Friday, 25 May 2018

Bugs aplenty

With all the heat and sun, there seem to be so many bugs and beetles around.  This one flew into the conservatory a couple of days ago.  I caught it to look at it but it won't stop still enough for a good picture.  Its a burying beetle: Nicrophorous.  I found it in my copy of Collins Guide to the Insects of Britain and Western Europe and then read more about its lifestyle here.

Now the weather has changed...thank goodness for some rain.  The water butt was empty, and I have planted my home grown french and runner bean plants.  Only two of the runner beans germinated, I think probably from being over watered during the very hot weather.  I have sown more.  A couple of green and yellow courgette plants from the Market have been planted up too.  This year I am also growing a couple of tomato plants.  Last night it was a case of going out in the dark with a torch and catching slugs....which is followed by ten minutes washing off the slime from my hands.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018


Cloudspotting:  a lifelong pleasure of mine.  Its not a question of having my head in the clouds, but having my head and my eyes  towards the clouds.  Looking for shapes in clouds, enjoying sunrises and sunsets, looking out for rain, or looking for a break in clouds, enjoying rainbows during the day, and being surprised by rainbows around the moon.  I even remember my father pointing out the blue of the eye of a cyclone from the ground, all bring that grounded feeling, as forces out there control weather and climate.

I'm so pleased I bought this book.  GPP's book is one to keep, to reread, and to dip into.  It now sits besides my copy of The Cloud Book by Richard Hamblyn.

I had started The Cloudspotter's Guide by Gavin Pretor Pinney, so took this along with me for my holiday to Crete.  Such a coincidence that, on the flight out,  I read about the origin of the saying  'Cloudcuckooland' which come from Aristophanes' comedy: Birds.  Our 'escort' for the week of walking on Crete was Dee Doody, who was ever watchful and pointed out the many birds we saw, a real Bird Lover...I was pleased to share this story with him.

On many of the days in Crete we had wall to wall sunshine and blue skies, with just a few days affording that lovely feeling of a little light relief from the glaring sun.

I persuaded Mr S not to go on the most rigorous of the walks, not just because I needed a day's break for my sore feet to recover, but because I was 'reading' the clouds, and felt sure that there would be serious storms in the mountains!  Indeed, the group had to abort their walk mid way, and had to hang around thoroughly soaked to the skin despite waterproofs, without shelter, and walk to a point where their transport could access them and bring them back safely to the hotel.

Here are some of the clouds.

Looking out from our terrace towards the sea the clouds were building up, and the mountains behind the hotel were looking dark, the tops shrouded in cloud.

Sunbeams: crepuscular rays, which no doubt  a more capable photographer would have captured beautifully.  I mused on the term, as for me this meant evening in French.  GPP mentions the use of this form of light in religious paintings.

On another day there were lovely light cumulus humilis as taken on our boat ride towards the island of Spinalonga

Here the clouds balance the lighthouse at Chania

It was on the home-bound journey, feeling very happy to have a window seat, that I finished the book.  We crossed several warm and cold fronts, all with their typical cloud formations, and leaving the plane at the same time at the Captain, when he saw me clutching my book, commented:  "Fine clouds today!" Indeed.....

Monday, 21 May 2018

In a Vase on Monday - May

Walking along the small lanes yesterday, the white froth in the hedgerows has coincided with the warm weather beautifully. The white froth  is from the cow parsley all along the road edges and the hedges.  The May I love so much is the Hawthorn, I also love the month of May as the wild flowers start their displays.  From the plane, coming in over Dover, I watched the white lace trimmings to the fields  and from the small  May trees which have been allowed to grown up along footpaths, on commons and in spinneys, and felt I was back in the country I love so much.

I have often pondered the saying 'Cast not a clout till May is out'. Is it the month of May or when the Hawthorn blossom is out?  Each year I consider this, for me the blossom of the Hawthorn Tree is the signal that winter is truly over.

Being of the more fragile sort..haha, I do wear clouts...several layers.  My Grandma from Lincolnshire used the term clouts, and it seemed that with cold winds off the North Sea, several layers were needed.  Down in Somerset two or three are sufficient.  I actually prefer the more temperate temperatures, but for now with the high temperatures, for me that is, I have cast my winter clouts.

I have not used any May in my arrangement....instead only two elements.  Both are 'rescued' as I tidied up the garden.  On our return we found that the stone wall at the end of the garden was in the process of being repaired, without the several weeks notice we had been promised at the beginning of the year.  Anyway, I console myself in that once this is complete, I shall have no more size 10s trampling shrubs and flowers.

Red Peonies and the lovely shiny new leaves of Mahonia:

I had moved the  peony  last summer from the site on which we erected our shed to a position close to the wall..I have at least six large blooms and lots of leaves.  I may have to move it a second time!

Cathy who hosts this meme has come lovely one aquilegia plant was completely trampled under, in any case it must have hitched a ride in the pot of another plant brought from the last garden, and I had no idea what it would have looked like.  Do go and have a look at Cathy's arrangement, and if you have time others linked in will be well worth visiting.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Celebrating Bees

 The United Nations has declared 20 May 2018 as World Bee Day.  I really admire Bee Keepers, and enjoy honey wherever it can be had.  My small contribution is to grown a range of flowers attractive to bees.

Currently my friend Paul who has his hives on the Somerset Levels supplies us for most of the year.  Soon there will be a New Year's Harvest, which I am looking forward to.  On Thursday I went to my first post holiday Irish Set Dancing session at Dinder Village Hall.

I have been on a very slow burner since returning from holiday, and for the moment that suits me very well.  However when I heard that today is World Bee Day, I decided that this is really the day for me to break out of my doldrums....(dulldrums sic?)  

Over three and half thousand years ago there was a commissioning patron, artists and craftspeople capable of bringing into the world this most splendid of pendants. It is remarkable that it has been rediscovered and it is now displayed in The Archaeological Museum in Heraklion.

It is really the tiniest of masterpieces, only 4.6cm wide...and the term pectoral pendant conjures up a a large item. 

This famous gold pendant, one of the finest and best-known examples of Minoan art, represents two bees or wasps storing away a drop of honey in a comb.
The composition is centered round the circular drop, which is shown schematically as a disc with granulated decoration. The two insects face one another, their legs touching the drop, their bodies and wings finely detailed with minute granulation. Gold discs hang from their wings, while an openwork sphere and suspension ring stand atop their heads. This masterpiece of Minoan jewelry, brilliantly conceived and naturalistically rendered, illustrates the fine craftsmanship of the Protopalatial period.
(sources: Ministry of culture and tourism,

Here is my picture blown up and cropped, taken with my little compact camera.

At breakfast on Crete l I dipped into the large bowl of local honey most breakfast times.  Although they had the most extensive of choices at Breakfast time, I did miss my sheep's yogurt and found some to buy, which we kept in the fridge, and brought down to the dining room with us.  It was the best 'Greek style Sheep's yogurt ever!  On a tour of the kitchens The Maitre proudly told me that the honey used in their cakes and served in the large bowl each day came from bee hives based on the hillsides just behind the Hotel.  We saw many hives dotted around the hills on our various excursions and walks.