Monday, 18 November 2013

One Good Deed Deserves Another

Last Wednesday I completed my brushcutter course. It was a very informative day and one which I learnt a considerable amount during. The morning was dedicated to going through health and safety, PPE, risk assessments and legislation. After our intro we were then shown how to check the air filter, the spark plugs and how to re-tension the starter cord. We then had a go ourselves. After lunch we were driven to a reserve nearby and put it all into practice. We got kitted up and then spent 15 minutes or so clearing some bramble and scrub and got used to handling the machine. All in all, good fun and a handy bit of training to have!

When I got home the sky looked ablaze! Mum was out walking Bracken so I grabbed my camera and went to meet her and try and photograph the firey sky...

Now for a tale of a good karma...

On Friday I travelled up to the big smoke to meet my best friends from University. I hadn't seen them for months so was really looking forward to a good catch up! London certainly isn't my favourite place - lots of people and buildings and not enough countryside, but it is nice to go up once in a while - especially at Christmas time. We had a nice Thai meal, spent lots of time nattering and went for a few drinks afterwards. I somehow managed to lose my phone at some point during the evening, which was not only inconvenient but also meant I had no way of contacting anybody if an emergency had arisen on my way home. Luckily I made it home okay even if my mum was worried sick.

Anyway, the next day we rang my phone, but to the unwanted message of my voice-mail service, which I assumed was due to no battery power left. After an hour I tried again and someone answered! She said she lived in London but when I mentioned I lived near Canterbury she told me that she had been planning a trip to Canterbury the very next day!! I said I could call again on Sunday and hopefully I would get my phone back! Well Sunday came and we managed to meet up and I did indeed (very luckily) get my phone back! Faith restored in the kindness of people! I bought a box of chocolates to say thank you and wished her a lovely day in Canterbury.

Now, earlier on in the day my friend found an iphone in the toilet in Starbucks. We tried to think of a way we could contact the person whose phone it was by checking the contacts for a home number or parent etc. but found it to most likely be a work phone. After much deliberation we handed it to a staff member and hoped they would keep it safe in case the person went back to look for it. Maybe because we did the right thing, that in turn meant someone then did the right thing by me. Well I like to think so anyway :)

Sorry for such a lot of text and only 2 photos but I just wanted to share my little story of the kindness of a stranger and coincidence.

I hope you all had a good weekend and have an equally lovely week :)

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Old Lawyer's Beard

A brief post today, goodness knows what has got into me... 2nd post in 3 days!

I filled the feeders up on Sunday evening and due to the horribly wet weather yesterday the birdies didn't visit until today. The rain didn't stop me though. Our Monday volunteer task went ahead and we were largely sheltered in the woods. A nice warming fire and some tea made (by me!) using the kelly kettle made the chilliness worth it. We piled the larger coppiced logs against trees to prevent them from rolling down the hill, and the smaller branches and logs we chucked on the fire.

Anyway here is Mr Blackbird in the garden just keeping an eye on me to make sure I didn't pilfer his worm!

The sparrows were squabbling amongst themselves for the remaining seed.

Not a very sharp photo but was taken through glass and dingy weather. Shows the squabbling though.

There were about 30 at one point, either picking at the fallen seed or waiting on various branches ready to take their turn. There was also a little blue tit, a great tit, a lovely robin, a collard dove and a number of chaffinches visiting the garden during the morning.

Poor photo but shows a few sparrows lining up.

This evening we nipped down to the strawberry fields and marshy fields where, last week, I had seen a fantastic specimen of Lawyers wig! The cap was much whiter then, and covered more of the stem. I think it is a rather charming fungi! The turned up black edges really do look like it's descriptive name! Think I'll keep checking back on it to see if it changes any more.

The old man's beard looked pretty against the vaguely pinky sky. The midges were out in force...

As we neared home, the clouds almost instantly turned pink, I love how quickly the colours in the sky change!

That's all for now folks. I hope you have all had a great start to the week :) I am off on a brushcutter course tomorrow. Then I will have that all important certificate (hopefully!) to say I can use one safely, which is important when volunteering or working for an organisation.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Visiting an Old Place and Exploring a New One

Last Sunday we made a short trip to Stodmarsh. We would have had more time there but Bracken held us up, having completely covered himself in some vile smelling poo whilst out walking. Nevertheless we still had a nice stroll. We came across this squirrel who was either dosing with his eyes open, or just staying really still, in the hope we didn't notice him. There was a little robin who was singing his heart out and also lots of LTTs who were flitting from tree to tree.

 The sun was becoming lower in the sky and it lit the teasels and the reeds beautifully. On this side of the lake were one hundred or more shoveler. In a couple of trees on the other side, 20+ cormorants settled down in their roost. Several marsh harriers and a kestrel were also seen as the light faded.

We made our way home before the light disappeared completely and took Bracken for another walk.

Last week was consumed by volunteering, working at the pub and taking a drive to an area of land which my dad and I visited back in the summer. The land belongs to one of his friends and consists of grassland, which is very overgrown, and an area of woodland. Lots of humongous oak trees, hazels, ash and silver birch make up the wood and we also found quite a few different types of fungi. Running along the bottom of this wood is a stream which was flowing full and fast after the heavy rain on Monday night. A bit of work is needed in order to allow this land to reach it's full potential with regards to attracting wildlife and making it a great habitat.  

Yesterday was extremely wet and with water running off the fields as mini waterfalls, the roads became rivers. Luckily we got out for a dog walk before the heavens opened and in the evening I got out before they opened again. We really are quite efficient at rain dodging!

Today we used our new and up to date OS map and went for a lovely long walk with Bracken somewhere we hadn't been before. We found a nice path that took us on a circular route which followed the Wantsum Walk and we photocopied the St Nicholas at Wade and Birchington area to save taking the whole map. We got coated and booted and set off with Bracken, our bins and my camera. We found a handy lay-by to park in then set off. Still plenty of sloes, rose-hips and hawthorn berries, just begging for a waxwing (or a couple of hundred!) to come along and scoff them! 

We came to the sea wall and in a field adjacent was a large flock of about 50 brent geese! 

We headed down onto the beach and let Brack off the lead. There were lots of other people with dogs off leads, so we hoped pup wouldn't head after them. He played with a couple of other collies but returned to us when we called him away (the promise of a delicious treat was too much to ignore!). I attempted some action shots and was quite pleased with the results. Below are a number of shots of Bracken in various hurtling around poses!


Pretending to be a horse?

We also had a fly past of 29 brents.

....and a few gulls

More silly Bracken action shots, another gull and a view of Reculver Towers.

Reculver Towers in the distance

All paws off the ground!

It turns out we were exploring Minnis Bay, which my mum and dad often brought me to when I was younger. 

Razor clam and crab leg

We made our way back up onto the promenade and tried to find the footpath which we should have taken earlier on in order to carry on our circular route. It took us across arable farmland and eventually to a farm. We were unsure which path was the right one, but after consulting our photocopied map decided it was. Next time we decide to explore a new place I think I shall do the photocopying because mum did a pretty crap job of it - cutting part of our planned route off! As we carried on our way a late red admiral fluttered past and we also encountered a number of common darters. A buzzard called over head and a flock of chaffinches twittered in the hedgerow. A marsh harrier flew over, as did a kestrel. We came to a point where we could see the car with our binoculars and in the immediate foreground a flock of circa 20 pied wagtails bobbed and tail flicked around.

Red admiral

Common darters and fly friends basking on the footpath post

Common darter

We followed the path and eventually came to the point which we hoped to end up at. Just a short walk back along the small lane we had a brief glimpse of a GSW and soon arrived back at the car. After a delightful 5 mile wander we piled in, finished off our flasks of coffee and made our way home.

Another view of the towers from the car

Once home, we unloaded the pup, bag, bins and camera, made ourselves another coffee (with a glug or two of baileys) and headed into the garden. Mum took the washing off the line, I filled the birdie feeders and took these last two photos. The gorgeous autumn leaves rustled and 3 laughing fieldfares flew over. A small flock of starlings settled down for the evening on an aerial.

After becoming quite chilled by the rapidly decreasing temperature, we returned indoors and I settled down to write this on the couch with Bracken sleeping by my side and acting as a much appreciated hot water bottle. I'm now sitting content after a delicious roast dinner and sipping my G&T. We will probably now finish off that wine we opened on Friday night! It is the weekend after all.

Anyway thank you for reading, I hope you have all had an equally lovely weekend. Although, on this wonderful bright autumnal day, I can't help but feel awfully lucky to live where we do. With the typhoon that has hit the Philippines and it being remembrance Sunday, it reminds us how fortunate we are. Today was a day to appreciate what we have, and remember those brave soldiers who fought for our country and all those still out there in the forces.