Friday, 15 June 2018

Bee Orchids

It's Orchid time again, so Malcolm and I have recently spent some time searching for these delicate and beautiful little flowers. The most abundant are as always, the Common Spotted Orchids.
Growing and flowering close by, are Southern Marsh Orchids. Often tricky to separate from the Common Spotted. This is made even more difficult when the two species hybridise, producing a plant which is neither one thing, nor the other.
The most exciting member of the Orchid family to be found around these parts however, has to be the Bee Orchids.
Much less showy and with smaller flower spikes, these little charmers always seem to hide away among the grasses, making it quite a task to spot them initially.
But once you have got your 'eye in' you begin to see lots of them dotted around the dry parts of Shipley Woodside. They always reward the effort of getting down for a closer look!
No doubt there will be more pictures of orchids to come over the next few weeks.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Last of Norfolk

On our last afternoon in Norfolk, we spent a long time walking along the Weavers' Way once more. This time however, we headed the other way, leaving the Bride behind us.
Once more, the river Bure was dotted with pleasure cruisers chugging up and down, scattering ducks as they went, whilst, looking the other way, we had great views of those huge Norfolk skies.
Out across the fields, a couple of Marsh Harriers were quartering the ground looking for prey. Sadly, they stayed too far away for me to get a picture - typical! We were however, being watched by a few black cattle in the field
Malcolm was enjoying the views and fresh air...
... and we eventually reached Clippesby Mill.
This was another drainage mill and is quite an old building. There was an older mill in place long before it was heightened using wider, more modern, red bricks sometime around 1814. It has a 'Norfolk' boat shaped top - but sadly, no sails now as it stands watch over the river. The sails were removed after the mill was struck by lightning in 1978.
The modern pumphouse next to the old mill, also dates from the 1970's.
During the few days we were away, we were lucky enough to encounter several species which I hadn't seen (or heard) for years. I have already mentioned the Cuckoo, calling from the Willow trees but remaining out of sight. To add to this, we also saw a Turtle Dove and stood listening to its reeling, purring call for some minutes. In the small bit of woodland close to where we were staying, we encountered a Roe Deer as we walked along. I don't know who was more startled, it, or us!
I managed one new 'tick' for the life list too. Not as handsome as a Roe Deer maybe, but no less exciting (for me anyway). This is an Amber Snail.
And so, the sun set on our short jaunt around the Broads. We will certainly be going back again.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Mills?

Of course, the Broads is littered with what look like windmills in various states of decay. In the days before electricity, these mills were used, not for grinding grain, but for pumping huge quantities of water from one dyke to another in an effort to maintain water levels. One of the more celebrated of these mills, can be found at Horsey - close to where we were staying.
Built in 1912, Horsey Windpump is among the youngest of its kind but has seen quite a lot of action through its life. It has seen floods, lightning strikes and storms and has even suffered collapse at one time. It replaced an older pump called the 'Black Mill' because it was covered in a weather-proof fabric coated in tar.
The current building is undergoing extensive restoration by the National Trust who now own it, so it wasn't possible to see much of it - but at least the sails are now in place, having been missing for some time.
Close by, Horsey Mere offered some nice views across the water.
While a few please boats were moored up along a small channel which leads to the mill.
Always with the mill keeping watch...
... and as we walked around the mere, the sight of sails gliding by over the tops of the reed beds, seemed a little incongruous .
Still a few more pictures to come!

Friday, 8 June 2018

Weavers

As usual, Malcolm and I did a lot of walking while on our short break. We were lucky that we had a wonderful walk close to where we were staying, called the Weavers' Way.
The Weavers' Way actually stretches from Cromer to Great Yarmouth, a distance of around 61 miles in total. Needless to say, we didn't do the whole thing!
This small piece of it, ran south from Acle, crossing the A47 and the railway line, then heading across more open farmland, but all the while, keeping the river (an off-shoot of the Bure), to the side of us.
The trees were filled with singing birds. Chiff-chaffs, Willow Warblers and Wrens accompanying many others and even a Cuckoo - the first one we've heard for several years.
We couldn't believe how quiet it was. In fact, I don't think we saw a soul all along the walk.
Soon, it was time to turn back to Acle, taking in the parish church of Saint Edmund.
Somewhat unusually, the church has a round tower with an octagonal section on top. The round part dates from around 850 to 950 AD with the octagonal bit added in the 13th century and the battlements atop it, from 1472. It all looked very well looked-after too!
Still more to come...

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Broads

Malcolm and I have had a few days enjoying the delights of the Norfolk Broads. We stayed at Acle and had a fine time exploring the surrounding countryside... Flat of course and rather watery!
Around the fields surrounding the river Bure, there are plenty of channels cut through the reeds to drain the land and lots of pump buildings of one sort or another, who's job it is (or has been), to lift water from lower channels, up into higher ones and eventually into the river Bure itself.
About a mile from the village, the main road crosses the Bure at a rather picturesque spot where small cruising boats go throbbing by.
By the bridge, the Acle Bridge Inn was busy with boaters and locals alike. The bridge itself was once a stone-built, three arched affair, but has been replaced a couple of times, the current one being built in 1997. The inn has also changed a lot over the years, but the current, thatched building looks lovely.
All along the river, old pump buildings are being replaced or updated too, often with thatched roofs...
and everywhere, huge, 'Norfolk, skies.
More to come....

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Shipley Hall

With a rather stiff breeze taking the edge off the temperature, we set off to climb a Hill this morning and to visit the site of the old hall. Our primary objective was to check on the Rhododendrons and Azaleas which grow there.  We were not disappointed.
This small patch of Azaleas is always a joy to the senses at this time of year. The colours simply burst out of the shrubbery, as the scent from the yellow azalea, fill your nostrils.
Around the site, the old Italianate gardens which once delighted the Miller-Mundy family and their guests at the hall, now delight us all.
The colours of these Rhododendrons is stunning. One, red variety was particularly worthy of note this morning.
With a little digital manipulation, one can isolate the red... Who knew?
It's worth taking a broader view of the site.
Where the walls of the old hall are still picked out in stone, this Potentilla formed a golden highlight...
With a backdrop of Wisteria, adding - once again - a delightful scent on the chilly breeze.
There will undoubtedly be more on this topic in days to come...

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Hawthorn

As we walk around the countryside hereabouts, there really is only one topic of conversation right now. The Hawthorn!
I have mentioned how the season has exploded with blossom after a very long, cold and wet winter, but the Hawthorn bushes stand head and shoulders above all others at the moment.
They are smothered with blossom and their scent is quite intoxicating - if something of an acquired taste!
Close examination of the flowers, reveals nectar aplenty, glistening in the sunshine. The only problem seems to be the dearth of insects to take advantage of it. One might expect the trees to be 'buzzing' with bees and hoverflies, all feasting on the nectar, but sadly, there were very few to be seen on these.
Along the footpaths near to our home, it all makes for a fantastic spectacle.
Lets have a closer look.
Just time for one more...