Sunday, 30 October 2016
Tuesday, 25 October 2016
I'm sure this was a Marsh Harrier. It could have been a buzzard or Sparrow Hawk, but there is a black line going around the white of this bird of prey's head. A bit like a Lone Ranger or Tonto mask. However, I'm no expert and could be wrong. This hawk was in the fields across the road from my home. It was some distance and the 300mm lens captured it, though not as good as a more powerful lens.
If it is a Marsh Harrier, it would mean that the bird of prey is also using our fields as a hunting ground. This is exciting as birds of prey numbers are increasing rapidly in the Fenland.
The autumn is coming and the leaves are falling down as we walk the river into town. Everyone likes to go to shops via the river bank because it takes you to the complete centre of the hamlet where the road bridge passes over the river. Suddenly there is the hustle and bustle of the town's traffic and then quite again, once we cross the road and carry on along the river and out of the other side of March town.
There are all sorts of quaint houses and houseboats along the river. Everything slows down and becomes carefree. I'm clicking away with the camera. Just for fun. Most of the snaps are of little use but some can give the reader an idea of the river walk to the town of March in Cambridgeshire.
Mary Kezia Roberts was born in Liverpool in the year of 1870. Her parents were Welsh from the Isle of Anglesey. When she grew to an adult, she spent her working life on board various ships as a stewardess. In 1896 she married a Scotsman who was an electrical engineer. He was five years younger than she. Mary was 26 and David Roberts, her husband from Dundee, was 21.
They were married in Derbyshire and had five children. Mary must have been away from home a lot in the early part of the 20th century because she worked for the White Star Shipping line.
In 1912, Mary was the stewardess on the exciting new passenger liner called The Titanic. She was 42 years of age at this time. As most people know, the Titanic hit an iceberg and sank with a tremendous loss of life. A disaster that echoes throughout eternity. Mary Roberts managed to survive aboard a lifeboat.
She resumed her career at sea and became a First Class Stewardess. At the outbreak of World War I, Mary was a stewardess aboard the hospital ship HMHS Rohilla. The ship was originally a passenger ship travelling from the UK to India but had been seconded by the navy at the outbreak of the war for hospital duties. The Rohilla was making her way from Scotland to Dunkirk, where it would bring aboard wounded soldiers from the trenches.
However, the ship was caught in a violent storm off of Whitby in Yorkshire. The lighthouse was not working due to wartime restrictions at night. The Rohilla cruised too close to the rocks off of Whitby and struck them. Her back was broken and the stricken ship was wedged among the rocks while the horrendous storm smashed into the broken vessel. The entire crew were in a most desperate situation and for Mary Roberts, a survivor of the Titanic but two years earlier, this was another traumatic event.
The lifeboats were rowed by hand out of the protective harbour, but the rescuers had too much difficulty in keeping the boats close enough to the stricken ship. The off-loading of crew members onto the rescue boats became exhausting as the relentless storm smashed the ship and tossed the rescue boats about. The rescue operation took 50 hours and many of the Rohilla’s crew became so desperate as the clung to the breaking and disintegrating ship, that some chanced the stormy waves.
Many perished in the attempt to reach shore or get to the lifeboats. Of 223 people aboard the Rohilla, only 140 survived the tragedy. The other 83 perished in the sea. Mary Roberts was among the 140 survivors. She went on to say that the Rohilla was a much more perilous affair for her than the Titanic. Perhaps because aboard the Titanic she was put in a lifeboat with others before the ship went down. The water was cold but not stormy.
The last person to leave the Rohilla was the Captain. He was reported to be clinging to a mast when the lifeboat got to him. He was said to be clutching a black cat that lived on board the ship and the pet seemed undisturbed by the commotion of what had gone on.
The Rohilla, for Mary, would be a more tempest and desperate affair clinging to the breaking ship with land only a few hundred yards away, but unable to reach it. The lady certainly had stories to tell of her time at sea. She remained working on liners into the late 1920s.
Mary Roberts passed away in 1932 in Ewell, Epsom, Surrey, England, where she is buried next to her husband David Roberts. He passed away a year later. One of their daughters, Daisy Bell lived to be 97 and died of old age in 2003.
Monday, 24 October 2016
|Even Carole might knock her head|
Wonderful England Makes Me Swoon with Joy!
We went to the animal sanctuary in Godmanchester today. I had received a positive reply to my enquiry about Dusty, the little Bantam cockerel. We are going for a trial adoption in the hope that he stops the bickering among our seven hens. Especially where a fiery matriarch hen is concerned.
We put the paperwork in and he has a course of treatment for louse on the 26th October. Then we can collect him on Sunday 30th. Everything was in order and we paid him a little visit before going back to the car. He sounded off with a cockle doodle doo, which was encouraging from our point of view. He did not sound as loud as some of the bigger roosters. In fact, I doubt the neighbours would be able to hear him. We are semi rural anyway. The opposite side of the lane is all farm land right up to the River Nene.
We hope little Rusty will settle in among the hens and bring a harmony to the ladies of the coop. They are Rhode Island Reds and much bigger than he is. However, he lives with Rode Island hens in the sanctuary and he has proved he can stand his ground with them.
On the drive back we stopped in the town for a coffee. It was very picturesque and we wandered along the river into the high street. There were many old houses with thatched rooves from around four and five hundred years ago. They looked very quaint indeed.
Carole and I had a little wander about and a walk along the river bank. We decided Godmanchester was a very agreeable place indeed. We do love our little slice of England.
Force feeding a political ideology and hijacking genuine concerns and then dismissing others. It all adds up to an economic truth - an a la carte menu, as the EU is so fond of pointing out to our more right of centre government.
This glorious European Union and its supporters don't say the same to these trendy left-wing film producers who peddle their propaganda and hide other real concerns because they do not exist in their rum little political ideology.
What if Right-wing film-makers produced documentaries about wonderful, white working-class neighbours whose lives were torn apart by mass immigration and political correctness. They would not be considered by Cannes trendy left-wing film festival organisers for movie nominations. They would be ostracised with court orders trying to bring custodial sentences upon them.
Sunday, 23 October 2016
|Great Cockerel but too big and loud.|
The Trouble with Hens
We acquired eight hens three years back. The eight became seven when one sadly passed away. However, we are fond of our hens and they lay eggs daily except when going through a seasonal moult. We have four ducks too, one of which is a drake. The ducks lay eggs too.
They all used to live in the chicken coup together, but one of the hens became a very dominant matriarch and took a dislike to Polo, the white Aylesbury drake. The matriarch started to henpeck him and then all the other hens followed suit and ganged up on the drake.
It was obvious that the drake was getting traumatised and we had to take him out of the coup with the female ducks and build a new compound for the duck house in the other corner of our garden. We also allowed the ducks free range to wander the garden. Within days, Polo was more relaxed and feeling so much better.
For a while, all went well and the problem with the ducks was solved and remains so to this day. However, the matriarch hen then took a dislike to one of the hens. Again, she started henpecking and the followers joined in. We had to remove one chicken coup and put it in the duck compound. The victimised chicken now wanders the garden with the ducks. She is fine and seems happy.
Who will the matriarch hen start on next? If we get rid of her, will another hen take up the position in her stead? I sometimes joke with my wife. Those chickens have a plan of a great escape, like in the Chicken Run movie. They are henpecking a way out for the big get out one day.
As we came out of our local supermarket, there was a man collecting for an animal charity centre for rehoming animals. We decided to donate and he gave us brochures of the sanctuary close by near Huntingdon. A few days later we decided to pay a visit.
As we wandered around we saw some smashing cockerels. Carole told me that with one such bird in the coop, the hens would become easier to manage and the matriarch would be put in her place. It was a wonderful notion but these grand cockerels were just too loud with the 'cockle doodle doing.'
I loved it, but I'm sure some of my neighbours would be rather angry at being woken up at the crack of dawn. I get up at that time anyway, but the rest of the road would not like it.
Our house is semi-rural and there is farm field across the roads to us. We do have neighbours either side, however, and it would not be fair to keep such a load cockerel.
|Dusty could be the man we're looking for.|
Then my heart leapt at the sight of a little Bantam cockerel. A small breed of chicken. He was in the coup with Rhode Island Red hens who dwarfed him. I was surprised by this and spoke with the volunteer who was attending the chicken coups. She said he was a surly little fellow who was the boss. He stood his ground with all the rescued hens and brought harmony among them. He was no different to the big cockerels and was good with his cockle doodle doing too.
He still did the morning call but his noise was not half as bad or loud as the bigger cockerels. We spoke to the lady about our hens and the matriarch and she said, if we wanted, we could give him a trial period.
We are now in the process of trying to adopt Dusty, the little Bantam cockerel with small man syndrome. We hope he will put his manly ways to good use with our hens and their matriarchal boss. He is short with wonderful long hair that goes over his feet like black spats. Let's hope he makes the matriarch know that he wears the spats.
Saturday, 22 October 2016
After the lovely summer, autumn seems to be blowing kisses at me when I get up each morning. The darkness is about for around an hour and a half, plus the leaves are turning various shades of bronze and gold.
The foliage looks very appealing but the chill in the Fenland air lets one know that the beginning of the bleak seasons is upon us.
The fields are now just muddy furrows awaiting crops to be planted in the spring. Soon the flat fenlands will have a hazy mist over the fields with bare trees in scattered lines here and there along the dykes.
This is the time of year that Carole and I book a cruise to the Canary Islands. We start off from Southampton to Madeira and then to the various Canary Islands each day, returning via Cadiz in Spain and Lisbon in Portugal. It is our two-week break that clouds the bleak winter for us.
When we return, it is soon Christmas and from here on, the spring is but a few weeks. Or at least, it seems to be. The last time we were in Grand Canaria, we watched people on the beach playing football in the sand. We also saw a man dressed as Father Christmas sweating because it was still warm. We laughed and made a vow that we'll always cruise in the winter to the Canary Islands, just to break up the monotony of our English winter.
The Rose fair comes to Wisbech every July. It is a big event and a number of stalls are set up in the old church grounds. I clean and empty the bins around the small park and the blind gardens. From here it is a few paces to the steps where the old museum is and onwards towards the circular crescent where neat terraced Georgian buildings are.
One of the main historical names from the town, is that of a man called William Godwin. He was a political philosopher from Wisbech and was active in social circles of London from 1790 onwards. He had a daughter who caught much controversy and scandal back in that day and age. Her name was Mary Godwin. As a young woman she ran off with one of William’s political followers. His name was Percy Bysshe Shelly.
By the church in the above picture, one can see a small plaque to the right of the church archway. It is of the lady who was William Godwin's daughter. Her name became Mary Shelly and she wrote the famous novel, Frankenstein.
In a remote Fenland town, outside an old church archway, Mary Shelly is remembered with proud affection.