Friday, April 30, 2021


Lately I've been....

1. Walking

Through the bluebell woods.

They are looking wonderful

I'll write more about our visit and show a lot more photos in my next post.

2. Spotting

Other wildflowers in the bluebell wood including Forget-me-Not, Dandelion, Red Campion, Cowslips and a white flower, possibly Greater Stitchwort, perhaps someone reading this can identify it for me?  

3. Reading

The latest Masie Dobbs novel by Jacqueline Winspear. I always enjoy these novels and the latest one didn't disappoint.  In this book Maisie visits an old friend of her former mentor Maurice Blanche in Mecklenburgh Square, in Bloosmsbury which is the setting of Square Haunting by Francesca Wade.  In this book the author visits the Square during the inter- war years when its inhabitants were some of our literary giants.  She has chosen five women to follow including Virginia Woolf and Dorothy L Sayers.   Pulpit Rock is the latest of the Ben Kitto novels set on The Scilly Isles.  I always race through these as they are an easy read.

4.  Listening

To podcasts and BBC radio programmes  'Life in the Garden' by Penelope Lively read by Stephanie Cole.   'The Stubborn Light of Things' a delightful podcast by nature writer and novelist Melissa Harrison and 'Obsessed with Line of Duty' a podcast by former cast member Craig Parkinson.

5. Watching 

'Line of Duty' and 'Keeping Faith'  'Make Up: A Glamorous History'  and  'The Repair Shop' all on BBC also 'Secrets of the Transport Museum' on Yesterday (Freeview) and Criminal UK on Netflix.  I'm not finding a lot of things I want to watch at the moment as there are a lot of repeat programmes and as much as I've previously enjoyed Poirot, Marple, Vera, Endeavour and Lewis, I've probably watched them two or three times and really  I want to see new programmes but I suspect it will be a while before things get back to normal.  It's not a gripe more an observation.

Today is the last day of April and what a strange month it has been.  Today we've had brilliant sunshine and hailstones.  I had my second Astra Zenica jab on Wednesday and it didn't make me feel as ill as the first one did, so far so good.  I'll be back over the weekend with bluebells.


Saturday, April 24, 2021

In the Park

In our nearest local park it's blossom time.  

Last year when we walked here the blossom trees had been ravaged by the wind and rain and browning petals were strewn across the paths, damp, sticky and clinging to the soles of our boots.

This morning the air was warm and dry and the trees sparkled in the gentle sunlight.

There were still lots of daffodils growing along the grass edges to the paths.
The bees were buzzing in the branches of the trees.  Standing under the overhanging blossom the noise was amazing. 
We wandered off the main paths into the woodland area.
A few bluebells were spotted but there were many more to come.

It was wonderful to spot some Wood Anemones.

One of my favourite Spring wildflowers.

Opposite the Wood Anemones was an area of Snakes Head Fritillaries.

Their drooping heads were dancing in the slight breeze.

On our way back to the main gates I noticed that some of the Rhododendrons were in flower.

Next week we'll go back to Hem Heath Woods where I took you in my last but one post to see if the bluebells are in flower.  Something I always look forward to.

Friday, April 16, 2021

In the Garden

 How lovely the weather has been this week.  Walks have been taken and gardening done once the early morning frost has disappeared.

Flowers are appearing on the Amelanchier tree.

On the bird feeders we had a visit from a Siskin

This is a rare occurance.  Apologies for the not very clear photo it was taken through the window.

Last evening both male and female chaffinch visited spending time in the Tamarisk tree.  Only the female allowed herself to be photographed, the male hid away although I could spot his pink chest between the branches.

In the greenhouse Freesias have appeared.  We set the seeds last year and forgot about them so it was a surprise to see so much colour suddenly appear.

Also in the greenhouse Yellow Rattle.  Again we planted seed last year not knowing if they would be successful.

I've been checking the leaf shape against the  drawing in the wildflower book.  It seems they are Yellow Rattle.

Next week we have a skip arriving so we can clear the top of the garden of unwanted debris from the last of the Leylandii trees, old pieces of wood and logs.  We'll be keeping a few back to make a log pile for frogs, newts and other creatures, the shed will eventualy be taken down and a new one placed in a different part of the garden closer to the house and a meadow area under the small birch tree will be made including the yellow rattle and wild garlic that is already there.
Lots of work to be done.  Let's hope the sun keeps shining.

A Woodland Walk

Tuesday was such a lovely day that we decided, now that a few restrictions have been lifted, to go just a little further afield for a walk.  All the walks we've taken over the last few months have been on foot from home but we went in the car, all of three miles and still in the confines of the city, to the local bluebell woods.

Hem Heath Woods are on the site of the old Hem Heath colliery and are managed by the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust.  You can park either side of the woods off the Trentham Road opposite the Hem Heath Public House or at the other side of the woods at the Wedgwood factory, museum and visitor centre. 

In a couple of weeks there will be lots and lots of bluebells and we will go back to see them as we missed them last year during lockdown.  I was looking for Wood Anemones but didn't see any.  We did find one or two clumps of bluebells.

Also lots of Lesser Celandine.

It was quiet in the woods.  Birds were singing and wrens, jays, robins, blue tits, wood pigeons, blackbirds, nuthatch and thrushes were spotted.  Most of them succesful at evading our cameras.

Pathways have been improved since our last visit.

The ground was firm underfoot.

We sat and watched the moorhens on the pond.

Skies were blue through the still wintry looking trees.


It was wonderful to be out and about somewhere different even if just for an hour or two.

Friday, April 09, 2021

Five Things Friday

1. The Easter Weekend passed by so quickly.  The weather was good, we managed a walk each morning in the bright sunshine and blustery winds.  The snowy, sleety weather forecast for Monday actually came to us on Tuesday but didn't stay long.

2. It's so good to have open spaces within walking distance of home and between us and the city centre where we can take a breath of fresh air.

On one of our walks, down the lane and across the fields we spotted two wrens, a dunnock, a robin, many crows, magpies and  gulls, a kestrel and a skylark.  Paul took the photo of the skylark.
3. On Monday evening around 6.30p.m. I was looking out of the kitchen window whilst washing the pots and a fox ran across the lawn carrying in her mouth what I at first thought was a cat but quickly realised it was a fox cub. 

 I shouted Paul to bring his camera as I had a feeling she was moving dens and that there may be more cubs to retrieve.  She carried three more across the garden so we now know there are four cubs.  One more than last year.  
I don't know what happened to make her move her cubs across two or three gardens but she must have felt threatened or in danger to be out in the light of day.   It took her about a quarter of an hour to rescue them all, rushing backwards and forwards at full pelt.  They now seem to be back in the old den across the hedge in a wild area at the back of the school.
4.  Just down in the town at the Gladstone Pottery Museum, which recently featured on channel four's 'The Great Pottery Throwdown', more filming is happening.  This time it is a Sky original film about Clarice Cliff.  Called 'The Colour Room.'  It is about her early years and her rise to fame in the 1930s with her colourful 'Bizarre' ware.  Apparently the two lead roles have gone to actors from Downton Abbey and Bridgerton.  I don't know if I'll ever see it as we don't have Sky, perhaps it will become available on other sources eventually.
The photos below were taken in August 2009 

5.  In a rainy garden plants are coming to life 
Honesty, Lupin, Spirea, Peony and Wild Garlic.  The strawberry plants are again looking fresh and green and there is a hint of blossom on the plum tree but we have lost a Ceanothus plant from the front garden, it was one of those low, creeping ones with  pretty pale blue flowers.  We now have a big space to fill.

Thursday, April 01, 2021

Into April, Rhubarb and Violas

April is here.  What does it hold?  More lockdown restrictions removed at some point, I think the 12th.  Second Covid vaccinations on the 28th which is also our wedding anniversary.  Well at least we'll be going out somewhere😊

 The first sticks of garden rhubarb are ready for picking and eating. 

Normally I would make a crumble but I decided to try something different this time.

The rhubarb was stewed in a pan with a little water then left to cool.  I mixed up the layered yoghurt and then layered it again in a glass with the cooked rhubarb.  It was a light and delicious pudding after our evening meal.

I couldn't resist the two little pots of Violas for just £1 each.

I loved the colour and their little 'faces' just appealed to me and said take us home.  So I  did.
A friend sent me a story he had written which made me smile. I sent him one back in which I ressurected a character I'd used in a previous story and set her in an orchard at blossom time.  The past two or three days have been lovely and warm.  Gardening has been done and the pond has been cleaned.  Some of the huge water lily that had taken over and spread into many plants was pulled out.  It needs a lake not a pond.  The newts, pond snails and insects were happy.  On Monday and Tuesday we were visited by a bright yellow Brimstone butterfly, it flitted and flapped around the garden, never settling.  Good to see it though.