Monday, 31 March 2008

great spotted woodpecker

one of my favourite occasional visitors to our garden, looking rather goony today, with a very striking black moustache.

Sunday, 30 March 2008

first of the season

the first marsh marigold (one flower in a sea of green) and the first greater stitchwort appear by the side of the Inny. We record these first sightings for future reference. Yellow and white flowers are difficult to photograph in the wild without a filter. The raw images have been modulated to exaggerate the detail and reduce the highlights.

stellar flowers

the beautiful flower of magnolia stellata, easily blighted by late frosts but bursting out now as the ground warms up. A native of Japan but very welcome in Cornwall.

slow to worm up

meanwhile, rising above all this colourful confusion and doing its best to look like a drab brown twig is this indolent slow worm warming up in the sun. So indolent indeed that it allowed me to move the leaves (of herb robert) covering its head to take a closer look, blinked a bit and went back to sleep.

white red green blue alkanet

green alkanet is a handsome plant with a vivid blue flower. The naming of the plant seems to suggest some degree of colour confusion; the name alkanet is thought to derive from the arabic al henna (arabic is very guttural) for red from the red dye extracted from its roots; I would have called it blue alkanet myself. Growing alongside this plant is a very unusual white variant, no doubt best called the white green blue red alkanet. The leaves are deeply fissured and the plant is described as "roughly hairy".

Duchy College

Duchy College, on a sunny Sunday morning after a very wet and windy Saturday. Unfortunately Spot has taken to chasing horses; they do not like it and if this blog stops suddenly it will be because he has had what passes for his brain kicked out of his very silly head.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

sky kittens

we like the contrast between the catkins, now out in abundance, and the deep blue sky. Presumably catkin is a corruption of cats' skins but ... it turns out , on good authority (OED of etymology), that it probably comes from a corruption of the dutch word katteken or kitten, or the French word chaton.

celandine doggerel

the lesser celandine, closing up in the evening sun

There is a flower, the lesser celandine
That shrinks, like many more, from cold and rain
And, the first moment that the sun may shine
Bright as the sun himself, 'tis out again

by Uncle Max, with some assistance from WW

(did WW really get away with such trite verse?)

demolition works

industrial archaeology reveals the original mill (to the left) underneath the monstrous corrugated iron carbuncle at Beals Mill. Very soon the little cottages in the shadow of this great hulk will be bathed in light again ...we will keep an eye on the progress of the demolition work.

lesser periwinkle

lesser periwinkle (unimaginatively derived from the latin pervinca when it might have had all sorts of old english connotations). It is a ground covering plant, usually found near habitation, but growing wild in the south west. Good for fertility when eaten by both parties, and nose bleeds in Christians (and no one else?). It is a lovely light purple blue.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

no more puppies

Cassie looking very excited about the arrival of a new puppy (Charlie J) in the family. Don't ask what Harri is doing.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

anywhere but here

a grey heron fleeing the approach of the wolf pack. They are very shy creatures except when they are fishing in your ponds.

Friday, 21 March 2008


a hellebore growing underneath a hedge tree. Not sure which type but probably a garden escapee, the purple edges are typical of stinking hellebore. Spread by snails, and used to make violent purgatives for worm infestations; unfortunately the treatment tended to kill the patient as well and thus fell (eventually) out of favour

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

falling between two pews

the villages of Venterdon and Stoke Climsland are situated between the methodist chapel on the left and the anglican church on the right. Unfortunately there is no pub between them. Dartmoor is visible bathed in sunlight on the far horizon to the left.

Monday, 17 March 2008

keeping up with the wistarias

our wistaria (named it would seem for an American anatomist, Caspar Wistar, hence the 'a' rather than an 'e', although everyone seems to spell it with an e enywey) is lagging behind the rest of the world (see link)

St Patrick's day wren

wrens love scavenging under bushes, and along with sparrows and tits are extremely busy now. They are difficult to capture on film because they are so quick and jumpy.

scurvy grass

scurvy grass (qv), spreading along road verges throughout Cornwall; it flourishes in the salty conditions that follow salting the roads in winter. The buildings in the distance are our local junior school, and if you enlarge the photo you will see some red blobs which are the children wearing their vivid red school jumpers out at morning play time.

Stoke Climsland and daffodils

our village and the church as seen from the main drive into Duchy College, our local university of agriculture, based at Home farm which used to be where Prince Charles stayed when he was visiting his Duchy (most of the rest of Cornwall).

Saturday, 15 March 2008

very old ivy

I have never seen a stem of ivy as thick as this one invading a hedge oak like some alien monster emerging from the bowels of the earth ... corrugated iron by cornwall farmers associated

water falls

not ice but water, a small waterfall near Broadgate

Sunday, 9 March 2008

mission control

Spot has also been quite taken by all the interesting interiors on other blogs so he would like to show you where he spends a lot of his time working on his blog. The painting on the right is by Rose Hilton, and the pastel on the left is by Bryan Pearce, two very interesting artists although for very different reasons. Poor Bryan is dead now but his work is going to live on for a very long time. Spot, of course, enjoys looking at himself.

wood anemone

the beautiful wild wood anemone is in flower


unseen except by you and me, daffodils on the Cornish bank of the Tamar right where the Inny flows into it

Saturday, 8 March 2008

lurcher ancestry

Spot feels very jealous of the blogs (link)he has seen recently with pictures of other people's ancestors; he has roots too, so here are his great grandpa and great granny Fox. He knows how proud they would be that he also is a prize winning lurcher. Great granny looks just like Harri, except that like most Victorians she has a very thick neck.

Friday, 7 March 2008

pheasant dreams

"If only I were a little tit"

ps apologies for the camera shake

Wednesday, 5 March 2008


Carthamartha, the ancient hill fort can be seen just peeping up above the line of farm buildings, the bank of fog is in the Tamar valley, and the much smaller line of mist in the foreground is in the Inny valley. It looks as if someone has combed the land. Spot's interesting discovery today is that rooks build their nests in exactly the same place each year and are not much use, therefore, for predicting the weather.

St Piran's Day

March 5th is St Piran's Day, the patron saint of Cornwall; we vote for an extra bank holiday.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Inny daffodils again

for me this is an enduring image that epitomises something about this quiet little bit of Cornwall, something restful and loveable and endlessly satisfying.

(painting by paintshop pro XI ... I wish I could paint like that myself. Perhaps it does count as creative painting but just in a different way that anyone can achieve)

Sunday, 2 March 2008

light and shade in the woods today during a long walk. There are signs of Spring everywhere now, even some purple toothwort (see earlier posts) and wood spurge.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

the approach to Downhouse

crocuses and daffodils (for St David's day) on the road leading to Downhouse on a sunny March morning