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


Sun Store

I wish I could keep a box of sunshine on my desk. So that on grey, driech days like today, I could lift the lid and let it spill out. 

It seems churlish to complain really, as this time last week, I was in south Wales and we had the most glorious weather; whilst ‘up north’ was shrouded in mist and fog.

This is Marloes Sands

Marloes Sands


As we strolled down the path, I think I was expecting a little bay,  but the size and beauty  of this beach catches your breath. If you’d ask me what my favourite UK beach was, I’d probably have said, Laig on the Isle of Eigg, I’m now ranking them joint first. 

Spud the dog loved it too.

Spud Marloes Sand_

I pondered on the powers of nature, looking at the mighty upheavals of rock and near vertical bedding planes,

bedding planes Marloes Sand_

I didn’t discover until later that it is a great place for a spot of fossil hunting


Shooting the Sun

Point and shoot obviously, I wasn’t going to look directly at a solar eclipse


Whilst the light changed, the birds carried on about their business,

Eclipse blue tit

it didn’t seem as dramatic as the one in 1998 which I watched with Mum,

Mum in the Moon

it was the shadows I remember most vividly on that occasion.


It made me think of a favourite poem, by Roger McGough


Everyday eclipses

Roger McGough


The hamburger flipped across the face of the bun

The frisbee winning the race against its own shadow

The cricket ball dropping for six in front of the church clock

On a golden plate, a host of communion wafers

The brown contact lens sliding across the blue iris

The palming of small change

Everyday eclipses

Out of the frying pan, the tossed pancake orbits the Chinese lampshade

The water bucket echoing into the well, well, well

The lifebelt spinning past the open porthole

The black, snookering the cue ball against the green baize

The winning putt on the eighteenth

The tiddlywink twinking toward the tiddly cup

Everyday eclipses

Neck and neck in the hot air balloon race

Holding up her sign, the lollipop lady blots out the belisha beacons

The foaming tankard thumped on to the beer mat

The plug into the plughole


Two thin slices; first salami, then mortadella

In the fruit bowl, the orange rolls in front of the peach.

Everyday eclipses another day

Goodbye bald patch, hello yarmulke

A sombrero tossed into the bullring

Leading the parade, the big bass drum.

We hear cymbals but cannot see them

One eclipse eclipses another eclipse

To the cold, white face, the oxygen mask.

But too late

One death eclipses another death

The baby’s head, the mother’s breast

The open O of the mouth seeking the warm O of the nipple

One birth eclipses another birth

Everyday eclipses.


An afternoon with added value

Yesterday morning, it rained and rained, it was hard to imagine anything much could be salvaged from the day, but I was wrong, about two PM the clouds parted and the sun shone through. I grabbed the camera and shot off to Mam Tor, we’ve been there before. The sun gods turned on the charm.

Top of Winats Pass

and gave me a much needed blast of lumens, to keep the blues away.

The Edale valley.


came complete with a bedraggled looking film crew, something to do with a man on a bike, but more than that I can’t tell you

Edale film crew

Love how the bonfire smoke is flowing off down the valley.

Rushop Edge

The reason for my visit was that I’d been to a presentation about the geology and scenery of the Northern Peak District,hosted by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust; and I wanted to see if I could identify some of the features I’d heard about. However an added bonus was an encounter with a stoat

Stoat 3

He bounded along by a nearby wall (stoats bound, weasels hunker down to the ground)  at times  airborne


it looked in good form, weaving in and out of the tussocky grass

Stoat 4

its coat had a conker gloss

stoat 4-2

In the end it was chased off by a rook, and it slunk away under a fence in to a marshy field (you can just see the stoat by the fence post).

stoat and rook 2

Well that was an unexpected treat.

By the time I worked my way back to the car, the sun was low enough to catch the marsh grasses,

marsh grasses_

and some very large puddles,

marsh grass 3

I’d have been wise to take a change of footwear.


Exotic Blooms

One of the many things I didn’t get around to posting this summer, was the unexpected arrival of an orchid in the garden. Strange but true. I’ve never ever seen them growing locally, and there it was. I was gazing  out of the window in my default absent minded sort of way, when it jumped up and went boo! The house is cut into the hillside, so from windows at the rear of the house, the view is eye level with the lawn.

And there it was, a solitary pink spike of bloom, catching the last of the evening sun.

Orchid 3

Just a bit special, do you not think? Is it a marsh orchid?

Orchid 1

I felt rather honoured that it had taken up residency with us; but mystified as to how it arrived.

Orchid 2

Maybe there are many more out there, that we keep slicing the blooms off with the lawn mower.

We’ve had a lot of men in big boots about the place over the last few months, one of the reasons for the dearth of posts of late. But the orchid has been afforded special protection,



I can report it has survived and gone to seed, and perhaps inspired by a very special visit to the Millennium Seed Bank (another post in waiting) I thought I’d have a go at propagating the seed.  However think I’m out of my propagation league, it seems far more complicated than the lovely marigold seeds Flighty sent me.


From the Hardy Orchid Society…

Seed sowing at home

Many members of HOS sow orchid seed in home laboratories (otherwise known as kitchens or spare rooms) with some success! Various back issues of the HOS Newsletter give excellent detailed advice on how to get started. The following items need to be considered.

Sterile working area: A HEPA filtered laminar flow cabinet is ideal – but hardly likely to be accessible to beginners. Try rigging up a ‘glove box’ or a modified fish tank on its side. See see HOS Newsletter issue 3.

Autoclave: A pressure cooker to sterilise everything.

Germination/Growing medium: There are two distinct types:

1. Medium based on agar gel and porridge oats with suitable fungi (symbiotic growth).

2. Medium based on agar gel containing nutrients to be used without fungi.


Maybe I’ll just let nature take its course.


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