Cuckoo’s Nest Halt

Last April, after a winter that had lingered on and on, we were keen to get out as soon as the spring blossom started to appear. A friend, Philippa Coultish, was taking us around her local patch: the valley of Park Gate Dike, northeast of Skelmanthorpe. Because of the ‘Beast from the East’ snowstorms, we […]

Townclose Hills

Pyramidal, common spotted and a hybrid orchid were in flower on the plateau at Townclose Hills Nature Reserve, also known as Billy Woods. Despite the breeze we saw ringlet, meadow brown, small tortoiseshell, small skipper and a few marbled white butterflies. Six-spot burnet moths were also active and a hebrew character moth lurked amongst the grasses. One of the smallest orb-web spiders, Araniella […]


The walled garden, Nostell Priory, 10.45 a.m., 65°F, 16°C: As I draw a cranesbill in the corner of the wild flower meadow, hoverflies investigate my pen. The long thinner species is attracted to the red plunger in my transparent Lamy fountain pen while the more convincing wasp mimic, the one with the broader boat-shaped abdomen, is attracted to […]

Yellow Rattle

69°F, 20°C, 10.25 a.m.: At the lower end of the walled garden at Nostell Priory there are two squares of wild flower meadow. Amongst the grasses, buttercups and dog daisies there are small drifts of yellow rattle, Rhinanthus minor, a plant that is semi-parasitic on the roots of grasses. Despite a superficial resemblance, it isn’t related […]


4.55 p.m., 45ºF, 7ºC: The rain has helped the cowslips that I planted in the meadow area to settle in. No umbrellas, pop-up tents or folding chairs today; I simply crouch down amongst the dripping grasses and get on with my drawing. The rain spots will be part of the drawing. Adding pot-grown wild flowers to the meadow […]