Sunday, 24 February 2019


I begin this blog on February 16th - we have been in our house for 12 years. Crocuses are out, bumblebees in the garden and this after noon a Peregrine falcon flew over heading east.

It is mild today - 11C.

We have chard for supper with some rather strange veggie sausages. I hope they taste better than the Quorn mince we tried in a Shepherd's Pie (?Greengrocer's Pie)(suggestions on a postcard please.)

When you think there is nothing in the garden a good look is worth it.

Frond by the pond -

- bark on the poplar.

catkins on hazel, moss on the ground.

The big sycamore's reflection in the pond - no frogspawn yet but having had the video camera in the very bottom corner where the stream leaves the garden we have found the bathing site for many birds - tits, finches, sparrows, blackbirds, and even rabbits. 

This place is a highway for pheasants and moorhen. (or is it moorhens?) In fact the pheasants seem to go in for communal bathing!

R did much of the hard work cutting back the buddleia along the banking and carting it away to the ever growing non flammable bonfire. It looks a bit stumpy now but later in the year it will be covered in brightly coloured butterflies. 

I am enjoying the continuing mild weather despite Brexit but feel that there is something nasty, if not in the woodshed, then at least in the near future. 
It is interesting if tedious to watch our political parties with the knives out - reminds me of when I played Julius Caesar at school - Et Tu Boris?

Broccoli for supper and freezer after 1 minute blanching in boiling water.

And in some forgotten corner of some  garden flower bed lurks Doc - behind the thyme (as usual) - with snowdrops in the background.
Having said that the snowdrops are just beginning to go over after four weeks of glory.

But there is hope - the first leaves are coming on the elder by the path to the pond and a euphorbia in flower higher up.

It is Saturday, temperature reached 15.5C yesterday and is warm today. There are two pairs of mallard on the pond and, looking out of the bathroom window at the back banking, I watched a rabbit collecting dry grass for bedding and taking it down a new burrow. The world is on the move.

Saturday, 16 February 2019


'Tis dogs delight to bark and bite
And little birds to sing,
And if you sit on a red-hot brick
It's a sign of an early spring.

Now, you might think what this silly poem has to do with a photograph of a leaf I picked upon outside the kitchen doors.
Well - actually it is not a leaf but the ear of our metal nodding dog. (I will not say "What's this ear?")

I have shown you, in the last blog, crocuses and primroses but the weather is fickle in February.

We took all the branches of the privet to the bonfire. I trimmed back the most vicious plant on the planet - Rose Grouse - and I do not think I have yet forgiven David Austin Roses for selling it to me. It makes a bramble look tame. (And feel tame).

Having cleared all that away I spring(?)-cleaned the mower shed. It is full of unused, and by the recyclers, unwanted plastic flowerpots.

Anyway here is the house from the pond where I raised the level of the lower banking. Went down and all is soggy as it is now overflowing in another place where the pebbles are - so I will have to remove them and raise the liner there too. 👎😰⛈

I have already been up the field and in the wood raking out the drain and stream. It was overflowing and coming through the upper fence. The farmer drained his field into the top of our garden! (Before we came).
So - what signs of spring?
Euphorbias and foxgloves in waiting, just stirring with the lengthening days.

Pots of tulips and early rhubarb breaking the compost surface.
Azalea buds, fat and promising, hellebore coming through the stacks of uprooted paving stones.

Light on the pine next door and holes for birds to nest in on the old ash tree.

Then an oddity, especially in the depths of early February - Tremella mesenterica - Yellow Brain Fungus on a fallen ash log, strangely alien?

Monday was frosty to start but became a sunny early spring (late winter) day. I gave up on the high pond level and let it fall 3 inches (7 cm) to stop the quag by the shed. Elsewhere I tined the grass with a fork (and got a good blister). 
R came out and we pruned the bigger clump of buddleia and she took the stuff to the bonfire (which I tried to light having found an old petrol can with mixed fuel for a strimmer.)(I had given the machine to my son-in-law.) Using a long twist of paper as a fuse I tried to light the bonfire but failed - too damp I think. The "fuse" was important as petrol has a tendency to go whoomph!

And the first song thrush is singing, the first pigeon cooing, the first buzzard mewing. Birds are getting ready.

And on the camera the cock pheasant strutting his stuff in the wood.

Sunday, 10 February 2019


Spring is coming?

I was cutting back the privet at the back and chopping down the suckers from the damson trees and in the heart of the privet was an enormously long bramble (blackberry) bristling with thorns when a nasty bramble tentacle whipped across my face, well it was either that or I was attacked by a wild cat, or I was assaulted by R with the spaghetti server. 

More plum jam jarred and long tailed tits on the feeder along with the usual birds. No bramblings this year but there have been redwings and fieldfares in the trees. 

In the depths of the vegetable cupboard (we were spring cleaning the cupboards and throwing away anything that was more then five years out of date) and reorganising things, when I noticed this errant potato had escaped from the rack and was now desperately trying to grow. It was about the size of a small grape.

The pond at the lower end has been overflowing for a while - the ground had sunk somewhat. So I have been out, stripping the turf and rolling back the liner. Then I placed stone under the liner to raise it up. In the outlet there was a piece of wood to make the level higher which I removed prior to the work. This resulted in a rush of water down into the village - don't tell anyone not was me.

Which brings me on to a little about winter light and the way, in the morning the trees and shrubs are back-lit by the sun. And if they are frosted this only accentuates the effect.

And at this time of year, as we can see many miles to the east, we get spectacular sunrises, sometimes through a murk darkly -

 Sometimes with sun reflected on the wet sand of the bay and rook silhouetted in the trees -

 and sometimes making the whole sky glow, here with the beginnings of a sun pillar.

So to and early spring? - crocuses I put in in the autumnal finale flowering and opening (when the sun bothers to shine) and small irises in the lily pots half submerged by builders stuff. Then to cap it all we see primroses up on the top banking. A little bit of hope in the dark cold days.

Finally I would like to remember a special man who died last Monday - Alan Forsyth - businessman, writer, poet etc etc. He will be missed.

Monday, 4 February 2019


The weather does not let up - I am glad I am not one of our builders. From the kitchen door, one minute it is snowing and the next we are buried in fog.

All I can do is chop back a bit here, prune a bit there and wait. The plastic heron keeps a lonely vigil by the frozen pond and moorhens swim when they can if the surface is free of ice - and the sarcococcus by the back door continues to pour out its scent.
Some plants take on a new lease of life with the snow. This particularly applies to those with variegated foliage.

And when there is not much to look at then it pays to look closely -

Dead wood mined by many mandibles,

Dead grass not yet cut back,

The red stems of the maple against a dark hedge or even a single leaf, a camellia I think, shed onto the path below the house. When all one has  are promises - daffodils stopped by the cold, flowering currant buds unopened, and there comes a time when there are just too many photographs of snowdrops it is tough to blog.

So one has to resort to pictures of septic tank tops - of course to show where the buddleia was pruned and the new mixed bed, and another view illustrating the chaos of building on.

Then I can show you a big clump of buddleia not yet cut back and the bonfire upon which it will be thrown.

None of this is exciting but anything is better that the total catastrophe of Brexit - Oh! I told myself I wouldn't mention it. 
So as the country of Empire retreats into the past of oblivion, away from the modern world and we retreat up our own small niche, I think of more important things like what should I use all the mowdywarp soil for. I wonder if it is full of weed seeds and should I not, therefore, shove it on the veg beds?

The weather has finally warmed a few degrees - so it is raining. And there is no way I am going to mention cricket in the West Indies. (Could mention the Rugby in Eire though.)

And it is a sad time for my friend N as his friend Brother Columba has passed on.

Let is dream of the spring -