Thursday 29 January 2015

Week 34: Westminister Cathedral

English: Westminster Cathedral.

I lived in London for many years before moving down to Brighton.  I used to work in Victoria Street and regularly walked passed Westminister Catholic Cathedral but never went in.

Visiting London recently to meet up with a friend - after lunch on the south bank we found ourselves walking down Victoria Street which, with many new office buildings springing up, especially near the Station, has changed quite a bit since I was last there.

The Cathedral itself is quite surprising.   Outside it's a very striking building of striped red and white stone completed at the beginning of the 1900s.

Inside it's darker and quite austere as much of it is unfinished.  Being newer than the Catholic churches in Europe which I've visited, there was none of the gold and marble I'd expected.  Instead many modern mosaics and an imposing dark  and containing world renowned mosaics.

Good to see that some things remained the same - like the Albert Pub - surrounded by tall office blocks.
The old and the new

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Week 34: Wahaca - Deep Fried Plantain

Plantain fritters with vanilla ice-cream.  Not that exotic or unusual but not something I've eaten before, so makes the list.

Mexican street food from a restaurant built out of shipping containers.  Delicious!

We went for the easy option and the Wahaca selection - a mix of street food dishes.  Highly recommended if you're passing along the South Bank, although it was very busy at lunchtime.

Saturday 24 January 2015

Week 33: RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch

Freshly made cup of coffee, pain aux raisin, pen, paper and binoculars all set for the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch - an annual event held on the last weekend in January and started an incredible 36 years ago.

I always stock up the feeders in the weeks running up to BGBW with a variety of foods in the hope that I'll get a good turnout on the day.  Sadly, the birds seem to know and my regulars head off elsewhere as I try to notch up as many species as possible in one hour.

I usually watch for one or two hours throughout the day and then take the 'best' hour to record.  Most birds will make an appearance first thing in the morning to fuel up for the day and then again in the afternoon an hour or two before sunset.  There are always the usual suspects who are in and out all day - mainly the robin and blue-tits.

This year was a good results for my small garden with 10 different species and one squirrel (they also like to see who else, apart from birds, is visiting the garden).  All of my regulars except for the wren and goldfinch which didn't turn up until later in the day.

This year I also took a wander over to my local park towards the end of the day.  You can record species you see in a park if you don't happen to have a garden.  Fewer species but in greater numbers - like the woodpigeon (30+), house sparrows (18+) and greenfinch (20+)  as well as several robins and blackbirds.

Thursday 22 January 2015

Week 33: RSPB Brighton Group - Urban Birder Talk

House Sparrow, a bird of urban areas which was...
House Sparrow, a bird of urban areas.
A great talk from David Lindo the @Urbanbirder at the Brighton RSPB local group meeting.

Birds are all around us and just because you live in a town or city doesn't mean you can't watch birds.  The popularity of the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch shows how many birds you can see in your own garden.

Birds see our green and brown spaces and abandoned buildings as habitat, where they can rest and refuel while on migration, feed and even nest and breed.

David has travelled around the world and in all the urban areas he's visited he manages to find surprising birds in the most unusual places.

The majority of people are totally oblivious to the wildlife right on their doorstep.

#Look Up

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sunday 18 January 2015

Week 32: Volunteering - Sussex Wildlife

First session of the year and out with the Lewes Sussex Wildlife Trust volunteers up on Malling Down.  Still got the tail-end of my New Year cough - better but still not completely gone.

A light drizzle when we started, so the fire was a little slow to get going but roaring away by lunchtime and we managed to burn everything that had been cut previously.

There are plenty of opportunities for volunteering with the Wildlife Trust if you like getting out and about outdoors.

Sunday 11 January 2015

Week 31: Bike ride!

First bike ride of the year and first one in a while.

Plenty of sunshine but also pretty cold and windy after the recent gales.  As I was still suffering with a cough I picked up either in Italy (probably) I took a short cycle along the undercliff and back.  Easy going one way, hard work against the wind the other.

Thursday 1 January 2015

Week 30: New Year's Eve

Like many others I'm usually tucked up in bed well before midnight or at least at home on New Year's Eve but as that doesn't really go with the spirit of #52Things and as I missed out entirely last New Year, time to make an effort.

Not exactly an 'Extravaganza' but certainly something different (and that's what #52Things is all about).  Lovely friends, great atmosphere, good music from local musicians, some 'interesting' modern poetry - not really my thing but some of it was quite amusing - and belly-dancing!

All leading up to the chimes of Big Ben and the start of 2015.