Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Wildlife Dreams Come True in Scotland

Common or Harbour Seal with Cormorant

The Brunet Family reach remote Lake Coruisk

This was the summer when it made sense to take our family to Scotland rather than trying to understand and fulfill covid restrictions travelling abroad to see grandparents and extended family of the kids. So, like many other families we made our pilgrimage to Scotland and what a fine couple of weeks it was! Now, my experience of Scotland goes back to 2 holidays as a child. I discovered mist and midges with my Dad and younger brother. One time we took a caravan in Galloway, another time we spent a week in a rather small sailing boat with Dad's tent near Oban, Loch Creran and the Hebridean islands of that area. The wildlife stood out at the time: seals, black guillemots, hooded crows... but there were disappointments too: Golden Eagles that were always buzzards on Dad's inspection and a distinct lack of wildcats that had populated my young imagination until those holidays.

My husband's experience of Scotland was of 2 weddings we were invited to together (one in Oban, one in Gretna Green) and a hazy weekend at a Glasgow hotel to see a distillery via a Lake District in torrential rain. It was Samuel who decided he needed to do a proper tour of Scotland and that it would involve at least Ediburgh and Inverness. We began making our plans....some of the plans that unfolded will be in my next post...

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Today, over a year since we first locked down for the pandemic, I am treating myself to looking back through some of our October half term photographs. It was precious time away snatched in a tiered-lockdown easing time before things got complicated again. We stayed in a lovely house in Newlyn with a view of the harbour and lighthouse. The holiday was completely seal-focussed, energising and exciting. There were big waves to watch, long walks and only ourselves to spend time with.

We decided to return to Gweek Seal Sanctuary as Arthur had only been a baby and it had been an incredibly rainy day back then. This time there was a lot more to see and even a glimpse of sunshine! Arthur loved communicating with the seals in tanks, especially a small helpless pup in the rehabilitation hospital unit. It was such a good day out for all of us we decided to return again on the same ticket on the Saturday before we returned home.

Thanks to  a tip from friends (we couldn't meet up with them even though in same area due to social distancing) we discovered where to watch seals in the wild at Godrevy. There were big waves and wind and we had to be careful walking.
Here is my favourite close-up shot of a seal at Gweek Seal Sanctuary
The Wildest Walk we went on was near a tin mine where we watched huge waves foaming with chemicals leaching out from the mine works.

Friday, February 19, 2021

 Finally we are back! Still in a third lockdown. This is one of my absolute favourite SLR pictures I've taken over recent months. It is a friendly Pied Wagtail that Arthur loves watching out of the window. Here it is standing on a chair back in the rain. Not even bad weather will stop birds! This year was our best garden birdwatch on record. Not only did Isaac's count towards a naturalist cubs badge and Arthur's assist towards him learning to count with a tally...we also used extra birdfeeders and gained more species to view. This year we had a pair of Greater Spotted Woodpeckers in the oak tree at the front of the house too. I have recently finished "The Hidden Life of Trees" by Peter Wollenbaum which certainly gives food for thought. Written by a german forester, it goes into the details of slow root and chemical communication between trees, which trees adapt to where and the ecology of a mixed forest. I would like to see 100 birds over lockdown but haven't made a list of the first ones yet! Also to follow are nostalgic pictures of seal watching from last half term in October.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Farlington Marsh Salty Circle Path with Kids

 (Published a little late )We have one week before half term and last Sunday decided to drop everything (in case half term doesn't happen as we know it) and have a lovely walk around Farlington Marshes which is little more than twenty minutes drive from our house. The last time we went to Farlington was a freezing day before in the run-up to last Christmas. We hadn't planned lunch and snack that time and under-estimated the walk for smallest boy who had to by piggy-backed for a few km at end. It had ended happily with a family pub stop at the Churchillian pub on Portsdown hill and was like an early Christmas gift. This time, however our children were several months older and more able to walk and, in the middle of a pandemic and confusion over whether "Test-and-Trace" actually works we decided (drum-roll) to be organised and had sandwiches, snacks and SLR camera all ready long before missing any lunchtime.We also decided to avoid a) people and close quarters b) cafes and c) pub temptations.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

High tide walk. High time to write and reflect...

 My youngest child has properly started school. It is so quiet now and there is so much to catch up on. There haven't been too many tears between the three of my children returning to school after so many months at home as they are all social beings and have different interests and friends. I haven't had time to miss them as keenly as I thought I would. Suddenly, adult friends and interests that had been put on hold for child needs instantly re-appeared. It still feels ethereal, fragile and uncertain how long they will have this "new normal" at school as some school "bubbles" close down and children with coughs are left in limbo waiting to be Covid tested. We have so far not had to do this in our immediate family bubble of 5. It seems only a matter of time though. At the weekend we headed out to Bosham. It was a last, sunny Sunday before the changing autumn weather that has set in as I write.  It was very hard with the high tide to social distance on the harbour wall but it was exciting for the kids to be wading on the road edges to get icecreams. There are a great many intriguing buildings and gardens to be seen and  on the day we went there were children happily sailing optimist dinghies in the light breeze. My older children climbed a tree near the church on a green area to gain a better view. It was like a blast from a pre-pandemic past. 

Sunday, September 06, 2020

Lockdown Eased. Taking things each day.

 These are pictures taken at Solent business park in Whiteley last week after we managed to take all three children to the barbers for haircuts before school resumes. It was a beautiful, sunny day. Sometimes, right on our doorstep there are many things in nature we  drive or walk past but don't stop to appreciate. Lockdown has made my children experts at noticing these things now. They were delighted with the ducks in the water features around the park. We also noticed a cormorant that we have never seen before at Whiteley and would usually consider to be a coastal bird. It was diving then shaking water off it's wings very happily right in front of the office buildings. The children were most happy playing with Reed Mace and playing with the seeds in the wind.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Early Ventures Out in Lockdown: Memorable Adventure Number 1: Isaac's 7th Birthday Cycle Ride to Wickham and Back through 100 acre woods.

It was like entering a strange new shaky world where everything had closed. Only one week since school had been closed and Isaac's birthday party cancelled. We were allowed to exercise once a day but should we? Who might we meet? How many hundreds of times would we need to wash our hands afterwards. We had a pleading request from one of the children to cycle to the sweet shop. The weather was still quite brisk but off we headed.

It was not the village we were used to! Imagine in all the times since it was 13th century market place that trading has taken place and now most things were closed and locked down. The Pages' Sweetie Shop was closed. As it was Isaac's special day I took him as my one partner into the Co-op and chose some sweets for the others with him. 

We joined the railway line at Wickham and made our way onwards to cross over to Hundred Acre wood. It was a really long journey to our 3 kids. Isaac decided he didn't really want to go cycling on his birthday again! His bike is just a starter bike and has no gears. I was very proud that he kept going though.

After cycling through hundred acres (lifting bikes over gates etc to get there from railway line) We took a new way back to our home in North Boarhunt along the Old Oak Trail. It was lined with gorse and sandy heathland on the entrance. This was a little too exotic for our cold, tired children who were now desperate to be home eating birthday cake. We made it though. And luckily the vast quantities of chocolate robot cake that had been planned for a party that restored the tired 3 children. This will be memorable as our first lockdown bike ride where we met no-one in the first wood and spring was still in winter's grasp.