Author Archives: willturnstone

Hail and farewell

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When we moved to our home in Canterbury there were house martins nesting on neighbours’ houses; we did not get them because the chicks would have baked in the direct noonday sun. One house opposite had hung little balls from the eaves to warn the martins off. Super house proud, or possibly paranoid about droppings. Remember Tobit!

It’s been years since there was any excuse for excluding the birds. No martins have nested hereabouts for many years. Newcomers have never seen them nesting: what you don’t know, you don’t miss. The same goes for the martins: their memory of living on our street has gone; they will not return.

I’ve seen very few matins or swallows this year, but last week as I was walking across the field behind our house I saw two martins overhead. I guess a couple of this year’s brood, getting into fettle for the flight to Africa. God Speed them there and safely back!

 

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The Noonday Croak

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An hour ago, Mrs T sent me on a message to Frog’s   next-door neighbour’s house. A glorious sunny September noontime, roses tumbling over the fence, bees buzzing, as well as motor mowers.

I turned to go, and distinctly heard a frog croaking from Mrs T’s friend’s bushes. Perhaps Frog’s resident frog has not wandered too far from her little pond.

Abel found two of this year’s froglets in our pond yesterday!

Will.

 

 

 

Growing up

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Thirty-odd years ago, the road was new, noisily slicing through orchards, swallowing some of the best growing land in Kent. Nevertheless, our children all loved the walk out of town, by lanes and footpath, through those orchards to the ford with its wooden bridge that memorably was once washed away.

We enjoyed hunting for blackberries, and knew where to find a couple of self-sown pear trees, one quite close to the busy road, and the odd crabapple tree.

Now, as in this photograph, the trees along the road have grown up. I was just cycling that way: the path joins the river path to make a head-clearing short circuit for cyclists or walkers. I was keeping an eye for windfalls (too early) and wild fruit. A few crabs in the bag, one pear tree had been flailed back, the other?

It used to be here, I thought, looking for pears at eye-level, used to orchard trees on dwarfing roots with their fruit readily harvestable. This tree was not modified in this way, and it was by its bark that I knew it. I was reminded of one we had at school, the size of a forest tree, its fruit inaccessible; it was a lovely tree with no branches below 2 metres. With no close neighbour it had developed into a green pyramid, but we ate very little of the fruit.

The tree I was looking at today had plenty of neighbours, some planted by the Highways Authority, but mostly self-sown willow and ash, all so close that their trunks were growing straight up to the light.

And the pears, with their lovely russet peel, were high up, out of reach. Oh well, we might be able to find one or two windfalls for the L’Arche cider project!

bridge.meadows.maycrabtree-rly-488x640The river path and a crabapple tree.

 

 

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Croaks

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It was an evening to dine in the garden, a leisurely tete-a-tete meal with Mrs T. Mrs T has been fretting about the frogs who seem to have abandoned the pond this summer, but as we dug into the home-made blackberry ice-cream (thanks to Abel for the picking he did) there came a croak from the woodpile, a definite, assertive, bass note. A few seconds later, a tenor croak replied from under the holly bush.

Mrs T could go to bed happy. May the frogs be with her!

24 August: Sounds of Summer

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Yes, the power tools are out in force, forcing Mrs M and me to retreat indoors; there a more homely modern technology could be heard: click, click, click at irregular intervals. Jar lids closing on a vacuum as they cool down.

Not, sadly, apricot jam; this year’s crop was appreciated for its scarcity. The glut was of cucumbers and runner beans, so I dug out my favourite piccalilli recipe and adjusted quantities accordingly.

This lacks the day-glow of commercial varieties, but just needs to be introduced to a couple of rashers of bacon to feel fulfilled in life!

Who’s been sleeping in my hedge?

We could have called this the hedge trimmer’s reward, because it was an hour’s work on the rampant ivy that brought these two creatures to light. Notice how the golden moth’s pattern breaks up its shape, and in the other picture, the grey moth matches the spider’s nest web to its left. The hedge provides a home for these creatures, away from most of their predators, so it will be trimmed, not massacred, every couple of years. More welcoming for insects and than the plain brick wall that was here when we moved in; it houses robins and blackbirds most years.