This magnificent face is above all the front doors of a row of old semi-detached houses in a small Cardiff side street that I often walk along.
He intrigues me so much that (more…)
OK, I know it’s a bit controversial, since they snatch the eggs of smaller birds, but I really do like magpies. Some things just aren’t all black and white, you might say.
They are beautiful, big and comparatively easy to photograph, surprisingly colourful and very entertaining.
Until about six weeks ago, I used to throw away the skin of scrambled egg that sticks to the surface of my “non-stick” pan. But now I have found it is one of the magpies’ favourites!
Cold water loosens the egg, which I then scrape off with my fingernails and place in a pile, where I can see it from the kitchen window.
Usually the magpies (more…)
Oh how we love our daffodils, here in Wales. And especially today, March 1, St David’s Day – our national day. We have a choice – to wear a daffodil or a leek – so most people choose the daff and an easy way is to buy a charity daffodil pin from Marie Curie Cancer Care. I’ll be wearing mine.
It’s also a day when (more…)
I heard a tawny owl (Strix aluco) in the garden last night, for the first time in months. It’s an eerie sound and how appropriate for this Halloween time of year.
In this post I will mention the goddess Athena, witches and wizards and share with you some owls depicted using various media. In most cases clicking on the image will take you to the source of the picture.
Owls are surely (more…)
It’s April and the Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) has blossomed early this year, along with many flowers in the garden. Apparently this is because of the very hard midwinter followed by a very mild spell in February and March. In April we have had glorious sunshine for most of the time.
Hawthorn is also known as “may” because it does usually come into bloom in that month and the country hedges foam with the white flowers. It is also fragrant and you can smell it through open car windows as you drive through country lanes.
But the hawthorn is not the only flower in my garden that has a frothy appearance. There seems to be a theme going on in nature at the moment – lots of tiny flowers and sometimes an unexpected and heady perfume. Here are some other delicate delights from my garden…
Halloween is drawing near so I thought I would look at pumpkin lanterns – and the swede lanterns I am more familiar with from my Welsh childhood. A swede? You may also know it as a Swedish turnip, yellow turnip or rutabaga.
Here in the UK there is a long tradition of making lanterns from turnips, mangelwurzels and swedes for harvest time in general, but it was the Americans who started to call them Jack o’ lanterns in 1837 and to associate them with Halloween, in 1866. Thanks Wikipedia for telling me all that.
American traditions have taken over in the UK now, not only by replacing root vegetables with jolly pumpkins, but also (more…)
A horse’s head was probably the second thing I learned how to draw. I don’t mean at the stage of crayoning matchstick people and houses, but later, around the age of eight or nine, when my talented sister-in-law Vicky started to instruct me (don’t get too excited – I never did become an artist!)
The first thing I learned to draw with a pencil was a human head – a woman with her hair up, Victorian-style, although I never did quite get it right where the head joins on to a body. Then the second image was the profile of a horse. It’s so easy, so stylised, that wonderful curve of jaw and arc of mane. At its simplest it’s a chess knight – but let’s hold our horses, as that iconic form may lead to a whole other blog post.
Here I am looking at that other beautifully seductive form – the carousel horse. I always wanted to ride on one but I very rarely had the chance. Instead I was always persuaded to spend fairground time shying at coconuts and throwing ping-bong balls into goldfish bowls.
What’s the (more…)
It’s that lilac time of year again. Common lilac (Syringa vulgaris) is such a humble plant. We had one in our back garden when I was a child and it grew in a place where we emptied the soggy brown leaves from the teapot – and where we emptied the chamber pot in the morning. Sorry to (more…)