"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

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Garden Moths

Garden Moths - GMS Week 4 Friday 27th March

Min Temp 6.7 degrees centigrade

15w Actinic Skinner Trap

Oak Beauty (Biston strataria) x 1

Early Grey (Xylocampa areola) x 1 (New for Year)

Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica) x 3

Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi) x 2

and I am pretty sure this is Beautiful Plume (New for Year) Amblyptilia acanthadactyla

The 2015 list for Garden Moths now stands at 10.

I have been checking my Emperor moth pupae daily. At the moment they are still outside in the Coal House as I am hoping they will emerge at the same time as those in the wild so that I can put one of the females in the garden and see if I can lure any male Emperor Moths from a local population (if one exists). I've bought them a rather expensive new cage so they have somewhere roomy to fly around in before I release them in Sutton Park which is the nearest local site that has a resident population. I do have the County Recorder's approval for this - in fact, it seems to be the release site for captive bred Emperors in Warwickshire! If all goes well and some moths do emerge I may keep just a few eggs this year to raise about 6 caterpillars. Last year I had up to 50 which was fine when they were tiny but it became very difficult to clean them out daily when they became larger.

I treated myself to some rather cute Bee socks the other day - aren't they lovely? :)

Sorry for lack of posts recently the whole family has gone down one after another with the most foul of viruses which starts with a dreadful sore throat and cough and then develops into a chest infection. Hopefully, we're now all on the mend! I shall scream if I don't get out into the countryside soon!!

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Lichfield - Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum

E and I had a trip out to Lichfield on Monday afternoon. Despite a dry afternoon being forecast, it was tipping it down when we arrived, so we first had coffee and cake and then visited the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum and Book shop.

The house was built for Michael and Sarah Johnson (Samuel's parents) in 1707/08. It was both a family home and a bookshop. Sarah, at the age of 40, gave birth to Samuel on 18th September, 1709. He attended Lichfield Grammar School and in 1735 married Elizabeth Porter or Tetty as he called her. She was 20 years older than Samuel and had 3 grown up children. They set up a school in Lichfield which closed after only 18 months and, aged 27, Samuel moved to London to seek work. He wrote articles for The Gentleman's magazine, published a satirical poem entitled "London" and a biography of the poet Richard Savage. Samuel and Elizabeth had little money but Samuel gained a reputation for diligence and his knowledge of literature.

He was asked to write an English dictionary and began work on it in 1746. In 1755 his "Dictionary of the English Language" was published. This was not the first dictionary but it was the most complete and the first to include sources of words. When it was first published the Dictionary was very expensive but subsequent edited concise editions were more affordable and it set the standard for dictionaries for the next 150 years. Johnson continued to write essays and a play "Irene" was staged at the Drury Lane Theatre. Elizabeth died in 1752. Johnson was still relatively poor until George III awarded him a pension of £300 a year in 1762. Samuel became one of the great "celebrities" of the period and was invited to many dinner parties. He continued to visit Lichfield throughout his life and travelled to the Western Isles of Scotland with James Boswell in 1773. Samuel and James had originally met in a bookshop in 1764 and Boswell eventually wrote "Life of Samuel Johnson". Samuel continued to write, publishing an edition of Shakespeare's works, a book "Lives of the Poets" and regular revisions of his Dictionary. He died on 13th December 1784 and was laid to rest in Westminster Abbey.

Michael Johnson's Work Room

The Parlour

A copy of a portrait bust of Samuel Johnson made by Joseph Nouekensin in 1777.

The original portrait bust

The room where Samuel was born.

His wife, Elizabeth

The museum was very interesting and there was a lot to see - its well worth a visit if you ever find yourself in Lichfield.

We then had a wander round the rest of the City Centre.

St Mary's church - the present building dates back to 1868 and is the fifth church on the site since medieval times.

Samuel Johnson Commemorative Statue

Statue of James Boswell

Five Gables

The Guild Hall

Beautiful flowers in this tub but what a shame about the slug pellets :(

I was hoping to pay another visit to the Cathedral but we just didn't have time. Once E finds herself near clothes shops you just can't get her away!! I will return to the Cathedral later this year - I understand the restoration and repair of the Lady Chapel is now complete and I shall make sure I go when the Chapter House is open.

Reference : Souvenir Guide of the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum and Bookshop

Monday, 16 March 2015

Frogspawn and a few more Moths

Frogs have been moving around in the pond for at least the last 10 days and there was a lot more activity last Friday and by lunchtime the first frogspawn had appeared

It was difficult to get many photos as the frogs were still very nervy and dived for cover frequently.

Early on Saturday morning the yearly frog "orgy" was well and truly underway with a mass of frogs - sadly it was too dark and gloomy to get photos but there were many more clumps of frogspawn by nine a.m.

GMS Week 2 Friday, 13th March

Min Temp 2.5

Only two moths but one new for year!

Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica) x 1

Clouded Drab (Orthosia incerta) x 1 NFY

Worn Clouded Drab

I've managed to id the micro from last weekend's trapping session - Agonopterix heracliana agg. This species is very similar to A ciliella - they can only be reliably separated by dissection - a route I have no wish to go down!! Not only a new species for the year but also new for the garden.

Sorry really blurred photo of the micro (heavily cropped)

This brings current total year list to 8.

Thanks to Dave and Ian (on Twitter) for id confirmation.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Winterbourne House

Last Sunday saw me family chauffeuring again and I had another hour to spare which resulted in my dashing over for a quick visit to Winterbourne House again. Don't be fooled by the colour of the sky in the photo below which was taken when I visited in February. When I arrived last weekend it was raining heavily so I decided to have a look round the House.

Winterbourne is an Arts and Crafts House which has recently been restored and opened to the public in 2010. The house was built in the early 1900's for John Sutton Nettlefold and his family. Local architect JL Ball was commissioned to design the house in the Arts and Crafts style. John Nettlefold worked for the family firm Nettlefold Ltd which manufactured screws. In 1902, following a merger, the Company was renamed Guest Keen and Nettlefold. John and his wife Margaret moved into the house in 1904. The house was built to a "North Corridor" plan which meant all the main rooms had the maximum light and views. The rooms today reflect the day to day life of a wealthy Edwardian family.

The Morning Room

The Study

This Magic Lantern was producing a moving talking silhouette

which actually I found rather spooky!

The Drawing Room

Downstairs Gallery

I looked round the house interior a few years ago when I first visited Winterbourne but I think only the downstairs rooms were open then. Now you can also see upstairs.

Upstairs Gallery

This display case contains various items found around the gardens - a lovely idea I thought.

One room held what looked a very interesting exhibition on the World Wars but it was very busy in there and I only had about ten minutes remaining so

I looked into the Nursery which was a total delight.

There are several other bedrooms to visit.

Note the warming pan on the bed in this photo!

Display of Magic Lanterns.

Magic Lanterns were invented in the 17th century but became very popular in the late 19th and early 20th Century. Oil, lamplight and eventually electricity were used to project images from glass slides onto a wall or screen. Colour images could be shown accompanied by music and narration. In the days before tv and the cinema, shows often took place in village halls.

The Nettlefolds owned and used their own Magic Lantern.

This is one of my favourite paintings. The original can be seen in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. It was painted by John Byam Lister Shaw and is entitled "The Boer War" 1901.

This bedroom belonged to the Nanny/Governess.

My mother once owned (and used!!) a sewing machine just like this.

I am not sure who might have been lurking behind this door!

The house is a total delight to visit and I wish I had had more time as there was so much to see and read.