Monday, April 27, 2020

Over the Fields

 We often walk over the fields as they are not very far away from home, about five or six minutes walk, but when you are up there they can be be anywhere you want them to be.

A flock of Starlings in the sky
At present the grass is covered in Dandelions and Buttercups.  Skylarks rise melodically into the sky and Orange Tip and Speckled Wood butterlies flitter in profusion over the grass, dancing around together in the bright sunlight.

These fields have been called 'the green lungs of the city' and several times over the last few years protests have been made and action groups formed when builders have submitted plans to the city council to build on there.  Plans seem to be in abeyance at the moment. 

 I'm glad because these fields have helped so many people, especially in these strange, constrictive  times.  There are walkers, dog walkers and birdwatchers across the fields and joggers, horse riders and cyclists on the paths of the adjoining nature reserve.  We all need green spaces for fresh air and exercise.

This area was once both farmland as well as areas of industry like coal mining.

We walk early in the morning when we can and some days there are only a few of us, plenty of space to uphold social distancing regulations, plenty of paths to divert along if you see others coming towards you. 

 Last week I took my camera to take a few photos.

In the distance, the city centre, I've zoomed in a little on this one.

And again.

An old stone bridge over a nearly dry stream


Cuckoo Flower or Lady's Smock. 

Talking of cuckoos according to a Staffordshire wildlife blog that I follow they have been seen and heard over the fields recently.  I haven't heard one yet, in fact I haven't heard one for a few years now but it's good to know they are still around.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Five Castles

To help keep my mind active during these strange times I've gone back to the Open University.  I studied for a degree with them from 1980 to 1986, something I could do whilst still working and most of my courses were in History and History of Art.  I later went back and did a creative writing course with them.  At the moment they have lots of free courses with OpenLearn and I've enroled for 'Welsh History and its Sources.'  At the moment I'm immersed in the 13th century and the Edwardian conquest of Wales. Details of Edward I building his castles around the coast and the well documented stories of the Welsh leaders like Llywelyn ap Grufford.

I'm lucky to have visited many of these beautiful castles so here are photos of five of them.






Have a good weekend everyone, stay safe and well.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020


Bright sun this morning couldn't lift the sadness I felt as I watched the funeral car of our friend and neighbour go silently down the street at exactly 9a.m.   There were very few people up and about to see, I said a silent goodbye.  Her friend and carer from across the road was allowed to travel with her. I expect one or two family members were waiting at the crematorium.  No one else could be there in this time of virus. I was also thinking about a friend who at about the same time was being taken into the  theatre in a Sheffield hospital for a serious operation. All alone and again in this time of virus, no visitors allowed. I hope all will be well.

Clematis Montana

In the garden things are changing daily.  I've been doing my 'five spotted' things each day all very similar I'm afraid although today I was happy to see a Speckled Wood butterfly in the garden instead of the usual Small White.  Yesterday a male Sparrowhawk flew across the garden, swooping low,  but it didn't take any of the garden birds here, perhaps he wasn't hungry or hunting for food at that precise moment.



Wild Garlic


Self Heal plus bee

Plenty of dandelions and daisies in the side lawn.

Both greenhouse and conservatory are full of seedlings.

Planted in all sorts of containers.

We'll see how they grow

Tomatoes are doing well so far.

Spinach, too.

I'll be back later in the week.
Stay safe and well.

Friday, April 17, 2020

From the Garden

Five photos taken in the garden this morning

Orange Tip Butterfly - it has been eluding me and my camera for the last three days but finally today it settled on the heather.

Robin takes a bath and a rest from sitting on eggs and finding food.

First signs of bluebells, we will miss walking in Hem Heath woods this year but unfortunately they are a short drive away so therefore not within walking distance.  It's one of the seasonal events I always look forward to.

Wood Avens - it has taken us three years to try and eradicate this invasive plant from the garden as it completely takes over if allowed.  Unfortunately it's back in two or three places including between the steps up to the path.

Blue Borage - I love the fuzzy stems and the bright blue petals.

I have decided, for the next few weeks, to record five things each morning.

The first bird call I hear on waking
The first bird I see on the feeders
The first bird I see in the air
The first butterfly I see in the garden
The first mammal I see in the garden

So today it was:-

Wood Pigeon
Herring Gull
Orange Tip
The fluffy brown cat from two doors along.

All for now, stay safe and have a peaceful weekend.

Monday, April 13, 2020

As Days Go By

I'm beginning to lose track of days as one seems very much like another.  The weather has been warm enough to sit outside so the rather tatty gazebo has been erected on the side lawn so we can sit out of the direct sunlight but still be enjoying the fresh air.  It's a good vantage point for watching the birds flit around the feeders, the visiting cats sitting by the pond harassing the newts and the squirrels running up and down the trees, keeping out of the cats' way.

One of our many cat visitors

There is a cat in the Tamarisk tree looking down on the cat by the pond.

Paul has used some poles from an even older, tattier gazebo to create a make do and mend netting cage which covers two raised beds so we can try and be more successful at growing vegetables than we have been in previous years. 

So what have I been doing  apart from flipping a duster here and there, keeping on top of the washing and ironing and making sure both kitchen and bathroom are kept clean?

Observing - Nature all around us.

Blossom on the Amelanchier tree just outside the bedroom window.

Day time fox visitor, I was lucky to have my camera handy as I'd just been photographing the hot cross buns.

 Badgers on the wildlife camera. There are four badgers including the pale one I showed you on a previous post. Also three other foxes different to the one who came onto the garden in daylight.  We see many bats too as dark descends across the garden and also on the night camera flitting by so quickly.

Behind the shed where all the garden debris and bits and bobs are lurking is an old water butt.  On it is an old folded sheet of tarpaulin, weighed down by a brick, left and forgotten but once again in use.  Robins have made a little cup shaped nest in the curl of the sheet on the far side. 


The fourth in the Marwood and Lovett series of books by Andrew Taylor.  London 1668.  As many political intrigues and plots as the previous ones and a good escape from the present day.

I'm going to re-read two or three of my favorite books including my most favourite and most read one 'A Month in the Country' by J L Carr.


I've been watching things on iplayer that I've missed when they have been on tv.  I think they have all been programmes shown in the afternoons.  All BBC programmes - 'Mallory Towers' a super adaptation of the Enid Blyton books. 'London Kills' a modern day detective series with twists and turns and 'Shakespeare and Hathaway' charming, funny and easy on the eye.


Hot cross buns on Good Friday, not home made but from the Co-op around the corner and very tasty they were too.

A dark chocolate egg for Easter Sunday, although not opened until today. 

We had quite a few carrotts and onions so we made Crecy Plate Pie from the Cranks recipe book.  It lasted three days, with green veg one day, salad the next and baked beans a third day.


Sitting in the garden listening to birds tweeting and bees buzzing. Blackbirds and robins sing, starlings whistle, magpies chatter and herring gulls fly overhead and remind me of the sea. Sometimes the gentle hum of a lawn mower or harsher hum of a hedge trimmer drifts over the hedges and fences from other houses.  No planes overhead for ages but one day last week two different air ambulances passed over within half an hour of each other and the next day a huge bulbous Chinook helicopter flew low overhead.  These sounds stand out now and seem unusual in this new, quieter world. 

Wild Garlic flowers are now coming out and the garden is covered in dandelions, yellow everywhere.  Soon buttercups will join them with their bright, sunny hue.  I've never seen so many.

Of course doing all these things distracts the mind for a while but rather like waking up the morning after you've heard about some tragic event and for a brief moment it seems as if it hasn't happend before reality sets in, so the awareness returns that beyond the garden gate the unseen enemy exists and it is undoubtedly real.

Take care everyone and stay safe.

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Curling and Unfurling

The sun is out and the sky is blue, there is a gentle breeze and butterflies are flitting hither and thither in ones and twos, too quick to spot what they are.

The sounds of life going on are all around. Lawns are being mown.  It's wheelie bin day.  We went to the front of the house, by he side gate, to say thank you,  the smile told us how much those two words were appreciated.

Meanwhile, in the garden, flowers and blossom are curling and unfurling. 

 Blossom on the plum tree.

 So white and delicate, I hope the breeze doesn't blow the petals away.

 Spirea Argua or Bridal Wreath

One of my favourite plants in the garden.  We have one at the front of the house and one at the back.

 Pieris Japonica

 Muscari or Grape Hyacinth

 Pulmonaria or Lungwort


 Wild Garlic or Ramsons

 Aquilegia or Granny's Bonnet

Euphorbia or Spurge

 Blue Borage

Lily of the Valley will soon unfurl and reveal their dainty white flowers. 

In the garden it seems like a normal Spring day, beyond the garden gate I know it isn't.  New rhythms of life and routines are taking over, life is slowing down as we linger over tasks in the house and garden.  I hope you are all okay.

Stay safe.