Grace in the garden

These butterflies, or rather their caterpillars, are commonly regarded as pests. The offspring chomp their way through cruciferous vegetables and nasturtiums like there’s no tomorrow. The caterpillars that make it past angry gardeners and hungry birds go on to become summer snowflakes – a pretty name for the  large white butterfly.

“Large White Butterfly”

Here the butterflies are drinking nectar from a rosebay willow herb. The flowers were full of butterflies so the circle of life (and the holes in my cabbage leaves) will begin again. What the caterpillar sees as the end of the world a butterfly sees as just the start…

Large White Butterfly on Rosebay Willowherb

Large White Butterfly on Rosebay Willowherb

Pop goes the Weasel

It was a beautifully sunny day in Caithness and I was exploring the coast path on route to the Old Man of Wick, a tower and castle ruins dating back to c.1100.

On top the cliffs were many Skylarks and a Shrike. Down below on the ledges were Cormorants, Fulmars and numerous species of Gull.

While trying to photograph the Shrike I glanced rapid movement in the grass not far from my feet. I paused very still and was rewarded with the attention of an extremely curious weasel. It popped out from under a rock…

Wick & Caithness 2015-05-09 215Sniffed the air…

Weasel, Wick, Caithness

Weasel, Wick, Caithness

Stood up and looked right at me…

Weasel, Wick, Caithness

Weasel, Wick, Caithness

It was a very inquisitive and I’m not sure which of us was the most curious…

Weasel, Wick, Caithness

Weasel, Wick, Caithness

I could easily have stayed watching this precocious little creature all day!

58 Degrees North

At 58 degrees North, Dunnet Head is the most northerly point on the UK mainland. From here it’s possible to view the Orkney Islands, the distant highland mountains of Ben Hope and Ben Loyal, and south towards Flow country.  The sea stacks around the coast are home to thousands of birds – Fulmars, Pufins, Kittiwakes and more – while the coarse grass and heather atop the cliffs provide shelter for Skylarks whose melodic songs may still be heard despite a fifty percent decline in their population over the last 25 years.

  
The lighthouse at Dunnet Head looks north towards the Orkney Islands. In the distance is Hoy, the site of the never ending battle between Hedin and Högni in Norse mythology.

Symbiosis Or Saprophyte?

      

Growing over winter amongst the moss and lichen on the branch of a very old ornamental cherry tree these fungi tolerated rain, frost and snow. Since Spring has come they’ve disappeared completely and a wren is gathering up the moss for its nest. I wonder if these wonders of nature will reappear once Summer is through?

Man O’War Cove & St Oswald’s Bay

Man O' War Cove & St Oswald's Bay

Man O’ War Cove & St Oswald’s Bay 

I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over

From Sea Fever by J. Masefield

Sea Arch at Stair Hole

Stair Hole, Jurassic Coast, Dorset

Stair Hole, Jurassic Coast, Dorset

Looking through the sea arch at Stair Hole in Dorset gives a sense of the relentless power of the waves and the remarkable durability of the Jurassic Coast. 

Over time the sea will erode a larger and larger hole in these rocks and eventually the roof will cave in leaving a pillar or stack.  There is a blow-hole here too, a sea cave where the roof is open – eroded from above and below – allowing the ocean to force its way up through the rocks like a spouting whale on stormy days.

This is a beautiful and geologically interesting coastline stretching c. 95 miles from Orcombe Point in Devon to Old Harry Rocks in Dorset.

Lavender’s Blue

Lavender's BlueSometimes known as the witches herb or elf leaf, lavender has a long history and is purported to offer many benefits including antiseptic, purifying and worm-purging properties.  It’s said witches covet this richly scented herb because it improves clairvoyance and protects against the evil eye. Lavender is also associated with tranquillity, good luck, sleep and love.

My mother and grandmother would sing the ‘Lavender’s Blue’ lullaby to us when we were young children; I still remember the words, the melody and how they both sounded. My love of lavender began in my grandmother’s garden where I would sit watching honey bees and butterflies on the blue-mauve flowers. The plants were, quite literally, crawling with life and you’d  hear the buzzing long before you’d see the flowers.

There’s an alternative version of ‘Lavender’s Blue,’ possibly the original source of the lullaby.  It’s a 17th century folk song with rather bawdy lyrics and a number of suggestions that are far from innocent… not the stuff of lullabies at all!  This discovery hasn’t diminished my liking for lavender, it’s perfume and happy memories it inspires.