Snettisham

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When (sadly) our guests had to leave us, they were heading off for another family get together. We did the same – taking a long drive down to Snettisham, near the north Norfolk coast, to meet my parents, my brother and his kids and a gaggle of assorted Aunts, Uncles and cousins from my mum’s side of the family.

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This courtyard, where we enjoyed many sunny breakfasts and also several barbecued meals was one of my favourite parts of the trip: it was a very relaxing spot in which to sit and relax.

We spent a significant part of the week on nearby beaches, particularly near Hunstanton, but we did get out for a couple of strolls. These photos…

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…were taken in Snettisham Woods.

I was struck by the number of trees there, which, whilst they were clearly oaks of some kind, were also slightly unfamiliar. The first thing which struck me was how glossy the leaves looked. Then I noticed that the acorns weren’t quite as expected…

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…some being ‘hairy’, others ‘knobbly’…

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As well as Snettisham Woods this woodland is called Lodge Hill Plantation – it seems that somebody has been collecting exotic oak trees. I thought that I might find something about these oaks on t’internet; I didn’t, but I did find this leaflet which covers exactly the same route that we came up with.

More Norfolk adventures to follow.

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Snettisham

Pond Life

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Most of the time the sea in the Bay is pretty placid. But once in a while we do get some waves. Here’s some evidence from one of our local walks with our American cousins.

On another local walk we visited Burtonwell Wood rift cave…

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The passage runs parallel to the cliff-face, and part way along there’s a spot where it’s possible to climb up to a ‘window’…

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From the cave we walked to Woodwell. We often visit, but this time we came prepared with nets and plastic tubs…

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The kids caught quite a variety of pond life. I think that this…

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…is probably a Three-Spined Stickleback. (But, as always, I stand ready to be corrected.)

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Pond Skaters.

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I’d call that upside down insect a Water Boatman, my field guide tells me that it is a Common Backswimmer (also know as a Water Boatman). The rather splendidly red snail is a Great Ramshorn (I think).

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This must be a Water Beetle, but I’m really not sure which kind.

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Here, the Water Boatman has a silvery sheen due to a trapped air bubble which it uses to enable it to breath.

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We were all fascinated by the contents of our tubs.

Well…almost all…

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Later that day we wandered into Eaves Wood for a bit of tree-climbing. Professor A can never resist joining the kids…

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Once again, B’s busted arm proved to be a great hindrance…

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Here we all are by the Pepper Pot…

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Pond Life

Dalton Zoo

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Hard on the heels of our trip to Wales followed the further excitement of a visit from our American cousins. Is it really two years since we went to visit with them? Tempus fugit and all that. Anyway, one of the many exciting outings we went on whilst we were in Virginia was to Washington Zoo. Now, don’t get me wrong, Washington Zoo was mighty fine – they have a Komodo dragon! – but we thought (and still think, not that we’re biased or anything) that Dalton Zoo in our humble little corner of the North-Wet of England would, at the very least, run it pretty close in a face-off, zoo vs zoo.

At Dalton you can feed the emus, the lemurs, the penguins (although we were too late for that fishy pleasure) and the giraffes…

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Not to mention the kangaroos…

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At Dalton, set on a windswept Cumbrian hillside, the enclosures are generally quite large, so that these rhinos, for example…

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…were photographed on a long zoom.

The zoo has recently expanded, making room to accommodate lots of new residents…

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…including, as well as the wolves, snow leopards and two kinds of jaguar.

The old favourites are all still present and correct…

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A second, large, bird enclosure has been added…

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Although the emus aren’t the only birds which seem to be able to wander fairly freely…

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I was chuffed to get a photo of one of the giant otters…

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As if all that isn’t enough, the zoo now has two – yes two – train rides to enjoy…

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Professor A was so enthused he even wore his Casey Jones cap for the occasion. (OK I may be stretching a point there).

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An enormous playground has also been added…

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Real concentration was required…

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Although a broken arm didn’t seem to be any hindrance when clambering to the top…

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Funny how the pain always returned, and the sling was pressed back into service, whenever there was washing-up to be done.

Weeks after the event, S reported a conversation he had overheard in the zoo’s gift shop. A mother and daughter were looking at animal wall-pegs which were personalised with various Christian names:

“Mum, how come these things never have my name on them?”

“Because your name is unique, dear.”

I waited a while for the punch line to come, but S seemed confident that his story had finished.

“So, what was her name?” I asked.

“Unique!”

Obvious really.

Dalton Zoo

Inevitably: Carn Fadryn

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Carn Fadryn towering over the campsite (thanks to the trickery of a telephoto lens)

No trip to the Llyn is complete without an ascent of Carn Fadryn.

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A view down to Hell’s Mouth.

We climb it every year and I can’t see how I shall ever tire of the experience. Lots of elements of the climb are familiarly unfamiliar, like the labyrinth spiders which festoon the gorse…

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…and seem very common here (and on the Llyn’s cliff-tops) but which I can’t recall ever having seen anywhere else.

Even the slight regret that we never branch out and divert to the summit of subsidiary bump Garn Bach has become an integral part of the day.

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The bilberries weren’t quite what was expected however: they were much better this year than they usually are. Often they’ve been just about finished when we climb the hill, but this year, presumably due to the sluggish (non-)arrival of summer, they were still in their prime, much to everyone’s delight.

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The wood sage and the heather which you can see in the bottom left corner of this photo are also part of the ever-present backdrop to our rambles on Carn Fadryn.

An encounter with a Dorbeetle…

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…is also de rigueur, and a hairy caterpillar on, or close to, the path is another essential component…

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We usually see a few choughs…

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…which we don’t have at home in Lancashire. Nor do we have Gatekeepers…

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…which are common on Carn Fadryn, when the sun shines, as it did at the end of this walk, but which, again, we don’t have in Lancashire which is beyond the northern limit of their range.

Inevitably: Carn Fadryn

Camping on the Llyn

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Summer comes and once again we’re camping on the Llyn Peninsula with the usual suspects.

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We had a couple of very wet days early on, but after that the weather was fine, but not particularly hot and often very windy.

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Purple Loosestrife.

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Small Tortoiseshell enjoying Purple Loosestrife.

As usual our ‘radius of activity’ whilst we were there was pretty narrowly focused; we mostly stuck to the field where we were camped and the beach below it.

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After 10 years of annual visits, it was quite surprising to find the beach quite markedly changed; superficially because of the waves, the seaweed and the jellyfish (including the ‘sails’ from By-The-Wind-Sailors which I’ve never seen before) which the stormy weather was bringing in, but also more substantially because the beach seems to have steepened, with a considerable bank of sand around the high-tide mark. One consequence seems to be that the tide doesn’t go out as far as it did, making it more difficult to walk around at low-tide to the ‘secret beaches’ beyond the main strand. The beaches were also more stony than they have been in the past.

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B found this little chap in our tent when we were packing up.

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I’ve searched through my field guide but to no avail; I can’t identify it. Any ideas?

Here’s B with his next find…

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A Garden Snail…

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And the sling? He broke his Radius just below the elbow, on the trampoline in our garden, shortly before we came away. He must have thought I was missing Lancaster A&E. He’s fully recovered now, although he gets occasional twinges, usually brought on by imminent washing-up duties.

Anyway, it was a great trip. Not sure what will happen next year when late school holidays and other planned trips look to be squeezing our window for a Tudweiliog getaway. (Imagine a suitably miserable looking emoticon here, since my technical know-how is insufficient to provide one).

Camping on the Llyn

More Garden Critters

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Common Blue Damselfly

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Very common in our garden on this particular sunny day. There were a couple of larger dragonflies quartering the airspace above the garden, but they weren’t so obliging in posing for photos as the damselflies.

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Green Shield Bug.

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Bumble-bee. Bombus….Pascuorum? Perhaps.

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Flowering Currant leaf on a fern.

The flowering currant in the bottom corner of our garden doesn’t look very well. I don’t think that it appreciates the shade it sits in beneath the large hazel.

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Another Bumble-bee. Bombus…Humilis?

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And another Bumble. Bombus…Horturum? (To be honest, I don’t have much of a clue.)

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This looks like another specimen of the dapper fly that had me confused a few weeks ago. It looks quite like the Empis Tessallata in my field guide, but when I search for images on t’internet the resemblance isn’t half so strong. So I’m stumped.

Still having lots of fun with my new(ish) camera however.

More Garden Critters

A Hazy Day on Lord’s Seat

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A brief window of opportunity…how many times have I used that phrase on this blog? This is the internet age, the era of textspeak and limited attention spans, I ought to be using an acronym…BWOO! How’s that?

So, I had a BWOO because the boys had been invited to attend a cub-scouting event in Whinlatter Forest; they were scheduled to kill and gut a bullock before roasting it over a blazing 2CV. Possibly. Anyway, leaving them with their favourite paramilitary organisation, I parked at the Spout Gill car park and, with three hours before I needed to pick them up again, set-off in search of some Birketts to tick.

Mr Birkett suggests a circuit here which takes in 6 tops, but I knew I would never get around all of those. In fact, I wasn’t really sure, at my standard Almost Snail’s Pace (but not quite that speedy), that I would make any tops. In the end I managed to snaffle two: Broom Fell and Lord’s Seat.

It was a hazy day with very limited views, but there was a pleasantly distracting diversity of insect life about, seemingly enjoying the clammy conditions.

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Dor Beetle

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Looking back from the ascent on Broom Fell – the hill on the left is Whinlatter Top.

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Mother Shipton moth.

I had quite a game getting a sharp photo of this distinctive little chap (or chapess). It’s a Mother Shipton Moth apparently. Look at those dark profiles on the outer edges of each wing; apparently they resemble the famed Yorkshire witch. She was a prophetess. Predicted that the world would go to wrack-and-ruin, destroyed in a conflagration sparked by small boys and blazing 2CVs. Or maybe that’s a load of bullocks.

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The Cairn on Broom Fell.

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Looking back to Broom Fell from Lord’s Seat.

There’s an embarrassing postscript to this tale. I generally pride myself on my ability to cope with the simple tasks in life…tying shoe-laces, utilising a knife and fork efficiently, turning up at airports on the same day that my flight is booked, distinguishing correctly between left and right; that kind of thing. What possessed me then, on the way home, to turn left onto the M6 at Penrith and tootle blissfully along, Scotland-bound I shall never know. I might have got away with it: our boys were happily listening to a story and wouldn’t, I think, have twigged that I had made a preposterous error, but we were giving a friend of theirs a lift and he was soon wise to my buffoonery. Since then I’ve faced a certain amount of ribbing from the parents of the rest of the cub-scout troop. (Is troop the right collective noun? Band? Mob? Cell?)

Anyway, a grand (half) day out. Roll on the next BWOO.

A Hazy Day on Lord’s Seat