Blue Tit and Butterfly

A blue tit and a butterfly from yesterday.

INTRODUCTION

Yesterday was a Musical Keys day, and on the way there I got a few photographs which I think warrant a post of their own, before I move on to the main meat of today’s blogging.

THE BLUE TIT

This was a picture I took more in hope than expectation, since small birds nearly always fly out fo shot before the camera has picked them up, but on this occasion fortune smiled…

Blue tit
blue tit in tree branches, on the path than runs betwee the King Edward the Seventh Academy and The King’s Lynn Academy.
Blue Tit - close up
The blue tit, extracted from the foregoing picture.

Blue tit - bird book

THE BUTTERFLY

As I approached the Scout Hut where Musical Keys sessions take place, walking along the bank of the Gaywood River I spotted a Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly. I investigated further and finished with six splendid pictures.

Tortoiseshell ButterflyTortoiseshell Butterfly IITortoiseshell Butterfly IIITortoiseshell Butterfly IVTortoiseshell Butterfly VTortoiseshell Butterfly VI

Computer Aided Composing

An account of my recent doings at Musical Keys with a photographic interlude.

INTRODUCTION

A few sessions back at Musical Keys, an event run for autistic people that I am a regular attender of, I switched from using Scratch to using a different package called Reaper. This Saturday just gone I reached a point at which I feel that my work on Reaper is now worth talking about. Also I have some good pictures that I can slip in as part of the back story.

SCRATCH AND REAPER

Scratch enables one to play notes on various musical instruments and also has some saved sound loops for variation. Effectively therefore Scratch enables one to play music and sounds but not really to create anything beyond the framework within which to do so. Reaper is both less and more – less in that it has no versions of musical instruments, more in that is really all about combining different recorded sounds into a larger whole, and therefore has much more of a creative element to it. 

BEFORE SATURDAY’S SESSION

I had spent one session assessing the available sound segments, working out which ones I liked and which of those combined well together, and a second session combining shorter segments into longer ones by putting together segments that would or could naturally flow together, but at the start of Saturday what I actually had was a set of useful components that I could start to think about assembling into proper length pieces…

INTERLUDE –  WALK TO THE SCOUT HUT

I had decided to lengthen my walk to the venue by taking in a stretch of the Great Ouse before rejoining the regular walking route to Gaywood by way of Seven Sisters and the Vancouver Garden, and a quick sampling of the air outside my flat convinced me of the need to don an extra jumper – it was cold, as some of the photos will make very plain. I had also allowed myself time for a visit to Gaywood library, since I would naturally pass very close to it. It may have been cold, but the birds were out in force, especially near the Great Ouse.

lapwings and a gulllapwings and gullsFlying lapwingswimming birdBlackbirdsBlackbird

Leaving the river by way of Hardings Pits I headed for the South Gate and thence Seven Sisters and the parkland areas…

framed magpieKL signSouthgatestarlingsthree birds

Among other things the walk through the parkland provided me with absolute proof of how cold it was – gulls walking on water. 

Gull walking on waterGull walking on water 2Gull walking on water 3rooksBlackbird II

DECEMBER 9TH AT MUSICAL KEYS

John, who usually supervises the sessions was not feeling well, so having driven the equipment over he spent the afternoon sat in his car, while his assistant Kirsten took charge of the sessions. 

Once I had opened up Reaper, checked and adjusted the speaker volume (at least 99% of the time it is set too loud for me and I have to reduce it, often considerably – on this occasion it had been set to 70% of full volume and I reduced that to 35%) it was time to put my plan of exploring options for combining various elements to make a larger whole into practice. Before moving on here is a photo I took at the end of the session.

Reaper

The piece that I called Organ and Strings was one of three background sounds that I used in the bigger pieces, the others being the drum and brass backgrounds. “Ensemble” and “Composite” as those names suggest were medium sized components, while “Horizontal” and “All in” were the two large scale components that I combined to make the final full size pieces. The two big pieces (12 and 16 minutes long respectively) were comprised of “Horizontal”-“All-in”‘-“Horizontal” and “Horizontal”-“All-in”-“Horizontal”-“All-in” respectively. By the time I had listened to the 16 minute piece at the end it was pretty much the end of the session. The next session is on January 6th and I shall work out some way to build on what I have already created. 

 

Shared Space Roads ?

Some thoughts on shared space streets and Exhibition Road in particular.

INTRODUCTION

Much of this post will also be appearing on my London Transport themed website as well as here because of the location of the particular shared space road that brought this issue to my attention. That location is of course Exhibition Road, London – a location very familiar to me from when I lived in London and was a regular visitor to museums. Here is a map for you to orient yourselves:

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WHAT IS A SHARED SPACE ROAD?

A shared space road is a road without pavements, with no clear distinctions between where cars, cyclists and pedestrians should be. According to some this arrangement reduces accidents. However, a recent incident on London’s Exhibition Road has called this into question. Here is a tweet from campaign group Transport for All:

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This (to me) raises two questions to be taken in turn:

CAN SHARED SPACE ROADS WORK?

I am uncertain on this one and will welcome evidence from people with experience of shared space roads in their localities. My own view is that they could work but the following is necessary:

  • Clear signage explaining what a shared space road is and what that means.
  • A very low speed limit for motor vehicles (even lower than the 20mph which is now commonplace in the vicinity of schools) fiercely enforced – speeding on a shared space street should be punished more severely than speeding elsewhere because of the greater risk of hitting someone.
  • Referring back to my first bullet point it needs to made clear that motorists are always expected to give way to cyclists and pedestrians.

Given what I know of London drivers I do not think that London is the right city to be trialling these (although Rome and Paris would both clearly by even worse options!)

SHOULD EXHIBITION ROAD BE A SHARED SPACE ROAD?

Absolutely not – it should be completely pedestrianised. There are excellent public transport connections in this part of the world. 
Continue reading “Shared Space Roads ?”

The Gaywood River

An account of an educational event about the Gaywood River that took place in the Scout Hut on Beulah Street on Sunday.

INTRODUCTION

I have had a very busy few days, which is why there have been no new posts here since Saturday. I will mention my activities since Monday in later posts, but this post is solely concerned with the activity that dominated (in a good way) my Sunday. At the end of this post I will be including a variety of links related in various ways to its content. Here is a map showing the course of the Gaywood River:

FINDING OUT ABOUT THE EVENT

I got an email from my aunt a few days before the event was due to happen explaining her role in it and asking if I wished to meet her there and go back to hers for sausage and chips or if I would prefer a saturday supper. I decided that the event could be quite interesting, so I opted for the former course of action.

GETTING THERE

Since the event was taking place at the Scout Hut on Beulah Street, which is on the bank of the Gaywood (Beulah Street ends in a bridge that crosses the Gaywood into the car park that serves the Scout Hut) I was going to walking, and since it was a bright, sunny morning I decided on an extended route. Leaving my flat I headed across Baker Lane Car Park to the bridge over the upper Purfleet, heading across King Street to the north bank of the lower Purfleet. Here are some photos from that early part of the walk:

Moorhensigull with spread wings

From there I followed the line of the Great Ouse as far as my favourite cormorant observation point…

BoatCormorantiCormorantiiCormorantiiibirds 'n' churchcormorantiv

…before heading round by way of All Saint’s Church to the Library and entering the parkland area, following the Broadwalk until the path through the Vancouver Garden splits off from it, when I followed that and then the path out of the Vancouver Garden that joins the Tennyson Road end of St John’s Walk, at which point I was back on what would be the officially recommended walking route to Gaywood. There were squirrels about (in King’s Lynn only the grey ‘bushy-tailed rat’ variety as opposed to the red ‘Squirrel Nutkin” variety), though it is not always easy to get good photos of them…

SquirreliiiSquirreliv

Moorhen Chick
This picture and the next feature the heavily sculpted segment of the Gaywood River that passes through the parkland.

Moorhen parent and child

Traini
Apart from photograph opportunities the other plus side to being held up a by a train at the Tennyson Road level crossing is that you can cross the road itself in perfect safety as the cars are all stationary.

trainii

From Tennysod Road I followed the footpath the runs between the King Edward VII Academy and the Lynn Academy to Gaywood Road, which I crossed, then crossing the Gaywood on a pedestrian bridge before following its bank all the way to the Scout Hut. 

Butterfly
Although darker than their usual colouring I think from the markings that this is a peacock butterfly.
Gaywood river
A section of the Gaywood River

AT THE SCOUT HUT

Immediately outside the Scout Hut the Gaywood Valley Conservation Group had a gazebo and display boards (it was there that I took the photo that appears in the introduction). 

GazeboDisplay boardGaywood Valley 1LeafletsDisplay BoardGaywood Valley 2Gaywood Hidden HeritageGaywood Valley 3Display Board

Inside the hut was the Civic Society Stall, a cake stall, and various river related learning activities (colouring in pictures of river creatures for the artistically minded, an A-Z quiz of which more later). Although it was not the first thing I looked at, because it was my aunt’s reason for being there I start with…

THE CIVIC SOCIETY STALL

They were looking for people who knew about the history of the Gaywood river, because information boards will be going up at various points along it. They already had some good stuff, but wanted more.

Civic Soc display boardCS1CS2CS3CS4183818101960Wall DisplayMKBUrban Trees

Now we turn out attention to…

THE REST OF THE INDOOR ACTIVITIES

The cake stand looked awesome but discipline prevailed, and I did not sample any of the products. Although it was not really aimed at people my age I did the quiz, and predictably got all the answers in short order. The colouring proved popular, and many of the coloured creatures were then stuck on to a large picture of a river on the wall of the hut.

Quiz
I will reveal the answers (just in case anyone did not get them all) in a later post.

Colouring sheetsWall riverCakescolouring table

That is the inside stuff finished, but there was also plenty going on…

IN THE BACK GARDEN

There were two major centres of activity in the back garden, and I make my first port of call there, as I did on the day, at…

THE NORFOLK WILDLIFE TRUST GAZEBO

The Norfolk Wildlife Trust were showing children how to make portable ‘bug hotels’, and they also had a natural history display including a folder full of photographs of animals, and a stash of leaflets, to which I may return in a later post. 

NWTNH1NH3NH2NH4NH5NH6NH7NH8NH9NH10NH11NH12NH13NH14NH15NH16NH17NH18NH19NH20NH21NH22NH23NH24NH25NH26NH27NH28NH29NH30NH31NH32NH33NH34NH35NH36skull

We now come to what was for me the best of all the exhibits, courtesy of…

THE NORFOLK RIVERS TRUST

There were two parts to this exhibit. The minor part was display showing graphically how different treatment of land in the winter affects the soil:

Winter demo 1
These three models were side by side demonstrating what happens to soil when there is nothing there at all – gets washed straight into the river)…
Farm demo 2
When there are dead leaves covering it – still lots of it ends up in the river…
Farm demo 3
…and what happens when something suitable is planted – note the much clearer water at the end – most of this soil remains in place.

The second part of this display was a living exhibit from the river – two large buckets of river water with creatures that naturally live in it there to be seen (the amount of dissolved sediment in the water, the small size of these creatures and the fact that some of them live on the bottom of the river means that this the only way to make them visible). There was also a small sample dish which the person running the exhibit used to show as very small curiosities…

Caddis House
This is one of nature’s smallest houses – within it is a caddis fly larva, and at some point the adult fly will emerge.
Stickleback
The next three shots are of small sticklebacks.

Stickleback 2Stickleback 3

Gudgeon 1
This was described as a gudgeon, but looks different to the other gudgeons we will see later. The silvery sheen to its scales suggests a dace to my eyes.

Water shot

Stickleback 4
I am not sure what this piebald fish is, though it could be a stickleback.

Water shot 2

Sample dish
This shot of the sample dish showing the thumbnail of the dxemonstrator reveals just how tiny that Caddis fly home actually is – it was in this same dish that I saw it.

Water shot 3Water shot 4Water shot 5SaladsPond animals

Gudgeons1
Two gudgeons in the second bucket – note that as would be the case in the river they are at the bottom.

Gudgeons 2Water shot 6two sticklebacksWater shot 7Water shot 8Water shot 9

There was also a story teller outside…

Story

LINKS

To start this section we look at organisations who were actually involved in some way or other with this event:

Now we have a few science and nature websites:

  • Wildlife & Planet – interesting stuff about wildlife from all over the world.
  • WEIT – the website that grew out of Jerry Coyne’s classic book Why Evolution is True. 
  • Science Whys – the blog of Brandeis biology professor James Morris.
  • Rationalising the Universe – sets about accomplishing the big task laid out in its title and does a good job of it.
  • Faraday’s Candle – a science website that will really illuminate your life.

I conclude this section by mentioning a couple of bloggers who regularly feature nature in their work:

  • Cindy Knoke – keen photographer and nature lover. Below is the feature image from (and link to) her most recent post:
  • Anna – her posts about fighting to save nature in her part of the world are always inspiring, and her two recent series of posts “Paradise on Earth” and “Butterflies in Trosa” are both stunning. Below is the feature image from (and link to) her most recent butterfly post.

CONCLUSION

This was an excellent event and I learned a good deal about the history and nature of the Gaywood River. I have one kvetch which is that the event was poorly publicised – I only found out about it through my aunt and then only a few days before it was happening, meaning that anyone else I might have alerted would almost certainly have had other plans. If half of you have enjoyed this post even half as much as I enjoyed the event I have done a good job. I finish by urging you to take the time to follow up those links.

 

 

The Musical Keys Session That Wasn’t

A walk, some dreadful weather and a double-booking. Also some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Musical Keys run regular sessions for NAS West Norfolk, and I attend these sessions both as a participant and in my role as branch secretary of NAS West Norfolk. Today should have been a Musical Keys day, and after lunch I set off on an afternoon walk with the Scout Hut in Gaywood as my envisaged final destination. 

A LITERAL DAMPENING

Although I was ultimately aiming for Gaywood I decided to lengthen the walk by going along the river bank as far as my regular cormorant observation point and then returning to the route to Gaywood by way of Seven Sisters and the Red Mount Chapel. Unfortunately I was near the end of the riverside stretch when the rain started coming down in stair rods, and it stayed raining all the way to Gaywood. Although Gaywood Library is small there are sometimes good books to be found there, and I did find some today.

A METAPHORICAL DAMPENING

While in Gaywood Library I logged into a computer, and it was there that I saw a facebook post telling me that Musical Keys had been cancelled due to a double booking. As I was still not fully dried out from the walk to Gaywood I was more than usually annoyed by this.

A POSSIBLE CHANGE OF LOCATION

This is not the first time we have had problems of this nature with this venue, so it is natural to be considering new venues. The British Red Cross have a suitable room in thier building at Austin Fields which is close to the centre of King’s Lynn. It is true that the principal approach from outside King’s Lynn, Edward Benefer Way/ John Kennedy Road, is prone to traffic jams, but I think the good outweighs the bad in terms of this venue. 

PHOTOGRAPHS

Even in the poor weather I experienced I was able to get a few decent photographs:

doves
This was taken in Fakenham yesterday – this window ledge is immediately outside my work area at James and Sons and these doves have been using it for a few days now.

moorhen family 1Moorhens and ducksMoorhens and ducks 2Tern 1Glaucous GullTern 2

2 flying cormorants
Two flying cormorants ine one shot – a first for me.
Flying cormorant
My second edit of that same picture, focussing on the nearer of the two cormorants.

Cormorant PlatformCormorantsKing of the Cormorant castleIII CormorantsFarewell to Cormorant PlatformMoorhen adult and child

Musical Keys MKII

A brief account of the resumption of Musical Keys sessions for NAS West Norfolk.

INTRODUCTION

Yesterday saw the resumption of Musical Keys sessions for people with Autism in the King’s Lynn area. The sessions will now take place fortnightly at the Scout Hut on Beulah Street (youngsters 3PM to 4PM, older people 4PM to 5PM). The sessions are now being run by two new people, John and Kirsty.

FIRST SESSION BACK

The biggest change other than in personnel was the absence of i-pads – we were using real instruments, with the focus being on percussion…

dscn5494

You can see here five drums that need to lifted above ground level to be played, one box which you sit on to play, generating sound by hitting the front, a wooden instrument that like the drums needs to be lifted to be played and a second wooden instrument (partially concealed), which comes with its own striking implements.

Once we had made our selections it was time to start playing, initially to instructions.

dscn5495

The side of the drum I chose.

After a while I was introduced to a new instrument, a wooden frog with a hollow centre, which comes with a wooden striking instrument.

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Later still I switched drums to one of the larger ones…

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dscn5500
With this larger drum I could position the frog in the centre and vary the sound according to whether I struck the frog or the drum.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the session. John said that if anyone indicated that they wanted a particular instrument to be available they would try to make it happen.

SOME NEW PHOTOS

With one exception these pictures are all from today, from walks at each end of the day…

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This poster was on display at the Scout Hut yesterday.
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Moorhens in the Purfleet.

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These last three pictures are from this evening.

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Buildings and a Petition

Some more pictures of buildings in and around King’s Lynn, plus a link to an important petition.

INTRODUCTION

This post can be seen as a sequel to “Buildings of Kings Lynn” and “More Buildings of King’s Lynn”. However, as you will see, this one has a slightly wider focus.

IN KING’S LYNN

Our first building of the day is sadly not being used for anything. It used, in the days when such things existed to be our main Post Office (we now have the services of a few cashiers at WHSmith instead), and no subsequent use has been found for it.

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Now we have some buildings near the train station…

Portland Street

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The first of the two pictures I combined to make the ‘juxtaposition image’

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DSCN4409
The Fenman Pub – there is lots of railway memorabilia inside (it is directly opposite the station)
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St John’s Vicarage

From here, since we are at the start of St John’s Walk, we enter the parkland area…

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DSCN4430
The Guanock Gate

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DSCN4433
The South Gate.

On our way from the South Gate to the Great Ouse we get a glimpse of the Baptist Church.

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Looking across the river, we get a glimpse of West Lynn Church (one can use the ferry if one wishes to get closer, or walk down to the road bridge and cross there)

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Near Marriott’s Warehouse one can see the Rathskellar wine bar…

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The Rathskeller, with a side wall of Marriott’s in the background.

We finish this section with a few quirky images from the town centre.

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In spite of the size of this poster the map is next to useless – I know the Hardwick Sainsbury’s well, but could not find it using that map.
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The side of Boot’s .
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Close up of the metalwork.
DSCN4428
The top of the guildhall. The green structure projects the light show on to King’s Lynn Minster at night.

GAYWOOD AND PLANNING PERMISSION

My aunt had noticed a cause for concern in a planning application for something in Gaywood, and as we were heading for Sunday lunch with my parents in East Rudham anyway we went via Gaywood. We actually saw no evidence there of the planning application that had caused the concern, but did see another, for an extension of the pub. The original planning application that had been brought to my aunt’s attention was for a small new build, and these photos from the area in question show, a plain concrete box which is what apparently was on the table would have been very inappropriate.

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The planning application that was on display in Gaywood
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Two brick houses with distinctive features.

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Trees that may i danger of being knocked down.
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Not brick and flint, but (like the library) brick and Carr.

A PETITION TO THE GOVERNMENT ABOUT HEDGEHOGS

Dedicated followers of this blog will know that yesterday I put up a post supporting a team4nature thunderclap. I am finishing this post by linking to an official petition to the UK government to give hedgehogs better protection. The petition can be viewed here (note and apology to my international followers – you have to be a British citizen to sign petitions on this site).