Wednesday, 20 June 2018

A Chirpy Post


As we come to terms with our recent loss I’m going to try and lighten things up a little around here by posting a cheerier post...
Five years ago Mrs. Jones gave me a Wired Bird Box Camera System for Christmas comprising of a pine nesting box with inbuilt colour night vision camera that one hooked up to the TV allowing us to watch nesting birds in the comfort of our own living room! As we approached the nesting season I decided to not bother with the battery system and so acquired great length of cable and attached it to a power supply and attached the box to the side of our home following all of the RSPB’s guidelinestwo to four metres up a tree or a wall” “face the box between north and east, avoiding strong sunlight and the wettest winds” clear flight paths and not too close to feeding spots.... nothing, each time we tuned into our nest cam channel we would just see the occasional spider (if we were lucky!) and this was how it was for two years. 
On the third year I decided to have the bird box face north directly... nothing. We had effectively given up on it, occasionally toying with the idea of unhooking it and relocating it to another part of the house. We have an abundance of bird life here, House Sparrows, Chaffinches, Green Finches, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Gold Finches, Robins and Siskins. They clearly appreciated the food we provided but didn’t seem to want to live here! 

Last December I attached a RSPB Window Bird Feeder to the studio window and before long I had pair of Blue Tits visit daily. An all too familiar “foomp” and I would look up from painting to see one (or both) in the window eating the peanuts or meal-worms provided, and their visits were always a welcome sight.
Then in May they seem to be visiting more often and on the 22nd of May I noticed that they seemed to be ‘hanging around’ a lot and so following a hunch I tuned in our bird-cam and to our absolute surprise and delight there was a nest with seven chicks in it! And for two joyful weeks Mrs Jones and I watched our family of Blue Tits thrive, we would sit in the living room cup of tea in hand and watch these small birds whoosh past the window before appearing like eagles on a large 28” screen feeding their chicks the live mealworms we provided them, both parents did us proud in the number of feeds and the way they maintained the nest. We learned a lot about this species as we watched them get bigger and fluffier and their eyes open and then on the 5th of June we thought they were going to fledge!
False alarm! We left them to it, but when we got up the next day they were gone! We must have missed them by an hour or so! We went outside to look out for them, nothing BUT on the 12th of this month I heard several chirps coming from the tree and there they were! Still being fed by the parents (who still made full use of our bird tables!) and I can report that as I write this I can still hear them out there! They really have been a joy to us and we hope they will stick around for years to come!         

© Arfon Jones 2018. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

RIP Wil 'Wil-Em' Roberts 1934 -2018


Another sad post I am afraid, as if losing my grandmother back in March wasn’t enough I lost my grandfather this weekend and as you can imagine losing two such important people to me in the same year (what would have been their 60th year of marriage) within a few months of each other to the same horrible condition has been heartbreaking. Although I mentioned how it was my grandmother that inspired me to become an artist, my grandfather played an equal part because my grandparents were very much a team, a veritable “dynamic duo” if you will, we would joke about how my grandmother was the captain and my grandfather was the helmsman and so I devote this post to taid* 


My grandfather driving the service bus circa. 1989
Role models are important for children and I always looked up to my grandfather. I admired both his sense of style, wit and humor. He loved a laugh and I owe my penchant for risqué jokes to him. Having driven haulage trucks and public transport buses for most of his life and toured the country in a caravan on days off it seemed like he had the entire A-Z Great Britain Road Atlas committed to memory and seemed to know every turning, point of interest and back road and was mildly disapproving of our use of sat navs when we embarked on our own travels. He was also a walking Good Pub Guide always keen to recommend a good chip shop, cafe or restaurant he had come across on his travels (no one could exaggerate the size of a steak like him!) what was particularly inspiring about him was the enjoyment he took from simple pleasures in life such as stopping at a chip shop and eating them in the car (my grandparents always kept salt and vinegar and cutlery in the glove box for just such an occasion.) Through the 80’s and 90’s he was a bus driver, a title he took seriously wearing the company tie with pride and  drove the public bus route and the school bus run and so he had my back at least 3 out of 5 days of the week. 
He would also be the driver on various private trips and outings and this is where he became the coolest grandfather ever, he would sometimes take us to these places! 

Because the bus drivers were responsible for bringing large groups of people to the theme parks and tourist attractions they were often treated like VIP’s being offered free lunches and free access to attractions (something he relished) and back in 1991 I was granted a day off school and was allowed to accompany him to Alton Towers where I learned that my granddad didn’t take himself seriously and was game for anything, riding on his first ever roller coaster The Alton Mouse he was terrified and he turned the air blue with profanity but he went on every single one with me (photo on the left was taken on the Black Hole) and I have never laughed so much in my life. 
When he retired he continued to enjoy life touring all over the country in their trusty caravan (sometimes pitching a caravan a mere 40 miles away) or pottering around in his tool shed trying out the latest power tool he had or growing tomatoes in his makeshift greenhouse. He had his own room in their house that we would joke was where he ‘hid’ from my grandmother, a ‘man cave’ before its time, equipped with a reclining easy chair and flat screen TV with full access to all the Sky Sports Channels. Living next door to my grandparents I would see him every day and I was always popping in for a chat, help him with the latest gadget that he couldn’t figure out or just put the world to rights. Although he didn’t always understand my work he was still supportive of it and when I became self employed he helped me set up my studio, constructed worktops and shelving and wired up all the sockets in a way that I seriously doubt UK Electrical Industry British Standards would approve! Although his final years were spent in a care home and it broke my heart not having him next door to us anymore I will always be grateful that although he wasn’t sure what was going on anymore he seemed, in his own way to be happy and laughing. To say I will miss him is an absolute understatement, he will always be in my heart and the next trip we take I will take the most secluded back road I can find, stop at the first restaurant and order the largest steak in him memory. I will miss you taid x

* Welsh word for grandfather

© Arfon Jones 2018. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.


Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Monster Memories: The Hebden Crypt Myth Legends & Horror


Here is a clipping from Look-In Magazine dates 4th of August 1990 encouraging readers to visit The Hebden Crypt Myth Legends & Horror an attraction which I must confess I have never heard of before! “If you’re one of those people who like having the pants scared off you, then you’ll love The Hebden Crypt, because its jam-packed with some of the creepiest things you’re ever likely to see” This museum of myths, legends and horror purported to have the sights sounds (and smells) of Victorian London as it tells the story of Jack the Ripper! It had a recreation of Vlad the Impaler’s Castle and offered the chance to “travel to the ancient Valley of the Kings in Egypt”  all that and a snack bar that offered the opportunity to “tuck in while you’re scared stiff!” and all for £1.80! I did a quick Google search and found some photos but very little information and so contacted the very helpful Hebden Tourist information who said it closed down 30 years ago, apparently someone had the best of intentions but it was, by all accounts “awful” a great shame, as I love stuff like this but it would seem that I was 30 years too late! Did you go? Were you involved? Can you shed some more light on this defunct tourist attraction?

© Arfon Jones 2018. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

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