30 Days Wild 2016 – Week One

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The Wildlife Trust’s, 30 Days Wild 2016 dawned on a cloudy Wednesday, a hump day! I must admit it was difficult to find my ‘get up and go!’ However the sun made an appearance in the afternoon. It shone down hotly, as I slowly eased into this June by doing the usual pottering about the yarden (yard/garden)!

I participated in 30 Days Wild last year and thoroughly felt enlivened just by noticing the nature and wildlife around me.

I do try to help the wildlife in my area. It started off by putting out feeders for the birds. Then it progressed to planting for bees, butterflies and other insects. And this year David and I have built a small pond in the hope of bringing even more wildlife to the urban back yarden.

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Day One: Wednesday.

Like last year I will blog about my 30 Days Wild in weekly installments. Thanks to Annie Irene from Trails&Tails who wrote about the many bloggers featured on The Wildlife Trusts, My Wild Life website. It is always good to read what other’s are getting up to this June, so if you are interested like I was, then follow the link and get reading!

One of the positives about reading other people’s experiences of the ‘wild’ is that you learn something new almost daily. Today, I learnt that a ‘weed’ I have ashamedly been pulling up out of the yarden (oops), is called Herb Robert or geranium robertianum. This wild flower is apparently edible and has many therapeutic properties.

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Day Two: Thursday.

Today, David had a day off work. I suggested we go to a park in search of wildlife. We decided on visiting Liverpool’s Festival Gardens. We seem to make an annual pilgrimage here, but really should visit more often. It has lakes and woodland walks. It also features the restored Moon Wall and Pagodas that featured in the Garden Festival of the 1980’s!

On our leisurely walk, there were coots with chicks on the lake. Alongside the paths David and I spotted orchids and oxeye daises, and in the woodland we saw several butterflies, one was a Speckled Wood.

We had a picnic alongside a stream, where under a strong beaming sun we sat listening to birdsong. I’ve identified (using British Garden Birds) the song of a chaffinch and maybe a wren, but is there a third song? Can you tell?

Day Three: Friday.

If you are struggling to find something ‘wild’ to do in June, then why not download the 30 Days Wild app for 101 random acts of wildness? I did and the first act suggested was something blue. So here is a picture of one of David’s rockery plants, lithodora ‘heavenly blue.’

Day Four: Saturday.

This March we planted some seed maris bard potatoes in the hope of growing our first vegetables. Today I noticed that the first flower has opened. I read that it will be soon be time to harvest these earlies! Isn’t the flower very strange looking? Well I thought so!

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Day Five: Sunday.

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Naughty Artie!

Today was World Environment Day. Nicky on her blog Too Lazy to Weed, highlighted that it was also The National Garden Bioblitz weekend! So we spent the whole day in the yarden. I busied myself with counting the flora and fauna that we have in our small space. My fellow ‘spotter’ Artie was watching the bees and butterflies for a very different reason!!!

I counted  about 60 plants. Of that number we have two trees and many shrubs, alpines and perennials. I used the Pl@ntNet app to ID some annuals and I was surprised at the results! One of the wildflower seedlings has roundish leaves so I used the app and found out it is a nasturtium!

Of the many insects that visited the yarden, a number of them were bees. Those identified were: common carder bees, a dark variant of the tree bumblebee, mason bees and white-tailed bumblebees. Thanks to UK Bees, Wasps and Ants Facebook page for help with ID-ing the bees. My skills are still not great! Below are five useful facts on each bee.

Common Carder Bee:

  1. Found widely in the UK.
  2. On the wing from March to November.
  3. Nests above ground, such as cavities, hedges, plant litter or birds nests.
  4. They gather moss or grass to cover their nests.
  5. A social bee, can have a colony of up to 200 workers.

Tree Bumblebee:

  1. Came to the UK ten years ago, under own steam.
  2. Not reported to have damaged native bumblebees
  3. Prefers wide open flowers, i.e. daisies.
  4. Nests in cavities or birds nests/boxes.
  5. The males are sting-less.

Mason Bee:

  1. One of the solitary bees, (there are no worker bees).
  2. Nests in cavities, i.e. walls.
  3. Uses mud to close their brood cells.
  4. Are non aggressive.
  5. Are just as good pollinators as honey bees.

White-tailed Bumblebee:

  1. Is another group of social bees.
  2. Nests underground, i.e. rodent nests.
  3. Has a short tongue, so prefers wide open flowers, such as daisies.
  4. Are accomplished nectar ‘robbers’. By boring holes, means they don’t have to enter the flower.
  5. On the wing from March to November.

David, Artie and I were also given a spectacular mating dance from two, small white butterflies. It was truly uplifting to see the two flutter delicately about on a hot summers day!

Day Six: Monday.

20160606_133351I don’t know if it is due to tiredness or the heat but I have been feeling kind of tired and low today. So it was going to be a lazy kind of day. After the midday heat had passed, Artie and I headed out into the yarden to sit quietly. I took out my library copy of Roger Deakin’s Waterlogged, (a tale of ‘wild’ swimming around the UK), and relaxed while the yarden hummed with bees. I am finding the book hard reading. I simply can’t get into it!  I usually like history but the historical passages in the narrative just bore me. I will persevere though!

Day Seven: Tuesday.

I have always wanted to try my hand at writing a Haiku (traditional Japanese poetry.) You may have guessed that I can go on a bit while writing the blog, so you’d think a three lined poem would be easy for me! Wrong! I have been racking my brain trying to get syllables to come together. Below is my best attempt. What are your thoughts? Have you tried writing a Haiku?

Bees, buzz, drunk on nectar (5)
Flowers’ scent, enticingly (7)
Pollen baskets, full (5)

Summary: The problem with this years 30 Days Wild is that I have wanted to do everything all at once! And that is not plausible. I have felt like a daemon possessed! Panicking if I don’t do something to the extent I want. For the second week, I think I need to ‘chill’ a bit more and enjoy nature instead of forcing it!

I hope you will come with me on this next week of discovery?!

Christine x

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Operation Kelpie, with a Few Dolphins, Two Bridges and an Abbey thrown in for Good Measure…

… are what made our weekend away to Scotland 2014 memorable!

With having no internet connection in the three B&B/hotels we stayed in I am having to update when back at home. Over the three nights/four days we saw a lot of sights, drove for 17 hours and ranked up a total of over 800 miles! There are a lot of pictures to go through, and I mean a lot!!!

In this post I will try and cover all the highlights with a selection of pictures I have not shared on my Facebook page. I hope you enjoy reading as much as we enjoyed visiting some wonderful sights in the East of Scotland.

Our holiday started on the Thursday when David and I drove up to Falkirk from Liverpool. The four hour journey went without a hitch and the weather stayed dry, if not cloudy once crossed the boarder.We had lunch at the Helix with the Kelpies in the distance. We had a tour booked for 2.30pm!

Our tour guide was Andy and he was informative if not flamboyant! He really entertained David and I and the other six people on the tour! The tour was £5 each and lasted one hour which I thought was value for money! The tour explained the history behind the development of Helix and the Kelpies and then went on to explain about the past, of the areas industrial roots and the canals. The tour ended inside the base of one of the Kelpies, Duke I think it was. After the tour we spent another hour walking around and taking pictures from different angles. The sun broke through the clouds and we got some great pictures!

 

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After four we drove to our B&B in Stirling, West Plean. It was our third time of staying there and the welcome is always friendly.

West Plean B&B

West Plean B&B

We dinned at the River House, and afterwards we decided to go back to the Kelpies to see them lit up at night. It took over an hour for the sun to set but we got some fantastic pictures of the Kelpies lit up with red lights. To me they looked demonic!

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The Friday dawned with mist over Stirling. We shared a lovely friendly breakfast with a French couple from Paris and a German couple from Berlin. As Moira the proprietor of West Plean said, it was an international breakfast table!

After breakfast David and I left for Aberdeen. We came across cloud and more cloud before it turned to sharp piercing rain. We stopped for lunch at Dunnottar Castle and we’re going to visit, but we had good views of the mist shrouded castle from the headland so we snapped a few pictures and then went on our way!

Dunnottar Castle

Dunnottar Castle

We arrived in a rain soaked Aberdeen after 1.30pm and quickly went in search of Marischal College where the 50 dolphins of the Wild Dolphins art exhibition where housed before auction. They were displayed in an open courtyard and David and I were not protected from the ‘dreich’ weather!

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After 4pm we checked into our second base for the night, the Hilton, Treetops Hotel. It was a four star hotel but we were in a three star room! The other downside was that we were staying next to a ‘bride to be’ and she and her friends kept us up during the night with their antics!

The only positive of the stay was the restaurant. After nursing a migraine and not having brought any medication (the only thing I did not have) we went for dinner. After ordering the salmon, we were then entertained while waiting by a magician called Garry and his pet rabbit Basil! It was amusing and highly different! David had a smile on his face all evening!

Garry the Magician with Basil

Garry the Magician with Basil

Saturday dawned much brighter with the sun shining, my headache and sickness lifted. We did not pay for the £10 each for breakfast, we decided to just have a coffee and head off to Edinburgh. We were planning on visiting Highland Wildlife Park but the satnav said a three hour drive awaited us and then another 2.5 hours to Queensferry, so we opted to visit my favourite city instead. We stayed in Edinburgh for lunch and walked around Calton Hill, Holyrood Park and the Royal Mile. It was nice visiting old haunts.

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After 3pm we set off to our last base for the holiday.

Hawes Inn

Hawes Inn

We checked into the Hawes Inn, a pub on the river front. It was a three star and the room we were in was testament to that. We were in an outhouse, and in the basement as that, hence no internet signal! It was not the best B&B we have stayed in, but it was liveable! We were not there much of the time anyway!

After check in, we decided to mingle with the locals who were there for a food and drink festival. We took pictures of the two bridges and looked for restaurants. In the end we had a delightful curry at an Indian called the Queen’s Spice. At the end of the meal I was gifted a red rose, a nice touch!

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On leaving the restaurant and after I took a tumble, (silly high heeled shoes!) we rushed back to the hotel and then out again to see the sunset over the Firth. (Don’t worry I did not break any bones, just had a scraped knee.)

The Forth Bridge

The Forth Bridge

Later on that evening we headed back out (again) to see the bridges lit up with lights.

The Forth Bridges

The Forth Bridges

The Sunday saw us getting up at 8am for a continental breakfast. We left Queensferry on our journey south. I with a tear in my eye said a farewell to Edinburgh and Arthur’s Seat as we saw it fading into the distance as we dove along the A7! We headed to Melrose Abbey for two hours of strolling around ruins. It was a pleasant, peaceful day!

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We got back to Liverpool after 4pm on Sunday, tired but satisfied that we had had a nice, diverse time.

I hope you have enjoyed my recital of our little weekend and inspired you to visit Scotland?! I will try and make a video of the highlights and post on here.

Christine x