21 July 2014


Before we moved here twelve years ago, we worked at the Hulton Picture Library, swallowed by what has now become a huge company: Getty Images. We held the entire collection of Picture Post, including the work of their most famous staff photographer, Bert Hardy. The mere mention of something close to that fabulous publication of the 1930's to 1950's, makes me nostalgic for the best job I ever had. Anyway....I have so many pictures of these fabulous little Meadow Pipits that I thought I'd put them all together for once. They are so important for the cuckoo population here; I saw our juvenile fluttering about today with its Meadow Pipit 'parents' trying, and failing, to keep up with it. They must be exhausted. These unbelievably numerous birds are apparently on the amber list in the UK which amazes me. Interestingly, Pat at The Weaver of Grass ( ) says they never see them up in Yorkshire. 

They are ground nesters, usually in a clump or here, often inside a gorse bush. the nest is built of moss, grasses and usually lined with animal hairs - lots of that here, especially as those ponies start to slip their coats, just in time for nest building in April, May or June. The female incubates a clutch of four or five eggs alone for up to 14 days. 

Both parents feed the chicks for up to 13 days when they will fledge. Now, is it just me, or is this one carrying the corpse of a chick, perhaps of another species, to feed to its young? The second picture is clearer......

To the left of the green caterpillar, you can see a tiny leg and claw:

Generally, their diet consists of flies, beetles, moths, caterpillars, worms and spiders, with seeds later in the year, obviously with a side order of cannibalism. Have any of you ever seen anything like this before?

There is certainly a lot of feeding going on at the moment with at least two broods a year. It's difficult to get a picture of them without something hanging out of their beaks.

This youngster was clinging to a rock and let me get quite close:

Still - Pipits have nothing on the Stonechats with up to four broods of course. Here are some juveniles at various stages of development but all taken within a couple of days of each other:

Almost full grown......

The Wheatear is a close relative of the Stonechat but will only have one or possibly two broods. They winter in Africa whilst the Stonechat is resident, so I suppose they have less time to fit in the breeding. 

In the garden, the juvenile Tits are gaining in confidence. This Great Tit is almost looking adult, just lacking its wide stripe. 

And this one a bit further along the way to adulthood. 

This fluff monster of a Blue Tit is a regular visitor and has no fear........

...............seeing off this Chaffinch:

At least some of its adult feathers are coming through now:

The Chaffinch waiting its turn:

A m}magpie in waiting too. There are SO many Magpies around here at the moment. If the rhyme were to be believed there would be many, many secrets never to be told. 

My Dragonfly pond is still almost exclusively full of Keeled Skimmers, here sitting on a cow pat nearby:

But there are now some Large Red Damselflies:

I've been writing this post for days now, never actually finishing before something comes up and I have to run off. This weekend just gone, Chagford played host to Chagstock, one of the festivals of the season. We can see it in the distance from here: 

I'm happier here, away from the crowds thank you:

So are the dogs:

One of the main reasons for being so behind with blogging is Chagford Pool which, with the stiflingly hot weather, is a magnet for OB and his friends. Here's a little picture I found on the internet. We can see Kestor Rocks in the distance from the benches but not in this photo:

The problem is, all the time we're there, I'm idle. Not unpleasantly so because I sit and chat to friends in a way that I rarely do otherwise, but I'm getting nothing done. Not a strong enough mobile signal to support the internet, so no joy there. I feel out of touch with the blogging world so am doubly grateful for your comments. Thank you. Tomorrow is supposed to be very hot indeed and OB is desperate to go and swim after school. Another wasted afternoon.............oh well. In a few years he'll be able to go without me so I should appreciate this while I can I guess. So until next time, here are those dogs fighting over a stick. Have a lovely week in the sun if you're in this country. The summer holidays start on Friday here so I think we can guarantee rain. 

14 July 2014


On Wednesday morning we dropped the dogs and their crates at a friend's farm and set off for London. We had an excellent journey of only five hours. A bit of traffic on the North Circular but then there always is:

The dreaded Hanger Lane Gyratory System:

But once we got onto the A40 and the Westway things were much easier:

Over Edgware Road and onto the Marylebone Road, the site of my College where I studied Architecture in the early 1980's. When I was there it was the Polytechnic of Central London and one of the best schools of architecture at the time. However, snobbery or goodness knows what found it necessary to change all of the Polytechnics in this country into universities, often with rather desperate sounding names. Mine is now the University of Westminster. Actually, the Polytechnic of Central London was originally the Polytechnic Institution in Regent Street and then the Regent Street Polytechnic so I can't really complain I suppose. I always thought it a very ugly building to house a school of Architecture but I've mellowed a bit now in the face of nostalgia. 

We were staying with my old college mate who now lives with his family in the Golden Lane Estate just North of the Barbican and designed in the 1950's by the same brutalist architects, Chamberlin, Powell and Bon who are responsible for the Barbican Estate and complex. The whole complex was built on an area devastated by bombing in WW2. When I was younger, I dismissed Brutalism but have come to look at it differently later in life, especially having seen inside some of these flats and have learnt to appreciate the detailing, if not the general brutal impression. Did you know that Barbican comes from the low Latin word 'Barbecana', meaning fortified outpost or gateway. I didn't. This is one of the three residential tower blocks and one of the low rise blocks seen behind the local primary school. My friend and his wife used to live in one of the top flats with the barrel vault roof. 

We wandered around a bit and had an ice cream. So unusual to be walking without a purpose and without canine companions. 

An old warehouse, now flats and studios, like so many buildings of its type in London:

That Brutalist housing again:

Old meets new:

In a road I remember being boarded up and run down some decades ago, there are now chichi bars and restaurants. This one had dead pigeons and rabbits hanging in the window. No accounting for taste. 

Those barrel vaults again:

Surrounding office blocks:

On the Barbican Estate, there are man made lakes which make the whole thing much more appealing:

London's Pigeons......I don't miss them.

These massive masks are suspended just outside one of the entrances to the arts centre:

London's hire bikes; Boris Bikes.....great idea. 

Wednesday evening was beautiful and I shot these teenage girls doing what teenagers do on a summer's evening:

After a reasonable night's sleep, Thursday dawned and we walked to Great Ormond Street Hospital through hoards of people on their way to work. It rained, but not too hard and we got there early. Two and a half hours later, we walked out feeling like we were actually getting somewhere at last. The team of four psychologists and a psychiatrist looked at OB as a whole person and talked to us at length about everything. We were there for a reassuring two and a half hours and they will be writing to everyone we've had contact with down here in Devon. They suggested that the dreaded CAMHS send someone to spend some time with their cognitive therapists to learn how they approach Tourettes, which would be fantastic, not just for us, but for other children with the condition here. The whole hospital is so impressive, with everything geared for children; colourful and unthreatening. Pictures were difficult but I took one of the cafeteria on my phone before it got busy:

Back to the Barbican to collect the car and then a two hour slog across London and another five hours to get to the dogs, who were VERY pleased to see us. Home at  last. Growing up in London was great but I'm very happy not to live there any more. 

Over the weekend, I found Daisy, the mare who used to come up the drive last year if you remember. I haven't seen her since last autumn. She's looking well for a lady of her age and...........

She has a delightful new foal, whose unusual markings look all smudgy. Definitely a Smudge.

Nib scratching:

These two were flirting outrageously:

The dogs are so pleased to be home:

Three Eurofighter Typhoons (I think) flew over us in a delta formation as we were walking the other day. I saw them coming from a few miles away and managed to catch one of them. Whilst I hate what they can potentially do, I find them so exciting and was left saying "wow" to nobody but the dogs after they'd gone right over my head. When I was about twelve, I wanted to be a jet pilot but they didn't take women in those days. Probably a good thing as they'd have kicked me out when I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes!

Things are getting back to normal here and the summer holidays are pending. I had planned to have repainted the downstairs of the house by now but it just doesn't seem to have happened. OB is doing a drumming course in the first week so maybe I'll try and do it then? Possibly? Don't hold me to it. So, until next time, welcome to a few new followers, I hope your weeks are going well and here are the boys looking winsome in the grass.