Tag Archives: Nature

After The Rain, It’s A New Dawn, It’s A New Day

It's A New Dawn, It's A New Day,Rocking Dog

It’s A New Dawn, It’s A New Day

It rained heavily here on Monday. It was really wet rain, large long wet drops that saturated everything. With Real Live Rocking Dog and a guest dog, Darling Dougie (a Labrador/Scottie Dog cross) to walk, the weather had to be simply …well..weathered!

How lovely therefore to awake yesterday to a beautiful morning. The warmth and the moisture meant that there were fairy rings of various species of fungi in the field. There was even a circlet of red mushrooms, the stuff of illustrated children’s books. Alas, the mushrooms had been blemished and disfigured by hungry creatures unknown. The field is now devoid of colour save some clover and a sprinkling of moon daisies. Hedgerows of blackberries, haws, elderberries and sloes continue to flourish and ripen. Fat wood pigeons feed and somewhat noisily and ungracefully take to the skies after their fill of natures harvest.

Down by the Frome it was quiet. There were the first characteristic smells of the impending autumn. Leaves, beech masts, conkers and wet mud all formed part of the intricate riverside carpet. This carpet was positively autumnal, but the woodland canopy punctured by blue sky was still decidedly summery.

After dog walking an adored friend and I went to Kilver Court. It was lovely to talk, drink coffee, browse and simply enjoy each others company. As we walked to the car there was the most amazing patch of wild flowers. It was such a lovely splash of colour and so much more magical than uniformly planted beds filled with low maintenance shrubs.

Natures Carpet,Rocking Dog

Natures Carpet

Mushroom Harvest,Rocking Dog

Mushroom Harvest

Woodland Canopy,Rocking Dog

Woodland Canopy

Infant Pine Cones,Rocking Dog

Infant Pine Cones

Rosy Red Apples,Rocking Dog

Rosy Red Apples

Late Summer Colour,Rocking Dog

Late Summer Colour

The Ripening Hambrook Harvest

From Little Acorns....,Rocking Dog

From Little Acorns….

I escaped the kitchen and ALL that china for a brief while yesterday. I was surely succumbing to cabin fever or should that be soapy sud kitchen fever! Real Live Rocking Dog provides the perfect excuse to drop the tea towel and  get out on the Frome Valley walkways which hug our fortunate doorstep.

How lovely to walk in sunshine and have blue fluffy cloud skies as a gorgeous last day in July canopy. Along the walk there were burgeoning and ripening crops of sloes, bullace, elderberries and blackberries. I spied a particularly luscious crop of blackberries over a pennant stone wall. Alas, they were unattainable with the river a watery barrier. A host of birds and other wildlife will have a veritable feast with no humans able to access and pick this precarious crop. Other bird food is ripening ready for the colder less plentiful days of late autumn and winter. Haws, rosehip and holly will serve them well.

Family folklore suggests that my fathers maternal family may have been Huguenots. Have you ever witnessed how  many French folk behave on a beach, they are not sunbathing, they are not swimming .. they are foraging! They have pails and spades, nets and lines and going in search of lunch or to find bait to catch lunch! Mussels, whelks, coastal plants, shrimp and crab are simply not safe. I see ripening elderberries and think of their addition in a summer pudding, an apple pie or crumble, ice cube or stew. Sloes and bullace again are destined in my mind to immersion in vodka or gin. I love to use the bloated alcohol soaked berries in rocky road and in ice creams, sorbets and warming winter stews. Just maybe, yes maybe I indeed do have French foraging blood flowing in my veins!

I love the way the Italians celebrate and give thanks to every crop they harvest and every animal they hunt. There are ancient walled hilltop towns close to where we live in Umbria which annually celebrate the bread, the oil, the wine, the saffron, the wild boar, the sweet chestnut, and so on! In the spring we were treated to the most wonderful feast at the little village hall in “our” village. The valley was vibrantly yellow with Mimosa trees and so this tree was celebrated along with World Women’s Day. The men (with undoubtedly some help of the female kind in the background!) of the village cooked for the women. We sat down to plates of crostini followed by two pasta courses (one with a pork ragu sauce and the other a tomato sauce). Lamb, steak and locally produced sausages cooked on a wood fired brazier together with a delicious dressed salad came next. Finally a specially baked mimosa coloured iced cake was proudly bought out and served with Grappa. Throughout the meal we had bottles of very quaffable locally produced red wine and then it was time to dance. Bad dancing translates and is understood in whatever language you speak! The Macarena danced for the final time it was time to wearily and bloatedly stumble home. Each woman was presented with a branch of Mimosa as she left together with hugs and hearty “buona notte’s”. It was such a lovely multi generational community event and we couldn’t have been made to feel more welcome. We do not celebrate anything enough in this country and unfortunately unlike the Italians many British would not embrace a party encompassing all generations.

Back to walking along my favourite Hambrook walk (nicknamed “Mr Badger walk” because of an old sett along its route) the earth was littered with crops that hadn’t quite made it. Amongst the carpet of last years autumnal leaf fall there were conkers, beech masts and cobnuts lying like jewels. They had simply dropped before their time or had been slain by squirrels not willing to wait!

At the stile there was a solitary doe eyed cow with Bully the blooming big bull. I couldn’t help thinking “poor cow!” Perhaps she’ll have her very own harvest in the spring.

Very soon it was time to return to THAT china … but I felt so much better after a brief but wonderful nature filled sojourn.

 

Future Harvest,Rocking Dog

Future Harvest

Ditto!,Rocking Dog

Ditto!

Unattainable Harvest,Rocking Dog

Unattainable Harvest

Too Early....,Rocking Dog

Too Early….

...Too Late!,Rocking Dog

…Too Late!

One For The Pan,Rocking Dog

One For The Pan

Late Summer Harvest,Rocking Dog

Late Summer Harvest

Christmas Harvest,Rocking Dog

Christmas Harvest

Spring Harvest? Poor Cow,Rocking Dog

Spring Harvest? Poor Cow

A Field Full Of Flowers & Sunshine

Flowers In May,Rocking Dog

Flowers In May

Many of you will know about my love of the fields which lie behind the kennel. They were the perfect place to do an impromptu photo shoot with little Douglas. On the 10th May we ran out of the kennel whilst the sun was shining and the little babe contented. He was surrounded by sun kissed buttercups, clover, dandelion clocks, plantain and gently swaying grasses. How much more lovely to be photographed in this natural environment than a stark and expensive photographic studio! The weeks have since rolled on, the little chaps skin has plumply filled out, smiles have arrived, and newborn clothes have been neatly parcelled up. In time we will run through the grasses, hide, eat picnics, chat, sing, tell stories, do hand stands (!), dance, read, build snowmen, and play games in the field.

With the arrival of June the field shows off new swathes of flowers and grasses. The colourful honeyed smell of spring has given way to less showy moon daisies, wild sorrel, hawkweed, birds foot trefoil and a myriad of tall whispering grasses. Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper butterflies flutter in amongst the sun baked vegetation whilst bumble bees enjoy the sweet dying embers of the pink and white clovers. Large metallic lapiz blue dragonflies skim across the field on their way to the wetness of the Frome. Hedgerows burgeon with bramble blooms, sloes, wild briar rose and elderflower. It is simply too hot for the rabbits to graze, they will emerge from their damp clay burrows when twilight brings the coolness of the days end.

A pair of swallows have returned to the field, the late afternoons bring them joyfully and skilfully utilising their mesmerizing acrobatics. They swoop and dive over the high desiccating grasses, mere flashes of inky black forked tail and iconic aerodynamic wings. The buzzard, deer, wood pigeons and the rabbit loving fox who lives in the orchard put in appearances and makes every walk unique. The seasons leech into each other, days shorten and lengthen, rain, cold, wind, sun, grey, mud, frost, sun parched, the field perpetually changes.

Real Live Rocking Dog loves the field it means chasing his current deflated ball. We are lucky that the cows haven’t yet arrived. Until then it is Real Live Rocking Dogs field. It is a place for thinking, contemplating (despite the constant hum of the motorway), revelling in nature, enjoying the seasons and for planning the next photo shoot with the sooooo sweet wee nipper!

Do You Like Butter?,Rocking Dog

Do You Like Butter?

Flowers In June,Rocking Dog

Flowers In June

Nature Table,Rocking Dog

Nature Table

Brambles In Flower,Rocking Dog

Brambles In Flower

Ripening Sloes,Rocking Dog

Ripening Sloes

Where's My Ball?,Rocking Dog

Where’s My Ball?

Watery Walk,Rocking Dog

Watery Walk

Marshmallow Skies,Rocking Dog

Marshmallow Skies

May Blossom & Friends,Rocking Dog

May Blossom & Friends

Boo Hoo! The Tractor Is Out.

Hot Real Live Rocking Dog!, Rocking Dog

Hot Real Live Rocking Dog!

Boo Hoo! The tractor is out in the meadow behind the kennel. Very soon the honeyed pink clover, wild sorrel, buttercups, campion, dandelion clocks will be no more…..well for at least a little while. The thigh high swathes of grasses will be noisily cut, left to dry, and then gathered. Cow fodder for leaner days ahead, short dark days with frost, snow, driving rain and cheek nipping chills.

With the grassy haircut the ha ha, mole hills and mystical archeological mounds will again be apparent. Real Live Rocking Dog will be able to play football again, and my walking pace can step up without the impediment of burgeoning flora. The swallows will be able to swoop even lower in their nightly acrobatic courtship dances.

I will miss the flowers, the butterflies and the bees. I will miss the disturbed swathes of grasses, wondering what nocturnal animal created the mysterious hollows. I will miss the sweet sunny smell of the floral cornucopia, and the gentle rustle of grasses swaying untidily in the breeze. I love this meadow.

I am witnessing first hand the perpetual nature of the farming calendar, to make hay while the sun shines!

Flora, Rocking Dog

Flora

Busy Bee, Rocking Dog

Busy Bee

Cow Fodder, Rocking Dog

Cow Fodder

Whispering Grass, Rocking Dog

Whispering Grass

Hot Dog....., Rocking Dog

Hot Dog…..

....Cool Dog, Rocking Dog

….Cool Dog

Spring Along The Frome Valley Walkway

Fleeting Blueness, Rocking Dog

Fleeting Blueness

Nothing is so beautiful as Spring
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;

Extract from Spring. Gerard Manley Hopkins

We are truly fortunate to live literally on the Frome Valley Walkway. The walkway stretches for 29km and runs from the centre of Bristol through to the base of the Cotswold Hills.

I love walking various stretches of it everyday with Real Live Rocking Dog. Each season brings with it an amazing variety of flora and fauna. Spring has come bursting in with a carpet of pungent wild garlic and Bluebells. Ferns are slowly unfurling with the warmth of dappled sunlight, and vibrant Kingcups enjoy their drying bogland. Inevitably the change in season will bring with it Himalayan Balsam and Wild Foxgloves and Cow Parsley.

I came upon a truly spectacular fungi yesterday. It was quietly growing on a fallen tree, with some of it’s rust coloured discs the size of dinner plates. It was so perfect.

Wildlife includes frequent sightings of the surreally lapis blue Kingfisher, Squirrels, Damsel flies, Moorhens and Coots. Less frequently we have been delighted to spot Herons, Deer, Freshwater crayfish and recently a weasel.

Most mysteriously for the last three years there has been a large white rabbit in a field close to the walkway. It all feels a bit Alice in Wonderland … but I celebrate the fact that he (she) continues to survive despite a serious lack of camouflage!

Walk This Way, Rocking Dog

Walk This Way

Blubell'd Glade, Rocking Dog

Blubell’d Glade

Wild Garlic, Rocking Dog

Wild Garlic

Magnificent Fungi, Rocking Dog

Magnificent Fungi

Dunking Ducks, Rocking Dog

Dunking Ducks

Wild Cherry, Rocking Dog

Wild Cherry

January Nature Table

Winter Flora And Wool, Rocking Dog

Winter Flora And Wool

Walking in winter, cheek chiseling cold, brain numbing, teeth chattering and invigorating! Even in winter there are lovely things to see growing and evolving. My January nature table enjoys pickings of predominantly green hues. As the winter extends into spring, green will turn to the yellows of Forsythia, Wild Primroses and Daffodils.

There is a bounty of food for the birds, juicy globes of ivy berries and rose hips. Meanwhile, delicate Churlish Green catkins remind us that spring is tantalisingly close. Moss and ferns, verdantly green, bask in their shady dells and the leaves of autumn provide a carpet of rusts and browns.

Hellebore, (the Lenten or Christmas Rose) is a welcome floral display in these short January days. Originating in Europe and Asia, throughout history they have been used for medicinal purposes even though they are highly toxic. The plant is thought to have been used by Hippocrates as a purgative. Meanwhile the dramatic Black Hellebore has been used in ancient times to treat paralysis, gout and insanity. Alexander The Great is thought to have died as a result of taking medicine containing Hellebore.

You know how much I love a good story… so… Hellebore Niger is often called the Christmas Rose, due to an old legend that the plant sprouted in the snow from the tears of young girl who had no gift to give the Christ child in Bethlehem. Aaaaahh!

Lastly I love the amazing fungi which I photographed in the winter sunshine, it really did seem that it was positively sunbathing.

Bird Food, Rocking Dog

Bird Food

Fabulous Ferns, Rocking Dog

Fabulous Ferns

Exotic Hellebore, Rocking Dog

Exotic Hellebore

Sunbathing Fungi, Rocking Dog

Sunbathing Fungi

November Nature Table

Autumn Collection.November. Rocking Dog

November’s Gifts

Still an abundance of white nettles, fungi, rose-hips, brambles and quince. With a chill in the air the leaves will soon fall. So come on Little Bro’ and Swan from across the pond what’s Central Park looking like this Fall? Rocking Dog must thank Pretty Nostalgic Magazine for some of the beautiful paper backdrops she uses for her posts, paperly yummy!

Hedgerow Spray. Rocking Dog

Hedgerow Spray

Season Colours November

Season Colours