Monday, 19 March 2018


Once again, I'm back, apologising for not posting very much recently. But, in my defence, it has been rather rotten weather and this morning, finally, we got out for a brief walk to Straw's Bridge. After the snow and plunging temperatures of the last few days, the countryside was looking a little worse for wear.
The few birds we saw as we slithered along the Nutbrook Trail, were desperate to find something to eat, but the Long-tailed Tits were still about as were several Robins - which gave the scene a look of Christmas rather than nearly Easter.
At long last though the snow was beginning to melt as a thaw set in and if it hadn't been for the bitterly cold wind which seemed determined to cut us in half, it would have been a much nicer walk.
Hopefully, as things start to improve this week, we will manage to get out and about a bit more, giving me the opportunity for some more blog posts.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Back Out

Recently, the weather has been particularly unkind to us. The severe frosts and snows of last week coupled with a biting wind-chill, were followed by a thaw, rain and very muddy conditions. All of which have left things extremely wet under foot and not very conducive to a  good walk in the countryside. But things have started to look up a bit this week, so with the sun shining onus at last this morning, we set out for a walk around the 'farm walk'.
A few green buds are starting to appear in the hedgerows, but the trees remain bare and wintry, but the blue skies were an improvement.
Along Slack Lane, it was a bit wet and in a few places, the snow was still clinging tenaciously to the ditches and paths...
... particularly where the sun hasn't yet managed to reach the ground.
But the birds were singing brightly from the tree-tops and the Ivy clinging to these Oaks, gave the impression of the greenery to come.
Back home and I was particularly pleased to see that the Bluebell seeds which I collected last year, have started to germinate. So, lets hope we soon have a colourful display of blue in the garden.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Snowdrop Time

Once again, we've arrived at that time of year when the woodland floor is coated with its usual array of Snowdrops.
Our walk this morning, although still very wet under foot, was at least brighter than of late and a little milder too. So, we took in Shipley Hill and Mapperley Reservoir as we checked up on these beautiful harbingers of spring.
On the hill, the gardens belonging to Nottingham Lodge, were liberally sprinkled with them.
And the Derby Lodge too had its fair share.
It seemed, everywhere you looked this morning, Snowdrops were waving happily in the breeze.
A very welcome splash of sunshine today, meant that the flowers were opening out to reveal their true colours - something of a rarity so far this year.
Today is also a special day for Malcolm's mum, as its her birthday. So, a very happy 87th to Mum 'P'- seen here with Malcolm, in Luzern in 2015.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Unexpected Treat

Once again, it has been a little while since I posted anything on this blog, due mainly to the rather inclement weather we've had to endure. But this morning, it started out dry and bright but bitterly cold, so we set out for Maperley and Shipley Hill. The wind was bitingly cold as we walked along Slack Lane, but despite the chill and recent bad weather, the Hazel trees are all bursting out with catkins.
Always among the first of the year's trees to flower, the male catkins always appear before the tiny, red female flowers. These catkins were producing plenty of pollen.
The countryside is still looking very bare.
On Shipley Hill, the Nottingham Lodge is surrounded by bare branches, but the ground is covered with Snowdrops (more of them soon).
It was near the lodge, that we were treated to an unexpected surprise. I have been reading reports of recent sightings of Hawfinches (Coccothraustes coccothraustes) around Shipley Park, but as yet, I've never seen one. So it was fantastic to finally get a view of a couple this morning.
Sitting in the very top of a tree and at some distance, this one was very difficult to photograph - and it proved to be impossible to get a good picture at all. But even so, you can still see the unmistakable form of Britain's largest finch species. Looking bulky even at this distance and with a bill which can easily crack a cherry stone, this is a formidable bird and rather rare these days. But with an influx of individuals from continental Europe this winter, there has rarely been a better opportunity to see one. You just have to be in the right place...
... at the right time. Even then, you need a little luck!  What a fantastic new 'tick' for the life list.

Monday, 5 February 2018

All New

While settling in to the new year, I have also been rather busy settling into a new computer - two new computers to be exact. My old PC had been misbehaving for some time following a huge update from Microsoft which left several programs not working. So after Christmas, I decided to bite the bullet and have a nice new one. I originally opted for a shiny new Lenovo all-in-one computer and set about transferring all my bits and pieces from the old one - a job which took quite some time. It was at this point that the new PC started crashing and spontaneously rebooting itself for no reason.
So, after a very frustrating couple of weeks trying to fix the problem and getting absolutely nowhere with Lenovo's on-line 'Help and Assistance' (a complete misnomer), it went back to Argos and I am now sitting looking at a lovely new Acer computer with full HD screen and all the bells and whistles I could wish for.

So, it's now time to get back to normal and start posting a few pictures once more - and we start with a short walk this morning, around Straw's Bridge.
Everywhere is very wet following an extremely rainy few weeks, so you have to be particularly careful where you put your feet, but the sunshine was beautiful this morning. As we walked along the old Nutbrook Canal, the overhanging Hazel trees were dangling their catkins over the water, catching the light.
At 'Swan Lake', the bright sunshine was filtering through the dried seed heads of old Phragmites reeds, making them shine like silver.
Near by, the flooded pits which make up Pewit Carr, looked dramatic in the sun against a rather threatening sky which promises some snow later.
All the usual suspects were to be found around the lakes, including these three Mute Swans - complete with their fetching colour-coded leg rings.
One in particular, was very photogenic...
and was happy to have his picture taken. Mind you, if you looked as good as this, why not?
Time for one more snap of the silvery reeds before heading home for a hot coffee and to get warm again.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

End of Break

All too soon, our break away in wind-swept Newquay was at an end. We'd seen plenty of crashing waves.
Some sandy - and almost deserted - beaches...
and even a skulking small bird or two (spot the Wren in this picture).
The natives were friendly - if a little persistent!
And the weather had been very kind to us. We had wondered if it was madness going on a week's holiday to Cornwall in the middle of January. But in the end it turned out to be much better than either of us could have hoped for.
Heading home again on the Saturday, we broke up the journey once more, with an overnight stay at Weston-Super-Mare. Arriving there in the afternoon, we had a stroll along the prom before checking in to the Travelodge. By heck! it was a chilly wind which assaulted us as we walked along.
Despite the sunshine, there were not very many people brave enough (or foolish enough) to be walking along the promenade, so we had a wonderfully quiet time of it.
So, the sun set on a great week away!

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Porth and Surf

The major feature of our break in Newquay, had to be the windy weather. When we walked along to Porth on Tuesday, the wind was whipping up the surf into quite a froth.
Looking down from the bridge which crossed this particularly breezy cleft in the rocks, it looked like snow piled up.
And still the surf pounded in.
and crashed on the rocks.
At the other end of Newquay, the beaches were deserted - unsurprisingly!
It all made for some nice photos.
Definitely my sort of weather!
Back at the Hotel and the Herring Gull was still after our food and this time he'd brought along a friend! It almost put us off our scones and clotted cream - almost!