02 March 2015

A welcome awaits....

A recent travel programme on television reminded me of an incident in another part of the UK. Another nation, actually.

The UK comprises these nations, England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Hence the name United Kingdom. However, the word ‘united’ is a misnomer – according to the history books it was never thus. But we grow up, don’t we, and learn to get on with people of all nationalities and denominations. Or we should!

It is a sad fact that certain people on these islands don’t like their neighbours and it was a much publicised fact that the Welsh didn’t like the English. Nevertheless, Wales is a lovely place to visit, which is what we did one summers day, many years ago.

I think we were in Machunclyth at the time but I could be wrong about that. The memory fades with age, you know. Anyway, we were definitely by the sea. One thing I noticed was that certain shopkeepers didn’t speak. A purchase could be made and the sale completed without a word exchanged, yet conversations would be in progress with other folk in the shop. Sometimes there would be a noticeable change of language - moving rapidly from English to Welsh. 

It took a while for it to dawn on me that we were English and some people didn’t like us. Joe thought I was being daft. ‘People aren’t like that,’ he said, being a tolerant man who always sees good in people. However, the next incident brought it home that maybe I was right.

We had taken Goldie, our first Labrador, who adored the seaside. He was a friendly dog and loved to mix with other dogs when the occasion arose. On this particular occasion Goldie had had his run on the sand and we were just standing there enjoying the weather and the view.

Walking down the lane behind us was a young lady and an older man, maybe daughter & father, with a small dog on a lead. Naturally, Goldie wanted to say hello and ran towards the couple. The woman promptly snatched her dog up and bellowed to us to ‘remove’ our dog. I called out that Goldie was friendly and wouldn’t hurt her dog, at the same time calling him to heel. It didn’t help. The woman was outraged.

The incident passed when the couple and their dog moved on. Or so we thought. A few minutes later we moved away from the spot, walking to where our car was parked. Imagine our surprise and horror when they passed us in their car to hear the woman screaming ‘GET BACK TO YOUR OWN B***** COUNTRY.’ 

I don’t think I’ve been back to Wales since but I did learn from English friends that similar experiences were shared. How sad is that? 

I have yet to work out how divided turf can change people's opinions of each other.

26 February 2015

Thinking on your feet

I may well have posted this before, but it's worth airing again if only to give you a smile. 

A man in London walked into the produce section of his local Tesco's supermarket and asked to buy half a head of lettuce. The boy working in that department told him that they only sold whole heads of lettuce. The man was insistent that the boy ask the manager about the matter.

Walking into the back room, the boy said to the manager, 

"Some old fool wants to buy a half a head of lettuce."

As he finished his sentence, he turned around to find that the man was standing right behind him, so he quickly added, "and this gentleman kindly offered to buy the other half."

The manager approved the deal and the man went on his way.

Later, the manager said to the boy,"

I was impressed with the way you got yourself out of that situation earlier, we like people who can think on their feet here. Where are you from son?"

"New Zealand, sir," the boy replied.

"Why did you leave New Zealand?" the manager asked.

The boy said, "Sir, there's nothing but prostitutes and rugby players there."

"Is that right?" replied the manager," My wife is from New Zealand!"

"Really?" replied the boy, "Who did she play for?"

23 February 2015

Looking after birds, and a bit about the squirrel.

picture borrowed from the Internet
I am over the moon and flushed with success.

For years I bought bird food that contained thistle seeds (Niger) in a futile attempt to lure goldfinches to the feeders. However, since feeding birds with sunflower seeds the goldfinches have visited daily. It started with one bird, then two, then three, then five. To my mind, that’s great, ‘cause I love that little bird.

Wondering now if the number will increase. 

The feed once bought suddenly changed to include a particular seed that the birds didn’t like. Don’t laugh, this is true! Every day I would discover that all but that particular seed had been eaten and every day I would have to clear the ‘rubbish’ seed off the feeding table. Well, I don’t like work that much so I changed their daily ration to sunflower seeds and peanuts. Honestly, by the way they flock in you’d think I was giving them champagne and caviar.

I read a birding article on the iPad and learned that goldfinches have changed their habits and are now eating more sunflower seed than thistle. I couldn’t have bettered the changeover time. Now I read that greenfinches migrate to Spain in winter ... so where did mine come from.

We still see the bullfinch family (Mom, Dad and kids) and the nuthatch, and chaffinches, and a couple of greenfinches. The latter is a surprise because I heard the greenfinch was almost extinct. Apparently there was a spreading disease that killed off greenfinches in large numbers. I reckon I’m on a mission to save all birds, don’t you?

Every morning I put out bread, peanuts, and suet for the birds that can’t get to the feeders. Joe does his bit for wild life by cutting the crusts off sandwiches and throwing out apple peel. He did it because he swore he heard the squirrel say ‘what’s for afters’. And that’s in addition to the manky pears I throw out during winter months. 

Whilst on the subject of squirrels, here's a picture I took of the damage they can do. Not content with breaking every bird feeder he could lay his paws and teeth on he had a go at one of our mini trees. It's right by the patio yet I never saw him at it. It will be interesting to see if he manages to get through the whole thing.