Thursday was a class-room day, and Quite Heavy with four hours of lectures in two two hour batches. We're studying Ecological Principles (basically terminology) and Science Foundations (the Elements, atoms, protein synthesis, DNA structure, biogeochemical cycles, and that's just for starters!).
Not having been at school/ uni for the best part of twenty years makes it all the more interesting. I haven't studied science since I was about 15, so I am having to do a lot of background reading, but it is starting to pay off and I am fairly gripped by it all anyway with makes it much easier.
It was nice today therefore to meet up with my lovely friend Mrs M and her hubby at Emer bog this morning for a walk with the dogs and a mushrooms and chestnut hunt. D had his mushie book with him so we were able to work out what some (mostly boletes) were.
There weren't many mushrooms left and I suspect people had been picking them. It's an old problem- mushroom hunters supplying restaurants can clear an area of fungi very quickly.
Of chestnuts there were plenty and Mrs M and I spent an enjoyable half hour under the Sweet Chestnut trees peeling the prickly cases back to reveal the plump chestnuts inside while Teddy got in the way, trod on a prickle and spent ages holding his paw pathetically in the air and squeaking at the top of his voice to anyone who would listen that his foot was about to come off. Miraculously, after picking him up, checking the paw (nothing there) and giving him a cuddle for a few minutes, when I put him down again he scampered off with never a backward look as if it had been fine all along. Big wimps, Westies).
Years ago my sis and I used to ride our ponies into the woods opposite the farm house and collect the chestnuts and use our riding hats as baskets to take them home in. Today, it was dog poo bags that provided that service (I find them incredibly useful at this time of year- so far they've been used for wild plums, blackberries, and now chestnuts, and only occasionally for poo).
There is a knack to getting the nuts out of the prickly casings- it's best done using your feet, and if you go for the ones whose cases are already splitting the chestnuts inside are more likely to be ripe. Now all I need is a good recipe- can you cook and freeze them for Christmas? Hope so. (And that, dear friends, is the first Christmas Reference I have made this year).
Although it is raining now we have had good weather this week, and a couple of days ago I took the camera round the garden to catch the last light of the day and see what i could find.
I was Very Pleased to see this Green Sorrel Beetle on the sorrel (of course, and now I understand what's been Putting Holes In My Sorrel all summer long). I've been wanting to see one since finding it in my insect book earlier this year. I was fascinated by the rotund bottom of the female, which is what this one is. Fantastic colour isn't she?
I also found this nymph (?) floating dead in the pond. Any ideas?
Around this time of year the juvenile moorhens start to come into the garden looking for seeds and the apples. They crawl over the hedge and are Extremely Nervous: one hint of me with the camera at the window and they are off...
The Virginia Creeper is turning a gorgeous Autumnal Red on the side of the house....
The hollyhock seed heads are looking really rather beautiful close-up....
And the sunlight coming through the trees by the lake as I'd finished was really beautiful too, heralding Colder Days, quite accurately as it turns out....
I feel that a post wouldn't be a post at this time of year without some mushie pics, so here are a selection taken in ma's fields in the Forest, and some from around the lake near home. This rain should help them along.....
Have a Great Weekend All,