Just hanging out

Juvenile Blue Tit
Juvenile Blue Tit

Another week of a little bit of everything, weather-wise. Still, I have worn my all-weather coat all through the summer and now things are cooling off a bit it is really coming into its own. He has to get wrapped up like a mummy before we venture beyond the garden gate – you should just see the performance – it’s just a good thing I’m naturally so patient. As you can see the main difference between summer and winter for us dogs is that in summer we just walk straight out of the door when we go for a walk, whereas in winter we sit and wait. And sit and wait, and wait, while our walking comrades envelop themselves in layer after layer of clothing.

You can see from the picture that the skies were that sort of no-colour grey. He says looking at the sky is like trying to fill in a newspaper crossword with a 2H pencil. Newspapers aren’t bad for tearing up but they do tend to stick to the roof of your mouth. I can’t comment on 2H pencils.

The picture is of a bird. How enthralling is that? I don’t have much time for birds. There are so many places on our route with really interesting scents and he want to show you a picture of a bird? What can I say? It takes all sorts, I suppose. He says to tell you that this is a blue tit. It is still young and won’t have its full uniform of yellow chest and blue cap until it grows up in spring.

That’s probably why it’s content to sit in the hedge amongst the sparrows for now.


Frosty Morning
Frosty Morning

We’ve had our usual fair share of dull gloomy days this week but as is only fair we have had some nice sunny days too. The problem with nice sunny days is they tend to be, shall we say, bracing? Our good fresh country air has a tendency to become even fresher.

The sun is not particularly enthusiastic at the moment, I think he is preoccupied with his duties down in the southern hemisphere, even on the lovely clear mornings, he really only manages to raise himself up on one elbow for a few hours. This means that the hedges and bushes throw long shadows and there are plenty of places that don’t have any direct sunlight. There isn’t much warmth, even when he’s at his brightest, but the parts that do have its benefit, warm up and so loose their frilly frosty Christmas tinsel by the afternoon.

These nice bright days have added extra dimensions to our daily ramblings. The leaves that have piled in corners and against hedges, make excellent places for snuffling around and when the grass verges are covered in a good hard frost there is a very satisfying crunch when you walk around in them.

You know, on some days, things are getting quite Christmasy

Lazy Days

Buzzard Soaring in the Sun
Buzzard Soaring in the Sun

I know I said that you wouldn’t get any of that flying rubbish from me and that we were going to be down to earth from now on. Well, here’s the first of the exceptions that prove that rule. You see, it was such a nice day – sometime in the middle of the week, I think – and he and I decided, when we came to the level crossing, that we might as well go all the way round. All the way round is about three miles – and between my interests and his we can usually stretch it to a bit more than an hour.

Up the hill we went then, as we came down to the bottom of the other side, we could hear a couple of those silly Buzzards whining and mewing up in the air. Really, would I expect to catch anything if I spent my time barking? We did however, stop to watch them flying round high up in the air. The verge is actually quite broad at this point so I took advantage of his preoccupation to do a little investigating of my own.

The Buzzards swooped and soared, then, with nothing better to do, one of them floated over and sat on a fence post. We walked a little further, keeping an eye on him. Just as we found a place with a clear view, the bird drifted off the post and with no overt enthusiasm landed in the field. This was not a swoop and absolutely nothing like a pounce – more of a flop I’d say.

Then he just sat there – trying to look as if he didn’t mean to catch anything anyway.


Train Wheels
Train Wheels

The funny thing about tradition is – it must have been invented somewhere. Someone must have done it first, then the rest of us followed like sheep (we’ve plenty of those around here, so we know all about that). It must have been likeable, or enjoyable, perhaps even useful enough, to keep people doing it until no one could remember why they did it any more – then they kept on doing it anyway. Did you know that the tradition of wearing a white wedding dress only started when Queen Victoria wore one – when she married Prince Albert? In fact a great many other traditions we assume go back thousands of years, started life in the Victorian era.Christmas cards, Christmas trees and Christmas crackers spring to mind.

Saturn was a Roman continuation of a Greek god – the Romans did this often. If they found a god or a goddess that filled a hole in their own religious calendar they would adopt him or her. An upgrade followed the adoption, adding additional responsibilities where necessary, then a general Romanising and modernising makeover, before being given a temple and a festival. Saturn was the god of good times – he had run an idyllic rural place of plenty in the ‘olden days’. When Christianity turned up with it’s Utopian heaven and Garden of Eden, the Romans were happy to reuse a good party for the latest and greatest.

Then there’s the tradition we have here, of showing you a picture of a train now and then – for no specific reason. Here’s a dog’s eye view, I can’t imagine what he sees in trains.


Shaggy Ink Cap
Shaggy Ink Cap

Well, here’s a fine thing. We promised faithfully to post a blog every Friday and after two tries we failed miserably. Oh well. Better late than never, I suppose. All I can say in our defence is that he has been very busy. So moving swiftly on. We found this growing at the side of the road the other day.

Now, when it comes to which direction our daily ramble takes from our gate, we usually alternate, one day turning right the next left. This makes the decision so much simpler, because if we turned right yesterday then we turn left this morning and vice versa, of course. If you follow this thought through to its logical conclusion, you will be able to calculate that we would pass any specific spot every other day. This is mostly true, although we do sometimes forget and go the same way on two successive days by accident.

The important point here is that by the time we came past this chap for the second time he had disappeared. We spent some time peering into the grass up and down that part of the verge, and eventually we came across a lonely stalk surrounded by a black mush. This is apparently what is supposed to happen.

He’s a Shaggy Ink Cap, a Lawyer’s Wig or a Shaggy Mane. The Ink in Shaggy Ink Cap really means ink, as that is what the black mush was used for – before we found something else to fill ball point pens with.

He is edible but you have to be pretty quick on your feet – the cap starts to become liquid within an hour of being picked.

You better put the bread in the toaster before you go mushroom picking then.