Moore Nature Reserve

I have recently taken up bird watching quite seriously and am currently exploring the various sites in the North of England that offer opportunities to enjoy both the bird watching and taking photographs of the birds and the often accompanying beautiful countryside.

This morning I paid a visit to Moore Nature Reserve which is just SW of Warrington and next to the old Manchester Ship canal. Because of limited time I was only able to visit the Birchwood Pool, Pump House Pool and the Lagoon. There are some excellent hides to view the wildlife and chance to enjoy your coffee and snacks (take them with you) as you wander around this excellent nature reserve.

Bird life was prolific (invest in a good pair of binoculars to get the best from your visit) and if you are a keen photographer like me, take a good camera (mine is a Pentax K70 with Sigma 18-250 lens) with a quality zoom lens.

Below are some of the photographs I took of the lagoons and the wildlife on display.

Great Crested Grebe
Gadwall Duck
Tufted Duck
Blue Tit
Tree Creeper

Photographs (C) Kindadukish 2021

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Arley Hall “Springs” into life……………

As a regular visitor to Arley Hall I am still amazed at the changes that can take place in the gardens within a seven to ten day period. As we came out of winter, and still subject to lockdown restrictions, it was amazing to see how the gardens had been maintained albeit many of the borders looking quite bare.

A visit last week was greeted with some wonderful colours of the early blooming flowers and the bushes on the “Woodland Walk” were a sight to behold. The daffodils this year have been sensational (take a bow Gordon, James and the rest of the gardening staff / volunteers) and highlights the tremendous work that has been done to maintain the gardens.

I shall continue making my weekly visits to photograph the gardens and see the changes that take place. I would suggest that EVERYONE should visit at least once during the summer to see the “Herbaceous Border” when it is a delight to the eye.

The photographs I have featured below were taken in early April 2021

Photographs (c) Kindadukish 2021

Posted in Botanical Gardens, Gardens | Tagged | Leave a comment

Birds and Wild Animals (well, almost wild) of Cheshire…………….

Since moving to Cheshire just over three years ago from West Yorkshire, I have been exploring the countryside and taking in visits to such places as Arley Hall, Dunham Massey, Tatton Park and Ness Gardens.

In addition to these I am fortunate to be just a couple of miles from the River Weaver and the Trent Mersey Canal which provide excellent walks and the possibility of seeing a wide range of wildlife. It is not uncommon to see Herons and Cormorants alongside the river and the reeds bordering both the river and the canal are full of birdlife.

Just recently, a visit to Dunham Park was rewarded by the sight of a Kingfisher flying very low and at speed across the large lake at the back of the house. My seven year old grandson was elated at having “spotted” the Kingfisher as he was desperate to see one, particularly as he has just joined the RSPB.

Since I retired about three years ago I have indulged my interest in bird / wildlife with my other great love in life , photography. I have several cameras including a Nikon D5200, Pentax K50, Canon EOS200D and my most recent acquisition, a Pentax K70. I have to confess my “go to” camera of choice is the Pentax K70 which, in my opinion outperforms all the others.

Some of my best photographs have been taken of the Deer at Dunham Park which roam freely and are a delight to photograph. On occasions I have managed to get within about six feet of an animal and it has remained calm and carried on eating. I have also witnessed some of the very aggressive (and bloody) battles between young stags during the rutting season.

Below are some photographs I have taken in the last few years.

All photographs (c) Kindadukish 2021

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Knighthood for Lewis Hamilton……..Don’t Make Me laugh!

It would appear that a number of misguided journalists and idiotic MPs are agitating for the government to give Lewis Hamilton a knighthood because of his driving success. Indeed, one journalist has gone so far as to suggest the Hamilton is the greatest sportsman and outshines people like Chris Froome, Bradley Wiggins, Andy Murray and Mo Farrah.

So let us consider the achievements of Hamilton:-

  1. Every two weeks or so he sits inside a metal box and drives around in circles for a couple of hours.
  2. Often it is about which tyres should be chosen which has nothing to do with the driving skills of those in the driving seat.
  3. There are only two or three teams that can be considered real competitors, the rest are also-rans irrespective of the qualities of the driver.
  4. There are usually 22 cars that line up on the grid, that means he has 22 opponents to beat, not a great many when compared to cycling, athletics or tennis.
  5. If his team mate happens to be winning a race then he will usually be told to “slow down” and let Hamilton through to win.
  6. If Hamilton doesn’t win he is quick to lambast his “team” for getting some technical aspect of the car wrong, or race officials if they punish him for breaking the rules.

Now if you take someone like Chris Froome who won his fourth Tour de France in 2017, followed by successive wins at the 2017 Vuelta a Espana and the2018 Giro d’Italia his first victories in both races.   

The Tour de France requires 21 days of continuous racing, spending up to 6 hours in the saddle daily, and climbing over various mountain ranges. The Giro and Vuelta make similar physical and psychological demands. In all three races there are well in excess of 100 competitors and although they race in teams it is possible for a talented domestique or up and coming young rider to win a stage (unlike in motor racing).

I think the journalist lauding Hamilton need to go back and do a bit of research and find out what “sport” really is!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Lewis Hamilton – posturing, narcissistic, virtue signalling hypocrite………….

I see that several F1 drivers refused to play the “political game” and shun the meaningless “take a knee” as advocated by the posturing, narcissistic, virtue signalling poseur Lewis Hamilton.

Lets remind ourselves that as the F1 drivers lined up ahead of the Italian Grand Prix at Monza in 2015 to pay respects to indie car driver Justin Wilson who had just been killed in a race, all but Hamilton removed their headwear with the reigning Formula One champion criticised by fans of the sport who felt he showed a lack of respect. However, he did remove his cap for the Italian national anthem.

 After the Chinese Grand Prix in 2015 The Formula One world champion was slammed online and labelled “selfish” and “inconsiderate” after spraying champagne in the face of a hostess on the podium. It’s the second time Hamilton, 30, has sprayed a grid girl with champagne – the first time after his win at the Spanish Grand Prix last year.

Hamilton has a track record of childish, immature behaviour but now wants to be seen in a different light as a supporter of the thugs at BLM and the toppling of all “racist symbols” around the world.

I presume this will also entail the tearing down of the Mercedes Benz Logos outside the HQ in Stuttgart, as the company was notorious for contributing to the war effort under Hitler and its use of “slave labour.” After all, if it’s good enough for Colston it should be good enough for MB.

But wait, I hear you ask, isn’t this the company logo that adorns Hamilton’s hat and pays him 40 million Euros per year in sponsorship! As it says in the short article below, perhaps he will consider handing back all the money he has received from a company that exploited over 40,000 slave labourers, many of  them Jews but also included slavs from Eastern Europe and POWs (many of whom died by being worked to death).

0.jpeg

 

 

Posted in abuse of women, appalling behavior, Bullying, Cars, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Birdlife along the River Weaver

Since I moved to Cheshire from West Yorkshire a couple of years ago I have spent many a happy hour wandering along the banks of the Trent / Mersey canal and the River Weaver, both of which are about a five minute drive from where I live.

This has enabled to me indulge my great interest in photography and particularly photographing the countryside and the wild life that inhabits the countryside in this part of West Cheshire.

Along the river we have Swans, Herons, Grebes, Coots, Cormorants, Kingfishers as well as many other common or garden species. I did hear a cuckoo recently but have still not had sight of it

Here are some of the images I have captured in recent months, apologies for some being just of of focus but the damn birds won’t stay still for very long!

DSC_0039DSC_0086DSC_0135DSC_0060IMGP3102DSC_0064DSC_0124DSC_0085DSC_0031DSC_0072DSC_0080

Photographs (c) Kindadukish 2020

Posted in Birds, blue sky, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Arley Hall Re-opens to the Public

One of my favourite venues for taking photographs is Arley Hall which is about a twenty minute drive from where I live and just off the M56 motorway. For the last ten weeks it has been closed to the public because of the Corona 19 virus which has been doing the rounds here in the UK. However, last Wednesday I received an e-mail to say they were re-opening the grounds to the public on Friday 29 may 2020 at 10.00am,  but obviously with certain safety measure put in place.

We arrived just after 10.00am on a beautiful spring day, clear blue sky and sunshine to be greeted and welcomed by staff . The cafe was open for take away coffee and cakes and we were able to sit outside on the lawn to enjoy our early morning refreshment.

I noticed that many of the spring blooms were past their best but even this could not detract from the colours on display from the flowers still in bloom. We came across the Head gardener James who we have got to know quite well from previous visits and he told us that just him and a full time colleague had been in every day during the “lock down” to tend to the flowers, shrubs and gardens, and they have done a magnificent job. No wonder it is rated one of the “Ten Best Gardens in Europe.”

The lawns looked quite parched but then again we have had virtually no rain for a month, but even so they still looked stunning. We wandered around the various gardens and the colours of some of the flowers was breath taking.

Our membership of Arley Hall expired on the 24 may 2020 so we asked if we could renew our membership for another year. The Lady in the office said we are extending everyone membership for a further 3 months as we have been shut for that period and members have not been able to visit. We both said this was an incredibly generous gesture as the Hall had no control about closing to the public and I certainly did not expect such a gesture.

I would suggest that some large organisations and bodies which have membership schemes take note of this. This thoughtful little bit of generosity by Arley Hall has generated such good will and the Marketing / PR implications will pay rich dividends in the long term.

Below are some of the photographs I took yesterday.

DSC_0079DSC_0116 2DSC_0138DSC_0158DSC_0084DSC_0113DSC_0129DSC_0140DSC_0134DSC_0114

Photographs (c) Kindadukish 2020

Posted in blue sky, Customer Service, Landscape, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Mahler 8………..Mirga and the CBSO

I have been following with interest the career of  Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla the young Lithuanian conductor since she was appointed Musical Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) in 2016.

IMG_0696.jpg

Her appointment seemed to be very “left field” although there were very strong rumours in Birmingham that the orchestra had been extremely impressed with her when she guest conducted them.

Since then she has enhanced her reputation with her dynamism on the platform, enthusiasm and willing to take chances with programmes that embraced modern music and that of “lost” composers e.g.  Mieczysław Weinberg.

IMG_0700.jpg

Earlier this season I travelled down to Symphony Hall in Birmingham to see her perform Mahler 2, possibly my favourite Mahler symphony. A very good performance was almost spoiled by a mother and pre-teen daughter sat in front of me who talked throughout the performance and the young girl was also eating and playing on her iPad! If you are going to introduce children to classical music (which I would support) I suggest you don’t start with one of Mahler’s longest symphonies.

IMG_0701.jpeg

When I found out that there was to be a performance of Mahler 8 (Symphony of a Thousand) I immediately booked tickets as it is performed rarely because of the huge forces required.

IMG_0704.jpeg

So, on Sunday 19 January 2020 I travelled down to Birmingham for the evening concert. It was almost a full house with just the odd empty single seats here and there. There was a great deal of anticipation in the air as the orchestra came onto the stage and then the five choirs that are needed for the piece.

IMG_0709.jpg

Finally the eight soloists walked on accompanied by Mirga, it seems that she is simply known by her first name these days by concertgoers and indeed many music critics simply refer to her by her first name.

IMG_0712.jpg

Although I have all of the Mahler symphonies on CD I would say the eighth is the least played one. Hearing it live is another matter altogether, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla plunged headlong into Part I, a setting of the hymn ‘Veni, Creator Spiritus’. The opening few minutes were an explosion of sound (think Phil Spector and his famous “wall of sound” but x 5) and when the music relaxed somewhat for the first entry of the septet of soloists there was a simple transition without losing momentum.

IMG_0711.jpg

The start of the second section of the symphony featured some stunning playing by the orchestra and it is easy to forget how beautiful this part of the symphony is. One could not fault the soloists who all sang with passion and commitment, but for me the stars of the evening were the five choirs assembled for this demanding piece of music. Tremendous plaudits should go to Simon Halsey, probably the best chorus master in the world today for his work with the choirs.

IMG_0710.jpeg

The end of the symphony is enough to reduce anyone to tears, as it did with some of the audience sat near me. 85 minutes (without a break) passed so quickly and at the end the audience responded with rapturous applause.

It was noticeable that Mirga shunned the limelight and took her bow with the soloists and in front of “her” orchestra. She is an extraordinary talent and the orchestra and musical public of Birmingham should value what they have got. Let us hope she remains for a good number of years and doesn’t get “poached” by one of the leading international orchestras.

A magnificent evening of music from all concerned and I look forward to attending my next Mirga concert.

Photographs (c) Kindadukish 2020

 

 

 

Posted in Cklassical music. Female Conductors, Classical Music, Lithuania, Music, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Foxes and Fossils revisited (2019)……

 

Three years ago (in 2016) I wrote a blog about a group I had discovered on YouTube, namely Foxes and Fossils. I had come across them doing a cover of Suite Judy Blue Eyes by Crosby, Still and Nash.

At the time I was of the opinion that no one could ever do justice to this song other than the original group, as it requires exceptionally good harmony singing. Well, as I was to discover I was completely wrong and was blown away by a live performance by the group in a small club.

What was even more remarkable was that the two young ladies singing with the group were just 15 and 16 years of age at the time but sang with such assurance and maturity.

I later discovered they subsequently left the group to continue their high school education and the personnel of the group changed on a number of occasions.

But joy of joys, I recently found another performance on YouTube of the group with the original young ladies back with the band and still singing wonderfully well. Moreover, they happen to be performing Harvest Moon by Neil Young, which just happens to be one of my favourite songs.

I think they have done a wonderful job with this, but give it a listen and make up your own mind.

Posted in Music, USA, Women | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Douro Valley……….and Oporto

In November 2018 I attained the ripe old age of 70 and I explained to my family I did not want a party or any gifts, My request was for a quiet meal out with my wife, daughter and husband and my two grand children.

So off we went to El Gato Negro a will known Tapas Bistro in Manchester for an informal evening. As we were finishing our meal my daughter handed me what I thought was a birthday card. Instead it was a card with a photograph of the Six Senses Hotel in the Douro Vally in Portugal and she said casually, I have booked you into a luxury suite for 4 nights, there will be a special meal arranged for your last night and a taxi will collect you in Oporto to drive you to the hotel 120 kilometres along the Douro Valley, and then drive you back to the airport in Oporto at the end of your visit. This has been arranged for May 2019 and everything is paid for.

To say that I was taken aback would be an understatement, I was utterly speechless, and according to my daughter for the only time in my life.

We decided to make the most of the trip and booked an appartment in Oporto for three days so that we could see something of the city before our journey to our hotel in the Douro.

We tried to pack as much sightseeing in during the two full days in the city including a “port tasting tour”, a visit to the wonderful tiled railway station, a walk across the spectacular bridge plus a visit to the photography museum which is housed in an old prison but is quite beautiful architecturally.

Our taxi ride along the Douro Valley took in some spectacular scenery, stunning bridges before arriving at the Six Senses Hotel. Well, I have been to some up market hotels but nothing like on this scale. Our room was enormous and with a very large window overlooking the River Douro where we could sit and watch the boats going up and down the river. The hotel oozes luxury and the breakfasts have to bee seen to be believed.

During our stay we got a taxi up to the small town of Pinhao and then took a leisurely boat trip up the river past many of the vinyards and wonderful scenery.

We also managed to fit in a visit to the Quinta da Pacheca to do a tour of the winery and ended up tasting around six red wines plus a variety of Ports , including a stunning 40 year old one, courtesy of the wonderful Pedro who was our very knowledgeable guide on the tour.

I have visited around twenty five different countries in the world and there are some where you see sights that you say are beautiful, others you say quite breathtaking and others the response is stunning. But never have I visited anywhere where all these three comments could be made at once, but in the Douro valley this is certainly the case.

It was difficult to think how I could say thank you to my daughter for providing me with such a wonderful birthday gift, but on the last day my wife led me to the verandah overlooking the river and I thought we were going for afternoon tea. Imagine my shock as I opened the door to see my daughter sat there with her husband drinking a glass of wine. They had flown out to Portugal for one night to have dinner with us on our final night…………..such a beautiful end to a wonderful holiday.

Below are some of my photographs from the trip taking in Oporto and the trip down the valley.

DSC_0025.JPG

Looking down to the boats on the river at Oporto

DSC_0034.JPG

Riverside in Oporto

DSC_0019.jpg

The magnificent tiled railway station in Oporto

DSC_0211.JPG

The view from our bedroom at the Six Senses Hotel

DSC_0291.JPG

Boat trip up the River Douro

DSC_0314.JPG

One of the many vineyards along the Douro River

DSC_0421.jpg

The Six Senses Hotel

DSC_0241.jpg

Cellar at Quinta da Pacheca

DSC_0378.jpg

Wine bar at the tiny station at Pinhao

DSC_0343.JPG

The “little train” that travels along the valley

Photographs (c) Kindadukish 2019

Posted in ceramic tiles, Culture, Hotels, scenery, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment