In my backyard

Yesterday I saw another of these beauties, a Black-Winged Kite, or Élanion Blac. They are supposed to be quite rare although the population is expanding, but I’ve seen three of them round here in the last week. The photo is ©Wolbrum avner



The Green Whip Snake was sunning itself on the stream bank and just watched me as I almost trod on it. I had time to go home, get my phone and come back and it hadn’t moved. When I tried to get a very close close up, it slid off to its hole in the bank. It was easily as long as I am tall. They’re not poisonous but they’re biters if they get annoyed.


I managed to snap its back end before it disappeared, rather more than a metre of it.

whipsnake goine

Eat the Storms

The post is incredibly slow still, but it finally arrived. Yes, that is a bar of soap behind the gingerbread houses. It was a present, it’s mimosa and I like the scent.

Eat the storms


I knew I was going to enjoy this collection; isn’t as if Damien is a complete unknown, but I was surprised at how much. I was surprised at how much colour there is in the images, and how Oracle-like (we know what I mean) they are. Colour runs in rivers through these poems that are quiet, understated and so perfectly precise.
The dominant colour is purple, the shade of blue that hangs between sea, sky, night and day. It’s the colour of twilight when all things merge. There are several worlds merging in Damien’s poetry, the place he left and returned to, the place he made his home for years and left with only a twinge of regret, the changing light of the passing day and the seasons.
The images that stand out for me are petals and honey pouring like water, and the ceaseless movement like the waves of the sea. I couldn’t say which poem is my favourite, but the one that I am thinking of now isn’t a purple poem, it’s a green one, Grazing Greens, perhaps because I am so pleased that Damien has made it back without disappointment, something that is so hard to do. Green is, after all, the colour of hope.


Toad usurper

This very short post is proving very difficult and frustrating. That bloody new editor has appeared and is absolutely impossible to use. All I want to do is stick in a photo from my gallery and it won’t do it. I’m back on the old old editor going through WP admin which is a pain.

So…On August 9 I posted a photo of the toad, named Terry by our youngest, who had taken up residence inside the Mimosa Hostilis (the Vicious Mimosa tree).

We had a big storm a few nights ago and Terry hadn’t come back in the morning. For two days the hole was empty, then yesterday evening this appeared.

This is not Terry. Meet Theresa.

Toad in a hole

We have a couple of big trees that nobody can identify with any certainty. I call them crown of thorn trees because one of them possesses long spikes on the branches and around the trunk, like the things people put around lamp posts to stop burglars shinning up them. They are lethal, the longest around 25cm (10″) long, shorter along the branches.

crown of thorns

The leaves and flowers are similar to a sort of mimosa.

Okay. I have done a bit more research, global this time and have discovered what this tree is. It’s not native at all, it’s Mimosa Hostilis (figures) and it’s native to Brazil and the equatorial rain forests. What it’s doing here is a mystery, but it must really hate this climate.

crown of thorns tree

The specimen by the woodpile is inhabited by great capricorn beetles, massive, scary-looking things that devour the tree from the inside. They are a protected species so it’s forbidden to kill them. I personally wouldn’t get close enough to take a swing at one anyway.


There is a hole at the base of the trunk hollowed out by the insects and there are often larvae buried in the sawdust. Yesterday I noticed that the fine red sawdust had been dug out, and looking inside found a toad in residence.


Toad is still there today, keeping cool. It’s a good place to be, living in the larder.


climate changes

wars and revolutions in the streets

corrupt kings flee to friendly palaces

even those who ask nothing

will be swept away



July 4th

It’s our wedding anniversary today and the weather is finally starting to settle down. We took a picnic out, all the way to… the plum tree.

house and picnic table

picnic table

and we had our first pan bagnat of the year

pan bagnat

Finbar was tied up just in case he decided to run off, but I think those days are over. He’s getting very sensible in his old age.

Finbar 4 July

Trixie didn’t move from the chair she’s appropriated.

Trixie's chair

Ninnie got as far as the doormat.

Ninnie on doormat

It’s a good thing we don’t crave excitement.

Hay raking

Haymaking was put off for three weeks which is what I wanted, to let all the wildflowers finish and set seed first. The hay is now all raked into an interesting geometrical pattern like a Neolithic temple site, waiting for the baler to come.

This is the west meadow looking south

west looking south

East meadow looking west. The red and white tape is to cordon off an area where saplings are planted.

east meadow looking west

The south section looking up towards the house.

south section

The part I like best, the bottoms where the willows are, a section about 20 metres by 200 metres that isn’t mown and is just left to its own devices.

unmown beneath willows

Gogyohka for a poorly cat

Trixie is twelve years old this month. We tend to forget she’s getting on a bit, she’s such a good little trooper. We took her to the vet this morning for the second time in her twelve years, because she won’t eat. It might be only a surfeit of voles or that dead bird she found and ate. She has some cat medicine to settle her digestive tract, and we have instructions to watch her carefully over the next couple of days. Crossing fingers.

Mistress of pasta


there are more important things going on

more distress and more poignant stories

but when the Mistress of Pasta is unwell

sadness seeps into the silence

the light in the sky seems a little dimmer


Trixi's back