Wednesday, 26 February 2014


I have already mentioned the wonderful display of Snowdrops which are currently adorning the woods around Shipley Hill.  This morning's walk took in a lot more.  In places, they carpet the ground at the base of the trees.
In many more places, the Snowdrops clump together in smaller groups, dotted among the leaf litter.
It all looks like Spring has sprung, although we are only too aware that things could still take a turn for the worse.  If last year's weather taught us anything, it is that there is still plenty of time to be caught out and for us to be plunged into arctic conditions.  So we're taking nothing for granted yet.  Having said that, we are not the only ones feeling optimistic about the onset of Spring.  On our walk this morning, we saw no fewer than ELEVEN Buzzards circling around and displaying to each other.  Two pairs were seen soaring around Shipley Hill, a group of three buzzards circled around close to Shipley Lake and then another group of four were seen drifting around above our estate as we headed for home.  Also on Shipley Lake, a pair of Great-crested Grebes were seen displaying to each other, dancing and head-shaking, until a third Grebe came along to put a stop to all that!
In addition to the Snowdrops, the Daffodils are also now beginning to make a bit of a splash among the woodland.  Still rather few in number, they nevertheless appear with a promise of more to come.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014


Our walk this morning, revealed the very welcome sight of the Blackthorn trees beginning to show their delightful blossom.
Last year, we were well in to March before we started to see these harbingers of spring - and even then, the few flowers which appeared, were quickly nipped off by late frosts and snow. What a difference a year makes!  This year, despite the dreadful, wet winter we have had, everything seems to be bursting into spring much earlier and the Blackthorn is among the best and most colourful of them.
Blackthorn or Sloe (Prunus spinosa) is a native plant to the UK and can be found almost anywhere in the country.  Frequently planted to form hedging to keep livestock at bay, the tangled and rather thorny branches are perfect for this task.
Later in the year, the Blackthorn will produce lots of small, purple fruits - actually called drupes - which we know as Sloes.  Resembling a tiny plum, they are rather bitter to eat fresh, but picked, cut and mixed with gin, they make a traditional - and rather nice - drink, perfect for seeing off the worst of the winter weather!  But for now, lets just enjoy the beautiful blossom.

Friday, 21 February 2014


The bulbous little plants we know as Snowdrops, have the scientific name Galanthus nivalis. This comes from the Greek Gala (meaning 'milk') and Anthos (meaning 'flower').  Nivalis means 'of the snow', so the plants are well named 'Milk-flowers of the snow'.  Snowdrop, is much less of a mouthful.
Our walk in the sunshine this morning, took us up Shipley Hill and around the gardens and woods at the top and it is here, that the Snowdrop spectacle is at its best right now.
For such a 'traditional' plant in the UK, we often think of it as a native species, but it was probably introduced to these islands in the sixteenth century.  The name 'Snowdrop' first appeared in print in the UK in 1633 and is probably a derrivation of the German word 'Schneetropfen' which was a popular kind of ear-ring in those times.
Snowdrops contain an active chemical called galantamine, which is of some use in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.  All of this is interesting, but when faced with an early Spring display of these little beauties, you just have to forget all that and just stand and stare.
We did quite a lot of standing and staring this morning.  Maybe Spring is on it's way and after all the rain we've had, it's nice to see the ground just beginning to dry out a bit.

Monday, 17 February 2014


Our walk along the Nutbrook Trail this morning revealed some early signs of spring.  The Blackthorns are starting to bud and it will only be few days until they are opening their blossom. But it was the Hawthorns which caught our eye, as the first green shoots are beginning to open.
Despite the knowledge that spring is just around the corner, the thick mud and puddles are a constant reminder that things are still very wet.  Still, it's good to see a few new shoots.

Saturday, 15 February 2014


Once again, the UK is being lashed by gales and yet more rain.  Luckily, around our home territory, we have escaped the worst of the dreadful conditions, but the wind has still been a cause for some concern over the last few days.  This morning, things seemed to have quietened down a little, so we set out for a brief walk before the rain started again.  It soon became clear that the wind was still a force to be reckoned with and as we arrived at our destination - the lake at Straw's Bridge - the normally placid waters looked more like the sea.
The ducks, geese and swans were being tossed around on the waves and as each powerful gust blew across the water, they all turned in unison, to face the wind while they bobbed like corks on the surface.  At least it remained dry for our walk, but we were glad to head for home once more.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Still Wet

Once again, the weather is bad.  More rain this morning and more strong winds to come later this afternoon.  It's all getting rather troublesome.  Last year at this time, the weather was not too good either, snow was giving way to rain and a thaw had set in  so we went from this...
 to this, overnight...
So, we are no strangers to wet winters and changeable weather - but I have to say, we're all getting a bit fed up with the rain now.

Monday, 10 February 2014


Following a clear and still night, we were greeted this morning by that most uncommon thing this winter, a frost.  So with the sky blue and no wind blowing, we wrapped up warm and headed out for a slightly longer walk in the sunshine.  Heading towards Mapperley Reservoir, we walked along Slack Lane where the six bare poplar trees stand guard over the start of the village.
On to the reservoir and the reflections were rather good.

Nestled in the trees on the far side, sits Pond House.  Its red-brick construction almost glowing in the sun and its two chimney stacks resembling a red bow, tied on the roof.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Wetter Still

After yet more rain last night, we set out this morning without much hope of staying dry for the whole walk.  Despite the sunshine when we stepped out of the door, the clouds soon gathered and a light drizzle fell, although not sufficient to spoil things.  Everywhere is saturated and large puddles cover the paths, making walking tricky in places.  It does provide some interesting reflections however.  Here, the tall Poplar trees of Shipley Woodside are reflected in a large puddle near the old pumping shed which is still in use (appropriately enough) pumping water out of the old mine workings below.
Looking more closely, the mud and mosses show up too.
Onward towards Osborne's Pond and the overflow channels are being kept well flushed out at the moment.
Back home and some wonderful little mosses are growing on the wall of our bin store.  Their bright green colour showing well in the weak sunshine.
The Capillary Thread-moss (Bryum capillare) is very common in the UK and is distinctive due to its drooping fruiting bodies which are held above the leaves on slender, red-tinted stems, about two inches tall.
The leafy stems twist into a corkscrew shape when they dry out, but there's no chance of that happening at the moment and they remain green and lush with water droplets adorning them. More rain due tomorrow - and stormy winds too!

Wednesday, 5 February 2014


With much of the UK suffering with too much rain, our most local body of water seems well named.  The Manor Flood is a popular lake with the fishing fraternity as well as walkers and in some cases, their dogs.  There are lots of fish in the lake with roach, perch, chub (up to 6lb in weight) and tench reaching 8lbs.  By far the biggest fish - and the ones which attract the fishermen) are the carp, which apparently reach about 30lb.  Yesterday's rather quick walk (we had other things to do, so only an hour to spare), took us down to the side of the lake to look out across the water.
Taking pictures into the sun was tricky resulting in lots of lens flare.  But the blue sky was attractive enough to have a go and the sun, shining through the silvery seed heads of the Rosebay Willowherb looked particularly good.
Now the weather has taken another turn for the worse, it looks like we may not be getting much of a walk for a few days to come.  Hey Ho!

Sunday, 2 February 2014


Another sunny morning today.  Two in a row?  There must be some mistake!  So, trying to ignore the copious quantity of other walkers out and about, enjoying the sunshine this morning, we decided to have a longer walk and see if the Snowdrops are starting to bloom yet.  Heading for Shipley Hill, we had to pick our way carefully through the mud and standing water, but our efforts were rewarded by the sight of the first flush of Snowdrops, just opening their flowers.
Still rather few in number, these harbingers of Spring were doing their best to brighten up the soggy, muddy and very wet woodland floor.
After all the rain and miserable weather we've had, it's nice to see something a little more cheery.

Saturday, 1 February 2014


At last!  Following what seems to months of dull, wet and generally horrible weather, we stepped out for a walk this morning, in bright sunshine.  Despite the welcome sun, there was a bitter wind blowing, which took the edge off the temperature and made us glad for our hats and scarves.  We set out for Straw's Bridge again as the footpaths are a little easier to negotiate - although still muddy and puddly.  Passing Pewit Carr, the old Nutbrook Canal breaks free of it's man-made boundaries and spills out through the carr and associated reed beds.  After all the recent rain, the water level has risen and is rushing through those reeds.
The tops of Great Reedmace are still hanging on and towering above the greying, dead reeds around them and the rushing water at their feet.
On to Straw's Bridge and 'Swan Lake' which seemed a bit of a misnomer this morning as there were no swans, but plenty of geese - mostly Canada Geese, but also a lone Greylag.
All the water fowl were gathered at one side of the lake (waiting for arriving bread bags), which left the other end of the lake almost deserted but still looking nice in the sunshine.
The clouds were starting to accumulate, promising yet more rain later in the day.  But it was nice to see a bit of blue sky for a change - while it lasted!