29 March 2013

A Good Friday Walk in the Woods

The dog woke me up early this morning. I considered ignoring him, then thought of mopping up puddles and worse things, so got up to let him out. He did a quick wee in the garden, but by then I thought I might as well get dressed, go feed the horses, and take him for a walk.

It was a dry, crisp (but bloomin' cold wind!) morning, as I haven't been down to the woods for a long time because its been too wet and muddy, (the woods are steep & I'm not that steady on the old pins in steep, wet, muddy bits) I decided on a Walk to the Woods.
Off Baz & I set.
Looking up the lane:
the 2 trees on the right is where Middle Field starts
Up the lane to Middle Field.

Then to Top Field, and across to the gate in the corner.

Down the steep bit....

.... and into the woods:

you can (sort of) see the primroses

The Windfall:
not sure I've ever been paddling a 7 a.m. before (and yes, in my wellies - far too cold for bare feet!
looking down the waterfall

and back up it 

Back up the hill to Middle Field:

Looking back to where we walked:

This is one of our neighbours -
no problem with noise at this distance!
and back down the drive - home.

28 March 2013

28th March - a Little bit about Liking Lichen

Somewhat behind with the diary - usual excuse. Been busy.

I'd like to write a little bit about lichen. We have a lot of it on our trees in the orchard. The previous owners, Sue & Richard, told us this was nothing to worry about - but being curious I decided to find out for myself.

There are two ways to pronounce it - LiTchen or LiKE-en - both are correct.

Lichens are symbiotic organisms that grow on old trees. They do not feed on the trees like a parasite, merely grow ON them. It is a greenish grey moss-like cushion of growth on branches, which is harmless.

Listening to In The Potting Shed on the BBC Radio Devon's Sunday Morning gardening programme last week (24th March) I decided to use their invitation to text a question. I asked about our lichen.

To my surprise (and delight) my question was read out and the answer was very useful. Lichens tend to grow on old trees - so because old trees tend to die, the lichen is often blamed.

It thrives in the older trees, though, because of more cracks and breaks where it can anchor itself. The good thing about it - lichens only do well where the air is pollution free - which explains why I never saw any of it back in London, but it does well in our back garden here in Devon.

It's fascinating stuff to look at closely - a little microcosm of a world. It looks beautiful in the frost.

What a lot of people do not know, the author and artist Beatrix Potter, of Peter Rabbit fame, was also a naturalist and she made a scientific study of fungi and lichens. It took a full century for her work to be recognised, however, as the male-dominated Victorian age of science did not take her work seriously. She drew fungi  with a formidable exactness for detail and studied them through observation and experimentation.

Her uncle was a well-known chemist and he encouraged her studies. She was the first  person in England to confirm the notion that lichens consisted of two different organisms in a symbiotic relationship, an alga and a fungus, a theory also put forward by a Swiss botanist, Simon Schawendener.
Her papers were rejected though by the Victorian botanical establishment. To take an amateur woman seriously was unthinkable. She turned her skill of drawing to the more familiar paintings that we now know - her depictions of animals and the landscapes of the Lake District. It was not until 1967 that her work with fungi and lichens was realised.

Beatrix Potter outside her Cumbrian house,
Hill Top
Miss Potter was also involved with the setting up of the UK's National Trust. She bought many acres of land in the Lake District, farms mostly, which she gave to the Trust to manage as tenant farms - these still exist today, and it is thanks to her that much of the area and these Fell Farms have survived.

So I like to think that a little bit of my back garden is connected with this remarkably talented lady.

Wikipedia - Lichen
Wikipedia - Beatrix Potter

One other fact which might be of interest to my readers. In October 1066, the order went out for the English army to meet by the "hoary apple tree", obviously a well-known local landmark. 

Well the "hoary" would refer to the grey lichen that covered it.
Another link to my garden!

23 March 2013

23rd March

The well was overflowing last night - fortunately into the storm drain, so no risk of flooding or anything, kept me awake some of the night though - not used to noise outside! :-)

The weather has been foul - the bottom field looks like a sea of mud at the moment, but we have to turn the horses out somewhere.

Look at this from a couple of days ago though:

out in the garden in a cardi!

19 March 2013

video of Baz

Baz playing in the field with Adam on a frosty morning

19th March

Up early to get some work done - and spent a good hour sitting on the 'North Terrace' (i.e. the patio LOL) having a morning cuppa, eating my breakfast and playing ball with Baz.

Good idea playing ball downhill with an energetic dog - every time he dropped it the ball rolled away so he had to fetch it again - saved me  the job of bending to pick it up!

It is not easy taking photos of him though as he is SO quick and bouncy!

see what I mean...


I was listening to Judi Spiers on BBC  Radio Devon while getting dressed, making the bed etc after that  leisurely breakfast.

 I stood at my bedroom window while listening to the Carpenters’ ‘On Top Of The World’ – and confess to suddenly having a few tears. 

Blackbirds and thrushes were hopping across the lawn, there was a woodpecker busy at the fat ball hanger and chaffinches and different types of tit were squabbling on the other feeder. 

The catkins are out, the daffodils are in bloom; all the trees are starting to look green....

We moved from London to this lovely place called Devon a couple of months ago, but still feel that I am living a dream. The sun was lighting up the fields opposite and the view across our back garden to the Taw Valley was just so, so beautiful – it really did seem like I was standing 'on top of the world looking down on creation'.


Next door DownTheHill are having some work done, several lorries laden with big bags of what is something heavy (gravel?) have trundled down the shared drive these past couple of days. Me nosey? Nah! Nor is it a problem - as long as the drivers don't flatten our primrose bank like a previous one did!

Missed Baz completely in this one :-)


18 March 2013

18th March

Ron and I sat out on the North Terrace with our morning cuppa this a.m. It was a bit chilly, but I had my warm fleecy dressing gown on (yep, hadn't showered or dressed, tea comes first!)
(The North Terrace is a grand term for the back garden patio! :-)

We heard the woodpecker, the pheasant, lots of little birds; the Tarka Line train clacketing past from Exeter to Barnstaple, someone using a chain saw, a tractor, a dog barking, a cockerel crowing, a peacock (! yes, a peacock) sheep bleating (including lambs) and a buzzard.

An improvement on the traffic on the A406 back in London!

And I haven't updated on yet another new addition!
We now have four horses!

L-R: Squidgy, Lexie, Jasper, Ishi
The four Musketeers
(or should that be Cavaliers? LOL)

Adam (Kathy's OtherHalf) was part owner of a racehorse. Her name, Ishi.
On advice from the trainer the syndicate decided to retire her... so guess who ended up giving her a home?

L-R: Squidge, Lexie, Jasper, Ishi

Her name is Ishi. We'll be letting her 'chill' for a few months, just relaxing in the field, then will ride her & unteach all the racing stuff she's been taught.

Kathy jumping the Exmoor pony, Squidgy
Oh and Baz (the dog) has finally learnt that the toilet is outdoors, not on my carpet (understandable because he is very bewildered and a little nervous) but he is settling in well and beginning to relax. He is stretched out by my feet as I write this, sound asleep and snoring!

16 March 2013

16th March

Ron & I went to the Dog's Trust centre in Ilfracombe/Braunton and collected our new friend - Baz.

LOL hadn't noticed the painted toes!
They're not my feet, photo taken by my daughter!
He was found abandoned as a stray, spent over a week at the dog pound, and as no one had attempted to find him, was moved to the Trust, where a new home would be found.

He is microchipped, but when the registered people were contacted they said "We'd given him away to a new home". Frankly, a likely story. My guess is, for one reason or another they just dumped him. (Probably because he is now big & bouncy & needs a lot of exercise - or they were going off on holiday, or something)

Anyway, our gain.

After a short talk about his medical history, when he needs his next jab, general care etc, we set off for home. He was very reluctant to get in the car: we were strangers, he was frightened, but one of the Trust assistants lifted him in & we set off. The journey would be about 40 minutes. Half way, he up-chucked in the back of the car. To be expected - as far as we knew he might never have been in a car before, plus the nerves etc. Didn't matter, we'd put down old blankets.

He had a sniff round at home, was quite happy to go on his bed - loved the log fire.  Wasn't sure f the horses - Sybil the cat (at the moment confined to upstairs where Baz is not going to be allowed) saw the Dog, fluffed up, hissed and sat on the landing, scowling, down the stairs. Mab has decided to stay under the bed.
They have a litter tray, food & water in the upstairs bathroom, though, so will be perfectly OK. If they want to go out, they'll have to pluck up courage, stick two fingers up at The Dog & come downstairs. (They're actually fine, just a bit affronted. "Meow. What do we want another DOG for???"

Baz was fine over night. He settled n his bed, curled up & went to sleep. Didn't hear a peep out of him!

Adam & Baz
This morning Adam has taken him for a walk up the lane & Ron is, as I type this, leading Baz round the back garden, discovering all the sniffs and smells.

He's a lovely dog. I think is already a best friend.

Follow up posts about Baz:

a photo of Baz taken in late May - one very happy dog!

14 March 2013

14th March

Ron was working hard today - he decided to give the 'lawn' a bit of a cut. We still haven't got the ride-on mower fixed yet, so he managed with the electirc mower. Sort of did the job, but I think it was a bit hard going.

Ron at work in the orchard
I picked a lot of the daffodils yesterday because the recent high winds had battered them all down, such a shame as they had looked so lovely, still, there are a lot of buds yet to bloom. The primroses are almost finished - the snowdrops are going to seed, but the violets are out, and lots of other flowers names of which I haven't a clue!

anyone know what these are?

I'm especially pleased with myself as I've lost a few pounds in weight and I can now walk up the lane to Top Gate without having to stop for oxygen (well, to get my breath)
And when I say UP the lane, I mean up, you're talking just under 1/4 of a mile up hill.

Looking down our drive
 - the wooden building is the back of the stables
Today was a lovely sunny day - although the wind was very cold. I've been trying to ensure that I have a good walk every day - yesterday I went further, about half a mile to the junction with the lane that leads to the village to collect the recycling boxes. Our lane is too narrow for the dustcart, so all refuse has to be taken to the collection point.

our home...looking through the hedge along the lane
and looking back at where I took the photo
 from our front garden - the foreground hedge is our boundary,
that's next door's field with the hedge along the lane in the distance
As soon as we can get Squidgy broken to harness I'll be driving up in the pony & trap.
And talking of Squidge...  here's a new, equine version of Leaning On The Gate!

'Is it time to come in for dinner yet?'

Must get my new camera sorted - it seems to be registering the wrong date :(