Welcome to my blog.
Don't expect anything too high-tech or flashy, this is simply a 'diary' to share some of my photos, thoughts and observations - with a particular bias towards the natural world and the countryside around my home.
It's Malcolm's birthday today. Let joy be unbounded and may celebrations be held throughout the land! Failing that, a brisk walk in the park followed by fish and chips for lunch will have to do.
Still looking fabulous after all these years, it must be the good, clean living and a regular, if modest, intake of red wine.
We have been waiting for a decent frost for some time this year. Perhaps I should say that 'I' have been waiting for one, Malcolm hasn't! So it was wonderful to see the thermometer this morning, touching - 4 degrees and a sparkling coating of frost on the grass, fences and bushes.
Setting out for our walk, we were clothed in coats, hats and scarves against the chill despite the brilliant sunshine and blue skies.
Hawthorn bushes were sparkling with frost glinting in the sun while their bright red berries gleamed in their ripeness.
A little digital 'bloom' on the scene makes it look even more chilly.
Down to Parker's Bridge and here, the sun was filtering through a slight mist.
Onward and upward, we climbed Shipley Hill and walked through the woodland to appear again looking to the east. Here, the smoke from a Wildlife Trust's bonfire rose into the still, cold air.
All quite beautiful, but it was time to turn for home and warm up with some hot coffee.
It seems to have been quite a long time coming, but Malcolm and I were once again, able to get out and about for a walk this morning. Following so many miserable days, it was nice to see the sun shining and the skies blue as we walked along Slack Lane.
The sun was low in the sky, giving a reddish hue to the scene, making the dead leaves of late autumn, appear ruddy hued.
Further along towards Mapperley Village, the view across these cattle fields, was worth stopping to look at because of the long shadows being cast by the poplars behind us.
Nearer to Mapperley Reservoir, the hedgerows too were being lit by the low sunshine. One oak tree at least was still displaying some green among its leaves.
On the reservoir itself, a group of six Shovelers (Anas clypeata), have arrived to spend the winter and were busy feeding in the surface waters, oblivious to the fine weather. A fine day for a walk at last!
I have already mentioned the strength of the wind we had to contend with while walking around the Great Orme. The west coast of Britain is of course famously windy, so it's hardly surprising this is where npower have chosen to site an off-shore wind farm. Called Gwynt y Môr, it has some 160 turbines, making it the second largest off-shore wind farm in the world.
Generating about 576 Megawatts, electricity started to 'flow' in 2013 and there was certainly no shortage of wind to drive the turbines when we were there.
Living on the Great Orme there are around 200 Feral Kashmir Goats. They have been here since the middle of the 19th century and are descended from a pair given to Queen Victoria by the Shah of Persia. We found one perched on a seemingly precipitous slope and giving us the eye as we passed.
His beard was blowing in the wind, but he was unfazed by the conditions.
By now, it was getting darker as the sun began to set behind the Mountains of Snowdonia.
Time to head back to the town for a warming drink of something.
Dominating the countryside next to Llandudno, the limestone headland of The Great Orme is a place to have a good. walk. We had planned to walk round the Marine Drive but thought we would have to forfeit our plans due to the weather forecast. Fortunately, when we got there on Wednesday afternoon, the skies were blue and a the low winter sun made our walk a lot better than anticipated.
The pictures don't show just how windy it was and we were glad to have wrapped up against the chill despite the sunny conditions.
The name 'Orme' comes from the old Norse word urm or orm meaning sea-serpent. The Great Orme is supposed to be the serpent's head, its body being the land between the Great and Little Orme. Incidentally, we get the word 'worm' from the same Norse term.
Looking back, we got a nice view of the pier as we headed round our walk.
Half way round, the Lighthouse came into view. Built in 1862 by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company, it remained in service until March 1985. It is now a guesthouse.
Perched 360ft above the sea, it must give its residents a great view as they sit down to breakfast.
By this point in our walk, the sun was beginning to set and the wind was blowing ever more fiercely so we got our heads down and pressed on before it got dark.
More to come...
Yesterday, Malcolm and I returned home from a couple of days away in the North Wales resort of Llandudno. It had been 'touch and go' whether or not to go as the forecast had been so dreadful. High winds and rain had been promised and although we had a bit of both during our stay, it turned out to be not nearly as bad as we had anticipated. We got there on Wednesday afternoon and having found some free parking (quite a rare thing these days), we set out for a walk before we could check in to our hotel.
As you can see from the pictures, we had wonderful, blue skies, even if the wind was bracing to say the least.
The cold wind also had the advantage of allowing us virtually the whole sea front to ourselves - again another rarity these days.
The grade II listed pier was built in 1878 and at 2,295 feet long, it is the longest pier in Wales. With kiosks along the sides and a group of amusements and cafe structures at the end, it affords the visitor views back towards the town and up the Great Orme, as well as out to sea.
The kiosks were closed when we were there, which was just as well because they wouldn't have done much business with so few people about.
Beyond the pier, on the horizon, we could just make out some of the 160 wind turbines which make up the Gwynt y Môr offshore wind farm. More of that to come.
Just a couple more pictures this morning, from our recent walks around Shipley Hill. Not surprisingly, they feature the golden hues of autumn very heavily.
With the sun low in the sky at this time of year, I was surprised to see so much green left in the leaves of some trees, while others have shed theirs to form a golden brown carpet on the ground beneath.
Looking the other way, down the hill and back towards the lake, what's left of the canopy of leaves, still forms a tunnel of foliage making for a rather picturesque walk down through the trees.
After a few lovely days of chilly weather and sunshine, this morning is dull, wet and rather miserable, so we are sitting inside, waiting for the drizzle to clear away before setting out.
It has been 'all go' here lately. Malcolm and I have been busy over the last week or so, firstly having a new boiler and heating system installed, then in choosing a new kitchen. Thankfully, things calmed down a bit this morning and we were able to get a nice - if a little windy - walk through Shipley Park. Of course, it being the beginning of November, it's worth looking out for the autumn season's fungi and we certainly found some nice ones this morning.
Nestled among the brown leaves, these Fly Agarics were not easy to spot, but their bright red caps, dotted with whitish spots looked almost edible in the low, autumn sunshine.
Famous for their hallucinogenic qualities, they are of course, poisonous to humans, their red colouring serving as a "warning not for consumption."
Fly Agarics were traditionally used as an insecticide - hence the name. The cap would be broken up and sprinkled into saucers of milk. It's now known to contain ibotenic acid, which both attracts and kills flies.
It is thought that the red and white colouring of the Fly Agaric, was the inspiration for Santa Claus' red and white suit as they were commonly seen on Victorian Christmas cards as a symbol of good luck.