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!


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.


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


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


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

Stay frosty people! 😊

Jan 25th ~ Tales from Fraggle Towers

Today was the beginning of the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) garden watch, where anyone and his dog is invited to sit in their garden, a park or outside space, and spend an hour exactly counting and registering the birds they see. You can join in or read about it HERE. Herds of people take part every year and it helps the RSPB monitor bird populations across the country. I of course sit and take part, camera to hand. I was a little excited as for the past three days a Greater Spotted Woodpecker has been visiting the Happy Eater tree, which was such a surprise as we’re quite suburban here, and I hoped he’d turn up again today.

I saw sparrows, blue tits, great tits, long tailed tits, blackbirds, collared doves, a woodpigeon, a robin and the beautiful woodpecker. Unfortunately the woodpecker has made a quick getaway everytime I lift the camera, but I did manage one shot of the back of him.

Bird watch day
Greater Spotted Woodpecker

Did anyone else get given a mountain of chocolates for Christmas? We were given loads from family (they know Phil is a chocoholic) a huge box of Lindts, and a tub of Hero’s, a client gave us all a little box of posh chocs each (still in the fridge) also my boss at work gets migraines if she eats chocolates so she gives all that she gets to Phil. This year his favourites were given to my boss by a hearing aid company, and they are still undergoing consumption.

The Wreath Box
more yummy’s

This winter has been quite mild so far, though the nights are cold we are not dropping much below 6 °C (42.8°F) but even so I think the Happy Eater tree is a bit keen, or is confused.

Too soon little flower.

Film Friday will resume soon, I’ve sent rolls off to be developed. I gave up on the instants as I’m also doing the 1 second a day video thingy again this year and it’s too much overlap to do both.

I’ve started another mosaic project, this time a jewelry or nik-nak box, which went quite well, until the grouting when it all went pear shaped. That does seem to be a thing with me, but it’s sortable, fingers crossed.


It’ll look nice in the next picture! 😀

Day 325~ it’s the big things…

It’s been a while since I focused my big lens on the Happy Eater tree, but now all the leaves are gone it’s easier to get some clearer shots of my little visitors. The branches still get in the way a bit, but I’m loathe to chop any off, can’t hurt a tree FFS, not even for photography 🙂

SO I spent an hour this morning watching the comings and goings of the usual suspects, blue tits, great tits and sparrows, hoping something different might turn up. There was a fleeting visit from a coal tit, but I didn’t get a decent shot of him sadly. So this was going to be my shot of the day

Great Tit

but just as I was about to get up and make a cuppa a big splodge landed in the tree, I wasn’t sure what it was at first as I was looking through the viewfinder when it landed, but I shot off a few rounds and then stopped and had a look. I couldn’t believe it as I am pretty sure this is the local sparrow hawk. You might remember (probably not 🤣) I got this shot of it back on day 218

day 218

so I am cockahoopy about it landing so close in my tree and getting a few shots of it. It didn’t catch any of my little birds, they skedadled toot sweet, but it didn’t look bothered, sitting there being all magnificent. Wish it had been facing me instead of the other way, but you can’t have it all I guess!

Day 325 ~ Killer on the loose

Day 295

As I arrived at work this morning and parked the car, I saw a herd of wild geese flying from the north. I grabbed my camera from my bag and all but fell out of the car in a rush to try and get them as they were going at a fair lick. I flung the camera to my eye, pressed the shutter and hoped for the best with not having time to check my settings or any of the normal niceties when contemplating a photograph. A moment later they were out of sight.

Day 295

Click on it to see the bigger version, they are amazing to see in such a big group. I’m not sure where they were going, but they were heading south, and I couldn’t tell what kind of geese they were as they were too high up. Apparently we get geese coming over here to winter and some bred here go to North Africa, so they could be coming or going. Either way it was a spectacle I’m glad I didn’t miss.

Interesting Factoid

Birds flying in a V formation are taking advantage of aerodynamics. The lead bird works the hardest by breaking into undisturbed air. The next two birds fly into the “sweet spot” where wingtip vortices form, reducing drag and producing uplift. The birds use the uplift and expend about 20–30% less energy flying. The advantage of flying in this spot results in the bird’s heartbeat being reduced and it doesn’t have to flap its wings as much. As the lead bird tires, it drops back in the formation and the next bird takes its place. Drafting off one another requires close formation, about 3 feet apart.

Day 218 Birdy Central

Regular readers will know about the Happy Eater tree in my front garden, from where I photograph birds that visit the feeders I have there. This year I’ve also hung some feeders around the Shed. Not much happened though, the odd sparrow and bluetit now and then. However in the last month it seems to have turned into Birdy Central, with lots of sparrows, bluetits and a few blackbirds visiting frequently and en masse. I’ve run out of bird food til I go shopping tomorrow, but the Shed feeders are still half full, so this morning the whole lot descended on them. As well as the sparrows and blackbirds, we now have 3 thrushes that turned up at the front this week, and out of no-where 2 greenfinches came to visit while I was having my breakfast. Not seen them before so very exciting! Shot upstairs to get my camera and managed a couple of shots. Yay!

Spuggy and Greenfinch sharing the feeder.
Greenfinch in the bushes.

More exciting even than that, this evening I spotted a bird on one of the houses opposite, at first I thought it was a pigeon, but then it swooped down to my garden for an instant and it was obviously a hawk of some description, probably a sparrow hawk. Phil spotted it had then landed a few houses along and sat on the rooftop there. My poor old telephoto lens was at full extension trying to get a shot as this was quite a way away, and of course the dark rooftop against the bright(ish) sky made it into a half silhouette as well as being a small bird on the photo. All the fannying on in the world couldn’t get a decent result of the birds feathers, so I cropped the image and went full sihouette.

Day 218 ~ Sentinel

I wonder if he’s keeping an eye on Birdy Central 😳

Day 156

Of late, my Happy Eater tree has been taken over by a herd of starlings. They are voracious and the bird food disappeared rapidly each day. After a week they then brought their (huge!) chicks and any food I put out was gone by mid-morning! I know they are apparently declining in numbers, so I kept it up for about a week, but then could no longer stand their discordant squawking, their massive shits everywhere, and their bullying of the rest of my visitors. So I stopped the food and just left a few fat balls out in the hopes the little ones would get some. After a few days, no more starlings appeared, so I risked refilling the feeders this evening and so far no starlings. The robin is back, the blue & great tits are back, a thrush, a couple of blackbirds and the spuggies and their babies. Happy days again on the Happy Eater tree!

Day 156 ~ where’s me grub Mum?

He looked so cute sitting in the feeder cap!

Dinner is served!

Monday 2nd July 2018

Already we are into July, and so far it’s turning out to be a scorcher, well at least 2 days of it have been and we’re due a whole week of it.  I’ve not been blogging much as have been out and about with my camera and Sophie or Phil most weekends, and this week Phil and I are off to the Isle of Wight for a family wedding.  I’ll have lots to blog when winter comes back in a couple of weeks. As well as the outings, the kitchen renovation is STILL ongoing, 4 months since it started. You have to laugh as it’s not a very big kitchen by any stretch.  Delays and missing screws, people not turning up, it’s been one thing after another and we are of a mind that this kitchen is cursed.  These are the times you have to tell yourself there’s a lot of people living without food, let alone a kitchen, to calm yourself down, but it’s easy to get frustrated when things don’t happen when they should. nevermind, enough moaning Minnie here. I thought I’d post up the random shots I’ve taken throughout July for y’all to gawp at.

a good bit of grass

Ben and his mate Dan visited last weekend, and cleared all the old cement and moss from the patio, and repointed it.


We had a lovely sunset that evening, and I took a picture of it , and one of Dan’s car as it was shiny 🙂



And Shelley brought the kids over for a visit so I took a couple of Liddy

Colouring in

I saw these two on the ariel across the road and it made me laugh because out of no-where I remembered this verse

“One bright morning in the middle of the night
two dead boys got up to fight
Back to back they faced each other
Drew their swords and shot each other”.

I must google it at somepoint as I don’t know where that came from!


Back to Back

It’s Monday and everyone is posting a song for Monday for some reason I have no idea about. But I’ve been thinking about Linda Ronstadt a lot since Pete’s post with Crystal Gale.  Sadly Ms.Ronstadt has fallen a victim of Parkinsons in her later years and can no longer sing, but Gawd was she awesome for many years. She could sing Jazz, the Blues, Rock, Power Ballads and Country and probably the telephone directory and make it sound gorgeous, have a treat and listen to this. (First few seconds are quiet while they start).


Wednesday Wings

The snow has all gone from here now, but whilst it was here I put extra birdseed out and in return got a visit from a new bird. At first I thought him a spuggy, but re considered and checked the RSPB bird finder, where I discovered he is a Reed Bunting.  I only got 2 half decent shots as he was dicking about all over the place, so here they are,


Bunty in the snow

Where I work is a converted old farmhouse, and beyond the carpark is just open grassland. When I  go out to the car I often see a kestrel perched on a nearby tree, the roof of the farm building or one of the lampposts. I saw her Monday and Tuesday this week so took my long lens and fuji to work today and she Kindly obliged me by landing on the nearby lamppost just as I went out to the car. She is beautiful.



I suppose she could be a ‘he’ really but I’m going with a ‘she’.  The local crows chase her around dive bombing her sometimes, and apparently this is a thing, it’s called mobbing, and they do it to birds they consider a threat. In fact the only predator dangerous to crows are goshawks and they’re rare as rocking horse poo, so I think they’re just mob-addicts.  Apparently terns and gulls are good at mobbing too, but crows are top of the mobbers. She flies off when they start on her but always comes back.  Unfortunately the fields over which she flies are soon to become a housing estate, and I suspect she will move away, but I hope not, I’d miss her.




Friday Feathers

It’s been a quiet day at Fraggle Manor, waiting to go and fetch Phil home from the hospital.  The Doc wanted to keep him in another night as his infection is still rampant and give him more IV antibiotics, but he couldn’t cope with it. He had very little sleep, not surprising when someones taking your blood pressure every hour! so came home with tablets to take instead, and with a promise he’d go back in if he got worse, and we go back on Sunday for more blood tests.  That took all day to sort out, a 4 hour wait for the tablets to be delivered to the ward and ended up with him having to go to the pharmacy as they were just about to close and they still hadn’t arrived! So I’ve been doing a bit of housework and washing, and dripping about waiting and taking pictures of the Happy Eater clients, and mundane things.

Great Tit

Blue Tit


Do you know these life forms?

Medicine for the soul


waiting for Phil