Friday, 2 March 2012

The five senses and other matters

Wednesday was probably the best day we have had this year: definitely the first day of spring. The house is south facing (well, south with a little bit of east in it) and gets the sun all day long with the result that it was wonderfully warm even with the heating turned off. We were remarkably lucky to keep a hole in the clouds all day. Places a few miles to the west of us had a miserable time.

It was warm enough for us to have lunch on the terrace - and for Marcia to decide to do some work outside.

She wasn't the only one at work, a small tortoiseshell butterfly was out collecting food nearby.

That evening I walked Jossie around the field just as the sun was setting. At this time of the year before the leaves appear on the trees they look wonderful silhouetted against the sky.

Now for something really silly. The picture below was taken in the middle of the field and the question is, what is going on here? To give you any idea of scale, the mud circle is about six or seven feet in diameter. A sheet of eight signed book plates is the prize for the first person to come up with the right answer (either by a comment below or by email).

*     *     *     *
Those of you who read last week’s blog will remember that I included a short piece which explored the five senses written by young Inigo, Marcia’s great nephew.

It was seven o'clock this morning when I took Jossie out for her early walk. As you can see it was another magical moment as the sun peeked out of a fairly cloudy sky. Sight.

So what of the other senses? There was a great tit up in a tree letting us all know he was in possession. His repeated call ‛teecha, teecha’ is surprisingly loud.

So too was a fascinating song I could not identify but must have been by a member of the warbler family whilst a pair of crows sailed up the valley croaking away to each other like an old and contented married couple. Hearing.

There was a faint whiff of pig in what was otherwise a clear and fresh morning but that was soon destroyed as young Pete drove past in his van leaving diesel fumes hanging in the air behind him. Living in the country has its down side. Smell.

It was a chilly morning and I slipped into my old Barbour waistcoat. In the pocket, and completely forgotten, I found a couple of ‛seeds’ that must be at least two years old: a hazel nut and an acorn. Inevitably I was rolling them between my fingers and comparing the smoothness of the hazel nut with the wrinkled acorn which has, I assume, shrunk as it has dried out. Are they still fertile? No idea and there is only one way to find out. I shall pop them into a pot and see what happens. Touch.

The real advantage of taking Jossie out so early is that Marcia will have a hot cup of coffee waiting for me when I return. Ahh! Taste.


On Sunday we saw the first toads of the season. They like being in the bottom pond under a fir tree and in amongst the various plants that grow in that corner. It’s all very untidy and would be the despair of any true gardener but we consider the ‛pond garden’ to be more of a nature reserve than anything else.

Tuesday and a shock. There, in amongst the frog spawn, was a dragon fly larva. These guys are lethal – probably the most voracious under water predator (other than some fish and there are none in this pond) that any tadpole could meet. True to form, this one was enjoying a quick egg-of-frog snack when I saw him and moments later he (or, of course, she) was in my tadpole net which, in its earlier life, was a kitchen sieve. No, he (she?) did not die despite such policide tendencies but was returned in rude health to the top pond (see photo below) where, no doubt, he will find other spawn on which to dine.

Wednesday – one week old. As you can see the eggs have begun to change shape.

Today the first of the tadpoles have ‛hatched’ and been moved to the nursery. At this stage they are a bit camera shy but I will try to find one prepared to pose for you before next Friday.