New Hobby – Birdwatching

I got a free subscription for a birdwatching magazine, and so have been slightly inspired by the list they provided of 200 birds to try to see during the course of the year.  I don’t think I could ever see all the unusual and rare ones, but I may try to achieve 100.  I’m already (amazingly) at 41, just from the garden, a park with a lake in it, and a couple of coastal spots.  I think I knew all the more basic/common things, but it’s going a step further to try to identify birds you’re not sure of, and to actually be ticking them off within a time period.

So it looks like birdwatching is my new (sadly solitary) hobby for 2021.

I have seen lots of oystercatchers and several curlews.  I’ve been pleased to see and identify some of the more obscure ducks – namely Shoveler, Widgeon and Teal.  Maybe I’ve seen them before in London parks but never registered them, I don’t know.  I’ve also seen a Little Egret and what I believe was a Buzzard (in fact two).  When I saw a bird of prey I thought I’d never identify it, but I think I’m right, based on a process of elimination relating to key features like size, colour, shape of wings, length of tail, and whether it can possibly be in this location at this time of year.

We shall see how it goes.  Currently things I think I should see at some point and can add to the total are: wren, jay, hooded crow, pheasant, song or mistle thrush, maybe great crested grebe, and in the summer swallow, swift, skylark.  Things I’ve never seen in my life (and don’t expect to see) despite being British birds: kingfisher, nightingale, cuckoo, nightjar (.. and many more!)

Unfortunately my proper camera failed on my last holiday – I’ve only just sent it off for repair.  So the only photo I can offer at the moment is these Canada Geese on a little lake.

Wakehurst Place

Flowers at Wakehurst

As I’ve just written on the Bereavement Blog, I’ve been to Wakehurst Place to revisit a significant spot.

It’s a beautiful garden – with both formal gardens plus loads of woodland paths to walk on – and I do recommend it as a place to visit.  Especially the shop by the entrance which was SO full of beautiful things I wanted!

This is what I bought – hardly the most useful items in the world, but I couldn’t resist – two cuddly mushrooms!!

Cuddly mushrooms



Came across this stunning display of wildflowers in a London park, a whole swathe of them left to bloom in an otherwise boring little inner-City playing field.

I was amazed by the variety of colours, and the fact there were bees and butterflies visiting.  What a nice idea, to show children who perhaps might not get out into the countryside a bit of nature.  And how nice that no-one seems to have trampled it or vandalised it.  Please don’t!

They lifted my spirits on a bad day.

1st July – half the year gone, lovely summer weather.  Reminding myself to make the most of it.  More walking, more sunshine, more flowers.

Enjoy the summer, folks.

Once upon a time…

dog dragon llama

I’ve been packing up every last object in my possession in advance of moving house.

These three small random objects, bought relatively recently, are the last things standing in my room.

  • A little metal dog, from Snooper’s Paradise in Brighton.
  • A little green dragon, from Camden markets.
  • A little white llama, from Ashdown Forest Llama Park.

They seem such an odd set of companions, and seem to demand that I use them as inspiration to write a children’s book, using them as characters.

If I didn’t have better things to do, I would write a short story.

‘Once upon a time, there was a dog, a dragon and a llama…’

(Anyone inspired?  If so send me your stories and I’ll publish on here.)

Richmond Park

Deer 1

My current favourite place.  I’ve been in the past but recently have learned my way there better, and have ended up there on two hot days.  Wonderful cafe with outdoor terrace with nice views.  Definitely see the deer, both whilst driving round and on foot – very tame.  (I guess they’ve got no choice but to get used to us – everywhere you see a clump of deer, they’re surrounded by twice as many people.)

On the downside, the car park at Pembroke Lodge is horrendous – jam packed with people waiting for spaces, endless queuing to get out.  (Needs to be twice as big.)  I guess the answer is not to go on hot weekend days.  Both times I eventually got a space, though, so could enjoy the facilities (cafe, toilets, shop, ice cream counter, view, gardens, deer etc).

Deer 2

Beautiful Stunning Gorgeous

RA 2014 1 Main

This is a work of art I did some time ago based on the ‘Rush Hour Crush’ entries in the London Metro, in which men so often refer to women they have seen and want to contact as ‘beautiful’, ‘stunning’ or ‘gorgeous’.

What hope the plain or ugly?

I have resumed collecting cuttings recently and could fill a few more sheets like this with similar comments.

RA 2014 004

42nd Street

42 Street

I went to another show in London yesterday afternoon and really enjoyed it – 42nd Street at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

I’ve been to a lot of the London shows in the last few years, but this one I would recommend as the best and most spectacular.  If someone from overseas or out of town asks you which show to go and see, well I’d say this one, it won’t disappoint.

I like going to these things without looking them up too much in advance, or looking at the promotional photos, so I can enjoy being surprised, and I’m so glad I did that this time.

I don’t want to say too much about the scenes and staging I really enjoyed, so it doesn’t ruin someone else’s surprise, but some things really ‘wowed’ me and put a smile on my face.  Absolutely fantastic dancing, big cast, beautiful costumes and nice staging ideas.

Also, I wondered how many songs I might recognise and it came to five, more than I’d expected.  Fantastic live ‘big band’ style orchestra, wonderful sound.

Went a bit mad at the end and bought the programme, the mug, the CD and the fridge magnet!