All the fun of the festival

Our trip out to the watercress festival produced a few decent shots. Nothing especially good but some souvenir pictures of Shirley’s first encounter with Morris dancing. Here is my selection. Starting with “Never Mess with Morris”.Morris ManIs it nearly over yet?Watching the festivitiesHappy FeetHappy FeetSqueezeMorris Dancers

Squeeze BoxIs it nearly over yet?BeagleApparently not!BirdbrainThe Male and the FlossCandyFlossGet a move on GrandadGrandadWell I think I know what Grandad needs….PimmsAnd that’s your lot. More watercress anyone?

How Green was my Valley?

The garden continues to be my ‘get out of jail free’ card. It isn’t free of course but I walk around at least twice a day and generally potter. This is much to be said for pottering. A time for contemplation.

Yesterday I showed my sister-in-law around for an update. She knows a lot more than I do and helps me identify the plants. I had just made my first addition. So far my contribution has been cutting and removing. Shirley wanted a Camellia that we had seen outside a mews cottage in Winchester. The name she said was something like ‘desert’. Or as it turned out, Debbie. On the way home we dropped in to Beckett’s nursery and lo and behold they had precisely one Debbie left. So we bought it along with some ericaceous compost. It is now in the shrubbery, bedded in with rainwater from one of our butts. I also found a Clematis Montana growing in amongst the trees. A very odd place to plant one.

At the end of the day my moth trap was set up as usual. I went out at 5am to check it and the temperature was on the chilly side so I was not expecting much. As I arrived there was a lot of noise coming from the trap. What, I wondered, might be the cause?

Very large moth? Very small squirrel? Shrew? A slim hedgehog? A frog? It turned out to be a Great Tit. How it got in there I don’t know but it was well and truly trapped. Sadly it had breakfasted on a Peppered Moth, the very same species with which Bernard Kettlewell demonstrated industrial melanism. It may well have eaten a whole lot more. I released it immediately and found a rather small group of 5 cowering moths, huddled in the corner, hissing and spitting in self-defense. Happily two species were new for the garden. More sadly I misidentified one and was thoroughly reprimanded by an expert.

The rest of the morning was taken up with a visit to the Watercress Festival. We hunted high and low but failed to find our target stall. For Shirley the biggest amusement was the sight of Morris Men, both black and white (like the minstrels of old). She was shocked by a dog that stood almost as tall as she does – a Great Dane of immense stature. The Beagle was more her sort. We also sampled Wild Boar and Hampshire Hog baps, though not for some odd reason, watercress. My highlight was seeing the swirling flocks of House Martins. I hope they may honour us with their presence for the summer. For today though I had to be content with three Swifts, scything through the greying sky.

Hampshire is a county of considerable beauty. It is not the Lake District or the Dales. Snowdonia it is not nor is it the Highlands. It is rather understated. The Goldilocks county; not too hot, not too cold. Never knowingly oversold. Old money only here. As we extend our exploratory trips beyond mere house hunting we drive, sometimes unintentionally, through some of Hampshire’s less travelled roads. Shirley constantly remarks on the beauty of it all.

And so today as we took a minor detour home we stopped the car to look at the light sliding across the landscape. And I took this: Hampshire LandscapeIt seemed a fitting alternative to entering the world watercress eating championship. You can have too many greens.The Bowl


Well most days are Friday here. Everything orientates itself around Wednesday for me. I take an extra tablet that day and so when I see the bonus tab in the box I know it is hump day. It has been quiet on the moth front due to wind and rain. Nothing too dire but enough to keep the moths tucked up in bed. My 5am trap check this morning produced precisely one moth.

By 9am however the sky was brightening and I suggested to Mrs. Ha that we stroll over the Down and take a walk along the Itchen Navigation. She agreed so off we went. She was enchanted by Mrs. M. Allard and all the little Allards. Less so by Mr. Swan, who rather ungraciously hissed at her. I kept an eye out for diurnal moths and added Micropterix calthella to my  Shawford list. There were plenty of Yellow Flag Iris in bloom and the Comfrey looked splendid. We also bumped into my sister-in-law, who was returning home across the water meadows. All in all a pleasant way to spend a morning.

I should perhaps add an update on Woody at this juncture. We are worried that he and Mrs. Woody don’t seem to be moving into the hole he so lovingly carved out for her. They are around the garden and cackling away like demented crones. No sign of heads sticking out of holes though. Did she go to a different estate agent? Have they got a pied à terre next door? Monitoring their comings and goings is much more difficult now because there is a fully-leafed Oak branch blocking our view. Two weeks ago it was bare.

Two photos from today. Firstly a shot taken on our walk:BlueSky

And secondly a rather beautiful lichen. I found this on a branch that must have come down in the last day as I walk the garden each day and it was not down yesterday. It may be Ramalina farinacea or it may be something completely different. Ramalina farinacea

The gardeners came today and tidied up the front so we have short moss front and rear of the Lodge. It looks vaguely respectable now. I keep finding new plants but I have no idea what many of them are. Other than the big mature boundary trees (Beech & Oak) and the ornamental ones (lots of Acers) there seem to be far too many Hazel trees. They probably have not been coppiced for years. I feel an Autumn project coming on.

Happy weekend and wish me good moths.