30 Minute Landscapes

‘Sometimes working in a different medium can add that all-important spark of excitement’, writes Paul Talbot-Greaves in Collins 30 minute Landscapes in Watercolour. As a new year refresher, I’m trying out one of his half-hour demos. I’m stepping out of my comfort zone because my habitual way of working is to start with a pen and ink drawing, […]

When the Furze is in Flower

The old country saying is ‘when the furze is out of flower, kissing’s out of favour’, but the gorse has been in flower for a few weeks, at least one bush on Storrs Hill has been, where it overhangs a south-facing embankment wall. The female great spotted woodpecker is a regular on the sunflower hearts: it prefers […]

Sweet Box

‘Purple Stem’ Sweet Box, Sarcococca hookeriana var. digyna*, is now tasseled with sweetly fragrant blossom on the woodland bank behind the bench by the Druid Bridge below the Cascade at Nostell Priory. Each blossom has just two styles and one central stigma; with a scent like that, who needs petals? The generic name, Sarcococca,  is from the Greek, ‘sarc’ meaning flesh and […]

Adder Bite

A dramatic incident on a Wakefield Naturalists’ Society meeting on a summer’s day in 1881: In an attempt stop the poison spreading the ‘venomed finger, as well as the wrist and arm, were bound round with twine as tightly as possible’. Messengers were despatched to Pontefract for medical assistance and a Doctor Simpson hurried to […]