Wednesday, June 02, 2010


For my breakfast this morning I had a cheese sandwich, made with the last of my cheese and my last roll.† I also had a Protein bar, one of the ones I had brought from home.


Before I set out this morning, I drew a sketch map of how to find my Maidenhead cottage, and another one that showed me how to find the Maidenhead Waitrose store.† It turns out the local Waitrose store is very conveniently located for my new digs.† I also looked up a local supermarket, in a suburb of Oxford, and I stopped there first thing and got some food for my lunch, as well as some more British cash.† I realized afterwards I had used the wrong card to get the cash, and I will have to pay a cash advance fee now, I think.† Anyway, I got a nice pasta, corn, and pepper salad, some chicken breast slices, and some Bakewell slices for my lunch.


Then I went back to Otmoor, the birding place I had checked out yesterday afternoon.† I decided that I had time to spare, and I might as well enjoy a walk on the tracks there, and maybe I would see some birds.† I parked in Oddington and walked out onto the tracks.† It was turning into a beautiful day, with the early clouds burning off and the temperatures rising.† For one of the first times since I have been in Britain, being too warm was the problem, not being too cold.


I walked around for over an hour, and I did see some birds.† Nothing new, of course, but birds, nonetheless.† I took some pictures, although not many.† I have been wanting to get pictures of Magpies, but they are pretty shy and wonít let me get close.† I got a couple today, not close, but they do show the bird, and they will serve to remind me.† I think they are very attractive birds and I will continue to try to get better pictures.† It was a pleasant time in the sun, and it felt good to walk a little.† I saw another Red Kite in the sky, and also a Buzzard.† Later I saw half a dozen more Red Kites from the M40 motorway.† They re-introduced them to that area a few years ago, and they are obviously thriving.† I had been told I would see them from the M40, and sure enough, I did.


So, at about noon, I headed for the motorway and toward my second to last home away from home, a cottage in Maidenhead, which is near London, on the River Thames.† I got some fuel at a service area, and Iím afraid I got too much, as at this point, I donít feel much like driving any more, and I might just cocoon here in my cottage for a couple of days.† Or, maybe Iíll think of somewhere to go and face the traffic.


I was getting hungry for lunch soon after that, so I started looking for a park or somewhere to eat my salad, chicken, and Bakewell slices.† I drove on some semi-back roads for a while, and ended up in a town called Marlow.† It sounded vaguely familiar, and I thought it might be on the Thames.† I made my way through the very crowded streets and did manage to end up at the river, and there was a park there.† I tried for a parking place in the park parking lot, but it was full and cars were cruising it, waiting for something to open up.† So, I made my way back to the main drag (appropriately named High Street) and was going to drive to the next town on the river, Henley, even though it was in the opposite direction to where I was going.† But, as luck would have it, as I drove up the High Street, a car wanted to pull out from the curb, so I let it, and I grabbed the parking place.† I had to parallel park, and Iím proud to say I got in on the first attempt, with cars waiting and the pressure on me.† I have always been fairly good at parallel parking, but this was on the left side of the street, while I was sitting on the right side of the car.† Completely backwards, in other words, and in a strange car to boot.† It was free, too, instead of the buck fifty it would have cost me in the park parking lot.


So, I walked back the block or so to the park and had my humble supermarket lunch, sitting on a bench in the shade, watching (and listening to) the mobs of kids and moms.† This was the middle of the school holiday week, and it was the first sunny day for a while.† They were out in force.


I really enjoyed my leisurely lunch, and at about 1:30, I went back to my car and made my way to my new little home.† I got all settled in, and then I made a trip to the conveniently located Waitrose in town, where I spent about a hundred dollars on food and drink, and now I am set.† The cottage (they call it a bungalow) is in the back yard of a house, on a residential street that is sort of in the middle of fields and located about a quarter of a mile from the Thames.† I am looking forward to walking along the river.† You can see pictures and read a description of the bungalow here:† http://www.holiday-rentals.co.uk/p425804#photos-bar


It is the nicest place I have stayed so far, and also the most expensive.† The owners had to go out of town at the last minute, so I had to call a friend of theirs to let me in and give me the keys.† I am going to enjoy my time here, Iím sure.† I have the French doors open and the birds are singing and the breeze is blowing through.† Very pleasant indeed.† Iím looking forward to a Waitrose dinner and some fresh veggies, but first I will have another beer and some nuts.


I took some pictures this morning, but there arenít enough to bother making an album, so maybe tomorrow.† It was a very pleasant day today, and I feel like kicking back and taking it easy for the next couple of days, too, but we will see.† Maybe I will get an inspiration about somewhere to go, but I am getting pretty tired of driving and very tired of the traffic.† I must admit that narrow roads donít bother me nearly as much any more, though, and it is very automatic to drive on the left.


What a life!


OK, so I wasnít finished after all.† Here is an addendum.† As I was enjoying a little drinkie and some nuts, I saw something flying in the yard outside the window.† It looked like a hummingbird, but I know they donít have hummingbirds over here.† It hovered and flew like a hummer, though.† I have heard of a type of giant moth that people mistake for a hummingbird, but I didnít think it lived in Britain.† It turned out to be a flying beetle.† See Photos22 to see a picture.† It had huge horns or pinchers on the front, and when it flew, it held those upwards.† I tried to get a picture of it flying, but didnít succeed.† It was as big as a hummingbird, about 3 or 4 inches long.† There was a second one, too.† At a couple of points, one of them sort of flew toward me, and it really gave me the creeps.† You have to look at the last picture in Photos22 to fully understand that.† There happened to be a guy in the yard at about that time, and he seemed to be the gardener, as he was watering potted flowers and the lawn.† I mentioned the beetles to him, and he said that they donít usually fly, that they usually are just on the ground.† Iím not sure that is any better.† I would rather than one didnít crawl in here with me.


In another piece of news, I picked up another bird for my trip list.† It was one I was sure I would see here in the London area Ė Ring-Necked Parakeet.† Escapees have established a breeding population here in the London area, and once a feral or escaped species has been breeding in an area for over ten years, it is generally counted as an ďofficialĒ species in the area.† I understand there are a lot of these parakeets.† This one flew before I could get a picture, but I will keep trying.† I think I have seen this species in Hawaii, where they also have established a breeding population, so I am only counting it as a trip bird, not a lifer, until I can check that.† That brings me to 166 species for the trip, of which about 117 are lifers (subject to checking).† That counts the bird I saw near Ullapool, which I am calling a Golden Eagle. †Marginal, but I think it is a warranted call.


I also got a picture of a Blackbird, another bird I have seen a lot of, but hadnít gotten a picture of yet.


So, again, that is the end of my report for today, and now I will add a Photos as well, so I can show the flying beetle.