Sunday, 31 May 2009

Botanic Wildlife

Two quick uploads from a trip to the Botanic Gardens this morning.
Or maybe just one, as one might not upload. Another spectactular day - it was sometimes cooler in the glasshouses than it was in the gardens!

Saturday, 30 May 2009

The irises are nearly over.

There are just a couple of buds left on the irises and then that's it for another year. Yesterday C said he wanted me to take some pictures of a white one that was just coming out - he reckoned it would be out this morning. It was, sure enough, but so had been some insects or just possibly a slug, so it wasn't very photogenic. A petal is all I could get for him.
And the last of the buds...

There's also one peculiar double iris, the only one like it in the pot...
Despite the heat the Cornish Pasties came out very well. I made the pastry in the morning before the house warmed up too much. The weather today reminds me so much of our holiday in Cornwall a few years ago, so the two went together well.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Hide and Seek in the Mahonia

There are not so many berries on our neighbour's mahonia this year as last. I'm not complaining, they fall on the patio and get walked into the house. But the starlings love them, and last year they spent a whole day picking the tree clean - when the magpies didn't fly past to scare them off. So whereas last year I could have taken a picture of a whole tree full of starlings, this year it was hit and miss. I like this shot, though.
Our friendly little robin was much easier to capture.
What a scorching hot midsummer day we had today, and still only May. Not the day to have decided to make potato bread so that we can have cinnamon and pecan rolls for breakfast tomorrow, and rosemary and Parmesan focaccia for tonight. Think I may have to reconsider the Cornish Pasties for tomorrow - in this heat making good pasty is going to be next to impossible.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Motion and Stillness

I should have been doing the housework as soon as I got home from work today. But hey, I had to wait for the water to get hot to wash the floors, and I'd done the dusting last night. So after loading a wash into the washing machine I sat on the floor in the back porch trying to get a picture of a bluetit. No such luck...just these robins. You can see I haven't swept the patio yet!
For technical interest, the focal length was 300mm, which on my FourThirds camera equates to 600mm on a 35mm camera. The shutter speed was 1/60 second (handheld), at f5.6.

I hate that mahonia. It's in the neighbour's garden. It drops nasty spiky leaves into our garden (I go barefoot a lot). It litters the patio with flowers which get tracked into the house. It litters the patio with berries which get tracked into the house. But it's a haven for birds, and sometimes the starlings come and strip all the berries before too many of them end up on my floor. For the fact that the birds love it, I can forgive a lot.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Saturday evening in the park

We were out all day yesterday, and when we got home I was just wiped out and had a headache. So after dinner it was a choice between bed or a walk in the park. Well, at 11 in the morning it had been raining so heavily that even with the windscreen wipers on full, it was hard to see. At 8 in the evening it was beautifully sunny, so the walk in the park won. We took a different route to our normal one, to keep the sunshine on our shoulders - cue John Denver.
The chestnut trees are just coming towards the end of their prime, but still worth taking a look at...

Then we encountered this pair of mallards:

They were walking along dipping their necks up and down, and looking to the left and right. I am not sure what they were looking at. My guess is that there were probably some little mallard chicks in the long grass there too, but I didn't want to get too close and alarm them. And as this was one stretch where we were in the shade, C was starting to feel cold and wanted to move on...

So like the ducks, we did.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

One of my favourite soups.

Miscellany covers it all - room for anything and everything.
So here is one of my favourite soup recipes. It's a warming lunch in winter, and a light evening meal in this weather.

Sweetcorn Chowder
To serve 4 people
1 tablespoon of oil, little bit of butter (1/2 oz, 1 tablespoon)
1 large red onion, chopped into large pieces
2 medium potatoes (about 12 oz) chopped into small pieces (approx 3/4" square)
1 red pepper/capsicum, chopped into dice
2 tbsp flour
1 pint milk
1/2 pint water (maybe more)
2 bay leaves
1 large (12oz) can sweetcorn, drained and rinsed
2 ounces of broccoli, broken into florets.
4 oz grated red cheese
chopped parsley

Heat the oil and butter, and lightly fry the onions, potatoes and pepper for a few minutes. If you like garlic, you can add it. Stir in the flour, cook gently for a couple of minutes and then add the milk all in one go, (should mean the flour doesn't go lumpy) and the water. Stir well while bringing it to the boil.
Add the sweetcorn, bay leaves and broccoli, and cook over a low heat with a lid on for about 20 minutes, till the potatoes are just tender.
Stir in half the grated cheese, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve with the rest of the cheese and chopped parsley sprinkled over the top.
Since there are only two of us, I usually make the full amount except for the broccoli, which I halve. I think if you leave broccoli in it and reheat it, it gives it an unpleasant flavour, and without the broccoli it will keep well in the fridge.

Sunday, 10 May 2009


At last the winds of the last few days have died down. So I was able to take a picture of these little irises. They are called Pacific or Orchid irises and stand just about a foot tall. I grew them from seed four years ago, so I love it when they come out.
I'd just cleaned the bird feeder and put fresh seed in, so I stuck the zoom lens on the camera and waited a while, and one of our little robins came along -
He sure needs some feeding up. Just look how fat this one in the Botanic Gardens is in comparison! Although I suppose when they are singing, they do puff their chest out much more.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Kerry visit

We were down with my Dad in Kerry for the weekend. Contrary to the weather forecast, it was pretty sunny most of the time. I saw a blue dragonfly flying over the garden, and then this one came to land. My husband came across a whole lot of drawings of damselflies in an ornithology magazine in the house and told me what this one was, but I don't recall. Wish the blue one had landed!
Since rally cars were passing the house all day on Sunday, it was not quite as peaceful as usual.