Friday, 18 April 2014

Poppy Falls In A Bog, A Homemade Cure For Pond Algae, A Red Kite Flies Over, And How Old Is My Husband.....?

So we decided to take the kids for a walk through the water meadows at Stockbridge on Tuesday. It was a beautiful sunny day and the river meandering through the flood plain looked gorgeous. This now peaceful place was the scene long ago of a skirmish between the personal body guard of the Empress Maud (sometimes called Matilda - just to confuse things) who was fleeing from Winchester where she'd been happily laying siege to the castle (until the Queen arrived with an army to shoo her away) and the Flemish warriors of her cousin King Stephen. Maud got away but not without losses, and I always find myself wondering what relics from the skirmish lie buried beneath these meadows.

Maud and Stephen fought each other during the twelfth century for the throne of England and the quarrel was only settled when Maud's son (who was to become Henry II) was made Stephen's heir. It is a period of history I love, made famous by the wonderful Brother Cadfael Chronicles penned by Ellis Peters, which are worth checking out if you don't already know of them. L and I have them on our Ipods and listen to them constantly.

Anyway, we had the muttlies with us and once we'd got beyond the town and out into the meadows proper we let them off their leads so they could have a good scamper about. Now, there are ribbons of bog running across this landscape and my family are the type of people who don't walk around a bog when jumping over one is more fun....

Cue Poppy Disaster.

She forgets that she is tiddly widdly and remembers only that she is a Fearless Jack Russell who takes no prisoners, and when we all leapt over the bog, so did she. Only her little tiddly widdly legs can't leap as far as ours and she nose-dived straight into it, and sank. Right up to her chin. As she wiggled to get out she sunk further.


I screamed an impressively high-pitched terrified scream and M jumped back in the bog and yanked her out. Was she bothered? No. Did she do it again on the way home? Yes. Did Teddy learn by her mistake and sensibly go round the bog? No.

Oh Dear Ted.

Nice Stockings, Teddy!

Yes, well. The less said the better I feel.

This Jumping Over Things that normal people would walk sensibly around also extends to rivers. F has a graceful, athletic style, which he has most certainly not inherited from his father.....

I sometimes wonder exactly how old my husband is. But then, his father (in his mid 80s) still boings about on a pogo stick, so you get a sense of what I have ahead of me. But at least he's enjoying himself :-)

After all that excitement, I needed the peacefulness of our garden (and a stiff gin) to recover. The sun was still shining when we got home and the flowers all looked beautiful.....

Field Scabious by the pond

Honesty grown from seed last year

Apple Blossom about to burst

Apple blossom bursted


Unfurling ferns




Red Campion (new purchase last week)

Saxifrage (also new last week)

We have a Pond Algae problem, and last week I paid £5.99 for two socks stuffed with barley straw which you sink in the pond and after a month it reduces the algae. Bearing in mind that you can pick up a bale of barley straw here for less than that, I thought this was a bit of a rip off, and today I made my own, which I am sharing with you:

1. Get a pair of old tights.
2. Cut into sections about a foot long (ish).
3. Stuff with barley straw.
4. Tie off ends with a knot.
5. Attach a piece of string and sink in pond.

Approx cost? Oh, about 10p?

This next bit is Rather Disgusting, so feel free to skip it....

L found a tick on Pops and as I removed it yesterday as well as thinking 'urgh, aren't they disgusting?' I also found myself thinking: 'and actually quite impressive, in a horrid blood-sucking parasite sort of a way'. So I took a picture (close up, of course). Here it is....

We've been really busy in the garden this week and the soon-to-be-wildflower-patch has really come on. I'll stick some photos in another time, but in the mean time, what d'you think of my extremely elegant means of encouraging the clematis in the front garden to actually climb up and through the pergola it was bought for, instead of straggling itself across everything but....?

When you grow up in the countryside you find that baler twine gets used for everything from holding car boots shut, to encouraging plants to grow the right way to keeping up ancient farmer's trousers....

While Pop was helping me garden (mostly by chasing away the insects I was trying to photograph as well as pulling weeds out of the pond and making a mess), I am pretty certain I spotted my Tree Bee. Even though he has a vaguely Stripy Bottom, I can't think who else he can be. Unless he's a Carder Bee, but he has too much black on his bum for that I think? Caroline, help!
He visits the Bugle every day, which fits in nicely with what I was reading about bumblebees (or beeblebums as I accidentally called them when I was trying to engage L on the subject this morning) leaving an electric trace on their flowers so other bees know not to feed from them.

I'll leave you with a pic of a Red Kite who has just flown over, as well as the Tantalising Promise of the Moth Box being out tonight, with all that that means for Mothy Folk Pictures on the blog tomorrow....

Have a lovely evening all,

CT :-)


  1. Love the boggy doggies, lol - I think they just wanted to be a different colour ;)

  2. Oh dear dirty dogs..hope it wasn't a smelly bog! Lovely flowers.. that Field Scabious is gorgeous. :o)

    1. It was a smelly bog, but still way better than fox poo! :-)

  3. You had a red kite! I wonder if they will make it down into our bit of the western Forest one day?

    I love the boggy dogs - hope you have a hosepipe?!

    1. I'd be surprised if they don't. This is the second one I've seen in the last month or two.

      The mud flaked off...mostly on the carpet :-)

  4. Muddy dogs - boggy dogs - stinky dogs. xx

    1. I think we live very similar lives Em! x

  5. Wonderful post, CT. I loved all the history and superb photos. It's just incredible how dogs never learn. Harry is just the same. That is a fantastic sighting of the Red Kite. They're very rarely seen here and not by me!

    1. It was total fluke that the Kite flew over just as I was outside with the camera (somewhat making up for all the orange tips who've been flying straight past me all week and not landing once) :-)

  6. Poppy is my kinda pup - all or nothing! Who cares if one gets a bit muddy :) Did she mind being cleaned or did the rest of the walk clean her?!
    You have got a lovely range of flowers out! The insects must be truly appreciative!
    Do you know how exactly the barley straw removes/reduces pond algae?

    I like your beeblebum and red kite :) Happy Easter by the way! x

    1. Hey Lou :-)

      Lovely to hear from you and I hope all is going well with your job?

      Pop's is a Game Girl for sure :-) She got dunked in the river and scrubbed after the bog episode, but still managed to bring most of it home and flake it off on all the carpets!

      The barley straw releases a chemical as it decomposes which inhibits algae growth. You need to clear as much algae out of the pond as you can before you use it because it won't get rid of excess algae, just helps to prevent any more growing.

      Have a great Easter and say hi to your ma for me x

  7. Mucky dog that's like our house.. Morrisons doing a range of wild flowers that attract Bees, so bought three types to day, we have a small garden so making the most of it. We are very lucky and have Red Kites about all the time, there can be up to four circling around above the garden.

    1. I've come to the conclusion it's impossible to have dogs and a clean house (that's my excuse anyway....).

      Great news about Morrison's seeds- I think places are waking up to the willingness in people to do what they can to help our pollinators. Your garden will look lovely when they're all in bloom- do post a piccy. How amazing to see so many Red Kites, I know their numbers are improving which is such good news.

  8. Great post, love the picture of the red kite.
    Your Poppy is like my Sidney, if there is mud to be found, he'll find it, and he's a westie, so normally comes home from a walk two tone!!!
    We were out late last night and kept seeing moths in the headlights and there was me wondering what they all were!!! Looking forward to seeing the moth photos.
    Have a great Easter weekend
    Love Linda O xxx

    1. Happy Easter to you too Linda :-)

      Ted is a Westie too and he often comes back wearing black socks!
      I've just bought the moth box in and the contents look good- including a Tree Bee (not sure how she got in there). Will post photos later. So pleased you are interested in moths too. White flowers in the garden really help them (jasmine, buddleia, night scented stock etc) :-)

  9. Just love a good bog dog, speaking of ticks pulled one off the Bear t'other day but must have caught it late as it was ballooned with her blood!

    1. We seem to get more than our fair share of bog dogs on the whole. Poor Bear- ticks are horrid things :-(

  10. You write about such an array of of subjects, that it is just fun to visit your post page. I laughed, I learned and it was all downright interesting. Like down home news. Have a wonderful day. My "jack" would do the same thing :)

    1. Thank you Kodz :-) I'm thinking that bogs and dogs are generally inseparable regardless of where you live....

  11. We used to have a Springer who could not resist anything boggy, muddy or just foul and wet. I agree it's very hard to keep a house clean with dogs. So glad Poppy was not traumatised, I love strong natured dogs who tackle anything. Lots of pretty flowers about now and I still haven't been out to insect watch on the might go now.

    1. She is certainly a very gutsy little dog and very loyal and affectionate too- we struck lucky finding her. Teddy is more careful, but you couldn't finder a kinder person, so on the whole I forgive them their muddy dog habits :-)

      Hope you get some interesting people on your bugle- I think it's one of my favourite Spring wildflowers.

  12. Lovely post CT with some great photos :) Not sure about the bee - I don't think its Tree Bee as they have very white tails. Could it be Tawny Mining Bee? Although it may have too much black on it but they are just appearing in our garden and make nest holes in the lawn that look like mini volcanoes. They are very gingery.

    Have a lovely Easter - had a quick glimpse of the moth post - some lovely moths there. I only got 3 last night but temp dropped just below freezing. Will leave a proper comment on the post soon but Happy Easter to you all too :)

    1. Thanks for the suggestion re the bee. I've had a good look on line as well as in my books and I think it's s Common Carder Bee- the Tawny Mining Bee looks to be too narrow and stripy, this one has a more rounded bottom and I found a pic on line that matches it. Its a regular visitor on the Bugle so hopefully I'll get another chance to have a proper look.

      Have a lovely Easter too x

  13. Teddy looks so different with his black feet. The trip in the blog doesn't seem to have affected either dog. Love the action picture of jumping the river. My son always seems to be the one who gets's stuck in bogs! That's a great idea for the homemade barley straw tights! Sarah x

    1. It won't stop them doing it again either I fear... Hope you're having a lovely Easter x


Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x