Saturday 30 May 2020

Daisy, Rose And Amy

The Ox-eye Daisies were looking good yesterday....

….as were the flowers of the wild Dog Rose....

And for today's "Music On Friday" (arriving on Saturday this week - what's the use of being retired if I still have to stick to schedules?) I'll share with you an artist whom I would probably have missed entirely if not for a young man that I used to look after; she was one of his favourites when she released her first album and had her first hit record when she was just 18. Here she is, rather more acoustic than usual, locked down in her own house....

Take care.

Thursday 28 May 2020

Searching For Gold

The plan was simple enough: bike to a nearby viewpoint and watch the sunset. Two things could go wrong - the weather and me! During the day the forecasts kept saying that cloud would increase from six o'clock onwards. Those of you who've read this blog for a while will also have gathered that I'm a morning person and tend to run out of energy as the day progresses. At seven o'clock it was still sunny and I was still awake, so I set off to see what would happen. Here are the resultant photos.....

There was just one other person there enjoying the entertainment, another cyclist. There was also a walker who passed by (you've already seen him). Everyone else must have been at home watching TV. 

Take care.

Tuesday 26 May 2020

Village Tour

A day of cloudless skies and light breeze, ideal for a spin on the bicycle through the nearby villages, large and small.

Plenty of others had similar ideas, which tempted me on to some of the less obvious minor byways, including the one to the village of Abington Pigotts.

One man was out jogging, but the rest of the population of 162 were nowhere to be seen.

There are several tiny villages in this corner of Cambridgeshire, including:
      Whaddon (population 481)
      Arrington (415)
      Wimpole (381)
      Croydon (235)
      Hatley (181)
      Tadlow (178)
       and Wendy, which together with neighbouring Shingay amounts to 139 souls.
      That's to say nothing about Malton, which is now just a farm and a couple of houses, and Clopton which has completely disappeared.

Abington Pigotts does have a lovely little church, situated down a quiet side road.

The village name, Abington, derives from "the settlement of a man called Abba", while the Pigotts suffix comes from the Pigott family who owned the manor here for centuries. The local publican has had a bit of fun with the name.....

It was known as the Darby And Joan till the 1980s.

Like every other pub in the country it's closed for business for now because of Corona virus restrictions.

Someone was watching me from over the garden hedge so I pedalled onwards.

On my way homewards I couldn't resist having another look at that field of peonies that I showed you a few days ago.

Some more of the dark red variety have opened up since last time we were here.

Take care.

Sunday 24 May 2020

This Verdant Land

Everything was looking very green when I went out for a stroll on Sunday morning. No need to head for the beach or to any popular beauty spots; I can find plenty of things to photograph within just a couple of miles of home. 

I went on a walk I've done many times before and found much had inevitably changed since last time I passed this way.

The Manx Loaghtan sheep were back on Shepreth Moor.

The little streams were fast disappearing beneath the sudden surge of plant growth.

Wild Iris or Flags were blooming in many ditches and waterways.

I couldn't resist a close-up.

Cow Parsley lined the banks and a little Water Crowfoot was flowering down on the water. In many places it was impossible to see the stream for all the vegetation.

A fallen twig from a Beech tree provided a contrast to all the green.

The fallen tree, which bridges the watercourse, is rapidly being hidden by ivy.

Reeds by the water's edge give interesting sweeping lines.

A rather picturesque old barn by the roadside.

Sun shining through the Sycamore leaves.

And finally one of those tunnels through the trees that people always seem to like.

That's enough to keep me interested during a five-and-a-half mile walk before my Sunday lunch.

Take care.

Friday 22 May 2020

Colourful Crows And Musical Pigs

Ask most people about crows and they'll tell you that they're big ugly black birds that go Caw. Not everybody realises that there are several members of the Crow family and not all of them fit the description.


For a start there's the Magpie that's clearly a black and white jobbie, though look closely in the right light and there are all kinds of azure and emerald tints in those black feathers. There has been an increase in the number of magpies seen around houses recently and I suspect it may be because of less road kill being available to them since there's been less traffic on our roads.

Magpies have never been among our favourite birds and folklore suggests this is because they refused to go into mourning when Christ was crucified, which seems a little unfair as it's certainly not the only bird that's not black. Even today people seem keen to blame Magpies for crimes such as the decrease in the numbers of songbirds, saying that they kill the young in the nest. While it's true that they do take some young birds, they are less harmful than domestic cats and there are many other birds which feed on eggs and hatchlings of other species; woodpeckers will even hack their way into your birdbox if they get the chance.

There are also old tales of members of the crow family holding "courts" to punish the misdemeanors of their fellows. Apparently they all gather in a circle around the accused bird and debate the matter, whereupon if found guilty the unfortunate individual is attacked and may be killed. It doesn't sound very likely, does it; but such stories turn up in many cultures across the world. And just once, when I was a teenager, I chanced upon about a dozen Magpies on a meadow, arranged in a perfect circle and spaced out as evenly as the numerals on a clock-face. I didn't see exactly what was going on as they spotted me as I spotted them, they hesitated for a few seconds then judge, jury and the accused flew off together.


If the Magpie's not colourful enough for you then the Jay must surely be. They are not easy to see as they live in woodland or large gardens and have a habit of flying off as soon as they're seen. This one regularly visits the grain that my neighbour puts out for Pheasants and can be viewed from my porch window.

Like all crows, Jays are intelligent birds and later in the year they gather acorns and hide them away to act as a larder to last them through the winter. The number of acorns they hide is huge and they seem to remember where they've hidden them, though some are obviously forgotten - or maybe surplus to requirements.

There's an old country saying that the thorn is the mother of the oak, which is usually used to illustrate that great things or great people can come from humble origins. And as I used to wander in the hills of Wales it was not unusual to see an oak sapling sprouting up through a low sprawling hawthorn, which had successfully protected it from the browsing of sheep. The "forester" responsible for planting these oaks must often have been Jays hiding acorns.

Musical Pigs

Some years ago I visited Ely Folk Festival and told you about The Hut People who consist of an amazing accordion player and even more amazing percussionist who even played the musical pigs. You thought I was kidding...

and on that cultural high-point I'll bid you farewell.

Take care.

Thursday 21 May 2020

Up In The Morning Early

Whatever possessed me to get up at half past four in the morning? And why oh why did I think it would be a good idea to draw back the curtains and look at the sky?

Having got so far it seemed only logical, after having had a cup of tea and a slice of toast, to get the bike out of the shed and pedal determinedly off into the dawn.

Just after five o'clock I'd parked the bike in the hedge and was aiming my camera across Shepreth L-Moor as the sun began its ascent into the sky. Maybe this wasn't such a bad idea after all.

An early rising and persistently cuckooing cuckoo was making his presence known as I approached the railway crossing in Shepreth. A road sign told me that the road to Barrington was closed, but I went that way anyway hoping that a bike could get through.

Yep, got that one right, they were repairing the bridge over the river and there was a temporary footbridge alongside - the workmen have to get from side to side, don't they? Now we're in Barrington.

Barrington not only has a huge village green, over half a mile (0.8 Km) from one end to t'other, but also has two duck ponds and many picturesque cottages. On one duck pond this morning was a Mandarin drake. 

I always say I'll resist taking any more photos of these quaint reminders of Old England, but never do.

Of couse it's a reminder of an England that never was; the present residents would probably have no wish to return to the primitive conditions of when these lovely old houses were built.

In fact it seems they're all still in bed and unaware that there's a strange old chap with a camera prowling about outside!

The low raking sunlight brought out some of the texture of woodwork and plaster work.

At length a man with a small dog appeared, though neither of them seemed the least bit put out to find someone out at the crack of dawn photographing their village.

Then I thought it was time to climb into the saddle once more and potter slowly back home. I'm ready for another cuppa.

Take care.