The School Run

Cows
Cows

Spots before our eyes. The daily pinta making its daily pilgrimage. You don’t have to be in the entertainment world to know that timing is everything.

The Dog and I normally go down into the village, turn right by the pub and climb up the hill past the school. Should we miss-time our morning outing we could find ourselves stuck behind the herd of cows as they make their way from the farm to the fields. This is not a pleasant situation to find ourselves in. Did you know that your average cow produces up to ten tons of manure each year? Sometimes, when we get stuck behind the herd we are convinced that they have chosen today to produce it. They really are messy animals.

Getting caught ahead of the herd is not so bad. Cows generally don’t seem to be in too much of a hurry – they’ve got all day I suppose. As a general rule The Dog and I can outpace them easily. The Farmer walks ahead of them calling out to them and they saunter after him – taking their own time about it. I don’t think they actually need him out the front at all – they know the way to the fields – but they’re a kind hearted bunch so they don’t push the point.

As you can see from the picture, today we were ahead of the game and when we reached the T junction we stopped to watch. Just at the back of this picture, so to speak, the road has little or no verge and quite high hedges, so here, just opposite the school where the lane broadens, the herd spreads out.

As far as I know, no-one has had their car eaten yet.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

Curlew
Curlew

Another Unidentified Flying Object spotted over Cumbria. Could we be in the English Area 51? RAF Spadeadam is just around the corner from us you know, but this was more than just a Blue Streak.

The Dog and I were wending our weary way homeward yesterday when I heard a strange cry. Looking around I spotted a large bird, looking a bit like a sea gull, flapping slowly past a few fields away.

I normally tuck the camera inside my jacket when we are out and about – it stops it swinging about and irritating me and it also keeps it reasonably dry. It does mean though that, in times of emergency or anything requiring a quick pic – it is first necessary to disentangle the camera strap, my jacket lining and the lens cover, switch the camera on and try to find where whatever it was that prompted us into hectic action has gone to.

This time, we managed to complete the above procedure and locate the bird before he disappeared into dim and distant parts – and take one picture . And here it is – we think it’s a Curlew (or a Whaup). Google thinks that they live on estuaries and mudflats. Well, we do live near an estuary and with the rain we’ve had recently most of the fields around here could be mistaken for mudflats.

Oh Veronica

Bird's Eye Speedwell
Bird’s Eye Speedwell

Where have all the flowers gone? Where do all the flowers come from? We’re talking about men’s faithfulness here – we’ve got a birds eye view. It just doesn’t last so just leave it alone. We just need a bit of sunshine.

Veronica Chamaedrys – she sounds a bit like a foreigner doesn’t she? Like everything else, she is originally from Northern Turkey. Those early plant hunters must have ripped up every plant they could find and come rushing home with it. I think there was big money in plants in those days. You can’t imagine anyone being allowed to introduce a foreign plant into the country these days can you? And yet we owe so much of the colour that sprinkles our countryside to immigrants and imports.

Germander Speedwell (Bird’s Eye Speedwell) is what we believe is in this photo. Like the vetches that we’ve complained about previously, there are too many varieties that you need a microscope to tell apart for our taste. For goodness sake! If you can’t easily see the difference then it’s the same damn plant! We have enough trouble because people call the one flower by a load of different names – we don’t need all this complication.

Speedwell is not, as you may think, to do with parting, it’s because the flower wilts very quickly once it’s been plucked. Speed wilt – speed well. It’s not as hard to imagine that that’s the correct corruption as it is to believe some of the other reasons we’ve been given to explain flower names.

Männertreu it’s called in German – men’s faithfulness – a reference to the previous paragraph – probably been named this by a woman.

Spring Clean

The River Bank-Full
The River Bank-Full

” – this sleek, sinuous, full-bodied animal, chasing and chuckling, gripping things with a gurgle and leaving them with a laugh, to fling itself on fresh playmates that shook themselves free, and were caught and held again”

Our river, down at the bottom – just before the road rises again, up towards the main road – has been busy again. He’s had on his old brown dust-coat and been too engaged in his own affairs to talk to anyone.  The banks, he decided, needed a good scouring, particularly that overhang that held the winter icicles.

He is clearly a Feng Shui enthusiast and has calculated that, in order for the energy to be able to flow correctly, the place needed a good de-clutter. There was a half a tree, complete with leaves and flowers, that he had positioned carefully in the middle of his bed last time he had a big change around.  It was obviously completely wrong. Now that the Solstice has come and gone it had to go.

Earth and water are his elements – with a little wood thrown in for good measure – now and again. Fire and metal just don’t seem to fit in with his productive and destructive cycles, possibly due to the sleeping dragon or the relevant compass bearings.

The Dog can peer through the flood relief openings in the bridge walls, especially contrived at a convenient dog height. She noted that, not only had the dragon missed his appointment, by being asleep but  there were no ducks this time either.

Now!

Wild Rose and Honeysuckle side by side in the hedge
Wild Rose and Honeysuckle side by side in the hedge

It’s official – the past is over! What’s done is done. Forgiveness does not change the past but it does enlarge the future. The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there. We are starting the future NOW.

Here’s a piece of hedge that understands that the past is gone beyond recovery. Remember it, yes, we should, but we should not allow it to dominate our future.

Dr Edward Bach [1886-1936], made it his life’s work to produce a series of flower essences. He used these essences himself in his medical practice.

The Honeysuckle essence he used whenever his patient seemed to be stuck in the past. When the patient couldn’t move on, couldn’t get on with their life, and he felt that their malady was a result of this frustration.

The Wild Rose essence was used to give patients who were sunk in apathy, who couldn’t see anything in their future – and who just didn’t care that they didn’t have a future.

How apt that our hedgerows at the moment are bursting with Honeysuckle to give us all the needed push to force us to move on and let go of the past – and Wild Rose to help us to see that the future is where we want to be – and to go for it!

Love Is All Around

Horse At Gate
Horse At Gate

Have you got animals in your life? Did you ever wonder what they thought of the strange association between you and them? Can you imagine a friendship between two totally different animals occurring in the wild? Is this what humans were put on the planet for?

The Dog and I often have extended conversations on a variety of subjects. She tends to be non-committal mostly. I often wonder just how she sees our relationship. We see her as part of the family. Does she see us as part of the pack or, as she has no direct experience of living with a pack, are we her family?

In a previous life, we had a dog and a cat. While they were very particular about their individual perquisites and insisted on the maintenance of the established pecking order, never-the-less we would often come home to find them sitting on adjacent steps of the staircase (a position that gave a good view of the front door), just keeping each other company while we were out.

Sometimes, on our walk, The Dog and I come across the cows making the daily trek from milking shed to field. The farmer walks on ahead of the herd calling out to them – and all thirty or forty cows plod along behind him, following him into whichever field he has selected.

This guy was a bit irritated as we passed the stables. Someone had come and saddled up one of the other horses and the two of them had gone off for a ride. It was plain that he felt it was grossly unfair that he hadn’t been chosen for the outing. Horses seem to value human company. Do they see their riders as fellow herd-members – or is it something more than that, do they value human friendship?

Are we here as mediators, protectors, carers or is there some deep natural instinct within us that drives us to commune with the animals around us? If animals don’t do this in the wild – is this actually what makes us different from animals?

Doctor Foster

Rose in the rain
Rose in the rain

Well The Dog and I didn’t get as far as Gloucester. We didn’t need to really, there was quite enough action in our own back yard. If any one says “What does the Lake District mean to you?” You might be tempted to mention the mountains and the scenery, perhaps the walks and the wildlife and of course you would, without a doubt, mention the lakes.

These last few days have brought The Lakes into sharp focus for us. Where do you think all the water to fill those lakes comes from? Underground springs? Nul Point. No, it falls out of the sky, a lakefull at a time.

Braving the tropical (not) downpour and the howling gales this morning, The Intrepid Dog and I set out. Just as we got, thoroughly soaked, to the top road, the rain eased off and I was able to put my hood down and look around. The waist high grasses on the verges where all lying flat, all pointing in the same direction and the road was a series of islands protruding from the undeniable evidence that we are in The Lake District. In the ditches at the side of the road the water draining from the fields hurried on down with a deep throaty chuckle that we hadn’t heard since winter. Needing to tie my shoelace, fumbling with the laces with fingers clumsy and numb with the cold, made me wonder if it really was November again.

None of the puddles came up to our middle but The Dog insisted on tasting each one as we waded through. You’ve heard the one about Drink Canada Dry, haven’t you?

 

Rain, Rain, Go Away.

Vetch in the rain
Vetch in the rain

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Snowflakes that stay on our noses and mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
Yea, the postman just delivered my eBay things

It’s tipping it down – there’s no snow yet admittedly, but I don’t see why not – it’s cold and grey and cold and wet and cold and cold and yes I know, this isn’t a rose but then The Dog isn’t a cat either.

Jackie insisted that The Dog should wear her funny sort of raincoat thing when we went out this morning. You should have seen the look she gave me when I put it on her! All the way round our walk she was muttering “I just hope we don’t meet anyone who knows me.”

She needn’t have worried – no one else was crazy enough to go out in this weather.

Breath easy

Honeysuckle
Honeysuckle

Another attempt by China to create artificial shortage by establishing a monopoly, foiled by hedging our bets, leaves goats celebrating but not for human consumption. It’s the best in the west.

Woodbine or Honeysuckle are at home at the edges of woodlands and hedges are their favourite alternative. They like to be on the west of their habitat as that gives them the evening sun to bring out the perfume and attract the pollinating moths that their flowers are designed for.     They twist round their supports in a clockwise direction heading up, leaving their roots in the cool shade, reaching out of the top, beckoning with a waving a branch full of flowers.

Wikipedia notes that there are over 180 varieties of honeysuckle over 100 of which are to be found in China.

Nicholas Culpeper, (a distant relation of Thomas Culpeper who, a hundred years earlier, was beheaded for having an affair with Henry VIII’s fifth wife, Catherine) defied the authorities of the time and published English translations of herbal law previously only available in Latin. He noted that chewing a leaf of Honeysuckle was more likely to make your throat sore than it was to cure it. However, a conserve made from the flowers was excellent for asthma.

Mrs Grieve notes that its family name Caprifolium means Goats’ Leaf and that goats are very fond of it – perhaps goats don’t get sore throats.

 

P.L.A.N.T strikes again!

Gooseberry bush
Gooseberry bush

People’s Liberation Against Natural Territorialism in new confrontation. Send in the storks. Where will it all end? Where will it all lead to? Is there no way to put a stop to this deliberate anarchy?

Somewhere, deep within some secret arm of the Over-Government, is a dingy office. If you should ever stumble across it as you wander down the labyrinthine corridors of the underground bunker that houses the secret power base that controls the world’s resources, you would be a little nonplussed. It is always empty. Yes, there are all the normal facilities you would associate with  the level of corruption necessary for the day to day business of the Over-Government – mahogany desk, leather chair, miniature torture chamber (still in it’s IKEA flat-paks), etc.

However, if you were to slide open the secret door disguised as a bookcase (aren’t they all?) and creep down the cobweb hung passage, you will come to the PLANT nerve centre -The Plotting Shed. Here is where plots are hatched and spring bulbs germinated. On the wall just inside the door, just above the pile of muddy wellington boots, is the global warming thermostat.

As is well known, the aim of PLANT is to abolish territorial restrictions and allow any plant, tree or bush the freedom to grow anywhere.

Today we uncovered another of their dastardly plans – growing calmly in the hedgerow, miles from human habitation – we found. . . .

A gooseberry bush!  – I just hope I’m not pregnant, that’s all!

Wild In The Country

Wild Rose Bud
Wild Rose Bud

Anger Management courses needed urgently. Thorny problem needs immediate resolution. Lack of interest leads to frustration. Apathy abounds! But who cares?

The wild roses are going – er, wild – in the hedgerows. Almost overnight it seems that every couple of yards there is the branch of a rose waving in the breeze – in some parts of the hedge they appear to have usurped the hawthorn and blackthorn totally and taken control of the solar energy supply. As you know, in a green environment , renewables are of maximum importance and securing the source of supply is vital – and it doesn’t matter whose toes – er roots you have to step on! The fruit of the rose, those red shiny hips that adorn the bushes in autumn, are said to be a source of vitamin C and have been collected and eaten for years. I can’t help but wonder, with a lot of these hedgerow berries, if people only ate them because there wasn’t anything else to eat. Because I have to say, apart from the delight of finding a free lunch, the inconvenience of collecting the fruit, the stings and scratches from plant and insect, in short the amount of effort that needs to be put in for a relatively small return, well, it doesn’t seem worth it really.

Dr Edward Bach felt that an essence made from the Wild Rose flower would relieve apathy – maybe I should have a couple of drops.

Bee Off!

Vetch With Bee
Vetch With Bee

Very Vetching. Whatever will bee will bee. Sorry Doris! Never perform with children or animals – or bumble bees. A picture says a thousand words – and a photographer? Don’t get me started!

We have been having a spot of bother with Vetch. It comes in many different varieties and, to be honest, some of the differences between the various varieties seem a little strained. Some times The Dog and I think that we are faced with someone who just wants to show off their command of Latin.

We had just found a sympathetic subject and in order to ascertain which variety we were examining we needed to take a photograph. You see, it was important to know if the stalk was slightly hairy – as in Hairy Vetch or not slightly hairy – as in Common Vetch.

Vetch is a creeping plant that only grows in millimetres – or at the most centimetres, so we were crouched down in a most uncomfortable position trying to get the image centred in the view-finder and in focus and keep our own shadow from blocking the light. Just as we felt that we had complied with all the requirements and pressed the shutter . . . . .

This wretched bee flew in and landed on our flower – and it didn’t even have the good manners to try and stay in focus!