Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Tuesday 14th July 2020

Tuesday. And another day off.

With the weather due to be cool and wet, it was to be a day of enforced rest.

That was the plan.

We get up at half six. Have coffee. Have breakfast. Have another coffee.

Breakfast was bacon as it seems that the whisky I drank the night before demanded it.

Jools looked at me as we ate breakfast and said, "are you going to get a haircut, I am fed up seeing what a bad job I did!"

At first I said no, but then thought about it, and decided I should.

It is a couple of weeks since they opened, so I thought there would probably still be long queues, so I take a book, plenty of change for the car park. Jools says she doesn't feel like coming along, so I'm on my own.

First, I try the one I used to use in Dover, people were lined up outside. So I went to Folkestone to see if the one I have been using for the past two years. I was expecting a long, long wait.

But when I go in, there were three empty chairs. I was shown into the one used by the boss, I was going to get tip top treatment.

He remembers me and knows what I want. He looks at what Jools had done and said she did fine, but he would sort it out.

One hundred and ninety six I now understand why women go to have makeovers. After four and a half months of Jools with the cutters, my friend shaves up to a defined line, shaves again, buffs and then moves to the sides. Its half an hour before he is done and is about to tackle the thatch on top.

New Year's Eve with Jimi Hendrix He goes back over and over again, snipping hairs he has missed. Finally he snips the hairs sprouting out of my ears, tidies up my eyebrows, and it is done. Took an hour. It cost £13. I gave him over double. He hugs me. Thus negating all the safety measures installed, but what the heck. I have had it easy, their business must have nearly collapsed.

Guilty I walk out lightheaded.

I buy some cider for Jools. And then walk back to the car to drive home.

It is drizzling, and is really quite miserable.

I cook aubergine for lunch, and I thought a glass of wine would go nicely. Which it did, though I felt like crap all afternoon, even went for a lay down as the bright daylight hurt my eyes.

Shelob As if there hadn't been enough pain this season, Norwich were playing at Chelsea that night, so I cook dinner, chorizo hash, and have a beer, so am all ready for when the game begins. I don't watch. Its bad enough following it on Twitter and the BBC website without seeing how poor we are, I would rather remember the free-flowing football we played last year.

Earlier, Wigan had thrashed Hull 8-0, and we expected something similar, but it wasn't that bad. Though in 90 minutes City fail to muster a shot on goal. And in first half injury time, City concede. Game over. We never come back after falling behind. Not this year.

So, the season has two more games, City are bottom and that's where we will finish. 8 defeats in a row, and more defeats in a season in over a century.

Grim.

Will be glad when the season ends next weekend and I don't have to write or think about it any more.

So what now?

Last week we were talking about Brexit and the possible delays at Dover because of the checks and was asked why Ramsgate wasn't being used as a port now. I explained that the berths at Ramsgate were narrower than other berths, and so only a few ferries could be used there.

My point is that I hate it that my head is full of stuff like this. Brexit, COVID, slashing of the Justice budget, erosion of democracy and so one. Why can't I just not give a toss and get on with living my life, working towards retirement?

I write about these things to educate myself, to be able to tell the bullshit when I hear it.

What can we do about it? Asks Jools. Well, I don't know. As I wrote yesterday, this Government could get worse and will be voted back in because our election system is broken, as is the US's, and as those who benefit won't change it, there is no hope. 65,000 deaths isn't enouh to question the Government. Failed track and trace, PPE and ventilator procurement. Every promise on Brexit broken, giving the Monarch illegal advice, working against the interests of the country, clapping for carers then making them pay for parking again. Cutting doctors and nurses numbers. And on and on it goes.

Whether we know about things, they will still happen. And we might have an incompetent in Office now, but the next one might be even more hardline, cuts more services, and their rise made easier thanks to the attacks being carried now by Johnson and Cummings.

When will the people take to the streets to sweep these traitors out of office? Never now there's football on the telly, pubs are open and they can go shopping or go on holiday. Bread and circuses always distracts.

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Oh, the irony

Take back control.

Yes, take it back.

And then bow to pressure from the US as the UK needs a trade deal with them.

Earlier this year the UK refused to bow to pressure from the US to remover Chinese IT company, Huawei, from the UK's 5G phone network. Instead, all investment would now stop, and all installed infrastructure must be removed by 2027.

If it was safe in January, why not now? No real explanation.

Thing is, if its not safe to have a Chinese company setting up 5G but it's OK to have another build a nuclear power station. Have I got that straight?

I mean, if its to US pressure, just say so, then it lets us all know where the power is and that we are to be Trump's bitches from now on.

I mean, just about the whole world said it was a bad idea, but the UK knew best. And then realised it was a bad idea after all.

Like wearing masks in shops.

The whole world, apart from those radicals in the US, but we won't. The PM will suggest it, then Gove will reject it, and then its policy. In ten days time.

But it seems those who are the most faithful Brexiteers also say that wearing of masks is a dreadful abuse of freedoms. Not quite like taking my right to work in 27 other countries, but do go on....

Douglas Carswell says he won't go shopping again. Gammon suppliers are distraught. Desmond Swayne, the Gammon's Gammon, called it a “monstrous imposition”, where will he get is pastel shaded handkerchiefs now?

The Prime Minister and Cabinet are just not competent. They think they know best, but don't. They get it right in the end, but either 65,000 people are dead, or tens of billions needs to be spent to remove Chinese infrastructure.

Thing is, they are idiots, just unseful idiots, to cover for the stripping of democracy by the idiot's idiot, Dominic Cummings as he reorganises Whitehall, disbands to Parachute Regiment and the Conservatives redraw the political map making it almost impossible for them to lose an election again.

So, the Tories are crap, hate poor, sick, disabled and unemployed people, and you'll never vote them out now. And any hope of them electing a competent leader ended with the expelling of the "One Nation Conservatives" last November.

Monday 13th July 2020

35th anniversary of Live Aid.

I spent most of the daylight hours of 13th July 1985 at a BBQ.

We had the TV on, I image just about everyone did, which is why I have no recordings of the earlier performers.

I don't think we knew what to expect, it could have been a shambles. And nearly was several times; The Who's first two numbers had no sound, I think there was problems for the Boomtown Rats too.

And it was hot.

I have no idea how those at Wembley coped, but standing on a patio munch in undercooked burgers was hot enough. We drive home at about six in the evening, which is how I came to record the U2 set. I think it was two numbers Bad and something else. During Bad, Bono Vox got a girl out of the crowd to "dance" with him. The other three couldn't see what was happening and just carried on playing.

I stayed up beyond the finale at Wembley, to see Led Zeppelin play in Philly. I don't know why, their re-assessment had yet to happen, and yet knew I had to watch it and record it. I switched off my bed room lights, turned the TV down low and waited until it was time to get the Led out. I even sat through George Thorogood and that was grim. At least it wasn't Kiss.

I read yesterday that Paul McCartney was 43 years old at Live Aid. I remember thinking he was an old man, but those Beetles tunes were OK. I am 54 now, 11 years older than he was that day. Now who's old?

I don't think Live Aid was shown again for many, many years, those performances, like Queen's, went down in Legend. They did put on a good show.

Band Aid still raises over a million quid a year, still saving lives, still feeding the word. Who said pop music can't change the world?

There are 59 UK species of butterfly, 57 resident and two regular visitors. Out of those I have seen, ahem:

Adonis Blue.

Adonis Blue Polyommatus bellargus Brimstone.

Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni Brown Argus.

Brown Argus Aricia agestis Chalkhill Blue.

Two hundred and thirty Clouded Yellow.

One hundred and forty seven Comma.

Comma Polygonia c-album Common Blue.

Common Blue Polyommatus icarus Dark Green Fritillary.

Dark Green Fritillary,  Argynnis aglaja. Dingy Skipper.

One hundred and forty two Duke of Burgundy.

Duke of Burgundy Hamearis lucina Essex Skipper.

Essex Skipper Thymelicus lineola Gatekeeper.

Gatekeeper Pyronia tithonus Green Hairstreak.

Green Hairstreak Callophrys rubi Green Veined White.

Green-veined White Pieris napi Grizzled Skipper.

Heath Fritillary.

Heath Fritillary  Melitaea athalia Holly Blue.

First Blue Large Skipper.

One hundred and eighty eight Large White.

Large White Pieris brassicae Large Tortoiseshell.

(Long-tailed Blue).

Long-tailed Blue  Lampides boeticus Marbled White.

Marbled White, Melanargia galathea Meadow Brown.

Meadow Brown Maniola jurtina Northern Brown Argus.

Northern Brown Argus  Aricia artaxerxes Orange Tip.

Orange Tip Anthocharis cardamines Painted Lady.

Painted Lady Vanessa cardui Peacock.

Peacock Aglais io Purple Hairstreak.

One hundred and ninety three Red Admiral.

Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta Ringlet.

Ringlet   Aphantopus hyperantus Silver Spotted Skipper.

Two hundred and thirty eight Silver Washed Fritillary.

Two hundred and eleven Small Blue.

Small Blue Cupido minimus Small Copper.

Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas Small Heath.

Small heath Butterfly Small Skipper.

Small Skipper on Bee Orchid Small Tortoiseshell.

Small Tortoiseshell Aglais urticae Small White.

Two hundred and thirty two Speckled Wood.

Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria Swallowtail.

Wall.

Wall Brown Lasiommata megera White Admiral.

White Admiral  Limenitis camilla And that is 38 resident or migrant species plus the Long Tailed Blue, so some way to go, and at least three of the missing 21 are found in Kent. So, Monday was given over to finding one of the missing ones, the White Letter Hairstreak.



These are quite rare, only laying eggs in elm trees, and after the Dutch Elm Disease of the 70s and 80s, these are few and far between. But thanks tot he internet and online groups, locations of the discrete colonies can be found. So it was that after breakfast yesterday, we set off for the Romney Marsh.

Our destination was a tree beside the Military Canal, I had vague directions other than that, but I'm sure it would become clearer in time.

We parked near to the bridge over the canal, I grab my camera. Outside the car, it was already mighty war, hot in fact. NOt a breath of wind, perfect butterfly snapping weather.

I hoped.

We walked along the flat area between the flood defence and drainage ditch. Frogs jumped out of our way as we walked towards the tree in question.

It was a big tree.

A very big tree.

Maybe the little buggers'll be hungry? So I began to search the brambles and other wild flowers.

Beside the canal Over the next hour I see many, many species, some common, but others such as a Comma is a rare site now, but all showed well, and I snapped some.

But I do spot a couple of very rare dragonflies, Willow Emeralds, unusual in that there is no blue on their bodies, just green. Brilliant iridescent green.

But no Hairstreak.

I look for movement. Something different. I fail to see one.

Comma Polygonia c-album Once back home I find they were all at the top of the tree, feasting on honeydew from their favourite tree. I stare into the treetops and see no butterflies.

Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta We'll come back, I say.

A short drive away is Ham Street, where there are even more butterflies. Top of my list is a Silver Washed Fritillary, and I knew these should be seen, as there had been many shots posted on the FB groups.

Peacock Aglais io We walk between the dog-walkers and women with prams, into the reserve, through the wood and out into the open gallop.

We walk down, slowly, not wanting to miss any butterfly. What we see most off are Gatekeepers and Peacocks, the latter looking bright having just emerged. At the crossroads, there were two fritillaries landed on ferns. I quickly walk up and stalk one as it flew from one bramble to another. I get a single passable shot.

Silver-washed Fritillary Argynnis paphia Shall we go? I ask as it was now too hot for butterfly stalking. So we return to the car, have a drink of water, tan drive home via Lympne (pronounced Lim) then to the motorway and to Whitfield to do some shopping. We had enough food, but a friend had asked for us to get them some large bottles of tripel.

One hundred and ninety five They were sold out.

We make do with milk, strawberries and other stuff to see us through to the weekend.

Back home for lunch of ham and pickle rolls, and then to sort through shots, write blogs and fritter the afternoon away.

As you do.

And that is it, really.

I made dinner; king prawn stir fry and noodles. It is fine. Nothing more, but full of vegetables.

Then there was the League 1 play off final, Wycombe v Oxford. Wycombe win thanks to a fluke cross-cum-cross that loops in over the keeper's head. The crowd don't go wild as there was no crowd. Player are pleased though.

Monday, 13 July 2020

Dither and delay

Michael Gove went on TV Sunday and said it was not Government policy to force people have face masks on in public.

That was the policy Monday morning.

By the end of the day, there had been another U-turn.

But not until the 24th July. As for the next ten days, COVID-19 has gone on its holidays and will not be infectious. So, no need to wear a face mask until then.

This, from the same Government that brought you 65,000 extra deaths since the beginning of March. The same Government that will not take part in Europe's vaccine procurement plan, because we're exceptional.

No vaccine please, we're British.

It has been estimated that each custom's declaration will cost £32.50 each, and with 400,000,000 of them needed a year, this will force huge additional costs on UK businesses, clearly in line with the referendum lie that we would have a better deal that being a member. That's £13 billion pounds to be found from somewhere; additional costs, job cuts or firms just giving up. And the country will have to spend money to process these forms. Inspect the shipments.

All madness.

But in a world gone mad, who'd notice hundreds of thousands of additional job cuts that they can blame on COVID, on which they are going such a grand job?

Why aren't the people marching on Parliament, ready to burn the place down?

Watch football, go to the pub, go shopping. And maybe go on a summer holiday.

Sunday 12th 2020

Thing about holidays at home is that I fill them with trips out to hunt for orchids, other plants, butterflies or churches, meaning, by and large, I am busier relaxing than when at work, says it all about my working day, I suppose.

Anyway, it was Sunday, a day of rest. Or would have been for most others. For the Jelltex household, or the non-feline part, it meant getting out early for a walk in the woods.

Denge Woods is a large mixed wood near to Canterbury, famed for being home to the largest population of Lady Orchids and also home to the majestic Duke of Burgundy butterfly. It also has a rare moth or two.

One hundred and ninety four But once the main orchid season and the Duke seasons ends, then few venture here. We have done and have seen many wonderful things; herds of deer, rare fungi, butterflies, rare plants and other orchids. Two years ago I found a spike, mixed in with Broad Leaved Helleborimes, that looked different. Now it is showing again, and two weeks back wasn't in flower. Maybe it would this weekend? If not, a walk is never wasted, it would be a matter of what else we would see.

Country roads We drove out of Dover, along the A2, turning off at Bridge, go through the village centre, over the bridge at Bridge, then across to Stone Street.

Stone Street is the old Roman Road that runs from Canterbury to the coast, no Romans on it now, but it is pretty straight. Apart from the bends.

Common Red Soldier Beetle Rhagonycha fulva Through pretty Petham, into the woods and down to Denge, where there was just one other car.

Perfect.

I have just one camera, no ring flash, so travelling light.

As we walked down the long woodland track, we heard clopping sounds behind, so we stood aside as a young lady on her steed bounced past.

Rutpela maculata All along the left hand side, in the morning sunlight, there was a riot of insects; butterflies, beetles and wasps, all looking for pollen, the walk could have taken 15 minutes, we take an hour, as we were entranced by the wildlife, especially the Peacock butterflies out in force, recently emerged and now basking with their fabulous wings tilted to the sun.

Peacock Aglais io We reached the bank and walked up, the plants changed and instead of Peacocks and Gatekeepers, the air was full of Marbled Whites, still a brown, all basking or feeding in the sun.

Marbled White Melanargia galathea We come to the location of the mystery orchid, which I can't find! Jools looks around and find three more similar spikes, then I find the one from two weeks ago. So four spikes. I take shots from all angles, and they are very different from the nearby BLH, which are still unfurling, but still not yet in flower. We will have to come back.

Elsewhere in the reserve, Pyramidals and CSOs are just clinging on, though even the best spikes were half burnt brown.

Time flies.

Back to the car, and I had an idea.....

The day before, on a new roundabout the other side of Barham, I saw several tall spikes of Great Mullein and Weld, both well worth a visit to take some snaps. The busy road made parking tricky, so Jools dropped me off for 15 minutes and would return to collect me when I should have the shots I wanted.

Great mullein Verbascum thapsus The Mullein are even better close up, I snap them, then move on to the Weld, a large and vigorous plants with multiple sharp spikes, covered with small flower.

Great mullein Verbascum thapsus I am done in 5 minutes, then have to wait 5 more for Jools.

She takes us home.

Once home I prepare and cook lunch: rump steak, potatoes, fresh corn and garlic mushrooms. And fizz. White fizz.

Great mullein Verbascum thapsus It was wonderful.

And then it was to the sofa for football. Second half of the Villa v Palace game, then the North London derby. I wish I could say it was great; it wasn't, slow paced, but littered with mistakes.

Weld Reseda luteola But three hours was enough, so I missed the late (and early) game, instead make supper of filled rolls and a huge brew. Of course.

Weld Reseda luteola After #wildflowerhour, we go back out, back to the top of the down so I could snap the comet again.

But I mess up the shots again, ISO too high, so not usable, but at least I know where I went wrong.

Weld Reseda luteola Once home again, I pur a wee dram or two, eat salted crunch corn and edit shots.

Midnight arrives and I go to bed.