…AND THEN THERE WAS ONE…

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Not quite sure what has happened – but these last two days, when I have taken my photographic opportunity with the little nestlings – there appears to be only one left! ;-(

Up until the end of Day 4 there were definitely two babies (see post below) but by Day 5 the resulting photograph showed this:

At first, I thought that one baby bird might be covering the other a little – but even my photograph taken today (Day 6) below showed the same one nestling!

I wonder what has happened?! There’s nothing I can do now, so I’m trying not to ponder on it, although I hope this last little baby blackbird survives.

Time – and nature – will tell.

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THE NESTLING NESTLINGS

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Thank you all for your lovely comments and words of advice on my last post (especially the comical comments about me talking in a half-whisper a la Monsieur Attenborough!) To date, all appears well – momma leaves them to get food and dad occasionally shows his beak! Typical!

Here are the little nestlings taken at 3 days old – just yesterday.

They have definitely grown and you can now see feathers forming. I am trying to only take one photo each day – as I’m having to use the camera flash..(without it the photo just becomes too blurry despite the macro setting!) but I keep worrying that I’ll blind them with it! Is that possible? I don’t think they have even opened their eyes yet…but that doesn’t stop me being paranoid. I’ve even typed that in Google’s search engine!!!

I took my day 4 pic earlier – although it isn’t as clear, but still shows them growing – and positioned well-cosily! They look like they need a good wash…but look how gorgeous their little beaks are!

Another blog-friend from Etsy has shown the original pics to her partner, who seems to think that there may have only been two babies in the first place. We’ll never know I guess, but that thought makes me feel slightly more at ease (thanks Miss T!)

On a lighter note, I was very excited by what came in the post today…my Eurovision bunting…all 14 metres (45 feet) of it (!!!) ready for our little soiree and contest celebration next weekend!

DAY TWO

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Question: How many blackbird babies would you have said were in yesterday’s photo?

There had originally been 4 eggs – and so I presumed there would be 4 babies. However, on my photographic opportunity today, it appears that we have only 2 little nestlings!?!

I’m concerned by what may have happened! I’ve been out at work all day today and it’s been hot, so plenty of chance for other birds – or other such prey – to be about. Have two been stolen? Has one died? Or maybe there were just two birds in the shot yesterday after all? What do you think???

I suddenly feel very responsible – and I’ve developed this overwhelming urge to protect them in some way. But what can I do without causing potential distress to them or their parents? My beau says ‘just let nature have its way. If they survive, then it’s meant to be.’

I’m all for nature, but I’m also all for giving her a bit of help!! Any ideas anyone?

Here are the little nestlings at day 2 of their existence. Aren’t they gorgeous?! (Although I agree Lynn at Tialys, that only a mother could really love them!)

And in response to Wandering Seniors’ request, here’s a picture of momma too:

She keeps giving me the watchful eye – and I really hope that she’s not freaking out at me being around! That’ll teach her for nesting at the bottom of our garden!

We also seem to have other wildlife happening in our little fold. The other night when I turned on the outside light just before bedtime, lo and behold, there rested a hedgehog! Of course, he soon disappeared (and before I could grab the camera!) And earlier, whilst clearing pots behind our garden mangle, I found two frogs, presumably from a nearby pond taking refuge in our rainwater! One of which I managed to snap before he hopped off!

Please cross everything for the little birdies – and if you’re religious then say a little prayer too please as I’m really hoping to be able to complete this chapter with a success story ;-)

LODGER BABIES!

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I normally have a quick stumble around the garden after work: dead-heading, watering or generally just fidgeting about and admiring the developing garden – and yesterday, whilst momma was away, I had a little peer into the nest too…and saw eggshell!

Today, when I did the same…I saw beak!

I am being very subtle and discreet as I’m not wanting to scare their blackbird parents away – although I’m hoping that they are used to me wandering around by now. I’ll see if I can take another sneeky shot in a couple of days as both mother & father are now on the scene, taking it in turns to feed and hunt.

Isn’t nature wonderful! ;-)

LODGER

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The nightingale has a lyre of gold,
The lark’s is a clarion call,
And the blackbird plays but a boxwood flute,
But I love him best of all.
For his song is all of the joy of life,
And we in the mad, spring weather,
We two have listened till he sang,
Our hearts and lips together.
(William Ernest Henley)

Our garden and bird table have always attracted wildlife – everything from squirrels to hedgehogs to robins, all feeding from the copious amounts of fat balls, nuts, seeds and mealworms that adorn our slabbed area, feeders and bird table shelf. Yet, within a few days of my placing the latest feast upon the table…a nest has arrived! Yes, dear reader, we have some new lodgers in our garden…a blackbird and 4 eggs!

The table is quite open in location as well as to the elements – so I’m quite surprised that the blackbird chose somewhere so frequented by other birds to build its family! Also worryingly, I have seen two magpies flying around – probably in search of eggs! I’ve shooed them away, but it is still a worry! I’ve kept out of the way as much as possible, however, gardening has to continue. I think the blackbird is now use to me walking past on the way to the compost bin or to the shed – and I think they know its me who puts food right next to their nest whilst they are away on their meal-hunting travels.

It’s the first time we’ve had a nest to my knowledge – and so I’ve enjoyed reading a little bit about the blackbird and their nesting habits. This is what I found:

The nest is an untidy cup built by the female from vegetation, such as grass and twigs, and bound together with mud and finer grasses. The nest is usually in a hedge or bush, though they will use shelves in huts and other outbuildings. It can take two weeks to complete, and sometimes the same nest is used for successive broods.

The nesting attempts of blackbirds often end in failure through inexperienced birds deserting the nest, cold weather and predation by cats, crows and birds of prey. In fact, it is estimated that as many as 9 out of 10 nesting attempts end in failure!

Breeding starts in March, and the resulting eggs are smooth and glossy, light greenish-blue with reddish-brown spots in colour and approximately 29 mm by 22 mm in size. The female incubates the eggs by herself, although after the young hatch, approximately 14 days later, they are fed by both parents. The normal clutch size is 3-5. 

The chicks are ready to fledge at 13-14 days, but if the nest is disturbed, they can leave and survive as early as nine days old. This ability to fledge early is an important anti-predator adaptation. The young birds creep and flutter from the nest, and remain in nearby cover for the following few days.

They are flightless at first, but within a week will have learned to fly. By this time, they begin to experiment with foods, learning by trial and error what is edible. As their skills and confidence grow, they begin to explore their parents’ territory and range more widely. The young become independent three weeks after leaving the nest, and leave the natal area shortly after. They are not driven away by the male.

Fledged young are often left in the care of the male, while the female prepares for the next nesting attempt. The last brood of the season is usually divided between the parents, with each adult taking sole care of some of the young.

I’ll keep you informed on their progress ;-)

DOES THIS DRESSER SPEAK WELSH?

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I’ve recently bought the last piece of furniture that we need for this house. I say last, because technically we have everything we need now. (Although, maybe a new lounge sofa would be quite nice!?)

Anyhow, I bought a dresser for the kitchen – from eBay too, so we got it for a bargain price. It’s something that I’ve wanted for a little while now, especially with already having all the crockery to go on it – and I believe it finishes the kitchen off perfectly! Want to see?

What is it about a dresser that makes a house a home!? Maybe it’s because part of its history is based around being a present for newly-weds to show off their wedding gifts…and in eventually showing off the home’s finest wares. Either way, I absolutely love it – especially as this one was made from antique reclaimed wood which is full of character and imperfections – which adds completely to it’s unique charm. Little nicks, patterns, indentations and grains have all become part of its story and now journey to our kitchen – and our home. Let’s call it comfort furniture!

I have no idea of the nationality of this dresser – we tend to say ‘Welsh dresser’ regardless of whether it has any connection to Wales or not! I did some research on the internet and came up with the following information:

Dressers were made all over England, Scotland and Wales from the late seventeenth through the nineteenth century. But the term dresser has become synonymous with Wales, probably because of the large number of high quality examples that have come out of there. Welsh craftsmen were known for their skill and individuality, and dressers from Wales tend to have an abundance of decoration and added features like scalloped cornices and pierced aprons, while English dressers are, as a rule, plainer.

Since Wales was a poor country, most of its people were engaged in farming. Welsh farmhouses consisted of one room, serving as kitchen/parlor/dining room, with a loft for sleeping above. As space was at a premium, dressers were made to hold everything needed for both food preparation and service. Hence Welsh dressers are almost uniformly ‘high’ dressers. They have a base with cupboards or shelves for storage of mixing bowls and serving platters, and a superstructure of either wide or narrow shelves to display the family’s best pewter and crockery.

Even late in the twentieth century a dresser was an essential part of a young girl’s dowry in Wales. She would put it in the parlor or kitchen, filling the top shelf with glassware, the next shelf with a tea set backed by large willow ware plates and every hook with as many lusterware jugs as her budget would allow. The top of the dresser base would hold bits of brass, her favorite Staffordshire figures, and all manner of family treasures.

There – it’s official, a house is not a home without a dresser!

IGUANAS & SPIDERS & SNAKES…OH MY!

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My beau’s nephew, Dan, came to visit on Friday for a couple of days – as it was still the Easter holidays. We had promised him a belated birthday treat – which included pizza, popcorn and a DVD of his choice. We also took him to Ponderosa – an animal farm in West Yorkshire – as he is currently wanting to work with animals after leaving college and so we thought he’d thoroughly enjoy this experience.

They have all sorts of rare breed animals there, as well as birds, birds of prey, fish, insects, large and small mammals – and reptiles! Of course, I took my camera and ended up with some great close-up shots for our nephew to keep as memories of his visit too.

I have been several times over the years – and have watched the farm grow from a small holding, originally set up for children and adults with disabilities – to what it is today; an established visitor centre which provides care for many different animals and work placements for adults with special needs. It really is a lovely afternoon out – and our nephew thoroughly enjoyed himself, sharing his knowledge and telling us all about the different animals he encountered throughout his visit.

He particularly loves horses and dreams of working with them one day – and so was really pleased to have the chance to stroke and have his photograph taken with one.

My own favourites included a parrot who copied everything you said (as well as repetitively asking you for a kiss!) I also loved the reindeers who continued to make the most beautiful sounds as we talked to them. I’m not a fan of snakes or spiders – so I stayed well clear of those!

If you’re ever in the area it’s worth a visit – and you can find out more about the place HERE

TITANIC

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I remember first studying the Titanic at primary school. I would have been about 10 and I remember being mesmerised by this tragic story – an interest that has remained with me ever since. I remember asking for a book for Christmas which was all about the ship – newly written with colour photographs after it’s location had been found after years and years of searching. I still have this book today.

I use to wonder why this particular piece of history held so much interest and importance to my life – that sometimes I use to think that maybe I had some connection with this boat in a previous life. Of course friends have always laughed at me with innuendo’s such as “Trust you to have gone down on the Titanic!” ;-)

Regardless, 100 years ago tonight, this titanic vessel made contact with an iceberg which ultimately led to its demise. I wanted to acknowledge this in some way.

RIP Titanic and to all of those people who lost their lives exactly 100 years ago.

BEST BUTTER

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At exactly the same time we moved in this house, we noticed a local derelict mill (less than a mile away) had been turned into a cafe – and was about to open its doors. We’ve been there several times since for a cooked breakfast – but mostly for coffee and cake as we’re passing. But, what I particularly like about this place is that it has it’s own adjoining ‘antiques’ centre, which you can only access through the cafe itself. Here you’ll find a mixture of modern and old goods for sale – everything from clothes to furniture to homeware; most of which are at affordable prices too. I snapped these pictures on my phone of things for sale during my latest visit.

I have bought several things from them over time – but have always had my eye on one item in particular. This item had appeared on their publicity leaflets and has always been ‘not for sale’ despite mine and other people’s requests to buy it; but yesterday I noticed, to my delight, that a price tag had indeed finally been fixed. Of course I bought it – and I am now owner of this antique butter Dazey churn. It sits proudly on my kitchen window sill.

What do you think? In case you were interested, I found several informative websites online about the history of butter churning – including this one HERE which talks about the invention of these glass butter churns in the early 1900s.

IN THE WARM ROOM

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My beau is currently working a string of night-shifts and therefore sleeping throughout the day – so I have found myself sitting in the garden room a lot – especially as it is the furthest room from the bedroom. Here I sit, out of ear-shot, feet up on the sofa, looking at your blogs and endlessly surfing the web, following one link to another…to another…to another…often aimlessly. Even so, I love it and it is my idea of pure indulgence (especially avec chocolate!)

I have a view of the garden and Misty-Blue is sitting alongside me; sometimes purring, but mostly playing and biting! We had some recent problems with the central heating system and the garden room radiator decided to stop working all together! Within these recent winter moments it has been unbearably cold. However, it is now fixed (after the plumber turned it upside down and round about) and despite revealing an unsightly and unpainted side (I really must get onto that!) it now is possibly the warmest room in the house! It also has two velux windows within its slopping ceiling too – so the room is always well lit – especially in the summer when we get the sun on the back for most of the day.

So here I sit…enjoying the view and the silence. Heaven. I may be here for some time…

HOW TYPICALLY BRITISH!

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From an unusual late March heatwave…

…to a snowy April beginning!

Can you even believe that these two photographs were taken literally days apart!?!

That’s British weather for you! I awoke this morning to a winter wonderland which brings a mixture of emotions; on one hand the knowledge that we’re snowed in, the car won’t move and I can’t get to work is slightly pleasurable as it’s reminiscent of those rare but wonderful days of my youth when the weather meant that you couldn’t get to school or that the building simply had to close!! But on the other hand, it also brings sadness in the damage that last night’s wind and snowfall has done to the blossoming spring garden.

I had only commented days ago to my beau how beautiful the garden was starting to look – with blossoming plants, flowers and trees – spring fresh, new and simply beautiful. Today, some of these plants are looking very sorry for themselves; arched and downtrodden from the weight of the snow, some are simply refusing, or just plain unable, to resurrect their former glory with their stems now bent, broken or heavy.

Some plants simply require canes, garden string and a bit of TLC – whilst others look like they won’t ever recover. I know nature will surprise me and the garden will recover in its own way, but for now the spring magic has disappeared and snow is all around.

AN ARCHITECTURAL BIRTHDAY

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Due to work commitments I was unable to do too much to celebrate my birthday this year. We had a group of friends round for a curry banquet – but I normally like to go somewhere for the day with my beau; usually to a ruined castle or the seaside ;-) I managed one afternoon off – so we decided to go to an architectural salvage place situated about 12 miles from where we live. It’s always a lovely afternoon out as it’s full of so many beautiful things and placed over 4 huge floors.

Based within a former textile mill, the premises have been lovingly restored to provide the perfect backdrop for their stunning finds. The company specialise in providing furniture and fittings for bars and restaurants to the US, here in the UK as well as other places abroad – although they sell so much more that it would take me forever to list what they stock. Everything from derelict churches, architectural metalwork, antiques, wood carvings, garden statues, vintage industrial furniture to decorative lighting and retail display fixtures can be found there – most of which are completely unique too!

I’ll share with you some photographs which might give you more of an idea of the kind of things I mean. The first collage are some pictures that I took during our visit, the second collage are some shots from their website. (Click on the photos for a closer look!)

Isn’t there some beautiful things!! Despite EVERYTHING being for sale – it really is like walking around a museum. If only I had the money and space…I would buy SOOOOO much stuff!!!

Anyhow, I couldn’t resist buying one thing – and decided to use some birthday money I had received towards its purchase!

Yes, I purchased this Edwardian dressing table – which is over 6ft tall – and now sits, as you can see from the photograph, pride of place in our bedroom! What do you think? Even the beau loved it – so it must be good! The mirror is huge and is framed by two small shelves. Sadly it had a matching wardrobe and washstand, but we have neither the money to buy them nor the space to house them at the minute. The seller was reluctant to split the set up at first, which I could completely understand, yet he finally gave in. The dresser was delivered on my birthday morning as the perfect present too!

We’ve been looking for the right dressing table for a while now and had even been looking at new ones which had been made to look antique; but what was so great about this set of drawers was that they worked out cheaper than a lot of the modern reproductions we had seen for sale!

I wonder what stories they could tell if only they could talk?!

MISTY MAYHEM MADNESS!

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Sorry I haven’t been here for a while – time just passes!

I’ve started another days music therapy employment, had 2 reports to write for work, been busy in the garden, catching up with friends here and afar – plus I’ve celebrated my birthday…all in a short space of time – so it’s all been go, go, GOOOO!

I do have various things to share with you over the coming weeks…but thought I’d gently ease myself back in tonight with a few piccies of the kitten Misty.

Butter wouldn’t melt!? Wanna bet?

She’s fully recovered now from her illness – which turned out to be E-Coli !!! She is growing up fast and appears to be getting bigger and longer each day. Her and Merlin are getting on ok considering – although it really is Misty that is the instigator of all of the trouble between them! Misty hides and essentially sky-dives onto Merlin’s back and thoroughly stalks and haunts her at every opportunity. It goes beyond playing – Merlin really appears terrorised! It’s a good job Merlin is a house cat, otherwise I seriously think she would have packed her cat-bags by now and disappeared for pastures new.

Thankfully Merlin still has the run of the upstairs and attic space, somewhere that Misty only dreams of going – she’s explored a couple of times after dodging our fancy footwork at the door – so at least Merlin has some peaceful time away from the kitten…plus she gets to sleep on our bed EVERY night!

They sometimes eat next to each other, and they can bear to sit in the same room at the same time…sometimes – and so we do have some cute photos of them together ;-) However, it’s mostly mayhem!

Misty is half Bengal and half British Short Hair – and whilst content sitting by us and purring herself silly, I think the Bengal in her is impossible to ever tame and she’s just a wild wild WILD child. Ok, she’s still only 15 weeks old so it’s part of the normal kitten process – but she really is completely and utterly bonkers! She is cute though isn’t she!?!

Oh, how the house has changed since she arrived – although we couldn’t imagine being without her though! Could we?!

RANDOM SHOT #7

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#7 Misty learns Garage-band

When she’s not running around, terrorising Merlin or up to mischief – Misty likes nothing better than to come and sit ON the laptop! She is mesmerised by the internet and thankfully just stares (and hasn’t tried attacking the screen as yet!!)

This is a photograph of her helping me compile a Garageband blended CD compilation of tunes for the car. And no, neither Atomic Kitten nor Tom Jones’ rendition of “What’s New Pussycat?” feature within the completed mix! ;-)

SISTER, SISTER

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20 years ago today I lost one of my best friends – my eldest sister Annette – to cancer.

I wrote about her two years ago when I first started my blog – and I still can’t believe how time goes by so quickly! How CAN it be 20 whole years?!!!!

This is what I wrote:

Being just over 16 years older than me, my sister became a very influential figure in my life – and, in fact, is testament to the person I am today. She taught me so much, alot of it unknowingly, that I can almost hear her sometimes when I talk. She had a wonderful sense of humour, a strong belief in what was right and wrong – and whilst having the biggest hair and the biggest heart – she also didn’t suffer any fools and within a few words was able to sort out any injustices and put things right again.

She also became my main influence music wise. Along with my Mum she became my biggest encouragement regarding playing (and practising) the piano. I also grew up listening to the sounds of her vinyl collection; Kate Bush, Pink Floyd, Renaissaince, Cat Stevens, Genesis to name but a few – and these still remain firm favourites of mine within my own collection today.

I can put on a song and be transported back to a moment in time with my sis where we would sit and read lyrics or sing along together. She taught me to read, even before I went to school, so singing along to album sleeve lyrics was a particular favourite activity of mine. She was the only one in my family who would read me to sleep and the only one who would comfort me in the middle of the night when I had nightmares. I wasn’t allowed coffee until I was older, but my sister would always save me a little bit at the bottom of her cup. I can still remember her lipstick smudged mug – along with the bitter sweet taste of fresh coffee, sugar and lip-gloss. These little sounds, sights and smells; all memories, frozen in time.  

When she and her husband moved away down South, I would go and spend weeks away at a time in the school holidays. She would take time off work and we would go out for day trips and go out for dinner in the evenings. This is something that I had never done before. Despite being busy or tired herself from work, she would always take time to play games; cards and chess amongst others. She always made time. So many happy memories.

What I really struggle to comprehend is the fact that I am older now than the age she was when she died of cancer. I am 36 – and so she has been missing from my life for over half of those years! I can’t comprehend that either! I also hate the fact that I can’t remember her voice. 

I know that she still lives on through me – within my memories, my thoughts and my actions – but to not see someone so special for that length of time is still very hard to deal with sometimes. I’d love to know what she thinks about my job, my studies, my partner and my home.

Time has taught me that despite the passing of so many years, you never fully get over a loss like that – you just learn how to live with it. And deal with it I normally do, but she is never far from my thoughts.

*

So much has happened to me in the last 20 years that I don’t mind admitting how much I resent the fact someone so influential and precious to me has not lived to either see or be part of my journey. It’s hard watching my Mum get upset – and I continue to miss her love, her wisdom and her advice greatly.

I cannot even put it into words, but things have never been the same since she died.

So, I hope you don’t mind, but I wanted to share her memory with you again today.

To my beautiful sister –  I will always cherish and celebrate the time we had together – and I will always love and miss you – love from your little brother x

PLENSA & OTHER SCULPTURES

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I took some photographs quite a few weeks ago that I’ve been meaning to share with you. Misty arrived the next day…and so has kinda taken the limelight ever since. (I’m pleased to say she is doing wonderfully and back to her normal naughty kitten self completely!)

We now live a stones throw (as the crow flies) from Yorkshire Sculpture Park – and heard about a beautiful exhibition by Jaume Plensa. Despite meaning to go for ages…it just hadn’t happened…and knowing it was due to close we made an impromptu visit…with camera in tow! Sadly, we found that the main exhibitions had indeed finished just a few days prior – although there were still a few pieces of his work dotted around the park’s landscape. I took photographs of these instead as well as some other images from around the beautiful park.

I just think his sculptures are so stunning. The sculpted letters of this one represents the cells found within the human body which are over 60% water. The white letters and hollow structure invite the viewer to go and look inside whilst reflecting on the relationship between human beings and water. The sculpture was made particularly beautiful against the backdrop of an afternoon’s setting sun.

The park really is worth a visit – so please check it out should you ever find yourself in West Yorkshire. It has a beautiful visitor centre too, complete with obligatory cafe avec balcony – and a shop full of scrumptious things…

Spot the Henry Moore below ;-)

PLAY MISTY FOR ME

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Thanks all for your beautiful comments about Misty – and I am pleased to say that Misty appears to be doing really well. She’s home after 4 days in pet hospital – and has already developed an appetite equal to a horse…her poo’s are now firm (my friends laugh at my announcement of and pleasure in this fact!) and she is much brighter faced.

She’s still on four lots of antibiotics that we have to give her twice a day – but considering what her little body has been through these last 10 days…she is doing amazingly. Bit of a way to go – but our Misty Blue is back ;-)