My Diary ...

Displaying 1 - 10 of 28
  • A Wake-up Call

    Published Date: 
    Friday, 10 August, 2018

    The worst thing about my mini-stroke was not being able to drive for four weeks! I was fortunate there were no lasting physical effects and so was quite peeved at being told it was mandatory that I did not to drive and as I was feeling fine I felt I was being punished. Now it is all over I realise that perhaps it was for the best as my head is not always working as I would wish it too ...


    We always thought that being near to a town and with nearby bus and rail services we could get by without a car but how wrong we were! Being unable to use the car left us as virtual prisoners in our own home and took away much of what is important to us in our daily lives. It showed up the limitations of depending on public transport and created restrictions that severely changed our lives. That was for just four weeks and there was an end in sight but what if I was immobilised for longer and may be less able to walk into town or to the bus and station?


    The problems with buses are:

    • There is only one an hour to Swanage and one and hour to Poole. There is a very limited other option provided by the X54 every couple of hours
    • The bus stop is a ten minute walk away, that is quite a long way with heavy shopping bags or after a longer day having been further afield
    • The bus gives you either 30 minutes or 90 minutes in Wareham; not long enough but far too long to do the shopping
    • The destinations are limited to Wareham, Stoborough, Corfe and Swanage
    • The time between buses means eating out as we like to do a couple of times a week is limited to just a couple of options
    • The buses are unreliable and are rarely on time making journey planning difficult
    • The buses go when the buses go making them unsuitable for travelling to essential appointments and do not always stop near to where you need to be

    The trains are a little better but not much:

    • There are two trains an hour to Poole, Dorchester and Weymouth (and Bournemouth)  and one an hour to Wool and Moreton.
    • Poole, Dorchester and Weymouth are fine for ‘non-grocery’ shopping and some other services but are not too good for eating out
    • The station is a ten minute walk away, that is quite a long way with heavy shopping bags or after a longer day having been further afield
    • One is limited to fixed times and fixed locations and so so make them unsuitable for travelling to essential appointments other than, perhaps, Poole Hospital
    • The train is not cheap, £10.00 for the two of us to get to Poole and back for example

    It should also be borne in mind that Ann could not use either buses or trains on her own.

    Some existing commitments would not be possible to fulfil. During the four weeks in question:

    • We had to get a neighbour to take Ann to her hairdresser in Bere Regis where she goes every four weeks
    • I was offered an eye scan in Wool which I had to change to Poole Hospital
    • Ann’s appointment with rheumatology outpatients in Swanage coincided with the day I was able to drive again otherwise we would have had to cancel and reschedule
    • I was unable to get to bowls without having to rely on other people

    Taxis were not used during the four weeks but could be used on occasions to avoid the walk from the bus stop/station. An increase in the use of online shopping also helped but that can never remove the need for ‘short life’ products such as fruit and vegetables. The local SPAR shop does have a limited selection which can help sometimes but a weekly trip in to Wareham to the supermarket and the butchers is pretty much an essential.

    Shopping can, perhaps, be accommodated without a car and essential other appointments may be changeable to more accessible locations but this would include a need for Ann to change from the hairdresser she has known for over ten years and who she is very comfortable with; a change would be unwelcome and stressful.

    The real problem is that our main interest in life is to go for a stroll and to have lunch out somewhere. Without a car we cannot do this and life comes to a stand still, we are bored!


    I am concerned about how we would cope if I was unable to drive again in the future, especially for a longer period of time ... it has certainly been a wake up call


  • After the Stroke: Status Report

    Published Date: 
    Saturday, 14 July, 2018

    Physical condition:

    Good. No apparent difficulties. Right arm may be a little “off the pace” but not a real concern. No problems walking or in general mobility. Still tired but getting better.

    Mental condition:

    Good. Still some muddled thoughts but overall seems normal. Having felt stressed for some time I am now, surprisingly, quite relaxed. Maybe I am not fully aware of the seriousness of the situation and should be concerned? I wonder if the stress up to now was because something was brewing and putting pressure on my brain and that has now been relieved? Time will tell.

    Follow-up Plan:

    I have an eye screening test on Monday. I have a heart ultrasound scan in early August and I have a heart monitor to wear for a weekend in mid-August. I need to see my GP in early August and I will receive an outpatients appointment for late August. Who knows what the postman will bring tomorrow?

    Ongoing Support:

    Almost ‘business as usual’ but not being able to drive four weeks is inconvenient. Most day to day activities unaffected and use of bus and train services available for exceptional travel requirements. Shopping probably the biggest issue but will up the use of on-line shopping and will have to make do with the local SPAR shop for simple needs. Friends and neighbours offering support and will get Ann to the hairdressers next Tuesday (critical requirement). Nearby bowler offering to take me to bowls (essential requirement).


    Good. Confident in medical support to find the cause and prescribe an answer. Expect to be back to normal and bowling again within a week or so.

    Other Issues:

    Events of the last couple of days have highlighted some concerns about the contingency plans to care for Ann should a repeat crisis occur. Needs addressing in due course; not deemed urgent but considered important.


    Things could be a lot worse. Very grateful for the care and concern from remote parties, really appreciated and will not be forgotten. Also grateful the effects on Ann seem minimal as she is unable to remember any of it!


  • A Stroke of Luck

    Published Date: 
    Thursday, 12 July, 2018

    What? A stroke of luck? Well, I suppose I am lucky it was no worse and there seem to be no lasting side effects! Otherwise my stroke was far from lucky.

    At 9.00pm on Tuesday 10th July I was at my computer as usual. A couple of odd things seemed to happen but as I felt so incredibly tired I thought little of it and decided to have a very early night. I went into the kitchen, saw the dishwasher had finished, went to turn it off with the index finger of my right hand and missed the button completely. Surprised by this I used my left hand to do it but I put my right hand on the worktop as I did and I could hardly feel the surface at all, my right hand was numb. I had a similar experience pouring a glass of milk and then cleaning my teeth was a somewhat peculiar experience.

    I 'flopped' into bed and just lay there. Ann asked me if I was alright and I could not answer straight away and it took a couple of attempts to explain my right hand was numb although by now I had realized that my whole right arm was 'dubious'. I had no idea what was wrong; saying anything became difficult and when I did start a sentence the words just seemed to crumble away. After a while Ann decided she "didn't like the look of this" and decided to call for help and I guess she rang 999. She explained what was happening and they said a doctor would ring us back. 

    It was about 00.30am when the doctor eventually rang, about three hours later. I was able to talk to him but struggled to put sentences together to answer his questions. After about 20 minutes he said that someone ought to take a look at me and within a further 15 minutes an ambulance crew arrived. They did some routine tests (blood pressure, temperature and so on) and asked similar questions to the doctor and after while the senior medic said he was sure I had had some form of "neurological event" and I needed to get to hospital quickly for investigation.

    I was concerned about leaving Ann on her own and they agreed she should come with us, which in hindsight was a big, big mistake! We were soon speeding along, blue lights flashing, siren blaring, to A&E at Poole, arriving about 1.30am where an emergency nurse and doctor greeted us and went through the assessment process. The medical doctor said she was pretty certain I had had a mini-stroke and that they would keep me in and do some tests the following day but, in the short term, I was taken off for a CT scan. A couple of hours in A&E followed, which is not a pleasant experience seeing (and hearing) the other casualties of the night, and was eventually taken to the Stroke Recovery Unit and in to a room, fortunately on my own so we were away from other patients.

    After being checked over and connected to monitors we were left alone to supposedly get some sleep. The bed was extremely uncomfortable and all Ann had was a chair. Ann kept fussing around doing this and that and was clearly agitated which didn't help my frame of mind. The room had an 'en-suite' toilet which she decided she needed to use; she went in, locked the door and then could not get out again! Being linked to the monitor with multiple cables I could not get out of bed to try and get help and there was no one about. Ann started banging on the door and eventually a nurse arrived to find out what was going on and was able to free her. 

    By now it was getting daylight and neither of us were getting anywhere near sleep and we waited as time dragged by. About 6.30am Ann decided to use the toilet again. I told her not to lock the door this time and she didn't. Well, not when she went in but on the way out she did! After more banging on the door she was eventually freed. In all, she got locked in that toilet FOUR times. I was, to say the least, distraught.

    At about 8.30am things started to liven up. We eventually got a small bowl of cornflakes for breakfast, the first we had eaten since lunch the day before. Ann continued to be agitated and wanted to go home and kept asking where the car was. The stress was now beginning to really show on me as I battled to make her understand what was going on; it became clear she had no idea where we were, what had happened and what was going on. In the end I told the nurse I wanted to be freed from the equipment so I could take her down to the main entrance and try and get her into a taxi; I knew it was the wrong thing to do but she clearly wanted out and the only way to relieve the stress on me was to try and help her get home although we had no money with us.

    The nursing staff blocked any idea of that by a series of stalling measures for which I should really thank them. Eventually Ann settled down again, perhaps because things seemed to start happening. At 9.30am the consultant doctor walked in with her team, probably seven or eight of them. She asked me some questions, got me to do some things and then barked out the action plan! It was interesting see how as each instruction was issued the various members of the team made notes of what they had to do. After about 20 minutes they left.

    The first event was an ultrasound to check the arteries in my neck for narrowing or blockages. Ann stayed in the room whilst I went down to the X-ray area for this. I was gone some time and she was totally bewildered when I got back wondering why I had left her alone! No sooner than I was back in the ward I was called and taken down for an MRI scan and this time I insisted Ann come too, that seemed the better option. Once down at the MRI suite Ann had to stay in the waiting area whilst I went through what I had always feared, an MRI scan. It was not quite as bad as I expected as I kept my eyes firmly closed and so the fear of claustrophobia did not materialise during the 15 minutes but it was still a very strange experience. Afterwards, I went to my wheelchair and waited for the porter but no one came. After 20 minutes I knew Ann would be getting concerned but I could not get out of the suite as the door was, not surprisingly, locked. Eventually I found someone to let me out into the waiting area much to my, and Ann's, relief! We waited a further 10 minutes for the porter but still no action. We were hungry, tired, had headaches, were stressed and confused and when we enquired we were told that there was a shortage of porters but one would be with us in 20 minutes; I said "we will find our own way back" and started to walk towards the door. This had the desired effect, action started and five minutes later I was being wheeled back to the stroke unit, Ann following on behind.

    Our lunches were waiting for us which were surprisingly quite good! Then after a little recovery time the occupational therapist arrived and we went through a thorough assessment process to establish the full extent of any problems the stroke may have left; fortunately the effects seemed minor and she was happy we could function at home without help. Next, a short session with the speech therapist and got the all clear from her. Then one of the doctors in the team came in, confirmed that I had had a mini-stroke, told me i needed medication, yet another scan and then would be seen in a follow up clinic as an outpatient but that we could go home. It was now 2.30pm and Ann thought we could pack our bags and go but, of course, it was not that easy.

    We had to wait for my medication to come from the pharmacy, then it took a while to get the input tube from my arm removed. After that I had a briefing from the staff nurse who told us we could go as soon as transport could be arranged. It was 4.00pm by now and the estimated time for transport availability was 2 hours! I opted for a taxi which the ward facilitator ordered for us and eventually we were on way back home where we arrived at 4.30pm absolutely exhausted. The taxi fare was £25.00, plus a tip of course, but it was worth every penny.

    We got indoors, sorted one or two things out, flopped in the chair and Ann admitted she had no recollection of anything that had happened and could not even remember that I had had a stroke! In some ways it is perhaps good she does not remember the stress and trauma of the day but it is a really worrying indicator at just how bad her memory is now and, in her own words, "it is getting worse isn't it". 

    So I cannot drive for four weeks, I have a series of further medical appointments coming up and I am on medication for the rest of my life and one of the tablets is the statins I tried to avoid earlier in the year. This was not a good point in our lives but some valuable lessons were learned which need to be acted upon in case we have another crisis in future.

    Did I say a lucky stroke?


  • Any old iron ...

    Published Date: 
    Tuesday, 5 June, 2018

    Four years ago I spent a wonderful summer's afternoon on Hod Hill, near Child Okeford. The wild flowers were amazing and the views across the green and beautiful county of Dorset were beyond description. I vowed that one day I would take Ann there to see it and yesterday was that day. Four years is quite a long time and it is surprising just how much your memory and your physical capabilities can change in that time when you get to 'an age'! The climb up to the top of the hill was much steeper than I recalled and the distance around the walls much further than it seemed last time. I really though Ann was not going to make it but she may be small in stature but she is not small on determination and grit and, somehow, she made it.

    Hod Hill is one of several Dorset iron age hill forts and one of the largest. These hill forts date back to the neolithic period between 1500BC and 500BC and were all built on hill tops by constructing rings of steep banks around the top of the hill to deter invaders. How they did that without the kind of machinery we have today I just do not know; it is beyond imagination. There is an arc of these forts from Flowerdown, near Lulworth to Woolsbarrow in Wareham forest and then Woodbury Hill near Bere Regis. The next is the well known Badbury Rings between Wimborne and Blandford. West of Blandford, near Child Okeford, are Hambledon and Hod Hills then around to Eggardon Hill. There is the most famous, Maiden Castle near Dorchester, and finally Chalbury Hill near Weymouth. I may well have omitted some smaller, lesser known ones from the arc, I think there is one at Poundbury at least. It is said that each fort could see the next one in the chain and could therefore signal to the others if danger approached. The string of forts extends out west beyond Eggardon to Coney's Castle, Lambert's Castle and Pilsden Pen. 

    Whilst the wildlife of each of these hill forts varies, Maiden Castle is quite boring, in general the earth banks of the walls have been virtually undisturbed for over 2,500 years which means the flora is well established and many have notable species including good displays of orchids; this is certainly true of Badbury, Hambledon, Hod and Eggardon. Where there are flowers there are usually lots of insects and these are often good sites for butterflies. 

    Although a physical challenge we really enjoyed our visit to Hod Hill although we were concerned at the lack of butterflies, bees and hoverflies; it is worrying how quickly insect population levels seem to have fallen. We finished our outing with a very nice lunch at the Saxon Inn in Child Okeford, a delightful Dorset village pub.


  • The Fool on the Hill

    Published Date: 
    Wednesday, 23 May, 2018

    Now, before you ask; no, this is not a self portrait. I am much better looking than this guy and I have not played rounders since I left primary school many, many years ago. Any other resemblance between the two of us is purely coincidental!

    It was another lovely morning and as Ann was going out with one of her friends this afternoon I took the opportunity to have an 'away day' and I thought I would go looking for the rare Duke of Burgundy butterfly. The only publicly accessible site for the species now, I believe, is Giant Hill, hence the photograph of the famous Cerne Giant. It was my first visit to actually walk on Giant Hill so I did not know quite what to expect but I can say that, despite there being no sign of the Duke, it was a wonderful walk with masses of flowers and lots of other butterflies of various species including numerous marsh fritillary which are another of our declining species.

    As you can tell from the photograph the hill is very steep and I found the paths rough and hard going. As I walked along the top of the hill I was consumed by the wonderful views all around me and it just reaffirmed what a beautiful county Dorset is. There was not a house to be seen for miles on either side of me and there was no one else up there on top of the hill, just me. It had been quite an effort to get up there and whist it was worth it I suddenly felt a bit vulnerable. I don't feel that old but physically these days out in wild places are becoming much harder and although I enjoy being in places like this on my own it dawned on me that maybe it was becoming just a bit foolish to do this now. Paul McCartney's Fool on the Hill came mind! "But the fool on the hill sees the sun going down and the eyes in his head see the world spinning round"; what if I had got lost, or became ill or had fallen over up there...?


  • Peace be with you

    Published Date: 
    Thursday, 17 May, 2018

    My dictionary defines peace as "Freedom from disturbance; tranquillity"; a rare commodity these days. You can find peace if you know where to look and one of the best places I know to experience tranquillity and to be free from disturbance is on the wonderful Kingcombe nature reserve in west Dorset. It is miles from anywhere and accessed along narrow country lanes. There is no traffic noise to be heard, well perhaps the sound of a distance tractor ploughing a field on an adjacent farm. That does not mean you will find total silence and Kingcombe, especially in spring and summer when there is bird song, tweets and twitters from everyone of the many hedgerows.

    Being a remote place it gets few visitors. There is the study centre there which runs courses but you can spend a couple of hours exploring the meadows and not see another soul; you just have the flowers and insects for company and to me that is peace!

    Owned and managed by the Dorset Wildlife Trust Kingcombe was once a farm but a farm that somehow escaped the onset of mechanisation and intensification. When the owner of many years died they were able to raise the funds to acquire what is now a quite unique look at how the countryside in west Dorset was before the war. The meadows are damp with rough pasture and reeds and it is hard to imagine how anyone could have made any sort of living from this land other than by grazing cattle. The absence of cultivated crops means these meadows are rich in flowers from April onwards.

    So today I experienced tranquillity and peace and it is hard to think of a better way to spend a couple of hours with the one who means the most to you just than just strolling around Kingcombe meadows. We followed up our walk at the delightful Marquis of Lorne pub in Nettlecombe and you can, if you feel so inclined read about that in the 'my dining' section.


  • Three Steps to Heaven

    Published Date: 
    Wednesday, 9 May, 2018

    Some people will tell you that heaven does not exist; do not believe them because it does! I know, I have been there. If you would like to go there too here are the three steps to heaven (with no apology to Eddie Cochran fans):

    • Step 1: Get yourself together a picnic lunch
    • Step 2: Drive up the Blandford to Salisbury road, turn towards Sixpenny Handly and then take the first right when you get to the village. Drive for about two miles until you come to a small woodland car park on your left
    • Step 3: Park, put your walking boots on, take your camera and go through the gate into heaven

    That may sound simple and it is, anyone can go to heaven by following those three steps.

    You will be anxiously waiting for me to tell you what it is like in heaven. Well, you can see archangels (yellow ones) and you will find Solomon (well his seal anyway). You will find large oak trees, coppiced hazel trees and hawthorn bushes all in newly acquired fresh green leaves. In the trees you will hear blackcaps, chaffinches, robins, blackbirds and lots of wrens singing their praises. You will see the woodland floor carpeted in white with the flowers of ramsons, greater stitchwort, pignut and sanicle. Early purple orchids stand proud and many other flowers abound along the path edges, especially bluebells. Large white, green-veined white, brimstone and orange-tip butterflies flutter by in the dappled sunlight visiting the abundant flowers. Look closely and you will find other creatures there too; bumble bees, bee-flies and the lover of wild garlic, the hoverfly Portavinia maculata.

    Heaven is tended by its guardian angels, the RSPB, and we mortals know the place as Garston Wood but in spring it is better known as heaven.


  • Nature in April 2018

    Published Date: 
    Wednesday, 2 May, 2018

    Dire, dead, dismal - some of the words used by Dorset's wildlife tweeters in April! Normally the beginning of the migration season with reports of incoming passage migrants abounding and yet this year little seemed to be happening. There were a couple of 'spikes' in activity but on the whole it was a very quiet month. The abysmal weather obviously did not help but there is concern that there may be a more serious underlying reason for the lack of activity, something which has yet to come to light when the full picture is known perhaps.

    There was little to excite the rare bird watcher. The Bonaparte's gull that had been here earlier in the year returned to Longham Lakes for a couple of weeks, golden oriel and hoopoe were around on Portland for a few days and cattle egret were reported frequently from Abbotsbury; apart from these records there was little to get the pulse racing. There seemed to be an unusually high number of reports of red kite from various locations along the coast as well as inland. The red kite is not considered to be a migratory species but it is possible that the severe weather in March had driven many of them south into France to find food and in April we witnessed their return. 

    The most prominent incoming birds were the W's! Many reports came in of whimbrel, wheatear, whinchat and whitethroat; all expected at this time of year although only the whitethroat was likely to stay here in Dorset for the breeding season. Other common returners from the far south included swallows and sand martins but the reports of house martin seemed quite scarce. Some swifts started arriving towards the end of the month but they are always late arrivals. Returning common and sandwich terns were seen in their usual haunts and the first of the Chesil little terns arrived towards the end of the month.

    Despite the rather inclement weather fourteen species of butterfly were reported and this included unusual sightings of migratory species such as clouded yellow and painted lady which are not normally seen until later in the year. Avid moth trappers reported  total of twenty one species although these were mainly the species you would expect in spring. A few early beetles were about including green tiger beetle and bloody-nosed beetle. Just the one odanata species, the large red damselfly, was seen in April.

    It was good to see a fair number of reports of flowers, often overlooked by our regular tweeters. Many of the spring favourites seemed to be a little late this year and it was near the end of the month before the first reports of blackthorn in flower came in. The more notable species included the early spider orchid in flower along the Purbeck coast and early purple orchid from various sites across the county. There was also a report of the parasitic toothwort in woodland in north Dorset.

     [Photo: Early (or wood) dog-violet]

  • What statin aid of?

    Published Date: 
    Sunday, 29 April, 2018

    I am aware that “prevention is better than cure” but I also truly believe “if ain’t broke don’t fix it”! When this letter arrived from my GP on Thursday I was, at first, very concerned that something had shown up in my recent blood test and action was needed to put things right. Then I read it again and things no longer seemed to make sense. Was the letter telling me I had a heart problem and needed to take statins or was it telling me I should take statins to prevent a heart problem; cure or prevention, broken or not?


    I was intrigued by the sentence in the letter that says “this recommendation is CONTROVERSIAL and MANY people develop side effects with statin treatment”. That certainly set the alarm bells ringing and I decided to dig deeper so that I could make an informed decision and where it led me was, I thought, quite interesting.


    The second page of this letter gives details of a website called ‘qintervention’ where you can model different scenarios; models, numbers? That’s me, I’m in! 


    Using yet another cliche; I am usually a ”glass half full man”, not a “glass half empty” man and so although the letter says I have a QRISK2 score that shows a 17.91% chance of heart problems within the next ten years to me that was, on reflection, good news as it means that statistically there is an 82.09% likelihood of me reaching 80 years old without heart problems seeing me off sooner. As a UK male aged 70 my current life expectancy based on the national average is 85 so if the QRISK2 score is correct then I must also have a reasonable chance of reaching 85.


    Having put the details provided by the doctor into the qintervention calculator I discovered that my heart age is 70 which is the same as my actual age and that my QRISK2 score is LOWER than a normal healthy person of my age. Only a small difference but my blood pressure and cholesterol must be lower than most to produce such a result. So it seems “it ain’t broke” after all!  


    I thought I would double check this with some research elsewhere and I found that my blood pressure of 132/86 is in line with what, for a male over 60, is apparently considered to be normal at 134/87. I also discovered that my cholesterol/HDL ratio of 3.7 is in the 'good' range and below what is considered to be the satisfactory limit of 4.0. I also had an ECG not three months ago and was declared ‘perfect’ with no trace of problems. The cross evidence supported the conclusion that my heart and circulation are healthy so where does this 17.91% risk come from? 


    I had a blood test four months ago and I did not get a warning then so why now? It soon dawned on me that the one factor to change is that I have, between to the two tests, turned 70 and that must be the trigger surely? Some more modelling and I find that my QRISK2 factor will have been over the “current recommendation” level of 10% since I was about 55! This reveals that this recommendation to take statins is probably going to all men over the age of 70 whether they have a problem or not! Why? It is prevention not cure. If you take statins you may prevent heart problems developing, your QRISK2 chance falls by about 3% but is still around 14.5%. Is risk the of side effects worth a small gain in reduced chance of heart disease? 


    Now I do have a problem. Three times in the last three years I have been told I am “on the cusp” of developing type 2 diabetes. This is why I have regular blood tests and for these three years I have always been “on the cusp” but, so far at least, it has not happened. When I look at the doctor’s letter again I see that 1 in 204 people who take statins develop diabetes! I note also that a lower ratio, 1 in 217, actually benefit from statins than suffer a significant side effect. Now why would someone “on the cusp” of developing diabetes and with no apparent heart issues want to take medication to reduce the non-existent heart problem but will significantly increase the possibility of inducing diabetes?  Surely that would be madness? 


    There is a further issue that I found on the calculator that is not mentioned in the doctor’s letter. It shows that by taking statins there is a 4.2% increase in the risk of cataracts. At my recent eye test I was told there is a sign of one developing on my left eye, taking statins would surely hasten this? There are issues around other side effects too but these seem less significant although I could certainly do without pain from muscle damage. The letter suggests more exercise to reduce weight and keep my heart healthy, I cannot see me being able to do that with muscle damage! 


    All in all I am quite angry about this hence this tirade. I know the letter was routinely produced by a computer because I am now 70 and my GP just signed it amongst many other letters put on her desk, but I do not think this should not have been sent to me. To do so was wrong. Fortunately I am sort of person with the both the temperament and resources to dig into this and see the dangers but many will get this letter, mistake the message and opt for statins that could do them more harm than good. 


    I think the world of the NHS. I have great respect for the ability and dedication of all of its staff from surgeons to cleaners and I have a form of affection for our GP’s at the Wareham surgery. However, I can see why this “recommendation is controversial” and I wonder if our GP is really happy about this given the caution expressed in the later stages of the letter. 


    What is it in aid of?


  • Radipole: inspecting the lions teeth

    Published Date: 
    Thursday, 26 April, 2018

    It's Thursday, my day off! Being bright and breezy outside we decided after due consideration that it called for somewhere not too exposed to the wind and somewhere where the walking was easy so we came up with the RSPB reserve at Radipole; interesting any time of year and always worth a visit.

    Being the middle of the migration season lots of the wintering birds have flown off to their summer breeding grounds and so 'good' birds were hard to find but the Cetti's warblers never let you down here with their loud, distinctive song. A secretive bird usually but we actually saw one today and must have heard nine or ten. The other highlight was a quick glimpse of a pair of marsh harriers, they nest at Radipole right in the middle of Weymouth thanks to a lot of work from the RSPB to make it a good home for them. Some summer migrant species present too, reed warblers warbling in the reeds, swallows and house martins overhead and a blackcap in full song too together with a chiffchaff to make up the numbers.

    As I said, fairly quiet though for birds now but the flowers are beginning to steal the show with cuckooflower looking good and marsh marigolds looking splendid. The real highlight though, and this may seem strange, were the dandelions. Now at their best with their lovely bright yellow flowers and looking stunning in their simple way. The dandelion is so named as a corruption of 'dent de lion'; French for the teeth of the lion. You need to see the jagged edges of the leaves to see how it gets this name. Dandelions are a key nectar source for many spring insects, especially small hoverflies and so we spent much of our time inspecting the lion's teeth looking for them. Sadly not many about this year but the weather has been so cold.

    One insect in very good numbers was the St Mark's fly, Bibio marci. It is so named as it often appears on or around St Mark's day, the 25th April and today was the 26th - right on time! St Mark's fly is jet black in colour and flies with its legs dangling and is quite unmistakable in flight although if you see them perched on vegetation they are much less distinctive. They look a bit ferocious and likely to bite but they are quite harmless. 

    From Radipole we stopped off at the Springhead in Sutton Poynz for lunch on the way home. Sadly a bit disappointing really; the meal size far too big for us and the chips were soggy and not that nice, we both left half of it. It was also noisy because three people on a nearby table were shouting at each other rather than chatting quietly and that along with the hissing of the coffee machine made it a bit oppressive. The seats were not that comfortable either. It might be a while before we go there again ...





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