Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Blue, yellow and the first cuckoo

The first bluebells.  Not enough yet to give an unbroken sheet of blue but they are flowering in my favourite little woodland. This wood is tiny, just a small bank either side of the footpath and only a few hundred yards long.  Its a lovely space at any time of the year but the dappled light in the spring time makes it really magical.

In contrast to the delicate bluebells, these photographs are very bold and bright. There are fields and fields of oilseed rape near here and it is in full flower just at the moment.

It looks stunning but I don't like the rather pungent, cabbage type smell. There is a row of cottages alongside this field, I'm glad I live a bit further away!

These photographs are from my walk on Sunday afternoon. I am noting the date because I heard the first cuckoo of spring - 25th April.

Looking back at last years blog posts, I heard the first cuckoo on almost the same date, the 26th April but  the bluebells were earlier last year and I took photos similar to these on the 16th April. I suppose the bluebells are later this year because of the cold winter but that does not affect the cuckoo arriving here from Africa.

My mother has always kept a diary, recording dates like these along with family events. My diary keeping has always been a bit hit and miss, I managed to keep going for several years when the children were small but apart from those few years I have a lot of diaries filled in only until the end of January! I have now admitted defeat and don't even buy a diary anymore.

Now I realise that through taking lots of photographs and blogging I am creating a record of the seasons and days and I can lose some of the guilt I feel about failing to keep a traditional diary.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Allotment update

Its a busy time of year, growing plants for the allotment. Every year around this time it seems to take over my life for a few weeks and I start to think that its quite normal to have a tray of courgette plants on the bedroom window sill.  Several window sills look like this at the moment as seeds are sown and kept inside to germinate.

Once the seedlings are a bit bigger they move out to my mini-greenhouse which is in a very sheltered corner on our patio.

So far there are tomato plants and a few courgette plants but it gets crowded later while I wait for the chance of frost to pass before taking everything to the allotment.

This is my plot at the moment.

The blackcurrant and redcurrant bushes are coming into leaf and the earliest rhubarb is just ready to pick a few stems.  At the back I have onions and shallots and the first sowing of peas are under the black netting to protect them from the pigeons.

It has been very warm and dry for the last few weeks but this morning I woke up to rain which combined with the warmth will give a boost to the spring growth. Of course the weeds will grow well too!

If it keeps raining, today will be an inside day spent at home. I'll take a break from the gardening and instead some gentle tidying, cake making and knitting I think. Have a good Sunday.

Friday, 16 April 2010

No airplanes

The ash escaping from the Icelandic volcano is still affecting flights in the UK. This afternoon I took this photo of a clear blue sky with no airplanes or contrails. We live just over thirty miles from Heathrow so you wouldn't think that we would really notice the lack of flights over the past couple of days but we have.

A large number of planes fly over this area, my husband has flown over the village several times when returning from America, but they are not very low at this stage and so I don't give them much thought although depending on weather conditions we do see a lot of contrails. This is a photo I took one morning.

Today, when I was in the garden I thought it was quieter than usual but wondered if I was imagining it. Then my son came out and commented on how quiet it was. I think we must somehow filter out the background noise and it is only now it is not there that we notice the difference. We also see military helicopters on exercises, these fly low and are very noisy but they have been absent too.

After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, flights were suspended for three days and scientists recorded an increase in temperature due to the absence of airplane contrails in the atmosphere. The water vapour in the trails reflects some sunlight back out into space so that less reaches the earths surface so when there are no trails, more sunlight gets through and the temperature increases. I wonder if the same effect will be seen due to the current flight cancellations or will the volcanic ash in the atmosphere have the opposite effect reducing the amount of sunlight reaching the earth. I find it interesting to see how one event, the eruption of the volcano in Iceland, has such far reaching effects.

For the sake of the many thousands who have had their plans disrupted I hope this cloud of ash disperses and that they are soon able to travel safely. There will be no flights from London airports tomorrow so it will be another day of waiting around for passengers but for those of us on the ground, another quiet day with clear skies.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Calendar - April

This is the photo on my calendar for this month. I took this last summer in Shetland on a beautiful sunny day. We spent the morning on a deserted beach and then as we walked onto a nearby headland I took this picture of an isolated croft.

When I am on holiday I like to imagine what it would be like to live in some of the places I visit. Imagine living here. 

Our house is close to other houses, shaded by large trees and has a smallish garden. This would be so different, on its own, plenty of space and not a tree in sight.

I cropped the top photo for my calendar but in the original below you can see just how isolated it is. It was reached by a track about a mile long off a single track road in a quiet part of Shetland.

Sometimes when I can here my neighbours DIY or the noise of traffic from the nearby road seems louder than usual, I think that living somewhere like this would be perfect - only the sounds of nature all day. I wonder whether I would really like it though? On days spent at home you wouldn't see a soul and even going for a walk it is unlikely that you'd meet anyone. I wonder if I would like it in the winter when the days are short (Shetland is as far north as Alaska , level with Bergen in Norway), would it all seem just too quiet?

What do you think, perfect seclusion or unbearable isolation? I'm still not sure, I think I'd like it but perhaps you can't really tell until you've actually lived somewhere for a while.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Easter weekend

I hope everybody has been enjoying a happy Easter weekend. All four of us have been at home since last Thursday and its nice to have a full house again. 

We have been for walks in the countryside near home in lovely spring weather and then a city walk in London where the weather was not so kind.

I haven't spent much time at the computer lately, instead spending more time with the family or at the allotment. This will continue for the next two weeks of school/university holidays although I expect I shall pop in from time to time with a few photos especially if I can find more spring blossom to photograph.