Cuckoo.

Posted on 17/06/2018 By

Cuckoo.

The Cuckoo.

A fine example.

Cuckoo, cuck-ooh, cuck-oooh…” Was Bobby half asleep? Maybe he was a little “cuckoo” himself! The days of waiting for the first “cuc … koo”, to confirm that summer really was here, seemed a distant memory. Hearing that evocative, unmistakable call again would be wonderful. Especially from his cosy bed at Laurel Cottage. The village is close to farmland and the Surrey Hills and we heard them every year until recently. For these birds have suffered a catastrophic decline, as detailed later.

At times, Collared Doves and Pigeons cooing can be mistaken (for a second or two) for the Cuckoo, but the deception is soon realised. But there it was again. The dawn chorus was starting at first light. Bobby rushed to the window. Flung it open. An early morning. Mike next door would have got a right eyeful! And yes it was one of these delightful birds that cuckooed for the next half an hour. Moving around the lower reaches of Redlands. We hope he found Mrs Cuckoo. If he did, it would be a romance of very poor morals.

Meet the girl of your dreams for a passionate affair. Just a one night, or even a one minute affair and off to find another. Cuckoo cuckoo. And then the “Mrs” dumps her offspring on some other unsuspecting parents and clears off too.

The genetic antics of a newly hatched Cuckoo in a host nest can be likened to a small child. Move into a family you have never met and chuck their children out of the window. Then expect your new mum and dad to feed and nurture you even if you land up miles bigger than your parents.. The following film seems awful but equally incredible…

Baby Cuckoo already bigger than its unsuspecting parent Reed Warbler.

Baby Cuckoo already bigger than its unsuspecting parent Reed Warbler.

And then you fly to Africa without saying goodbye and never knowing your parents. All on your own. And yet that young bird will hopefully return one day. In its genetic make-up it seems that the species its mother chose for her deception will follow for her offspring.

There are other Cuckoos in a worldwide family. Ours is the common Cuckoo. Few birds call their own name.

Not surprisingly, the sound and the knowledge of its unusual lifestyle have got the romantic poets at it. Here’s one from William Wordsworth:

O blithe New-comer! I have heard,
I hear thee and rejoice.
O Cuckoo! Shall I call thee Bird,
Or but a wandering Voice?

While I am lying on the grass
The twofold shout I hear,
From hill to hill it seems to pass,
At once far off, and near.

Though babbling only to the Vale,
Of sunshine and of flowers,
Thou bringest unto me a tale
Of visionary hours.

Thrice welcome, darling of the Spring!
Even yet thou art to me
No bird, but an invisibly thing,
A voice, a mystery.

The name has also led to other derivations. The urban dictionary describes its human counterparts as one who enters a friend’s house, eats all their food and sleeps in their bed. Note the word “friend”. Otherwise it could be a burglar or psychopath. A friend may be called a bit of a cuckoo.

Alternatively, you could have:

“Did you hear about that girl the other day”
“You mean the one who acted like a child and was bouncing off the walls?”
“Ya. She must’ve had a lot of sweets that day and gone totally cuckoo!”

Or even a person who steals a best friend’s girlfriend. What sort of bird is that?
(Take care with the Urban Dictionary if you are averse to foul language).

And, we mustn’t forget the term cuckold. (Do NOT google it!). Much favoured in William Shakespeare’s time in reference to the bird laying its eggs in the nests of other birds. Or, in human terms, somewhat derisory as the man whose wife has been unfaithful to him.

“The cuckoo then on every tree
Mocks married men; for thus sings he, “Cuckoo”
“Cuckoo” “Cuckoo” – O word of fear,
Unpleasing to a married ear.

{Loves Labour’s Lost)

But, back to the bird and its decline in Britain. The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) estimates our Cuckoo population is 50% down on twenty years ago. Not evenly spread, so that the decline is more marked in the south of England. Since it is a migratory species, there are many factors away from our shores that could come into the equation. In these days of modern technology, smaller and smaller devices are being invented to attach to birds for information gathering. Starting at first with very large birds, like migratory swans. Moving onto seabirds, who always return to the same burrow, enabling recording devices to be recovered. (As in the Shearwaters on Skomer Island). And then, most impressively, attached to a group of Cuckoos. Individual birds could be tracked in real time. The observers even followed them to their native wintering quarters in Africa. Named after pop stars, they included Kate Bush, Mark Almond and David Bowie. More recently they have included more. The following website will give you fascinating knowledge about the work of the BTO and how it is getting on with tracking individual Cuckoos.

www.bto.org/science/migration/tracking-studies/cuckoo-tracking

The Cuckoo - Mick Jagger, perhaps?

Mick Jagger, perhaps?

And finally, far more people hear a cuckoo than actually see it. You may follow its call and find it calling from behind you. So here is the RSPB’s “how to identify a Cuckoo”.

“The Cuckoo is a dove-sized bird with blue grey upper parts, head and chest with dark barred white under parts. With their sleek body, long tail and pointed wings, they are not unlike Kestrels or Sparrowhawks. Sexes are similar and the young are brown. They are summer visitors and well-known brood parasites, the females laying their eggs in the nests of other birds, especially Meadow Pipits, Dunnocks and Reed Warblers. Their recent population decline makes this a Red List species.”

The Cuckoo - A spectacular sight in full flight.

A spectacular sight in full flight.

PS

If you saw the last of this year’s BBC Springwatch on 14 June, you will have heard Chris Packham mention the BTO’s Cuckoo survey.

They now have some more Cuckoos electronically connected to the survey with tiny devices. One of the earlier ones, “David Bowie”, is still being tracked and has already left England and currently being followed through France. This is when modern technology takes your breath away.

My guess is that David Bowie flies to England to attract as many females as possible. Does the job and heads off for sunnier climes.”

Lighting a Candle for Diddley

We went to Paris in May and some stories will follow in the weeks ahead. The Basilica of St Denis is very important in French history and we lit our candle there.

The Cuckoo: Lighting a Candle for Diddley - The Basilica of St Denis

The Basilica of St Denis

– – – – – – – – –

PSWildlife    


Rob and the 840 to Whitby.

Posted on 10/06/2018 By

840 to Whitby: Goathland. Just a gift shop for "Heartbeat” fans.

Rob and the 840 to Whitby.

This Is Rob:

840 to Whitby: Rob.

Rob.

This is the 840 to Whitby:

840 to Whitby: The bus.

The bus.

Rob is nice.

Bobby can be nice, but needs to try harder.

They first met as skinny teenagers in the halcyon days of their ‘careers’ at the Legal and General Assurance Society in 1965.

Both were christened Robert in the 1940s. A name that was very popular then. Still is, but more so in its derivative, Bob. Or Rob.

Both had countless nicknames. For Rob, Robert became:

Puss (school).

Rob/Bob/Catty/Catty Boy, Trebor. (Surname Catt … work).

Cato (Dave).

Chuckle Junior (golf … there was a Chuckle Senior).

Bucko (Gym).

Robbo/Rob (nowadays).

For Bobby, Robert became:

Bob/Bobby (school and work).

Trebor/Sitch/Roberto/Bobby Ballcock (work).

Bobbykins (girls).

Bobble (Fliss).

Bobster/Bobstar (old work colleagues).

Bobbley (Diddley).

Bobby (nowadays and bears).

Rob is nice. Even openly reads the Daily Bleedin Mail (DBM) with equanimity and no shame at all.
Bobby hates the DBM and everybody who reads it. Or says he does.

Rob is nice. Despite Bobby’s ranting and insults, he remains calm. For he knows a secret. Bobby is a secret admirer of the DBM.
Bobby is offended, but admits that some really good articles have come from the DBM. He knows this, because Rob sends him anything he thinks will interest him. This is because he is nice. Diddley did the same in reading the Mail Online and sending articles to Bobby!

Bobby isn’t very nice. Despite his good fortune, he still tells Rob that the DBM is a rat infested, sewer soaked, slimy, lie ridden excuse for a newspaper and sends Rob helpful advice.

www.facebook.com/IHateTheDailyMail

How Much I Dislike the Daily Mail.

I would rather
Eat Quavers that are six week’s stale,
Blow dry the hair of Gareth Bale,
Listen to the songs of Jimmy Nail,
Than read one page of the Daily Mail.

If I were bored
In a waiting room in Perivale,
On a twelve hour trip on British Rail
Or a world circumnavigational sail,
I would not read the Daily Mail.

I would happily read
The complete works of Peter Mayle,
The autobiography of Dan Quayle,
Selected scripts from Emmerdale,
But I couldn’t ever read the Daily Mail.

Far better to
Stand outside in a storm of hail,
Be blown out to sea in a powerful gale
Then swallowed by a humpback whale
Than have to read the Daily Mail.

Even if
I were blind
And it was the only thing
In Braille,
I still would not read the Daily Mail.

(anon)

Bobby is also a hypocrite because he posts articles from the DBM as his own. Like the 840 bus. Did you wonder when we would get to that?

840 to Whitby: The bus.

The bus.

As you know, we love Whitby. With Diddley and the grandchildren we always drove. Nowadays, with just the two of us, we go by train to York. And then it’s England’s most scenic bus route to Whitby. Two hours of glorious countryside on a spectacular bus. Bus pass for Bobby. Free for bears. It was voted “The Most Scenic Bus Route in Britain” and the article printed in the DBM. And, of course, forwarded to Bobby by that nice chap Rob.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-44226761

(Play the video for the real atmosphere of this bus route).

Joining the bus outside York station, the pictures that follow were all from the top deck of the 840 to Whitby on one single journey.

840 to Whitby: Luxury seating.

Luxury seating.

840 to Whitby: Front seat for a grandstand view.

Front seat for a grandstand view.

840 to Whitby: York. Roman wall, Minster in the distance.

York. Roman wall, Minster in the distance.

840 to Whitby: York. River Ouse.

York. River Ouse.

840 to Whitby: York. City wall.

York. City wall.

840 to Whitby: Malton - where the bus company is based.

Malton – where the bus company is based.

840 to Whitby: You can change to the 843 to Bridlington or Scarborough.

You can change to the 843 to Bridlington or Scarborough.

840 to Whitby: North Yorks Moors.

North Yorks Moors.

840 to Whitby: RAF Fylingdale on the horizon. Remember the golf balls years ago? Radar early warning system.

RAF Fylingdale on the horizon. Remember the golf balls years ago? Radar early warning system.

840 to Whitby: North Yorkshire Moors. The brown heather is a glorious purple in August.

North Yorkshire Moors. The brown heather is a glorious purple in August.

840 to Whitby: Goathland Station. Aka Aidensfield in “Heartbeat”.

Goathland Station. Aka Aidensfield in “Heartbeat”.

840 to Whitby: Goathland. Just a gift shop for "Heartbeat” fans.

Goathland. Just a gift shop for “Heartbeat” fans.

840 to Whitby: Goathland aka Heartbeat’s “Aidensfield.

Goathland aka Heartbeat’s “Aidensfield.

840 to Whitby: There’s the sea! Can you see it?

There’s the sea! Can you see it?

840 to Whitby: I can see Whitby Abbey. I doubt that you can. But the excitement was gathering on the 840 that day.

I can see Whitby Abbey. I doubt that you can. But the excitement was gathering on the 840 that day.

840 to Whitby: And here we are by the River Esk in Whitby. Two hours of sheer delight on England’s Most Scenic Bus Route.

And here we are by the River Esk in Whitby. Two hours of sheer delight on England’s Most Scenic Bus Route.

840 to Whitby: This is the whole route.

This is the whole route.

840 to Whitby: One day we must go west to Leeds.

One day we must go west to Leeds.

Try this:
www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5779877/Britains-scenic-bus-route-revealed-doubledecker-trip-North-York-Moors.html.

840 to Whitby: The end of the line.

The end of the line.

840 to Whitby: Here's to our next ride on the wonderful 840 to Whitby.

Here’s to our next ride on the wonderful 840 to Whitby.

Bobby reads the “I”. He could get the DBM free with his shopping in Waitrose. But couldn’t bear the ignominy if someone found out. So he relies on Rob.

Rob who is really nice putting up with Bobby’s two-faced cheek.

PS

We are reminded by the Gentle Author that the gardens of Spitalfields are open on 16 June. Including 31 Fournier Street.

http://spitalfieldslife.com/2018/06/05/visit-the-secret-gardens-of-spitalfields-x/

Lighting a Candle for Diddley.

840 to Whitby: Lighting a Candle to Diddley - Not for you. Us neither.

Not for you. Us neither.

840 to Whitby: Lighting a Candle to Diddley - Here’s some proper ones in Whitby.

Here’s some proper ones in Whitby.

And its another excuse to play the most famous bus music of all:

(Written in Pret A Manger in Islington during a thunderstorm over a cup of tea and a pain aux raisin. Twenty minutes. (text). Proving it was either easy, brilliant or rubbish. So bleedin what? Brian Bennett wrote “Summer Holiday” in twenty minutes on a bus. There is also a lie in this blog. First one who notices gets a Mars Bar).
– – – – –

Whitby    


Halcyon Days.

Posted on 03/06/2018 By

Halcyon Days: Swingchair.

Halcyon Days.

Do you have a favourite word? Mine is serendipity. If I can remember how to spell it!

Bobby has a favourite word too. Halcyon. A word that always uplifts his spirits. The halcyon days of youth maybe. Or of summer. Or maybe autumn. In the countryside and in life. But for him the dazzling flash of iridescent blue along the river will lift his spirits to the heavens. For the halcyon is also the kingfisher.

Halcyon Days: Kingfisher.

Kingfisher.

(more…)

Gardens    


Good Thinking

Posted on 28/05/2018 By

Good Thinking: 2018 Brooklands Museum

Good Thinking

It’s a strange thing, bereavement. You may think “you have got over it”. ”Moved on”. You would have thought that would be “good thinking“. Those around you may think how “well you are doing” and “making the best of life”. Then something quite insignificant happens and you realise that it’s not quite as simple as that. Such was Bobby’s experience a few days ago.

The glorious sun, shorts and even suntan lotion of Dunsborough Park (www.dunsboroughpark.com) had given way to rain, turning the heating back on and a new unwelcome friend. Gordon. Like “Enery Ernia” and piles, Gordon is a condition that seriously undermines the sufferer while amusing the general populace. And here is why…

Good Thinking: Gout!

Gout!

Once associated with the high living and self indulgence of rich ne’er-do-wells and the like in previous centuries. Gout is no fun at all. Particularly in Laurel Cottage. Once the world centre of red wine drinking and now alcohol free. Ha ha ha. Ouchhhh. (more…)

Islands    


Frank’s Walk.

Posted on 20/05/2018 By

Frank's Walk: Tiptoe through the bluebells...

Frank’s Walk.

The fun and laughter of the Teddy Bears’ Picnic was wonderful. But a quiet and pensive mood has its devotees as well. A time to think about life and the world we live in. A time to appreciate the beauty of that world and those who have shared it with us. And enjoy Frank’s Walk.

Frank's Walk: Sonnet 18. William Shakespeare.

Sonnet 18. William Shakespeare.

Diddley - Frank's Walk 2014.

Diddley – on the Walk 2014.

(more…)

National Trust    


Teddy Bears’ Picnic

Posted on 13/05/2018 By

Teddy bears' Picnic: Here they come...

Welcome to the 2018 Teddy Bears’ Picnic. The sun will shine and we shall have fun.

Teddy Bears' Picnic: 7 May 12-4pm.

7 May 12-4pm.

And we certainly did enjoy the Teddy Bears’ Picnic. On a glorious May Bank Holiday Monday, the cricket field at Abinger Hammer in Surrey became a sea of colour, picnics and teddy bears. The River Tillingbourne flows right through the middle. Just a few inches deep, it is the ultimate “catch a stickleback and put it back” stream. Amazingly, with so many human beings invading their habitat, there were lots of sticklebacks, and other tiny fish, in jam jars and buckets. (more…)

Teddy Bears' Picnic


31 Fournier Street.

Posted on 06/05/2018 By

Fournier Street Tour.

31 Fournier Street.

31 Fournier Street. I wonder what is going on behind that front door?

I wonder what is going on behind that front door?

On a cold grey day on April 4 2018, we stood outside No 31 Fournier Street. I could see Bobby was deep in thought. Almost mesmerised by how we had come to be standing outside this front door in Spitalfields, East London.

31 Fournier Street.

31 Fournier Street.

Not so long ago he knew virtually nothing about East London. Nothing, that is, except the media driven negative impression of a down trodden, criminal element, dodgy area to be avoided. Liverpool Street, trainspotting in the fifties, and Petticoat Lane with his mum and dad shopping were probably the limit of his knowledge. Oh, and a brief foray in the mid fifties to bus spotting… that took him to all the east end bus garages at just ten years old. On a bike from North Cheam. (more…)

Spitalfields


Three go to Dunsborough Park Gardens.

Posted on 29/04/2018 By

Dunsborough Park Gardens.

Three go to Dunsborough Park Gardens.

We absolutely loved Dunsborough Park Gardens.

Dunsborough Park Gardens: Bobby, me and Anne.

Bobby, me and Anne.

I loved the statues (see Information below).

Anne and Bobby loved the flowers.

We all loved the “Secret Gardens” which are hidden seemingly round every bend. Through each gap in a hedge.

And… we really loved the refreshments provided by the day’s charity. Shooting Star Chase Children’s Hospice Care.

Dunsborough Park Gardens: Festival of Tulips Poster.

Festival of Tulips Poster.

These opening times were for the National Garden Scheme. (NGS) special openings. There are other openings during the season that can be found on the Park website.

www.dunsboroughpark.com/events-functions

For those interested in the history of this beautiful garden, the following also came from the website:

DUNSBOROUGH PARK RIPLEY : GARDEN HISTORY AND INFORMATION

Welcome to Dunsborough Park Gardens.

Dunsborough Park, Ripley, Surrey dates back to the dissolution of the Monasteries when the lands of Newark Abbey were given to a local nobleman. The farmer taking over the land built a farmhouse around a single central brick chimney which has now grown to become Dunsborough House. The gardens were laid out in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Re-opened to the public in 1997 after being restored by garden statuary dealer , Dolf Sweerts de Landas Wyborgh and his wife, Caroline, this magnificent 100 acre estate comprises a series of historical gardens brought to life by vistas and garden architecture.

The Gardens

Dunsborough Park Gardens: Whaddya reckon, Bobby?

Whaddya reckon, Bobby?

Dunsborough Park Gardens: Sit here and enjoy the view!

Sit here and enjoy the view!

Dunsborough Park Gardens: Just look at these blooms.

Just look at these blooms.

Dunsborough Park Gardens: Ere, Bobby. What's he doing?

Ere, Bobby. What’s he doing?

Dunsborough Park Garden: Glorious Tulip Bed.

Glorious Tulip Bed.

Dunsborough Park Gardens: More Tulips Blooms.

More Tulips Blooms.

Dunsborough Park Gardens: Not Tulips!

Not Tulips!

Dunsborough Park Gardens: Ah. More Tulips. Just look at that colour!

Ah. More Tulips. Just look at that colour!

Dunsborough Park Gardens: Ere - fancy a bath, Bobby?

Ere – fancy a bath, Bobby?

Dunsborough Park Gardens: Glorious orange tulips set off by an edging of muscari (grape hyancinths).

Glorious orange tulips set off by an edging of muscari (grape hyancinths).

Dunsborough Park Gardens: Think the orange ones are my favourites.

Think the orange ones are my favourites.

Dunsborough Park Gardens: Sometimes I sit here and think, others times I just sit.

Sometimes I sit here and think, others times I just sit.

Dunsborough Park Gardens: More multi-coloured tulip artwork.

More multi-coloured tulip artwork.

Dunsborough Park Gardens: Do you think he's seen me?

Do you think he’s seen me?

Dunsborough park Gardens: More yellow and white tulips.

More yellow and white tulips.

Dunsborough Park Gardens: Pastel Colours.

Pastel Colours.

Dunsborough Park Gardens: Orange tulips again. Magnificent.

Orange tulips again. Magnificent.

We have just so many wonderful pictures of Dunsborough Park Gardens. Sit back and enjoy the rest of the show!

Dunsborough Park Gardens.

Dunsborough Park Gardens.

Dunsborough Park Gardens.

Dunsborough Park Gardens.

Dunsborough Park Gardens.

Dunsborough Park Gardens.

Dunsborough Park Gardens.

Dunsborough Park Gardens.

Phew! How about a cup of tea before the secret gardens?

We went last Saturday, on a glorious sunny day when the refreshments were provided by Shooting Star Chase Children”s Hospice Charity.

 

Now Anne and Bobby have a legendary appetite for cakes. You should have seen the look on their faces when they saw a sea of home made cakes set out for the visitors to enjoy while supporting the charity. They were so popular, and the scene so reminiscent of a posh garden party, that we half expected Her Majesty to walk round the corner. It was so warm that they had to indulge in elevenses, onesies and threesies! In cake!

Dunsborough Park Gardens.

Dunsborough Park Gardens.

 

Dunsborough Park Gardens.

Dunsborough Park Gardens.

Dunsborough Park Gardens.

Dunsborough Park Gardens.

Dunsborough Park Gardens.

The Secret Gardens.

This is my interpretation of what came next, and not called “Secret Gardens” by the owners.

Dunsborough Park Gardens.

Dunsborough Park Gardens.

Dunsborough Park Gardens.

Dunsborough Park Gardens.

Dunsborough Park Gardens. “Hello Linda Utting". Bobby’s workfriend from days gone by.

“Hello Linda Utting”. Bobby’s workfriend from days gone by.

Dunsborough Park Gardens.

Dunsborough Park Gardens.

Dunsborough Park Gardens.

Dunsborough Park Gardens. Nice smell, Viburnum.

Nice smell, Viburnum

And the glorious mixed tulips meadow:

Dunsborough Park Gardens.

Dunsborough Park Gardens.

Dunsborough Park Gardens.

Lighting a Candle for Diddley

You will see from “information’ above that Dunsborough Park is built on the lands of Newark Abbey. The ruined abbey can still be seen close by across the water meadows of the River Wey. So this week, we are lighting a virtual candle looking back over the centuries.

Dunsborough Park Gardens: Lighting a Candle for Diddley - Newark Abbey ruins.

Newark Abbey ruins.

Dunsborough Park Gardens. Newark Abbey Ruins.

Dunsborough Park Gardens: Lighting a Candle for Diddley.

Lighting a candle for Diddley.

– – – – – – – – – –

Gardens    


Trevor and Henry.

Posted on 22/04/2018 By

Trevor and Henry: Lighting a Candle for Diddley - St Pancras New Church Statues. No Comment!

Trevor and Henry.

Trevor and Henry: Trevor.

Trevor.

Bobby: “Watcha mate. You’ve cheered up me old cock sparrow!”

Trevor: “Whatever gave you that idea, you idiot! I can hardly breathe with this contraption on.”

Bobby: “Look here. Your problem was saggy bits due to your filling. We could have paid to have you filled up, but Fliss reckons you are meant to be like that.”

Trevor: “May I ask who Fliss is and what business is it of hers?”

Bertie: “She is my mate and has bears and cats galore. I like it over at Fliss’s.”

Trevor: “Sounds a little crowded! (more…)

PSTrevor's Stickies     ,


Sir Cliff Richard.

Posted on 15/04/2018 By

Sir Cliff Richard: The London Palladium Reunion Album Cover with the Shadows in 1979.

In Praise of Sir Cliff Richard.

A young Sir Cliff Richard.

A Young Cliff

Diddley did not like Sir Cliff Richard. His squeaky clean image did not suit a sixties art student heavily into Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Neil Young and the rest.

Over the years, she introduced Bobby to all her music. He grew to love artists he had never even heard of. He went to see Ute Lemper one memorable evening. Even saw Shane McGowan and the Pogues one irreverent evening at the Fairfield Halls. And finally Leonard Cohen. What a performer he was!

She enhanced his musical outlook for all time. (more…)

MusicPS    


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