Saturday, 13 January 2018

Swanning around

It is always an easy option to walk around Trentham Lake.  Yesterday we went to the gardens to collect a newspaper and some milk, and to get some fresh air.  Over the last few years, swans (which were seldom seen on the lake) have been increasing in numbers.  There must have been 100 mute swans on the lake this week.
Formation flying for the joy of it.  These are heavy birds and need a long stretch of water on which to get airborne.  The splashing on the water surface and whistling of their wings can be heard across the lake.
Building nests, so egg laying is not far off.
And generally showing territorial behaviour to other swans on the lake.
There has been a pair of Australian Black Swans on Trentham lake for about 3 years now.  The pair seem to be treated like any other swans on the water.  They seem to respond to the mute swans with the same behaviour patterns, though their breeding season is out of sync.

Saturday, 6 January 2018


This morning was cold and wet and we wanted to have an adventure, but did not have a purposeful destination.  Let's just go out and see where we end up.
 As the morning went on, we ended up at Peak Wildlife Park.  Good for a walk amongst the Lemurs.  They are fascinating animals.
 The Ringtails were pottering about in small groups around feeding time.  As always, the challenge is to take photographs that exclude the feeders, keepers and general visitors.
 Every time we visit this active zoo,  I am amazed at how relaxed the animals are.
 Here a pair of Black Lemurs are huddled together in the cold.  A few minutes later, they were off to their shelter to get warm (only out to get food).
 The Otter, which was alone after losing it companion  prior to our last visit, now has a new mate - and a bunch of little ones to cope with.
I also have a fascination with the flock of Humboldt Penguins, which can normally be viewed under water.  The most notable thing about penguins is the smell of fish that goes everywhere with them.

Alas, the Sika deer were not available as they had been moved out of the public area during rutting, for safety reasons.

Monday, 25 December 2017


The weather on Christmas morning was unseasonably mild, with rain at first, then a damp and warm day to follow.  By mid-day the wind had picked up to a noticeable breeze.
Breakfast was home made apple and berry jam with coffee and croissants.  Carols from  Kings playing in the background.
Dinner was a home made chestnut roast in pastry with roast vegetables, stuffing and red cabbage...
...followed by Rosie's Christmas pud and brandy butter.   Wow!

Just a little break to check out the bus simulator OMSI 2 and see what is available on line.
 Just like a real bus driver, there are passengers to pick up and drop off, timetables to keep to and traffic and pedestrians to avoid, as well as road works.
Of course, if you have a lot of money to throw at this sim, you can have the chair, steering wheel and pedals, gear stick and switch consul. It can be run from a qwerty keypad or a gaming control pad. Routes in the UK, Europe and the US can be added for a fee and some packages have bus blanks that can be painted up for custom simulations.  There is a serious following for this type of sim.

Still waiting for the results of my Ancestry DNA test.  That may be my next post.

Thursday, 21 December 2017


 This year, as many, we started the Christmas at Little Morton Hall with a recital from Piva.  The spirit of a Tudor style festivity is much calmer than the modern day alternative.

Friends have invited us to lunch tomorrow and the idea is to pick up a feast on the way over.  Doubtful if there will be anything we want by lunchtime, we decided to make some spanakopita.  This is a Greek tart with filo pastry, green leaves and feta cheese, seasoned to suit local tastes.  This variation is a simple version.
 De-stalked baby spinach leaves, crumbled feta cheese, sweet onions, nutmeg and lemon zest are the base for the filling.
 4 sheets of filo pastry are oiled and layered for the base of the tart, four more will be needed for the top.
 Parboil the leaves and onions for 5 minutes and strain thoroughly.  Press out the excess juiced through a muslin cloth.
 Mix the ingredients in a bowl (I added a few Kalamata olives to go with the Kalamata olive oil I used on the pastry) - and spoon into the lined tart tray.  Cover with more filo pastry and bake at 200 degrees Celsius for 12 minutes until brown on top (16 minutes if you are eating it immediately);
This little gem will be cooled and reheated tomorrow, hopefully to go with either a baked potato or a light salad (or both).

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Coldest Day

It was about -10 in the city last night.  This morning we woke up to foggy conditions over some very icy roads.
By 10am the temperature had risen to -5, so we all felt a bit better and I made coffee.
We seem to be inundated with winter visitors.  These gold finches are coming to the feeders in shifts.  It is impossible to get a good idea of how many birds are visiting.
Starlings are also around in larger numbers than usual.  Most of them are sub adults with dark bills.  Occasionally we spot a yellow billed adult bird amongst them.  They can clear the ground and window feeders in a few minutes.
Our robin with one working leg is around and often asks for more food.  I think we shall be calling him/her Oliver.
The bin men failed to turn up today - but we have had word from the City Council that they will be collecting tomorrow as soon as they are able to do so.  As far as I can remember, this is the first time that they have informally missed our street in over 20 years.
It looks like tomorrow will be wet and warm (+1 degree) and Thursday looks a better day, so we may get out and about soon.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Winter Birds

This morning we walked around Tittesworth Reservoir near Leek.  The temperature was 1.5 degrees and there was ice on the paths and the water.  I was surprised at how many small birds were around, and also how few waterfowl.
 Black eyed shrike
 Longtail Tit

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Autumn Walk

 Trentham Gardens Lakeside is looking very autumnal at present.  The beech trees are currently at their best,
 The low Autumn sun is making the leaves stand out.
 Photographs are OK, but they cannot show the ever changing intensity and glow that makes the live experience so scintillating.
The hare in the grassland maze is a fabulous sculpture by David Meredith.  To my mind, this is his best sculpture to be displayed this season.