Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Bargain Plants - An Unexpected Bonus

They say that every cloud has a silver lining and the rain clouds that gathered towards the end of the afternoon at the County Show found us taking shelter in the plant tent - just as they were selling off the plants, what perfect timing!

At one of the plant stands the lady said "reduced now to two for a fiver".  As we were deliberating, the price got better "three for a fiver".  We were just handing over our chosen three to be put in a bag when the price went down to "five for a fiver".  I have never known prices come down so quickly but they were obviously in a hurry to clear them and get off home.

This is what it must be like at the last day of the Chelsea Flower Show.

I bought some colourful flowers because I wanted something for the bees, but I love a purple and green combination as find them calming and tranquil, so found these too

They should work well with the striped grass and lavenders and look as though they may be slug resistant too.

I was very pleased with my unexpected garden re-vamp, and I think this little chap was quite impressed too 

Monday, 13 June 2016

Horses and Hounds

On Friday evening I had a last minute invitation to visit the South of England Show at Ardingly in West Sussex the following day.  There was so much to see and do that it was impossible to catch everything that was going on.

If I was to talk about one thing that impressed me the most, it has to be the Calvacade of Hounds.  

First of all, let me make it clear that I am against using animals for sport if it involves harming animals.  I appreciate that foxes can be seen as nuisance animals in some situations and that their numbers may need to be controlled, but I don't believe this should be done by making a sport out of it.  I have always been against foxhunting and was very happy when, in the UK, hunting of animals with dogs became illegal (although there are still some exceptions to this).  It is a little worrying that our current prime minister has said that he would like to repeal this ban in the near future.  Personally, I feel that the sport should continue with artificially laid trails.

But why did fox hounds impress me so much (especially as I'm more of a cat lover than a dog lover)?  I think it was that I had some preconceived ideas about them and these were changed once I saw the dogs in action and their qualities became evident.  Qualities that humans could learn a lot from.

They came bounding into the field with such joy to be running around outside together, enjoying each others company - the mood they created seemed to be absorbed by all of the spectators.  There were a lot of dogs involved - I can't remember the details but there were probably about 7 packs with around 15 - 20 dogs in each pack. That's a lot of dogs!  

But not a single fight broke out, I never heard any of them bark or growl.  The only slight misbehaviour I spotted was a male dog had an "encounter" with a lady dog from another pack.  But they just oozed happiness and joy to be together.  At the end of the display, the organisers encouraged as many children as possible to enter the arena to meet the dogs, so confident were they that the dogs were docile enough and trustworthy with children (and adults) as they rapidly surrounded them from all directions.

Later on, as we continued to walk around the showground, we came across the kennels where the hounds were being kept, along with various other breeds in different kennels.  Even then, it was obvious which were the most content and best behaved breed as they lay together in their happy groups sleeping, resting their heads on each other or just sitting quietly - yes, it was the foxhounds. 

Monday, 6 June 2016

Healing the Birds and Other Creatures

On Friday morning I found myself driving across to the other side of Brighton with a young jackdaw as my passenger.  It all started the evening before when a scene from The Birds slowly start to build at the back of our house.  There was much swirling and shouting of birds (mostly from the crow family but also some seagulls joined in) and the focus seemed to be in our garden.  I disguised myself as a giant magpie by putting on my black and white raincoat and pulled the hood up to avoid any possible attacks (well, you never know).  

I strolled the length of the garden and didn't see anything untoward but on the way back, I spotted a young jackdaw hiding under the hedge.  The cats were around but they hadn't actually got it.  To cut a long story short, it seemed that the young jackdaw had left the nest before it was quite ready to fly.  The magpies were overly interested in it and the neighbourhood jackdaws (of which there are many) were joining forces to defend the situation.  The cats were lurking in the background because there was a bird on the ground and the seagulls were just joining in because they could (in their "rent a mob" kind of way)

We kept the cats indoors for the night whilst the jackdaw hid itself in a dark and sheltered corner of the veggie patch and hoped that the situation might resolve overnight but unfortunately it didn't.  The next morning I managed to capture the very lively little bird and put him in the cat carrier. 


When a young fledgling leaves the nest and isn't flying, you're supposed to leave them be as the parents will still try to feed them, but with 2 magpies and 2 cats around, he wouldn't have stood a chance.

So, off he went to Roger's Wildlife Rescue.  Roger is one of those unsung heroes, of which there are many around the country.  He and his wife give up all of their time to look after injured and sick wild animals, hopefully rehabilitating them for a return to the wild. He is always happy to offer telephone advice when needed as the more animals he can help, the better.  They rely completely on donations and do such amazing work.  Last year for instance, up until November, they had received 1329 birds (releasing 519), 28 foxes, 64 hedgehogs, 19 rabbits, 18 squirrels, 3 badgers, 3 mice, a slow worm, a lamb, a dormouse, a frog and a toad!