27 November 2009

and another!

It's been a great couple of weeks for work. First our reserve design paper got accepted to the journal Biological Conservation and now a paper I coauthored with a phd student has been accepted to the Marine Ecology Progress Series. As soon as they are actually in print I shall endeavour to blog a (hopefully understandable) summary of each.

26 November 2009

Allergy Testing

Pretty much everyone I know is allergic to something. Both my mother and brother-in-law are allergic to nuts, my father and brother get migraines if they eat certain foods, my stepmother has problems eating scampi, my partner thinks he's allergic to gluten or wheat... I myself have suffered from hayfever since my mid-teens and am allergic to touching at least one species of plant.

A few weeks ago I had a rather uncomfortable itching reaction to something (possibly edible, possibly chemical) whilst staying at a friends and it made me wonder if it might be an idea to undergo allergy testing. We own several books on nutritional health and most come with some sort of suggestion for a diet plan for eliminating and reintroducing foods, but given the variety of things that can cause an allergic reaction I'm unsure that I would ever put my finger on it even if I tried that technique. The NHS make it quite clear on their website that most methods of allergy testing aren't 100% effective, but then there are also dozens of testimonials from people whose lives have been turned around after finding they were allergic to something they'd been eating regularly for years. An example of someone who found out they were allergic to cos lettuce (not any other kind) and sunflower seeds demonstrates just how difficult it would be to find that out using an elimination and reintroduction diet.

So I'm considering undergoing allergy testing. Probably a waste of money, but then it only takes an hour and I wouldn't need to do it more than once unless I developed other allergies later in life (which does happen). I'm not going to be conned by one of those sites on the internet asking you to send off a hair, so I've found a local clinic run by an NHS nurse, but thought I would consult my fellow bloggers before booking an appointment. As I said pretty much everyone I know thinks they know what they are allergic to, but has anyone actually undergone testing and if so would they recommend a particular method?

16 November 2009


Last weekend Ian and I travelled up North to see Gary, Dewi and Ian's grandad. The trip to Preston consists of 5 hours on the M5 and M6 and then a couple of minutes in Exeter and Preston. On the way up I was surprised to see the phrase "Don't hog the middle lane" in lights on signs above the road. Although I'm quite familiar with this meaning of the word hog (as opposed to pig) I was surprised to see it on the sign and can imagine that it would quite confuse any foreign drivers in the UK. Upon arriving home I've checked the Oxford English Dictionary and it is defined there as "take greedily; hoard selfishly". I particularly like the additional words hoggery and hoggishness.

Interestingly on the journey south the sign read "Keep left unless overtaking" instead.

7 November 2009

Seaton Marshes

Today we visited a nature reserve near Seaton for the first time. Seaton marshes is an area of marshland, much of which floods at high tide, located next to the river Axe. There's a lovely little hide looking out on to the river

The nature reserve is visited by many different species of birds and kingfishers are regular visitors

Unfortunately my camera isn't good enough to get much of a shot at that distance, but one of the other birdwatchers was kind enough to let us view it through his telescope.

We also saw some little egrets

many gulls, ducks and some waders that I couldn't identify at a distance. Two female pheasants were feeding under the bird feeders next to the hide

and a male came along the tramway for a stroll