Murder at the manor….and more!

 

Goodness me, I haven’t written in a few weeks. I’ve kept meaning to but life gets in the way and then you get bloody Laryngitis! But, it’s another Sunday and I’m going to write about the last few weeks of my little life.

 

First I have to start with a glorious weekend a few weeks ago where all my cousins and aunties and uncles celebrated my Auntie Karen’s 60th Birthday! We all went to a huge house in Monyash, just past Buxton. We spent the whole weekend there which was lovely, it’s quite rare for the whole bunch of us to be in the country at the same time! Usually me, Danny or Steven are off on some travel adventure! We even had the titchy nephews there which was a treat. How can two such tiny people already be my favourite people ever? I introduced little Max to some chickens he became quite fond of and I amused titchy Arthur with a helium Paw Patrol balloon! Anyway, the first afternoon was spent catching up, drinking and eating. Megan and Tom made a wonderful lasagne and so we all tucked in to that and soaked up some of the champagne and wine! That night a bunch of us went into the games room. Me and Mum taught my little cousin Katy (taller than me and stunningly beautiful) how to play pool and Molly had an intense game of connect four with my cousin Mark. It was lovely.

The next day we chilled out for a while. All the cousin generation tried to find a nearby river. Most of us didn’t end up there. We had parked way too far away (on the top of a hill where rivers aren’t usually found) and the walk was really far. We had titchy humans with us and it was really hot. Some of us decided to head back and go to a small ice cream farm instead. Mint choc chip quenched my ice cream thirst and we got to see some lovely little calves and a couple of emu. That evening was the evening of the murder mystery. We all had a character to play and so at about 6 we all emerged in character. I was a policewoman and strippogram on the side! Molly was the new young and glamorous wife of the deceased. Mum was a mystic. Megs a musician. Tom a chauffeur. Mark a french inspector. Holly the maid. Danny the grounds keeper. Karen was Lady Gardener. Steph was Lord Gardener (although I’m not sure he knew this!!). Jane was the flour dusted cook. David the general. Matt was the scientist. Steven the doctor. Ellie the tennis coach. Katy the glamorous sister of the new wife! Jack was the hipster priest. Joe was the butler. And Kinga was the house keeper. We all had parts to read and the murder was told their part in secret at the start. It was so funny to listen to everyone get into character. Marks french inspector role was the best. Although his and my aunties (the cook) love story was probably just as funny! Anyway, the story unraveled and it turns out Molly, the new wife, was the killer. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t guessed, I thought I could read my sister like a book! My guess was the musician…..

The next day was the day of the bake off. All the cousins and significant others had to bake a version of Nana’s famous chocolate cake. We’d all done this before arriving at the house. We played them out with our specific numbers so they were anonymous to the judges. These being my Mum, auntie Karen, Uncle David, Auntie Jane and obviously Nana herself! I’m pretty sure little Max was involved with the taste tests too though! The chocolate around his mouth gave him away! I really didn’t have any hope. Mine was a bit melted because of the heat of the weekend and I thought it was probably one of the worst. We all stood outside and waited for the judges to go through their process. Eventually we were all called in and the countdown started. There were a few people in joint last place. But then as the individual cakes were eliminated, I was in the final two!!! I couldn’t believe it. Anyway, I only went and bloody won! I was so chuffed, I really didn’t expect it. Maybe a slight melt of the icing helps after all?

It was a really lovely weekend and it was so nice to spend it with my gorgeous family.

After that weekend I had a few days before heading back to Cyprus. In that time I had cuddles off of my Dad and the little bunnies. I headed back to Cyprus but caught Laryngitis on the plane and was really quite poorly with it. I went out for one morning to do some field work, checking Roller nest boxes for chicks. We smashed out 16 of them and then called it a day. No roller chicks, but lots of sparrows. I just went down hill after that. I got a really sore throat and completely lost my voice. I basically didn’t get out of bed! My wonderful friend Katy brought me some ice creams to soothe my throat which was really thoughtful. After a few days Mum and Beth arrived and I soon got my voice back. The first evening I actually had to use a notepad and pen to communicate! I can nearly talk normally now, just the really high notes are still missing. So this past week I’ve basically been trying to recover. I’ve been doing some phd work on the laptop and trying to relax. On Friday night me and Beth went into Girne for some drinks. We went to Ego Bar and watched The Healers playing. They are a local reggae band who I’d actually seen before at Roots Bar (you’ll know how much I love this place from previous posts). It was a nice chilled nice just listening to good live music and enjoying the warm Cyprus air.

Anyway, I think that is most of the big events of the last few weeks. I’ll try and write more often again, I know my Nana needs her updates!

Right, that’s all for now.

xx

Nature helps

This week I’ve seen my family and enjoyed seeing friends. I got to babysit my gorgeous little nephew, Arthur. He was very excitable and cute, even if he did sneeze directly into my mouth!!!

I also saw my cousin Danny and our family friend, Andy. It was nice to just chat and chill out. I also saw my friend Jack this week. I got to meet his gorgeous little girl too. We blew lots of bubbles on the patio and enjoyed popping the huge ones!

Mum and Molly moved house this week and so it’s been a busy time moving everything and sorting it all out. It’s a lovely house though and it has a little garden full of flowers. The rabbits really like being outside there. Cuties!!

I don’t feel 100% myself at the minute and I don’t quite know what to do about it. I’ve been really trying to be mindful of nature and the things around me. It does actually help to take my mind off of things and just be in the moment. It’s nice that it’s summer because the birds are singing so much and it always sounds so lovely. The first evening at my Mums new house I got to listen to a Song thrush showing off his repetitive sequences. He was sat in a hedge and loving it! I’ve been appreciating the colours of the flowers and watching the busy bees collecting nectar from them. There are a lot of white tailed bumble bees here. I said hello to a fair few beetles and I got a little cuddle off a gorgeous toad. The best moment of my week was watching a wonderful barn owl flying over the field behind my Dads house. It was at the time of day when there is a beautiful dusk light and it emerged as if by magic. I was so entranced when I was watching it. They are heavenly creatures. I felt so privileged.

So I am trying to find happy moments in the everyday. Nature does it for me. I don’t know anything better.

X

Adventure time!

So this week has been very hectic! Lots going on and lots to sort out!! I’m shattered now!

I’ve been helping my Dad move house for most of the time. He’s bought a house with an annex for my Grandpa to live in. It was all go on Thursday! My back was killing me by the end of the day and I lay on my bedroom floor for a while to calm down and try and work out the kinks!!!

I’ve also had a lot of time with my Mumma too. We’ve been busy walking my aunties dog and on Friday we got to babysit Arthur, my little nephew!! He is the cutest little bean!!! He doesn’t stop smiling and he napped on me for a solid two hours! Cutie!

We’ve been on a few walks this week, lots of birds singing and flowers blooming. I heard some birds squabbling and found a pied flycatcher and a coal tit having a bit of a flighty fight! Not sure who won, I was just chuffed I’d seen the flycatcher!

I’m now back in Poznan, the first leg of my journey to Mozambique. I’m currently sat in my office packing my equipment. I have two huge automatic recorders (6kg each!!) a small recorder, a microphone, gps, camera and headphones. As well as the tech, I have my binoculars, bird book and various notepads!! That’s just in my hand luggage! My big bag has my home for the next three weeks! Tent, sleeping bag, clothes and wash kit!! I’m prepped and ready! Just hope no monkeys raid my smellies when I leave my tent unsupervised!!

I smiled a lot walking to uni this morning, I was listening to the yellowhammers and wood warblers singing close by. I don’t get to hear them much at home so I stopped and took it in. They both have lovely sounds!!

So tonight I’m relaxing before a very hectic few days ahead! I’m not sure why, I’m a little apprehensive about travelling to Mozambique. I know I’ll love it once I’m there. Think I’ve gotten too used to being home!!! My family are just too bloody lovely to leave!!!

Xx

Oh what a wonderful week

Happy Easter and all that jazz! I’ve had a really lovely week at home. My Mum is dog sitting for my Auntie and so we’ve been off on lots of adventures with him. Bird song is filling the skies now which is exciting. Today I heard and saw my first skylark of the year. It was so high in the sky, I’m sure he was aiming for the sun!! I’ve been hearing a lot of goldfinch on our rambles too. I just love their bubbly sound. Another thing I’ve really enjoyed it seeing the new flowers and leaves emerging after a restful winter. I’m not the best flower or plant identifier but I’m trying to learn. So far I’ve seen Forget-me-nots, violets, bluebells, Forsythia, Common speedwell, Pilewort, Yellow archangel and many more!! There are lots of lovely beech trees with really fresh leaves too, they are so soft and so green!!

I’ve been seeing my grandpa a lot this week and helping him sort out some stuff in the house. He treated me to a chippy lunch and numerous brews!! I also got to take a load of spring onions and rhubarb from his vegetable patch!!

Another lovely thing this week has been my Turkish lessons. I’ve had two so it’s been good practice!! Demir, my teacher, said I have a great memory! I think I just need to put it into practice more! Won’t have a lesson for a while now as I head to Mozambique in a week!!

The last thing I wanted to say…. I’ve been getting really wound up with the human race. I know that sounds like a sweeping statement, but I just get so frustrated at how awful we are to the planet and the animals we share it with. My biggest issue is plastic. I won’t rant, but I just wanted to say some of the things I’ve swapped to so I can try and cut back!! For toiletries I use a bamboo toothbrush, a bar of soap not shower gel!!!, package free bar shampoo and conditioner, package free powdered deodorant (I keep it in a reusable tin), solid and package free body lotion (I use one that makes me smell like a calypso ice lolly!!). The next thing on my list is to get a metal razor that I can reuse!!! I always bring a canvas bag with me so I don’t use plastic bags. I have a reusable water bottle made from metal. These are just some things I’ve cut down on. I’m not perfect, but I’m consciously trying. Please please please change one thing you use if you can. It will make such a difference!!!

That’s it for now!! Xx

Dippers

Another nice week spent with family and friends. I had a random cold for a couple of days but I was fine after lots of brews and naps!!

I’ve mainly been doing work and practising my Turkish. I had an online lesson this week with my wonderful teacher, Demir. I really need to start writing a diary in Turkish! It would help my vocabulary so much!

This week I also went on a rainy walk with my Mum and Sister. We got soaked, but we had such a lovely time. We saw a grey heron up close which was great. We embraced the rain drops on our faces and laughed at our bright red thighs when we got home and changed!!

I finally managed to fit some bird ringing in this week. I met Jake and Ingrid early on Saturday morning and we set off to check Dipper activity. For those of you who don’t know, Dippers are the only songbird in Britain to have adapted to the aquatic lifestyle. They “dip” into fast flowing rivers to feed on all the scrumptious invertebrates!! This time of year they are pairing up and building nests! We saw a few pairs and a few individuals which was great! A great way to spot them is by there fast, fluttery flight over the ripples of the river or by their bright white chests when they perch on a stone! Either way, they are bloody gorgeous!

Last night me, my Dad, Grandpa and Aileen went for a meal in Manchester which was lovely! We had a bloody lovely tapas and a few bevvies!! Me and Dad blasted a few Queen tunes on the way home for good measure.

I’m now sat at my Nana and Grandads with my Mum. We’re making a chicken roast. Can’t think of a better way to end the week!

Xx

Little wrens

I’m posting after a gap of 2 weeks but I’m glad to be back!

Nothing too dramatic has happened. But I’ve gotten to see lots of my lovely family which is always a gorgeous thing to do! Whenever I am home I am put to use, I’ve been detangling necklaces for Nana; decluttering the loft with Grandpa; gardening for Dad and doing various odd jobs with Mum.

I’m slowly but surely getting all of my bits together for my research trip to Mozambique. Can’t believe I go so soon! I always love seeing new species of birds and experiencing new parts of the world.

Today I’m full of a stinking cold, but me, my Mum and my Sister met up for a lovely Mother’s Day breakfast and went on a walk. I spotted a sweet little wren singing his heart out on a low branch of a tree. Excitedly I pointed out the distinctive trill in the song, and explained how there were two others nearby so they were all singing to defend their territories. Molly laughed a lot, I’m such an odd ball! I always assume everybody loves birds as much as me!!!!

Anyway, not much to report, but having a cozy afternoon with my gorgeous Mumma.

Xx

Gareth and a gig.

The start of this week had me leaving the gorgeous North of Cyprus for a while. Before I left we nipped into Girne and I bought myself some scrumptious Turkish delight!

It’s been nice being home. I love all the hugs I get to have. I’ve laughed with Dad, chilled out with my Mum and giggled with my Sister. My grandparents all gave me lovely cuddles too! And of course, it’s lovely seeing the two cats, Ancient Saffy and big fat Lilly. Lily the dog was also chuffed to see me, although I think she just knows I’m a soft touch when it comes to treats! Since I arrived back, storm Gareth has been raging. Very strong winds of 60 mph and sleet and rain showers. Very different to the north Cyprus weather that gave me sunburnt cheeks!! But anyway, it’s lovely to be back.

I had a Turkish lesson this week with my amazing teacher Demir. The lessons are online so it’s very convenient. We were chatting about what I’ve been up to recently and he was helping me pronounce my vowels correctly! It’s all in the lips!

Yesterday was a great day. Me and my sister went into Manchester for a George Ezra concert. We went in early and went to a market place for food and wine. We shared a bottle of fruity red and munched on pizza. I was slightly tipsy by the end of it. Not drinking much means I’m a light weight! In the rain we made our way to the arena and got a spot on a slightly raised platform in the standing area. It was fab because it meant I could actually see the stage for once! Being titchy means I usually just have to do random jumps to catch a glimpse of the act! The support artist was Sigrid who we love. She was amazing and it was fun to dance and let go! Then George Ezra performed and he was amazing. He had a trumpet, saxophone and trombone player with him so there was a sort of carnival vibe to the night. Listening to live music makes me feel bloody amazing. I don’t think I stopped smiling.

It was a lovely way to spend my weekend. With my gorgeous little sister, just laughing and enjoying life.

Xx

I am not a fluke!

This week has been okay. Nothing majorly exciting but nothing really bad. So all in all, it’s been good.

I went on a walk with Mum to start the week off. It was a lovely sunny day so we decided it would cheer us up to get out and get our faces warm! I always love the walks with my Mum. We always chat about things, really random things. And we always point out the ideal places for fairies to live.

It snowed again this week. So obviously the roads went into chaos. I was having a small procedure at the hospital on Thursday so me and Mum had a sleepover at Nanas so we were closer to the hospital and could actually get there!! Nana was chuffed, I think Grandad was too in his own way!

I’ve just been resting for the rest of the week really. Last night my Grandpa came over to my Dads and we had a curry for an early birthday meal for me! I’m travelling back to Cyprus on my birthday so it was nice to actually do something for it.

Something has really stuck in my head this week. I was chatting with my Mum and I was really curious about how something worked. She said she wasn’t too bothered and didn’t really think about things in that ways. She said I was a thinker, I always want to understand things and figure out how they work. It gave me a weird confidence boost. I’ve always thought, ever since getting into my first uni, that it was a fluke! Everything was a fluke and I shouldn’t be where I am now… but actually, mum saying this made me think “do you know what, I am curious, I do wonder, I am in the right place!”. Something just clicked and it was really nice. I’m quite quick to underestimate myself but I need to try and stop. Everyone is in the place they should be. Nothing is a fluke!!

That’s all for now.

Xx

Birds/ ku┼člar

This week I have done lots and lots of lovely things. Most of them have involved all sorts of beautiful birds, which obviously makes me very smiley!

On Monday I went for a walk around Fernilee reservoir with my Mum. It was a bit of a dark and gloomy day but we just wrapped up warm and headed out. I took my binoculars to spy any fluttering lovelies en route. We saw the usual culprits, blue tits, great tits and coal tits…robins, blackbirds and goldfinches. But we also saw three bullfinches which was a really nice sight and also two cormorants. I was really chuffed, I took the bullfinches as a good omen, how couldn’t I? They’re just so lovely.

Tuesday wasn’t bird related but it was quite dramatic. We got snow overnight and so my Mum’s village went into a bit of chaos. Me and my Mum set off in separate cars but followed each other on the main road out, it was standstill traffic so we decided to turn around and head over the top road. My sister had already set off that way but not long after our attempt, we had to abandon the cars because it was just too icey. We managed to get my car back home and warmed up and made a plan over a cup of tea. We eventually got them back and I visited my cousin Megan and my gorgeous nephew Max before they headed back to Exeter.

Wednesday I had another avian adventure, this time with Mum, my auntie and Renee. Renee took us around her regular dog walk in Didsbury. We saw loads of ring-necked parakeets. One was perched quite close to use so I got a really good view. They’re so gorgeous but it was really weird to see them in cold Northern England! We carried on around the walking route and got to the river. My Mum spotted a male and female goosander, the first I’ve ever seen! I couldn’t stop watching them, they kept diving down to get their food. The final sighting was a gorgeous grey heron, it posed for us on a branch overhanging the river. Renee gave us some lovely homemade soup for dinner to warm us through. Such a great day.

Thursday was the best birding day I’ve had in a really long time. Me and Mum set off at half 7 in the morning to get to Martin Mere wetland reserve. We made our way around all the different hides to look at the wild birds that over winter at the mere. There were loads of whooper swans, pintail, pochard, shelduck, wigeon, black tailed godwit, ruff, cormorant, lapwing, white fronted geese, pink footed geese and greylag geese. I could have sat in the hides all day, it’s so relaxing and lovely to just watch all the birds interacting and feeding. We saw two of the whooper swans stood out of the water which meant we could see their coloured leg rings. I typed the numbers into the computer and found out that NFX that was first ringed in 2010 and has flown 27,000 miles. This equals more than once around the entire globe! Such amazing birds. The whooper swans breed in Iceland but come further south in winter. A man working at the reserve got chatting to me for ages. He told me that the male whoopers choose the wintering ground and the females choose the breeding grounds. He also drew my attention to the female pochard ducks on the mere. Female Pochards usually over winter in Spain, away from the males. But three females had been spotted at the mere, I managed to see 2 of them. They are like a muted version of the males, their colours standing out less. I love learning new things, it was really nice chatting to him. After the hides we walked around the collection area that contains species from all around the world. I think my favourites were the cape teals and the buffleheads. We made our way home and I had to quickly get ready for a bird ringing meeting. We all met at a pub to talk about our group and the months ahead. Nice to see the people I don’t normally ring with.

Yesterday evening I went to Manchester for a meal with Dad, grandpa and Aileen. We enjoyed a couple of drinks in my Grandpa’s favourite pub, Sam’s Chop House, before heading to the Bar and Grill for food. Turns out me and Grandpa aren’t that posh, we both kept dropping things or spilling things. I definitely think my conservation and field work career is the right one for me!

It’s been a really nice week. I’ve seen lots of really nice birds and enjoyed time with my lovely family. One of my friends gave me an idea a while ago. He gave me a small pebble and said that whenever I am grateful for something to touch it and think ‘thanks’ or to just think of it with the same thought. I found that pebble the other day and I feel I’ve had lots of reasons to say thanks this week. I am really thankful for my gorgeous family. I’m thankful for my lovely friends, even though most of them live ages away from me, I know they are there. I’m thankful that I’m doing what I love. I’m also really thankful that marshmallows exist.

Anyway, that’s all for now.

Xx

Wader ringing

This week has been lovely. I’ve been able to see my lovely auntie Kathy and saw my cousin Megan and my cheeky nephew Max. It’s always so nice getting to see people when you don’t get to see them a lot!

I also got some really good and exciting news this week. The research I did in Kenya for my masters has been accepted for publication. Soon it will be out for all the world to see. I’m really proud of this. This project made me realise how much I wanted to pursue a career in research and I guess it led me down the path I’m on today. When I get the final web address I’ll be posting it up here so if anyone is interested they can have a read.

The best part of my week was today. Me, Jake and Ingrid, who I usually do bird ringing with, went to North Wales to do some wader ringing with the scan ringing group. It’s really exciting because the method for catching the birds is so different to the normal mist nets we use for the song birds. This method is canon netting and involved a net being catapulted above the birds and catching them underneath. This was done on the shore line today, the target catch was oystercatcher. We waited quietly in the cars until all the birds were in the safe zone for the net to be fired. After the huge bang, we drove down the beach, got out and ran to the net. We then methodically extract all of the birds that have been caught. I had a lovely lady called Rachel helping me with the technique for extracting in this way. It’s very different from what I am used to and so I was very happy to be shown what to do. In total we caught 17 dunlin, 15 redshank and 34 oystercatcher. This was really nice because they are all different sizes and completely different to look at. When the birds are waiting to be processed they are kept in a type of holding pen where it is dark and quiet to keep them relaxed. When you put your hand inside it like a bird version of lucky dip! I’d say it was hard to choose my favourite species from today. The oystercatchers are amazing to look at up close, especially the adults. They have bright red eyes, pink feet and their bills are yellow and orange. They kind of reminded me of a calipo ice lolly! One downside though, they poo a lot and I’m afraid to say, my right leg was covered! Dunlin on the other hand don’t. These are tiny, brownish grey and white birds with dainty, slender bills. They look so beautiful up close and when they all fly together in a flock over the sea it almost reminds me of glitter. They seem to shimmer. Redshank are bigger than dunlin. Gorgeous reddish orange legs that stand tall below them, and a similar coloured beak. They look very elegant and have a gorgeous call when they are in flight. Anyway…. we enjoyed the sunshine on our faces and the nice sea air and headed back once everything was finished.

I’m now a tired little Amie. The sea air does you wonders of good but it makes me feel shattered. In a good way though.

It was such a lovely way to end the week, I’m feeling very positive about the one ahead.

Xx