Dorset Holiday part 1

We have returned from a lovely week down in Dorset. One of Amy’s friends from her time working in Indonesia had offered us the use of her house while she was on holiday. This has worked out ideal as we then didn’t need to take bed guards and hundreds of toys for Alice as they were already there. That said, the car was still pretty full. Tiny peugeots are possibly not the best family holiday cars. This was the longest car journey we’ve taken Alice on at six hours. But she coped very well. We timed it well for her having a good nap on the way down and two stop offs. Only one section with a screaming child in the back. Alice enjoyed her service station stop offs. Everything is an adventure at her age.

The first proper day down we got ourselves in order with a trip to Aldi for food. We realised the weather forecast was rain for almost the whole week, so we stopped in sports direct and invested in waterproof trousers. This have been invaluable, keeping us dry, meaning we haven’t needed to worry sitting on wet benches or being splashed every time Alice launched herself  into a pudding.

Then a visit to Hengistbury Head where Amy’s friend was staying. Hengistbury Head is headland jutting out of the coast between Bournemouth and Mudeford. It has a variety of habitats including beach, heathland, grassland and shrub making it an area of scientific interest, a special area of conservation interest, a special protection area and an environmentally sensitive area. On a good day I imagine this is an amazingly bio diverse area with wonders to be seen. However the two days we visited were cold, windy and wet, so much of the wildlife was hidden away.

To get to the head you can go round on a land train or take a short ferry from Mudeford Quays. We opted for the ferry. Alice thought it was very exciting going on the ferry. It was her first time on a boat. There was lots of excited pointing at other boats and smiling at the other people on the ferry.

Along the headland are lovely little beach huts, some for renting.

We had a little amble along the headland with our host and her twins.

Alice loved jumping in every puddle on the way and searching for rocks.

While the wildlife was put off by the wind there was still plenty to interest me with shrubs and wildflowers for me to look up in my birthday present, the wildflower key.

We had a lovely time along the headland. I would love to return on a sunnier day. I expect we would have seen a lot of butterfly life more species of bird. Part two to follow, in which we see wild horses.

Birthday Treats

Last Saturday was my birthday. I had a nice relaxing day. Me, Alice and Amy got out for a walk and lunch. Amy has treated me to tickets for Bill Bailey later in the year, which I’ll enjoy. I’ve seen him a few times and he’s always been amazing. Alice bought me Paddington 2, which has to be one of the best family movies of the last few years. Then got Amazon vouchers from family.

On Sunday my sister and nephews came over to wish me well. We had glorious sunshine for a walk along the seafront.

Then we went to one of Amy’s sisters for tea where I received tasty beers and sweets for my birthday. Alice had a good play in the garden with cousins. This mainly involved her pushing them away any time they came close to her ball. She had a sulk about coming in for food. Once out she likes staying out.

Monday was spent waiting in for Ikea to deliver furniture. We are starting to create Alice’s woodland room. However Ikea added extra furniture and didn’t deliver the main wardrobe we’ve ordered. So we’ve got another day waiting in to see if they get it right.

Then Tuesday my parents got us out for a birthday lunch at Mr Moos. I had a rather delicious blue cheese burger and a Belgium Waffle with toffee ice cream for pudding. Alice enjoyed her first full ice cream to herself with lots of shouts for more when she finished. Amy enjoyed her orange marmalade ice cream. An ice cream fit for Paddington. The cows are on site at Mr Moos, but sadly they were out of the barn and couldn’t see them in the field. Alice was a little disappointed, so may have to take her out for a walk around the countryside.

With my Amazon vouchers I had bought a few small things for outside. A new birdbath. I’d gone for a RSPB one. I wanted a decent sized one, which meant a plastic or resin for the amount I’m willing to spend. The reviews had said it looked better than the photos, but I’m not convinced. It still looks cheap to me, but it a decent size with a good bowl for the birds to get in.

Then I’ve bought the wildflower key. This book is recommended as one of the best guides for identifying wild flowers in the UK. With my efforts for #wildflowersunday I’ve been gradually improving my knowledge, but a better guide will help.

For my other hobby, my photography, I’ve ordered a more padded camera strap. I only had the strap the camera came with and it aches on the neck if I’m carrying it round my neck for a while.

 

I also had some good news today that I have won another prize from Oldhouseintheshires I added a blog to the linkup entering into the competition to win a garden sign and garden vouchers. Check the link out for more garden blogs. Lots of interesting reads on there. With my meadow in my garden win and this I’m feeling pretty lucky.

Rock hunting

Today saw my parents visiting. After a trip for lunch at the Floral Hall  we headed out for a walk along the seafront.It was a nice day for it. The sun was out and the day was was calm. No chilling Winter winds today.

Alice enjoyed walking with my mum along the sea wall. Increasingly she wants to run.

We got down onto the beach. Just a few months ago Alice was very reluctant to walk on the sand. Now she’s trying to throw herself into the water.

Each time we go along the seafront she finds a couple of stones she doesn’t want to part with. She is very particular over which she takes. I can’t see any particular reason she wants the ones she takes, but she clearly does. In each photo you will see her hands are tightly clutching a pile of stones.

Some other visitors had made a good rock circle.


A distant bird, possibly a dunlin.

A more accommodating photogenic gull. I think it’s a black headed gull, but with the gulls all being white with some black I still haven’t got my eye in on identification.

A nice stroll along the front and an ice cream on the way back. It’s good to see Alice becoming more adventurous. Then with parents gone I still had time to work in the garden to finish the seeding from yesterday.

New Year at the Bay

For New Years Eve we had a quiet night in as Alice isn’t quite ready for parties. New Years Day we headed up the coast to Amy’s dad’s house at Robin Hood’s Bay where we had a lovely meal at the Hare and Hounds in Hawker. Amy had the trio of pork and I had the home made burger with goats cheese. I just expected a few pieces crumbled on the top, but it was a solid slice of grilled goats cheese. It was all delicious. Alice had a good wait, so had walked back and forth across the pub multiple times before food. But she did quite well for her age. She has decided to reject booster seats now. She wants either a chair to herself or my knees to sit on. She knows her own mind for a one and a half year old.

The next day saw a good sunrise over the bay with breathtaking skies. I think I said it last time I went, but photos don’t do it justice.

The next day we got out for a walk. I was taking photos as we went for the New Year Plant Hunt organised by the BSBI. The aim being to monitor what wildflowers are in bloom in Winter.

A few seen on the way.

Red Valerian

The winter heliotrope. A rather delightful low laying wildflower.

Plenty of gorse along cliff faces.

We had a nice walk along the beach. We didn’t quite make it to Boggle Hole, just down the coast. Boggle is a local name for a hobgoblin, a mischievous little person. Boggle Hole was one of the spots the smugglers on this stretch of coast used, thus the name.

Alice was keen to get in the howdah today trying to clamber in before we were ready.

Continue reading New Year at the Bay

Autumn Sun

Today has been unusually hot. Lots of people sat out at the seafront pub. We got out for a walk along the front. Alice got out of her pram to walk the whole front.

The gulls lining up on the sea defences.

Alice had a good run.

In the park she had a good explore of the Autumn leaves. A lot of fun from the simple pleasure of throwing them. It’s the simple things in life.

Morning stroll

Early start

Following on from badger adventures and beach walking Alice decided to wake up very early on Friday. So we got to see the sun rise over the bay.

Morning explore

Alice was restless in the house so we got out to see the streets quiet. This was a nice change from the usual mass of people struggling up and down the slope.

Seafront

Down at the front there was lots of life out. The gulls and wagtails exploring the seaweed.

Nap time

I returned Alice to the house and got out for another walk on my own. I was keen to try and get a bit closer to the oystercatchers. The oystercatchers were more plentiful this time with the tide going out and the rock pools to explore. These waders use their distinctive long beak to look for molluscs amongst the pools. They are rather striking and are probably the key bird I connect with the bay.

A few in flight.

The only one in clear focus didn’t have the angle on the beak sadly.

I did manage a bit closer than the day before though to get a better shot. It’s not a postcard perfect shot, but a bit closer than I could manage with Alice on my back.

While I didn’t manage a perfect oystercatcher photo the robins were out in groups, unusually for a bird known for its territorial behaviour. They kindly obliged for photos and serenaded as I walked back up the cliff path.

Cliff View

I walked a little way along the cliff edge along the Cleveland Walk to switch to the wide angle extension to try for a shot of the whole bay.

Not a bad use of an early start.

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Bay walk

The second day at the bay we got out for a walk along the sea front with Alice’s aunt, uncle, cousin and granddad.

Max had an explore down the tunnel.

Alice had a brief walk on the sand. She didn’t like the water very much so ended up back in the howdah pretty quick.

Alice’s Uncle Rich and cousin Max explored rock pools finding a decent sized crab.

Pecking through the distant rock pools for molluscs we saw the oyster catchers.

And a few butterflies on the way back up the cliff.

Back at the house we had a sit down in the rather beautiful garden for a cuppa. Alice had a good explore.

Photo challenge

The photo challenge I’ve been taking part in had been focussing on flowers and petals this week. So I’ve been playing with aperture.

So here is the same flower at different apertures. This affects the background focus. Generally for flowers people aim to have the flower in focus, then the background in soft focus isolating the main subject of the flower.

1/6 sec. f/36 50 mm

This gives some focus to the background leaves, which here isn’t quite as nice as the soft focus.

1/200 sec. f/5.6 50 mm

1/200 sec. f/6.3 42 mm

The higher f-number giving a nicer shot in my opinion. The subject flower is shot showing the colours nicely with the background as a soft blur.

And a few other shots from the garden.

Alice has enjoyed having her cousin around.

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No fair

This weekend my twitter feed was filled with the wonderful happenings at bird fair. However there was no bird fair for me, but still plenty of birding action.

While out for a walk with Alice I finally got close enough to photograph one of the pied wagtails that hop all along the grassland verges on the seafront.

The rooks were being equally obliging for photos. The seafront corvids are often a bit skittish, but they can’t have been feeling too threatened on Sunday as they were happy for us to get fairly close.

I was set for photographing the sparrows in the rose bushes when a large flash went past my face. I just managed to snap a photo of what I think is a sparrowhawk before it disappeared into the distance. While not a great photo, I was happy to have had good enough reflexes and getting the focus to manage a photo that showed what it was.

Along the seafront there was a cormorant perching out on one of the posts. While neither this or the sparrowhawk are amazing photos I was happy to capture them. I see sparrowhawks regularly, especially on the way to work, but haven’t managed to photograph one yet. The cormorants I see flying over head most days, but rarely see them settled down on the ground. Neither are going to win me bird photographer of the year but I’m still happy to have captured the images. The winners of bird photographer of the the year were announced this weekend at birdfair. Some stunning images, well worth a browse. There is a lovely looking book available. We’re cutting back our books to make space for Alice’s belongings, so I will just be enjoying the images online.

As well as the birds there was lots of activity from the insects. The small tortoiseshells seemed to be enjoying the dry grass cuttings.

A fantastic fuzzy caterpillar made a quick dash across the path.

I spotted some camomile for wildflower hour growing out of a crack in the pavement.

Alice got out for a walk along the grass, but insisted on carrying her Meg and Mog book with her. She’s become quite attached to this one recently.

So happy to of photographed a few birds I’ve not managed yet. I’ll carry on working on improving my photos. I may eventually manage a decent focussed shot from the front of one of the sparrowhawks, but it’s a start.

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The road goes ever onwards

Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains in the moon.

J.R.R Tolkein-The hobbit

Sunday saw Alice and myself escaping out the house to escape paint stripper fumes. Amy has been working hard stripping paint off the stair bannister. We’ve tried to avoid Alice being around it. We headed off along one of the footpaths through the new housing estate that brings us out into the countryside. The crops were being harvested today. A great amount of dust and wheat shreds were in the air.

The side of the path has a number of the largest buddleia bushes. The peacocks who were absent a few weeks ago are now swarming all over it.

From here we explored a bridleway I’ve not ventured down yet. It runs alongside one of the caravan parks and is quite well kept in comparison to other around.

A number of speckled woods departed as we came along.

The bridleway took us out back along the coastal edge. The path took us down past a boat club. Along the path are a number of objects diving crews have brought ashore.

We stopped the pram to let a ground beetle cross our path. It seemed to be in more of a rush than us.

The sun was out bright and the sea was looking spectacular.

Flamborough Cliffs looking good today.

We walked as far as the pram would safely go before returning back along the coast path back to town. On the way saw a distant rabbit hopping back into the hedges as it saw us.

Alice had a run around on the grass along the coast edge before heading for the park. She was in a very sociable mood today chasing other families shouting hiya and waving bye as people went past.

Alice discovered a stick. She’s starting to realise why this is one of the most popular toys of all time. She engaged in some mark making on the path, running and waving it around and bashing other sticks. An excellent toy available in a range of sizes and limited colours. She carried it most of the way home before dropping it as we got back to our street.

We fitted in a quick go on the swings before leaving the park. She’s becoming a bit of a thrill seeker enjoying going higher and higher.

As a teacher I get these long periods of time off for the Summer and it’s lovely being able to spend time like this with Alice. She’s really starting to develop rapidly now. Her understanding is improving daily and her desire to communicate and interact. She loves getting out and has started fetching her shoes and going to the door to show her preference. We’re lucky that we have so many wonderful places to explore around us. I hope everyone had as pleasant Sundays as me and Alice.

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What was in the garden today?

Today I’ve carried on with clearing the old compost heap, which was filled with more rubbish after the house was rented than compost material and I’ve had quite a few visitors to the garden.

Big Butterfly Count

It was the last day of the Butterfly Count today. Today I just counted from the garden. I counted three red admirals, one peacock, two small whites and a painted lady. I didn’t get a photo of the painted lady, but nice to see. I’ve spotted them in the local area but not in my garden. Not a great number, but a nice variety of butterflies. Hopefully this will of been a record breaking year for the count with many people logging sightings.

Mouse

While I’ve been levelling paving slabs for compost bins to sit on I’ve had this little mouse watching. I don’t know if I should be concerned that it has little fear of me. But it was good to see it nibbling some of the unwanted weeds.

Afternoon out

With the paving slabs laid ready for delivery of compost bin later in the week I headed out with Amy and Alice as lots was going on in Hornsea today.

Hornsea District Lions Club were celebrating 50 years with free entertainment in the Memorial Gardens. They had put on a Johnny Cash tribute, “Keep it Cash“. The main singer was pretty much spot on with the voice when singing. They did two solid sets of Cash classics. Alice enjoyed it swaying back and forth, dancing to lots of songs. With plenty of tunes with good rhythm she was happy. Who’d of thought Johnny Cash would make good family fun?

In between sets there was a Punch and Judy show for the kids, but we left for a walk as it was a bit above Alice’s head.

Rescue Day

Down at the sea front it was emergency rescue day. Many of the emergency services had representatives demonstrating their jobs. The rescue dogs were demonstrating their water searches when we arrives. It was good to see the divers showing how they rescue stranded marine animals. A nice little finish to Marine Week

Then we returned for some more Cash in the gardens. A good day, a garden job done, some wonderful wildlife visitors and a marvellous afternoon of music. What have you done with your Sunday Fun day?

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