(Almost) all of the blossoms-proper have now disappeared and have been replaced by the blooms of early summer.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.
Tuesday 23 June 2015
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.
Tuesday 9 June 2015
It was perhaps the mistral winds on Saturday that kept the crowds away, but when we arrived at one of our favourite woodlands, it was all but empty. This made for a peaceful, if windy, walk and a nice chance to get out of the house for a decent amount of time. Whilst I am struggling to get to grips with the notion that it is already a quarter of the way through June (I’m sure it was April last time I checked?!), the birds are deep into the swing of chick-rearing and feeding and it’s taking its toll on the parents, who are beginning to look a little weary and hen-pecked as they juggle moulting and rearing simultaneously. Judging by how many fevered dashes backwards and forwards to the feeders were made in the time we were watching, there must be a good many plump chicks to feed. Each bird approaches feeding their little ones differently; some favouring peanuts to sunflower seeds, others (the great tits) bullying their smaller cousins (coal tits) off the feeders; some are content with just plodding around (pheasants) where others skittishly analyse each feeder for its contents (jackdaws). Did you know that jackdaws mate for life? They’re rapidly becoming one of my favourite birds as I watch them each morning from our kitchen window and see them on the roofs of neighbouring houses. Thankfully they don’t seem to like our chimney as much as they do some of the other houses, so our chimney sweep shouldn’t have too much of a job when he next comes to sweep ours!
As for the woodland itself, it seems only a month ago that it was thick with frost and ice, but no, it was 4 months ago, which goes to show that time stands still for no man (or woman!). The vast, empty, leaft-littered spaces have been replaced by lush greenery, bracken, nettles, wild strawberries and grasses. It really is the start of summer.
Saturday 6 June 2015
Each time we visit fulmar beach (as we’ve come to know it), it seems the fulmars have changed ledges and abandoned nests, only to occupy new positions. Unfortunately, the fulmars who were moving their egg, had either dropped the egg (unlikely) or had it predated by a larger gull species (much more likely), as the broken egg shell lay on the shore beneath the nest. It was pretty heartbreaking to see, but I suppose it is difficult to raise chicks in a cushy nest, let alone on a narrow, windy ledge facing the sea. Such are the trials and tribulations of nest-building and chick-raising. On the upside, there are still another few couples nesting, or attempting to, on that cliff. Surely one will manage to make it through?! I do hope so. I love going to see how they’re doing and watching them swoop over my head as their partner comes back with a gullet-full of fish.
Wednesday 31 December 2014
You’ll have to excuse me while I panic at the thought of 2014 being over – I was just getting into the swing of things, and last I heard, it was September! Time it is a-flying. It has been such a lovely, if challenging year. It started by joining a gym and taking up swimming again, which I really enjoyed. I took a lot of power-walks along the rivers of Cambridgeshire, we had an amazing weekend in Southwold at the beginning of March, and then we were thrust into the rush of packing up and moving in March/April. Before we knew what was happening we had found a delightful rental house, moved, Mr VP had changed jobs and we were ‘back’ into our new and exciting life in Northumberland. We arrived just as the last of the blossoms in Cambridgeshire were fading and the first of the cherry and hawthorn blossoms were beginning to flower up here – we had the longest, most luxurious spring in my memory.
Summer was a holiday for both of us, and just what we needed after a stressful move. We visited Coquet Island and saw puffins and seals, we spent our wedding anniversary picking strawberries, we walked for many miles along our favourite beaches old and new, and we made the most of every spare moment we could. At the beginning of September, we began the mammoth task of house renovation. This turned out to be not only extremely stressful and difficult, but also very educational and I know a lot more about things I didn’t even know existed (like building regulations and how best to choose decent workmen). After three months, we moved in to an almost-finished house and that’s where we are now. We’re still mostly living out of boxes as we’re still waiting for the floor to be laid, but with the lights on, candles lit and the fire going, it is very homely indeed.
If 2014 was about movement, then 2015 will, I hope, be about growth. Moving house twice in seven months is unbelievably stressful and having to pack-up one house and oversee works in the other is tear-your-hair-out worthy, so I would like to settle down in 2015, yet still grow and develop. At some point I plan to return to my studies, either this year or next, and I would like to increase the time I spend doing good and useful things. It sounds obtuse, but it means me taking on more challenges and making more committments to myself and the life I would like to create.
I always have a bit of a panic at the end of the year, as I worry about the future and what is to come. I suppose it’s the not-knowingness that New Year represents that worries me the most, but each year I keep trying to let that worry go a bit more and spend a little bit more living as in-the-moment as I can. I have had such a glorious year in 2014 that I am eager to see how 2015 will pan out and how we’ll grow and change to meet the year.
So that’s it for 2014. Here we sit watching Guardians of the Galaxy (Mr VP’s pick), having nibbled at some of the buffet food I’ve made (the homemade sausage rolls and olive palmiers have gone down a treat!) and toasting ourselves in front of a warm fire. We might not be awake come midnight, but we’ll usually be woken long enough to welcome the new year by the fireworks going off around and about!
To all the lovely blog readers who stop by, I would like to wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2015 for you and yours. Thanks for reading and see you in 2015! :)
Friday 29 August 2014
We went to visit Goltho Gardens whilst we were visiting Mum last weekend and I’m so glad that we did. The garden had changed such a lot from the cool, pale green and blossom-filled garden we had visited in April. Those blossoms on the apple trees in April had been transformed into big apples, each a different colour, just like their blossom. The hens next to the potager were still squawking and clucking, just as before, but the potager itself was full of a variety of lovely vegetables not seen in April. Huge cabbages and runner beans lay burdened under the weight of their produce. And grapes! Not something we often come across growing so freely, this vine was heavy with developing grapes, all hues of purple and waxy-blue. It was quite a sight to see.
In other places, there was change too. The nut walk was no longer a name on a sign; the hazel trees were full of unripe filberts (hazelnuts) and there was evidence of the creatures that come out at night to feast on the fallen ones. The flower beds were no longer full of pink tulips and pale fritillaries but full of bright peuce echinaceas, yellow dhalias and orange daisies. Butterflies were everywhere and quite open in their flutterings, which afforded us a lovely view. Under the cherry trees and pines, where snowdrops had been a few months previously, there was an eruption of pink and white cyclamen, which had spread like an ornate carpet, over a large patch of the garden’s boundary. Turning the corner and being met by a wall of pale pinka nd white in such number is striking yet absolutely lovely.