I’ve known Renita for a while now. Originally from America, Renita now lives in Wigtown, which the book town in Scotland, with the most stunning views across the estuary. When I’ve performed at the festival, the children have all been whipped up to a frenzy by Renita, who welcomes them in and “settles them down” [...]
I haven’t been on my usual walk up to the forest for over two weeks. Things change in that time. New leaves are budding and, as the old leaves crumble away, they seem to reveal quite a bit of rubbish that has been hiding underneath them for the winter!
At last the celandines are really out and sunning their faces in the fist warm afternoon of the year – the wind is still quite nippy though.
At the top of the hill I was stopped in my tracks by something NEW! A Statutory Forest Boundary Marker. This must be something very new, as I’ve not seen these anywhere before. If a sheep was to stand where I took the picture, it would be outside the Statutory Forest – that is the Official Royal Forest of Dean as described in Statutes laid down by King and Parliament. It could legally be rounded up and taken somewhere to be given a severe ticking off!
The Statutes caused problems during the foot and mouth epidemic. The Statutory Forest is officially classed as a farm. Shepherds, known locally as Badgers (coz they have the badge?) are allowed to let their sheep run free in the Forest. Because of its legal position, DEFRA was not allowed to order sheep to be penned up safely or stop people and vehicles traipsing all over the forest spreading the disease. This led to the forest being filled with Gung Ho! types riding around in 4x4s sterilising anything that moved. After weeks of smelling the burning sheep carcasses, the army was called in, everything was rounded up, shot and buried in a big hole in the ground. I still haven’t forgiven Tony Blair for that disaster either.
The saying goes that everything happens in threes, but it seems it isn’t so. I popped into Joe’s Store in Nottingham last week, to have a little look around. They say they are a store full of cool, and they do have a lot of cools stuff there. So cool I didn’t look where I was stepping and nearly trop on the lovely, chocolate-brown dalmatian called Mia that seemed to blend with the wooden floor. (Mia is going to have her own blog, so we might exchange links!)
I took a photo with a mind to mentioning how lovely she was on this blog. But then I met another dalmatian! She was waiting to greet me at the door of Longlevens Infants School last friday. In fact she was the Head Teacher dressed up for their Book Day. I caught this wonderful picture of her attending to paperwork in her office. Either the paperwork or the wearing of the costume was above and beyond the call of duty!
So I thought, everything happens in threes and waited for the next dalmatian occurrence so I could post them all together. I can’t wait, so here are the pictures for you. I bet a dalmatian comes trotting up my drive minutes after I’ve posted this.
My old Silver birch, which has recently been felled, is pouring water from the stump. It used to do this before. There would be one day in spring when it would drip like mad as the system got underway again, feeding the new leaves.
I also had a chiff chaff come to the pond for a bathe this afternoon. I managed to get a picture of it. I think they nest in the willow tree above my studio.
The temperature is rising, there’s a gentle rain and the cats are going crazy because the pond is heaving with frogs. They are croaking away, singing sweet songs of love to each other and there’s a whole load of spawning going on!
After a couple of days away, a long drive back and then a morning of re-booking flights with a clogged up brain, it was great to get out for a walk this afternoon. There is a vast quarry up the road from me, where they are digging out stone for building and paving and the like.
All around the quarry are scowles – left over slag from previous workings – which get taken over by nature, making the distinctive landscape of the Forest of Dean.
In the photographs, you should be able to see how the Quarry are now bulldozing their slag up against the old scowles. In places it looks like a glacier of rock pouring into the spaces in between. I noticed a cardboard box on a tree stump below one of these piles of terminal moraine. I thought it may have a warning not to come too close writing on it, but no, it was an airgun target! Pop bottles, strewn around, evidence of kids doing a bit of target practice.
It won’t take long for the raw, bare scree to get colonised by lichen and moss, then covered in leaves, which will rot and provide compost for the trees and plants that will eventually turn this industrial eyesore into a walker’s tourist heaven, another scowle, another piece of classic forest landscape.
I managed to get to Bodnant Gardens this afternoon. Not at it’s very best at this time of year, it is none the less a lovely place to go for a walk nestlings, as it does below the Snowdonia Mountains, which are still topped with snow at the moment.
I did enjoy the trellissing in the rose garden. There us something very Parisian about it, almost as if they are girders from the eifel tower.
I guess the frogs need to do a lot of croaking and a lot of wooing before they get around to spawning. I’m off to visit two schools in Rhyl in North Wales today, so I’ll probably miss all the fun!
I was surprised to see tadpoles in an infant class this week. They must breed their frogs more sturdily in the Welsh Valleys!
I can hear them! The frogs are croaking outside. They are very late this year, it’s been so cold and the pond has been iced up a lot, but I reckon there may be frogspawn by the morning.
Spring is very late this year. I’ve been looking out for celandines for weeks. They face the sun and only open their flowers when it shines, brightening up the last days of winter and marking the first days of spring.
At last I’ve found some, on a bank on the side of the road that winds its way up to the cottages I’m staying in. I had to stop the car and leap out quickly to take the picture, mainly to show my Mum who also looks out for celandines… she usually sees them well before me.
The days are getting longer and longer and the sun was shining this afternoon so, having got the lie of the land yesterday, I went for a walk up the the mountain above Cwmbach this afternoon. I think it’s called Tyle Robert. Either way it provides stunning views across the Cynon Valley. I can see all the schools I’m visiting this week from up there.
I think I’m falling in love with Lichen. It’s something you don’t normally take any notice of – it’s just there – but it’s much more interesting and beautiful when you look closely.
I was surprised by a vista that appeared through an avenue cut through the trees. I really was on the top as the view is of Merthyr Tydfil on the other side of the mountain!