23 March 2016

The Elusive Woodpecker.

For weeks now, every morning, I have heard a woodpecker's rhythmic drumming somewhere in the trees across the valley and for weeks now I have been trying to catch a glimpse of it, so far, completely without success. It was driving me mad. It was if the bloody woodpecker was taunting me because no matter how hard I tried I couldn't find it. In fact I couldn't even pinpoint the general location because the sound echoes round the valley making it almost impossible to be sure which direction the drumming was coming from  ...... until yesterday. Yesterday, I managed to locate the general direction that the noise was coming from and even more exciting, I actually managed to spot where the woodpecker was!! I know!! So exciting. The sound was coming from a wooden pole with either telephone wires or electric cables going across the top of it. Frustratingly, the pole is a LONG way away and I don't have any binoculars so I ran off and grabbed my camera to see if I could snap a picture and zoom it in enough to see if I could get a peek at the bird. Sadly, by the time I got back the pecking had stopped and I'm guessing bird had gone so all I got was picture of an empty pole. 

This morning, while I was collecting some logs, I heard the pecking again and this time, I could actually see the bird. Having dashed back inside to grab my camera and zoomed it in as far as it would go, I was thrilled to be able to get a few shots of the pole with the bird still perched on the side of it.

This is how far away the pole is, it's the one on the hill.

And this is zoomed in a gazillion times with my camera and then zoomed in again with my computer software.

I think it's a greater spotted woodpecker because it has a reddish patch on it's stomach. 

20 March 2016

Outside My Window.

Outside, at the back of my house I have my field, where my llamas live and I also have a patch of wilderness that is full of wildlife. There is a huge bank, filled with trees and a big wall that supports the road to the village. The wall is owned by the council and they are responsible for the upkeep and maintenance but as you can see form the photo, there are actually a couple of holes in the wall. That's where the bats live. Because bats and their habitats are protected, the holes have to stay and every 6 months or so, a lovely little man comes from the council to check the wall is still safe. 

You see the two holes in the wall, that's where the bats live.

When we bought the house, a lot of people told me I should cut down the trees and "let more light into the house" but I have to confess, I hate it when people do that and I don't see the point in cutting down perfectly healthy trees. I particularly hate it when people move to the country from a town and the first thing they do is to try and make it look more like a town, like the place they moved from. It's something that drive me bonkers! So, I left them. I thin them out occasionally and there is one particular tree that might have to go because it could be a danger to the house if it blows down in all the winter storms we've been having over the last few years but other than that, the trees stay, as do the brambles and fox gloves and the nettles and anything else that decides it wants to grow in my little patch of wilderness. I never use pesticides and the bugs that are attracted by the plants that grow there, in turn, feed the bats and the birds. I have bees and butterflies and a whole host of wildlife that thrives in that little patch and I have absolutely no intention of listening to the people who tell me I should cut it all back. 

Anyway, few days ago, on the upstairs landing window ledge,  I noticed a couple of my cats acting a bit strangely. They were watching something outside the back window and making that weird little chirping sound that they make when they think they might be able to snatch a tasty birdie treat. I looked out of the window and saw a robin diving into a hole in the tree roots with a beak full the dog fur that I put out at this time of year for the birds to make their nests with. 

Great camouflage .... can you spot the hole with the robin in?

Where the robins have made their nest.

I know the picture quality isn't great. It's taken through a closed window because I don't want to disturb the birds but I'm fairly certain that there is a nest in there with eggs. I'm so excited. I can't wait to see the baby birds in there when they hatch. I'm just keeping everything crossed that things go ok and that nothing happens to them and I will definitely keep you updated on their progress. So exciting. 

16 March 2016

Help Please ...... A Techy Question

Some of you out there in blogland have some really cool, cute links to your Instagram and Twitter and stuff. The icons for each individual link are all the same colour and they just look so smart that I would really really REALLY love to have some of those link thingies on my blog. I have been very brave and experimental today and I have included a link to my Patchwork Hare Instagram thing and I think it actually works although if anyone tries it and it doesn't, please could you let me know. I don't do twitter at the moment but I do have a Pinterest account and a facebook account for The Patchwork Hare and I would love to have the cute little buttons to link them to my blog. My question is to anyone techy out there, how do I do this? Any help would be greatly appreciated :-)

15 March 2016

Afternoon Tea at Bovey Castle

I'm assuming that there is a glitch on the Blogger page counting thingy because yesterday I had 891 page views! I'm lucky if I get 200 page views a day and that's on a good day, my little blog isn't very widely read so 891 is such a massive number it's almost certainly a glitch. Minimal readership or not, I still enjoy writing my little diary and I actually love taking a look back through the posts I made a few years ago. Now I have a little Grandson, I am really looking forward to documenting how he grows an develops. At 9 months old, he's already a proper little person with his own character, a very strong-willed character at that and the weekend after I got back from Venice, My mum, my eldest daughter and her husband and my cutie-pie Grandson came to stay for the weekend. It was fabulous to see them. As they all live in Sheffield, over 350 miles away, and the logistics of me getting away for a few days is a total nightmare with all my animals to arrange care for, I don't get to see them very often and have to rely on the phone and facetime to chat with them. 

On the Friday, I met my family at Bovey Castle in Devon for afternoon tea. A beautiful place with delicious food and the perfect way to start the weekend. 

As I drove through the impressive archway and up the drive to the castle itself, a charming young man, wearing the biggest tweed plus fours I have ever seen, offered to valet park my car. Now as I mentioned in the last post, my car is an old banger. It's used for transporting bales of hay, 3 dogs and numerous bags of animal feed not to mention bags of coal and compost and given that all the other cars were Bentleys, brand new Range Rovers and an assortment of other shiny, pristine cars no more than 2 minutes old, I didn't feel I should subject the very nice young man to the kind of trauma that he might experience if he got behind the wheel of my car. So, having mentioned this to him, he guffawed with laughter, told me he'd seen it all before and very politely pointed me in the direction of the car park where I hid my car behind a big white van so it wouldn't cause offence. The very nice young man then escorted me into the castle and I went off in search of my family and a delicious afternoon tea. 

And very scrumptious it was too.

Waiting for afternoon tea :-)

14 March 2016

Ain't Technology Grand!

Well, it is when it works! A couple of days ago, my mobile phone gave up the ghost. It wasn't a flashy, all-singing-all-dancing phone, it was just a basic bog-standard phone and it was perfectly adequate for making phone calls and sending texts which is, after all, the only things I tended to use it for and if I remember correctly, it was a hand-me-down from my daughter. Not that I have any problem at all with hand-me-down phones. As long as it works, I don't care one bit if it's been "pre-loved" ...... I think is the term now lol. Still, I was left with the the problem of sourcing a new phone and I have to confess, I actually wanted to buy myself something new, a shiny new phone that was just for me. The trouble is, I don't like spending large sums of money .... on anything ..... it brings me out in a cold sweat. However, when someone hinted that I was a bit of a Luddite where technology is concerned and told me I was so 90's for referring to the Bluray player as a DVD player (you know who you are DCM!) I got brave and I ordered myself ......... an iPhone 6!!!! Then I had to sit down and have a large cup of tea!! (It would have been a stiff G&T except I didn't have any). It promptly arrived the next day and it's so deliciously shiny and sleek that I can almost forgot about the fact it cost more than my car!!!! (I drive a beat up old Toyota at the moment because last year when my old car went to the great scrapyard in the sky, I was between jobs and an old banger was all I could afford. My car cost me £435, my phone cost £20 more, hence the cold sweat and deep breathing!!!). Luckily, it's interest free over 3 months which makes it a much more affordable option and I totally love it. Ain't technology grand.

And speaking of Grand ..... I thought I would include an couple of pictures of my lovely trip to Venice of the bridges and the fabulous architecture and the Grand Canal ..... see what I did there, what a seamless piece of writing. Seriously though, Venice is a beautiful place. Very, very hard on the feet though because unless you are going to take water taxi's and gondolas everywhere, which can work out kind of expensive, your only option it to walk everywhere. My daughter and I walked miles. In fact, according to her fitness tracker, we walked between 7 and 8 miles a day! Because of this, the Venitians have come up with ingenious ideas for moving stuff around and almost everyone has a boat of some description parked outside their house. Everything from sofas to groceries are either moved around by boat or wheeled through the streets on little trolleys. The postman had a little cart to deliver his letters, as did the dustbin people who pulled the carts of rubbish bags through the streets to the nearest boat. We saw boats filled with bricks and planks of wood and bags of cement going off to do renovations on a house and there was this ingenious little fruit and veg stall, again on a boat that presumably just transports his produce to wherever he needs to be.

The streets and teeny and filled with beautiful houses painted in fabulously soft terracotta and ochre and every so often, you will come out of the maze of tiny streets and be in a beautiful square, with a church and more beautiful houses. It was lovely just wandering around the place looking at how amazing everything was. I don't think I have ever seen so many churches in such a small area and pretty much all of them very beautiful. Even the ones that on the outside looked like little more than run-down old brick buildings had beautifully decorated walls and ceilings inside and although most of the churches are happy for you to go in and have a look around, I feel that churches should be private places and it always makes me slightly uncomfortable. We did venture into a few of them though and the artwork was just amazing.

The one thing that did spoil it for me though was the amount of graffiti. It was everywhere. On the beautiful old buildings all over the city. Big ugly swathes of hideous graffiti. It was so disappointing and although I have no idea what could be done to stop it, it seems such a shame that the buildings are ruined in that way. The other thing that amazed me was the sheer volume of people that were in Venice when we were there. We were there from a Sunday to Wednesday in mid-February and I had assumed, wrongly as it turned out, that being there during the week there would be fewer people. It was really, really busy. There were hundreds of people, which was slightly overwhelming in such narrow streets and you sort of get carried along with the stream of people making it hard to stop and take a good look around. Getting a photo of places without anyone in them was near impossible but I'm nothing if not patient :-)

One of the most amazing things was walking out of the far end of St marks Square and seeing this 

So many bridges so little time ...... the second one is The Bridge of Sighs.

Bustling Venice

 Gondola repair shop .... I kid you not, we watched them making repairs to their gondolas

Beautiful mosaic outside St Marks Basilica. Sadly we weren't allowed to take photographs inside but it was absolutely spectacular, if a bit rushed, I would have liked much more time to soak up the atmosphere but we were ushered around pretty rapidly.

It was an amazing trip and I'm so lucky to have been able to share it with my lovely daughter, who bought it for us as a Christmas present. Thank you KGM for a wonderful time :-)

10 March 2016

Hi There ...... Lets Catch Up.

Hi there, sorry it's been so long, but things have been grim. I can't believe it's been over a month since I last posted but I have had the worst bout of flu that I've had in years and sadly, I just didn't have the energy to do anything, much less, come up with something witty or clever or even vaguely entertaining to write in my blog. I have spent a lot of time flopped on the sofa drinking copious amounts of tea and orange juice and consuming pain killers like they were tic-tacs and quite frankly, I'm still poorly. Luckily, not quite as poorly as I was but I still have a blocked nose, a sore throat and a bit of a high temperature. During the whole of the flu incident, I have had to drag myself to work every day because apparently, the flu does not count as a good enough reason to have any time off work. 

I did, however, still manage to go on my trip to Venice with my youngest daughter and then spent a lovely weekend with my mum, my eldest daughter, her husband and my cutie-pie grandson so it hasn't all been bad. There will be photos a-plenty in the next day or two once I have worked out how to get the slippery little suckers out of the camera I borrowed, something that has thus far eluded me. Luckily, the camera owner will be here this weekend so he can magic them onto my laptop for me and I can hopefully then share them with you next week.

On a much nicer note, my two new chickens, Harriet and Bluebell are now both laying and each day I am the happy recipient of two perfectly formed little eggs. I know it's only a small thing but in a month of otherwise complete hideousness, it does make a nice change to have something nice happen each day. 

Anyway, I will be back in the next day or so with loads of pictures but here is just a little teaser. I did manage to get a couple of photos using my iPad and as such, they're easy to upload.