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Monday, 28 May 2012

Oh my goodness - it's HOT!!!

Hello folks, hope you are all well and enjoying the HOT weather!  Reaching 30C/86F today.
  I'm NOT moaning, but I'm afraid it really doesn't suit me to be too hot, and I've had a few 'off' days but I'm back to full health again now.

Well, where do I begin?   I think it's best to start with dear little May.

  She has decided that the new Hog Hilton is not to her liking (!?) and has not moved in.  To say I'm disappointed is an understatement, though I've now hung a small 'To Let' sign up near the door and am waiting to interview prospective tenants ;o)

Could this be the tenant?  A 'stranger' feeding it's face :o)

Though May has not moved in she is a nightly visitor and I know that all must be well with her - and that's fine by me.  She has however proved to be very wary of that big ol' human being who snatched her away for a few days and it's been quite difficult to get a photo of her.  Here's one of the few I have managed to snap at the side of our little pond.

She was off like a shot as soon as the flash went off!
(I'm so glad I put that white mark on her)

I've seen Mork and Mindy's 'Mom' and we agree there's a conspiracy afoot as neither of them have 'moved in' either, though she too knows they are well and visiting regularly

Our fieldmice are still in the drystone wall, and whilst looking for May the other evening I managed to spot a tiny one (just about 1.5") out looking for food, so camera and torch in hand I sat on the bench to wait patiently for a shot of two...and the results :o)

You can see how small it is - just compare him to the ivy leaves, sunflower hearts and sultanas.

Though Sid is still hoping for a snack,  they have all been safe (so far) 

Yesterday, my friends Sandy, Ann and I went on the organised 'Forage' at Gleanings rural study centre (the same place that we went to basket weave).
The view that I forgot last time!

Taken with my 'wide angle' lens.

Quite a large group turned out and the forage started at around 2.15pm in the most awful heat with little shade and hardly a breath of wind.  We were situated at the top of the valley and were told that we'd make our way down the valley, to the little stream then,  along the stream banks and back up through woodland finally returning to The Gleanings to cook and eat the collected results.

We went through the 'goat' field pictured above and loosely followed the tyre tracks to the far gate, then walked along the left hand field line down the very steep valley.  Over a stile and 'mountaineered' down to the stream side.  (It was at this point I was very thankful to have had the foresight and had taken a walking stick along!)

Here is a photo of Rob Rowe, our group leader discussing the finer points of a flower - the name of which escapes me....something and cream rings a bell.

The meadow (and the rest of their smallholding - roughly 14 acres) was truly wonderful and is registered with the country stewardship scheme.  It has had no pesticides used for 10+ years.  (Though they are not registered as 'organic' as this scheme costs too much money for a small holder to join) 
As we reached the bottom of this meadow there was a bank of bluebells.

Photo's are more than a little scarce (read none) for the rest of our 'ramble' due to the STEEPNESS of the landscape!  I was much too busy trying not to land on my ass to stop and take more snaps.
Rob picked, talked and walked us down along the stream where there were tiny little 'froglets' in the grass that we were careful to avoid treading on.  The heat was sapping my strength, and most of us had to take a break or two along the way.  I have to say that I was finding it very hard to concentrate on all the information we were being given, and I was praying hoping that the woodland walk wouldn't be SO steep for the return.
We then started back over another stile into the lovely woodland which is on the far left of the first photo.  I can honestly say that it was by far the steepest part of the journey.  We (my friends and I) left the others and started the l o n g, hot climb and after many rest stops finally came out again into meadowland - PHEW!  All I wanted to do was sit in the shade with a nice cool drink, foraging was by now far from my thoughts.  We waited for the rest of the group to appear, they had a further field to investigate so we decided to make our own way back to Gleanings HQ via a shaded leafy 'green' lane to the roadway.  We got back at around 4 pm, hot, exhausted and worn out.   John (bless him) plied us with long cool glasses of cordial, which we drank sitting in the glorious shade of a birch tree.
The others eventually arrived with their booty, the fire was lit (!) and Rob cooked some of the food - battered the hogweed, which I found totally tasteless, woody and decidedly awful, and steamed rose bay willow herb tops, which were nice, but I'm sure the addition of a little salt and melted butter would have risen them to much greater heights.  There was also a salad of foraged leaves to tuck into, this I have to say would have been tastier with only a squeeze of lemon juice!
We made our way gingerly back to the (thankfully air-conditioned) car to wend our way home.  As we were by this time hungry we decided to stop at a carvery and had a delicious roast beef dinner :o))

My honest opinion of the day?
It was lovely to spend time with dear friends.
Did I enjoy the 'Forage'? 
Mmm, truthfully no, not really.  I (we) felt the group was too large and could have been better organised.  It would have been improved if we had either given sheets with say 20-25 plants to find, or alternatively Rob had already covered the ground and planted stakes in the relevant places.
For me, as you have already guessed it was TOO HOT, and I found concentrating on my foothold was much more important than seeking plants to eat.  If I had to rely upon this method of gathering food for sustenance I believe I would certainly be half the person I am ;o) 
Would I do it again?
Mmm, the jury is out on that.  I'd really like to go on a Fungi Forage in the Autumn, and I know they hold one very locally at Cannock Chase each year. 

I hope I haven't bored you to death as this seems rather a LONG post?

Keep well, keep cool!


Ann@A Sentimental Life said...

I am thinking that May might have a boyfriend?

Donna@Conghaile Cottage said...

Very Sweet Post! I agree with HEAT, "I DO NOT LIKE IT"! We have horrible humidity here and I can't seem to do anything during it, UGH! Love your critters. I wish WE HAD hedgehogs outside, "They are SO CUTE"!!! Field mice we have in abundance, AND they are cute too. I would have loved to go FORAGING with you, but I understand how you felt about the group. HEY we could have sat under a tree with LEMONADE!!!
Have a wonderful week,

Louise said...

Your mousey photos came out so well! They're so cute :)

Glad the hedgehogs are all doing ok, even if they don't want to live in the house you so thoughtfully provided.

Denise at Forest Manor said...

Hi Rose,

I'm sorry May has chosen not to move into her nice wooden house, but I'm glad to know she's okay. I absolutely LOVE the field mouse pictures! I can't believe how cute they are. :o)

It's been hot here this weekend, but I'm surprised it was 86 degrees F in England - WOW! I'm not a hot weather person, either. In fact, I do very little trekking over hill and through dale when it's hot; and our humidity is terrible here, which makes things even worse. :( I'm glad you were able to ride home in an air-conditioned car.

Will you be watching any of the Diamond Jubilee festivities on television, or will you try to attend in person? That's probably a silly question, as I imagine the crowds and the heat will be pretty daunting in London. I'm hoping some of the celebration will be televised over here.

Hope you have a good week.


ann said...

May seems to be quite e elusive now that she has her freedom. Someone must surely want to take up residence. And the little mouse--how did you ever get a photo? I do enjoy reading about your little critters.

Jay said...

What beautiful photos of the wildlife in your garden, it takes a lot of patience to get good shots I'm sure. It's a bit cooler today, hope you're enjoying it more!

Marilyn said...

As always, I enjoyed the photos of your critters. I wouldn't have lasted on your walk. I am so out of shape-I really need to exercise a lot this summer! Anything would taste better with butter, I agree.♥♫

Karen said...

Perhaps May will move in later in the year, I'm sure that wonderful house won't be empty for long- word will get out!! Your posts are never boring, full of interesting activities and lovely photos. Take care XX

greenthumb said...

Those little critters don't know a good thing when its given to them, very cute photos. Shame about your class.

Mary said...

Love this post...............your mice are adorable.

So much todo before leaving, forgive me when comments are brief but know I'm thinking of you dear friend.

Mary X

Sharing Shadymont said...

You do the most interesting things. I would have been right with you on the forage. Once it's hot and humid, I tend to get a little lazy. :) Sitting under a tree drinking lemonade sounds better.

Hope your little critter babies move into the lovely home you provided.

Have a great weekend!

jellybean said...

I love hedgehogs I collect anything hedgie English transpanted to the USA been here six months this time wish i was home sorry to blab just had to share

Rose H (UK) said...

Hello Jellybean :o)
Thank you for leaving your sweet comment! It's great that you love hedgehogs too - I have a few hoggie things, but daren't get too much as the house is already full! I'm sorry you miss England so much, you can always share my bit of it here :o) You'd be very welcome anytime - ( I don't think you're blabbing.)
Best wishes
Rose H

acorn hollow said...

Our weather has gotten very cool and rainy. I would love to go on one of those forage but like you on a cool day. the little field mouse is so cute.

Kim said...

Rose your wildlife pics really are lovely! I adore the mousie pics - such bright little button eyes they have - just like elderberries! Sorry that the forage was not to your liking - I agree however, the heat would have played a major part for me. I don't mind the sunshine - love it in fact - but intense heat I cannot deal with. xxx