Friday, 14 September 2018

RAF 100

The Royal Air Force are touring the country with aircraft and staff to celebrate 100 years of the RAF.  This weekend they are at Manchester, Albert Square, in front of the Town Hall.
 The aircraft are being demonstrated by RAF personnel in period uniforms.  Here a Battle of Britain Spitfire is in the care of period costumed pilots.
 I wanted to see the Sopwith Snipe that was reported to be on display here today.  This old aeroplane was protected in its own tent from the damp weather.  This is essentially an improved version of the Sopwith Camel of WW1.
 It is quite a rare event to be allowed within touching distance of such an old aircraft.
 A 15 minute walk away was the Museum of Science and Industry.  They have a collection of  old aircraft in a remarkable old trade hall building.
We were able to inspect the cabin of a trident airliner.
And all just a train ride away!

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Autumnal Feel

 Blackberries are now fully ripening,  These wild ones are small but very sweet.
 The Hawthorne bushes are full of haws.  Always a good sign that Autumn is starting.
 A Cracked Boletus (Boletus chrysenteron) is erupting over the top of a Mycena (Mycena galericuata). Both fungi fruiting bodies are in the early stage of development.
 Dead Mans Fingers (Xylosphaera polymorpha) are emerging from a rotten log from a fallen tree.
 Not sure of this one, it could be a waxcap or a champignon, but I suspect it is neither.  One to be avoided!
Gymnopilus penetrans on an old dead tree stump.

The feeling of the end of Summer is all around, and the nights are starting to close in.  We are usually thinking about putting on the winter quilt at this time, but it is still above 18 degrees C outside.

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Squirrel Issue resolved

For years, squirrels have been pinching stones from our garden gravel and burying them in the lawn and garden.  Today is the day of reckoning, We have purchased a small box of grass seed.
 The side of the greenhouse was laid with 10 bags of gravel,  When I took the gravel up in almost filled 4 of the original sized bags.  I have built up the level with garden soil.
 The soil is coming from the base of three Leylandii trees which are due to be removed next month.
 These trees were planted on a mound of building rubbish by a previous owner of the property.  We discovered a copper tank top and heater element, a manhole cover lid and various bones and stones in the mound.
Having watered and seeded the soil, I have covered the grass seed with a fabric layer to stop the birds from eating the seed.  It should germinate in a few days and that will make the seed bitter and unpalatable to the birds, so the fabric can then be removed.  It should look good in a couple of months.

Thursday, 2 August 2018

The Hedge

We have had enough rain in the past few days to invigorate the garden and fill the water butts.  This has inspired me to tackle the holly hedge at the top of the garden.  I was hoping to cut is sooner, but nesting birds then drought made me put off the job.  Now is the time to do it.
 The job has taken me two days so far.  It is always nice to see a clean and level(ish) top to the hedge.
Just the problem of what to do with the clippings that did not fit in the recycle bin.  It may take a month to clear those!

Friday, 6 July 2018

The Heat

The past two weeks have been hot and dry.  The impact of this weather has been seen clearly in our garden.
With heavy clay soil, the usual problem is a very wet garden.  In drought conditions, the soil turns to a thick dusty hard crust and the plants suffer.  The side lawn is losing the lush green colour and looking very parched.
Some of the plants at the top of the garden in the shade of the trees have died back completely.
The top lawn is able to retain moisture, so the grass still looks good, but stressed trees are already shedding leaves in this area.
At the moment, there is a voluntary request not to water lawns and garden plants or use hose pipes.  Some plants, like this blueberry, have been moved into the greenhouse to protect the ripening fruits.  I have not seen a slug for weeks and all of the snails are closed down for the duration.
The foxes are spending less time in the garden, mum is coming to collect scraps of food to take back to the den.  One concession I have made is to top up the pond to keep the amphibians stress free.  The water butts in  the garden are almost empty now.  Rain is expected in a couple of weeks.  I do not recall this type of weather since the Summer of 1976.

Friday, 8 June 2018


 This evening started with a hexing look from a regular visitor. When dolly is in wildcat mode, she will not tolerate strange humans watching her.
As the light was fading, I looked out of the window and saw one of the cubs feeding from then food dish.  White tipped tail, probably male.  My camera was at hand.
 This is my first picture of a fox cub this year.  As I had the camera and the evening was warm, I decided to go out and sit quietly on the garden bench.
 The adult male fox was the first to spot me.  He hesitated and studied me from the top of the side lawn.
Shortly afterwards, mum and another cub popped through the holly hedge at the top of the garden.  They immediately fixed their stare on me - a human in our garden!  Normally when I am in the garden with the foxes, I talk quietly and gesture my intentions to them, moving away to the house.  They are not used to seeing me sitting silently in the garden.  Different makes them alert, especially with the cubs around.
The dark images have been "PhotoShop"-ed to show the details more clearly.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Tiny feet

The local foxes have had 4 cubs, two male and two female.  I was woken early in the night with footsteps on the gravel path.  When I looked out, the cubs were running amok around the garden.  It was far too dark to take photographs.
 Mum was on the lawn the next day, looking good.
She was eager to find me and ask for food.  We give her the scraps that max will not eat during the day, and add a few dog biscuits.  It is a way of ensuring the cat food is not wasted. Last year, when this vixen was a cub, her mother was proud to show her off in our garden.  She is currently keeping her cubs away when we are around.  As a first time mum, this is probably a wise choice.
The dog fox is a bit more cautious and can be difficult to spot.  He is always on the lookout for danger and does not have the trust of his partner in crime.