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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Maalie in Spain

Maalie is about to set of for a ten-day bird-ringing expedition in the forests and swamps of the Coto DoƱana, Andalucia, in Southern Spain. Here are some pictures taken during his last visits to the region.
The small town of El Rocio is the centre of activity

Dry areas are dominated by "umbrella pines", from which "pine nuts" are gathered

The "Marismas" - the wetlands of the Guadalquivir River Delta,
south of Seville, where most of the research will be undertaken.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Luton: Britain's most boring town?

In a recent "phone-in" radio programme, the subject was raised as to which was "Britain's most boring town?". The name of "Luton" was raised more than once. As I recently had cause to stay a night in Luton, I thought I would give you an opportunity to make a judgement for yourselves.

The first thing you see after leaving the railway station. I dont know what this building is.

The multi-story car park

The public library and theatre

The cinema and leisure centre (I went there to watch a movie to pass the evening)

Luton's den of vice - the Casino

The town centre

My hotel, the "Easy Hotel", adorned in the same colours as the "Easyjet" airline

Historically, Luton was Britain's centre of the millinary trade (indeed, the local football team is known affectionately as "The Hatters"). This old hydraulic hat-press serves as a monument to the former industrial glory of Luton.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Mabon 2009

A Happy Festival of Mabon to you all!

Mabon is the Festival of the Autumn Equinox. It is also known as Harvest Home and celebrates the gathering in of the harvest. An equinox in astronomy is the time when the centre of the Sun can be observed to be directly above the equator. The date of the Autumn Equinox can be between September 21st and 23rd, but celebrations traditionally commence on 21st.

I think of the Autumn Equinox as the "tipping point" of summer: after that, the nights are longer than the days (in the north). There may still be some lingering warm days, but winter is not far off.
Harvest (almost) home. The modern methods of harvesting are...

The cut hay lies in windrows to dry before...

...harvest is home

The trees are changing colour...

...and deciduous leaf fall is underway

Crab apples are in season...

...and Hawthorn bushes are laden with red berries

The heaths look tired and brown...

...but a late flowering bell-heather Erica tetralix give a pin-point of colour

'Tis the season to be pie-ful

Equinoctial sunset over my village (you can see my house if you know where to look)
The island in the distance behind which the sun is setting is the Isle of Man)

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Ulverston Beer Festival

Ulverston is a small market town in the Furness Peninsular of South Cumbria (Lake District). Once it was a centre of commerce with a busy canal transporting limestone and iron ore to world markets. Today, Ulverston is regarded as the cultural centre of Cumbria, and is noted for its regular festivals and performing arts events in the Coronation Hall.

This weekend was the Furness Beer Festival in which I decided to participate, travelling by train from my home in Askam-in-Furness. This was an opportunity to sample a range of Real Ales under the auspices of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).

Ulverston on a Saturday morning
in 4D
Dank. Dismal. Dreary. Drizzle.

Flags in the street market put some life and colour into the town

The Town Crier struts his way to the town square... ring his bell... cry out the announcement... let the drinking commence!

The Beer Queen is celebrated (though I trust she is drinking lemonade)

The band invites the throng to follow... the Coronation Hall.

Did you ever see so many types of beer on offer?

A Power Point computer projection scrolls through the 70 or so different ales to choose from
This was assisted by a specialist program Windows for Drinkers
which can be downloaded free as a plug-in from the Microsoft Website.

The Coronation Hall fills up with Real Ale fans.
The last time I was here was for a performance of Verdi's
La Traviata!

After the festival, Ulverston Railway Station waiting for the train home.
There's a lot of wrong directions on that lonely way back home

Please click on the image for your entertainment!