Pensthorpe 2: Up to Lunch

The second of my three part series about the West Norfolk Autism Group#s visit to Pensthorpe Natural Park.

Welcome to the second of my three posts about the West Norfolk Autism Group’s inaugural activity, a visit to Pensthorpe Natural Park (click here to see the first post).

MONET INSPIRED BRIDGE TO MAIN ENTRANCE

I followed the paths onward from the Monet inspired bridge, taking a few detours along the way, until I arrived back near the entrance. I had brought food and water with me, and I consumed them at this point, and finished my book while waiting for the next stage of the day, the ride on the Pensthorpe Explorer.

PHOTOGRAPHS

The same question/challenge that I introduced yesterday’s photo section with applies today…

Pensthorpe 1: Start to Monet Inspired Bridge

Part one of a three part account of the West Norfolk Autism Group’s inaugural activity, a visit to Penshtorpe Natural Park. The photograph section comes with a question/challenge.

This is the first of three posts that I shall be putting up about the West Norfolk Autism Group’s inaugural activity, a visit to Pensthorpe Natural Park.

ABOUT WNAG

The West Norfolk Autism Group was established in an effort to secure more local funding for activities for autistic people and also because a degree of disillusionment with the conduct of the National Autistic Society’s head office. More details about the new group can be found on its website to which I have already linked, and also in this article published by Your Local Paper.

GETTING TO PENSTHORPE

Pensthorpe is located just off the the road from Fakenham to Norwich (the X29, the bus between Fakenham and Norwich could easily include it in their route if they wanted to, and the route of the 36 between Fakenham and Wells could be adjusted to include without massive upheaval) but I did not have to worry about working out how to get there because a coach had been hired, with a pick up point at Gaywood Tesco, within comfortable walking distance of my home in North Lynn. Those using the bus were supposed to be there for 9:30AM yesterday for a 9:45AM departure. Thus at 9AM yesterday morning I set off, with a bag containing food, water and a book and made my way to the appointed place. The ride took about 45 minutes (a law abiding driver cannot do it any quicker even in light traffic, which we benefitted from). A few minutes after arrival we were good to start our exploration. Before lunch we were going to be walking around those parts of the site that can be seen on foot, and then after that some of us were booked on the Pensthorpe Explorer to experience the rest. The rest of this post covers the first part of the exploration I did on foot.

STARTING TO EXPLORE

Once one gets past the entrance, the shop and the courtyard cafe one is confronted by an expanse of water and a range of splendid water birds which set the stage for the wonders to come. I started by heading in the direction of the cranes and flamingoes, and then headed on beyond them, eventually reaching a sign pointing to the Monet inspired bridge (Claude Monet, the great French impressionist painter, had an ornamental bridge in his garden at Giverny, which his painting made famous). The bridge is quite impressive, and it does indeed resemble the structure that inspired it.

PHOTOGRAPHS

I end this with the photographs from the section of the visit up to and including the bridge, and a question/challenge. Should I go back to creating calendars as I used to do? Please comment with answers to this question, if possible fleshed out with details of photos you would like to see featured in said calendar. To view a photo at full size click on it.

Channel Islands 9: The Birds of Alderney

Continuing my account of my recent holiday in the channel islands with a special post dedicated to the birds of Alderney.

I continue my account of my recent visit to the channel islands with a special post dedicated to the birds of Alderney (the island is justly famed for its bird life).

TWO MISSES

It was too early in the year for boat trips to be running to the island of Burhou, just off the coast of Alderney to the north, and home to puffins (it has no human residents at all), and Wednesday took so much out of me that on the Thursday I was unable to face to fairly steep and fairly rough path that would have started the walk towards a point from which I could view the gannet colony. Here a few maps…

THE BIRDS I DID SEE

Although I missed two great ornithological sites for different reasons, I still saw a fine range of birds during my few days on Alderney…

I end this little post with a view of Fort Clonque:

Channel Islands 3: A Day on Guernsey

An account of a full day on Guernsey as part of my series on my recent holiday.

Welcome to the latest post in this series about my recent holiday (I am now back in Lynn, so these posts will be coming less sporadically). This post covers the one full day we spent on Guernsey en route to Alderney.

A FRENCH RESTAURANT

On the Saturday evening, having established ourselves at St Georges Guest House, roughly a kilometre from the centre of St Peter Port, we went out to find a restaurant to eat at. We settled on a French establishment, and the food and drink were both excellent.

Castle Cornet

The following morning we walked out to Castle Cornet, purchasing food at an M&S Food Hall on the way. We ate near a lighthouse, which I subsequently walked out to – it was very windy around the lighthouse but worth it for the views.

THE GUERNSEY MUSEUM

There was a wildlife photography exhibition at the Guernsey Museum as well as some stuff on the history of the island.

Three Little Snippets

Exactly what the title suggests!

Just a brief post to remind people of my existence. I shall follow my title precisely…

ONE: HEARING AID

Ten days ago I was fitted with a hearing aid. I have had to change the batteries once (this is in keeping with the advice I was given that these batteries, which are specially made for use with hearing aids, and can be obtained free of charge either at the hospital or at the West Norfolk Deaf Association have a lifespan of approximately one week.

TWO: A MASSIVE AUCTION

A longstanding client of James and Sons is selling his collection. He was a bulk collector of stamps, postal history and first day covers. Yesterday I began the process of imaging these items, which will be going under the hammer in April. Even selling the stuff by the box/ crate, with no small lots, it will be a two day sale. Here are some samples from yesterday…

UNUSUAL BIRD SIGHTING

This is today’s sign off – I was out walking earlier (it is sunny today in King’s Lynn, though still cold enough to warrant a coat), and I saw a Little Egret in Bawsey Drain, not very far from my house…

A Grockle’s Eye View of Cornwall 11: The End of the St Michaels Mount Day

Concluding my account of the day at St Michael’s Mount as we near the end of my series about my visit to Cornwall.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest installment in my series of posts about my recent visit to Cornwall. This post completes the day at St Michael’s Mount, leaving me with a post to do about the journey home and finally a page from which all the posts about this trip can be accessed. The fact that this will mean (including the page) 13 pieces relating to the trip bothers me not a jot – I have no more time for triskaidekaphobia than I do for any other ridiculous superstition.

WRAPPING UP ST MICHAEL’S MOUNT

Having finished our exploration of the mount itself it was time for lunch, which was excellent. The establishment at which we ate our lunch has a rule that alcoholic drinks can only be served if food is ordered at the same time, and according to their interpretation cream teas do not count as food, so on two occasions in the course of that meal we ordered portions of chips to go with drinks. Mention of cream teas (a speciality of the far west of England) brings me to a debate that rages unchecked: which goes on the scone first, the cream or the jam? The cream advocates argue that cream in this context is the equivalent of butter (and if it is Cornish clotted cream it is so thick that one can pretty much slice it like butter!), and that if you put the cream on first you do not get jam in it. I am not sure what the jam advocates base their case on.

Lunch consumed it was time to head back to our parking place on the edge of Penzance. The tide was just starting to turn but was still a long way out, and unlike the Mont St Michel, on which the current setup of St Michael’s Mount is modelled the tide here comes in slowly (no danger of galloping horses being swallowed by an inrushing tide, as allegedly happened at Mont St Michel on one famous occasion), so we were still able to walk back across a vast expanse of beach to rejoin the official footpath just west of Marazion. I omitted to remove my socks and shoes for this part of the journey, and they ended up thoroughly soaked, although by the end of the walk they had dried out again (without the sea breeze the heat would have been fiendish).

Mathematical Pic
The first few photos here, including these mathematical pictures are from lunch

Mathematical picsMathematical Pic IIMetal pictureThrough the windowCornish beer ICornish Beer IICornish Beer IIIBoilersdetail from bottleDetail from bottle IIPaintingLooking towards the mainland

Sea birds
Just before recrossing the causeway to the mainland, we saw these birds – the one with the red bill used for digging would have been having a bonanza – there were huge numbers of worm casts in the sand.

Causeway close-up II
The causeway from close up

Worm castReturning to MarazionLooking WestGWR works, near PenzanceBeach viewShell

Farewell to St Michaels Mount
A farewell shot of the mount

St Michael's Mount panorama

Chough
A shore dwelling corvid, the Chough

England Teams Flying High in Limited Overs Cricket

A post celebrating recent successes for the England men’s and women’s cricket teams.

INTRODUCTION

The last few weeks have been magnificent for English cricketers of both sexes. Each side has been very dominant through a sequence of games, and each have set a team scoring record during the sequence of games. 

THE WOMEN

The women warmed up with an ODI series against South Africa, losing the first match but winning matches 2 and 3 very comfortably, in each case with their efforts being spearheaded by centuries from Tammy Beaumont. Then they moved into a T20 tri-series featuring South Africa and New Zealand, the latter fresh from three straight 400-plus ODI tallies against Ireland, the last of which featured the first part of a ‘script rejection’ performance by Amelia Kerr – 232 not out with the bat, and then to settle things 5-17 with the ball. No author of a cricket themed novel would dare have a 17 year-old do that in an international match, but it happened in real life.

On Day 1 of the tri-series New Zealand opened proceedings by scoring 217 from their 20 overs against South Africa, which at the time was a new record in that form of the game, and won them the match comfortably. That record lasted until later that same evening when England took on South Africa, and with Beaumont scoring yet another century (getting there in a mere 47 balls) and Katherine Brunt responding to a promotion up the order by running up 42 not out off just 16 balls reached a total of 250-3. This proved way out of SA’s reach. On Saturday, the second set of games in the tri-series, England lost to South Africa but bounced back to beat New Zealand in the other match.

THE MEN

The men started the limited overs segment of their summer by losing to Scotland at The Grange, but then they commenced a five match series against Australia and were absolutely dominant through the first four matches, winning all comfortably and racking up 481-6 in the third match. The fifth match was a very different kettle of fish. Australia were all out for 205, a modest total that featured the most misjudged leave-alone in cricket history (perpetrated by Ashton Agar). England then collapsed to 114-8 and I was getting ready to point out that wins in dead rubbers don’t really count. However, Jos Buttler was still there, and now Adil Rashid provided some sensible support, and the pair put on 81 for the ninth wicket, turning the match into a nail-biter. Jake Ball, the England no 11 only scored 1 not out, but he survived 11 deliveries, while Buttler first completed an astonishing hundred (with a six that on sheer distance should probably have been a nine) and then sealed England’s one-wicket victory in this game and with it a 5-0 whitewash against the old enemy. 

Tim Paine thus became the second Tasmanian born captain with a surname that begins with P to surrender a match in which the opponents had needed 92 with only two wickets left (look up Mohali 2010 for more details). 

Buttler’s innings secured him both the player of the match and player of the series awards. Buttler was 110 not out in a score of 206-9, and the joint second biggest scores were 20 for Alex Hales and Adil Rashid, and he finished the series with 275 runs at a handy 137.50. In the course of this innings he passed 3,000 ODI runs. Unlike most of his previous big innings which have been all about putting opponents to the sword (his 3,000th ODI run came up off only just over 2,500 balls faced in this form of the game) this one involved getting his team out of trouble and probably rates as his finest for precisely that reason. 

MAJOR CONTRIBUTORS

Both the men’s and women’s teams have benefitted from the fact that everyone has contributed somewhere along the line, but each also have had certain players who have been especially outstanding (see Buttler above), and I offer the following composite list of the best:

Moeen Ali: Watching the way the Aussies tackled his off-spin you might have thought they had been put in a time machine and taken back to 1956.

Jonny Bairstow: about the only thing he did wrong all the way through was get out in the game at The Grange when he was putting Scotland to the sword and would have had England firmly in control had he batted a few more overs. None of the Aussie bowlers, even the highly impressive Billy Stanlake, had any idea where to bowl at him.

Tammy Beaumont: the smallest player in physical stature in this list (5’3″ tall) she has been a metaphorical giant in these matches with three centuries from her position at the top of the order.

Katherine Brunt: In the first match she made 72 to give England something to defend. After her 42 not out in the 250-3 T20 game she followed up by picking up 2-18 from her four overs. Ignore talk of imminent retirement – so long as her body remains in one piece she will keep going.

Jos Buttler: The batsman-keeper did all that was asked of him in the first four matches of the series against Australia and when the going got tough in fifth match he got going and carried England to victory.

Alex Hales: started these matches as favourite to miss out once Stokes was available again but played several incredible innings, and I would now say that for all his all-round credentials Stokes has to be considered as far from certain to regain his place.

Adil Rashid: another of the ‘role-reversal’ aspects of this series was that on this occasion it was Aussie batsmen who looked like rabbits in headlights when facing an English leggie. In addition to his success with the ball he played that crucial little innings in the final match.

Jason Roy: the leading run scorer of the series with 304, including a ton which spearheaded the chase-down of 310 in the 4th game.

Anya Shrubsole: reliable as ever with the ball, and when really needed in the game against New Zealand on Saturday she delivered some quick runs.

Sarah Taylor: quite possibly the best wicketkeeper of either sex on the planet at present and she also scored some important runs.

Danielle Wyatt: opening with Beaumont in the 250-3 game she was quite magnificent, and she had other successes through the season.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Time now for some photographs, starting with a cricket themed one from James and Sons’ upcoming cigarette card auction.

 

2489
While not super-famous these cricketers all have some noteworthy achievements: Vallance Jupp achieved the double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in each of eight successive seasons, Fred Root once took a seven-for against Australia. Percy Fender once reached a century in 35 minutes. Dodge Whysall batted no 3 for Nottinghamshire for many years. Ernest Tyldesley scored more first class runs for Lancashire than anyone else. Percy Chapman led England to victory in each of his first eight matches as captain. George Gibson Macaulay was a very successful bowler and enough of a batsman to have scored 76 in a test match. Charles Hallows was one of three cricketers to score 1,000 first-class runs within the month of May (half a dozen others reached 1,000 first class runs for the English season before the start of June, but had runs in April in that record). Herbert Strudwick was England’s first-choice keeper for 15 years in spite of regularly batting at no 11. Frank Watson was a good county player, who once made a triple-century.

Dragonfly
A spectacular creature, presumably some form of dragonfly.

Small TortiseshellDucksSmall birdGulls on the Great OuseGulls on the riverbankdrakesGulls on The Great OuseJay

Jay II
I saw this jay yesterday. This species is not threatened, but I use this caption to draw your attention to one that is, the nightingale. There is a petition to protect a threatened habitat for this bird at Lodge Hill please sign and share it.

DrakeDrake and gullGull and churchGullBird mootSmall Bird IIDucks IIPale duckbirds on the Grat Ouse

Kakapo Lego (plus Tweets)

Where lego and New Zealand birds meet, courtesy of Heather Hastie.

The creation is magnificent, and Heather’s idea of using it to launch a whole lego range devoted to indigenous New Zealand birds is even better. It is a little unfortunate to use this phrase given one of the most famous quirks of these birds, but the products would absolutely fly off the shelves…

Note – this is Heather’s story and if you wish to comment you will need to visit the original.

Source: Kakapo Lego (plus Tweets)

Cricket, Photographs and Puzzles

Some thoughts about the early stages of the English Cricket Season, some photographs and some puzzles.

INTRODUCTION

The second round of County Championship matches in season 2018 are now on their second day. Additionally the fact that here in England we seem to have skipped spring, going dorectly from a long, unpleasant winter into summer means I have a particularly fine selection of photographs for you, and there will be puzzles. 

THE COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP

Scoring is low everywhere. At Chester-le-Street it is looking a first innings tally of 169 will be sufficient for Kent to record an innings victory (Durham, shot out for 91 yesterday morning are 39-7 in their second innings, needing their last three wickets to double that paltry tally just to avoid the innings defeat). Essex and Lancashire are already into their third innings as well, Essex having scraped together 150 first up and Lancashire replying with 144. Essex are 39-0 in their second innings. Somerset, having actually claimed a batting bonus point by reaching 202 are poised for a handy first innings lead, Worcestershire being 153-8 in response. Surrey also topped 200 – making 211, and Hampshire are 79-6 in response. Yorkshire made 256 in their first innings, and Nottinghamshire are 110-6 in response. Derbyshire made 265, and Middlesex have also reached three figures, being 101-5 in response. Gloucestershire are 47-0 in response to Glamorgan’s 236. Northamptonshire were all out for 147 and Warwickshire are about to overhaul them, with wickets in hand. Finally, Sussex batting first are a comparatively monumental 304-7 (three batting bonus points, although they will not get a fourth as they have had 108.3 overs, and bonus points are only awarded in the first 110 overs of a team’s first innngs) against Leicestershire.

Every match is in progress, which beats last week, when Yorkshire failed to produce a playing surface on which the game could be played, resulting in their match against Essex being abandoned without a ball being bowled. 

The low scoring is a major problem – the batters will gave little confidence since they are not making runs, and as soon as they face conditions in which the ball does not get up to mischief most of the wicket-taking bowlers will revert to being their workaday selves (we saw, unforgettably for all the wrong reasons, over the winter how seamers who bowl accurately but not especially fast are cannon fodder for international class batsmen on good pitches). 

From the point of view of England possibles these two rounds of championship matches have been largely valueless – the 75 from James Vince on the opening day was the usual Vince fare – excellent while it lasted, but did not last long enough to be satisfactory and given the conditions no bowling figures can be taken with anything other than a substantial helping of salt.

PHOTOGRAPHS 1: AN ASPI.BLOG FIRST

The Muscovy ducks first saw a few months back are still in residence, and they have been joined by an unusual visitor, the second largest bird species I have seen in King’s Lynn – Canada Geese.

Muscovy ducks and Canada Geese
The white patch at the top front of the otherwise pure black neck (the head and bill are also pure black) is, along with the colossal size, the key identifier of these birds as Canada Geese.

Canada Goose and Muscovy ducksCGICGIICGIII

PUZZLE 1: MATCHSTICKS

My first offering from brilliant (the source of all of today’s puzzles – note also that all can be solved without even using pen and paper, never mind mechanical assistance – I did) is an exercise in visualization:

matchsticks

PHOTOGRAPHS 2: MUNTJAC

This muntjac was nibbling the grass on the playing field of the Lynn Academy, and I was taking pictures through a screen of plants:

Muntjac IMuntjac IIMuntjac IIIMuntjac IV

PUZZLE 2: CLEAR ICE

Clear Ice

PHOTOGRAPHS 3: SQUIRREL

I got two shots of this squirrel, one om the ground, and one as it swarmed up a tree trunk:

Squirrelsquirrel swarming up tree

PUZZLE 3: POLYOMINO

Another exercise in visualization (my own success with this one enabled me to celebrate what I call my brilliant.org Pi Day – 314 successive days on which I had solved at least one of their problems!):

Polyomino

PHOTOGRAPHS 4: SMALLER BIRDS

BlackbirdMoorhen on branchMagpieperching blackbird

PUZZLE 4: CONVERGENCE

Convergence

PHOTOGRAPHS 5: BUTTERFLIES

Small Tortoiseshell XIITwo Small TortoiseshellsTwo Small Tortoiseshells IISmall Tortoiseshell XIIITwo butterfliesSmall Tortoiseshell XIVPeacock Butterfly with closed wings

PUZZLE 5: CUBE

My own method for solving this one once again involved visualization, although other methods were also used.

Cube

In view of some of the moans that appeared on brilliant in relation to this problem please note the crucial words “by rotating” in the question – they are absolutely key.

PHOTOGRAPHS 6: THE REST

PollinatorSmall birdShy guinea pig

AFTERWORD

While I have been completing this post Durham have succeeded in making Kent bat again, though it is still massive odds against that game even making it onto the third of the scheduled four days.

 

Musical Keys On a Spring Saturday

A brief account of my session at Musical Keys yesterday.

INTRODUCTION

Yesterday was a Musical Keys session, and Oliver who runs Musical Keys put in an appearance. Also, some of our stuff was recorded – we will hear it in a fortnight’s time.

THE JOURNEY TO THE SCOUT HUT

Immediatedly after a light lunch of salami and salad I set off on my journey (I was starting early because I needed to check in on my aunt’s house en route and also intended to take advantage of heading towards that part of the world to visit Gaywood Library). After the few minutes it took to make sure all was OK at my aunt’s house I headed for the parkland and thence the footpath between the two academies, before a diversion to Gaywood Library and a walk along the bank of the Gaywood River to finish. Here are some pictures covering the period between leaving my flat and exiting the parkland at Tennyson Road:

Saturday Market Place
A welcome return of market stalls to the Saturday Market Place.

Hampton Court Cannon Ball
This cannon ball hangs in the entrance to Hampton Court (near my aunt’s house)

Red Mount Chapel
The Red Mount Chapel

Guanock Gate
The Guanock Gate

Black headed gull
A black headed gull in The Walks.

Not fit for play!

The cricket season is underway in most parts of the country, but Yorkshire and Essex have had no play on any of the first three days of their match due to a sodden outfield. Norfolk has not been battered as much as the north, but this picture from The Walks shows the problem – saturated soil means that there is nowhere for water to go.

The second part of the walk to the Scout Hut provided a few photos as well:

Purple FlowersPurple FlowerYellow flowerDaffodils, Gaywood RiverLittle Blue Flowers

Blue tit
For more on the bird on this picture please visit my previous post.

BlackbirdThe above picture was the Featured Image in my post Blue Tit and Butterfly

AT THE SCOUT HUT

Once it was time for the session to begin I did not take long to decide what I was going to do…

Yamaha music system
This Yamaha music system is not quite the equal of the Korg that I jhave used on previous occasions at Musical Keys, but it is still a very fine gadget.

InstrumentchordFACE4 chordQuintCAFE

After I had been recorded I spent what was left of the session creating musical words (e.g playing the notes F, A, C and E for face or, C, A, F and E for cafe). For the bit was a recording I used a double pattern – each four note chord I used comprised two pairs of notes separated by two, and with an octave between each pair.

HOMEWARD BOUND

The entirety of my homeward journey took place not only in daylight but under a bright sun (yes, we sometimes forget about it, especially during long winters like the one we are just emerging from, but even here in Blighty we do get to see the sun). I only added one solitary picture to my collection during this journey – a pair of drakes swimming in formation in the Gaywood River…

drakes