Friday, 31 July 2009

Cissbury Hill blues, wine and the second test.

Yesterday afternoon between showers I headed off to Cissbury Hill and was rewarded by many butterflies on the wing while walking round the main ditch. I took photos of Chalkhill Blues, Common Blues (above), Painted Ladies, Gatekeepers, Meadow Browns, Six-spot Burnet moths, Red Admirals & Large whites.

This morning I turned on Radio 4 and started bottling the latest batch of Chardonnay. The second day of the second test started and two Aussie wickets went to the first two balls. While starting the next batch of Chianti the Aussie wickets continued to tumble making it a very satisfying session.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Ouse Reserve goes to the Wall

We visited the Ouse Estuary Nature Reserve near Newhaven this morning. There were Wall butterflies by the Tide Mill ruins, Cinnabar caterpillars at same site, plenty of Painted Ladies, Gatekeepers, Peacocks & Red Admirals all on thistle, blackberries and buddleias, Meadow browns, Large whites, Small whites, a Ringlet, Common Blues (by cycle track) and a slow worm.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Goddess status ratified

Delighted to see that Joanna Lumley has had her status as goddess officially ratified: Many of us have been using the title since the first episode of The New Avengers in 1976.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Mudlarks at Bermondsey

This morning we Mudlarked on the Thames at Bermondsey near the Old Justice pub. Low tide was 11am, so we met at 9am and spent a few hours scraping away at the shingle, bricks and rocks looking for interesting artefacts. I found a Two pence coin and an old safety pin, everyone found clay pipe stems, nails of all sizes, and some found clay pipe bowls. A large fossilized piece of coral was found. We were a stones throw from Butlers Wharf and the London Bridge.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Graffham Down – Butterfly heaven

This beautiful summer day was ideal for a butterfly walk with Neil Hulme courtesy of our guide from the Graffham Down Trust near Petworth. This wonderful piece of downland has resulted from much hard work from the trust volunteers over ten years. The result was butterflies everywhere, including a Purple Emperor flying high in the firs. Neil advised this was the highest above sea level they have been recorded. I managed photos of Brimstone, Comma, Common Blue, including a female, Large Skipper, Marbled white, Painted Lady, Peacock, Red Admiral, Silver-washed Fritillary, Small Copper, Speckled Wood, Green-veined white, Large White, Small Purple & Gold moth.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Chalkhill Blues, Small Skippers and Hawkmoths at Friston

At 8:30 this morning the heavens opened in Eastbourne. However, we were confident the butterfly walk at Friston would go ahead, and Bea and I arrived at the Forestry Commission car park at Butchershole Bottom to find a crowd of butterfly enthusiasts gathering. Michael Blencowe led this Butterfly Conservation group walk, and Neil Hulme assisted. At the common called The Gallops there were Chalkhill Blues everywhere plus some Small Skippers, both were new species for me. Both my cameras were kept busy. We retired to Michael’s cottage when the weather deteriorated and he showed us the moths collected from two moth traps the previous night. There were many species, and the most spectacular ones were Garden Tigers, a Buff Tip, Privet Hawkmoths, Poplar Hawkmoths and an Elephant Hawkmoth. An excellent lunch at The Galleon completed a great day out.

Common Blues at Mill Hill

I called in to Mill Hill yesterday on my way to Eastbourne. It was a breezy day and the model gliders were flying in force. On the top by the car park there were many Common Blues grazing on the thistles. Also some Painted Ladies & Gatekeepers.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Gormley & Corot to Monet

We headed to London this morning to see the Corot to Monet exhibition of landscapes at the National Gallery. Outside we saw two people doing one hour stints on the Anthony Gormley podium. The exhibition was wonderful. Not too many paintings to take in and great inspiration for photography. The Monets were sensational. My favourites were: Cow-shed and Houses by Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes, Sunset in the Roman Camapagna & View of the Cascades at Tivoli, both by Simon Denis, La Ferte by Richard Parkes Bonington, Landscape with Cumulus Clouds by Andreas Schelfhout, Four paintingsof The Four Times of Day by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Landscape & A Valley, both by Philipe Rousseau, Landscape at Arieux-du-Nord by Jean-Baptiste Corot, Houses on the Cliffs near Fecamp by Antoine Chintreuil, La Pointe de la Heve, Sainte-Adresse & The Beach at Trouville & The Thames below Westminster, all by Claude-Oscar Monet, St Paul’s from the Surrey side by Charles-Francois Daubigny, Stormy Landscape with ruins on a Plain by Georges Michel, Sunset in the Auvergne by Theordore Rousseau.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Mill Hill in the drizzle

Decided to escape to Mill Hill for a walk. Found a gap between the rainy spells and saw Painted Ladies, Gatekeepers, and a Blue, probably a Chalkhill Blue as that has been reported recently. Off to Jackie’s for wine and nibbles.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Ron Smith’s Big Band and a Dig

Last night we enjoyed Ron Smith’s Big Band at the Windmill Theatre. Our neighbour, Norman, plays Tenor Sax and had a solo in most of the pieces. He organised the concert in Littlehampton in aid of St Wilfrid's Hospice, Chichester. They played big band favourites and jazz, including of course Glenn Miller numbers. Today I headed for a Weekend Wanderers metal detecting rally at Ropley, near Alton, Hants. Finds were scarce, a nice Roman bronze, another Roman and a couple of hammered coins and part of a Roman weighing balance. Weather was perfect, cloud and a little drizzle. The fields were stubble, difficult to work.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

If you go down to the woods today....

I spent a glorious three hours at Southwater Woods today. My targets were Silver-washed Fritillaries and Clouded Yellows. What I got was a butterfly frenzy, but no Clouded ones. Large numbers of Peacocks and Silver-washed Fritillaries were everywhere. At one stand of thistle I had a job figuring out what to photograph first –a Peacock, a Large White, a Green-veined white and a Gatekeeper all competed for my attention. There were also Painted Ladies, Speckled Woods, White Admirals and a Common Blue on yellow vetch.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Canadian Cousins, Fishbourne Palace & Swanbourne

Malcolm & Jacqueline arrived Wednesday afternoon from Calgary. We wandered along the riverside walk by the Arun and ended up at the Arun View where we sampled Sussex ale and stayed on for a meal. A leisurely start Thursday was followed by a visit to Fishbourne Roman Palace then lunch at the Gribble Inn, Oving, excellent beer and food. We decided our penance would be a walk round Swanbourne Lake, Arundel where the wildfowl benefited from two bags of birdseed Sue bought from the café. An evening of chat, port and The Glenlivet they brought finished off a lovely visit. We all left early in the morning, they to Oxford and Malcolm’s old college, and we to Tower Hill to meet Penny for lunch after her business trip. We enjoyed a meal at the Tapas Bar next to the Chamberlain.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Swans on the Arun

The past two days have seen torrential rain interspersed with sunshine. We wandered down to the Arun this evening. The tide was going out and some yachting lessons were in progress up river. The swans gathered by anyone appearing above them, hoping for a handout.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Southwater Park

A sunny, breezy day, perfect for a stroll around Southwater Park for two hours. Saw many butterflies: a male Brimstone (above), Commas, Large Whites, Green-veined whites, Red Admirals, Large Skippers, Fritillaries, Gatekeepers, a Large tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood, a Painted Lady, Six-spot Burnet moths and a Silver Y moth. East Beach green is green again thanks to the considerable rains over the past few days.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Nicola Benedetti, Chichester Festival

Bea and Jackie joined us at Chichester Cathedral for a concert featuring Nicola Benedetti, winner of the Young Musician of the Year Award in 2004. Wonderful! Orchestra Europe was conducted by Scott Ellaway.

Overture ‘The Hebrides’ (Fingal’s Cave), Op.26 by Felix Mendelssohn,

Violin Concerto in D major, Op.35 by Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky

.Allegro moderato

.Canzonetta (Andante)

.Finale (Allegro vivacissimo)

Symphony Np.9 in C major ‘Grdeat’, D.944 by Franz Schubert

.Andante – Allegro ma non troppo

.Andante con moto

.Scherzo (Allegro Vivace)

.Finale (Allegro Vivace)

Friday, 10 July 2009

Woody Woodpecker

Off to Warnham Reserve again, Bea’s first visit. Sunny with cloud, great walking weather. At the Heron Hide we saw the kingfisher flash towards the creek. The woodland hide and its feeding hangers produced tits, robins, a bullfinch, a squirrel and a Great Spotted Woodpecker and Nuthatch in the same photo. Gatekeepers were around, including one on the hedge where we were eating delicious soup from the café.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Cissbury Ring, butterfly haven

Bea joined us for the trip to Cissbury Ring, second largest Iron Age Fort in England (Maiden Castle is the largest). Views were amazing again, Isle of Wight to the west and Beachy Head to the east. Butterflies were everywhere, it was difficult to decide which to photograph. Many Green-veined whites, Marbled whites, new brood Painted Ladies, Six-spot burnet moths, Gatekeepers, a Small Copper and some Dark green fritillaries. Blue flax is showing in some fields below. Rose bay willow herb abounds in clusters, and small raspberries are tasty now. Sunny and breezy, a good walking morning.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

RA Summer Exhibition

This morning we headed to the Royal Academy with Bea and Jackie. Last night we had a preview by watching the BBC review of the exhibition. Some great paintings and sculptures and some rubbish. The first Damien Hirst I have liked, a gruesome subject but brilliantly done (man with skin peeled off in stainless steel). My favourites were Black, a great bear bronze by Nicola Hicks. Metroland by Gail Brodholt (interior of a tube train, linocut), Come Dancing, by Allen Jones RA (oil), From Malin Head – Tory Island by Norman Ackroyd RA (etching), Beachscape, Sutherland by Donald Hamilton RA (screenprint), A Winter in the Hills by David Carpanini (etching), The Turquoise Necklace by Chrissie Birchall (oil), No Glove, No Love by Peter Oloya (bronze wall hanging of 5 seed pods), To have and to hold from this day forward by Paul Brooking (fabulous photo of a girl in a brown landscape with tank on right), Second Sight by Michael de Bono (top of my list – oil) Looking through the mirror by Ben Levene RA (oil)

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

And then the rains came

Finally we got our much needed rain in bucket loads. It thundered and rained heavily on and off for the whole day. Just what was needed to turn the brown back into green. Bea arrived earlier than expected, received a text “at bus station”, so flew down and met her at the checkout in Somerfields, where she said “that man took my Special K and rushed back into the aisles”. The guy's senior moment got sorted and she told the story to Sue over a cup of tea. Had a lovely dinner at Jackie’s where we celebrated our 36th anniversary with a bottle of bubbly.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Kite surfers flying high

Change of weather today, strong warm wind and a shower. The kite surfers loved it this evening, ten of them were scudding around and leaping 20 feet into the air. It was fun to watch.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Marbled whites & Six-spot Burnets at Southwater

Southwater Park, near Horsham, was my destination this morning. A quick shower was followed by great walking weather, sun, cloud and a breeze. There is an excellent meadow by houses which is a haven for butterflies and moths. There were Six-spot burnet moths all over, some flying, some mating on grasses, and plenty of chrysalids attached to grass stems. Also prolific were Meadow browns, Ringlets. Marbled whites were around and actually settled enough for photo opportunities. Green-veined whites also settled. After lunch we settled down to watch the marathon Wimbledon final.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Silver Blues, Y & Light Emerald at Ashdown Forest

A breezy warm day on a Butterfly Conservation walk in Ashdown Forest with BC warden Steve Wheatley gave me plenty of Silver-studded blues to photograph. A couple of large moths were a bonus – a Silver Y and a Light Emerald which was white, an indication of age as they start off green. A walk from the Ashdown Forest car park gave great views and more blues, which feed on the bell heather. There were other heathers in flower also. The area is being returned to heathland by vigorous management.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Michelle Collins, the Andys and a Purple Hairstreak

Roger left for Canterbury yesterday, hope to see him in October. We visited the Theatre Royal, Brighton for a matinee of Deceptions starring Michelle Collins. She was very good, but the theatre was due to the fans. The story and dialogue were not to our taste, so we left at the interval. Maggie, Judy & Audrey visited in the morning. Weather perfect again, cloud cover and a breeze after days of heat and humidity. Saw Andy Murray’s defeat at the hands of Andy Roddick in the Wimbledon semi-final, great match. Finished editing last Sunday’s butterfly shots, this Purple Hairstreak had only emerged that morning.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Ice house and Witches bottles

We took Roger to Petworth House, his first visit to the influential Percy HQ for the southern estates. We arrived in time for an Estate Office tour, which was the story of why Petworth House exists. The National Trust is doing a wonderful job of restoring everything. We visited the kitchens, a larger version of the one in Upstairs Downstairs. The ice house story is fascinating. In the evening Roger joined me at the Historical Search Club meeting where we had a talk about Witches bottles and saw some veterinary artefacts. The cow horn protectors were fascinating, no one knows how the conical shaped thread was made in the 16thC, answers on a postcard please!