Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Thanks Tink!

For the third year in a row I have been bestowed the coveted Golden Spork award for my little blog.




I know you're envious. Maybe if you guys try hard enough, you'll get one next year.

Thank you very much dear Tink!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

First Dive of the Year

I have joined a local dive club. Because it is a SSAC and not a PADI dive club my current and expensively acquired skills do not transfer very easily. This means more training. Training in the sport of scuba diving is never a bad thing. You can not over train.

I was up at 6 this morning and out of the door and on the road at 7 with all my gear packed and ready to go. The last time I dove in the UK it was February and very cold. I didn't enjoy the experience much. Guess what? Diving in January isn't warm either.These were the weather conditions on the drive down to the training centre.Here are the hardy souls going over the dive plans. Don't they look friendly? They are!
Me getting ready. As you can see, the weather improved the moment we arrived at the dive site. The weather stayed nice for the first dive too! Blue skies and no wind. However, the water today was 4.5 C. In a number of diving circles, this qualifies as an ice dive!

We were in the water for half an hour and although two dives were planned today, I only completed one. I know my limits. It really brought home with a resounding thump how unfit I am and how I am not finished losing weight.

I did manage to complete some training during this dive and get it signed off. It will take me a number of further dives, lectures and tests to get the cross over training completed.

Now that I am home again, my scuba gear has been cleaned and is drying in various parts of the house and I have had a relaxing and warming bath. If I haven't crippled myself, I'll be going back tomorrow.

Although it was brutally cold and it took me a long time to warm up afterward, I had a good time.
Polly my faithful companion came with me. She behaved perfectly all day and didn't put a foot (paw) wrong.Here is the group from the dive club that went down to the training center today. I wish to thank everybody that came along for helping me in little ways throughout the day. If you look behind us, you will notice that the windows are dark again. Winter days are short here. In addition, the nice weather that was enjoyed during the first dive did not stay. Conditions worsened and by the time we were in our cars and on the way home, it was raining again.

Friday, January 16, 2009

I Must be Nuts!

I am going out early tomorrow. I am heading down south to Lancashire and the the nearest dive training centre of Capernwray. Yes, I will be trying out my new dry suit.
I'm not sure I am going to like this. The water is going to be cold! I mean really cold (about 7 C).
The weather report for tomorrow is shocking too. Gales and rain. I think I'll take lots of extra dry clothes, a flask of tea and a warm hat.
I'll be diving both Saturday and Sunday. I'll let you know how I get on.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Big Wind

We get a lot of strong winds here in our little corner of the world. One or two big trees near us will go each year. No matter what side of the road they're on and despite the direction of the prevailing wind, the trees will go across the road and we'll have to go the long way around. Unless of course there is another tree blocking the escape route.

We had bad winds on Sunday night and luckily this time there were no big trees down. Just some large branches that shattered upon impact with the road.

Inside the house everything was good. The electricity stayed on, flowers bloomed (This is some jasmine that I bought last year. The jasmine wanted to be a vine so I let it grow up through this small umbrella tree. It has rewarded me with a new crop of fragrant blossom.)and the cat, Julio found a very cozy place to hang out.


Outside it wasn't so peaceful. The casualties included the green house again. Just two panes this time. I'll get it fixed this weekend.


The bird feeder was knocked over too. You know, just the other day I was thinking I should put some large rocks back onto the base of the bird feeder to keep it more stable . . . I wish I had done that now. Julio was out by the fallen feeder right away. He likes to catch birds and the feeder being on the ground was making hunting a little to easy for him.

The forecast for tonight is for freezing temperatures. I didn't even need to hear the news to know that. The sky tonight is cloud free. This time of year no clouds means COLD. If we're lucky we'll get the northern lights. I haven't seen them yet this year.

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It is also International De-lurking day today. I know that over the past couple of months, I have been less than diligent with my blog entries. I will endeavor to blog more often this year. I'll even check my spelling and syntax more carefully as well. I've noticed some absolute lulus in previous posts!

In the meantime, if you've been lurking for a while, today is a grand opportunity to say hello. It would be nice to meet you.


Saturday, January 03, 2009

A Day That Includes Chimps and Penguins . . .

is never a bad day!
The Man of The Place has been laid low with a bad back. The bad back prevented him from coming along on the planned family day out to Edinburgh Zoo. After a late and hearty breakfast of apple and cinnamon oatmeal (thanks again Carey) George and I got in the car and headed north to Edinburgh.

We got to the zoo at about 1.15 after having a detailed discussion about what we thought were the most important things to see and how we would plan our zoo visit to maximize our visit and minimize the amount of walking."Hmm"

The place that houses the snakes and lovely blue frogs was shut! A bitter blow for me, I love snakes and frogs. This meant a last minute re-jigging of our plans. Never mind, off to see monkeys and chimps!! We also discovered that the world famous Edinburgh Zoo Penguin Parade was scheduled for 2.15 - a mere hour away!

We had an hour of zoo viewing before the penguins, so we went to the opposite side of zoo to the penguins and started admiring the animals.
The zoo has a spectacular new enclosure for the large apes. Incidentally, we paid a higher price for our entry into the zoo today as the extra proceeds go straight to the chimps. We love chimps. Did I say that already? This poor guy looked frozen. We spent ages looking at these wonderful expressive animals. From the information we picked up inside the chimp enclosure we were able to identify some of the chimps we saw. One of the larger males went off on a big rampage while we were gawking at them. He was displaying all over the place just to show us what a big, strong and important chimp he is. I was impressed.

Henry has a birthday in a few days and we seriously considered signing him up as a chimp sponsor as his gift. We still might.

videoAdd Image
At 2.15 precisely, George and I found a good spot at the beginning of the penguin parade. There were about nine King penguins and two Gentoo penguins. They're funny, but smell of old prawns!

We also went over to an observation spot where we could watch the penguins swim underwater. video
They are so fab!

It was a very cold day. I don't think the temperature left 0 C or 32 F the whole day. I'm glad we dressed warmly. One of the monkey houses held a huge family of capuchin and spider monkeys. The spider monkeys seemed to be particularly successful. We saw no less than four mothers with babies clinging to their backs! Here is a little spider monkey trying to soak up a little bit of the weak winter sun in the window.

Winter days in this part of the world are not only cold, are also very short. At about 3.30 the sun starts to set. George and I were near the top of the zoo (it's on a hill) and we could see the sun setting over Edinburgh. As we stood, admiring the spectacular views, the lions started roaring.

Though it was cold and the day short, George and I had a wonderful visit to the zoo. The low temperature meant that it wasn't crowded. Fewer viewers meant that the animals were much calmer. As the sun was setting the animals that are a bit more active at night, like the big cats were much more animated. We saw an enormous owl swoop down to get his food - what a treat for us!!Sumatran tiger walking away from us . . . it looked as though he had seen something worth investigating at the top of his enclosure.I love zoos and this one, though small, is top notch!