A Year in Books – July to September

I can’t quite believe this quarter has gone so fast! I’ve hardly any books to share with you. It has been a very sparse few months of reading!

This is what I have managed to get through, plus one on Kindle! All of five books and I am still struggling my way through one. Can you guess which one?

july to september

Face Paint – Lisa Eldridge

Lisa Eldridge is a renowned makeup artist whose YouTube videos have helped plain women, like myself make their daily embellishment that little bit better! This book had been sitting on my shelf for well over a year. I’ve been meaning to read it, but somehow hadn’t found the time, nor the energy. One evening, I decided to read it before bed every night for a week. I enjoyed delving into the history behind makeup and how it’s intrinsically linked with womens’ suffrage. I particularly liked the the mini biographies of influential women throughout history.

The Child in Time – Ian McEwan

I was expecting greatness when I picked up this book by Ian McEwan, (1987 Whitbread winner, now Costa Award). I thoroughly enjoyed his writing in Atonement, so expected more of the same. However, as I made my daily commute through Liverpool to work, this book was not a welcome companion. Perhaps it was the theme of the book, of a couple who have their child taken from them? Whatever it was, I was not blown away by the narrative. I felt rather bored with the plot that didn’t seem to go anywhere. I guessed that the actual child in time was the narrator, Stephen. We are perhaps all children in time one way or another. I hope that the new BBC production starring Benedict Cumberbatch captures the imagination a bit more. Have you read this book? What were your impressions?

The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt

I’ve consciously been trying to read books this year with birds featured in the title. However I’ve hit a snag with The Goldfinch. Being 700+ pages long, the narrative is about a boy who loses both his parents (in different incidents) and what befalls him thereafter. It’s been rather hard to read. Perhaps I have been lazy? Even though Tartt’s writing is elegant and creative, I have struggled with the content. It leaves me feeling sad. I can’t wait to finish this book. Have you felt the same over another book?

And the Mountains Echoed – Khaled Hosseini

I really enjoyed Hosseini’s previous books, The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. However Hosseini seems to have fallen down with his third novel. I can see what he meant by the type of narrative he went for. Of an interweaving of differing stories, all coming from the same source, but it somehow fell flat. I got through the book eventually, but would not recommend. Would you?

9781780748436_13A Siege of Bitterns – Steve Burrows

Can you see a pattern develop? Yet another book with a bird in the title, but again I have been struggling to get through the narrative. It’s a detective novel set in Norfolk, but I just can’t warm to the cast of characters. The style of writing is more tell than show which doesn’t lead well to character development.

So, there you have it, my abysmal tally for this quarter. Are there any books you have read recently that you have enjoyed? Do let me know.

Thanks for stopping by,

Christine x

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Product Placement – Haith’s

* This post comes courtesy of Haith’s – Bird Food Specialists since 1937. If you want top quality bird seed and feeders from a British family run business, then Haith’s has all the products your garden birds need!*

Recently I was approached by Haith’s to review some of their products. I have to admit I was secretly flattered that my opinion mattered, so I agreed. Within a few days three products arrived via post neatly packaged, there was much detail to keeping the products safe in transit.

goodiesThe products to be reviewed  were: 

  • MultiFeeder Plus: a feeder which holds not only seed but water and two fatballs, ideal for attracting different species of wild bird or for hungry birds during the winter.
  • Fat balls (small): I was kindly gifted six of these suet balls to trial, which come helpfully with no nets.
  • (Original) wild bird food: Compiled from a recipe dating back to the 1960’s.

I was eager to fill the feeder up and see how my numerous garden visitors would receive the need addition.

The multifeeder needed to be constructed. The instructions included were easy to follow, even I could follow them! Indeed I managed to fit the parts together without asking David (the product expert) for help! There is a domed cover to keep the larger birds at bay and to keep the rain from ruining the seed. The inner well can be used for water or other types of seed or mealworms. The two fat ball holders have sharp spikes in which to pierce the suet to the feeder.

The fat balls came all individually wrapped in cardboard packaging, to prevent them from crumbling, and the wild bird food, filled with high-energy sunflower seeds and wholegrain cereal, is packaged in a sealed brown paper bag.

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Haith’s bird food comes SuperCLEAN™, which means in production they eliminate dust and husks which can damage birds respiratory tracts.

Once the multifeeder was filled with water, wild bird food and fat balls, it was time to hang the feeder outside and see what the visiting garden birds thought of the fare on offer.

What the birds thought of the multifeeder:

It took a while for the birds to take to the new feeder. They were scared of the dome. Though we had one intrepid fledgling starling enjoying the fat balls and seed.

Over the coming weeks, the dome started to attract other birds. Like a blue tit and fledged goldfinches!

At this time of year, end of summer/beginning of Autumn my garden is awash with bird families after a busy year of breeding. Fledgling starlings still with their baby feathers are hungrily looking for food, and suet fat balls are their favourite foods. Goldfinch young with their brown heads are all vying for sunflower hearts, whilst house sparrow families look for smaller seeds and cereals.

The wild bird food and fat balls were a hit with all classes of bird.

What I thought of the multifeeder:

I didn’t care much for the detachable fat ball holders, as once the fat ball had been pecked and became crumbly, then the fat ball easily fell off and was lost to the voracious beaks of pigeons. The six fat balls were soon devoured this way, they only lasted a week in my garden!

Being made of plastic, I was a little worried for the durability of the multifeeder. However we discovered that it was more robust than we gave it credit for as it survived a fall of 1.5m without shattering. We have very raucous starlings who don’t have much in the way of table manners!

The two trays for different types of food or water is a good feature. Come winter you could feed suet pellets in the small dish while still offering normal seed or sunflower hearts in the other. There are many variants yet to be tried.

Overall, the multifeeder is a good addition to any feeding station. The starlings loved it, and I liked how robust it was. I will monitor how many birds take to the multifeeder during wintertime and do a short follow-up review. I can see many tit species enjoying the differing feed on offer and we have yet to see a robin this year.

I thank Haith’s for this opportunity to sample their products.


Links:

If you are interested in purchasing any of the products included in this review then follow the links to the individual pages.

Haith’s website offers more bird foods, such as peanuts, niger and livefood. If you would like to see their entire range follow: https://www.haiths.com/bird-food/

To hold all these different types of food, there is a designated page for all of Haith’s feeders, including feeding stations, window feeders and tables, follow this link to see their range: https://www.haiths.com/bird-feeders/

Thrigby Tales.

Day Four:

Today, though David and I were both tired from all the days out we have had over the weekend. We ended the short break in the style of how we used to holiday, by cramming in as much as possible to the day!

After our light breakfast, and I mean light as David doesn’t eat breakfast! We said our farewell to Dawn and checked out of the B&B. We made our way to Norwich Cathedral and got some nice pictures with lovely blue sky above!

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We then headed further east to Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens, as we wanted to update our zoo website, and this animal park was one we hadn’t visited before.

I was a bit depressed at the state of the big cat enclosures. They were all made of wire mesh which wasn’t very good for photography. The Swamp House and small cat enclosures were better though. We had lunch besides the Red Panda enclosure and saw one of their Reds. He was a sorry sight! The poor little fellow had had half of his body shaved and his poor little tail was a thin wisp of a thing. To me he looked like he was trying to be a lion with his mane. I just wanted to cuddle the little fellow!

The pinnacle of the visit was our trip to the gift shop. On approaching the manor house I said to David, ‘I doubt I’ll get any Red Panda cuddlies here.’ Then lo and behold as we walked through the entrance! There sitting on a shelf right opposite the door was four huge Red Panda toys! The biggest I’ve seen! My eyes widened in excitement and I just had to buy one for my collection at whatever cost! I won’t tell you how much he was but I have purchased three Red Panda cuddly toys over the weekend and spent almost £60!! Yes, there is no hope for me, I am crazy! 😀

So on our return journey of four and a half hours across country, I sat cuddling with Roz, my big Red Panda toy!

We have been so very lucky with the weather this weekend as it has only rained when we have been in the car.

Sitting in slow moving traffic around Birmingham I felt my spirits sag as we drew ever closer home and back to reality. It has been a much needed break away from renovating the house and the drudgery of work. It almost felt like we were the carefree Christine and David of old. I go back to work on Wednesday, and I expect that to be a hectic stress filled day, but I have to pay for my Red Panda toys somehow!! 😀

The stare of the Leopard.

Day Three:

Sunday was a much more relaxed kind of day. After getting up too early on a Sunday morning (7.30) for 8am breakfast which was nice, granola and coffee. David and I headed to Banham Zoo only 30 minutes drive from the B&B. We arrived at 10am and spent the next five hours there, walking the pathways looking at the Amur Tiger, Sri Lankan Leopard, Red Panda and taking in yet another flying display! The highlight of the day was catching a Mongoose with its baby! So cute!

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After 3pm we left the zoo, I with two cuddly Red Pandas in tow. 🙂

For the evening meal we went to a local pub, Brewers fayre, which was like a Wetherspoon’s to me. The place was buzzing with people enjoying the carvery and kids screaming!! What joy!! David had yet another curry while I after requesting a vegetable lasagna ended up happy with a chilli bean and rice, my favourite! Nice! 😀 We even had dessert of chocolate and strawberry sundaes 🙂 You can imagine which one David had? 🙂

Now after 10pm, we are relaxing with cups of tea after a nice bath. We are getting ready for bed… sleep tight.

Back to the Herd!

Day two.

A very tired Christine is updating this blog tonight.

This morning I awoke at 6.30am with the sun blazing into the bedroom. Breakfast was a jovial and friendly affair, with us talking to Gill about our love of visiting zoos, my passion for Red Pandas and the many street art exhibitions we have seen throughout the UK. After 9am we reluctantly left the B&B and headed towards Colchester Zoo.

Today has been a long day, of walking around the Zoo for hours, looking at all the animals and catching the Stand Tall giraffes. We saw the Red Pandas and Binturong, watched a bird of prey display and caught a glimpse of the impressive Amur Leopard!

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The weather today has been much better, with lots of sunshine, though the wind was quite brisk at times.

Then after 3pm David and I, tired from all the walking, headed back up to Norwich for the two night stay at 175 Newmarket Road B&B. Dawn welcomed us in and showed us to our room for the two nights. She was very helpful asking if we knew what places to go and eat.

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After 5.30pm we headed back out, and went to the Raj of India restaurant for a curry. I had a vegetable dupiaza and David the chicken biryani. It was lovely and the service was commendable too. I loved the little warm towels given at the end of the meal to wipe your hands on. It was a nice touch!

Now back at the B&B I have had a nice bath, sitting with a cup of tea and feeling the ache of a headache. I just hope it doesn’t turn into a migraine, for tomorrow we are visiting Banham Zoo for the first time, and yes more Red Pandas!!

Night!

Gorillas in the Rain…

Day one:

After leaving the house a bit later than I had planned for the four hour journey to Norwich to see their GoGoGorillas. David and I hit rain shower after rain shower, jam packed motorways and A roads on our journey across country which left me feeling stressed!!

We finally reached Norwich around 2.30pm and after finding parking we spent an enjoyable hour walking the streets of this friendly city and caught a glimpse of 15 of the 54 Gorillas that gave colour to the drab, rain soaked historic pavements. I am overjoyed that I managed to see a few of them before they were auctioned off and the one’s we saw were amongst my favourites!

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Leaving Norwich around 4pm, the next two subsequent hours were taken up on driving to Black Bond Hall B&B, Colchester. Andrew greeted us kindly and showed us to our room for the night and then offered us tea and cake in the kitchen. He and his wife Gill have made us feel very welcome. After a meal of fish and chips in a local Colchester chip shop, I relaxed with a shower and enjoyed the calmness of the countryside.

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It’s back to colchester and the zoo tomorrow to see their 100 plus giraffe, Stand Tall art display. I can’t wait!!

Very Distracted!

I don’t know what’s up with me today but I can’t seem to be able to concentrate or motivate myself! I must be thankful for being half packed for my much needed weekend away to the East coast of England starting this Friday!!

Last year I had booked a five day holiday to Norfolk but with my father’s sudden illness and then subsequent passing meant I had to cancel. 😦 This year I had already booked a one nights stay in a farmhouse not far from Colchester as I intend to visit the ‘Stand Tall‘ exhibition of painted giraffes at the zoo. With my boss at the Royal Liverpool Hospital being on holiday for two weeks I decided to try and extend the one nights stay to three!!

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I managed to get my own way, and booked another two nights this time in a B&B not far from Norwich, Norfolk. I will get there eventually! I intend to visit Banham Zoo to see their collection, as well as their Red Panda pair but then I don’t know what else to do. Go to other zoos in the region or visit a few sights in Norwich like the cathedral?

I usually have a whole itinerary written down by now, but as the extra two nights were just decided upon I am in a flurry as to what and where to visit. I also keep checking the weather forecast daily as most of what I want to do is mainly outdoors and is weather dependent. Unfortunately it looks like this lovely sunny ‘late summer’ weather we are having doesn’t look like it is going to last into next week.

Keep your fingers and toes crossed with me that the weather holds for the weekend and I look forward to sharing with you all my pictures and video. 🙂

Christine x