St. Peter’s Keys

Cowslip

Cowslip

We don’t see Cowslips around much. I think they’ve been poorly. Apparently, in the 1970s, things just got a little too much for the poor dears and they were on the verge of packing it all in and retiring to a nice boarding house in a not too popular, but select, seaside town. This plan came to nought however, as the department of roads started to put cowslip seeds in the ‘wild flower mix’ that they spread around to provide a vegetative covering along the raw banks of new and improved roads and motorways. This new career opening revived the cowslip’s flagging fortunes and they were soon on the road to recovery.

One of the main problems, if you’re an early (spring) riser, is that there hasn’t been anything to eat around all winter, so unless you’re very poisonous – and I mean very, very poisonous – people and various other animals will eat you. This is really inconvenient if all you want to do wave a few flowers at an occasional bee, produce a seed, and then get back to sleep. Hopefully, we’re now old enough to know better.
Cowslips are sometimes called St. Peter’s Keys. With a little imagination, they do look a bit like a bunch of keys, don’t they? I mention this because the explanations offered for the etymology of the name “cowslip” is bland beyond belief.

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Cherry Blossom

Peacock butterfly in Cherry Blossom

Peacock butterfly in Cherry Blossom

I couldn’t remember if I’d showed you any Cherry Blossom or not this year. I wouldn’t like you to think that we were totally ignoring our cherry trees. We spend considerable time each year admiring their blossom and, in any other way we can think of, building trust and community spirit. As autumn approaches we will hope to recoup our investment with a nice crop of Wild Cherries. These, coupled with a good serving of brandy and a spoonful of sugar – to help the medicine go down – will be the basis of uniquely purposed and high quality content by Christmas. Wild Cherries really do make the very best Cherry Brandy.
We were pottering along, down by the beck, the other day and an early butterfly fluttered past. It settled on a dandelion and I shook the camera awake and crept forward. You know perfectly well, that as soon as I came within reasonable distance, our butterfly fluttered off. As the camera was now fully awake we tiptoed after it, hoping it would land somewhere convenient – soon.
Well, a couple of flaps and it disappeared down the beck. We relaxed and started to put the camera cover back on, then our butterfly came back as suddenly as it had gone – and landed in amongst the cherry blossom.
We’ve had some snow and cold biting winds recently – I hope he brought his big coat.

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First To Market

Dandelions

Dandelions

There is pressure and stress in every walk of life. This is especially true if you are of an entrepreneurial turn of mind. The urge to respond to the need to be first to market is an almost unbearable driver – unfortunately it doesn’t always result in products that are a good fit for the niche our developer envisaged. This leads to products or services that can’t be sold until the promotion has created a market for them.

If you’re going to invent a better mouse trap – you are going to need five star reviews from a goodly number of mice before you can build the buzz you have to have for your promotional campaign.

The risks are high. Say you don’t get the testimonials, your whole campaign flops, and sales fail to materialise? Your Angels start to turn red, grow horns and a tail. Your own investment in time and labour, the sweat of your brow, late nights and strong coffee. All, soul destroyingly, for nothing.

Wouldn’t it be better then, to wait until there are, at least some, bees around before coming into flower?

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The Customers Are Always Right

New Lambs In Our Fields

New Lambs In Our Fields

Well 2017 has really decided to get things rolling. To ‘Hit’ em up, and move ’em out’ – to quote the cowboy movies of my youth. I don’t know if cowboys still have to comply with these instructions in today’s enlightened age. It is quite possible that Bovine Care and Guidance Operatives have been down-sized, computerised, and replaced by robots by now.
But, back to 2017. The very dark green carpet with the small purple design that is Self Heal has spread out along the roadsides. The Soldiers and Sailors are blowing their blue and red trumpets under the hedges. The green in the village green is sprinkled with the pale pink of Cuckoo Flowers and the Greater Stitchwort’s daisy white flowers are popping up in the patch near the gate into the field. Even the Bluebells are showing flower spikes in all those bunches of dark green leaves that have sat around for weeks – and which we always hopped would turn into Bluebells.
There is just so much happening in our world at this moment – but I suppose you want a picture of a lamb.

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Not So Sloe

Blackthorn Blossom

Blackthorn Blossom

There are certain issues that crop up year in and year out. At this time of year they come with increased frequency. Take trees, for example. About now, trees start to blossom – and very pretty they are too – but if you are interested in the name of the tree whose blossom you are admiring – enough to want to take a photo of it, then you would welcome a few clues to guide you.

The easiest way to identify a tree is by the size and shape of its leaves. Trees that flower before their leaves appear, are just being deliberately obstructive – especially if they only produce white flowers. Still, there are precedents that you can rely on. Usually the first of our native trees to produce its white flowers is the wild plum (or Cherry Plum) next should be the Blackthorn, then the Wild Cherry and lastly the Hawthorn.

During the time that we have spent prowling the byways of out locality we have yet to find any of the wild plums – they just don’t appear to care for the area. This means that our first white flowers should be Blackthorn.

For several of the past autumns we have collected wild cherries (to cover with brandy), and so we know where the wild cherry trees are. So, the fact that they have chosen to come into flower at the same time as several other trees (which we know are not wild cherry) must be regarded as a deliberate attempt to muddy the waters.

Google is inclined to agree with us that our picture is of Blackthorn – if we can remember which tree we photographed by the autumn – we will certainly be back to look for sloes. I’m not that fond of gin, but in the name of Science, you know. . .

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SOS – Save Our Sheep

Herdwick Sheep

Herdwick Sheep

Amazingly, Beatrix Potter was born in 1866, 151 years ago. She was an incredible woman. Her children’s story books, written around the many pets she and her brother kept as children, are still selling well today, all theses years later. One of the most interesting things about her life and work is her use of merchandising. In 1903, she designed and patented a Peter Rabbit doll, so today Peter Rabbit is the world’s oldest licensed literary character. She also worked on a Peter Rabbit board game, although that didn’t appear on the market for some years, as the first version was very complicated.

But it’s what she did with the income from her business interests that we remember her for, here in the Lake District.

Around the turn of the century, the Lakeland’s Herdwick sheep were an endangered breed. Beatrix bought Hill Top Farm and set about breeding Herdwicks – she was so successful that she won awards for her sheep at local agricultural shows, and even became the first woman president of the Herdwick Sheep Breeders’ Association.

And no, she wasn’t Harry Potter’s sister.

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Wild Hyacinth

Wild Hyacinth

Wild Hyacinth

Google says that tame hyacinths have more flowers per stem than wild ones. It may well be that this makes the tame flowers smug, and this may, in fact, be what makes the wild flowers wild. Now, as you all know, the flowers we have around us today arose from a sporting accident.
You remember, I’m sure, how Apollo and his lover Hyacinth used to fool around throwing the discus. You did know that The God of the West Wind also loved Hyacinth and was extremely jealous because he only wanted to play with Apollo? Well, while the two guys were fooling around, being macho and stuff, you know what I mean, The West Wind saw his chance. Apollo threw – and Hyacinth ran to catch the discus. The West Wind gave an extra huff at the crucial moment and the discus hit Hyacinth full on.
He died instantly, as you might expect. Naturally, as his blood, or Apollo’s tears or maybe both hit the ground, beautiful flowers sprang up.
Just a little thought by the participants at this time – could have resolved centuries of animosity.

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