Thursday, 29 July 2010

Random July Cycle Ride Pics

Looking back towards the village of 'Old' from the middle of nowhere as is often the case when I end up on an unknown bridleway.

I love riding through corn fields the colours against the skyline when the sun is on them is especially beautiful. Also if you are lucky you can spot Hares at very close range. On this particular day I spotted five! Unfortunately I haven't mastered the art of cycling and photography yet without falling off.

I really like this picture which was taken in the Village of Chapel Brampton on the road to East Haddon. It is a great spot for watching birds of prey such as Buzzards.

The pictures above and below capture everything that I love - Blue skies, lovely cloud formation, corn field and trees. What more could I wish for?

As it getting towards the end of July I thought I would post some pictures taken around Northamptonshire whilst out on my Mountain Bike.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Lakenheath Fen

Grey Wagtails

Marsh Harrier

Grass Snake swimming across pond. At first I thought this was some sort of rodent due to the the large 'V' shaped trail it was creating. Then I saw the yellow and black head emerge from the water with it's tongue sticking out!


Emperor Hawk Moth Caterpillar

Gatekeeper Butterfly


Long Horned Beetle

Common Darter

Cinnabar Caterpillar feasting on Ragwort

Eddie and me enjoying the Suffolk sunshine

It was my first visit down to Lakenheath Fen in Suffolk. I was catching up with fellow nature and Nightwish lover Eddie Mallet who lives in nearby Brandon.

LF is a large wetland consisting mainly of reedbeds. There is also a Poplar Wood where there is a small colony of Golden Orioles which we were lucky enough to hear but not see.
The reedbeds are well established now and therefore the breeding birds have increased dramatically. There are hundreds of pairs of Reed Warblers, Sedge Warblers, Reed Buntings, Marsh Harriers and Hobbies. There are also Bearded Tits since 2004 after a l00year absence in Suffolk.
Bitterns are present al year round and can be heard making their distinctive booming noise in early Spring.
The grazing Marsh provides food for Cranes, Redshanks, Lapwings and Snipe.

We had a nice wander all around the Fen with highlights being hearing the Golden Orioles which are very secretive, spotting the Marsh Harriers and a host of interesting insects.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Marillion -Assembly Rooms Leamington Spa

Marillion fans after the gig

What a wonderful gig in what is turning out to be one of my favourite venues!
The Assembly rooms wre packed with a wondeful knowledgable audience. Highlights for me had to be , 'King', 'Neverland' and the final encore of 'Happiness is the Road'.
I took my 17 year old stepson Henry with me , a late substitute for my wife who is abroad working. He new very little about Marillion but thoroughly enjoyed himself.

One thing is for certain that the band never get the credit or airplay that they deserve. One thing that 'H' said, “We’re just tired of the opinions of people who haven’t heard anything we’ve done in ten years. A lot of what’s spread about this band is laughable.
To accompany the release of Anoraknophobia in 2001, the band issued a press release asking critics to review the album in “a manner that is both accurate and fair. So, our challenge to you is to firstly listen to the album. Then write a review without using any of the following words: "Progressive rock", "Genesis", "Fish", "heavy metal", "dinosaurs", "predictable", "concept album". Because if you do, we'll know that you haven't listened to it.”

From my perspective i'm just so sorry that I have left it for so long , still better late than never!
A fantastic night and amazing atmosphere.

Full set list as follows -

The Invisible man
This strange Engine
Afraid of Sunlight
The Great Escape
This Town/100 Nights
The Space
The other Half
Hooks in You
3 Minute Boy
Happiness is the road

Pure emotional power during my all time favourite 'Neverland'

'H' with Bassist Pete Trevawas

Steve Rothery an absolute guitar hero just wonderful

Steve 'H' Hogarth - Wonderful emotional vocals.

I was a huge Marillion fan back in the mid 80's mainly because of larger than life lead singer Fish. I virtually wore out my vinyl copy of 'Script for a Jesters Tear' and had the wonderful Mark Wilkinson artwork adorned across my bedroom walls.
The early works of Marillion contained Fish's poetic and introspective lyrics combined with rich influences of Genesis, Pink Floyd and early Queen.
I saw the band at Leicester De-Montfort Hall and the 'Garden Party' at Milton Keynes bowl in 1986. For me they were something special and unique, songs like 'Market Square Heroes', Forgotten Sons, Grendel were epic. I loved the follow up albums, Fugazi, the Live 'Real to Reel', which featured the beautiful 'Cinderella Search' which expressed feelings that meant so much to me.
The next album 'Misplaced Childhood' brought commercial success with Kayleigh and Lavender yet somehow they kind of passed me by.
In 1987 the final album with Fish at the helm was released 'Clutching at straws'which was a dark and brooding album about lifes excesses but not in the same class as the first two albums in my opinion.
In 1988 Fish left the band for a solo career. I felt devastated, It felt like losing a loved one. Although Steve Hogarth joined Marillion in 1989 I never gave the band a chance again, my link had been broken.
Thankfully a couple of years ago I happened to hear some tracks from 'Seasons End'and my interest was renewed.
This was to be my first experience of seeing the 'new' singer Steve 'H'Hogarth a mere 16 albums later....

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Catching up with old friends

It was to be the first time I had re-visited the Badger Setts over at the Woods near Weedon in Northamptonshire.
Many times last year I had witnessed at such close quarters upwards of twelve badgers at any one time venturing out from their underground hideaways.
So it was was with a sense of trepidation that I set off hoping that for whatever reason they had not deserted the setts for a new location.

If you read my post from last year you may recall that I was amazed that the Badgers were happy to come out in early evening rather than wait for night to fall.

So I arrived at the destination about 7 PM - Sprinkled liberal amounts of peanuts (not salted) and strategically spread some Peanut butter on some old tree stumps.

Then it was a case of getting settled in the undergrowth keeping quiet and as still as possible and waiting. Fortunately my favourite watching spot was 'upwind' which is also an advantage as the Badgers have amazing sense of smell to compensate for such poor eyesight.

Nothing stirred from the Setts for well over an hour, however I did see a Muncjac Deer foraging, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Treecreeper, numerous Squirrels and a Fox.
Not to mention scaring a passing Mountain Biker so much that he almost fell off his bike !!
Eventually my patience was rewarded and I saw the familiar black and white markings emerge just as the light was beginning to fade. It was just like old times except there were three beautiful cubs who were very adventurous. The slightest unknown noise and they all bolt down back into the setts . It's only a minute or so before they tentatively make their way back out again.
It was fantastic to see them again and I look forward to many more visits over the coming weeks.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Working in Canary Wharf

Enjoying a well earned beer or two after a busy day of meetings.

A view from the 26th Floor with the Millenium Dome now the O2 Arena.

Barclays HQ at 1CP

The Tube Station at Canary Wharf

Yesterday I made the trip down to Head Office in the heart of the the Canary Wharf Financial district.
The train travel is a pain especially using the London Underground to get right to the other side of London. But it's always good to catch up with colleagues based down there.
The Underground was it's usual hectic and chaotic scenario. Made worse because someone had passed out on one of the trains so everything ground to a halt. The heat was intense coupled with the amount of people I thought it was going to be me next!

Canary Wharf is built on the site of the West India Docks on the Isle of Dogs. From 1802, the area was one of the busiest docks in the world. By the 1950s, the port industry began to decline, leading to the docks closing by 1980.
The first buildings were completed in 1991 which included One Canada Square that became the UK's tallest building and a powerful symbol of the regeneration of Docklands.
The number of people employed on the estate is over 100,000 !!