Lockdown Aspirations

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We have new neighbours. Well, newish. But although they’re new neighbours, they’re also old friends. When they moved in, things were a bit tight at their place, so some of their house-plants temporarily moved in with us, mostly orchids with a few cacti too. With the advent of lockdown, the arrangement has perhaps lasted longer than was originally intended. To my surprise, it was Little S who first voiced the question, one evening when we were washing-up, which I had been mulling over for a while:

“Do we have to give these orchids back?”

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So, when this is all…well, not ‘over’, but when some sort of normality has returned and we give back the orchids, it’s fair to say that Little S, and I, would like to replace them with something similar.

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It feels like these unusual circumstances have prompted lots of people to pause for thought and consider what they might do differently. In the first instance, during the lockdown. And more recently, what changes we might retain after the lockdown, whenever or whatever that means.

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I’m not often a list maker, but, thinking back, I have, at various times, idly wondered what I might have time for during the lockdown, which I wouldn’t normally manage.

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I thought I might jot them down, in no particular order, and then, perhaps over the next few posts, assess how I’ve got on. A bit like appraisal, but with less b……..

…..feel free to add a colourful noun of your choice.

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So…

  • Tidy the garden.
  • Play cards and board games with the kids.
  • Read ‘War and Peace’.
  • Lose loads of weight.
  • Bake bread more often.
  • Read more poetry.
  • Do more walking.
  • Catch-up with my blog posts.
  • Listen to more music.
  • Get to grips with birdsong.
  • Practice my trumpet playing.
  • Stretch.

To be clear, this is the first time I’ve go as far as putting them down and so it’s also the first time that I’ve seen them all together.

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It also crossed my mind that we might have to enter an even stricter lockdown and not be allowed to leave our own property at all, in which case:

  • Walk around the garden and up and down the stairs.
  • Take photos of flower in the house. And photos of flowers, birds and bugs in the garden.

I experimented with the latter, as you can see! I also tried the former, whilst waiting for TBH to join me for a walk. I discovered that 20 laps of the front and back amounted to a mile, but I’m pleased I haven’t had to repeat the experiment.

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And the first twelve? What do you reckon? It’s not a very ambitious list is it? I hasn’t occurred to me to raise millions for the NHS, or climb the equivalent of Mount Everest on the stairs, or even to bake cakes every week for the local food-bank, which A has been doing.

Anyway, I’ve run out of photos; an assessment will have to wait for a subsequent post. Or posts.

How about you? What have you done, or failed to do, whilst the lockdown has continued?

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Today’s tune is prompted by one of THO’s comments on a post from a couple of days ago. ‘Different versions of familiar songs’, he said; ‘hip-hop’, he said. So, Method Man and Mary J. Blige:

I’ll warn you that this should probably carry one of those ‘Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics’ stickers. Not that I’m aware of any minors reading these posts, but…just in case…(Little S always tells me off when I play rap. He complains that I’m a bad influence on his vocabulary.)

And, the first, perhaps, in an occasional quiz series. This is ‘Sliced Tomatoes’ by the Just Brothers:

And it probably sounds familiar. Who sampled it and for which hit?

In the light of the optimistic list above, I can’t resist this:

Which I’m pretty sure has appeared here before, but I shan’t apologise for that.

Lockdown Aspirations

Daily Dose of D

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An early start. Sunrise, of a sort, from Eaves Wood.

So, I’ve been getting out almost every day for a walk. And doing a lot of gardening. I am, my mum tells me, when we video chat, ‘very brown’.

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And a frosty one. Arnside Knott from close to Middlebarrow Quarry.

All this outdoor exercise, it turns out, is not only good for my cardiovascular and mental health but may also be important in another way.

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Daffs on Cove Road.

I’ve been getting my daily dose of vitamin D.

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Grange from The Cove.

And according to Dr Malcolm Kendrick, that will potentially help me avoid, or mitigate the symptoms of, COVID 19. It’s a long post, but well worth a read. The key point is that a 2008 study, looking into why coronaviruses like colds and flu are seasonal, showed that taking vitamin D supplements massively reduced instances of cold and flu. Furthermore, an as yet unpublished report suggests that high levels of vitamin D in the blood significantly reduce the severity of COVID 19 symptoms.

So vitamin D may both help prevent you catching C19 and may also improve your response to it if you do catch it. A win win. And all you have to do is spend time outside to benefit.

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Pied Wagtail.

This is Dr Kendrick’s conclusion:

“I have been going out into the sun wherever possible in the last month. I take Vitamin D3 supplements 4,000 units a day. I strongly advise everyone else to do the same. “

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B on the cliff path.

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The coast and Clougha Pike from Heathwaite.

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Male kestrel on telegraph pole. Shame about the light.

I took some photos of a treecreeper too, but they were a bit dark, and I know that I’ve taken some better ones since. I’ve haven’t seen treecreepers as frequently as I have this spring since a pair nested in my garden in Arnside.

And now, to today’s musical choices. Following on from yesterday’s bird related selection, here’s ‘Bring Down the Birds’:

You may recognise the base line from Herbie Hancock’s tune because it was recycled, and replayed apparently, by no less than Bootsy Collins, for Deee-Lite’s ‘Groove Is In The Heart’:

Daily Dose of D

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

A Busy Day in the Dale

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Every Saturday morning in Silverdale, almost without exception, there is a charity coffee morning. This Saturday’s wasn’t in the usual venue, the Gaskell Hall, but in the Church Rooms instead…

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And was a Scout fund-raiser. I’d cried-off helping with a Rugby tournament which S was playing in, and sent TBH in my stead, but now felt well enough to help here by selling tickets for the raffle.

The reason the Gaskell Hall (named for Elizabeth Gaskell who holidayed in the village and whose daughters lived here)…

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…wasn’t used was because it was being filled with exhibits…

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…for the Spring show…

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A Hellebore? Cousin to the wild ones growing by Holgates caravan park?

There are classes for photographs and craft items as well as flowers and we usually submit several entries between us, but this year only Little S entered, in the Cubs craft-class which he won. (Being the sole competitor – he was very happy.)

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Later, we popped across the road to the Methodist Chapel where there was an Art Exhibition. Sadly, once we got inside I was too busy looking at the exhibits and forgot to take any pictures. TBH bought a vase. You can see the work of three of the artists by visiting:

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and

Threlfalls Art Studio

Given our recent adventure, it was particularly enjoyable to see a number of paintings and prints featuring Striding Edge.

As you can see, the weather was very fine and I was champing at the bit to get out for a walk. Which is what I did next…

A Busy Day in the Dale

Jersey – Naked Ladies

Calm down, calm down! Stop pushing at the back there. It’s not what you think – Jersey tourism’s hospitality didn’t extend to improprieties of that nature. Really! I’m surprised at you….

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes – leaving the bloggy Alan and myself still en route to lunch (oh – the hardship) I shall digress, but only slightly.

‘Naked Ladies’ is one of the common names of…

Jersey Lily

…these beauties, amaryllis belladonna otherwise known as Jersey lilies. You see the connection now?

The name naked ladies originates from South Africa where the plant is indigenous, and refers to the fact that, like cyclamens, these flowers are hysteranthous, or in other words the flowers appear before the leaves. To see a mass of these tall and striking blooms on their native Cape without the strappy leaves must be amazing.

Confusingly, here both the leaves and flowers were present…

Jersey lilies

The connection with South Africa is apt since apparently the Jersey accent is like a South African one. To me it sounded more Australian, but it certainly isn’t anything like a west country burr which for some reason is what I was imagining on the flight over.

So why is amaryllis belladonna known, in the UK at least, as Jersey lily? And is there a connection to that other Jersey Lily, Lillie Langtry?

 

Millais’ portrait of Jersey Lily – holding a Guernsey Lily. Apparently no Jersey lilies were available. Knowing what I do now about the rivalry between Jersey and Guernsey I assume that this must have rankled. Millais, although born in Southampton, was from a Jersey family. He was probably ostracised.

There is a connection, but it’s that Lillie was nicknamed the Jersey Lily after the flower – so the flowers have been known as Jersey lilies for quite some time. Why the flowers are called Jersey Lilies when they originate in South Africa is a question to which I can’t find an answer. Perhaps because they are naturalised here and so British holiday makers associated these striking flowers with the island?

On several occasions we passed places or buildings with Lillie Langtry associations and whilst Arthur was recounting the relevant tales I would be wondering, ‘Who was Lillie Langtry?” I didn’t have the heart to confess my ignorance – it seemed clear that as far a Arthur was concerned some basic familiarity at least must be common knowledge. I had a vague idea that she might have something to do with the Wild West, but that seemed unlikely now that I knew she was a Jersey girl. It emerged that she had been one of Edward VII lovers when he was Prince of Wales, and an actress. Now that I’ve had a chance to read a little more, I find that she led a very eventful life and eventually became an American citizen. I understood too why I made a connection to the American West – because of the Paul Newman film ‘The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean’ in which Lillie Langtry is played by Ava Gardner.

Sadly, my ignorance of Lillie Langtry is merely the tip of the iceberg. I even contemplated a post entitled ‘Things I Didn’t Know About the Channel Isles’, but life’s too short. Even an infinite troop of monkeys and their typewriters would never finish that list.

It’s much easier to say what I did know before I went: potatoes, cream, tax haven, Matt Le Tissier, Graeme Le Saux, German occupation during WW2…..err, did I mention potatoes?

It was a great pleasure, during my short stay on Jersey, to learn a great deal more, chiefly thanks to Arthur’s encyclopaedic knowledge – and I hope to return and fill in a few more gaps before too long.

Amaryllis belladonna

Jersey – Naked Ladies

Holehird Gardens

Beautiful gardens, free to visit, just above Windermere on the Troutbeck road, which means that the views are fabulous too. Wansfell, which TBH and I climbed a couple of weeks ago, is just across the valley…

We visited earlier this week on a beautifully sunny day. It houses the national collections of hydrangeas and astillibes, which weren’t flowering yet, but there was still plenty to see…

There are glass houses with alpines rather than tomatoes…

And a heliochronometer, one of only eight made nearby in Preston. We tried it and it was very accurate.

Of course, flowers are all very well but sometimes a nice lawn is best…

From Holehird it’s possible to access Highlands Wood…

 

S and I decided to take a timeout and walk around the new path there.

Actually he mostly rode on my shoulders. The bluebells here weren’t as far advanced as at home and looked magnificent…

S was more excited when we found some holes in the ground. I thought perhaps a fox’s earth…

The way through the woods.

Holehird Gardens

Doddington Hall

Almost next door to Whisby is Doddington Hall. Mum and Dad had won a family entrance ticket in a raffle, so that’s where we went after lunch in the cafe at Whisby.

 

The inside of the House was interesting, and the kids loved the leaflet that they filled in by searching for things in each room. And they especially enjoyed the bag of goodies reward for when they had finished. But it was the garden that really interested me. In the walled kitchen garden Artichokes were flowering:

 

And pears and apples had been trained up the walls:

Another Comma on a Dahlia:

A squash:

I’m not sure what this is, but it must be related to Bindweed:

Look at this seedhead Granddad:

Pictures of children climbing trees seems to becoming a recurring theme of this blog:

But who could resist this wonderfully gnarly…

…Sweet Chestnut:

And for those of us who didn’t want to climb, there were always the Cyclamen beneath to admire:

A Tortoiseshell butterfly and a bee on a Sedum:

 

More tree climbing action:

Old wagons in the stable behind the cafe and farm shop:

We even had time to take a short walk across a field to the pond before we left. A got in on the Nature Photography act. No doubt she’ll soon have her own Blog.

White dead nettle:

Acorns:

Fancy fretwork clouds:

Heading back to the car park:

It was a fabulous day and particularly good to see my Dad making progress after major surgery a few weeks ago.

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