Tuesday 29 November 2011

Meg R.I.P.

We had to have Hilary's old collie, Meg put to sleep last night, a sad lost to the family.

For the past couple of years her favourite pastime was herding the hens!

Or just watching them!

For the past few days she had to turn her talents from livestock the lighter duties.....

Goodbye Meg.

Thursday 17 November 2011

Earlie One Morning!

Every morning I drive up to Slaley to see my Mother and feed the animals, the light yesterday morning was good so I thought I should have a shot of the Townfoot end of the village as I passed by.



A few hundred meters down the road the light was slightly hazy to the east and a pony was standing on the skyline.  Perhaps he could hear my horses and the donkeys?





Tuesday 22 March 2011

Train Spotting

I spotted this train in Newcastle today!



No drugs or alcohol were consumed in the production of this post!


(Does a Costa coffee count?)

Monday 21 March 2011


Spring has sprung!

Oh well, better go and do some gardening.......

Only 450 To Go!!

Lauren spent the weekend lambing at her friends farm.  When Hilary and I went to collect her on Saturday, the girls had just brought two or three ewes into the barn as they were having trouble lambing by themselves.

It was just like "Children's Hospital", the ewe up ended, a brief tussle, some rustic language!, a good heave and after a tense pause to coax life into the not so little lamb then back in to find his twin.

And here we are another strapping lamb and two tired but triumphant "midwives" ready to sit and watch the rugby!

Oh yes!

And here are the girls who did all the real work!!  Only another 450 to go..........

Thursday 17 March 2011

Evening Mist in the Tyne Valley

Finished the horses in good time tonight.  Good time that is, to take some shots of the evening mist looking up the valley towards Hexham!


And of course, that old hedge line again......

Wednesday 16 March 2011

Foggy Day

A few pictures up at the cottage this morning, trying to make best of the conditions.

On the bank side above the burn I found this Birch Polypore  Piptoporus betulinus. On a birch tree!


Mist droplets on the fence.

Thursday 10 March 2011

The Old Barn - Cronkley Fell

Cold and very windy today, the peacock at the yard was having some great difficulty navigating his way downwind, his long and full tail acting like a huge sail was spinning him around at every step!!

I had to go over to Consett and Lanchester this afternoon and on the way back drove through some horrendous hail storms.  I often drive past this old barn on Cronkley Fell and always look for a picture here.  Today presented an opportunity though still not the shot I have been looking for.  Tomorrow is another day!

Sunday 6 March 2011

Almost Spring?

Well, the crocus are now out , even up here in Darkest Northumberland!





Must be time for some more snow!!

Wednesday 2 March 2011


Thick fog in The Tyne Valley this morning.  Leaving the yard I was intrigued by this piece of kit, a grass harrow, certainly more sophisticated that the chain harrows I was used to using!   I loved the contrast of the tines and beds against the fog below.


Another little play at 3200 asa


Good to see Coffee Slut Back with us!

Thursday 24 February 2011

If You Go Down To The Woods Today.....

You too might see a lovely fungi...

Or a pine cone or two!

Today was the first chance The Children's Mother and I have had all week to get out for a walk in the local forest and take advantage of the children being away skiing.  Rain and house hunting for my Mother have got in the way and taken priority respectively!   Speaking of the children, Jonny badly pulled a muscle on the first day and lost two and a half days of skiing while  Lauren had a bad fall yesterday injuring her neck and is out of action for the rest of the week and in considerable pain.  Helen on the other hand (touch wood) is having a whale of a time whizzing down impossible cliffs!!

It will be nice and a considerable relief to have our daredevil children back home at the weekend, painkillers and plasters at the ready.......

Sunday 20 February 2011

3200 Degrees!

Dreary!  Probably the best (only?) way to describe today.  Still, a good opportunity to wind the camera up to 3200 and see what happens.


Brings back the good old days of Ilford HP5 shot at 1600 and processed in neat developer.......Ah, happy days!



ps The kids sent a message to say that it snowed in Val d'Isere last night, conditions good.  Happy children!!

Saturday 19 February 2011

Then There Were None!

First day of half term and we were all up at four this morning to send the children off to France on a skiing holiday, the house seems so empty and quiet without them.

I took no pictures today so I have posted this shot of the burn at the cottage, which I took yesterday but ran out of time to post.



Wednesday 16 February 2011

Interview Day

The eldest girl was off to Nottingham today for the last of her Uni interviews, a five hour marathon involving team building, practical tests, sample analyses and even an interview!  She felt it went well so fingers crossed, these are anxious times.....

[caption id="attachment_1347" align="aligncenter" width="1024" caption="Autumn Leaves - Still?"][/caption]


[caption id="attachment_1348" align="aligncenter" width="1024" caption="Fungi"][/caption]

Tuesday 15 February 2011

A Bit Random!


[caption id="attachment_1342" align="aligncenter" width="680" caption="The Leaning Chimney of..........."][/caption]


[caption id="attachment_1343" align="aligncenter" width="1024" caption="Sunset in the Tyne Valley"][/caption]


[caption id="attachment_1344" align="aligncenter" width="1024" caption="Well, they did ask!"][/caption]

Thursday 10 February 2011


Not much in the way of excitement at the moment.

While I was wandering round the field with the dogs this morning I spotted this fungus on an old fallen tree that we keep to sit on in the sunshine.  Back at home I made some more butter, it has proved very popular in the house, and some bread to put it on.......

The hens are laying like fury at the moment, ah happy days!

Tuesday 1 February 2011

Step Back in Time

I had to go over to Lanchester to do a few chores this afternoon and on the way home I stopped to take a look at a historical site I have known all my life but only visited once, some thirty years ago!  Time for a refresher.....


St Andrew's stands on the top of a prominent hill between Wittonstall and Slaley and commands a magnificent view through 360 degrees over the mid Northumberland hills to the north, the North Durham Moors to the south and towards Newcastle to the east.  It is some 200 plus years old and standing on an ancient site, was once the Shotley Parish Church.  It is in a rare cruciform and is now under the care of The Churches Conservation Trust, a worthy body indeed.

[caption id="attachment_1334" align="aligncenter" width="1024" caption="St Andrew's Church, Grey Mare Hill, Shotley."][/caption]

In the church yard and pre dating the existing church is The Hopper Mausoleum built around 1760.  It was built to inter the remains of the Hopper family one-time owners of the nearby and once wealthy Black Headley Farm where my Great Grandparents lived and I believe, my grandmother was born.  Today was the first time I had realised the connection between this monument and my family.

While I was there, the architect in charge of the fabric of Durham Cathedral arrived to carry out a "condition survey" on behalf of the Trust and he kindly allowed me to see inside the church.  We also had a long and interesting chat about the Cathedral and several other small historic churches I knew.  An hour later, both frozen I made my way home for a nice hot drink.  The poor architect had to start his survey.  Sorry!!


[caption id="attachment_1335" align="aligncenter" width="680" caption="The Hopper Mausoleum, Grey Mare Hill."][/caption]

Monday 31 January 2011

38 Degrees | Save Our Forests

Everyone, please consider signing this petition, these forests are ours and most of the coniferous woodlands enjoyed by so many in my part of Britain were planted as national assets.  The fifteen million pounds the government currently spends on maintaining and protecting these huge areas of woodland is in my humble opinion worth every last penny.

Thank you.

38 Degrees | Save Our Forests.


[caption id="attachment_1329" align="aligncenter" width="680" caption="Make Fat Dog very happy - Please sign-up, thanks"][/caption]

Saturday 29 January 2011

Morning Frost

A hard frost last night so car doors had to be thawed out and big gloves worn.

The plus side was the lovely bright sunshine spoilt only by a light haze.  Up at the cottage the hens were basking in the sun and enjoying scratching about under the scrub on the bank side above the burn and the dogs digging for moles.  Meanwhile I took the opportunity to wander round and take a few pictures.

I love the structural quality of this Old Man's Baccy and have taken many shots before.


Beside the new, fresh looking Foxglove leaves was this one from last autumn.


As always, Honesty is the best policy!

Friday 28 January 2011

In a Jam?

The discovery of a damp patch in the pantry instigated a week of various repairs and decorating.  During the upheaval we unearthed the long missing jam pan which Jack immediately adopted as a pretty cool bed!


I don't suppose I can interest anyone in some delicious homemade jam?  No, I thought not............


[caption id="attachment_1314" align="aligncenter" width="1024" caption="In a jam?"][/caption]


Yesterday I had a very quick visit to the big city and took this shot while I was waiting for the return train.  I happened to press the shutter just as our train was called  and some of the passengers started to move, unfortunately the chap second right looks as though he has just had a terrible accident!

It's ok, I won't tell anyone.....


Friday 21 January 2011

Freezing Fog

We woke to freezing fog this morning, though by mid morning the bright sunshine burned the fog away and left us with a cold but lovely sunny day.

Just a few pictures from this morning......

[caption id="attachment_1307" align="aligncenter" width="1024" caption="Mickley from South Bywell Farm"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1310" align="aligncenter" width="1024" caption="Peel Flatt near Slaley Village"][/caption]

Tuesday 18 January 2011

Over Egging?

It's been a bit of a lean time of late, not a huge amount of inspiration.

However today while trying to hatch a few ideas, the hens egged me on to take a shot or two......








Thank you Miss Vorverk Pullet and Miss Light of Sussex!

I need a lie down..........

Tuesday 11 January 2011

Pure Alchemy!

WOW!  The nearest thing to alchemy I have ever seen!!

For a while now I have been wanting to make some butter, it sounded so easy.  The catalyst presented itself by way of some cream being sold off cheap(ish) at Waitrose last night, we haven't got a house cow yet.....  So this afternoon I girded my loins, if you get it wrong I was warned things can get messy!  Half an hour later my litre of double cream had magically turned into 700g of gorgeous, creamy butter and half a pint of buttermilk, though I would have to get the family science student to explain how!  To me just pure alchemy...

After all these years life is starting to look pretty damn good.

Helen's home made bread, my home made butter and Granny Charlton's seedless black current jam.  Oh yes, and the hens have started laying again.......

Monday 10 January 2011

Sunday Morning

We woke on sunday morning to a good covering of snow, most unexpected as the forecast suggested only the possibility of showers on high ground.  Only an inch down here in the valley with a hard frost.

But up at the cottage at least 3 inches had fallen.

It barely warmed up through the day but the freezing temperatures didn't stop Jonny and his mates pulling apart another one of their cars and  eventually putting some of the bits back together by mid-evening!

[caption id="attachment_1288" align="aligncenter" width="1024" caption="The village scrap yard or our driveway?"][/caption]

Saturday 1 January 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year folks!

Last night Hilary and I took the youngest girl over to Allendale Town to watch the ancient tradition of carrying tar barrels through the village, a spectacular event which attracts visitors from across the North East.  This little "hoodie" is ours!

The barrels are carried on the heads of "Guisers" a role often handed down through local families and much honoured.  After the parade the flaming barrels are thrown onto a huge bonfire in the market square, marking the turn of the new year.

The Guisers traditionally wore a standard costume but today there seems to be a trend towards a less "conventional" dress!

Being New Year there is of course a romantic element, at one point we thought that this couple may need oxygen!

As Hilary will testify, even short people need to take pictures!  Somewhere in there is the eldest girl with her friends......