A warm Sunday morning in March, much like it was the other weekend. A new kite. Some necessary errands ticked off the list and a chance to take off for some family time. To the beach to fly our new kite. Possibly more for me than for Baby VP, though when it took off the look of awe and wonderment filled her face just as much as ours. It was possibly the easiest kite I’ve ever flown, and so much fun. It stayed in the air, without any skill from me, for over 25 minutes. And was, at one point, flying almost 80 metres in the air with only a very light breeze. Amazing and so, so magical.
Monday 13 March 2017
Saturday 11 March 2017
Weekends are so short these days. They fly by in the blink of an eye, so, so quickly. What’s different? We’re busy with little Baby VP who is definitely not a baby any more! But weekends… they disappear. So we try to make sure that we go out and do Interesting Things together as a family.
So a couple of weekends ago we donned warm coats, Baby VP wore her thick all-in-one bunny coat, and we headed out for a decent countryside walk. I must admit that since having a baby, our walks are not as long as they used to be, and certainly shorter now that we don’t use a pram any more. But we make sure that we stop to enjoy all that nature has to offer and now that spring is so tantalisingly close.
We find that getting out early is best as we not only avoid the crowds but we make the most of the pre-nap energy. I also think that getting out and about early is best to see wildlife and we were lucky, seeing a treecreeper, lots of blue tits, coal tits, great tits and chaffinches as well as a pheasant, robin and moorhen. It was the first time that Baby VP had been into a bird hide for quite a while, and this time it was magical because she was so open to seeing the birds. We made sure we pointed each one out. We’re not ‘twitchers’ by any means, but there is a lot I appreciate about seeing birds come and go and spotting new ones I haven’t seen before. They really are beautiful things, birds.
I think about the things I want to pass on to Baby VP, the things she’ll remember forever, and one of the greatest things I can think of is a love of the outdoors. An abiding love and deep appreciation for the wonder and beauty of nature; the awe-inspiring brilliance of the world’s living body. I think of how much information there is to teach; how much I am learning alongside her and I feel so humbled by it all. The weight of this duty is immense. What a wonderful job to have.
By the time we were finished walking and bird-watching we were ready for a sit down and a coffee, complete with a toasted teacake shared between us three.
Sunday 5 March 2017
Have you noticed that we’re now exiting the deepest, darkest bits of winter? Like a plant deprived of the sun, I am desperately craning myself to find some its rays again. So when the weather gets above 10C and the wind is not blowing a gale and the sun is shining? I make like a cat and luxuriate, nay revel, in its appearance. Hoo-boy, Sun, you have been away far too long!
All of the above necessary conditions were met the other day and so I set off with Mr VP and Baby VP, the Archers omnibus on in the car (to my absolute flummoxing, I’ve discovered that Mr VP is not only a closet fan of the Archers but if I miss an episode it turns out I can rely on his almost encyclopaedic knowledge of the goings on in Ambridge to set me straight! *insert wide-eyed surprise-face here*).
And so we walked. Away from others, though as it was pretty early (for a Sunday), there weren’t many takers for a brisk walk. Just myself, my girl and Mr VP. Blue skies, white clouds, oystercatchers, a huge stretch of golden sand to explore and beachcomb on and the deep blue North Sea.
On the way back we saw a couple of unfamiliar birds flitting back and forth in the hedgerow. It turns out that they were stonechats. A new one on us!
Saturday 19 November 2016
I think you can tell from the photos above and below, we found autumn in all of her splendour. Despite the temperature – 3ºC; it was Baltic as they say around these parts – we wrapped BabyVP (and ourselves) up well in many, many layers and ventured out for a walk. Most of the trees are bare, but not the beeches.
We walked and took photos here and there of leaves on the floor, chattering all the time to BabyVP about the birds flitting around us; from blackbirds and blue tits to the robins that suddenly appear in such large numbers around now. We came around a corner and were struck silent by this one, lone beech tree.
It was photographic perfection; all black-line branches and yellow-orange-brown leaves. So different to the pines, oaks, horse chestnuts and yews around it. Not that the oaks and chestnuts don’t have beautiful leaves – they do – but unlike all of the beech’s deciduous neighbours whose leaves were long gone, this tree was still clothed in the most wonderful golden coat.
I wonder what BabyVP made of all of this; she must have wondered what on earth her mother was getting so excited about. I hope to pass this pure adoration of nature on to her; and I see it in the way she points out birds and trees.
I have had a reason to go out with camera in hand. This last week I have been taking part in an online photography course that was free. It’s only 4 weeks, only takes 3 hours a week of taking part in ‘webinars’. I have really enjoyed reconnecting with my camera and its myriad of functions.
We all had a good time, cold hands and rosy cheeks and all.
This week’s lesson was on aperture priority. This is all stuff I knew already but I am learning tips as we go, too. Aperture priority is what gives you amazing bokeh as well as certain lenses (usually the older analogue ones); it controls focus in the same way that scrunching your eyes up allows you to focus a bit better on certain things.
Photography courses aside, when the sun was shining and the birds were singing and BabyVP was cuddled up in her many layers, it really was the perfect day to be outside. The sun, when it did shine, was almost warm enough to make you forget the icy chill. Almost.
Gosh we were glad to get back into the warmth of the cafe and have a bite to eat. Then home, with a very sleepy BabyVP in the back of the car, who nodded off to sleep shortly after we set off. Those colours though! Those colours…
Tuesday 23 June 2015
(Almost) all of the blossoms-proper have now disappeared and have been replaced by the blooms of early summer. The hedgerows are full of Queen Anne’s lace, the beginnings of hogweed, buttercups, stitchwort, elderflower and the very, very last of the May blossom. Roses, like the pink rugosa and the white rose (Rosa corymbifera?) are just coming into bloom and are flooding the hedgerows with the most wonderful scents. Ferns and bracken are unfurling themselves while bees dance from flower to flower – what a selection they have! The air is just alive with… well, life. I do love June very, very much indeed.
Thursday 18 June 2015
Thursday 11 June 2015
Is there a more beautiful sight to behold than this? I mean, it’s not grand or austentatious; it doesn’t inspire awe to most as, say, a vast snow-tipped mountain range might. But to me, this little world that barely breaches ankle-height is no less awe-inspiring. It is the sight of June, these lush meadows full of green and growth and I realised it had been far too long since I last saw meadows like these.
This beauty is a pyramidal orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis) and was the reason for our evening walk. I love our wild orchids and try to make it out to see them whenever they’re in season. Having seen a few on the roadside verges as I whizzed past in the car, I knew it was the right time to seek them out. Upon first scanning the meadow, I couldn’t see them, until I trained my eyes towards the deep pink-purple splodges of colour that could be nothing else. After seeing one, I saw a whole meadow full.
When I say that this meadow was alive, I don’t just mean the flowers. Bees, beetles (can you see the cardinal beetle on the clover?), spiders and all sorts of winged insects were busily going from a to b as we watched.
Clover love. Our former neighbours used to cast aspersions at our lawn for having clover in it. There would be the odd pointed comment about how nice lawns looked if they have only grass in them… At which point I’d say how terribly fond I was of the pink and white clover that not only fed the lawn but helped to feed the bees that would hum busily around them.
This is a grass spider whose latin name, Tibellus oblongus, speaks of its long, oblong-shaped body. At first, I thought it was a grasshopper moving through the grass, as it was so big (large house spider sized), but lo and behold, once we got up close to it, we realised that it was a spider and that she was carrying a huge ball of her eggs around with her. Whilst I’m not a fan of spiders in the house (money spiders and zebra spiders excepted), I am quite happy to see them in their natural habitat.
Who says that pine trees are just green and brown?! I think I can deal with all of the pollen dust on the car for a few weeks of tropical-coloured pine trees.