Red Legged Partridge Update

The Boys are Back in Town


The friendly little red legged partridges are visiting quite regularly now.  They normally walk into my garden around 5:00 pm, not every day but about twice a week.

They have lost a bit of weight and are obviously out of their childhood phase.  They seem almost tame; one of them came right up to the patio door yesterday and stared at me from close quarters, but the other one was spooked when I moved; then they both flew off.

Sometimes they will both wait under the tree halfway up the garden (where I hang a couple of bird feeders) and pick up any scraps of nuts dropped by the squirrels.  The squirrels are the main beneficiaries of my “squirrel-proof” feeders and hang on to them whilst upside down, cleverly pulling out nuts and breaking and dropping pieces on to the ground below.  The scraps tend to be hoovered up by the bigger birds.  Strangely the squirrels get annoyed with the black birds, crows and pigeons and will jump down to chase them away, but they seem to tolerate the partridges.

It is nice to see the little chaps so often, and I hope they don’t end up on a dinner plate somewhere.

Posted in The Natural World | Leave a comment

Wake up America

Donald and Mental Illness
Unsurprisingly Donald Trump has got it wrong again.
The problem in the USA is not “Mental Illness” it is the virtually universal availability of guns.

Americans own 48% of all civilian owned guns worldwide, so it is no surprise that this country with less than 5% of the world’s population is responsible for 30% of global mass shootings.

It is inexcusable and just plain nonsensical for the great orange ompaloompa to react to the latest mass shooting (18th in the USA this year – and it’s only February) by talking about dealing with the mental illness that he claims is the cause.   Gun control is the only answer and this is obvious to everyone outside of the USA and a growing number of US citizens.
Trump’s spineless pandering to the NRA is evident.

In the UK we also have mentally ill people some of whom may have the desire to kill others, but we don’t have guns for sale in every corner shop or supermarket so the opportunity for mass killing is not there. Consequently it is an extremely rare crime in our country.

The second amendment:
“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

This was reasonable when it was written, but now when the security of the country and it’s people is protected by several layers of law enforcement and the military, that security does not depend on a rag tag militia of gun owning red-necks.

The personal protection angle does not hold water either, because gun owners are more likely to get shot (by others or themselves) than non-gun owners.

So please Donald do the right thing and stop the slaughter.

Gun control now!

Posted in Politics | Leave a comment

They are back

The Boys ar Back in Town

My friendly little red legged partridges came back today, I’m sure they are the same ones, but they are a bit bigger now.
2 red legged partridges
They wandered around the decking for about 20 minutes then walked off around the side of the house and out into the road.

2 red legged partridges

2 red legged partridges

2 red legged partridges

Posted in The Natural World | Leave a comment

Strange Bird Behaviour

what on earth is going on
Whilst sitting down for a coffee break yesterday morning I witnessed something I had never seen before involving two Crows then later the same day two Red Legged Partridges.

I live on the outskirts of the New Forest and often delight in the antics of the wild creatures that visit my garden.  Recently I have noticed a lot of Crow activity, a pair of them often forage in the garden and because they are big and quite aggressive the other birds and the squirrels give them a wide berth.

I work from home and mostly I am sat at a computer screen so every couple of hours or so I get up from my desk and make a cup of coffee which I enjoy in comfort in my lounge, whilst listening to the radio or reading a newspaper and watching the wildlife outside.  I have a large double patio door and can see most of the fairly large garden.

I have a cat ornament in the bottom left of the patio door, it has been there for over 10 years in virtually the same place, and I have never observed any of the wild visitors to the garden take any notice of it.

An ornament in the shape of a cat approx. half life size

My Cat Ornament

Around 11:00 the two crows landed on my decking.  (I’m not a bird expert but they look like crows to me)  this is what they look like and they are quite big:

A crow

A Crow

I wish I’d had a camera handy but I didn’t so I missed recording the moment, but both Crows came very close to the door and became very agitated at the sight of the cat ornament.  They were both pecking at the glass cawing like mad and then jumping at the glass claws first as though they were attacking the ornament.  Fearful that these big beaked thugs would break the glass I got up and shouted and waved my arms at them.  They ignored me even though I was just the other side of the glass.  These clever birds seemed to understand that the glass was protecting them and I could not just reach through and get them.  I keep the doors locked so I went of to get the key thinking that I would open the door and sort them out.  When I got back they had given up and gone.

Now that was a strange occurrence but I thought that they must have a nest nearby and that a cat must have attacked (or even just got near to) their young and they thought that this was a real cat that they were warning off.

Then later that afternoon I walked into the room to see two fat round little birds up close to the window and staring at the ornament.  It was as though they were enthralled by it.  I went away to get my camera and when I came back I took several pictures, one of which is below.  As I approached they moved back from the glass but seemed reluctant to leave, and they hung around for approx. 10 minutes.  I thought it was a peculiar coincidence that these two sets of birds had been so interested in the ornament within a few hours of each other when previously it had gone unnoticed.  I later identified the fat round little birds as Red Legged Partridges.

Two Red Legged partridges

Two Round Fat little Red Legged Partridges

Posted in The Natural World | Leave a comment

RIP Dora

On the morning of Saturday 13th May 2017 at 5:30 after fighting for life for most of the night my dear little cat Dora died.  She will be sadly missed.  Originally one of the two cats my late wife Carol bought to our marriage, she outlived her best friend Ally, and my own cat Badger who died last year.  When we had the three of them together we called them the three mouseketeers – “Arsehole”, “Porthole” and “Duffhole”. 

Dora was 17 years old and had a good life but her death was not so good. She died unable to walk, twitching uncontrollably, and struggling to breathe.  Just before she died she let out a cry of misery that sounded just like a young child.  I broke down and cried like a baby.  Dora was my last link to Carol who died last October and because of this Dora’s death had great significance for me.

Of the many pets that I have had that died (4 cats and 3 dogs) this was the only one who died at home and it was a difficult experience.  I stayed up with her all night stroking her and talking nonsense in what I hoped was a soothing voice, but all I saw was a tiny creature struggling for life and probably not even aware that I was there.  It was truly heartbreaking.  If her symptoms had started earlier in the day I would have taken her to the vet and had her painlessly euthanized. Watching her die slowly over several hours I wished I had the moral  strength to end her life myself, but I couldn’t do it.  She was fighting so hard I thought she had the right to keep trying.

Carol and I met late in life, she was my second wife, I was her first husband.   We had known each other on-line for several years as we both had joined a web design forum of which she was one of the experts and I was there to learn.

In 2005 the UK members of the forum decided to meet in real life and Carol and I fell in love. Dora was very wary of me at first because she was used to Carol who was quite small and quietly spoken and suddenly there was this big loud fat person disturbing her tranquillity.  It didn’t take long before she started to get used to me and maybe even like me a little bit.

In 2006 we bought a new home together and moved in with our three cats. On the vet’s advice we kept them indoors for 2 weeks then let them out into the garden.  Dora promptly absconded and lived wild for two years.  We searched for her, put ads in the paper, Carol built a website, and we put leaflets through every house in the area, but there was no sign of her.    

We were married in November 2006 and Dora was still missing, we thought we would never see her again.  Then one morning in 2008 as I was going out the door on my way to work Carol said “I wonder where Dora is or if she is still alive”.  I replied “don’t worry I have a feeling we will hear something today”.  Carol used to tell me that I said that every day, but I’m sure I didn’t, I like to think I was a bit psychic.  Anyway that afternoon we had a message from the Vet saying that they had Dora having just scanned her chip. She had been stealing food put out for hedgehogs and a kind lady had tempted her with more food and eventually caught her and took her to the vet.  We picked her up that evening, and she went to Carol straight away as though she had never left.

The vet had found an airgun pellet lodged up against her spine so she had to have an operation to remove it.  We surmised that some sadist or stupid boy had shot her soon after we first let her out and that in panic she had run off and couldn’t find her way home.  Then a few months later we found a lump under her arm and she had another successful operation to remove it.  After that the vet said we should check her regularly in case it came back.  I assumed that duty and from then onwards every time she asked to go out  I gave her a quick feel under the armpits before I opened the door.  This became so routine she eventually waited for me to do it assuming it was normal behaviour.  Luckily the breast cancer never came back.

The next big thing in little Dora’s life was in 2016 when Carol became ill and was hospitalised.  Carol was found to have lung cancer which had metastasised and the diagnosis was terminal.  This was a big shock to all of us including Dora who couldn’t understand why Carol hadn’t been around for a couple of months.  The sister at the ward Carol was in was kind enough to let me bring Dora in to see her, and Dora curled up on the bed with Carol and stayed with her for several hours.  The nurses all came in to make a fuss of Dora and this gave Carol a boost, so much so that after a few days Carol was allowed to come home.  Something that hadn’t seemed possible before because she was so ill.

Carol came home on a Monday and initially she was bright as a button, sitting up in bed and planning what TV to watch but in the evening she quickly deteriorated and I had to call in the district nurse and the on call doctor.  They told me this was the end stage and it was just a matter of hours.  She died later that night.

After Carol died Dora and I became closer probably because I was now officially her main food provider.  Dora’s presence helped to mitigate the absolute despair I felt at losing Carol and she became more cuddly and almost a lap cat which she had never been before.  I would often sit with her and say “it’s you and me against the world now Dora” and she would purr away as though in agreement.

Then on 11th April she didn’t come home.  I was worried that she was lost again and I spent the next two days searching the local area  and leafleting all my near neighbours.  Then the vet phoned, Dora had been found curled up in the corner of a gravel car park in the New Forest and bought in by a kind lady.  That car park is about a mile as the crow flies from our garden.  I spoke to the lady afterwards and she said that a little girl had told her that there was a cat that was asleep in the corner and had been there since the day before.  So Dora must have gone straight there and stayed.

After the vet had checked her out and put her on a drip to rehydrate her I went to pick her up and she behaved as though she didn’t know me.  The Vet advised me to keep her in for a few days then let her out gradually for short periods.  I did that allowing her supervised visits to the garden, but when I finally thought she was OK on her own she was gone again.

Luckily later that evening I had a call from one of my neighbours who had trapped her in their kitchen. I went straight over to collect her and she acted as though she didn’t know me again.  On the advice of the vet I decided that her future was now that of a house cat.  Dora didn’t seem to mind this arrangement and after three or four unsuccessful attempts to take her into the garden with a harness and lead, Dora decided that she didn’t want to go outside after all, running away when ever I showed her the harness.  

We had a few good days together like this then she started having seizures, and as I had never seen this before I was horrified and took her straight to the vet for a check up.  The vet said it was possibly a brain tumour or it could have been a form of dementia.  The only way to tell for sure was with a CT scan which was out of the question because of her age and frailty. Her heart was failing, and the general anaesthetic that was required would kill her.  So she was prescribed pain killers which I gave her in her cat milk every morning.  This seemed to help and I found that by watching her closely I could see the twitching that preceded her having a fit, and if at that point I picked her up and cuddled her stroking her back and speaking softly to her the fit never happened.  She seemed to understand this and would cry out if she had the symptoms and I was in another room so that I would come and calm her down.  This system worked well and for a long period she had no seizures.

Last Wednesday I noticed she seemed more lethargic and her belly appeared to be swollen, so on Thursday I took her into the vet and they examined her belly with an ultrasound scan and took a sample of the water from her belly with a syringe.  The water was clear so the diagnosis was that it was caused by her weak heart and not due to a cancer.  She had a diuretic injection and I had  diuretic liquid to give her twice a day and tablets for her heart condition.

Thursday night and Friday morning she was almost back to normal and I was hopeful that she would live a bit longer and in relative comfort but alas it was not to be.  Late on Friday evening she started having trouble walking and looked nervous and worried, she didn’t seem to know where she was and when I attempted to comfort her she tried to get away from me. This got worse and then she started to twitch uncontrollably. She just wanted to be on her own so I left her alone; checking up on her every few minutes.  I knew this was probably getting near the end but it was too late to take her to the vet by now so I sat up with her trying to sooth her and giving her water with a syringe because she was too weak to stand up and drink.  Then at 5:30 am she died and was at peace.


Carol  1948 to 2016

DoraDora  2000 to 2017

Posted in Personal | Leave a comment

Improving Your Baked Beans

I am somewhat of a connoisseur and a long time fan of the canned baked bean.  Over the years I have tried virtually every brand and variety available in the UK.  In my opinion the following facts are true:

  • The leading brands are not the tastiest by a long way.
  • Some of the supermarket own label products are excellent.
  • The sugar free/salt free products generally taste bland and are past redemption.  If you like flavour don’t buy these.

My advice is to always buy the supermarket own label or the budget brand, because even if these suffer from a thin sauce and/or a poor ratio of beans to sauce, they can usually be improved dramatically with the following simple procedure.  You will end up with a thicker and much tastier sauce. Please note  this trick also improves the flavour of the leading brands.

You will need olive oil and tomato purée.

  1. Firstly always cook your beans in a saucepan. 
  2. Add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil (or other oil if you prefer the flavour) to the saucepan  and cook on a medium heat for a couple of minutes.
  3. Empty the can of beans into the saucepan and stir well.
  4. Add tomato purée to taste – I usually add approx. 2 teaspoons full but add more or less according to your preference.
  5. Continue stirring the beans and reduce the heat so that they are simmering, not boiling.
  6. Leave for approx. 5 minutes stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens.
  7. Taste the sauce and add more tomato purée if you need to, then stir well and serve.

You have now improved the flavour and thickened the sauce.

Posted in Cooking Tips and Hints | Leave a comment

Andrex TV Advertising

Is it just me or does anyone else find those Andrex TV Ads excruciatingly cringe worthy.  I mean the ones where kids ask adults “how clean do you feel after a dump” (or words to that effect) .  They are really scraping the bottom with this one.  Every time I see this I resolve never to buy Andrex again (after all it’s not necessary when the Daily mail is still available).

This attempt at juvenile humour is just not funny and I feel so sorry for the adult actors involved who are obviously uncomfortable with trying to find this question funny and can’t quite bring themselves to look convincing.  The children come across as annoying little brats that have never been taught how to behave. Whoever came up with the script for this pile of excrement and whoever from Andrex agreed it must have a screw loose.

Bring back the puppies.

Posted in Humour | Leave a comment

Trump Muslim Controversy

I must apologise to President Trump, I was misled by a typo.  What I should have correctly reported is that senior GOP members are saying openly that Trump is a Shite President.

Apologies to Mr Trump and the Muslim community.

Posted in Politics | Leave a comment

US President Shiite Muslim

An astonishing development in US politics as some senior members of the GOP are openly describing new USA President Donald Trump as a Shiite President.   The Donald is thought to have had a sudden conversion after reading tweets and other social media content from various Muslim clerics.  A high level republican source said that this means his ban on visitors from Muslim countries entering the USA is now “dead in the water”.

More will follow…

Posted in Politics | Leave a comment

I’m Back

I didn't go anywhereStaggeringly it is nearly 7 years since my last post, and I hang my head in shame. I wanted to do this more regularly, I really did, but I always seemed to have something more important to do.  Real life has a habit of frustrating good intentions.

Anyhow I’m back and I intend to blog more regularly now so please bear with me until I get up to speed.

Posted in Uncategorised | Leave a comment