Finally, spring has sprung



Spring has officially arrived carried on an eclipsed sun and high tides. Not that we got to see much of the eclipse in Norfolk as we were under cloud cover.

Sunday offered the better weather for the weekend so a trip to Happisburgh was in order. Leaving the car on the Beach Road Car Park, a brisk walk along the coastal path towards the Lifeboat station soon cleared our cobwebs away.

The path along here is quite rough and parts of it are very close to the eroded cliffs. A nightmare for walkers with young children I bet. To the left a rough sea was receding from the shore line, while to the right the well ploughed field was home to some tuneful, if invisible, birds.

At the Lifeboat Station a left turn down the ramp takes us to the beach where pools of water captured in the groynes drain melodically onto the sand and stones. Fishermen line the water’s edge while happy dogs chase tossed balls and wagging tails.

Despite the roughish sea the weather itself is relatively calm with a light breeze just helping to keep what little sun there is warm enough to talk of the summer to come.

Up the ramp at Beach Road and into the village for a ploughman’s lunch at the Hill House Pub where the roaring fire unfairly suggests a cold day, so we tuck ourselves away in the cooler Dining Room and, surrounded by a small collection of clocks, discuss times past and future.

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Boom Boom!

This week’s Blog post is shared with my Audiodays website as it crosses over both interests – Catton Park and audio recording! So apologies if you feel cheated by getting the same post on both.

The Boom Boom in Catton Park

The Boom Boom in Catton Park

I have a new toy to play with. It’s the Binauric Boom Boom speaker and recorder.

What attracted me to this lovely looking thing was the ability to record in what Binauric call 3D –

Record anything with our smartphone app and Boom Boom captures it in 3D, ready to surround you through your headphones.

I love doing binaural recordings so the chance to add another dimension was all it took for me to part with the cash.

So first thing’s first a quick road test in the park near where I live.

Things you need to know. To record with your Boom Boom you need a Bluetooth enabled phone and the App (Android and iPhone available). Once paired up and switched on  recording is as simple as pushing a couple of buttons. Everything is recorded onto your phone and you can take a picture and add some notes.

I’m quite impressed with the sound quality – even in windy parkland. I suspect the Boom Boom loves noise so I can’t wait to try it out in a crowd somewhere.

The Boom Boom in Catton Park

The Boom Boom in Catton Park

On the downside there are a few clicks on the recording and it only records at 32000. There’s no monitoring either. The only way (I can see) to share the audio is by emailing the clip from the App. But it is early days and I sure functionality and more control of the settings will come with future updates.

I plan on doing some further tests and will post results here.

I’ve focussed on the recording side of the Boom Boom, it it is also a portable speaker. Sound is rather good and I’ll find this useful for doing impromptu talks about my recordings. Again there’s little in the way of control, such as EQ, but, as I’ve said, it’s early days.

The Norwich Soundscape

Earlier in the week I was at intu Chapelfield in Norwich to record the sound of shoppers. It’ll form part of the The Norwich Soundscape at The Forum next month. So while I’m on the subject, there are two special events supporting the audio installation. The first In The Dark and that followed a week later by the BBC Listening Project. Tickets are free but you do need to register.

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Catton Park Walk

It’s been a couple of weeks since I last visited Catton Park. So today I went along to see what’s changed and decided to do an audio diary rather than the usual write up.

I hope you enjoy walking with me! 

A few pictures from today’s walk.

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Sparham Pools, Norfolk

Sparham Pools

Sparham Pools

I missed the car park and pulled up in the lay-by just before the bridge over the River Wensum. The water was flowing fast and looked cold. I walked the few yards back along Lyng Road to where I should have pulled in and began exploring the Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve at Sparham Pools.

Evidence of the gravel works that once took place here are long gone and all that is left is a series of flooded pits and an abundance of wildlife.

In the distance I can hear Canada geese calling and a chorus of Great Tits. But there’s so much more to see and hear – and record.

I stopped on the path that runs straight ahead from the car park – the car park I’d missed as the entrance looks more like a public footpath. In a field near by I could see a tractor zig-zagging its way across the field and beyond that the sound of cattle and occasional gunfire – hunting or bird scarers I know not which.

According to Wikipedia Lyng has a Motocross track which holds the annual British Motocross Championship. I’m thankful it’s not today and immerse myself in the birdsong and the water sports of the Canada geese.

It’s a perfect day for recording. Little in the way of wind, plenty in the way of activity. I pop the Binaural microphones into my ears and stand and listened the the tractor, the cattle, passing joggers and cyclists.

On the water the Canada geese were loud and frisky. Honks and growls and plenty of splashing about.

At the far end of the big pool I stopped and listen to a bird call I don’t recognise. Its tune is beautiful – even above the noisy geese! Can anyone identify it for me? I couldn’t see it sadly.


Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 15.10.56

Thanks to Nick Acheson who confirmed that the main birdsong was a Mistle Thrush – and added a few more too! Also thanks to @Spinkybird who also identified it as a Mistle Thrush.

On the way back to the car I stopped to listen to a Robin as he sang to me. Suddenly he was joined by two others and rather than harmonise they fight, tumbling through the trees before two dart away and the victor finds the highest branch to sing of his valiant victory.

Not the best of days for taking pictures, but hopefully you get a feel of the place.

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Foxley Wood, Norfolk

Norfolk Wildlife Trust

Norfolk Wildlife Trust

It’s fair to say that the majority of my adventures out with my recording equipment tend to focus on the coastline of Norfolk. But for me I feel more at home in woodland and forests.

My plan for today was to explore two special places in Norfolk; Thursford Wood and Foxley Wood. My Satnav failed miserably at Thursford and I couldn’t get a signal to get online to check directions. So I had to settle for Foxley and what a joy it was.

Foxley Wood is Norfolk’s largest remaining ancient woodland and at this time of year you can clearly see the hard work that is being done by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust to preserve this wonderful place.

In a few weeks time the ground will be carpeted with Bluebells and, no doubt, the car parks will be full. But for today, I pretty much had the place to myself. And the birds.

One of nice things about Foxley Wood is that there are plenty of benches to sit on dotted around the walk and going by the dedications, it’s obviously been a place much loved by many.

It was good to see it at this time of year and will definitely be a place to revisit as the seasons change.

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