Friday, 29 May 2015

Our Own Personal Springwatch Continues

Continuing on the theme of wildlife in our garden (well, in this case, the next door neighbours' gardens) ....

The neighbours on one side had a fox fast asleep in broad daylight - unusual for around here as the local foxes seem to be quite shy and keep a low profile.  I was concerned it may have been unwell, but it had disappeared about 20 minutes later.

Then over the fence on the other side, it was like a scene from Hitchock's movie, "The Birds" as the neighbours there had put up a coconut bird feeder.  Word soon got out among the Starlings of the neighbourhood - and starlings are very noisy, chattery kind of birds ...


You can see the chubby little fluffed up "teenagers" waiting in line along the top of the roof to be fed some tasty morsels of coconut ...

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Checking In At the Insect Hotel and the Cosy Bird House

As a keen supporter of wildlife, I was impressed with the insect hotels I saw recently on our visit to the National Trust kitchen garden at Packwood House, featured in my last post.  I particularly like insect hotels because at the same time as providing a shelter and nesting area for insects in your garden, you also have a piece of sculpture to look at.

A closer look at this one shows a happy bee checking things out.

We have a small one tucked away in a sheltered area of our garden and although I've never witnessed any creatures going in and out of it, the tubes do seem to get blocked up so obviously it does have residents who make use of it and seal themselves in, so its nice to know its being used ...

I found this one particularly delightful (again, National Trust kitchen garden) but it would probably need to be located somewhere fairly sheltered to remain weatherproof during the winter months

Also in our garden, we have a bird nesting box which must have done wonders for the blue tit population in our area as it seems to be permanently busy in the spring time.

With the Catapultoes around, we are very careful about encouraging birds onto the ground in the garden.  However, the smaller birds who feed in the trees are fast and careful.  Mr Cocopopia managed to spot this extremely well made German nest box tucked away in the "Garden Retro" section of a local vintage market and managed to negotiate a good deal on the price as it had been sitting around unsold for ages.  As well as raising their young in the spring, the birds also use it in the winter for shelter during bouts of bad weather.

I tried to capture some photos this evening of the parents flying in and out to feed their hungry family but unfortunately all of my pics came out a bit blurred as I couldn't get too close and the birds were very fast ...

Returning with a grub / some grub

About to deliver the grub

Off to find some more

Monday, 18 May 2015

Marina, Breakfast and Minis

One of our favourite Sunday activities is to cycle out to the Marina on the other side of Brighton for brunch.  It involves exercise, food and the surprise element of not knowing what we will come across on our cycle through Brighton to reach the Marina.  It's nice to get there early, before things get too busy.

On the way out there, we came across superhero characters of all ages and sizes - lots of Supermen, Batmen and Spidermen in particular.  There were also a few villains too.  Turned out it was the annual Heroes Run in aid of Pass It On Africa.  Very popular with families due to the Kids' 500m dash.

On the way back though, we had to pick our way through what seemed to be hundreds of Minis arriving at their destination of the 30th annual London to Brighton Mini Run

All lined up at the seafront, it seemed the organisers had tried to cram in as many as they could as the pedestrian walkway and cycle path were also being used, so it did take quite a while to get through them all, although it was an interesting journey.

I went misty eyed at the memory of "The Guv'nor", my own little mini from years ago - I hoped I'd spot his registration plate amongst the crowd, but it was not to be.  

There were, however, plenty of other minis sitting in the sunshine, all looking sparkly clean and being shown off by their proud owners.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

City Woodlands

At the week-end we were in Birmingham again on a family visit.  

A lot of non-Midlanders think of Birmingham being very urban and yes, it is, but it also has over 14 square miles of public parks - more than any other European city.  It also has a number of nature reserves.  So for Birmingham residents and visitors, you don't have to travel far before you find yourself in a green open space.

On Sunday morning, we took a walk in the Clent Hills.  It was a bit of a misty morning but on a clear day, you really can see for miles and miles.

We then got back into the car for the short drive to Packwood House where we took a walk around the gardens.  We visited the kitchen garden and walked around the lake.  We also saw the yew garden with its many (approximately 100) yew trees being over 350 years old, if they could speak they would probably have lots of interesting stories to tell.

Friday, 8 May 2015

A Rainy Day in Hastings - A Fishing Tale

The second part of our visit to Hastings found us by the fishing boats on the sea front.  Hastings may be famous for the Battle of Hastings and all that, but it also has a strong fishing heritage which has always been vital to the local economy.

Tourists are encouraged to visit the historic Stade area to learn more about the history and culture of fishing.  There's the Fishermen's Museum and the Shipwreck Museum to visit for starters.  The dark wooden fishermen's net shops are well worth seeing - due to limited space, they were built tall and thin!

If you like fresh seafood such as whelks and jellied eels, you won't be disappointed here!

East Hill Cliff Railway at Hastings

Sunday, 3 May 2015

A Rainy Day in Hastings

Today we took a trip out to Hastings in East Sussex to do a bit of exploring. We've only ever driven through it along the seafront but have been told that the old town is really lovely and well worth a visit and it definitely was.  

We arrived mid-morning and the air was full of drizzle so we took shelter in the cafe of St Mary in the Castle, sat back in the comfy sofas by the window and enjoyed coffee and cake whilst watching the world go by (and waiting for the rain to ease off).

Once we ventured out and reached the streets of the old town, we saw (and heard) Morris dancers doing their thing wherever there seemed to be a space to start dancing.  We also noticed garlands of foliage and ribbon decorating many of the buildings.  We learnt that our visit had coincided with the annual Jack-in-the-Green Festival - a four day festival celebrating May Day.  We felt like we had stepped back in time.

Even on a damp, grey day, we found Hastings such an interesting place to be. Here are some of my favourite photos ...

Wall Art in Hastings

This last image is heading back towards the seafront and the fishing boats - more on that side of things next time ...