Ice hockey

Dear Sons,

In an attempt to try new experiences and expand my comfort zone I went with my friend Angela to a Nottingham Panthers home game at the ice stadium on saturday.


We started with a drive into town and parked in hockley. I like Hockley the eclectic mixture of shops and restaurants the slightly offbeat industrial nature of many of the buildings the jumble of styles. There was a real buzz in the air and it was so busy. Lots of families, all kitted out in panthers shirts. We had half price pizzas and a drink at pizza express. They were real Roman pizzas with the thin crispy crust and the fresh fillings, indeed it was one of the best pizzas I have had outside Italy.Even the mozarella tasted as it does in Rome.

So thoroughly stuffed we made our way to the ice ring and found our seats at the very back of the stadium. Oxygen masks were not provided so I had to gasp for a few minutes.


The match was exciting even for me who does not do spectating sport. Three twenty minute bouts with a fifteen minute break in between each bout. There was a lot of showmanship and hype but it was all good natured. Five players and a goalie from each team attempt to get the puck into the net with the hockey sticks. The panthers were in black and yellow.



Whereas the Cardiff Devils were in red and white


It was pleasantly free from bad language and aggression. Indeed small children and elderly people were present in numbers and many families had come to see the game. There was even a newborn in a pram, although the baby hadn’t come on its own.

There was chanting and singing and gestures to accompany the chanting and singing. The supporters were very partisan towards the Panthers and when the Panthers scored their first goal, everyone stood up and cheered and chanted.

There was no violence or intimidation as there is at football and it was an extremely pleasant evening. On the pitch however there was quite a bit of pushing and shoving mainly to gain possession of the puck, but there was definitely more aggression on the pitch than off it.  Such antics were described by the bloke sitting behind me as ‘love taps’. Presumbly just as a Glasgow kiss is a headbut.


The players in their gear looked huge but apparently without the protective clothing they are all quite slim and nimble. They could certainly move quickly and were very agile. Occassionally one would collide or be shoved into the side of the ring or there was a hiss as they turned their skates to change direction suddenly. The puck flew into the barrier around the ring fairly regularly and I found myself grateful for the barrier.

Players were sent off for various infractions of the rules and they would sit beside the ring for a couple of minutes. I didn’t understand enough of the rules to understand what the infractions were so I can’t comment. Every so often players would leave the ice and other players from the team would substitute. Therefore though only a few players at a time were on the ice the teams were much larger than those few players.


After each bout a young child would come onto the ice and perform a figure skating routine with jumps and turns and whirls. As they were under ten years old this was impressive. The mascot, in a puma costume walked around the stands giving out flowers and goody bags to people.


The console flashed with messages for birthdays and anniversaries and reminded the audience when to chant and sing.   The Panthers scored two goals and managed to prevent the Cardiff Devils from scoring which was a tribute to their defensive skills as the Devils were on good form.

In the intervals a machine was driven around the ring to clean the ice. I would like to have driven this machine.



The whole thing had finished by half past nine and I was home for ten o clock.

I felt as if I had been to a fair or  circus without the sick feeling from being thrown around and eating junk food. Just the light feeling of having been out with lots of people and the lights and shared songs and being part of something tribal.

Anyway I hope you like the pictures I took.

Your loving mother



The Leonardo da Vinci exhibition at the castle

Dear Sons,

On Sunday we decide to go to Nottingham castle to visit the exhibition of da Vinci drawings that have been loaned from the Royal Collection. As usual on a Sunday we had a number of jobs to do before we could go and it was late morning before we got the bus. Parking in town has become so expensive and difficult we preferred the bus.


These were studies for a giant statue of a horse in bronze. However when the French captured the city the soldiers used his initial model for target practice and the statue was never built.

It was lunchtime when we reached the castle. At the moment if you pay for entry you get a years membership so it is worth paying. Both of us have  a years membership. It was a lovely late summer day just right, sunny but not too hot and with a light breeze to keep the temperature down.  We enjoyed the views over the city and pointed out landmarks for each other. The exhibition was upstairs next to the art gallery. Dad had brought his camera and took some photos so I could send them to you  (without flash of course).


 These drawings are astronomical

Although there were only ten drawings in total, there was a video showing how the paper was prepared and the drawings executed. I found this fascinating. Then boards with details of Leonardo’s life and works. I was photographed as the Mona Lisa for a giggle I should crop it and use it as my avatar perhaps?

Finally we got to view the drawings and they were magnificent. Much smaller than you would think but so beautiful and enchanting in their perfection and playfulness. You could see where he had tried out ideas and scribbled notes and lines of poetry.

Here are some studies of felines of various species. I particularly like the miniature dragon



It was all so much more intimate than seeing  finished art works. It felt as if we were seeing inside his thoughts, not quite as intimate as reading a diary, but an insight into the mind of a genius. Having seen the materials he had to work with, made the delicacy of the writing and the fine lines of the drawing all the more impressive. I had to keep reminding myself of how ephemeral these images are and how many hundreds of years ago they had been produced.

This is a study for the head of Saint Anne the mother of The Virgin Mary the final piece shows St Anne with Mary on her lap and the infant Jesus


Here is a diagram of the circulatory system


Here the diagram shows an enlarged pancreas and a small liver. It is inconceivable that such a meticulous draughtsman would have made an error, which could indicate that the subject whose dissection was the source for these drawings had diseased organs.


We finished the visit by wandering through the artworks showing each other our favourites. I like the Laura Knights’ whereas Dad prefers the more romantic realistic landscapes. We debated the species of dragonfly in one of the still life paintings I argued for black tailed skimmer he favoured broad bodied chaser. We had lunch in the cafe and pottered back mid afternoon to do some work on the garden.

This drawing of blackberries is in chalk such an ephemeral material and it has survived all these hundreds of years.


We bought the book of the exhibition and when we have read it we will send it to you. Well that is all my news for this weekend.

This figure is rather short and stocky but again incredibly well preserved considering the drawing was done when the wars of the roses were taking part in England.


This is a storm scene


Attenborough early September

Dear Son,

I though I would update you on how our trip round Attenborough went last Sunday. By the time we had finished phonecalls it was later than we had hoped. However the weather was perfect so we set off quickly before any other distractions came along.

Just outside the sand martin hide were two common sandpipers. David photographed them on his phone. In case you were wondering it is near that big clump of vegetation.


See what I mean about it being a beautiful day. At the corner of the building a

female goosander was sat somewhat incongruously.


From tower hide we watched a raven fly across to Barton in Fabis and a buzzard circling the woods opposite. A black necked grebe was trying to hide in amongst the little grebes and a green sandpiper tried to look inconspicuous amongst the dunlin on the long island. There were more reed buntings than last time. The statistics for fledging cand martins were encouraging this year most of those ringed had fledged.

A kingfisher flew across but I missed it as it was so rapid. Three little egrets saw amongst the ducks and black headed gulls. Most of the ducks were in eclipse but it was good to see the return of some of the winter species, shoveler, a few widgeon as well as the commoner teal, mallard, tufteds and gadwell. we heard several Cetti’s warblers always skulking in bushes. Snipe were lurking at the edges of the islands and several ringed plovers were patrolling. occassionally we would see a duck that had completed its moult and it stood out as being particularly splendid. It has been so long since we went birding I found myself fascinated by watching tufted ducks diving the look so much more elegant under water. I hadn’t noticed how bright the yellow eye is nor how its colour is emphasised by the black pupil at the centre.

We walked to the old fishermans’ car park at a gentle stroll. We found a mixed flock of tits, lots of long tailed tits flitting through the trees calling incessantly, but also blue tits and great tits associated with them. A female blackcap was tagging along and both robins and wrens were present.  from the centre of the village we headed beside the works pond towards the bund most of this pond has been filled in with sediment from the gravel extraction. I finally saw my own kingfisher low over the pond. We moved though the wood towards the railway line and the crossing where we turned towards the river. It is always quieter at this end and we had avoided most of the prams cyclists and pushchairs. We walked back along the river towards the bund and noticed that most of the great crested grebes were changing back to winter plumage. Our peace was disturbed by a speedboat on the river but apart from that it was a long languorous stroll. Common darters crossed the path ahead of us. Unfortunately they refused to pose as this one has so this is from the web.


From time to time a curious migrant hawker would come to investigate us. One was so fresh it took your father some time to determine it wasn’t a southern migrant hawker as these have been seen in Essex. The image here is from the web as we only had a phone




The late summer sun had also brought out the butterflies many of them speckled woods but also small and green veined white, comma, and red admiral.


There were many honey bees feeding on the hymalayan balsam that has returned and some common carder bees Bombus Pascorum. We also found a bee mimic, volucella bombylans this large hoverfly resembles a bee.


The brilliantly named marmalade hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus was everywhere.


The oak trees were full of acorns so there were jays magpies and squirrels. Many of the acorns had knopper galls on them as you can see here.


We walked five miles saw fifty two species of bird as well as many insects and plants and had a wonderful sunday morning.

Since we returned we have found a rove beetle in the kitchen and a moth caterpillar on a pile of books at school. The temperature today has exceeded that in Morocco and we are having a mini heatwave.

Much love Mum