Monday, 30 June 2008

A little warble

Nice walk with the dog on Sunday, though the poor thing was exhausted and a bit hot when we got home - set off at around 8am and did not get home until after 11am.

Heard and saw another cuckoo, which again seems very late in the season. Presumbably all the breeding has been done now.

We also managed to walk through a field of cattle without being chased. I don't know what it is about my dog, but she's a real cow magnet - as soon as they see her they want to follow/chase her. This is unnerving for her and scary for me.

I'm told the cows are just being inquisitive . . . well I wish they wouldn't be!

The nicest part of the walk was getting some pictures of a reed warbler. I couldn't get as close as I would have liked, but I was able to enlarge the image a bit - fine for the web, I think, but won't make prints.

Monday, 23 June 2008


When you have a pet cat, you don't expect to have mice in the house.

When you have a pet terrier, you don't expect to have rats under the shed.

When you have a toad, you don't expect slugs among the lettuce.

We have a cat, but no mice, we have a Jack Russell, but no rats, we have a toad . . . and millions of bleedin' slugs. The thing is simply not earning his keep If he can't manage on his own, he needs to get some of his mates in, 'cos I'm losing the battle against slugs and snails.

Actually, we've all got a bit of a soft spot for the toad which, surprisingly for this family, does not have a name yet (I feel an online competition coming on!). He lives under a couple of lengths of wood which I desperately want to move out of the way, but I can't bring myself to disturb him.

Apart from unwanted invertabrates, he's the only real wildlife in the garden - that's the problem with more or less creating a new garden from scratch with a very low budget, there's not really much cover or food for wildlife. In a couple of years, things will be different, but until then, we will have to make do with our lazy toad.

Up until this weekend, the only goodies offered up by the garden have been various types of salad leaves and one or two strawberries that have escaped the notice of the snails. But on Sunday I dug up the first of the potatoes (not many per plant but very tasty), pulled a few carrots (again, not big but very sweet) and cut the first courgette.

The runner beans won't be long now and the tomatoes have started to form - it's not exactly the good life and we won't be self-sufficient in anything but lettuce (plot too small), but it's quite satisfying to be producing something.

The flower beds are still looking good in places - especially if you ignore the big expanses of bare earth between the plants. I like to think of myself as being like a mum who buys her kids clothes that are too big, saying 'he'll soon grow into it'. I say to myself that the plants will soon grow into the spaces.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Who are you calling bald?

Recent walks with the dog have been a bit disappointing with regard to wildlife, though on Sunday I had a reed warbler sitting just a few feet in front of me for about five minutes - seeing me off, eventually.

We also got within 30 or 40 feet of a cuckoo that was calling really loudly. I heard my first cuckoo this year at the beginnning of May. I think this is quite unusual because normally I've only heard the over a space of a week or two.

Finally, this coot had built a lovely nest which I thought was worth taking a picture of. I might try to return next week to see if there are any young.

Smoke and mirrors . . .

I've learned that close up pictures can hide a multitude of sins.

My garden at the moment is looking okay, but has not yet fully recovered from the battering it received from the dogs over the winter. There's also plenty of gaps waiting to be filled when I can afford the plants.

The vegetable patch, too, is also so-so. There have been germination issues this year!

But, like I say, close up, there's some nice flowers and plants. Here's a very short slideshow highlighting some of the best bits. Not quite Chelsea, but there you go.

My big dilemma at the moment is what tree to plant in the back garden. I want something with the shape of a silver birch, with a light, airy canopy, but I don't really want it to go above 5 or 6 metres. Anyone got any ideas. (I don't really want an ornamental cherry!)