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Flora & fauna

April 19, 2015

Just as I finished writing and posting the last epistle our electrician phoned, apologised profusely and blamed it all on his suppliers who had run out of Mark II widgets and the Mark III won’t fit. He’s ordered it and will be arriving to fit it soon. I found a new decorator/ handy man and he came to give us an estimate for the various jobs we need doing, hopefully we’ll have his quote after Easter and can get on with the projects. Easter was a quiet affair, the weather too cold for outdoor stuff so we resorted to planning, scheming and generally relaxing. I have decided to get a bit more serious with the photography, especially for the wildlife. So I set about finding a long lens (at least 500mm) and rapidly discovered that buying a suitable Nikon lens would take a second mortgage (and we don’t even have a first one!). There is an autofocus tele-converter available but it won’t fit my 55-200mm so I looked at the aftermarket stuff. Lo & behold a 500mm mirror lens (with a converter to make it 1000mm) was available for about £100. The reviews were good so I ordered it and few other bits such as a mains power supply and a remote control. Just to make sure I could use a manual lens on my digital camera, I dug out my old roll film Nikon equipment and stuck the 200mm telephoto on the digital camera – results were razor sharp and it was quite simple to use.

We were discussing the outdoor life for summer and have ordered an awning for the back patio to prevent the glare getting into the dining room and then the discussion turned to cooking. We have a great charcoal BBQ, and have had it since 1992 and quite a few of my friends have dined well on food cooked on it. But it is a bit big and takes a while to light so we decided to find a small gas one. Good quality stuff is really expensive but then I found one for £60 – even if it only lasts a year that’ll be just over a £1 a week. However I was in for a shock – I went to get a gas cylinder and for a 5kg propane with the appropriate adapter was £61!!!!!!! That’s just to rent it (50% back on return) and a refill costs £16 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Someone is ripping someone off. In California a 20lb cylinder (full) was $26.00 outright purchase and about $6.00 for a refill at the local hardware shop. My gas BBQ basically doubled in price 😦  It also turned out to be a real fiddly job putting it together, as expected it wasn’t heavy duty either! However, it works and I’m looking forward to using it really soon.

All the camera stuff arrived and is all good, in fact the 500mm is almost too long for use in a small garden – the bird house fills the viewfinder when shooting from the house. This could be fun when I figure out exactly how to use it, it will need the tripod and the remote control to avoid shake and I’ll probably plug in the AC as well. I do like my toys 🙂

The weather improved markedly and we have spent the last few days outside. I finished the raised border edge and we have filled it with topsoil and compost. The top soil was left behind by the garden construction guys in one of those large metre square bags; it was a real pain digging it out not made any easier by the new gate opening inwards instead of outwards. That is going to take more work. I fitted the trellis on top of the other fence and finally got that painted. June concentrated on weeding and pruning and replanting some of the saved plants – there is a lot more of this to do but we have made a start.

The following weekend had been officially designated relaxing time, there’s the Grand National, Boat Race(s), Chinese GP and a bunch of other good stuff. Plus the weather changed and is now watering the new garden, Speaking of TV, there seems to be a distinct lack of planning on the part of the program planners. Not that there is anything new in that but it seems to be reaching epidemic levels. BBC was running the Great War series from the 1960’s and it was every bit as good as I recall but why did they stop after episode 14 when there are 26 episodes? Same with ITV, new series of Midsomer Murders for which we set the DVR stopped after one episode. Another channel is running Christmas Movies – clearly there are way too many channels sharing out limited supplies of original material. We’ve also been watching the “Back in Time for Dinner” series, mainly out of curiosity to see how they presented the various decades and how good our memories were. On the whole they did a pretty good job but why does the BBC manage to select people for a cooking program who cannot use a can opener – vintage, modern or electric? Or put more than eight chips in a pan? The guy in the program was pretty organised and even the kids seemed fairly together but the woman was about as much use as a chocolate fireguard. Rant over!

Trying to watch the birds from our dining room is a bit challenging as it faces south so gets blasted by sunlight. We decided an awning would be a good idea, found one online and ordered it. It arrived and looked as if it had been in a war zone so we refused the delivery. They were really good and got us a new one in 24 hours. Turns out it is really heavy and needs two people to fit it – in a moment of inspiration I called the new decorator/handy man and he agreed to come round on Sunday morning and assist. Well I assisted, he did most of the work and the results are great. The only problem is strong winds but they don’t often coincide with loads of sunshine, all in all very pleased with it.

Work has continued in the back garden, more saved plants have been given permanent (we hope) homes, I’ve fitted some lawn edging and painted the fences again. I also spent a fair amount of time in refixing the gate and removable fence panel – still need the post correcting though. We purchased a bird table, stained it to match the rest of the garden woodwork then filled it with table mix food and a couple of suet balls. By morning the lot had gone – clearly the work of the pigeons so I have now ordered some spikes to keep them out. Time will tell


David & June

One Comment leave one →
  1. jo Anne permalink
    April 22, 2015 07:46

    Looks like things are coming together and you will enjoy BBQ’ing while watching the birds.

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