Saturday, 30 July 2011


Our walk this morning didn't get off to much of a start.  Having opted for a walk around Straw's Bridge lakes, we encountered battalions of small children dressed as pirates or in party dresses, accompanied by parents in even greater numbers and dressed (in some cases) even more ridiculously.  Given my misanthropic nature, it wasn't the best place for me to be, so we beat a hasty retreat along the road and cut in through the woodland of Peewit Carr before walking along the old colliery railway lines.  Peewit Carr is usually a lot more peaceful and today was no exception.
The wild flower meadow is beginning to look a little brown and dry now.  The orchids have all lost their flowers and the Yellow Rattle is busy setting seed.  Grasses are drying in the sun but the Red Clover is still looking good.
Further along our walk, we encountered a foreign invader.  Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) is bad news in the countryside as it begins to take over with it's aggressive, explosive seed dispersal system.  But they are still nice to look at.
This particular plant seemed to have a darker pink flower than we are used to seeing.  I suppose we should have pulled the plants up and destroyed them before they get hold, but we didn't.

Friday, 29 July 2011


Malcolm and I have been having some success with our garden produce this year.  Despite the garden being very small, we are growing several things for the dining table.  We have started harvesting the tomatoes already and have started our second large pot of carrots - the first crop were delicious.  The basil is also going down well and the garlic is small, but powerful.  As well as all that, we have a trough full of Anaheim Chili-pepper plants which are starting to set fruit.  They have been rather decorative in flower too.  Small in size, but white and waxy, they are quite nice to look at.  Lets hope the chilies are nice too when we harvest them - should go well with the tomatoes, basil and garlic.
Our walk this morning took in the path around Shipley Lake - the old theme-park site - keen as we were to see how this year's crop of Blackberries are getting on (not quite ready yet).  Heading home again, the views from various bits of high ground are rather fine.  This one is from an old bank, once the site of several railway lines, looking towards town.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011


Trying to stay off the main footpaths this morning, we found ourselves walking along some little-used pathways.  The most colourful of which was the first.  Filled with the tall Rosebay Willowherb, diminutive Birdsfoot Trefoil, graceful Weld, Ox-eye Daisy, Broom, Red Clover and a thousand others.... Oh! And Malcolm of course!
The Willowherb has to be one of my favourites.  It's always a great favourite with the bees and butterflies too.
It has to be said that the Weld flowers were receiving a lot of attention from what few bees there are these days.  An insignificant looking flower, Weld makes up in numbers, what it loses in flower size.  It is not easy to see in the pictures above, but if you look just to the left of Malcolm in the top picture, you may be able to make out their pale, yellow-white flower spikes.  You can hardly take anything away from the pink magnificence of the Rosebay Willowherb.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011


There were some prickly customers to be seen on our walk this morning.  First were the Teasels (Dipsacus fullonum).  Reaching about 7ft tall at the moment, they are now in full bloom, opening their pale, pinkish-blue flowers.
Stately and imposing, they certainly dominate the borders.
The second, spiky plant in bloom and worthy of mention, is the Great Burdock (Arctium lappa).  The spikes in this case are tipped with small hooks which snare almost anything which comes within 'grabbing distance'.  The flowers in this case are rather more colourful and a deeper shade of purple-blue although the plants are tall, large-leaved and almost as imposing in the border.

Monday, 25 July 2011


For several weeks now, there have been lots of Common Toadflax (Linaria vulgaris) plants in flower along the Nutbrook trail.  Most are beginning to fade now, but there are still some rather nice spikes of flower to be enjoyed.
This particular plant seemed to have very pale flowers lacking the darker, orange 'throat'.  A member of the Scrophulariaceae family which includes the Snapdragons which adorn so many of our gardens, the resemblance is obvious.
Our neighbours have been redesigning their back garden for a couple of weeks and during this time, their cat 'Oscar' has been finding some peace and quiet under our Pyracantha hedge.  Bless!

Friday, 22 July 2011


Only a short walk to Argos this morning, returning via town for a little retail therapy.  So, just one pic today of a gorgeous plant in full bloom at the moment and quite common round these parts.  The Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria).
The family to which Loosestrife belongs, also contains Henna - well known for it's dying qualities - and the Pomegranate, neither of which you would find growing along the Nutbrook Canal as this Loosestrife was.  The bright, pinkish purple flowers are a great favourite with bees, butterflies and various other flying insects.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Spear & Shield

This morning's walk was not so long as yesterday's, but still very worth while.  Not least because we were greeted by the sight of a host of Spear Thistles (Cirsium vulgare) growing along the Nutbrook Canal.
The vivid pinkish-red of the flowers heads stands out against the rich green of the canal-side foliage.  It also stands out against the other pink flower in the above picture, that of the Hemp Agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum).  They are truly beautiful flowers, like small, pink shaving brushes, although he size and ferocity of the spines on stem, leaf and flower bud would lead to a particularly uncomfortable shave.
Back home and a mystery has been cleared up.  A few weeks ago, I noticed a small group of eggs had been laid on the underside of one of our tomato plant leaves.  Rather beautiful in themselves, small and pale green in colour, I was intrigued as to what they might be.
Well, this morning, they seem to have hatched and all has been revealed.  They turn out to be a couple of dozen Shield Bug nymphs - although the precise species is yet to be ascertained.  Delightful little creatures...  As long as they don't eat the tomatoes!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011


A good 7 mile walk this morning.  The weather seemed to be set fair, so we took the 'bull by the horns' and set out to see if the Well Dressings were still in place at the village of West Hallam.  Needless to say, as is our luck, there wasn't one left, but the walk was very nice and took in West Hallam, which we have not previously walked around.  Returning from West Hallam, we headed down towards the village of Mapperley and the reservoir, we sat and had a coffee at one of the picnic tables before returning through Mapperly wood.
All in all and despite the lack of well dressings, a nice morning and a good long walk.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011


It has been a wet and windy weekend and the wet theme seems to be continuing into the week.  This morning, we set out for a walk along the footpaths of Shipley Park with rain-wear in hand - just in case.  Good job we did too, as it wasn't too long before the clouds gathered, the skies darkened and the rain fell.  We were joined, sheltering under an old railway bridge by a woman with her puppy.  The woman didn't mind the rain, but the puppy was not happy... Bless!  The changeable weather did provide some good skies and dramatic clouds.
When the rain subsided, it was time to leave the shelter of the bridge and strike out for home once again for a medicinal tot of Brandy with our coffee - well, one doesn't want to catch one's death, does one..?

Friday, 15 July 2011

Views again

Once more, some general views.  Today's walk took us round Shipley Lake, then through the wood to what is called on modern maps, Well Pond and what was part of Parkfield Farm in the 19th century.  The pond is full of Canadian Pond Weed and the surface is almost covered by Duckweed, but a family of Moorhens have made it their home.
From the pond, the vista opens out to show Shipley Hill (a little closer than it was in yesterday's picture) beyond an old Scots Pine tree.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

View too

A couple more general views today.  Walking out this morning in the sunshine, we ventured onto the raised ground behind the local golf course to look back toward the whole of Shipley Park.  The eagle-eyed among you will notice Shipey Hill, where we were yesterday, in the far distance on the extreme right of this panorama.  The lake in the middle is the Manor Floods.  Click the pic to get the larger version.
The second panorama takes in one of the smaller lakes which make up the complex of lakes and water-ways which make up the Straw's Bridge area.  This one is fed from several water-ways including the Nutbrook and the Nutbrook Canal.  It has no clearly defined edges on the far side as it disappears into Pewit Carr and is swallowed up by reeds, Alder trees and boggy ground.  There is usually a Grey Heron standing, patiently waiting for a fish, somewhere around this lake, but not today.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011


A nice day for a walk up Shipley Hill, so a couple of views over the village of Mapperley, looking South.
Far off in the distance, peeping over the horizon, a large 'mess' of electricity pylons has appeared recently (or is it only recently that we've started to notice them?)

Tuesday, 12 July 2011


Today saw the last flight of the Nimrod R1 which has been on static display at RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire since being taken out of service in 2009.  It was flown the short distance from Waddington to East Midlands Airport at about 10.15 this morning.  It's last resting place will be the Aeropark museum at the airport.  Luckily for us, it's flight path took it straight over our house and I just managed to snap a shot of it as it passed a gap i the clouds.
Not a very good shot unfortunately.  The Nimrods was based on the de Havilland Comet, a passenger jet aircraft designed in the late 1940's and brought into service in 1952 with BOAC.
The MOD redesigned the plane and Hawker Siddeley (now part of BAE Systems) started to turn them out as Nimrods for anti submarine warfare and, later, as airborne early warning.  After 60 years' service, the Nimrod was retired completely in June this year.

Sunday, 10 July 2011


I have mentioned the lack of butterflies extant around the countryside this year, there was however, a rather nice one to be seen around the lakes of Straw's Bridge the other day.  It was a Comma (Polygonia c-album).
Sun-bathing on a Blackberry leaf, this one was unusually 'easy-going' as I pointed my camera at it.  Comma numbers crashed in the UK during the 19th century until they reached a low point in the 1920's.  Only two sightings were made at this time in the whole of Britain.  This decline has never been explained, but, thankfully, numbers have increased again and this is now one of our most common butterflies.
There is a tall plant growing by the path along the Old Colliery walk.  Standing about 6ft tall and topped by a spike of bright, yellow flowers, it makes quite an imposing sight.  It is a Great Mullein (Verbascum thapsus).
The whole plant is covered by a dense coat of grey hairs giving it a woolly appearance - and feel.  The flowers of this one were crawling with tiny, black pollen beetles (Meligethes aeneus - I think!).

Saturday, 9 July 2011


Taking to the footpaths again this morning, we set out for a walk around Straw's Bridge.  Trying in vain to avoid the weekend cyclists (ill-mannered lot), joggers (looking like 97 year-old stick insects) and screaming kids (what a joy!), the highlight of the morning was a magnificent Carrion Crow (Corvus corone).
Shimmering in the sunshine, it was standing on the fence at the car-park waiting for a stray piece of bread to come it's way.
It's easy to assume these birds are black, but closer inspection in the sunlight reveals a green and purple sheen.  What a beautiful and imposing bird this is.

Monday, 4 July 2011


Our lawn in our back garden, is rather more clover than grass, but that's just as we like it.  The bees like it too and the ants, beetles, birds,etc.  With the clover in flower, it looks good too, but placing the camera on the ground, gives one an ant's-eye view of what's going on.  It looks even better from this angle.
White Clover is joined in parts by the smaller-flowered Yellow Suckling Clover, all helping to fix nitrogen into the soil and providing much needed nectar for the insects.
It all looks so good from 'down here', it almost makes you wish you were an insect.

Friday, 1 July 2011


A lovely day for a walk to day.  As we will not be having a walk tomorrow (other things to do), we thought a longer walk would be the thing.  So we set out for a 6.5 mile walk around Shipley Hill, Mapperley Reservoir and Village before returning via the old West Hallam Colliery site.  Just a few pics from our wanderings.  Firstly, the Biting Stonecrop (Sedum acre).  'Mats' of which are carpeting the sides of the pathways on parts of our walk.
Close to the Stonecrops are to be found several Evening Primroses (Oenothera biennis).
All the flowers today, are yellow and the final one is a Common Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea).  These plants are being devoured by the caterpillars of Cinnabar Moths (Tyria jacobaeae).