Tuesday, 31 January 2012
Well!! Its ages since I wrote, the holiday was great, first in 25 years, I think it would be fair to say that I can now ski - sort of, but very slowly, although I did have a crisis of confidence pretty much every day except the last two. It was lovely to see Anna and David and Dinah, and Anna was incredibly patient with me particularly. But by the last day and a half I was enjoying it. David preferred it when it was sunny and visibility was good, me, I was only looking about ten feet beyond my ski’s so I did not care about visibility. The snow was lovely, Anna’s friends the Van Looks, could not have looked after us better and it was a good time in beautiful scenery.

However since I got back I am still trying to catch up on bloody office work and emails, so I am thinking that I will wait at least another decade before I have another holiday!!

Tomorrow is our last day closed, we reopen on Wednesday! We are all looking forward to it, we have done a lot over the winter. The curly hazels at the top of the Hawk Walk are out and replanted in the wood, the Clematis that was out of control in the Acacia tree is now cut back dramatically and the electricity cables are free of branches - Richard did most of it up a ladder. The Hawk Walk is looking great – much clearer and easier to see the birds and the higher middle lawn has been extended. Mark and John have redone the ceiling in the café and it looks so much better, Angela has repainted it all and it looks clean and fresh. A good deal of black stain has been put onto various aviaries to smarten them up by Anabelle and John, the Freezer is going well with one or two blips, the freezer shed is looking very smart. We have four Christmas type trees planted in the bed outside the car-park – from the Duncombe Estate, more on that later. The machine shed is done and stained and the machinery in and dry, and my horse trailer looks very smart with its new coats of paint. The wood is looking good and clear, the dead Yew Tree is out of the flying field and a new and very beautiful Liquid Amber tree from David Kay has been planted, it will look wonderful in the autumn.

The hedge is nearly finished being laid in the bottom half of the wood, so access is a little tricky at the moment, but will be cleared soon. Adam has done an amazing job on the Pavilion in the flying field, it looks wonderful and will be the information point for all the courses, art workshops and all the special events for this year, he also has done a stunning painting which is up in there (and for sale!). Talking of Adam, he and his Mum and Dad have had a tough time lately with his Dad taking pretty seriously ill and having to go to hospital, however we heard today that he has the all clear which is great news, (now you two, you have to seriously think about moving!!!)

Holly has just about caught up with all the paperwork, and Robin is getting ready to get all the new stuff built for the I Zone – which will be the new Education Room. Linda has been working hard on the website and the new one for the Falconry Weekend in September. Jan has the shop clear, cleaned, and up and running with a reasonable amount of stock and we are off to the NEC for the Spring Fair to see about new stock for the season next week. Catherine has left us, she was in charge of the shop on a Thursday and Friday, and was wonderful with the customers, we wish her luck with a full time job, Sally will join us this week and take over and has promised to get all the computers with the same filing system, that will mean we can all find everything!!! Simon has been kept busy with birds laying eggs, we have exciting eggs in the incubators, so fingers crossed we will have some wonderful new birds to fly this year.

The new King Vulture seems to get on fine with Pelfour, and the two White tailed Sea Eagles are back out and hopefully will start training soon. We also have a beautiful European Black Vulture, whom I am trying to find a husband for, she is magnificent.

Needless to say that now it is nearly February, the glorious mild and warm weather that we had through most of January has gone and its cold and grey, but its dry!! And that is the main point, so wear your thermals and come and see us soon.

Oh and we have a new member of the dog team, Richard gave us a tiny and I mean tiny little Patterdale girl puppy!! She is enchanting and only arrived yesterday!

I have to drive to Yorkshire on Thursday, I have a lecture for the British Falconer’s Club branch up there and Anabelle is coming with me, we are staying with Charlie Heap, who is over the moon right now as we are starting an ICBP Branch at Duncombe Park just outside Helmsley, and finally the planning permission came through while I was away. Its an exciting prospect and we are looking forward to the joint effort.
The birds are flying well, and Cremorne is back to join the team, while the Steller's moults.

Don't forget that we have three Owl Evenings, February 10,11 and 12th - last of this year until next winter!

A friend sent me this – I did laugh!

Banned from Sainsbury's
Didn't like shopping there anyway.

Yesterday I was at my local Sainsbury's store buying a large bag of Winalot dog food for my loyal pet and was in the checkout queue when a woman behind me asked if I had a dog.
What did she think I had - an elephant?
So, since I'm retired and have little to do, on impulse I told her that no, I didn't have a dog, I was starting the Winalot Diet again. I added that I probably shouldn't, because I ended up in
hospital last time, but I'd  lost 2 stone before I woke up in intensive care
with tubes coming out of most of my orifices and IVs in both arms.

I told her that it was essentially a perfect diet and that the way that it
works is to load your pockets with Winalot nuggets and simply eat one or two
every time you feel hungry. The food is nutritionally complete so it works well
and I was going to try it  again. (I have to mention here that practically
everyone in queue was now enthralled with my story.)  Horrified, she asked me
if I ended up in intensive care because the dog food poisoned me I told her no,
I stepped off the kerb to sniff an Irish Setter's arse and a car hit me.

I thought the guy behind her was going to have a heart attack he was laughing so hard. I'm now banned from Sainsbury's.

Better watch what you ask retired people.
They have all the time in the world to think of daft things to say.

Note to self – ‘I used to visit when I had the children!! So now you have stopped because???? I usually tell them not to leave it another 30 years because I will probably be dead then, however I am now going to tell them that they should be going out more – without the children they will have a better time!!

Monday, 16 January 2012
Had very a long and sometimes a little boring but important all day meeting in Bristol last week, got home and said hello to the dogs – always a wonderful welcome, got the right side of a delicious gin and tonic, fed the horse, deleted at least three emails on penis enlargement (take it from me chaps – we don’t care!! Only you care!) Deleted numerous emails telling me that my account in various banks that I have nothing to do with have been ceased, stopped or otherwise impeded, ( again – I don’t care!!) Deleted a number of advertising emails, plus a bill from a New York company for natural gas!! It was good to be home.

Winter has finally arrived, we have had some heavy frost and the most glorious days. I went to the Hunt meet on Saturday, took Sorrel because she had a horrid week last week. She had her hips scored, which meant she was sedated and came home very upset, and then on Thursday had her eyes checked which also upset her, she is a wimp when it comes to vet things. However it all had to be done before she is allowed to have puppies and I am delighted to say that she has passed muster. Hips are very good and eyes are also good. I am not sure how much she enjoyed the meet. About forty huge (to her) horses and then the hounds, she was a little overwhelmed, however I took them all for a walk later and they were fine. I had had a lesson on Mollie early in the day and managed to fall off before I even got there!! Not Mollie’s fault, she slipped on some frozen ground and then shied and I left out the side door as they say!

Alexandria is going well (peregrine) and Lady Isabel is just coming down to weight. We are slowly getting the birds ready for opening in a couple of weeks. And I am going on the first holiday in probably two decades, maybe more. My sister Anna is taking me and our other sister Dinah skiing!!! I must be nuts! It seemed like a great idea about six months ago, and I am looking forward to it, but I always get cold feet anytime I have to leave this place!! Still I am almost ready, emails are cleared (don’t email me until Jan 27th) desk is tidy, kitchen is clean, washing is done, ironing is done (just finished!) stuff to go is ready, I have charged my phone, kindle, and notebook, so ready to go really. Just have to buy gin on the way out!!
Nathan’s dad started to lay the hedge in the wood where all the dogs are buried, so what with thinning out the trees, clearing the undergrowth, laying the hedge and we will level the ground out a bit, it is going to look great very soon and allowing more light in will encourage some of the wild flowers. I noticed some crocuses up today, although our snowdrops are not as advanced as some at a friend’s house I saw today.

I am told there is plenty of snow for the skiing, so here is hoping we have a great time and I learn to ski properly!! Watch out Ski Sunday!
Tuesday, 10 January 2012

There is a stunning moon outside my office/library window, I think it is full, it has a haze round it, and wisps of cloud crossing its ivory splendour. My computer still thinks is it an American computer so it tells me that splendour should be without a U, apparently it does not understand UK English. Although having said that apparently most English people do not understand English either, which is a bit of a bugger as it is a wonderful language. The wisps have gone, the moon is vivid and luminous, just how lucky are we really to live on this wonderful planet, that so very few really appreciate.

I watched the next episode of Earth flight, the more I see the crosser I get, I am sorry but I don’t think it is acceptable to have what are very obviously long shots of helicams or some other sort of airborne camera upsetting and chasing birds, no wonder they are tired and weak, I would be being chased by an irresponsible cameraman. It’s not ethically sound in my book. I am also finding the shots taken from a birds back are misleading, it is some sort of a fisheye lens, and that misshapes the wings, when a stork or vulture is soaring, the wings are not in front of the head, they are out straight either side, behind its head, they only come forward on some of the wing beats and mainly when the bird is landing or taking off, I kept wondering why it looks so odd and why the wing beats look all wrong, and I think it is lens, very disappointing, and not giving people the correct information. I think I will not watch the rest or I will only get crosser. However the programme on the Barrier Reef is excellent and well worth seeing. Also watched Endeavour – the programme on the young Morse –I hope there are more because it was great!

I won on my lottery ticket yesterday, you will notice I am not getting majorly excited, £2.60 is not going to go that far sadly, ah well, maybe next time!!

We are getting birds ready slowly for opening on February 1st, they are slowly coming down to their flying weight. However to add to the difficulties, I am going on Holiday – yup, holiday, the fifth holiday in my life. My sister has invited me skiing, so all three sisters are going. Needless to say, that I thought it was a great idea six months ago and the closer the date gets, the more I am thinking, is this a good idea. But that is because I am so appreciative of where I am right now, that I actually don’t even like to leave the premises. Well only on Mollie.

Today (Tuesday) we rescued the shrub by the Aplomado’s, the fence had blown down and we are putting up a new one, but the shrub had grown through the pot and into the ground. Simon et al had dug it up, but not done anything with it. So hopefully today having found it looking a little dry, we planted it in one of the flower beds. That led to taking out a dead plant, and that led to cutting down the dying Yew tree and a Mahonia in the flying ground – which was a task and a half, however after much effort by John, Holly, me, Mike and Sally, out they came, and we leveled the ground. Then having dug stuff up, we planted a beautiful Liquid Amber tree which David Kay had given us. It should look super.
I have to go to a meeting in Bristol tomorrow, but did manage to find time to take Mollie out today as well as other stuff!
Wednesday, 4 January 2012
Lammerlaw, lets hope she becomes a mum this year

Busy busy day! Adam did major tidying up in the wood and burnt all the stuff, it is looking good and we can see the path again. John pruned the Whitebeam archway and it looks great, ready for the spring. Holly found the full sized Condor silhouette and a piece of plywood for putting a fund raising gauge on for the hospital and scraped them clean and started to paint them both, the Condor will go on the back of Mozart’s block and the fund raiser by the shop. Tom made the last three feed drawers, Mark started on painting and readying the ceiling in the café. Simon is getting the incubators ready and finishing off nests for the breeding season. Jan caught up with all the back log in the office, Katherine came in to do the accounts, boy is she pregnant, I would definitely go for a caesarian, about three weeks ago and she still has over a month to go. Angela moved a ton of stuff in the café and is cleaning like mad and feeding us all soup for lunch. Mike came in for coffee and to look at a couple of things that need doing. And I did – stuff!

It was very windy and a bit damp, although not as wet as yesterday. The birds are coming down to weight again and we are moving forward as they say!
Tuesday, 3 January 2012
Happy 2012 everyone!! It’s a New Year, it’s the Jubilee year and yes I am Extremely proud of my Royal Family, it’s the Olympic Year, and a bugger that they did not accept my offer of a flying demonstration for the Opening Ceremony, particularly as I offered it for nothing! And it’s our 45 anniversary, what could be better………… well maybe winning the lottery and paying off all my debts and have a fortune to spend, and I can’t think of anyone I know who could do it better or quicker, or make as many people enjoy it!

The weather has been interesting, yesterday it was glorious, winter sunshine, bright clear, wonderful, until I took the dogs for a walk and then it got rather less glorious. Today, howling gale, horizontal rain and then guess what glorious sunshine, bright clear, wonderful!! Everyone is back, life returns to normal, the dogs are delighted, proper coffee time, proper lunch time, everyone here, they are happy woofers!! It is always good to see my staff and I hope they all had a good break, they certainly worked like Trojans (now that is a pretty weird quote!) and got almost all the aviaries cleaned, all the flyers picked up and weighed, jesses greased and started again for flying, although all were overweight, which they should have been.

We have our first egg of the year, which is great, the Tawny Eagles have laid, here is hoping for a good clutch and lovely babies. The Steller’s are coming into breeding condition already and we are waiting for the African Fish Eagles to lay as well, so the breeding season is upon us! Talking of which hopefully the Labrador breeding season will be here soon too. Sorrel is hopefully going to have babies this year, look out for puppies!!

The Falconry Weekend in September is going to be organised by just us now, the UK Falconry Club have decided that they need an August date and so are going to run their own event somewhere near Evesham, not sure where as it is not very clear but we wish them the best of luck with it. We will keep our weekend the same date – first weekend in September – same venue, here, same time and same brilliant weekend I hope, so put it in your diary now!


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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