Posts Tagged countryside

My two favourite walks

Yesterday a friend, whom we’d not seem for a few years, came to visit us.  It was lovely to see her again, and we were lucky in that the sun shone, even though the wind was cold.  After lunch we took her up to Staple Hill, which is one of my 2 favourite places nearby to go for a walk.

A wonderful tree at Staple Hill

Staple Hill is one of the highest places in the Blackdown Hills, Somerset, England and on a fine day it is said you can see right over to Wales. 

 From there we got back in the car and headed the short distance to Otterhead Lakes at Otterford.  At this time of year the bluebells are out in force and there are carpets of blue in the woods.

 English native bluebells have flowers on one side only and droop to the side.  Unfortunately there has been an influx of spanish bluebells in garden centres and these have flowers all the way round.  Luckily in established woodland the bluebells are all native English ones.

 We also spotted some wild garlic with pretty little white flowers and lots of ferns growing up poised ready to unfurl as these ones below.

It’s a lovely walk down to the first lake, then along  a footpath by the side of a stream, across a footbridge and then eventually the path comes out by the second lake.  We met a couple of guys walking their dogs and they took a photo of all 3 of us on the footbridge.

 

The footbridge at Otterhead Lakes

You can see we are well wrapped up as it was quite chilly yesterday, but it is a lovely spot for a walk, really beautiful with all those bluebells.

 If you want to visit Staple Hill or Otterhead Lakes and stay at our B&B, visit us at www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

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Invasion in the paddock

We’ve had an invasion in the paddock.  An invasion of Himalyan Balsam plant, which grows tall, over 6 feet tall, and has a pretty pink flower.  The bees love it as they are drawn to the sweet nectar. So we let them have their fill of it.

The pink flowers of Himalyan Balsam

However, it is a weed, not just a weed but a viscous thug of a weed. It spreads and will take over a patch of land. When the flowers go to seed, the seed pods burst and spread the seeds up to 7 metres or 21 feet, so the following year encroaching on more land.

Himalyan Balsam is said to be as much of a nuisance as Japanese Knotweed and needs to be destroyed.  So one afternoon this week, Neil and I went down to the bottom of the paddock and pulled up all the Himalyan Balsam (it is quite shallow rooted) and put on a bonfire.  The next day Neil set light to it all.

Neil with his bonfire August 2011

The bonfire smouldered and smoked for over a day, but eventually that was the end of the Himalyan Balsam for another summer.

see our website www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

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Bullies in the hen run!

As our existing hens are getting on in hen years, 6 being 2 years old and 6 being 2 and a half years old,  and not laying so many eggs these days, we decided it was time to get some new hens called “point of lay pullets”.  This means the new hens are only 18 weeks old and at the time in their life when they start to lay eggs.

So 4 new Brown Warrens duly arrived on Friday evening.  We put pink leg rings on them so we could tell them apart from the others, but in fact they are much darker brown so quite easy to differentiate anyway.

The new gels - the pink legs!

But our existing hens were none too happy about the new arrivals.  As soon as the new gels ventured out into the hen run,  the older ones would jump at them and peck them, until they ran back into the hen house.  This is the third day now we have had the new gels, and still they are cowering in the hen house run.

The new gels taking cover in the hen house run.

We’ve been told that if you put them all in together at night, then they get used to each other and the bullying should stop.  But at night the new gels don’t want to go into the hen house, and each night, Neil has had to don his leather gloves and pick them up one by one and pop them in the hen house with the others.

Hopefully over time, once the pecking order is well and truly established, the bullying should stop and the new gels will be free to roam the hen run without fear.

We should start to get some lovely brown eggs now for our B&B guests from the new hens.

visit us at www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

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Sunflowers

Ah Sunflower, weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the sun;
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the traveller’s journey is done;”

so starts the poem by William Blake about sunflowers. 

Last year we grew some sunflowers from seed.  They were quite successful and produced big heads.  When they died down I took the seeds and fed them to the chickens.  Unbeknown to us, the chooks didn’t eat them all but left some on the ground.  When we moved the chicken run, these seeds were left to germinate all on their own, and this year they have produced lovely flowers amongst all the other wildflowers (weeds!) that have grown up in the paddock where the chickens used to be.

sunflowers in the paddock August 2011

What is ironic is that the sunflowers I have grown from seed this year are a pathetic 2 feet tall and nowhere near flowering.

sunflower in the paddock August 2011

So you know what I am going to do later on this year when these flowers have died back – I am going to sprinkle the seeds all round the wild part of the paddock, and with any luck next year I will have a field of sunflowers!!

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Lovely drains!!!

One of the “delights” of living in the country is not being on mains sewerage, but having a drain at the back of the kitchen through which all our shower water, dishwasher water, washine machine water and sewerage goes, which then has another pipe leading to the septic tank.

Those of you who receive our newsletter will know the fun and games we had last year with the septic tank, which, touch wood, seems to be working OK now.

However, yesterday Neil noticed at the back of the kitchen that water had built up in the drain.  He took the lid off and found the whole drain blocked up.  Lovely!!

So he got his pressure washer out and squirted water up the pipe from the septic tank end.

Neil with the pressure washer in the septic tank

He managed to dislodge some “gunk” and suddenly the drain emptied down the pipe into the septic tank.  So then he got a piece of sturdy pipe and put that down the pipe from the drain end, all the way along the pipe into the septic tank end.

Neil with pipe in the drain

To make sure all was free running again, he then pressure washed from the drain to the septic tank to ensure all debris was dislodged.  This worked fine, so now we have working drains again.  What a lovely job!!  I hope we don’t have this problem again when we have guests for B&B.  It would be aweful to have to say to them not to flush the loo until we have sorted the drains out!!  Yuk!!

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Birdie in the nest!

Last year we had a pair of swallows that made their nest in the derelict section of the house we call the pump house.  This year we have kept the door closed so they were not able to get in there.  Ted next door, says they come back year after year to the same spot, so we were not surprised to see they had moved close by to our open fronted garage.

We saw them swooping in carrying bits of grass, and observed as they meticulously stuck the nest to one of the rafters.

Inside of our garage July 2011

It didn’t take long for the little nest to be finished, perched precariously on one of the beams.

Carefully made swallow's nest July 2011

We couldn’t see when the eggs were laid as it is rather high up.  Yesterday, Neil spotted movement and called out to me “there’s a birdie in the nest!”.  It looks like there is just one chick only. So we tried to photograph it, but we didn’t want to stay there too long as we didn’t want to spook it.  After a couple of minutes, it behaved just as we wanted it to, and popped it’s little head up.  You can just see the yellow beak.

The yellow beak of the swallow chick July 2011

So we just hope this little chick survives and we will keep an eye out (from a distance) to see when it takes it’s first flight. Ahhhh!

When we have renovated the derelict section for our B&B extension, and updated and moved the garage, this pair of swallows will have to find a new sight to nest in.

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Swiss rolls in the fields

Our local farmer has been busy, cutting the grass in the fields behind our garage to make forage.  The result has been some lovely “swiss rolls ” in the fields.

View of the fields from our window

If we walk down our lane, these fields are on the right hand side.  If you stop at the gate and peer through the field, the next picture is the view.  Spot the cows in the fields.  What a lovely view!!

View across the fields from the lane

We love watching the changing seasons around here.  You definitely feel more at one with nature than living in a town. You notice things you wouldn’t normally notice such as the fields and the different hedgerow flowers.

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