Saturday, 31 August 2013

Nottingham activities pictures

On the 21st of August, my aunt, uncle and one cousin engaged in "indoor" activities for much of the day: we bowled in the morning and went to the cinema in the afternoon. In our two bowling games, my uncle convincingly won the first while I narrowly won the second, bringing me my first-ever bowling victory; while we weren't playing competitively, it did feel good to win at bowling for the first time! I took this day's pictures in the evening:

This is sand. In the centre of Nottingham, a city nowhere near the ocean. What was it doing in Nottingham, then?

The sand in Nottingham comes from the Nottingham Riviera 2013, colloquially known as "The Beach". It brings a beach experience to the Nottingham city centre during the summer and features a selection of activities, such as rides, games and places to eat. According to the Riviera's website, it was launched in 2009 and has been a success.

My aunt, cousin and I all rode the Pirate Ship. It's a pendulum ride, which gradually increased in speed and height until it reached its peak and then slowed down again. We were concerned about a little girl seated unaccompanied behind us on the ride but she turned out to be just fine (her mother was watching her).

I had to include a picture of the Nottingham Council House: I love this sunset picture of the building.

Friday, 30 August 2013

South Yorkshire

My grandfather took me and my brother to the county of South Yorkshire to visit a few places significant to our family's history. We later went to Rother Valley Country Park, also located in South Yorkshire, and walked the entire perimeter of the lake, which, according to my brother, was a six-mile walk.

I look forward to sharing a few pictures from the day soon; however, I'll leave you with one image for now:

It's the "Derbyshire" sign when one enters the county via the M1 motorway from South Yorkshire.

Thursday, 29 August 2013


My grandfather, brother and I left early this morning to spend the day in North Wales. We visited my grandparents' old village, the ruins of Caergwrle Castle, a couple of my grandfather's old workplaces and Moel Famau. Our trip there today was my and my brother's first time outside England since we've been back in the United Kingdom and our first time in Wales in over seventeen years.

While I will write a post on the day with pictures, for now I'll include a picture in this post; here is a view of a Welsh valley taken from Moel Famau, which is the highest hill in the Clwydian Range:

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Wollaton Hall pictures

On the 20th of August, my Nottingham-based aunt, uncle and cousins, and I visited Wollaton Hall. Wollaton Hall, which is a country house built during the 1580s, was amongst the most local of the sites we travelled to last week, as the Hall is located within Nottingham. I do not have any pictures of the inside of the Hall; when I am unsure about any rules on photography I default to keeping my camera switched off.

A view of Wollaton Hall's front from a slight angle. While I've never seen it before, my aunt and uncle told me that the Batman film The Dark Knight Rises used Wollaton Hall in several scenes.

Another view looking up the front of the Hall, taken in somewhat of a more "artistic" manner than the previous.

A view of the front grounds from one of the Hall's windows. This picture does not contradict what I wrote earlier about not taking any pictures of the inside as the photo is of the outdoors.

A shot of the Hall over the lake. I, along with my aunt and one cousin, walked the entire path around the lake. It was a pleasant walk for me and my cousin but the horse-flies paid too much attention to my aunt!

The Hall again, this time from the lower grounds, near the entrance. We played a game of cricket and a little Frisbee on this part; my cricket performance had improved substantially when compared to game we had the day before at Rufford Park.

Which is your favourite picture? I consider it to be a close race between #3 and #4.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013


My East of England relatives (they're the relatives who were staying here in Nottingham for a few days, although they returned home tonight), my cousin's boyfriend and I travelled to the city of Lincoln, which is located in Lincolnshire. We were there to both check out my cousin's university accommodation and to see Lincoln itself.

Lincoln is one of the most beautiful places I've visited since I've been back in the United Kingdom, and Lincoln Cathedral is the most impressive and prominent building in the city. I have an abundance of pictures from the afternoon; I'll post them in a later piece.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Rufford Abbey Country Park pictures

Some of my Nottingham relatives and I visited Rufford Abbey Country Park exactly one week ago. We had an enjoyable morning and afternoon at this country estate in north Nottinghamshire. Here are four pictures:

A view of Rufford Abbey's front plus its south-facing side. Rufford Abbey was built in the first half of the 12th century and was originally a monastery before being converted into country house in the 16th century.

A view from within Rufford Abbey's court. There was not much to look at inside the court beyond the architecture and the ruins, but it immediately reminded me of the court where Harry Potter defeated Lord Voldemort in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

This structure is the ice house. During the Victorian Era, these buildings stored ice — but not food and drink, as commonly believed. Instead, the ice was transported to homes and used to chill any perishable items stored there. The invention of freezers and refrigerators in the 20th century rendered ice houses obsolete.

This is a mother swan with her cygnets; I have rarely, if ever, seen cygnets and it was a treat to see them. The swans lived in the same area as some ducks; while the cygnets were larger than the biggest adult duck, the mother swan was highly protective of her young and didn't hesitate to show aggression towards any duck that swam in her vicinity.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

A day in Nottingham

Three of my cousins, the boyfriend of one of my cousins, my brother and I spent the day in the Nottingham city centre; we also met up with the same friend who accompanied us to Chatsworth House a few days ago.

The most notable part of today occured when my brother, my cousin's boyfriend, a cousin and I were in Caffè Nero. We were engaging in what I consider to be an annoying activity: sitting in silence using our phones when we could have been talking to each other. One of the waiters laughed at this, stating "And they say the art of conversation is dead, ay?" We laughed and agreed that we should have been talking rather than texting or whatever else we were doing on our phones.

I don't have any pictures from today to post because one of my upcoming posts has some pictures of Nottingham and, besides, I already have several of the city centre!

Saturday, 24 August 2013

More relatives

I was up until 2:00am this morning waiting for more relatives to arrive at my grandparents' house. This extremely late (or extremely early) arrival was expected, as my relatives departed late and had a lengthy journey here. There will be here for a few days, which will contribute to the enjoyment of my visit to Nottingham. My brother also arrived today and will be here until we both leave in September.

There are no pictures from today to post because they are all of my family members; I do not post these out of respect for their privacy.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Matlock 2013

My aunt, uncle, a cousin and I went to Matlock Bath in Derbyshire today and again visited the Heights of Abraham. We went there at my request, and as with every other day so far this week, I have pictures that I will post later.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Chatsworth House 2013

My uncle, a cousin, a friend of hers and I all went to Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, going there at my cousin's request. Today's visit to Chatsworth House marks the third year in a row that my uncle, cousin and I have been there. We had a pleasant afternoon as we walked around the inside of the House, had a decent lunch and enjoyed a lengthy walk out on the grounds. We didn't have the hike through the mountains that we had last year nor did I fall in mud but we had a great time, nonetheless.

I have a few pictures from the day to post at a later date.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Nottingham activities

Today was supposed to be an "indoor activity" day as we thought it was going to rain; however, while it turned out to be dry, we still participated in indoor events. My aunt, uncle, one of my cousins and I all went out in the morning to partake in some bowling (for the first time ever, I won a game! Narrowly, though.) and then went to the cinema.

My aunt and I then went to purchase me a new pair of shoes for me, as the backs of my current pair are wearing down, and then we went to a cafe for a sweet drink while we waited for my uncle and cousin to re-join us. After another walk around Nottingham's centre (and after a quick ride at a mini-theme park in the centre) we went to Chiquito for dinner. Chiquito is a Mexican restuarant; we went there at my request.

I do have a few pictures from today, which I will post later. It's been a fantastic day.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Wollaton Hall

Our journey today was shorter than yesterday's: We visited Wollaton Hall, which is located in Wollaton Park in Nottingham. As with Rufford Park, there is an abundance of places to walk and plenty of scenery at Wollaton Hall; however, there are deer present on the grounds and their droppings can be seen on the grass. We played some cricket in the afternoon before returning to my aunt and uncle's home; three of us (the same group as yesterday) had to go into Nottingham's city centre again to pick up some more supplies.

As with my post about Rufford Park, I'll share some images in a future piece.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Rufford Abbey Country Park

The first place on the week's agenda was Rufford Abbey Country Park, located in northern Nottinghamshire. We spent the late part of the morning and a fair amount of the early and mid-afternoon there. Three of us, which included me, then had to go into Nottingham itself to pick up some needed supplies and then my uncle and I went to the cinema. I got back only twenty minutes ago.

I'll have pictures in a future post; I am too exhausted from today to bother with uploading pictures, renaming them and then posting them right now! I expected a big day and it was larger...and more fun...than I anticipated.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

The cucamelons

Other than going with my grandfather to get some groceries, today has been a quiet day; however, there is something interesting about the day to note:

It's a cucamelon. The cucamelon is a plant that has been eaten in Mexico for centuries but was introduced to the United Kingdom only this year. It looks like a tiny watermelon but it tastes like and is eaten as a cucumber. My grandfather is growing a couple cucamelon plants in his garden; I learnt about them because I'll be watering his plants each morning while I'm here.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Nottingham 2013

Well, here I am again on a week-long visit to my grandparents' house in Nottingham...except, of course, that it's not for one week...on this occasion, it's two! I'm currently up here by myself but my brother will be coming up next Saturday.

While I still intend to take plenty of pictures during my visit and will be posting quite a few of them here, I might not go into so much detail about certain events; last year I wrote quite a bit! Some of the excess details don't need to be covered.

Looking forward to a fun two weeks!

Friday, 16 August 2013

"Manic Monday" - The Bangles

I don't usually write two music posts near one another, but this is an exception given that I'm busy tonight and won't be doing another song post for a couple of weeks, at least! This is "Manic Monday" by The Bangles:

My brother has heard "Manic Monday" and "Eternal Flame" several times on Heart and he likes them; as such, I bought Manic Monday: The Best of The Bangles off Amazon for him a few days ago as a very late birthday present. I was impressed with the album because it's a two-disc compilation with 18 tracks on each CD.

This track is an earworm! A catchy '80s song, indeed.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

The shower and photo backlog redux

At last, we have a new shower installed. After spending two weeks cleaning ourselves in the bathtub with a dodgy shower head while crouching, it will be a pleasant change to have a proper shower tomorrow morning. With the new shower and the area around it re-sealed, hopefully the leaks are all's not going to be fun if they are still present after all that work and our time in the bathtub!

As for my backlog of pictures to rename, I cleared it yesterday. I still have Dad's pictures to rename and I took some more photographs today, but at least I no longer have to worry about more than 1,000 existing pictures on top of any I take while I'm Nottingham. Still, I should keep on top of it in the future to prevent it from becoming that backlogged again!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

"Flatline" - Mutya Keisha Siobhan

The band Mutya Keisha Siobhan recently released the lyric video for their debut single, "Flatline":

Interestingly enough, although this is the band's first single, it is not the first single from Mutya Buena, Keisha Buchanan and Siobhan Donaghy, the band's members. The women are the founders of the band Sugababes, which they formed in 1998; however, Donaghy left the Sugababes a short time after their first studio album was released and was replaced by Heidi Range. Buena left the band in late 2005 and was replaced by Amelle Berrbah; in 2009, Buchanan was removed from the band and was replaced by Jade Ewen. Buchanan's removal marked the departure of all original members from the Sugababes.

Buena, Buchanan and Siobhan formed MKS last year and will release "Flatline" in September. I hope that the three women will stick with the band after their first album and that the history of the Sugababes won't be repeated under a new name. As for the the three current members of the Sugababes, their most recent album, Sweet 7, wasn't exactly well received and it's not known what the exact status of the band is; Ewen recently stated that they're "pretty much done" but she was contradicted by Berrabah. I hope they'll continue, although I am concerned that with the unpopularity of Buchanan's depature combined with the original members forming a new band, it might not be far from the end of the Sugababes, at least in their current form, anyway.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Current picture renaming

I'll be going to Nottingham for over two weeks, starting this Saturday. After my week there last year and the year before, I had over a thousand images to rename on each occasion; I completed the jobs soon after returning home rather than left them hanging.

My current problem this year, however, is that I already have over a thousand existing images that need renaming. To add to this, I'm not only renaming pictures that I've taken but also ones that Dad has taken with his new phone (it's easier for me to rename them than for him to do the task himself).

I've been behind on renaming pictures all of this year; it is slow and boring work but it needs to be done. Even a one-word file name is far more useful in describing an image's subject than a jumble of letters and numbers! I've already almost halved the backlog in the past few days; I'll be satisfied if I have three-quarters of it cleared by Saturday and completely relieved if I have it all done before I leave! I should not have left it this long.

Monday, 12 August 2013

The ginger cat returns

For the first time in six months, the local ginger cat returned and visited our yard:

It's the first time I've seen the cat since the heavy snow. It disappeared soon after and until now we thought that either it and its owners had moved away or that the cat had come to harm. I'm pleased to see that it's alive and well.

Sorry about the partial obstruction on the picture; it's either dirt on the window or sunlight.

Sunday, 11 August 2013


After living in Northamptonshire for over two years, I visited Northampton itself today; however, my visit to Northampton this afternoon wasn't specifically to see the place: I was meeting up with a friend.

To begin with, my friend and I walked around the town centre for half an hour; I enjoy looking at the centres of various towns and cities, as skylines fascinate me. As such, I had requested seeing Northampton's centre and we went there before doing anything else that we had planned; I liked seeing the architecture, the various places to shop, the old market area; and the large pedestrianised street, named Abington Street. There is a bizarre-looking statue on Abington Street called the Discovery Sculpture, which commemorates Northampton-born scientist Francis Crick; there is a picture of it here.

After my friend had finished showing me the town centre, she drove us to Salcey Forest, a former medieval hunting forest located to the south of Northampton. My friend had recommended Salcey Forest; the forest appealed to me for both its footpaths and for this:

A view of Northampton from the peak of the forest's tree top walk/canopy walkway. I love observation points and viewing Northampton from afar was certainly a treat.

We then travelled to the village of Stoke Bruerne, going through another village, Blisworth, on the way; however, we were unable to stop off at either village because the canal boat festival was being held today (both villages are on the Grand Union Canal, as with Foxton Locks). The festival overwhelmed the two villages with people and all available parking spaces were occupied; while we didn't get to visit either place, we still chatted happily together and I got to see more of the Northamptonshire countryside. We returned to Northampton to get some lunch and then my friend took me back home.

We had a wonderful afternoon, which was improved with the gradually ameliorating weather over the course of the day. I got to visit Northampton (which I'd certainly like to visit again, both for my friends living there and just to see the place again), see more of Northamptonshire, had a pleasant lunch and, best of all, spent time with a friend! I was amazed at how fast the time appeared to disappear.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Car wash (2)

Back in early 2012, I posted a couple of pictures from a drive-thru car wash; here are three more from when Dad and I went to the car wash this morning:

I'm not sure if I like #2 or #3 more: I love the shiny, silvery water pattern of #2 but I also love how #3 almost looks like blue fire. Which of the three do you like the most?

These images were all taken with my phone.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Needless horn hooting

A few days ago, I was out on one of my walks; there were a couple of other people present who were also walking and the traffic was fairly light. Then, a car drove past and the driver hooted, which startled me as the car had hooted while it was passing and there wasn't another car around at the time; however, the driver was not hooting at another motorist: they were hooting at a pedestrian whom they apparently knew (the fellow pedestrian was on the opposite side of the road to me).

It angers me when some drivers hoot their horns for anything other than warning fellow motorists. It is disruptive to other drivers when somebody hoots for no immediately obvious reason and it's disruptive to pedestrians when somebody startles them with an unnecessary hooting. It's also annoying to hear drivers hoot horns in our neighbourhood; there is almost no need whatsoever to hoot a horn here and yet I hear one almost every day: the drivers not only hoot at certain pedestrians...they also hoot to signal that they're leaving a friend/relative's house...and they're hooting to the person they're leaving!

Drivers who hoot merely to acknowledge people they know need to stop, most importantly for safety reasons but also because it's just plain annoying. Unless you have reason to hoot at another driver, or, in rare cases, have to hoot to give immediate warning to a pedestrian, there is no need to hoot.

Well, that's my mini-rant over. Do you have any thoughts on this subject? As usual, I'm happy to hear them.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Jackdaw and pigeon

A jackdaw and a pigeon, together on one roof:

To begin with, the jackdaw and the pigeon ignored each other: The pigeon was cleaning itself while the jackdaw was pecking food off the gutter and the moss. Then, for no obvious reason, the jackdaw ceased ignoring the pigeon and began to intimidate its fellow bird; the pigeon moved away slightly and the jackdaw returned to its meal. The pigeon left a couple of minutes later and the jackdaw followed suit afterwards.

Most likely it was a territorial dispute, with the jackdaw perceiving the pigeon to be in "its" territory, even though the pigeon was a good distance away and wasn't even bothering the jackdaw.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

"True Love" - Pink featuring Lily Allen

This song is popular here in the United Kingdom at the moment; it's "True Love" by Pink featuring Lily Allen:

One aspect of modern music in the United Kingdom is the resilience of Pink: I hear one of her songs almost every day at the moment and her music always seems to be a hit. I had somewhat expected her to be an artist we'd only occasionally hear on British radio but no, she's popular over here and her music seems to last forever! Even some of Pink's older singles are played on a near-weekly basis.

It's also a pleasure to hear a new music featuring Lily Allen. Now she is someone I've rarely heard since being back...and she's a British musician! Her absence from the music scene can be attributed to her desire to be with her family; while I deeply respect that, it's great to hear her again.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

The baseball from the park

Well over a decade ago, I found this baseball at a park in Patterson, California:

It's ironic that I've kept it because I do not know the rules of baseball, nor has baseball ever been an interest of mine. It's more for sentimental reasons that I keep it; after all, baseball is massively popular in the United States, so why not hang on to a piece of that sport?

The baseball has not been used in any game since I've owned it. There is no structural reason why it couldn't be used again, however: It's old and has some minor signs of wear but it's sturdy and intact. It's even somehow managed to retain the smell of "newness". Still, I would prefer for it not to be used again, as I don't want to risk causing any major damage to it.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Walter Mondale's 50 state distinction

From 1977 to 1981, Walter Mondale served as the Vice President of the United States under President Jimmy Carter. In the 1980 United States presidential election, Carter and Mondale were defeated in a landslide, losing 44 of the 50 states; four years later, when Mondale ran for president against incumbent Ronald Reagan, Mondale lost 49 of the 50 states, barely carrying his home state of Minnesota while sweeping Washington D.C.

In 2002, Mondale ran for a Senate seat in Minnesota when the incumbent, Paul Wellstone, died; the seat that Wellstone occupied was the same one that Mondale held prior to becoming Carter's vice president. On election day, Norm Coleman narrowly defeated Mondale, achieving what Reagan had failed to do 22 years previous.

So, what's the 50 state distinction? Mondale's defeat in 2002 made him the first — and so far only — nominee of a major party to lose a statewide election in all 50 states. I doubt that it's a record that anyone would be proud of, but it's a small and notable piece of United States election trivia, nonetheless.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

The hungry pigeon

I photographed this pigeon in our back yard this morning:

It was pecking the grass for insects and caught a few of them. I think that this pigeon, which is much larger than it appears in these pictures, is the one that often roams our back yard, thinking that it owns the whole area!

Saturday, 3 August 2013

The shower

The one shower we have in our house has developed a leak, which has caused water to seep into both my bedroom and a hallway closet. The leak is gradual, but if it's ignored it will expand and potentially compromise the integrity of a large part of the upstairs; however, we have people in to fix it, but at the moment we are showering in the bathtub in my brother's and my bathroom.

How are we doing that, seeing as there's only one shower in the house? Well, Dad fitted a shower head attached to a long hose to the tap in the bathtub. Unfortunately, there is no curtain and there is nothing in the bathroom that would allow us to put one up; as a result, we have no choice but to crouch or kneel in the tub when we shower or else we will soak the bathroom.

Showering is uncomfortable at the moment but it won't be that way for long; once the main shower has been replaced and the leak fixed previous showering habits will resume.

Friday, 2 August 2013

The ever-changing weather

This was the scene in our backyard a few days ago:

Wet, with raindrops all over the door; a day later, it was sunny again. Yesterday, it was one of our hottest days of the year yet; it then rained last night and it's been windy all throughout today. Quite a nice mixture of weather we've been having! As hot as it has been recently (minus the rainy days), I'm hoping that the warm weather will hold for the rest of the month.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

The toad again

Here is another picture of the toad (taken on the same night):

When my brother and I saw the toad, neither of us wanted to catch it. We were correct not to pick it up: we think that this toad is a common toad, which is a poisonous species. Do you see those large lumps behind the toad's eyes? Those are the parotoid glands, which secrete the toad's poisons. The common toad has enough poison in its parotoid glands and skin to kill an adult human.

As friendly as the toad looked, it was wise not to touch it! While the frogs we get here and in Southern Oregon are slimy, at least they're not poisonous; the Wikipedia article about the common toad has an informative section about the effects of the species' poison.