Sunday, 31 January 2010


The area of SSSI chalk downland that we overlook has for a long time been a complete mess following the scrub clearance that took place last year. I have been concerned that the work that took place at great expense, both in monetary terms and the disruption to habitats, was going to wasted as almost a year after the scrub clearance the area still is not being grazed. I therefore decided to email English Nature. They were wonderful and replied almost immediately, reassuring me that everything is in hand and going to plan and the area will soon be grazed. I am so pleased and excited as this area used to be very rich in wildflowers. They also asked if I would be interested in doing recording for them this spring and summer so I have put my name forward. Hopefully this will mean I will still be able to access the area even when it is fenced off.

I find it very hard to motivate myself to do anything at this time of year (although I have got loads that I should be doing) but at the same time I feel bored. The highlights of my week are stock checking of the ponies and the sheep and my weekly visit to the stables where I help to get the horses ready for the evening lessons and have a ride myself. As I left home for the stables last week the sky was very red giving a lovely rosy glow to everything. They say, 'Red sky at night, Shepperd's delight' but although the sky looked wonderful, I am not sure there would have been many happy Shepperds as the temperature plummeted. By the time I was ready to ride it was -2 and the yard was frozen solid so I gingerly led Molly to the sand school to mount up. Molly is often a bit reluctant to do things but on that night I think she just wanted to move to keep warm because she was really quite lively.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Busy Birds

It is easy to see how pleased the birds are that the weather is no longer freezing because, as well as busily looking for food to build themselves up again, there also seems to be quite a bit of flirting going on. I am really looking forward to the spring and have already collected lots of sheep's wool that I will put out when nest building begins.

My friendly robin survived the freeze ok. While I was doing a bit of organising on photoshop I came across a picture of him/her taken in August....just a baby... he/she is all grown up...and still as cheeky as ever.

Although I am pleased for the wildlife that the weather has improved I am sorry to say that these horrible damp, grey days make me feel very fed up.

We walked over to the ponies yesterday through loads of squelchy mud. The ponies were happy to see us which made it worthwhile. Tivy trotted over for a scratch but Rufus, as usual, carried on eating...during the snowy weather, although he was given hay, he developed a habit of nibbling bark, fences, the gates and the notices on the gates which say 'Don't Feed the Ponies'..hmm..can he read:-))

I am trying to cheer myself up by making some plans for the garden. Last year we gravelled the drive so now we need to make a path down from the drive to the front door and then we will be able to do some planting. When I was a child our next door neighbour's path was lined either side by Lavender and I loved running down it surrounded by bees and a lovely scent. This is what I would like for our path so I have been finding out about different sorts of Lavender. I also want to be able to use the Lavender in cooking and for craft things so it is important to get the right type. I will need quite a lot of plants to line the path on both sides but we have a Lavender farm fairly close to us so I am hoping that they will sell seeds in their gift shop. Can't wait to get going on it.

Sunday, 10 January 2010


I have always found 'communication' to be an interesting subject. For many years I worked as a Speech and Language Therapist's Assistant dealing mainly with pre-school children but, as much as I enjoyed my job, I find animal communication to be even more fascinating.

My cat, for instance, during her 19 years of life, has developed her "meuw" for food, to "meow," to "mnow" and after a couple of attempts she now manages a very respectful "now!!!" How clever is that...although its also a bit annoying at 5am when she wakes me up demanding her breakfast.

It is the communication aspect that makes me enjoy horses so much. Horses use a lot of body language between themselves but when being ridden by humans they have to interpret a whole host of other communications signals and in general they do it with such good humour. This makes me think that they too must enjoy the interaction with humans.

A couple of days ago, when we were visiting the ponies on the SSSI land, my husband tripped which frightened Tivy and he ran down towards where I was checking his field mate, Rufus. When Tivy saw me he stopped and tossed his head up and down a couple of times. So I tossed my head up and down a couple of times too (I had washed my hair that morning and it was flying around a bit like a horse's mane:-). Tivy looked at me in amazement, then tossed his head up and down again, so I copied him again and this went on for several minutes, each of us taking a turn. It sounds a bit mad, but communication is all about copying and turn taking. However, unfortunately, I haven't a clue what my head tossing conversation with Tivy was all about but it was great fun.

It is shame humans can't communicate better. My son, daughter and grandson left from Gatwick for their skiing holiday in France but their flight was diverted to Lyon due to bad weather. Unfortunately, for some unknown reason, the French would not allow the passengers off the plane so they had to sit there for 12 hours!!! Eventually (I think after the British Consulate got involved) they were allowed off and arrived at their destination of La Plange at 5am, nearly 24 hours after leaving Gatwick. If we can't communicate better with our neighbouring country, to sort out simple problems, I don't hold out much hope for the EU ever being successful.

Friday, 8 January 2010

It will soon be Spring

On snowy days like these...

...I like to think of sunny days to come...

...I can feel the warmth when I look at this picture:-)))

Yesterday was our day for stock checking the sheep grazing SSSI land on top of the North Downs at Tatsfield. We were able to dig the car out ok, but unfortunately we found the hill too slippery to drive up so we had to abandon the trip. Not too much of a disaster as the Grazing Officers go round to all the grazing sites with hay when there is snow on the ground so the sheep would have been seen by someone. Never the less I don't like letting people down, especially when it involves animals.
Today it was the ponies turn. They are a lot closer and we can walk to them if necessary. They were in their usual early morning place by the enclosure. We broke up the thick ice on their trough and poured in two containers of hot water that we had bought from home. I gave Tivvy a scratch under his mane and was pleased to feel he was nice and warm. We then slithered our way down the hill to check the fences and back home.

My daughter, son and grandson are due to fly out of Gatwick early tomorrow for a skiing holiday. I hope they make it...although at this rate they could spend the week skiing in England:-)

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Mouse Munchings

At first light I ventured out into the snowy garden to put out some bird seed. I carefully walked up the slippery path and across the bridge to my new bird table, with food at the ready, but sitting on the table, already tucking in to some seeds left over from yesterday, was the cutest little mouse. He nibbled away, then suddenly noticed me, gave me a look of surprise and scuttled off.

How I wish I had had my camera with me.

Stay warm everyone:-)

Monday, 4 January 2010

Birds Eye View

I know a lot of people aren't too keen on crows but I really quite like them. They seem to enjoy life in their large social groups and they seem to also enjoy their ability to fly...I frequently see them chasing each other or just gliding around on the air currents apparently 'just for fun' and when resting, it is usually at the top of a tall tree where they can get the best view of the surrounding countryside.

On this freezing cold morning the crows were out and about as usual but more concerned in finding food than playing games in the sky.

Just before Christmas my husband and I got the chance to experience a 'birds eye view' when we went to the Paul McCartney concert at the 02 (Millennium Dome). Our seats were right up near the roof and it was very high up! When I first looked down, something seemed to draw me forward. If I had been a bird I would have taken off and swooped around but as a human I found it rather disconcerting.

I wonder if birds, especially fledglings, experience a similar feeling and that is what draws them out of their nests for their first flight.