Saturday, 23 July 2011

3 more orchids

We had a wonderful walk today with Teresa, Ian had to go off to who-knows-where on a business trip. We had a bad start sitting on the Hog's Back for nearly an hour as it was blocked by an RTA, but we got to Selbourne eventually and set off to walk rather than visit Gilbert White's house as it didn't look as though it would rain. We found a small Plantlife organised nature reserve, a sign said we might see frog, musk & pyramidal orchids. We'd already seen the pyramidal, & thought the others semi-mythical!

 A chap with a big camera was grovelling on the grass looking for rufous grasshoppers said he'd seen one frog orchid on top on one of the dozen or so hillocks, & his camera recorded longitude & latitude, but only to within a few dozen yards. He'd also seen 1 musk, I beat him & found a small cluster, they're a bit subtle, grass coloured and small even by British orchid standards,but wonderful. I suspect they're a bit less rare than the books say as so easily missed.
With hindsight, I think I've met one before, but didn't have a book to identify it.

 He spent some time looking for the frog & eventually tracked down the right hill, technology has its uses! After a short time grovelling this little treasure revealed itself. Just one, in spite of our search for one of our own. Many thanks to the anonymous enthusiast!

That makes ten since I got my new camera, only 45 or so more!

Friday, 22 July 2011

graduation, books

Again, not a new challenge for me, but we had a wonderful day at Amy's graduation today, all her friends celebrating a variety of achievements. Well done one&all.
I'm getting through Clare's idea of leaving 60 books, but met a bit of a stumbling block when I left one in a building society & had a phone-call before I'd got home from an observant cashier to tell me I'd left it. Oh well, keep trying!

Saturday, 16 July 2011

secretaries, gargoyles? house

Last night I went for a pub meal with most of my ex-secretaries & nurse, they had all looked after me & put up with me admirably for 11 years. It was a good chance to catch up on what everyone was doing & see a different side of the girls, with a pint or two inside!
I'm still working on the gargoyle portfolio, but here are two odd ones:
This one was over the entrance to a folly near Ingleborough cave, and in spite of the horn & beetling brows is a well-chosen natural formation.

This one from near Canterbury looks like a grotesque face with spouting lips and another fine set of brows, but is equally just a flower and leaves, possibly the ultimate Green Man, having lost his separate identity, I find him a bit disturbing

Finally, The House is nearly finished, Amy's in residence & done a lot of the final decoration, as befits an interior design student. 

Photos don't really do credit to this. The tree was painted freehand, the candystripes helped by masking tape.                            I love it.

DofE again

DofE features highly in our lives from the gold practice in the lakes around Easter until the gold qualifier at the start  of July, this year is no different, except when we got home at 1 a.m. I didn't have to worry about getting up for work. Our group went to the Yorkshire Dales, from Ingleton to West Burton by way of Malham & Kettlewell. A wonderful area if the weather's kind, which it was.

 Stunning scenery, flora & fauna totally different from our acidic stuff and otherworldly rock formations like Gordale Scar, which had a walk-on part, so to speak, in The Dark Crystal & Malham Cove

with the almost unique limestone pavements. So much better there than the fragments you used to be able to buy from garden centres for rockeries.
We passed Gaping Ghyll, a tiny hole leading down to a cavern which could easily hide St Pauls. Imagine being the first potholers to have found this after many dead-ends, I hope they had a good stout rope! The steep side is fenced off, but you can see down it from the stream. There are many small ones, some easily accessible. I think I'm a bit old&stiff to go down them now, but dabbled when I was a student.

We saw many "Common" Blue butterflies, sadly not very nowadays as much habitat has been lost, but this one was dozy as newly emerged
Another new flower! A mountain pansy, I've seen the little yellow & purple heartsease many times, most recently in my lawn & vegetable patch, it chooses to avoid the flowerbeds, but this bigger smiley-face one is a first.

Our group did really well, we were all set to get home at a reasonable time when a frantic phone message sent us back for the other group as Andy had been helicoptered off Pen y Ghent with a broken leg, leaving half his girls stranded & almost resigned to another night's camping. We all wish him a speedy recovery.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Master's, Musical & Books

First, most exciting, Amy has a definite place to do her Master's in interior design, while I do my foundation (nursery-class) at the same place. I'll try very hard not to disgrace her by behaving like a student too often, but in the interests of my 60 challenges...
Next, the school's performance of Alice in Wonderland, put on over just a weekend went amazingly well last night, all knew their words, a first I think, & no tantrums, also something of a record. Well done one&all!
What's on for next year I wonder?
Finally, another new challenge: I'm taking up Clare's suggestion of randomly leaving 60 books in public places for people to find &, I hope, feed back to this site. I'm off to Yorkshire with another DofE group at the weekend, so will be stopping at plenty of likely places.
I'm also pleased to welcome another follower, 4 now, not the whole world, but a trickle.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Great nephew

On Thursday, Amy & I went to visit Alec, my great nephew (how old that makes me sound!) and Clare of 3BT fame. He's now at 6/12 a real person with definite ideas of what is & isn't done. Waiting for drinks is on the BAD list, bread & avocado on the GOOD, cherry ice-cream is still uncertain, but an interesting experience. I'd forgotten how easily they fall asleep, a couple of bites of bread, then in mid-burble ... splat!

This weekend is taken up by the traditional Musical-over-a-weekend at the girls' old school, I think this is my 9th or 10th. Alice this year, we've done the Wizard of Oz, Grease, Bugsy Malone, Little Shop of Horrors, Disco Inferno (Faust), Return to the Forbidden Planet (The Tempest), Back to the 80s, Dracula Spectacular & Treasure Island. We used to do them to raise money for SNAP, our Special Needs DofE scheme. This no longer happens as it's on the curriculum at local schools, but the musical goes on. I help with costumes, it's a bit less manic than usual this year, very organised. we get together for the first time on Friday afternoon, the show goes on on Monday evening. I'll give an update next week.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Orchid update

I now have a book on all the 56 British orchids, so here are the six (revised to 7) I've seen in the last year or so, I hope they're right! I'm hoping to find several more. I have some photos on film, so will scan and add them soon

Green Winged, Dorset April. The green stripes on the lateral sepals are a bit of a give away!

Early purple, above Dorset April last year, below Five Sisters/Glen Shiel, Scotland, May.

Exciting update! I think this is a white variant of the Heath spotted orchid, Glen Shiel, making 7 so far. Below is the normal colouring, the labellum is quite a different shape from the common spotted

Common spotted, very variable in colour, Derbyshire, June, but widespread. Paired spotted leaves
Common Twayblade, usual form above, more pigmented below. Two broad leaves. Derbyshire, June.

 Fly Orchid, note "antennae". Somerset April

Three variants on the Early Spider orchid, Dorset April. Many hundreds in one small area. Overall rare, so exciting!