Category Archives: summer

The community of gardeners

IMGP4475

Where the council took out an ailing cherry tree in the next street, they left a void. One neighbour offered a hazel, and another cuttings of hydrangea. With a little tlc they are thriving, but the annual flowers have not enjoyed the dry summer so much. Other neighbours have offered their outdoor tap for watering, saving yours truly a few yards carrying watering cans. Someone else has promised daffodils which can go in next month.

Today I was tackling some of the weeds which have sprung up between the annuals from seeds that have lain dormant for years; fat hen, various docks, sow thistle, dandelions and their friends and relations. Mrs H stopped by: ‘I might have known it was you. Thank you for doing this.’ And just when I could get no more in the bucket, a professional gardener offers to empty it into his van and ‘save you carrying it around.’

All very encouraging! I’d best keep up the good work.

 

Advertisements

Looking into it.

The other night I noticed that the hole where the leaf cutter be once laid her eggs was occupied again, I think by another setting of bee’s eggs. The hole next door – well, those four black legs have four more behind them, Any nocturnal insect or woodlouse walking by would not know what hit them.

I was once tempted to plug those holes, for tidiness’ sake. I’m glad I didn’t.

Parallel lives

babyblack

Mrs T often comments that we are allowed to use the birds’ territory for our garden. Two examples of this today.

It was time to prune the apricot tree, but some of that must be postponed. As I cut through a shoot some 3 metres above the ground I saw that the fork leading to it was occupied by a brooding collared dove. I’d seen the nest before, but it was built while we were away for a few days, and I thought it had been abandoned as a silly place to build. It was a silly place to build, but it was not abandoned, so it will have to be respected. Unless she abandons it again.

The second example was the cock blackbird, leading one of his daughters around the garden, demonstrating the art of pecking food from the floor, or even aphids from the prunings of the apricot tree, while we sat at our evening meal. At least it is peaceful co-existence; neither doves nor blackbirds are aggressive thieves, unlike the Canada geese in the Royal Parks!

Baby blackbird from a previous summer.

A tunnel re-opened, but closed for the night.

A flying visit to Saddleworth, where the moorland fires are now out, allowed NAIB and I to walk to Diggle along the Canal, We managed a very little foraging, just to be able to say we had done it: a few tiny bilberries, raspberries almost as small, and a handful of blackberries between the two of us.

We turned around at the Western or Diggle Entrance to the Standedge Tunnel. Narrow boats may pass through in one direction at a time behind a pilot boat. No more were moving yesterday so the gates were closed for safety.

Note the sculpture of the leggers. In the days of horse power bargees walking, or legging, along the sides or roof of the canal was the only means of propulsion for 3¼ miles. No wonder there was a pub at either end!

The blue plaque commemorates Thomas Telford, engineer of the Menai Bridge and many other surviving structures, whose intervention enabled the tunnel to be completed in 1811. The date on the later portico is misleading.

Read more about the tunnel here. 

We visited the Menai Bridges on 21 April 2015: Menai Bridges

Birds doing something unexpected

 

I often stop at the spot where George saw the Kingfisher; it’s where the river turns left, away from the Causeway in Canterbury towards Kingsmead. I have seen egrets and herons along there, but today there was a pair of strange looking — ducks? coots? No, neither of those, but these birds were in the water, or rather the shallows, well away from the road. It took a moment to realise they were wood pigeons, cooling off in the heat.

Maybe they got a taste for cold water when flying for Noah in the ark? Alfie the collie used to stand or lie in the river or a puddle to cool down, but he didn’t have to worry about feathers getting waterlogged. These pigeons had found just the spot where the clean water was flowing over a stony bed, and just the right depth. Alfie, however, was more than happy to lie in mud and bring it indoors afterwards.

A Summer Walk in the Downs

bodshampub

It’s a while since you were invited to join us for a walk. This one started at the Timber Batts pub in Bodsham and took us by field paths and along country roads, back to our starting point. Boots on!

bodsham.walk2.wheatbodsham.walk.wheat1.jpg

bodsham.walk3.flowers.jpg

Almost at once we are into ripening grain crops with wild flowers blooming along the field margins where the path runs.

bodsham.walk4.lane.jpg

Along this lane we met no traffic except a stoat.

 

bodsham.walk5.shed.jpg

The farm buildings at the top of the hill included this old shed, which looks like a WWII prefabricated building.

bodsham.walk6.view.jpg

bodsham.walk7.view2.jpg

Kent chalkland is not the most dramatic scenery, but the contours lie easy on the eye. Civilisation means that electricity cables are never far away though. But they make life possible for the farmers and other locals.

 

bodsham.walk8.farm

 

bodsham.walk9.marjoram.jpg

A few sprigs of wild marjoram (oregano) will help flavour an omelette.

bodsham.walk10.scabious.jpgbodsham.walk12.poppy

Scabious on one side of the lane, poppies on the other, wild clematis, ‘traveller’s joy’ in the hedge. Happy memories of using this for our daughter’s wedding last summer.

bodsham.walk.13.clematis.jpg

bodsham.walk13.old.house.jpg

Along another lane, we passed this old house, the oaken frame raised off the damp ground on a stone plinth.

bodsham.walk15.field

Then into the shade of a belt of trees, which still smells of wild garlic underfoot.

 

 

bodsham.walk17.spinney.jpg

bodsham.walk18.path.flintbodsham.walk19.path.chalk.jpg

The path now is partly loose flint, but naked chalk in places; both surfaces require careful walking, the chalk can be very slippery when wet. This dry summer is another matter.

bodsham.walk20.honeysuckle.jpg bodsham.walk21.willow.herb.jpg

Back in the lanes, where honeysuckle and willow herb brighten the verges. But this is working countryside.

bodsham.walk22.silo.jpg

bodsham.walk23.church.elmstead1.jpg

And Saint James’s church at Elmstead is a working church, though 900 years and more old, with a ring of six bells in this unique tower. The church was open.

bodsham.walk30.church.elmstead8.west.tower.jpg

 

bodsham.walk28.church.elmstead6.head3

And this lady was waiting to greet visitors.

bodsham.walk24.church.elmstead2.yew.jpg Outside are ancient yew trees, this one partly covered in ivy. And the churchyard has room for more parishioners when their time comes. This stone is worth sharing.

bodsham.walk25.church.elmstead3.stone.jpg

From the church we went back to the Timber Batts, and after a welcome Disco Cider (made from Kentish Disco-very apples) we attended the Bodsham School Fete; a good day out altogether!