Thursday, April 21, 2011

The bad, the good and the ugly.

A lone swallow was spotted yesterday morning sitting on the telegraph wires which cross the lane at the front of the barn. It was the first I'd seen up here and my impatience at the absence of this harbinger of spring was growing. It sat and preened while I watched, content now - if there is one there will be others.

I think later in the day a couple more were seen swooping down the dingle.

Much later a single swallow was found in Chester's bed. Dead. We surmise that it had flown in through the open stable door in the dusk, swooped low and into the maw of the damn dog. I guess he was only doing what any hunting dog does - it's in his job description. It was not harmed in any way, just a little sucked so perhaps the poor scrap died of fright.

I was indescribably saddened by this; all those miles from Africa, 'cross continents and oceans to die on reaching home. Damn your eyes and teeth Chester.

But there is better news:

The Trelystan orchid stands loud and proud. We have counted 4 plants but hope we will spot more amongst the grass in days to come. There's no reason why they shouldn't have survived the winter although I did wonder if they would be buried by the sludge and muck thrown to one side by the various people clearing the lane of snow in December. Now they only need to escape the predations of the various naughty lambs which persist in getting out of whichever field they are in. I don't think Powys Highways gang and the big scary mower will be around until later in the year.
The eggs in the nest in the previous post have hatched - and just when we were thinking that Mrs Bird had deserted the nest. This picture taken yesterday lunchtime shows two babes. This afternoon there are four chicks - so ugly that only their mother could love them. Horrid bulgy eyes. Eugh! How secretive the whole process has been - all the more incredible because the nest is in such a conspicuous place. The hunting dog has not however sniffed it out. Yet.

I would say the good outweighs the bad (I'm an incurable optimist).  I have my eyes peeled for more swallows and the stable door is now shut. All will be well.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I 'heart' spring...

Don't you just hate that phrase? Not the 'spring' bit but the 'heart'. Look a bit harder in your wingdings and dingbats and use the heart as it was meant to be used for heaven's sake:
For this we need to thank graphic designer Milton Glaser whose 1977 design - part of a campaign promoting New York State. It's a simple pictogram now familiar the world over and all too frequently bastardised. Sigh.

Anyway....I've digressed before even starting.


That's better is it not?
The spring thing is fantastic - in the course of a week leaves have uncurled and early blossom unfolded frothily.  In the early morning before the world has woken and all is fresh and clean, I feel quite euphoric. My excitement is tangible and I want to be out there on the hill, filling my lungs with the clear damp air, surrounded by birdsong and green shoots. I can't think of a better place to be.

Birdies are nesting - some in less sensible places than others.  This one is at waist height and clearly visible - a beautiful piece of work by Mr and Mrs Blackbird.

It's impossible to get a good picture of this little plum tree and its heart-like shape - too many distractions in the background. I hope we don't get any serious frosts because with blossom like this we could have a bumper harvest later in the year - and frost will, as they say literally nip that in the bud.

No swallows have yet been sighted in the small mountain kingdom of Trelystan.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Underground, overground...

...and nul points to anyone who adds the words 'Wombling free...'

...No, my mind is still preoccupied with pylons and the proposal from the National Grid to to run a high voltage line on a route through mid Wales to connect with an existing line in Shropshire. The said route could run from one of  2 hubs (sub-stations) - there are a choice of 10 'corridors'. I have said in an earlier post that we would be on 'purple south'. At the risk of repeating myself, pylons would be a big, big blot on our landscape with a huge impact not only aesthetically but on the local economy too. A route overground anywhere gets a resounding 'No'. 'Undergrounding' (note new verb) is not only preferred but essential.

Marton's public meeting last evening was packed, and Councillor Wynn Jones presentation clear and precise - I now feel able to view the scheme in its wider context, learning in 40 minutes more than I did from attending two National Grid 'roadshows'. This is good.

Councillor Jones patiently spelled out the planning and approval processes; labyrinthine and certainly costly. Somewhere and at sometime 'the man in the street', the voter, has elected representatives to make these decisions on their behalf. We are prey to policy. I begin to think that elections purport to give us what we want, but at the times in between there is no mechanism to let us register disapproval in quite the same way.

On-shore wind power is a good green notion (its efficacy remains unproven however) but the method of transmitting it, based on out-dated technology is surely flawed;  if a bunch of people in a village hall out in the sticks can ask such searching questions and indeed suggest some highly technical solutions then where are its instigators the so-called experts coming from? Has it all been thought up on the back of an envelope?

My views and the views of local people at the meeting remain unchanged. No pylons anywhere. No way.

I wake in the night and haul myself over under the duvet's warmth to look out of the window and over the little triangle field. The night is clear, the air silky and cool. Stars are out. Silently, unspoiltly perfect.

Hope it's not too defeatist to think 'better make the most of it'...

13th April - edited to add:

On the evening before the meeting I was interviewed briefly by Radio Shropshire, who afterwards invited listeners to phone in with their comments about the issue. I finally got around to listening to my own interview (isn't the sound of one's own voice curious?  I sound as if I've been on a regime of
20-a-day Capstan Full Strength cigs for 50 years...) and stayed listening long enough to hear the first and possibly only comment. Which was:

'Well they've got to go somewhere haven't they.' The caller's unspoken, but strong implication was that we shut up and put up. Grrr.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

'A' is for April

...and the first asparagus of the year!

Two little spears emerged a couple of weeks ago and after last week's mild, damp weather we noticed more little snouts pushing out of the ground. Yesterday I counted 17.  It does seem very early to be harvesting new season's asparagus doesn't it? But hey! why not?
Of course these were the only two of a size to eat. The Glam Ass was sent down the garden with his demon asparagus knife to harvest them. He's a hunter-gatherer at heart.....

The previous day he had been fishing - for trout on Lake Clywedog - bringing home 2 beautiful fish. One for now and one for the freezer.

Our meal last night was trout and Hollandaise - a brilliant yellow from the yolks of eggs laid by our own hardworking hens - with the added bonus of a spear of asparagus each to dip into the sauce as well.