L and I made the most of it this morning by lounging in bed until NINE (virtually unheard of for us). M left on his bicycle just before eight and L appeared soon after, crawled into bed, snuggled up under the duvet and spent the next hour barely drawing breath as he told me all about his latest Tekkit adventures (a design platform on the computer that enables you to mine and build things accordingly).
When we finally managed to drag ourselves downstairs I saw these adorable creatures on the fence that lines the patio. There were three of them and they were all squeaking in a very demanding sort of way for their mother, who was flitting back and forth feeding them...
These are two wren bottoms, in case you were wondering.
I absolutely ADORE wrens, and am so happy they are around, particularly as we haven't seen any for a while. I always associate them with my Granny who used to love them and spend hours drawing them, so they are a special bird for me.
It's my sister's birthday at the weekend so we had an early birthday celebration over at Ma's today as K is on hols next week. Poor P is getting very bored at being cooped up with his poorly leg which is very swollen by the afternoon, but he is more mobile than he was and at least has the Ashes to occupy him at the moment! I know he also reads the blog, so: "HELLO PAPA!"
Ma had worked her usual magic and laid on a terrific spread, which we all appreciated and ate with gusto (whoever he is).
The highlight of the meal was when the phone rang and Ma instructed L (tongue in cheek) to tell whoever it was that they were "dining." L duly ran off and repeated the message verbatim. When he returned he said: "it was the hospital wanting to know how Papa was, so I told them he was dining," only the way he said it, it sounded like "dying."
We all found this very funny and promptly collapsed with laughter, leaving L looking very bemused until Gran managed to choke out an explanation. Which just shows you what our collective family sense of humour is like. My married family is hardly any better- they also laugh at macabre things and what's worse take pictures of each other when mortally ill or injured. Witness the time my father in law set fire to the bedroom and came downstairs very calmly asking for help to put out the fire, a thing that everyone roars with laughter about but it could easily have signalled the end of their beautiful Queen Anne Farmhouse, or the time they were running late for a wedding and he went outside (in his best suit) to shift some hay bales, much to my ma in law's annoyance, and promptly got himself stung by a wasp and collapsed in anaphylaxis, which is again the source of much hilarity whenever the story is retold, or even the time my brother in law got very sick indeed travelling in India and was stretchered off the plane looking like a corpse, only for M to insist on taking a photo of him before he'd let him in the car home.
After lunch I took my neices (8 and 4) out to look for butterflies, of which there were plenty in gran's fields. Ma says when she walks down the fields at dusk clouds of butterflies and moths rise up from the grasses. She said since I have been recording my moths (and boring the family rigid with moth conversations whenever I speak to them) she has started noticing them, which I think is great. L and I are going to have a sleepover there sometime during the holidays and take the Moth Box with us to see what we can get there.
Em, my four year old niece, told me confidently that she was Very Good At Catching Butterflies. My insides squirmed at this as four year old fingers are not being known for their gentleness, but luckily four year olds are also not known for their ability to creep silently up on creatures that can fly away to safety quickly, and so the butterflies remained un-squished. Phew!
The horses were intrigued and came over to See What You Are Doing? Which also made photographing butterflies Quite Hard....
I did manage to get a pic of a Small Heath, while Gran distracted Em, Coco and Lou...
And a close up of this moth, who I think is some type of Garden Grass Veneer, but I'm not certain. These micro moths are notoriously hard to ID, and indeed some of them can only be ID'd with any degree of confidence by dissecting their genitals, something I have no intention of subjecting my moths to. I'd rather just enjoy looking at them (the moths that is, not the genitals- and now I'm going to get all kinds of hideous search engine results popping up). The girls were amazed at his eyes under the macro lens detail...
Having had our fill of Flighty Butterflies we went back to the garden to Hunt For Insects instead
This is what we found...
Happy Bees on the Buddleia
Naughty Blackfly on the Clematis
A Warm and Fat Hippo Sunbathing
A Proper Native Ladybird (the first one I've seen in goodness knows how long hooray!)
An Extraordinary Fly (this one was actually at home). 25mm long. Any ideas?
NB* Thanks to Lou for IDing this for me as Sirex Juvencus, a type of Sawfly who likes pine, so I suspect he'd just hatched out of the log pile by the fireplace inside the house!
A Squishy Pillar Person
By this point the girls had got bored Looking For Bugs, and had wandered off to play with the dogs, so I carried on my wander through Ma and P's garden taking pics of their gorgeous flowers and fruits.
Enormous Hanging Basket Flowers
A Pointy Clematis Bud
And the flowers inside...
Close up of St John's Wort
(or dancing ballerina as I've always thought of them ever since I was a little girl)
The inside of a Petunia
Eek! I can't remember what the next two flowers are, but I love the pictures
Suss (my elder niece) returned at that point and we went off together to look for Interesting Fruit in the Orchard. We found a Slowly Ripening Fig...
A Mulberry Tree
From which was hanging, after much scrabbling around and getting twigs in our hair and spiders up our noses...
I shall use this to make Mulberry Vodka when there are more of them. This is a DELICIOUS and HIGHLY DRINKABLE POTENT mixture and it is quite possible to get through the best part of a litre of the stuff in one companionable sitting and not know it until the next morning, as M and I discovered a few years ago, so it is therefore better to have it on a Friday or Saturday night when you've at least a day to recover ahead of you. Preferably also a day in which you have Very Little Planned.
(Are these the Best Plums In The World?)
We also found the Front Door to a Mole's House
Sadly there was no sign of the Velvety Gentleman, something I was sad about because I love moles and haven't seen one in years.
We finished our Garden Ramble looking at a Poppy
And some Honeysuckle
It was lovely having my niece come exploring with me. All the more so because L, in practice for Full Teenager Hood, has total and utter disdain for anything involving wildlife or the countryside at the moment (presumably because those are the things that matter to me and he's at an age where he needs to do the opposite). I really enjoyed her company and appreciated her quick eyes which spotted things long before I did. Love you Suss.
I'll leave you with a sign I painted for Ma some years ago, which hangs in their kitchen. It is a motto we should all embrace I think...
Have a lovely, laughter-filled evening all.