The Kingswood Gun Club and Saint Brides Major shoot

Steve at Kingswood Gun ClubThis Sunday we had the second leg of the Welsh shoot at Kingswood Gun Club.  The shoot was on Pete’s farm and had already been set up by Mark and Graham, all we had to do was load the traps, and erect the cages.  Saint Brides Major arrived at around 11.00 in their coach, we all had a coffee while we were squadded.  We then had an enjoyable clay shoot of 70 birds, some quite demanding birds, some that should have been easy, but for some reason I missed.  Unfortunately the predicted rain came before the end of the shoot.  It was very noticeable the Welsh were well prepared for the rain, while most of us from Buckinghamshire expected the rain not to arrive before the end.  By the time I had picked up clays, and help clear up I was definitely a drowned rat.

Quick stop at home to change, and pick up the chauffeur and we were off for the shoot lunch at the Crown in Tyford.  Sunday Roast, pudding, cheese and biscuits along with some beer.

Unfortunately it seems we did not do enough to beat Saint Brides Major, and Kingswood Gun Club had to hand over the cup for a year.  There was not much in the scores, we were beaten by only a few shots.  Next year we will have our revenge,

Ravilious exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery

On Saturday, Rosemary and I visited Dulwich Picture Museum to view an exhibition of Ravilious pictures.  Ravilious painted water colours before WWII, he became a war time artist, and painted until 1942 when he disappeared on the 2nd September, presumed dead, after his flight never returned from a mission in Iceland.   We first saw his work in a Gallery in Saffron Walden at the Fry Art Gallery a couple of year ago.  There we were impressed by his Submarine Lithographs.

At this exhibition we saw  so much more of his work, including much before the war.  A famous picture of his was painted at the outbreak of WWI, this is the Westbury White Horse with a steam train passing by.

Aperol SpritzerWe had chosen the hottest day to visit London, sitting outside in the sun, having a lunch at the Picture Gallery proved to be quite toasty.  Afterwards we went over the the Shard, Rosemary refused to pay the rather exorbitant price to take the lift to the viewing platform.  Instead we had a drink in a nearby bar.  Rosemary going for an Aperol Spritzer and me for a boring lager.

Journey back to Aylesbury rather was fraught, our trip was abruptly halted at Harrow on the Hill, where we were all ordered off the train.  The points ahead had failed.  There was a complicated alternative route, which we took by tube, only to see a Chiltern train passing us by and going to Aylesbury Vale Parkway.  The points were working again.  We resumed our trip to Aylesbury from Rickmansworth, and arrived at Aylesbury Park Way an hour late.  Needless to say Chiltern Railways compensated us, extremely quickly!, for the late arrival.


Buckinghamshire County Museum Dr Who Exhibition


Early morning appointment at the eye hospital in Aylesbury, and then into town for a coffee at Cafe Nero while we waited for the Bucks County Museum to open.  There was a small exhibition of Dr Who memorabilia on show, sourced from collectors throughout the county.  Open until September 5th.  The star is the Dalek, called Darren. Neal Davies, who works for Fremantle Media, a company that makes TV shows including Grand Designs and Escape to the Country, constructed him from plywood and fiberglass for a £20 bet.  Apparently it moves, talks and lights up, all through remote control.  There were some fab womens shoes decorated in Tardis Livery.

Of course there was a tardis, a K9 and Cybermen along with posters and signed memorabilia all the way back to William Hartnell in the days I watched the original series in black and white from behind my Gran’s sofa.

Hughenden Manor home of Benjamin Disraeli and the World War II Bomber Map Makers

Valerie and Norman stayed with us over the weekend.  We met up at the National Trust property, Hughenden Manor home of Benjamin Disraeli in High Wycombe for lunch and then a tour of the property.  As well as being the home of  Benjamin Disraeli, the house had been requisitioned during the second world war and was used to produce target maps for the night time bombers of Germany.  We were taken for a a very informative tour and talk about the map making which occurred during WWII on Hughenden Manor.  Like Bletchley Park, those who had worked here, kept quiet about their work, telling no one.  This map making at  Hughenden Manor  only came to light in 2004, when an elderly visitor was heard to say that his desk had been in the corner by the window during the war.  His conversation was overheard by a NT room monitor.  It took another year before the visitor had been released from the official secrets act and could divulge what had happened on the site. The National Trust has now put together quite an impressive exhibition about the people who made the maps for the night time raids of Germany.  The maps were hand drawn from reconnaissance photographs of the the target areas, printed, and then sent over to Bomber Command nearby at Naphill.

We had a lovely day at the Manor, even lazing on the deck chairs on the lawn in the late afternoon sun.

On Sunday we visited Gallows bridge BBOWT nature reserve.  The birds took the hint and did a disappearing trick, except for some 20+ Geese.




Waterside Theatre

My first visit to Aylesbury’s Waterside Theatre.  Selina had bought Rosemary, Phil & me tickets to see “The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime”, a play about an autistic teenager.   The staging of it was fantastic.  A black box, with a grid pattern and lights at the grid intersections which indicated a houses, or furniture, or a tube station. Very, very clever. It took me a while to understand what the plot was, never having read the book (both girls had, of course). All I had heard was a mention of Sherlock Holmes, so I was wondering when Sherlock would arrive, or was this a great detective story?  My problem had been a quick google of the title only without reading even a synopsis.

“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the NightTime” is a 2003 mystery novel by British writer Mark Haddon. Its title quotes the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes in Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1892 short story “Silver Blaze”.

Think I missed the word title in the above quote when I read it.

As a first time visitor to the Waterside Theater I was quite impressed.

Wonder what it will be like when it’s rearranged for the King Crimson concert I am going to on the 31st August (without Rosemary).

London Museums

Rosemary and I visited London for the day.  Caught the 9.00am into London.  The weather was kind, sunny, ideal for doing some grockling.  We were visiting the Sherlock Holmes Museum, Royal Institute of British Architects, The Museum of London and The London Transport Museum,

Sherlock Holmes Museum

We started off by walking to Baker Street to view the Sherlock Homes Museum.  (It’s not quite at 221B, but near enough though.) The museum is a private one and is basically a house which has been decorated in the fashion of Sherlock Holmes house, but with imaginative objects (such as severed ears) from the stories and some waxworks.  Rosemary thought it all very cute & well done.

Chemistry at the Sherlock Holmes Museum

Chemistry at the Sherlock Holmes Museum

The Slipper, Sherlock Holmes Museum

The Slipper, Sherlock Holmes Museum

Sherlock Holmes Museum

Sherlock Holmes Museum

Sherlock Holmes Museum

Sherlock Holmes Museum

Sherlock Holmes Museum

Sherlock Holmes Museum

Sherlock Holmes Museum

Sherlock Holmes Museum

Sherlock Holmes Museum

Sherlock Holmes Museum

Holmes at the Sherlock Holmes Museum

Steve as Sherlock

Sherlock Holmes Museum

Sherlock Holmes Museum – Moriarty

Royal Institute of British Architects

Next, one tube stop to Portland Road, and the Royal Institute of British Architects to see the exhibition on Charles Rennie Mackintosh.  This exhibition was about his architecture and not his other work.  There were numerous plans and drawings of buildings he designed.  Some built and others not.   We have been and visited some of them, from the Glasgow School of Art, to The Hill House he build in Helensburgh.

We then tried to see a Forensics exhibition at the Welcome Collection.  Unfortunately, it was not open on a Monday.  Instead we headed across the road to Drummond Street for a lunchtime veggie buffet curry at Diwana Bhel Puri House.  For under 7 quid you get an all you can eat buffet, including a sweet.  There are so many unusual flavours, colours and foods to choose from.  It’s now my favourite restaurant.   Near by is also a camera shop, Calumet, where we paid a short visit and came away with Canon EF 100mm f2.8L Macro IS USM Lens.  Made the lunch rather expensive after all. [Ed. I am told the proximity of the camera shop was unknown before the outing. My other leg has bells on it.]

Museum of London

Next over to the city, getting out at Bank (mobile phone navigation is a God send), we made our way to the Museum of London to see their exhibition of Sherlock Holmes. This was a large exhibition, started of with masses of TV screens showing clips of the many Sherlock Holmes films and TV series.  We were able to see videos of the many the actors who have played Sherlock and Holmes, from the 1920s to Benedict Cumberbatch.

The exhibition also featured many pictures and drawings, some with little relevance to Sherlock Holmes, other than a picture of London Bridge in the smog. There were several like that, including one by Monet.  The exhibition improved again with more objects associated with Holmes.

This was a picture depicting Sherlock Holmes London.  I loved the illumination in the clouds.

This was a picture depicting Sherlock Holmes London. I loved the illumination in the clouds.

London Transport Museum

Final museum was the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden.  Here they have the history of London Transport, from horse drawn carriages (including Sherlock’s beloved Hansom Cab), horse drawn buses,  the start of the rail network, the underground and the buses. Thankfully they did not have a Ken Livingstone bendy bus.  You had the chance to drive a Central Line tube emulator.  Love to know how they managed to move some of  the vehicles to their resting places in the museum.  There were some lovely 1930 taxis on display.  Very relevant as there is an owner of a similar taxi in our village.

2015-03-16 17.05.50

The Stranglers

Got out to see The Stranglers at the Oxford O2 Academy. Rosemary came with me! First issue was parking.  I didn’t know Cowley Road was so busy, we ended up parking nearer to Oxford and walking back out. No issues, the door opens early so the support band had not even started.  This was a standing only event, and was pretty full when The Stranglers came on.  It was also rather hot, sweat dripping off me.  The air con seemed to be off most of the time.  Rosemary felt ill from the heat and had to move further away from the stage,. But at least  she could see the band through the monitors.  Golden Brown, No More Heros, Peaches.  A true festival for the senses.


Portmeirion Village a weekday break in Wales 2nd – 4th February 2015

Rosemary and I travelled to Portmeirion for two nights to stay in one of their village rooms.  We had booked a cheap non-refundable bed, breakfast and dinner deal for a pretty reasonable rate.  There was a little worry a few days before we left, snow and bad weather had arrived in the north, extending down to the latitudes of northern Wales.  As it turned out there was some snow in the higher parts of the Snowdonia, the roads though were clear, well salted and in excellent condition.  Buckinghamshire County Council please take note.

We arrived at Portmeirion village, checked in at the hotel and were then shown to our  village room, Salutation 2 which was above the main tourist shop, where we settled in.  A quick lunch, and then a walk through the woods to the far side that overlooks Porthmadog. There were woodsmen cutting up fallen trees.  There seems to have been much damage over the past few years to some of the larger pines on the headland.  It started to snow as we headed back to the village, though it was not settling.

That evening we had a very nice evening meal in the Portmeirion Hotel. I started off with pigeon cooked two ways (breast, and the legs confit), and then plaice and to finish pear tart with amaretti ice cream and bubble gum foam. Rosemary started with haddock and deconstructed quiche,  then roast pork and celeriac. To finish she had a panacotta with mango sorbet.

Tuesday was a beautiful clear sunny and frosty day.  Started the day with a lovely breakfast in the hotel, and then explored the village and woods, beautiful view of Porthmadog and of Snowdon covered with snow.  We visited the dog cemetery, the ghost garden and the lakes. Back in the village I ate a bacon butty for lunch, more exploring the village and photographing robins.  Masses of robins were following us around looking for food.  Ended the daylight with an Welsh whisky ice cream.

In the evening walked to the hotel for G&Ts (Brecon gin, of course) and then dinner.  Forgot to mention the meal always started with an amuse bouche, a large spoon with a cube of roasted lamb resting on a puree, and a small glass of soup plus foam.  We both started with swordfish, Rosemary went veggie with a butternut and rosemary risotto, while I ate a delicious ox cheek.  Desserts were the same as the previous night, R chose sticky toffee pudding with brill bits, while I ate a cherry arctic roll with a foamed white chocolate.  Yes they served real ponced food.  Brilliant.

Wednesday we both ate a Welsh fry up, and then headed on back home, stopping on the way to take a few more photographs of Snowdon.

Birds who use our bird feeders

A few pictures taken around our birdfeeders, not birds who feed on our food, but rather birds who feed on the birds feeding on the feeders.  So there is a Kestrel, and a regular visitor, a Sparrowhawk.  Last year we were sitting in the garden when the Sparrowhawk struck and removed one feeding bird.  There was silence for a few minutes when all others disappeared.  They soon forgot and were back out.  This Sparrowhawk regularly comes and sits on the bird feeders, but had been rather camera shy.

The Redwing and Fieldfare were photographed in out field.  There can be flocks of 40 – 50 at a time.

Gallows Bridge BBOWT

Rosemary and I, along with a few others, had a tour of the BBOWT wetlands nature reserve at Gallows Bridge.  This is one wetland reserve of many they own on the Upper River Ray.  Gallows Bridge has the Tetchwick Brook flowing through it which is a tributary of the Ray, joining the Ray at Three Way Meadows.  Tetchwick Brook should be well known to readers of this blog, as the river (stream, ditch) over which we have a tug of war over.

The morning was misty, not ideal for photography.  The warden explained the type of management the reserve received, and why.  Interestingly we heard how some of the land had been ploughed years ago with a technique called ridge and furrow which causes long ridges to form in the fields which remain today and are now protected.  Many of the nesting wetland birds are predated by animals, mink and fox being the main culprits.  An effort is made before the breeding season to trap and kill the mink, and reduce the number of foxes in the area.  The trap at this time of year contained a mud pad which was used to estimate the number of river mammals living in the area. Paw prints of Mink and Otter could be seen.

BBOWT had been creating a number of ponds and scrapes to keep water on the site over the summer season, providing feeding areas for Snipe, Lapwing and Curlew . Grass has to be managed in several ways allowing for short and long grass to suit different species of bird.  The reserve is also a habitat for Short Eared Owls, Barn Owls, Hobby and Kingfishers.   After the tour we stayed in the hides for a while in the hope of seeing the Kingfisher.  Alas we didn’t, just saw a few LBJs.

King Richard III Exhibition

Rosemary and I visited Valerie and Norman in Leicester along with Maggie and Ravi on the 27th September 2014 to visit King Richard III.  We looked around the recently opened exhibition, saw where Richard III had been excavated from under the car park.  Drank a few beers in the local pubs, and even joined BBOWT at a Sunday Market.  Great time was had, lots of lovely food.


Hill Head and Titchfield Haven Nature Reserve

We took a trip down to Hill Head to have a look around Rosemary’s parents’ old retirement stomping ground. We watched the Oystercatchers, Turnstones and gulls feeding at low tide.  Interesting watching the gulls dropping shellfish onto the stones in the hope they would break open.  Tricky business as other birds were ready to pick up the remains.

Walked on over to the Osborne View for lunch.  Ate outside in the searing heat.  The place has much improved over the last few years.

Next we walked around the Titchfield Haven Nature Reserve, owned by Hampshire County Council.  We walked the east side visiting all the hides. These are all relatively new, built in the last 10 years. Herons and duck were on display.  There was excitement in the last hide when long yellow tailed tits or something like that were spotted.

Finally tea at the Haven cafe, and a final view of a hovercraft being tested.

Visit to Walsingham and Wells-next-the-Sea

Early September we travelled to Norfolk to see Mike and Ann. The weather was glorious, especially on the day we visited Walsingham, the Abbey and Wells-next-the-Sea.  The Abbey was weird, it is a pilgrimage site with people pilgriming there from all over Britain.   We had lunch in a pub, and then drove over to Wells-next-the-Sea.  Not there for long, though managed to get a picture of the offshore wind farm which looks a little unusual with the way mirage has bent the turbine blades down at sea level.  No this was not a time lapse exposure.


Trip to the Orkney and Shetland Islands, plus Edinburgh for the fringe

Rosemary and I have been back from our holiday in the Orkney and Shetland Islands where we were immersed in Archeology for over a week.  Following this week, we spent another week in Edinburgh sampling the Edinburgh fringe.  If you are remotely interested a full write up and immense gallery of pictures are located on the main pages of the website.  Click here to be impressed.