Tag Archives: nature

Finishing the weekend back in Norfolk by the river

denver4This post is just to round off my lovely birthday celebrations at the weekend, and to be honest it is just an excuse to post some of the lovely pictures I have from Sunday’s sunny afternoon. We drove back fairly early on Sunday after waking up early and realising how hot it was going to be, we figured it was more of a day to be spent in the lush greenness of Norfolk, sunbathing in the garden or by the sea. I was looking forward to a chilled out afternoon of sunbathing with the tortoise and getting some blogging done, but as always, Mark went swanning in and sabotaged my plans with more ideas about eating. We were less than a hour from home when he suggested popping to Denver, to The Jenyns Arms for a pub lunch by the river, and I just couldn’t resist. The thought of sitting by the river in the sunshine while dragonflies danced by on the breeze sounded just too perfect for words.denver1I’ve been to the pub a few times, and am always overwhelmed by how beautiful the location is and how charming the pub itself is. Some might say it looks outdated, but in my opinion that really adds to the charm and makes you feel like you have stepped back in time. Strolling around the side entrance, we saw the garden was already busy with others who had shared the same idea, but after ordering drinks and food, we only sat for a second before snagging a perfect waterfront table. We were less than a metre from the water, where ducks were swimming by accompanied by a duckling who seemed pretty excited that he was swimming and kept quacking at us for attention. It was such a beautiful day, the sun was beaming down on us as we watched the longboats glide gently past, while the rushes and willow trees rustled in the breeze. Further along the river, we could see swans swimming gracefully in the distance and cabin cruisers parked up along the shore.denver2Of course, quite rightly, you’ll have realised by now that this weekend was all about food and it seemed only right to finish it on a high. I ordered the salmon on a bed of asparagus with rocket, salad and new potatoes, it was supposed to come with hollandaise sauce but I didn’t really fancy that part. The dish was lovely, perfectly cooked salmon and the potatoes were gorgeous with some melted butter on top. It was a perfect Sunday lunch for such a hot day. Boyfriend ordered the steak and ale pie with roast potatoes and peas, this too was gorgeous. A completely home-made pie with delicious pastry – and for me pastry makes a pie – which crumbled and melted in your mouth. The whole dish looked tasty and he really enjoyed it, I’m sure I would have too if I had been hungrier. They had loads of delicious dishes on the menu including a variety of roast dinners, and I will definitely be going back to try another.denver3After lunch, we decided to go for a stroll along the river to look at the boats and dip our feet in the waters after our hot, stuffy drive back from the Big Smoke. We wandered along the riverbank, found a huge house with hardens full of chickens and an empty dock where we sat and sunbathed for a while, dunk our feet in the cool, refreshing waters. A friendly duck came over to say hi and see what we were up to and I found some stale bread on the dock to feed her with. More boats floated past with the passengers waving hello, it was such a peaceful and calm day – really the epitome of what Norfolk is about and why I love it so much. I felt like I had stepped back in time, into a Famous Five novel. It was a shame we had already had lunch or I would have insisted on a picnic basket filled with lashings of ginger beer, hard boiled eggs and a screw of salt to season them with. We should have been jumping in the river and swimming all afternoon with Timmy the dog… Ha I’m getting carried away now! My point is, it was lovely and as we carried on along the riverbank, we found a perfect sunbathing spot where we lay out for hours before finally making our way home to Lynn.

What is your favourite pub in Norfolk? Or just your favourite spot?

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The beauty of Norfolk in the sunshine

hunny 1For those who have been reading AbsolutelyLucy for a little while, you may remember a post I wrote back in January about the difficulties of high-school students and graduates living in small towns vs. cities – I looked at both the good and the bad points and came to a mixed conclusion. Check it out here. But I wanted to make sure that my readers understood quite how much I really do love Norfolk and how I actually think that growing up and living here has really helped me, both personally and career-wise.

I’m not going to go into loads of detail because I would be repeating much of the previous post. I just wanted to share some of the things I really love about this area because with the sun showing its face the last few weekends, I have really rediscovered the beauty of this wonderful county.

hunny 2 hunny 4If you’ve ever read my About page, you’ll have spotted the picture of my gorgeous little beach hut and will have read about how much I love it. With it comes a huge love of the beach, particularly, Old Hunstanton, which I believe is one of the most beautiful I have found in Norfolk. I know, I know, Holkham this and that, but as beautiful as it is, Holkham is a stunning landscape. It is not a beautiful beach with rolling sand dunes, miles of rock pools and beach huts scattered across the hills. That is my kind of beach – one that as a kid you could run about in all day and not run out of things to discover.

Have you got a favourite beach in Norfolk?

hunny 3If the beach is not for you, we’ve also got acres and acres of beautiful, rolling countryside and wide open spaces. Endless fields and beautiful villages filled with stone cottages and thatched roofs. There’s a castle just a few minute’s drive from my house and animals of all kinds filling the fields around us. Tell me that is not any child’s dream when growing up? I certainly loved growing up here and even now, although I love the cities as well, I couldn’t cope living too far away from Norfolk or somewhere similar. I made a few friends at the weekend when walking in the fields nearby my home.

rising 2 rising 1It’s just so beautiful here and you really do feel so free – I understand those who love the buzz of the city, but I prefer a little of both worlds. And I always find myself craving fresh air and plenty of space.

What’s your favourite part of Norfolk? Are you more of a a city-lover or country-retreat kind of person?

Blackfish: Playing the blame game but killer whales keep losing

Picture by LighthouseNewsUs

Picture by LighthouseNewsUs

This post is about something that has been bothering me since the weekend when I watched Blackfish – The Documentary for the first time. I know, I’m a little late to the party, and that people were going on about this months ago – as did I after watching the news footage of Dawn Brancheau’s death atSeaWorld and reading about various other incidents. I was horrified at the time and watching this documentary has brought back those feelings of disgust for the way these beautiful creatures are being treated. The response to my tweet on the topic showed me that it is still very much in the minds of people and made me realise it is important to keep it this way to prevent this from happening again.

photoI am absolutely fascinated by nature and the world around us – trust me, I am David Attenborough’s biggest fan and loved hearing Doug Allen talk of how he had captured these incredible animals on camera. But the reason I love watching these programmes so much is because these film-makers and the scientists who go into the field to study these animals do so from afar. The most important part of their studies is to do so without interfering with the animal in its natural habitat. This, to me, seems the most important thing.

So it is with huge embarrassment and  shame that I admit that my family were once, several years ago, among the thousands who visit SeaWorld while holidaying in Florida. I hate to think that we were among those funding this selfish and despicable business that has caused killer whales and probably several other creatures such pain. The only thing I can hope will redeem us for contributing to the problem is that even then, I remember my mum and I saying to each other we didn’t like it and we didn’t think it was right. Sadly by then it was too late, we had already helped pay the wages of these trainers and the owners. I must also point out that had these incidents happened before, or had I been old enough to be aware of the treatment of these animals, I would not have gone.

Photo by Howard Ignatius

The documentary was incredibly hard-hitting – well filmed, cutting together news footage, personal footage of trainers in action, live interviews and more. I would seriously recommend watching it, whether you have any interest in the subject or not. Some of the footage is seriously shocking as you see the killer whales in action – both hurting each other and their trainers. But what is far more horrifying is hearing the interviews with former trainers and those involved with SeaWorld who allowed this to happen repeatedly and who covered it up. This interwoven with clips of incidents where trainers have been dragged into the water and nearly drowned with others where people have been crushed or chased. It is very scary and really brings the whole issue home to audiences. I found myself holding my breath and almost in tears when watching it – it was just so graphic.

Two issues really stood out for me when watching and these are the ones I am going to focus on in this post – otherwise I know I could write all day and all night on this topic.

  1. The fact that people across the world are not only capturing these wild animals and stealing their babies for monetary gain, but that they are attempting to train them with complete disregard for the fact that they are wild and unpredictable animals.
  2. And the equally ridiculous notion that corporations like SeaWorld are not only trying to cover these incidents up to save and make more money, but that they are actively lying about these incidents, covering them up and blaming the wild animals for these attacks despite their disgusting treatment of them.
Photo by Brian 104

Photo by Brian 10

These animals are so magnificent when swimming naturally in their own environment, in natural family pods and hunting their prey – being wild as nature intended. It is awful that these animals have been hunted down by cruel people who just want to make money out of them without think of the animal’s needs. The fact that these trainers, businessmen and investors hadn’t for one second thought that the treatment these killer whales are receiving – squashed into tiny pools with no way of escape from the natural attacks of the females, and forced to listen to their own cries rebounding on the pool walls around them – might cause them to become agitated and threatened is simply ridiculous. These people make themselves out to have the animal’s best interests at heart and to be the experts – yet they fail to realise that these forced conditions can cause animals to become even more unpredictable and dangerous. It is scary to think that these people are all that the whales know and they have obviously come to associate humans with pain and suffering – but what effect this could have on humans if we were to jump in the tank.

At the end of the day these animals are unpredictable, wild animals who, no matter how long you spend on training, cannot be trusted to react in a specific way. As humans are unpredictable and can be dangerous if they panic (take a look at mass crowd panics and see what I mean) so are killer whales – the clue is in the name! But is that any reason to try and pin the blame on the animal?

SeaWorld and various other companies involved appear to be trying to pin the blame for these attacks on the trainers and the whales – but how is this acceptable? After the horrible treatment they have received with inhumane living conditions and forcing them to behave unnaturally, how can we possibly blame the animal for striking back out of frustration and fear? And while I believe the trainers are as much to blame to enabling this to continue, I think it is completely inexcusable to tarnish their memory by blaming the incidents on them when it was merely the animal behaving unexpectedly. It’s about time the owners of SeaWorld owned up and took responsibility for their actions, and realised the lifetime of suffering they are forcing these animals into.

killer-whale_591_600x450

All I know is that the only time I ever want to see these beautiful creatures in front of me again is either in photographs or from a boat on the open sea. I would truly love the experience of going whale and dolphin watching at sea – to see them in their natural habitat as they should be. 

Sorry, I know this post ended up being a bit of a rant, but I just felt so strongly about it. I would love to know your thoughts on the topic – why not leave me a comment below?

Also, here are links to some of the petitions available to sign if you want to do more than just talk about it:

Ask Sea World to release their Orcas and dolphins to ocean sanctuaries

SeaWorld: End Captive Orca Breeding Program

Humanely release the Orca whale known as Tilikum to a sea-pen for rehab

Forget the Hare and the Bear – Mr T is heading into hibernation

About halfway through the summer of 2012, I arrived home from a holiday in Malta with my boyfriend to find that my parents had spotted a news bulletin about something called the Norfolk Tortoise Club. The report said that the charity had a serious influx of tortoises needing homes and that they needed people to come forward to take home a tortoise and care for it.

Now a bit of background about my family, in years gone by we have had a cat and a rabbit as pets while growing up. But my dad was never a fan of either, growing up in Mauritius he understood animals as food, as a way of making a living, or useless. Mauritians didn’t tend to keep pets because with so many poor families it was silly to try to feed another mouth. As a result of never being around animals throughout the majority of his life, he was always rather unsure around them, particularly if it was dogs or cats that would rub against you or jump up. So imagine my surprise when they started talking about getting a tortoise!

Meet Mr T. I made contact with the charity and they put me directly in contact with a woman who covered the West Norfolk area, Donna Stocking. We chatted over email and she explained the criteria for the animals’ living space, the equipment needed and what type of care the creature would need. I emailed her pictures of our living space and garden where the tortoise would be kept and she emailed back with some suggestions and mentioned that she was overrun with tortoises needing homes at that point. She asked to fast-track our particular case because she had one that needed a home and one-on-one care because he had been mistreated and fed the wrong foods.

Our hearts instantly melted and we were invited to come and see him, and several others to decide whether we wanted to take on a tortoise that might need more care, or a slightly more normal one. We were very excited to see him, and couldn’t believe it when we popped out to her house in the middle of nowhere, where more than a 100 tortoises of all shapes and sizes – from newborns to massive shells – were roaming around her garden. It was an incredible sight and we could barely believe our eyes. She had an amazing set-up having built every enclosure with her husband’s help and creating unique homes for them all that suited their individual needs. The ladies roamed around one area where they were munching on fruit in groups and would come up to see the nail polish on your toes, thinking they were flower petals. The males were split up to stop them fighting, but they were keen to try and escape and explore.

The minute we saw our little tortoise, with his ridged and bumpy shell (caused by being fed the wrong foods) and his bent and out-of-shape tail, we fell in love. He was adorable and we just couldn’t refuse. Donna was thrilled and instantly set us up with calcium, vitamins, bedding and reams of advice about diet, heating and enclosures. She asked us to call her if we had any problems and insisted she would be making a home visit within weeks to check up on him and make sure he was being cared for correctly, and to advise us on any changes. He was ours! We took him home that day and all sat out in the garden – it was the hottest day of the summer and Mr T was loving it. He was racing around the garden in the glorious sunshine and we were in fits of laughter watching him. It was a brilliant day and you could tell Mr T was really enjoying checking out his new home.

We chose the name Mr T, originally as a joke, but it soon stuck. Especially when we realised that this little tortoise had a bit of an attitude problem and liked to barge his way through anything, a lot like Mr T in his tank. After a few months of feeding him up, it was time to put him into hibernation so a bit nervously we did. But after attending one of the hibernation talks held by the charity, we felt a bit more confident and set up his box with shredded paper and layers of newspaper. We made all the preparations and packed him up for three months, but made sure to check and weight him every week. He did start to lose weight towards the end so I made a snap decision to take him out, but he stayed in for a full three months which was great for what was possibly his first hibernation.

This summer, we built him an amazing run outside where he can explore, trundle about and eat all his favourite foods – he particularly likes the weeds we have planted, strawberries plants and the leaves from runner bean plants. We let him out in the rest of the garden as well, but this is a safe place where we can leave him outside all day while we are out. We’ve been working on feeding him up with all the right things to help build his strength ready for hibernation. We put him away today, and this is the start of a long three months until we can get him out in the spring. Of course, we will still check him every week, but it’s not the same as having him out. I’m already looking forward to those hazy summer days of sunbathing with him once more.

The beauty of the Norfolk Tortoise Club is that they still own Mr T and we just foster him. That way, with tortoises living as long as they do, there is always a back-up plan in case the owners become ill or are forced to move. Instead of being dumped, or turfed out on the street, the tortoise can always be given back to the charity and given a brand new home. Fostering Mr T is one of the best things we have ever done and it is so rewarding to care for him, particularly after knowing that he was rescued after not being cared for correctly. I would seriously recommend it to anyone who seriously thinks they have the space and the time to care for what is a very undemanding pet.

Life Behind the Lens: Doug Allen

Sir David Attenborough said recently “For me, wildlife cameramen don’t come much more special than Doug. There’s just no one else who knows these frozen worlds as he does.”

Join Doug for an unforgettable evening as he takes you up close and personal with the animals that live in the wildest places on earth.

See amazing film footage on the big screen and listen to Doug’s experiences of working with Sir David Attenborough, Gordon Ramsay, Ewan McGregor and others.

Ask Doug questions about his wildlife experiences and chat to him about his extreme adventures.  He’ll also be selling and signing copies of his book Freeze Frame.

This one is not to be missed!

I’m off to this on Sunday evening – as a long-time Davey A fan, I am very excited to hear the tales from behind the camera. I will also be reviewing the talk and will post my view of it on here.

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My latest fascination has lots of legs, no bones and a beak – can you guess?

The other day at work, a reader brought in a picture she had snapped of an octopus she had found washed up on Old Hunstanton beach, on the North Norfolk coast last weekend. Although dead, she was keen to know what type of octopus it was and how it had come to be there. After investigating and speaking to staff from the local Sea Life Centre, I discovered it was the lesser octopus – a type common to UK waters but rarely found washed up on our beaches. The display manager, Kieran Copeland, of Hunstanton Sea Life Centre, suspected the creature had died in the water and been washed up afterwards.

Angela Rudd, another member of staff from the centre, started to tell me all about the octopus in general and fascinated me with talk of the creature’s intelligence and ability to learn – I had to do some background reading to learn more.

I found the following information very interesting and helpful – there is plenty more on the website if you have the inclination to read on.

An o­ctopus’s brain is proportionally as large as some birds’ and mammals’ brains. It displays a high level of organization in order to do things like coordinate all of the chromataphores’ color changes. The brain is only part of the story though. Three-fifths of the octopus’s nerves are distributed throughout its eight arms

Octopus arms are incredibly strong and flexible. Made almost entirely of muscle, the arms possess the strength to wrestle sharks and to break through Plexiglas. And without those pesky bones and joints (like ours) to limit movement, the arms have an almost infinite range of motion. And yet the octopus can even mimic a human arm by making its arms semi-rigid and bending them in precise places.

In addition, recent research suggests those arms may have minds of their own. Studies indicate that octopus arms each have their own independent nervous system. Essentially this means that the brain can give a quick assignment to the arm and then not have to think about it anymore. Scientists tested this by severing the nerves in the arms from other nerves in the body and brain and then tickling the arms. Amazingly, the arms responded to the tickling just as they would in a healthy octopus.

Source: How Stuff Works

For more information – why not check out the following links for BBC Nature and BBC Nature: The Giant Pacific Octopus

And for this final video – I recommend you put it on silent because the American commentary is more than just slightly annoying and fast forward to around two minutes in to witness the true power of the Giant Pacific Octopus.

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My television debut – and Nick Knowles said my name right!

I made my television debut on Monday when the Real Rescues programme I was filmed for around a month ago was aired on BBC1.

I had actually forgotten the programme was due to be on television but thanks to a text from my boyfriend saying he had just spotted me on TV, I was able to catch it on iPlayer.

The first episode of 20 in the series, the programme follows Nick Knowles as he presents events from the day-to-day work of the emergency services.

My starring moment came when the producers spotted the short film I had made of the rescue of a muntjac deer (affectionately known as Millie in the office) which had become trapped in the Inner Purfleet next to my office. The Lynn News staff reported it to the RSPCA and fire services and watched on as the combined forces to rescue the animal and release it safely without injury.

I was asked to appear in the programme as the person who filmed the footage used and was told that they thought my footage was excellent for being filmed on a mobile phone. I was interviewed outside the offices where the rescue had taken place and was told by the cameraman that I was excellent on camera – a natural – and that I should consider a career in television which I was quite excited by.

It’s not something I had thought about in detail before now but is definitely something I would consider in future when my training is complete. It was quite exciting being interviewed for television and I am really pleased with how well I came across and how good my voice sounded (my voice is a personal peeve of mine when recorded – I hate how high-pitched I can sound!).

To watch my appearance, click here, or on the picture above and fast forward to 29 minutes into the programme.