Hello Dippy!

I’d recently read that 200,000 visitors had visited Dippy at Birmingham’s Museum and Art Gallery. That was before David and I ventured south to visit him. I don’t know what possessed me to book tickets to see Dippy on Tour for the August bank holiday! But (free) tickets I had anyway! So this Saturday we drove the two hours from Liverpool. Luckily, I had planned an hours leeway. On our journey south we hit miles of roadworks, due to the M6 being turned into a smart motorway, to be completed 2022! We also faced a junction closure. Junction 10 was closed, due to a police incident. Recent research discovered that the incident was of a man on the wrong side of a bridge! With the motorway swelled with bank holiday traffic and football supporters travelling to see Wolverhampton v Manchester City and Aston Villa v Reading matches, the delays were up to 90 minutes!

Thanks to motorway signs early informing us of the closure at junction 10, we managed to divert, (though heavily), away from the jam and navigated, thanks to the M6 toll (at £5.30 a car), back and around towards the centre of Birmingham. Adding 40 minutes to our journey.

Our meeting with Dippy was at 1pm, so you can imagine the pressure we were on to get to the museum on time. We parked up at the Bullring and with twenty minutes to spare, rushed towards Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, which can be found on Chamberlain Square. The entrance to Dippy was on the Gas Hall entrance on Edmund Street.

With time to spare we checked in and walked into the Gas Hall to come face to face with Dippy, a 100 year old cast of not one, but five Diplodocus skeletons. David commented that Dippy was smaller than he’d expected, but during the time we spent with Dippy we marveled at his size. This sauropod (lizard feet) stands some 26m long, is 4m wide and stands 4m tall. I particularly liked his little face with razor sharp teeth. He roamed the earth some 150 million years ago, during the late Jurassic age.

Dippy was undoubtedly the star of the attraction. The surrounding exhibit paled in comparison and sadly did not measure up to my expectation. It was a poorly comprised set of stuffed birds (with pigeons and magpies) alongside skeletons featuring a velociraptor and dodo to emphasise the link between dinosaurs and the evolution of birds. I think the Walking with Dinosaurs Arena show said it more eloquently.

‘We think of dinosaurs as…fierce creatures from a mythical world… they [were on this planet] for 170 million years. If you look closely, you’ll see, they’re not really gone, not completely…remember the raptors, the way their arms folded at the wrists?… The next time you are outside, have a look at a bird and try and imagine it 50 times bigger, with razor sharp teeth. So do not mourn the dinosaurs, they are with us still, their direct descendants are the birds.’

We spent 40 minutes with Dippy. Walked around him three times, and took lots of pictures. I was satisfied that we drove the two hours to see him. We did not linger in Birmingham, though we did casually look at the replica Typhoon, as Victoria Square held a 100 RAF event. We decided to return home, and make head way against the traffic and roadworks, which took three hours instead of two!

We got home to news that an injured pigeon was sitting outside our back door. As you know we have a long standing relationship with the descendants of dinosaurs. I found it rather fateful that this pigeon (a descendant of the T. rex) chose our step to rest upon. He was but a fledgling, his down still protruded from his adult feathers. However we could not save this particular soul. He had suffered a brain injury from what probably was a collision with a wall. His beak was all bloodied and he was labouring for breath. He passed away in our care not an hour later, wrapped him in a towel and placed in a carrier. At least he died safe and warm.

It was rather a mixed day. I’d say Dippy was worth the visit, even if we had to fight through roadworks, delays and road closures to get to him. Dippy will be touring the UK until 2020. If, like us, you hadn’t seen him when he was resident at the Natural History Museum, London, then you can catch him at these other locations:

If you have seen Dippy before, what were your recollections? Do dinosaurs interest you? If so what are your favourites and why?

Thanks for reading,

Christine x

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Sunday Sevens #16

No sooner had I published Sunday Sevens #15, when more pet news occurred.

It was a lovely start to the week, with bright warm sunshine (much needed if you ask me!) When it is warm I like to sit out in the yarden, I take Artie with me. Being outside gives him more stimulation than being stuck inside the house. However I have created a nature yarden, meaning I have lots of visiting bees and butterflies, lots of stalking opportunities for Artie! While I was digging up my second crop of maris bard potatoes for my vegetarian roast dinner that evening, Artie was sitting amongst the flowers watching the bees.

I acted too slowly. I was busy marvelling at all the potatoes I had grown! From the corner of my eye I saw Artie lunge at a bee who had entered a foxglove. He must have knocked the poor bee down into the foliage as I couldn’t see her. I left Artie sniffing in the undergrowth while gathering my harvest.

On coming back into the yarden, Artie suddenly darted from the greenery, rubbing his paw against his nose. Jumping about like a jack in a box ‘You’ve been stung!’ I cried, scoping him up and taking him into the house. I called for David’s assistance. Then proceeded, a half hour long endurance, of trying to hold Artie down while David tweezed the bee sting from his nose. I got covered in scratches for my endeavour.

Afterwards when Artie was sting-less and enjoyed some cooked chicken, seemingly none the wiser for the upset. I stood shaking like a leaf. My nerves had been shot! ‘Pets are worse than kids!’ David exclaimed while I tried to regain my spirits.

Needless to say Artie is back to his ‘wild’ self again. He is siting in the last rays of the Sunday sunshine.

Have you had a pet who has had a too close encounter with a bee?

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Forgive me for returning to the great British obsession, the weather, but the UK saw its hottest day of the year (so far) on Tuesday! In the NW of England the temperatures soared to a very sweaty 31°c! The Spanish Plume the meteorologists had predicted had finally arrived! Though only for three days! On Tuesday evening as I wrote my post about the numerous animal sculptures that have graced the UK’s cities, David and I sat in the hottest room of the house. Outside the window I watched as the sky darkened as the last rays of the sun dipped beyond the horizon!

During this little snippet of summer, I was out counting the butterflies that visited the yarden, in the Big Butterfly Count. The count runs from 15th July to 7th August 2016! I don’t know whether it is because the alleyway between the houses has become overgrown with wild flowers/weeds but I have seen more butterflies flutter past this year, then any other! Predominantly the most common butterfly has been the small white. There has often been two (I don’t know if it’s the same couple) twirling in their dance of attraction before the male attaches himself to the female! They are a joy to watch!

One evening David and I were giving sugar water to this tired bee when in quick succession a small white and a red admiral fluttered crazily past! I quickly noted my sightings on the phone app before watching the satisfied bee fly off energised!

26842491This week saw me finish my latest book, Sam Baker‘s The Woman Who Raninspired by Anne Bronte’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. At first I struggled to get into the story. It seems to me that many published novelists nowadays are or were journalists. I don’t know whether that is a good thing or not! I persevered and soon the story warmed up. The narrative was atmospheric in its description of the Yorkshire Dales. The characters were a little difficult to understand but you got to like them in the end. The finale, touted as being explosive, ended more like a whimper. I didn’t understand why the main character would act like she did in the face of opposition! Anyway, it was enjoyable. I’ve not read this author before, perhaps I will in future?

Have you read this novel? Any thoughts?

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I was going to end today’s blog with an update on Troy but there hasn’t been much improvement. Then I remembered the lovely selection of bramley apples given to us by one of David’s friends. So I decided to finish with them. I have acquired all the ingredients so next week I shall be busy cooking apple pies, or variants on a theme!

I hope you all have a wonderful week ahead.

Christine x

Sunday Sevens was devised by Natalie at Threads and bobbins.

First Impressions.

The Pig and Whistle was like any other old English pub, full of dark stained wood, hazy lighting and chintz. A thick bank of cigarette smoke hovered over the regulars’ heads, mostly men, their surprised faces momentarily raised from their pints as two young women walked in with a cold blast of air from the outside.

With full wine glasses in hand and slightly tipsy from the alcohol already consumed, Charlotte and Anne stood propping up the bar giggling like children.

Harry had seen Charlotte first. He had seen her as she walked into the crowded pub, young looking and with a worried expression on her face that she never seemed to shift. Her hair was brown and fell in straight strands down her back, but it was her eyes that struck him the most, beautiful dark eyes that when you looked closer were of light grey. He had been sitting at a table with friends, gaily drinking and laughing at some joke or other, he couldn’t remember what about now. Then he noticed Charlotte and her friend, her unremarkable looking friend, all the more unremarkable for she was standing next to Charlotte! Harry had always mocked people for saying that love at first sight existed, more ‘lust at first sight,’ he thought. He couldn’t see how with one look a person could be totally smitten by another, and then it happened…

In just one look!

Charlotte had raised her eyes from her glass for a brief second; just to take in the room they were in, when her look met that of Harry’s sitting across the room. It seemed that their eyes locked for a moment, both gazing at each other, eyes widening trying to capture the other person. Feeling at first, surprise at being caught looking and then stricken by wonder at why the other was still holding their gaze. Charlotte broke eye contact first, her eyes had relayed something to her brain and then to her heart that made it quicken and hammer against her ribs like it was a wild animal panicking to get out! Harry felt the same, but being bold, he held his gaze transfixed on Charlotte, his eyes dilated with interest. Did he notice her blush when she lowered her eyes? When she shyly raised her eyes towards Harry a second time, it was Harry’s turn to lower his gaze in a nonchalant manner, and so the game continued until Harry couldn’t take any more of this childish teasing.

Anne hadn’t been naïve to the sly looks her friend had been shooting towards the corner of the room, she was interested as to who could have had such a profound effect on Charlotte. She lowered her head looking to seek her confidence when the tone of a man came from behind her, asking if he could buy them both a drink. The two girls stood in shock, this had never happened to them before! The man’s dialect was rich and seductive, unlike the common tongues they could hear all around the pub. He spoke very like a gentleman should; though to Charlotte he looked nothing like one. None of the man’s clothes seemed to correspond with each other; it looked like he had just grabbed the first things he found in the wardrobe and threw them on saying, ‘this’ll do.’ His mop of brown hair was as disjointed as his fashion, his fringe hung down over his forehead and his curls caressed the nape of his neck. To Anne he looked like an artist while Charlotte didn’t know whether she should be jealous of his hair or be attracted to him! ‘I’m Harry!’ he smiled down towards Charlotte, a perfect wide toothy smile that she reflected back.

‘His smile,’ she thought ‘was perfect!’

Harry on the other hand was more appreciative of Charlotte though he was astonished at how small she was in stature. From behind to a casual glance she looked very like a child, however on closer inspection, her womanly curves and ample breasts betrayed her mature figure. She wore a long black dress, ‘quite Goth like’ he thought though her dress sense was infinitely better than his own! He noticed her skin was pale like porcelain and he wondered whether ‘if I touch her, would she break?’ To Harry she resembled a fine English figurine, the ones your grandmother has behind glass cabinets, all standing prettily carrying parasols and with red lips that are set in a pout ready to be kissed. Harry was overwhelmed with a feeling that he wanted to kiss Charlotte more than anything else!

Christine Lucas 2013.