Sunday, 17 June 2018

Saturday 16th June 2018

It is always nice when you get up thinking you can get some orchiding down before breakfast. Heck even before shopping in Tesco.

As sometimes happens, we wait all week for the weekend to roll round, we have hopes and plans to do things, then when it does arrive, the weather is a bit bland.

Bee Orchid Ophrys apifera So it was on Saturday, we woke up to cloud cover, and my plan had been to snap the local aberrant Bee Orchids in some early morning sunshine, only there was no sunshine. But it was still. And still conditions is perfect for macro work, and meaning I could do some really small aperture shots to get details.

We have coffee, feed the cats and I load the car with shopping bags and camera. Jools lads the car with some domestic rubbish, as she is going to drove to the tip whilst I snap the orchids, in the view of those waiting for the tip.

Bee Orchid Ophrys apifera And I did, as the early risers with their cars full of trash and garden waste wait to get into the tip, I walk past with camera slung against my back, then get down to snap all the spikes. Not perfect in the dull conditions, but the depth of field I get more than made up for that.

And as I finish, Jools comes out of the tip to pick me up, then we go to Tesco to do our shop. Not much we needed was the feeling. £110 later.

Although I did buy some socks, made with wool taken from the fleece of the golden lamb. So lovely.

So we go round, fill the trolley with mostly healthy stuff. And some unhealthy stuff. But no beer!

We are home by nine, already having done most of what we had planned for the day. How clever we are. We spend the morning in the garden, deadheading and tidying up. Or I do until eleven, when the first of four games lick off, so as the weather was cool and cloudy, I take to the sofa and try to keep awake.

One hundred and sixty six Once France had beaten Australia, Argentina played Iceland and drew 1-1, with Messi missing a penalty and finally, I saw the first half of Denmark v Peru, which was 0-0 when we left for Jen's, but Denmark running out winners, 1-0. And I am nearly half Danish now as I spend so much time there, right?

At Jens we play cards, drink wine and have a chat and laugh. We laugh long and well, whilst it seemed a storm was building outside, but that faded away as darkness fell.

Jen won at Meld and scooped the two big pots at Queenie, nearly clearing our kitty out.

Still, its just pennies. Just as well really.

We are home by 11, and go straight to bed, followed by our feline shadows.

There will be no bonus

Last night it emerged that after over eight years of austerity, cuts and dreadful leadership from Jeremy Hunt, means that the 2018 NHS is in a parlous state compared to the healthy one it was in when Labour was voted out in 201o, that May was prepared to inject bucketfuls of cash from the old money tree in the garden at Number 10.

Brexit is already costing the UK economy more than the £350 million a week than the Brexiteers wrote on the side of that bus.

As more EU and non-EU citizens leave the UK as a result of xenophobia, concern at uncertainty over their future statues, lack of investment from outside the country, all this will more than offset any perceived savings from leaving the EU. Double tat down with the cost of setting up, from scratch, agencies and systems that up to now the EU has done for us, and yo quickly see we will be a very much poorer country.

Spending more on the NHS is welcome, but any improvement will be a decade before any effects are seen, as the cost of training doctors and nurses. So, a load of old bollocks on the front page of the Tory press, and no proof at all.

In the end any spending will have to be costed, more taxes for those that keep their jobs, or more cuts elsewhere.

As EU citizens leave, and the economy shrinks, tax revenues will drop. If the UK is to export to other countries rather than the EU, those that survive will be subject to "gravity", meaning as you trade further away, it gets more expensive and difficult. But I'm sure the Brexiteers have thought all of this and are not just promising more unicorns and sunlit uplands.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Friday 15th June 2018

A birthday of a former Mrs Jelltex, and my best friend from school.

Only one of which I sent wishes to via Faceache yesterday.

And it is Friday, and due to more appointments, it meant some creative planning and transport coordination. In the end, the best thing was for me to drop Jools off in the morning to catch a bus, then collect her from work at two.

That being said, and apparently no matter how long you set aside in a morning inbetween getting up and leaving the house, its never quite enough. So, with less than ten minutes before the bus left, We departed Chez Jelltex for the port and the bus stop, making it in time, though if we hadn't, I would have taken her to Hythe.

I go home to make the second coffee of the day, make breakfast of toast and Tiptree's finest three orange marmalade and start work at half seven, as I would be playing hooky later.

Common Blue Polyommatus icarus The usual stuff, preparing documents, at which point I see more new problems appearing instead of making the old ones disappear. Oh bugger.

Cme twelve, my brain is now scrambled, and I bin it for the day, as I ponder what it all means. Trouble is what it means one suspects.

Musk Orchid Herminium monorchis I take myself and cameras to Park Gate where I am to meet a fellow orchidist to show him the Musk Orchids as I wasn't sure that my directions would suffice. But I dd not realise to the extent that the crowds of orchidists and photographers would flatten the ground around the tiny spikes. 2m all around was flat and now devoid of the small spikes of Fragrant and Common Spotted spikes I had seen on previous visits. Yes, they had managed to snap the two tiny spikes, at the cost of dozens of other orchids.

A tirade on "gardening" and trampling. I was, and still am, appalled. How could people who proclaim to love orchids be so careless? This is not the first time we have seen this, and now serious though must be given to what to do with sites and information in the future.

Time was getting on, and I had to get to Hythe for two, to meet Jools coming out of work, and deal with Hythe's notorious one way system.

We do our appointment in Hythe, and then what to do with the afternoon? Well, there's this orchid, I says.....

Always an orchid.

A photograph, a tweet, of an unusual Bee orchid over the border in Sussex, and with us being half way to Sussex, that's where we were heading. Taking to coast road out of Hythe, beside the miniature Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway, through Dymchurch, Romney before striking out over the Romney Marsh towards Rye and the Sussex border.

The Marsh is as close as it can be to Norfolk without being in Norfolk, millions of years of deposition by the sea created a low lying marshy area, perfect for breeding hardy sheep, so this is the Romney Marsh.

The road ploughs right across it, passing by some small picturesque villages most with wonderful churches, each worth a visit, until passing round a 90 degree bend we find ourselves in Sussex, and approaching Rye.

Rye sits on an outcrop, overlooking the nearly silted-up harbour and the marsh back into Kent. The road weaves between the foot of the rock and the meandering river until it crosses via a bridge then doubles back along the opposite shore. Traffic is a nightmare, as it often is.

We take a quiet road to the sea, park up, then set out to look for the orchids.

I have some vague directions, which has me peering over the top of a bank, as a high tide earlier that week and left saltwater meadows where the path used to be. I can see Bee Orchid spikes, but none white. In fact I was expecting just the one.

One hundred and sixty five Jools leaves me to ponder my next move, and walks off. I move to the side of the bank, and using the long lens scour the bank for signs of white sepals, tricky where there are hundreds of oxeye daisies mixed in too.

Bee Orchid Ophrys apifera var. flavencens I am about to walk on the virgin bank, when Jools comes back. What exactly are you looking for she asks. I explain the white sepals. Oh, she says, there, dozens just along there. Pointing to the path she had just walked along.

Bee Orchid Ophrys apifera var. flavencens I never doubt Jools as she has great orchid-finding eyes, so we walk down, and after five minutes I see the familiar shape of Bee Orchid spikes, but these are the likes I have not seen before. There must have been 50 or more spikes, and all of them with white sepals and pale green lips. Some of the sepals might have been called lilac, but still so different from what I usually see in Kent.

Bee Orchid Ophrys apifera var. flavencens There were also on the other side of the path, out of the breeze, so easier to photograph, and close enough to the path to get close ups. Close up they look incredible, with the same patternation as expected, but just without the colour.

Bee Orchid Ophrys apifera var. flavencens In the breeze, there was only so much could be done, so we walk back to the car and drive back to a small ice cream cabin, where we get huge waffle cones of ice cream goodness.

Bee Orchid Ophrys apifera var. flavencens I am buzzed by what we have seen, that we actually found what we came looking for, and that Jools found them, as is often the case.

To get back home would mean avoiding the new roadworks in Ashford, where they are replacing J10 with an even bigger roundabout, and the motorway is down to just two lanes, so some creative route finding was needed, eventually going through Lympne, which is pronounced Lim (of course), then onto the A20, to the motorway and home. We passed though some interesting places, worth investigating another day, but that means having to find them again.

Bee Orchid Ophrys apifera var. flavencens Back home we feed the cats and I cook dinner, so be ready for the next game in the World Cup, Spain v Portugal, which was worth watching, as it ended 3-3, but kicked off at seven meaning I missed the first 20 minutes. Still a great game.

I finish the day, on the patio in my dressing gown, finishing off the last of the Tastival that Jools and Tony bought from me on Skye last year.

Cheers, guys.

The final countdown

I can now confirm that the EU is preparing for there to be EU elections in the UK next May, in case Brexit is either delayed or cancelled.

This is why hardline Brexiteers want any kind of Brexit, the harder the better, as if that is rejected then Brexit gets softer and softer until we really won't notice the difference. Only that UK will not have a voice in setting the rules, just has to accept them.

The Government believe, that when push comes to shove, enough of its own MPs, including the 17 the PM lied to last week, will vote with the party on Wednesday.

Of course if all the 17 vote with the "opposition" then she will lose. But if the bill is changed to reflect what May did promise the 17, then up to 60 ERG members will probably vote against it, meaning either way, May loses. If the 17 and/or the ERG keep their word, although the ERG have been shown to be flaky to say the least.

The UK has two land borders with the EU, one we know of and I have been talking about for two years, the other has hardly been mentioned as it sits at the very tip of Spain. Gibraltar is a UK overseas territory, and even has a UK based MEP to look after their interests. In the referendum, as they got to vote, though UK citizens living in Spain and the rest of the EU didn't, voted 95.9% to remain. So their voice of the people was clear.

Not that long ago, Spain closed the border, and supplies had to be flown in and queues of hours and even days built up. As both sides of the border are in the EU, both have to respect each other and Spain cannot block the border now. But upon Brexit, then the gloves are off, and there is the clear possibility that Spain could use a veto to block any Brexit deal it doesn't like, say, were it not to include something about the future status of The Rock?

It is suggested that the UK might even use Gibraltar in negotiations with Spain to ensure some kind of deal for the rest of UK, doubling down on Gibraltar's voice of the people.

Friday, 15 June 2018

Thursday 14th June 2018

Same as yesterday, but with added bin collection and another walk to the doctors to collect the pills they didn't get in on Tuesday.

Summer storms are a rare thing, and even rarer in Kent away from western shores and winds. But we saw some wind here. Or felt it. It toppled over an empty water butt, and tousled a few climbing plants, but apart from that, we escaped.

And very little rain, just some drizzle carried in the teeth of the westerly, meaning that come three when I set out for the doctor's, I put a coat on as I was going to get, if not wet, but damp.

So strange to see the muted colours of winter in June, but that's what it is like when the weather turns like this.

I walk down Station Road, past the new build house, and it's garden which looks like a lawn from a car speeding past, is revealed to be a wildflower mix of weeds and rye grass. They have put up a gate, which means, you would think they might be moving in soon. But then its looked like it's ready for a few months now.

One hundred and sixty four Up the other side, dodging past the workmen's vans parked to repair the gushing water main, again.

Into the village, down past the pond and the school up the hill to the surgery. The pills were ready this time, so I put them in my pocket and turn for home.

The pond has ten ducklings now, not the eight I said on Tuesday, but they are nearly adult, and all busy preening themselves once they were satisfied I had no food for them.

I miss the village shop and its fabulous ice cream display, wanting to get home for the football, least I miss a minute of Russia v Saudi Arabia.

I get back in time to turn the sound down on Putin's speech, make a brew and sit down, and spend the next 90 minutes fighting sleep, my eyes dropping a few times.

Russia win 5-0, and look OK, whereas Saudi, on paper and in the rankings the better team, just froze.

Jools is home so I poil the potatoes and cook up the prepared vegetables and sausage for Chorizo Hash, heck I had even remembered to put som pink fizz in the fridge to cool.

Negotiation by dummies

We can now say a few things about the PM's skills in negotiation:

1. She can't negotiate with the EU as she doesn't know what her own positions is because of (2)

2. She can't negotiate with her own Cabinet, as the two sides are so entrenched

3. She can't even negotiate with one of her own backbenchers

Yesterday, I wrote it seemed that May had been outmaneuvered by Dominic Grieve, who tabled an amendment based on the HoL's amendments, and in a meeting with the PM the he and the 16 other rebels got verbal confirmation that their amendments would be in the update sent back to the HoL.

Only the PM lied, did not include their amendments, and doubled down by a statement by the DExEU stating that the Government would never be dictated to by Parliament.

It seems that May and her Brexiteers had a lack of knowledge in Parliamentary procedure, as it emerged that the HoL will simply re-insert the original wording back into the bill, and send it back to the HoC where it will be voted upon, again, next Wednesday, and where the rebels have already stated they will vote against the Government unless this is passed.

And of course, no words, no promises will work this time as the PM's words cannot be trusted any more. Maybe this was the plan all along, I suspect so, in which case it was a dreadful blunder by the PM showing herself to be untrustworthy, not just to her own party's MPs, but to the onlooking EU who must wonder how did our country become such a basket case.....

And as a final word on the above, UK has to start negotiating trade deals with up to 60 countries, at the same time, where your word means everything, how does the above tally with that?

Now, this is interesting; it seems the EU is preparing plans for there to be EU elections in May next year, in which current EU country as well as the other EU27? Yes, UK. The EU is preparing for all eventualities, not just a no deal Brexit, a hard Brexit, but no Brexit at all.

One of the reasons for triggering A50 when the PM did was that unless it was triggered then, then the UK would have to have elections during the notification period, it suited both sides, the EU and UK to have UK leave before the elections, so that all laws could be amended to reference the EU27 not EU28. This is potentially huge news, as leaving the EU, if the UK does, after May 2019 would be a logistical nightmare (worse than it currently is) and a legal one too.

Which is why there was a rush to trigger A50, that and to temper the Brexiteers who knew any delay would mean leaving would probably never happen. In the same way that if the UK leaves just the EU, but stays in mechanisms that duplicate the SM and CU then the referendum "mandate" would said to have been carried out, and in all likelihood, we would stay that way forever.

And yesterday, the Electoral Commission released its report into spending in the referendum, and concluded that the official Leave Campaign, as back by Aaron Banks, probably broke the law. Now we wait to see what the CPS will do, if anything. But, if an election was won by breaking spending laws, it would call into question the result, but in this? Probably nothing, but imagine f Remain had won under the same circumstances, we would not hear the last of it, and a rerun would be demanded. In fact, a rerun was demanded by Leavers before the result was in, so that the petition was hijacked by Remainers.

So there we have it, a typical week in Brexitlalaland. And remember, I suspect T. May will not survive next week as PM, so the ride will only get rockier.....

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Wednesday 13th June 2018

Wednesday. Another day working from home.

I wish I could say something different about such a day, but each day has the same pattern:

1. Get up some time between half five and six.

2. Jools has usually made coffee, so drink the first cup, and at the same time look at the internet.

3. Have breakfast

4. At eight, start work.

5. Do stuff until about half ten.

6. Have lunch.

7. Do more stuff until my will wanes.

8. Listen to the radio, write, edit shots. Something other than work.

9. Prepare dinner.

Lizard Orchid Himantoglossum hircinum Only Wednesday, there was no dinner to prepare as we were go go out and eat.

And look for orchids.

Lizard Orchid Himantoglossum hircinum All I had to do was wait for Jools to come home from work, get changed and we drive to Sandwich.

Sandwich Bay, is a private estate, owned by some minor member of the Royal Family of aristocracy. Or something. Anyway, they own the site, which is surrounded by three famous gold courses. But on the beach, in the dunes, there grows orchids.

Lizard Orchid Himantoglossum hircinum Lizard orchids.

Lizard Orchid Himantoglossum hircinum If you go to the estate at the weekend you are subject to a £7 toll, but of an evening, midweek evening, you usually get in for free.

On the estate, not sure how this works, but there are ground houses and mansions, on the lawns of some are the first of the orchids. Then down the toad that runs beside the dune you can see dozens and dozens of Lizard Orchid spikes.

Pyramidal Orchid Anacamptis pyramidalis We go to the bottom, near the entrance to one of the golf courses, where the biggest concentration of Lizard spikes, and if you look carefully there are a few Bee spikes mixed in with the Pyramidals too.

Pyramidal Orchid Anacamptis pyramidalis The light was perfect, if low, so some close up macros were tricky. But I get the shots I want, and look for pale versions of the Lizard, showing lack of chlorophyll.

Bee Orchid Ophrys apifera After half an hour I have dozens of shots, if not hundreds, so we retire to the car and drive via the old coast road to Deal, where I find a place to park and we walk to the fish restaurant in Middle Street.

There aren't many sit down fish and chip restaurants in the area, but there is something about eating fish and chips straight from the fryer, all crispy and so hot the vinegar evaporates into a toxic cloud.

Supper Perfect.

We make dinner disappear, pay and then walk back to the car in the late evening sunshine, casting long shadows on the promenade.

We were back home at half eight, enough time for a shower and an episode of The Expanse.

Phew.