Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Just like buses . . .

I was just to the dog the other day (the only way to have a decent conversation) that we hadn't seen much in the way of wildlife recently - if you don't count the hundreds of rabbits that we see everyday and whihc scatter as soon as we come into sight. The farmers round our way must love rabbits - they don't seem to do anything about them or anything to mitigate the damage they do.

Anyway, earlier this week we left home a bit earlier in the morning than usual - I had a bit more than usual to do before leaving for work . . . iron a shirt, put out the bins, water the hanging baskets I'd not had a chance to do the previous evening (late getting back after delivering child to Latitude Festival) etc.

So we set off at 5.45am rather than the usual 6am, which is obviously the time to go round our local fields because we had a nice meeting with a barn owl which was having its breakfast in the long grass, then disturbed a kingfisher which was trying to catch its breakfast.

Sunday is the day for our long walk when we go a bit further afield and last Sunday we had another encounter with a barn owl. I was quite surprised because we were well into our walk and it was after 9am, but we sat and watched it hunting across a paddock for at least 20 minutes. That also surprised me because I read somewhere recently that owls are only active for about 8 minutes a day . . . that must only be lazy owls!

We've also had closer than usual deer experiences in the last week. The first was the usual one of the dog scaring an animal out of its cover - it was only a few yards away but, of course, it didn't hang around long enough for us to get acquainted.

The second was much more interesting. We were walking along a path when I became aware of a real commotion behind a bush. As we drew level we saw it was a deer, trying to get at something under the bush (a tasty morsel, perhaps). Whatever it was, for a couple of minutes the attraction was greater than its fear of me and the dog and it refused to give up. In the end, the dog decided she was bored and jerked on the lead, which sent the deer scurrying off.

As usual, I didn't have the camera when I needed it, but I did get a shot of the barn owl. It was quite a way off (for my camera) but the picture enlarged okay for here.

Barn owl

Also saw a nice heron perched on a boat - again a bit far away. Unfortunately I'd put my camera away when we spotted a tern of some sort (a common tern, I think) fishing in one of the bigger drainage ditches.

Heron on boat

So, some nice wildlife after all . . . but I was just saying to the dog, not seen many super models recently!

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

A racing cert

Touring cars 2

There were a number of firsts for the DW family last weekend.

The first first (what a way with words) was the maiden voyage in Mrs DW's new car. This was not as exciting as it could have been as she went for the same car as her old one, but with a diesel engine. Also slightly limiting was the strict instruction from the salesman not to go over 2,500 rpm (or 3,000 at the very most, in an emergency, if we were being chased by armed gunmen etc).

This was slightly disappointing because the destination of our outing was second first of the day (Sunday, July 12) - we went motor racing (no, Mrs DW's car did not make it on to the track).

Actually, we went to Snetterton to see the latest round of the British Touring Car Championship.

The reasoning behind the trip was that one of the few things our learning disabled son shows an occasional interest in is F1 and PlayStation racing games. Neither Mrs DW or myself is really interested in motor racing but we were prepared to suffer in silence.

I'm not saying we came away as converts, but the day was a bit of a revelation.

For a start it was good value - £22 each for me and Mrs DW and the twins went free. This was for a whole day's 'entertainment' with racing from around 9am through to nearly 6pm.

The event was incredibly friendly, from the helpful staff and marshalls to the other people in the crowd (who were obviously a lot more knowledgeable than we were). It was also very well organised with just a few minutes between each race.

I have to admit that some of the races were a little tedious to us non-experts - a bit of a parade after the first few laps. But even though we weren't at the most exciting part of the track, there were still some 'thrills and spills'.

For twin number one, the day was a bit if a disaster, he showed no interest at all and spent most of the day glued to his Nintendo. However, our disabled son had probably the best day of his life - we've never seen him so happy and he was smiling from ear to ear for the whole time, dancing and jumping with excitement as the cars came past. When a car left the track or there was a slight collision he was delirious with joy.

Needless to say, when we got back home we were looking up the Snetterton calendar to see what else is coming up.

The day also gave me the chance to try a new type of photography - things that move faster than a snail. I probably didn't have the right kit, gauging by the size of the lenses being lugged about by the professional types, but I was quite pleased with some of the results.

Wrong turning

Porsche 1

Seat Cupra 4

Seat Cupra 3

Renault Sport 1

In the way