Simple Curiosity (or Another Easter Miscellany)

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“It is very simple to be happy, but it is very difficult to be simple.”

Rabindranath Tagore

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Heald Brow primroses.

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Heald Brow Cows. (Belted Galloway?)

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“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”

–Ellen Parr

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I think this might be the caterpillar of the Lesser Yellow Underwing Moth. It was in our garden. I’m not aware that I’ve ever seen an adult moth of that species in our garden, I shall have to keep my eyes peeled.

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This is the Green Hairstreak butterfly in Eaves Wood which I mentioned in my recent post about Whitbarrow.

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A high tide at The Cove. Grange has almost disappeared in the haze – it was warming up again.

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On a visit to Lambert’s Meadow I saw loads of Peacock butterflies. Last summer, I was a bit concerned about how few of them visited our garden, so I was doubly delighted to see so many.

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There were Brimstones about too, but they wouldn’t settle for a photo.

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Cuckooflowers.

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Pheasant.

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At Myer’s Allotment there were several piles of felled logs. They all seemed to have attracted vast numbers of flies…

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…I think they might be Lesser House flies.

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Violets.

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I was rather taken by these tiny flowers, growing on an Ant mound at Myer’s Allotment. It’s taken me a while to identify them, but I’m pretty sure that this is Rue Leaved Saxifrage.

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The small three-lobed leaves and striking red stems seem quite distinctive.

When I took this shot…

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…I wasn’t actually after the Violets, but rather this bumblebee…

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…which toured a large patch of Violets whilst I struggled to get a photo. Mostly, when I did have it in frame, I ended up with shots of it hanging upside down below the flowers  to feed…

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It’s colours suggest that it’s probably an Early Bumblebee.

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Leighton Moss from Myer’s Allotment.

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Cowslips.

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Hoverfly.

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Vespula vulgaris – the common wasp. A whopper. Apparently only queens fly in spring, seeking a site for a nest, so perhaps this was a queen on just such a quest.

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New oak leaves.

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Long purples – Early Purple Orchids.

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I noticed several wild rose plants with new buds and leaves affected by some sort of orange growth – I assume that this is a ‘rust’, but have to confess that I’m decidedly clueless about precisely what rusts are.

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Blackbird with worms on the fringes of Bank Well.

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Bank Well.

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Marsh Marigolds.

In amongst the reeds at Bank Well there was a Moorhen nest. Moorhens are very attractive birds, in my opinion, but their chicks are much less handsome. I took a few photos, but my camera struggled to focus on the birds because of the intervening reeds.

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One final Peacock butterfly.

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More new oak leaves, with flowers.

“Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.”

– Mary Oliver

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Simple Curiosity (or Another Easter Miscellany)

Easter Miscellany

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I’ve decided to combine a hotchpotch of images from a sequence of local walks into one ragbag, catch-all post. These first few photos come from a very short outing, a circular route, but essentially to Lambert’s Meadow and back.

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Once at the meadow, I was mesmerised by the abundance of flies on the flowers along the edge of the field, beside a drystone wall. I was particularly surprised and delighted by the ubiquity of Bee Flies, a species I didn’t know about until relatively recently, but which I now realise are, at least in early spring, extremely common.

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There were lots of hoverflies about too. I keep promising myself a field guide and will surely get around to ordering one soon. Probably.

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Comma butterfly.

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Ash flower.

Later, I was out for a slightly extended version of my standard wander to the Cove and across the Lots. I was too early to catch the sunset from the Lots, but it was setting as I turned for home near Hagg Wood…

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The next day, I took B, some of his closest friends and Little S down to Preston for an early birthday treat for B – some indoor go-karting. I hadn’t intended to take part in the racing myself, but one of the friends had to drop out at the last moment, so I ended up taking part by default. Sadly, all of the boys were faster than me with the exception of Little S, who was in an underpowered ‘junior’ cart.

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This is our glamorous post-race lunch: sandwiches out of the car boot in the car-park on an industrial estate.

That evening, I managed to get out for an ascent of Arnside Knott.

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I love the fact that the powerful zoom on my camera brings Ingleborough so close…

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…and the light and shade which it revealed.

This tree…

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…which must have fallen a long time ago, but which has continued to grow despite that set-back, has featured on the blog before. It’s very close to the trig pillar on the Knott and the boys used to like climbing on its branches.

It’s a beech and on this occasion was liberally festooned with buds which looked like they would imminently burst forth with fresh green leaves.

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Nearby Sycamores were slightly ahead in that game…

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By the toposcope, I stopped for a brew, something I don’t do nearly as often as I should.

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A couple of days after that, a Sunday, and I was in Garstang with B for a rugby match. Whilst both teams were warming up I had a short wander by the River Wyre and looked at some sculptures in a small community park there.

We were impressed by our hosts score board…

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…and by the final score in what had been a very close match.

That evening, I was back on Arnside Knott.

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Willow catkins.

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Birch buds again. Possibly the same ones.

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Roe deer buck.

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Kent Estuary.

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Larch flowers and…

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…cones.

 

Easter Miscellany

Clyde, Ring-A-Ding, Danny, Rug Bug Benny, Mac, Kirby and Willy

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Heald Brow.

The day after my birthday walk and TBH and I were out again for another local walk, this time without the kids. It had been slightly chilly outside our front door, which is in the shade, but by the time we reached Heald Brow we were both feeling slightly overdressed.

In fact, TBH stretched out to sunbathe whilst I took endless photos of the swathes of Primroses, which is what we’d come looking for, and the many butterflies, which were a not entirely unexpected bonus.

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As there were last year, there were some pinks mixed in with the standard yellows, although those plants seemed far less vigorous.

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The Blackthorn blossom was pretty spectacular too.

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Now that I know what they are, I’ve realised that Bee Flies are pretty ubiquitous. This is a phenomena I’ve often noticed before – put a name to an unexpected find and then you realise that they have been spread abundantly about the place right under your nose all along.

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Bee Flies are parasites of ground dwelling bumble bees, many of which are in decline, but I’m going to assume that the apparent health of the Bee Fly population here can only reflect a similarly healthy number of their host species.

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TBH tells the kids that, when they’ve all left home, she wants a two-seater sports-car. I can’t really see the appeal, but I was quite taken by this Morgan three-wheeler…

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It’s powered by a motorbike engine, which seems quite curious, but probably goes like the proverbial s**t off a shovel anyway.

I got a lift in a Morgan once. Old friend MM was driving. I don’t suppose we were actually going all that fast, but, being low to the ground, it felt like the wind. Fast enough, anyway, for me to be left with no desire to repeat the experience.

Don’t get me wrong, I do fancy a two-seater when the kids have flown the nest. Just so long as behind the two seats there are facilities for cooking, eating and sleeping too!

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Something like this Pierce-Arrow Touring Landau from 1910, which had seats for 7, some of which folded to make a bed, a toilet and a phone to communicate with your chauffeur. Not sure where the chauffeur slept. The Ant Hill Mob were extra. (Did you recognise the names in the title trivia fans?*) Allegedly this was the first motorhome. I’d probably settle for something with a few less miles on the clock.

*Surely not the first, or the last, reference to Wacky Races on this blog over the years?

Clyde, Ring-A-Ding, Danny, Rug Bug Benny, Mac, Kirby and Willy

Brighter Later

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The first Saturday in October began overcast and rather autumnal, but brightened up whilst I was out for the first of my strolls that day, a circuit via Clark’s Lot, Hollins Lane, Heald Brow, Jenny Brown’s Point, Jack Scout and Woodwell.

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Rosehips and blue tits.

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The Forest of Bowland hills and Carnforth Salt-marsh from Heald Brow.

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Quicksand Pool and the chimney at Jenny Brown’s.

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Traveller’s Joy.

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Grange-over-Sands, blue skies and the Coniston Fells from Jack Scout.

The remaining photos could be from that same trip, but may well be from my second walk of the day, a familiar turn around the Cove and the Lots, because both routes finished along the same bit of track close to home. The fence around the vicarage grounds is liberally festooned with ivy and, on that day, the ivy was absolutely overrun with insects, particularly wasps, but also various flies, hoverflies and ladybirds.

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Flesh-fly.

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Greenbottle.

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A hoverfly – Scaeva Pyrastri. Very handsome with it’s curving white markings, not really shown to best advantage here, sadly.

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Some flower-heads were very busy!

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Bluebottle.

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Wasps.

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Drone fly.

I should probably celebrate the fact that I’m so easily engrossed by flies which are generally considered to be pests gathered on a plant which many would regard as a persist weed. Sometimes, however, the habit of gawping can have it’s downsides: a couple of weeks later, whilst I was similarly occupied, a wasp got trapped between my glasses and my face and stung me just below the eye for its troubles. On this occasion though, prolonged staring helped me to spot this…

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I think that this might be the pupal stage of a ladybird, although I’m not at all confident about that, and if I am right, I still don’t know which of the many varieties of ladybird this might be.


 

Brighter Later

Lacy’s Caves and Long Meg

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A Saturday afternoon and we decided to dragoon the boys into coming out for a walk with us. In honesty, I can’t remember how we arrived at the decision to repeat a walk along the River Eden, taking in Little Salkeld Watermill, Lacy’s Caves and the Long Meg and her Daughters stone circle, but it was a good choice.

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We began with lunch in the cafe at the mill, which was delicious, then set off towards the river. There was a paper notice tacked to the signpost indicating that some part of the footpath had been damaged by flooding and then closed, but the notice looked quite old, so we decided to ignore it.

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TBH and I have done this walk three times now, and each time we’ve seen lots of Buzzards in this first part of the walk. Closer to hand, there were flowers and insects to admire and a tree heavily laden with rather tart apples.

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Small White Butterfly on some sort of Hawk’s-beard, possibly Rough Hawk’s-beard.

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Tachina Fera.

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Forest Bug.

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More fungi.

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Earthballs.

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A weir on the Eden. Force Mill opposite.

We did eventually see some signs of flood damage, but that had nothing to do with what happened next. I’m not sure how, but I lost my footing and fell down the steep bank towards the river. Little S was first to react, grabbing hold of my ankle as I slid down the slope, which, frankly, could have ended badly for him,  but between us we managed to halt my fall. I was a bit bruised and grazed, my camera took a whack, and I think we were all  slightly shaken, but ultimately, no harm was done.

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The view of the River Eden from Lacy’s Caves.

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Lacy’s Caves.

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These are not natural caves, but were hewn from the rock by order of the local landowner Colonel Samuel Lacy. There are several connected ‘rooms’. One of them still has some planks in it and some metal brackets fastened to the wall, as if there had been a bench or a bed here. Apparently, Lacy may have paid someone to live in the caves as a ‘hermit’, which was a fashionable thing to do for a time. There are more pictures of the caves here, from our last family visit, made at a time when Little S genuinely was still little.

The boys may be practically grown up now, but they weren’t above a game of hide and seek in the caves, which, I’ll admit, was pretty hilarious.

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I remember these wooden posts from last time too. This is one from a series erected around the Eden Valley area and designed by artist Pip Hall. They’re textured so that rubbings can be taken.

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Mixed flock of Jackdaws and Rooks.

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More fungi.

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One of Long Meg’s daughters.

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More daughters with Cross Fell in the cloud and the radar station on Great Dun Fell behind.

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The uncountable daughters.

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The Long Meg stone circle is amazing and, on the evidence of three visits, almost guaranteed to be virtually deserted.

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Long Meg.

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And again.

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There’s some more detail and folklore regarding the stone circle in my previous post about a visit, here.

We first learned about this route from a leaflet published by Discover Eden. It was available as a PDF online, but these days you have to buy it. One word of warning – the leaflet gives a longer version of this walk, including a visit to Addingham Church, as 4½ miles, but my phone app gave 6 miles for our truncated version. No wonder our original round took us 6 hours when we had a toddler with us.

Lacy’s Caves and Long Meg

A Windhover and Toadstools on the Knott

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Arnside Tower Farm, Middlewood, Warton Crag, the Bowland Fells and Morecambe Bay looking south from Arnside Knott.

A Sunday afternoon, back from B’s weekend rugby fix, and I’m off to climb the Knott again. This has become something of a habit and whilst there are lots of other options locally, I often find it difficult to see past an ascent of the Knott which has so much to offer when time is short.

When I lived in Arnside, I used to like to tell my classes that there are twenty routes to the top of the Knott and the same twenty possibilities on the way down and ask them how many different combinations I could choose between in my post-work up and down leg-stretcher. It tickled me that there were more than enough options to give a different choice for every day of the year. They were often, quite rightly, sceptical about my assertion that there were twenty different paths to the top, but in truth, whilst it’s hard to count them, because the paths frequently bifurcate and intertwine, more like a web than a simple radiating spoke pattern, I suspect there may be more than twenty.

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Recently, I’ve discovered a couple of paths which are new to me. On this particular afternoon, I found a well-worn path which initially skirted the bottom edge of the steep scree slope on the south side of the hill before curling up and around the edge of the loose ground in the trees which bordered it’s eastern edge.

Whilst admiring the view from the top of the slope, my attention was caught by unfamiliar bird calls. Descending again slightly, I spotted a Kestrel in the trees below…

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Sadly, Kestrels, which used to be commonplace, are becoming much rarer than they were and I was very glad to have this opportunity to photograph one. Even this blurred shot…

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…of the bird in flight shows details on the tail which I wouldn’t have known about otherwise.

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I think I’d been spotted!

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Opportunities like this don’t come along very often. The only other half decent shots of a Kestrel I can recall posting are here, of a female bird, high in a tree near Hawes Water. This bird, with its grey head and tail and spots rather than bars, is unmistakably male.

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The Kent viaduct and the hills of the Lake District.

As I’ve mentioned before, it seems to have been a bumper year for toadstools, and I whiled away a happy hour seeking them out on the Knott and taking photos of a wide variety of sizes, colours and forms, some of which are below…

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I think that this…

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…is a Flesh-fly, Sarcophaga carnaria or one of its many, apparently virtually indistinguishable, relatives. I took the photo because I was  bit non-plussed by just how large the fly was. Perhaps it’s related the Jeff Goldblum.

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This is a Hawkbit. Possibly Rough Hawkbit, but you need to examine the hairs on the leaves with a hand lens to be sure, and I don’t have a hand lens, so I’m not confident. I like them anyway, whatever they’re called.

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Robin’s Pincushion Gall.

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Speckled Wood Butterfly.

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Arnside Tower.

 

A Windhover and Toadstools on the Knott

Doddington Hall – Picnic and Gardens

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Many moons ago, we toured Doddington Hall with my Mum and Dad. It’s not too far from where they live. On the second day of our trip to Lincolnshire this summer, TBH and I were eager to go again. For some reason, Dad wasn’t so keen, and kept turning up alternatives which he thought might appeal to the kids. He balked however, at the idea of accompanying them on a treetop trek, so in the end Doddington Hall won out.

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There was a wedding in the hall that day, so we were restricted to the gardens, but that kept us well occupied beyond the advertised closing time, so it wasn’t really a problem.

Be warned, if you’re planning a visit: there are signs near the entrance forbidding picnics in the gardens. There’s a lot of green space at the back of the carpark though, which was a halfway decent alternative, but a bit rough on my Mum and Dad who prefer not to sit on the ground these days (or prefer not to have to get up again, anyway).

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There is a cafe in one of the many estate buildings, which looked to be doing a roaring trade. I’m told that the cakes that some of the party sampled there later in the day were very good. The wasps certainly liked them.

Just by where we picnicked, there was a small pond…

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And so some potential for flora and fauna…

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Common Darter (I think).

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Tachina Fera on Mayweed – both very tentative identifications.

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Tachina Fera again.

This photo shows the strong black stripe on an orange abdomen which makes me think that this fly is Tachina Fera. The larvae of this fly parasitise caterpillars.

The plant is Gipsywort…

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“Rogues masquerading as itinerant fortune-tellers and magicians used in past centuries to daub their bodies with a strong black dye produced from gipsywort, in order to pass themselves off as Egyptians and Africans. Swarthy looks were supposed to lend greater credibility to these vagabonds when they told fortunes; it was this use that gave the plant its names of gipsywort and Egyptian’s herb.”

Reader’s Digest Field Guide to the Wild Flowers of Britain

Moving into the gardens…

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Little S was particularly impressed with the huge…

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…squashes, pumpkins? I’m not sure which.

He won’t really remember our last visit, since he was barely a year old at the time.

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Small Tortoiseshell.

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Large White.

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Moorhen.

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Another Tortoiseshell.

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This bee was absolutely coated in golden pollen, having just emerged…

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…from a courgette flower.

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Something that really stuck in my memory from our previous visit were these gnarly old Sweet Chestnut Trees.

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They predate the hall, making them very, very old indeed.

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One more Tortoiseshell.

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The gatehouse.

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Unicorn topiary.

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The Hall is Elizabethan and was built, between 1595 and 1600, by Robert Smythson, who was the master stonemason when Longleat was built and who also designed the highly impressive Hardwick Hall, among others. Apparently, it has never been sold, which must be highly unusual. These days it seems to be the centre of a thriving industry, with several shops in the grounds, as well as the cafe and weddings. Not to mention the biennial sculpture exhibition in the gardens….of which, more to follow…

Doddington Hall – Picnic and Gardens