Saturday, 31 August 2013

Saturday 31st August 2013

Friday. Working from home. But before I could work from home, I had to drop Jools off at the factorry, then head to Ramsgate to pick up my laptop and print some papers out so i could number crunch during the day. and then drive back so to be in when the guy came to change the windscreen.

That done, I could make a second cup of coffee and get working. I thought i would let Bowie out of his cage, and put him on the lead, but he can now get out of the harness in 30 seconds. I had tied him to the bannister, so he went upstairs under our bed, got out and slept on the windowsill. Despite being a prisoner, when he gets free he just stays around the house!

The day passed, the screen was replaced, and so it was time to collect Jools and bring the curtain down on another working week. Jools and I made Burek frying the large parcels, and washing them down with icce cod beer. Nice.


Last day of the month.

So, lets begin the day with a trip to Tesco1 Yay! Saying that, it was painless, except for the bill at the end. BUt, the worst task of the day over, we sit down to coffee and fresh croissants and ponder what to do with the day. Outside it was cloudy, so it was chores. Which if you remember, chores for me means laying on the sofa listening to the radio. Hey, it doesn't listen to itself....

Adonis Blue  Lysandra bellargus

We had warmed up burek for lunch, then decided to head out as the clouds had cleared and the wind dropped. I got it into my head I wanted to see an Adonis Blue, and a contact of mine had seen one on the cliffs by the Monument, so we headed there, parked up and I walked back down the cliff, eyes searching left and right for flashes of blue.

There were dozens of others out walking, but most not paying attention to the wildlife that was under their feet. Several times a subject would be scared off by the pounding of other walker's feet, and I heard them talking of football or some other subject, which seemed to me to indicate they were walking just for the sake of walking. Maybe I was wrong.

Adonis Blue  Lysandra bellargus

When I got to Kingsdown, I got talking to two other photographers about my persuit of the adonis and how I had not seen one all year. And as I was talking, I saw blue about 20m away. But it was such a vibrant blue, i said, I think there's one there.

And indeed there was. A single male, sunning himself in the late afternoon warmth. He stayed in the area for what seemed like 20 minutes, I got four or five series of shots of him. And how blue was he? I will never mistake another blue for an Adonis!

I walked back to Jools waiting by the car, and then home. But on arriving home, we could hear a harvester going nearby. So, after the football ended, we set off to get some shots. Norwich won their first game, 1-0 against Southamption to take us to 8th for the time being. Something else to put a spring into my stride.

Abstract Harvest

As the harvester was at the other end of the field, we sat down in the long grass and waiting for it to turn and head back to us. It was glorious, sitting in the warm evening sunshine, with diving swallows overhead catching their supper. We got our shots, and headed back for dinner, and reflected on another one of them good days.

Harvest Concentration

Friday, 30 August 2013

Friday 30th August 2013


So on Wednesday, I had agreed to attend a BBQ organised by the company that runs the Thanet windfarm. It is a bid to reduce the ‘us and them’ feelings that developed between the employees of the two companies. I think that after last year’s events, it seems to have worked; like everywhere there is banter, but it does not seem to have the nasty edge I saw last year. So, when the invite dropped into my e mail inbox, I was in the middle of my time travelling backwards and forwards to Denmark, and any excuse not to travel seemed like a good idea, so I said I’d go.


As it turned out, the last thing I felt like doing was spending an extra couple of hours at work until it was time for the wheels to take us to Grove Ferry. But anyway, on Tuesday morning rather than let them down, I got Jools to drop me off at the station so I could catch the train to Ramsgate. I took a window seat so I could look down over Dover as the train would its way up through River and then Buckland before entering the southern portal of Guston Tunnel.

I like truckin'

I got off the train at Ramsgate, and then facing me was an half hour walk to the office at the harbour. The day went well, but it wasn’t until it was time to leave for the BBQ that I realised I did not have my phone. I had my phone when I left the house, I had it on the train. And then, nothing. I can’t get a signal in the office, so whether I lost it on the train, or on the walk to the office or in the office, I don’t know. I have reported it to Southeastern, but I doubt if it’ll be handed in. It just goes to the answer machine now, so the battery is either flat or the sim card has been taken out.

The Office

Sigh, Anyway, there was a free bar at the Grover Ferry Inn, and it was a glorious evening beside the Stour. Sipping Italian beer from the bottle. The Jools appeared some two hours early, the car windscreen had gone as she headed over and we had to get back to arrange a replacement as I had a long drive on Thursday to conduct an audit.

Looking at the screen, a large stone chip had caused a crack, which despite growing to six inches long, it seemed to have stopped. We drove back home via the chippy for cod and chips, and then home to find the insurance documents and then arrange a man to come round and change it. It was decided that it would be changed on Friday, as long as it all went well on Thursday. Would be an interesting trip.


After breakfast and dropping Jools off at work, I headed to Folkestone and then up the M20 towards the Dartford Crossing. I was off to Essex to do a supplier audit, my first ever external audit, and the chance to test my knowledge and skills. So that meant driving through the tunnel, and coping with the traffic at rush hour. I do like a challenge, but in truth there was no way to avoid it.

So I had the radio on for traffic updates, and it warned of jams, but in the end I was delayed just ten minutes and got through and into Essex. The sun shone, and the countryside looked glorious. And once on the A12, and I had cleared the silly boy racers, it was a pleasant drive north of Colchester and then out to Tendring.

Yes, Tendring. On the Tendring peninsular. Sounds grand, but is a tiny vollage with just three streets, and the company I was going to audit had space in a large barn conversion shared with other companies. Now, it is nowhere near the sea, so why this location was chosen for a shipping company to have headquaerters is lost on me. However, I was expected and brought a coffee.

Despite feeling like a little boy in the world of grown-ups at times, my training kicked in, and I got into the swing of it, and the audit went well. I found problems. Lots of problems, but they seemed keen enough to learn, so they will await my report in due course.

Time then to head to a couple of churches before the rush back to Dartford to beat the rush hour and not be stuck in traffic. At the bridge, it was a little jammed, but after 10 minutes I was through and back into Kent. A dash down along the M20, in time to pick Jools from work and then along the coast road and home.


We ate like kings in the evening: cheese and beans on toast and a pint of tea, followed by the biggest bowl of strawberries, blueberries and fresh raspberries from our garden all drowned in fresh cream.


Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Tuesday 27th August 2013

Those of you who read my blogs on a regular basis may recall my assertion that it always rains on bank holidays in the UK. Of course this is complete hokum, and what are you thinking of, believing everything I say anyway. Heck, I don’t even do that! Given that the font of all weather knowledge, the BBC weather department had forecasted wall-to-wall sunshine all day on Monday, it came as little surprise to find it cloudy, gloomy even.

Wall Brown Lasiommata megera

But, having decided the night before that we would walk to Kingsdown, we thought it might get out, so let’s just go for it! Thanks to my experience of walking all the way from home to Kingsdown, and given that the unspoken part of the plan was to head down to the beach to look for orchids, I thought it better to drive to Dover Patrol and walk from there. Yeah, I know that makes us part-time walkers, but you do what you can achieve, right?

Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas

So, finding just the four other cars in the car park, we grabbed our gear. Camera gear. And set off along the cliffs with the sky leaden and apparently just higher than the cliffs. We walked down to the start of the golf course, which I guess marks the boundary between St Margaret’s and Kingsdown, and then onto the Leas. We paused to look once again for the Long Tailed Blue. And we managed to draw another blank.

Pwoar, what a pair of beauties!

By this time, the clouds began to clear and the sun came out and so the temperature began to climb. We walked down onto the beach and spent an hour searching for the orchids; of which there were no sign. And so we headed back up the cliffs and along to St Margaret’s.. The path was now very crowded. Well, when I say crowded, I meant we saw maybe 20 people in the three or so miles back to the car. And at the car park, it was madness, with people parking anywhere.

Dover Patrol

We drove off, stopping at the village shop for some milk, and then home for a sit inside in the cool shade, and for me to crack open a nice cold beer.

The Cyclist

We lazed around for pretty much the rest of the day: Jools went to pick up Nan, and then I cooked roast chicken for dinner, which in August makes the kitchen so bloody hot. But, hey: it was my idea to cook it so I only have myself to blame.


Once Nan had left, I turned on the radio to listen to the first of the ‘unmissable’ games of the season: Man Utd v Chelsea, which ended in a 0-0 snoozefest, and finished just in time for lights out and bed time.

And this concludes the final bank holiday of the year. With the exception of Christmas Day, I guess.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Monday 26th August 2013

Saturday. So, after doing the chores, I settled down to listen to the football on the radio. That this was ruined by some Rugby league match being apparently of more importance, so we were treated to regular score updates from each Premier League game. Just as well, really: as Norwich managed not only to fail to beat one of the three promoted teams, but also failed to socre against Hull city playing with ten men for more than an hour. That we lost to a 'soft' penalty, really is no excuse, it was a shame we should have won, but ended up losing 1-0, and the Buhs phoning Canary Call would have had plenty to moan about with just the 36 games left this season to turn things round.

That evening we drove to West stourmouth to the Rising sun, as it has become our location of choice at which to celebrate my birthday. We ordered drinks and after studying the menu we both decide to forgo the Paella for once: Jools went with chicken kiev, and i had baked skate. Both were rather wonderful, as was the cheese board I had to follow.

shepherdswell, east Kent LIght Railway

The drive back was interesting, as the long promised rain arrived and threw down a dayfull in a few mnutes, the road soon awash with rain, with visibility reduced to a few yeards. Once home we had to decide what to do with Bowie as it seemed he would be soaked, but upon insection, he was dry enough. So, we put dry bedding down and left him. He clearly wasn't happy with that.

The Crossing


Birthdays for:

Sean Connery
Elvis Costello
Mr Jelltex

Starsign: Virgo the Virgin (no comment)

It has come to the point in my life when birthdays are not things to be celebrated. They are things to lay in wait for and then beat with iron bars whilst delcaring your innocence about such things as birthdays. 50 is some one year 364 days away.

After breakfast and generally slobing the morning away, Jools dropped me at Shepherdswell so i could catch the midday train on the East Kent line to Eythorne where there was a beer festival going on! Trains, birthday, beer; a happy man indeed.

So, I paid my six quid and took my seat on the train as the DMU trundled at 10mph along the couple of miles through the rolling Kent countryside to Eyethorne where my good friend Matt was waiting. Through the wonder that is modern life, he had mailed me that morning to let me know he would be there.

Waiting to repair the PW

So, as we drunk real ale in the sunshine, the trains came and went until it was time for Jools to come and collect me, pour me into the car and take me home so I could fall asleep on the sofa listening to the radio.

That night we had made plans to meet up with The Ramblers at Deal pier for a photowalk along the promenade and then to the pier to watch the sun go down. And take photographs. There was a chance that I was asked along to be something of the photographic 'expert', something I tried to play down at every oportunity. However, it was pleasant enough, even if the sea fog rolling in threatened to take the edge off the day. In the end the clouds cleared long enough so that our view from the pier of the sunset was rather wonderful, and so the sun set on another year in the life of Jelltex.

Jools and I headed back to the car, and then back home and i cooked steak and chips for dinner. After eating we sat in the back garden watching the stars twinkle and air lines pass overhead to destinations unknown.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Saturday 24th August 2013

Bank Holiday Saturday.

It is the weekend. I say that because although it is not a work day, here I am at the computer. I am doing this as because, as is the tradition, it is pouring with rain outside. But is it, Ian? Well, no. But the met Office has, like promised LOADS of rain today, loads in the morning, loads in the afternoon and loads in the evening. Only, we had some showers this morning, and now its lunchtime, I am sitting here listening to the Fulham v Arsenal game on the radio, and the BBC tells us that we are going to get drenched very soon. With the weather getting better over the remaining two days of the long weekend, I am not worrying too much about it being a 'wasted' weekend.

Small Tortoiseshell  Aglais urticae

This morning, we headed to Dover to do some chores, buy some fruit and veg. Whilst our car was being cleaned, we went into the Dickens Tearooms for a cuppa nd a breakfast bap. It was the smell of cooking bacon that lured me in. Four rashers of bacn and a fried egg. Egg counts as one of your five a day, right?

Fushia after the rain

And that has been your Saturday.

The rest of the week has been very uneventful. Work is as it always is, dealing with issues, writing mails and the such. And we all try to cope with the lack of running water at the office which entered its sixth day on Friday. There is talk of it being fixed 'soon'. But then at one point there were losing 16 tons of water an hour or something.

Drinking from the watering can

Jools called at three twenty yesterday, asking if I was still at work. I thought it was high time I wasn't, and so packed my stuff away and left. Thing is, that the customer has built this 'green' office building that is too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer. With humity running at 98% on Friday and only a breath of wind, it was like working in treacle, and soon i felt my eyelids drooping. How good it was to leave the office with three whole days off ahead.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Thursday 22nd August 2013

And so to cat news once again.

And in a turn up, we managed to get all three of our resident cats in the house, locked the cat flap and smothered them with hugs and love, just to make them feel wanted. Of the three Molly is the most cautious and in sheer terror as I carried her upstairs. This will only be solved once Bowie has gone, and not sure if we will ever manage that. At the moment it seems impossible, but it shouldn’t be with a cat so handsome and loving as he is.

Abstract wheat

After work on Wednesday, we stopped off that the National Trust’s place on the white cliffs above Dover. The air was clear that we could see individual buildings in Calais, some 21 miles over the Channel. I spoke to a motorcyclist from Boston who had shipped his Harley from Newark NJ to Southampton, and has spent the whole summer criss-crossing Europe having done 17,000 miles since June.

Summer sunrise

We wished him well and went on with the butterfly hunt. My hope was to snap a mating pair of Chalkhill Blue, but failed once again to snap a pair. However, there were hundreds about, and so I spent an hour or so crawling towards butterflies trying to get as close to snap them before they saw me and flew off.

Dover to Calais at 300mm

We headed back home, and it turned out I had forgotten to get something out for dinner, so it turned out that the best bet was griddled burgers. Not a bad meal at all. And for dessert I cleared the ripe fruit from the raspberry canes and shared them with Jools eating them straight from our hands with no cream or ice cream.

Small Tortoiseshell  Aglais urticae

Chalkhill Blue  Lysandra coridon

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Wednesday 21st August 2013

And first up, Bowie news: Well, after eight days in the dog cage, there is no end in sight for the poor fella. All cat rescue places are full, and none of our friends, or friends of friends seem to want a cat. Even the cattery is full until September 3rd. So for the time being his time in clink continues. He gets let out each evening for a few hours, but in truth his manner is very muted, but he looks forward, or seems to, of being let out and getting his paws into the cool grass. Jools then sits with him in the back room whilst she beads and he falls into a deep sleep. Molly has barely been seen since the weekend and is still very wary of Bowie even when he is in a cage. It feels like we are almost catless to be honest.

Two is better

Not much to tell you about this week, other than I have been butterfly hunting, despite last week’s near-accident when I slipped down a rabbit hole, seems like I do not learn….

But three is best of all

Monday night, after dinner we went to the glade to see if any butterflies were on the wing in the golden evening light. There were very few, and no blues, but on closer inspection, the long grass was full of roosting Common Blues. Some stalks had one clinging on, a few had two and one even had three! I took shots of most of them, trying not to disturb them so they did not use all their energy reserves.

Folkestone Downs

Tuesday night, I dropped Jools off at the yoga place, then headed up to Folkestone Downs looking for the ever elusive Adonis Blues. Now, I know the second brood should be hatched by now, so I went to the huge meadow we found at the weekend, and there were very few butterflies of any kind on the wing. In fact the whole meadow was full of large listless, most having gone to seed and those seeds blown into drifts against the hedge or fence.

I walked along the path up onto the highest point of the downs, looking down on the A20 below as is disappeared into Roundhill Tunnels. In the meadow behind, a few Skippers and a couple of Small Tortoiseshells. I moved on to the spot overlooking the Channel Tunnel depot, and the cows and cattle had munched the grass to a shallow pile carpet, not a butterfly friendly environment really.

Folkestone Downs

I gave up and headed back to Dover to wait for Jools to finish her class. So, I parked at on the promenade and watched locals and visitors walk up and down, taking in the sights and late evening sunshine. A couple of cruise ships left the western docks, and ferries came and went, a couple of crews rowed up and down the harbour, whist through the mouth of the harbour, the French coast could be seen clearly.

Folkestone Downs

After calling in the chippy for cod and chips (twice), we headed back to the Duke of Yorks and looking out over the Channel, it looked like a mirror as barely a breath of wind stirred it. Once we had eaten, we sat on the patio as the sun set, and then scanned the skies to see who would see the first stars come out. Planes heading to Europe soared overhead, we could hear them first, so we looked hard enough then we could see their anti-collision light blinking away.

In time the full moon rose, tinted red at first, but soon shining bright enough to cast shadows on the grass.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Monday 19th August 2013

We woke up this morning to a heavy dew, the sun was just rising as the alarm went off and in the valley below the house whisps of mist could be seen. In other words high summer is waning and autumn is not far off. Once the sun got out yesterday, the land around Crundale looked summery enough, but the hedges are already laden with autumn fruits ripening in the sunshine. The BBC says there should be a bumper harvest from the hedges this year. We hope so. Our apple tree is heavy with fruit, and yet it seems to be little more than a twig stuck in the ground.

Barlow Train Shed, St Pancras, London


Friends of ours, Maggie and Mary, had been planning a trip to London and a wander round so of it’s lesser known areas. Or those less travelled by the occasional tourist. We were to meet at St Pancras at ten, which meant us catching the quarter to nine train from Dover. Quite how I managed to convince myself that at ten past eight I had over an hour before we were to leave for the station. ‘Are you still in the shower?’ Jools asked. ‘It’s eight seventeen!’ Oh bugger.

So, a quick shower, get dressed, gather my camera bag and out to the car and off to the station. And of course there were no parking spaces. So I had to try on one of the narrow streets climbing up the foot of Western Heights. Despite having just four minutes to get to the train before departure, I found time to snap the station form the road bridge.

Many thanks

We got on with two minutes to spare, and Mary joined us at Folkestone West; so soon we were speeding through the Kentish countryside whilst we caught up with our news since we last met.

St Pancras was as crowded as you would expect it to be, as trains leave from there to the Midlands, back to Kent and, of course, to Paris and Brussels. So, we made our way down through the undercroft, and then back up to the statue of Sir John where Maggie was waiting for us. Sir John Betjeman worked tirelessly to save St Pancras, when it could have so easily gone the way of Euston. And so despite the dereliction of the 80s and 90s, the station survived and was restored to be the starting point for trains to Europe. And how glorious it is. Under the Barlow trainshed, standing in the shadow on Sir John, I can’t think of a finer spot in all of London.

St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel, London

Maggie asked us if we had been inside the hotel: we hadn’t. And so we walked to the corner of the station, down a short corridor into the lobby. No one cast us a look. So we continued down another grander corridor to the staircase. Once upon a time, hotels would lavish fortunes on staircases, and the Grand Midland was no different. Looking at it now it is hard to believe that a decade ago it was in such a bad state that the stairs could not be used.

St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel, London

It is now fully restored, plush carpet on the floor and all the way up the four floors of the stairs, and wonderful fleur-de-lis patterned wallpaper. We walked all the way to the to look at the wonderful roof. Needless to say, I took many, many shots and in truth this was worth the trip to London on its own.

Zam Zam, Brick Lane

We then walked outside and along to King’s Cross to see how work is progressing on the soon-to-be-opened public square at the front of the station. In truth, little work seems to have been done. But more things have been removed, and I guess it will be like a beautiful butterfly emerging, one day it will be a building site, the next all the work and detritus will have been swept away, like it was never there. Mary had not seen the new entrance hall, so we went inside, but half of London seemed to be waiting for a train out, so we dived into the underground for a train to the East End.


We got off at Liverpool Street and headed up to Bishopgate, before heading east to Spitalfields. Spitalfields was once the fruit market for the city, but is now upwardly mobile with many fine places to eat. It is always rammed full of interesting buildings which are mostly great to photograph. We pass a pub which was almost certainly where Jack the Ripper once drunk, being opposite where his last victim was found. It is also where Huguenots immigrants came to escape persecution in France, bringing their skill in silk weaving. Looking up at the tops of the terrace houses, many still have skylights which they used to allow as much light in as possible so they could weave as long as possible each day. And for Jools and I it is very interesting, as she is descended from Huguenots.

We went to the old market, which no longer sells just fruit, but is a place where you can buy fashions and the such. We find a café and order coffees and I have a savoury crepe. It is wonderful just to people watch, as it now attracts the arty types with their pampered children, all dressed in peacock coloured fashions: I could have sat there all day, but time was pressing and we had to head to Brick Lane. Brick Lane used to be a centre of the brick and tile making industry, and then brewing, but it is now more famous for being home to many Bangladeshi businesses and in particular, many curry houses.

Drive by shooting

It is a shock to walk down the narrow residential streets and onto Brick Lane with its many brightly adorned curry house, far eastern fruit and veg shops, and all manner of people walking around, with fusions of east in west in food, drink and fashion. It was all rather intoxicating. As we walked along, I was being persuaded to go into each and every curry house for a meal, with great deals being offered. I just said the ladies were in charge and he should ask them!

Down another side street all the buildings were decorated with street art, and a young tour guide was leading a large group of tourists around explaining who did the art. We all took shots and moved on. Down near the old Truman brewery, there was yet another market, this one offering a vintage vinyl sale. I went to look but only found Lionel Richie type albums. And I had no cash on me anyway, best not look too hard….

We walked up Brick Lane until it entered Whitechapel, we went up Whitechapel Road, right to the hospital where John Merrick, aka The Elephant Man was found and treated. It is now a bustling street market, and it is like being in another country. It was all rather wonderful I have to say, and I took some shots of the people as they went about their shopping and daily chores. Young met friends, the old felt the fruit to see if it was rip,a nd stallholders bellowed out what was a bargain.

Rain was in the air, as forecasted, and as my toe was now thumping, Jools and I decided to head home, whilst Mary and Maggie pressed on along Whitechapel Road. We took the Overground to Stratford, taking nearly an hour to get there, leaving us four minutes to get down onto the platform to catch the Dover train. And in less time than it had taken us to get from Whitechapel to Stratford we were back in Dover and winding our way up the hill to get the car to head home.

On the train I kept up to date with the football, and as we left Ashford, City took the lead against Everton, and in the car the radio announced that The Wolf (as I shall call RVWW) scored a second. But it seems Everton had scored two themselves inbetween and so it was 2-2, which is how it ended. Not bad for a first game, and promise of better things to come once the new boys bed in.

Time then to head to Tesco to get something to eat, and then settle down in front of the TV to watch some old Time Team until it was time to head to bed. Phew.


What better way to begin the day with a lay in to half seven then a nice pot of coffee and a couple of huge hot croissants? The plan for the day? Well, orchids and some bondage equipment. We have to buy Bowie a harness and lead so he does not spend all day in the cage meowing mournfully.

So, we set off just before nine, as I clearly had to watch MOTD at least until City had been on. THEN we could go out. Oh yes.

So we headed out to Canterbury then followed the Stour south until we turned off the main road and onto the narrow lanes to Crundale. My friend Mark had supplied fine directions and a grid reference, we just needed to learn how to use the grid reference and we would be fine!

Anyway, we set off down the byway heading along what must have been an ancient road, it went dead straight until it reached a wood where the road began to wander through the ancient trees. We were here to see another rare orchid, Violet Helleborines. So, a way along the path, just where Mark said they were, there they were!

Violet Helleborine Epipactis purpurata

I guess I was expecting a glade full of them, but then we have been rather spoilt this year with the displays of Early Purples, Monkeys, Southern Marsh, Common Spotted and Marsh helleborines, so the half dozen looked rather lonely. Scattered around a couple of glades, a few had been scorched by the sun, but others in deeper shade were still glorious. And the shade was the problem. I could not get shots without using flash, but in the end I did seem to cope, and using ISO 3200 got some using what natural light here was.

Violet Helleborine Epipactis purpurata

Once we got the shots, we walked back, pausing many times to look at the plethora of butterflies that were on the wing. We saw many Meadow Browns, gatekeepers, Large Whites, Small Tortoiseshells and Common Blues. I get a few shots of the blues in the vain hope that they were Adonis, which they were not. Oh well, there’s always up on Folkestone Downs later in the week.

We called in at the pet shop in Folkestone for the harness, and back home to let Bowie out and give him some restricted freedom. He was happy after a while to sleep in the lea of the hedge, free of his bars. We had lunch and then the afternoon kinda slipped through our fingers, I watched the rest of the football and then listened to the radio. And Jools stayed in the garden with Bowie. I cooked steak and ale pie for dinner, with lots of steamed vegetables, and then it was getting late already. The sun set and it began to get dark.

Another weekend gone.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Friday 16th August 2013

The year is getting old. When the alarm goes off at five forty five now, the sun is only just rising, and some mornings it is only half light. Whilst the farmland around us has been harvested, and what was once cold and swaying in the wind is now brown and grey, as the stubble rots down into the soil.

Dover Patrol Monument

What is wonderful though is the profusion of butterflies and other insects to be seen during these salad days. And it is to butterflies that I turn to for the main event of the week. Due to Kent’s location so close to France, when the wind blows in the right direction we sometimes get unusual visiors of the insect variety. And so it was this week when news of the sighting very near to where we live of the sighting and photographing of one such migrant visitor, a Long Tailed Blue. In fact several of them were spotted on Kingsdown leas, and so after work on Wednesday we met up with our friend Gary for the walk along the cliff path, past the golf course to the Leas and hopefully see one of the little buggers.

The Wrong Kind of Blue

When we arrived at The Leas, we saw a lot of their food plant, Everlasting Pea, and trampled grass around one particular clump, marking this was the spot. We saw none. Some others came to join us, and we swapped notes and despite a good half hour searching, we saw just a few Chalkhills sheltering in the long grass. After a few snaps we headed back to the car park and home.

I decided to go for a walk before work on Thursday and as I guessed my feet took me to Kingsdown: at first glance there was little butterfly action, but as the mist cleared dozens of fluttering action could be seen, most numerous were male and female Chalkhills, mostly clinging to stems of long grass, but flying about in the sheltered spots. As well as the Chalkhills, I saw several Common Blues and a couple of Small Coppers (another Blue), but no Long Tailed. Also in abundance were Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers, Marbled Whites Large Whites, various Skippers and a few Wall Browns too.

Long-tailed Blue  Lampides boeticus

In time several other folks came along, also looking for the Long Tailed Blue. So we walked up and down The Leas, always ending back at the spot we saw the night before with the flattened grass. And just as we gave up hope, a shout went up, and there on a high branch was a single female. I got there as she flew off, only for her to land on a lower branch. I snapped her a few times, and again when she landed lower still, but I was still some distance away. However, I had seen one. The guy I met from the NT said eggs have been seen on the leaves of the Everlasting Peas, and so we might have a resident colony next year, which would be a great thing. I did look round as I was trying to get a shot of the Long Tailed Blue, to see I was one of seven photographers crowding round trying to get a shot of this single small butterfly. I am sure we got some odd looks.

Long-tailed Blue  Lampides boeticus

I set off back, and as I turned off the cliff path to walk beside the golf course, thereby cutting about ten minutes off my walk back, my lower left leg disappeared into a rabbit hole right up to my knee. I was lucky that I wasn’t running as it would have resulted in a broken bone or two for sure. As it was I bent my big toe all the way up, which although did not hurt straight away, by the time I got back was smarting. It was throbbing all the more after I got up from a nice refreshing cuppa. Bugger.


But, it is not broken, which is just as well. It is the same foot/ankle that has been swelling and just below the infection I still have despite ten days on antibiotics. You really could not make this stuff up……

Common Blue   Polyommatus icarus (m)

Wednesday evening was spent watching the 111th meeting between England and Scotland in one of those pointless pre-season friendly at Wembley. There are important world cup qualifiers coming up next month, but whether the managers can learn anything new about the players in the respective squads is a pertinent question. As it was, nothing surprising happened: England gave the ball away on a regular basis, Stevie G being the biggest culprit: those 70 yard Hollywood passes give the ball away almost every time. Scotland were very keen, like an overactive puppy and took the lead twice, but lost after teenage striker Ricky Lambert, 31, scored with his first touch ( and nearly his last one suspects). Some 38 months on from the disaster that was Bloemfontein, nothing really has changed: the squad still contain over half the failures from that team,a nd the ones coming through just are not good enough. Such a stark contrast after what has been a glorious 12 months in British sport that this, the most popular of sports is on its uppers.

Faded Blue

It is day four of Bowie’s incarceration, and he has moved on from trying to burrow up or head butt the bars to acceptance: Jools lets him out most evenings, but the effect on our other cats is clear, as Scully made her way upstairs for the first time in weeks to sleep in the spare room, and Molly is happy enough come and sit with us when we sit on the patio, although she has yet to return to upstairs. It is clear that this is only a short-term fix, and how long it can carry on is a very good question……

And as is usual for this time of year, here are my thoughts on the forthcoming football season as tomorrow is the first weekend of the 22nd Premier League season.

It may have escaped some people’s notice that the Football League began some two weeks ago, it is just those poor Premier League players that have had this extra two weeks off, during which time they have had to take on part time jobs to support their families. Or not.

So, the new season, and with many of the so called ‘top teams, or ‘big four’ having new managers this year, the big question is really, do we care? We like to pretend, and as a Norwich fan seeing as we have spent some £23,000,000 or so on players this year, there is a lot of hope. But for the rest it is a question of which rich man’s plaything beats another rich man’s plaything ahead of two other rich men’s’ playthings. Oh, you get the idea…

Huge amounts of money have been spent on players who have, apparently already been failures in the Premier League, but Big Sam knows best, eh? Whilst other teams, Manchester United and Arsenal have spent nothing or next to nothing and with the season starting tomorrow, it seems doubts in the press are already gathering.

The two biggest will he/wont’ he move questions of the summer have involved Waynnetta Rooney and Gareth Bale. Oh and the saga of Louis Suarez rumbles on and on as he tries to engineer a move from Liverpool, the club that has supported him without fail during the racism, the biting, the diving and so on. And on. And on. The fact he seems to want to go to Arsenal is a surprise given that he thinks he needs a new start; in which case somewhere not in England would be best as those shots of him biting just don’t seem to want to be forgotten. By anyone. Can’t think why….

The money from the TV has increased some 70% this year, but this means that players wages will increase something like 20% per year so more and more will go to them, or their agents. Or their agent’s agents.

I am not having Sky Sports again this year; nor am I being tempted by the all new BT sports deal which offers free coverage if you just sign up with their broadband package. Not for me, I remember the dealings with their Indian call centre and trying to explain that the hub had not arrived in the post, imagine trying to explain that the IP address was invalid or something. No way.

So, it is the radio for me, just Radio 5 as Talk Sport just talks blocks if I’m honest, and then wait for the highlights on BBC. Gives more time for photography that way.

So, who will win the league? Who cares, just as long as Norwich finish higher than 18th anything bordering on entertainment will be a bonus.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Tuesday 13th August 2013

I guess I should begin with the one matter that has been taxing us these past few days, if not weeks. It is what we shall call the ‘Bowie situation.’ Bowie has settled down very well, and likes it in our house, loves being able to come and go as he pleases, sleep in all these different places. Wat he doesn’t seem to like is other cats. Mulder really does not care about much, he is such a cool cat, so despite the hisses and snarling, Mulder just gets on with what he wants to do. Bowie has accepted this. Scully is getting more used to the situation, but in truth this is mainly by avoidance, which means she only comes in for feeding, but will join us in the garden when we’re out there. Molly, however, is very different. Bowie just flies for Molly whenever they meet, on Sunday he chased Molly out of the garden, and now he patrols the garden when Molly comes back so to chase her off. As you can imagine, we are finding this hard, so last night I went to the pet shop to see what I could buy. In the end it is a cat prison.

Cat prison

In fact it is a dog cage, but with room for a basket, litter tray and food and water. So, last night Bowie was incinerated and very unhappy he was about it too. But, there really is little else we can do about it. So, he spent his first night behind bars, after trying all he could to dig his way out. He failed. We fed and watered him this morning, but put him back. We just hope someone comes forward to adopt him as soon as possible: all resue centres are full and other than dumping him somewhere, we are stuck with him.


Up at six for coffee and fresh croissants, and then out to the Folkestone Downs to look for Adonis Blues. We saw none, and in truth maybe it was a little early in the month to look for them. I shall try again one evening. But any exercise is never a waste, and so we walked round the paddock looking at all the wild flowers covered with bugs. We passed the time of day with various dog walkers before giving up the butterfly hunting, and going along to the edge of the downs to sit and look at the comings and goings at the Channel Tunnel.

Folkestone Downs

We headed home for more coffee, then pork pies for lunch. We spent some time outside in the hope that we would be joined by our resident cats, before at three I put the joint of beef in the over for dinner. It seemed to me growing up that Mum used to spend half of Sunday preparing Sunday lunch, peeling vegetables and all that stuff. I manage to do all that and cook it in under two hours, and to me tastes every bit as good, doubly so now I steam the vegetables rather than boil them to death. Boiling things to death is the proper British way to deal with nasty green vegetables. I knew someone who used to start cooking sprouts at breakfast time, just to make sure they were inedible.


I did try to watch the Charity Shield during the afternoon, but a lame friendly between Manchester United and Wigan was never going to be all that thrilling. So after ten or so minutes I switch it back off. And head into the kitchen for more cooking related malarkey. All ready at half five, washed down with a bottle of red Cava, and then time to lay on the floor listening to Desert Island Discs.

Wild at Heart

Monday afternoon it was a return to the quacks for me, and more drugs prescribed as the infections still has not gone. Having done that it was time to pick Jools up. Work was notable only for the fact that the server on which my mail is stored was down for maintenance and so I sat all day waiting for mails and none came. IT were of little help other than to say it was being worked on. This took them two hours to find out.

And at about half seven last night, England took the final Australian wicket to claim another series win against the old enemy. In truth, England have not played as well as expected, but did more than enough to win three out of four matches. Sadly, for me, it is all on Sky TV, so I have not seen a ball of the series, which is a shame as I like a good game of cricket. Oz collapsed once again after for a while looking like they could chase down the 299 needed to win, but the Chester-le-Street pitch kept its promise of unpredictable bounce to skittle the middle order out after tea. Hoorah.

After another summer of glory for British sports, it is now time for the football season to really kick off, and tomorrow night England renew hostilities with Scotland in a friendly, so deemed necessary due to the World Cup qualifiers coming up next month. And a nation collectively sighs ‘meh.’ All the cheating, womanising, biting, diving, sky high wages, sky high ticket prices for games means that I think footy is on borrowed time, but if the media are to be believed we are all waiting with baited breath…….

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Sunday 11th August 2013


In truth, my leg is little better since i began taking the drugs. Or should I say it is a little better, anyway. So, I have slept poorly all week, and so come Friday I left work at half one as I was shattered. I did some number crunching, replied to mails and I was spent.

I came home via the butchers, so got a joint of topside for Sunday, and a bag of pork scratchings, as why not? Does there have to be a reason? we have not had them for ages, and what can be wrong with pork fat deep fried until crispy, sounds all natural and healthy to me.

We had more pasta and aubergine for dinner, but were still a little hungry: I mentioned the pork scratchings and so we disptced those whilst listening to the News Quiz on Radio 4, as that's how we roll in this house.

We then sat down for our weekly fill of Monty in Gardners World, learning tips on how to get more insects into our garden. And then it was time to hit the wooden hill.


Tesco time. There never is a good time to go to Tesco, it's either busy or there are no till open; take your pick. We went at seven, got our stuff and were back indoors by eight to have breakfast of lovely bacon butties and more tea, before it was time to head out.

A Kentish odyssey Railtour, 10th August 2013 at shepherdswell, Kent

Head out to Dover, I dropped Jools off at the bus station and then drove to Priory to pick Will up as today was given over to train chasing. A railtour was heading down from London, around through Dover to Ashford, back to Dollands Moor and back to Ashford. If we were lucky we could see it four times, but as it was we had to settle for three.

A Kentish odyssey Railtour, Shepherdswell, Kent, 10th August 2013

After picking Will up, we went to collect Gary, and so our Jolly Boy's outing began at Shepherdswell where we should have got fine views up the line as it climbed out of Addisham. Much to my surprise we were not the only ones there, about a dozen others were there to see the doubled headed tour lead by two 73s pass through.

A Kentish odyssey Railtour, Shepherdswell, Kent, 10th August 2013

Right on time it crested the hill and coasted into the station as it caught a red light at the tunnel entrance. So we got a chance to wave at those in first class dining in the carriage that stopped nearest us. Eventually it got the road ahead clear, and so rumbled out. We rushed to the car to head to Westonhanger to see it pass two if not three ties. It did not matter if we missed the first pass as it would go by two more times.


In the end we did miss the fist time, and so joined the other photographers waiting. Not much really to report, other than we stood for about an hour waiting, the tour passed us twice, a track inspection train roared past, as did an engineer's train of empty track wagons, and finally the VSOE tour which was announced very late on friday roared by, and that was it: half twelve and time to head back home for lunch.


I dropped Gary back home, Will back at Priory and then home for cheese and biscuits washed down by a nice cod beer, then snooze on the sofa listening to the football League games on the radio. Jools woke me up to give me a huge bowl of fruit and cream, which was rather nice before my concentration was diverted by the football and cricket again. England 'retained' the Asheslast week, and so the 4th test began with England needing one more win to 'win' them. As it turns out, England did not play well and as I write this the Aussies are getting ready to resume on the 3rd day only 40 runs behind and with six wickets remaining.