132 Children…. 16 December 2014

I woke to the tragic news that 80 children had been murdered at a school in Peshawar, Pakistan by Taliban “Fighters”.  What “men” they were, that they should slaughter children to prove themselves so brave, what devout “men” to kill children to prove to their comrades how great is Islam.  Mohammad must be devastated and disgusted that his great religion is used in this way.

As the day wore on, the death toll among the children has risen to some 132…..

I have been an atheist since I was very young, not because I have any great objection to “religion” per-say or that people should believe in their “God” whoever or whatever that may be, but in some part because of the gross bigotry exercised by some the “God Fearing” individuals I have met, but mainly because of the extraordinary acts of sheer evil carried out in the name of religion in the distant past and during the supposed civilised years of my life.  Those acts have been carried out in the name of Christianity and Islam, in their many factions, Sikhism and many others less prominent.

All these major religions place peace, harmony and forgiveness at their heart, but attract followers who are prepared to act with great barbarism in the name of their chosen religion.

I will be judged by my peers and descendants.    Their God will judge them…….

Snow Day? Almost……… 7th December ’14

Over the last few days Hilary and I have spent some time in between the rain and frost, repairing the roof and felt on the horse’s field shelter, it has suffered from lack of maintenance over the last few years and was leaking like a sieve.

On Friday I finished laying the under-felt ready for the top felt to be laid as soon as the weather allowed.  Yesterday was OK but I had arranged to collect a new trailer for hay and upcoming building works so the roof would have to wait……

I looked out of the window this morning and the winds had got up overnight and blown some of the underlay off!  Dressed and out with hammer and nails to make emergency repairs, just in time for the snow flurries to start!  The snow and sleet continued while I was on the roof and while I fed the animals and mucked out the horses.  Dogs walked, the sleet stopped and the sun came out, just in time for coffee.  Can’t win sometimes…….

2014-12-07 09.30.06

The Slaley snow storm….!!!

Daffy and The Ducklings 17th August 2014

Daffy and The Ducklings?  Sounds like a Sixties pop group!  Anyway, after 35 days sitting on seven eggs under the Inular in the garden Daphne duck (Daffy) presented her smart little brood of ducklings to the world early this day in August.

DSC_0011 - Version 2

When Harry heard the news he couldn’t wait to see his new friends and came running as fast as he could.


Meanwhile Boris, who had remained blissfully unaware of the consequences his actions a month and a half earlier was in deep shock.



But yes, all the ducklings were gorgeous and Daffy a wonderful Mother, even Boris took a great interest in this little brood.


And why wouldn’t he………

Family Outing 24th July 2014

The kids like to meet up with their paternal cousins whenever they can, they are all living in different parts of the country these days, so it was a lovely sunny day in July when they last met.

We had a nice walk around Slaley Forest near the cottage and enjoyed the wonderful views across Hexhamshire.


Later we stopped off to see Jonny who was busy leading bales of silage from the fields to the farmyard, one of his many 12 to 16 hour days at the time.


Helie of course insisted on trying out the passenger seat of the tractor….


Because I am an antisocial creature, the highlight of the day was seeing this lovely Comma Butterfly in the Forest!!

Comma Butterfly  Polygonia c-album

Comma Butterfly Polygonia c-album

The early evening at the cottage was not without it’s joys either,


Shield Bug

Shield Bug

Overall, not a bad sort of day all……..

Childhood 21/07/2014

I had reason to drive over to Consett this day in July, not my favourite place these days but I was born there all those years ago, in the little estate in this photo. When I was little we used to play here on The Blue Heaps above the house.  The heaps were a wild place of adventure for us kids, a place that I think used to be spoil heaps from one of the Berryedge coal mine shafts. Covered in scrub and gorse, it was the sort of place that kids would never be allowed to venture alone today but we loved it, exploring, playing in streams and bogs, and insane sledging down icy runnels in the winter, oh the bruises and windings!  The only downside was the prominence of slate in the spoil, I still have a group of scars on my knee from a septic wound they caused…..

The Blue Heaps, Blackhill

The Blue Heaps, Blackhill

It was in this house in 1957 that I made my first appearance.  The small estate was built in the 1930s for Junior Managers at the Consett Iron Company works but I am sure they were all sold off to non-employees quite early on, my father worked in “The Bank”.  The house looks much the same now, though the garage Dad built for his Ford Anglia (LTY 459, three speed no synchromesh luxury!) is gone and windows replaced etc but it’s still there..  Sadly, no Blue Plaque!!!

9 Clarence Gardens

9 Clarence Gardens

Common Centuary 17/07/2014

One of my favourites among the wild flowers here at the cottage is this Common Centuary.  I had never seen one before although they are not rare, for me a great find.  We had a about half a dozen plants above the meadow for a couple of years then nothing the next.  Thinking they had vanished, I was really pleased to see a few plants reappear this summer.   Fingers crossed for next….

Common Centuary Centaurium erythraea

Common Centuary
Centaurium erythraea

One of my favourite insect photos of this summer was this lucky shot of a Small Heath Butterfly.

Small Heath Butterfly  Coenonympha pamphilus

Small Heath Butterfly Coenonympha pamphilus

Invertebrates at Holly Cottage July/August 2014

While observing the practicalities of using the land at the cottage to graze the animals, we are also keen to preserve as much of the wide range of wild plants and habitats as we can, setting aside various areas to be managed accordingly.

Apart from the range of plants in the little meadow and woodland, the land also supports a great number of insects, non rare that we have seen so far, but all special and important.

Peacock Butterfly Aglais io

Peacock Butterfly
Aglais io





Small Heath Butterfly  Coenonympha pamphilus

Small Heath Butterfly Coenonympha pamphilus

Green Veined White Butterfly

Green Veined White Butterfly

Harvestman (I think)

Harvestman (I think)



Small Tortoise Shell  Aglais urticae

Small Tortoise Shell
Aglais urticae

Bonking Beatle

Bonking Beatle

Speckled Wood Butterfly  Pararge aegeria

Speckled Wood Butterfly Pararge aegeria

Lauren’s Graduation July ’14

One major event before we moved house was Lauren’s graduation day, which involved a drive down to Nottingham in the Land Rover, we had a bed to bring back with us.

We may now call her Lauren, BV MedSci Hons!

P1060095  She seemed happy enough….

I think sister Helen was almost as excited.


Oh yes, and one or two of Lauren’s friends did rather well too!

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Only two more years of extraordinarily hard work and they will be let loose on an unsuspecting animal kingdom.

It’s Been a Busy Old Time…..

Good grief!  It’s been four months since I last posted properly, most of the recent posts here, those covering the last year, have been transferred from the old site

In fairness we have been a tad busy.  We put our house on the market on Christmas Eve.  Yes, not the most obvious date but there we are. In August we accepted an offer and 6th of September we packed up and moved.


But to where I hear you ask?  Well, five miles away up t’hill to where the views are lovely and the wind blows chill, to my Mother’s old cottage which we are planning to buy, renovate and slightly extend.

Some of you will have seen pictures of “The Cottage” over the last few years as our horses and poultry have lived there for some time now and have featured in many posts and blogs.


It’s not always like this at the cottage and hopefully during the next nine months or so the sun will shine long enough for us to do a considerable amount of building work.  Over the following few weeks I will try and catch up with some of the other things that have been happening in our lives……

Bread and Butter… 1/07/2014

This week’s aggravation of and old back injury has restricted activities, however bread and butter making went ahead as planned. Tomorrow morning’s breakfast is looking promising…… Thanks to the Baynes family, http://www.northumbrianpedigree.com/ for the wonderful cream used in the butter, their milk and cream is highly recommended! I must get some bees, the table is looking bare without honey!!