View From The Conservatory


Couple of snaps of this seasons squirrels who, once again, have proven themselves adept at getting past any obstacles that I put in their path in my failed attempts to stop them from stealing the bird feed.

Forward Observation
Forward Observation

Thieving Squirrel
Thieving Squirrel

Arundel Castle Revisited


Yesterday we took a trip up to Arundel Castle. A popular destination to while away the hours and to pick up a bit of history. Here are a few photo’s from what was yet another dull and bitingly cold day.

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Arundel Castle from the River Arun
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Battlements
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Busy Roofline – Aundel Castle
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Arundel Castle
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Corridor – Arundel Castle
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Inner Sanctum – Arundel Castle
Lomo_IMG_8486
Arundel Castle
lomo_IMG_8487
Rhea – Arundel Castle
Photo_Bomb_IMG_8503
Photo Bomb or Sticky Stamp Licker
Steep_IMG_8492
Steep Slope – Arundel Castle
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The Keep – Arundel Castle
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Anti Tourist Squad – Arundel Castle

Marwell Snaps


These are just a few of my pix from our trip to Marwell. Many of the animals seemed to be staying inside as the weather was a little cool and dull. It was a good day out, as always. So take a look and enjoy….

Congo Buffalo - Marwell
Congo Buffalo – Marwell
Kookaburra - Marwell
Kookaburra – Marwell
Kookaburra - Marwell
Kookaburra – Marwell
Locust - Marwell
Locust – Marwell
Marwell Hall
Marwell Hall
Meerkat - Marwell
Meerkat – Marwell
Meerkat - Marwell
Meerkat – Marwell
Otters - Marwell
Otters – Marwell
Otters - Marwell
Otters – Marwell
Caitlin tries out the new Pedal Bin - Marwell
Caitlin tries out the new Pedal Bin – Marwell
Sergei with his new girlfriend. Aleksandr seems upset.
Sergei with his new girlfriend. Aleksandr seems upset.
Snow Leopard - Marwell
Snow Leopard – Marwell
Snow Leopard - Marwell
Snow Leopard – Marwell

Tortoise

Meet Ralph


Ralph - Marwell Wildlife Park
Ralph – Marwell Wildlife Park

Ralph is a Humboldt Penguin. We missed the penguin feeding and talk so I don’t know how he gets to wear the rather cool surfing suit. He was pretty much the first animal we spotted on our visit to Marwell last week.

Wirral Weekend


Well I did get some more sleep after my earlier awakening due to my coughing fit. Needles to say I was feeling a bit sluggish but that was to be expected after several hours of traveling and not very much sleep.

Quarter Cottage
Quarter Cottage

Anyway, Saturday morning proper arrived and the troops gathered for breakfast teas and coffees. Suitably fortified, we all made our way to Moreton to visit the rellies, my wife’s sister, her daughter and granddaughter.  We drank more tea and coffee and generally spent a few hours chin wagging. My daughters took their respective spouses away to show them where they had spent their school years. That is to say they headed out to Bromborough where they lived prior to  being rudely scooped up and dragged “down south” to Pompey.

My wife and I stayed on in Moreton for a bit longer, wagging our chins for all they were worth before re-joining the rest for our evening meal. We all met up at The Royal Oak in Bromborough.

The Royal Oak is part of the “Hungry Horse” chain of eateries and, sad to say, this one managed to maintain my low opinion of their restaurants. I can’t put my finger on it but I really don’t like the atmosphere in their pubs. They tend to be noisy, dingy and the food is of dubious standard. If the others had not already settled in and ordered by the time we got there I would have insisted on going elsewhere.

My wife had a “Beef Madras” curry  which tasted OK but only just met the conditions of trades descriptions act by  containing just three small pieces of meat. How they have the effrontery to charge money when they serve so little is beyond my comprehension. Things didn’t get any better with my meal.

My wife may have had three small pieces of meat in her curry but I would, on the other hand, defy anyone to find any meat in the “Big Cornish Cow Pie” that was delivered for my consumption.CowPie This is a large rectangular crusty pie was filled with some sort of slop which I can only describe as thick gravy and vegetables. Admittedly their menu does not actually claim that it contains meat but the image included does seem to show minced meat of some description. Well my pie was hugely disappointing, I wouldn’t have minded finding a bit of horse. I pointed this out to the waitress when she asked if we had enjoyed our meals. Her only comment was that she hadn’t actually tried it but thought the pie contained minced beef. Well not on this occasion.

The tribe upped sticks and headed back to our rented accommodation, stopping en route to  pick up supplies. We had a pleasant evening chatting and consuming a few glasses of wine.

Sunday was Mothers Day. Three of our party were surprised with cards and bunches of flowers and two of the lads set to in the kitchen and rustled up a huge breakfast comprising bacon, sausages, poached eggs and toast. No mean feat when you consider that all eight of us sat down and ate together.

Once this was all consumed and the kitchen was returned to its original pristine state we jumped into the cars and headed out to do some touristy stuff. I and four others in one car headed over to Liverpool and the Albert Dock via the Birkenhead Tunnel. AlbertDockIt was bitterly cold with a significant windchill as the air blasted up between the buildings from the river. We didn’t take much persuading to visit “The Beatles Story” where it was much, much warmer and out of that biting wind.BeatlesStory

The Beatles Story is highly recommended but should you visit be prepared for data overload. You are given a headset which will play commentary on demand as you walk around. This is supplemented by the visual texts, photographs and huge amounts of memorabilia. To this you have to add other atmospheric audio titbits supplied via video screens and of course all of this overlaid by a soundtrack of various Beatles songs throughout. There is a mockup of the Cavern Club to which my wife commented that it was much much darker in the real thing. She having actually visited the club during the “Fab Four” era.Pumphouse

Whilst I would describe  the Beatles Story as a great experience I would not extend that description to the awful service provided by Starbucks as you exit the exhibition. You expect to be ripped off when you go through the obligatory souvenir shop. But the Starbucks experience was not good. Drinks were expensive, substandard and the levels in the cups matched the state of the Mersey i.e. the tide was out.  Some of us had tea and that was very much a DIY experience…take the teabag out of the mug and when asked about milk the staff just pointed across the room. The tea tasted like canteen tea brewed in an urn. It’s a shame that so much effort has been put into the exhibition but so little put into the refreshments.

The Fureys - Billy and Caitlin
The Fureys – Billy and Caitlin

The tickets that we had purchased included access to a 4D show and also to an Elvis Exhibition. Both at the Pierhead. This meant that we had to venture out into the cold but being the brave souls that we are we didn’t flinch as we headed down to the riverside. Any remaining cobwebs were well and truly scoured as we moved along to the Pierhead.PierheadView

The 4D experience was surreal and made us laugh. The Elvis Exhibition was interesting with quite a bit of cross linkage to the Beatles Story which gave us a bit of continuity.

Museum of Liverpool
Museum of Liverpool

By this time the sun had broken through the clouds. It didn’t do much for the temperature outside but the low sun levels did light up the Liver Buildings and some other objects.

The Royal Liver Building complete with Liver Bird. One of the "Three Graces"
The Royal Liver Building complete with Liver Bird. One of the “Three Graces”
The Port Of Liverpool Building. One of the "Three Graces"
The Port Of Liverpool Building. One of the “Three Graces”
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One of many SuperLambananas to be found around the Liverpool Museum building at the Pierhead
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Living In A Box – Pierhead, Liverpool
Statue
Me And My Shadow

After all that VERY fresh air we had worked up quite an appetite. Choosing where to eat on Mothers Day when you haven’t booked anywhere can prove to be a bit of a challenge. We opted to head towards the cottage and see if we could spot something en route. Our route took us close to Thornton Hough where some of us had previously eaten in a very nice hostelry. We diverted to the Seven Stars which, as expected, was heaving. The pub was full and we didn’t hold out much hope. Enquiring behind the bar if they could accomodate a party of five, we were informed that they could have a table ready for us in about twenty minutes. We were duly seated and had a lovely meal. If anyone is ever in the vicinity of Thornton Hough I would highly recommend the Seven Stars. Whether it be to pop in for a pint or stay for a full blown three course meal. The landlord and his staff are very friendly. The food is excellent and the beer is well kept.

Monday and we awoke to a really bright morning. Temperatures just as low as before but so bright. We had elected the day to try and visit the brother-in-law who is in The Walton Centre, Liverpool. So made our way to Moreton to make arrangements and after a spot of lunch we made our way over, rather under, the Mersey and negotiated the biggest hospital complex on the planet. Leastways thats how it seemed to me.

CottageBack

After spending a short time in the hospital we headed back to Moreton where it was decided to try and get all of the family into a single pub/restaurant for the evening meal. Eventually we got ourselves booked in to the Three Stags at Bebington. No mean feat since there were twelve of us. They did us proud and I was amazed that they did the meal (starters and mains) plus  drinks for £190. Seems like a really good deal to me. The food was excellent and once again the staff were really friendly and helpful.

cabex
Two Food Critics expressing their thoughts on the meal.

This gathering was a double edged affair as we were enjoying socialising with our northern family but this was tinged with the knowledge that we had come to the end of our long weekend and that we had to go back to the cottage to pack and prepare for the journey home on the following morning.

When we got back to the cottage we found a black furry beast on the table and as it looked hungry I gave it a saucer of milk…

Rare Wirral Noggin Hogger
Rare Wirral Noggin Hogger

View From The Conservatory


So I was just heading out to the freezer in the utility room, thinking about what we should have for dinner tonight. I was a little cautious stepping out of the kitchen as always, because I like to peek and see what birds are in the garden. I stood watching a Dunnock for a minute or so as it darted around the bare branches of some shrubs. Then a movement from the other side of the garden caught my eye.

And this is what I saw…

Fox
Skanky Fox in my garden. Apart from the lack of fur he seems quite healthy and alert.

The amazing thing is he clambered up on top of our fence and plodded along the top in the same way as cats do. The feet on one side on the top of the fence and the other feet on the arris rail.

Fox1
As I said, Alert. He was aware of every noise be it traffic or bird calls.

I had watched him for a while before I thought to go get my camera. These pictures are all captured through double glazing which is less than clean at the moment.

Fox2
I don’t think he had a best side.

This is the second fox that we have had in the garden with skin/fur problems. Although the previous one looked like he had suffered a kind of de-gloving of the hind leg, perhaps as a result of conflict with a car. Maybe this one has had a similar encounter although I am tempted to contact the RSPCA and see if this is indicative of something that local dog owners might need to be aware of.

View From The Conservatory


More Great Tits.

Great Tit
Great Tit

It really is like a spring morning. The sun is shining and out of the chilly wind it really is quite warm. The tits are constantly raiding the feeders and being quite vocal.

GreatTit1_1
Great Tit

Their visits are interspersed with those of  a couple of Robins, one of whom believes that he is the boss of the garden and constantly flies directly at the other birds to bully them away from the feeders. So far this morning he has evaded my lens.

GreatTit2_1
Great Tit

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