Monday, 31 May 2010

Three Birthdays In One Day

There was no time set, so Ille and I arrived at The Shooting Box, Wrackleford (Thomas Hardy's Higher Crowstairs) at noon for what may well turn out to be the party of the year. The property, reputed to be the best 'shoot' in Dorset is set in rolling countryside just north of the county town of Dorchester, and is owned by brewery magnet Oliver Pope (Eldridge Pope & Co).

The Shooting Box

The view from the back windows, looking south towards Hardy's (Nelson's Sea Captain, not the bard) Monument.

John Stockley (Sooty to you and me) is my longest standing friend in Dorset, having met when I was a tender 13 year old and he one year my senior. Strange thing about the 'immediate' Stockley family is that most birthdays occur within a few days of each other. Apt then, close to daughter Leah's 18th, Sooty's 65th and son James' 40th, that a get together of such magnitude should be held at this tranquil spot.

Real friends stand on no ceremony, so I was quick to do the honours when the 'bubbly' needed dishing out.

The Minstral in the Gallery (Jethro Tull) a shot of the dining table from the gallery.

With Ille and fellow 'birder' Ashley (Fred) Watts as dinner is served.

Ille eying the 'crumpet, Russell Edwards (brother of Bowie) left and Fred again.

Some fantastic Blues, plus a little Boogie Woogie was presented by Stompin' Dave and his Electric Band. Stompin', foreground (keyboard & lead guitar), Graham Bundy (drums) and legendary Dave Saunders (bass guitar) of The Producers fame.

I can tell you, Ille and I spent little time sat down once this lot flashed up!

A Quiet Nook.

A Fine Pair (Pink Floyd).

and another, only the bloke on the left is 'finer'.

The immediate Stockley Clan just about complete.

Now here are a couple of lads who could chat all day!

Dave Saunders in full swing.

On the way off the property, both Ashley and I added Red-legged Partridge to our GB Year List.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Jollification - The Lightning Seeds (and plenty of it)

Apologies for being late going to press!

Our first venture out back here in Weymouth started on the right foot, with a Cuckoo in the Longcroft Cemetery. This is a first for me at my local site, and as I could hear it from home it is also added to the 'From Home List'. A little John Mayall (Blues From Laural Canyon, The Blues Alone & the seminal Crusade) with the coffee and toast and then off to Weymouth for a little more sight-seeing for Ille.

Ille and me at the end of Weymouth Stone Pier

A circuit of Weymouth harbour, then out to the end of the Stone Pier, where we found a 'colour ringed' Alba Wagtail (possibly White Wagtail) with bright pink ring on left leg, if this information is useful to anyone out there? Taking the rowing boat ferry from the Life Boat Station to the Pavilion, I reminisced with the Captain about the days when my Grandfather Scan Edwards did the same job in his later years. Most people think his 'nick-name' Scan was a shortened version of his real christian name Stanley, but during many happy talks with him I discovered that it simply stood for 'Scandalous', nice one Granddad wherever you are.

Ille Weymouth Stone Pier with Nothe Fort in the background.

Weymouth 'gig' the Sir Tristan returning to Weymouth Harbour after Sunday practice.

Overlooking Weymouth's dog infested beach from the south end. The phone call was just to confirm yet another party.

Walking back along the sea-front, a pint was anticipated and fortunately we bumped into 2 neighbors Joy Langford and Julie Farn enjoying lunch al fresco outside the Victoria Hotel, so joined them for an hour. Had I not gone on the Eastern European jaunt I would have gone to Berlin with Joy, from where she has just returned with tales of Nightingales, Woodpeckers and Deer.

An evening with Joe Bonamassa - Bournemouth International Centre.

It was as cheap to get a return taxi, door to door, than it was to take the train (says something about public transport doesn't it?), and arriving a couple of hours early to get something to eat.

The 'Band' arrive at the stage door, Bagsy, Ille, Sheila and Bowie (Lorne)

As far as the food was concerned we dropped extremely lucky visiting 'Steakout' right next door to the BIC, where the food, wine and Strongbow were excellent.

The concert opened in fairly mediocre fashion with 'down home' American blues shouter Sandi Thom. She and her band of very good musicians didn't exactly set the audience alight, and the set was only saved by the 'self penned' third number, In the Valley of the Blues, and some red hot 'harp' playing by the lady herself reminiscent of Sonny Boy Williamson.

Now, when I say I've seen 'most' of them over the years, that includes the likes of Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, Mayall, Clapton, David Gilmore, Rory Gallagher et al. What I hadn't seen, until last night, was such a 'complete' set of Rock 'n' Roll by what are arguably the finest 4 musicians playing together in the world today!

Armed with trademark double-neck Fender, Bonamassa simply strolled onto the stage, and without greeting, or warning launched straight into The Ballard of John Henry. I don't ever remember a crowd going so wild of a single strum of a guitar - "Who killed John Henry, in the battle of Sinners and Saints".

Having 'slayed' everyone in the room with what has become his signature number, it was hard to see how the evening was going to get any better musically, but we didn't have to wait long. Again without formality he simply changed guitar and embarked on the haunting Last Kiss, with bassist Carmine Rojas steeling the scene with bass lines that could show Jack Bruce a little direction. It had just got better.

If the 4 of us had sat down before the gig and devised a 'play list', with the exception of the heart jerking Story of a Quarryman, it was all here, and by the third number, So Many Roads, the tears had literally begun to flow. After this, he did stop for a very quick "Hello Bournemouth", but he was here to play not to talk so it was straight on with 3 tracks in a row from the much acclaimed new album Black Rock, of which Trick or Treat was outstanding. I am going to buy this album even if it's for that track alone!

Returning to more of what are now considered standard Bonamassa classics, he simply ripped the head off High Water Everywhere, with Bogie Bowles playing probably the 4th best drums I've ever witnessed (the others being Phil Collins dueting with Chester Thompson, Ginger Baker and of course Bonzo).

The numbers just kept coming and coming, there were no short-cuts, but as his 'roadie' handed him that hallmarked Gibson Flying V we knew the end was nigh. Asking Around for You was interrupted midstream by the Zeppelin classic guitar break from Dazed and Confused,

with Joe perched high on the amplifier bank and cheekily climaxing with the Flying V salute.

There were only 2 disappointment to the whole evening, one was I was too busy taking this photo not to catch the thrown plectrum that landed at my feet, and quickly scooped up by a very grateful fan, and these crap photographs. To try and redress this, here are a few from photographers far better than I.

Joe center stage, Carmine Rojas bass guitar, Bogie Bowles drums, Rick Melick keyboards.

Joe Bonamassa

Carmine Rojas

Mr Rojas and keyboard player Rick Melick

and Bogie Bowles

My final broadside would be to say that those of you who were not there, should do the next best thing and buy the DVD Joe Bonamassa Live at the Royal Albert Hall (£14, which I will personally refund if you don't like it). SENSATIONAL is too smaller word to describe this quartet - just get out there and have a listen!

Yours aye
Another Satisfied Customer

Saturday, 29 May 2010

A Warm Welcome Back To Weymouth

The easyJet flight from Tallinn was a little late, but we were always going to stay at the Radisson Blu right next to the terminal at Stansted so made little difference to us. This morning was at a leisurely pace, starting with an excellent breakfast, the bus to Victoria Coach Station then National Express to Weymouth. OK, it's £130 per night but I would recommend the Radisson.

Then it took just 8 hours to get from Stansted to Weymouth due to the Bank Holiday traffic, but a dinner awaite at Bowie and Sheila's plus a bit of Joe Bonamassa.

Dinner is served.

Joe in full swing, this time tomorrow we'll be witnessing the real thing!

Selecting another track before we all said good night.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Homeward Bound - Simon & Garfunkle 1966

A farewell drink to Tallinn, next stop Weymouth.

We fly EasyJet to Stansted this evening, so just time to get this 'post' published before leaving for the airport.

Have we featured Chaffinch on the Blog yet?

Another one of many breeding Pied Flycatchers.

Close-up of Hooded Crow.

The following 3 photographs were take during our 'Blue Period' when we had the camera setting at 'White Fluorescent Light' due to gross incompetence.

The 'Tallink Ferry' that plies between this capital and Helsinki, Finland.

'Second Summer' Herring Gull of the nominate race Larus argentatus argentartus

an adult herring Gull of the same race.

An omission from yesterday's post, as we took the bus back to Tallinn, in addition to the now all too familiar numbers of White Stork, there was a second Black Kite for the trip and an addition to my Estonia List of a fine adult male Marsh Harrier, quartering fields just outside the capital.

Some Statistics

89 species have been seen in Estonia this trip, with Whooper Swan, Pink-footed Goose, Goosander, Black Kite, Marsh Harrier, Corncrake, Little Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Common Tern, Arctic tern, Little Tern, Wood Pigeon, Nightjar, Wryneck, Tree Pipit, Yellow Wagtail, Red-backed Shrike, Blyth's Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Icterine Warbler, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Goldcrest, Pied Flycatcher, Whinchat, Wheatear, Common Redstart, Robin, Thrush Nightingale, Song Thrush, Greenfinch, Hawfinch, Scarlet Rosefinch and Rook.

What still remain elusive, given the season and sites visited, includes Great Crested Grebe, Shoveler, Stock Dove, Turtle Dove, a number of Owls & Woodpeckers, Sand Martin, Great Grey Shrike, Dunnock, Long-tailed Tit, Wren, Treecreeper, Reed Bunting, any of the Redpoll, Brambling and Bullfinch.

and what wasn't seen this time but has been previously:- Grey Heron, Teal, Tufted Duck, White-tailed Eagle, Golden Eagle, Sparrowhawk, Goshawk, Honey Buzzard, Peregrine, Hobby, Merlin, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Meadow Pipit plus Marsh & Willow Tit.

The Stat Counter has now recorded well over 2,000 individual readers of the Blog, from 65 countries. The latest of these are:- Poland, Trinidad & Tobago, Finland, Philippines and South Africa.

I find it fascinating to look at the 'counter' daily to see just who, and from where, the readership come. This is a copy of today's findings and readers:-

Num Perc. Country Name

drill   down127963.95%United KingdomUnited Kingdom
drill   down30315.15%EstoniaEstonia
drill   down773.85%United StatesUnited States
drill   down402.00%SlovakiaSlovakia
drill   down341.70%AustraliaAustralia
drill   down281.40%AustriaAustria
drill   down231.15%CanadaCanada
drill   down231.15%UkraineUkraine
drill   down201.00%Czech RepublicCzech Republic
drill   down180.90%NetherlandsNetherlands
drill   down170.85%HungaryHungary
drill   down160.80%GermanyGermany
drill   down150.75%RomaniaRomania
drill   down150.75%ArgentinaArgentina
drill   down100.50%IndiaIndia
drill   down100.50%JapanJapan
drill   down90.45%Bosnia And HerzegovinaBosnia And   Herzegovina
drill   down70.35%ColombiaColombia
drill   down60.30%MacedoniaMacedonia
drill   down50.25%VietnamVietnam
drill   down50.25%SpainSpain
drill   down40.20%EuropeEurope
drill   down30.15%MexicoMexico
drill   down30.15%TaiwanTaiwan
drill   down30.15%ItalyItaly
drill   down30.15%SerbiaSerbia
drill   down20.10%VenezuelaVenezuela
drill   down20.10%EcuadorEcuador
drill   down20.10%FranceFrance
drill   down20.10%IrelandIreland
drill   down20.10%ThailandThailand
drill   down20.10%ChileChile
drill   down20.10%FinlandFinland
drill   down10.05%PhilippinesPhilippines
drill   down10.05%IndonesiaIndonesia
drill   down10.05%BulgariaBulgaria
drill   down10.05%Costa RicaCosta Rica
drill   down10.05%

drill   down10.05%BoliviaBolivia
drill   down10.05%South AfricaSouth Africa
drill   down10.05%SwedenSweden
drill   down10.05%SloveniaSlovenia
drill   down10.05%Trinidad And TobagoTrinidad And   Tobago


It's great to know so many of you are enjoying the read, please send the link on to your friends, increasing both the readership and countries involved - THANK YOU ALL!