Breaking in my new boots.

It’s always sad to admit a pair of boots have come to the end of their life. My old boots were full of holes and actually giving me back ache, so I had to admit it was time for some new ones. Me and the dog are off on our holiday in a few weeks so I though I’d better make sure my new bots were fit for purpose.
I did try to take my old boots to the recycling bin but I just couldn’t find one for shoes, so they are just sat by the washing machine awaiting their fate.
To begin to break in the boots, me and the dog went into the canal. I’ve never noticed how much water lilies look like boiled egged before, but I really thought this one did!

The bulrushes are also growing tall and strange, not flower, not grass.


I also really wished I had a good camera instead of just my trusty iphone4s. The white blob in the black and white picture was really a wagtail. There was a whole family of them in the stream but I couldn’t get close enough to take a picture. I thought I’d share it as a mistake!
No blisters to report from the new boots but the Himalayan balsam is now really immense, towering above the hedgerow and blocking the native plants from sight. In fact, parts of the green lane feel like a set for ‘Day of the Triffids’!



Make hay whilst the sun still shines

Hay making still happens here and there.
When I was a child in the 1970’s the hay making season was a major event. It was so labour intensive, people used to take time off work to help out and we would lay trestle tables in the meadow after the hay was cut, filling them with sandwiches, cakes and jellies set in paper flower bowls. Now it is rare to see hay bales, farmers usually preferring the big rolls of hay they can wrap in plastic and preserve for winter fodder. Cut, rolled and wrapped by one man and his tractor.
Today, my car needed servicing and me and the dog walked home from the mechanic’s, a different route back towards our usual walking habitats. This meadow lies between the M6 motorway and the west coast mainline, a strip of land out of time. The hay bales were stacked to dry out, ready for collection. As children, we used to make houses from the bales and play in the sweet smell of itchy straw. I think that even if local children did come into the field they would not spend an afternoon playing house among hay bales!
So, me and the dog walked back home, passing under the railway line. This sections always reminds me of a Neil Gaiman short story, where a troll lurks to eat up people’s lives, so we didn’t linger before walking back to the canal and home.


Troll’s breath

Under the canal bridge, water has dripped for centuries creating tiny stalactites and strange formations.
I used to tell my daughter that this was frozen troll’s breath. We were safe because it was frozen, but you must always check. Trolls are much tricker than their reputation…


Balsam Bashing?



The Himalayan balsam is now in full flower. It’s taking over the upper end of the lane, squeezing out the native species with its dense growth of foliage and flowers. I find myself conflicted about this. In lots of places people are balsam bashing, ripping up the plant to let the native plants re-establish. The farmer’s wife is a bee keeper. She says the bees love the balsam and they produce wonderful clear honey. I don’t want yo harm the bees, but I would like less balsam and more native flowers, as there are further down the riverbank. I need more information please…bees vs. balsam??


Here comes the rain again


Today the rain has returned and the world is transformed. At the moment, there are no raging torrents, just splashing raindrops.


I had to dig out my waterproof coat and discovered my walking boots let the water in! (fortunately I haven’t quite managed to part with my old boots yet and now I have a reason to keep them)

The butterbur leaves sounded like umbrellas as the rain drummed down. I saw no birds, no people not even a duck! The colours of summer were changed and everything seemed so green. The mud went from brown to black just to make the greens stand out more, puddles appeared where there had been paths.

Tomorrow, the Tour de Frances passes through Yorkshire. I think it will rain and I hope the world looks on and admires the English summer. The dog did not mind the rain one bit though she did object a little when I dried her when we got home. She has been so used to drying whilst she sleeps in the sun. Still, there is a softness about English summer rain and I can’t say I mind a bit!



We walked in a different place today. There is a hill near where we live called Beacon fell. It isn’t a large hill, but it was the sight of the ancient ‘beacon fire’ that spread warning from hilltop to hilltop across the countryside.

Now it is densely wooded with non native pine which always gives me a sense of travelling to another country, even though we are only a few miles from home. Our usual walking territory of green lane, meadows and canal is so English but these tall pine trees feel like a Nordic gothic cathedral. I love walking here. there is a silence, an absence of birds and of much familiar wildlife, a softness as our feet stand on pine needles and dried mud. The dog enjoys the different smells, the plentiful sticks and, for once, returns home mercifully dry.