Saturday 18 May 2024


 The two local Vixens were out early this evening. They  are clearly familiar with each other and are very co-operative and supportive to each other.

The younger looking female is usually the first to arrive, and she is comfortable in the garden.

 It is unusual to have the opportunity to photograph the two together, but today was an exception.  The older vixen is at the back here.

Here they are looking for treats scattered on the lawn.  They both know we are in the conservatory and they will remain at ease as long as we do not go outside.  They have 3 easy exits from the garden in different places, and are also agile enough to climb over walls and fences.

It is always a joy when they arrive in good lighting conditions. Photo opportunities are increasing now that the days are getting longer.


P.S.  The first cub seen on 19th May.

Mum on alert

Unwanted Visitor

Wednesday 15 May 2024

The Vegetable Patch

 Now that the weather is fairing up, it is time to sort out the vegetable garden.  I have put in Broad Beans and Potatoes.  The gooseberries have been repositioned and the strawberries tidied up.

The vegetable beds are at the top end of the garden, beyond the greenhouse and the Tamarisk tree, which is looking very pink whilst it is in flower.

The beds have been fenced around with chicken wire to keep the contents out of the way of the badgers, who see this type of produce as fair game for eating. The foxes do very little damage in the garden, but the badgers will dig up the lawn for worms and eat any suitable garden produce as if they owned the place.

Our garden is intentionally wildlife friendly, so we have to put up with the issues that are present when all of the world is free to roam in.

Sunday 28 April 2024


 We recently popped over to Wedgwood to walk in the far end of Hem Heath Woods.  The bluebells were out in profusion, so I took my D3200 with a 18-105mm Nikkor lens and just casually slung my D5200 with its 55-300mm Nikkor lens over my shoulder. The bluebells were magnificent in the low morning sun and the birdsong was continuous.

The zoom lens was briefly used to snap a Wren in the distance and the casual picture was really quite a good image.

This was at the 300mm range with bright sunlight from the left and the background blurred out by the narrow focal range at this magnification. At the same time, the Merlin app on my phone picked up the song from this bird and identified it as a Eurasian Wren.

It is a very small bird in a big forest.


We saw the bluebells too.

Sunday 21 April 2024

Ransoms Pesto

 For some years we have had Wild Garlic (Ransoms) growing in our garden.  We often try out a new recipe when it is in season.

The leaves and flowers are edible and have a mild garlic flavour. This time we made Wild Garlic pesto to put onto some Messicani that we have in the cupboard.

The ingredient list is:

    A few clean Ransoms leaves
    A few Cashews to be chopped up
    Good quality Olive Oil
    Grana Padano cheese
    Pasta of your choice.

And of course a mortar and pestle.

Start by removing the leaf ribs of the Wild Garlic.  They tend to be a bit chewy if left on.  Then chop the leaved into small pieces ready for macerating in the mortar with chopped up cashew nuts.  You can use pine nuts.

Grind up the mixture until a little fluid wets the mash.  That will help release the garlic oils.  To this, add a little Olive oil and some finely grated cheese and mix with a spoon.

Boil the pasta as required - the Messicani takes 12 minutes only - then drain it.

Add the sauce and mix in over the heat to coat all of the pasta.  The dish is ready to plate up.

A little more cheese finely grated on top finishes the dish.  Enjoy.

There is often a pair of curious eyes at the other end of our garden.

Tuesday 16 April 2024



The local Dog Fox is out early this evening.  He is looking healthy and agile and curious to see what I am doing in the conservatory.

Our neighbour had given us some out of date eggs, which I had placed on  the side lawn.  They did not stay there very long.

The Vixen was a little more cautious, but still trusting enough to move across the garden, knowing I was able to see her. These foxes are in their second year on this patch, so they are used to this garden being a safe haven in the city.

Saturday 13 April 2024

Senior Citizens driving licence.

 When I hit 70 years of age, I need a new reduced range driving licence. My current paper licence allows me to drive all but HGV vehicles and that is all to change.  I have 90 days in which to make my application and it goes a bit like this.

1. Fill out the form on the DVLC website for an application.  This can only be done within 90 days prior to your 70th Birthday.  The DVLC will send you an application form by post.

2. The application pack arrived in 6 days and it contained a form, a return envelope and an instruction sheet.

a. Fill in the form with my personal details - easy.

b. Take a current new passport size photograph of myself as specified in the form. Done.

c. Include evidence of original identity documents as specified on the form.  Done.

d. Have a witness sign my photograph and enter their personal details.

Now that last point was a challenge as the witness must be a current UK licence holder with a full photo driving licence.  Most of the people I know have a paper driving licence. My next door neighbours daughter kindly stepped up to the mark, so that is also done.

e. Return my current licence, cut in half (unless it has been declared lost).

f. Sign and date the form and submit it to DVLC by post.

3. The wait is now on to see if the DVLC can process my form within the specified time and deliver me a new photo card driving licence which will allow me to drive only vehicles within categories A and B on my old licence.  That is over 2 months away.

"Is it done yet" 

P.S. 26 Apr 2024 - I now have a photo driving licence and my evidence documents have been returned.  The licence will need renewing every 3 years under the present rules, but that should be straight forward now.

Tuesday 9 April 2024

Carsington Water

 We ventured a little way out of stoke to do some shopping. Popped into the RSPB shop at Carsington to pick up some bird food.  Then we popped down to the hides to take a few photos.

Great Crested Grebe

Little Grebe

Slovenian Grebe

Song Thrush


This was just a sample of the interesting birds we spotted from the Hide.