The End of the Year is nigh

I am not yet confident enough to predict the end of the world but I think I can safely go with the end of the year. December 31st. This time last year I was 11 days into my recovery from the heart op. I was 1 month away from leaving Hong Kong. It has been a challenging year. Not one I shall look back on fondly. Get thee behind me 2015.

Over the last 7 or 8 months I have lived surrounded by trees. I have found it an enriching experience. Arguably the only enriching experience of 2015. When we moved into this house the trees were not yet fully in leaf. That took a few weeks but the garden seemed to shrink as the trees bushed out. We thinned some out of our own volition and in the fulness of time the cycle turned and the garden expanded again, leaving me with the bare skeletons. Not quite bare though. Mosses, lichens and a few refuseniks remained. Here is one today set against the azure sky of late December, early April.Branch spreadIn recent weeks I have found some time to explore the wood behind us. This afternoon I ventured down into an old hollow near the Yew tree. I found Red Campion in flower. untitled-8-2I also found some fungi hanging on and a treasury of branches swathed in mosses bedecked with baubles of water, spider webs and lush lichens. It was like a miniature tropical rain forest. My landscape lens was useless so the campion was taken with an iPhone. I need to go back with a macro lens.

The woodland floor is erupting with Bluebells, Arum leaves, Dog’s Mercury and all sorts of other Spring bounty. Today I chose to take some stump shots.untitled-20-Edit

Stump1And the base of a tree or two.Moss stump

HollyandtrunkI need to find a way to show off their real splendour.

At present I am finding little in the way of insect life but the birds are there. 3 Buzzards cruised over my head today. A charm of Goldfinches tinkled their serenade on the woodland fringe. I however am looking for the roosting place of the Tawny Owls. This is work in progress. I had 3 around the garden 2 nights ago. They must be nearby.

I have not yet reconciled the conflict of looking down for plants and insects, forward for scenery and up for birds. I need binoculars, wide lens, macro lens and ears tuned.

The end of the year is rewarding my senses. In 10 days we head off to Vienna. February we are off to Hong Kong for the lunar new year and in March I fly to Tokyo on business. There will be no resolutions other than to continue my exploration of my local patch. So, if I am spared, that is the goal for the coming year, the year in which at some point I shall cross into my 60th year on the planet. I shall become an explorer. Dr. Livingstone, I presume?

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2015 – a return to British mothing

Mothing in Hampshire – back in Britain and trapping again.

Moths etc.

Having a good garden was close to the top of my list when we were house hunting on the Internet last year. Sitting in Hong Kong we must have viewed thousands of properties. We looked at many areas but Bath / Bristol was top of our list. In the end we decided it was too expensive for what we wanted. Other properties lacked access to the facilities we wanted. I found our current home by removing the criteria that linked to a specific area. I was surprised to find something close to my old stamping ground of the Winchester / Alresford area. It was only 50% over budget. Just before we flew over to settle into our temporary accommodation the property was taken off the market. We had another target house but that went too. And we were glad when we discovered how small the plots were for the new…

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So this is Christmas

Evening all Scrooge. I am The Ghost Of Christmas Past. You were jolly nasty to your old partner, Bob Marley. So I’ve sent The Wailers around to haunt you a bit. They will (naturally) wail, flap a few white sheets and probably smoke a spliff or three. They also tend to spread some Christmas ectoplasm around, just to give it a glow. If you want chains rattling that will be extra. What do you have to say to that?

Humbug, said Scrooge.

Don’t mind if I do, said TGOCP. Not my first choice of course. I’m more partial to a Quality Street but nowadays the tins get smaller and the price gets bigger. So a humbug is an acceptable substitute.

Scrooge rolled his eyes in disbelief. You’re not a real ghost at all. Christmas Past my aunt Vera. You’re Bob Scratchitt with a wig of dreadlocks. I thought I fired you for turning the heating on. I can’t afford heating any more. Have you seen my bills? Anyway with global warming who needs radiators?

Oh come on Eb, said Bob. Give me a break. Tiny Tim needs help.

He most certainly does, agreed Scrooge. I heard him singing Tiptoe Through The Tulips. What a shocker. I tell you what…… I’ll give you sixpence if you promise never to let him sing again.

It’s a deal, said Bob. They shook hands on it and Bob faded away, leaving Scrooge trembling on the doorstep. He backed slowly into his room and as he did so the ghostly choir struck up ‘Redemption Song’. Bob was still out there.

I wish both my readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Ours is very traditional. Mrs. Ha is ill and has lost her voice. The dog won’t stop barking and I shall probably finish them both off tomorrow as I have volunteered to cook lunch. I hope I can find the tin-opener and corkscrew in time.

A merry chrysalis and a phosphorous blue sneer to you all.