Is it me, or is this stupid?

As I was coming home from work this morning I was overtaken by this vehicle; there was nothing remarkable about the vehicle itself but what did attract my attention were the two big dogs in the back. They both had harnesses on and were obviously fastened in somehow, but it struck me that transporting dogs in this way is a pretty stupid thing to do. I dread to think what would happen if the vehicle were to be involved in an accident – if it was, those dogs wouldn’t have much of a chance, they would either be seriously injured or even killed.
Local area 2017 265
I don’t know who the driver was or where he was going, but I very much suspect that he often transports his dogs like that. Convenience, unthinking ignorance or just plain stupidity? I don’t know, but for the dogs’ sake I just hope he never is involved in any kind of accident – the possible outcome really doesn’t bear thinking about.

A sweet little surprise

While cleaning in the kitchen at work this morning I moved the large kitchen bin to mop the floor underneath and saw what I thought was a small bit of paper down in the corner. I was just about to bend down and pick it up when it moved – it wasn’t a bit of paper at all, it was a tiny baby frog not much more than in inch long and so pale that it almost blended in with its surroundings. How it managed to get there is a mystery as the kitchen is quite a distance from the works entrance and it was so small it could easily have been trodden on by someone’s big work boot. I couldn’t leave it where it was though so I caught it and took it outside.
The works building is surrounded on three sides by woodland and on the right there’s a bank sloping down to a stream, so I thought that would be an ideal place to release my little friend. Walking halfway down the bank I placed him gently on the ground near the base of a tree then waited and watched – sod work, I wanted to make sure he was safe. He stayed still for a minute then with a couple of hops he was gone, disappearing under some damp leaves a few feet from the tree. Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of him as I didn’t have my camera with me, which was a shame as he really was the sweetest little thing – fingers crossed he stays safe, finds some friends and lives a long and happy life somewhere in the woodland.

I have no words….

I’m deeply shocked and saddened to have just read this in today’s local paper –
A GANG of youths are believed to have shot and killed a swan at a Bolton canal. The RSPCA and police are investigating the incident, which is said to have taken place on Tuesday afternoon in Little Lever.
Kayleigh Taylor arrived at the scene at around 2.30pm and talked to an eyewitness who had seen the group shoot the bird. Miss Taylor, aged 20, said: “I spoke to a man who had seen a group of youths shoot the swan for fun at 2pm then walk off. They were aged between 16 and 18. “Hopefully someone will know the vile group.”
She added that she had been left ‘devastated’ and said that the male swan and its partner, which was sitting on a nest, had lived on the canal for at least 15 years. Swans mate for life and Miss Taylor said the female has been left ‘very distressed’.
Little Lever swan
Photo taken from local news online
Miss Taylor, from Radcliffe, said: “The people who did this haven’t just killed one swan, they have potentially wiped out an entire family as it will be extremely difficult for the female to hatch her clutch of eggs alone.” She urged people to be extra vigilant along the canal and report anybody carrying guns or acting suspiciously.
Miss Taylor said the eyewitness believed the bird was shot with an air rifle.
The RSPCA confirmed that it was called to the incident. A spokesman said: “A woman contacted us on Tuesday afternoon to report the death of a swan in Little Lever. We understand the swan was shot and we will be looking into this incident further. “We would be really concerned if this beautiful bird had been killed deliberately and would like to remind members of the public that it is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act and, if prosecuted, offenders can face a fine of up to £5,000 and/or six months imprisonment.”
A Greater Manchester Police spokesman said that they were called on Tuesday afternoon to reports of youths shouting. Around 10 youths aged between 16 and 18 had gathered around the banks of the canal and when police arrived they discovered the dead swan.
None of the youths were still in the area when police arrived.
I’ve seen this pair of swans myself several times over the last few years when I’ve been walking the dogs along the canal, in fact I got a lovely photo of the two of them while on my New Year walk in early January this year. Without writing something totally unladylike and unprintable there are no words to describe what I think of the callous low-life(s) who did this. Instead I can only cry – cry for the dead swan, cry for his mate, and cry for the possible loss of any potential young ones. Sometimes people can be so cruel.

Why I will never go to Betws-y-Coed again

Five years ago, while camping in North Wales, I visited the village of Betws-y-Coed, and even though it’s a very popular little place I wasn’t particularly impressed with it, and for more than one reason I decided not to bother going there again. However, last Easter I thought I’d give it the benefit of the doubt and make a return visit, but I was soon to regret that decision – and an incident which happened there only a couple of months ago has reinforced my original vow to never go there again.
So here they are – my own personal reasons for never going back to Betws-y-Coed –
1 – It’s not exactly the prettiest of villages. It’s full of nothing but drab dark grey stone buildings which make it look dreary and dismal. The nicest part of it is over the bridge at the far side of the river.
2 – Every other shop is an ‘outdoor’ shop selling nothing but cycling, walking and hiking gear and expensive outdoor clothing. When I wanted some spare guy lines for my tent not one single shop had any; in fact there were very few camping accessories to be had anywhere in spite of there being two camp sites in the village. It may be an okay place for those who like walking and hiking and need to buy the relevant gear but I really don’t understand why it’s such a big attraction for everyone else, as other than a handful of gift shops and cafes there’s not much else there.
3 – The pavements are far too narrow for the amount of people walking on them, meaning you very often have to step into the busy road to pass people coming the opposite way – not good if you have a couple of dogs in tow.
4 – Shops, cafes, restaurants, even the Londis and Spar mini markets – you name it, everywhere is overpriced.
5 – Parking is a nightmare when the place is busy and you can drive round and round for ages before finding a space. My attempts to find a parking space last year resulted in a two foot long dent in the bottom of the side door of the van – and a bill for £160 for a replacement door when I got home.
6 – The Royal Hotel. I’ve never been in there before but even if someone were to offer me a million pounds I wouldn’t go anywhere near the place. I’m very much an animal lover and I abhor cruelty of any kind, so an incident which happened there in December shocked, sickened and upset me very much. Following the incident the two staff members involved were sacked but I don’t think I’m the only one who thinks the manager should also have been sacked. I’m not going into details but the link to the story is here – be warned though that it’s not very nice to read. Following on from that there’s also an online petition here – if just one person reading this blog signs it with a comment I’ll be happy.
So there you have it – the reasons why I will never ever go to Betwys-y-Coed again. Bear in mind that this is my own personal experience and opinion of the place – there are many people who do like it, hence its popularity, but it’s not for me. I’ve been to much nicer towns and villages on my camping travels and those are the ones I will return to; North Wales is a lovely place with beautiful scenery but Betws-y-Coed? – never again!


Stewy, Lily and Dylan

After a few days of being laid low with a very heavy cold (believe it or not, the first one I’ve had in over eight years) and not having been out properly since I did a 9-mile walk last Saturday (don’t ask!) I thought I’d inject a bit of the ‘Awww’ factor into the blog and introduce Stewy, Lily and Dylan.
Stewy and Lily belong to one of the design engineers at work; they are Bengals and from the same litter, although Lily is bigger than Stewy and looks older. While Stewy is very affectionate and likes cuddles and a fuss Lily is very shy and will hide away from people she doesn’t really know. Last October I looked after them in their own home for two weeks while their owner was away and for the first five days I didn’t see Lily at all; I’d just got to the point of thinking that somehow she must have escaped when I finally found her in the wardrobe behind all the clothes. I looked after them again just recently, for three weeks this time, and again Lily was always hiding in the wardrobe – that’s where she was when I took the photo, and she doesn’t look best pleased at having the camera pointed at her.
Dylan is a Seal Point Birman and belongs to the boss at work who I clean the house for. He seems to spend most of his time lazing on one of the beds, though he can be very playful when he wants to be and sometimes on the days when I’m cleaning we play a game of ‘chase’ up the stairs. He’s mainly very quiet but when the mood takes him he’ll wander round after me while I’m working and constantly squawk at me, though a quick cuddle is usually enough to keep him happy. He looks decidedly grumpy on the photo though – I think he’s another one who doesn’t like the camera.
Today I got a text from Dylan’s owner saying he’s going away tomorrow for a week and asking me if I could look after Dylan for him – no problem there as it’s only a couple of minutes up the road from me. I’m already, as from today, looking after a friend’s dog while she’s visiting her mother in London but another furry creature to care for is neither here nor there – I’d look after a whole zoo if I ever got the chance!

An early morning surprise

At 5.30 this morning, a time when most normal people would still be in bed, I took my son to work for his 6am start. I dropped him off in the works car park then just as I pulled out through the gates back onto the road my headlights picked out a fox on the nearby grass bank. It quickly disappeared into the undergrowth at the top of the bank but as I had my camera in the van, and just on the off-chance I might see it again, I stopped, turned the engine off, and waited. My patience was rewarded a few minutes later when the fox reappeared, and with the aid of a security light from a nearby building I managed to get a shot of it as it rooted about in the undergrowth on the bank.
Now on my camping travels over the last few years I’ve seen many foxes which have been road-kill victims, but even though I live in a semi-rural area only ten minutes walk from open countryside and moorland that was the first time I’ve ever seen a live fox at close quarters. It was lucky I had the camera too – it had been left in the van from when I went out with the dogs yesterday – and though I wasn’t sure how good the photo would be it’s turned out better than I expected. So there’s something to be said for getting up at stupid ‘o clock in the morning – as the saying goes, the early bird catches the worm, or in this case the early photographer catches the fox!
Early morning fox