Friday, 31 May 2013

Bloggers Blog Party - week #1

My friend and fellow blogger Stephanie is holding the Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party and invited me to participate. The goal of the Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party is for bloggers to take a picture of something each day of their lives and post their pictures every Friday; by doing this, it gives our readers a little more insight into our lives. According to the picture Stephanie has on her post, the party will begin today and end on the 28th of June.

The party is geared towards people who write niche blogs, but my mine isn't a niche blog and already contains an abundance of pictures; in addition, I maintain a privacy policy, which already limits my photography and will present a challenge for my participation in the party. However, I welcome this opportunity and I am honoured that Stephanie invited me. Thank you, Stephanie!

Now, seven of my pictures from the last week, including today; I used my phone and my main camera for these photographs:

Saturday, 25th May: My radio. I took this picture to represent my disbelief that "Who's On Heart" 2013 was over, as the 25th was when I learnt that the third voice had been identified. I had to hurry to obtain the necessary pieces of information for my blog post that day so I could cover the end of the competition!

Sunday, 26th May: My family had Stilton cheese and crackers for lunch over the weekend. For Christmas, Dad receives a wheel of Stilton and we eat a quarter of it over a few days every few months; this is an activity we carried over from the United States rather than started here — we could purchase Stilton back in Southern Oregon, including wheels of it.

Monday, 27th May: Cow parsley in the park closest to our home; this was taken to express my shock at the height of these plants in this location...I had never seen so much growth in this particular park before! The park often becomes overgrown but not usually to this extent; the cow parsley has grown since. I crouched to take this picture so I could obtain a grass-level view

Tuesday, 28th May: I took this picture of water on the window that morning because I was surprised to see that it had rained during the night. Dad and I were going to Nottingham that day and I was looking forward to taking some walks up there; needless to say, the weather prevented me from taking any walks and we were stuck inside either a building or a car all day.

Wednesday, 29th May: A cheese and onion bread, which was produced in our bread maker. The bread's pleasant aroma filled the house and it was served alongside the chicken and sausage casserole we had for dinner that night. The bread was the freshest part of our meal — the casserole was composed of leftovers.

Thursday, 30th May: I spent a significant amount of time yesterday working out how to update the firmware on my phone. With my phone being a Hong Kong import it cannot automatically use UK-based updates; this problem was something I had anticipated after I had bought the phone but it is not a big deal. This is the USB cable for my phone and the picture represents my (minor) frustration.

Friday, 31st May: At first I was reluctant to document a third food-related event (and a second one about bread) but today hasn't been a particularly exciting day. This is a stack of lightly-toasted bread slices; my mother discovered that it's a little easier to grind up bread in her blender for crumbs if the bread has been slightly toasted beforehand. We're having homemade burgers for dinner tomorrow and bread crumbs are necessary to make them.

That's week #1 of the Bloggers Blog Party complete; I enjoyed taking these pictures and am looking forward to doing it again for the next seven days! Finally, as it was her idea, here is a link to Stephanie's first week of the party.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

The new signs

When out on a walk this afternoon I encountered this new sign:

The bridleway signs have been there for years, but the sign with the motorcycle and the car is new, installed in the last week. After doing a little research, I discovered that it means "no motor vehicles". I think the new sign is necessary because people have taken motorbikes and four-wheelers down the bridleway when it's supposed to be for walking and horses only; the motor vehicles a mess of the path, especially when the it's muddy. There was a sign st the other entrance to the bridleway, too.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Rotting petals

As quick follow-up to my recent post on our cherry blossom, I photographed the blossom again, in it's present state; it now consists of rotting petals:

The blossom was good while it lasted. I'm hoping the delayed spring will produce some more flowers! Sorry for the lower-quality pictures; I shot these through a window because of the rain.

As a side question, does anyone else think that the base of the cherry tree's trunk resembles an elephant's foot?

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

"Girl Next Door" - Saving Jane

I remember the song "Girl Next Door" by Saving Jane, an Ohio band fronted by Marti Dodson. I enjoyed the song and have the album, also named Girl Next Door, where it comes from. "Girl Next Door" is Saving Jane's biggest hit and was popular in 2005/2006.

I am unsure what Saving Jane's exact status is now: they supposedly disbanded, with some of the members, including Dodson, forming Union Rose; however, Dodson is also a part of another musical project called Sailor Sky (site plays music). I would like to see another song by Dodson become a hit, regardless of which banner she releases it under; I'm fond of her voice.

Monday, 27 May 2013

The "friend zone"

We've all heard that story[1]: a guy meets a woman, they get along, he wants to be more than friends and he asks her out. To his surprise, she says no and he wonders, after being so amazing to her, what he did to be put in her "friend zone", a place where he cannot advance beyond being a friend of hers other than a "good friend", a "great friend" or perhaps, depending on how wonderful a friend he is to her, even "best friend"...but all hope is lost...why bother being friends?

Many men fear the strange yet fearsome friend zone, believing that if one woman puts him there, then word will spread throughout all womankind that this man is an inhabitant of the friend zone and should be avoided at all costs — at least for relationships, anyway. Except...

It's nonsense: the aforementioned hypothetical man never did anything to be put in the woman's "friend zone" because the friend zone does not exist. Why, you ask, do I believe this?

Well, it's because I think that a woman not being attracted to a particular man is no different from a man not being attracted to a particular woman; when a man doesn't have any attraction to a woman, do we usually say that he "friend zoned" her? Almost never, because we know that a man might have several reasons for having no romantic interest in a woman. If a woman simply does not have any romantic feelings for a man then in most circumstances there is little that the man can do about it; he might not meet her physical tastes, his personality might not be one that she would consider relationship material or she thinks they have too different/too similar interests. There wasn't some evil place the woman put him in to taunt him and no woman ever woke up one day thinking, "Hmm...I'm going to add him to my friend zone!".

The friend zone mentality assumes that men must treat every woman as a potential relationship, regardless of her opinions, feelings or even suitability for a relationship; thus, it considers male-female friendships to be wrong and that any man who is "just friends" with a woman is a failure with women. It propagates the myth that a man must make a move on a woman upon or soon after meeting her, otherwise he will become one of her friends and there will be no chance of a relationship; it also dismisses the possibility that a man and a woman can develop a relationship with each other after being friends for months or even years.

Often when a woman says that she doesn't want to advance to a relationship she says it's because she values the friendship; on some occasions, she says this to preserve the man's feelings, but on others she says it because she honestly believes that the friendship is valuable and does not want to ruin it! This is still not placing a man in any sort of friend zone and it isn't usually a vindictive act; either someone is into you or they're not (although, as I said above, sometimes the feelings can change, which is further evidence that there's not some anti-relationship zone you can be placed in to on a whim with no hope of redemption).

I'm still unsure about the origins and intentions of the friend zone. Is it designed to shame women for picking and choosing men when men already do that to women, or is it to instill fear into men that if they don't act in a certain way they will forever be condemned to only being friends with women? Perhaps it's both.

Regardless, I don't think that men should worry about the mythical yet menacing friend zone. There are billions of people in the world and thousands in our neighbourhoods: all because one woman doesn't want a relationship with a particular man doesn't mean that every other woman will share her opinion; women's tastes in men are as diverse as men's tastes in women. I am optimistic; there is someone for everyone.

Even if the friend zone did exist, there is nothing wrong with being someone's friend rather than a potential relationship partner. Besides, a good friend can help you find someone with whom you have a mutual romantic interest!

What is your opinion of the friend zone?

[1] This post covers the heterosexual man perspective, as the term "friend zone" is usually applied to them more than any other group. I have yet to hear it used in the context of gays and lesbians.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

The terrapin

Remember the lilypad pond from three weeks ag? I wrote about the terrapins who inhabit the pond and how I wasn't able to get a picture of any of them. My brother went to the pond this afternoon and took these excellent pictures of a terrapin:

These were taken with my main camera, which I had given my brother permission to use; however, these are his pictures and he gave me permission to use them here.

My parents and I were impressed with my brother's photographing of the terrapin! The exact species is a red-eared slider, a type of semi-aquatic turtle; the red stripes behind this terrapin's ears are not easy to see in these pictures. My brother said that the terrapin watched him for the duration of his visit to the lilypad pond, although it was still content to sunbathe.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

The final answer to "Who's On Heart" 2013

After nearly six months, the third and final name in the "Who's On Heart" competition for 2013 has been identified. At 4:00 yesterday, a lady named Kerri guessed Belinda Carlisle; she won £125,000 for her guess. Congratulations, Kerri!

As for the voice order in the sound clips themselves, Belinda Carlisle said "Who's", David Duchovny said "on" and Jamie Bell said "heart". Heart has not yet posted the full clips where the celebrities said their respective words in context but I will keep an eye out for them and update this post accordingly.

Jo Brand was guessed an astounding 45 times during this competition; an excess of people thought that Duchovny's "on" sounded like Brand. Carlisle has been the subject of one of my previous posts.

I expect that Heart will start the competition again next year. Until then, that's "Who's On Heart" concluded!

Friday, 24 May 2013

Two years

Air Nice-to-Livelands is officially two years old! Since I started my blog I've written over 700 posts, attracted over 30,000 views and have made a few friends. My blogging has helped me continue to improve my writing skills, which I feel are stronger than they were two years ago; I've even gone back and fixed the writing in a few of them, without changing their message. In all, my blog has been a net positive.

My plans for my blog? To continue! I love writing and being able to create; I have no intention of giving up. Once again, thank you to all my readers, my fellow bloggers and my friends: I appreciate you reading what I have to say. Now, on to another year!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Cherry blossom on the tree

As promised in yesterday's post, here are some pictures of the blossom on the cherry tree:

I'm glad I took these pictures when I did: despite what I said yesterday about most of the blossom still being up on the tree, today's hail knocked off half.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Cherry-blossomed ground

While many of the trees and flowers have had difficulty blooming because of the continued cold weather, our cherry tree has managed to buck the trend. Here are some pictures of its blossom on the ground; it's reminiscent of rose petals thrown at a wedding:

Tomorrow, I'll post some pictures of the blossom on the tree; despite how much of the blossom has fallen, much of it is still up on the branches.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013


I recently learnt about the death of Romanthony (Anthony Moore). Romanthony is not a name you would recognize if you are not a fan of house music, but if you have ever heard Daft Punk's "One More Time" then you would have heard his vocals; to be fair, I did not know prior to his death that Romanthony sang "One More Time", and bear in mind that I wrote a short article on the track in June of last year and consider it to be one of my favorite dance songs. He died on the seventh of May but it's only been reported in the last couple of days.

"One More Time" was Daft Punk's most successful single until "Get Lucky" came out this year. While it's great that Daft Punk have a new hit after their long absence, it's a shame that the singer of their former biggest hit died around the same time the new song rose to prominence. From what I've read, his presence will be missed in the music world, especially in house.

Besides writing this post, I can only wish Romanthony's family the best.

c. 1967 - May 7, 2013

Monday, 20 May 2013

Texas German

Sometime in the past couple of years, I heard about the existence of the Texas German culture and dialect. It's not something I know much about and it's not a topic that's widely covered in the news; I was surprised when it received a mention on the BBC:

I think it's sad that this small corner of Germany in Texas is on its way to extinction. The culture managed to endure anti-German sentiment in the two worlds wars but is almost certain to not survive the modern era. I'm glad there is a project to try to preserve its history because I think it's a loss when cultures disappear, even the obscure, regionalized ones such as Texas German; they make the world a more interesting place to live.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

More hungry bulls

I recently photographed some more hungry bulls, similar to what I did for this post and picture; these two bulls were after food:

The black bull did not appreciate my photography and lack of food for him and his fellow bull: after I took this image, he turned around, lifted his tail and...well, I think it's obvious! Needless to say, I only photographed the white bull after that; I have no interest in shooting bovine rears. Here is the white bull again:

At least somebody was willing to pose for the camera!

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Asking for someone's wifi password

Time for another one of my phone rants; I've seen this image float about the Internet a few times recently:

I also found this article by Rebecca Showerman, which contained a (small) poll regarding how people feel about asking someone in their home for their wifi password. While Showerman herself stated that her answer would be "within 5 minutes", my answer to that poll would be "Other - I will tell you in the comments".

Nine times out of ten, I do not ask for someone's wifi password. Why? Because the reason I visit someone's house is to see people, not to play around on the Internet with my phone, which I can do at home. Messing around with my phone in another person's home is an unsociable activity and, in my opinion, is an excellent method to prevent being invited back. In the event I do have to use the Internet, my mobile data is sufficient. Besides, whenever someone comes to visit me I don't occupy myself with my computer or phone, so why should I do it elsewhere?

Another reason I don't usually ask for the password is because I consider other people's Internet — both the password and the use of the Internet itself — to be private. To be fair, the password privacy concern can be rectified by allowing the other person to connect my device to their network themselves.

As for when I would ask, the most likely occasion would be if I wanted to show my friend something on the Internet, I had to use my phone to do it and needed something faster than mobile data. Another would be if an urgent need to use the Internet arose and it again required my phone. I also agree with the last sentence of Showerman's post, "Does it depend on who you are visiting?": for example, if I'm visiting someone with interests in phones/mobile Internet, that could influence me to ask if I think it would be useful. In addition, I'm happy to connect to someone's network if they make an offer.

I'm curious, how do you feel about asking someone, in their own home, for access to their Internet, in particular via your phone and needing to use their password? How about if it's the other way around? Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I want to state that I would not demand someone leave my house for wanting to use the Internet!

Note: the above image is not mine; the credit goes to

Friday, 17 May 2013

"Final Warning" - Skylar Grey

I have written two previous articles on Skylar Grey/Holly Brook: one in October 2011 and the other in October 2012. In the first post, I wrote about her then-new single "Invisible" and her upcoming second album, which was expected to be titled Invinsible; in the 2012 post, I mainly wrote about Fort Minor but I also expressed some disappointment that her second album had still not been released.

I now have updated information about Grey's new music. Her next single, "Final Warning", was released on April 16 and its video was released on May 13. Invinsible has been renamed to Don't Look Down and is expected to come out on July 9; however, I would not be surprised if the date is pushed back again, but this time I'm hoping it'll be the real McCoy. After all, it's been over seven years since Like Blood Like Honey was released.

For now, we can enjoy "Final Warning":

Thursday, 16 May 2013

The dandelion in the backyard

I photographed this dandelion, which is in our backyard:

This isn't a good quality image as the flower is blurred from the focus being on the grass and the stem, but I was pleased with the next shot:

I was delighted that this picture and the others taken from a similar angle had turned out perfect!

My inspiration for photographing this dandelion — especially in the style of the second image — came from the Samsung Galaxy S III dandelion. In fact, I'm now using one of my dandelion pictures as the image for the lockscreen on my phone.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

The butterfly on the ash

About a week ago, I photographed this butterfly resting on an ash pile:

The butterly did spread its wings when on the ash pile but it was only for a couple of seconds while my main camera was previewing a picture I had just taken. The pile itself is located in a nearby park.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

White blossom

I photographed this white blossom about a week ago; these trees are located down one of the popular paths:

I was hoping to take more pictures of the blossom but most of it has fallen off thanks to the weather transforming from sun into (heavy) rain.

Monday, 13 May 2013

The accident

Unfortunately, our diversion in Leicestershire yesterday morning was caused by a fatal motor accident. Dad heard on the radio and read this article that a motorcyclist had lost control of his bike and crashed into a tree. The rider, Anantkumar Morjaria, was declared dead on the scene.

As much as I enjoyed our exploration of rural Leicestershire, I feel bad that it occurred from someone losing their life rather than through our own choice. I wish the best to Morjaria's family during this difficult time for them.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Nottingham in May (2)

There is not much to write about today's happenings, as it was mostly spent indoors and can't be repeated here out of respect for my family's privacy. That being said, there is one event I can write about.

When we travel from Northamptonshire to Nottingham, we usually avoid the motorways and prefer to use the back routes because they are faster. On this occasion, we had completed a third of the journey to Nottingham when our route was blocked by the police due to an accident; rather than turn around and head back out to the main motorway, we instead opted to take a diversion, which took us down the deep country roads of Leicestershire.

This added an additional twenty-five minutes to our trip, but we enjoyed seeing more of rural Leicestershire. Additionally, despite how twisty many of the roads were, I was not car sick because I had been awake for more than a couple of hours and my breakfast had already settled; it is because of the risk of motion sickness that I did not take any pictures during the extended journey (if I focus on a screen or on letters while in a moving car it's almost guaranteed to cause me to be sick).

As for the accident, other than hearing about a piece of news regarding a traffic accident in Leicestershire I don't know anything about it; when we travelled on our usual route on the way back it was as though no accident had ever occurred. I hope the incident did not cause any serious harm.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Nottingham in May

Dad and I spent the day up in Nottingham; our car has been in service up there for this past week and today had been scheduled as the day to collect it. The trip doubled as a visit to family, namely to see my grandparents but also to see my Nottingham-based cousins, aunt and uncle.

I can't go into too many details, of course, as much of what happened is private, but I'd like to share a funny event. The weather has been indecisive all day, swinging back and forth from sun to rain and even to hail: In the afternoon, Dad, my grandfather and I, thinking we could take advantage of a gap in the weather, decided to take a walk. We did not bring any raincoats.

As you can imagine, this was a mistake. We had only been walking for five minutes when it started to rain again, albeit lightly, but five minutes later the rain picked up, forcing us to reside in shielded area for a few minutes. The rain subsided for a second time and we continued our walk. Next? The dark clouds decided to unleash a major bout of rain, which soaked our non-waterproof coats; we waited for a little bit under another area protected from the rain until we realised that we had to go back. The rain intensified as we returned to my grandparents' house, but once we were back inside the rain eased off. Ah, always the way!

Dad and I are going back up to Nottingham tomorrow, and I think Mum is, too. We'll see what happens!

Friday, 10 May 2013

Rutland Water ducks

Near the end of our recent visit to Rutland Water, I photographed this pair of ducks:

As with other wild animals living in public areas, these two were seeking food from humans; I, of course, was the human they were following. Needless to say, I didn't give them anything!

Thursday, 9 May 2013


Back in the spring of 2001, my family had been living in Oregon for a few months and were enjoying life there. We had a deep appreciation for the wildlife; my brother and I were fascinated by the lizards, and especially by the western fence lizards (also known as "blue-belly lizards").

For a time, we were fond of a particular lizard whom we had named "Stumpy". Stumpy was an adult male western fence lizard (this could be identified by his more prominent coloring, as the female of the species is less colorful) who resided on the outside of our house; he had lost his tail at some point, hence the name, but it was in the process of re-growing.

Our friendship with Stumpy started when my brother and I caught him one afternoon and found him to be incredibly docile; this is notable because male western fence lizards are aggressive to each other and to humans if the latter handles them. He did not make any attempt to bite us or get away, instead allowing us to stroke him for lengthy periods; it didn't take long for Stumpy to not run away from us and even let us catch him. While Stumpy was obviously a wild animal and did not live inside our house, we cared about him as though he were a pet; whenever we went outside we always looked for him to make sure he was okay.

After two months of catching Stumpy regularly, he vanished one day. My brother and I were deeply upset by this, as he had an established track record of appearing to us daily...and on this particular day he was nowhere to be found! Mum assured us that Stumpy would be fine; after all, he was a wild animal and had lived perfectly well on his own before we had moved to the area. A second day then went by without Stumpy.

Then, on the third day, out of nowhere, Stumpy reappeared! My brother and I were ecstatic at first — our reptilian friend was back — but after Stumpy had been in our hands for a couple of minutes we noticed that he was barely responding. The weather was not the source of his sluggishness as it was hot outside that day; no, he felt warmish to the touch but he didn't want to move. My brother and I then realized what was wrong with Stumpy: he was dying.

By this point, we were both struggling to hold back tears and Mum had called us inside for something. We placed Stumpy on the wooden rails at the front of our house; we hoped that we were wrong and that once we were outside again Stumpy would have recovered and his eagerness to be held would have rebounded.

Alas, that was not the case. When Mum, my brother and I went outside to check on Stumpy, he had died on the railing. This was too much for me and my brother, and we burst into tears while Mum comforted us. When Dad came back from work, he helped us provide Stumpy with a proper burial.

We learnt later on that Stumpy was likely an old lizard. That might have been the reason why he was so docile towards me and my brother; when we encountered Stumpy for the first time, his reign as the dominant male lizard in his area was coming to an end. I've heard that animals often know when it's their "time", and perhaps Stumpy knew that it was his; to this day, I'm not really sure how to explain his two-day absence combined with his return to us coinciding with his death he could have taken himself off and never returned, but he didn't: Stumpy came back.

Today has been the 12th anniversary of Stumpy's death. We didn't know him for long, but in the time he was prominent in our lives was special to us; he was the first animal my brother and I expressed grief over. We won't forget him.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Another Rutland Water visit (2)

Here are a few pictures from yesterday's trip to Rutland Water:

Some sheep eating near the shore of the lake. A group of the sheep tried to obtain food from me and my parents; they bleated in disapproval when we merely walked past them!

These two swans are at the dam end of Rutland Water. We weren't sure what they were doing: it looked as though they were guarding a nest but a few minutes after this picture was taken both swans had moved away. Perhaps it was a comfortable spot.

This is Empingham, a small and peaceful-looking town near the dam end of Rutland Water. It's not a big place; it's home to under 1,000 people. The tower on the right is Saint Peter's Parish Church.

A view of Rutland Water from the dam side. The picture is slightly slanted but a good shot overall; I was annoyed that I took an excess of slanted pictures on this visit.

A ewe quietly chewing. I love the expression on her looks as though she's laughing!

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Another Rutland Water visit

My parents and I visited Rutland Water this afternoon. We had a pleasant time there and the sunshine made the trip all the more worthwhile.

I have some pictures but I haven't yet sorted through them; for now, I'll leave you with a shot of the top of a local landmark — Normanton Church:

Monday, 6 May 2013

Lilypad pond

A neighbour recently told Dad about a local pond inhabited by fish and a terrapin; the pond isn't far from our house but we had never been to it before because it's by a field we don't usually walk near. Dad and I went to the pond this afternoon:

The pond was filled with lilypads and reeds. There were a few branches and a log present in the water as well.

A goldfish; Dad estimated that there were at least 50 of them in the pond. They would frequently surface near the lilypads or whatever part of the pond Dad and I weren't near, although this particular fish didn't care.

Dad and I did see the terrapin, but it was swimming too fast for me to photograph; it wasn't possible for my camera to focus on a rapidly-moving reptilian head in water. A couple of teenagers who were at the pond while we were there said that they had seen three terrapins in the water before.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

The 2013 tulip

The orange tulip has returned:

These are not my pictures; my brother has given me permission to post them here as long as he is credited, which he has been.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

"Spitfire" - LeAnn Rimes

I've been away for most of today and only have time for a short post. I wanted to link to "Spitfire" by LeAnn Rimes; it's a song she performed when I saw her at The O2 Arena and is a track from her new album, also named Spitfire:

"Spitfire" was among the songs in her set that I enjoyed the most.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Results of the 2013 local elections

The results are in: as expected the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have been the two parties to lose the most council seats while Labour and the United Kingdom Independence Party were the two to gain the most. According to BBC projections, no party has reached 30% of the overall vote, with Labour gaining 29%, the Conservatives 25%, UKIP 23% and the Liberal Democrats 14%; the average turnout has been reported as 31%.

The Conservatives lost 335 seats, but their 1116 councillors gives them the largest share of seats in this cycle; of their 28 councils up, they lost control of ten. Labour gained 291 councillors and control of two councils; the Liberal Democrats lost 124 seats, reducing their numbers to 352. Eight councils were rendered "No overall control".

UKIP's 23% of the overall vote and 139 additional seats gives them their biggest victory on the local level to date; it is unclear if UKIP's recent trend of success will endure and what effects it will bring if it does. The Green Party of England and Wales added five more councillors, which brought its number in this cycle up to 22 (they have over 140 in all cycles combined). Independent candidates added 24 councillors, bringing them up to 165 in this cycle.

In the mayoralties, the incumbent Conservative Mayor of North Tyneside, Linda Arkley, was defeated by Norma Redfearn, a member of Labour; the vote was not close, with Arkley losing by 19 percentage points. In Doncaster, the incumbent independent, Peter Davies, was narrowly defeated by Ros Jones, the Labour candidate. As for the South Shields parliamentary by-election, Labour won the seat with UKIP coming in second.

The results are mostly in line with what I was expecting; however, I thought the Conservatives' and Liberal Democrats' losses would be more severe and the Labour gains greater. I also mentioned in the previous post that both mayors were vulnerable due to their positions in Labour strongholds: Both were defeated, although I wasn't expecting the North Tyneside mayor to lose by such a wide margin. While Labour did not have a massive victory all across England, in their strongholds Labour overwhelmed the other parties; the two mayors were swept away by the coattails.

Should any updated information about the results arise, I will cover it in another post.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Local elections, 2013

The 2013 United Kingdom local elections are in progress. Over 2,300 council seats are being contested this year, with all of them except for one council being in England. The mayoralties of Doncaster and North Tyneside are up, and the parliamentary constituency of South Shields is voting for a new Member of Parliament due to the resignation of David Miliband last month. The locals being contested this year were last up for election in 2009.

The predicted outcome? As with last year, the Conservative Party is expected to receive severe losses in their number of councillors; they have the most seats to defend and have experienced poor polling numbers for several months. The Labour Party is likely to be the biggest beneficiary of the Conservatives' losses, but the sudden and recent rise of the United Kingdom Independence Party makes this election hard to predict: A significant amount of Conservative voters, dissatisfied with the lack of a referendum on the United Kingdom's membership in the European Union, are intending to switch to UKIP; if significant vote splitting occurs, this will exacerbate the Conservatives' defeats.

The Liberal Democrats, the Conservatives' coalition partner in Parliament, also have low polling numbers; however, their losses might be cushioned if Conservative/UKIP vote splitting is widespread. The Green Party of England and Wales is defending its strongholds and is seeking to move beyond them, although the Greens are concerned about the continuously-rebounding Labour Party and the effect of UKIP. The British National Party, which was notable for making gains in 2009, is unlikely to move away from the heavy defeats it has received in every election since, owing to its abysmal amount of candidates and virtually non-existent poll numbers.

As for the two mayors, both are incumbents; the Mayor of Doncaster is an independent and the Mayor of North Tyneside is a Conservative. Both are potentially vulnerable, as Doncaster is in Yorkshire and North Tyneside is in North East England; both regions usually back Labour overwhelmingly and if Labour has a strong performance nationwide, the two mayors could be defeated by the party's coattails.

It will be interesting to see how these elections turn out; we'll find out the majority of the results tomorrow.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Light on the stairs

Back in the early days of my blog, I wrote a post about a rainbow effect created by sunlight being reflected off a red jug. Here is another rainbow reflection, which I photographed this morning:

This reflection was generated when the morning sun shone through the peacock tail-shaped patterned glass at the top of our front door. It was difficult to take the picture: using the flash would have erased most of the patterns in the final image, thus, it was necessary for me to keep at still as possible so ensure no blurring occurred.