of room to lounge about. All for £80 per person for the whole weekend. The owners are really friendly and keen to please, A had mentioned that a TV was not working and the guy came round offering to get a TV engineer out the next day, we said it was not a problem there were more than one TV working, including the one in the lounge, and we had 4 iPads with us, and the broadband was pretty fast, at 17mb.
Went to bed at a sensible time and woke up to a sunny but chilly morning, thought about doing a time lapse but there were no clouds in the sky so, thought I would wait and see if any of the promised showers came through later. We all had a leisurely breakfast the plan was to take a look around town in the morning them when P arrived in the afternoon we planned a walk to have a look at the country side.
Eventually we were ready to go up to the centre of town to see what Winchcombe had to offer. Basically it has a T shaped layout with plenty of tut shops to browse. I left them to it and went for a walk round town. The sun seemed to be in the wrong position to take any decent photos being low and top the south east. I took a look round the church rose claim to fame is Catherine of Aragon’s autograph, a tapestry claimed to have been stitched by the lady herself. The stats of the church gave me this the whole run down of it history and insisted I take a photo of it, so I obliged.
We met up for coffee in an establishment called Wesley House, which serve red a great coffee and complimentary petit four, which were two thin circles of sugared flaky pastry with thing sliced banana and cream in the middle. It cost us £3.50 each which although expensive was worth it for the great tasting coffee and petit fours. We then went back for some lunch and wait for P to arrive so we could go for a walk.
We left Mr T in the house watching the rugby and after some discussion we headed outside to walk a circular walk taking in the local abbey ruins. The walk started on a gravel track but after about half a mile we hit the fields, which to out surprise were very muddy. A times we had to climb over fences to avoid the quagmire around the kissing gates and stiles. We were glad to get to the Abbey as it seems the abbots were wise and built it in an area which was not boggy, from there we headed up a hill which had orchards on the south facing slope, we got great views in the low winter light across the valley below, which Whinchcombe in the distance.
At the top of the hill it was time to turn around, so we headed down through an orchard the up the slope the other side. There was much slipping and sliding for someone behind especially when we cam a cross a very extensive land slip, where the earth ahead been twisted and mud bought to the surface. At one point we got lost but by following our nose we really were following the right route, it goes to show that you should trust your instincts a bit more. We got back to the hut at about 17:20 but not before experiencing a stunning sunset.
We had a table booked for 18:45 at a local hostelry called The White Hart, we had a good meal, slightly spoiled by someone’s toad in the hole being burnt then the replacement Fish & Chips being not really up to scratch. In fairness to the restaurant the service was very good and they knocked the bad dishes off the bill and did not charge for the 4 deserts we had, that said I would go back again.
We woke up at a reasonable 09:00 and had a leisurely breakfast. Then we lounged around for a few hours watching winter sports on Eurosport. Finally we got our selves together and went for a walk via pavements, to avoid the mud, into town and then on to Studley Castle just outside the town. It was closed but we got some fresh air. On the way back we stopped off at The Plaisterers arms for a coffee or beer, then we headed back to the hut said our farewells and we were off.
On the way home I tested out the Adaptive cruise Control on the Golf it is like cruise control but it will not let you get too close to any car in front, it makes driving on A roads really easy you just set the speed to 60 mph then if a car slows down in front the Golf slows down to keep a safe distance (adjustable) then speeds up if the car in front does, but it still stays within the 60 mph. We were back by 17:00 and ready to take out Tesco delivery before and evening in front of the telly before an early night.
We are off to the Eels Foot pub in Eastbridge Suffolk for New Year. The plan was to spend three nights there and leave on News Years day. We left the house at a reasonable time and stopped off on route to visit my aunt. We arrived at Minsmere by 14:30 and did a quick route towards the wooded area and island mere before heading of to Adleburgh for a quick look round the shops.
We got to the pub at 17:30 and checked in, this time we were in room 3 on the first floor with a view over the pub garden. N&H arrived early evening and we had something to eat and caught up over a few beers.
We are up at a reasonable 08:30 for breakfast, then we headed out for a day on foot H had a bad tooth so we weren’t sure how far we would get,but we headed towards Dunwich heath, on the inland path because we had heard that the path to the sluice bushes was water logged and wellington boots were needed.
The weather was gorgeous and it was great to be out in the sun after the recent bad weather that had kept us indoors. The chip hut at Dunwich was shut for the winter so we went to the Ship Inn which was packed to the gunnels (did you see what I did there?) So we had to take a table in the garden which was not ideal on a sunny but cold and windy day. There was a queue at the bar, we got drinks and ordered for bowls of chips which considering how busy the pub was came fairly quickly.
After a rest we headed back towards coastguards cottages for a coffee then we headed through the reserve of Minsmere the through the reed beds to the Island Mere hide, by which time it was getting dark, and all you could see were the Moorhens and Coots. The walk back from there to the pub was dark but even so we passed two or three sets of people walking the other way. We had another quiet evening in the pub.
The weather the next day promised to be wet and windy but when the day dawned the forecasts were good up until midday so rather than shopping we walked to Dunwich Heath and then back through the reserve, but where possible we tried to keep on different paths. We tried to get to the north east hide but the path was flooded and Wellingtons would have been needed, so we went to the north hide. There was not much to see other than the usual ducks. Helen thought she had seen a Smew and it was confirmed when we asked at the visitors centre. At the cafe we all had a coffee and something to eat, then we headed straight back as it was getting late and H&N wanted to pop to the Yoxford Antique centre, as it was not open on the 1st January.
New Years Eve in the pub started quiet, we hit the bar at 18:30 to ensure a table for something to eat, I suspected that I would not last till midnight. We had some more great pub grub, then chewed the cud for a few hours. I retired at 23:00 the others stayed till just after midnight. I did not get much sleep for a bit as our room was on the pub side of the building. There were fireworks at 00:00.
The next morning we had agreed with Julian the landlord to have breakfast at 09:30, as it happens he had been up since 07:30 and had not got to bed until 05:00, we did not envy him having to push on through, the pub was open all day and they expected it to be busy as the sun was out and it looked like it would be a great day weather wise.
Helen and I had to head off as we were meeting up with my brother and parents as we had not managed to get together over Christmas. The drive using the tourist route to Haverhill was great. We met up and swapped presents then Helen and I headed home.
We both agreed a pub is a great place to spend a few days at New Year especially the Eels Foot Inn in Eastbridge in Suffolk.
We’re off to Stiffkey for the weekend and apparently if you are in the know you pronounce it stew’key. Stiffkey is a long village on the north Norfolk coast between Wells-next-to-sea and Blakeney. We had popped over to my parents about half way there on Thursday night, and were up early so we could leave before the cleaners got there. We hit the road at 08:50 headed though Peterborough and on past Kings Lynn and stopped of at Fat Birds cycling shop at Hunstanton to see if we could Helen some cycling waterproofs for her commute to work.
We didn’t find the perfect water proofs but got some ideas, but Helen did come away with some new cycling gloves. We then headed off up the coast road to our first port of call Titchwell Marsh RSPB reserve, where we would be getting our first go in their newly opened Parrinder Hide. The RSPB have decided that they can’t win the battle with global warming and sea rising so have built a new sea wall a bit further in land than the existing one and they have build a brand new hide on top. They will let the sea breach the existing one but preserve the habitats for marsh birds slight further inland. Despite being the peak of the holiday season the reserve was not too busy, there was no queue for a coffee.
After a welcome coffee we headed out on the footpath to the beach where we sat on the collapsed pill box that is visible when the tide is out. It was very windy and sand got into everything. I left my new GoPro Hero2 taking some time lapse pictures for 10 minutes at one picture per two seconds, should result in a 10 to 20 second video. We headed back up the path and stopped off at the new Parrinder hide, which I must say is excellent, it has the same big glass windows that they have at Island mere at Minsmere RSPB, you can wind the bottom part down and pull the top part up giving you a great open air view, which was handy for another time lapse session.
We stopped off at the other hide for a quick look and another set of pictures, then headed back to the cafe for some lunch. The highlights included 15 Spoonbill, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Grey, Golden and Ringed Plover, Ruff and Avocet. At the cafe I had a Stilton and mushroom hot baguette and Helen had the largest beans and baked potato I have ever seen served at an RSPB establishment, there was at least a tin of beans with the rugby ball of a potato. It turned out to be too much for Helen, and some was left.
We then headed on up the coast road and stopped at Burnham Deepdale for some retail therapy. Thee is a new shop that sells all sorts of wildlife gear including Microscopes, tempting as it was I passed up the opportunity to walk out with a stereoscopic one. Helen was tempted by some bags and managed to purchase some much needed greeting cards, I think our stocks must be getting a bit low!
Then it was back in the car for a short drive to The Red Lion in Stiffkey. We had a swift half (Woodforde’s Wherry and IPA Gold) at the bar then unpacked car freshened up. The beer was good the menu looked good, and the rooms were well appointed, clean and smart. We headed out up the main road then took a left up a footpath towards the sea. After about half a mile we came across some farm building and a band of trees which for a drop down to the marsh. We took a left and then a right hoping to get down to the sand beyond the marsh. It was very muddy all around but the footpath was pretty dry and solid. At the beach we sat and looked at the distant seals on Blakeney Point and the birds out on the beach, there were quite a few calls from Curlews.
Back at the pub I had a shower and then headed down to the bar for something to eat, but not before leaving all the gadgets on charge for the next day, we only bought two chargers with us so some juggling would be required. To eat I had salmon on crushed garlic potatoes and spinach, and Helen had a goats cheese salad with some chips. Mine was really nice and Helen was once again defeated by potatoes. We had couple of pints and then retired to bed we had really enjoyed our first day in North Norfolk.
After a very busy weekend last weekend we are having a quiet one. The plan get up not too early have some breakfast (reading the paper?), a bit of a tinker with the blog, a short local walk, then see if we can catch the Queens Jubilee fly past over Halton, finally cook pasta for Helen’s parents, and watch the Chelsea v Munich match.
Things got off to a great start, Helen was up first and then as I came down stairs at about 08:00 she was walking in the door with the papers. I usually have toast and expresso for breakfast at the weekend, and save my home made muesli for weekdays. Today was not exception I finished off the Bonne Maman cherry jam I have been working my way through for some weeks.
I have tweaked the blog a bit, by moving all the panoramas about as the menu they were on is getting a bit long. I also noticed that http://neilbaldwin.com was getting more Google juice than the blog, even though it is more or less just a holding page for a Drupal site. So I fixed it once and for all, it now redirects to the blog address at http://neilbaldwin.net so that will fix that small issue. I think as the blog is the site than changes the most will not keep the two domains separate, and if I do want a content sites then I will just create sub-domains for them which should keep things much simpler.
The fly past was due soon after 12:30 so we headed about of the house at about 10:30, and drove up to the BBOWT reserve at Dancersend which is in the hills sort of between Tring and Aston Clinton. It is between two valleys and can be a really nice place to just sit, relax and take everything in, as the hills shelter it from noise apart from the odd aircraft.
There were plenty of birds singing when we got there, the usual suspects Tits and Chaffinch but also a couple of Warblers we thought most likely Blackcaps from the song. It was a bit early for orchids but there were a few early Butterfly Orchids just starting to bloom, and the usual Pyramid orchids could be identified by their black spotted leaves. We wandered around and Helen took control of the camera with the big lens and I scouted round from some bugs and plants to photo with the LX3. We heard some tawny owl calls in the distance.
WARNING RANT — As we entered the reserve from the “pond on the bend entrance” we noticed that there was a lot of dog shit on the path in, it was pretty obvious that one dog was regularly walked up the path and the owner could not be bothered to clear up after their dog or make sure the dog did it business away from the path. Helen described it as “playing dog shit hopscotch”. Helen and discussed putting up a “there is not such thing as a dog poo fairy poster” next time we go up there. — RANT OVER
At about 12:10 we headed back down to the village park to watch the fly past. Basically as part of the Queen’s Jubilee celebration today was the armed forces day to show off, and a fly past of about 60 aircraft had been arranged to fly over Windsor park and as is usual when these things happen many of the aircraft get routed to and from the event over RAF airfields. Halton being fairly close to London often gets a fly past, today was no exception.
Down at the park there were other people who had obviously come to see the spectacle, as well as Helen’s uncle who turned up soon after we did. We did not have to wait long after 12:30 for the flypast, in all probably about 15-20 planes passed over. At first we thought we were at the wrong end of the air field as we say some jets pass over the other end in the distance, but they were followed by three groups of fight looking jets, blue in colour. I had the setting on my lens not quite appropriate for the shot so did not get any decent pictures but I have included the one you can see here, as you can tell the light was pretty crap and it was very hazy.
After it was obvious that the rest of the fly past was not coming we wished Helen’s uncle farewell and headed home for a light lunch. I spent the rest of the after noon tinkering with Bigshot VR which I have not given up on yet, but which I sill can’t get to the panorama thing. I can get it to display basic Deep Zoom format pictures, but that is about it. I also took some pictures of the wildlife in the garden.
Later on we will be preparing pasta and garlic bread to eat before the football. I’ll spare you the details and end the blog post here.
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.
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.
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.
We woke up to a glorious but cold morning, with some regrets at having booked breakfast for 08:30, perhaps in future we should go for 08:30 on the Saturday and 09:00 on the Sunday? Break fast was up to the usual standard. We had the bill sorted by 10:00 and headed over to Minsmere for a short walk before heading back home.
All the sun was shinning there had been a deep frost and add to that the wind meant that it was quite bitter out. Accordingly we decided to keep the woods and avoid getting too near the sea or other exposed places. We headed out of the reserve to catch the footpath that leads to Dunwich Heath in the hope that the sun may have tempted the Dartford Warblers out. There was not much movement about and we did not hold much hope, but we did decide to give them one last go by standing still and scanning the heather. Helen could hear some calls and did once see a bird hovering but no concrete evidence. Just as I had decided in my mind that we were not going to see one, I saw a bird fly out from a heather plant. I quickly god my binoculars onto it. It was sat right on top of a low gorse, although distant the views were cracking as the sun was just in the right direction relative to our position.
By the time the bird disappear again (5 minutes later) we decided that a celebratory beverage was in order, and with NT Tea room within sight we soon had that sorted. Whilst there we did have a quick look from the sea watch room at the Red Throated divers. Suitably refreshed we headed down to Minsmere Helen and I set off home, and H&N went round to the South hides for a look before they set off.
We went for the earliest breakfast 08:30, as tghe weather forecast suggested that the best weather would be at the start of the day. The delicious veggie fry up was up to the usual standard. We were ready to leave by 09:30, the plan was to dump a car at Blythburgh and the other at Dunwich Heath NT car park, then walk from Dunwich to the first dropped off car.
We had wrapped up quite well beacuse the weather man said it would be a cold wind, but were soon taking layers off. in the mixed wood towards the friary we cam across a flock of several Gold crests and at least 3 Treecreepers, quite an unusual count. We headed on towards Dunwich car park checking out the snow drops which were in bloom everywhere. H was fascinatedby them and stopped regulalry to look at the inner petals. Some were quite sparse and others had layers of smaller petals almost rose like inside the outer petals which is the part you usually see. We all agreed that the more simple ones were more attractive.
At Dunwich car park the chip hut was closed so we went Ship Inn for coffee and crisps. The firewas on so we removed more layers. We took over one end of the pub with all our gear, luckily there were few other people in the bar. Suitably refreshed we headed out towards wood that overlooks Dingle marsh then Warblerswick marsh. There are some lovely remote properties at the far end of the wood.
We crossed the marshes and then ended up at Warblerswick village near the shops. There was a hint of rain in the but luckily there were some sheltered seats where we could have lunch. The Heidi pies were up to the usual standard but my alliegance has now changed and now the cheese potatoe cream and garlic ones are my favorite. In case you were wondering the puiesare made by Pieminister www.pieminister.co.uk
Suitably refreshed again, we headed out of Warblerwick in the direction of Blythburgh, we were more out in the open on the heath and in addition the wind was against us. The path then headed into a Pine wood which was a welcome relief from the wind. Once almost back to where we dumped my car,we came across a great hide which looked over the estuary. We spotted Shelduck, Dunlin, Curlew, Redshank, and Golden Plover. we were in no rush to leave the hide as it had started to rain hard. We got out some snacks bars and chocolate and relaxed until the rain slowed a bit.
The final half a mile was miserable it was raining and cold, we were all jus intent on getting back tothe car and inti the warm. Despite the last stretch being cold and wet we had a great walk probably not far off 10 miles in distance.
I’m not sure how many times we have now we have been to the Eelsfoot Inn at Eastbridge in Suffolk, but we love going there because the beer and food is great and we have yet to hear of or find more reasonable priced accomodation near great countryside. So here we go again off round the M25 and up the A12.
We headed off at a reasonable 10am and were soon on the M25, just to make a change we headed off up the M11 then swung a right on a road to Colchester. We had to stop at a service station to check out a tyre warning light but they were all in the correct range of pressures.
We got to RSPB Mismere at around 12:30 and headed for the cafe for a bite to eat. Turns out they are rebuilding it and the temporary cafe is very tight in comparison to the old one, old 6 tables. The work on the new one seen to be well progressed so we look forward to coming back to have a look round later this year, (August bank holiday?).
After a bite to eat we headed off to do a tour of the reserve, the wrong way round! From south hide we saw Smew, Ringed Plover, Pintail. From the sluice Seal, Red throated diver. Whilst in the east hide N phoned to say his car was at the vets and they would be later than anticipated, so we would have to buy the Heidi pies for tomorrows walk.
It did not take long to get to Southwold, but we managed to add Curlew to the day list. The tide was out at Blythburgh waders could be seen in the distance. It was the end of the afternoon and parking in the main car park was easy. Helen’s mood was soon restored back to “happy go lucky” by hot chocolate and a toasted tea cake. The menu at Buchenham Coffee House (in a cellar of the high street near the bus stop) includes a whole section devoted to the “Hot Chocolate Collection”!
The Deli that sells the Heidi pies was also now selling a cheese and potato version which I opted for. Once pied up we headed round the Adnams kitchen shop where I purchased a finger guard for use with the mandolin. We then headed back to the car, the sunset over Warblerswick was stunning. We got to the Eelsfoot inn at about 17:40, I went to have a look for the barn owls with out luck before having a rest before we hit the bar at the inn
H&N arrived at 19:00, good food and beer followed swiftly afterwards, followed by a fairly early bedtime so we were suitably refreshed for a good long walk on Saturday.