Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Big Butterfly Count

From the 24th July to the 1st August you can be involved in the Big Butterfly Count .  The idea is that you stay in one place for 15 minutes and count the butterflies and moths that you spot and then record your sightings on the website.  I had thought that it was a UK thing, but have since had a look at the results and note lots of recordings from all over the world.

The Girlie and I sat in our sunny back garden today and watched the herb bed.  We spotted 3 Gatekeepers...

...and six Pyrausta Aurata (Mint Moth) - tiny but really beautiful colouring. 

Plus we saw the slightly larger Pyrausta Purpuralis....

We also spotted another - similar to the Purpuralis but with browner wings (sorry about the pic) - not quite sure what this is (could be the other sex). 

 All very pretty, but I now know what has been wrecking my mint!

Other buzzies were also having a great time on the marjoram. Busy busy! My pic collection of Bumbles and Honeys...

Monday, 26 July 2010


I've had a lovely week, it was the last week of school so activities all week and the last day (whoop whoop!) which is always fab.  On Thursday I had the hardship of accompanying Years 9 and 10 on a visit to Alton Towers, along with practically every other school in the country! As a member of staff it is important that you should test out the rides, particularly the fast ones :o)  So Rita, Oblivion, Nemesis (ultimate fave) and Air were thoroughly checked out for suitability (using a brilliant Fastrack ticket - a rip off, but made the queues bearable - I didn't queue more than half an hour each ride as opposed to 2!)

I managed to take next to no pics of the rides themselves - the camera only really came out when I went around the Towers.  However, I did manage to take a pic of the most scariest ride..........

The carriages even bobbed up and down in the wind - eeeek!

We queued for the new ride TH13TEEN but had to come out of it as we were nearly out of time so went for a nosy around the house instead.  I'd been around it before - it has been left as it was after it was totally stripped of all things valuable (and not valuable but priceless) in the 1950s.  Recently it has been made safe for the public to walk around and they've even put a ride called Hex inside it (linked to the ghostly history - we went on this too, but I didn't see any ghosties).  The rest is still empty - derelict even, which I actually loved.  It kind of feels like you have discovered it and no-one else has been there for decades.  It was totally empty of other people too - crazy considering there must have been thousands and thousands of people there!

Alton Towers from the front looking all Gothic and interesting.

Inside....  There are lots of area showing decay of the building and wonderful spooky corridors.  The windows were often broken or missing and areas were left open to the elements.

On the roof you can see for miles.  Alton Towers does not build any rides higher than the trees which means that from the surrounding countryside you can't see the theme park until you arrive at the gate.  The Tower roof tops are the highest structure around and look over the park and gardens (these are fabulous too, though we didn't venture there this year).

Looking down on Oblivion :o)

When my friends were just starting to get a little jittery :o)  We came across this....

"It's like it's set up for a seance" ha ha!!  ...but it had...!  This room has obviously been kitted out for Ghostly events, with debris everywhere and a sound system and lighting in place too.  They even had 'scary' doors.  

Now, I took this photo, but I was sure it was sharply in focus - whoooOOOooo!

I had a look to see if Most Haunted had been to Alton Towers and what d'ya know..? Most Haunted at Alton Towers. Glad I didn't watch it before I went around the house :o)

All in all it was a fab day.  Rain was threatened, but we avoided it, I had some pure adrenalin rushes and some history and adventure.  Great!
Saturday my folks came up for a weekend visit.  We went to Shardlow Village's 'Music on the Green' event.  It was a great night and we were entertained by The Sandiagos a terrific band made up of several ex-students playing 50's & 60's rock and rockabilly music.  Note the Girlie sitting there at the front :o)

Monday, 19 July 2010

Mum's garden

As promised I have some pictures of my Mum's beautiful garden.  I think that this year it looks the best it ever has.  Dad does his bit (mostly responsible for the lawn, wiring or anything technical, washing pots, chopping stuff down and digging stuff up and any veggies he is allowed to grow near the shed :o)) the rest is pure Mum.

The flowers get more amazing every year!

Mum also grew me some Busy Lizzies for a pot and made me my hanging basket - only one though as I have been known to kill them (dying a horrible thirsty death).  I am proud to say that so far this year mine are still alive and looking healthy, though nowhere near the size of Mum's.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Another hour

We went off to the plot again for another stint this afternoon.  I tidied the climbing rose and moved an unused arch to it so that it could scramble over (last one rusted away).  It looks much nicer now.  We also dug up the remainder of the 1st early Charlotte spuds and a row of Kestrel (2nd early) as I wanted to get my very late pumpkins in.  I'm sure we'll get very little from them, but I'll give it a go.  

Just clearing the bed has meant our plot looks much better from the entrance.  The spuds are mostly good, some are great and a few will even make good jackets.  However, lots had scab on them!  Grrrrr, if it's not blight it's slugs, if it's not slugs it's scab!  I think a mixture of the dry weather and the strawy manure we use is to blame (even though the manure was on the bed for a while before we turned it in).  I rotate every time anyway and I'll make sure I water more often and use very, very well rotted next year to get my acid levels up *sigh*.

Quite a bit of mash and potato soup I think.......

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Highland Gatherings and a Poppy Army

Last weekend we went home for a bit of family reunion seeing Hubby's family that now live in China and had come over for a couple of weeks.  It was a lovely weekend; first seeing my folks then off to the In-laws for the meet up.

We went for an outing to the Harpenden Highland Gathering which is 'reputed to be the largest event of its kind outside of Scotland' – raising money for many deserving charitable causes.  It was a really fun day out - I recommend it.  I totally forgot to take any pictures of the events though which was a shame as the pipe bands were terrific and there was even games and battle reinactments.  Typical!

I did, however, remember to take pics of the Boy though when we were walking across the Common. It was a beautiful scene, full of meadow flowers that were in the final stages before cutting.  My M-I-L said that they were late to seed this year so they had delayed mowing them down and we were lucky to be walking through it.  The Boy found the largest dandilion head I've ever seen!

I love my M-I-L's garden, it has a kind of wildness to it with lots of self seeded plants growing, but so interesting with secret places and paths winding around it. I took some photos of a few of the plants and the boy sitting under the apple tree there.

I love, love, love this pic!

Just as a contrast I'll have to include a pic of my Mum's garden which looks absolutely amazing and totally different in another post.  She had the biggest hanging baskets I think I've ever seen!

Back home during the week I went to the plot to pick some fruit.  *sigh* - it was looking so neglected, I feel sorry for some of the poor plants being totally over run by the weed invasion.  We went and had a good go at some of it today, but I'll tell you about that in a minute.  Anyway, the raspberries and loganberries were heaving with fruit, so I spent a good hour or so picking.  I also picked a load of jostaberries - the first semi decent crop from this bush.  The jostas I made into a yummy sponge cake and the logans and rozzas made some gorgeous jam.  Starting to stock up in the cupboard with jam now - we even had a little chuck out to make some room!

At the plot today we set about clearing the onion bed of an army of poppies.  Luckily they pull out really easily as did the rest of the weeds there.  No real docks, just a few for Hubby to dig up around the edge of the bed.  The onions are still rather small (not surprisingly), though they've now got space to grow.....and light.........and the rain can actually get down to them now!  

A before shot......

........and after......

My broadies got a clearing too

The dessert gooseberries were ripe and delicious so I picked them today.  Hubby had made a start, carefully picking them one by one, without gloves!!?  I sent him off to pick broadies and set about with my gloves sort of stripping them into a bag.  I picked 2.8kg from the one bush! I've frozen some in 500g pouches - enough for individual crumbles, pies etc, left 1kg in the fridge to make two crumbles or pies tomorrow and ate the rest with some of our red and black currants on merringue nests with icecream mmm!

At last we have a courgette (though I really don't like courgette - not sure why I grow it!).

Kiddies were busy today and managed to create their own activities.  First was chalking on the paving slabs that run down our plot boundary - I'd bought them huge chalks - a bargain at 99p!  This kept them entertained for a good while and as the chalks were so huge they took ages to wear down.  First pic is by the Girlie (sorry about the photo being on it's side, I'm not sure why, but blogger keeps turning it!? Obviously it's meant to be a rainbow)

Second is by the Boy (Turtwig is a Pokemon for anyone not sure - my boy is addicted :o)  )

The second self devised activity was a 'nature picture' using objects grown on the plot.  First the Boy's.....

Then the Girlie's.  The weird little branch end with buds looks rather uncomfortably like an animal foot to me - I had to look twice!  I thought they did look rather pretty!


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