Red is so much more interesting than Grey!

Carrying an acorn in its mouth

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Saturday 1401  – 23.09.2013.

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Sorry this is a bit late but I’ve been on holiday ( what, again !!! ) in Dorset and I’m just back.

Love the way it hangs on with its feet

_1329This Saturday was spent, with my daughter Katy, in nature heaven on the National Trust Island of Brownsea. The island sits in Poole Harbour on the English South Coast and is known for its red squirrel population.

For my visitors from overseas the red squirrel is a rare creature in Britain but particularly so in England. The decimation of the red squirrel, which is indigenous to Britain, was caused by the introduction of the grey squirrel from America in the late 1800s. The grey squirrel might look the same but it’s larger and it’s feeding habits are different. It eat unripe acorns leaving few for the red squirrel which is only able to eat ripe ones.

The grey variety also carries a virus, the squirrel parapoxvirus, which it seems to be unaffected by but which will often kill the red squirrel.

The upshot of this is that it’s quite difficult to see them in England but on Brownsea there are no grey squirrels so the red is protected.  You cannot access the island before 10 a.m but we eagerly arrived on the first ferry and made our way to an area behind the church, a little off the beaten track, and were lucky to spot a red squirrel almost immediately high up in a tree and we were hooked.

newWe ended up spending much of the rest of the day lying or sitting on an autumn-leafy ground watching for the squirrels to come down to the forest floor to pick up mostly acorns..

We were richly rewarded for our patience and so enjoyed watching the squirrels race around overhead and up and down tree trunks and believe me they hardly stay still for a moment…

As I have said before I think nature is a great stress buster and for me is an essential antidote to my job as a social worker and my life as a social commentator and campaigner for justice. 

The photos you see here are my best shots of this illusive creature, taken in very dull conditions under an oak canopy. Hardest thing I’ve ever tried to photograph but the most rewarding I think.. The photo at the top of this post is my favourite with the top 3 being of that same squirrel .. note the very different colouring and how much thinner the tail is on this other squirrel below.

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If you ever get a chance to visit Brownsea island Autumn is by far the best time when the squirrels, of which there are about 200 on the island, are busy gathering nuts to store for the winter.

I enjoyed sharing our day of blissful happiness with you, thanks for letting me 🙂

Saturday girl signing off, see you very soon.

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You can find my photography blog Photomania here 

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I’m not Looking for Sympathy, Honestly….. Well OK maybe a bit !

Saturday 1420 – 11 May 2013

If you read my blog last week you’ll know I’ve been in Cuba. If you didn’t take a look here .

I’m home now and late posting this but, outside of Havana, internet access is not only very expensive in Cuba but Dial-Up..  Yes I did say dial-up! Remember how slow that was ?

My 2nd Saturday in Cuba was quite different from my first and I have nothing exciting to share with you. Unfortunately I spent most of it in my room at an all-inclusive hotel on one of the best beaches on the Atlantic coast of Cuba!  No I wasn’t sulking or avoiding people, well I was but not because I didn’t like them, but because I was suffering.. Noooo! I didn’t want to be suffering on my holiday!.

Camels head I’m rather annoyed to report that I had the Cuban equivalent of Delhi Belly for most of Friday Night so sleep escaped me.  The inside of the bathroom became a necessary friend and the air-conditioning an absolute blessing. Several of the Traveleyes group I was travelling with had already been struck down, most with Diarrhoea, and I was feeling rather pleased with myself that I had managed to escape. Ha that’ll teach me.. not only did I have Diarrhoea but vomiting too.   I know this is way too much information but you have signed up to follow what I’m doing on Saturdays so I have no sympathy,  just as you probably have no sympathy for me, after all I was within spitting distance of that beautiful white beach and aquamarine sea ! 

On Friday we spent several hours travelling from the Caribbean sea, south of the island, to the North Atlantic Coast and during the last hour I could feel myself getting more and more bloated and feeling more and more queasy. I knew this was going to end badly !

I just made it through check-in at about 6.30 p.m and to my room before the vomiting started. Yipes !

How I longed to have someone rubbing my back while I knelt retching in front of the toilet. It’s at times like this I don’t like being on my own. Mind you if I was in a relationship who’s to say that the man in question would want to rub my back while I’m getting sick!! Would that be asking too much do you think?  

Actually I think it’s rather a romantic thing to do for someone but maybe that’s just me being a bit odd?

By about 4 a.m Saturday morning I have to confess that I probably would have been rather glad if someone had put me out of my misery but by dawn at 7 a.m and 2 Imodium later, the sickness et al ,abated and I was left feeling like I’d done a few rounds with Cassius Clay; with sore abdomen and ribs from retching.  No way I could do sighted-guide on this Saturday which was very annoying as it was a free day (Traveleyes didn’t have any previously organised excursion). I was due to be paired with the lovely Jenny. We had specifically asked to be paired together because we knew we would get on well but it wasn’t to be. I missed a trip out in some of the lovely 1950’s cars, that Cuba is so famous for,  and I had really been looking forward to that. Boo Hoo !!

Many of the group told me I didn’t miss that much but I sense they were just being kind!!

I moped around all day, sleeping on and off, trying to drink lots of water, eat a little dry bread and hard biscuits.. I was desperate to get well for Sunday;  the last full day of the holiday which was to be spent on a Catamaran, with free bar, snorkelling, dolphins, Desert Island type beach, perfect sea and lobster for lunch and I did.. Whey Hey!! 

So if you have been feeling even a tiny bit sorry for me while you’ve been reading this you can stop right now because I enjoyed the Sunday even more than I probably would have done if I hadn’t been ill. It felt sooooo good just to feel alive.

camels hump Why the photos of the camel?  Just because it happened to be in a field near the hotel and it was the only thing I photographed that day, late in the afternoon.. well I just HAD to photograph something, ill or not !!

Oh and because he had the hump and so did I !

For those who aren’t from the UK having the hump means being annoyed about something or with someone. In this case I was well annoyed with whatever was making me ill. (it does mean certain other things too but I’m not going to elaborate here, being a lady and all that ! )

Anyway that’s quite enough talk about illness as I’m sure you’ll agree but tell me do you like to have someone with you when you are being sick or do you prefer to be alone?

Keep an eye on Photomania, link below, because I’m sure there will be photos from the catamaran day in due course.

Next Saturday I’m going to tell you about a very special place we visited at the end of this trip and a little of what I think about Cuba and the political system as I witnessed it in action.. Hope you’ll drop by for that.

You can find my photography blog Photomania here

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