Monday, 31 August 2015

Life In The Garden

As the weather cools and dampens, it is tempting to assume there won't be much left to see insect-wise, but as soon as the rain pauses the Small Things reappear. Perhaps not in such great buzzing numbers as during the warmer, dryer months, but they are present none-the-less,if you have the patience to look for them.

Three species of shieldbug were roaming the garden over the weekend. The first is an instar (baby) Green Shieldbug, then a Hairy Shieldbug, 2 instar Dock Bugs and a final instar Green Shieldbug. 
The Dock Bugs have been loving the raspberries- every time I pick some I have to be careful to remove the bugs. Yesterday I managed to pick, wash, dry and very nearly freeze a tiny weeny hairy shieldbug instar who was saved at the last moment by waving his legs at me. They resemble nothing so much as very small perfectly round buttons when they're that young :o)

Earwigs can often be found inside flowers, where they hide from the sun or the rain during the day... Can you spot this one, head down, bum up?

Then there are hoverflies, still busy nectaring from the late summer blooms. This one is a common species, Helophilus pendulus, also known as The Footballer because of the stripy thorax, but more properly called the 'Dangling Marsh Lover'  (from the Greek helo: marsh, phil: love, pend: dangle or hang). They are visible all summer long from April to November right across the British Isles.

Hoverflies use a form of camo called Batesian Mimicry. This means they look like dangerous insects such as wasps in their coloration but are actually harmless themselves. They rely on the connection other creatures make with the black and yellow to keep them safe but they have no stings themselves.

Also not remotely dangerous to us but pretty unpleasant if you happen to be a moth larvae, is this rather splendid chap, an Ichneumon deliratorius.

They are parasites of Noctuid moths. The Noctuidae are the largest family of moths so these parasitic wasps have plenty of food to choose from. You'll find them all round the UK in any flower-rich meadow, woodland or garden. This is the second one I've seen this year, sitting on a buddleia leaf.

There are still some freshly-emerged flutters oot and aboot too. We found this brand new Comma sunbathing on a hedge yesterday while walking the dogs through some farmland. Commas have two/ three generations in a year, the final one or two of which will over-winter as adults and emerge when the warmth returns next Spring.
Incidentally, I watched a Hummingbird Hawkmoth feeding on some buddleia (sadly not in our garden) on Saturday. Only the third one I have seen this summer. And no camera with me! He was there for ages beside three Small Torts, a Peacock and a Painted Lady. Not for nothing is buddleia called The Butterfly Bush :o)

Typical of this between-seasons time is the mix of summertime flowers with the fruits, berries and mushrooms more redolent of autumn that can now be found out in the countryside. 

We've been picking sporadic blackberries from the hedges whilst out on walks but have yet to go proper Blackberrying, and I keep meaning to visit Mottisfont and look for the wild plums that grow in the trees that line the lanes there. Last year there was a goodly crop which came home in some unused dog poo bags. Needs Must, eh?

L goes back to school on Fri so perhaps I'll get a chance in the next week or two, although work is piling up in preparation for college and my new job too...
Here are M and J nibbling berries from the hedges with T and P...

And here's a basket of home-grown spinach we had with a stir-fry last night, picked fresh from the garden...

...and some Humourous Carrots, likewise fresh from the earth and eaten raw and unpeeled (I wondered, as I was eating them, how many get thrown out before reaching the shops because they aren't dead straight and therefore acceptable to The Modern Discerning Shopper's eyes? Most of ours have come out of the earth wonky...)


So although things are turning there is still plenty to see and learn about outdoors. These two are a Good Example. Are they Bees, Robber Flies, Hoverflies or Bumblebee Mimics? I can't decide so if you know please shout :o)

I'll leave you with an Interested Sow who thought blackberries sounded like just the ticket for a Very Hungry Piggy...

Happy Bank Holiday Monday if you're in the UK, and a Happy Monday to you anyway if you're not.

Hope all are well?

CT :o)

Friday, 28 August 2015


Colour yesterday, Light today.

The year is turning. September is a handful of days away now and on our walk down the lane this morning it was evident, its presence hovering out of sight just round the corner, but suggested by the air and the quality of light nonetheless. The nights are drawing in- have you noticed? It was dark by 8.30 last night. It will soon be time to pick up the knitting I put away in April and continue with the blanket I am making from heathery-toned wool. 

I still have a remaining bat survey to do, counting Daubentons along the river as they sweep the surface of the water to catch their favourite insects, and one or two flutter transects remain, as well as a Dormouse survey, but mostly the Wild Things in whose company I have passed the summer have settled and faded and it is largely bees and birds who are out and about now- everyone else is preparing to stock up and sleep out the cold winter months.

I like the changes between the seasons. I wouldn't cope so well if we were Equator-Bound. I need the reset of each turning month, the subtle changes in weather patterns, the rise and fall of temperatures and the waxing and waning of the light. It keeps me grounded and lets me know where I am.

The quality of the light here this morning is beautiful. Possibly because we've been without sight of the sun for several days as the Wet Stuff poured down out of the sky. We've embraced it fully this morning, the doggy folk and I, ambling around the different parts of the garden noticing the blooms that are still shining and watching the light bouncing off things. Pop has found a square of sunlight on the floor and is lying in it by my feet as I type.....


T and P wanted me to include this photo of them both for their Favourite Aunty Amy, who is feeling a little unlike Super Woman today. They think she could do with one of their special nuzzles, so they're sending it via this blog post whilst Fiercely Keeping An Eye on the front gate for any Foolhardy Intruders who might dare to step onto their territory uninvited. Never mess with a Small Dog or two, eh? :o)
Hope all are well and that there is some Light with you, wherever you are today.

CT :o)

Thursday, 27 August 2015


I was reading CJ's blog this morning (I have, during this latter part of the holidays, developed a Deliciously Self-Indulgent habit of lying in bed after M's gone to work reading my favourite blogs on my phone. It's something I shall miss when school and uni return in a week or two and I am forced to get up early. It is also healthier than my other recently-developed habit which is unfortunately equally delicious....)

CJ's blog is one of my favourites. She writes beautifully and eloquently on simple subjects of home and family, her garden and allotment, the countryside around her and most of all raising her three boys with humour and love and gentleness. I always think of her as someone who thinks quietly, carefully and honestly about the things she does and the things that are around her. It is honest, restful and comforting reading and often leaves me smiling and feeling settled.  

Now that I've sufficiently embarrassed her, I'll move on to say that her post this morning was one of her most thought-provoking, for me anyway, and I've been mulling it over ever since I read it. The subject was colour, in this instance specifically colour in clothes and what we chose to wear in terms of shades and vibrancy, and how it affects us.

It really struck a chord with me so my post today is about the colours that I surround myself with, often, as it turns out, unconsciously.

I took the camera upstairs and looked at my wardrobe properly and I was surprised to find details in it I'd never noticed before. This coat is one of my favourites. I've had it years yet never noticed before that it has the words love and dreams written in silver by the ribbon ties...

This dress is the oldest item of clothing I possess. It's an ancient Monsoon number and I love the shape of it (it's fitted at the top then releases itself into long, flowy, old fashioned lines) as well as the print, but I've never noticed before that the seam patterns don't match. I have had this dress decades and apparently never really looked properly at it until this morning. It won't spoil my enjoyment of it at all because I have a perverse love of contrary imperfections :o)

Once I was a Dark Clothes Girl. I drifted into it without noticing, because when I was at uni I wore hippy prints and colours so bright you'd need to shield your eyes to look at them. I'm not sure what happened, except that the adult world sometimes does seem a place where bright colours are frowned on. At the theatre last year I watched a woman in skin tight trousers and high high heeled boots walk across the stage and take her seat. She drew every eye in the place because the boots were shiny candy pink. I thought 'bravo!' Not my colour but I just loved that she had the confidence to wear them. I could have cheered, all the more so when the people sitting around me tutted. What's that all about eh?

.One day an old friend who was a medium told me I should be wearing more colours to lift the energy around me. It resonated, so I started thinking more about what I was buying and the shades of colour began to draw me in until one day I realised all the dark colours had left me and now my wardrobe vibrates. I do have some very vibrant cardis- pinks and reds which I put on if I'm feeling tired or low on energy, but most of the time it's soft shades with interesting patterns, a bit closer to nature.

I love these shoes, which are a mad kind of orange. I love the distinct white of the stitching against the orange and the grey spots on the sole, but my feet don't share that unbridled joy sadly and really complain big time if I wear them :o(

These shoes I've had for ages and I know they are the classic black to go with the little black number which I'm sure many of us have tucked away in our wardrobes, but I absolutely love the elegance of them and besides, one or two dark pieces are allowed, no?

Of course, you can have colour from jewellery too. I have some long necklaces of colourful beads that I wear (mostly in the winter, come to think of it, My winter clothes are also brighter and richer shades than my summer ones. Doubtless a subconscious attempt to Lift The Light)...

And here are some beaded bracelets L and I made which I put on if I feel tired and have to go out.....

I'm not a Gold Girl so I tend to wear a lot of natural beaten silver and moonstones...

Colour has been on my mind a lot this summer. From the glorious displays in the garden and the wildflower patch in particular, to all the wonderful exhilarating fabrics I've been filling the house with and the quilts I've made that are now dotted all around our home...

More recently, colour has been emerging out of a new drawing pad with the resurfacing of ancient habits that did a lot of sustaining me in younger days...

And last week I noticed how the sunlight comes through the tiny bottles of ancient perfume oils I have lined up on my dresser bringing them to life and hinting at all sorts of secret magic. The wonderful shimmering green of Frankincense that whispers of Silk Roads and Spices and hot sand and cold stars (photo doesn't do it justice at all)....

And the rich thick gold of Amber where the light has to work hard to penetrate and infiltrate, emerging somehow broader and steadier as a result, like it's been through some process of alchemy not yet quite understood by the human mind. When the oils are lit by the sun like that I feel like I want to dive into them.

I wish you could smell these perfumes. They are natural oils because I react badly to anything synthetic and they smell of distant places and ancient times. The tiniest amount lingers for hours once it's come into contact with the air, blending with the warmth of skin and repeating itself over and over and over...

It isn't just colour that's important in clothes, shapes and patterns resonate too. I love the detail on the neckline of this simple shift dress...

And the flowing, sweeping floral lines of the pattern in this linen...

Fruit is one category that doesn't slip in unnoticed in terms of its shapes and colours. I picked the mulberries yesterday from Ma's tree and the raspberries from our canes. Glorious!

I'll leave you with some colours that take a bit of getting used to. These are my latest Running Shorts Creations. I think M summed it up best when I appeared wearing them before our run together: 'Good Grief! We won't lose you in those, will we?'

I shall wear them With Pride (too much?) :o)

Hope all are well and that this gets you thinking about the colour you have in your life.

CT :o)