Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The Last 8 Seconds

Last Sunday Bryony and I spent an hour counting the birds visiting our garden as part of the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch. This is something we've done a number of times before and this year we saw the usual suspects; Robin, Blue Tit, Blackbird, Starling, Sparrow. We also had more interesting birds such as Goldfinches, Long Tailed Tits, Bullfinches, and a Siskin (which interestingly we've never seen before in this garden although we have seen during a Big Garden Birdwatch at our previous house). We also had a Sparrowhawk make a passing appearance. Unfortunately the Sparrowhawk decided to reduce our Bullfinch count by one! These two photos were, according to the camera, taken just eight seconds apart.

Now firstly from these photos it is clear that I need to clean the windows and use a faster shutter speed, but just after I'd taken the first photo the Bullfinch went right, straight into the path of the Sparrowhawk and became lunch. Now I have no problem with the Sparrowhawk needing to eat but why couldn't it have gone for one of the more numerous species? A Sparrow maybe? I'm sure they would taste roughly the same!

Monday, 23 January 2012

Happy New Year!

So far I've failed miserably to do any posts about Christmas and New year, even though I do have a few in mind. So having missed blogging about New Year, I decided I had to blog about Chinese New Year, especially as I realised that a post I intended to write back when I visited Beijing in 2010 would be perfect response to this blog post from my father-in-law.

After eating Peking Duck we were taken on a short walk around the edges of Tian'an Men Square and down Qian Men Dajie (Emperor's Avenue) which I described as "a soulless shopping street". One shop did, however, attract my interest: Yunhong Chopsticks Shop. I only had time for a quick glance through the window, but I was determined that if I had time then I'd go back and take a proper look. Fortunately on the last day I was in Beijing I had time and was in the area.

My picture doesn't really do a good job of showing you what the inside looked like. The best I can do is suggest you imagine what Ollivander's Wand Shop from Harry Potter would like like if it was modernized and sold chopsticks instead of wands. Every conceivable wall space and counter was covered in small boxes. Every draw or cupboard opened to revel more boxes. The sales assistants were very friendly and would ask if you knew roughly what you were interested in and would then buzz around the shop collecting boxes from which they then suggested you try the feel of a pair of chopsticks. It was a fun experience and I spent about half an hour choosing what I wanted to buy.

By this point you might well be thinking, what does this all have to do with Chinese New Year? The answer; I bought Bryony and I each a set of good luck chopsticks engraved with our Chinese birth sign. I'm a goat/sheep and Bryony is a horse. They are apparently made of ebony and silver with the Chinese birth symbol as part of the engraving on the silver (sorry about the image quality but I was in a bit of a rush to get the post out today and I forgot to take the photos while there was daylight).

As a bonus, because we are now in the year of the dragon, here is another photo I took whilst in Beijng of the Nine Dragon Wall in the Forbidden City. You can zoom right into the image although the quality of the photo isn't great. For once it wasn't a problem with the photographer or camera but the level of air pollution I was shooting through.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Fotoshop by Adobé

Some of you might have seen this already, but if not enjoy what is probably one of the best parody adverts ever: Jesse Rosten's Fotoshop by Adobé.