So here we are on a pin-bright, late-May morning, Kevin O'Hara and I, squatting in the mud beneath a small humpbacked bridge over the River Lynne, half an hour from downtown Newcastle, looking for poo. Not just any poo, mind. A special kind of poo. Otter poo. "Now this," O'Hara had declared, pulling off the road in the 4x4, "is a perfect little ottery sort of a river. Just look at it. Clear, clean water: full of brown trout. Reeds, bushes, trees, good habitat. And 15 years ago this river was orange. 'No otter in its right mind would ever live here,' one local naturalist wrote, a man who knew his stuff. Let's see now." We clamber over the fence, through knee-high nettles and down a steep bank rich in wildflowers whose names I wouldn't pretend to know. "Aha," says O'Hara, pointing to a sudden splash of bright green amid the gloom beneath the parapet. "That's good: where they crap a lot, you get this green flush from the nutrients. And here we are: look! Here we go." The poo (or spraint, … [Read more...] about On the trail of the otter
Pietro animal crossing
It’s the patch of colour, a green much brighter than that of the sheep-nibbled turf covering the rest of the slope, that first suggests there might be something worth investigating. A little lower down from where we were wandering along, it’s just a few feet above where the carpet of grass meets the rocks that dip down to the sea. We don’t have to get much nearer to confirm our suspicions that this is an otter spraint site. But what a site! Far and away the largest I’ve ever seen, it has obviously been in use a long time. On seven or eight flat-topped hummocks that look like the remains of collapsed rabbit burrows is a pile, or the remains of a pile, of otter leavings. The vivid green we’d noticed marks where the soil, enriched over time by nitrogen washed from these deposits, encourages a different growth of vegetation, in this case some sort of algae. Despite the amount of both recent and older matter present there is no offensive odour. Although … [Read more...] about Where land meets sea, an otter has left its mark
The international border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is about 310 miles long with, depending on how many tracks you include, as many as 275 crossing points.In reality, the entire border is a crossing point because, apart from road signs changing from miles per hour to kilometres per hour, there is no physical infrastructure to see.The concern is that all that could change when the UK leaves the European Union, and Ireland stays as an EU member state.Why can't there be a hard border? Part of the concern is political. The 1998 Good Friday Agreement, the basic building block of peace in Northern Ireland, removed security checkpoints from the border and helped make it all but invisible. Customs checks could undermine much of that progress. Like many peace deals, the Good Friday Agreement is a masterpiece of creative ambiguity, allowing different people to take different things from different parts of the text.Shared membership of the European Union made that much … [Read more...] about Brexit Countdown: Why is the Northern Ireland border question so hard?
(This Dec. 15 story corrects headline to give full name of new Jumanji movie) FILE PHOTO: Cast member Dwayne Johnson poses at the premiere for the film "Jumanji: The Next Level" in Los Angeles, California, U.S., December 9, 2019. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo By Rebecca Rubin LOS ANGELES, (Variety.com) - It’s shaping up to be a merry holiday season for “Jumanji: The Next Level.” Sony’s adventure sequel debuted in first place to $60.1 million, dethroning “Frozen” after three consecutive weeks as box office champ. Those ticket sales, at the higher end of industry projections, represent a healthy jump on its predecessor, 2017’s “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” ($36 million). It also marks the highest debut for a December comedy, as well as the best start for live-action movie for stars Kevin Hart and Jack Black. It’s a decidedly less jovial time for fellow new movies, Warner Bros. “Richard Jewell” and … [Read more...] about Box Office: ‘Jumanji: The Next Level’ Levels Up With $60 Million Debut, ‘Richard Jewell’ Stumbles
Andrew Montgomery runs the last shop before the Irish border. Set 60 yards back from the swirling River Foyle on the site of a demolished customs post, his enterprising pet supply business is in danger of being swept away by post-Brexit tariffs. The firm’s Puppy and Junior range of dog snacks is a paragon of European cooperation: the ingredients come from Kilkenny in the Irish Republic, the bags are manufactured in Italy and France, and the product is assembled in the UK. Dano’s Petshop has thrived as the border between Strabane in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, and Lifford, over the bridge in County Donegal, in the republic, has been physically and psychologically erased. Where an 18ft army checkpoint, known as the Camel’s Hump, stood during the Troubles, 18ft-high stainless-steel sculptures of dancers and musicians now overlook non-stop flows of traffic between the two countries. Half of Montgomery’s customers, he estimates, come from the UK, half from … [Read more...] about Post-Brexit tariffs will ‘wipe out businesses’ near Irish border
Rhod Gilbert Gilded Balloon As ever on the fringe, a handful of big hitters return to reconnect to their standup roots. The pick of this year’s crop – which includes Marcus Brigstocke, Nina Conti, David O’Doherty and Reg Hunter – must be Rhod Gilbert, who made his name (and narrowly missed out on a Perrier award) with his volcanically exasperated fringe shows in the mid-noughties. Now he’s back, for just a short run, performing his first live comedy in six years. Sunshine Boy Dance Base The programme at Dance Base features work from 11 countries and includes the Grassmarket venue’s first full-scale ballet, Giselle by Ballet Ireland. But the eye-catcher on this year’s lineup is Sunshine Boy, Andy Howitt’s tribute to the extravagantly lipsticked Leigh Bowery – performance artist, designer, sitter for Lucian Freud, Clothes Show star and legend of London’s club world, whose signature act involved giving birth to his partner on … [Read more...] about 50 shows to see at the Edinburgh fringe 2018