Photography and the RNLI

I follow a couple of great photographers on youtube, and one such person is a guy called Sean Tucker. He recently made this inspiring, and incredibly moving short film about photographer Jack Lowe and his project to photograph every lifeboat station on the British coast, using the wet plate collodion technique. If you have a spare 20 minutes and are into either photography, film making or the RNLI, give it a watch.

Tales from Fraggle Towers ~ March 2022

Yep I’m a couple of days late with a ‘tales’ post for March, but c’est la vie. March has been a busy month for us with Phil doing a make-over of our dining room.

stripper
paperer

We had a new floor done too, I can’t remember why but I like it so not to worry.

job done

New music equipment was purchased at the beginning of the month, well not new, Phil rarely buys new as it’s mega bucks for what he wants, he waits until new stuff comes in and then buys stock that’s getting sold at a bargain price in order to make room for the next things. We went off to Stockton on the River Tees for his latest aquisitions, a phono cartridge pre-amp and a regulated power supply. He tries to explain to me what these things do but I just can’t. Anyways we got lost getting there or rather we didn’t but just couldn’t see it, as the building entrance faced the river and the car park didn’t. We spent some time ogling the amazing music systems they had in their upstairrs showroom

ogling
more ogling

and I took a couple of pictures out of the window,

River Tees

The cats have been their usual selves, Lord Vincent has been loving the sunshine we had last week

LV

and Winnie has been bonkers

Boxed Winnie

WInnie has learned how to get up on top of our conservatory roof, and the other morning I woke up at 7.30am to her meowing. Couldn’t see her in the room but when I opened my curtains

let me in!

there she was shouting to come in. Not best pleased as I wasn’t going to work that day so getting up at 7.30 hadn’t been the plan. Sigh.

Talking of sunshine, it’s been a mad month for the weather. Last week was like summer, and then this week we got snow and sleet in between some sunny bits. I’ve been out walking a few times with the Contax Aria, with Sophie away a lot more than she used to be there are now several weeks in between our outings, so walking out into the nature bits around where I live is a substitute. Not a great one, but better than nothing.

Phil’s sister Annette had her 70th Birthday last weekend and 13 of us went out to a local restaurant, The Lakeside (there’s no lake anywhere near it) where she had booked us in for a celebratory meal. When we arrived they had no record of the booking. That was a shock and Annette told them she’d spoken to a chap but didn’t know his name. The place was really busy too. Have to applaud the manager and her staff though, they apologised profusely and went straight into action, managed to find enough tables to cobble together for us to sit at and we were sorted and our orders taken within 15 minutes. Not a bad meal either which Annette’s husband Brian paid for which was lovely of him. Afterwards we went to their house for cups of tea and some birthday cake.

Birthday girl

Annette rang us the next day to tell us that she’s booked another local restaurant, The Green, for Brian’s birthday meal in a couple of weeks time. They asked her why we hadn’t shown up for the booking she made for the day before. 🤣🤣

My Happy Eater tree is in full bloom now, it’s strange to see the bees buzzing about on it in the middle of a snow shower.

The Happy Eater Tree

Unfortunately we seem to have aquired a herd of Magpies who are going through the bird food at a fast pace. I’ve counted 7 of them, ‘seven for a secret never to be told’, which I won’t because I don’t know what it is. Anyway I’m not keen on them but everything needs to eat so I keep topping it up. Sadly the cats are no deterent as Winnie barks at them from the windowsill and Vinnie sits under the tree but they know he’s there and wait until he goes indoors.

I drove over to the coast at South Shields the other day, managed to photograph the sea with a weather front coming in.

Incoming!

My boss was off sick with Covid last week, the guy who works for her the 2 days I don’t had picked it up and then, as he stays over at Brendas when he works for us (he lives in Scotland) she was the next in line. So far I haven’t had it, nor our office manager, we dodged a bullet there as they say.

Well that’s about it for March, I’m glad we’re into April now and looking forward to Spring springing and getting out more.

Tales from Fraggle Towers

Now that the abominable 365 has ended over on the Universe blog, it’s time to re~open The Other Place and pop in with some thoughts and pictures.

January has been a fairly busy month, Phil had 2 weeks annual leave and has done house jobs in between playing his bass and starting a new big tank, not sure where he is going to put it when it’s finished.

Big Stug Little Stug

At the beginning of the month we bought a new mattress for our bed, it’s very high-tech compared to ye ol’ spring and bounce jobbies. Memory foam sort of stuff. We paid a bit extra to have our old one taken away when the new one was delivered, but that all went tits up and we ended up clambering over our old mattress for a week, no small feat as it is 6’6″ x 6′. After a couple of back and forths with the delivery company and a reply of not much use from the mattress company, Phil’s final email is a masterclass in getting things sorted out…

Allow me to explain the facts again. The mattress I purchased from you was scheduled by Route 1 to be delivered between 10.00 and 1300 on Saturday 15th of January. I had also paid for the option of having my old mattress collected. The driver turned up at 0900 which we were unprepared for (we were still abed 🙄!)but nevertheless we were able to take receipt of the mattress. However, the driver explained that as the truck was full of deliveries there was no room for the old mattress. It would seem the transport manager at Route 1 was more focused on profit and efficiency than sticking to the pre arranged agreement. Being sympathetic to the driver’s predicament, I agreed to his suggestion that as he would be travelling through my area upon his return from Scotland’ he would call back for the mattress and gave me his word he would return. He didn’t, not even a phone call to explain why. I am now left with a super king size mattress that I have to clamber over to enter the bedroom. Further to your above email that Route1 would come on Thursday, I have since received a generic delivery of goods email from them claiming the next delivery date is Saturday 22nd which I have declined, I have no wish to have another weekend ruined by their incompetence, and in the meantime have received no apology or explanation despite responding to their feedback page. I will attempt to contact them again but would appreciate you explaining my situation to them  directly.Thank you P A Hyslop.

They came on the Thursday 🤣.


Phil also decided it as time for a new kitchen tap (faucet USA folks!) as our old one was looking shoddy, so he purchased a new fangled jobby that has a hose and spray integral to the unit.. Our plumber couldn’t come for a couple of weeks so Phil decided he could save himself a few quid and do it himself. With me as his trusty labourer. Winnie was surprised!

Plumber Phil

So far we’ve had no leaks so a job well done and £60 saved on a proper plumber! Reee~zult!


I’m continuing to de-wax the ears of the nation, and last week our boss has gone and got herself a new puppy. Regular readers will remember her Billy, her lovely deaf spaniel who died a couple of Christmas’s ago. This time she’s gone for something called a Pomegranite or similar crossed with some other breed, I can’t remember which one. His name is Teddy.

Teddy on our office manager Lynn’s desk

He is very cute and funny, but he also chews things a lot and barks at clients, and his toiletting is a bit hit and miss as well. The Boss is going to Grand Canaria on holiday next week so the girl who works in the printers opposite our unit is taking him for the week, but as the printer also brings a dog to work, will leave him with Lynn and I during the day. That’s going to be fun. 😳


We’ve watched some movies and there are a couple I’ll recommend for anyone who likes true story spy movies.

First up is Mr.Jones.

In 1933, Gareth Jones is an ambitious young journalist who has gained some renown for his interview with Hitler. Thanks to his connections to Lloyd George the former British prime minister, he is able to get official permission to travel to the Soviet Union. Jones intends to try to interview Stalin and to find out more about the Soviet Union’s economic expansion and its apparently-successful 5 year development plan. Jones is restricted to Moscow but jumps his train and travels unofficially to Ukraine to discover evidence of the Holodomor (the devastating famine in Ukraine in which millions died) including empty villages, starving people, cannibalism and the enforced collection of grain. On his return to Britain, he struggles to get his story taken seriously.

The director is Agniezka Holland, and it stars James Norton, Vanessa Kirby and Peter Sarsgaard who are all top notch, as is the ciematography. Most excellent movie.

Then we did The Courier

Directed by Dominic Cooke and starring the ubiquitous Mr.Cumberbatch, Merab Ninidze, Jessie Buckley and Rachel Brosnahan it recounts the activities of British businessman Greville Wynne in helping MI6 with the penetration of the Soviet nuclear programme during the Cold War. Wynne couriered information from his Soviet source, Oleg Penkovsky (codenamed Ironbark), which provided crucial intelligence about Soviet nuclear capabilities and the cuban missile crises. Again, superb acting and faultless cinematography, another Most Excellent.

Both of these are on Amazon Prime, Mr.Jones is free, you have to rent The Courier but it’s under a fiver and very well worth it.


Last weekend we had our pals Paul and Lorraine over for the first time since lockdown 1. We used to have each other over to dinner quite often before the plague so it was good to get together as if everything was normal. I cooked a chinese feast which went down well and everyone had too much to drink but we had a good time and will look forward to our next happeniing.

Paul and Lorraine

WInnie has been a constant source of amusement. Does anyone remember the Andrex Puppy?

Designed by Winnie.

I’s been quite cold of late and she has found a new way to warm up after she’s been out and prior to having a snooze.

Hot botty.

She hasn’t caught any birds of late (that we know about) however, I heard a cafuffle in the garden one day which sounded like an unhappy animal and when I went out to look, saw Winnie coming back across next doors fence and on our conservatory roof, and this..

She must have chased him but there’s no-way she can climb that high. At least I don’t think she can! He stayed there a good 1/2 hour and I kept her in until he turned round and scarpered.


Finally, we’ve had some cracking sunrises and sunsets this month, so I’ll say ta ta for now, and leave you with some spectaclier skies!

Not the 365 ~ Storm Arwen

Arwen was a beautiful elf lady who was in love with Aragorn in Lord of The Rings by J.R.R.TOLKEIN (for heavens sakes NOT G.R.R.Martin you complete numpty Fraggle!) On 27th November Arwen was a storm, with winds hitting 90-100mph up in Northumberland and not much less than that a bit further down here in Tyneside. Scotland and the North East were hit the worst, but most places had it pretty bad. Lots of homes still without electricity, 8 days later, and you can’t book a roofer for weeks at the minute. We did OK, lost a few branches from the jasmin plant, one of the hedgehog’s water dishes is M.I.A presumed dead, and we gained a grey plastic lid of indeterminate origin. The lady in the corner shop told me it was like the Wizard of Oz movie in her garden as first the roof and then the sides of her garden shed went flying through the air, followed by it’s contents. She did hand movements and everything, and she was laughing as she did so. People are resilient here.

I’ve seen a couple of trees uprooted on my way to work since the storm, one ripped up the pavement (sidewalk) and was leaning against the house it had been in front of, it’s naked branches holding on to the roof, but I couldn’t see any damage to the roof at least, the tree though. So nothing hugely bad, and nothing in the same league as Hurricane This, That or The Other in America.

Today Sophie and I went off to Chillingham Castle, and as it happens it was closed, but on the walk to the car park to the castle we were astonished at the carnage that Arwen has wreaked upon the ancient trees in the grounds. Blocked pathways where bits of woodland walk have collected debris, a tree completely blocking one of the entrances to the grounds. No-one died, the castle is fine, no-one lost their home, but it saddened me so that these trees that have been there for hundreds of years, will no longer reach for the sky.

Not the 365 ~ movies, cats, stuff.

Another catch up post, as it’s been a couple of weeks or so since the last one. First let me tell you about the movies we’ve watched of late.

On Netflix ~Black Hawk Down (2001) Ridley Scott has to be my favourite director and it’s easy to see why in this movie. Based on the real life event of the US Army raid on Mogadishu in 1993, it stars Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Eric Bana, Sam Shepard, Tom Hardy and Tom Sizemore. Delta Force, the 75th Rangers and the 160th SAOR (Night Stalkers) get into terrible trouble when one of their helicopters is brought down in the middle of Mogadishu. It’s ‘on the edge of your seat’ stuff and a part of history I knew nothing about.

Fraggle rating~ bloody brilliant. )Also Josh Hartnett, he’s so cool 😍).

Next up and also on Netflix is the fantastic Ed Harris in Kodachrome (2017) directed by Mark Raso and also starring Jason Sudeikis and Elizabeth Olson showing her acting chops when breaking away from the Marvel franchise. It’s a road trip sort of movie and deals with the failed Father/son relationship. Ed Harris is the irrascible Father dying of cancer, and he asks his son Ben (Sudeikis) to drive him to Dwayne’s Photo lab in Kansas as it’s the last shop able to develop rolls of Kodachrome, and Dad has 4 old rolls he has to get developed before the shop stops doing it. Olson plays his put-upon nurse. It’s all a bit predictable, I’d guessed what was on the rolls of film 5 minutes into the movie, though you don’t find out why they’re so important until the end, but Ed Harris, I’d watch him act the telephone book and he is SO good in this. Nice cameo performances from Bruce Greenwood and Wendy Crewson as Dad’s brother and wife who brought Ben up.

Fraggle rating: Excellent for Ed Harris fans, good enough for anyone else who wants a nice looking American road trip movie with smiles and pathos, good acting and a well cool car.

Phil dug out his old DVD of Stigmata (1999) directed by Rupert Wainright and starring Gabriel Byrne, Patricia Arquette and Jonathon Price. It’s a supernatural horror film about an atheist hairdresser (Arquette) who gets given a Rosary once owned by a dead Italian priest who was afflicted with stigmata. Somehow the Rosary has the same effect on Arquette and we get to see her beaten and bloodied by something invisible, all stigmata marks. She also has flashbacks of Jesus getting the same wounds she receives. Bryne plays a Catholic priest & scientist who investigates miracles and the like, and is sent to see her. At first sceptical he comes to see that it’s all happening for real and has to find out how to stop it before Arquette dies. It’s all to do with a lost gospel written by Jesus himself, that the Catholic church don’t want people to know about, as Jesus writes there’s no need for church buildings and preachy priests etc as God is within you and everywhere. Some nifty special effects in this without CGI so kudos to them for that. Byrne and Arquette have a good chemistry but the plot really is a bit daft. (Says she who loves Marvel movies 🙄 ) I should imagine it naffed off a lot of Catholics but it did really well at the box office, not so much with critics.

Fraggle Rating: Not so good for Catholics. Not so good for horror afficionado’s as it’s probably a bit tame by today’s gory standards. Good for horror-lightweights like me though.

Last and possibly least, Wild Horses (2015) written by, directed by and starring Robert Duvall. I found this when looking for Josh Hartnett movies and he is in it too, as is James Franco. I think this must have been a vanity project for Duvall. It’s a Western Crime movie and also stars his wife Luciana Duvall as a Texan Ranger investigating the 15 year old disappearance of a young man who was found by Duvall in bed with his youngest son (Franco). Hartnett plays his older brother, and Devon Abner as the eldest brother. Duvall’s character is the main suspect for offing the missing young lad, as he hates gay people. The gay issue is actually well addressed, and Franco makes his gay character just a normal guy, no camping it up.

Fraggle Rating: Apart from those wishing to ogle Mr.Hartnett, I can see no reason to recommend this one for anyone really, the script is hokey and the acting wooden in places, perhaps because he gave some parts to actual real people not actors. You need subtitles to understand Mr.Duvall’s mutterings, and the plot has more holes in it than a packet of Polo’s. There are a few scenes with the brothers and Duvall, collectively and individually where it’s really good to watch them play off each other, but they can’t save this from being a dud.

OK onto Books I have read.

I’ve just finished reading for the second time Child of The Morning by Pauline Gedge. Never mind your Cleopatra/Anthony/Caesar romp, this is about Hatshepsut, one of the first female Pharaoh’s and lived 3,500 years ago. Her life is equally fascinating as that of Cleopatra (who’s been done to death) if not more so, and deserves a great movie, but so far no-one has picked this up. Gedge’s writing is just beautiful, lyrical yet straightforward, and reading the book is like stepping back in time. The characters come to life in your head as you read it, and you can feel the breeze from the Nile. It’s impeccably researched and I highly recommended this for anyone who loves tales of ancient Egypt.

A short story from blogger Mae Clare called In Search of MacDoogal about a chap who sells his girlfrends favourite painting, and then has to retrieve it. This took me an hour to read, and I smiled or laughed all the way through it as he and his friend encounter much upheaval along the way. A fun read on a rainy afternoon.

Work and life go on much as normal. We’ve managed to visit Shelley and the kids last weekend and sat in the garden in a cold wind with a flask of coffee. It was nice to see them though, it had been quite a while.

Livvy egging it.

We still have Sophies cats, and still don’t know when Sophie will get back. They’ve been indoor cats up to now, but Winnie has been trying to escape, and has managed a couple of times. We’ve got her vaccinated now and so are allowing them out. We thought Vinnie wouldn’t be so bothered as he never seemed to be interested,but boy were we wrong! He loves it! He has a little patrol he does around the back garden, then down the side of the house to the front where he sniffs every plant and bush, then he comes in for a snack or a kip and then does it all again, all day long. Winnie is beside herself, climbing fences, on top of my shed, on top of next doors fence and shed, but she runs in every 30 minutes to make sure we are still here, and then goes out again. Everyone happy, and we can now have our doors and windows open when the weather gets warmer!

Prowler
Basking

Most of you who visit here also know my 365 is going on over at the Universe Blog and have seen the Blossom tree doing it’s thing and Lucy the visiting Hedgehog, so I’ll skip those but it has had me off on walks for photographs and Phil and I trotted over to the Nature reserve, and I went one day to the secret lake, so here are a few from our wanderings.

The Blackthorne blossom was in full bloom when I went over to the secret lake, lovely to walk through.

A procession of Blackthorn

Some of the route is lined with gorse bushes.

Gorse

Mr.Lonely at the secret lake, hope he finds a mate.

Mr.Lonely.

Phil has had to take time off work as he is having great problems with his eyes, possibly a flare up of his glaucoma, so we went out for a walk to the nature reserve to get him out for some excercise.

The male ducks were all chasing the lady ducks at the pond, and this lady was not in the mood. Well maybe she was but playing hard to get! 😊

the chase

Two swans live on the reserve and have swanlets every year, I think Mr. Lonely must be last years offspring. Lady Swan was hidden in her nest, could only just see her, but Lord Swan was patrolling the perimeter and keeping an eye on her.

On Patrol

When we got home my little 500 looked so cute next to the Happy Eater tree.

Minty and tree

and lastly, this little long tail tit is a daily visitor the the H.E.Tree

Mr.L-of-the-T

So that’s my catch up for now. I’ll be back at some point .

Stay frosty people! 😊

Not the 365 ~ movies,cats,Spring etc

Thought I’d do a little catch up as I’ve been busy with the 365 over on the Universe Blog and I just know y’all are missing my Movie Monday reviews. We are still watching movies, so I’m going to do quick dash through what I thought about them.

Dead Presidents 1995 and Phil’s choice as he had it on DVD and I hadn’t seen it. Starring Larenz Tate, Keith David, Chris Tucker, Freddy Rodrigues, N’Bushe Wright and Bokeem Woodbine. It’s based partly on the real-life experiences of Haywood T. Kirkland (aka Ari S. Merretazon), whose true story was detailed in the book  Bloods: An Oral History of the Vietnam War by Black Veterans by Wallace Terry, it chronicles the life of Anthony Curtis (Tate) and covers him from high school to the vietnam war and then home again to where he and his pals rob a bank. A well made film focussing on the experences of black veterans, well acted and paced, co-written, produced, and directed by Allan and Albert Hughes with skill and obvious passion. I imagine Spike Lee watched this and made notes for his Da 5 Bloods movie. I enjoyed this one much more. Fraggle Rating: underated and well worth seeing.

The Mule 2018. Clint Eastwood produces and directs from a script by Nick Schenk. Also based on the true story of a New York times article by Sam Dolnick “The Sinaloa Cartel’s 90-Year-Old Drug Mule” about a WW2 veteran called Leo Sharp who became a drug courier for the cartel in his 80’s. Well this was fun, Clint has still got it and commands the screen even though he’s in his dotage now. Not sure how but he looks good even with that many wrinkles. Anyway it’s his movie though he’s ably assisted by Bradly Cooper on his tail as Colin Bates a D.E.A agent, Michael Pêna as Bates sidekick Trevino, Dianne Wiest as Clint’s estranged wife and a fairly small part for Lawrence Fishburn as Bates’s supervisor. Fraggle rating: Top Notch, especially for Eastwood fans.

The Alamo 2004. I’m sure someone out there will say this isn’t as good as the original Alamo movie made in 1960 starring John Wayne as Davy Crockett (perleeze 🙄🥴 blerk, I do NOT like John Wayne one bit) but Phil wanted the 2004 version as he really liked it so that’s what we did. No need to explain the plot I think, but just in case. In the 1830’s Texas had a revolution, small groups of Texians (that’s what they were called back then) gathered at a little town on the Mexican border called San Antonio where the Alamo compound is, and the Mexican army under the President Santa Anna came and killed them all. Dennis Quade plays Sam Houston, Billy Bob Thornton ~ Davy Crockett, Jason Patrick ~Jim Bowie and Patrick Wilson as William B Travis. I enjoyed this, the characters are well drawn and acted, and John Lee Hancock directs with a steady hand, giving the main characters room to breath. It’s a good history lesson too as we are ‘doing’ American History documentaries at the minute and it all ties in. Fraggle Rating: Good +++

Aquaman 2018. A D.C superhero movie that I hadn’t got round to. Well I have now and it wasn’t totally great, however it does have good points. Firstly it is stunningly beautiful to look at. The CGI under sea world building is easily as good as Avatar which sprang to mind straight away. Jason Momoa who plays him is well, how to put it, built like a brick s**t house as my Mum used to say, has a twinkle in his eye and gave a committed performance, as did Amber Heard as Princess Mera of Atlantis who wants to stop her brother King Orm (Patrick Wilson again) from going to war with humans and needs Aquaman (named Arthur Curry of all things) to step up, return to Atlantis and save the world. William Dafoe is phoning in a performance as the Vizier of Atlantis, and Nicole Kidman looks entirely out of place as a renegade queen who escapes atlantis, washes up at a lighthouse where the keeper Thomas Curry (Temuera Morrison) rescues her, falls in love with her, impregnates her and then shortly after has to be a single parent after Atlantian soldiers come to take her back to marry whoever she ran away from. Also Dolph Lundgren is in the mix as an ally King to King Orm. There’s plot holes, a daft script and some dodgy dialogue, BUT this is one of D.C’s more light hearted movies after the darkness of Batman et al, and it was a blast from start to brilliant finish. Fraggle Rating: A mixed bag but well worth seeing.

That’s it for movies!

As most of you who follow this blog also follow the Universe blog, you already know I’m doing a 365 weekly post over there, but other life still goes on of course, and I take photo’s of that along the way. Last Sunday was Mother’s Day here, and Phil’s lovely daughter popped over with an afternoon tea for Phil and I to enjoy for the day. So nice of her to do this.

Afternoon tea. And dinner. And sandwiches for work the next day!

We still have Sophie’s cats! It’s been over 3 months now and Sophie isn’t back until at least the end of May/beginning of June so we have a ways to go yet. They are a pain in the arse and a total joy depending on what mood they are in, and I can’t resist taking pictures of them.

Sofa Day
Vinnie in default position
For two of these shots I had to get the stepladder out to retrieve her 🙄
looking for mischief.
ready for action

I’ve been enjoying having a few non rainy days and getting out to take photo’s for the 365, and also found other things along the way.

Swans on the muddy day!
Target Rocks, South Shields
Badass Crow

I found these fragments on the coast. I think it’s a letter of heartbreak, or castigation, I can’t make it all out, but it’s on a broken plate or something. Strange.

broken

The hedgehogs have woken up and are visiting every night now, but we’ve also had a little one that visits during the day, so managed to get a couple of shots.

Lucy

Hedgehogs are not usually out during the day, and this one is quite small, but she appears to be well, eating, drinking and running about well, so we are not too worried.

And finally, Spring is happening, at last, and soon the Happy Eater tree will do it’s glorious display, I can’t wait for warmer times!

Springading!

Corona Chronicles ~ 9

It’s been a few weeks since I did an update, so here’s number 9. I’m now in my 8th week back at work and it’s not letting up. I’m getting through 48 patients a week, and have got a routine down pat now. Masks are compulsory of course and I’ve got used to wearing one for most of the day, though when I have a plastic apron and my headlamp on I get uncomfortable and hot, but I’d rather that than be unprotected. So far no virus detected so although I’m certainly not blasé I’m also not too worried.

Phil is more worried as it’s so difficult in the full bifta, with face shields, masks, gowns and xray lead gowns to cope with, he is dreading a 2nd wave.

We have had an entertaining 4 weeks at home however. At the beginning of June Sophie got on a plane and went to Spain to visit her chap Mentat. They hadn’t seen each other for 3 months due to the lockdowns first there and then here. She was only going for 2 weeks and asked me to have her 2 cats whilst she was away and of course I said yes. Then the flight she was on got cancelled but they gave her an earlier one so that made it 3 weeks, and then her home flight was re-arranged for later and we’ve ended up with them for a month! Today when I get home Phil and I will return them.

They are a funny pair, Vinnie is HUGE and just wants to eat and sleep

Vinnie

and Winnie is small, doesn’t eat a huge amount and is mad as a box of frogs, chasing balls, up a height, here, there and everywhere!

Winnie on top of a door 🙄

They’ve been no trouble, well maybe there was an incident when Winnie climbed the curtains

😆

and a few times we couldn’t find her

🧐

they like sleeping a lot, especially in the sunshine

💤

and Winnie loves being in a box

or in a plastic bag

but her favourite spot is our Herky’s old place of preference

Vinnie really liked Phil

🙂

and he can do the cute thing too

and he made us laugh as he is too big for the cat toilet Sophie provided and has to stick his head out the door!

😂

It took Vinnie 2 days to come out from under our bed when he first arrived, but Winnie just got straight into everything. We’ve had to keep doors and windows shut as she is an escape artiste extraordinaire, which hasn’t been easy, so am looking forward to opening up the conservatory again when it’s warm. But we will miss them when they’ve gone home, it’s been so nice to have pets for a while.

But no, we won’t be getting our own, we still haven’t forgotten the trauma of Skye & Storm, and are not ready to be open to that again, and maybe one day we’ll be able to go on holiday again too!

Talking of which, it’s my birthday next month and it’s traditional to go away for that. We’re going to stay in Jedburgh for a couple of nights, a place not too far away but somewhere I’ve wanted to take my camera for a long time, so will look forward to that.

The garden wildlife is still ongoing, not as many hedgehogs as there were in spring when it was hot, but June and July have been pretty dismal regarding rain so the Hedgeies probably have enough natural food, the bugs and stuff. We have had an unexpected visitor though,

He was a bit of a surprise!

And that’s all my news!

D-Day

Today is 6th June and 76 years ago the D~Day landings happened, and it is seen as the beginning of the end of WW2. Back in May last year Phil and I went to France and as well as Mont Saint Michel and Conde, we visited some of the places, museums and cemeteries around the Normandy Beaches. Whilst I’ve been off work die to the Corona thing, I’ve been compiling a book of our travels there, and got it finished this week. I’ve uploaded the PDF version here. A couple of the pages are double spread pictures which get broken up for single page viewing, but the rest are OK. Feel free to have a scroll through!

Corona Chronicles ~7

Well my Corona Vacation is over after the weekend, and I have been called back to work next week. Not only that but I’ll be working full time for a couple of weeks as there is a list of 70 people waiting for me to do their earwax removal. Sigh. My boss has put/is putting new flooring in my little cinic- vinyl instead of the carpet that was there, and new furniture so things can be shut away. We will have PPE and a protocol in place whereby the client must come alone, do the handrub thing, wear a mask, and I will have a special mask and gloves and apron. I think it will be stressful to start with and then I’ll get used to it, just must make sure the patient is comfortable and feels safe (which I don’t, but they have to). I am dreading more hot weather, it’s already uncomfortable in my little room when it’s sunny, even without wearing all the extra gear. Roll on autumn!

It’s been nice here in my little cocoon of safety, haven’t done much really, lately haven’t even done much photography, just a few insta’s and iphone shots of Phil doing stuff. 🙂 He’s been on holiday for 2 weeks and also goes back next week. He’s been very productive whilst off, putting up a new shelf in my shed for me

new shelf

and painting our conservatory

it’s easy being green
doing the rose stencils

and also repairing the worn concretey stuff that seals the conservatory roof to the house

health and safety fail

and now we’re just going to enjoy our last weekend together before re-entering the new scary world.

I’ve been compiling a book of my travels through France last year, which we should have been doing again last week, and done a blog post for Sunday which took 3 afternoons to sort out.

Our hedgehog visitations are many and with a few different ones, the video channel gets updated once a week now, but I’m going to share this one here as it’s just too funny.

The news here in the UK is quite silly. Dominic Cummings the Prime Minister’s special advisor broke lockdown rules and lied his head off about it. Big uproar in the press and social media- off with his head kinda stuff, which, to be honest should have happened way before corona came along, but he’s superglued to Boris and it’ll hurt Boris too much to separate them. To try and shut the press up about Dominic’s transgressions, Boris has decided we can all meet up in groups of 6 in our gardens, still keeping 2 meters apart, but no-one is allowed in your house. I’m sure grandparents all over the land will make an outside toilet for the little ones to use.

The party people on our estate have been having BBQ’s all along anyway with all the great weather we’ve been having, so far they’ve stayed alive. Some but not all kids are supposed to go back to school next week, but our grandkids will not be, and a lot of others won’t be too. Parents not yet ready to believe in the govt advice and schools not sure how to cope. It’s a mess. Seoul in S.Korea sent their kids back a couple of weeks ago and are now in lockdown again because of the subsequent surge in cases. And I’m reading about 2nd waves in Japan & China, Germany etc etc. I think this is going to see-saw for ages, this thing isn’t giving up or going away anytime soon.

All we can do, is look after ourselves as best as we can as no bugger else will.

Stay well people, ♥️

The Corona Chronicles ~ 6

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last update, really nothing much changes here at Fraggle Towers. The rest of the country has changed though as now people can drive to where they want to go to do their exercise. Social distancing is supposed to be still ongoing, but that’s failing everywhere with public transport packed to the rafters as people who can’t work from home are now supposed to go back to work. My eye rolling is continuous when reading the newspaper, it’s all just bonkers. There will be a huge second wave I’m sure.

I am still mostly staying at home, and Phil is still working in theatres. He went in today and told me the traffic is back to normal, and he saw quite a few groups of people on his way home not doing the distancing. I’m thinking there’s a lot of people who either a) misunderstood what the advice was (easy when the government are such a shambles) or b) just don’t care anymore and are throwing caution to the wind. I keep my eye on the audiology group on facebook where there’s been tons of discussions/arguments about returning to work, the PPE we need for earwax removal and publishing of our governing bodies advice, which boils down to ‘go back to work and do your job but at 2 meters apart, unless you have to do face to face procedures when you have to have PPE’. Quite a few companies are opening up now and going back to doing wax removal, so I’ve done an online course in preparation which is all about PPE, donning, doffing, disposal of and the types you need for all situations. (Passed the assessment 100% 🙂 ) So far my boss hasn’t called me back in, so I will wait and see how she plans to handle it all before I jump.

Before lockdown I was forever on a diet, lots of salads and healthy eating, and a fair amount of walking, but that’s all gone out of the window, and I’m cooking comfort food. Annoyingly I haven’t put any weight on, which is a good thing really, but begs the question, what was all the depravation for??

chef’s corner

This year was supposed to be my year of film shooting, but that’s off now, yes I could do some rolls, but the lab I get them developed at isn’t up and running at the moment, so I haven’t the heart for it, but I’ve got a few instax films to get through as consolation.

I’ve also made a first attempt at making pastry and pasties, corn beef with veg, and chicken, bacon & mushroom, they turned out quite well and the one we had for dinner was so yummy! I am turning into a proper Geordie.

Pasty day

Also made a lamb byriani from scratch, (see chef’s corner above!) which was yummy too.

I will no doubt be appearing on Masterchef or British Bake Off if I keep this up. Not! 🙂

lamb byriani

We have had another wildlife addition to the garden. It started a few days ago with a commotion in our conservatory, and when we looked there was a magpie in there who had got confused tripping about in our blinds. He’s had some sort of altercation either with other birds or a cat, and didn’t have any tale feathers left, with a raw bum where they should have been.

I took a quick snap before placing a towel over him and then Phil lifted him out and put him in the garden. He seems to be OK and runs around really fast, which he has to do because he seems to be on the run from two flying magpies who swoop and attack him when they catch site of him. He is hiding in the Leilandi at the back of the garden, and they couldn’t find him yesterday, but today I saw them swoop into the hedge.

The Hunted One

I haven’t seen him yet today, so they either killed him off, or he’s keeping schtum. The pair of blackbirds who live in there and I think are breeding, are not too happy about it all, and Mr. Blackbird spends a lot of time patrolling under the hedge. We have nightly visits from hedgehogs, 3 different ones last night and I’m keeping the hedgehog Youtube channel up to date when anything exciting happens, mostly they just visit the feeding station, snuffle about and then disappear, but I did get some of the daft mating ritual which went on for 2 nights! There’s a lot going on in our little urban garden!

Hopefully, when the novelty of driving to places for exercise wears off for people, Sophie and I will have a meet up. Unfortunately she doesn’t drive, so it will have to be somewhere in Sunderland, I’ll be all right if I wear a crucifix and a garlic necklace. (Just kidding!! if any Mackems are reading 🙂 )

Well that”s the end of this update, so far so good, and Phil and I are doing OK. We are keeping well, and have our hobbies that keep us busy and out from under each others feet, and we get on really well when we spend time together, but I know that isn’t the same for everyone, so feel quite lucky in that!

Stay alert people! 🤣🤣🤣.

Stay tooned for Monday Movies next week.

The Corona Chronicles ~ 5

Here we are again, it’s kinda like that movie Groundhog Day, only more people are dying every day so perhaps not. Sorry, just watched last nights Panorama on the lack of PPE for frontline workers in the hospitals, and seen the exposure of the incompetence, and stupidity of the government, and the lies they have told. It is criminal. There is still not anywhere near enough protective kit for the length of time this virus is going to be with us. The programme made me so angry, and I cried over it. Probably not the best thing to have watched straight after Phil has gone to work his first night shift this week.

My hubby.

He worked some shifts last week, and it isn’t easy to do 13 hours in full astonaut kit sometimes for 3 or 4 hours at a time during an operation. In ICU the nurses do it in 2 hour swaps, so they get a break, but there’s not enough staff to do that in theatres as they’re either off sick or seconded to ICU 🙄.

I heard on the news we’ve become 2nd only to Italy in the European Death Race, go us.

OK sorry, sorry, Fek me I don’t mean to be a doom and gloom merchant, but it’s just so astronomically sad, and it didn’t have to be like this.

I needed to get that off me chest!

Onwards ever onwards, what is going on with the weather?? It’s been almost summer-like here for about 3 weeks. I guess really this is what Spring used to be like before clouds took over. I have been musing that perhaps because there is so much less shit being put into the atmosphere from planes and boats and trains and cars, that there’s nothing to make many clouds from any more. 🙂 It has been so cool to see video’s of animals ‘taking back the world’ too, this makes me smile. 😊

I have returned to playing with Potatoshop Photoshop to make twirly things out of normal photos.

I made this from the photo of the sunset I posted in my last Chronicle.

Wardley Sunset

and this from a collage of iphone selfies I took on our travels abroad, that I then made into a Wedding Anniversary card for Phil (8 years last Monday!) I’ll spare you the original 🤣

Groovy

I’ve also been esconced in my shed with bits of wire, water,dandelions, and little people.

seed
Seed Forest
Shelter in a storm
Wiggles
Domination
Hanging On
Bound

A fair amount of mess was made in the process. I need to perfect these somewhat, they’re not bad for first attempts but hopefully I will regale you with better ones next time.

Ther has been an affaire du coeur in our garden last week. We had two hedgehogs snuffling together in a mating ritual that was a) funny as fek, b) interminable and c) noisy. The chap Hedgehog (they’re called Hogs, and lady hedgehogs are called Sows, but they seem too cute for that), snuffles around the Lady Hedgehog, going around her in circles and snorting at her nether regions. It goes on for ages. We kept popping out from watching our movie to see if they were still going, and he was snuffling for about 3 hours all told. Dammit though they went off to the dark part of the garden where the cameras can’t pick them up, still I got videos of the 2 of them in the garden and it’s up on the Youtube Hedgey channel. (Link in the menu) If they did The Deed, (and I so hope they did!) the hoglettes will be out and about at the beginning of July. Fingers crossed they turn up on camera.

So that’s it folks, hope you are all well, keeping your chins up and staying frosty.

The Corona Chronicles ~ 4

Into week four of lockdown, and though it feels like it’s been forever, I still haven’t really ‘settled’ into it. No routine has popped up, the yoga went out the window when I pulled a muscle in my back 🙄 but at least the house is spotless and the washing done! They’ve just announced the lockdown is to continue until at least the beginning of May which is 2 or 3 weeks away, but I’ll be surprised if it’s lifted even then. The incompetancy of the government has never been so obvious/staggering/unbelievable – delete as applicable (I still can’t stop myself reading the news daily) the latest is our Health secretary launching a green enamel badge with CARE written on it, for carers in the community to buy themselves to make them feel appreciated. You couldn’t make this up. The care badge is the idea of a consortium of business people in the care business who run care homes, the chairman of it owns several of the homes. His instagram feed looks like something out of Hello magazine. They run Care England, a registered charity, apparently the leading representative body for independent care services in England. Charity my arse.

Phil was refitted for a FFP3 mask on Sunday so is now able to do his job and also to work in ICU if required. His shifts change constantly as people go sick so he’s been off all this week as he’s now covering the weekend instead of his normal shifts this week. As it’s been sunny for a few days (mostly) even if quite chilly, he’s got the garden up to scratch.

Battling the Leilandi.

He also had to go to ASDA to pick up his eye drops prescription and did a full shopping thing whilst he was there, Took me a good 1/2 hour to wash it all down in the garden and pass it through the window for Phil to put away! We must look like mad people to our neighbours, but after reading about people licking their hands and wiping them over products on the shelves in shops, I don’t really care. My hands have cracked open in a couple of places from all the handwashing so am going to have to use gloves more often indoors.

I’m still doing a bit of photography. I have to post a ‘fast shutter speed’ photo in the 52 frames group on Sunday so my ‘diving Homers’ last week were a good practice and I spent 4 hours yesterday dropping things in various receptacles. It’s not easy as I only have wrong size vases, I really need a fish tank, and no flash, but the sun was so bright I did it outside with a reflector instead. Out of nearly 500 shots I only got 6 useable ones, have narrowed it down to 2 but can’t decide which I like best and I can only post one, let me know if you have a preference!

Red Pepper Meteor
Tumbling Dice

Hedgehogs are still visiting the garden and I’m keeping their Youtube channel up to date, you can find the link on the home page of this blog, don’t think it shows up in the reader though. We’ve seen some in the flesh so to speak on the past couple of evenings and it’s cool to hear them crunching on their biscuits and see them running along on their little legs, they don’t half shift when they want to. Hope we get hoglettes this year!

I’m keeping in touch with Sophie, we are really missing our outings and I feel bad for her as her chap Mentat lives in Spain and is in lockdown there. Although they use Skype to talk it’s not the same, and with no end in sight of getting together in the near future it’s hard for them both.

My great friend Kathy who moved to Florida for good with her hubby on Saturday facetimed me today and that was just brilliant. When all this is over we are planning get togethers both here and over there. Something to look forward to.

Have just stood outside and heard the estate clapping, honking car horns, setting off fireworks, all to support the key workers, it’s quite amazing to hear it, we don’t of course, Phil is far too cool to clap and he just wants everyone to stop clapping and stop voting Tory, that would be thanks enough for him. Anyway that’s it for this week, it’s Phil’s Thursday night movie tonight, he hasn’t told me yet what it is, he does like to make it a surprise 🙂

Hope y’all are staying frosty,

and here’s a pretty to finish with

Wardley Sunset 15th April 2020