Thursday, 27 June 2019

Wandering Round My Patch

I've just finished reading a marvellous book called Bird Therapy by Joe Harkness, it talks about how nature and in particular his love of birds has helped him come back from severe depression and how he uses connectivity to nature to keep himself going. It's quite surprising how much of this you can translate to your habits and moods.

I probably suffer a bit myself at times but not to the extent that Joe does and yes, sunshine, trees, birds give you a bit of an uplift. One of the sections of the book talks about having a patch that you grow comfortable and familiar with and enjoy seeing the changes over the months and years and it made me realise that I have one of these patches near where I work and I do enjoy wandering round it in my breaks as and when I can. It's a place to go to to enjoy and you shouldn't force yourself to go there if you don't want to.

So today I've officially made it my patch and decided to go there with eyes and ears open, looking and listening to see what I can see or hear.

Here's the area, its not much but it's nice strolling past the lake and down into the little reserve, over the years I've seen a fair bit there but not really documented it and I've decided to do so and what better place than this blog thingy

So let's start with today, June 27, 2019.
Wandering past the lake you could see a couple of mute swans, 2 adult coots and 3 youngsters, 2 male mallards and 3 females. A chaffinch could be heard singing in a tree but I couldn't see it. Heading into the reserve I heard two wrens, there may have been more but there were definitely two from opposite sides of the path, it was fairly quiet until I started making my way back when a robin announced it's presence, again unseen followed by a blue tit. Finally as I made my way back a tree sparrow could be seen and heard on the other side of the road. Loads of insect life and a nice walk but a bit quiet on the bird front. Probably the wrong time of the day.

No bird pictures but here's some pictures I took on the walk, don't ask me what they are. All I know is that they are plants of some sort.

This is some tree bark in black and white

Last working day of the month (for me anyway) arrived, work had been busy so time to get out and de-stress. I decided to ignore the lake today and go the long route around the little reserve. As I got onto the main road I could hear a blackbird singing and I disturbed a magpie that quickly flew off. Entering the reserve I once again heard the sound of several wrens, based on the direction of the sounds it was either one very active one or about 4 stationery ones.  There's a small pond as you walk round and I could see several large blue dragonflies darting around. Further along the unmistakable sound of a chiffchaff sounded out from the treetops and two Great Tits alighted in a tree above me. I should have brought a bigger lens. As I neared the end of this section of path I heard a lot of activity in a tree, I slowed down and noticed a small bird moving around, then another two and then another two, I counted possibly seven in all. From the size and appearance I thought goldcrests, it was quite dark and shaded here so I couldn't really see but the size, shape and markings seemed to agree, I just wish I was better informed on the calls. Apart from plant life the journey back was quiet but still nice and relaxing, I arrived back at work refreshed.

Checking the calls from the RSPB website when I got home I realised they sounded more like firecrests than goldcrests, I'll take a better lens and get more prepared for next week.

Here's some more plantlife pictures.

Tuesday, 7 May 2019


April 2019 was when I hit 60, I went to bed one night in my 50s and woke up the next morning in my 60s, nothing actually happened. Most of my body continued to work, the one really exciting thing was I could now apply for my bus pass. I've got one but not used it yet, but I will.

Then strange things started happening, I received a letter from the local health authority telling me they were going to send me something free, a home bowel cancer screening kit was on my way to me. It means I can officially stick some poo in an envelope and post it off to someone without worrying about prosecution, I wonder what would happen if I sent off some cat poo.

The next thing was my gas and electric supplier, they offered to send me bills in a larger font and in braille if I wanted, I could also agree a password with them so if someone called and I was worried they would give me a safe word and they also offered assistance in reading my meter in case I have difficulty (we have a smart meter). And finally if I needed a home visit I could leave an instruction asking them to knock louder and wait a bit longer before putting a no reply card through the letterbox to save me struggling to get to the door in case my Zimmer frame got caught on something.

I feel like I'm on my way out, overnight I've gone from 60 to let's let him drift off peacefully, it's what he would have wanted.

Respectfully, I have to say arse to all that, we have loads of holidays and trips planned and we intend to keep doing these while we can and then still having a go afterwards.

As far as I'm concerned I'm 59 with inflation, mostly around my middle. If you're reading this and you get to my ripe old age keep on living, doing what you want to do, when you want to do it and with who you want to do it with.

Now then, where's my wine gone?

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Meandering in March

March seems to have come and gone with very little chance to get the camera out, this is the first time this month I've managed to get out and snap a few pictures during my lunch break. Either the weather has been rubbish or something has happened that's stopped me going out.

Lot's of tweeting and chirping going down the little reserve but they all seem to want to hide, I even saw something small sneaking into the bushes, couldn't make out what it was.

Mute Swan

Male Blackbird


Female Mallard

I've also decided to try and do things the easy way, normally pictures are taken in RAW and then converted to JPG with an application called Darktable. This time I just set the camera to JPG and let it do all the hard work, the last picture was taken at ISO 4000 and the first two at ISO 5000, can't complain at the quality.

Not much of March left, I'll try and do some more.

All pictures from the album are here.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Social Media Overload

There's so many social media platforms out there, Farcebook, Instagram, Twitter, Diaspora, Mastodon, Hubzilla, Google+ MeWe and many others, being connected to them all is a nightmare. Especially when it comes to posting stuff as you have to duplicate the publishing of articles to each and everyone if you want to contact people.

Then there's the security issue, I had the Facebook and Messenger apps installed on previous phones for some time, downloading the data that Facebook has on me shows some scary stuff. List of every phone call I made on all the phones I had Messenger installed on, including the times and phone numbers and a lot of these calls were to people that weren't on Facebook.

I'd also uploaded a picture from a folder to Facebook but all the pictures from that folder were present in my Facebook data, not just the one picture I uploaded.

I didn't install Facebook on my new phone, I used Instagram on my phone and Facebook on my desktop. Yet they still managed to work out I was the same person even with different logins. I also used WhatsApp, another Facebook company, I'd limited access to the phone other than microphone  and went to change my status during a weeks holiday. WhatsApp refused to change status unless I allowed it access to everything including, location, contacts, camera, files on the phone and so it had to go.

Onto Instagram now, I logged into Instagram with a different login than Facebook, but noticed things that I searched on my desktop which doesn't have Instagram were appearing as adverts in my Instagram feed which doesn't have the Facebook app installed. And adverts were appearing more often in the Instagram feed than actual posts, a lot of ads for things that I had no interest in and in some cases were actually very offensive, reporting these ads made no difference.

And then came the last straw with these apps, as of late I've been feeling a bit under the weather, speaking to a friend in work who's had some health problems relating to the absorption of vitamin B12. Taking my wife into work one morning, I mentioned this to her and she mentioned about it causing issues with depression, later that day during a look at Facebook on her phone she found adverts relating to the same issues, more proof that  Facebook is listening all the time.

I've deactivated my Instagram and Facebook accounts at the moment, it's almost and addiction looking at them every few minutes and I'm going to try and not use them again. Instagram will almost definitely be going, Facebook may remain on my computer but using a separate browser, there's too many friends and family on Facebook and it seems that it's the only way to keep in touch with them all.

As for alternatives, I've tried Mastodon, it's a sort of decentralised Twitter, you can even run up your own server and post stuff locally which can be seen on other servers or pods. I have to say it could be OK but it's very quiet and unless some people such as RSPB, WWT, BBC and so on start using it, then it will be for a niche market.

I've started up a Hubzilla instance and have yet to find any use for it, it seems incapable of connecting to anything outside of itself unless forced but I'll keep trying it.

There's Disapora, another sort of cross between Facebook and Twitter but not a lot happening on it. 

Finally there's MeWe, this is promising, it's a sort of Facebook without the data worries or ads, it is limited and because it's ad free you don't get unlimited space and certain things such as messaging will cost you.

Telegram has replaced WhatsApp as a secure messaging service, I used to use Google Hangouts but that seems to be showing it's age and will probably soon go.

And finally, we are approaching the end of my favourite social network, Google +. I really like this platform, ads are not intrusive, there's not too much fake news but April will see it being shut down, I do hope they replace it with something. is an Instagram replacement, no mobile app but you can create a shortcut on your phone to use it but again, there's not a lot going on with it.

The problem is really that we love free stuff, but the big boys such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram all use our data to pass onto advertisers who target us with ads, on Facebook no matter how much you tighten things up you can't avoid your data being shared, I blocked some groups but if you're tagged into a post in that group they get access to some of your information. If we want a truly ad free, data risk free social media platform we will have to end up paying some sort of subscription charge.

So for now, I'll be using the following:

Telegram for instant messaging, there's even a desktop client for this which works very well.

I'm on Twitter if you have an account, I'm also on MeWe at the moment, Hubzilla on my own server at the moment, not open for registration just yet. And of course there's the old bloggy stuff such as this one, family ramblings and travels are here, humorous stuff is here and finally, things to with music are here and also on Last.FM.

Please feel free to follow me on the above if you want to read about the rants and ramblings who is approaching Victor Meldrew status with a great speed. 

Dumping some of the Social Media stuff means that I seem to have more time to do constructive stuff as opposed to liking posts and deleting adverts.

Keep the faith and live long and prosper.

Monday, 25 February 2019

Worktime Wandering February 2019

Not had much time this year to do my little walk round the nature reserve near where I work, this is from February so I'm a bit late posting the stuff.

There's quite a bit of wildlife round here and considering it's right on the edge on an industrial area it's great to see how much nature has taken control of.

A Mallard on a bridge, his name was Arthur

Great Tit

Blue Tit

Great Tit

Blue Tit

The rest of the month I saw very little apart from dunnocks, robins, pigeons and butterflies started appearing more and more as well as bees, plenty to hear including nuthatches, tree creepers, long tailed tits and many more that I couldn't identify. Loads of colour from the plants that grow there in abundance, a great place to go to unwind, let's see what August brings.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

The End Of The Chevy

Heading off for a nice relaxing week in Sidmouth in early February, I had to get some tyres to start with and then we loaded up and went on our way, that's when we noticed an "interesting" noise from the car. The noise went away when the clutch was depressed or the car was put into neutral which ruled out the tyres but started to quieten down a bit.

The journey down was pretty uneventful but joining the A roads after leaving the motorway made us realise that it had gotten worse.

A trip to a local trusted garage pointed the issue to be a bearing in the gearbox, there was a sharp intake of breath before the diagnosis was given. A second hand gearbox after a quick search came in at £360 and it seemed sensible to replace the clutch at the same time which looked around about £80, then there was trying to nurse the car home and labour charges and taking this into account we were looking at the best part of about £1,000 on a car that at best is worth about £600.

So we visited a local dealer down here that came highly recommended and did a bit of looking. The result was the purchase of a 64 plate Nissan Note which comes with all sorts of goodies including cruise control, time will tell how good it is.

Hopefully picking the car up in the next few days and importing it from Devon to South Wales

So the Chevy has finally gone to the levy as the gearbox was dry.

Sunday, 13 January 2019


Thanks to social media, I've found out that humanity is still evolving, not necessarily in a good way though, I refer to a new species of human called Home Gulibbleus. This information comes from some people on Twitter who have suggested that these routines won't make you live longer, it will just feel like you have.

Here are some examples of the routines these people follow:

5.55 - 6.45 I wake up and immediately re-hydrate. Your body is the most absorbent after you sleep, I have a glass of Rebel Kitchen Raw coconut water.

Another one states, 7.45 am. I wake up having had, on average seven hours and forty one minutes sleep. I have analysed my sleep over the last four years and this is the perfect amount for me.

Now, I like a spreadsheet as much as anyone else does, but this is taking the piddle, it continues.

8.00 Take a shower using natural product as the chemicals found in shampoo and shower gels can be toxic. Weigh myself and use a litmus strip to measure my urine pH levels.

Now this takes a stranger turn and we realise that we are dealing with someone very special indeed.

8.20 I turn on my HumanCharger, a device that looks like an iPod with an earpiece that shines light into my ear to give me energy.

5.00am to 6.00 am I wake up then journal, I reflect on a dream or decide what three things I want to accomplish that day . Then I go outdoors

I often go to Hyde Park, take off my shoes,  stare at the sun and do yoga for 20 minutes, being barefoot grounds me and I receive electrons from the earth.

Generally if I go barefoot in a park I either stand on a dog turd or slug or get bitten on my toe by an ant.

They go on. I sun-stare because the UV rays aren't harmful to my retina for the first hour after sunrise and it resets my circadian rhythm and helps me fall asleep later in the day.

There's more screenshots from the articles below

And can you imagine working with this idiot

What scares the crap out of me is that these people are allowed to breed, I feel that the human race won't around for much longer. 

Just to carry out some tests on the validity of these processes, I spent most of the day with a couple of bicycle lamps pointing inwards mounted on my head in a framework made of Mecanno.

I went out in a field barefoot,  I found that doing stretching exercises while barefoot in a thunderstorm gives you a shitload of electrons and a melted wristwatch. There I was standing in a field with lights shining from the side of my head and sparks flying from my watch looking like a bald overweight and singed Conner McCleod getting a quickening. The Mecanno and bicycle lamps welded themselves to my glasses, the bulbs in the bicylcle lamps exploded, I now have one less earlobe than when I started, it took me about an hour and a half with a hacksaw to get the melted mess off my head and I now having interesting scar tissue from where the pieces of metal melted into my skull.

A few days later I went back to the park and spent half an hour staring at the sun trying to reset my circadian rhythm. I then found that I couldn't see a bloody thing expect huge spots in front of my eyes, I couldn't find my shoes and socks and I think I stood on a dead squirrel on the way back home.

After a while my eyesight started coming back and I thought I'd go out and find some activated charcoal. I couldn't find any, but there was a bag of anthracite for sale in the local garage, i chewed on one of these and I now have to visit the dentist to get a new set of dentures.

Many thanks to Eileen O'Duffy and  @sbl1976  on the Twitter thing for bringing this to my attention, be very afraid, these people are around you.