Mouse-trap

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Yesterday I received a new mouse trap and already today, with the help of a chocolate cookie, I caught at least one of the culprits that have been plundering my store cupboard.

A cute thing, probably a field mouse or maybe even a dormouse. I promptly took him outside and released it from its overnight incarceration. It seemed unperturbed by its ordeal as I had expected wild shrieks overnight but thankfully it made no sounds at all. I returned the trap to the cupboard.

A short while later I heard the trap go off again and looked inside the cupboard. The trap had clearly been pushed around the floor, which had triggered the release mechanism but it was empty. Had they already cottoned on ?

No, later in the afternoon another one found its way into the trap, however it looked suspiciously like the first one. This could become a bit of a game. This time the chocolate cookie was almost completely eaten. They are a bit morish, I must say.

Update 26.10.2019

Overnight another mouse was caught in the trap, making it three in two days. It looked slightly different to the others, being smaller, slimmer and more nervous, but otherwise it was the same type of field mouse.

I replaced the trap with a new biscuit and in the afternoon I inspected the trap again. The biscuit was gone. WOW! somehow a mouse had entered the cage and dragged a pretty large cookie out without releasing the trap door. Not a crumb in sight and no sign of the biscuit. These mice are no fools.

Autumn

It’s a mild autumn day and perfect for a stroll among the falling leaves. The squirrels are out in force today and the first one I encounter is just a few feet from my doorway. After that I see several more collecting nuts ready for their winter hibernation.

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It is still so mild that even butterflies are out and I also see another humming hawk moth but fail to photograph it. However while sorting through my images I came across two nice photos I had overlooked in my eagerness to post the previous humming hawk moth photos.

Meanwhile I reflect on today’s welcome news that eleven supreme court judges have unanimously ruled against Boris Johnson. I think it is the first time I have felt any relief since the start of the whole Brexit saga. It is a great day for the rule of law, if not democracy.

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Just minding his own business … zen-like.

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‘Nuts whole hazel nuts’ … a mouthful of nuts ready for winter

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The humming hawk moth close up from my last encounter.

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Note the particularly long proboscis.

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A red admiral butterfly seen for the first time this year.

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A jay finds a convenient wooden handrail to perch on.

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… and sheep are doing their best to keep the grass trimmed on the hillsides.

June 1977

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A visit to Paris and a Guardian reader on the Champs Elysee. Still the best British newspaper despite its bias. I was planning a serious Sunday walk for today but cloudy weather has put me off so I am posting this old photo instead, which I have no doubt posted before.

Photo: Agfacolor reversal film 200 asa, Nikkormat Ftn – Nikkor 80-200mm, digitised. (probably)

Democracy … rambles

BanksyPhoto: Unknown, image Banksy

Britain, the heart of democracy? … don’t make me laugh!

First, let’s take a look at a few things, while we ponder the present confusion surrounding us.

I am sick of hearing the phrase, ‘this is what the British people voted for’ in regard to Brexit from the likes of Boris and Mrs. May clan.

Almost half the country did not vote for Brexit. It has since been alleged that the Brexit parties lied, misused EU funds and broke electoral law… and many of those who did vote for Brexit feel they made a mistake and would now vote Remain.

There are millions of Britons living in EU countries who are directly affected by Brexit yet have no say in the matter because having lived outside the UK for more than 15 years they have no right to vote. Meanwhile, Americans along with many other civilized countries have a lifelong right to vote in their own political systems regardless of where they live. Who came up with this arbitrary 15 year cut off for British expatriates and WHY ?

Had those Britons voted it may well have changed the referendum result.

As for Britain’s relationship with Saudi Arabia that is a whole other can of worms.

How did a buffoon like Boris become prime minister … he went to public school and can quote Latin, which he thinks makes him look cool and intelligent. Dream on Boris.

Women in Britain only finally got equal rights to vote alongside men in 1928! Long after the British empire had dominated the world and the industrial revolution had already been going for two centuries.

The majority of conservative MPs now governing the country are privately educated, went to Eton, Oxford or Cambridge and live in a world remote from your average Briton.

The UK is the only undisputed democracy in Europe to use ‘First past the post’, others use systems that better reflect the overall proportion of votes cast, rather than who wins in each constituency. This is why the UK Green party has only one MP and the German Green party has 21 MPs!

As to the Banksy artwork. I was very impressed that he could paint so well. I have long been a fan of his work but saw him more as a political spray can artist. This painting, if it really is from him, puts him in a whole new category of genius.

 

 

Reflections

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A visit to Karlsruhe for their spectacular ‘Schlosslichtspiele’. This is an annual light festival event lasting for several weeks from August till September. Many artists and companies are involved in putting together a light show projected onto the impressive baroque facade of the palace.

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The setting was perfect with a warm summer evening and clear skies. The event is free and there was plenty of space in the enormous grounds to find an ideal viewing spot.

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After a weekend in Karlsruhe it was back to Pforzheim and time to reflect on how different the two towns are.

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Pforzheim suffered greatly during WW2 and I took time out to visit the memorial, which stands high on a hill where the debris from bombed building was taken and now over looks the town.

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It’s a bit of a slog to get up to but well worth it just for the views over Pforzheim and Baden Wuerttemberg. The shiny metallic memorial sculptures reminded me of a mix between 911 and 2001 and below this plaque explains the event:

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Which roughly translated reads as follows:

Debris hill 23rd February 1945

This artificial hill was created on the Wallberg (hill) from the debris of Pforzheim.

It reminds us of the horrors of WW2, particularly on the 23rd February 1945. In less than 20 minutes the town was completely devastated. More than 18,000 people died.

The total war – started by the National Socialists, Germany – aimed now also at our own town.

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A beautiful mix of wildflowers alongside the Enz riverbanks.

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A duck on the River Nagold, which also flows through Pforzheim. The two rivers intersect in the town centre and this made it attractive to the Romans who first settled here. In fact for all I know I would not be surprised if the duck was standing on old Roman ruins.

Humming hawk moth

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The arrival of the humming hawk moth must be a sign that the climate is hotting up. I have only seen this interesting insect once before and that was in southern Spain 2500 kms south of here and that was also relatively recently.

This insect gets its name from the humming bird, which it resembles as it darts about hovering in flight, but there the similarity ends. On closer inspection it looks more like a mix between a fish, crustacean and butterfly.

While sat on a park bench I was surprised and delighted to see one hovering around flowers and quickly grabbed my camera for this rare photo opportunity.

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Damn! The autofocus once again refused to work, despite trying everything. In my frustration I banged the camera down on the wooden bench and gave up. When I picked the camera up again I noticed the lens focus ring was stiff and thought that might be the cause, maybe dirt had become trapped. Then the focus ring suddenly detached itself revealing the innards of the Tamron 18mm-270mm lens. At first I thought the problem was with the camera but it seems to have been the lens.

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The Nikon D300 has a magnesium alloy body, so it is pretty robust and I did drop it once onto concrete to no ill effect. However the Tamron lens is not build to the same standards and I may well have damaged it by banging it down on the bench. Anyway, I was still fuming as I wrestled with the focus ring, trying to force it back in place, all the time thinking a new lens replacement would set me back over 300 euros.

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With anger and brute force I knocked the ring back and resigned myself to replacing the lens as the ring was now stiffer than before. So was I surprised to find it working properly once mounted back on the camera … even the autofocus, so maybe I had dislodged some dirt in my frustration.

Having cooled down a bit, despite the hot sunshine, I resumed taking photos but a little more relaxed. Even with autofocus capturing this insect is a real challenge and this was the best I was able to come up with, but at least I got something. Maybe time to upgrade to a D500.

The Zone

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Have you ever noticed how little animals and birds do. Look at your average dog or cat, they sleep all night and then for much of the day. Notice a field of sheep or ducks beside a pond, they too spend much of the day sleeping and I am pretty sure they are not suffering from insomnia.

You have to ask yourself what are we humans doing wrong. We dash around the world polluting the environment, provoke wars or else we spend hours frustrated waiting in traffic queues, checkins and such like.

Is it not time to rethink what we are doing and where we are headed. Why are people working their butts off just to buy things that give a momentary buzz. What’s with all these famous, rich, celebrities living in those huge mansions you see on YouTube. Empty mansions, spotless, sterile, never lived in. Too big even for three generations of one family. OK, so some are investments and some are historic buildings being preserved. However, even your average middle class family own a large house that will soon only echo to the hollow sounds of the children who once lived there.

I read that algorithms will soon replace most of what we humans do. No profession is untouched. Even art! A computer that composes music has already dumbfounded music critics. They could not tell the difference between real Bach and this computer that had been programmed to create Bach style music. The speed of change is so great now that even educating youngsters for specific professions is rapidly becoming obsolete.

Never mind, there is always Weezer.

Weezer – Islands in the sun.

Egrets

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… a change of scene.

This is an old composite image of egrets I photographed mainly in Spain some years ago. I felt a short break was needed from nature walks, Boris and 3D modeling. What with Boris getting his just deserts, Rhino 3D software update costing me 1000 euros and with the summer being all but over, time to reflect on where I am going, what I am doing and what in the world is going on.

Sunday walk III

Yesterday felt like the hottest day so far this summer, even if it failed to break any records. Today as I venture out on my Sunday walk it is cooler but still very warm. However it looks like from now on it’s downhill all the way as far as temperatures go.

I wade through ferns on a zigzag path that eventually meets a dirt track halfway down the hill and plonk myself on my favourite bench to soak up the sun. It is pretty quiet and I have yet to photograph anything interesting. While meditating I listen to the sounds of the forest. Bird calls, twigs crack and leaves rustle as a cool breeze filters through the trees.

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I open my eyes and spot what at first I think is a buzzard but it turns out to be some sort of hawk. I manage one poor shot but the silhouette is enough to identify it as a bird of prey, but what, I have no idea. I shall leave that to the ornithologists.

Soon after this, walking along the dirt track, a buzzard shoots out of the undergrowth in front of me and crosses the track in a slow low glide before disappearing into the forest below. No chance of a photo but always impressive when you see them close up instead of just a silhouette up in the sky.

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I notice the ‘prehistoric’ plants from last week have all been mowed down along with what was left of the wildflowers. It seems rather pointless cutting forest grass especially as it had only been done on one side of the track. Last year there had been a large bush of thistles that had attracted a variety of butterflies but when I arrived there this year to take photos it was gone. It seems to me that foresters have little interest in nature. I see this all the time. Mowed grass that could easily be left wild but there is a western obsession with mowing lawns. ‘Must keep things tidy, what will people think!’ The trouble with that is all the wildflowers are destroyed too, essential for butterflies and bees. I used to write to councils about these sort of things but they invariably ignored me. Give young unemployed guys a noisy polluting strimmer or leaf blower and it will keep them happy and off the streets. That is the mindset of councilors.

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I came across this curious thing in the forest, which was a web with what looked like a burrowing hole for a small animal. No idea what it is. The hole was a bit bigger than finger size and had not been touched as the web had been constructed around the hole as far as I could tell. Any suggestions welcome ?

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A jay hides in long grass searching and listening for bugs, eventually taking flight back into the forest.

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Finally a photo of my favourite tree, which I have often photographed and probably already posted here before.

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Hello Boris!

How to make Britain Great again?

A few thoughts …

Scrap HS2 unless you can fix the present railway system. Presently train services are the worst and most expensive in Europe. They should be cheaper and more efficient.

High speed Internet, yes! Long overdue and free hotspots in some critical locations like railway stations would be welcomed.

Improved bus services. Experiment with free Hop ‘n’ Ride in a few towns.

Scrap grammar schools and introduce comprehensives nationwide. Bring back polytechnics and colleges of further education. Turning all colleges into universities was the dumbest thing ever.

Introduce national service for all 18-20 year olds for one year. (Social work or military optional) Maybe even a one year culture/arts course option. Encourage more voluntary work.

More cycle paths for bicycles, e-scooters, Segways and the like and pedestrianize more town centers.

Don’t accept US chlorinated chicken. The USA needs to get its act together. Britain should stand up to America and not act like a pathetic lapdog, otherwise under Trump Britain will be used and abused.

Stop sending recycled waste to far off countries in container vessels that pollute the environment more than any other form of transport.

Maintain EU standards or even better improve on them.

Maintain Green Belts. Stop building on them, they were green belts for a reason.

Stop strimming wildflowers! In fact, stop strimming. Plant more trees. Britain was once covered in forests. Now they are virtually all gone and the few remaining hardly worthy of the name.

Scrap the honors list. Jimmy Saville need I say more. It is over FFS!

Build cheaper innovative eco housing and less of the mock Tudor Barratt rabbit hutches.

Wave energy, vertical wind energy and solar energy … where are you?

More police on the beat. It is less polluting and healthier for all. Police need to be seen and heard. Walking the streets should be safe for all, regardless of the time of day.

Four day working week. Max allowed 40 hours. No overtime.

Charge a nominal quarterly fee to visit a doctor to make people think twice before using the NHS. Stop giving free treatment to foreigners. Britons don’t get free treatment abroad!

More youth centers especially in deprived areas. Skateboard parks and better play areas for children. Maybe take a look at Germany next time you visit.

Legalize medicinal cannabis. Stop state sponsored gambling. Stop snorting cocaine.

Allow all Britons even those living abroad a lifelong right to vote, this has long been a right for Americans in the USA. Funny how Britain always seem to adopt the worst of American culture but fails to adopt American rights and freedoms. Somethings wrong there folks. I am not a object, I am a citizen. Better start now before there is a revolution.

Give all EU citizens living in the UK before Brexit the right to stay and vote with the minimum of fuss and no payments thank you. Bureaucrats and civil servants earn enough already, they make our lives difficult while enjoying well paid jobs for life. Time to start weeding out the chaff. Stop screwing your interns.

Much more I could add but I think this will do for the moment.

Actually much of this could also be applied to many EU countries too.

NB. I have not visited the UK in recent years, so some things mentioned here may have improved but from my experience of visiting on and off over the past 40 years and having been born and educated there I doubt that much has changed in recent years.

Note to: GCHQ

Please pass this on to the appropriate authorities. Thanks!