Slow and steady

Moving slowly through the UK countryside


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Getting up close to butterflies

Weekly photo challenge is ‘Masterpiece’ – the prompt shows part of Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, in Barcelona, and I agree that it is an absolutely amazing building. So many mind-blowingly different ideas all in one place – one of the most impressive buildings I’ve ever visited, and Barcelona doesn’t just have one of his buildings, they’re everywhere. Definitely a place worth travelling to.

The masterpieces I’ve seen today though are much smaller. Wildlife of course. I spotted a blue-tailed damselfly this morning by the new pond, but it didn’t stay for a photo. The garden was full of butterflies and bees again too. The most popular flowers are lavender, valerian, marjoram, hollyhocks, hebes and sea lavender. Butterflies up close are just stunning.

Small White on lavender

Small White feeding on lavender – look at those eyes – and what an amazing tongue!

Small Tortoiseshell

Small Tortoiseshell on Sea Lavender (Limonium)


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Leaf-cutter bee

Well, we tracked down where it was getting the leaf pieces from – only about 2m away, from a Himalayan Honeysuckle (Leycesteria) that had self-seeded itself in a gravel path.  We’d left it to grow because we weren’t sure what it was last year, but it had got too big and was blocking the path, so I dug it up yesterday!  Only to find out today that it was the leaf-cutter bee’s leaf source – aaagh!

I’d left it lying on the path (to show off the huge effort it had taken me to dig it up, hmm) and Mr Hedwigia found the tell-tale semicircular holes along the leaf edges.  So, I lay in wait and along came the bee. I have also now learnt how to make an animated gif by uploading a set of linked photos, but they don’t seem to work on here, sadly. The bee flying into the hole in the pot looks very funny.
Anyway, here she is in leaf-cutting action.

Leaf-cutter bee

Leaf-cutter bee in the middle of cutting a leaf

Leaf-cutter bee

Leaf-cutter bee loaded up and ready to fly


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Ra ra ra! 45 minute run! Plus… creatures in the garden

I haven’t run much in the last month – just two one-milers since I did the Race for Life 5k at the end of June.  The heat wave has put me off, but it seemed perhaps a bit cooler this evening, and I was in the right mood, so I went out to see if I could still keep going for half an hour.

First ten minutes were tough as ever.  Then it was an uphill bit (not steep, but not flat either).  Twenty minutes in and I was thinking about stopping.  Told myself I could keep going a bit more even though I’d got to a bit with no shade – it was getting on for 8pm, but still about 25 C, which is pretty warm as far as I’m concerned.  I overtook a dog walker (always an achievement for me – they are often faster than I am).  Then it was a downhill slope, so persuaded myself to keep going until I got back to my starting point, which was just under 3 miles.

It took me about 45 minutes, which is pretty slow, but I was happy with it as I was really out of practice and it was hot.  My fingers felt like sausages once I was walking – had to hold them up in the air or they throbbed (they’d been fine while I was running, as they were above heart-level I suppose).

Legs feel fine too.  🙂

No pictures from the run, but some from the garden today.  Lots of butterflies today – Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Large White, Small White, Green-veined White and Brimstone.  The lavender hedge is full of bees too – Carder bees, Tree bees, Honey bees, Buff-tailed bumble bees (I think – might have been some cuckoo bees too), Early bumble bees and I also saw a few Red-tailed bumble bees, though maybe not on the lavender.

I also noticed a bee flying with a rolled-up bit of leaf between its legs.  I’ve seen evidence of leaf-cutter bees before, where they’ve cut a semi-circle from the edge of a rose leaf, but don’t remember seeing one actually flying with the leaf before.  I watched it go into a hole in the bottom of a plant pot several times.  Earlier on I’d seen a centipede go in the same hole, so it’s an exciting world inside that pot!

Peacock butterfly

Peacock butterfly – squint your eyes and you can see how this could frighten off an attacking bird

Rosemary Beetle

Rosemary Beetle – Chrysolina americana. On lavender, rather than rosemary though. They will also eat thyme and sage. Only found in the UK in recent years. A very pretty pest. I’ve only found the one so far, but will be looking out for them.

Brimstone

Brimstone butterfly (male) on lavender

Leaf-cutter bee

Leaf-cutter bee in flight with a piece of leaf – heading for a hole in a plant pot


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Slow and Steady Sausage Stew

Daily prompt – dinner

Slow and steady sausage stew – no photo, so you’ll have to imagine it, but we did eat this a few days ago.

All it takes is a pack of smoky chorizo sausages (gluten-free ones – hurrah! – from Morrisons) and a tin of fat butter beans, added to some fried onions and tomatoes, with maybe some cornflower to thicken the sauce.  Served up with rice,  and a lettuce, radish and celery salad, dressed with balsamic vinegar and lime-infused olive oil.  Mmmmmmmm!

 


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Lavender’s blue, dilly dilly

Photo prompt – ‘Fresh’

Freshly-opened lavender flowers in the hot sun (29 C in the shade) were attracting butterflies today. I cut two bunches of lavender to hang up in the kitchen. They are slightly different shades of purple.

Green-veined White on lavender

Green-veined White on lavender

Meadow Brown

Meadow Brown

Lavender

Lavender bunches – the dark one is Munstead Dwarf (I think) and the paler one is a self-seeded one


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Half-marathon – poem

Half-marathon passing on a hot July day

Heat
Hums.
Football-shirted hoverflies and fuzzy bees
Buzz above the flowers.
The sun beats down.

The slap, slap, slap of runners’ feet
Beat on tarmac,
Their breath
Blasting out
Puff, puff, puff.
I stand, hosepipe raised in salute,
Wondering.

Might I
One day
Be crazy enough
To be there too?

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/daily-prompt-opposite/

Poetry isn’t something I’ve posted before, but I enjoyed playing with the words.


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Watching a half-marathon with a hosepipe

Two posts today as I’ve lapsed a bit.  [Or maybe not – the first one, about blue potatoes, has disappeared twice – and has now reappeared – maybe I had too many windows open at once and confused it?]

Today a half-marathon went right past my front door, so I went out to cheer them on. We’re about 3/4 of the way round, just before a big hill towards the end. It was hot, hot, hot, and I was very glad I wasn’t involved in it (though a teensy-weensy bit of me did think maybe, one day – if it wasn’t so hot…) Even a 5k would have been really tough.  I had to keep moving into the shade just standing watching.

When about half of them had gone past, a neighbour commented that someone further through the village had a hosepipe out, so the runners could run through the spray. I’d been thinking about doing that anyway, as I remembered reading about a 5k run in America that some friends on the NHS couch to 5k site had done, and how they’d found it really helpful.  (I’d put a link to NHS c25k, but the site has just had an ‘upgrade’ and has been very temperamental and today appears to not be working at all.)

So, out came the hosepipe, and the runners seemed very happy to see it.  Several slowed down to savour it all the more!  The garden got well watered in gaps between runners. I was a bit wary about distracting motorists, or distracting runners into the path of vehicles, so was very careful (I had my H&S head on all the time!) One driver in a very shiny posh red car clearly didn’t want his car to have water droplets on it, and slowed down pointedly, with a very grumpy expression. Tempting to soak him, but I resisted it. 😀

The roses are wonderful at the moment, so here are a few of them, in the ‘meadow’ corner of the garden (hence long messy grass…)

Rambling roses

Rambling roses