Some macro shots taken in the Churchyard today at Chaffcombe UK
Some macro shots taken in the Churchyard today at Chaffcombe UK
A dull day and high tide with few waders about in the morning. Spent a couple of hours here.
Some Teal brightened the morning feeding near the visitor centre. The Pheasants were evident released and ready to be shot anytime soon by someone who can afford to do this offensive “sport” Over 50,000,000 are released into the environment bringing disease and upsetting the wild bird food chain.
Little Egret obliged me today with this superb take off. Seaton Wetlands.
and a Little Stint seen on the waters edge near Island Hide
An enterprising young musician living in the Chard area has decided to branch out making Baby Grand Piano Shells. He realised through his long experience as a performer that he got more attention and respect from the audience when he used his baby grand piano shell he made for his keyboard. His colleagues and friends started asking him to make one for them. So this amazing idea has taken off and orders are flooding in. The picture above is in actual fact a Keyboard placed in his piano shell!
Normally a musician would use what they call a simple metal X stand to hold the keyboard into position whilst they performed, either standing or sitting. These are not visually exciting.
What he discovered was that he could sit comfortably and his equipment using a Baby Grand Piano Shell and this gave an extra dimension and an air of class to his performance.
The “shell” looks exactly like a grand piano and you would struggle to tell the difference from a real one.
You may all remember the performances by ABBA when Benny played at a baby grand, well this item will provide an on stage attraction.
Great part is its completely portable, with removable legs and the body will fit into most cars so its easily transported to the next Gig.
Those musicians who entertain us at functions like weddings are finding that this item is now a “must have” to provide that total air of professionalism. Some have ordered in both colours available white and black as they find this meets all functions and gigs.
Some local hobby music lovers who play at home have now latched on to this idea and are ordering them for their living rooms or playing area.
The Steveway Piano Shell is made to fit all keyboards currently in production, so it makes no difference whether yours is an expensive Yamaha or a low cost Casio you will look great sitting at your keyboard and be the envy of all.
Each Piano shell is made individually so you will have to place an order now to get it for Christmas.
Steve Walters can be contacted on his website www.stevewaypianos.com
Mute Swans landing , from Tower Hide Seaton Wetlands
Sneaking into our yard the small black cat was seen scoffing the cat biscuits left for another stray and was every time chased off by our resident Maysie, a fierce greedy fat cat who is intolerant of any intruders into her domain.
This continued for some time, just getting glimpses of this new cat on the block.
Eventually the cat was found huddled and crouched on the inside our wooden compost box, squatting on the thick polystyrene block placed there to provide heat retention when the compost was working to reflect the heat generated, so it must have been this that the cat liked, the heat of his body reflected back.
It was emaciated, its ribs were quite apparent even under its fur and it was small in comparison to other cats.
We fed it and provided some blankets for it to squat on. Food was always devoured in an instant and the weather was kind and warm in the evenings and so it could stay outside for the time being.
From its behaviour we were certain it was a female , it hissed a bit when we first tried to stroke it but was too pre-occupied with eating to resist our attempts.
We took a picture and posted it on Facebook on the village page and had hundreds of hits, even someone claiming it was their cat until they came to collect him and realised it was a mistaken identity as their cat later turned up.
Touring the village enquiring who had lost a cat turned up a firm lead, but alas this proved to be wrong as well all the time feeding and protecting him from the fierce attentions of the evil Maysie the resident house owner cat.
Eventually we decided to take the cat to the vet, this was easier said than done, but bribing it with a generous helping of best cat food proved to be too much to resist, we grabbed it and shoved it into a cat box.
To our amazement it was not at all fazed by this and calmly sauntered out of the box at the Vets room.
Expecting it to be announced a stray we were astonished to find this cat was indeed a male, and captured and chipped by the RSPCA at Cricket St Thomas some miles away only in August. The RSPCA had neutered him tagged him and let him go. We later learned the captors regarding him too “feral”for re-homing.
This is untrue as Compo as we have named him from the compost heap is friendly and a delight to be with. Friendly and full of character.
His appetite was insatiable, devouring all his food with the speed of light, and always looking for more. This sounded like he may be feeding roundworms in his tummy, so was given a dose of worming tablets over three weeks. The medication was successful to some extent but he still eats swiftly and claws the food all over the floor.
He won’t come into the house whatever the enticement, is deterred by the fierce evil cat who lurks inside.
So he took a liking to the tea chest under the carport used to store plastic bags, so it is now lined with a pillow , blankets, polystyrene and hessian sacking to provide some warmth and protection from the weather. In addition he has his own central heating in the form of hot water bottles in the cold winter days and nights and he can now be seen snuggling up in the box at night. He is comfortable warm and safe.
The challenge remains to get him accepted by the wicked evil cat in the house, he has been caught eating from her bowl and this ended in a nasty encounter which he has not forgotten.
He rarely strays from the confines of our small garden, we think he does not want to get lost again.
Running the Compo gauntlet every time we step into the yard or to gain entry to the garden or garage is becoming difficult as Compos nimble dance of attention always manages to stand him in the place where you want to tread, this causes a delay if one is going anywhere.
Getting trod on does not deter him at all. He just loves attention, he never gives up and insists on being first at all times.
Compo is the only cat I have ever met who touched noses with me, that in the cat world is trust indeed. Following us about all the time, helping during the hedge clipping, climbing up the thin twigs and getting stuck.
His coat looks in better condition now and he has fattened up, his ribs are well covered with a layer of fat and although he will never be a Tiger of a cat he is by default a lovable cat.
We are going to look after him from now on.
Sometimes you can miss things completely for years, things under your nose. For the past ten years I have walked past this place ignoring it completely. The Gallery Cafe came to my notice through the Chard Town Guide free printed issue out every three months.
I resolved to find out where it was in 6A Holyrood Street as this was its address shown in the Guide. Eventually I found it in an the alley squeezed next to the Newsagent Emery’s.
An archway led me up to an opening which revealed a cafe with seating all mod cons, disabled access and tables, a wide marble stairway led me up to the “gallery” which opened up in a light warm homely dining area, complete with a bar, settee, comfy chairs and many tables.
The walls are adorned with interesting works of original art and many figures and sculpted items are on display. The atmosphere is calm and almost serene and unhurried. Best of all there was no loud music , no one with ipods, no one with mobiles blaring.
An ideal place to spend a few minutes with a coffee or a long while chatting with friends, or go for the whole meal thing.
I managed to resist the chocolate cake.
Robin at Seaton Wetlands and some work being done.
For each gallon of wine at least 4 lbs of Blackberries
Sugar Brown or White. up to about 3lbs, start with 2lbs and adjust during fermentation.
Yeast Nutrient 1 teaspoon per gallon
Pectolase 1 teaspoon per gallon
Yeast as per quantity 1 tsp per gallon or use a starter .
Tannin 1 teaspoon per gallon .
Water and Juice of one lemon
Taste the must at all stages.
Freeze fruit as you collect until you have sufficient to make the quantity of wine. Freezing will preserve the freshness release the juices and flavours more easily when defrosting.
I do this for all fresh fruit. Do not be tempted to use old or bruised fruit. ( unless you are making Cider.)
Defrost in the fermentation container. when defrosted mash or crush with a potato masher or use whatever you have, make sure the tool is clean and sterile. Add one Camden tablet per gallon to the must. If making five gallons use only two tablets. Allow time for the Sulphite to dissipate which can be two or three days. You can add yeast at any time but remember to allow the sulphites to disperse.
Melt sugar by boiling in water and, add to crushed fruit.
when cool add pectolase to assist in breaking down fruit.
Add the yeast dry, or a starter you made earlier.
Leave it to ferment for at least two weeks in a covered food quality container, stirring daily to break up the cap. This is important. I stir twice a day.
Taste the must after two weeks, if too sweet leave until sugar is consumed by yeast.
Strain the fruit and juice through sterile cloth into another clean container, press out the remaining fruit until dry as possible with a press or whatever you have available.
Place in demijohns or 5 gallon kegs with airlocks.
Taste again. Add sugar to the must if too dry.
Eventually the must will clear and rack off the wine to clean containers, demijohns or kegs.
Blackberry wine is one of the easiest home wines to make. It clears quickly and easily and does not normally need any clearing agents. It can be drunk early.
The addition of fresh Elderberries will give it a more robust body but will need time to mature.
Add Camden Tablets 1 per gallon to maintain a clean wine free from bacteria when racking.
Measuring the SG is useful as guide to sugar content as I rule I do not bother, preferring to use my taste buds as a guide.
Keep all your equipment clean using a sterilizer such as VWP. do not be tempted to use bleach or any other household detergent. Do not even allow it near your brews.
Bottle it when fermentation has ceased or bubbles no longer rise. Again taste it!
Use a crushed Camden tablet per gallon before bottling.
Sometimes you might get a malolactic fermentation in the bottle. Makes the wine fizzy, I like this.
Attending a re-enactment of the 18th century with the IBWCP is a walk in the past, the incredible array of historically correct costumes bathe one in a cheerful visit to the 1775 in a small town in a province of America in the British Empire.
Here I found myself at the end of the authoritative explanation of American cartography by a man dressed in the uniform resembling that of a British Officer Red Coat but he was indeed a representation of an American Officer. His very uniform commanded a respect and air of authority often denied in the modern armies of today.
He explained to me ( a visiting Englishman) how the maps were so decisive in 1775 to the emerging American troops.
He paused and gathered a vintage glass bottle corked in the fashion of that period containing an amber liquid, with a flourish two small glasses of similar vintage appeared, I took one and he slowly began to pour what I had imagined was a glass of good old Bourbon and he insisted despite my warning to fill the glass to the top, explaining that “wars had been fought over this liquid”. On sipping the drink I realised it was a glass of sweet tea, and very pleasant it was too, and downed two glasses and chuckled , no hangover.
The day was full of surprises, from the bread and food cooked in the manner of the time in a dutch oven, and I would add eaten in the same way! The costumes ranged from the richest clothes to the beggars and colonial fighters, all authentic in every way.
Musket volleys were fired, a large field gun blasted away, even a re-enactment of an execution was completed.
This was as close to the real world, the world our ancestors inhabited as you can get. I could see how our modern world is so divorced from reality of a real life. Our world full of gadgets and the soft life. This world was one of walking everywhere unless you were rich enough to own a horse.
Just collecting water was hard work with heavy wooden buckets.
I would encourage all of you readers to come and visit the real world of our ancestors and “walk in the past” for just a short while, feel the grass beneath your feet, smell the black powder as it fills the air with its blue smoke.
Meet a Native American, see how they built their shelters and made their weapons, the food they gathered.
So put down the 21 century for just a little time and learn first hand how you once lived.
Some time spent with a macro lens today.
Oyster Catcher feeding young, taken from Tower Hide
This crab spider was sitting on some cow parsley and provided a good subject.
Shellduckling at Seaton Wetlands and coot
This guy was singing his heart out, oblivious to all who stood and listened to him on the path to the Tower Hide
A dull day found me in the garden again. This time testing the camera for AF settings in Macro. Looking for bees I noticed a small green spot on a new lilac flower bud and on zooming in was surprised to discover it was a small green spider.
White Egrets represent a major success for nature conservation in Somerset. Kevin Anderson will tell us how these birds came to nest here in 2012, how they have been doing since, and the story behind their protection.
In The United Reform Church Hall Somerton, beginning at 7.30 pm but with Tea & Coffee available before this time. Suitable for wheelchair users/limited mobility. Members £2.50 Non Members £3.00
Many charities are either collecting cash for food to feed the five thousand, or help on projects.
Few offer educational self help alternatives. Alternatives that are cheap and effective.
A charity based in Somerset in the sleepy little town of Ilminster is teaching the third world to teach themselves, using media.
Nothing quite hits the spot like a good image. The same is true for those people living in Africa with no access to electricity. So that was until PFP or to give it its full name Purple Field Productions* came into existence.
Now with a good bicycle and strong legs the village can sit down to episodes of how to combat Ebola. Confronting ignorance is difficult but minds can be reached with media.
A meeting is arranged…..be there to help. Take your camera or some money or both.
Here is the invite
Please come along to a talk and presentation we are holding on Wednesday 14th January at 7pm in the Stocklinch Village Hall to hear all about Purple Field Productions six week pedal powered film festival that took place this summer in Malawi.
George Salt, the PFP UK representative, who delivered the festival along with two Malawian charity workers, would like to share his adventures with all of our supporters, volunteers and donors who have helped to make this project possible.
We very much hope you will be able to join us in what promises to be a hugely entertaining and informative evening.
(For directions to Stocklinch Village Hall, Stocklinch, nr. Ilminster, Somerset TA19 9JG please go to the following link www.bing.com/maps using the postcode given.)
I would be very grateful if you could let me know if you will be able to attend.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Very best wishes
Purple Field Productions
Every year about this time my peace and quiet is destroyed by the Pheasant shooting in the surrounding fields.
Beaters waving plastic bags on sticks with disobedient dogs herding the birds into the arms of the people with nice shiny guns who are just itching to kill something with them. They come from all over the country dressed in their nice country style clothing and polished boots.
I am trying to understand why anyone would want to shoot tame birds in this manner. It can’t really be that much of an achievement as there is in my mind no contest. Battery raised bird equals no learning from its parent so its pretty ignorant. Beaters push them in front of the shooters etc ect….so they confront dogs, men with guns and beaters. Looks to me like these shooters are bullies, and who likes bullies?
I use the word “Tame” because they gather near and in my garden clearing up the spilt bird seed from my bird feeders. They strut about around my feet and even ignore the cats who do likewise.
I could easily clobber one with the garden rake for dinner had I the mind to, but I enjoy seeing them and wish them luck in their short meaningless lives.
I have a suggestion. The chicken farm has close on 80,000 birds per shed next door so why not just let the chickens out for the shooters after all the poultry is destined for a quick death, and our shooters could have lots of grisly fun.
more grisly info on http://www.animalaid.org.uk/h/n/CAMPAIGNS/pheasant/
Another batch of signs completed. These are for Ham Wall RSPB as all birders will know. I also make ones that say ” keep your dogs on leads please” as well. (those are my favourite!)
Just need a coat of varnish to finish. Made from Oak with lettering carved deeply and filled with black paint, protected with a layer of exterior varnish. I Use a router hand guided not always as neat as I would like but looks friendlier that the stuff made commercially. More on my Pinterest folder.