Archive for January, 2018

Queen Victoria dies

Posted: January 22, 2018 in History, UK

Queen Victoria (1897) By ArishG – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,


Today marks the 117th anniversary of the death of Queen Victoria. By the time of her death, she had reigned for more than 6 decades. The 81-year-old Queen spent her last days at Osbourne House, her residence on the Isle of Wight with her family. On the morning of the 21st, she seemed slightly recovered and called for her Pomeranian dog, Turi to come and play on her bed. But this was short-lived and she soon drifted off again. She called for her son, Bertie (soon to be Edward VII) and asked him to kiss her. The Dean of Westminster then recited her favourite hymn and she slipped into unconsciousness. She died at 6.30pm on the 22nd surrounded by her family including her grandson, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany.

When the news broke, people ran through the streets shouting ‘Queen Dead!’ at the top of their voices which one observer described as ‘ a babel of voices’. I doubt that she would have been amused.

(taken from material in BBC History Magazine)


This is an amazing video of the interaction between a photographer and sea-lions off the coast of British Columbia in Canada


Continuing on from the theme of yesterday. The trip Keith and I had to Minsmere (and those wonderful Bitterns) was also the location for today’s choice. The Marsh Warbler is a rare bird in the UK and so even seeing it was a fantastic experience and even that can be difficult as warblers tend to like to skulk in the bushes but to get to photograph it was a definite highlight moment.

Marsh Warbler

Another of my 2017 highlights has to be the views we got of Bitterns this year, especially at Minsmere.


The magnificent front of Peterborough Cathedral dominates the precincts


The entrance to the Bishop’s Palace. the room above the entrance is known as Knight’s chamber as it is reputed to be accommodation for Knights hosted by the Abbey on the order of the King.


The walls of the Abbey Gardens


The Beckett Chapel, built around 1320 to replace a building of 1170 which housed relics from St Thomas Beckett. In 1541 following the dissolution of the Abbey it became part of King’s school and in 1885 Peterborough Museum. It is now the tea room for visitors to the Cathedral.


The Gateway between the Abbey precinct and the town square

Scott’s disappointment

Posted: January 15, 2018 in History

Captain Robert Falcon Scott was a British Royal Navy officer and explorer who explored the Antarctic region with the aim of being the first person to reach the South Pole. His first expedition in 1901–1904 had to be halted before they achieved their destination and so Scott returned in 1910 to try for a second time. On the 15th January 1912, Scott and his companions camped, knowing that this time they would be successful. The following morning they set off towards the pole. In Scott’s journal, he described what happened – as they approached, one of the officers spotted a black shape in the distance. ‘We marched on and found that it was a black flag tied to a sledge bearer; nearby with the remains of a camp; sledge tracks and ski tracks coming and going and a clear trace of dog paws -many dogs. This told us the whole story. The Norwegians had forestalled us and are first at the pole’. A Norwegian team led by Roald Amundsen had beaten them to it.

The expedition was to end in disaster and Scott and his colleagues were to die of exposure before they could meet up with the rest of the expedition and make their way back to the coast. Following the news of his death, Scott became a celebrated hero, a status reflected by the many memorials erected across the UK.

Capt Robert Falcon Scott By Henry Maull (1829–1914)   Source: Date:1905), Public Domain,


The exterior of the building has this very attractive black and white stonework

The Church has a number of chapels and altars, although not all these have been in continuous use as places of worship as church records indicate that at times they have been a printer’s shop and a blacksmith’s forge.


The Font                        The Martyrdom of St Bartholomew

The Entrance from the churchyard to Smithfield. Although this is now separated from the church by a long passage, this would originally have been at the east end of the original Priory church.

A spectacular sight

Posted: January 11, 2018 in Birds, Natural History, UK, Wales
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The sight of starlings gathering for an evening roost in winter, a murmuration, can be one of the most spectacular sights in nature as this post reports. I remember when there used to be one in Trafalgar Square in the centre of London. It was a fantastic way to finish a day’s visit to the city just watching those thousands of birds wheeling away in the sky before finding a place to spend the night. Sadly no more there, but there are still some magnificent places in the UK to see murmurations in action.

A sparkling frosty evening so we decided to give it a go and glad we did……masses upon masses of birds and early arrivals did put on a performance….Joy and myself were accompanied by Martin( skylark) and his neighbour Stuart….Stuart whom had never seen a murmuration before was well impressed by the sheer nos of birds…. […]

via Llandegley starling Roost this evening. — Radnor Bird Blog

Highlights of 2017:Barn Owl

Posted: January 10, 2018 in Birds, Natural History, Norfolk, UK

Continuing my highlights of 2017, I must include the wonderful opportunity I got to see and photograph Barn Owls whilst we were on holiday in Norfolk.

The Monastery of Peterborough was built in the 12th century and was closed in the dissolution of 1539. The buildings were demolished over the following centuries and little remains today, but it is still possible to see some of the remains incorporated into walls and buildings surrounding the Cathedral.


The remains of the walls of the cloisters are now the walls of a garden adjacent to the Cathedral. It is interesting to see the 3 different phases of the development of the cloister, starting with the original 12th century through two rebuilds to the final highly decorated version.


The other major remains are the building that contained the refectory and the dormitory.


Window of monastic building