Monday, 30 June 2008

Lazy summer days

This rose has been flowering for all it's worth for weeks now, I keep dead heading the blooms and it keeps flowering. I think it may be called Bonica but not absolutley sure.
And this is Wrecks's idea of a good summer day! My youngest son and his friends have gone off last night on a "yomp" around Dorset, they have no sleeping bags or tents, hardly any money and they slept under a bush last night and made a makeshift shelter. I had a text this morning to say they were OK and enjoying themselves. Their intention is to walk 20 miles a day although I think they may not quite do that. My husband says boys need adventure and we should let him do it...it will give him amazing memories and much more. i know he is right but the Mum in me worries! They intend to be back home on Thursday but have promised to text daily so I'll keep you posted. Forecast says it will rain tomorrow evening but knowing my son he won't give in and will just get wet!
ps....He arrived home late this afternoon just after I had written this, they had walked 20 miles but the other boys were tired and had enough so they came home. He is very disappointed but wants to do it another time on his own. On the up side he's got home in time for a roast dinner!

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Chaldon Herring

Isn't the name Chaldon Herring a great name for a village. We parked just outside the village and went for a wander across the chalk downland, in this picture it looks a bit dark because it was about 8.15pm and the sun had just gone behind the hill. Linnets and Chaffinches everywhere on the scrubby bushes at the side of the path. Pheasants calling and rabbits aplenty.
This lovely old farm building is on the road to the village, as you can see they use it as a garage now but you can imagine the old farm carts being drawn out by shire horses off to do the work in the past. The door to the hay loft up high.
This is the main part of the village and the grass in the foreground is the village green. Arthur Mee in his book 'Dorset' written in 1939 says "Chaldon Herring . A lonely and lovely place it is among the downs, nine miles from Wareham, out of sight of the waves but close enough......"
Now it gives the air of a village which has lost it's heart, it all seems too prim and proper and very middle class...lots of big cars, trimmed hedges and manicured lawns. Maybe I'm doing it a disservice but that's the feel I got as I wandered around. However the walk across the downs was wonderful and I'll definatly be back again.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Marjorie

Today I went to a funeral of a dear old lady. She was the Mother of a friend of ours and lived her life true to her Christian beliefs, she radiated her love for her Lord and everyone loved her. The church was full, which for a lady of 93 is amazing, she had the gift of encouragement and used it to the full. You never heard her say a bad word about anyone and she always put the positive side to the fore, we met her at numerous family occasions that our friend has had and she was always a pleasure to talk to. Even as she was dying and in pain she was more concerned about other patients around her than herself her family told us, which I can well believe. Her faith remained strong right to the end.
I have met so many older people who have become bitter and not been able to see the brighter side of life but Marjorie was a good role model, if I can grow old with as much grace, humility, willingness to serve others and faith as her I will be happy!

Friday, 27 June 2008

On top of Dorset

Well, I went somewhere I have never been in Dorset, Pilsdon Pen. What have I been missing...the view is amazing! In the winter months when the light is not so good and the nights are chilly I like to make patchwork quilts and this view puts me in mind of a quilt, the fields all divided by the hedges in a random way. It's totally beautiful and picturesque. The little farms studded around here and there. There were some cows up there bellowing for all they were worth, their noise carrying on the wind and making it seem much louder. A Buzzard was circling around overnead and when he went down towards some trees he was mobbed by the local Rooks.
I think you can almost see the curve of the earth in this shot, it wasn't a wide angle lens as I haven't got one!! We walked round the perimeter a couple of times before descending back down to the road again.
On the way home driving towards Frampton near Dorchester a mink ran across the road in front of us, we both got a good look and stopped the car and looked it up in our book to check it was a mink. I know they are an absolute pest in the countryside but I was happy to have seen one.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Dyrham House and blackbirds for tea

Well who invited him for tea! This wasn't at Dyrham and I know birds scavenge at tea rooms alot (and who can blame them!) but I like his cheek!
This is the rear of Dyrham House and this wall had so many roses growing up it with the Ladys Mantle underneath and was stunning.
After we had done the obligatory walk round the house we escaped to have a walk around the grounds. Most people walk down to the house and get the free bus back to the car park which is uphill...we did it the other way round as we were so hungry when we got there that we wanted to get to the cafe and enjoy some NT soup and roll before they ran out! Anyway we walked up a very steep slope to the top of the grounds where hardly anyone else was and sat looking over the view to the Welsh Hills, just relaxing, we had been there for a good 10 minutes before we realised that about 10 yards away was this herd of deer sitting in the long grass! I know that they are probably well used to people but we didn't expect to get that close! Walked right round the edge of the estate, as far as we could before ending up at the car park again only to be met by a large herd of lively bullocks completely blocking the gate, we eventually managed to skirt round them and found a gap to get through!
Quite a few Buzzards around and pied wagtails too.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Canal walking and hanging pigs!

Last night we walked for a couple of miles along the Kennet and Avon canal just this side of Bath. It was a beautiful still summer evening and just right for a stroll. We would have walked further but were quite tired having walked several miles already around Dyrham Park and other places too. The canal is like a secret world of boat people living quietly moored up to the bank. Some had the most amazing gardens on top of the barge and their pushbikes at the back. I saw people growing carrots, onions, beans, peas and all sorts of flowers. One lady passed us on her pushbike carrying a couple of buckets on her way to fetch water from the little hut about half a mile up the canal. One was fishing of the side of his barge...and talking of fishing we saw this guy below in the photo probably fishing too! We decided we would come back another time and walk to Bradford on Avon and back along the towpath. We would love to have a canal boat holiday but they are very expensive to hire so we'll content ourselves with the towpath.....and very happy we'll be.
This is the oddest picture I took, it appears to be a wooden pig hung by it's snout from a tree on the opposite bank of the canal. Why?.....I haven't a clue! It's not a real pig I promise, it seemed to be a hotch potch of wood and metal.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Weald and Downland Museum & Uppark

How appropriate for me is this Goose I shot ( sorry unfortunate turn of phrase!) I snapped at the Weald and Downland Museum just north of Chichester in Sussex! We have a few days holiday and are not going away, just having some days out. The museum was lovely but I was a little disappointed that the rooms in the houses were not dressed more. I have been to other of these open air type museums which have been better presented inside the houses. One or two were good but the majority not so good.

This was a lovely house with a beautiful garden too. It was nice and warm today but not so hot that you don't want to walk. It was nice to see these types of houses again as I was born in Sussex and they are very familiar to me. I always thought I'd go back to Sussex but I met a Dorset man and 27 years later I'm still in Dorset! Not complaining though.
In the afternoon we went to Uppark House where this photo of the steps is taken. The house was good, I especially like to see where the servants used to live and work....I think if I were about then I would probably be a servant! Some good walks round the grounds which we did but not much bird activity, maybe it was too hot today.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

21 years ago

21 years and 18 days ago the young man in the photo was born into our family. Today he and his friend both celebrated their 21st birthdays. it was supposed to be a BBQ on the beach but due to the strong winds blowing sausages, beefburgers, salad etc.. all the way up the beach it had to be transferred to someones house...! Why they both were saluting while everyone sang "happy Birthday" to them, escapes me.
I decided to do these individual cakes instead of a birthday cake but as you can imagine it became a huge games of anagrams soon after!
Afterwards we walked at Stanpit Marsh near Christchurch, saw a cormorant, lots of Black headed gulls and a Great Creasted Grebe. Didn't stay long as I had left my coat behind and it was a little chilly. Still, I'm on holiday this week so will try to get out into the countryside as much as I can.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Otterly amazing!

Tattyanne and I had another of our nature walks today to do a bit of birding. Every time we arrange to go, it rains! Of course today was no exception and we had to endure showery rain. We have had a very busy time at work lately and we needed to do something peaceful and relaxing and today was just the ticket. We started by having a look at her allotment which is really impressive, every bit of space is growing something. Later we went for a walk alongside the River Stour, past a man with very serious camera and telescope equipment trained on the opposite side of the river...he told us he had seen the Kingfishers.
We carried on and sat facing this view for about half an hour and not one Kingfisher did we see! However my friend wandered off upstream to see what she could see and photograph, and while she was away I was watching the other side of the river when just down to my left out of the corner of my eye I saw a movement about 6 feet away was an Otter! I don't know who was more surprised, him or me...he saw me and turned around and disappeared the way he had come and out of sight. It was a young one I think as it was not as large as otters I have seen when up in the West coast of Scotland. I watched that spot for ages afterwards but no sign of it again.
In the middle of this picture is a warbler of some kind, singing beautifully, I'm not very good at deciding which warbler is which! Also we saw at least 3 Little Egrets but no Herons which at one time were common there. Tattyanne took lots of pictures so she may put some on her blog hopefully.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Hidden England


I don't want to burst the bubble but I wonder if my blog gives a true picture of Britian as it is now in the 21st century. There is alot of bad stuff, more violence in our society and a lack of tolerance, binge drinking, teenage pregnancy, it's all a bit depressing. When you look around there's not much to be cheery about. It's not all chocolate box cottages and green fields....

BUT....I love the countryside with a passion and I feel you can escape the gloomy part of life by getting away into the great outdoors. It's really not far away and it's still there if you can get yourself off the beaten track. My idea of a good walk isn't a walk around a purpose built gravel track ( although of course there is a place for these ) it's going to places where not so many people go, the 'Hidden England'. It's all there for the want of finding it, now that petrol is so expensive it costs more to get out into the hidden places but as we don't smoke or drink ( apart from the odd glass of wine now and again ) we feel our vice is going out in the car to find somewhere we haven't been before so we pay for it!..not very enviromentally friendly I know but we do cycle, walk or moped to work!

It's not all bad, we live in a town that isn't troubled by too much bad stuff and is a pleasant place to live but we still hanker to live away from the town, maybe set up a B & B in the countryside with enough land to have a nature reserve and gear it towards people who like nature, birds, painting and suchlike.

Sorry this is a bit of a rant today but I don't want people to think life is so perfect that the other side doesn't exist...but I choose to see the better side and tomorrow I'll be back to that again!!
By the way this is a photo of Piddletrenthide if you're wondering!...and perhaps I need to get out somewhere like that to stop the gloomy thoughts!

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Canal towpath routes

I have no time to get out today, got to do some work sometimes! So....I have put on this picture I took at Chirk last year. I have an idea to walk a towpath from beginning to end, if that exists. I wondered if it would be a good holiday to walk all day, B & B and keep walking every day. Has anyone done this whose reading this? I'd love some ideas if you know of any good canals to walk, preferably not too much town walking.
When we were here last year we happened to meet some friends of ours who were sitting by the canal, we didn't know they were on holiday there, it was a fluke, we had a really good scratch supper with them after a quick trip round the Coop! Amazingly this is the third time this has happened with these friends, once we passed them in the Highlands of Scotland in our car, a quick call on the mobile and we joined up. In Switzerland we met them in a queue to go in a cablecar up a mountain! We must have incredibly similar tastes in our holiday destinations ....Spooky!

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Trouble with the dog..he doesn't want to walk!

As it was a nice day yesterday I decided that I am not very fit so I would up the mileage to 5 miles walking instead of about 3 miles as usual. Wrecks the dog and I went out and after nearly 1 mile he just sat down and refused to go any further! Now Wrecks is a biggish dog so if he doesn't want to go, he doesn't go...so we came home again. What sort of dog doesn't want to walk!!!!!!
I was recounting the tale over supper when my son said " Come on Goosey, I'll do the 5 miles with you now, and I promise not to sit down and refuse move", so we set off...minus the dog! He took a flask of tea...so English, we walked down to the sea and this shot is taken of the view from Evening Hill towards Brownsea Island and Purbeck beyond that, where we had our tea. We got a bit sidetracked by a nature reserve on the way home and so walked another mile through it and saw a fox running across a golf course. In total today we walked nearly 8 miles.
It was lovely to walk with my son and have the chance to chat about this and that and spend time with him, I hope he wants to do it again sometime.
It was quite a hilly walk up and down and my legs are feeling it today but I've already mapped out another walk today but a bit shorter!
This is what the children made for their Dad on Fathers Day last Sunday. I was at work but I think they spoilt him well....and he deserves it, he's a great Father.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Fiddleford Mill

Another couple of pictures of last nights walk as I'm working today. This is Fiddleford Mill from the other side of the river, it's centurys old and I like to imagine the millers that worked it in the past and what their lives were like.
The light was just beautiful last night after the rain.
I like this door on the mill because of the large rat hole at the bottom! There's also an old plaque to the right of the door which I haven't decifered yet, alot of it is written in old English.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Soaked to the skin and a romantic flower

This lovely Tortoiseshell butterfly was in the garden on the Sweet Williams, so pretty. We always grow Sweet Williams in the garden to remind us of my husbands parents who have passed away now. George always grew them in his garden as his wife (my husbands Mother ) before she was married 60 or so years ago , her maiden name was Williams....isn't that romantic!
This evening we went up to Fiddleford again to walk, parked by the Mill and walked over the weir and into an amazing meadow pictured above. We followed the River round hoping to see some Kingfishers but the sky got darker and darker until we got absolutley soaked in a heavy shower of rain!
The River Stour as you see is beautiful and still, but I think the wildlife was disappearing because they knew what was coming!
As the rain began to lessen we ventured out from the shelter of a big old oak tree and just stood and stared at this rainbow seeming to come down into the tree. It was tempting to run over and see if there was a pot of gold at the end of it!
The light after the shower was lovely and this field was actually covered in buttercups but it doesn't show up too well in this shot...but what a place to stand and spend a few minutes. The cows in the field we were in just stared at us as if we were barking mad!
By the time we had walked a mile back to the car through the long grass of the meadow our jeans had acted like blotting paper and the water had crept up our legs...more so for me as I'm about a foot shorter than my husband...so it only got as far as his knees! We only walked about 2 miles because we were wimpy about the rain, a poor excuse I know!

Friday, 13 June 2008

Old hidden tramways

The garden is full of roses at the moment and in the early morning and evening it all smells lovely. Last night some people came to collect our old greenhouse which we had decided to get rid of, we put it on 'Freecycle' and we were fighting people off for it! What a brilliant idea Freecycle is, we would have had to hire a van to take it away but I put it on the website and it just went with virtually no effort from us at all....well my other half might not say that as he dismantled it for them! We would definitely use it again if we need to get rid of stuff and nice that things are reused.
We walked across Hartland Moor/Middlebere yesterday evening. I never know where Hartland and Middlebere start and stop...I must look at an OS map when I get a minute. Anyway we came up and found ourselves walking along this long disused tramway. The clay was once taken along these tracks behind small steam trains to the river at Wareham. Even now if you look at the photo you can see where the sleepers would have been..faint lines of grass across the track. We had to walk a short stretch along the main road to Swanage, not nice as the cars go haring along and you feel a little vulnerable.
Lots of common cotton grass growing in the boggy areas, it looks really pretty scattered across the heath. Heard a cuckoo but didn't see it today.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Hippy costume!

This is the kaftan I made yesterday for my daughter's school play, there was no way she was going to model it for me so her younger brother gamely stepped up to the challenge! I'm going to see the play this evening so we'll see if she has the courage to wear it...my guess is she'll have borrowed a sarong! Did people really wear this sort of stuff!!!
It's a nice day today, it's not so hot but pleasantly warm, walking Wrecks the dog was alot more pleasant than the last couple of days.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Spyway and Dancing Ledge

This was a walk we did on Sunday evening when the day had cooled and it was pleasant walking weather. It was about 3 1/2 miles long easy walking. We parked in Langton Matravers and walked to Spyway Barn, through the farmyard and across a couple of fields until we came to a wall with this lovely cow sculpture set into it. On the way we stopped to watch a Roe deer and her fawn in a field, she was shielding it near to her but we got a good view through the binoculars.
As we crossed the wall we had the lovely view of the coast towards Worth matravers and Winspit and the beautiful cool breeze...so refreshing on a hot day. We walked west towards Winspit but not quite that far, turned back inland across a field of 27 identical looking horses?!? Then we lost the path so I'm ashamed to say we got down on our hands and knees and crawled through a cattle hold and onto the Priests path and sauntered back to Spyway Barn again!....and the deer and fawn were still there so had another good look!
I have spent all afternoon today making a kaftan out of an old quilt cover ( very 60's and flower power ) that I picked up in a charity shop as my daughter is to be a hippy in the play at her school where she works...I thought when your children grew up you didn't do this sort of stuff any more...Wrong!!

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Walking the old S & D line

Years ago when the old Somerset and Dorset Railway was in use, steam trains came thundering along through the Dorset countryside pushing out clouds of steam and taking people to their holidays or work or just a pleasant day out. Those days are long gone now but gradually bits of the old track are being cleared and opened again for walkers and cyclists to enjoy. We found out that last week the bit from Fiddleford to Shillingstone had been reopened so off we went, parked at Shillingstone and walked towards Hammoon and Fiddleford. The first bit is across a field and a track before you get up onto the track path. We took a wrong turning down a bridlepath but found this old bridge covered in undergrowth and a shadow of it's former glory.
As you can see it was well overgrown so we retraced our steps back to the proper path again! Still a great place for birds, the sound of them was amazing.
You'll have to take my word for it ( unless you can click and enlarge the photo) but just above the crop to the left is a barn owl. This was the highlight for me, we watched it through the binoculars cruising along the hedgerows on two sides of this fields. It did this for a while then dropped down into the crop and after a few seconds came up with something it had caught and flew away, presumably to it's nest. Magic! Anyway we walked 3 1/2 miles in total which I thought was quite good as I was on night shift the night before and only got 2 hours sleep! I wouldn't have missed this walk for the world...try it if you live in Dorset.
This was a red damselfly in the garden, the lovely weather is bringing them all out.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Slow worms and sparrows

Well look who turned up in the garden today! After I saw the slow worm a few days ago my son put down a metal cover on the grass to see if we could attract him and maybe some other reptiles in and hey presto...here he (or she) is!He was about 8" long. Last year my son worked for two weeks with the Dorset Wildlife Trust as his work experience from school. He really enjoyed going out with the rangers and came back with all sorts of things we could do to attract wildlife to the garden which we were either already doing or have done since. This was one of his ideas although we didn't do it until this week and didn't have to wait long for a result.
Still quite a few dying stag beetles around! I keep finding odd pincers and bits of them so I am guessing they fight and bits drop off them...nice!

This morning just after I had got home after night shift I was just relaxing in the lounge ( having a cup of tea and watching Springwatch that I had recorded) when two young sparrows came hurtling straight into the window, one flew up into the tree the other went down onto the patio and looked a very odd shape. We thought it had broken its wing and probably its neck too so my son said we should put it out of its misery, we watched for a minute ...just to check and it started to straighten up and after 20 minutes flew up into the tree to join it's kami kazi brother!

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Lower Bockhampton

There is a little bridge over a tributary of the River Frome at Lower Bockhampton near Dorchester, a pretty little village where time seems to have stood still. This photo was taken in winter but I expect it looks even better at the moment now everything has greened up. I especially like these signs on the bridge, I suspect that some people who are fed up with the way Britian is at the moment may be tempted to have a free ride to Australia for a bit of vandalism!
What is a "ponderous carriage" I wonder! I think these signs date back quite a long way but I'm not sure how old they are exactly. Lovely day today but I'm on night shift tonight and for a couple of days, so no walks for me until the weekend.


Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Summer evenings

Tattyanne( http://www.tattyannesspot.blogspot.com/ )and I decided to go for a nature walk yesterday to see what was about....it rained all day!............... So we waited for the evening and off we went, first of all to Eyebridge near Wimborne and then onto White Mill near Sturminster Marshall. Lots of stuff about, saw a Hare almost as soon as we left the car, a Kingfisher flashed by a couple of times but didn't settle so we could get a better look. The water was very high after so much rain over the past few days and sadly it looked as if some of the kingfisher nest holes may have been flooded out, so the first broods may have been lost. A handsome looking Reed Bunting was singing on top of some reeds, Goldfinches, Blackbirds, Wrens and Long tailed Tits all about. Fish were leaping up, well out of the water giving us a fright so close to us!
While we were leaning on a fence just hoping to see a Kingfisher there was suddenly a huge disturbance in the trees opposite and two Little Egrets flew up being chased by a Gull of some sort, they flew around, over our heads their bright orange feet looking like weird slippers on the end of legs with black tights on! One of them settled opposite where we were standing and we had a really good view of it with its long crest on its head curling back. I am hoping that there will be some good pictures coming up on tattyannes blog sometime today, she has a DSLR camera with a zoom and took lots of photos. Tatty has recently changed to blogspot, she had been blogging on another site, do look at her stuff, it's good, especially the robin in her kitchen window.
Lots of these Banded Agrion dragonflies at White mill by the river and a Buzzard flying low over the meadow, probably on the hunt for little creatures for supper. A cuckoo calling in the distance and Thrushes singing, a perfect summer evening. Thanks Tattyanne!
It's one of my son's 21st birthday today...where have all those years gone?

Monday, 2 June 2008

Foxes, Stagbeetles and slow worms

As I was walking along the road this morning a fox came out of a driveway nearly bumping into me..I don't know who was more surprised , him or me! I was too slow to get a photo but this is a picture I took last year in the garden. It's a bit reflected because I took this through the patio door but I still like it and have a copy up in our lounge.
Found a slow worm in the garden too, it's only a little garden but I have gardened it organically for 27 years so we do get quite a bit of wildlife passing through.



Don't read this if you're a bit squeamish about big beetles! Every year at the end of May the stag beetles come out of their logs they have been pupating in, in our garden and fly around like kami kazi pilots for one or two evenings before the garden is littered with dead bodies of the afore mentioned beetles. It's all a bit gruesome but I like the fact that they are rarer now, but we still have them. We don't sit out in the garden on those evenings because they seem to have absolutely no sense of direction and clumsily bump into things constantly! Some are really big, the ones in the photo were average sized, about 1 1/2 " Sorry the picture isn't brilliant but you get the idea.