Tuesday, 28 June 2011

A Bit of Twitching

Male Sparrowhawk, Winthorpe
If you have read bits of my blog before, you may have guessed by now that I don't go in for thrill seeking hobbies or white knuckle rides. Apparently this doesn't make me boring, just a comfort seeker. Therefore we can assume that I have the required amount of endorphins [whatever] behaving themselves in my brain and plenty of adrenalin whizzing around my body and so don't need to push myself [just as well] into jumping out of aeroplanes, off of tall buildings fastened to a rubber band or to go white water rafting, I'm not saying I wouldn't like to try [yes I am], but I'm quite happy not bothering.

And anyway, I've had a fair few thrills bird watching, you can be minding your own business in one half of Mere hide at Gibraltar Point - the noisy half, seeing as the GOM is usually whispering in mega-decibels - when you get a whispered shout from the quiet, studious, serious side to 'come and have a look at this.'

Well, what is a girl to do with an offer like that? Yes, I went. There were three men all wanting to show me their equipment. One had got a posh digital camera with various attachments, trained on an obliging dragonfly. It was truly amazing, I could see it breathing. I was then nice enough [I can be nice, just not very often] to act dim while they explained 'thorax' to me.

Mystery Bird
I may even have mentioned once or twice before [repeating oneself is an age thing - get used to it], we don't actually have to go looking for wildlife as we've got plenty at the caravan aka 'the manor', including this little chap who visited for three days and was never to be seen again - sorry about the poor photo quality but they were taken with my old, less zoomy camera. My brother in law - a much more knowledgeable twitcher - went back to his very first theory [after a little light research], that it was a Canary crossed with a Chaffinch that had escaped from an aviary.

Back to the thrills of Gibraltar Point ... On one occasion we set off on our way around and couldn't help noticing an over-excited group of people [aged variously between 20-70], all wearing shades of green and khaki. They also sported the obligatory walking boots with thick socks over their trousers.

Female Sparrowhawk, Gibraltar Point
Bearing in mind that the routes most of them took are accessible by mobility scooters and wheelchairs - this bunch made my decision of NOT wearing the proper 'twitcher' uniform so much easier.

They were all carrying binoculars [as was I, plus my camera], half a dozen had spotter scopes set up on tripods and were looking intently at a tree in the middle distance. 'Oooh, must be something good if they're all this excited' methinks, so we asked ...

'It's a Yellowhammer!!!' - yeah, right ... So I have to ask myself 'am I getting blasé in my old age or what?' We'd seen three Yellowhammers a few days before and I don't remember walking around and waving my arms about like this lot - but I suppose they may well be repressed thrill-seekers. We saw lots more of them on our usual route [we do sometimes go on a different route if we need a bit more excitement]. We concluded that they must have been on a bus trip from a bird watching club or maybe just escapees from somewhere not very secure.

We have seen some - not particularly rare, but hard to spot - birds at Gibraltar Point including a Goldcrest who positively refused to pose nicely, hence the blurred photo. but to be honest we go there more for the walk, change of scenery and fresh air, oh and to see the seals on the sandbank when the tide is out.

I remember one occasion last year that we went to test my lovely new gadget [again]. I took photos of damselflies, dragonflies and even managed to spot and take a few shots of a Whitethroat. Upon looking at the photos in situ, the GOM wasn't convinced.

As we got back to the car park, he wondered off to look at the information board and when he got back to us [my chum with an equally new, but less gadgety camera and I] waiting at the car, he grudgingly admitted that I could well be right - or in his professional opinion, it was definitely a Sea Buckthorn ... Yes, you and I know it's a bushy plant with orange berries, but I didn't see the point in arguing. He didn't really believe me until a week or so later.

Sea Buckthorn
It was late, but I was in a writing mood so I was sat with my fingers poised - all four typing fingers - above my keyboard. grumpy had just gone to bed to read; when I heard this odd noise. It sounded like a strangled gasp. It turned out to be himself trying not to laugh out loud. He'd found a Gibraltar Point leaflet amongst his pile of books and was laughing at a picture of Sea Buckthorn. I do hope no one was passing our caravan at about 12.30am, it was definitely rocking with laughter ...

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Locked Out And The Alleged Revenge

We came back to dear old Langley Mill last Monday after being in our 'tin hut by the sea' for a couple of weeks. We started our usual round of family visits Tuesday afternoon. When we arrived home from the first [number two daughter] grumpy went in - I think - but I noticed our neighbours coming up the street so stayed to have a word with them.

The 'word' was 'are you putting the kettle on?'

Being the lovely person I am - and not forgetting that this is the same neighbour who feeds my fish, waters my plants [and weeds] and takes in all my parcels when I'm not there - I agreed that 'yes, I'm putting the kettle on, tea or coffee?', and we all set off down the entry.

Oh, strange, the door is locked ... 'he did come this way didn't he?' - this is not the daft question it sounds because my grumpy old man has a habit of veering off if he spots a victim someone to talk to [who isn't quick enough to avoid him].

'Shall I fetch my key?' asked my neighbour ... 'No he must be in so his key will be in the lock.'

We all shouted, I knocked on the door and dining room window. Surely he's heard us, he can't be that far away - the house just isn't big enough, if next doors cat breaks wind I can hear it - and believe it or not, we can be further apart in our caravan than we can at home.

I could see into the front room from where we stood because the door was open. Hmm, I bet he's looking at his 'hosses' on the front room telly. Off I went back up the entry to knock on the front room window - no use knocking on the front door, he'd ignore it. Sure enough there he sits, remote in hand, racing results on ... 'You've locked me out, you moron!' ... 'What?' this reply was accompanied by his best glazed expression.

I know that I'm way down his list of important stuff - I hover between the car and the cat ... in that order [well after the hosses], but how can he forget me like that? Boo hoo.

The following morning ... quite early, I opened the blind and bounced back into bed awaiting my coffee - the bounce was my signal to my butler/chauffeur/grumpy old man to wake up and go and make the coffee. Unfortunately being only a sniff away from geriatric-dom myself, I misjudged the bounce and caught the GOM on his knee with my toe nail. 'Oops'. '. . . . . . .' Oh that's odd I expected more reaction than, well, nothing.

Two minutes later - we're in genuine geriatric territory here so a delayed reaction can be excused - the GOM announced that he was going to get up and inspect his knee; where I'd obviously caused irreparable damage with at least a three inch long cut, probably right down to the bone, he would then hobble downstairs in considerable pain and under great duress to find a bandage and make my coffee.

'It's bleeding!' ... It wasn't, he couldn't even manage to squeeze one spot out of it. 'I'm going to tell everyone and write about it on t'internet.' Yeah, right. This is the same man who falls out with his wireless mouse, declaring that it won't go where he wants it until I take it out of his hand and turn it around.

He demanded I take photos of the injury in case he needed to make a claim against me. He needn't start this tit for tat who-has-caused-who-most-injuries because I'm afraid I'd win hands down - not to mention that he is responsible for at least two broken toes

Only last week he thought he'd give me a hug whilst shaving - a bad idea, don't do it, at least not while it's still switched on - the end result was me minus lots [well about 5 strands] of hair pulled out by the roots and him having to dismantle his shaver to get them out. There's no wonder we spend most of our time giggling ...

Saturday, 11 June 2011

A Joyride ... On Heanor Haulage Yard

Before you read this, I must apologise for my obvious swearing which is dotted throughout this post, but I was [as my friend observed yesterday] in a really tetchy mood - although I feel much better after my latest mini-rant:

My grumpy old man was just off on yet another of his trips to the tip yesterday morning when Mr Heanor Haulage shouted to him - it was probably only to say 'hello' but my GOM takes any form of greeting as an invitation to move in and make himself comfy ... bless him.

It turns out that HH were broken into, sometime between Thursday afternoon last week and Monday morning. This time there was significant damage caused because some smart ar*e managed to get the crane started and ran amok with it.

Luckily the damage was confined to HH property [no tears from me then], but could have been worse. One of the flat-beds struck by the crane gouged a six foot long furrow. If it hadn't been weighed down [with crap, presumably] it would have ended up in someone's house.

There have been threats made by Mr HH to trees or at least some branches as he wrongly assumed that they were used to climb in over the fence. Not at all, I know how easy it is to get in there, so easy I could manage it myself if I was so minded [I may have mentioned it before].

Anyway we weren't at home - being at the seaside as befits our crumbly status - so not there to enjoy the fun or to ring the police ... of course there were footballers on Queen Street rec that know whodunnit [but are keeping mum], we know this because one of these self confessed witnesses shouted over to ask if they'd caught them yet.

I know Heanor Haulage come and go, make a racket, pollute our atmosphere then bog off on an erratic schedule, but I'd have thought that someone farther down Bridge Street or at the top of Dean Street would have heard the wrecking spree.

The consequence for us poor sods at the top of Bridge Street - well those of us without a tin hut by the sea to escape to - is that the crane is no longer stored in the middle of HH yard, but has now taken up noisy residence - jacked up so immobile - next to the top house.

This is a really bad place for it - because as sure as I'm grumpy [oh yes I am] - Mr HH will start it up for whatever reason [fairly frequently if the last couple of days are anything to go by], and the fumes that that decrepit heap of sh*t chug out are truly horrendous.

These black, acrid fumes just waft straight around the corner and into our open windows - yes, I know it's stupid of us to assume that we can have our windows or doors open without being beaten back by muck, fumes and noise from H-effin-H ... and Asda with their squawk, squawk, squawk [lorry reversing] deliveries and bloody squeaky gates, we've only asked them THREE times to oil them - you'd have thought we'd have learnt better by now [rant not quite over yet - but I am getting there].

At one point - being the twitcher I am - I was on the street taking photos of [evicted] House Martins on HHs yard collecting mud for nests, when the pile of junk was started up again - cough, wheeze - I was fighting for breath and I swear the birds were keeling over ... but I suppose if I do stand in the middle [yes it is the middle, Asda says so] of Langley Mill, expecting to be able to do something as unrealistic as breathing, then I'm just asking to have my nose and lungs - ergo my brain - filled with poison.

My GOM went and asked if they'd mind not using the crane quite so much - they do have a tendency to leave it chugging merrily away to itself, but I'm not convinced this is actually worse than keep starting it up over and over again.

This request was met with Mr HH's usual charm - bolshy bast**d!

Not a good move on his part, because I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever again [do I make myself quite clear?] phone the police when little [or big] tw*ts break into his yard. In fact, when they've finished playing around in there [stealing cable, joyriding - whatever], I'll most likely invite them in for a cuppa and a biscuit - no, I don't believe me either but it reads good.

His totally unnecessary bombastic reaction to such a reasonable request wouldn't have been quite the smack in the face it was, if we hadn't just provided him with the photos of the bored teenagers who broke in at Easter.

Oh yes, and we're all supposed to be getting a visit from the police in case we witnessed anything. If they take as long as the last proposed visit - still waiting - then I won't be holding what's left of my breath ...

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

McDonalds In Langley Mill ... Yet Again

McDonalds have resubmitted a planning application for CJ Cars - Planning Application AVA/2011/0443 - 206 Station Road Langley Mill Derbyshire NG16 4AE. Proposed new fast food outlet on the former second hand car dealers site - Resubmission of AVA/2010/1227.
They anticipate a decision by 22nd July 2011.

There are also numerous applications for advertisement consent for totem signs, fascia signs and 14 various other signs. Curiously the decisions on these [three] applications are expected on 21st July [the day before the main plans]  ... it looks serious this time folks.

No, I'm not going to do a nice little link to the planning applications at AVBC. Yes, I do have the technology, but we all need to learn how to find things ourselves - tut, I can be so mean at times.

I've not been desperate or bored enough yet to see if the original plans have been tinkered with [access improvements or otherwise] ...

Update 3rd June:

I've had a few teeny-weeny moments of boredom so took a peek at the above planning application. It didn't take too long to find what I was looking for [first guess]. It could be that the council were as unimpressed with the transport assessment as I was. Another one has been carried out - possibly not as big a fantasy as the original.

Oh, and there's a proposed tweaking of road markings at the bottom of Wesley street [middle of the road, right turn in] so access to McDonalds can be extended.

I stopped being bored enough to look any further - I soon lose interest ... it's my age.

Incidentally, I'm not against McDonalds coming to Langley Mill - I don't actually think we NEED one as much as they think we do - but it does need to be safe for pedestrians and traffic. And I do hope they're a bit tidier than another nearby fast food restaurant - because their litter ends up in the canal ...

Update 11th August:

You know, you can get fed up of checking to see if McDonalds have got their planning permission, I'm using up valuable t'Interweb bandwidth through nosiness.

Although a decision was anticipated by 22nd July, they don't seem to have had one so far, nor can I see that they're up for discussion in August 15th planning board documents - yet ...

Update 18th September:

Having had a quick cruise on t'interweb to see if I could find anything about this application as it seems to be dragging on a bit, I came across another - slightly more professional [no moaning] and possibly totally unbiased - blog, namely 'the best of Heanor and Ripley' - which says the plans have been refused [although I can't find where it says so yet at AVBC] because of highway safety - well there's a total surprise ...

So, I wonder where the next plans for McDonalds will be? ...

Update 17th April 2012:

McDonalds have had their application approved - unanimously apparently.

Hmmm, an easy one to slip quietly through while the deeply controversial 'Ripley Gateway' - lets re-class this ‘agricultural land’ off Nottingham Road as ‘recreational public open space’, in our next step to have all that lovely Morrisons bribe S106 money to spend on Belper - was passed ...