Friday, 29 March 2013


For once, the sun shone beautifully on us this morning.  So despite the cold we decided on a longer walk around the park this morning.  Close to Osborne's Pond, the views across the fields were rather 'tundra-like'.
The snow is beginning to melt away and reveal the green grass underneath, but the temperature is still well below average for the time of year.
Back home over Shipley Hill and down the other side and the trees were trying very hard to open their buds in the wood.  The Snowdrops are fading but the Daffodils still haven't opened their flowers - and who can blame them in the snow.  Still, things were definitely looking up this morning.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013


Once again, the bitter wind was finding ways into our clothing this morning as we walked to Straw's Bridge.  Although the worst of the snow seems to have stopped (for the time being), there is still plenty of it hanging around and where it has started to thaw, puddles have formed which froze over night and made certain parts of our walk rather 'tricky'.  The sun was doing it's best however, to break through the lowering clouds and it all made for some rather 'arty' shots.
By now, the Oaks should really be bursting into life and starting to show a little green among the branches, but the lone Oak tree on this corner was looking decidedly dormant today.
But at least the sun was trying to cheer the scene and if it hadn't been for the biting wind still blowing in from the east, it would have been a much better morning.  And there's still no sign of an improvement...

Sunday, 24 March 2013

It's 'Quackers'

Still, the snow falls (thankfully much lighter this morning) and a couple of pictures seem to say it all.  From our patio doors, the plastic ducks which stand guard over the back garden are up to their little quacks in snow.
What the 'drake' is looking so happy about, I really can't think.  Maybe he knows things are going to get better soon....  Lets hope!

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Getting Worse

Over night, the snow has continued to fall and the wind has blown even more strongly.  So, this morning we woke to several more inches of snow blanketing everything.  The view from our front room window says it all.
Despite the bitter cold and the ever-inflating gas bill, you cannot deny that the scene is rather beautiful, even if the poor little Blue tits are having trouble perching in the snow-covered tree.
The hedgerows are white...
The gardens are white...
I think it must be Christmas already!  Now where did I put those decorations..?  And where are the sprouts?

Friday, 22 March 2013


In line with much of Britain, we awoke this morning to an inch thick covering of snow.  And we thought this was supposed to be the end of March!  Feels more like the end of January at the moment.  The snow is rather wet and slushy so I don't think it will last very long and with any luck we will be able to get out for a walk this afternoon.  The poor birds are looking a little bemused at the un-seasonal weather and the fat-balls are taking a bit of a hammering this morning.  This little chap was looking all 'puffed-up' in the as he waited for his turn on the feeder...
.. His missus was certainly getting her beak full while she could.
Things shouldn't be this cold at this time of year - maybe things will improve next week.

Thursday, 21 March 2013


Leaden skies once again accompanied our walk this morning.  Despite it being a degree or two milder, the increased breeze made it feel as cold as ever as we walked to Osborne's Pond.
Most of the over-wintering wildfowl seem to have moved on, leaving the lake to the more familiar Mallards, Coots and Mute Swans.  A small flock of Canada Geese were busy grazing on the adjoining field leaving the water unusually quiet.
Returning from the lakeside view, we walked along the road back toward Shipley lake.  You always get a good perspective view along the road, especially when the trees are bare - except for the ivy climbing up the trunks.
Back home for a warm and a cup of coffee!

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Looking back

It is with some affection, that I am having a look back this morning at this day in years gone by.  Last year we were experiencing gorgeous weather and warm sunshine as we strolled around Shipley Country Park.
Two years ago, the Blackthorn was flowering beautifully in the hedgerows and the Dog's Mercury was bursting through the leaf litter below as sunshine, again predominated.
Back in 2009, we were enjoying a trip up Curbar and Froggatt Edges and once again the weather was beautiful.
This year, we seem destined to be stuck under grey skies and cold temperatures for the foreseeable future.  And with no sign of things getting any better, the only ones who are happy with the situation are the utility companies as we are forced to keep the heating on!
Oh well, I suppose things will improve eventually.....

Friday, 15 March 2013

Milk Flower

Just a couple more photos of the Snowdrops (Milk Flower, from the scientific name Galathus) which are looking their best on Shipley Hill right now.  Yesterday's sunshine had brought most of these little beauties out in full bloom.
This little clump were to be found growing near the Nottingham Lodge, under the canopy of a Rhododendron and close to a small Holly bush.  They were just crying out to be photographed so, who am I to refuse the calling?

Thursday, 14 March 2013


Another beautiful, but cold morning today, so we set out for a longer walk around Shipley Hill and down to Mapperley Reservoir.  The reservoir was almost completely frozen over after a night of plunging temperatures, but in the sunshine, everything looked just wonderful.
Returning along Slack Lane, we were delighted to see a couple of lambs in the field of Jacob Sheep.
Judging by their size, these were no 'new-borns', but this little chap was just beautiful - and not a little photogenic as he tried to get a visit to 'mum's milk bar'.  Perhaps Spring has sprung after all!

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Pussy Willow

A beautiful - if still a little cold - morning today, so we set out for Straw's Bridge with the sun shining on us and lots of blue sky to enjoy.  'Swan Lake' was looking good in the sun.
Along the paths, the Willow trees are starting to open their fluffy buds and in the sunshine, they are like silver highlights along the branches.
Despite the cold, they make you think of Spring.
I couldn't help thinking that they look just like rabbits feet and probably the most tactile things, you just have to touch them.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013


The weather has been absolutely awful.  On Sunday we went over to King's Lynn to spend Mother's Day with our two 'old dears' and the wind was biting to say the least.  Yesterday we had snow showers of varying intensity for most of the day and the thermometer didn't struggle much above freezing all day.
This morning, we woke to blue skies and a light dusting of snow everywhere.  It's still bitterly cold, but the sunshine makes things feel a little better.  Despite all of this, the small clump of miniature daffodils in our back garden (always known as "Dad's Daffs" as they were given to us by a friend when my father died) are opening their flowers bravely.
First thing this morning they were looking very sad as their heads drooped in the frost, but as you can see, they have cheered up considerably.  At least they're a little colour in the bitter and very un-March-like weather.

Saturday, 9 March 2013


Once again, we are confined to barracks this morning due to the appalling weather and with worse forecast in the form of wind, rain, sleet and snow over the next few days, things don't look like getting any better.  So a couple more pictures I managed to take yesterday on our walk round Straw's Bridge.
The Blackthorn bushes around the lake are beginning got show a few flowers - something they may regret if the frost kills them off during the coming week.  These little beauties were struggling bravely in the mist and murk of yesterday.
Small water droplets had formed on the delicate petals and were trying to sparkle in the gloom - without much success.
All we can do is hope that the forecasters are about as reliable as usual and the wintry chill doesn't materialise.

Friday, 8 March 2013


There are few words which describe the weather today, better than 'filthy'.  We were not expecting to get out at all today, but after lunch, the drizzle had eased a little so we decided to make the best of things and brave the elements.  Still cold and foggy, we set out for a short walk through Pewit Carr, Straw's Bridge and back home for a hot cup of tea.  The flooded woodland of the Carr, was even more dank, dark and mysterious than normal.
Strange, skeletal forms loomed in the mist and the constant dripping of water from the bare branches made a weird kind of music to accompany the scene.  Fungi clung to the rotting wood and all that was needed to complete the prehistoric scene, was a stray Brontosaurus lumbering through the undergrowth.
Pressing on further along the path, the mist closed in and the drizzle increased again making things very dreary and wet.  That cup of tea seemed a lot more inviting by now.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013


A quick trip out to Matlock this morning as the forecast was so good (actually, the weather was cold and foggy for much of the morning, but it got better).  As a result, no walk in the park, but here's a picture of one of the more handsome trees on Shipley Hill, which caught my eye the other day.  Birch trees are well known for their white, papery bark, but this one really took the prize, especially with the sun shining on it.  With the white flowers of the Snowdrops too, everything's looking rather 'monochrome' at the moment.
It's a bit tricky trying to discover which variety of Birch this is, but I think it may be a Himalayan White Birch (Betula jacquemontii).  Quite an impressive specimen whatever it is and one I will be keeping an eye on in future.

Friday, 1 March 2013


Belonging to the same family as the Birch trees, the Alder (Alnus glutinosa) is familiar to most of us as a tree of wet and boggy places.  Like the Hazel which I mentioned a few days ago, the Alder reproduces by means of long male catkins and small, red female flowers.  The catkins are by far the most prominent feature at this time of year.
Dangling at the end of the branches, these catkins reach about 6 inches long and close inspection reveals a collage of colours, yellows, greens and reds all make them look rather spectacular.  The female flowers are borne in small clusters a little further back along the twig from the catkins and are, like the Hazel, small, red and very un-flower like.
Eventually, these female flowers will form the small, hard, brown 'cones' which contain the seeds which Goldfinches and Siskins seem to like so much.
Alder wood is resistant to decay in water and as such, has been used in antiquity to make water pipes, boats and a whole range of other 'water-based' uses.  The branches also used to be cut off and stored in people's wardrobes as it is irresistible to woodworm and so used to lure them away from your best mahogany furniture.