31.3.08

NICE PIC
OF THE DAY


TOO STORMY
FOR SEALS


Seals are one of my
favourite animals.

I used to love watching the
Saimaa
ringed seals (below) as a kid when
I went fishing in Finland.

It is actually a very rare
endangered mammal.

The Finnish WWF have placed it under
protection in the 2005-10 program.
There are only 270 remaining in the wild
so I have been so lucky to have seen them
close by in their natural habitat.


It seems the UK's seals have been
struggling recently as well.
A sanctuary
in Norfolk is caring for twice the number
of creatures than it usually does.

The average number
of about 30 seals
at this time of year has risen to 60.


Experts fear that stormy weather and
higher sea levels mean that many pups
are getting separated from their mothers.

Caring for the creatures doesn't come
cheap, with seal food alone
costing around £800 a week.


Some of the pups are really thin and
poorly so they are kept inside and bottle
fed (below) until they are better.


To get the seals ready for returning to the
open sea, they get moved into an outdoor
pool where they can get back
to the ways of the wild.


The sanctuary has many success stories,
with the mammals being returned
to the open sea once they have been
nursed back to health.


Here's what to do
if you discover a seal.


SECRETS OF
STONEHENGE


This looks interesting!

Will the secrets of Stonehenge
finally be revealed?


That's me with the mighty stones in 2001.
We stopped for a coffee on route to
Devon on a mortorbike trip - hence
the helmet hair and the fat leathers!


The first excavation inside the ring
at Stonehenge in more than four
decades gets under way today.


The dig will try to establish precise
dating for the creation of the monument

and the significance of the smaller
bluestones that stand inside
the giant sarsen pillars.


Researchers believe these rocks, brought
all the way from Wales, hold the secret
to the real purpose of Stonehenge
as a place of healing.

The excavation at the 4,500-year-old
UK landmark is being funded by the BBC.
The work will be filmed for a special
Timewatch programme to be
broadcast in the autumn.


PETRA RETURNS
TO HER PADDLE PAL


Oh dear! Another sad story but
with a happy ending.

It was only a week and a half ago when
I reported that
Petra the black swan
in Münster, Germany, has a new
home and so does her beloved
swan-shaped paddleboat.


Zoo officials parted bird and boat after
Petra settled down with a real white swan
and the boat was returned to the lake.
But the romance was short-lived.

The zoo says that on Saturday her new
beau flew off and sought the company
of other black swans.


Accoording to a stament from the zoo
Petra "appears to feel lonely" and
is swimming around in
an agitated state.

The solution? On Friday she will be taken
back to the nearby lake and
her faithful paddleboat.


TULIP WATCH 2008

Today is the first proper spring
day here in sunny SW19.

The mercury is sitting
on +14 C.

I was just out in sandals (!) and took a few
photos as the garden seems to have come
alive overnight with colour.

Please click on
the image to view
a larger version.

Also here's the first photo of my
black tulips this year.
Watch this space!


28.3.08

SUNSET OF
THE WEEK


Smeaton's Tower in
Plymouth by Andy Fox.


PEAS IN A POD

Our cats Millie aka Fats (left) and
Mira were sleeping together
the other night- too cute!

Millie's quite territorial and doesn't like
Mira too close to her so this was a
kodak moment not to be missed.


25.3.08

BIRDS

I love birds and plan to visit the newly
opened Blackburn Pavilion
at the London Zoo.

The open plan exhibit allows visitors to
enter a world of lush rainforest foliage
and waterfalls, and catch flashes of colour
from the
vast array of beaks, wings, and
feathers fluttering on display, with many
flying free around their tropical home.


Blackburn Pavilion provides a tranquil
home for more than 50 different
species of birds. Originally built in
1883 as a Reptile House, this Victorian
building has been restored to
provide the flocks a place to
spread their wings.


NICE FROST PIC
OF THE DAY


MOOSE HEARING

Canadian scientists using the trophy rack
from a large male moose for a series of
acoustic experiments have discovered that
the beast's antlers act like natural hearing
aids, bouncing sounds - including
sweet talk from a potential
mate - toward its ears.

The finding, detailed in the latest issue
of the
European Journal of Wildlife
Research, explains the moose's "excellent
sense of hearing" - a phenomenon variously
attributed to its large ears, their
placement on the animal's head,
and their unusual shape and
flexibility, the study states.


The mammal's antlers appear to serve as
"a parabolic reflector of sounds" and
"aid in moose communication," conclude
University of Guelph biologist George
Bubenik and his son Peter Bubenik,
a mathematician at
Cleveland
State University.

Moose inhabit boreal forest and marshland.
Males of the enormous species exceed
two metres at shoulder height and can
weigh as much as 800 kg, with
velvety antlers as wide as
1.8 metres from tip to tip.


ALL WHITE
ON THE NIGHT


Olmen Zoo in Antwerp, Belgium is the home
for three newcomers: white lion cubs,
born last week. White lions are very rare,
worldwide there are only 200,
all of them in captivity.


The cubs mother Ashanti and dad Apollo
have been in Olmen since 2005.

Following a 3-month pregnancy, Ashanti
gave birth to 5 cubs but unfortunately
2 of them didn’t survive and initially,
things didn’t look bright for the 3
remaining ones either. Apparently
Ashanti couldn’t produce enough
milk to feed all of them.


Keepers at the zoo decided to take the
cubs away from their mother
and for the time being they're
kept in an incubator.


BRING BACK
THE ROUTEMASTER


I have to agree with Boris
on this one.

Bring back the
Routemaster !


24.3.08

FUNNY CAT PIC
OF THE DAY


Whoa!!!!

LET IT SNOW

They've been forecasting snow for the
last few days and we were suppose
get 2-5 cm. I was getting all
excited as I love it when it snows.

Well, this is what we got:


It snowed a bit yesterday and
today but didn't settle because
the ground is too wet. Sigh.


20.3.08

HAPPY EASTER!

As I take a few days off to eat my own
body weight in chocolate,
I'd just like to wish
everyone a very

19.3.08

CUTE ALERT!

PETRA'S PLASTIC
PAL PADDLES FOR
THE LAST TIME


Rememeber the love between
a swan and a ...plastic swan?

Well, the story has a happy ending as Petra
the black swan and her paddleboat friend are
finally parting ways. Zoo director Joerg
Adler says she met a live white swan
this winter and they are
building a nest together.


Officials in the western city of Münster
decided to let
her stay with the plastic
swan over the winter, bringing both
bird and boat into
a city zoo.


18.3.08

NICE PIC
OF THE DAY


Sunset in Kashmir in
India by Dallages Rinakar.


HUGE

I've flown hundreds of times but I
neverstop marvelling how the
giant machines stay up in the air.

I'd love to go on the biggest yet
, the A380,
which landed at Heathrow today on its
first commercial flight into Europe.


The specifications
are just mind blowing.


17.3.08

MAX POWER

Aaah, bless him!

A retired police drug sniffer dog has been
given a new lease of life after getting
his own "off road" wheels to
support his unstable hips.


English Springer spaniel Max now
regularly patrols his new rural beat
with his two-wheeled harness.

He is often seen in the fields and
lanes around his home near
Cullompton, east Devon.

His owner, Devon and Cornwall Police
Inspector Anne Higgins (below with Max),
said he had to retire early because of
inherited hip dysplasia
where he "wobbled".


She said Max, a drugs dog for six years,
also suffered from arthritis, and was put
on the retired list by neighbouring
Avon and Somerset Police.


Inspector Higgins said that force
advertised for someone to give him
a new home and "we were
selected after being vetted".


VISION

WELCOME TO
EARTH


Population? Zero.

This is scary vision.

A documentary "Life After People" tells
the story of what would happen to planet
earth if the human race were to
suddenly disappear?

This program provides an amazing
visual journey through the ultimately
hypothetical: humans won't
be around forever.


It's on the History Channel
Easter Sunday at 9 pm GMT.

And staying on the subject, here's something
interesting I was reading about: there is a
Svalbard Global Seed Vault (above) in Norway.

The mission is to provide a safety net
against accidental loss of diversity in
traditional genebanks.

While the emphasis is on its possible utility
in the event of a major regional or global
catastrophe, it will be more frequently
accessed when genebanks lose samples
due to mismanagement, accident,
equipment failures, funding
cuts and natural disasters.


14.3.08

THREE POINT FOUR

Bet you didn't know there
was a
Pi Day?

And that it's today?
Nor did I!


For 3,500 years, humankind has attempted
to solve the puzzle of pi.
In ancient Greece
Archimedes worked tirelessly to discover
the ratio, uncovering only
a few digits of accuracy.

By the time Ludolf van Ceulen died in
1610, he had spent many years of his life
tediously calculating pi, resulting in
only 35 accurate digits.

In 1873 William Shanks announced he had
found 707 digits. Unfortunately, he had
made a mistake after the 527th place.
The following digits were all wrong.


The most recent attempt, by a Japanese
computer scientist in 2002, found 1.24 trillion
digits of pi. Some mathematicians believe
that if we could only find some pattern in pi,
even some hint that there were more
fours than sevens, it could lead to
a huge breakthrough in our
understanding of the universe.


BEND ME,
SHAPE ME


Just what the world needs,
another gadget!


Finnish mobile giant Nokia and the
University of Cambridge have jointly
designed a concept mobile phone that
allows users to mould the handset
into different shapes.

Dubbed Morph, the handset demonstrates
the possible future benefits of
nanotechnology for mobile devices.

Morph is both stretchable and flexible, but
nanotechnology could also allow future
mobile phones to incorporate self-cleaning
surfaces and see-through electronics.


The project has been roughly one year in the
making and Nokia said that it could be 7 years
before elements of the Morph will be
available for integration into other
off-the-shelf phones.



SUNSET OF
THE WEEK


Pershore Abbey in Worcestershire
by Elizabeth Long.


13.3.08

MILLIE DIET UPDATE

I'm glad to report that Millie's aka
Fat's diet is going great guns!

She had her first weigh-in since
the start a month ago and
she's lost....(drumroll)...200g!


The vet's happy with that as it's not
meant to be a crash diet anyway.

We'll continue our daily jaunts up and
down the stairs and the special food.
New update same time next month!


CHOCS AWAY

Want to eat half your own weight in
chocolate? Well here's your chance.

A solid chocolate egg weighing 70lb
(31 kg) is on sale for £499 at
department store Selfridges.

The Easter special, which has already
been ordered by four customers,
is studded with hundreds
of sugar diamonds.

It was made by chocolatiers
L'Artisan du Chocolat.


CUTE ALERT!

MOKO THE
WHALE GUIDE


Most days, Moko the bottlenosed dolphin
swims playfully with humans at
a New Zealand beach.

But this week, it seems, she found a new job.
Witnesses described Wednesday how
the dolphin swam up to two stranded
whales and guided them to safety.


Before Moko arrived, rescue workers had
been working for more than an hour to
get two pygmy sperm whales, a mother
and her calf, back out to sea after they
were stranded Monday off Mahia Beach
(below), said
Conservation Department
worker Malcolm Smith.

Unfortunately the whales restranded themselves
four times on a sandbar slightly out to sea from
the beach, about 300 miles (482 km) northeast
of the capital, Wellington. It looked likely
they would have to be euthanized to
prevent a prolonged death, he said.


"They kept getting disorientated and
stranding again, they obviously couldn't
find their way back past
the sandbar to the sea."


Then Moko cam along, approached
the whales and appeared to lead them
as they swam 200 yards (182 m) along the
beach and through a channel
out to the open sea.


"Moko just came flying through the water
and pushed in between us and the whales,"
Juanita Symes, another rescuer said.
"She got them to head toward the
hill, where the channel is."


Anton van Helden, a marine mammals
expert at New Zealand's national museum,
Te Papa Tongarewa, said the reports
of Moko's rescue were "fantastic"
and believable because the dolphins
have "a great capacity for
altruistic activities."


These included evidence of dolphins
protecting people lost at sea, and
their playfulness with other animals.


"But it's the first time I've heard of an
inter-species refloating technique. I
think that's wonderful," said van Helden,
who was not involved in the rescue
but spoke afterward to Smith.


EARL GREY

One of the rather radical changes
(for me anyway) I've done lately is
leaving sugar out from tea and
coffee completely.

It was a bit strange at first but
I don't miss it at all.

My favourite tipple is Earl Grey. Its named
after Charles, the 2nd
Earl Grey, who
was given a special blend of tea
by a Chinese Mandarin.

As this began to run out, the Earl asked
Richard Twining to match it for him.
From then on the blend became
known as
"Earl Grey's" tea.

And the reason for mention
all this? Today is his birthday.


MUM, DON'T MOVE...

I'm sleeping.

MACHINERY

Our old washing machine gave up
the ghost on Tuesday so I
ordered a new one.

It arrived this morning and is
already doing its first load.

Oh I do like new machines!


12.3.08

SAY THE WORD

My favourite song at the moment
is
Fascination by Alphabeat.

This bunch of Danes have come up
with the perfect summer hit,
bouncy and happy, bit like

"Walking On Sunshine"


10.3.08

BIG JAM SESSION'S
ABOUT TO BEGIN


When we met Heavy in Lisbon she
told us that one of our old time
favourite's
Stray Cats are going
on a
farewell tour.

We're thingking of going to the London
gig obviously as it's only up the road in
Brixton but when I was looking at the tour
list I also noticed they're playing in Spain,
in
San Pedro del Pinatar .... which is
about 5 minute drive from my
mum's! How weird.

The Spanish forums are already buzzing
with the info as the gig is going to be in
a football field and they can fit 5000
"gatos" in there! "Lógicamente es en
el campod de fútbol!
Se pueden
meter unos 5000
gatos!"

The band's first album in 1981 (above)
was the first vinyl album I ever bought.

My room was plastered with posters
of the band and I swore I would marry the
singer Brian Setzer. Well, I did marry
a Brian in 1988 but it wasn't him!

I've seen them live only once before, in
north London in the 90's and of course
managed to be in the loo when
they played my favourite
song Runaway Boys!


SUNSET OF
THE WEEK


PUZZLE