Saturday, 28 May 2016

England in late May 2016

As ever the weather is variable – warm sunshine one day, heavy rain and hail the next. Despite the uncertainty Mother Nature continues unperturbed, showing off her wondrous beauties to those who care to look.

The bird feeders need constant replenishment as myriads of starlings descend, whistling and shrieking and squabbling, each trying to garner the greatest amount of food. The young starlings, milk chocolate in colour with dark eyes, clamour to be fed though they are entirely capable of feeding themselves. 

It is rare to see a solitary starling – they are social creatures and there is definitely safety in numbers though one fell foul of a magpie recently and was dispatched in masterly fashion.

Its cries were piteous to hear but all wild creatures have young to feed. The sparrowhawk, whose diet consists almost exclusively of small birds, watches from a safe distance, choosing its moment to swoop down and capture a meal.

The collared doves share the feeder with the starlings but see them off if they approach too closely. Wood pigeons balance precariously, spreading their wings to compensate for their unwieldiness. At this time of year even robins and blackbirds and thrushes come to the feeders though they prefer to eat on the ground. 

A black cap darts in and away again . . .

. . . and the titmice seize their opportunities when the starlings vacate the fat cakes. 

Magpies are opportunistic and feed where they can. They wait and watch until the pond fish are fed then fly down to enjoy an alternative feast of floating fish sticks.

Meanwhile a red kite soars gracefully overhead.

The fish have been spawning for some time and expend considerable energy trying to ensure their genes are passed on. Hopefully some of the eggs will survive and develop.
The early spring flowers are fading now – there are still a few bluebells and violets and forget-me-nots. Herb robert grows in abundance and flowers throughout spring and summer and well into autumn. It is a weed but so cheerful and pretty that it seems harsh to treat it as an unwelcome intruder and root out every sign of it.

The fruit blossom has set and it looks as if there will be a good harvest of apples, pears, cherries and blueberries, if the birds (or Frankie) don’t get to them first.
Choisya ternata (Mexican orange blossom) has bloomed beautifully and as it begins to wane the ceanothus is ready to burst into flower.

In gardens and woods rhododendrons are aflame with colour. 

Though they can be a bit of a woodland thug and have to be restrained it is good to see the purple glowing in the sunshine.

May is also the mating month for ladybirds. 

Judging by the number in our garden I’m wondering if there will be a glut of aphids this year. In similar vein I have noticed a great deal of blossom on pyracantha and holly – does this mean a hard winter ahead? I think that’s probably myth . . .

Another kind of ladybird . . . last year, 2015 . . .

 . . . and this year, 2016 . . . faded but still smiling.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

A Boy and His Dog . . .

Last Sunday was a gloriously sunny day, a day for little boys and young Labradors to play together . . .

I'll paddle . . . you drink . . .
High speed Roxy . . .
Boy with boat

Monday, 2 May 2016

Second hand car salescat.

Would you buy a second hand car from this cat?

I don't think Frankie would be very pleased to see Herschel on his 'road'.

He's asleep on the job, too . . . Disgraceful!

Sunday, 1 May 2016


I am snatching a few moments to reacquaint myself with my sadly neglected blog. The first thing I had to do was find my way around Word again – it’s been such a long time since I put fingers to keyboard.

So, what has been happening in my neck of the woods? Actually, not a lot, at least not a lot that has been earth-shattering – just as well, really.

Last August my eldest granddaughter got married. You may know that it is traditional for the bride to be late. Well, Marnie took the tradition to new heights, keeping her nervous groom waiting for forty-five minutes. The enforced wait in the old church gave the guests time to chat to each other and listen to some stirring bagpipe music. In fact it was so rousing that poor Frankie, innocently playing with a car, got the shock of his little life and burst into loud sobs. He still talks about it . . .

It was a lovely wedding and we all enjoyed our day.


Four days before the wedding my youngest daughter had her first baby, Charlie. He is, naturally, delightful J


Susannah nearly bought a house but the transaction fell through and the search continues. I don’t think any of us thought she and Frankie would still be living with us two years after they first moved in. We enjoy them being here – it’s good to have young life around us.

At the beginning of January Frankie started pre-school. He loves it, particularly Spanish and Mandarin. Now, I can recognise Spanish when I hear it but Mandarin . . . ??

In February Barry had a total knee replacement. For the first time in decades his left leg is straight. He is conscientious about doing his exercises and is making very good progress. Yesterday he and I went for a walk in the woods with the dogs. 

It was good to have company again – human company, that is. He will have his right knee operated on in August. None of us had fully appreciated how much the parlous state of his knees was affecting all our lives.

My son phoned the other day. He told me he had pests in his loft. ‘Moths?’ said I, thinking he would have said if it were mice. ‘No, glis.’

I had never heard of glis so looked them up. Myoxus glis (Glis glis) the edible or fat dormouse, was a delicacy in Roman times and bred by them for their delectation. They look very pretty, like little silver squirrels, but can do much damage in houses and are very difficult to eradicate. As with so much of our wild life they were imported to be part of a private collection but some escaped and made their homes in the wider countryside in Buckinghamshire. You can read more about them here and here.

So, that is what has been happening in my life. One thing I know for sure, if I had ever doubted it, is that I could never be a nurse!