Summertime and the living is chilly

Gershwin clearly never lived in England now that BST is here. The clocks have gone forward one hour but that does not mean the temperatures have risen. Or they may have but the wind still manages to cut through our clothing unless we zip up to the chin. The neck is the vulnerable area. The stabbing gusts seem to funnel down the open collar.

After a chore-full morning we escaped the clutches of the designers and headed to Winnall Moors. I can make a short walk last a long time. I was greeted by a couple of Chiffchaffs and I’m sure I heard the explosive call of a Cetti’s Warbler as we passed the reed beds. Mainly though it was Mallards, Mallards and more Mallards. How many Mallards is too many?

I am also constantly scanning for Otter spraints as they are reputedly found on the reserve. There is a carved wooden Otter for those that have no patience. I have found one area that ought to be a holt but it is the other side of the flow and even with binoculars I can see no telltale signs of the aquatic dog. Tarka has gone AWOL.

The greenery is on the blocks. On your marks, get set…… still waiting for the gun of Spring sunshine to fire. The daffs are out away from the shade and I noticed the nettles have sprung up – a good larval food plant for lots of lepidoptera. I even saw two rather foolhardy butterflies but they too were on the otter side of the water so I could not get on to them quickly enough. They did a passable impression of the Nimble Girl – up, up and away……..

The bare branches still make fine subjects of course. The challenge is to separate them against a clean background. Many subjects look good to the naked eye but simply chaotic through a viewfinder. My eyes are not yet so dim I cannot see and fortunately I had not left my specs in the lavatory. So they adapt and adjust the way a camera sensor does not.

Bleak Landscape

This image seemed to sum it up today. Bleak (after a misleadingly sunny start). Still, the birds are nesting. Mr. Mallard was pursuing Mrs. M with great vigour. The Long-tailed Tits were collecting nest material. The Blackbirds were playing kiss-chase and the Goldfinches were holding forth with great voice. As we left the reserve I was amused by the sight of a Song Thrush scolding and driving off a passing Jay. And then a second. Half the size of the corvid the Song Thrush would brook no nonsense and the Jays left, tails between their legs.

And so we are home again. More chores again tomorrow but I will try to squeeze in a walk. Just in case Summertime pops by.

Good news for Cameron. Bad news on socks.

I received an e-mail this afternoon to let me know that Cameron suffered bruises and lacerations but nothing more. He has been discharged to recover at home. Having seen him lying in the road with blood all over his shirt I am amazed and mightily relieved. I suspect the driver is also breathing a long sigh of relief.

We missed a walk today due to poor weather. We trudged gamely up to Jewry Street to have lunch at Brasserie Blanc. Jolly good the food was too. Yesterday we booked Mrs. Ha’s birthday lunch at Rick Stein. There is something to be said for not having a proper kitchen to call your own. Then we zig-zagged our way home. No alcohol of course but a few shops to investigate. Winchester has two Waterstones and I have discovered an inability to walk past without going in and buying something. Today I emerged with 3 books to ward off the threat of rainy days ahead.

Then we explored – wait for the excitement – the sock racks at M&S. Cheapish they may be but you can’t buy one pair. They seem to come in a week-long supply. That means you have to buy some naff colours to go with the ones you want. I refuse categorically to wear canary yellow socks. I am not French or Italian. Red I can live with as a Welshman but I draw the line at yellow. So M&S drew nothing from me and we wandered off (a zag this time) to that esteemed emporium, Cadogan, home of Joseph’s Multicolour Dream-Waistcoat, admired by so many. Mrs. Ha checked the price. Well unless we want to mortgage Lulu I don’t think it will ever find its way into my wardrobe (if I had one).

I on the other hand was back on a sock purchase mission. I selected several individual pairs of tastefully coloured socks with nary a canary in sight. And at that point I went to pay. £27. Each pair. At this point I could do my usual quip about wanting to buy the socks not the store, put them back in horror and dismay or simply hide my embarrassment and cough up. Guess which I chose? £135 for 5 pairs of socks. I am tempted to have them framed and hung on the wall (clean of course). I don’t think M&S sells anything that costs £135. The difference of course is that my socks are ‘Made in Italy’ and the week-long kaleidoscopic sock-pack from M&S would probably have been made in Sri Lanka or worse still, China. So I evidently have the advantage of style and workmanship par excellence. Except that I shall be too scared to wear them.

We headed home. I was heavy of heart and light of wallet. Mrs. Ha seemed to think we had had a narrow escape and bought well. Never mind the width, feel the quality. Then I thought of Cameron and how short life might have been. I can only conclude the there is a message in those socks – get out there and live life to the full. There is no place in life for M&S socks. Especially if they are canary yellow.

I rounded the day off with a fulsome rant at the Lexus dealer and strangely I now feel much better. I didn’t ask what socks he was wearing.

Here as reward for getting to the end of the sock-saga, is another image from Winnall Moors.


Reflections in the wind

We went for a walk this morning to blow away the cobwebs of yesterday’s accident and our sleepless night. Thank you all for the very kind comments.

It was decidedly chilly this morning and rather dull but we felt better afterwards. Here are my 2 favourites from the morning.

Bleak Moors