A Corner of the Pond

frogspawnspawnwinds2.30 p.m., 47ºF, 9ºC: It’s been an April showers day with bright sun alternating with wild lashings of rain. There’s a cool breeze from the south-east but the low cumulus clouds are moving in almost the opposite direction: heading east with a westerly wind behind them.

taddiesOne sixth of the pond in the sunniest northern corner is filled with algae-covered frogspawn which has sunk to a few inches below the surface. The black tadpoles which are each just over a centimetre long have now emerged from the spawn and gathered in three main groups, feeding on the abundant algae.

Smooth Newts

newtsNearby amongst the pondweed, two banner-tailed male smooth newts are closely following a round-tailed female.

newtNear the edge of the pond a newt briefly emerges from the depths to pop a mouthful of air.

Ramshorn Snail & Wolf Spider

ramshorn snailramshorn snailA ramshorn pond snail makes slow progress over the butyl rubber pond liner.

A wolf spider runs across the water surface at the edge of the pond then basks in the sun on the black liner.wolf spider

Salvage or the Skip?

Blacker Hall FarmOne approach to the restoration of a building is to rip everything out and produce a space fit for purpose for the 21st century. The approach that I prefer  – as here at Blacker Hall Farm Shop – is to compromise a little and keep the old features that give a building character and give us a sense of its story.

I’m always sorry to see history thrown in the skip because so many bits and pieces can be recycled. But even architectural salvage only gives you half the story because when you wrench some prize feature from a building and pop it into another it’s like cutting and pasting a paragraph of Charlotte Brontë into a Charles Dickens novel. You might have just about got the right period but you’ve lost the vital context.

barn, Blacker HallHaving said that, I suspect that, several hundred years ago, whoever built this barn – which now houses the farm shop restaurant – went down the architectural salvage route: each of those beams looks as if it had a history before it ended up in its present position.

Link: Blacker Hall farm shop

From the Riverside to Rose Cottage

Ash, Rose Cottage tearooms.

siskinOur favourite book delivery: after dropping off a consignment of my walks booklets at the distributors in Orgreave we make our way across Sheffield and, via Ringinglow, up onto the moors. At the Riverside Café near Hathersage there are plenty of siskins on the bird feeders this morning.

There must have been more rain here in the Peak District than we’ve had at home because we’ve never known the paths from Hope across the slopes of Lose Hill to be so slickly muddy but at least we are able to thoroughly clean our walking boots in the puddles on the farm track into Castleton.

swallowcatOur first swallow flies out of a stable at Spring House Farm and out across the pasture.

Jackdaws sit in the top of the weeping ash in the back garden at Rose Cottage Tearooms, our regular lunch stop, but the garden isn’t quite as bird friendly as the Riverside: a tabby cat patrols the patio.


dipper2.15 p.m.: A dipper in the river, Peaksole Water, at Hope, seems to take some effort to push below the surface. It keeps returning to a mid-stream rock, then heading out in different directions beneath the surface.

Grape Hyacinth

Grape hyacinth, Muscari

4.45 p.m., 51ºF, 11ºC: Grape hyacinth was included in the ‘good for pollinators’ collection of bulbs that we planted in the shady, north north-west facing bed below the window at the front of the house. It’s the first time that we’ve had this familiar looking spring bulb in flower in our garden.

Pigeons on the Roof

town pigeonstown pigeonpigeons2 p.m.: The courtship technique of the male town pigeon on the ridge tiles of Lace & Co, Cluntergate, Horbury, is polite but persistent, with a lot of puffed up bowing and cooing, like the cross-gaitered Malvolio in Twelfth Night.

Parts of a Pansy

viola flower partsviola tricolorThese miniature pansies, Viola tricolor, have numerous common names including heartsease and love-in-idleness. We’re planting them in our revamped bed in the front garden (see below)

Bees have to force their way past those lateral hairs when the flower starts to open. Do the combs of hairs loosen pollen already on the bee so that it gets transferred to stigma just behind them? Or do they helppansies keep other insects out? 

The lateral hairs are said to reflect UV light so they must present a glowing invitation to bees. The dark honey guide lines look as if they’ve been added with a fibre-tipped pen. Continue reading “Parts of a Pansy”