"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Sunday, 21 October 2018

A Trip to the Theatre, Recent Reading and Green Tomato Chutney

Last weekend D and I went along to Birmingham Repertory Theatre to see The Wipers Times. There are so many road closures in Birmingham City Centre at the moment that reaching the car park by the theatre involved about a 3 mile detour! We arrived with an hour or so to spare so walked to Pizza Express in Brindley Place by the canals for lunch which was our usual and delicious Veneziana Pizza (pine nuts, red onion, capers, black olives, sultanas, mozarella and tomatoes) with polenta chips. Sorry no photos - Brindley Place is photogenic but I didn't fancy taking the camera into the theatre afterwards. The play was very good and at times very funny - it is based on a true story from the First World War when Officers discovered a printing press and went on to produce a newspaper to boost troop morale.

Recent Reading

This little book on Gargoyles which belongs to my son is very informative. I have since ordered a few more in the series secondhand.

This is the seventh book in the Lakeland Mystery series and I have enjoyed every single one. Sadly, Martin Edwards does not appear to have written any more.

When I was a child and teenager I really enjoyed reading the Zoo Quest series of books by David Attenborough which I used to borrow from the library. The books narrated his travels in the 1950's collecting animals for London Zoo and filming his adventures for the BBC's Zoo Quest series. I've often thought of re-reading these books so was rather pleased to find "Adventures of a Young Naturalist" which includes the first three books from the original series i.e. "Zoo Quest to Guyana", "Zoo Quest for a Dragon" and "Zoo Quest in Paraguay". Although thankfully we now live in different times especially with regard to collecting animals from the wild these books make interesting and entertaining reading. Hopefully, David Attenborough will bring out another book including the rest of the Zoo Quests.

I spotted this book on special offer in Sainsbury's and something about it just appealed to me. The story is such an original idea (I have never read anything like it before). It is unusual, thought provoking, unforgettable, moving and funny and tackles the problems of loneliness and the heroine's attempt to re-connect with people. It is one of those books you remember long after you have read it.

Kate Ellis is a new author for me and this is the first in a series of books about DS Wesley Peterson. I really enjoyed this book and have already bought the kindle edition of the next in the series.

I first came across this local author when I read her book on Warwickshire Villages. This book again was good - tales of history, myths and legends, mysteries, ghosts and murders in Warwickshire.

Compared to the Ruth Galloway books by the same author, it took me a while to get into this book but once I had I thoroughly enjoyed this book - the first in the Stephens and Mephisto mysteries.

I've wanted to read this book for some time as I knew Ferguson's Gang had saved Newtown Hall on the Isle of Wight so when I spotted it in our favourite charity second-hand bookshop "Books Revisited" I just had to buy it. The book tells the story of the Gang (a group of mysterious, eccentric and, in the mid 20th century anonymous, women) who raised large sums of money for the National Trust and donated this in strange and unusual ways. The women hid behind pseudonyms such as Bill Stickers, Red Biddy, The Bludy Beershop and Sister Agatha and held meetings accompanied by rituals they had created themselves. The identities of the women in the Gang are now known and this book tells the story of their lives and fund raising activities. A really good and well researched book.


The tomato plant D brought back from the Isle of Wight is still producing tomatoes. So we used the green ones to make Green Tomato Chutney - sadly, we didn't have enough for the recipe so I made the quantity up with ripe tomatoes. The recipe I have used for nearly 40 years! comes from the Times Calendar Cookbook by Katie Stewart.

Friday, 12 October 2018

Brandon Marsh NR

It was such a lovely autumnal day on Wednesday that B and I decided to visit Brandon Marsh Nature Reserve. Unfortunately we left later than intended (B made the mistake of ringing an ex-work colleague he hadn't seen for years and was on the phone for 2 hours!) and then, due to roadworks the M6 South was very congested resulting in the journey taking us half an hour longer than usual! So we didn't spend as long on the reserve as planned and it also meant that when we got back from our walk the tearoom was closed so no cake! We did, however, spend a relaxing and peaceful 2 hours wandering round this lovely reserve which is my favourite.

Brandon Marsh is the headquarters of Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and the reserve covers 228 acres with 10 main pools and over 230 bird species seen. The range of habitats includes open water, reedbeds, wetland, grassland and woodland.

Mosaics in the Sensory Garden

We walked onto the reserve through Hope Wood and then took the path by the pump that leads around Grebe Pool


In New Hare Covert we watched a Nuthatch for about 10 minutes - sorry no pictures - it was too fast for me zipping from tree to tree and up and down tree trunks.

My toadstool id skills are woeful although it looks like one of the bracket fungi but really have no idea which one!

By the path that skirts Swallow Pool with a golf course on the other side where we spotted a Small Copper butterfly.

Newlands Reedbed

Swallow Pool with Mute Swans. Whenever I walk past this pool I remember the occasion when I watched a Kingfisher going in and out of its nesting cavity on a sandy bank some years ago.

East Marsh Pool from Wright Hide - into the sun so it was difficult to check bird species

More fungi

We just had time to visit one more hide so took the path

that leads to the Jon Baldwin hide so we could view East Marsh Pool without the sun being in our eyes.

Greater Reedmace

East Marsh pool where we stayed awhile watching Mallard, Grey Heron, Teal, Shoveler, Cormorants, Lapwings and Coots.

Artificial Sand Martin nesting banks

We saw several flowers while walking round - Dandelion, Herb Robert, Ragwort, Yarrow and

White Dead-Nettle

and Red Campion

Bramble flowers and Blackberries (most have now "gone over")

Hips are forming

Goose Pool

This year's Alder cones forming

Finally, back at the Visitor Centre

Pied Wagtail

Although we didn't spend as long there as we had hoped we had a lovely walk and there is always plenty of wildlife to see on the Reserve which is usually surprisingly quiet people-wise :)

All photos taken by me with the Pansonic Lumix FZ330 bridge camera