Monday, 23 January 2012
Initially I was disappointed with the seats we were allocated. The theatre's ticketing system was down when I booked the seats, and they took all the details manually, then issued the tickets when the sytem came back up. I'd asked for seats in the middle of the row, as close to the front of the stalls as we could get, but when I collected them, we were on the far right of row D in the circle, which is quite a bit different.
However, we did have a good, if rather more distant, view, and we saw the stage from a completely different angle to what we're used to. We lost the right-hand edge of the stage, being so far to the right. In some ways we had a much better view than we'd have had where we normally sit, but we missed the immediacy of being really close. So overall, not as disappointing as we'd thought to start with, and we'll consider central seats in the circle in future.
Posted by Rob Clack at 12:45
Saturday, 14 January 2012
However, one thing has been bugging me, just a bit, every time I used the camera. The lens cap was a very sloppy fit, so it would constantly fall off. Not enough to make me cross, but certainly enough to generate a quiet GRRR! each time.
Today we went into Cambridge for completely different reasons, but I thought in time, to take the camera. We passed through Jessops, where a nice man sold me a lens cap THAT FITS!!!!!! Hoorah! So I'm completely delighted, yet it's such a small thing. How silly is that?!!
Posted by Rob Clack at 19:45
Friday, 13 January 2012
Posted by Rob Clack at 15:33
Wednesday, 11 January 2012
Brian Switek's Written in Stone is a great book about fossils, evolution and where we fit in. It's exactly the sort of book you'd expect me to enjoy and I have no hesitation recommending it. I can't remember how I came to read it, whether it was one that Jenny picked up or whether it came as part of the small library that she had to read in preparation for the Royal Society Winton Prize of which I've blogged before.
Sam Kean's Disappearing Spoon was definitely part of that batch of books, and in fact, was my favourite of all the books I read. Personally, I'd have awarded the Winton Prize to this book, but I wasn't on the jury. This is a collection of short tales about the elements that make up the Periodic Table. There's one short piece about each element, and it's a lovely read.
The Disappearing Spoon of the title comes about like this. Gallium is soft and easily moulded, with a very low melting point and looks like aluminium, so the trick was to make a realistic looking teaspoon and have your friend stir his tea with it. The temperature of the tea would be enough to melt the teaspoon while the tea was being stirred. The book doesn't say whether or not the victims of this prank ever drank the tea, but looking at the elements that surround it in the Periodic Table, I'd hazard a guess that you'd get away with it. Cadmium is pretty close, and that's quite a nasty poison, but everything else within a spit is mostly harmless. Of course, the tea would probably taste revolting and he'd discover molten gallium sloshing around the bottom if he got that far.
Posted by Rob Clack at 13:56
Monday, 9 January 2012
here for a YouTube video) but this latest twist is even better.
The octopus only lives around Indonesia, and the black-marble jawfish has a much bigger range, but where the two overlap, the fish has been spotted pretending to be part of the octopus, thereby avoiding becoming someone's lunch.
In both photo's, the red arrow is pointing at the fish's head, but it's such a good disguise, it's still hard to see, even knowing that!
You can read the full details about it here.
Posted by Rob Clack at 13:21
Friday, 6 January 2012
Getting home, I realised I didn't know when the new term starts, ie, when my next Spanish class is, so phoned the school and picked up the recorded message stating that it's next week. That gave me an unexpected spare morning and it being a most beautiful, if chilly, day, I slid rapidly off to Fowlmere.
I saw more or less nothing as I walked around the reserve, though there were several tempting calls coming from the bushes, but nothing I recognised. Well, apart from various sorts of tits, robins, wrens, blackbirds, of course.
At Reedbed Hide I saw nothing much for quite a while. A grey heron, half a dozen greylag geese, a couple of mallard and a lone female teal. But hey, the sun was shining and I was quite content to sit and watch the world pass by.
A couple of folks came in and as they were setting up, a raptor flew down from behind us and landed on the other side of the mere. It was the size of a buzzard, but I thought that was unusual behaviour for a buzzard, since it didn't have any prey. It spent several minutes on the ground, drinking, amongst other things, but possibly bathing, too. We'd just about decided it was the female hen harrier that's been seen on numerous occasions over the past week or so, when it flew off northwards and settled in a willow right in front of Drewer Hide. If there was anyone in there, they'll have had a fantastic view of it. Bastards!
Then a small flock of teal arrived, so now there were ten of them, seven males and three females. The males were in real showing-off mode, stretching their necks skyward briefly, then doing much the same with their backsides. Male teal have brown heads with a broad irridescent green eye stripe, and a yellow patch on the side of the tail, and a
More folks arrived, some of whom pointed out a couple of common snipe which I had looked for but completely failed to spot. Now I know where to look, I won't miss them again, I promise myself!
And finally a buzzard flew over, giving a great view of the underside. At that point, my lunch was calling me home, so I left, but I'm just about to return, as the sun is still shining! Maybe I'll see the hen harrier again, who knows?
Later: Yep, hen harrier gave several good displays, though I wasted quite a lot of the view
I couldn't find the snipe, despite knowing where to look!
Posted by Rob Clack at 14:17
Tuesday, 3 January 2012
Anyhow, yesterday being beautiful, if rather chilly, Jenny and I went to the RSPB reserve at Fen Drayton, where we saw lots of waterfowl. Teal, tufted duck, gadwall, half a dozen shag, great crested grebe, as well as more coots than we thought existed, plus goldfinches, chaffinches, long tailed tits, etc.
It was all quite splendid, and we were very pleased we'd thought to take some hot mushroom soup in a thermos, but the real problem was just how far away the birds were. I mutter into my beard at Fowlmere that the birds are too damn far away, but at Fen Drayton it was really hard work identifying things much of the time as they were hundreds of metres away. Our binoculars are quite powerful, but we really needed a telescope, and that's going too far, I mean!
And the map we collected from the stand in the car park didn't show the only hide that exists at Fen Drayton, so we didn't nake it there. We have a feeling it's rather a new reserve, and not really all that well sorted out.
So I didn't take a single photograph, but we did come home feeling really refreshed and pleased we'd made the effort. Not sure we'll be rushing back, mind you.
Posted by Rob Clack at 14:46