Sunday 23 November 2014

Bread and Butter... 1/07/2014

This week's aggravation of and old back injury has restricted activities, however bread and butter making went ahead as planned. Tomorrow morning's breakfast is looking promising...... Thanks to the Baynes family, for the wonderful cream used in the butter, their milk and cream is highly recommended! I must get some bees, the table is looking bare without honey!!


Wild Flowers at Holly Cottage 22/06/2014

914062_orig Dog Rose

4565643  Hawkbit                        5600162 

Fox and Cubs - Pilosella aurantiaca

Farmer Jonny 22/06/2014

Jonny has taken a short break from tree surgery for a few months to help on his girlfriend's father's farm. At the moment they are busy cutting and baling silage for the dairy herd, and working around sixteen hours a day!

Helen, who is planning to start a land management degree at Harper Adams University this year, enjoyed a bit of time riding with Jonny while he was leading the bales into the yard this morning. I sense that she is keen to try a bit of tractor work herself........



Underneath the Spreading Greengage Tree...!! 21/06/2014

It was a glorious, sunny and hot morning up at the cottage, Boris our Muscovy drake was enjoying a few minutes resting in the dappled shade of the greengauge tree while the ducks were laying, and swimming in the pond. Boris no longer goes in for this "Cleanliness nonsense"!!

Sadly the afternoon has been overcast and disappointing.


Wild Dog Roses 19/06/2014

The broom flowers are starting fade at the cottage and the seed pods are forming but the wild dog roses are now coming into glorious flower.


914062_orig 4821317_orig 8457173_orig

Rosa Meg Merrilees 18/06/2014

At the far end of the field at the cottage, behind the young Horse Chestnut tree, our lovely old collie Meg is buried. A couple of years ago and after a long search, we found this rose to mark her grave. Appropriately a "dog rose" Rosa Meg Merrilees, which always flowers quite early in the season and is now in full bloom, providing an excellent reminder of our dear old dog. Well worth the long drive to the Larch Cottage Nurseries just south of Penrith in the Lake District to find this rare rose.


Flumen Ignis 17/06/2014

I caught The River Tyne in fiesty mood the other day.....


Geraniums 17/06/2014

Just two of the many different geraniums we have in the garden here in Riding Mill.


And this growing through a lovely hosta.....


Halo - Aqua Del Fuego 10/06/2014

Hilary needed to go for a short walk by the River Tyne this afternoon to collect a few specimens for her Bio-recording course so Helen, the dogs and I tagged along.

Helen got bored and went home, Hilary found most of the plants she needed and I managed a few snaps!


Byker Wall 09/06/2014


Friday 21 November 2014

The Byker Wall - detail 09/06/2014


The extensive and radical Byker Wall development of residential flats was built in the 1970s by Newcastle City Council. The now iconic project was greeted locally with howls of outrage fading to mild derision, while being feted in the international architectural press and magazines as Domus. As a young graphic design student at the time, I was fascinated. A recent survey of the residents reported the curve-linear complex as being a wonderful place to live, many of the original tenants are still in residence . Just goes to show.......

Chiffchaff 28/05/2014


Hilary and I tried to catch up on a bit of gardening yesterday afternoon, weeding and hedge cutting.

Just before we stopped for the day, Hilary came across a Chiffchaff nest, so I went back out with a camera and just about managed to get a useable shot.

Green Nettle Weevil 28/05/2014

Green Nettle Weevil

We had a lovely sunny morning a couple of days ago, perfect for crawling round in one of our nettle patches with my little camera!

A productive morning from which this little Weevil was the star.

Rhododendron and Birch 23/05/2014


This rhododendron is at the end of the garden at the cottage, standing in a group of Jacquemontii Himalayan Birch and is looking wonderful this year, I have played with the camera and editing a little to make a softer more atmospheric image.

More Flowers 21/05/2014

It is a lovely sunny morning here in Northumberland, nice to spend a short time pottering about taking photographs the field and beside our little burn .

Hilary is back from a long weekend at Preston Montford, another of her Msc Bio Recording courses, and most importantly has remembered to bring my camera home this time! I would normally use our Nikon D50 DSLR but after my Samsung compact was, err "borrowed" I bought a used Lumix DMC-FS35 compact on Ebay a couple of years ago and it is possibly my preferred camera for every day use. For a £60 (I think?) secondhand camera, the results are quite pleasing.

So impressed with the Lumix Compact range I have now got my eye on a replacement, the Lumix TZ60. When is Christmas?

9659064_origA fern frond about to open

56615 8766894Broom

9012135_origGermander Speedwell

I was hoping to have a trip over to The Lakes tomorrow as Hilary has another course over there, and spend the day exploring with the dogs but the forecast is dreadful. Will see how it looks in the morning.........

Is Greater Lesser, or Lesser Greater? 19/05/2014

I have finally got round to working out the difference between Greater and Lesser Stitchwort. This is Greater - Stellaria holostea. Lesser is much more delicate with a very pronounced star-like flower whose petals are separate to their base.

Learn something new every day, exciting.....!!


Congratulations Lauren! 15/05/2014

We received the news yesterday that eldest daughter, Lauren has passed her veterinary degree and obtained a First!

Excellent news, a fitting reward for three years of extremely hard work. Only two more years at Nottingham Vet School and she can be let loose on an unsuspecting animal kingdom......

5730275Well, she has the look, how could they deny her?

May 15th, 2014 15/05/2014

Over the Bank Holiday weekend I spent time clearing scrub from the bank next to the area we hope to extend the orchard into. As they carry a virus, fire blight, which is harmful to apple trees, some or possibly all of the Hawthorns in the distance may have to go but until then we will enjoy the blossom and the birds will enjoy the berry in the autumn. This bank side extends the length of the field and rises above the burn and has not looked like this for 25 years since it was heavily grazed farmland. We will be leaving as much of the mixed scrub as we can so that the wild birds, many wrens and bullfinches, can continue to feed and breed long into the future. There is still another twenty meters to go but that can wait till the weather improves again.


The willow catkins have been lovely, so delicate.....


At home in the Tyne Valley, this Exochorda, one of my favourite shrubs has been stunning.


And the Bergenia simply glorious........


April 14th, 2014 14/04/2014

After several days of frustrating weather up here, I woke to glorious sunshine burning the curtains, Happy Birthday!!

Quick(ish) breakfast, washing on the line, round up the dogs into the Land Rover and up to the cottage to see to the animals. Hilary is still away in Shropshire on an MSc tutorial weekend, so let the hens and ducks out and feed and muck-out the horses, fill hay nets and walk the dogs in the field and spend a relaxing morning lying in the field beside the burn, taking photos while the dogs played and dug holes (Jack Russells!!). By the time we were halfway up the field, the sun was hidden by heavy cloud, un-forecast and rolling in from nowhere, and the temperature plummeted........


After half an hour I gave up, my fingers had gone white, and retired to the cottage garden and got the only worthwhile shots of the morning, this lovely Dandelion Taraxacum official growing through a joint in the paving....


..and the blossom laden Damson Prunus domestica in the orchard but overhanging the garden and looking wonderful. This tree should be self fertile but has never produced much in the way of fruit. Perhaps we will have to include another damson when we replant and expand the orchard, hopefully this winter.


While I was lying in the field beside the burn, trying to photograph some Wood Anemone Anemone nemorosa, some of our neighbour's lovely young Ayrshire cattle came over, they just can't help being nosey......

Spring Flowers at Holly Cottage 11/04/2014

All of a sudden the wild flowers are coming into bloom on the bank sides and edges of our burn, they always manage to keep us on tenter hooks wondering if and when they will appear.

And always very welcome when they do......

8717688Celandine Ranunculus ficaria

8003064Birdseye Speedwell Veronica chamaedrysWood

3674970Anemone Anemone amorosaCommon

300989Common Daisy Bellis Perennis

3805543Primrose Primula vulgaris

5860359Viola riviniana

Hot Nesting! 06/04/2014


Doris our broody duck is doing sterling work sitting on the varied collection of eggs we have given her. A mixture of Muscovy, Indian Runner duck and Cream Legbar hen eggs. We will need to keep an incubator at the ready just in case she gets bored.

Doris is being more tolerant than Duck-duck was, she is allowing two of the hens to lay in her nest box. The little Vorverk hen is looking especially determined to stay put and lay.


On the banks by the burn, the first Wood Sorrel has come into flower.


On the banks by the burn, the first Wood Sorrel has come into flower.

Primrose 05/04/2014


A much brighter day today, spoilt only by a very rare but particulaly stinking head cold!

Down beside the burn the primroses and primulas are starting to burst into flower, they will be wonderful over the next few weeks as the number of plants is increasing every year. This gorgeous, delicate primrose is right on the burn bank and may well have washed down from Slaley Hall at some point in the past.

This shot was taken with my Nokia Lumia 520 mobile using "Refocus", quite pleased with the result from quite a basic bit of kit.

Pea Soup! 03/04/2014


We have had thick fog up here for the last few days, driving on the high ground at night has been fairly desperate stuff. Today the gloom has finally started to lift, just in time for the Sahara dust and European industrial pollution to arrive!

On the bright side, no pun intended, one of my evening journeys a few miles over the tops on the A68 into Co. Durham, resulted in acquiring some more Muscovy hatching eggs, to replace for breeding purposes, the dear departed Duck-duck, my only unrelated duck. The surprise was being given four Indian Runner duck eggs too! All are now under a very broody Doris, it will be interesting to see how many she hatches though I will be keeping an incubator on standby........

Summer is Almost Over! 24/03/2014

I have already seen lots of lovely pictures of primroses in flower around the country, though ours on the banks above the burn still have a week or two to go.


very sharp frost overnight has certainly made the primroses and other plants think twice. This foxglove was just starting to thaw in the shade under a fallen tree trunk beside the burn.

The cold air first thing this morning was a price well worth paying for the glorious, bright sunshine as the day went on. Sadly, the forecast for the next few days is not so good, with overcast skies strong winds and light rain on the way.....


Barren Strawberry - Potentilla sterilis 20/03/2014


Yesterday in the sunshine, the tiny Barren Strawberrys made their first appearance of the year, on the bank above the burn at the cottage. Tiny, delicate little things, always good to see in the shady areas but peeping out at the sun.

This morning was cold, dull and threatening to rain (it is now!) and the little strawberry flowers remained closed.

8077084Opposite-leaved Golden-Saxifrage - Chrysosplenium oppositifolium
We have swathes of this on the damp banksides of our burn but I always have a real problem getting decent photographs of the flowers. There seems to be something about the yellow pigment which the human eye is particularly sensitive to, or that the digital sensor is not! It has taken me ages to get a picture which adequately shows the yellow flower.

Daisy Day? 18/03/2014

A dreary, windy day up here in Darkest Northumberland and time for a little brightness courtesy of this daisy growing in the field, taken a couple of days ago.


In the garden at the cottage there is a lovely old mahonia who's fragrant scent drifts across the lawn and path as I walk past in the morning and evening.