Sunday, 30 May 2010


It rained all day yesterday - well, it is a Bank Holiday weekend. Without the rain though we wouldn't have such lush green growth in the countryside.

In a few weeks, the leaves will be older, drier, darker in colour but now the growth is young and fresh and the colours bright and clear.

During May the plants are growing fast and the landscape seems to change almost daily. Amazing to think that all this growth is energy from the sun, trapped in plant form.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Summer weather

We are having lovely early summer weather here and I am spending as much time as I can outside and consequently less time at the computer.

The allotment is keeping me busy, I have planted out some courgette plants today so hope that we don't have any cold frosty nights. The latest I have lost plants due to frost at my allotment is the first week in June so I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for mild weather for a couple of weeks yet. I also only planted out half of the plants, keeping some at home just in case.

Everything seems to be growing well in the warm weather.

At home its a bit of a waiting time just now, with eldest son finished at Uni and now waiting for his summer ball before packing up and coming home and A2 exams looming for youngest son. He finished school a week ago, almost five weeks before his first exam which at the moment is feeling like a particularly long wait. We will all be relieved when they are done.

It seems such a shame that exams are held in midsummer and thousands of youngsters are indoors worrying about revision when the weather is perfect for being out in the fresh air. Perhaps the academic year should be changed to correspond to the calendar year and then all the revision could be done in the dark days of November!

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Puffin cam

I love these little birds with their stripy beaks, they look so sweet. Last year when we were in Shetland we were lucky to be able to get close enough to take photos and to watch them coming and going from the cliff side.

Puffins rear their young in burrows and this year at Sumburgh Head in Shetland the RSPB have put a camera inside one of these burrows. Over the last few days I have checked in to see how the puffin is getting on so I thought I'd share the link to the webcam in case anyone else is interested. 

The link takes you to the index page for all the Shetland webcams. Look for the puffin thumbnail, there are two cameras, camera 1 is inside the burrow and camera 2 shows the entrance. Over the last few days there has been a bird sitting in the burrow most of the time - usually looking very sleepy. Of course nothing can be seen if it is dark so non UK viewers would need to allow for the time difference.

Puffins lay a single egg and there is already one in this burrow. Both parents take turns to incubate the egg for 36 to 45 days and after that they both feed the young bird for a further 34 - 60 days. There should be something to see on the camera for a few weeks yet.

Puffins are on the "amber list" of UK Birds of Conservation Concern because the breeding populations are concentrated in a few sites and so are vulnerable to changes in the environment.

A few years ago the numbers of successfully fledged young puffins was worryingly low. It was thought that this might be due to global warming, a small rise in sea temperature causing the sand eels which are the young puffins main food source to move further north to cooler waters away from the puffin breeding sites. Last year however the breeding figures increased again with just under half of all occupied burrows producing a chick. 

I think puffin cam is such a good idea. It has certainly made me think about the vulnerability of these little birds plus they are so cute to see in the burrow. I hope this burrow is one of the successful ones and that there will be a healthy chick although that will be a few weeks away yet. 

Friday, 14 May 2010

Sage chicken

I am posting a few photos of Sage our very friendly chicken who died at the beginning of the week.  We got the two chickens, Sage and Onion almost three years ago and they have taken over our garden and until recently when they both stopped laying have provided us with eggs.

They spent their days close together, jostling for space in a pot of soil when they were younger but lately just sitting side by side in the garden.

Just after Easter, Onion seemed poorly, she was sleepy and not eating much but after several days she seemed better and now appears to have made a full recovery.

When Sage started showing the same symptoms, I hoped and expected that after a few days of being quiet she would recover and be back to her old self. Unfortunately that was not to be.

Of the two Sage was the one who liked our company most.  When I went into the garden with a mug of coffee and sat on the bench, it wasn't long before she was sitting on my lap waiting to be stroked. Onion would sit on the bench to be near but Sage always made sure she was there first. 

Onion seems fine but but a little distracted. After three years spent together, I think she is missing her friend, I know I am.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Weather forecast?

"When the oak comes before the ash,
Then be ready for a splash.
When the ash before the oak,
Then be ready for a soak."

We used to recite this little rhyme when we were children, but I don't remember if it ever accurately predicted the weather for the following summer.

Last week I compared an oak and an ash growing next to each other.



On the very unscientific basis of comparing just these two trees, then the ash is further forward than the oak and so we should expect a wet summer.

We'll just have to wait and see.

Saturday, 8 May 2010


I know I post pictures like this every year but I never get tired of photographing the bluebells, this is a glimpse of them a couple of days ago.

A definite benefit of working part time is that on my days off, I can sneak away from the housework and just a ten minute walk from the house I can be here. It feels like a totally different world.

This wood always has a calm peaceful atmosphere whatever the time of year, but at bluebell time it is just perfect. I feel very lucky to be able to spend time here.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Calendar - May

Of the twelve photographs of Shetland that I used for my calendar this year, this is the only one that doesn't feature the coast although the sea is just a few hundred yards away.

This is Clickimin Broch in Lerwick. Some of these structures date from the Bronze Age and it is thought that the site was continuously inhabited for over a thousand years between 700 BC and 500 AD. It is on a small holm on Clickimin Loch which was tidal during the Bronze Age but became cut off from the sea around 200BC and is now a freshwater loch.

The Broch is the central structure and it is surrounded by a defensive wall or dyke with a single entrance facing the causeway. 

The circular broch is double walled with a staircase within the walls. There would have been a wooden structure within the stone walls and it would have housed many people.

Broch interior

Originally it was 10m tall but later was reduced in height and became an ordinary farmhouse housing just one family. The morning I took these photos the view of the loch from the building was beautiful.

As I wandered around the site early in the morning it was very calm and peaceful but the existence of such a thick defensive wall suggests that it wasn't always so. There is evidence that cattle and sheep were kept on the farm site and that barley was cultivated. It must have been a cold and uncomfortable life at times, crowded into the stone buildings during the short days of the northern winters but generations and generations called this little area home.

When I think of how little they possessed compared to all the things we seem to "need" to live our lives in the 21st century, I wonder what a bronze age man or woman would make of our way of life today. In the Western world, we talk about simplifying and minimalism as a choice available to us, back then it was the only option.