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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Up Before the Lark.

Knowing that David had Thursday off work, I had high hopes that we would have another great outdoors adventure! David was in agreement, however he pinned his hopes on seeing the sunrise hit the mountains around Haweswater Reservoir, Cumbria, (inspired by Thomas Heaton‘s Youtube post.

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The Rigg and Haweswater

Unfortunately, the bugbear for me was that we live at least two hours drive from Cumbria and the sunrise on Thursday being at 7.11am, meant that I had to get up at 4am!! I’m a terrible sleeper at the best of times, so I knew this plan would seriously upset my circadian rhythm.

Despite this hiccup, I longed to get out of the house and breathe the free air again! So I agreed. The alarm clock sounded at 4am and I crawled out of bed after a fitful sleep, for breakfast and to get dressed.

By 5am, the car had been packed and so we hit the road.

It took us just over two hours to get to Haweswater Reservoir. We parked up with the first rays of dawn touching the tops of the mountains. We scurried up Swinside Common in the hope of catching the moon above Kidsty Pike, but alas we failed and only had sore calves to show for our climb.

We spent over an hour taking hundreds of pictures in -7° temperatures.

With it being just after 8am, we drove to Derwentwater for a two hour leisurely walk along the banks of the lake, with Blencathra (Saddleback) looking resplendent in the winter sunshine. We took the route to the lake via Kewsick and took the road towards Portinscale then on towards the Adventure Centre. There is free parking but this can get very busy.

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Derwentwater is fast becoming my second favourite lake in Cumbria. The lakeside was so tranquil, it healed my soul. I thoroughly enjoyed the walk.  I got covered in mud on the return journey but it was worth it as I even had a go of a swing tied to a tree by Hawes End Jetty. The Jetty can be found by taking a path through woodland as you walk towards the Adventure Centre.

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There were many ducks and geese quietly drifting on the lake. The woodland walk was graced with the drumming of woodpeckers and the cackle of blue tits. On our journey back to the car David spied a pheasant feather lying on the ground, so I took it as a memento of our lovely day.

I am busily planning the next adventure. Do you have any suggestions of where to go?

Christine x

Gorillas in the Rain…

Day one:

After leaving the house a bit later than I had planned for the four hour journey to Norwich to see their GoGoGorillas. David and I hit rain shower after rain shower, jam packed motorways and A roads on our journey across country which left me feeling stressed!!

We finally reached Norwich around 2.30pm and after finding parking we spent an enjoyable hour walking the streets of this friendly city and caught a glimpse of 15 of the 54 Gorillas that gave colour to the drab, rain soaked historic pavements. I am overjoyed that I managed to see a few of them before they were auctioned off and the one’s we saw were amongst my favourites!

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Leaving Norwich around 4pm, the next two subsequent hours were taken up on driving to Black Bond Hall B&B, Colchester. Andrew greeted us kindly and showed us to our room for the night and then offered us tea and cake in the kitchen. He and his wife Gill have made us feel very welcome. After a meal of fish and chips in a local Colchester chip shop, I relaxed with a shower and enjoyed the calmness of the countryside.

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It’s back to colchester and the zoo tomorrow to see their 100 plus giraffe, Stand Tall art display. I can’t wait!!

Happiness is for Everyone.

Friday was the beginning of the August long weekend and AT LAST I have something more interesting to write about than garden birds! David with car packed full with deck chairs took my Mum, brother Daniel, his friend Paul and myself to Sefton Park to see the opening of the Liverpool International Music Festival.

First on the bill was the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Vasily Petrenko. It was a must see and being free was not to be sniffed at! So sitting under a cloud laden sky we all eagerly awaited the beginning of the concert. The organisers said there were up to 10,000 people at the opening night and we were five of that 10,000!

The concert was presented by Jamie Crick of Classic FM fame and whom I thought was a little bit ditsy as he tripped over his words and also got the programme wrong on one occasion. The orchestra opened with the theme from James Bond and went on to Pirates of the Caribbean and the Ride of the Valkyries before culminating with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture and at the crescendo a flurry of fireworks accompanied the rousing finale. The concert was enjoyed by all and we left the park feeling uplifted and happy.

On Saturday we left early for Manchester’s Trafford Centre where we spent 1.5 hours walking around the shopping mall. We were not shopping but talking pictures of the Elephant Parade, where there were 30 colourful painted elephants gracing the upper and lower levels of the mall. I loved all the varying artistic designs and also managed to purchase my own memento of the occasion though it knocked me back £45!

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Things DO Happen for a Reason!

It took a good few weeks for me to mull over the idea about sending my CV to the agency Randstad with regards to an Access to Work booking with the Royal Liverpool Hospital.  I decided ‘why not!’ I was not working at the time and the prospect of going on job seekers allowance was not preferable. That was in June! I have been working there now for three days a week, with the odd fourth since then. Today I learned that my ‘boss’ at the hospital has had her hours for myself extended to 30, meaning working four days a week permanent!

From working less than ten hours a week to now working 30 is amazing! What a brilliant stroke of luck! I am pinching myself at the knowledge that after all this time at working at the university I now have a more permanent, almost full time job! Finally! A reason to break open a bottle of white tonight then. 🙂

Last Friday was my day off! So I planned to go with David and my Mum to the Festival Gardens. My Dad worked there when it first opened in 1984! It only opened for a couple of months in the 80’s, but today it has been reclaimed and given back to the city, something I think is a lovely gesture.

I had kept two badges that my Dad had given me when I was seven years old from his time at the festival and I thought it was nice for me to take them back to the gardens. I really loved walking the grounds of the new park. It was like walking down memory lane with seeing the old Chinese pagodas. My favourite part was the Moon Wall, we all had fun goofing around that!

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