The morning was cool and peaceful as I was looking out over our valley on today’s Easter sunrise. The strangeness of life in recent weeks has pervaded every part of human life, yet in some curious ways, it seems to have passed by the natural world: Nature has continued on her merry little way.
Our cultivated Spring flowers and flowering shrubs brighten our yards and gardens. The field outside my door is dotted with wild flowers – dandelions and daisies, with cow parsley and lady’s smock popping up along the margin. This year, these wild flowers won’t meet an untimely demise under the the local council’s mowing machines, as that service is one of many that has been suspended for the time being. Grass-cutting will for now only take place for safety reasons, near road junctions.
In the UK, we are now at that point in the year where the early Spring dawn is host to that incredible natural phenomenon, the dawn chorus. This morning, I was enjoying the glorious birdsong music of our neighbourhood bird choristers at 5.30am. If you are not naturally an early riser, it can still be a treat to the ears to listen in on your local feathered choir at some point between mid-April and late May. Whilst dedicated enthusiasts will not be able to join in public woodland events to experience the dawn chorus this year, even in urban areas you can tune in to your local dawn chorus simply by opening your bedroom window or standing at your back door. It is such an amazing sound. I am working on finding a way to share this with you.
For many of us, being able to connect with the natural world on our doorsteps is a huge relief, particularly this year with the very necessary coronavirus lockdowns. Nature really is a natural tonic for our mental health.
I hope you too are able to spend some peaceful moments with Nature. Stay safe in these strange times.
Snowy views have inspired me for Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week. Black and white definitely feels cold in the view of the Victorian bridge. But I felt that the sepia tones really warmed up the snowy sunrise looking across our valley.
A new year and a new decade … an excellent time for a new start to blogging.
I always feel that the tradition of looking back and looking forward as we head into a new year connects us down the centuries.
The month of January is named after the Roman god, Janus, the door-keeper of the heavens, with his two heads so he could look both forwards and backwards at the same time.
The Celtic Winter Solstice marks the astronomical turning point of the year, when the daylight is at its shortest and the night at its longest here in the Northern Hemisphere. However, astronomers can explain how this doesn’t mean that the days then immediately begin to lengthen as this is controlled by the Earth’s orbit of the sun and varies a bit depending on your exact latitude.
I think of this ’10 Days of Christmas’ period as the time when everything is slightly on pause – including being on holiday from work – making it an ideal time to reflect on where we have been and make plans for where the next year’s adventures will take us.
“When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I’m feeling sad,
I simply remember my favourite things,
And then I don’t feel so bad.”
For Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week Cee has chosen the chorus of “My Favourite Things” as the theme. I’ve decided to share some of my favourite things that I have posted here on my blog during my first year-and-a-bit of blogging.
My regular blog visitors may have spotted my new blog header – beechwoods in Springtime are a great favourite of mine and we love to walk in the woods and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of Spring. For my post header image I have chosen one of my very favourite Spring flowers, bluebells. I posted about the “Beautiful Bluebells!” in our woods last Spring.
I’m glad to say we’ve never experienced bee stings while spending happy warm Summer hours watching and photographing bees on flowers.
Here in Northern England we experience all kinds of weather conditions and we have learned to enjoy them all. A rainy day at the river in Spring is always an uplifting experience – you can read my post about this wet woodland walk here.
The old railway path through the woods is a path we have seen in all weathers, from sunny days to Winter snow. The Victorian railway bridge has featured several times on my blog especially as part of my great interest in history in the landscape. The image above is the bridge in colour from my post, “Old rail trails and a bear hunt”, and below it is in black and white for “Victorian railway bridges in black and white”.
Both of these posts were for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, which has been my favourite weekly photo challenge here on WordPress. It was from creating the black and white images for the Victorian bridges post that kindled in me an ambition to try my hand at creating more black and white images and taking part in Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge. I do enjoy taking part in the photo challenges and learning from others.
Wild roses are another of my very favourite flowers. I think I’ve probably said before, I have different favourite flowers depending on the season – there’s always something to look forward too … or in this case, look back at, after the Summer was done and the cooler days of Autumn were with us. I love my son’s photo of the wild Dog Roses. The roses appeared in my “Pastel pink wild roses” post last October.
Purple crocuses with their bright orange stamens are one of my favourite early Spring flowers. These one are in one of my back yard pots along with daffodils and some seedlings of one of our ‘wild’ edible leaves, Garlic Mustard. You can see more about my back yard gardening in “My Blooming Back Yard”.
As well as gardening outside in my yard, I also love indoor gardening too and I grow salad leaves and herbs on my window ledges. In the above photo are my first seedlings of last year – a favourite moment in my gardening year. Just today I was photographing my first salad leaf seedlings of 2015.
A Summer delight for me is picking wild fruit. These delicious raspberries grow in a small patch of woodland not far from our house.
Last Summer I had fun with an interesting vertical gardening experiment in my back yard. I made a jute and willow garden screen and then grew Sweet Peas in air-pruning plant pots to grow on the screen. I shared a number of posts about this project on the willow screen, the air-pruning pots and the Sweet Pea flowers. I was so pleased when my Sweet Peas finally flowered!
I couldn’t post about my favourite things without including a crochet project or two. The jute and willow garden screen was crocheted and my recent “Mending a Woolly Jumper Craft Project” involved several types of crochet too.
Turning a shirt collar is one of those old-fashioned mending tasks that I have always done to extend the life of favourite shirts. The shirt that features in my “Turn a shirt collar” tutorial belongs to my son. He is very fond of this shirt so when the collar began to wear, there was only one thing for me to do …
I decided to post a tutorial on the collar turning process and it has certainly been a favourite among my blog visitors – it is one of the most visited pages on my blog.
To complete my collection of favourites, I want to close with one of my very favourite things, a beautiful sunrise. I am lucky to see a lot of beautiful sunrises and I often share them in my Wordless Wednesday posts. You can see more of my sunrises if you click on the Wordless Wednesday tag on my tag cloud in the sidebar … a beautiful sunrise doesn’t really need many words does it?
I’ve had a lot of fun strolling through my blog photos choosing my favourite things – and I must say I have had to leave out a few too or this post would have gone on forever! Do take a look at what others have chosen for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week for the chorus of “My Favourite Things”.
There are some landscapes close to where we live that I find myself photographing over and over again, in all weathers and in all seasons. For Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week on the theme of landscapes, I thought I’d share a few of them with you. My header image is one of our regular paths to the woods, looking across to the trees in their Spring greens on the edge of the wood, with the yellow of blooming gorse shrubs brightening the fields.
From our front window we look out eastwards towards the woods. Looking east also gives us the morning sun and some beautiful sunrises. I must say my early morning sunrise photos are generally taken through the window rather than from outside! Sometimes the sun puts on a spectacular colour show but I loved the gentle gold of this one. You’ll see this same view in very different weather on the image I’ve chosen for our Oak Trees Studio greetings card across on the right.
A favourite walk westwards from our village, along part of an old railway line, gives us fabulous landscape views out across the valley. In Spring we see the trees gradually greening up with their new season’s foliage and the bright greens of distant field crops. Summer brings darker greens in the trees but also bright splashes of yellow in the fields and, on a clear day, the purple of the heather high up on the moors.
This view westwards with its ever-changing vista often provides us with a weather preview before we experience it first hand and also some wonderful cloudscapes. As we wander along the valley side, we’ll often stop to take in the view, spotting the shapes in the clouds or commenting on the sunbeams glancing down through the deep cumulus clouds. I love the moody sky over the Summer valley in this photo.
In Winter our walks usually take us out into the woods, whether we are squelching through oozing mud and puddles or crunching through crisp snow. When our Winter ramble is done, we head homeward, leaving the woods behind us and dropping back down across the meadow path into the village. Again we can take in the scenic landscape looking westward over the valley, with its big skies and cloud patterns. At this time of year, if we time it right on a clear day, we can watch the setting sun slip down behind the horizon as we emerge from the cover of the woods and follow the field path down to the road.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief glimpse into my daily landscapes. Do take a look at the landscapes and seascapes others have shared for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week.