Saturday, 31 May 2014

The mint cake has been found

Back in January, I wrote that I had lost the Romney Kendal Mint Cake that a cousin of mine bought me last August. I was baffled as to how I could have lost a mint cake. I found it this evening:

It was hiding in plain sight: this bag has been visible in my room for the past several months, yet I never thought to check inside it. The bag says Rufford, for Rufford Abbey Country Park, which was where my cousin bought the mint cake; it should have been obvious that the mint cake was in the bag! Regardless, mystery solved.

Coincidentally, I thought about the mint cake this afternoon and wondered if I would ever find it. I noticed the bag a few hours later.

Friday, 30 May 2014


Remember the Santa Barbara ceanothus from one of my early Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party posts? It has been flowering as beautifully as it normally does; however, some of its blossoms have blown off the branches and into the spaces between the concrete slabs in the back yard:

Fortunately, the ceanothus has plenty of blossoms left!

Thursday, 29 May 2014

"How Deep Is Your Love" - Take That

I have liked the Bee Gees' song "How Deep Is Your Love" ever since I first heard it. I also like British band Take That's cover version:

The Bee Gees' original comes from Saturday Night Fever: The Original Movie Sound Track, which was released in 1977, and Take That's cover is from their 1996 Greatest Hits album. It is thanks to me listening to Heart radio that I heard the two songs.

The video for Take That's version is interesting, to say the least.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

The noisy sparrow

This sparrow spent almost all of yesterday tweeting while perched on the gutter:

The only times when he quietened down before dusk were when a hawk flew over the house; other than on those occasions, he tweeted all day. He tweeted some more this morning but I have not heard him since. I wonder what he was tweeting to...his mother or a mate?

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Results summary of the European Parliament election, 2014

The European Parliament election is over and all of the results have been declared. Across Europe, eurosceptic and anti-establishment parties, made the most gains; these parties can be left or right-wing (or neither). This was the anticipated result.

In the United Kingdom, the United Kingdom Independence Party (one of the strongly eurosceptic parties), Labour, and the Green Party of England and Wales were the winners. UKIP won 24 Members of the European Parliament (+11) and 27.5% of the vote, and Labour won 20 MEPs (+7) on a 25.4% popular vote share. The Greens, while experiencing a minor vote share decline and coming in fourth place behind the Conservatives in MEP count and the popular vote, won an additional MEP, which brought their count up to three. The British National Party, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats were all defeated: they lost two, seven and ten seats, respectively.

In the continental European Union, mainstream parties lost ground while several far-right parties performed strongly; the most notable of the latter was the Front National in France, which topped that country's poll. At the same time, several left-wing parties also made gains, such as SYRIZA in Greece and Feminist Initiative in Sweden; on the other hand, the Green parties experienced some moderate losses in the European Parliament. Anti-austerity and eurosceptic parties from every shade of the political spectrum increased their presence in said parliament. The overall turnout was estimated at slightly over 43%.

The rise of the far-left and far-right parties across Europe can be attributed to several governments' use of austerity as a response to economic crises and the perceived failure of politicians from the major political parties to listen to people, as well as increasing opposition to European Union bureaucracy. I'm not particularly knowledgeable about politics outside the US and UK, but to me the best way to halt the progress of these other parties is for the mainstream parties to listen to people and address their concerns.

Monday, 26 May 2014

The third year

Two days ago, Air Nice-to-Livelands turned three years old. Since I started the blog, I've written over 1100 posts, received nearly 60,000 views and have made some new friends. A big thank you to everyone who listens to and comments about what I have to say; I really appreciate it.

Now, back to blogging!

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Results of the 2014 local elections

Nearly all of the results for the 2014 local elections have been declared. In England, Labour and the United Kingdom Independence Party were the two parties that saw the most gains while the Conservative and Liberal Democrat seat losses continued. Labour won 31% of the vote, while the Conservatives, UKIP and the Liberal Democrats won 29%, 17% and 13%, respectively. Labour gained over 330 seats while UKIP gained 161. The Conservatives lost over 230 councillors while the Liberal Democrats lost over 300. Labour took control of six councils while the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats lost 11 and two, respectively. No Overall Control gained the most councils: seven.

Several of the smaller parties made gains: Independents won a total of 68 seats, up from 53 in this cycle, and the Residents' Association added 14 from 39. Most of the Green Party of England and Wales' incumbents were re-elected and the party picked up 16 additional councillors. The British National Party held onto its councillor up in this cycle. Some small parties experienced losses: The Liberal Party held two seats but lost two others, the Independent Community and Health Concern won one and lost two, and the Respect Party lost its sole local government seat. Overall, though, the small parties and independents performed fairly well.

In Northern Ireland, the Democratic Unionist Party won the most amount of councillors (130) but came second to Sinn Féin in the popular vote (24.07% to 23.09). The Ulster Unionist Party and Social Democratic and Labour Party won 88 and 66 councillors, respectively. The Northern Irish results received little attention, as the media focus has been on UKIP's performance in England.

I am not surprised by the results, as they're roughly what was predicted in the polling and discussed in the news, although once again I had thought that the Conservatives would lose much more than they did. Both Labour and the Conservatives have blamed UKIP for why they didn't win in certain areas; for example, in the London Borough of Croydon, the local Conservatives blamed UKIP for why they lost control of the council. Labour and the Conservatives are both trying to figure out how they can win back UKIP voters while the Liberal Democrats are still working on how they can reverse - or at least stop - their continuing losses.

The next general election is less than a year away now. It is too early to speculate how the parties will perform then.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

The oldest American

I read this article last night before I went to bed:

Jeralean Talley is the oldest person in the United States and the second-oldest person in the world; she celebrated her 115th birthday yesterday. Talley has lived in Inkster, Michigan, which is in the Detroit area, since 1935 and was married for 52 years to Alfred Talley; from what I've read about Jeralean Talley, she has lived a happy life.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Broken rose

This rose in our yard broke under the strength of the recent rain:

The rose looks as though it's just drooping because it's sad, but the stem has been snapped, as can be seen in the first picture. On the bright side, it is a relief that this rose plant has flowered: it was one of the roses that Mum had cut down almost to a stump to cure it of the blackspot disease. The new growth has been free from the infection.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

European Parliament election, 2014

The European Parliament election of 2014 has begun and will end on 25th May. The European Parliament is the only legislative chamber of the European Union that is held accountable to the people; it has 751 members and the citizens of the 28 nations within the European Union will be voting to either re-elect or replace their respective Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). While the election lasts for four days, every country but one has a day to vote; the exception is the Czech Republic, which votes on two of the four days.

How are MEPs chosen? Each country is a component of the election and there are regional constituencies within each country. For example, the United Kingdom has 12 constituencies and 73 MEPs allocated to it; my family and I live in the East Midlands constituency, which has five MEPs. MEPs are elected through proportional representation: this means that when a political party reaches a certain percentage of the vote - say 10% - they will win seats. By using this method of electing candidates, each constituency is often represented by several parties.

What's the predicted outcome for this election? From what I've read and from what my brother has told me, political parties that are either against the European Union or want its power over member countries reduced are set to perform strongly; many of these parties as regarded as far-left or far-right. People are voting for such parties because many Europeans feel as though the European Union is compromising each member nations' sovereignty and/or has not done enough to help regular Europeans; they think that the main parties in their respective nations have failed to tackle the European Union's problems. Also, over the past few years several European governments have used austerity to handle the economic crisis (unlike the United States, which chose to spend money on its economy); people now feel that the austerity has gone too far and many of these other parties are capitalising on this.

As for how the United Kingdom will vote, like I wrote in yesterday's post, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats are expected to perform poorly in the local elections; that expectation holds for the European elections, too. Again, Labour and the United Kingdom Independence Party are expected to gain the majority of the MEPs; the Green Party of England and Wales and the Scottish National Party aim to secure additional seats, while the British National Party is hoping to keep its sole MEP, although that is extremely unlikely. In this country, 39 parties are participating and they are fielding 747 candidates (not in every constituency, though, as some parties are regional, such as the Social Democratic and Labour Party, which is only on the ballot in Northern Ireland).

This is the first time since 1994 that my family and I have been in the United Kingdom while a European Parliament election has occurred; the European Parliament elections that took place between then and now were in 1999, 2004 and 2009.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Local elections, 2014

The United Kingdom's local elections are upon us once again; all day tomorrow, thousands of councillors will be up for election across the country. The regions that will be voting are: all London boroughs, all metropolitan boroughs, 74 second-tier district authorities and 20 unitary authorities; some new councils in Northern Ireland are also up for a vote this year. In addition to the local elections, the United Kingdom will also be participating in the European Parliament election, which occurs across the European Union every five years. For this post, I'll cover the UK's local elections only and will write about the European Parliament election tomorrow.

What is the predicted outcome of these local elections? The two ruling parties, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, which both form the coalition government in the UK Parliament, are again expected to lose councillors, much like they have done for the past two elections (the Liberal Democrats also lost councillors in 2011); the losses are again expected to be in the hundreds for both parties. Once again, the Labour Party is likely to be the biggest beneficiary of those seats; however, since 2013's locals the United Kingdom Indpendence Party (UKIP) has improved its standing among non-Conservative Party voters, which has made this batch of local elections harder to predict than the last. UKIP's gains can be attributed to significant public fatigue with the three main parties and their unwillingness to hold a referendum on the UK's membership in the EU.

As for some of the other parties, the Green Party of England and Wales seeks to increase its amount of councillors nationwide; the Greens are effective at winning small amounts of new councillors and have a good record of re-electing their existing ones. The British National Party, which was expanding and regarded as a problem five years ago, is as irrelevant in these local elections as it was in 2013's; the party is not expected to gain anything. There are also a few tiny regional parties and independents running in some areas; how these candidates perform is based on the strength and characters of the individuals themselves.

The next general election, when the UK Parliament itself will be up for a vote, will take place in May 2015. While council elections aren't always an accurate predictor of how the public will vote in a general election, they can indicate overall national mood; both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats will be in serious trouble in 2015 if their heavy losses continue.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

"Vindicated" - Dashboard Confessional

On the 31st of this month, this song will be ten years old:

It's "Vindicated" by Dashboard Confessional. The song comes from their fourth studio album, Dusk and Summer, but is more known for being on the soundtrack to Spider-Man 2 (2004), where it played during the credits. Dashboard Confessional have released two more studio albums, The Shade of Poison Trees and Alter the Ending, since "Vindicated".

A few years ago, a friend of mine went to a Maroon 5 concert where Dashboard Confessional were the opening act. My friend noticed someone in the audience stay for the Dashboard Confessional segment of the concert, but then saw that person leave when Maroon 5 themselves came on; that person never returned. She and I agreed that it seemed extreme for someone to pay full-price Maroon 5 tickets just to see one of their opening acts! (Unless, of course, they got the tickets for free, but even then it would be a waste to leave early.)

I chose to write a music post today because I needed some extra time for my next two blog posts, which are about major events that are about to occur on this continent in the coming days.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Shining, not overflowing

I walked past this river today and I thought it would be good to post another picture of it:

The flow was steady and the water wasn't overflowing; it's been several months since I last saw this river look this clear and stable. This picture does not fully capture how shiny the river is in person at the moment on a bright day.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

"True" - Ryan Cabrera

This is a song from my brother's music collection, although I like it, too:

It's "True" by Ryan Cabrera and it's from his second album, Take It All Away. Cabrera was popular on American music charts in 2004 and 2005 with this song and with "On the Way Down". Later in 2005, he released "40 Kinds of Sadness and "Shine On", two singles from his subsequent album You Stand Watching, but their success did not reach anything close to that of the aforementioned songs. His most recent album is The Moon Under Water, which he released in 2008; Cabrera is currently working on another album.

Cabrera has appeared twice before on my blog: I wrote an article about him in September 2012 and he appeared in passing in January of this year in a post I wrote about one-hit wonders.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Lily of the Valley

I took this photograph this morning; I had no idea that this plant grew here:

It's Lily of the Valley. This plant is notable to me because it is the favourite flower of my friend and fellow blogger Jessica. Its bells are pretty and it's a pleasant surprise to discover that it grows in this country.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Bad reaction (follow-up)

I'd like to quickly follow up on my post from yesterday about the reaction to the Jay-Z/Solange Knowles incident. I read this article this afternoon:

Both sides have accepted responsibility for what happened, have apologised to each other and want to move on. Hopefully, this should resolve the matter, at least between them, which is what counts; only they know the full story behind what happened and if they've resolved it, that's excellent. That being said, I stand by what I wrote yesterday that society should not laugh at or dismiss a victim of abuse or assault; the public's overall reaction was poor and those responsible for the behaviour I condemned yesterday should be ashamed of themselves.

I should note that a case of abuse or assault is not usually fixed with an apology, and a long-term abuser/assaulter doesn't wash away, by simply apologising, years of horror that they've inflicted on another person (and no, I'm not implying that Knowles or anyone else has committed any such thing; this is just a general statement). Still, if Jay-Z and Knowles have fixed their issues by each apologising to the other and both admitting responsibility, that's their decision and good for them.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Bad reaction

For the past three days, a story that has been popular in the news and on social media involves singer Solange Knowles - the younger sister of Beyoncé - attacking producer and rapper Jay-Z in an elevator at a party. Beyoncé, who is also Jay-Z's wife, was in the elevator as was a bodyguard; the latter held back the younger sister from Jay-Z for the duration of the elevator ride, although she was able to break free a couple of times to continue to strike him. At present, it is not known why Knowles attacked Jay-Z; only speculation and wild conspiracies have been presented as explanations.

The actions of Knowles, which are bad enough by themselves, are not the most disturbing part of this incident, in my opinion; rather, I'm more worried by the apparent reaction of the public via social media and comment threads. I wrote the following to a friend who was talking about the incident and the reaction to it:

"What really bothers me is the amount of people who seem to believe that if one person starts hitting another for seemingly no reason, the victim should be asked what they did for someone to hit them rather than the perpetrator be asked why they started hitting."

The narrative has focused on what Jay-Z might have done to provoke Knowles, rather than what Knowles' reasons were for hitting him; this reaction implies that a recipient of violent behaviour should be the individual under scrutiny instead of any aggressor. The extent of this line of thinking can be evidenced by the prevalence of the hashtag #WhatJayZSaidToSolange on Twitter. With a current lack of any evidence to the contrary, Jay-Z is the victim in this incident and it is wrong to assume that he has done something to cause another person to attack him. This is obvious victim-blaming and this mentality needs to stop.

The poor reaction has been exacerbated by all the people who find the incident hilarious (cue the endless "100 problems"/"Solange's first hit" jokes) and the countless Internet memes that have been generated to mock the event. One person attacking another is not funny at all. It is irrelevant that Jay-Z is a larger and stronger person than Knowles and that she might not have managed to harm him even without the intervention from the bodyguard: there is no humour in violence and no one should be laughing about it.

I can only hope that the people who have engaged in victim-blaming, laughed about/mocked what happened or otherwise been dismissive are a minority, albeit a vocal one. Victims of violence - regardless of gender or social status - are often reluctant to speak, usually because they are afraid of not being believed or, worse yet, of being laughed at or outright blamed for any abuse that they have received. When the general public takes a light-hearted approach to incidents such as this, that reluctance intensifies and people continue to suffer.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Distant storm clouds

I photographed these clouds yesterday evening:

These were storm clouds: there were several flashes of lightning but the thunder was far away and any rain these clouds unleashed never reached the neighbourhood.

These pictures turned out surprisingly well: they were taken with my main camera on full optical zoom, but because of the dimming light level combined with window glass in the way of the lens, I expected the clouds to appear blurred, which would have been disappointing.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

The perched blackbird

This morning, I photographed this male blackbird perched on a branch:

His job was to warn off predators and other birds from the nearby nest; he is the mate of the female blackbird I posted a picture of a few days ago. Both blackbirds have been feeding chicks and my brother is sure that they have built another nest for another set of chicks. On Sunday, my brother had to chase off a cat who came into our back yard and attacked this blackbird; the blackbird was slightly injured in the attack, as evidenced by his limping whenever he was on the ground.

Both pictures were taken with my main camera using its full optical zoom; however, the first picture was shot through window glass whereas the second was taken with the window open. The blackbird paid no attention to my opening of the window.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Keith Crisco

I have been following the Democratic primary for North Carolina's 2nd congressional district. This primary race is notable because one of the candidates is American Idol season two runner-up Clay Aiken. Since May 7th, he and his main primary opponent, Keith Crisco, have been locked in a tight race, in which Aiken has a slim lead. Sadly, Crisco has died:

Crisco died at a fall in his home; no foul play has been reported, although Crisco's death has set off conspiracy theory lunatics who seem to think that Aiken himself was behind it. Any such conspiracies should be dismissed unless otherwise proved, which is unlikely because they are nonsense.

I wanted Aiken to win the primary, but I didn't want him to win like that and I'm sure that he didn't want to win in this manner, either. I hope that the memory of Crisco won't be insulted by someone using his death as a campaign tool. From what I've read, Crisco was a respected figure in North Carolina, and had a reputation for being a kind man and active in his community.

J. Keith Crisco
April 22, 1943 - May 12, 2014

Sunday, 11 May 2014

"I Will Never Let You Down" - Rita Ora

This song reached number one on the chart I listened to this afternoon:

It's "I Will Never Let You Down" by British singer Rita Ora and it is the first single from her upcoming second album. Ora came to prominence in early 2012 when she was featured on DJ Fresh's single "Hot Right Now"; later that year, she released her debut studio album, ORA, from which her singles "How We Do (Party)", "R.I.P.", "Shine Ya Light" and "Radioactive" all came.

Ora has also ventured into acting. She will portray the character Mia Grey in the film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey, which will be released next year.

I received ORA for Christmas in 2012. I think it's a great album and I look forward to Ora's follow-up.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Naming current U.S. governors

In my follow-up to my post about naming current United States Senators, I mentioned that I would name governors next. I was able to recount the following thirty-two governors:

1. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii)
2. Mike Beebe (D-Arkansas)
3. Steve Beshear (D-Kentucky)
4. Jerry Brown (D-California)
5. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas)
6. Lincoln Chafee (D-Rhode Island)
7. Chris Christie (R-New Jersey)
8. Tom Corbett (R-Pennsylvania)
9. Andrew Cuomo (D-New York)
10. Nathan Deal (R-Georgia)
11. Mary Fallin (R-Oklahoma)
12. Bobby Jindal (R-Louisiana)
13. Nikki Haley (R-South Carolina)
14. Bill Haslam (R-Tennessee)
15. Maggie Hassan (D-New Hampshire)
16. John Hickenlooper (D-Colorado)
17. John Kasich (R-Ohio)
18. John Kitzhaber (D-Oregon)
19. Jay Inslee (D-Oregon)
21. Susana Martinez (R-New Mexico)
22. Terry McAuliffe (D-Virginia)
22. Pat McCrory (R-North Carolina) 
23. Jay Nixon (D-Missouri)
24. Martin O'Malley (D-Maryland)
25. Sean Parnell (R-Alaksa)
26. Rick Perry (R-Texas)
27. Mike Pence (R-Indiana)
28. Pat Quinn (D-Illinois)
29. Brian Sandoval (R-Nevada)
30. Rick Scott (R-Florida)
31. Peter Shumlin (D-Vermont)
32. Rick Snyder (R-Michigan)

I was unable to remember the following eighteen governors:

1. Robert J. Bentley (R-Alabama)
 2. Terry Branstad (R-Iowa)
3. Jan Brewer (R-Arizona) 
4. Phil Bryant (R-Mississippi)
 5. Steve Bullock (D-Montana)
 6. Jack Dalrymple (R-North Dakota)
7. Dennis Daugaard (R-South Dakota)
8. Mark Dayton (D-Minnesota)
9. Dave Heineman (R-Nebraska)
10. Gary Herbert (R-Utah)
11. Paul LePage (R-Maine)
12. Dannel Malloy (D-Connecticut)
13. Jack Markell (D-Delaware)
14. Matt Mead (R-Wyoming)
15. Deval Patrick (D-Massachusetts)
16. Butch Otter (R-Idaho)
17. Earl Ray Tomblin (D-West Virginia)
18. Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin)

I groaned when my brother told me that I had forgotten Deval Patrick and Scott Walker, and facepalmed when he told me that I had forgotten Jan Brewer (all three of them should have been easy for me to remember). Credit goes to my brother for writing up the "didn't remember" section of this post.

Out of all of these governors, the only one whom I've lived under is John Kitzhaber, which was from November 2000 to January 2003. He was re-elected to a historic third term as Oregon's governor in 2010 and is running for re-election this year; if he wins, he'll be the second-longest serving governor in United States history.

Friday, 9 May 2014

The splitting chair

The chair for my desk is starting to split.

That's right. The plastic material covering the seat part of my chair has begun to split; left unchecked, it will continue to split, which will cause it to break off in flakes and it will then have to vacuumed off the floor. Fortunately, the problem can be contained by placing a cushion over the seat, which I have done.

This is not the first time that this has happened to me. My previous chair began to split and flake away (the two chairs came from a dinner table set and were not expensive), and had to be replaced with the chair I use now. I didn't bother to use a cushion last time and the chair deteriorated to the point where it became unusable.

Of course, this is not a major problem in the long run. Just a mere annoyance and something to write about.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Female blackbird

I was lucky to take this picture of a female blackbird in our back yard:

This blackbird and her mate have a nest nearby, which contains chicks who should be departing from it any day now. She is calling to another bird, likely her mate or her chicks; she bounced off into the bushes less than a minute after I took this picture. It's amazing how much the female blackbird differs in appearance to the male.

It was taken through a window using my camera's full optical zoom, hence the reflection present in the right half of the image.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

"Look Up"

In one of the past few days, my friend and fellow blogger Stephanie shared this elsewhere on the Internet:

I have sometimes wondered what moments and experiences are lost by so many people being glued to their phones. Whenever I go out for walk, I see at least one person who is looking down at their phone while they walk. Sometimes they're walking with another person yet their attention is focused on a device in their hand; they appear to have completely forgotten that a living, breathing human is walking alongside them. I don't it's healthy for society for so many people to go around ignoring each other.

I note that some people in the comments section of the video have criticised the maker for hypocrisy over his use of social media to promote the video. Given that the video is aimed specifically at heavy users of social media, I don't consider it to be hypocritical at all and I think such comments miss the point of the message and are a deliberate distraction.

I should also note that I am not against social media. If I were, I would not have started this blog and there are some great people whom I would not have met. I just think it should be used in moderation and we shouldn't neglect face-to-face contact; even a Skype call with a friend - something I did earlier today - counts as face-to-face contact, despite the people participating not being in the same room together. If I were given the chance to meet my online friends in person, I would happily accept it.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

"Who's On Heart" 2014 wrong guesses list

The Heart radio network announced this morning that a list of wrong answers for "Who's On Heart" 2014 has been released:

My brother and I were expecting a list to be unveiled: it's almost been four months since Stevie Nicks was identified as one of the three voices. People who phone in to the competition should study this list before giving out any names; we certainly don't need to keep hearing people guess the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch, Simon Cowell, Colin Firth and Bill Nighy again...all of whom have been guessed several times each!

Monday, 5 May 2014

Love locks

Until today, I had no idea this existed:

I think that love is beautiful and should never be underrated or undervalued, but there are better ways of expressing love than attaching a padlock with a couple's names engraved onto it to a bridge and then throwing the key into the underlying water. As the article states, left unchecked, the combined weight of all the padlocks can cause structural damage to the bridge and the water can become contaminated from the keys rusting.

I am, of course, pleased that the couple highlighted at the beginning of the article are still married. It would have been disappointing if they had attached a love lock to the Pont des Arts bridge in France only to get divorced a few months or years down the line.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

"Holding Onto Heaven" - Foxes

This was officially released as a single today:

It's "Holding Onto Heaven" by Foxes. Like Foxes' singles "Youth" and "Let Go for Tonight", this song comes from her debut studio album, Glorious, which will be released on 12th May. I am really looking forward to this album: every Foxes song I've heard to date has been awesome.

Over the recent week, the adverts for the music countdown I listen to on Sundays mentioned that this song would debut on the chart today, likely at a high position; however, "Holding Onto Heaven" was nowhere to be found on the chart (nor was "Still" by Katy B, another song that the adverts had mentioned), which was a disappointment. On the bright side, it could chart next week.

I have written about Foxes before twice: here and here.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Chocolate in coffee

I like coffee. I usually have one cup per day but I occasionally have two, and I always have it with milk and a teaspoon of sugar. Occasionally, however, I like to add chocolate powder to the mix: I'm fond of the taste of a chocolate-enhanced coffee. I find that the chocolate brings out the flavour of the coffee and vice versa. It is my favourite drink that isn't pure water.

One of my cousins likes this, too; I discovered this when they asked me if I did it! Does anyone else do this or have another ingredient they like to add to coffee? Maybe even another drink combination?

Friday, 2 May 2014

Bloggers Blog Party - April 2014

My April 2014 contributions to the Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party:

Saturday, 5th April: When my grandfather and I went for a walk on my second day in Nottingham, we walked past this field. Now that it's almost been a month since that walk, I wonder how the field has changed.

Tuesday, 8th April: This is a box of Carr's Table Water crackers, which my grandmother bought. A few weeks ago on the blog of my friend Susie, I mentioned that I had not seen this brand of crackers since I had been back in the United Kingdom. I haven't been particularly observant, as I learnt on the day my grandmother bought these that Carr's are a British company and the crackers are common in stores over here.

Monday, 14th April: These daffodil heads were floating in this dirty water in the bigger pond at the local park. While it's possible that the wind blew them in, the more likely explanation is that some vandal picked the heads off the stems and threw them in.

Tuesday, 22nd April: This was the day when I finished my Easter candy, which consisted of these three bars of chocolate.

Monday, 28th April: Some water lillies in the smaller pond down at the park. They can't be seen clearly in this picture, but several water-dwelling bugs were swimming to and from the lillies.

Wednesday, 30th April: This is a small green beetle that was in the utility room. I liked its colour and photographed it for that reason and because I wanted to see if the camera on my phone could focus up close on a tiny object.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

The three dandelions

Yesterday, I photographed these three dandelions, which are located in our back yard. Note the state of the flower on each plant:

The first dandelion lost its entire flower - most likely because of the wind - and is, for lack of a better term, completely bald. Only the stem remains intact.

The second dandelion lost half of its flower. Again, it's most likely because of the wind that its flower is not whole.

The flower of the third dandelion is completely intact. It is located in a shaded area, where it receives protection from the wind, unlike the aforementioned plants. It doesn't appear to be in any danger of being blown to pieces.

I don't know what the age of each plant is. It's possible that the dandelion with the intact flower is the oldest, but looks younger simply because the other two are out in the open and are more vulnerable. I found the different state of each flower to be interesting.