Wednesday, April 10, 2024


For the last couple of weeks a small bird has been appearing on and around the patio usually at lunch time and again in the early evening.  It hops around the plant pots on the patio and amongst the heather and other plants in the beds before flying off to the same corner of the garden.  We wondered if it was nesting in the hedge behind the rhododendron in the top lefthand corner of the garden. . Every time we've seen it we haven't had a camera handy to try and catch an image of it.  We thought it looked like a Chiffchaff.  Looking at the RSPB website it appears that Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers can be easily confused.  Chiffchaffs have darker legs than the Willow Warbler and this bird has dark legs.  

This lunch time imagine our delight when two birds turned up and hopped around the patio happily pecking in pots and cracks between the flagstones.  Paul managed to take a few photos but only one was clear enough to be of use as they were taken through glass with pouring rain outside.  It does look as if there is a pair and that they are nesting not far away.

If we could hear its call we could be absolutely sure it is a Chiffchaff as it is very distinctive.  Here is a link to a short video from the British Trust for Ornithology about both birds.

In my copy of A Country Woman's Journal by Margaret Shaw* her entry for 24th June 1928 reads

Saw a Chiff Chaff for the first time in my life - he was hopping about on the top of the fruit cage and on the pea sticks. 


In her book A Year Unfolding.  A Printmaker's View  Angela Harding writes of the Spring Hedgerow.

April brings in blackcaps and the chiffchaff returns; this is another sign of Spring.  High in the branches is the chiffchaff chirping out its name in a short staccato rhythm.

The poet John Clare (1793-1864) wrote a poem about the Chiffchaff or 'chippiechap'.

Here is a link to the poem.

* apologies for some reason I wrote Mary Shaw, it's actually Margaret Shaw.

Wednesday, April 03, 2024

A Woodland Walk

It's raining again today but over the Easter weekend we did have a couple of rain free, mostly dry days when walks could be taken and some garden tidying could be done.  The garden wheelie bin was full.  We now have to pay for collections and had done so a few weeks ago but hadn't received a sticker for the bin.  It was due for collection on Tuesday and we put it out not knowing if they would take it without a sticker.  Thankfully they did.  The sticker arrived in the post about three hours after the bin had been emptied.

On Saturday, as the sun was out and the sky was blue we decided to walk in our local Staffordshire Wildlife Trust Reserve at Hem Heath woods.  We parked at the World of Wedgwood (V&A Stoke) and  had a morning coffee in the Six Towns Cafe Bar before heading into the woods.

In just a few weeks time these woods will be full of Bluebells but for now there were Lesser Celandines along the paths.

We walked down to the pond listening to the birds.  A Woodpecker was heard but not seen and there was song from Robins, Wrens and Blackbirds.  
Some of the paths were very muddy but we had changed into more suitable footwear to tackle them.

We didn't see any waterbirds but we did see signs of Flag Iris.  This will look wonderful in a couple of months time.

On the way to the pond we passed many trees that had been chopped down.  There has been a programme of work over the winter to tackle the presence of Ash dieback disease on several of the Trust's reserves including this one.

It was sad to see so many trees had been felled.  The Trust have taken down those trees considered to be a high risk to safety.  Mostly along the paths.

Ash dieback is a fungal disease for which there is no cure.  It was first discovered in Europe in 1992 in Poland and reached the UK in 2012.  Symptoms of the disease are dead branches, blackening leaves and discoloured stems with diamond shaped leisions where fallen leaves were.  This causes the tree to weaken and drop branches and to eventually collapse.  The disease is spread by the wind.

On a happier note there are these beauties to look forward to in a few weeks time.
Definitely something to return for.

The photos of bluebells above were taken on previous visits.  A walk amongst them has become a yearly ritual.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Inside and Out

It seems a long time since my last post so I thought I'd take a few photos in the garden.  Firstly though a lovely bunch of daffodils have been cheering up the living room windowsill wth their frothy exhuberance.

I've dug out my Mark Hearld fold out card with hares to go with them, hoping they would look quite seasonal.
The garden is still very wet so very little has been done but it has been wonderful to see so many plants and flowers coming to life again.
The tulips we planted in October have all flowered.  We did lose a few bulbs to the badgers so we placed an old oven shelf over them to stop them getting dug up and eaten.  It seems to have worked.

I like the two colours together.
The other tulips we planted are now coming along too.  They look a bit like peonies.
Elsewhere in the garden under the laurel bush the Wood Anemones have appeared and flowered, thank goodness.

 I thought they had succumbed to the wet weather.

A lone frittilary at the top of the garden.  We put several in last year but this one is the only one to appear so far. 

Buds have appeared on the Wild Garlic or Ramsons.  It won't be long before those pretty white flowers appear.
Tiny Violets have appeared in random pots and in the edges of paths and there are signs of Forgetmenots waiting in the wings too.
Take care. 

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Water Voles

 In a comment on my last post Caroline from Ragged Robin blog reminded me that as well as seeng Little Grebes on the Cromford Canal in Derbyshire we had also seen Water Voles. 

I didn't think I'd taken any photos of them as I had a small camera then but I knew Paul had taken a few photos.  After a quick trawl back through photos stored on a hard drive he found his photos.

Here they are.  

Such beautiful little creatures.  As these photos were taken on 28th February 2008 these particular ones will be long gone, but not forgotten.  It was such a joy to see them.  
Water Voles are red listed as they have become an endangered species.

Here is more information from The Wildlife Trust website


Thursday, March 14, 2024

Nineteen Years

This is the first post I wrote on this blog on this date in 2005.  Where have all those years gone?

Monday, March 14, 2005

Dabchicks Galore

We had a wonderful walk today along the canal at Cromford. I always enjoy this walk and seem to discover something new each time. Today we ventured under the road bridge near the disused station and discovered the old catch pit used to slow down or catch trains going too fast or derailed trains from the quarry top. Beyond this is the 2½ mile walk up to Middleton Top and we decided this was to be the next walk of discovery. Possibly coming in from Middleton top down to the canal and back again. I just love these areas of old industry where canals, rivers, railways and roads meet, converge and cross over each other, now tranquil places where once there was noise, smoke, sweat and energy. There is another walk we do at Consall Forge that has the same impact but here the trains run on the line between Cheddleton and Froghall on the Churnett Valley Railway and if you are very lucky you sometimes see the steam trains. The added bonus at Consall is the Black Lion Pub, very favorably sited halfway round the walk. Anyway, I digress, back to Cromford. Of course the draw at Cromford is the Mill cafĂ© with its home made cakes and scones or bowls of homemade soup always welcome after a long walk. Up in the village itself is the Scarthin book shop, well worth a visit with lots of lovely nooks and hidey holes where you can sit and look at all the wonderful books. The highlight of today was the Dab Chicks or little Grebes on the canal. They were having a super time, loads of them all together, very noisy but sweet individuals dipping and diving and generally giving loads of entertainment to the passers by. I guess it must be the mating season.


No photographs in those days of course.  I don't think I had a digital camera for a while.  Things changed so much over the years.

Apologies for not bloggng recently.  I haven't been too well.  I have a couple of appointments coming up in the next two weeks so I'm hoping that I can find out what is wrong. 

All for now.  Take care everyone.


Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Between the Raindrops

Gosh, what a lot of rain we've had.  It hasn't been possible to get out into the garden although yesterday was dry until late afternoon so I was able to nip outside and sweep up leaves that had gathered on the paths and steps and take a few photos.  Everywhere is so wet.

At the top of the garden the Wild Garlic is in leaf and spreading everywhere.  There are several clumps like this.

The rhubarb is doing well.  A few days ago we used the final bag of rhubarb we'd frozen from last year to make a crumble.  There's just one bag of frozen plums from last summer's crop left.  Perhaps that will make a pudding for lunch when friends visit next week.

I seem to remember a song from my childhood about a lonely little Petunia in an onion patch.  Perhaps it used to be played on Uncle Mac's children's favourites along with songs like Tubby the Tuba, Sparky's Magic Piano and The Runaway Train.   We were talking the other day about radio shows from the 1950s and remembering things like Toytown and Larry the Lamb on the wireless and Patience and Prudence Kitten on the television.  Anyway we don't have a lonely Petunia but do have a Crocus amongst the Snowdrops.

The Snowdrops have been in a large tub close to the house for a few years now, I remember buying a couple of plants at Leek Market just before lockdown in 2020 and they have spread and will need splitting this year but there was never a Crocus amongst them until now.  Where did it come from? I hope it isn't lonely.

Also coming along are the Tulips we planted in the Autumn.  I think there are a couple of layers of them so they will flower at different times.

Indoors we have little seedlings of tomatoes
  and sweet peas.  

 Not many of these have germinated so we may have to sow some more seed or buy a few plants later.  I do like to have sweet peas in the garden.
It's windy and raining here today.  I know lots of you here in the UK are experiencing very wet weather and local flooding. How is the weather where you are?  

Friday, February 09, 2024

Five on Friday - Recently

1. LastThursday we went over to Nottingham to have lunch with some friends.  We drove our usual route from here to Ashbourne and then to Belper before driving through Kilburn and Codnor on our way to Beeston.

We stopped in Belper for a coffee and leg stretch on the way and I spotted the wall painting as we walked around. 

2. At Trentham Gardens the circus has arrived in readiness for the half term holidays next week.  I remember being taken to see a circus when I was a small child.  It was in the Blackpool Tower and ended with a water scene when the whole arena filled with water and some of the entertainers were stood like statues on plinths above it.  I don't remember much from the experience except perhaps that I felt sad for the animals and that I wasn't sure about the clowns, they seemed a bit scary. I think one of them was Charlie Cairoli and there was another clown with a painted white face, wide trousers and a pointy hat. I've no idea how old I was, perhaps five or six. Elsewhere in the building I remember a huge organ rising up out of the floor with a tremendous noise and applause from the crowd .  My mother told me later that the organ was a Wurlitzer and the person playing it was called Reginald Dixon.  I also remember feeling so sleepy as we sat on a coach driving through all the lights on the sea front.  I expect it was the illuminations.  Did we go for the day?  Did we stay overnight?  I have no idea.  All these memories from the sight of one big top.

3. I've found another family photo.  Back to 1908 again and the same time and place as the wedding photo I showed you a post or two ago. These are just the Edwards Family rather than the whole wedding party.  My great grandfather Thomas Edwards, my great grandmother Sarah Ann in the middle at the front  and their eleven children, one of them, Rose, is my grandmother.  I know the names of them all and have identified eight of them on the photo.  There are just three sisters on the back row who I'm unsure about.
Back row Thomas, Rose, ?, Ellen, ?, ?, John
front row George, Clara, Edith and Alvin.  The other sisters are Sarah Ann, Elizabeth and Mary.  I'd love to identify them on the photo. I know that two of the daughters, Ellen and Clara, were in service at Catton Hall in Derbyshire.
4. Two books from the library.  I've never read either author before but they were mentioned on various forums by  authors that I have read.  I hope I'll enjoy reading them.

5. We popped up to the City Museum to visit a new exhibition. Carboniferous Monsters.
Fortified by coffee and a shared slice of cake we made our way to the gallery tickets in hand.
What a fabulous exhibition it was.

Creatures from land and sea that pre-dated dinosaurs by 100,000 years.
I was rather taken with the dragonflies.

All for now.  I hope everyone has a lovely weekend. 

Tuesday, February 06, 2024

Spring Flowers

 Into February with a bit of colour and cheer from some seasonal flowers. Hellebores at a local garden centre.

Such beautiful colours and so cheerful

I wish they would grow in our garden but they don't like the damp, clay soil.

 In the large tub by the back door the early Spring flowers are blooming.


Small Iris and Winter Aconite.
Indoors the Hyacinths are gently wafting their scent around.