Friday, September 07, 2012
The weathermen said it would be an indian summer and so far they ain't wrong!
We haven't had very good weather at all this year, we've been from one extreme to the other with hot & dry, drought, torrential rain, flooding and cold strong winds so it's been what I call a 'green year' with lots of lush leaf and tall straggly stalks but little in the way of colour, and what did flower didn't keep it's blossoms for long.
But the indian summer's bright burst of sunshine and the warm temperatures have suddenly made the garden come alive, it thinks it's summer at last!
Flowers which haven't done well through the dismal summer days have suddenly found a new lease of life and burst forth with blooms and blossoms in an array of spectacular colour.
Insects still aren't exactly abundant, the only things to have done well this summer are the ants, slugs and snails, which we could well do without, and spiders but I like them , they eat all the flies!
Now though, this lovely warm sunshine has brought out a few butterflies, hoverflies and bees.
So far I've seen honey bees, the odd 'tailed' bumblebee, marmalade hovers, tortoiseshell, peacock and cabbage white butterflies and a lone red admiral.
There are even two pond skaters effortlessly gliding their way across the suface of the pond and I've seen two red darter dragonflies too..
The small tortoiseshell butterfly seems to be the most prolific and the smaller honey bee rather than the big bumbly ones but they are a welcome sight after the doom and gloom of warnings of a shortage of insect life, I've even seen a seven spot ladybird...alright it is only one when there are usually hundreds but it's a start.
The plants have thrown out pretty flowers, the marrow has developed two more even though it's marrows are ready for picking and the tomatoes and apples have all ripend in the warmth of the sun.
We've been eating the tomatoes a while now, picking them as they ripened but it was a slow job with days inbetween sometimes. The sun has changed all that and yesterday I picked a large bowlful of warm ripe red fruit, they taste much sweeter too.
We began picking apples yesterday too, the gnarled old tree hasn't as many on as last year but it often goes in cycles of one good year then one not so good. As it is there are quite a few on but they seem to all be growing in the higher branches than lower down, consequently DH had to balance on a ladder to pick them.
We missed the so called 'June drop' where the tree thins itself of small unwanted fruit as the flowers were still on the tree, they were very late and we thought it might not do very well because of it, that and the fact that the flowers were ended within a week of blooming and there were very few insects to pollinate them.
A couple of cheeky jackdaws have been quite good at thinning them out for us...wanted or not!!!...they peck away at the fruit just behind the stalk until it falls to the ground where they then proceed to carefully empty the skin pecking it clean and leaving little apple skin boats all over the lawn.
The mish-mash of seasons is quite an unusual sight as the rowan trees both berried up early, the large one has very few left on but still has all it's green leaves whilst the smaller one is stripped clean and it's leaves are turning to it's autumn colours of yellow, red and orange.
They don't usually have berries until late September-early October. It makes me wonder what the birds will do if we have another harsh winter like the last two, all the berries will have been eaten early, even the hawthorn berries are red and ripe and the elder doesn't look to have many at all this year, so there'll be nothing left for them. The fieldfares fly in from Russia especially for this bounty, seems to me there might not be a lot left when they get here!
The Rosa rubra, a climbing rose on the side fence is leafless in places with green leaf in others and hung with dark red hips whilst the climber 'buff beauty' on the arch is putting out fresh red tinged growth and is full of blooms and buds again.
The chinese lanterns are already orange but the buddleia is in bloom for the second time.
The viburnum bodnantense 'dawn' gets a coppery coloured leaf which eventually turns to green through the summer, it sheds them in early autumn and then flowers on bare stems through the late winter and spring...this year it's been in green leaf all the time and has had pretty pink flowers all year too...weird!
It's a crazy mixed up garden...lol...colourful, pretty and not sure which season it's in.
I thought you might like to see some of the flowers and insects in my garden right now.
Just a small slection, enjoy!
honey bee on ice plant 'spectabile'
'Rosa rubra' hips
Helenium 'butterpat' and fuschia
helenium 'moorheim beauty'
Japanese windflower 'September charm' and two marmalade hoverflies
chinese lanterns and echinacea
Red admiral butterfly on echinacea
bee on pink toadflax
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
I'm feeling very well.
It's been almost three weeks since my last visit to the doctor and at last things seem to have settled down.
My bloodtests were normal and my immune system is a lot higher so maybe this is the start of something good!
I actually feel different, I have more energy and I love that I've got back to my daily walks. Sometimes they're just around the village but I do go somewhere everyday.
I've taken loads of pictures over the last three weeks walks but loading them here is so frustrating...they're all taken with the same camera but it tells me time and time again 'this file is too large to save'.
It loads some and not others...mostly long shots, no flowers, fruit, insects etc...and can take ages before it tells me it isn't going to do it...aaargh! it makes me mad!
Anyway...here is a little blog and some photos it has deigned to load!
It felt so good to get back into my comfy old grey walking boots and my 'stay-dri' socks, they've been sadly neglected of late.
When I set off it was dull and overcast, we've had rain and the odd sunny day but the weather seems to be back to our quintessential English 'not sure what it's going to do' type of weather again and though it was dull it was still warm and there was a nice breeze blowing, enough to ruffle your hair, just right for walking really.
I decided I'd walk down a nearby green lane which eventually leads to a burbling little stream and a small pond to see what was about.
A green lane is an area between fields which is wide enough for a farmer to drive his tractor etc through to his other fields, they are a haven for wildlife as they go undisturbed for most of the time. They are high hedged on both sides with wide gappy spaces every now and again which gives good views out over the fields. These green avenues were the main routes for people to walk between villages in the days before cars so have been here a very long time.
This particular little lane was like a disused cart track and had sprouted clumps of green grass in the middle of the chalky ruts making a nice soft springy path for me to saunter along.
The birds were singing sweetly, I spied a flock of yellowhammers all twittering in the high hawthorn hedge before they saw me and rose enmasse into the air to disappear over the fields.
Swallows were chinking in amongst the corn, quartering the fields hunting on the wing, their dark blue wings hardly seemed to move as they manouvered like small fast aeroplanes.
Myriads of teeny tiny flies danced in the air.
And in the distance, a pheasant craiked.
It was still and humid in among the hedges, there aren't many insects and butterflies about this year but the lush greenery is swathed with masses of wild dog roses either in white or blushed a delicate pale pink or else immersed in the wiry tendrils of greater bindweed with it's huge white trumpet shaped flowers.
I spied a pair of ringlet butterflies fluttering their courtship dance together and a lone seven spot ladybird was labouriously climbing up a gently swaying grass frond.
Through the gaps in the hedge I could see a borage field, it's purple haze spread across the horizon like a banner. You don't see this crop very often these days so it was a joy to behold. These fields used to be awash with bees but the summer hasn't materialised this year and neither have the insects.
Tall delicate towers of wild oats sprouted from the wheat fields on spindly stalks, head and shoulders above the crop...my son used to walk the fields pulling these for a meagre sum when he was a student home from university for the holidays, he always slept well after the exercise!
Nearing the stream the phragmites was in full frond along the field edges, this common reed is so beautiful when it first fronds up with a gorgeous magenta-purple tinge to it's feathery plumes, it's so pretty.
There were a few insects buzzing around the water, mainly little flies, and I watched a water boatman lazily dipping his oars to propel himself across the stream. The meniscus seemed to dip beneath his feet and appeared almost too delicate to hold him, but it did.
A water spider lurked in the edges near the reeds ready to trap the unwary, she withdrew quickly when I tweaked at the reed she was sat on.
A large arched and gnarled branch from an old ash had fallen, the jagged scar on the trunk was already darkening and would soon be a home for woodlice and the like, the farmer had moved it acoss the gap in the hedge, thus it made a wonderful seat for a welcome rest.
I sipped from my water bottle as I gazed at the magnificent panorama spread before me. I was enamoured as I looked across the barley field with it's huge round bales and then beyond to the far horizon with Mother Nature's handiwork displayed in a beautiful patchwork quilt of irregular fields and hedges in a multitude of greens, browns and yellows. The dull bluey-grey of the horizon appeared to edge the quilt with it's haziness.
At last the pond appeared, sadly naked!
Not a duck or coot to be seen though I had heard a coot as I quietly approached but then in the dark shadows by the farthest edge of the pool I spied a grey heron...but he'd spied me too and the resultant blurred shot is the luckiest yet as seconds later, feet tucked below him, he was winging his way over the hedge never to be seen again!
I sat a while drinking in the peace and quiet, watching the wind ruffle the pond's surface and set the reeds to a gentle sway as it soughed it's way through the green spears. And that little coot finally appeared, paddling her way round the pool edges stirring up the mud and calling softly every now and again as if to reassure herself.
When she left I did too, making my way back to the ash tree seat for another rest and as I sat there what should appear but a little brown bunny rabbit. It was grazing happily, quite unconcerned it got nearer and nearer until it was about two feet away from me before it suddenly sensed I was there and hopped off at high speed back down the track, it's little white scut bobbing gently and the last of it to disappear through the bottom of the hedgerow.
Well, that's my walk.
Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Friday, August 10, 2012
It was a glorious day yesterday.
It didn't look very glorious when we got up, I looked out of the bedroom window and couldn't see the bottom of the garden it was so foggy!
However with-in a couple of hours it had all disappeared and the sun was showing it's bright countenance to the world.
We decided to go for a ride to Wrench Green, park up and walk the banks of the river Derwent.
We set off with water bottles and kagoules...just in case!
DH was also armed with three pairs of binoculars...he likes a different pair to me and then we have a small pocket sized pair too... and me with the ubiquitous camera.
The air was cool and fresh through the car windows, the birds were singing and everywhere looked peaceful and at rest.
The wind turbines on the horizon turned their uniform sails in the breeze and the air around them seemed to quiver in the heat haze.
Cows grazed undisturbed in fields and little white sheep, now minus their fleecy coats, munched contentedly on the lush green grass.
Combines droned their way over the ripe barley fields, corn carts in attendance at their sides.
Other fields were filled with golden bales waiting to be taken to their stacks...round and oblong in the shorn fields.
Arriving at Wrench Green we drove through the village to the road bridge to park.
I call it a village but really it's a hamlet, there are only about twelve houses to the whole community. No shops or amenities except an old red George V postbox set into the wall of one of the buildings which used to be a carpenters shop but is now closed. It once belonged to an ancester of mine, many years ago in the dim and distant past.
Not many people go to Wrench Green as the main road signposts it as 'village only' making it sound like it's a dead end but those in the know can access the forestry through the village if you know which way to go.
We parked the car at the road bridge over the river.
The air was seething with warmth but a gentle and cooling breeze floated up from the water.
Swallows jinked and dived over the surface collecting insects and dipping their beaks, they had three youngsters with them. Their nest is under another smaller wooden bridge just downstream.
We used to be able to walk both sides of the bridge but now one side is fenced off with three large wooden slats nailed across and a small gate with a shiny new padlock. Above it nailed to a tree is a sign reading 'Private fishing only'. The ivy is no respecter of signs and showed it's disapproval by meandering across it, clinging on resolutely as it's shiny green leaves wound their way up the sign and the accompanying tree.
We stood a while on the bridge, letting the wind ruffle our hair as we gazed across the river to the herd of cows grazing on the opposite bank, they looked so calm in their rural setting. It reminded me of times past before cars and roads intervened and life was supposed to be a rural idyll...I don't suppose it was really, probably a very hard life but also probably more sedate and stress free.
The stile beckoned us, I love the way someone had painted the bottom edge of the lower rung red...not sure what for or if it was made from old timber but it stood out in the sunshine.
We crossed over it and made our way down the bank to the side of the water which swirled and eddied it's way along. It was pretty full, the rain we've had had brought the level over the top of the bank at one point but the last couple of weeks it had lowered to it's present level. There were marks on the grass bank showing where the water had got to at it's highest.
It was so quiet and peaceful with just birdsong and the murmer of the water as it burbled along, flowing quite fast. Occasionally we saw a fish's shadow or bubbles erupted to the surface causing the ripples to spread around them in ever increasing circles as the swallows swooped and jinked over it's suface their wondrously blue plumage shining and flashing in the sunshine.
The grass was long and lush after the rains, it caught at out feet and made us highstep our way like prancing dancing circus horses.
Wild flowers hid their faces in the tangled stems as they tried to reach above the tall grasses for their share of sunshine.
Buttercups, hogweed, queen Anne's lace, dandelions and pretty pink herb robert all vied for a place alongside the ragwort...I can't pass ragwort without wanting to pull it up...lol...it's poisonous to horses and farm stock, my friend's dad would verbally berate us if we walked past it and always made us pull any we saw...that has stayed with me but I resisted the urge and just looked. It's quite a remarkable flower with it's tiny bright yellow florets making up a bigger head and the insects and butterflies love it...not that there were many to be seen, it's been a bad time for them this year.
The hogweed is in many stages of growth, some are white and flowering freely whilst others have passed that stage and are seeded up for autumn.
We rested near an old tree stump covered with moss and sipped from our water bottles as we soaked up the sunshine.
The hedge and trees cast black shapes across the water and dappled the river's suface with sunlight and shadows.
I lay back and looked up through the delicate leaves of the tree branches at the blue sky beyond and marvelled at nature, we've had the driest spring on record, the wettest June & July on record and though some things succumb or are changed you can't keep Mother Nature suppressed for long, she might be down but she's definitely not out!
We walked in a circle, braving the main road for a short distance before gladly turning into the small lane which led back to the village.
The car was sparkling in the summer sun and we had to open all the doors and windows to cool it before we could set off for home...lol...it was like an oven!
We arrived back tired but happy with lovely memories to savour.
I was pleased with myself as I'm still building up my walking again after the last bout of illness, this was the longest I'd done in a long while and though it was a slower more meandering nature watching walk than I usually do I now know my body will soon be up to my doing five miles a day again.
river looking down from the bridge
stile down to the riverbank and fields
DH on the riverbank
cows on the other side of the river
the old gate across the field
looking across towards the village
DH having a breather on the bridge
blue skies above
Friday, July 20, 2012
I thought I'd give a little update on my last blog...the kidney infection was due to kidney stones. I've since passed two and feel a whole lot better.
I've still got a little bit of back ache and related shoulder pain but the infection's clearing well and though I have some small grain of sand sized calcium deposits in my urine they say there are no more larger stones. The 'gravel' as they call it should pass on it's own but can cause discomfort when it moves about.
As a consequence of feeling much better DH suggested he take me out for a ride with the chance of a short walk. I have difficulty with walking just now as the back ache seems to get worse and worse until I feel absolutely done in. This walk was before I passed the second stone just last night so I didn't feel as good then as I do today.
We decided on a visit to the seaside as the weather has been quite nice this last few days, we've had so much rain it was really lovely to see the sun.
However the day we chose looked as though it would disappoint us!
That morning appeared with rain, rain and yet more rain...lol...it bounced off the road, ran down the windows and generally looked set in for the day.
We kept looking out of the window hoping it would clear and eventually around eleven am we decided to postpone our ride.
We made a sandwich for lunch, and sat in the conservatory to eat it to the accompaniment of the rain beating a tattoo on the glass roof.
It's funny how you don't notice things but all of a sudden I was aware that the rain wasn't playing it's tune any more.
I don't know when it stopped but stopped it had!
Within half an hour there was a blue sky, white clouds and a gentle breeze...our ride was back on!
The weather's always ready to surprise and the day turned positively balmy with a nice cooling breeze, hot sunshine and blue skies stuffed with high billowing white fluffy cumulus clouds looking like giant pillows in the sky, at last it felt like summer.
We drove with the windows wound down to let in the cooling breeze, we watched the countryside flash by all lush and green from the rain. There's not a lot of other colour this year but we glimpsed the occasional flash of yellow buttercups, white Queen Anne's lace and rich purple thistles in the roadside verges and the bright splash of red poppies in the still green cornfields.
I can't believe the height of the grass this year, waist high and the thistles came up to my shoulders when I stood next to them...must be a record!
The wind farm turbines appeared in the distance, gradually growing taller and taller as we neared them, their huge sails turning in the wind like giant windmills set in the ground and the sunlight glinted off the sea sending tantalising little sparkling flashes of light dancing along the horizon.
We were almost there!
Parking would be the big problem, we saw that as soon as we arrived. The lovely weather had attracted the world and his wife, it was packed to the gunnels with a throng of humanity.
We circumnavigated the town twice like explorers in a new environment, luckily we found a parking spot close to the harbour top and pounced eagerly, backing in before anyone else could claim it...our car parking angel was definitely with us that day!
It was so warm we left our coats in the car and ventured forth in T shirts, me with my camera and DH with binoculars.
I wanted to visit the Pembroke Garden, a newly refurbished area which has caused a lot of controversy in the town, and the parking space we found was literally just across the road from it and in an area where there were no parking charges either...thankyou parking angel!
The garden is a triangular piece of land set between roads full of guest houses and fronted by a busy main road but with magnificent views out to sea. It's always been a lawned area with flower borders and wooden benches for the weary to rest on and though it's adjacent to a busy road it always felt serene and peaceful.
Now it's contemporary, modern and artistic with eight huge 12' by 6' toughened semi-transparent glass panels depicting magnified items from the local environment which are backlit as night falls, large polished black granite benches and small domed trees set between part sandstone tiles and part gravelled pathways with flower beds behind and traditional wooden seats set in little bays.
The controversy arose as local guest house owners said the trees looked like 'lollipops' and spoiled the view, the garden resembled a cemetery with the granite seats looking like coffins and being nothing but glorified dog's toilets and the glass panels would be broken in a week...that was last year but the garden went ahead and is looking pretty pristine and colourful with it's lovely plantings of kniphofia (red hot pokers) and underplanting of sedums and yellow stone crop...
I like it.
After sitting in the gardens under the shade of one of the 'lollipops' for a while we crossed the road to the harbour top.
It was heaving with people enjoying the sunshine.
The line of National flags were cracking and fluttering gamely in the wind, seagulls scried and voices hummed.
We found a vacant bench and sat taking in the colourful sights and sounds around us.
The new pontoons in the harbour were filled to capacity with small crafts of every description whilst out in the bay yachts with brightly coloured sails pactised their manouevers as a bright yellow speedboat wove in amongst them.
A tattered Union Jack above our heads waved gamely in the wind.
We ventured a little further down to the pier walkway set above the harbour, now and then leaning on the railings watching the activity below us or looking out at the yachts and distant coastline through DH's binoculars.
I rested on a bench whilst DH went off for sustenance...not very Sparklike I'm afraid but it did taste good...lol...we shared a bag of steaming hot crisp golden chips dusted with salt and piping hot burning our fingers as we scoffed the lot...so much more enjoyable when eaten straight from the bag with fingers in the cool fresh air... they always taste better from paper too instead of those horrible yellow or white polystyrene boxes!
Then we made our way back to where we parked the car, we hadn't walked very far but I felt as if I'd done a marathon. My legs felt like jelly and my steps grew slower and slower, I was almost at stop and felt so glad when I reached the car.
I almost collapsed into the seat, it was absolute bliss!
I was thirsty too, so much so that I downed half a litre of water in one go...lol...but I really enjoyed our pleasant little walk, it felt like an achievement.
Motoring home again the sky stayed clear and blue, the sun still shone and the white pillowy-billowy clouds sailed majestically over head...it had quite simply been a perfect afternoon.
A few photos for your delectation...lol...
Pembroke Garden with the 'lollipop' trees
traditional wooden seats surrounded by kniphofia
glass art panel and granite seat
national flags crack in the wind
the new pontoons
looking across the harbour from the walkway
brightly coloured buoys on this trio
a tattered Union Jack flutters as yachts manouevre in the bay
the pirate ship heads out to sea
the harbour's resident population of mallard ducks seem to have their own berth!
fishing coble 'Mary Ellen' returns with her day's catch...baskets of silvery blue mackerel
a raft of herring gulls bob gently on the swell
the harbour top was thronged with humanity
the fleet was in and unloaded
Get An Email Alert Each Time MARTHA-ANN Posts