Sunday, 27 June 2010

Calendar - June

This is the photograph on my calendar for June.  It was taken at the top of Ronas Hill in Shetland last summer. 

Ronas Hill is the highest point on Shetland at 450 metres. The day we walked up was a bright sunny day but even so it was cool and windy at the top. There is no clear path, we parked near the masts in the photo below and walked up towards the summit passing a cairn which marked the route.

The rocks are granite, large boulders and smaller pieces broken off by repeated freezing and thawing of the water in the rocks. The repeated freeze/thaw cycle can cause patches of earth to creep down hill, these are known as sliding terraces.

The plants at the front edge of the terrace are gradually smothered while those towards the back can then colonise the bare ground.

Amongst the plants that are able to survive on the hill are alpine species. This is Alpine Lady's Mantle

and two more that I haven't been able to identify.

Its amazing that the plants can grow in such a hostile environment with so little soil.

The views from the top were stunning. 

Most of the countryside around us has been changed by man's activity and this is no exception, crofters have lived here and their sheep have grazed these hills, peat has been cut for fuel and there are ancient tracks across the moors but the views from the summit still show an unspoilt wildness despite the sight of the huge Sulham Voe oil terminal in the next photo!

Two manmade structures do exist right on the top of the hill, a bronze age burial cairn and a trigonometrical point. The trig point is protected by a wall and in a box beside it is a visitors book and pen! We read through the entries and wrote our names, the most unusual and unexpected place I have ever signed a visitors book.

It has been so very hot here today, I wish I was back in Shetland right now but at least I can look at these photos and feel a bit cooler.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Give way to nature

So often when we erect new roads and buildings we move or destroy nature to make way for our new man-made constructions, somehow implying that our creations are the more important.

I was pleased to see that care was taken to ensure that this new fence fitted around the existing trees  - after all the tree was here first!

At a corner by a road junction, where the fence was shaped to fit against the trunk of an oak tree, was a "give way" road sign - which seemed appropriate.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

No chickens

During Monday night our second hen, Onion, died. Although she had been off colour a few weeks earlier we thought she had recovered but after Sage died she seemed to suffer a relapse and died just three weeks later.

We have decided not to replace them and so for the moment we have no chickens.  It feels a bit strange and I find myself looking for them when I glance out of the kitchen window. I have taken down the wire fence that kept them to half of the garden and we are probably going to put the chicken coop on freecycle.

I will miss "the girls". Although they were a birthday present for my husband because he works long hours and spends an increasing amount of time abroad, it fell to me to look after them from day to day. Most fine days, summer or winter I carried a mug of coffee outside and sat down to drink it with one chicken on my lap and another sitting beside me.

The downside was that as we let them range freely in the garden, they did destroy a lot of my plants and the lawn was almost bare during the winter months. As much as I will miss them it will be nice to be able to hang out my washing without a chicken hopping up onto the bowl of washing, to be able to fill the gaps in the garden with plants that won't be scratched away and to watch the lawn recover.

Onion was quite shy, easily startled and didn't like the camera so I don't have many pictures but the one below shows her a week after she arrived exploring the garden for the first time.

and this one taken just a month ago is the last one I took of Sage and Onion together, both chasing after the same piece of bread as they often did.