Thursday, 28 April 2011

OK rant for today is PayPal, now generally I like PayPal, they make life easier and safer in terms of payment HOWEVER!! Try getting hold of them on the bloody phone, it used to be reasonably easy, is it now, OH NO, first you go to the contact button, if indeed you can find it because as with many websites it will be tiny! You get a phone number – that is a joke, you phone, you get answered by a machine and an extremely annoying man’s voice, who then kindly gives you a whole load of choices none of which are remotely close to what you want to talk about, you are then invited to speak your question, I had of course been doing quite a lot of speaking already, such as I WANT TO TALK TO A HUMAN!! So you try to think of the easiest way to ask your question, does it work, no of course it does not, so you hang up and send them a stinking email. You get a reply with a number and a code, so you phone again, on the fifth attempt you scream HELP at the top of your voice and the man says I don’t think I can help you, I will put you through!!!!!!!! Finally, you think, however you probably get someone from the US who does not understand what you want anyway. It is so very frustrating, it’s a good job I don’t have a heart condition or I would have been dead by the end of it. In fact if I am ever found dead on the end of the phone sue whoever I was talking to please!!! Which reminds me Richard HH are you dead??

Linda came and put bunting up today, it looks great, not a huge amount, but enough to make our Hawk Walk party go with a swing I hope. If you are coming tomorrow, bring a picnic and I will provide the white wine sprizer. The birds were remarkably good about it really – the bunting I mean. There was an easterly wind today coming up the field and all the birds flew just brilliantly, Hare was having a wonderful time in the wind and Hard Tackle is coming on Deception was just amazing for his fourth day loose and all the falcons enjoyed it enormously.

I managed to go for a ride this evening and only had two spins out of Henry when he did not want to go where I wanted to go, so we made it back all in one piece, which is good. The trees are nearly all in leaf, the place is looking good and we are going to do the paths the week after next if all goes to plan, which it may not but you can always hope.

I am away Sunday and Monday and the British Falconers Fair, which is a Wragley Hall, and Adam is going to do a demonstration at the North Somerset Show on Monday. I hope all goes well for both of us!
Sunday, 24 April 2011

Easter is in full swing, we had our annual Easter egg race this morning. Adam and Mark had put together a timed course!! It was great fun we did it in pairs, Jan and I came second last!! Simon and John won, although it was noticeable that Simon distracted the handicap (four dogs!) so that John could run unimpeded, we think that was cheating!! Afterwards we ate the hard boiled eggs on toast at coffee time.

We sold out of ice-cream yesterday and the company delivered this morning, now that is pretty impressive, however also very sensible, after all if you were an ice-cream company the weather was amazing you would take full advantage of it, and they did – well done them.

Rather less well done was flipping Morrison’s. I went out on Thursday morning to go shopping as I really was out of most things, I took one look at 30 people queuing to park and drove home!! It was more than I could face, so Adam and I went in the evening and that is the last time I am going there. They have moved everything, most of the aisles have changed and I could not find anything, firstly you freeze in the fruit and vegetable aisles, I had to go and hug the hot chicken counter to warm up! And then nothing is where it used to be. Now I would like to know if anyone out there is like me and finds it infuriating the way that supermarkets keep moving things. All I can say is that I probably spent half of what I normally spend, and left without bubble bath, ryvita, and several other things, and the complete idiot who put the Rug Doctor after the damn tills should be sacked!! Someone told me that people buy more when stuff is moved – WHY??? I suspect most of them just get pissed off like me

The maze is looking wonderful and the small obstacle course that Mark and everyone is building so that children (and adults!) can go all the way round the outside of the maze is coming on nicely. The weather has been amazingly warm, and we have had some good flying, but some of the birds have found it a little hard as well. I don’t think the Owls really like it, particularly in the middle of the day.

I actually managed to get out riding on Henry this evening, we only had one little blip, where we had an argument about going past two of the signs that tell everyone to drive at 20 mph because of the new road surface. He did not want to go past them and we did a little bit of spinning in the road before I won the battle! It was lovely in the woods with all the bluebells out, although I am not convinced that Henry enjoyed them as much as I did!
Thursday, 21 April 2011

We have been delightfully busy in the last week, the weather has been wonderful and the Easter holidays are here, so we have had a decent and very nice bunch of visitors. I did not write the day before yesterday, not because I did not have time, although at the moment by the end of the day facing the computer is hard because I am tired! But I was so furious with Gloucestershire Highways Department who decided that the week before Easter was a good time to close our road for resurfacing!! I have to say I was staggered at the moronic stupidity of closing the road to about the only tourist attraction in the area, particularly as when I spoke to one of the road workers to ask when they might be starting, it being 10.30 am by this time, and pointing out that we were open to the public and expecting a fair number of cars, he said what a shame the Highways had not asked them to start at 7.00 am because they would have been finished by about 11.00 am if they had!!! Yes indeed what a shame, but sadly a reflection of the intelligence of those running the department. I had of course phoned a week before to see if I could stop it but no one bothered to return my call. When I did speak to them they gaily told me it was only for one day! But I pointed out, that day is important to our finances, and I still have to pay my staff and feed my birds on that one day.

I am told that I have upset a software writer, which was another reason for not writing last night as I might not have been sympathetic. I am not sure if I want to apologise because working with computers, particularly when the software is changed or upgraded is for most people a waking nightmare. What I would say to any software writer is that you need to assume we know a good deal less than you do, and that includes the language you are using as well as your programme. I should say at this point that Serif Technical guys are first class, and very helpful, but I work outside for most the day and I only get to my computer to do the stuff I have to do and the stuff I want to do, usually after about 7.30pm, and they tend not to be around at that time or later. I am going to assume that the software writers do not write the manuals, but they should check them, and might I suggest that the first thing you put in the manual after how to install the programme is a picture of the screen with names on all that is there, such as the HintLine, and yes I finally found out where it was on page 47 of the user guide, but not as a heading, merely as a reference. Next go to all the icons and tell us what they do, for example in DrawPlus in the Resource Guide it explains how to outline a picture, which incidentally is where all this started, however the little pen nib thingy only has a straight line that does really weird things, and I can’t get it to stop!!

I think I am one of these people who know little about computers but am ambitious about what I want a programme to do. I want to be able to produce a great newsletter with two pages showing at once (that is called facing pages, but it takes a phone call to find out, because the help won’t) in landscape but have other pages in portrait. I have fantastic photos of birds that I want to put across two pages, but all of this seemed impossible, and probably ambitious for someone who is not good on computers. So Sir, you need to sit down with people like me who want to use your stuff, and who want to do exciting things but are not on your wave length!! Then you will understand why we all, and trust me I speak for many, get so very frustrated. Still at least you had the decency to be approachable, for which you get ten out of ten. Try getting hold of anyone from Microsoft or Adobe!! I think they might all be dead already. Oh and yes the Forum is fine, but many of the people on there are not experts, and after the last question I asked, which did not get answered they went off on a tangent because one of the people writing had a keyboard with no W and so was using two V’s, which I have to say I did not really give a damn about, but it elicited a whole ton of answers, I don’t have that much time to spare!!

Here is a comment from someone else who read the weblog and the comment from the software chap.

Read your latest weblog yesterday and fully approved of your rant at computer program software writers – I think it is also brilliant that the head of Software testing at Serif saw it and felt he had to defend himself! Maybe if these people asked the public – not just themselves - how easy their programs are, they might dumb them down enough to understand and be able to use them! If computers weren’t so useful, mine would be straight out of the window.

So its been a glorious couple of weeks, on Saturday Mark Davies came at about 6.30am to rotavate, seed and roll the field. I got up at 5.30am to put Henry in and open the gates, Henry was fast asleep in his stable with the door wide open – he looked so cute!! I spent from about 8.00am – 9.15 picking up stones from the field, which are now forming a stream bed. He and Sarah did a great job and it looks good, all we need now is some rain, someone told me that we have had less rain than Libya, which is amazing, however I need it after Easter please. The birds are flying really well and we have most of the summer team going now, just a few to add. Rival (Burrowing Owl) is definitely female (three eggs!!!) The Griffon Vulture egg has hatched today! So that will go back with mum in about a week, it will be wonderful to see her with a baby. Delectable has a pressure sore on her good foot, so we have cleaned it out, bandaged it up, changed her perching and we are giving her a couple of weeks off, amazingly the bandage was still on after four hours. We have two baby Lanners, who are doing well and more eggs from other species still to come. Karis is as spectacular as ever, and Lady Isabel is getting pretty good. Adam has Brenin going and is also flying Paris. Robin has finished the maze which is looking good, we need eyes and a finish point and it will be complete, that is my job. Mark is starting on the new play area and Holly has taken on Gazelle this season which should be fun. Simon rushes around with eggs and babies at various times of the day looking worried.

We had a Wild About Photography day on Saturday, Linda taught on it and John and his son Josh did all the bird work, it went very well and they should have got some lovely photos out of it. Sunday was a half experience day and I did our first show at the Cotswold Farmers Country Fair, which went well if a little rushed. The trailer has been painted the same blue as the Landrover and looks very smart. Easter will be with us in a couple of days, and I have to go shopping as there is as usual nothing in the house.
Thursday, 14 April 2011
I get so frustrated with computer programmes and computers, there is a light on my keyboard and I have no idea what it means, and is there any way of finding out, no. I have just tried to use DrawPlus and can I find the HintLine toolbar, no, if I type in that name I get what it does but if I put where the XXXXX is it, OK without the swearing, no answer. I am beginning to think that computer software writers should be shot at birth. So all I want to do is draw a bloody line round a photo and can I do it – no - does it do what the book says it will – no - aaaaaaaaggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhh. Adam went on a cycling thing last weekend, off road biking, or whatever he calls it, he did the marathon of 75km, with over 2000m of climbing the Welsh hills completed in a respectable 5hr 28min. the photos are self-explanatory! His finger is slowly recovering and he happily told me that it only bled twice today! We are getting back to a full team of birds, the Steller’s is now called Pioneer (apple of last year) and is flying free! The theme for this year is Snakes, chosen today, now Simon has to give me a list of snake names. Two of the Yellow-billed Kites are out now, Milan is to come as is Yala – Brahminy Kite. Gazelle and Common are out – Lannerets and Rhadamanthus - Harris Hawk. Rival has laid three eggs and so will not be working for a while, Wayside seems to ignore them so I hope they are infertile. Delectable flew straight over the crowd the other day, it was spectacular and no on died of a heart attack either – bonus! The first of the two baby Steller’s went back with mum and dad today and they were feeding it within an hour of putting it back, we will leave it for five days, switch the other one in and then put the first one back and hope they don’t fight. I would love her to rear two. We have had a tiny amount of rain but not enough for the garden, or the new grass seed, it will undoubtedly rain for Easter! Sadly one of the beautiful Beech trees by the top pond is dying if not dead, which means it will have to come down, I hate losing the large old trees and one of the oaks in Henry’s field is going the same way. I wonder if I should switch to wood burning for all my heating considering the damn cost of oil now. Ah Ha! The light was the scroll lock, whatever that is, I never went near the damn key!! Computers have a mind of their own!
Tuesday, 12 April 2011
My hand is rather sore at the moment, Dusky Emperor footed me after flying her, the cow!! However not as bad as Adam’s thumb where the Steller’s Sea Eagle bit him , it is an impressive bite! We saw our first House Martins this week, I need to make some mud for them so they can build new homes as their old ones were knocked down by the interim owner.

Anabelle sent me this on financial advice!!

Retirement Planning (US style)
If you had purchased $1,000.00 of Nortel stock one year ago, it would now be worth $49.00.
With Enron, you would have had $16.50 left of the original $1,000.00.
With WorldCom, you would have had less than $5.00 left.
If you had purchased $1,000 of Delta Air Lines stock, you would have $49.00 left.

But, if you had purchased $1,000.00 worth of wine one year ago, drunk all the wine, then turned in the bottles for the recycling REFUND, you would have had $214.00.
Based on the above, the best current investment advice is to drink heavily and recycle.

I have to say that as I have never planned for my retirement – I am not planning on retiring (!), this strikes me as very apt, what a shame for all those people who do buy stocks and shares. I think keeping money under the bed is a much better option, at least if I had any to put there! It also annoys me enormously that a company can be put under because people in the stock market don’t like it, even though it is still financially viable, that seems all wrong to me. Hence not liking the stock market!

We have decided that the next member of staff we need is someone who is a good hard working gardener and brilliant at marketing as well, an interesting combination that we doubt exists!! Oh well, I guess it will just have to be the gardener and I will flounder around with the marketing which I hate even more than the stock market.

I hope you all enjoyed the April Newsletter, you have no idea how much effort Linda and I made to get it to work, however it is there now and hopefully I will remember for the next one. Oh and if you are considering doing things to your computer, DON’T download Google Chrome because it disables things in websites and similarly don’t get Internet Explorer 9 because it does the same thing. Why oh why do these bloody software companies not just leave well alone, they have obviously never heard of the saying, if it isn’t broken – don’t fix it! I still think that Office 10 is rubbish and Windows Live is not a patch on Outlook Express.

OK today’s quote is:
Perhaps the time has come to cease calling it the "environmentalist" view, as though it were a lobbying effort outside the mainstream of human activity, and to start calling it the real-world view.
E.O.Wilson. Good chap I reckon.
Wednesday, 6 April 2011

We heard a Cuckoo today!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hooray spring is really here. It has been a simply lovely day, great visitors, good flying, and Lady Isabel pulling off a stunning stoop. Adam and Mark flew the Steller's which is great and he did well, flying at 11lbs 5ozs!! Adam is clearing in the wood and it is starting to look great, the maze is also coming on a treat.

I had to do the shop and entrance on Monday because Jan has caught a tummy bug from her husband. I am not that good at working the tills and that is an understatement. I am not sure I am shop material, don’t have the patience for it, and I always have a ton of other things to get done.

We have two baby Steller’s!! This is great news I am going to end up with a flock of them!! We had an interesting end to the day on Sunday, there was a quiet but intense radio call from Adam to John asking him to go to the Steller’s in the Hawk Walk, it was the sort of call that all staff move rather fast too! I was in the process of putting down my Barbary falcon back on her perch and the call took my concentration enough that I forgot she bites faces, so I have a hole in my eyebrow!! I walked over to the Steller’s compartment and there was John kneeling on the ground, the Steller’s with its leash still tied to the metal spring tie, but the steel wire no longer attached. John gently picked up the leash, he had no glove! And the Steller’s walked quietly back into its compartment and hopped back onto its shelf perch, as if to say ‘I don’t know what happened, but I am glad you came and put it right because I should be here!’ We all gave a sigh of relief having chased one fish eagle round Gloucestershire this year, we did not relish the idea of another one!

We had a busy weekend, with nice weather and the promised rain showers did not materialise until five minutes before the end of the last flying demonstration, which was very well timed, and today the promised heavy rain has not arrived, for which I guess I am happy about, although the grass and flower beds desperately need rain at this point. I had to have the loo in my bathroom fixed today, it is a Saniflow, and it will take me a while to recover from the cost!! And all just to have a pee and a bath!! Ah well, at least it will last another ten years, at least it better!

Hemp has laid two eggs and let us take her jesses off today with no problems, in fact she was sweet about it. It is lovely to see her settled and happy and sitting on her eggs proudly I was staggered to see that the Bird of Prey Center that I left in South Carolina, that preached about ethics and good behaviour, is selling Barn Owls on the Internet!! Wow, that is a turn up for the books! How the supposedly ethically minded are fallen! Mind you anyone buy from them needs to be very careful, because unless they have obtained fresh blood lines and I suspect that is not the case, all the birds they are producing are siblings breeding with siblings, and with the Barn Owls siblings from siblings breeding with siblings and that is not good, it will lead to very poor stock and should not be done, am I surprised no, sadly not. A good friend of mine, Arthur Middleton took me to a lecture in Laramie last November, it was by E.O. Wilson, whom I gather is very well known in the US, although I have to say I had not heard of him, however the lecture was superb, and a pleasure to be there. One comment he made struck me as so accurate I jotted it down, I am saving that one for you, but I then thought, I wonder if he said other great things, and so looked for quotes, here is one that is very relevant to us all.

If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos.


I have to say that keeping a weblog can at times become compulsive and at other times a chore. Sometimes I am berrated for not keeping it up and sometimes I get wonderful comments from people who follow the news of the Centre.

It is fun to share the daily goings on here, some good and some bad, some funny and some sad, but all a part of our daily lives.
And as I said before its a pretty cool to be here and it is a great place to visit, you should try coming and watching the birds and meeting the staff and of course the dogs.

An interesting video on Lead

An interesting video on Lead

I find it staggering that people who want to hunt don't see the value in changing their ammunition from lead to a safer product. We have stopped using lead in petrol, in paint, in our water pipes, but they still want to use lead - ah well, apparently eating it not only kills birds but leads to reduced intelligence in humans......................

NO ONE is asking you to stop legal and genuine hunting, they are just asking you to change your ammunition!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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