Wednesday, 25 March 2015


Spring is in the air and it's the time of year that young peoples fancy turns to love.

We have a new neighbour just a few fields away.

Can you see the new home?  It's that mass in the tree just right to centre.
I saw our new neighbour today.

Yes - it's a buzzard! And she's nesting! Near our house!  Within binocular range!
As you can tell I'm very excited.

Last year there were a couple of buzzards that hunted over this area and it was great to see them back earlier this morning.  It was then I spotted our new neighbour, as she and one of the others went head to head (or talon to talon as birds of prey tend to); I was lucky enough to see her land and that's when I saw the nest.
I'm hoping we'll get to know her better over the summer.

Then to top it off this lovely landed by the pond in the back field.

Although neither Jean-Luc or I are real birders but we do go bird watching every so often; in fact we went to a local nature reserve a few weeks ago.  We took the binoculars but not the camera 'cos small birds rarely stay still long enough for amateurs get a decent photo.
So of course we saw one of these.

It's a stoat in its winter coat, or Ermine.   The cute little guy ran around in front of the hide for about 15 minutes (plenty of time to get a decent photo IF we'd taken the camera - Doh!); digging for mice and generally causing concern to the nearby long tailed tits, who kept bobbing around and alarm calling.
How did we know it was a stoat - oh that was easy 'cos weasels are weasily recognised and stoats are stoatally different. Ta Dah!
It was a real highlight to the day - along with the delicious hot cross buns we got from a local bakery we found. :-)

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Roses and Rollerskating.

Love is.....

When you've gone down with the same cold virus for the 3rd time along with viral asthma and driven your poor man to the spare room with your incessant coughing and wheezing, in search of sleep; he returns from essential weekend shopping (the Nu ran out of food) with.....

 ......some beautiful red roses that absolutely glow in the sunlight.

 Love is......
Going to a cold warehouse on a cold, rainy day to watch your husband suddenly rediscover an old hobby as he takes on a friends daughter in a 'skate off' - the 'old man' turned out to be surprisingly good and after the first couple of circuits the young lady retired from competition for slushies with her friends. :-)

Jean-Luc enjoyed himself so much that he (plus friends and I) have been back again and again.  So much so that we bought him a pair of these.  It's been a great rediscovery as it really helps him relax and of course it's great exercise.  
And what about me I hear you ask; am I also a closet athlete on the floor?  Sadly not; at best I resemble Bambi on the ice; my forte is in applauding, gasping at near misses involving uncoordinated and small children about a third of the size of these giants and keeping the skaters supplied with water.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Fog and Black Dogs

It's time to come clean.  This winter has been a tough one emotionally.  It's not been all home cooking, veggie beds, crochet and fun stuff.  
Oh no - this year I've been lucky enough to have been hosting the 'Black Dog'.

 Personally I don't see depression as a Black Dog; but more as fog....

 .....a grey, featureless blanket that surrounds you, shutting out all colour, life, scent and sound. 
 A fog that sucks out happiness and energy and leaves you feeling flat and emotionless; incapable doing the very things that usually bring you joy.  
It weighs you down making it almost impossible to get out of bed in the morning and leaves you sitting on the sofa when you'd normally be up and about making soap, laundry liquid, sorting seeds or baking.  
It muffles the sounds of caring concern and love from your nearest and dearest and leaves your heart encased in ice unable to feel the most basic of emotions.
It has you sitting there staring into space for hours, a blank cipher of a human being; alive but not really living.

I'm lucky.  I've had a rock named Jean-Luc to lean on; someone who's hugged me and made me cups of tea; who's held me when the tears came; who told me he loved me when I couldn't get out of bed; who rejoiced with me on the good days; who was patient beyond belief and who sat down and listened when  I was finally able to articulate what I was feeling; who was there for me.

Thankfully I think I'm coming out the other side.  The fog returns sometimes but these days there are more days of sunshine than not.  I'm lucky because there was a physical reason for my depression - so much easier for me to come to terms with and work with.

Why am I telling you all this?
Because mental and emotional ill health is still taboo; because it is so easy to put on a mask and pretend everything is ok when you're falling apart inside.
Because I don't think it should be this way.

The link below is a wonderful cartoon from the World Health Organisation. 

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Bird Watching

The bird table has been a great success for the birds.

We have had starlings, blackbirds, thrushes, wood pigeons, collared dove, blue tits, great tits, longtailed tits, robins, house sparrows, dunnocks, chaffinches, gold finches, green finches, pheasants and moorhens.

It has also been a great success with the Nu, who has taken up bird watching as a hobby.  The blue tits seem completely unfazed by her presence and continue to flit to and fro, assuring her rapt attention.

A Walk in the Woods

Today I went for the first decent walk since I caught The Cold.
It was a beautiful spring day; blue skies, warm sunshine and light breezes.
Aah the smell of green growing things and warming earth.

So Jean-Luc and I threw our boots into the boot and set off for a walk around Tockholes Wood.  This is a lovely beech wood that surrounds the Roddlesworth reservoir lakes.

We saw:
Old stone walls covered in moss and plants

  Trees covered in lichens

 Streams flowing over rocks and through roots

 Windswept trees standing starkly against the sky

Rooks drifting atmospherically against the hills and trees.
(These rooks were drifting much more atmospherically against the sky about 30 seconds earlier but by the camera had decided to zoom in on them they'd decided to land - hmmph).

 The reservoirs - these pictures don't really capture the blue sky, warm sunshine (we were in T-shirts by the end of the walk) and general 'spring-ness' of the day - my bad photography I'm afraid. 

 Handsome crows

 The overflow stairway from the reservoir - this huge flight of steps looked like it should be a funeral processional path in Minas Tirith. An amazing piece of engineering.

 Thunderbird 1 - International Rescue were obviously on a mission.
In reality this the Jubilee Tower which sits on Darwen Hill and was completed in 1898 to commemorate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.

  Charcoal burning, this is a very old woodland industry and has, along with other management practices such as coppicing, been instrumental in shaping the ancient woodlands of Britain; from the physical structure of woodlands to the diversity of woodland flora.  

We had a wonderful time and returned tired, uplifted and with lungs full of fresh air.  Just what the doctor ordered.