Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Small Horse

Following a rather wet day yesterday, during which I only managed to get out to purchase a loaf of bread - and still managed to get wet, it was nice to be out and about this morning for a walk through Shipley Park. I set out along Slack lane, taking me past the fields of the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust where they have recently introduced a small group of Konik Ponies.
The name is a derivation of the Polish for Small Horse and they can trace their ancestry directly from the original, wild European horse the Tarpan. Resilient to harsh weather conditions, they can adapt their diet to take advantage of almost anything available, delaying growth during periods of shortage. They make a welcome addition to the countryside around here.
Onward to Mapperley Village, past the reservoir - looking particularly grey this morning - and then up Shipley Hill. Looking back towards Mapperley, the greyness of the day was obvious.
Away in the distance, through the gloom, Ratcliffe Power Station was just visible as it churned out smoke and steam just over nine miles away.
Taking a photo of an old Ash tree on the way up the hill, one of my pictures turned out to be a happy accident. The picture was under exposed, giving the feeling of night-time. Although it was very dull, it wasn't quite that dark!
This was the view looking back down the drive which would once have seen horse-drawn carriages trotting up to Shipley Hall. No such grandeur this morning, just me, a cyclist and a couple of squirrels.
Time to head home for a hot coffee.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Fresh Start

Here we are again at the start of another year and after the rigours of Christmas and New Year, we are off to our usual quiet start. The old year left us on a rather foggy note as our strolls around Shipley Park demonstrated.
The sun shining through the trees made for a somewhat atmospheric look and a little digital manipulation helps here too.
At Straw's Bridge, the swans were enjoying the sunshine too.
Looking back to last July, you may remember that I photographed a caterpillar in our back garden. It was found on one of our Pheasant Berry plants and proved to be a complete mystery. Well, it may have taken sometime, but at last, I have managed to identify the little beast. The problem was, I had been blinkered by the idea that it must have been either a butterfly or moth caterpillar, but it turns out to have been the larva of a Honeysuckle Sawfly. At last! And a new tick for the life list.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

2016 Round-up Part 5

Here we are at the end of another year and taking a last look at what has gone before. We have reached October and our memorable trip to Croatia. We spent a wonderful week in Plat, near Dubrovnik and had some lovely weather...
some lovely food and wine...
and plenty of 'culture'.
The old city of Dubrovnik itself, was stunning. Architecturally and historically, it ticked all the boxes from the towering seafront...
to the red-tiled roof-tops.
We had a good time in the beautiful town of Cavtat too.
The sea was clear and blue..
the wildlife was exotic, exciting and in many cases, 'new' to me.
All too soon, the sun set on our holiday and we returned to an autumnal Britain.
Back home and the trees reminded us that Autumn was well advanced by now.
It was a particularly good year for autumn colour.
November saw us taking off again for a few nights away, this time in Llandudno. It was windy and chilly, but thankfully, not as wet as the forecast had promised. We fought our way around the Great Orme with the wind occasionally stopping us in our tracks.
The shadows were lengthening as the year drew to its close.
Then the first frosts of the winter nipped the extremities.
Malcolm's birthday heralded the end of November and by December, we were preparing for the new kitchen. We said our goodbye's to the old one and waited for all the dust, noise and mayhem which was about to come as the new one slowly took shape. The results have been worth it.
So, there we are! It only remains for me to wish a Happy New Year to all who deserve it and 'see you on the other side.'

Friday, 30 December 2016

2016 Round-up Part 4

In July, Malcolm and I took ourselves off for a few days stay in Portsmouth. We had a great time exploring the city...
and the sea-front...
and we had a high time up the Spinaker Tower.
While in Portsmouth, we paid a visit to Brian and Mary and spent a a very pleasant evening with them. Mary cooked a delicious meal for us and it was nice - after many years - to catch up with their son, my second cousin, Simon. It was Simon who suggested we should take a look at the delightful village of Bosham and this turned out to be sound advice. It is a beautiful village.
Back home again and high summer meant that our local countryside was blooming with late colour.
August saw a second (and in some cases a third) flush of ducklings swimming about on the lakes of Straw's Bridge.
The fields were still blooming, but the grasses were ripening in the sunshine as the late summer flowers hung on to their colour.
On 16th, our friend Jayne accompanied us on a walk and,we found a very strange object growing on a tree trunk. It turned out to be a Chicken-of-the-Woods fungus - a new 'tick' for my list.
My 49th birthday also brought some much warmer weather and the surprising sight of no fewer than eight Buzzards circling in the clear blue sky.
Things had started to slow down by September and the first signs of Autumn were beginning to appear. Rowan berries are always the first to show.
Then came the first Daddy-long-legs or Crane Flies.
Yew trees were also fruiting colourfully on Shipley Hill...
but, by the end of the month, the leaves were starting to turn and Autumn couldn't be put off any longer.
Tomorrow will see the the end of this rapid round-up. So stay tuned..!

Thursday, 29 December 2016

2016 Round-up Part 3

May came around and gave us more Bluebells.
We saw a beautiful Rat at Straw's Bridge...
and a spectacular Mandarin at Mapperley Reservoir.
By mid May, the Cherry blossom was out...
and the Rhododendrons were not far behind them, adding their over-the-top style to the woodland on Shipley Hill.

Towards the end of May, we were off once again to Switzerland and stayed in the wonderful little village of Spiez. From our hotel we had a great view of Niesen.
The views from the top of Niesen, were even better with the Eiger, Mönch and the Jungfrau dominating the scene.
Lake Thun was stunning...
and Interlaken gave us an even more spectacular view of the Jungfrau.
The city of Thun provided some historical culture.
Back home again and the Summer started off with a blaze of floral colour with Yellow Flag Iris...
Bee Orchids...
and drifts of Southern Marsh Orchids.
The Azaleas didn't want to be left out either.
The bugs were out too and our walks were once again blighted by the biting of Cleg Flies. Nasty little things, but what beautiful eyes they have!
Lots more to come tomorrow.