27 April 2015

Full House

The baby blackbirds almost fill the nest now, I don't think it will be long before they venture out into the big wide world, or my back garden and beyond!

23 April 2015

Bringing Up Babies

Mum and Dad Blackbird are doing a great job rearing their little trio.

Mum spends most of her time sitting on the nest with the occasional trip away 
whilst dad spends his time foraging for food.

The babies are thriving, growing rapidly and look really well.

19 April 2015

Baby Blackbirds

Mr & Mrs Blackbird have 3 babies. Yesterday whilst Mrs B was away for a few minutes I had a peek in the nest and was greeted with this lovely sight. More excitement!

My grandson was with me and we were both looking at the babies. 
I was mindful that mum might return at any minute, 
I didn't want her to be stressed if we were there. 
I took a few quick shots and we moved away.

Mum was on the nest again later, so we didn't cause any harm.

They are so vulnerable at this stage of their little lives.

15 April 2015

I'm So Excited

Mr & Mrs Blackbird have built a nest in my garden. Now I realise that in the overall scheme of things birds nesting in my garden isn’t anything to get excited about, but this is the first time I have been so close to one of my favourite birds. I just love blackbirds, love sitting in a quiet garden listening to their song, watching them searching for food, following me around as I’m digging, hoping I turn over a nice juicy worm. 
This morning I was tying in some rogue branches of a honeysuckle when I noticed some twigs in amongst the branches, it was then I saw her, Mrs Blackbird, sitting in the nest, I was so close, just inches away from her, she didn’t flinch, just sat there looking at me, I don’t know who was most surprised. 

This area has been neglected of late, which is probably why she chose it.
The fencing and support for the honeysuckle are due to be replaced. 

  I gently moved away and went to get my camera. I used the zoom so as not to disturb her.
Her tail sticking up out of the nest.

It was difficult to hold the camera steady and focus on the right spot. I tried sitting on a stool but that was the wrong angle, eventually I just clicked one after another, and voilĂ , result.

A little while later she left the nest for a few minutes so I carefully had a look inside, she has three eggs.
I feel very protective towards her, like they are my own babies!

14 April 2015

A Good Read

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Fierce evangelical Baptist Nathan Price takes his wife, four daughters and his mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959, before its turbulent passage into independence as the state of Zaire. The story is told by his wife and daughters, a story of tragic loss, undoing, human endurance and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in post-colonial Africa.  
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I didn't want to put it down, but I didn't want to finish it! The author's subject knowledge is excellent, she writes with great empathy and has worked the thorny threads of religion, race and politics into a powerful moving novel.

13 April 2015

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

I’ve been very lazy with this. I actually started writing it weeks ago, soon after seeing the film. 

Dames Maggie Smith and Judi Dench, Bill Nighy and Celia Imrie
Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and Whatsapp Images

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel follows the story of a group of pensioners who have established new lives in India. Yes it was predictable, a little twee and some of the story lines were unrealistic but with such a brilliant cast it was easy to overlook a few foibles.  
In the First Exotic Marigold our pensioners, lured by advertisements for the newly restored Marigold Hotel and imagining a life of leisure in lush surroundings, arrive to find that the Marigold is actually a shell of its former self. Though their new home is not quite what they had imagined, instead of returning home the retirees actually take on the responsibility of helping Sonny the manic, optimistic owner/manager turn the hotel around. 
Recently widowed Evelyn (Judi Dench) was emotionally and financially lost as she had, for her entire married life, depended on her husband for almost everything. She secured a job teaching call centre workers about British culture. This story line was easy to accept because it was credible that she would be the perfect person for such a role. 
Unhappily married Douglas (Bill Nighy) and Jean (Penelope Wilton) were hoping to find an affordable retirement after losing most of their savings. The vitriolic Jean hated everything about their new surroundings and was truly vile to everyone, and everyone was overjoyed when she went home leaving the hapless Douglas to pursue Evelyn, with whom he was falling in love.
Madge (Celia Imrie), fed up with unsuccessful marriages behind her was searching for a new husband.
Muriel (Maggie Smith) needed a hip replacement, and despite being prejudiced against Indians and every other person of colour under the sun, had travelled to India where it could be done quickly and cheaply.
Norman (Ronald Pickup), an aged lothario struggling to accept his age and undesirability by younger women was hoping to find new possibilities.
Graham (Tom Wilkinson) a retired high court judge spent his first eighteen years in India and had returned hoping to find the man he fell in love with but was forced to abandon.
Sonny (Dev Patel) part owner and manager of the hotel, is determined to restore it to its former glory.
Sunaina (Tena Desae) is Sonny's girlfriend. She befriends Evelyn when Evelyn gets a job at the same call centre.
Mrs Kapoor (Lillete Dubey) widowed mother of Sonny. She admits that Sonny is not her favourite son, and wants him to move back with her to Delhi for an arranged marriage, not to Sunaina.
As the hotel improves our pensioners, instead of just relaxing, find employment, interests and love until eventually each one had found some kind of solution to their problem. We left them happily basking in the twilight of their years as the sun sets over their new home in India.
I was looking forward to catching up with the group and I wasn’t disappointed. In the Second Best Exotic Marigold Evelyn at the age of 79, had landed a prestigious job travelling the length and breadth of India sourcing fabric samples for a textile company - mmm this is where you have to suspend credibility.
Douglas has a job taking foreign visitors on terrible tours, whilst all the time fretting in his hapless fashion trying to work out how to make a romantic move on Evelyn.
Jean comes back in the sequel, still nasty and vicious, but thankfully only stays long enough to request a divorce and boast about a mythical relationship with a new lover.
Madge’s search for a new husband has resulted in not one but two suitors, both wealthy, slightly older and competing for her affections. She wasn’t portrayed very well, playing one off against the other, until eventually she realises that she has fallen for the modest noble driver who has been ferrying her around.
Muriel has undergone a major transformation. As a bit of an expert with figures she helped to turn around the fortunes of the hotel. The hip replacement was successful and her demeanour is positively euphoric, liking everyone. At the beginning of the sequel we find her jetting off to New York with Sonny for high level meetings with financiers to help secure funds for development of a Marigold Hotel chain. (suspend credibility again).
Norman has met newcomer Carol (Diana Hardcastle). He is keen to give monogamy a go but she has other ideas. He follows her, has a misunderstanding with a taxi driver, then it all gets a bit silly.
Sonny is juggling his forthcoming wedding to Sunaina and his determination to purchase another run down hotel to become the Second Exotic Marigold.
Sunaina is busy planning the wedding whilst Mrs Kapoor, Sonny’s mother is coming to terms with the approaching nuptials. She also has a blossoming romance of her own with the gorgeous Richard Gere who may or may not be a hotel inspector who can help Sonny get approval from investors to open a second hotel. Cue the arrival of another character, the real hotel inspector played by Tamsin Greig.

For me both films had all the ingredients for a sweet, funny, feel good experience plus the added bonus of Richard Gere.

Images were sourced from the web.

9 April 2015

Dolls House No. 2

Dollshouse No. 2 has been sitting around for months with nothing being done to it because of some alterations I wanted to do. It was fine when I bought it, ready assembled and ready to decorate

but I didn’t like the doors or the stairs, so I sprayed them white, which was a good result.

My next project however wasn’t quite so successful - I decided to put windows in the sides of the house. I borrowed a jig saw and set to work. I’ve always been quite good at DIY, either figuring out how to do it myself or asking family or friends for help, so after a quick tutorial on Youtube I thought I would be good to go. Oh dear, BIG mistake, it wasn’t as easy as it looked, I couldn't control the machine very well, it was jigging away in all directions! Eventually I managed to cut the shapes but it made lots of marks which has created more work as now I have to spray the whole of both sides, or, if can’t get a good match of paint, the sides and front! And of course I can’t do it inside because of the odour from the paint, and the time it takes to dry, so I have to wait for a long spell of dry weather to do it outside. Hopefully I won't have to wait too long.

7 April 2015

First Potatoes Sown

I was hoping to get these in before now but the soil just hasn't been warm enough. They've been hanging around in the kitchen chittting and starting to get a bit soft and wrinkly so I couldn't wait any longer. My daughter said they looked like an audience which would make them spectatoes - get it - spectatoes - yes, oh well I thought it was funny :-) I had planted 4 using the red dibber when the endearing crotchety old boy came along and told me I was doing it wrong, he said they needed more space around them, he picked up the big fork, dug a hole and planted one, then he did another and another until he had done all of them, he's 85! I tried to say thank you I will carry on but he wanted to do it, he was on a mission. I thanked him profusely and gave him a peck on the cheek. I think he went away happy :-)

4 April 2015

Happy Easter

Flowers And Chocolates
A winning combination

I'm a chocoholic and I absolutely adore Cadbury's mini eggs, I stock pile them
because they're only available between Christmas and  Easter! :-)

I'm also very fond of Easter eggs, there is something different and special
about the chocolate, perhaps it's because it's thinner for moulding.

Sometimes I prefer Easter to Christmas,
there is less pressure for everything to be perfect.

I hope you have a happy/sunny/fun/peaceful Easter x

1 April 2015

April Fool's Day

Did you get fooled? I got my grandson, I told him the Football Association were going to increase the size of goal posts so that footballers would be able to score more goals. Bless him he believed me and commented that doing that would devalue the game and the skill of the players. A clearly thought out mature response I thought.
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