Random Ramblings

Random Ramblings: Personal observations on a wide variety of subjects. Photographs of creatures and things that are taken on seeing the unusual as well as everyday things.

Peeping Tom

I have two lilac bushes, one soft white and one rich purple. Both are now showing their buds like small bunches of grapes held swaddled in a cradle of leaves.

Soft white lilac

Deep purple lilac

They are bravely peeping out of their protective buds parading themselves to the elements. The white bush has already had one of its would be blossoms damaged by frost. You can see on the right-hand side the brown tinges where the green ball has been burnt by the crisp cold. It would be an unusual year if we didn't have any more frosts before May . . . will I have any remaining lilac blossoms from my two peeping Tom's?

Dandelions welcome in the longer days

Although so much bad weather had been recently forecast, it was surprisingly bright and sunny yesterday afternoon and I was able to take a few pictures of some of the wild flowers that seemed to have wintered in the garden.

Dandelion (daisy family)

Primula (primrose family)
The primula is one of the border varieties that has successfully been grown in our heavy clay soil.
Lesser Celandine (buttercup family)

Near the celandines by the bank ...

We have escaped the snow which has surrounded most of the counties around where we live. When I ventured out into the garden near the pond I spotted one of the smaller varieties of daffodils gently swaying in the light breeze.
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Daffodil animated gif

One of the things that I was especially pleased to see today was a clump of frogspawn in my pond. We have had a lovely family of frogs in the pond for a few years now. Many of them are very friendly and will allow you to stroke their heads ... so hopefully we should have one or two baby ones before too long.

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Frogspawn gif

Baby real squirrel animated gif's

It is Easter Monday ... I have no Easter bunnies - but thought you may enjoy real life baby squirrel animated gif's. I enjoy gif's because they enable you to send short films to friends and family by simply clicking onto them, then copy and pasting them onto emails. I think this is one of the most enjoyable things from modern technology. Of course you cannot have many frames in each gif but if you place them onto emails they enable you to forward a small piece of film to far off places. Enjoy ... Image Hosted by ImageShack.us Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Good - it's Friday and the first day of Spring

Today, the 21st March is the first day of Spring. It is the first day of the year when there is more daylight than night.

Watch out for those mad March hares ... you can see them in the fields standing on their hind legs with their front paws boxing each other like miniature kangaroos. This is the start of the courtship ritual - the females become quite aggressive and box away the unwanted advances of the males. They are best viewed in the early evenings although later in the year they course or run very quickly across the meadows. It is rumoured that if you are very lucky then you may, perhaps just once in your lifetime witness hares standing in circles. I am still waiting to witness such an event. Perhaps one day I may be lucky enough to see it - I hope that I have my camera handy if I do! Many will have heard the saying "as mad as a March hare."

Traditionally, it is now the season for Spring cleaning - and if you are thinking of beginning yours then good luck with that.

It is Good Friday today so I hope you all have a lovely, peaceful and happy Easter.

Thursday - Therapy buddy

Are you having a bad day? Well just take a look at the following gif animations and I'm sure they'll make you smile . . .
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Pink posy gif
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Happy sway man gif

Today is the Spring Equinox - equal day and equal night - 12 hours of each!

Knight in shining armour

When I decided to have my ears pierced, I was more than a little wary as I had seen quite a few examples of uneven holes and lopsided earring positions. I hunted around and found a jeweller that used an old fashioned piercing method with good precision. My earlobe made an awful crunching noise as the needle went through the skin. Then I had to have the second one done!

Finally, when I looked in the mirror I was pleased with the result as the holes were evenly matched and small gold studs had been placed in position. Then came the regular bathing to heal the open wounds. The one healed very quickly but the other oozed with stickiness for week after week and month after month.

After reaching the point when I truly began to wonder if it would ever heal at all, I met up with a friend who had had a similar problem. Hers had wept and oozed for almost four years when, by chance she happened to mention it to an elderly country lady who had told her the secret of how to make it heal. I was all agog - what was this magical answer? I was told it was very simple - all that I had to do was buy a block of Knight's Castile soap - take the studs out every morning wash both the ears and the studs thoroughly with a good lathering of the soap and water, rinse and dry and replace the studs. I was told no other soap will work it must be this particular brand.

It all seemed too good to be true - how could something so simple work? But it did - and very quickly too. I was so surprised at the effectiveness of this simple old fashioned remedy ~ it was simply soap and water magic!


St Patrick's Day

I travelled the long, hard, stony track
With the fine mist and breeze on my face.
My bundle was heavy and slipped from my back -
When a wraith of a monk appeared at my side;
I sucked in my breath and feared for my soul
And the monk scooped his hand to the verge
He captured a creature as long as a pole
And was gone in the fog as I cried!

Happy St Patrick's Day to everyone!

"May you always find shamrock's under your feet and extend kindness and goodness to all that you meet."

Irradication of the enemy - total blitz

I have had to resort to placing the gardenia in a black plastic bag or sack so that I can spray away to try and kill off the little bugs or mites that are killing off my plant. I liked the idea of trying to do this using something natural and so have mixed up a solution of washing-up liquid, lemon juice and tea tree oil. So far the plant has now received three heavy sprays and has been left dripping wet. It has been a good idea to contain it in the plastic bag as all of the loose drippings have been caught in this. I now have to play the waiting game to see whether the minute creatures have finally been obliterated.

Beware! The Ides of March

The 15th March was Julius Caesar's most unluckiest day. It was the day he was stabbed to death. Some people are still superstitious over this day - so take care ... be safe.

Note: William Shakespeare made this popular when he wrote a play called Julius Caesar which dramatised the scene around the Ides of March and the death of Caesar.

Silent invasion - plant perfection

Around two years ago I was given a gardenia as a present. It had dark shiny perfect leaves and at the tip of each small branch was a soft white flower. For those who have never seen a gardenia flower, the simplest way to describe it is a smaller version of a cross between a rose and a camellia. Mine had a heady perfume with a hint of vanilla that flooded through the room and wafted into the hall and on a warm afternoon could be smelt throughout the whole house, including the kitchen.

My excellent plant did not stay in this perfect state for long though as it was slowly invaded by a micro attacker. At first all that I noticed was fine fluffy webs that were spun between branches and leaves. Finer than cotton wool fibres they lassoed small branches and leaves together almost like opaque woven cloth. I searched to see what it was that was making these gossamer webs but nothing was visible. My gardenia resides in a tall, glazed, flowerpot which sits on a tiled surface. The tiled surface developed a sticky, tacky coating - not only in the area of the plant's stems but two to three inches further out from its shadow. After scrubbing the area with a strong detergent for the umpteenth time I caught glimpse of a light brown spot slowly moving across one of the leaves ... I watched this spot and then saw others all moving in different directions. I have since been searching to identify this minute little creature which appeared to be some kind of a miniature brown spider mite. The surface of the leaves have been etched and sculptured away and so I really need to eradicate this tiny villain even though I keep imagining it as a kind of 'who' like creature without a 'Horton.'

Weather not fit for ducks

Overnight the winds pushed northwards and began to batter northern Britain. Several areas were affected worse than others. We could still hear the ferocity of the wind as all kinds of items rattled through the night and gusts howled like wild beasts. One of the main contenders as the winds moved up the country was the town of Preston. Worst affected were the older areas of the town as at least one building began to crumble and its roof started to topple down onto the pavement. We are awaiting to see if after tonight the weather will remain calm . . .

Weather forecast - storm battle

Yesterday it became apparent that we were in for heavy storms and violent winds with gusts between 70 and 80 miles per hour. The worst affected areas would be in the west and south of Britain. I looked at the maps that kept appearing at the end of news items and saw that the line that they had drawn for this bombardment of wind and rain was well in the area where I live.

During the night you could hear the rattling of items outside and the sound of heavy rainfall but to my relief in the morning it had quelled quite a lot. However, we were more fortunate than some. In parts of Wales in coastal areas the wind and waves were very violent. There has been flooding in some areas, power lines are down in a few districts and there are currently warnings advising people not to take to the roads.

There is more bad weather due later on.

Bird table, 5 star restaurant - gift

All my life I have enjoyed the various birds that come into the garden. Occasionally being enthralled with a bird nesting in a bush. I had always wanted a bird table to place the various food groups enjoyed by a variety of songbirds that reside in my area. I also remember the long-tailed tits pecking at sunflower heads that had been chopped off and carefully placed on old discarded tea trays. A few years ago I was given a special birthday present of a bird table. It was the kind of bird table that up until that point I had only seen in books mainly as illustrations in fairy stories. It has now become a five star restaurant for the many different birds in our neighbourhood.

It has now had chance to weather, taking on a slightly worn appearance. The birds that visit the garden have got used to it and check it out to find what is available at their little wooden restaurant. It is surprising at the variety of foods that they eat even, on occasion, the odd tropical fruit.

As I also have a cat, it is good to know that she has never tried to climb up the table legs. She does, however, sit and look either from inside with her nose not quite pressed against the window pane or from the corner of the house where she appears to think that she is invisible!

Down under the armillary sun dial

We have in the garden an armillary sun dial that usually rests on a hollow stand. As the path was in need of a sweep, and the armillary needed a good clean it was decided to tackle both at once. The sun dial was lifted off its hollow stand and the stand was lifted off the pathway. This revealed a mound, rather like a small sandcastle but made of fine elements of soil. The mound was gradually excavated to reveal the start of an ants nest. There were only about six ants scurrying about and if you look at the bottom photograph just about three eggs.

Thankfully, the ants in the garden are mostly the black variety. They are probably the most common in our area - and are friendly in character. They also enjoy eating the hedgehog food or cat food especially any form of tinned fish. The ants also congregate over any fruit pieces that are placed out for the birds. In fact, with the various creatures food stuffs and the 'milk' they acquire from all of the greenfly, I should say that they perhaps have the most varied diet of any of the insect family. In the above picture you can just make out a few of the entrances to some of the ant tunnels and their approximate size when comparing them to a finger. More tunnel entrances are visible above. The tunnels and ant eggs are easy to observe in the photograph above. We found that the ants had brought all of the soil heap through a hair-line crack between two paving slabs. Now I wonder whether the ant home will reappear under the hollow stand.

St David's day - daffodils and leeks

St David is the patron saint of Wales and was born some time in the sixth century. His father was called Sant and his mother Non. St David's name was Dewi Sant. It has been claimed that during his life he went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. It is also documented that once whilst he was preaching the ground where he stood rose into a mound so that everyone could see his face.

Today, many people celebrate St David's day by wearing a daffodil or baby leek pinned to their clothing. Wales often uses the flag of St David, which contains the red dragon, as its national flag.

Happy St David's day to you all!

. . . 'The month of March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.'

. . . 'If there are mists in March then there will be frosts in May.'