Birds of a feather…

No sooner had we arrived at our friend Arthur’s place on the Camino de Santiago, near Triacastella, (N. Spain), he announced that he had a blackbird’s nest in the bush clambering over his terrace and that there were two wrens building a nest in the palm tree only 2 to 3 yards away from his kitchen window.   Not only that but we spotted a family of young blackcaps ‘playing’ in the elderflower bushes to the left of the terrace.  So this is their story…

Let me first ‘set the scene’ with a (very poor) panoramic picture below of Arthur’s terrace – the palm tree is on the extreme far right, the (dark) green ‘blackbird’ bush is also to the right and the elderflowers to the left. (The glass of wine was mine! 😊)

0 Terrace

The Blackbirds were clearly well advanced as they all fledged and disappeared within a few days of us arriving.  But I did manage to capture the one picture below of at least 3 beaks (at the centre of the image).

1 Blackbird beaks

The Wrens were having a hard time of it.  Their first nest had been destroyed (I forget how now), but they were busy building their second towards the bottom of the dead brown leaves hanging down from the palm tree.  Unfortunately a storm blew up and hail (yes, hail – in June!) knocked it to the ground.  Undeterred, they carried on building another nest further up the tree.  One can only admire the determination and industry of these tiny little birds!

Last, but not least, the Blackcaps entertained us all week with their presence.  Rather than fly away when we approached the corner of the terrace, they simply hopped behind a leaf or onto the next branch.  This allowed me to get a few good pictures, including a very interesting series (see pics numbered 9 to 14) where the male parent returned with a berry and offered it to 2 of the 3 chicks, but then gulped it down itself.  It was as if the parent was saying, “Take a good look, this is what you should be out there looking for, now get going…!”)  Alternatively, or as well, the ‘teenage’ young, were looking suitably grumpy and saying “Not berries for dinner again!”).

 

Mike’s Music Monday #10

OK, pop-pickers, as I think Alan Freeman used to say on UK Radio 1, here’s an oldie but a goodie (and I don’t mean Tim Brooke-Taylor or Bill Oddie or Graham Garden).  This song takes me back to when I was young and hadn’t a care in the world (other than trying to learn ancient Greek at school!) I hope you enjoy! 😊

Sarah and Karl’s Wedding

I promised you a few weeks ago that I would post some pictures of my daughter’s wedding.  Well, the official photos are now available (courtesy of Fox Moon Photography) and so it gives me great pleasure to replicate some of them here.

To say that it was a very special day would be the biggest understatement of understatements.  The sun shone brightly and everyone had a fabulous time – especially the bride and groom, who were smiling throughout day.

Mike’s Music Monday #9

Let me bring you a little bit more up to date – well, to the early 90’s.  I’m not sure if M People made it in the States, but they are certainly one of my favourite groups.  From the very first time I heard them, possibly even listening to this song, I was a fan.  The lead singer, Heather Small, has such a rich and soulful voice, it just makes it for me.  Anyway, I hope you enjoy this song from their first album, Northern Soul.

Geneva Tennis Open

Our lives are nothing if not varied… 😊  My wife, Jude, is a big tennis fan and she noticed that Alexander Zverev had chosen to play in the Geneva Open, as a warm-up for the French Open next week.  Other ‘stars’ were also due to play, like local Vaudois hero Stan ‘The Man’ Wawrinka, so we bought tickets for the quarter finals on Thursday.  Unfortunately Stan was knocked out early in the competition, but we were still treated to some excellent tennis.

The venue and event is small and very intimate and, at least on quarter finals day, you can get up close and, if you’re lucky, even chat to some of the players.  (E.g. see pic 5).

The eventual finalists were Nicolas Jarry and Alexander Zverev, who subsequently played out a very close final yesterday evening, with Zverev winning 10-8 in a 3rd set tiebreak.

Gornergrat, Zermatt, Switzerland

It’s hard to believe that I’ve now been blogging for over 4 years and this is the first time I’ve posted pictures, well, close up pictures, of one of the world’s most iconic mountains – the Matterhorn.  My excuse, if I needed one, is that Jude and I have been to Zermatt so many times before, with almost every one of our friends and family who came to stay when we first moved over to Switzerland.

Anyway, my sister, Karen, has been visiting this week with her partner, Paul, and they were keen to go there.  So, we drove around to Tasch, parked up and took the shuttle train to (the car free) Zermatt.  Now although the Matterhorn looks impressive from almost any angle, it’s far best viewed from the Gornergrat at 3,100m (or 10,170ft).  But do not worry if you are averse to hiking, as there is a train which will whisk you up to the top.  😊

To give you some idea of the scale of what you are looking at, I’ve posted a picture (no. 4) of the ultra modern, ‘space age’ looking, Monte Rosa Hut, which is 5 storeys high and sleeps 120 people.  Picture 5 zooms out a little (and you can, I hope, spot the hut in the centre of the lower part of the image) and then picture 6 shows the full extent of Monte Rose (also called the Dufourspitze and is Switzerland’s highest mountain at 4,634m or 15,200ft), with the hut towards the lower right.

Mike’s Music Monday #7

It’s amazing how some tunes can transport you back in time to moments or certain experiences in your life.  This song, by Van McCoy, takes me back to the time I played rugby for Askeans in Kent, waaaay back in 1975.   I’ll not tell you what the other lads used to sing instead of “Do the Hustle”, but they were great days – training twice a week and playing on Saturdays, always followed by a few beers of course.  😊

The ‘proper’ video for this song was pretty boring, being just a few still images, and I didn’t think Pan’s People dancing in Baby Dolls was quite appropriate.  So I selected this much better quality video featuring a popular Japanese dance group called Perfume.  (I’ve never heard of them, but you learn something new every day!  Watch out for the moving pavement though).

Mike’s Music Monday #6

This week we have the first of two songs in my list by Billy Ocean – When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going, which is always a good line for any runner or indeed, any difficult situation in life.  This video is made even more entertaining by the inclusion of Kathleen Turner, Danny de Vito and Michael Douglas.  Hopefully it gets you off to a good start this week.  Enjoy!

Walk from Alnmouth to Boulmer, Northumberland

Judith and I spent the last week of our UK holiday in Northumberland.  On our way down from Scotland, we dropped off Jo & Aaron at Edinburgh airport to continue their European holiday (in Berlin and Nice and then who knows where…)

We were quite fortunate with the weather and our first day out was to take a shortish walk along the coast from our base in Alnmouth to the next village north, called Boulmer (pronounced Boomer for some reason.  How people ever learn English I’ll never know.  It’s hard enough coping with the various accents without pronouncing things differently to how they look.  Or maybe people just couldn’t spell properly in the old days!)

Anyway, it was a beautiful walk, with plenty of things to photograph along the way. 😊