Sunday, 25 April 2010

Little foxes

Lots of foxy activity these light summer evenings. Walking through the particularly beautiful valley below Clipperdown and Duncombe terrace last week a dapper young dog fox unconcernedly crossed our path and proceeded down to drink at the cattle trough in our full view but rather too distant for a good photo. A little further on a couple of horses were kicking off in the meadow and lo and behold it was another fox that had spooked them. A few summers past I watched the rendezvous of a menage a trois reynards over the field for several weeks before the vixen retired, reappearing several weeks later with three small cubs. This morning they were back in the same spot, though possibly not the same foxes. I have had the great pleasure of watching one laid back vixen sitting in the bracken watching her cubs play in the afternoon sunshine and, late one night, of stopping the car as three cubs rolled off the verge into the lane where they continued to play in the full glare of the headlights until their mother sharply called them home. In my garden are buried both a fox and a badger cub, I was too tender hearted to leave them dead on the roadside: how anyone can kill these beautiful creatures is beyond me.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Peace and Quiet

I know this may offend and you can call me crass. We live under the flight path for Luton airport but that has never bothered me, by the time they pass over us the planes are usually high enough to ignore. I like watching them trek across the summer blue sky leaving chalky vapour trails or seeing headlights piercing thunder dark clouds on a rainy night. Occasionally one will drown out the radio in the garden or the tv as it lulls me to sleep and sometimes early on summer evenings when they stack up to land at Heathrow or pile out of Luton at five minute intervals I am mildly irritated, but just as often I am mesmerised by the steady stream of lights rising from the horizon and many is the time I have calmed a fractious grandson watching them from the gate. So it has been quite a surprise to find that without them our small world is a much more peaceful place. Almost eerily quiet without the background noise it now feels as if we really live in the country. There is less of the associated road traffic too and we began to ponder on if this went on long enough would it change people's attitudes to easy air travel?Then I found this neat graphic from the Information is Beautiful website and it's pretty powerful. I really am sorry if you are stuck somewhere instead of at a funeral or in surgery but otherwise sit back, chill out and listen to the quiet. Shhhh...

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Castles in the Air

Great weather, especially for Wales. Too often we see castle views through light drizzle with the wind whipping at our hair but the past few days have been idyllic. Up on the Welsh Marches again it is easy to imagine the battles and skirmishes that took place here. First to Croft Castle, now just a Gothic manor house though the Crofts owned the original medieval castle near this site and fought at nearby Wigmore during the War of the Roses and in the English Civil War at Mortimer's Cross. All was peaceful in the walled garden as the first swallows swooped into the old barns and house martins clung to the stones of the main house sunbathing beneath their mud nests. I have not seen them yet at home but here the first lone swallow arrived in March.
On to Clun and my favourite little castle set on a bend of the river overlooking tranquil water meadows. Unfortunately the scaffolding has been up for well over a year now but still a perfect picnic spot. Locals told us that otters have become regular night time visitors so must go next after dark!
Lastly we visited Montgomery Castle which for thirty years I have managed to miss, but what a treat! I have used it for my header. Built into the rock high above the pretty little market town, it was an impregnable fortress occupied by Celts, Romans and Normans and finally demolished by Parliamentarians during the Civil War. The impressive ruin offers dramatic panoramic views and still awesome remains. Below the small town with its town hall, hardware store, little museum and teashops is quietly purposeful and not dissimilar to the high streets of neighbouring Presteigne or Bishops Castle. Saturday afternoon in Mid Wales is so.... comfortingly familiar. I can't wait to return.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Easter treats

Just back from a few days on the south coast near Lymington. Exhausted ourselves on the first day riding from New Milton through Keyhaven to Lymington on a fabulous cycle path across the marshes.
(Should have worn the minx-girl padded knickers - yes, I'm afraid they really are called that!) Anyway, apart from the bumps it is a terrific ride with the Solent glittering under a wide sky on one side and the salt marsh all sparse grass and peaty pools on the other.

 I failed to capture on camera the red brown water reflecting the cobalt sky or the exotic Little Egret (now breeding happily in these parts despite the cold winter) but can still smell the first gorse flowers of the year mingled with the salt sea air. Sadly the header was my best pic but also spotted Redshank and curlew and the first sprouts of samphire piercing the saltwater ponds once used in salt production hereabouts. Back home today I used the really helpful RSPB bird identifier to check out those waders, then spotted my first Peacock butterfly of the year in the garden. Hope it doesn't get eaten!

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Die happy

Easter Sunday. Sang in church and shared peace with friends and neighbours. Walked and talked and ate and drank with dear old friends and got tipsy in the afternoon on gin and painkillers and reminisced and got teary and hugged and laughed out loud and walked and walked. Light evenings: thankyou thankyou God. And sold some stuff I am too fat for on ebay and bought a raised garden bed online and will now dream of beetroot and chard and however will I keep the chickens off it? And listened to my gorgeous grandson's fiveyear old voice describing a bike ride along the seafront and if I die tonight I will be very happy and I haven't said that for a long, long time.......

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Only in America?

Most reviews for I Love You Philip Morris were good ones; I thought The Guardian was closest to the mark. PM made me laugh and it was undoubtedly a feelgood movie but it left a bad taste behind and I am sure that it meant to. The story is unbelievable but true. The protagonist Steven Jay Russell is a likeable fantasist  who is now serving 144 yrs for fraud in a Texas jail. Partly because dollars are sacred and then because he egged the faces of judges, financiers and the FBI to name but a few. You have to admire the guy: when you read the story an award would have been more appropriate, but then the yanks really don't share our sense of humour which is why distribution was a problem in the US. Reminded me of the Truman Show, Jim Cary's now next best film!