EUREKA MOMENT IN THE MEADOW

For the last three years I have been attempting to cultivate a difficult corner in our ‘meadow’.  It is a very uncultivated  area of grassland, apart from mowing, which is a slalom that hubs undertakes, not me. I cannot handle the petrol mower. He’s glad of it I believe, as it’s a task that is uniquely his own. I don’t mind at all!

Why is grass-cutting a slalom? About the time of year when you have to decide to do a cut, our wild orchids burst forth and flower. They are prettily  multiplying. Last year we discovered amongst the ‘crop’ of Orchids one that was a bit different. To my surprise, research threw up that it is known as the Common Spotted Orchid.  The spots are on the leaves. These Orchids are becoming hard to find.  Anyway, hubs carefully mows around all of the Orchids. How he manages to control that heavy bit of machinery to such a fine art, I do not know.  It’s paying off though, as this year I saw that we had increased our Common Spotted Orchids by 100%: we now have two!  One is at the front of the house and the other one is near the whirly washing line at the back of the house.

Common spotted Orchid-a rarity

The difficult corner is a nice sunny corner where I have seen plants thriving then suddenly horribly wilt and die.  Hubs was creating a bund there between us, the chain link fence and our neighbouring farm. When the sheep are milling around behind the fence, there is likely to be all sorts of temporary run off courtesy of them. In addition, to keeping unwanted nettles and other grassy weeds under control there is the occasional farm spraying just in that location, usually broadened out by the prevailing winds.  My Lamium and other hardy plants couldn’t cope with it. Yesterday, with some difficulty, I pulled out the Lamium. Talk about networks of roots.  They would have been ideal to hold the soil in position, if the circumstances had been right.  Meantime, I put on my thinking cap. Question; what grows easily and well forward of that corner? Looking around me I had a eureka moment. Of course, grass grows no problem.  So, I have planted a small cluster of evergreen ornamental grasses and for good measure, I have put a fascinating evergreen Curry Plant in the mix.

This was the only plant that thrived in ‘the corner’ patch last year. It came from a seed dropped courtesy of birds I suppose.  At its peak, supported by a pair of my tights, which were tied to the fence,  it stood at approximately  5ft.7″ high. We let it seed, sadly, there is no sign of it this year.

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DO NOT TOUCH

DO NOT TOUCH

Out on recent walks I came across some of nature’s curiosities. My DSLR camera has been busy. Me, well, I just edited in photos and edited out what I thought didn’t work. What was left seemed quite interesting. See what you think.

Frost And Wind Burnt Leaves May 2019
More Frost And Wind Burnt leaves May 2019

These trees were in a sheltered setting. In February this year we had an unexpected spell of very mild weather, plant life was confused. The trees leaved early, only to be caught out by a sudden dip in temperatures, frost, gales, and wintry weather. The trees will shed their leaves just like they should do in Autumn, and at a time when they should be bursting forth with the new spring growth.

Wild Life?

Sauntering down another path, we came across an interesting creature in the lee of a Gorse bush. If you peer into the bush you will see another.

Gorse Spikes

Do not touch! Nature has her own way of warning off marauders. Those Gorse spikes are nasty. You really would not want to be caught up in them. They flower all year round. At this time of year (spring/summer) Gorse puts on a good show, the flowers are abundantly at their best, as you will see in the photos above and below.

Pussy Willow Buds

We passed on by the Willow, the only one we saw.

Elegant Nettles

Nettles vigorously grew, as they do; these were in the early stages of growing and filling out, elegant and beautifully formed. Another one of Nature’s stings, best avoided. There were no Dock Leaves in sight with which to offer temporary nettle sting relief (first aid).

Silvery

These twigs were glittering like rods of shiny silver in the sunlight. The stunning effect, I knew, would be hard to capture. I guess the camera did its best.

We ambled on and near the end of our walk this tranquil scene came into view.

WALKING MY EDINBURGH SOCKS OFF

When I change my browser page to call up my blog when I am already on the correct page, it’s time to admit that I am not firing on all cylinders.

It’s Edinburgh Festivals time and I trudged miles up and down the hills of the city exploring venues yesterday.  Yesterday I walked my toes off and I have a blister on the pad of my right big toe to prove it!  Luckily, I found I had a lovely gel toe protector sleeve in my luggage – the right size too-  which has worked just great today.

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A Refreshing Drink Of Scottish Bubbly Water

Edinburgh is like a huge flower bud opening at Festivals time.  Events managements have developed a range of venues in nooks and crannies all around the city.  Whereas in the past, ‘Assembly’, for example, meant wandering up to, at most, two large locations, now, you will find “Assembly” mini hubs all about the city.   The other major venues  also seem to have spread their wings like this.  I gave up on confusion,  it made me footsore and it took up too much valuable festive time!

WHEN YOU GO DOWN TO THE WOODS…

…Surprising what you find:

Pretty Frilly Blue

 

Grounded in nature

 

Placed by nature -irresistible

If you peer in you may see the blue frilly butterfly on the right.

 

Crafted from  nature.

Nature blooming

 

 

Carved out woodland life

 

Dumbledore, or, could it be Gandulf…

The woods are different every visit, be it nature’s own changes with the seasons, or, things we have not yet found, all waiting for the next time we go exploring the woods.

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This post, I uploaded for the first time, pictures taken with my phone camera. I don’t think I have mastered the art of uploading phone photos. All tips gratefully received.  🙂

WARNING -TRAFFIC LIGHTS

I was nearly at the end of a  plod through an academic course, one which I really enjoyed, when I got an unexpected delivery of  mail containing three coloured sheets, yellow, orange and green, (traffic lights) on which were printed:

Coping With Exams -Examination Technique; it was helpful. 

 Preparing For the Exam – Revision Technique; it was useful.

HOW TO FAIL YOUR EXAMS.   R e a l l y!!

“BEWARE before you read this guide. Failing may sound easy, but in reality may take far more time and effort than passing with honours”.

“To fail properly you will need to know that you are writing things that are incorrect.” The candidate is advised that it’s no good to find out afterwards that you’ve ‘accidentally’, written down “due to complete lack of knowledge, Grade A stuff”.  Appealing afterwards to the exam board stating your true intentions, is not going to work.

The guide also says you should not answer all the questions, you should spend more time on bits of the question than the time allocated for it.  It’s a sure way to fail.  Altogether, there are eighteen ‘fail’ suggestions, including, “Don’t be succinct“.   There is a money back guarantee on the price of the guide if you pass your exams, even after meticulously following all the guidance on how to fail.

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P.S. I haven’t the heart to bin it.

 

 

 

SCRAMBLING

The ‘Scrambled egg’, of Royal Navy chiefs, (those that sport gold braid for those of you not in the know) is currently made up of admirals, vice-admirals and rear-admirals, in total,  forty-one top banded naval chiefs. 

P1030154 2010 July 27th An Elegant Ship

With constant cuts ‘efficiency savings’ the number of naval fighting ships stands at …..FORTYYou would, and rightly so, consider there is one admiral spare .

 Kayaks On The Thames

 

Well, I’ve got news for you. In the last week, I have received several letters which clearly show my elevated status, I am now addressed as Admiral M.  So, here I am chummy,  we can join forces!

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TALKING WITH STRANGERS IN THE CITY

Talking with strangers in the city is always interesting.  A man I sat next to on a bus told me he had accompanied his very elderly neighbour, when she had been admitted to hospital the day before.  She’s 93 years old, compos mentis, he said  She hadn’t seen the inside of a hospital since she resigned as a senior nurse in the 1940’s. (Probably  had to leave her post upon marriage).  The modern, 2017, hospital environment was, no doubt, a bit of a shock to the lady.

Pointing out a young girl working in the ward wearing a light blue dress the elderly lady observed, with some disdain, that  the hospital management had left the housemaid to look after the ward!  The man explained the ‘housemaid’ was wearing a staff nurse’s uniform.

Staff Nurse 3

Late 1950’s Staff Nurse

Why is she not wearing her [starched] hat?” … And   “Why aren’t doctors wearing their white coats,” and so on.

More explanations were required.

On the other hand, the senior nurse, (equivalent of a ward sister) who arrived at the bedside in her dark blue dress and her I.D. badge pinned to it, no frilly starched hat though, was received without query.

Marian Chaikin 3rd wife

1960’s Nursing Sister

WRESTLING …NO POINT

How are you finding the book?”  I was sitting quietly on my own in the bar eatery, reading.  I was interrupted, gladly, with that question. I briefly studied my questioner, a lady with two boisterous children in tow.  I tried not to screw up my face, I don’t think I was very successful…….”I’m having problems with it

her – “So did I….it was a bit Hickory, it went on a bit“. ……..

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Zzzzzz

Me -“I think I understand what you mean; It’s hard work, I am skimming more than reading“,  adding that the book had been a gift about three years ago and I had just got round to reading it, (well, trying to).

We enlightened each other about what other books we had read by the same author, none so tedious as this one.  “BUT!” she said with a great flourish and a big smile, “I did read to the end …I finished it!”

Today, after another couple of attempts, I firmly decided I was not going to continue to wrestle with the book….there was  no point.

IMG.0683 Tia 1

I might come out to play now.

BETTING ON BARGAIN SHOPPING.

Black Friday has at least taken the media focus off some of the dafter stuff going on in our little island. Apparently, zillions of us will have ‘bet’ on buying online bargains within a twenty-four hours period. The knock-on short -term employment generated by this activity must have its good and down side. The existing delivery services cannot cope with the demand, so are increased and complemented by all sorts of distribution methods. The zero hours contractors,  come to mind as do  as do self-employed drivers  many of whom, work to tight margins.

2Many retailers in the U.K, both online and in the high streets, like Black Friday, (an American Import) as it generates the consumer to shop. It is said that the U.K is big with online shopping, more so that many other countries worldwide. Logistically, retailers large and small have to be creative.  One way to be creative has been to extend bargain hunting with special offers for a about a week before Black Friday and a week after.

 

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Yours truly has ordered a book, not especially because of Black Friday, but, it’s just that I remembered about it; so while the grey cells were working, I decided to go for it. The book will be delivered by Royal Mail, (what’s left of it).  I think I do quite well, as a rule, shopping in sales at other times.  Most of the inspiration for gifts I buy is found that way.  This year though, inspiration has been in short supply, a bell-weather, I think, of a tougher  retailing  market.

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The mass purchasing activity of online shoppers in a small window of time will give an equally huge short-term boost to turnover and sales.  However, when this feverish activity is over and the  annual accounts are calculated as a whole, economists say,  it does not necessarily enhance the balance sheet; the annual accounts, they advise, will even out.  On the other hand, if that is the case, without any shopping boost, the annual business balance sheets may look a lot less viable.

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The Difference Time Makes

It is just a fraction over seven years since I last came here. With an Ordnance Survey map it is easy enough to find.  There is a small parking area, space enough for the trickle of people who arrive to explore. This is a ‘pre-history’ site, which,  you reach by an easy sloped climb; you can choose between two or three different approaches, although one approach would certainly depend on whether there’s  a bull in one of the fields and/or cows with young calves.  Dads can jealously guard their ladies and in any case, bovine mums and dads can be very protective of their broods. So,definitely, no waving red rags to a bull.

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Prehistory site Information 2009

The pictures I took back in 2009 were with an early bridge camera that had an unsophisticated limited zoom lens.  Even so, it is so interesting to compare the yesterday, (2009) and today, (2016) photos and see the very marked  modern man-made changes in that period sat on top of, and next to, the signs of time immemorial.

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Prehistory site Information 2016

There are five cairns at this site, none uncovered.  The outlines of three are straightforward enough to see. The roof of the highest cairn (height as in top of the hill) appears to have caved in, creating a rim on which, weather permitting, you can rest.  On a clear day you can also gaze upon the panorama of two counties and their mountains, plus an island twenty-one miles across the water, as you will see.

This a serene view from the top of the hill in 2009 and the picture below it, (allowing for differences of time, position, general weather conditions and the light) is a similar scene ….. and

p1010073-baillie-farm-house-wb p1000444-section-baillie-wind-farm-wb….this is how it has changed…and changed…

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…..A panorama – the same house and woods totally surrounded by windmills.

This photo also shows the sweep down from the ‘high cairn’ to a lower sited cairn, (the rounded mound on which there’s another modern day intrepid explorer).

This was a ‘tentative’ coastline wind farm development, in 2009.  There are more wind turbines now. The two wind farms are not far from one another.

p1010064-forss-from-the-cnoc

 

I did not want to focus on the wind farm, (the one above) in the picture below. I wanted to show the view of Orkney  across the water. It is  some distance away, you may need to peer in, but, it is there to be seen, to the right.

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The yellow flowering bushes in these pictures are Gorse bushes.

 

Morven and Scaraben are the mountains in the county of Caithness. This looks like Morven peaking up and over the horizon in 2009.

p1010069-morven-from-cnoc-wb

 

This is The County of Sutherland, also in 2009, pre-turbine days, from the same vantage point.  If I am not much mistaken, you can see a couple of the Bens (mountains), amongst the clouds, Ben Loyal and Ben Hope.

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At the cairn, I was at the same level as the top of these wind turbines, (excluding the upper windmill arms). It was quite a thought.  The miniature buildings, (left) give some sense of scale.

You can see the concave cairn I have been talking about and a typical horn sloping along from what would have been the dome. This is the one from where you get all the great views. You can see a difference in the relatively richer looking grass on and around the cairn, in comparison to the rough moorland tufts on the ascent to it. The new heather blossom is bonny just now.

p1000443-cairn-cnoc-freicadain-wb

 

Taken from  the cairn, and some distance away,  the land meets the sea. Stubble is being burnt off  the field . There are hay bales in one of the other fields. Across the Firth (sea) is the coastline of the county of  Sutherland and signs of village habitation.

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