"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Monday 15 April 2024

April Visit to Herefordshire - Part 1: Hatfield and Leominster


We returned to Herefordshire last week for four nights as the weather forecast finally seemed a little better!

I remembered Timothy this time!  Here he is on the journey constantly asking "Are we there yet?" !!!!

We arrived on the Wednesday to a power cut! Luckily it didn't last very long.  After unpacking and lunch we did the usual click and collect at Morrisons.

We didn't go anywhere Thursday - to be honest I am still sleeping badly and if I have a particularly bad night I feel too tired to drive. B wanted to spend the day gardening and D was happy to work on his OU studies.

I took a few photos of the 

Herefordshire Oak

The Constable Tree and the

Octopus Tree

Hopefully, next month we shall start seeing leaves appearing.

B has put up the Tree Creeper nest box we bought although it may be too late for this year but I believe they have two broods a year so perhaps we will be lucky.  We often see Tree Creepers in the trees at the rear of the caravan where we have located the nest box.

Rosemary is growing well as are the mini Alliums.

Flowering Currant in the Walled Garden.  I wandered up there to see if they have information on this year's NGS Open Days in the little information room - no brochures to be seen there yet.

I went out with the bat detector most evenings and picked up calls on the detector and saw bats each time.  Some were emerging at sunset much earlier than the ones we saw last year so I suspect there may be several species on site not just the Natterer bats.  I also saw my first Small Tortoiseshell and Orange Tip of the year and there were several sightings of a pair of Red Kites over the caravan site. D could hear a Tawny Owl calling when we were out looking for bats. 

On Friday we popped into Leominster town centre for a few items.

I think I've said this before but whenever I see this shop I think of the Merrily Watkins' books by Phil Rickman. I am sure her daughter Jane would visit this shop :)

There was a market in the square and I quite liked some of these stone items.

B saw this museum featured briefly in a tv programme recently.  I think it is open most days so when we have more time we will visit.

D bought some asparagus to have with tea one night from this market stall.

No visit to Leominster is complete without a quick look in Rossiters bookshop.  I resisted temptation and didn't buy a book for myself but I did buy a signed copy of Crypt by Professor Alice Roberts for D's birthday.

After lunch D and I went to the local churchyard to look for primroses but I will write about that in the next post.

All photos taken by me with the Panasonic Lumix FZ330 bridge camera. (I don't particularly rate my photos but if anyone wishes to use one or mine or my son's I would be grateful for an email first - thanks)

Saturday 6 April 2024

This and That


Recent Reading

I have a horrid feeling this is the last in the Mitchell and Markby series which is a shame as I have really enjoyed these books.

I am persevering with this series although its not one of my favourites!


I made a simnel cake for Easter.  B made Hot Cross Buns on Good Friday and E made these chocolate cup cakes which were rather tasty :) 

I always try and pick a little posy of flowers from the garden to put on the table for Easter.

In the Garden

The garlic David planted last Autumn is growing well. It will be harvested later in the year.  We've made just a small start on sowing seeds.  D has planted some tomato and wildflower seeds and B some foxgloves to take to the caravan.

Violets are starting to flower - the plants pop up everywhere in borders, pots and on the patio.

Primroses and snowdrops seem to have finished flowering but now we have Cowslip flowers. Last year they had really spread in the wildflower meadow area and we had dozens.

Some years ago we had the eucalpytus tree in the garden greatly reduced in height as it was getting rather out of control!!  Some of the stumps removed we placed round the garden and they soon attracted fungi including Turkey Tail. Now we have a new species to add to the garden list as this huge fungus has appeared on the main tree. Its about the size of a small washbasin with a smaller one appearing above it.  There are two similar species Artist's Bracket and  Southern Bracket (Ganoderma australe) and I think it is the latter - thanks to Dean on Twitter for confirmation. 

Nesting Activity

The female Blue Tit has nested in the nest box which has a camera and the first egg was laid on 4th April which seems early to me so I have checked my nature diaries and listed, where I can,  the dates Blue Tit eggs have laid the first egg in previous years since we had a camera in the nest box and going back to 2010.  

2010: 28th April
201125th April
2012: 25th April
2013: 27th April
2014: 14th April
2015: 16th May this was a very late attempt and the young failed to reach fledging.
2016: 25th April
2017: No webcam this year as it had stopped working. So not sure when first egg laid. The young fledged week commencing 3rd June. Food seen being taken into nest box 18th May. Suspect eggs laid end of April?
2018: No nesting attempts this year although birds did investigate nest box around the 5th May.
2019: 23rd April
2020: 28th April
2021: 19th April
2022: 13th April
2023: 7th April
2024: 4th April

Unfortunately I do not have dates for all years due to having no working camera in the nest box one year and another year Blue Tits did not nest. In 2015 the birds nested very late although it had been a cool Spring.  Sometimes also it is difficult to be sure of the exact date as the female does not incubate until most of the eggs are laid. She tends to cover the eggs  with feathers in the daytime after she has left the nest so the first egg can be missed for a few days.   Overall, however, it  does appear that the date the first egg has been laid has got earlier since I started recording dates.  

I know there has been  research into how climate change may be affecting the seasons and how this may affect species in Spring.  Nesting of some bird species, the flowering of certain plants and emergence of leaves are occurring earlier. 

Research has suggested that birds such as Blue and Great Tits are overall now nesting around two weeks earlier earlier than they did two decades ago as a result of climate change causing earlier and warmer Springs and seasonal changes.  The concern here of course is that the caterpillars the birds feed their young on will not follow suit and also appear earlier.  I know we have had some years which have been distressing as the chicks have died one after the other which appears to have been due to the lack of food being brought in.  Phenology is a fascinating subject and I am sure there is a great deal more research being put into it. The Woodland Trust's Nature's  Calendar asks people to submit certain first dates of seasonal events in the autumn and winter to use to investigate the way climate and weather affect wildlife.


We popped to Coleshill last week mainly to visit the monthly Farmers' market.

There are some nice independent shops in Coleshill. 

D popped into Books Revisited for a short while as I wandered around taking photos.

The farmers'  market is held at The Croft which is right by the church.  

There were quite a few stalls there selling bread, fish, meat, honey, etc etc - not too many photos as there were too many people milling around!

Plants in Walls/Pavement Plants -

Ivy Leaved Toadflax and Herb Robert.

Its Dandelion Season.  Each year it reminds me of my father's Dandelion Wine - it was delicious!

All photos taken by me with the Panasonic Lumix FZ330 camera (I don't particularly rate my photos but if anyone wishes to use one of mine or my son's I would appreciate an email first - thanks).

Thursday 21 March 2024

First Visit to Herefordshire 2024


We visited the caravan for the first time this year last week. Although the weather forecast was poor at least we were able to take back the items we had brought home and make up the beds and stock up on food.

We had a very good journey there on the Wednesday and it only took 90 minutes.  Once the car was unpacked and we had had lunch we went to Morrisons Leominster as we had a click and collect booked and needed petrol.

Thursday weather was mixed so we stayed on the site and I took a few photos of the trees and the garden.

The Herefordshire Oak - looking similar to how it did in December!

The Constable  and Octopus trees also bare of leaves.

The herbs have survived well over the last few months.

The pink primula that was flowering in December is still covered in flowers!

There are primroses in the garden and they are covering the grassy banks around the site.

The copse in sunlight with rain clouds gathering behind. 

When we arrived (and as we left on the Saturday!) a pair of Red Kites were seen over the field right in front of the caravan. We often see Red Kites there and it would be wonderful if they decided to nest nearby.

Once the bird feeders were refilled we had visits from many species - all the usual such as Blue, Coal and Great Tits, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Robin and Blackbird and the highlights were a Nuthatch, Bullfinch and Long Tailed Tit sighting.  On the Friday when B was putting up a nest box in the trees just behind the garden a Brambling came for food. Now I won't tell you how jealous I was - I've never seen this species sadly and this is the second time B has seen one and I haven't!

We have also ordered a Tree Creeper nest box as we get a lot of sightings of this species in the trees at the rear of the caravan.

I did try out the bat detector a couple of evenings as it was so mild and they can come out of hibernation this month but there was no sign of bats - I don't think they like rainy weather and it had rained both days earlier in the day.

On Friday  B needed a larger screwdriver so we popped into Tenbury Wells - just a few photos from when we walked round. 

While B went to buy some bird food I had a look round the small sensory garden at Temeside House.

We returned home on the Saturday. Hopefully, we can return soon although rainy days seems to be the forecast for weeks to come!

I am sorry for the lack of blog posts recently. To be honest the weather hasn't been dry enough to go out much and also I am sleeping very badly still and I don't like driving when I am shattered!

All photos taken by me with the Panasonic Lumix FZ330 bridge camera. (I don't particularly rate my photos but if anyone wishes to use one I would be grateful for an email first - thanks).