About Me

My photo
An itinerant observer and thinker about life in general, sharing some moments of wandering and wonderment.

Sunday, 29 April 2012


 On a less than dry day (that's putting it mildly) I thought I would add a little ray of spring/summer brightness to cheer us all up. We all know what primroses look like and ... also the cowslips which have been blooming in the old churchyard almost throughout the last year. For those who follow my blog you will know that they were braving the December chill last year, now there are more in bloom as well as mutant forms.
This is the cowslip, Primula veris >>>

<<< this is Primula vulgaris (the primrose).
 The old churchyard is full of these lovely native species, but occasionally cross pollination occur and the oxlip >>> is created and it seems that the bees or other pollinating species have produced yet another strange mutation amongst our native plants ... 

<<< This, has the right leaves but the wrong heads for either pure versions of the species.

It seems that cross-pollinating has occurred, possibly with nearby garden variants and the result is this rather odd head with five pale green leaflets surrounding each single  flower. The first I've ever seen but a friendly botanist informs me that this variation is not that rare. Watch this post as I will be updating photo's as the flowers open (weather allowing.) And today, the last day of the month, the weather did allow me some good photo opportunities, well, that is when the wind ceased and the flowers stayed still for long enough, but at least it was dry enough for me to lay on the ground for close-ups. Yesterday, my helpfully informative botanist in answer to my query about these deviant forms told me that these aberrations are not actually that rare, indeed he has even in his garden many interesting variants  to add to the mutant mix where they proliferate.
The head of this variant, may, he suggests, come from pollen carried from ornamental  primulas, though he has never yet seen a green one. The above photo taken today shows that as it opens it is not totally green and suggests that to keep purity of species we should remove these mutant varieties (the two plants I've found may well end up in my garden) 
I will watch these two plants closely, before they find a home where mutants don't matter

Saturday, 28 April 2012


  I make no apologies for the quality of today's photo's. It was bleak up on the mountain ...
as I stood in the cold, watching a farmer releasing some of his sheep on to the commons.
Being so used to his figure and voice, they try to follow him back towards the safety of the pens in the out-bye and so form a long hopeful line, straggling out behind him & his dogs.
They all looked rather puzzled, muddy, wet and lost as they surveyed their new environs.
Meanwhile another of his flock, a familiar face ... stood looking curiously back at me ...
All of us were struggling with the cold and wet conditions today, and for tomorrow, we can expect ... worse conditions with force 8 gales forecast. Time methinks to hibernate!

Friday, 27 April 2012


In a sunny break from the mizzle of drizzle and more rain again, I managed to get a few things to eat for the weekend and then took a rather miffed mutt to somewhere he loves to explore. He's miffed because I've not been feeling too well for a while now and so walks have been mostly short. So he decided to make the most of the fact that ... due to the recent watering we've had locally the water is flowing all the way down off the mountain, gurgling down the steep slopes
 <<< to here, before continuing on its journey out of sight underground.
But first he had to find something the play with, the bigger the better as far as he is concerned.

Sure enough below the beech trees where the leaves gather into "dog-diving" piles, he found what he was looking for ... a branch that was longer than him and therefore a challenge, something he gets real pleasure from by proving that he is up to the mark and no matter how hard he has to work at it, he will move it to the next best place to play in ...

 and what better than a pool of water to splash about in. These pools are partially artificially created by the farmer whose ground this is. It gives fresh water for horses and sheep and ... daft, diving dogs!

He just loves water, especially the sea, but today fresh flowing streams gave him plenty of chances to get extra wet whilst luckily, I stayed dry and took the chance to take photo's but ... unusually for him, today he was not camera shy ...

even crossing in front of me just as I lined up a shot, indeed he spoilt many photographs today, getting in the way even when I was concentrating on real close ups, of the new growth springing up in amongst the mosses, he was sticking his nose in but I was still able (finally) to capture this wonderfully red headed lichen amongst the greenery of the sphagnum moss.
We returned cold and both just got dry & hibernated for most of the rest of the day.

Thursday, 26 April 2012


Certain weather conditions today (the almost perpetually pluvial) prevented play but a few days ago on a short trog  I noticed a few signs of life that caught my eye .
<<< This apple tree just bursting into bud by Grannies old place, sadly with no other apple trees around it the flowers will not pollinate, so no fruit is ever produced from this lovely, but lonely old dear.
On yet another type of wood, a lonely beech tree stands decaying away, but is obviously often visited by local birds. We have hundreds of green woodpeckers around here and later on in the year it can sound as if riveters in some shipyard are hammering away, it really gets quite noisy as they sharpen their beaks trying to make suitable nesting holes in old decaying trunks of trees. They are not fussy as to tree type, I see these holes in beech, pine and oak. The sound of them flying in groups across the valley floor is quite something. And ... on the subject of birds, I saw the first swallows here three days ago, they are early this year.
<<< Signs of another adventurer and the first time I have ever seen this, and I guess it is a badger. It was just after rain had washed the path clear and there were no other signs of human or dog prints apart from ours. Also it crossed over the track from the pine woods, not along it, towards the farmers pasture, so ... something to look out for during future ambles around this area. This is  mixed wood of pine and beech, the latter only just producing their first tiny spring buds, so it still looks rather bare.
The beech trees looked skeletal against the sky with their roots in a thick carpet of last years shed leaves. something that the daft dog just loves to dive into, deeply scenting the smells that lie underneath. Sadly at the moment they are somewhat soggy and clingy, but when they are dry I also love kicking through them when that particularly unique scent of autumn drifts on the air. They also provide a sheltering damp layer for new growth to survive and thrive in a protected nursery of leaf litter ... but, with the freely wandering sheep, the chances of survival are small.

 Still ... when this current pattern of weather passes us by, there will be new things to take pleasure in as this much needed rain provides moisture for all growing things. Though for one Hawthorn trunk, methinks it has passed it's prime >>

Wednesday, 25 April 2012


Well, yesterdays tadpoles needn't worry for a while ... we've had plenty more watering ... and today all of the mountain was well doused with downpour after downpour, including hail mixed in with the rain. Now ... being a mountain, gravity has a natural habit of insisting everything that can be, gets pulled downwards, so all across the moor and farm pastures, rivulets and streams could be seen flowing through the easiest routes down towards village and town. (It's a good thing we live high up, the water flows mostly passed us). The mountain road looked like a dark river, carrying dead leaves and sticks with it and the repairs done by the council only a few days ago are already in trouble with freeze/thaw action ready to undo their hours of work. Good job I was togged up with wellies, unlike the water loving dog ... he was having a great time getting all muddy and soaking wet.
Not that I escaped a sudden squall that hit us all hard. I found myself battered with face stinging hailstones and rain that felt as hard. Even the pool splodging dog was cringing and, I wasn't the only one wanting shelter ... I came across a farmer in his landrover ...
waiting for a break in the weather to gather some of his ewes in.
Luckily as we caught up on the latest local news, the weather front sped on to douse the folks further up the valleys and for a brief while the sun came out. The problem is that although all this rain is great, we also need the warmth to get the grass really growing so that the ewes and their new lambs can put on some weight without the expensive use of more hay or supplementary concentrates, to ensure they are in the best possible health.
This really is quite a tough time for our farming community, the rain is much needed after a long dry winter, but when it comes in with the strength that it has, all the farm tracks turn to quagmires and the new born lambs are still not strong enough to be able to cope well with this battering day after day. Outdoor animals may seem tough, but just like us they are prone to all sorts of problems that all add to the farmers worries, especially those last few ewes that still haven't given birth. Our farmers are out at all times of day and night keeping an eye on the mothers to be and the new additions not yet mature enough to cope well. Many like the one above cope alone with no sons or daughters interested in carrying on like their fathers and grandfathers before them.
On my way back to the car, I slowly followed the water course and watched sheep struggling in the deep sludgy mud. At least they can wash themselves off in the temporary pools like these >>>
just like the muddy mutt did ( at my insistence) before we headed home to dry off and have hot mugs of tea and buttered toast and to hibernate from further blastings of rain and hail. To think that May is only just under a week away.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012


Today started sunny and bright and after a night of a streaming nose and blocked sinuses (yes Dafad has a quite drizzly head cold) it was quite good to get out for a brief walk with the dog and get fresh air as a change from the smell of Olbas Oil. Wonderful stuff ... but the scents of moorland after a nights rain is really wonderful. The skies were bright, and water in hollows everywhere.
These vehicle tracks across the commons were freshly flooded and reflecting the blue and white sky perfectly.
Mind you, good job I'd donned wellies, the tracks were muddy and all the sphagnum moss areas were like bright green, super soaked sponges, not that the crazy canine minded at all. He ... was in his element splashing around in all the peat coloured water and fresh moss lined puddles. Above us, the skylarks were trilling their courtship calls and all a round us, new growth was starting to emerge from the bleakness of long winter and cold spring days.
In the puddles in the vehicle tracks, there were hundreds of tadpoles madly dashing about. The sad thing is that these tracks soon dry out and leave the future frogs without much water to live in and so few will survive the next long dry spell, though that won't be quite yet according to the weather forecast for the weeks ahead. Yes it's that subject of weather again!
Then ... just as I thought we would get back to the car, nice and dry for a change, the sky started  to very gently send more drops, steadily downwards onto us! Good job I had my wellies & waterproofs on ... just in case.
But to cheer up my day, it amused me that for one tiny footballer it wasn't only rain that had stopped play. Abandoned Subuteo man > had been left on his own, but oddly enough no signs of the rest of the team? Why, I wondered, had the fly tippers not dumped the whole lot? But even stranger was my next fly tipped find ... now this one I really did feel sorry for ... all that water surrounding him and no ship to sail in ...  
"Avast me hearties, I'll be turnin' into a land lubber and havin' me adventures yet, just watch this blog space you may see me again!"
And somewhere there are some Fenland dumped ducks to join in the fun ... soon ...

Sunday, 22 April 2012


Often heard are statements about the British constantly talking about the weather, now I can't dispute this, because we do, especially us country folk or those involved in farming be it arable or livestock, after all it's important to us. I feel sure that for farmers around the world, the weather must get discussed very often too. So, I wish to hear comments from anyone around the globe (and I know from my stats, that this blog is read across the planet) so it would be interesting to myself and my readers to hear from any of you how important and if you constantly discuss local weather wherever you live?
Take today here ... with sheep peacefully grazing in mainly green sunny pastures but the
cattle starting to lie down ... an old country saying is that this is a sign of rain to come.
 Looking westwards, all bathed in bright light, highlighting the white of the grazing sheep. It all seemed be contrary to old folk lore. All around, a 360 panorama of peaceful scenes.

Gazing out across the grazing to the east, the valley looked almost summery, bar the bare beech trees. As we stood there it all seemed to be peaceful. The dog was enjoying sniffing the scents of the newly penned sheep ... 

but as you can see a front was heading towards us. Looking westwards again and the sheets of rain could clearly be seen ... heading our way from the west, a two front attack! A good job I had my water proofs on, within just a few minutes ... I was dripping wet.
 Only minutes earlier I had taken a photo of these newly opening Sitka Spruce buds, but as I passed them on my way back to the warmth of the pub, they were soaking too. 

Friday, 20 April 2012


Now, forgive me for going on about expected rain, we had it today again , but in frozen form ... hail. First I woke to the sounds of the cheeky sparrows! They are nesting in the eves next door and oh boy are they trumpeting their success, telling all the nearby world how chuffed they are, drowning out the blackbirds and our strangely silent normally jocular jackdaws. Today being Friday it was Alan the Milk day. Not that he and his wife don't deliver the rest of the week, but on Fridays they also sell fruit and veg. So we got our weeks worth of green, healthy produce, then headed out with the dog, just as the hail came in full force.
 But, luckily for us there was a break in the stones from the sky and just time to espy >>>
this chocolate coloured ewe with twins, one white and one black.
Now, given the fact that the ram has to be one of these two ... 

one wonders whose genes are whose?
Meanwhile Ffin was investigating a rabbit burrow, deeply sniffing down one of the two holes in the bank, but ... what was he scenting?


 Close inspection of the deep entrance, and you can just see the soft rabbit down in front of the hole, but what you cannot see clearly is the fox paw prints in the fresh earth, I wonder who had a lucky night, Reynard or Rabbit?

We headed back as a westerly front headed in and just got back to the car in time as yet more hail pelted us with ferocity. The drive back home was noisy! Having sheltered indoors and had a rest in the afternoon we went down to the Docs and just not far from the surgery a welcome sight, promising summer fruits when the sun warms the earth ... wild strawberries and round here, they grow in their thousands. Mmmm!
A sight like this is enough to cheer any hail pelted soul, with thoughts of warmer weather!

Thursday, 19 April 2012


Now, as you can see I mean a stone wall but also delaying tactics too. This is a boundary between farm land and commons. Not in the best state of repair, but I love it and I'm going to ask you to join me as I share with you some of my favourite parts of it ...
 this is why I refer to delaying tactics because, the we were promised three days at least of rain but we've had it heavily (and noisily) during the nights. So... to make the most of the blue and cloudy skies I took my time splodging gently along in the wet rushes with my other constant companion, my camera. The dog tried his best to attract my attention but, getting fed up, he went off exploring muddy puddles.
Now I have over the years trogged along a lot of our local walls and it is interesting to see the difference between one man's work and another's. Be it simply in the lay of the stone or, repair work done in later years.
 These weather worn old posts not only help keep the the stones in place but also provide anchorage for the later addition of metal fencing, though as  you can see, that too is in a state of rusted disrepair. The fence all along this wall is in dire need of renewal and ... I am sure that given time the son taking over from his dad will attend to the problem. But I don't want to take photo's of new shiny steel and freshly tanalised wood because I just love the oddities to be captured as it is now. Don't get me wrong but I do want to see renewal in my farming community, but I also want to capture on camera, the way it has been.

 I also love the tiny details, such as this lichen <<< on old wood, you would not find that growing on new fence posts with their modern preserving techniques. This, may not be old fashioned black and white photography, but still the images are of a time of change as the landscape evolves. One day all this may be renewed, but meanwhile this old weather worn wall with it's time decayed fence posts, holding in the stone is there to be caught on camera. Few people I know would pay so much attention to detail, but this is how it is now. I also look forward to the changes as new young enthusiasm takes over the old and regenerates this wonderful landscape.

These images will not be there for much longer, as new farming blood changes the landscape with the renewal of boundary fences to keep their flocks safe. One only has to witness the curiosity of young lambs (as seen the other day) to realise that barriers are there to be challenged and ... oft times broken. So ... my meandering, seemingly time wasting efforts to capture these details is not entirely wasted.
Already some of the photo's I took years ago show a time of change and regeneration, and ... I am glad of that because it means that this area is not dead, but alive and, at the moment thriving, all be it by the nearest of margins.

 Yes ... farmers had to make do and mend by using other folks discarded gates to provide protection for their sheep getting penned in at lambing or inoculating time, but they were truly recyclers of their age because they had to be, it kept their flocks safe and if it used a discarded garden gate, then that was good use of the old, though maybe some small doors are no longer used for the purpose of letting sheep out onto the mountain as in the years before.

but one thing never changes, our farmers keep a close eye on the weather!