I have legitimately been able to forget the housework and go off exploring the countryside as the doctor said walking would strengthen my knee and help with its recovery following the op. It has worked...I am now pain free!! :-))
Exploring my valley again has been like visiting a very dear old friend. It is good to see the various habitats, that I have known for years, thriving and improving. I noticed that an old bridleway, that reportedly has dormice living in the trees and hedgerow that line it, has had gaps filled with more Hazel planting which is just what the dormice like :-)
I must make time to visit my valley more often as it was so enjoyable, although I missed my old dog, Jess, who always used to accompany me on these walks. It was this valley that prompted me to start this blog in the first place but both my time and my blog sort of got hijacked by sheep and the Downland Project somewhere along the way-))
I have also visited the various parts of Saltbox S.S.S.I. The area we overlook from our bungalow is very disappointing as a third of it is now covered in Golden Rod. This picture was taken last year. It was even worse this year. I don't know why Natural England allow this sort of thing to happen and continue to pay neglectful farmers for doing virtually nothing.
Another part of Saltbox that is owned by the London Wildlife Trust and has been grazed at intervals by the Downland Project's ponies and goats, is looking rather scruffy and overgrown as it hasn't been grazed for several months. This is because three large scrapes were being dug. I am guessing that L.W.T. are hoping that the wildflowers above the scrapes, will set seed in them. However, the landscape funnels the wind across the scrapes, where there are mainly thistles, brambles and ragwort and I noticed these have already have started growing in them. Maybe with the low nutrient they will not take hold. Time will tell. To me, a more interesting bit to watch in the future, is where the tractor they used churned up the soil while crossing a flowering area in which Bee Orchids and chalk grassland flowers flourish.
I have also been doing some exploring further afield. College Lakes near Tring is a favourite of mine at anytime of year but this autumn it looked particularly lovely.
As did the Ashridge Estate in the same area. Well done the National Trust for not charging for parking as there were so many families visiting with children jumping in puddles, scrambling over fallen trees and making camps. This beautiful area of woodland should be enjoyed by everyone.
It is good to be back to my old self and I am pleased to be back to livestock volunteering. We have moved the ponies, moved sheep, trimmed hooves and best of all put the rams in with the breeding ewes. Sheep are seasonal breeders and the rams definitely knew it was 'that' time of year. Before they were put with the girls, it was amusing to see how amorous they were getting with each other...they were obviously desperate for some female company:))
One can imagine how pleased they must have been to meet their new wives..
We are at that time of year when we are being bombarded with adverts and invitations to Christmas parties, cocktail parties, dinner and dances etc., etc., so I couldn't help laughing when I received the invitation to the Downland Project's Christmas Do... a BBQ in the middle of a field in Surrey...at least I wont have to by a party dress:-)) Christmas Wishes to everyone.
I am going to give this blog a bit of a rest for a while as I have some new plans for the New Year but I hope you all have a good 2014
Ludwig Loewe visits Nymans Gardens
12 hours ago