Tuesday, 31 July 2012


The brief summer saw me in the garden cutting back rampant shrubs & flower beds, now it's clearly not summer any more I need to increase other exercise, I've tried yoga with Laura following an app on her everythingphone. She's young & supple from all her gymnastics, but I'll try a little longer. She & Nick also tell me that sprinting& walking is better training for mountains, so I've been trying it. My use of "sprinting" isn't what the Olympic chaps would recognise, it means faster-than-I-would-normally-go, much harder work and I have a suspicion it's slower than my usual gentle jog!

Friday, 27 July 2012


I'm now getting stuck into organising my 60-mind-improving-books challenge, I'll post them with comments in clusters, it's hard to define what's mind-improving, I think it needs to be thought-provoking, educational in some form or make one view things a little differently. I may amend that definition.
Milton's Paradise Lost in a full annotated academic edition is one on its own so doesn't count towards the 60. To quote one of my more literary and articulate friends "It’s long" but Milton himself is so much more understandable than the accompanying explanations and criticisms! Wonderful word-smith, I suppose that’s why he’s still read on such a major scale. "Treble confusion, vengeance and wrath" is so much more powerful then flinging a few ffffs! He was the first person to use "space" to mean the sky & beyond, and talks about worlds created there. I've finished Book 1, 11 more to go, then maybe Dante's inferno. I'll report back later.


I've been lazy here, mostly because the sun has compelled me to work in the garden, with some progress in de-jungling it, although jungle in its proper place is one of my favourite habitats.
I haven't ignored my camera though, on a pootle along the canal the other day I saw a young man staring intently at something:

There's been a colony of these little fellows in a local pond for years, but I've never seen them here before, I hope he has a mate so we can watch the family grow.
This is a cactus I've had for longer than L&A, flowering briefly for the first time, I have no idea what's different apart from the lack of sun, but for a desert dweller it seems odd, maybe it's a "Oh help the world's coming to an end, I need to save the children as seeds" response. the little plant itself  (Lophophora williamsii) has hardly grown in all that time, & been re-potted once.

Friday, 20 July 2012


In spite of the less-than-encouraging weather the garden has at last started giving us some produce.

Gooseberries for crumble, raspberries, redcurrants and blueberries to eat with muesli, yoghourt or cream and the first few beans, all weeks later then usual. The tomatoes haven't even flowered yet and the courgettes have again only produced male flowers. I wonder if they're like reptiles and the gender is determined by temperature?

DofE, Orchids, Haiku 38

Another DofE, gold in the Lake District, as predicted, the weather was appalling

 but the girls were surprisingly stoical in spite of it all, and thoroughly deserved their final ice-cream. It's funny how everyone dreams of chips&burgers after 2 days on meagre dehydrated rations, even those who normally go for a healthy diet.
Highlights were the best sighting ever of a red squirrel (see haiku), sitting sheltering on a fence post on the way into a campsite, I was driving so didn't have my camera handy, huge clusters of orchids, I thought they were common spotted, but some may have been heath spotted, hard to tell as they hybridise a bit promiscuously and vary hugely.                                                                                    


The site and rather small leaves suggest the latter. Hybrids are often large, like this one with my camera case for scale. 

There were of course masses of carnivorous sundew, always a pleasure to find them. It shows the area in unspoilt by pollution and "improvement" by drainage.

The feathery friends have long cottoned on to tourists, and lost their fear, much to my advantage. 

This last one looked as though he's been DofEing too!


old copper sunbeams
threatened anxioustwitch tuftears
proper red native

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

PS to the weekend.

A post isn't really complete with out a flower or creepy-crawly photo, so here's a poppy to prove it didn't rain all the time.

This is what I thought was the uncommon long-leafed sundew, with a round-leafed to show the difference. I've never seen the long-leafed outside NW Scotland, maybe I haven't grovelled in wet places enough. My favourite wildflowers identification website, however tells me it's Drosera intermedia, the oblong leaved sundew, the name long-leafed having been scrapped! It's well recognised in Dorset

Monday, 9 July 2012


Our daughters' old school ran a citizenship day for year 7s at the end of term, I was invited to help by supervising an Eco-themed collage with a memorable message. They were good at this, coming up with ideas to cut waste, protect the environment presented in an attractive way. I always thought teaching would be much harder work than the long holidays suggest, this confirmed it, I was totally knackered by the end of the day! A difficult school would be incredibly challenging.

Orchid, 41: Coasteering

 We had another weekend in Dorset, again really wet. We walked in Wareham Forest in an effort to stay out of the rain. It's a wonderful area, and at last I found bee orchids as well as more of the the common spotted and pyramidal. Most of the other British natives are rare or very localised but I'm still hoping to find some. The Box Hill area might be productive if it stops raining long enough for them to bloom.


The weekend was organised for the walking club to go coasteering, on Saturday a totally unexpected change in wind direction and power produced six foot waves on Dancing Ledge, so it was unsafe, and therefore cancelled. Our second day was moved to the much more sheltered Man o' War Rocks and Durdle Door. It was flat calm (nearly) with blue sky. It's incredibly hard to swim in wetsuits, life jackets helmets gloves and boots (needed for the sharp rocks). Everything is stiff and awkward, and progress slow. Climbing along the rocks, and up through a pot-hole type chimney posed an interesting exercise, but I confess to having bottled out of the higher leaps!