Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Lake District, June 2019. Day 4

Well I had a lazy day today while everyone busied about around me preparing for my 70th tomorrow. Beth and Alejandro had arrived last night and Thomas and Laura this morning.  The four of them were sharing a Ready Camp tent adjacent to us.  Peter and Linda arrived this afternoon and set up their pop up tent on our pitch.

The day dawned bright and sunny and got hotter as the day progressed.  I was up early and cooking bacon on the camping gaz BBQ which we enjoyed as bacon butties along with scrambled eggs.  People then went off to Kendal without me to buy supplies for the morrow.  Surely more than for the 10 I was expecting thought I naively.

Arrangements made and shopping done it was time for an excellent family meal of chilli prepared by the mistress of ceremonies, Beth aided by various others.

What would tomorrow bring?

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Lake District, June 2019. Day 3

The day dawned cloudless but with a coolth.  There was a chill breeze blowing from the west.  We pottered lazily for a while until, late morning we headed to Arnside and up to the Knott car park where we enjoyed an early sandwich lunch. 

We took the low path from the car park leading, eventually, to Siverdale.  Shortly  however we took a left turn which headed uphill more steeply than I intend as Heather is suffering with her knees and I wasn't sure how much steep ground my fitness, or lack thereof, would allow.  I actually surprised myself as I felt quite strong again.  I have been noticing for a week or so now, how much better I am feeling since the cardioversion. Before long we reached a couple of benches where Heather chose to sit and draw while I wandered the hillside and up towards the summit.  My usual hunting ground of the steep slopes facing the Kent estuary were facing the cool westerly breeze and not much was to be found here  although my first two sightings were of grayling.  A good start, although, as usual, they would only settle on the gravel with wings closed, but I did manage a few images.  These hunting ground today  though was beyond the trees backing the viewpoint where the scrub by meadows were sheltered and warm.  There were large numbers of small pearl bordered fritillary with plenty of small sheaths.  I managed to photograph a superb brown argus but missed a speckled wood and female common blue.  Another butterfly hunter told me that high brown fritillary had been found recently but there were none about today.

Eventually I found my way back to Hether and sat admiring the magnificent views of Morecambe Bay  the Kent estuary and the Langdale and Coniston fells in the Lakes.  Drawing finished it was time to repair to Arnside for tea and excellent toasted tea cake.

Returning to the van we relaxed in the evening sun before cooking pasta bake for tea which went in the oven just as Beth and Alejandro arrived.

Friday, 21 June 2019

Lake District, June 2019. Day 2

We woke to a beautiful warm and sunny morning and I celebrating by cooking a fry up on the camping gaz BBQ.

After a relaxed breakfast in the sun we wandered out for a walk through the local Rather Heath woods in the hope of finding butterflies to photograph. Unfortunately there was quite a cool breeze and the sky clouded over and we narrowly avoided a heavy shower.  I did glimpse a hairy dragonfly  though.  We haven't been here in June for a couple of years and we delighted in mantle of lush green taken on by the woods  field and hills.  Buttercup  red campion  foxglove  bracken and ferns abounded.  As always I find the close up details of nature amazing and spent some time examining and photographing the sori (spore bearing bodies) on the backs of the fern fronds.  The luxuriant growth of lichens on trees, walls and fallen branches is indicative of the lack of pollution here.  We walked as far as the lake where we found a pair of swans with three well-known magnets.  Nuthatches were identified by their constant busy- sounding strident calls and we saw chafginch, great tit, pheasant, magpie and crow.  The wonderful bubbling song of a curled as it defended territory over the nearby field stirred the soul.  We see wintering flocks of these magnificent birds on the mud flats of the Humber in the winter but in spring and summer they return to the uplands to breed.  I am always fascinated by the way thousands of waders can find sustenance in winter estuaries without out competing each other.  They all have slightly different feeding methods and different length bills enabling them to exploit different levels in the mud.  Curlew,  with their great scythe of a curved bill,  favour the deeper layers finding juicy morsels and, perhaps, a huge lugworm  delicately rinsing them in the tide and before gulping them down.

On returning from the walk we drove into Ambleside for a potter before repairing to the Langdale Chase Hotel for a wonderful afternoon tea overlooking the lake.  Back at the caravan it was time for a snooze before walking out to 'The Tree' for sunset.

Lake District June 2019, Day 1

A pottery morning finishing the packing and loading the car.  The journey up to the Lakes went really well with swathes of beautiful oxeye daisies on the roadside verges, especially on the A66.  We were soon settled in and then spent the evening at friends Anna and Gordon's for a superb pre birthday meal with a theme of the times we spent together at Tudweiliog on the Lleyn peninsula.

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Butterfly Hunting in the cemetery

After a warm and bright start the sky began to cloud over and by early afternoon it had become overcast, but warm and humid.  I was keen to go and check on the white helleborines that I had found in May.  To my knowledge they were first discovered growing here in 2015 and I went on 7th June to check them out.  Although I only managed to find 20 I understand the official count was around 200.  Whilst walking through on May 15th this year I found them again despite there being none in the intervening years.  In May I found five and today six and they had seeded so hopefully this will mean more in years to come.  I also found a single bee orchid and and a solitary pyramidal orchid in the same spot.  Great news indeed.

The other aim of my walk was to look for butterflies in the adjacent woodland cemetery.  Unfortunately the cloudy conditions meant that there were none about and I had to make do with a couple of green veined whites.  Still, these are lovely butterflies and good to see.  There was plenty of hogweed in flower and also dog roses, one of my favourites.  In the main cemetery there was plenty of lesser willow herb and the grass was thick with daisies.  Birdsfoot trefoil or 'eggs and bacon' was growing rampantly on some of the older, les well tended graves.  Blackbirds were plentiful with some singing males and it was pleasing to hear a singing male blackcap.  There were plenty of magpies and wood pigeons about as well as flocks of fledgling and adult starling busily foraging in the grassy areas.  I really enjoyed watching a pair of wrens feeding their brood of fledglings - a success story.
White Helleborine

White Helleborine

Bee Orchid

Bee Orchid

Pyramidal Orchid

Birds Foot Trefoil

Green Veined White

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Scotland, Spring 2019. Day 8

Finally an improvement in the weather today.  As we had a long drive home the next day, Heather and I decided on a walk up Glen Fyne from the head of the Loch.  We donned water proofs to begin with but as the day went on the weather improved.  A splendid river runs through the glen and we enjoyed watching dippers busily feeding.  The path led past a hydroelectric power station, like the one at Cruachan, built into the mountain.  There is a lochan at the 5oom contour which presumable drives the turbine.  After passing through some gravel workings the valley became quieter and much more remote with excellent views up the glen to Beinn Bhuidhe at 948m and 216 in the munro hierarchy and the Arrochar Alps on the other.  We soon reached a point where the river narrowed and there was a fine bridge crossing it.  We started to notice people on the track crossing the river and when we reached it there was a constant stream of people.  We knew that there was a large beer festival back down at the Fyne Ales Brewery by the main road.  At first we though it was people out the stretch their legs; but this many?  We discovered that as part of the beer festival there was a walkers' bar 3 miles up the valley from the festival.  Good thinking!!!  We continued as far as Glen Fyne Lodge and then retraced our steps to the bridge before returning on the opposite side of the valley past the brewery.

After our walk we drove over and down to Lochgoilhead through some wonderful oak woods and on alongside the loch to have a look at Carrick Castle which stands impressively on the loch side.

Soon it was time to return as I needed to buy the ingredients for our final evening meal together before heading home the next day.  I prepared steak and chips with a whiskey, cream sauce followed by the piece de resistance, the scottish specialty of cranachan: layers of toasted oatmeal(I used granola), fresh raspberries and whipped double cream blended with heather honey and whiskey.

Friday, 31 May 2019

Scotland, Spring 2019, Day 7

Sadly another wet day today so we decided to visit Inveraray Castle.  The castle was splendid.  There is an excellent view of on the approach to the village and the inside lives up to expectations.  It was a bit of quick whizz around the excellent gardens in the rain which was a shame.