Saturday, 18 September 2010

Fungus fungus everywhere but not a thing to eat

I wish I was one of those clever (and brave) people who know about fungus.  I have some crackers growing in the garden at the moment and I would love to know if they are edible.  Wild mushrooms have always fascinated me since I was a child.   We were a boating holiday and my parents bought some wild mushrooms from a lady working at a local windmill.  She had picked them in the fields that morning.  When they got them back to the boat they decided not to risk it and binned them.  Since then I have had aspirations about gathering food from hedgerows and taking it home for a free meal.  I have never had the courage to follow it through, apart from a few apples and blackberries of course.  I don't even think a good field guide would help, I would still not trust myself.  Sickness or death is not terribly appealing so I will continue with Asda's own brand!

Mmmm yummy....maybe.....

Probably not....although they do remind me of bread rolls

The least appetising looking, rather like dead flowers.  Probably the only edible ones of the bunch!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Excitement in the village!

We had great excitement here today for about 2 mins!  The Tour of Britain cycle race came right past our door.  There have been notices up warning about it for a few weeks.  I had read about it being the UK answer to The Tour de France so I was well looking forward to it.  I made sure I would not be going out because I knew the roads would be chaos and also because I wanted to see it go past.  The signs said 2pm - 4pm.

While I was waiting I made some Plum jam and Green Tomato Chutney to while away the time.  From 2pm onwards I kept looking out for signs of cyclists.  The Hairy Hubby told me there were crowds on Rollesby bridge so I was getting pretty excited.  The traffic seemed to be moving as usual outside so all seemed fine.

Just after 3pm just as my jam was ready to bottle there was a massive commotion outside.  Horns blowing, police sirens, you name it.  I looked out to see streams of police bikes going past the house at speed with sirens blaring.  I have to say I am not sure I have heard a motorcycle siren before, it's a funny noise.  There was so much racket we thought there had been a major accident!

I ran to the top of the drive and looked down the road, all I could see coming were more streams of police bikes with lights flashing.  This must be it I thought.  "Oh hell, my jam...oh lord where is my camera?"  I ran back in to grab my camera yelling to the hairy one that if he was not interested would he take care of the jam please?  He is a very versatile hairy man I have to say and did manage to save the jam.  I legged it back to the road took about two photos and the camera went flat!  Grrrr why does that always happen!!!  Then I had to sprint back in to find my little camera (yes, I ran, it really was a special event!)  Luckily that one had some charge and I was able to get back to the road just before the cyclists arrived.

First there was some sort of support car, a bit like they have on the F1 after a crash, followed closely by two cyclists pedalling like fury and having a chat, well more like a shout, with each other.  Then some more police bikes.  I hope there were no criminals in Norfolk today because every police bike owned by the Norfolk Constabulary was on the A149!  Then in the distance I could see a crowd (flock, gaggle, bunch???) of cyclists streaming down the road.  I have to say it was very impressive, the noise their wheels made was incredible and they whoooshed past me so fast I felt the need to step back a pace even though I was on the pavement.  There must have been about 50 of them, all bunched up.  They were past in about 2 seconds, I was barely able to get any photos because the camera I used takes ages to reset after each shot.  Following on from them was a fleet of cars, all with bikes on top.  I am assuming they were the riders support teams.  They streamed past.

After they had gone it was straight back to business as usual on the road, not a police bike in sight.  I had imagined streams of bikes going past for ages, a bit like you see when the London Marathon runners go past.  It was all over in seconds, I was a bit disappointed really.  The whole thing must have cost a fortune with all that police presence.  I am sure four bikes would have been all that was needed really. 

PS There are THREE Butterfly squirrels in the garden tonight, I bet the little rotters are all flushed with excitement over yesterdays spilled seed and are planning an fresh attack on my feeders!T

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Seasonal wind

It's been howling a gale here today.  I had intended to go to Breydon for high tide but thought better of it.  The last time I went there in the wind the tide was all messed up because of it.  Plus the hide was swaying like a palm tree.  Not that I am a coward you understand, usually with things like that I tell myself its perfectly safe but lets face it how do I know that anyone has checked the safety of that hide in the last hundred years.  It's planted there on stilts in the mud wobbling away in the wind.  It could be a death trap.  The whole thing could collapse into the mud at any moment, with me inside it.  Even worse with my scope inside it, and that does not bounce and does not heal.  OK, I admit it I am a coward!

The wind did cause me other problems too today.  It blew over my feeding station.  It's only the second time that has happened.  Luckily the big ugly squirrel baffle survived again, lord knows how, but one of my seed feeders broke.  Well actually the crash finished off what Butterfly the Squirrel had started when he was raging his terror campaign on my feeders.  So that's more money I have to find for the birds.  Honestly they are eating me out of house and home.  I hope they show their appreciation soon and invite one of their rarer cousins for tea!  At least I was able to get everything put to rights before Butterfly spotted it and thought it was Christmas come early.  I think he had a lovely time with all the spilt seed on the lawn though, I hope it does not give him ideas.

Mostly I rather like the weather now I live here.  By that I don't mean its always pleasant because its not but somehow you feel more part of it than you do in a town.  When it's windy the trees in the wood rage with it.  When it rains it lashes with venom.  When it's hot its just great!  There seems to be more power behind it, you can really feel the force of mother nature and what she is doing.

I am also noticing the seasons more.  Not that I haven't always taken an interest but again you feel more part of the changes, more connected.  I am watching crops being harvested that I remember as tiny shoots out of bare soil.   On Sunday I went Onion picking in a field I watched grow all summer.  There are fruits everywhere you look.  As you drive down the road there are various coloured plums dropped all over the road and pavement.  One stretch was striped purple then yellow then red.  The garden opposite us has trees dripping with pears.  What a waste, they live in The States and are rarely in residence, oh the temptation to scrump them!  When I go birding along the dunes I feast on blackberries, the sweetest I have tasted in years and no I am not being over romantic, it's true!

We are even eating the seasons more than ever before thanks to our local farm shops.  They only stock things which are in season for obvious reasons and when they have things they are so fresh I just have to feast on them.  The latest addition is sweetcorn fresh from the fields and speedily onto my barbecue!  Through the year I have picked my own Strawberries, Raspberries, Gooseberries, Plums, Runner Beans and Onions.  According to the notice at the onion field it's spuds next month. 

Until this week I have been buying home made jam from the local farmer too but now I have my own massive pan which was delivered this morning I can at last make my own jams and preserves.  I made Beetroot and Orange Chutney today with Beetroot and onions from the local farm of course.  The whole house stinks of vinegar now but I am sure it will be worth it in a couple of months when we taste it.  Tomorrow it will be Plum jam made with the Plums I picked today.  I like picking plums, you don't have to bend over for them.  I am a slacker as well as a coward!  At this rate I will be joining the Women's Institute and learning how to crochet those horrible tacky pretty little dolls you put over toilet rolls!

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Once in a lifetime

Today was a long day, I had been up at 6am to go to the Wing and a Prayer Wild Bird and Owl Haven Open Day.  I was on face painting duty.  When I finally arrived home  the Hairy Hubby wanted to go to Asda, it was the last place I felt like going but I was so glad I did.

When we came out I saw the most panoramic sunset I have ever seen in my life.  Our Asda is next to Breydon Water and is very open all around so you get pretty much a 360 degree view of the sky.  I will not be able to do justice to what I saw but I will try.  The sun was low, almost gone.  A great burning ball on the horizon over the estuary, if you call it an estuary.  What was totally amazing was that the sunset covered the whole sky.  Everywhere I looked there was sunset, all around me and above me.  It was as if the world was on fire and I was in the middle of it, feeling very small.  The colours were incredible, peach, amber, purple, gold, pink, and an amazing aqua blue in addition to the classic blue sky.  There were dramatic cloud patterns, huge mountains in the distance, wispy streaks above me.  Swirls of colour shooting through the clouds as if by laser.  I felt as if I was inside a giant painted dome.  You can keep your Sistine Chapel I will take the natural world any day.  If I had painted it the only thing I would have added was a skein of geese flying across the sky but a lonely Gull sufficed.

I watched the sky driving home and the colours intensified as the sun slid away.  I knew that by the time we arrived home the show would be pretty much over.  As we drove across Rollesby and Ormsby Broads the colour had gone from most of the sky, just leaving the area around the sun a blazing orange and purple.  The water on Rollesby Broad was totally still and glowing gold and peach.

It was one of those experiences you just know is once in a lifetime, never to be repeated.  You could never plan to see something like that, it just finds you. 

By the time I ran back with my camera it was too late to do it justice