Watching nature take its course, from the top of a hill in northern England


Fish Supper

Given that the tea order maxed out at seven during the installation of the ground source heat pump, you’ll appreciate there has been more folk  milling around the place than usual. Which is probably how Dodger the kitten cat was spotted by one of the guys, nonchalantly strolling along by the pond, with a fish tail dangling out of his mouth, the tail was still flapping! Something we’d never seen before.

It seems, unbeknownst to us he is a bit of a fisherman, and that the biggest ones don’t always get away. 

fishing cat_

When I found a dead fish by the pond a few weeks ago, I’d blamed the heron (sorry heron) This is the closest I’ve got to catching Dodger in action.


fishing cat 2

There are a lot of fish in this pond, I’m not sure I could stop Dodger from his antics, and I suppose  he’s never going to manage as much carnage as mother nature did a few years ago.


Buds, Birds and Blue Sky.

Darling buds of March seems a little premature and the frosty mornings have served as a little reminder that it is still early in the season. But we shall make the most of what we have. It’s beautiful.

Buds and blue sky-1

Spud has been getting hot and bothered, yesterday whilst Tom and I were sat by the pond, he took a cooling dip, and swam right through the gloopy remnant’s of the ‘frog spawn jelly’ before clambering out.  And what do dogs do when they get out of water? They shake. Bleuughhhhh SPUD! You revolting dog!


Spud on Sunday Part LXVII

Spud has had a high old time this afternoon, for it seems spring has arrived in the pond. There has been much croaking and splashing around going on.

frog search 5-1

I could find the cause, with a softly, softly sort of approach. But Springer spaniels are not built for stealth. Crashing around in the undergrowth is what it is all about.

frog search-1 

Interestingly he wasn’t for leaping in, in his usual style, just wading in the shallows.

frog search 1-1

Then he went for a better look, leaping on to the floating island; this is something that started out 10 years ago, when we built the pond as a couple of sheets of polystyrene, stitched into a piece of pond lining fabric, which has now been colonised  to such an extent it has its own eco system including a couple of young willow trees and drifts up and down the pond at the whim of the prevailing wind.

frog search 3-1

However it isn’t very stable, Spud wisely decided it was not the place for a bit of frog spotting, and made a giant leap for dogkind to get ashore. We were impressed he made it.

frog search 4-1


Spud on Sunday Part LVIV

Spud is having a Sunday off,  actually he’s had most of the week off, it has been half term holiday for the boys, and whilst Spud has had much to entertain him there have been no big adventures (he even managed to come back from getting his coat trimmed in reasonable shape) everyone has been chillin. So for those needing a weekly fix of all things canine, take a look at some sub aqua dogs, photographed by Seth Casteel



There are plenty more to view on his website too and you can buy a print if you so wish.


I’d love to bring you such a photo of Spud, but I doubt the visibility is as good as this in the garden pond


Call Off the Search

We’ve looked high and low, checked and double checked the barn, the shed, the stable, even  considered dredging the pond. Dandy the cat has been absent without leave since Wednesday morning.

In yer face

He is sixteen years old and getting rather geriatric in his ways, he’s not been further than a couple of yards from the back door for months. He’s never missed a meal in all those sixteen years, his routine is eat, sleep litter tray; eat, sleep litter tray. So you can see why we were worried. He’s got himself into mischief before and frankly we thought he’d done that cat thing of going off to die.

So when I returned home this evening and found him sat in the porch demanding to be fed, I was both surprised and  delighted and scooped him up to take him indoors to delight  Spud, Tom, Joe and Mr Uhphilldowndale.  Maybe, as Inspector Gadget had already suggested (he knows about finding lost things) Dandy was off out and about soothing his old bones in the warmest September/October weather in the UK for over two decades* We will probably never know, I’m just glad he’s home, and if he could mange in future, to keep his bottom inside the litter tray, I’d be especially pleased.


*18C at 8am, 25.5C this afternoon, it feels quite tropical this evening, what with the early, swift sunset, very odd, well odd for the UK


Spud on Sunday II

It has been a wild, wild week, storms have raged, rain has beaten a tattoo on the roof,  the lane is braided with mounds of sodden leaves and the yard is a muddy mess. Indoors there have been stormy debates about whose turn it is to bring some some more logs in and why no one has sent Dandy the cat out for a pee. Dandy you see,  is a fair-weather cat when it comes to his toilet habits and I’m afraid, seeing as he’s 14 years old we don’t expect him to improve with age. So  boys it is wise not to dump your games kit on the porch floor, because it can smell worse than it does already, just.

Rosehips and stormy ky-1

Spud however has not missed a beat when it comes to taking his  dip in the pond (so the kitchen smells of pond weed, am I painting an attractive picture?)

Spud on Sunday 11-1

Maybe Spud thinks he’s an otter, I can see a resemblance. If you missed Spud on a Sunday part I, it’s here


Thou shall hev a fishy, on a little dishy

Dance ti’ thy daddy, sing ti’ thy mammy,
Dance ti’ thy daddy, ti’ thy mammy sing;
Thou shall hev a fishy on a little dishy,
Thou shall hev a fishy when the boat comes in.

Assorted  lyrics  for this traditional song are here, or you can listen over here for added atmosphere.



Meet Bernard the gurnard, the boys seem to manage to catch a gurnard every year on their mackerel fishing trip: it is always called Bernard.

Not sure why Bernard looks so happy, he is destined for the bar-b-que.

Bernard take 2-2

and very tasty he was too.


Totally Gutted

A cautionary tale   

This morning Mr Uhdd found, not one, not two but four of our six golden Orfe floating belly up in the pond.

Dead fish 2-2 

We’ve had the pond (and the Orfe ) for eight years, it  gives us a enormous amount of pleasure ( there are lots of pond related posts, filed under ‘pond life’ in my sidebar).

We think they have succumbed to low oxygen levels in the water, the weather has been exceptionally dry since April, with high temperatures, we were caught off guard.

Dead fish-2

I fed them yesterday morning and I didn’t notice anything untoward, all though with hindsight, I think only four came up for food, but I can’t be sure.

The small fish in the pond seem unaffected (and there are scores of them) which is a relief, because at first I feared they’d all been poisoned in some way. The Orfe were 18-20 ins long and the one we weighed was 3lb 3oz, they were a gift for favours rendered, I’m sure they would have been expensive to buy 8 years ago when they were much smaller, goodness knows what they’d cost to replace now. But that’s not the point, I’m left with that heavy feeling, like when we’ve had a  fox strike in the chicken run; that I’ve let them down.

By lunch time the remaining two had floated to the surface.

(originally we had eight, one jumped out of the pond (as they are prone to do, during the first few weeks, we found it flapping in the yard, we tried a bit of resuscitation, but to no avail and a second one died of ‘natural causes’ last year. I wonder if their age played a part in this, I don’t know how old they were or how long the species normally lives.)


It was a mistake to serve smoked salmon at lunch time, it was a Tesco’s ‘special offer’, it was wet, flaccid; gross and too much like the fish we’d hauled out of the pond. And I don’t think my idea for a car sticker went down too well, ‘Fish Die in Hot Ponds’.  I’d best tag this post I think, for other fish in need.


Hair of the Dog

My feet have barely touched the ground this week.  I’ve a stockpile of blog posts in my head, but no time to  capture them,  I’ve things to show and tell; all you ever wanted to know about pig nuts, but were afraid to ask,  about the making of hay in the meadow, a post about the dearth of foxgloves this summer and the falling water levels in the reservoirs, to name a few. 

But today I’ve managed to achieve 3 items off my ‘to-do list’, Spud has had his coat clipped and the boys have had their hair cut, the 3 of them now look more streamlined and easy to maintain.

Of late Tom has been coaching Spud, on the finer points of retrieving balls from the pond, this has resulted in the kitchen now smelling of pond weed rather than damp dog (this eau de pond weed is in addition  to the permeating odour  and taste of ancient plaster dust that is a result of the ongoing  building work.)

So for light relief, till I get a grip of my world, here is Spud, taking a dip

Water dog-2

And afterwards, Winding up for a BIG shake

Demon dog-2

And a top to tail shake

wet dog-2


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