Archive | July 2016

Cooling down on a scorching hot day

Finally we have some proper summer weather, with blue skies and temperatures in the mid twenties. We have had sunny days earlier this summer, but there has been cooling winds. We have had hot spells, but usually only for an hour or so. Today was properly hot.

We sent the morning removing all the boxes from the garage, which had been thrust in willy-nilly on moving day, and putting them back in an organised fashion. Hot work, only made possible as it was in the shade of the house. So by mid afternoon, I was melting, and snuck away for a couple of hours on the beach.

 

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The car park behind Woolacombe beach is only ten minutes by car from our house, and by driving to the far end one can take a path down through the dunes to the quiet centre of the beach, far away from the crowds at the Woolacombe end.

 

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It is also a long way to the less busy but still popular far end called Putsborough Beach.

 

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I did have to share the beach with one or two others, but it was still pretty fabulous for July. The tide was nearly in, and the water was really warm having come up over the roasting sands. Ok, maybe not actually warm, but I walked straight in, and only gasped a couple of times as the waves splashed my hot skin.

 

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Normally a fabulous surfing beach, there were only a few waves today, and it was quite calm, making it excellent for swimming. I spent ages in the water, and didn’t get chilled at all. I do love to swim in the sea, but I also love to bodyboard, so whatever the sea state, I am always happy!

 

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Returning to my towel, I roasted gently in the sun for a while to dry off. Bliss! Can you spot my towel in between all the other people on the beach…?

 

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Quite a nice view to admire…

 

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Sadly I had to drag myself away after a couple of hours, but I shall be back soon. Preferably with some company next time – who fancies a day on the beach?

 

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Being part of the community

 

 

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It was always our plan to move to a place with a proper village centre, and not one dominated by rental cottages and tourism. West Down is just perfect, apart from being 1 1/2 miles away, but as we proved today, it is perfectly walkable. The village is at the far end of the valley in which we live, with a wind farm some distance behind, so not affecting the village in any way. We are quite proud of the amount of green energy that is generated around here, in fact.

 

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Today was the village fete, so we walked over after lunch to see what was going on, and to support our community. There was a dog show, a karate demonstration, a Zumba class, live music, pony rides, and all the normal stalls one would expect, all taking place on the Community Field. This is a recent acquisition by the village, enabling events such as this to take place, and also housing some allotments, and a playground.

 

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We had a locally made ice cream (almost a daily occurrence…), chatted to the lady I work with at the shop, bought a lemon verbena plant from a man I know from the Gardening Club, bought WI marmalade from a lady I go on the walks with, played (and won) the Human Fruit Machine, one of whom I ride with, and had a drink at the bar with a couple who I know from tap dancing and Hubby knows from his walking group. We have only been here 7 months, so I think that shows that we are making an effort to join in with the community.

We had a wander around the village on the way home. This is our pub, where we have eaten once – must go again…

 

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Here is my little community shop, where I volunteer for two hours on a Wednesday afternoon. It sells everything!

 

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It was a very pleasant afternoon, and we returned home down a different lane, and back up a private track owned by our neighbours, through the woods to the end of our garden. A nice circuit that would take about an hour and a quarter if there wasn’t a fete in the middle. Could substitute a stop at the pub next time though…

 

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When the Boat Comes In

Today was the annual visit to Ilfracombe of a cruise ship full of American tourists. I expect she isn’t very large in the world of ocean liners, but she looked massive next to our little harbour!

 

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Some 800 visitors are reported to have come ashore, some to be whisked off on coach excursions, and the rest to experience the charms of our quaint English seaside town. The tide was out, exposing our surprisingly clean harbour beach.

 

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The quayside was busy with a mixture of Americans and plenty of the normal seasonal British visitors, plus locals like us come to enjoy the atmosphere.

 

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There was a Morris dancing festival for entertainment, and a street food market as well, where we each tried something different for lunch. I had Mexican chicken nachos, which was delicious.

 

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Followed, of course by a scoop of local toffee fudge ice cream. We had a thoroughly pleasant couple of hours, wandering through the town and watching the world go by. Not a bad way to spend time on a damp, cloudy day.

 

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From winter to summer

We have been here seven months now – we arrived in winter, and it is now high summer. So it seems like a good opportunity to compare how the garden has changed. Many of these changes are just the seasonal differences, rather than due to our efforts.

The far end of the garden was all rough-cut grass when we arrived, and we have left most of it to grow long and mowed paths through. It makes it look completely different.

 

Bonfire dec 15 and july 16

 

Bottlebank dec 15 and july 16

 

The ferns have all grown large and luxuriant, as shown in the pictures of the bank alongside our lane, and of the sunken garden outside the downstairs windows.

 

Bank Dec 15 and jul 15

 

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The main border is now smothered in flowers, mostly geraniums and Alchemilla, but it does look nice.

 

viwe from drive dec 15 and july 16

 

main border dec 15 and jul 16

 

I have started to clear some of the plants to make way for more variety, as shows in this picture of the curved steps that lead up through the main border.

 

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We have also cut down a fair number of mature shrubs and trees that were completely blocking our views. This group of evergreens were right outside one of the lounge windows. The garden looks much more open now.

 

 

Back of house dec 15 and jul 16

 

It will be interesting to see how much the garden has changed by next winter – not much, I would imagine, despite all out non-stop hard work.

Finding Fluffy Chicks

Last week we went over the border into Cornwall. We went out to Looe island on a boat, which takes about 15 minutes. The island is a nature reserve owned by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust, and you can visit it and have a walk around.

 

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We were there to help out and old friend. He studies the Great Black-backed Gulls that breed on Looe island by finding and ringing the chicks every year.

 

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We searched the two areas of the island where the gulls breed, looking for the chicks, which sit quietly under the grass and leaves. The small ones were just cute bundles of grey fluff, and were very docile.

 

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As they grow, they lose the baby fluff and grow their first set of proper feathers. These two were much bigger, but still sat quietly together under the foliage, hoping not to be spotted!

 

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Having found them, a trained ringer carefully attached a metal ring around one leg, and a bright white plastic ring, which has large coloured numbers and letters, on the other leg. This unique code can be read through binoculars or a powerful camera lens, so that anyone spotting the gull in the future can report the code, and a record is built up of the gulls’ movements.

Once ringed, we replaced the chicks exactly where we found them, tucking them up under the leaves, where they nestled down safely awaiting the return of their parents with their next meal.

It was fun finding and handling such lovely birds, and satisfying knowing you have contributed to some useful scientific research. We ringed 36, and many more had been ringed the week before.

 

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Then it was time to get the boat back across to Looe Harbour, and home.

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