Crossing the Pond

IMG_2127 We’re in New York this weekend seeing our son’s prospective in-laws and helping with the wedding preparations. It’s always good to see what’s going on here, but there’s a particular interest for The Larches, because probably the most famous and well frequented belvedere in the world is in the city’s Central Park.

The Belvedere Castle stands beside the Turtle pond and there are already two great photos of it and other information on this lakelandbelvedere website. It’s nice though to find it and be able to pinpoint it on the ground – as the photo opposite shows! For the record it stands at an altitude of only 17 metres; the lakeland belvedere is at 113 metres.

Red squirrel sightings

squirrel5eHad two squirrel sightings last week, but the long grass on the back bank had limited our viewing til cut. Would be good to get more photos of the squirrels, but it’s tricky – you have to have the camera ready all the time! The one here was taken last year with a telescopic lens.

Two tips if you want to see the squirrels – make sure there are hazel nuts in the feeding box and get up early in the morning. The kitchen’s a good look-out point. Photos from some earlier sightings are in the Wildlife section

Turf saws and lawns

newlawn2 Breakfast early this morning on the belvedere deck and what a view of the Skiddaw range in the bright sunshine. I had a chance also to get a good aerial view from the deck of the new levelled south lawn. Only five weeks after the new turf was laid it’s looking superb (see photo). It could have been there for months.

I’d asked Rob our landscape gardener the secrets for laying good lawns. “They say there’s just three things – good turf, plenty of top soil and butt the turf up well against the last roll…oh yes and rain too”. Well he seems to have got it right to judge by the colour and thickness, but I’d add another – sun.

The last two days have been almost mediterranean in heat, with a temperature yesterday of 25° Celsius on the belvedere deck. After a morning’s work in the garden I was more than glad of that shady seat on the new lawn.

Son et lumière on the marshes

162_6268 I was out on the marshes late last night - Midsummer’s Day + 1, so there’s plenty of light ….. Down past Thornthwaite Church and over the A66 and you’ve a new world to yourself.

I’m heading through the birdsong for Bog House. A pheasant clatters up squawking, where six months ago a deer had leaped from the snow as I passed. There’s a rainbow over Keswick and the river’s full after rain, but it’s the sun that has the best hand this evening, moving round the Derwent Valley amphitheatre to spotlight one by one the big names.

Clough Head is first – a brilliant yellow with a rare quasi-lenticular cloud show above, then it’s Barrow’s turn, the dark green profile of its ridge sharp against the evening sky. Next Catbells – it’s an unusual shape when seen here from the north. The clouds slowly shift while I thread my way through a birch thicket. As I climb the river bank, to NNE below a clouded Skiddaw, Dodd and its woods are slowly turning a golden green and brown. The top is shorn of trees, but the lower sections retain a thick canopy.

This is osprey terrain now and I can see the position of the nest. The parent birds aren’t flying, but a blackbird sings her heart out to me for a full four minutes from the top of a field post. Only as I get back to The Larches at 9.45 does the sun’s spotlight on Dodd click off. What an evening of son et lumière it’s been. Who needs a home entertainment system, when the best show’s outside?

POSTSCRIPT: For a map and description of a longer variant of this circular walk and more photos see Walk No 2 of the Walking and transport section of the site.

The midsummer bank

IMG_2029I think of it by this name because usually around 21st June I’m cutting the foliage down on the bank after the daffodills have gone. Last year I must have overlooked it, so yesterday – right on time as it was the longest day of the year – it was 3 feet high bracken, grasses, gorse and brambles to be tackled. If you leave it, there’s a loss of light at the back of the house and it’s hard to see the red squirrels.

It’s usually no big deal but with so much to cut, the bank’s more of a problem. It’s a 42° degree slope, 10  metres long and 5 metres from the top to the bottom, where there’s a  2 metres high containing wall. So there’s a fair bit of stretching to do with the scythe -  and it’s best to avoid slipping! At least I had some good grips on my shoes. The photo shows the results. Note for 2010 – don’t forget that midsummer date.