Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Winter In The Forest, And General Home Stuff

Sorry for the long gap in comms- I've been doing a few extra college days over the past week, and then making things for Christmas and the days have just eaten themselves up. On the plus side, I got the Christmas Pud and mincemeat made over the weekend. I broadly followed Nigel Slater's recipe with a few tweaks of my own (most notably adding more brandy than he says, and cranberries and nuts in place of glace cherries and crystallised fruits). I ended up with some mixture left over so stuck it in a cake tin and experimented whether it would cook OK. It did. There is none left :o)



 

Whilst cooking, I got the impression I was being watched....

 
Usually, he shoots off at the merest hint that you've seen him, but for some reason he seemed intrigued by what I was doing and sat watching me for ages (well, ages if you're a woodpecker anyway).

He wasn't the only one keeping a beady eye on the cake mix.The Sparrow Gang all fluttered down and sat in the hedge watching intently too. Doubtless they were hoping for a crumb or two but hadn't reckoned on the appetites of teenage boys and cycling husbands....


While I was cooking another feathered friend appeared in the garden and proceeded to behave in a most un-blackbird like way...


I don't think anyone has ever told him he's a ground feeding bird :o) It was a brave attempt, but ultimately doomed.....


As I was smiling to myself over the inventiveness of this feeding strategy, another member of the Garden Family appeared out of his hole and demonstrated exactly the same thing. 

This is (believe it or not) a Rat Proof Bird Feeding Station. Rats are most definitely not supposed to be able to climb up the pole with such insouciant ease and sit casually snacking off the feeders. I should get the Trades Descriptions People in....


Now that's just taking the piss michael

Just a little bit further.....


Oops, The Man's banging the window. Let's split!
M is, on the whole, rather less Rat Tolerant than me, and at this point he erupted into the kitchen in a fury of waving fists bellowing with rage and banged on the window so the rats (x2) darted back to their hole beneath the hedge (which, incidentally, Poppet, our one-legged-Dunnock uses to get safely from our garden to next door, as does the hedgehog). He rushed off to the garage and returned wearing an expression of grim determination and armed with a tub of grease which he smeared all over the pole. He then staked out the feeder from the kitchen and waited with a look of hopeful satisfaction on his face for the rats to return and slide off. I'm not sure what the outcome was because L and I had to go into Winchester to get him a winter coat and by the time we got back (many hours later because parking was a complete nightmare) the rats had slipped my mind. Although I haven't seen them on the feeders since, which is a shame because the photos would have been funny :o)

The German Market was in full swing in Winchester's Cathedral grounds last Sat and I have never seen it so packed with people. L and I had to link arms for fear of getting separated and the police were stopping people entering the rear of the Cathedral because of the press. I hate crowds and was extremely grumpy at being forced to walk at everyone else's snails pace. Still, L was very chuffed with his coat and a Davey Crockett hat he got from the less posh and therefore less touristy and cheaper street market, and spent the rest of the day with both super-glued to his body. He must have slept in them because he was still wearing them when he came down for breakfast the next morning.

His Christmas Blanket is proceeding. I spend most nights knitting feverishly in order to get it done in time. It's actually got more squares on now than the photo shows, so hopefully with a few more night's-worth it'll be completed...



I haven't been able to keep it a surprise, but I guess this means at least I know he likes it. The pair of feet sticking out the bottom of the blanket in the pic below would seem to suggest so anyway...

Somewhere in amongst all that wool there is a boy

We had a visit to the New Forest with college on Monday. It was freezing and blowing a very sharp wind so that even the Brass Monkeys had Brass Monkeys on them. But it was clear and sunny and crisp and beautiful, and I did see a Dartford Warbler for the first time ever which was Rather A Treat.

There are quite a lot of pics so feel free to whizz through them, but please make sure you pause to admire the panoramic one about half-way down, because I've only just realised I can do them with the new camera :o)

Fallow Deer

Can you spot the well camo'd stag and his lady?

Fallow Stag

Oaks in the Forest in the afternoon sun

Sunlit Forest Pond

New Forest Pony. They roam freely across the forest but are all owned by Commoners (foresters who have the right to graze livestock in the forest), and are rounded up on the Drift, a terrifyingly fast round up on horse back, in Spring and Autumn.

Eating holly. Next time you pass a holly tree, have a look at the leaves. Those nearest the ground (usually within grazing height) will be sharp and prickly, while those higher up will have smoother edges. This is the tree's response to hundreds of years of grazing and the way it has evolved to protect itself. Clever, no?

Sunlit bracken

Forest Heath

Ta Daa: The Panorama!!! (what do you think?)

Heathland with Forestry Commission Plantation to the far right

Holly Berries

Long shadows means Winter

Meadow Pipit

Moss growing on an oak

Mushies on an Oak Tree

More Mushies, on the ground this time

Typical New Forest Scene

Ancient Oak

Scots Pine (the UK's only native pine tree species)

Feathery shimmery tree in the far distance lit by the sun

Silver Birch

Mushies growing on an Oak in the Forest
Well, I've waffled on for ages so thank you for sticking with it to the end. I've wrapping to do and Brownies to make (J's birthday today- 19!- and she's back from France and coming for cake and champers tomorrow) so I'll leave you with some pics of the Doggy Folk, who have just got unbearably excited by the appearance of a fat little vole waddling sedately across the patio. They can't understand why I won't let them out.

The best way to keep warm in this Winter Weather is to snuggle up with a friend (especially when your mother has clipped your coat to almost bald- on the plus side, she is no longer itching)...







Happy Days!


Hope all are well? I'm off to catch up with what you've all been up to :o)

CT x

35 comments:

  1. I find rats rather entertaining to watch in the garden, not that I keep them there but being surrounded by fields & having the bird table & compost heap you have to expect them from time to time. They always used to climb the pole for the bird feeder here too, like little pole dancing rats! I am making a chunky blanket (hopefully for me) I've added some pink. I was inspired by your blankets. Very cosy it is too. Mmmm brownies & fizz I adore both, hope you have a fab time when your daughter returns. Happy returns to her from me, take care xx

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    1. We're the same with rats- countryside all around etc so I know we'll never be rid of them. Two under the hedge (at the mo) aren't a huge problem. They're clever little things, working out how to skip up poles :o)
      Will look forward to seeing your blanket- they are soooo warm. It'll be lovely to have J back- she's been away in France since Sept x

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  2. I love that round bird/squirrel feeder - real nice. Even though you may not have posted recently, this post is just wonderful. Full of photos and tid bits on just about everything. I love how you save fuzzy snuggly's til the end of each post. Very sweet.

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    1. Thank you :o) I love the expression fuzzy snugglies- I shall use that from now on :o)

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  3. I think bird feeders attract rats, CT. I got rid of my poultry for the same reason. We were scattering food and feeding the vermin. Didn't Henry the Eighth plant the New Forest? We once saw some pigs wandering down a lane on their own when we visited the New Forest. Fantastic photos!

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    1. I'm sure they do, but I love to see the birds and at the mo we're down on rat numbers comparative to last year. William the Conq set the forest aside as a royal hunting ground a thousand years ago, which is more or less why it survives the way it does today. You get pigs, sheep, cattle and horses roaming freely.

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  4. Very nice woodland pics CT, two of my favourite words are winter and forest. Happy birthday to your daughter!

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    1. Thanks Shauna. Hope all is well with you :o) x

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  5. Love all the photos, but especially the cheeky woodpecker and even cheekier rats. Haven't seen any rats here for a while, but we had one that seemed to enjoy posing for photos while it was stealing the bird food.

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    1. Thanks for the comment PP, will pop over and have a look at your blog now... :o)

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  6. Lovely photos, I haven't seen our woodpecker for a while, it is funny how ground feeders will have a go at the hanging feeders.

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    1. Our woody has been absent most of the summer and only returned to the garden when I put the fat balls out a couple of weeks ago. I think it depends on the food source :o)

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  7. We too saw a rat in the garden the other day too. Luckily they haven't found the bird feeders yet but neither have the birds. We must have it in the wrong position. I love the images of the New Forest and the dogs look so cosy together! Sarah x

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    1. Something for Tavi to practice his hunting skills with :o) x

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  8. Love those pics of the New Forest. It really captured it for me. I really laughed at the knocking on the window at the rat. What a cheeky bugger. I think Woody spotted your nuts....xxx

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    1. The light was just right- golden in the afternoon- for woodland pics. Yes, naughty rats but their antics do make me smile. And as for Woody and the nuts....the less said the better probably! xx

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  9. Wow you have been very busy. Your photos are so beautiful! You know of course that I love the last pictures of Teddy and Poppy most of all! I have a soft spot for the both and love the last one of Pops! xx

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    1. Thank you Amy :o) So glad you enjoyed them. I will pass your kind words on to the scruffy fluff balls and no doubt they will send you a virtual snuffle in return xx

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  10. Lovely photos of the Forest - how I miss it. I was trying to work out where exactly you had been, but not enough identifying features, though I am sure I went to that pond with my friend Kim and family. Think it was the Burley side of the Forest.

    Mincemeat - especiually home made - is wonderful in a cake. If you look back on my blog, I am sure I have put the recipe up. I will try and find a link for you.

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    1. We were to the left of the Fritham to Frogham path that runs across the ridge. A perfect day for it, if rather cold!

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  11. I've just found the recipe and put it up on my blog for you.

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    1. Many thanks, have made a note- it looks wonderful.

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  12. Contrary to most people, I love rats. We had a whole host of them under our shed when we had our allotment and were kept amused by their antics. We once sat and watched a procession of them running along the branches of the tree that held a bird feeder and the little ones were so beautiful.
    Sadly the man next door to us had another view and used to put rat poison down. There is nothing sadder than watching a beautiful full grown rat staggering about dying from rat poison and we witnessed this on more that one occasion.
    Love the pictures of the terrible two. lol
    Briony
    x

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    1. Horrid to think of any animal suffering. I don't object to rats either, as long as we don't have too many :o)
      Those doggy people keep me entertained xx

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  13. Great photos CT, especially the Woodpecker peering in the window. Birthday wishes to your daughter. ;-) (my son was 19 last tuesday)

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    1. Makes you feel old, doesn't it Deb? :o)

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    2. It certainly does CT and when my grandson visits i feel really ancient! :-)

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  14. Great post and photos, nice to see a bit of sun. We have had rats up the bird feeder before, at the moment we have been watching the Robin and the Dunnock fighting over who's garden it belongs to.
    Amanda xx

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    1. It is indeed. I don't mind the cold of winter if we get clear crisp days like that to go out and enjoy it. Robins are so funny, bossing all the other birds about. I wonder who will win? x

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  15. Lovely photos of the New Forest CT :) Glad to see the Christmas baking coming along - made the cake and puddings here but not yet done the mincemeat!!

    Eek about the rat. Must admit rats are the only form of wildlife I am not keen on. They move under next door's decking from time to time although thank goodness haven't seen any for a while. We've put an upturned, rimless, washing up bowl half way up our feeding station pole which keeps the grey squirrels away from the feeders most of the time!

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    1. Mince pies are this weekend's job. Great idea about the upturned washing bowl. Will have to try that if the grease wears off! I don't mind rats when there are only a few, we had lots when the chooks were still here and that wasn't great.

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  16. Impressed by the Woodie shot and jealous of you seeing a Dartford Warbler! Also quite amazed by the rat - and how come it looks cute in your pics? :-) Countryside looks FAB. Excuse shortish comment but I'm tapping this on my Kindle. xx

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    1. The DW was beautiful, flitting about on the bracken. Didn't get a good view of its colours though (sun in wrong position) so that's something to try another time.

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  17. What a great collection of images! That rat was rather cute - and agile as a squirrel, which I suppose isn't surprising!
    You have me wondering now if I have ever seen a meadow pipit, as I probably would have mistaken it for all the other little brown birds I have problems with. I wish they had labels in the wild!
    Love the fungi - always.
    Keep up the good work :)

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    1. I am quite fond of our rats (because there aren't hundreds probably). I get meadow pipits muddled too- very sweet little birds.

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