Saturday, 30 April 2011

Twitchering not Tweeting

Today you would have found me crawling on my hands and knees through the shrubbery, no, not making my way home from the pub or stealing items of ladies underwear from the neighbours washing line!..but twitchering....bird watching. Britain is known for its twitchers because of the huge variety of birds that come to Britain for their holidays. If we had elephants or tigers or bears over here we'd probably watch them but as we only have rabbits and worms...that feeling of danger is missing.
Armed with my trusty binoculars (courtesy of Mike and Cecil Williams from Wild Birds C.A.) and scope, I set up about 100yds from a peregrine falcon's nest. I've been observing these birds for 5years now (not continuously) and the last few weeks they have been sitting on three eggs. Monday the first egg hatched and on Tuesday the other two, so now the parents are busy feeding three chicks. This morning it looked like the peregrines had either had one hell of a pillow fight in the night or a jackdaw had been breakfast, there were black feathers everywhere. A lot of the time nothing happens but I find it fascinating and I'm comfortable there.....where my social skills are not under scrutiny!!
Please excuse the quality of the photographs but they were taken with Millie's little camera fixed to my scope with elastic bands from 100yds away. Not only do I get to see these wonderful birds but the walk home is almost as spectacular as the hills are carpeted with bluebells at this time of year. And the bird watching was not over yet. We have a small field where Andrea keeps her horse and I put up an owl box in a secluded corner four years ago. It has never been used but recently I noticed the odd twig sticking out so set up the scope again and waited....and waited....waited...and then just as the light was almost gone.......a Tawny owl flew into the box...sorry no pictures (yet) now maybe if I glued a torch to Millie's camera and then........

Wednesday, 13 April 2011


The last few weeks have been hectic, hence blogless. The Chicago convention draws nearer and event pieces have yet to be finished.......or even started. Typically when the pressure is on the bicycle pump of fate adds a few more pumps although this time it was self imposed. A year ago I volunteered to help at my son's school when they went on their annual adventure trip (PGL) and that time was last week.
Three days of zip wire, abseiling and kayaking with 36 children was quite an experience, I'm not sure who was furthest from their comfort zone, me or them. I had forgotten how much noise one child can make, let alone thirty six. Watching them play and sing I was jealous of how uninhibited they were.
It got me wondering why we lose that ability to act so freely but then I remembered that singing and shouting were abilities that I never possessed in the first place. Nope, me and shouting were never best mates. I can't even remember the last time I made a loud noise that wasn't through my backside. If I could win a Ferrari simply be shouting loudly..I'd still be driving my battered old Peugeot around.
When playing golf you are supposed to yell "FORE" whenever a stray shot heads towards another fairway...I just can't do it. I just tell myself that if no-one noticed then it doesn't matter and if I did hit someone then they are probably unconscious and I can get away with it!

White Finger

Time for more of the white knuckle ride that is......working in my shed! Well, not quite white knuckle this week but white finger. No, not a new Bond villain but an industrial disease. Vibration White Finger (VBF) is caused by prolonged use of vibrating tools (No not those) like hammer drills and chainsaws. VBF is on my radar because when I turn my carvings into boxes I use a hand held electric drill and often end up with tingling finger tips by the end of the day. This is not an ideal situation when it comes to carving intricate models for a living but at least the symptoms are only temporary and normal service is resumed the next day.
 I first became aware of VBF when I watched a documentary on Canadian lumberjacks who used chainsaws every day. Their hands shook uncontrollably and they could barely even hold mugs of tea. New careers as surgeons or Bomb disposal experts would be clearly inadvisable....cocktail shaker maybe. I'm thinking of buying Andrea a Dremmel for her birthday......there again......

I've blogged about several subjects now but have yet to mention any carving.......time to put that right.
I'm always on the lookout for odd or weird creatures to sculpt and this one fits the bill nicely....the Sphynx Cat. These cats appear hairless but their odd appearance doesn't stop them from being very desirable. They are quite high maintainance and I'm not sure I'd want one as a pet but as the kittens sell for between $1000 and $2000 I can see the attraction for breeding them!
Recently I carved a tattooed pig as a joke about our fondness for tattoos but what did I find when I googled "sphynx cats".....yes..some owners had tattooed their cats...makes you proud to be human. My Sphynx is crouched like a Sphinx....sorry couldn't resist it.