Thursday, July 25, 2013

Jeeps its hot here!

I'm enjoying the heatwave in the UK with most days around a very humid 34C  and catching up with Mum, its her 90th birthday this year and friends and family.

 Its great to meet up with my sister and family and good to see that everyone is well and enjoying the sunshine.

It is extremely hot and by the afternoon its quite an effort to get about with the high humidity but walks under the shade of some beautiful trees remind me of what England is all about.

The English countryside and perfectly groomed villages look beautiful at this time of the year.


I'm again staying at the Squirrel pub at Hurtmore in Surrey which is a great location. That's my little room in the 16C cottages.

 I have enjoyed some walks on my beloved Horsell Common, its the season for the heathers, Erica tetralix (cross leaved  heather) is in flower and Calluna vulgaris will be later in the year, giving a carpet of purple to this heathland.

Bog asphodel is also found on this piece of diminished habitat which is the home of some rare birds including the stonechat, Dartford Warbler and Nightjar. No sign of sundew yet but the heat may have shrivelled it up or I may be not quite looking in the right place. This is my old stomping ground and It feels good to be back.

It was on Horsell Common that the HG Wells landed his Martian machines for the War of the Worlds story. Wells lived in the local town for some years. More recently this splendid stainless steel replica to the martians has been added to the town. Many years ago I was on Horsell common at nightfall watching badgers and I saw a huge comet cross the sky and wondered if Wells story was coming true.

Winchester has always been a popular place for me with many memories. The Youth Hostel as it was then in the old mill was the first I ever went to so I jumped at a chance to go there for a walk around and the water meadows with the crystal clear chalk streams of the river Itchen are just so special and soon I was fish spotting as I had done many years ago. One trip by train allowed us to catch up with conversations safely and in comfort as those fast trains whizz along on continually welded track. No clackity clack here.

Thanks Steve for a great day out and  taking the time off before your trip to Menton in France,

I have also ventured  into the Surrey Hills on several visits for about 8 mile walks with a good friend and we have seen roe deer, many butterflies and an interesting number of plant species growing on the calcareous soils. This included Giant Hogweed (the sap is a nasty irritant)  and yes on that day we did have a shower or two of rain but it was short lived. The walks happily coincided with finding a little pub on route with great food and ale of course. The footpath network is extensive and the county of Surrey is the most wooded county in England. Its beautiful woodland of oak ,ash rowan and hawthorn with sweet chestnut and sycamore.  Thanks John and Debbie for feeding me and guiding  the great walks too.

 Back to the chalk downs at Newlands corner to see the many species of wildflowers and those butterflies attracted to them including the beautiful Brimstone, Red Admiral and a skipper. I watched a kestrel hunting at Newlands corner on several occasions. There are little patches of woodland and bramble and stinging nettles everywhere in the county of Surrey. These all add to the rich biodiversity found here

I wanted to re-visit Selbourne in Hampshire to visit Gilbert White, the early English Naturalists house again. I had never crossed the field to the 'Hangers' and the zig zag path up through the beech forest that had been made by White. On this occasion the weather was perfect and so the long grass was dry to cross.

 Problem was that some people were erecting  a marquee tent and although I was giving it a wide birth someone decided that I should be advised to keep even further away as the Health and Safety people were getting twitchy about me.

 I suggested that it was unlikely that it could kill or injure me at that distance but he wasn't very amused. I continued to cross the field I wasn't going to miss this opportunity to get to the 'Hangers'.

Afternoon T at Harrods was on the suggestion of another  friend who thought it would be fun to do and so it was. Here I am with my pot of Earl Grey and little fancy cakes.

 Just noticed that I have forgotten to use the tea strainer so I  wont be asked back.


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Tree Signs Mount Tamahunga

A revisit to the top of Mount Tamahunga to geo-tag the location of some good specimen trees for interpretive signage.