Monday 28 January 2013

Stormy Weather

The weather was wild at Hamworthy Park today. We battled the wind to walk down to the shore line. There it still tried to push us inland. The tide was high and in danger of overwhelming the promenade which was splashed with angry spray as the roaring waves hit the beach wall.

Jade was alternately excited and fearful. We braved the muddy grass and went behind the beach huts for shelter, but in the gaps between them it took our breath away. Jade wasn’t buffeted as much since she is so low to the ground. Overall I think she enjoyed the wild weather.

And what we saw was inside Poole harbour, where it usually looks like this.

 I almost wish we had braved an extra 20 minute drive to see the open sea from the top of Canford Cliffs.

Saturday 26 January 2013

Urban Wildlife

The other morning Jade and I stepped outside into the cold and headed towards the park. Well, I did, and Jade was lagging behind. When she started barking excitedly I turned around to quiet her and saw she was looking up at the roof opposite. There right at the very top stood a regal heron taking no notice of the little upstart on the ground. He stood there for a few moments, then spread his enormous wings and flew off towards the back of the houses across the road. Must have gone down as I didn’t see him again. I wonder if anyone lost fish from a pond in a back garden. The heron looked much like the one in this photo by Ardea cinerea found at Wikimedia Commons.

The next day, fortunately, it was me whose eye was caught. We left home at the same time as the young mum over the road left to walk her children to school and were walking parallel on either side of the road. As we approached the park I saw what I thought was a light brown dog running up the other side of it. It stopped and waited as the young family entered the park to go up the footpath and steps to the road above us. We crossed over and were stopped by more schoolchildren coming out of the house next to the park who wanted to pet Jade. When I started into the park, Jade was still distracted, but I clearly saw the fox walk up to the end of the garden wall, where it stopped and looked straight at me, before turning into the undergrowth on the bank at the side of the boundary wall. It was a magnificent specimen, much larger than Jade, looking well fed, with a thick coat and just a touch of white at the throat, rather less white than the one in this beautiful photo by Malene Thyssen, also from Wikimedia Commons.

I kept Jade on her lead until we were well past that bank. I’d been told there was probably a fox den in the bank and I guess that proves it.

Tuesday 22 January 2013

Overcoming Writer's Block

When I feel like I have writer’s block, which really means I feel too lazy to get my head around what I’m supposed to be writing about, I sometimes use my blog to get myself going. Like today. I’d much rather draft something I can put in here than think about how to write about mortgage mis-selling, which is my current brief. If I were sticking to my weekly schedule, I would have posted here yesterday, but all I got around top was rewriting 120 words that needed changing in a newsletter written before Christmas. So the lazy trend is continuing, and I need to write myself out of it. Here goes.

Lots of things got in the way yesterday. My son has been unemployed for nearly two months now. I got him out of bed at 10 am to take a call from an agency about yet another temporary job. He got all excited and rushed around getting ready while I sorted out a flask of coffee and a packed lunch. Off he went to the bus stop and was just about to board the bus when the agency called again to cancel the job. (They called again this morning to say it was back on and this time hubby drove him to the work site and he’s still there. Fingers crossed it will last a few weeks.)

This delayed me starting work, which was just as well as when I checked my emails there was one changing my brief on what I was intending to do, and also asking for the changes to the newsletter. But it was close to time to stop for lunch with hubby, after which we always go out with Jade and do all the errands. Yesterday that meant a trip to Asda to stock up for a few days.

Most of the snow is gone today and yesterday what was left in the park at the beach was lying on the grass. It wasn’t really snow any more as it had turned to ice. Visibility wasn’t good; there was a mist over the water. But looking across the harbour to the Purbeck Hills, we could just see that they were all still covered with the white stuff.

We walked the tarmac paths and I went on the beach with Jade and threw stones for her. She hares after them and then digs a hole to bury them in the sand. At least she gets a bit of exercise that way while we stroll around. Other dog owners bring balls, often with long contraptions to pick them up without having to bend down. We’ve tried taking balls out but Jade just runs after them and then leaves them where they stop, so I have to collect them. She hasn’t learnt to fetch so I think I need to learn how to teach her that.

Looking back through this text I see that I have used the word yesterday six times. That puts me in mind of a Beatles song that I love.

Now after that miscellany, I have about 50 minutes before I stop for lunch etc. Watch out, rogue financial advisers who’ve been mis-selling mortgages. I’m on your case.

Friday 18 January 2013

My Life by Jade: Snow

When we went out this morning everything was different. There was all this white stuff on the ground and there were big blobs of it coming down from the sky like rain. Mummy said it is called snow. And she said that we don't get it very often so that's why I don't remember seeing it before.

I tried not to step on it when we came out because there was a patch of ground by the front door that it had missed. But I couldn't stay there for ever so I put one foot out onto the snow and it  sank down and left a hole behind when I lifted it again. Mummy was getting impatient so I decided I'd just have to follow her, but I was soon in front because she was walking very slowly and carefully. At the end of the road we had to get across to the other side and we hopped between the car tyre tracks.

Then we were in the park and Mummy let me run free for a while, but as soon as I had pooped and she had dealt with that, she said we had to go home again. I found out that it was fun to gallop around in that snow and I wasn't too happy about that.

But before we left the park we heard children shouting and laughing. They were at the top of the steps that take you up the hill and they crawled under the railings to the hill. I heard a thundering noise and some screaming. Suddenly one came swooping down the hill sitting on a sort of tray thing. When it stopped he was laughing so I guess it was ok. 

But I was glad we had to go home then. I wouldn't want to be in the way when something like that came flying down. And now I'm glad to be able to rest in my cosy bed while Mummy gets on with her work in front of me.

Wednesday 16 January 2013

Rafi is Growing up

I don't really want to be measured against the hand of a nine year old. But I suppose if I'm sleeping with my teddy it's ok. I'm soon going to be old enough to be introduced to Jade. I hope she is nice to me.

Monday 14 January 2013

Horse Chestnuts in Bloom

I had a little comment conversation with Joan at My Quality Day about chestnut and horse chestnut trees. So I thought I'd display these gorgeous specimens in Poole Park. I was lucky enough to catch them in full bloom in May a couple of years ago. Must remember to visit again this year at the right time.

I've discovered a few facts about these trees in the UK, that you might find interesting. Like me, the Victorians loved to visit the flowering horse chestnuts and, around the start of the 20th century, Chestnut Sundays were introduced, when large groups of people would take their picnics to the park and take in the vistas of trees in the flowering season.

Horse chestnuts, of course, produce conkers, beloved of 10 year old and thereabouts boys and tomboys. The small Northamptonshire village of Ashton hosts the World Conker Championships on the second Sunday  of October each year. The first recorded game of conkers was on the Isle of Wight in 1848, year of revolutions in Europe. A possible reason for the name of the tree is that conkers can be medicinal for horses

Anyway I hope our horse chestnuts will remain blight free so that we can continue to enjoy them adorned with their candle like flowers each year when May comes around.

Thursday 10 January 2013

White Irises

I love this picture, taken on a visit to Exbury Gardens early in May 2011. The dainty white irises make me think of ballerinas in Swan Lake.

Tuesday 8 January 2013

Foodie Interlude

I had another interlude yesterday. After a morning meeting in Bournemouth I joined a friend for lunch. “You must come to Day’s,” she said. “It’s quite an experience”. And it was.

We entered from a shopping mall and went down some stairs, at the bottom of which is a receptionist who required payment for the buffet, so we paid for our meals in advance. I thought the restaurant would be in a dark basement, but it wasn’t. The room was enormous and one end was a wall of windows onto the street on the far side.  A lot of clever lighting and glass effect ornaments meant  it wasn’t dark anywhere.

The centre of the room was filled with tables and two sides of it housed the oriental buffet of 150 dishes.  Most of the fourth side was taken up with a bar where we had to buy our spritzers. After being shown to a table, we were left alone to go to the buffet and choose our food. We could go back and get another plateful as often as we liked until the restaurant closed at 3 pm to get ready for the evening session. We didn’t actually stay that long but we could have carried on eating till then if we wanted to. In fact I just selected one plateful from the starters, another from the main courses an one from the desserts, missing out on the Indian and other special selections because I couldn’t manage to eat any more.

You can see some pictures of typical dishes on their website.  It was all was excellent, and the best thing about it was that you didn’t have to choose just one or two dishes, but could serve yourself small portions of several. The starters seemed to be mainly protein oriented, but there were lots of vegetable dishes in the main course selection to make up for that. After all that I could only manage fruit and profiteroles. It was fantastic value at only £7.99. I didn’t need any more food  all day.

In the evening it costs a few pounds more and they add about a hundred more dishes to select from. I think I’ll be heading that way again.

Saturday 5 January 2013

Holidays and Interludes

Christmas came and went in a flash. I was busy entertaining and having a great time. But then it was time to catch up so now I’m even busier, and I don’t feel as though I’ve had a break at all. So far, Saturdays and Sundays have been work days like all the others. Well, not quite all.  I do try and take one day off each week when I get right away from the house and the office for a few hour , when hubby stays behind and has the responsibility of the dog. I call these my interludes.

And every day that I’m in I get the benefit of dog walking after lunch. New Year’s Day was the one bright sunny day, and after a morning at work, we joined the hordes driving to Sandbanks but turned off before the beach to ascend the hill and park on the cliff top, so we could walk along looking down on the crowds exercising their dogs on the sands. It was so lovely to feel the sun and the breeze on my face, and take in the glorious views while Jade ran around and  snuffled around doing all the doggie things. It really recharged my batteries so I could go back into my office and polish off some more writing work, which I usually stop at about 9 pm.

January 2nd was my interlude day. I saw the film, Anna Karenina. Very  impressive. I haven’t read this book by Tolstoy yet. All I knew was how it would end. Now I want to read it to find out how true the film was to his story. I do know the acting was fantastic, the costumes were amazing, and the film making techniques were unusual and worked well for me, although I did hear some people behind me complaining about them.
You’ll get some idea of them from the trailer below.

Writing Tip

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