Sunday, 27 April 2014

Spring in Kettlewell.

Orchis mascula The early purple, not new to my list but always pleasing to see. Tim found one on our walk, he was in front at the time, you can't miss the violent purple spike, and I confidently predicted there'd be lots. Luckily a few hundred yards later we found over 100 plants. If they like an area they go mad, but you can't persuade them you grow where you want them.

Devil's matchstick, Cladonia floerkeana, a particularly nice little lichen, very widespread if you look out for it.

Horse chestnut, Aesculus hippocastaneum, beautiful from its earliest sticky buds to its glowingly shiny conkers.

Mother thrush, Turdus philomelos, guarding her treasures. Why the genus name? No idea except it's Latin for thrush. The philomelos is "loves song" from the lady in Greek mythology who had her tongue cut out to stop her revealing a crime, and was turned into a bird, sometimes a thrush, sometimes a nightingale. And below, her little treasures. A quick shot with a good telephoto lens so as not to upset Mum.

This one wasn't so lucky. R found the poor little thing half out of it's shell on the path. I think it was/would have been a plover. You can see its little white egg-tooth very clearly.

I think this is a true oxlip, Primula elatior, rather than the false oxlip, a cowslip/primrose/primula cross btu the Plantlife website suggests the distribution is totally wrong. I've posted it on iSpot for more expert opinions, I'll update for anyone interested.

Kettlewell, walking

Another brilliant weekend walking , in one of my favourite areas, Kettlewell in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. To preserve the area I'm sure rules are necessary, but what exactly is this one?

Old lead mines are a regular feature, but not many as beautifully derelict as this one.

In spite of a dire forecast, the weather-gods smiled, warm and perfect for walking for much of the time, but threatened later. Almost within minutes of getting to the car it drizzled.


One of the many good things about travelling, even on a modest scale, is the local building style. I have a very soft spot for mossy roofs and walls, and for quirky chimneys.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

School of Life, Philosophers and Gardens.

A gave me a ticket to a school of life talk on Philosophy in the Garden for my Birthday, quite fascinating if a little scary. I know almost nothing about philosophy of any sort, and the interactive part worried me that I'd flounder. It wasn't too serious ant Damon Young was enthusiastic and charming. He set us problems like defining a "garden", basically a human-modified enclosed space from a sacred grove up to formal acres, with Japanese stone gardens as an offshoot. he talked about how Jane Austen's writing was only successful when she had access to one, her decade living in Bath was unproductive. The first part was in Fenton House garden, the second in the giant pergola on Hampstead Heath, where we considered poetry and were asked to compose a haiku to send in. Both these places are well worth a visit.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014


St George's day, and the inevitable "kill the dragon" images. How sad, they're such fascinating creatures, I wonder why they're always bad in Western stories but universally good luck bringers in the East. Does anyone know where this changes? That's another interesting line to follow in case I'm short of things to do. Unlikely, but an idea to ponder.

Friday, 18 April 2014


One of my very early challenges was to leave 60 books, with this blog address, in random places.  I had half a dozen responses, and now another. I wonder how many more will come along."I found "Doctors in Shirt Sleeves" at the YHA Hostel in Libanus, Wales. It caught my eye as I am a doctor, and it proved a fascinating read. I plan to give it to my dad, also a GP, who I am sure will also enjoy the read, and will delight in finding a public place to deposit it!" It was an interesting old book, bought when I was  medical student.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Haiku 55-59

59 Haiku, one more to go for my 60, then I'll have done 56 of my 60 things. It's taken a while, but I'll carry on challenging myself, and definitely carry on writing haiku, so much easier than sonnets!

greysky tumbling snow
warmly sunstar celandine
treecloud petalflakes
cannonball raindrops
swirling goldenred fishleaves
water mirrorworld
sunny sparkles drift
in ghosttrees above cloudsky
watermirror world
prosaic nudiflorum
bright summer sunstars

waterdroplet world
spacetimelightshape curveywarped
diff’rent universe

Friday, 11 April 2014

Crummock Water and trees.

As I mentioned in the previous post, the Lake district was wet, even by its standards, but a small patch of sun over Crummock Water transformed it. I always think it's an unjustly ugly name for such a lovely lake, makes it sound muddy, rather rocky and full of litter and rubbish.

Ash trees, long may they fight the die-back, have this wonderful habit of losing their insides to become Elf-dwellings. This is a particular favourite on the path up to Angle Tarn from the Langstrath Inn (good grub too)

This silver birch is something of a contortionist, starting at X, it fell over when the bank eroded, hit the torrent at Y, went with the flow for a while, then started to grow like a proper tree at Z

MoonMOOC & Spring.

I'm half way through the MOOC on moons which I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, fascinating, loads of interesting information on all the Solar System's moons. Go for it if you have a few hours a week to spare.
Spring appears to be coming, in spite of a horribly wet DofE Gold practice in the lake District, campsites flooded, soaked literally to the skin, but 1 good sunny day. Paradoxically, the more the Little Herberts were slithering in the mud the gigglier they became.
The weather has a few constant patterns, does anyone else have a frost-predicting Pieris? I have a beautiful variegated one with brilliant scarlet new leaves, like clockwork there's a frost when it's at its very best. This year the frost was gentle and only knobbled a small part of it, now regrown and like a traffic light outside the window. There's also guaranteed to be a gale as the Stag's Horn Sumach is at its most fiery.