Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Pompous git? My arse!

Now I was going to call this post something deep and eloquent along the lines of ‘after the rain has passed’ or ‘the woodland thirsts no more’ you know the sort of thing, something that draws the reader towards my carefully crafted words desperate to know more and quench their thirst for knowledge and to be able to dwell upon deep, sweeping and evocative paragraphs of joyous reading coupled with wildlife pictures beyond compare. And then I took the bog monster out for a walk, bugger!

It started off o so well, Clare woke me up as she was readying herself for work with a steaming mug of tea as I lay in that blissful state between dreams and wakefulness. I really had no need or urgency to stir, but the crisp, cool scents that wafted through open bedroom windows told me that the last couple of weeks of baking sun had been alleviated by rainfall during the night. I meandered from the bedroom to be greeted by a very excited Lucy, you’d have thought that time had rolled back and I had a mere pup to take to the forest such was the way her whole body twisted from side to side with every sweep of her frantically wagging tail. I took time to prepare myself a complex and nutritious breakfast (cornflakes, sugar and hot milk) and perused some blogs whilst I downed my second mug of tea, as you know by know this is necessary for me to function upon all cylinders. Then we were off, the windows of the fun cruiser fully open allowing the rush of rain freshened air to lift our spirits and soak our senses, I just love rain and the air following after a long, hot and dry spell.

We arrived at the trail head nice and early with the dawn chorus just petering out, and I strode out full of expectation for the wildlife that I would see and photograph for this evenings posting, hell I’d even thought of the blog title. Oh it was going to be so good; instead of just the flora of the woods I was going to bring you pictures of the vast and interesting fauna which had eluded my shaky camera work so far, it was indeed going to be a posting beyond compare. Er did I happen to mention that Lucy was along for the ride? I did? Bugger.

We’d looped around the trig point and were heading back down towards the dark canopy of old pines trees, Lucy had rushed on ahead obviously hoping that one of her favourite pits had been replenished by the evening’s rain, when movement from left to right across the trial’s floor caught my eye. I slowed my paced and edged closer to the small mammal carefully sniffing its way across, a common shrew! Not that bleedin common as this was the first live one that I’d seen in many years. I crept on further  lowering myself down as I neared the beast (oh come on some poetic licence can be allowed), he paused as he neared the beginning of his tunnel like run into the undergrowth, I raised the camera and slowly depressed the shutter button. Now depressed is the key word here, for as I activated the camera at the precise same point in space and time the bog monster pushes past me intent on finding out why her master (yeah right o) was teetering on the edge of the undergrowth. Now if you look very carefully at the resultant picture’s lower half you can see the backside of mister shrew as he bolts hell for leather down his tunnel, bugger.

Mmmm never mind, so we strolled on awhile edging the forest hoping for a shot of one of the buzzards that I know use this tree line to spy out the more open ground.

 As I glanced down the trail a noticed a butterfly alight in one of the morning’s rare patches of sunlight, managed to take a rather shaky shot of what turns out to be a Red Admiral.

As I was just starting to feel better about the day the hound of the mire steamed passed me covering me and camera with splattering of what I can only hope was just mud. The damn thing is, as I shut down the little photographic device to gently clean away the alien substance a buzzard, not three yards down the trail swept upward and away off the trial floor, its wings making a powerful wumpimg noise (it’s the best word I could think of) as it fought to gain altitude. A truly impressive sight, equally impressive was the speed with which Lucy turned tail and headed for perceived safety behind my legs! Did I mention that I was cleaning Lucy’s detritus off my camera at this point? I did? Bugger.

So with a slightly cheated feeling I turned into the canopy of pines trees with the feeling that this was perhaps not going to be a national geographic prize winning piece of literature after all! We wound our way through the woods besieged upon all sides by the fresh smells that only long awaited rainfall can bring, also everything looked fresher, more vibrant and my grumblings at the bog monster were soon wafted away.

From the corner of my eye I spotted a large, and I mean large, moth alight upon the trunk of a nearby pine. As soon as it had landed it vanished, its camouflaged wings so perfect that unless I’d seen it land there would not have been a snowball’s chance in hell of me spotting it. Keeping my eyes firmly fixed on the landing spot I edged towards the tree and when I got to a couple of yards away the outline of the moth could be seen, I raised the camera and decided to move to within a couple of feet knowing that the moth would not budge, confident in its own invisibility. Being this close I think that the moth is one called a Red Poplar Underwing (though it might have been Eric) as a tiny slither of red from its secondary wings could just be made out. I raised the camera but then had to reset it to macro mode as I was now within touching distance of the moth, I raised the camera once more…. Thwack or similar loud noises when your beloved pet runs behind you, large stick in mouth smashing it precisely into the bend behind your knees, I hit the ground like a sack of spuds, dropping the camera and uttering oaths and expletives that I’d not use in the work place let alone here on my blog for you sensitive readers to be aghast at, bugger. I dragged myself from the bracken, checked the camera was ok and then glanced about with retribution in my mind for the one from the bog. I didn’t have to look far (‘bout 2 feet) to be greeted by Lucy looking up at me in such a way I could only laugh, laugh at my own pompousness and laugh because that’s what friends do together.

I pounced upon her, rubbing her flanks, pulling her tail and just generally messing her up, in return she happily slobbered all over me and licked my ears. If anyone had seen us that have probably called for the men in white coats, me and Lucy? well we just carried on playing and laughing. We tramped on through the rest of the walked pausing frequently to chase each other or play fight with Lucy launching herself at me with ever increasing run ups.

We took some time out so that I could take some arty type pictures, trying to catch how fresh the day felt, but I’m not arty nor am I a great writer but nor am I a fool nor pompous and  one thing I am not when out there with loopy Lucy, I’m not alone.

Thanks if you read my ramblings to the end.

Your friend,

Monday, June 28, 2010

Cheshire County Show

Just a few pictures from the Cheshire County Show that Clare and myself visited last Tuesday on a baking hot day. Not going to ramble on just enough to say that we arrived home tired, fed, cidered, with discount forms to join Warrington AA allowing us access to rich and varied fishing locations and a strong urge to get me one (or more!) of them Fox hounds (purely as company for Lucy in her dotage).

Cheshire Fox hounds - Bigger than I thought, and I want one (or more)

Hoped that you enjoyed the photos as much as we enjoyed the show.

Your friend,

Monday, June 21, 2010

Drowning a few maggots...

Evening all,
Just a quick posting on this mornings fishing, this was the first time that we’d been course fishing for nearly eighteen months! Due to time constraints and a host of other things to do we could only fish late morning to early afternoon, not the best time of the day especially with the temperatures soaring the way they were today. We’d have had much better fortune early hours or as dusk laid its cooling mantle down, but this was not to be.

As we walked around one of the local pits known as the globe there was very little activity to be seen at all just a few common carp basking at the far end. It would have been a waste of time setting after these as they wouldn’t be interested in feeding until the cooler evening air had arrived, in any case the larger carp here are notoriously difficult to catch having been fished for many times over the years.

We chose our pegs where some over hanging trees afforded some cover. Even if we had not have caught today just being out here fishing, surrounded by dragonflies, damselflies, water nymphs, fish fry hugging the shore and a host of birds was to mean the day was not wasted. I’d forgotten just how much I enjoy this type of fishing where the whole ambiance of the day’s fishing allowed an almost meditative state to come over me and wash worries and cares away.

But surprisingly neither of us blanked with Clare landing a selection of roach, perch and Crucian carp and I a combination of roach and perch. All the fish were taken on double maggot with most of mine taken on the drop.

Although all the fish were released unharmed (apart from the barbless hook hole!) it was sort of comforting to know that if life did go arse over elbow we both have the skills to put food on the table this way if needed. Hopefully it won’t be as long until the next time we go fishing, in fact we’re already thinking of other waters both fresh and sea further afield. The best thing about the sea trips is that I will get to eat some of the catch.

Your friend,

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Slight tinge of sadness

Apologies for not posting sooner but the last few days have been hectic in the best possible of ways. First thing I have to do with this post is provide a picture or two of a Dog rose for my good friend from across the pond, Wandering Owl. (A great one to follow by the way if you enjoy the outdoors), so here it is (looks a little paler than your shots Casey, probably due to my camera skills, or lack of!).

I have to admit that I mis-placed my first pictures taken last week somewhere on me hard drive so I had to have a wander up the trials around Nercwys woods on Friday to snap them again (I know, I know any excuse to get ‘out there’). We hit the road really early to avoid the soaring temperatures that the days clear skies promised. This time the fun cruiser’s speakers gently throbbed to some classical music and some of my favourite film themes (see, not just a metal head!). The trails were totally deserted this early, just how I like them. With only the rising chorus of bird song and the scampering bog monster for company we headed of to thickest parts of the woods.

As the trial wound on the abundance of wild flowers and exploding fresh vegetation on the trail edges filled me, as always, with wonder and amazement at mother nature’s diversity and renewal abilities.

As the temperature rose I started thinking of the best route back to the fun cruiser to afford Lucy the shade and ditch water that she craves so much. As we traipsed along the numbers of knits and flies disturbed by our clumsy foot falls and drawn to the heat of our bodies began to become more of a nuisance (note to self, remember to douse hat in lavender oil next time!) and I found myself flapping my arms at the little blighters like a demented windmill. It was then an unusual airborne predator started to take advantage of our fly ridden predicament. The predators arrival was signified by humming noises that would rival that of a small helicopter (ok a very, very small helicopter). The aerial predators in question? hover flies, but not your run of the mill little acrobatic aviators oh no indeed. These buggers were huge (well in an insect scale sort of way) a rough estimation put their body lengths at just under an inch long. It was absolutely spellbinding watching these assassins swooping in taking from the horde of blood suckers which swirled around our heads. I’m just sorry that my hastily took picture does them no justice what so ever.

We circled around to the ‘Sheppard’s Cottage’ enclosure to see how the pigs were getting on and as if luck would have it I bumped into a gentleman called Dave from the Clwydian Range AONB. Dave was generous enough to stop and chat and take the time to answer my questions on the reasons for the little porkers being here. It turns out that these eight pigs are in fact one of the oldest of British breeds and are Oxford, sandy and blacks and are part of a joint project between the forestry commission and Clwydian Range AONB. One the walls were completed it was decided to have the enclosed area as a wild flower meadow to provide refuge for a stronger diversity of fauna and flora. The choice of clearing the existing scrub was either heavy rotavation and ample use of pesticides or the pigs; I guess that common sense and the more natural method won through. Come the autumn the pigs will be removed and the area sown with a carefully selected range of plants. I assume that other grazers will be intruded in future to maintain the ‘meadow’, in a natural way (I left Dave before I thought to ask about this, Doh!). 

I'd like to thank Dave at this point for his time and patience in answering my many questions, top guy.

By now the heat and the walk were getting to us both so we meandered back to the fun cruiser and headed home. That evening as I glanced over at Lucy snoring her head off in her favourite chair, it struck me that now at over eight and a half years old I’m going to have to take a more balanced approach between her adventures and her health. She’d walk with me everyday until the trail ended no matter the distance, terrain or weather. It’s with a slight feeling of sadness that I realised that I’m going to have to reign the old girl in a little for her own good and forget my own need to have her ‘out there’ as often or as long on the trails. But I pretty sure that she’ll still be giving me plenty of tales to entertain you with in the future.

This extended break from the ‘grind’ that Clare and I are enjoying is positively flying by. We’ve managed to spend some serious quality time together but without being joined at the hip, in other words we’ve both done our thing as well. I’ve managed to return a semblance of functionality to the shrine that is ‘the garage’ and hopefully after a couple more sales to some naive punters, sorry I mean much valued customers, upon E-bay the repair kit for the ‘little lady’ shall soon be winging its way to my sacred workshop. We’ve set up new bird feeders within the small confines of our backyard and the results have been spectacular to say the least, but that’ll wait for a future post. The small area of home grown vegetables has started to for fill its promise of a few tasty meals, and the weather has been just sublime. I’ve managed to complete a host of jobs around the house including removing the huge aquarium that took far to much room (5 of us to lift and move the empty glass case alone!) and the building of a long overdue front step (6 years of a caravan step allowing access to the front door, oops!). We’ve enjoying plenty of simple but deeply satisfying meals together washed down with copious amounts of cider on my part. So a satisfying break indeed so far, with a few more days still to come, it’ll be car booting tomorrow early morning (careful on the cider tonight then), fishing down the Globe on Monday, and a trip to the Cheshire show on Tuesday to round our break off.

So an enjoyable week just tempered with the realization that time catches us all up eventually, take the time to enjoy yourselves my friends - life isn't a practice run after all.

Your friend,