Moving on to the Front Foot Against the Big C

An optimistic account of the latest milestone in my ongoing recovery from cancer.

INTRODUCTION

This is an optimistically titled post , borrowing a metaphor from my favourite sport, based on events from today. As I hope you will observe the optimism has some justification…

A TOP UP SHOP AND GAYWOOD LIBRARY

I was running out of coffee and had already decided that I would venture to the local mini supermarket to see if I could stock up there. I decided once I had sallied forth that if I felt reasonable when leaving the shop I would do some extra walking by way of asserting my continued recovery. The purchases duly made (I also bought a couple of biros as I have something of a shortage in that department) I headed off in the general direction of Gaywood Library (smaller but also closer than the main Kings Lynn library). I selected three books from the library (restricting myself to an easily carryable number), gave myself a short restorative break by logging into one of the computers to do some stuff there and then completed the process of borrowing the books.

I walked back by way of a stretch of the Gaywood River, some meadow and the Discovery Centre, arriving back at Columbia Way at about 12:45. I was out and about for just over the hour, meaning that my total time spentg walking was about 40 minutes.

Although I am quite tired from this little excursion I am also glad that I made it, and mark it off as another staging post in the long process of recovery.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Here are the photographs from my little expedition:

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Mallards enjoying a section of the Gaywood River…
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…and demonstrating that they can fly.
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Gaywood Library
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Immediately outside Gaywood Library
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Mallards in formation on another section of the Gaywood
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The first of three brand spanking new information boards about the Gaywood River

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A distant view of a magpie.

The First Ducklings of 2018

Pictures of ducklings exploring the Gaywood River.

INTRODUCTION

I saw two broods of ducklings while on my way to a Musical Keys session on Saturday. 

THE PICTURES

I was delighted to see the ducklings, particularly in that location, on the Gaywood River, where they are far enough from the Great Ouse that they should not fall victim to large and aggressive gulls (yes, gulls do target ducklings).

Duck family outingDucklingspale ducklingducklingduck and ducklingFemale mallard with ducklingssix ducklings

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

Different Bird Species – Same Pose

Two birds of different species exhibiting similar behaviour (which I have previously only ever observed in cormorants).

INTRODUCTION

This is whimsical little post inspired by an odd coincidence I observed while out walking yesterday.

DIFFERENT BIRDS, SIMILAR POSES

While I was out walking yesterday afternoon I saw a Muscovy duck in the stretch of the Gaywood River that is currently serving as home to a small colony of these unusual visitors to our shores posing in the fashion that cormorants sometimes so (for an amusing take on this see Anna’s recent cormorant drawing). Here is a composite picture featuring both posing birds:

juxtaposition

National Park Cities Thunderclap

Introducing the concept of National Park Cities, publicising a thunderclap about the same and displaying some of my own photographs.

INTRODUCTION

To take part in a Thunderclap you have to be on at least one of facebook, twitter or tumblr, so for the benefit of those among my readers who cannot take part I am also including some recent photos of my own that tie in well with this particular thunderclap. 

NATIONAL PARK CITIES

The idea behind this thunderclap, set up the folks at team4nature is that there are recognized health benefits to people having easy access to nature. Among the potential pioneers of the concept of a National Park City is London, and you can declare your support here. To take part in the thunderclap click here, or on the image below, which shows the story in full:

NPCTC

PHOTOGRAPHS

Here are some of my recent nature pictures, which also feature the two main parks in King’s Lynn, The Walks and Lynnsport Park and sections of Bawsey Drain and The Gaywood River.

GullsMerula IWalks IWalks IIWalks IIIWalks IVWalks VMerula IIMerula IIIMagpieGulls IIbirdsSmall birds ISmall birds IISmall birds IIISmall birds IVMerula IVbrown patchesOmniaOmnia IIgrey specklesdark muscovydark muscovy IItwo foron the bridgedark muscovy IIIGreymuscovies and mallardseightPanoramaParting shot

Can You Identify These Birds?

Can you identify these large water birds that I saw near Kettlewell Lane, King’s Lynn, today?

INTRODUCTION

I was out walking this afternoon, and one of the places I walked was a section of river that runs parallel to Kettlewell Lane in King’s Lynn. It was there that I saw some birds I have never seen before…

BIG NEW AVIAN FIND

These are large birds, similar in size and build to a goose, but with colouring unlike any goose I have ever seen, and not matching any of the goose species listed in my bird book. They were probably about half as big again in each direction as the mallards that I also saw (and due to being overfed King’s Lynn mallards are bigger than average mallards!). I have lots of photos for you…

Geese 1Geese 2Piebald birdWhite birdMixed plumagesVariegated birdsMixed birdsSplendid birdshiny birdMainly white birdMainly white bird IIBlack bodied birdPink billed birdBrown birdDark birdMainly Brown BirdSwimming Bird ISwimming Bird IISwimming Bird IIITwo birdstwinsFront ongrey and blackDouble actHeadBeakFront on shot

Based on the size of the birds and all the features that my camera managed to pick up can you identify them? If you can please let me know by commenting.

A Correction To My Previous Post

INTRODUCTION

A whole post to make a correction? Yes – this error is important enough to warrant such treatment as far as I am concerned.

THE CORRECTION

In the first published version of the post I put up earlier today I misattributed the exhibits that included living creatures from the Gaywood River to the Gaywood Valley Conservation Group. It was in fact put on by the Norfolk Rivers Trust, and I have just corrected the original (I realised my error while on the bus to Norwich and have been waiting for access to a computer to correct it).
two sticklebacks

 

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.

 

 

Toxic Earth

A warning note courtesy of http://www.indy100.org, some stuff about public transport, some stuff about science, a link to a satirical pamphlet and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

The title of this piece comes from an article on www.indy100.com although I am sharing many other things besides that, including some of my local photographs. However before I get into the main meat of my post there is one other matter to attend to:

ERRATUM

In a recent post I identified a bed of yellow flowers as daffodils. It has since been brought to my attention that they were in fact yellow crocuses. I apologise for the mistake, and please note that I am not resorting to the equivalent of putting the apology in six point type somewhere in the middle of of page 27!

TOXIC EARTH

Reading this article put me in mind of Anna’s recent post “No 17 drawing in my goals for 2017” where the drawing is about a group of people stranded in space looking for another planet to replace the one that they had to leave behind because they messed it up too badly. Click on the image below to read this important and sobering article.

chemicals.jpg

A COUPLE OF LONDON
TRANSPORT RELATED BITS

I usually reserve stuff about London transport for my London transport themed website http://www.londontu.be, where indeed I shared the second piece in this section yesterday, but I felt these two bits should also be shared here.

LAURIE PENNY ON UBER

Laurie Penny has turned her fire on private cab hire firm Uber, and the result is a devastating article in the Guardian, which I hope will succeed in weaning a few people off this vile organisation. Please read the article in full please click on the image below.

TUNNEL ARCHAEOLOGY AT THE MUSEUM OF LONDON

The central section of the Elizabeth line (nee Crossrail) cuts through London on an east-west axis, and there being no space on the surface it also cuts vertically through millennia of history. It is this latter that has led to the creation of a new exhibition at the Museum of London showing the best finds unearthed during the building of the line. Accompanying this exhibition is a short video, embedded below. After the video are links to more about this and about the Museum of London.

Extra links:

PAYING MORE BUT GETTING LESS

This is a petition put together by Going to Work which calls not only for affordable affairs on our railways but also for a fully publicly owned and publicly accountable rail network. To view, sign and share the petition please click on the screenshot below:

action-for-rail

PHOTOGRAPHIC INTERLUDE

Here are some pictures from in and around King’s Lynn:

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Planning information posted near Lynnsport.

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The good and the bad of Bawsey drain in one photo – it is home to many species but in spite of continued efforts to clear it is still used by uncaring human residents as a dumping ground.

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This bridge crosses a stretch of the Gaywood, carrying Littleport Street across said river.

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The inaugural NAS West Norfolk curry night took place on Thursday, delayed by a week due to bad weather. Although some of those who had originally booked did not make it, those who did enjoyed it.
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My choice – Lamb Rogan Josh. The accompaniments are boiled rice, two small poppadoms and a garlic naan. The curry was a little spicier than I would have liked but other than that splendid. The accompanying drink, included in the £6.49 price tag, is a pint of Doom Bar ale (and yes for the record I drank only the one)
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One of many fine pictures to adorn the wall of The Globe, and the only one I got a clear shot at.

ATHEISTS ARE BECOMING MORE POPULAR

Here is a truly international link – a Brit sharing a post written by a New Zealander about the USA. Heather Hastie has carried out a typically thorough comparison between the Pew Research Centre’s findings of three years ago and of just recently. Please read Heather’s post in full by clicking here.

A TRIO OF SCIENCE PIECES

The first two pieces in this section were initially posted on whyevolutionistrue starting with a piece drawing on the work of Pliny the in Between, who runs a website called The Far Corner Cafe, and of a doctor who posts under the name of Orac on scienceblogs, whose piece can be read here, to demonstrate that Chiropractic is not merely nonsense, but dangerous (indeed potentially fatal) nonsense at that. Jerry Coyne, creator of whyevolutionistrue (it takes its name from his landmark book of that title published in 2009), has received many hostile comments in response to previous pieces he has written that are critical of Chiropractic. To read this piece in full please click on the image below, the first in a series of five drawings from Pliny the in Between that were used to illustrate the post.

stroke-001

Second of the trio, again courtesy of WEIT, is a piece linking to a paper published in the journal Nature that mentions the discovery of potential traces of life in sediments that range in age between 3.77 and 4.28 billion years (the earlier end of the scale being about as early given what is known about our planet’s turbulent beginnings as life of any sort could have taken hold). To read the post in full and possibly move from there to reading the paper in Nature please click on the image below:

nature21377-f1

The third in my science trio comes from the Smithsonian and has the self explanatory title “NASA Wants the Public to Log In to Help Find Plant 9”. To read the piece in full please click on the image below.

Planet 9

A SATIRICAL PAMPHLET
FROM UNLOCK DEMOCRACY

To read this pamphlet from Unlock Democracy  in full please click the screenshot of the cover below:

ud

SOME FINAL PHOTOGRAPHS

This set of pictures are of items that will be going under the hammer in James and Sons’ March auction, a full catalogue listing for which can be viewed here. 

127
Lot 127
128
Lot 128
140
Lot 140
141
Lot 141
142
Lot 142
143
Lot 143
149
Lot 149 (three separate images joined together)
149-a
149-a
149-b
149-b. In the past, before the American way of reckoning up large numbers took over, a 1 with nine zeros after it was not designate one billion, but either one thousand million or one milliard, and one of the banknotes here shows that the Germans with a small difference in spelling used the same word when necessary.
149-c
149-c
150
150
151
152
153
153
155
154
154
155
164
164
170
170
171
171
172
172
172-a
172-a
172-b
172-b
393
393
393-a
393-a
393-b
393-b
393-c
393-c. When putting these together I decided to make this image the centre of the picture, thereby splitting the two sets of booklets.
407
407 – a four piece composite image
407-a
407-a
407-b
407-b
407-c
407-c
407-d
407-d
407-e
407-e – I could not resist extracting this close-up.

Tackling the MP

Some stuff about putting pressure on MPs, some photographs and some general links.

INTRODUCTION

As well as the stuff relating to Sir Henry Bellingham, MP for Northwest Norfolk and therefore my local MP I have a few other links and of course a selection of photographs. Also before I move into the main body of the post I start with…

ERRATUM

In my last post but one I described one the birds I had photographed as a long-tailed tit, when it was actually a pied wagtail. I have as those following the link will note made the correction to the original post, but I am not going to settle for the blogging equivalent of a correction notice in 6pt type at the bottom of page 27!

TACKLING THE MP 1: AN UNSATISFACTORY RESPONSE

I recently contacted my MP as part of a campaign brought to my attention by Alex Runswick of Unlock Democracy. Here is Sir Henry’s utterly predictable and deeply unsatisfactory response to my message about Propotional Representation:

Thank you for contacting me about Proportional Representation (PR).

I am afraid that I do not agree with your views on PR, and fully support First Past the Post (FPTP). This tried and tested system ensures stability and clear governance,
preventing disproportionate influence by minority parties with minimal public support, who typically end up holding the balance of power in PR systems.

The British people were clear on this matter in 2011. While the Early Day Motion suggests that the referendum is not relevant, it is clear that the verdict was not only
against the Alternative Vote system, but in favour of FPTP. The system is clearly well established and understood by voters, and also provides a very clear link between
constituents and their representatives in Parliament.

More often than not, FPTP results in a Government with a working majority in Parliament, making decisive government possible. It allows the formation of a clear opposition
that can provide an alternative to, and a check on, the Government of the day. The Government therefore has no plans to change the voting system for elections to the
House of Commons.

I note that EDM 591 endorses the principle of votes that count equally. This is exactly what is happening through the Boundary Review, which will equalise the size of
constituencies. As it stands, some constituencies have twice as many electors as others, and this cannot be right.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

Every Best Wish

Henry Bellingham

Sir Henry Bellingham MP for North West Norfolk
House of Commons
London
SW1A 0AA

The reference to the 2011 referendum is particularly annoying, since the system on offer as an alternative was very nearly as flawed as FPTP. Also in 2011 we had not had the farce of the 2015 General Election which saw a party in receiving the votes of 24% of the electorate enabled to form a so-called “majority government”. 

TACKLING THE MP 2: A BUS SERVICES BILL

The Better Transport Campaign are seeking to get people to contact their MPs to gain support for a strong Bus Services Bill. For more details of what this is all about and if applicable to contact your MP (as I have already done, though not in my case with any real hope let alone expectation of support) please click the screenshot below:

screenshot-2017-01-23-at-4-56-18-pm

 PHOTOGRAPHS

Today was a nice sunny afternoon…

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OTHER LINKS

Rationalising the Universe have put up an excellent post titled Quantum Numbers. To see the full post click on the diagram illustrating the shapes of electron orbitals that I have included below as a sample:

05cb54e6ff5c2289b76027bb3d74ae8db658f41f

Ficitional newsreader Jonathan Pie provides a pungent take on the Trump inauguration (be warned there is some seriously strong language):

Finally, to end on light note, here is a link to a Guardian quiz entitled “what is your travel identity?”. When I did it it told me based on my answers that I always followed trends and sought to be cool. Anyone familiar with either me or this blog will realise that this assessment is further off beam than a faulty Trident!