Saturday, 19 December 2015

Christmas Wishes

Not my house, but a house nearby. It's quite spectacular and my photos don't do it justice. The bridge camera does these hand held night shots very well.

Sadly not my house either! This is very pretty.

My tree. I used a star effect setting on the camera and it's also starred the light through the blinds, but nevertheless it's a pretty effect, which I also used on the image above. 

This time last year we were in chaos, having only been in our new home for five days. A busy and eventful twelve months, both good and bad are now behind us and I'm glad about that.

We both have two weeks off for the holiday period and I'd really like to complete some wallpapering in the hall. Apart from that a nice trip out somewhere now that the South Devon Highway is open would be lovely, if only it would stop raining!

All I want for a bit of peace and quiet. What about you?

Wishing you all a wonderful festive season
Until next time

Thursday, 17 December 2015

South Devon Link Road Opens

You may think this is an odd post from me but like the amazing team that worked on the Dawlish railway line repair, I think this is worth a mention.

Otherwise known as the Kingskerswell Bypass the South Devon Link Road has been in the making for many years and residents of Torbay and tourists alike have suffered years of traffic misery, not to mention the people of Kingskerswell.

I was going to call the post The Magical Mystery Tour as coming home late at night on several occasions (from seeing bands play here, there and everywhere) recently, we have been sent on so many detours in the dark we feared we'd never get home.

I can't say that I'm a fan of this type of development, but personally I think a new road like this is much better than the thousands and thousands of homes being built in the region. They destroy habitat which is never put back, use land that is not suitable for large scale housing and are an eyesore. When developers profits come before everything else it's no surprise.

Anyway to get back on topic, even though there are no cute animals, flowers, trees or birds to be seen on the website, it's well worth a quick look. I have to say the website is great and designed by a local Devon IT company.

There's even a Flickr group with all the construction photos. Check out professional commercial photographer Tim Pestridge, who has taken aerial photos of the construction. Whilst your there Tim has many stunning images and a marvellous range of subjects in his gallery.

My personal favourites are the fly-by's and this is the best one by Matt of Skyflicks Media.

On the environmental side of things, it seems to have gone as well as can be hoped for. Here is an extract from the website:

..."the areas alongside the route will be planted with a variety of indigenous trees and shrubs covering an area of 115,000m2 (25 acres).

The plants have been carefully selected to match those prevalent in the area and will be maintained for several years to ensure they become established.

The plans include:

the planting of 63,700 native trees and shrubs to include pine, holly, privet, oak, beech, cherry, birch, alder, hawthorn, hazel, honeysuckle and rose.
300,000m2 (66 acres) of grass (using seed of various types).
900 linear metres of new stone faced and turf hedge-banks.

Specific ecological features have been included within the scheme to improve existing habitat and mitigate for loss of habitat. Features such as bat boxes, a bat loft and a bat chamber have already been created. 

Hibernaculum (artificial hibernation sites for reptiles and amphibians) are to be constructed and facilities for otters and badgers to cross the road through subterranean passages have been built. In addition, a considerable length of special fencing will be erected to prevent these mammals from inadvertently entering the highway".

It doesn't look pretty at the moment as the landscaping still has to be started. Here is the site clearance information (extract from the Community Liaison Group Meeting Feb 2013)

The scheme provides:
3.5km (2.2 miles) of new and translocated hedges,
15.5ha of new woodland, woodland edge planting and scrub, (38.3 acres)
100 new specimen trees.

Site clearance results in the loss of:
5.5km (3.4 miles) of field hedges and 0.44km (0.27 miles) of garden hedges,
70 mature individual trees,
1.1ha of woodland (2.7 acres).

It's such a shame that a lot of mature trees were lost and cannot be replaced.

However if you look at the loss of habitat, trees, hedges and open land that are being flattened for housing e.g. the continuing development at Whiterock, Paignton for example, there are no nice websites, facts or figures that are easily obtainable which show the environmental impact of such development. Who counted the trees?.....who measured the miles of hedgerow to be lost?..........who mapped out the hectares to be flattened?

The South Devon Highway (as it's now called) creates problems during construction and leaves a lasting impression on the landscape, but it has been a very public affair and you know what you're losing and gaining in the process.

Until next time

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Cat Flap Harry and Mrs Blackbird

Harry has found a great use for the cat flaps, he can see through doors. Very handy when food is being prepared.

A perfect fit too!

It's a dogs life indeed, this is the way Harry sleeps in my husbands arms

Or in his bed

Harry fell about 4 feet and crashed to the ground. One of those horrible moments when you think he's going to be in serious trouble with broken limbs, but luckily not. He needed 4-5 days complete rest, anti-inflammatory meds, then 15 minute lead walks and now we have just built back up to proper running around like a crazy Springer again. 

I've had a number of poorly pets this last month. The grey cat in the photo below became quite ill, although the vet didn't know what it was. After several days he picked up again, but this is his pal Percy snuggling up to him when he was very unwell.

I don't know how people find enough driftwood to make things. This is all I've managed to find that actually looks like something!

I thought..... a little boat, or maybe a rabbit! What do you see?

An update on Mrs Blackbird.

She's looking much better after moulting. I think the mites have reduced dramatically from around her leg, although she still limps.

I managed to get these fairly decent images of her without frightening her away. She has been enjoying the buggy nibbles and meal worms which I've put under the hedge for her every day.

I've also had a couple of visitors to the back garden, and I'm just so glad the hedge cutting didn't scare them off, as I have so few garden birds.

One of those moments when I had the camera in my hand after photographing Mrs Blackbird.

Not great images because I was inside the house, but this little Wren comes into the garden almost every day.

I can't believe I have not managed a post for so long. Hubby has changed his hours and days at work which has meant we rarely get the same days off, it's chaotic but only temporary. Harry needed lots of looking after and the car to take him walkies, which meant I had to drop Hubby at work and pick him up so that I had the car. 

We've had lots going on and then lots of planned things cancelled due to the weather. Sadly stargazing at Berry Head was postponed and then cancelled and just last week a candlelight walk around Greenway House gardens was cancelled due to the storms.

I was so looking forward to that one. However Greenway will be decorated for Christmas and that's one thing I am not going to miss this year.

I think posting for the moment will be monthly if I can keep up. I was also thinking of a new blog, since I don't get out as much in Brixham and when I do it's usually for domestic things rather than pleasure. I'll have to see how I feel over the next few months.

Wishing you peace in these terrible times
Until next time

Monday, 19 October 2015

Fish and Chip Supper in Brixham

Last Thursday we decided to get fish and chips for our supper and eat them at the Breakwater. I took the bridge camera as it takes great night time hand held images.

A view across Brixham Marina with Brixham in the background

The fish market and trawlers (slightly blurred image as it's a long way away)

Slightly earlier in the evening some of the fancy boats in the marina

The curve of the Breakwater keeping the waters calm

The other side of the Breakwater with choppy waters looking across the bay to Torquay

A crane was busy at work well into the evening as the sun set

The stony beach of the Breakwater where we ate our supper from the car

Earlier in the afternoon we went to Berry Head to walk Harry and I spotted these two small boats coming in with their catch after passing around Berry Head, so they were quite close.

Harry at Berry Head (the small dot in the sea is the red boat above heading towards Berry Head)

Harry Before and After Pictures. What a difference three months make!

I know you've seen some fairly good photos of Harry in previous posts, but this is Harry now weighing 13.4kg and the top right image is the day we got him. It's hard to believe he looked so skinny and wretched.

Garden Progress

This is the top part of the garden, looking pretty awful when we moved in (and a bit of a dumping ground) as I struggled to find space to put everything. Hedges needed cutting back and items needed re-homing.

The ivy and hedge had been untouched for years. I got someone in to help cut it all back now that the nesting season is over. The ivy was so thick and high it was like cutting a loaf of bread as huge square chunks were cut out bit by bit. The hedge leaned out so far it touched the rustic archway, so about five feet was cut back. It looks bare at the moment and the ground needs a tidy up.....but it's a start!

We now have views across to the fields from the top of the garden and I can even see the steam trains (although I just missed one going past, the steam is still visible). The sea view is from the top part of the garden too, so I'll have to think about how to make the most of it in my new designs.

We had a search in the loft boxes and found some of our favourite pictures, so spent some time over the weekend putting them up. The place feels much more homely.

So I'll be spending spare time in my week ahead, thinking about that top part of the garden and looking in my garden books for inspiration.

Wishing you an inspirational week ahead
Until next time

Saturday, 10 October 2015

The Red Arrows

The Red Arrows performed their fantastic fly by at the end of the Torbay Regatta a couple of months ago and I caught these images with the bridge camera from the front garden.

I have cheated a little in that I enhanced the photos slightly to get brighter images, but it was quite something to watch.

In the garden with the Sigma macro lens on the Nikon

It's often quite difficult to get the focus just right, the flower seems more in focus than the bee!

Checking my Collins Complete Guide to British Insects, I think this is a Woodland Grasshopper, but I'm happy for you to help me out with that ID if I'm wrong. I had several in the front garden in the beautiful warm and sunny weather a few weeks ago.

I tried really hard to get this image, but it didn't work, spiders web just after the rain a few weeks ago. These spiders are big now, so must be catching just the right amount of prey.

Some late blooms in the front garden, on a day when the light was most peculiar, but I think I got the macro focus right for these Nigella (I thought they were weeds as they first came up before the flowers appeared) which the bees loved.

Starting to make some progress now with the space we have outside...nothing special, but at last we got the rotary washing line spike into the ground and I have the delight of my washing blowing about in the breeze...ooh it feels good! I have been driven almost mad by having to put the washing onto a clothes horse in the courtyard area (which nearly always blows over or I bump into it continuously) since we moved's those little things isn't it?

Still hardly any birds in the garden on the new feeders and I've not seen Mrs Blackbird with the poorly leg for a while, although I did think I heard her a few times in the back garden. Plenty of buzzards about and I've seen the Sparrowhawk almost daily.

The mice continue to eat the fat balls, but there is a great story to this one. I had a Tawny Owl hover right in front of my living room window the other evening, obviously spotted some of the fat ball eating mice scampering about on the front lawn. It was very exciting....I hope it got one!

Not great weather here this weekend, dull and windy but quite mild. Hope you get out and about whatever the weather.
Until next time

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Summer Season Is Almost Over

The beach huts were looking beautiful the other week when I went for an early walk with the dog.

I love the fields behind, with the bales of hay waiting for pick up.

They wont be here for long as the time has come to move them off the promenade for the winter, the beach hut removal team has already started, a true sign that the seasons are changing.

Rock-samphire growing out of the promenade wall, will soon be gone or washed away.

The last few days of beautiful holiday weather saw the beach teams cleaning the sand early in the morning as the cafe behind was getting ready for a busy last weekend ahead.

Meanwhile, whilst I was decorating......

the pets found quiet places to sleep

a cruise ship came and went

amazing spiders made wonderful webs

the beach looked beautiful

and the swans came to Broadsands

At last the painting (well most of it) has been completed and the new flooring is down throughout the house. It's been a very busy couple of weeks and quite disruptive too. I still have to paint all the internal doors and put up the new blinds, but it does feel like we are getting there. 

The loft is still full of our pictures and possessions and I'm really looking forward to opening the boxes, unwrapping items and finding the things I like once again, after over a year in storage boxes.

I came across a lovely website a while ago called War Mule. The person who has written the site works for the Donkey Sanctuary and is looking for war stories concerning animals, especially horses, mules and donkeys. If you know anyone who has something to share or something to contribute in the way of poems or images, please do get in touch with them. 

I would very much like to visit the Animals in War Memorial in Hyde Park. Have any of you visited this? The sculpture, carvings and bronze animals look so beautiful on the website.

I hope you have all been enjoying the lovely weather we've had recently and I look forward to keeping a little bit more up to date with your posts from now on.

Until next time