A green lake

This healthy barley crop has benefited from hot sun and heavy rain in the past two weeks. As the wind catches the crop, it looks like a ruffled green lake. Tilly and The Happy Moonraker often jog past and we keep an eye on how near it is to being harvested. Not for a few weeks yet, though.



Time for a snooze

Tilly the terrier shows her exhaustion after a car journey.

MUCH as she loves a car trip, Tilly finds the whole business of navigating extremely tiring.

There are all those pedestrians and motorcyclists to be warned away, as well as a couple of long walks when she reaches her destination.

A 60-mile journey combined with interesting walks with dozens of new smells to investigate mean that she has to concentrate on recovering when she reaches home.

She is not interested in birdsong, whereas the Happy Moonraker is enjoying the sound of swallows and martins since their return from Africa for the summer months.

While she was dozing, Tilly completely missed the fox as it strolled through the bluebells outside the kitchen. This is another through-the-glass photo.

Spring is warmly welcomed

“Please may I have your number,” says one lamb to the other.

Tilly the terrier and the Happy Moonraker have loved watching spring unfold even more than usual this year. After that wet and muddy winter, a week or two of dry weather is welcome.

Snowdrops, primroses, daffodils and, my favourites, narcissi, have done well.

Fruit tree blossom has possibly been the best it’s ever been, and there are lambs, bluebells and wood anemones wherever you look. The persistent cold wind seems to have put off the more sensible butterflies from appearing so we’ve only seen one or two: small white, brimstone and a brave peacock.

There have also been some heavy frosts so anyone with a low-lying garden in a rural area unfortunately had their magnolias and then wisteria spoiled. Salisbury’s city centre ones did well. They are protected by buildings.

Lambs are everywhere, and it is lovely to see how active they become at the end of each day, leaving their mothers’ sides and gathering together for fun and games. A friend who keeps a few sheep next to her pony paddock has been surprised by several twin births and, for the first time, one group of triplets so her midwifery and post-natal skills have been put to the test.

The farmers are now keen for some prolonged rain, otherwise there will be a lot of stunted crops.

Spot the cock pheasant hiding among the bluebells under the apple tree, photographed through the window.

Tilly the terrier rests in the daisies.


Doodlebone an all-round winner

Tilly, hard at work where she shouldn’t be, demonstrates comfort and ease of movement in her Doodlebone padded dog harness.

TILLY the terrier and the Happy Moonraker are always happy to endorse a product if it’s any good.

Tilly’s new collar/harness is one such product. Made by Doodlebone, it has all the features that any self-respecting dog would specify if able to do so.

It has soft padding where it is needed, it is washable, the stitching is strong so that it hasn’t fallen apart in the first few weeks, and it is made from a breathable mesh fabric.

Robustly made, it also boasts reflective edges, so if we are out at twilight, drivers can see both of us because the Happy Moonraker also wears a highly reflective waistcoat.

Then we come to the best bit for humans: it’s the D ring which is big enough to clip the lead on by using just one hand. A fiddly little D ring is an absolute menace when your hands are full and you end up having to put everything down in order to use both hands just to clip on the lead. So Doodlebone definitely win the trophy for both design and construction.

Feathered friends come calling

At the start of winter I decided to buy a box of 140 fat balls because it would be better value than buying them in smaller quantities. It has worked well, although of course they are loose in the box, rather than in nets, so it has been necessary to keep topping up feeders dotted around the place. Peanuts and seeds have also proved popular.

A friend who knows about these things says that wild birds should not be fed after the end of April, so I’ve somehow got to advise all our feathered customers that there will be no more cafeteria service until late autumn.

It’s been fun looking for more of my bird photos, all taken through glass.

This robin was tugging away at the worm and must have thought several times that he (or was it she?) had bitten off more than he could chew. He did win in the end.

Pheasants, both male and female, are often to be seen outside. It’s just a question of making sure that they can’t see The Happy Moonraker as the camera is lifted.

Great spotted woodpeckers are fairly common, as demonstrated by this one as it pecks away at the peanuts in the feeder. The smaller, lesser spotted woodpecker is seldom seen in the garden, unfortunately.

The last time we had snow I managed to capture this party of long-tailed tits enjoying the buffet put out for them.

Birds of a feather

Photographed through glass: a pair of goldfinches through the car windscreen . . .

WHEN it comes to taking photos of Tilly the terrier, there is no need for complicated equipment. Trying to photograph wild birds, though, is altogether different.

I’ve never used a hide or a posh camera with different lenses, so I think some of my efforts aren’t too bad. Most of them I take through the glass of the kitchen window so I often have to crop away the glare. There is a definite incentive to keep the windows clean.

and, seen through the kitchen window, a hen pheasant who has timidly taken up residence in the garden . . .

and an equally nervous-looking green woodpecker

Tilly appears deep in thought as she guards the Happy Moonraker’s Mother’s Day flowers. No secrecy or special lens needed for this photo.


A walk in the woods

Winter sunset across the pond: I just love the reflection, the trees looking like lace.

Winter sunset across the pond: I just love the reflection, the trees looking like lace.

IT takes a certain determination to overlook the grey skies and rain and try to have a busy day. The Happy Moonraker’s first thought is to curl up under the duvet and forget trying to do anything useful.

Tilly the terrier doesn’t seem to notice weather. One day is like any other to her: food, walk, run, food, walk, run, doze, bark, sleep, and then more of the same.

If we’ve managed to pick a time when it is not raining, we have had more lovely walks in the beech woods.

Tilly and the two dogs she knows best, Budleigh and Rosie, know exactly where to go. Tilly ignores them both and refuses to play but the others romp and run and make sure they get as muddy as possible.

Budleigh is an enthusiastic Labrador and Rosie is a high-speed lurcher.

A female roe deer suddenly saw us as we turned a corner on the edge of the wood. Then she was off, through the young crop of oilseed rape.

A female roe deer suddenly saw us as we turned a corner on the edge of the wood. Then she was off, through the young crop of oilseed rape.

Tilly investigates quietly, sniffing and sometimes digging, but she is never far from me. Everything changes, though, if she spots a squirrel. Then all hell breaks loose. That’s when she sounds like a pack of feral terriers.

These pretty fungi (see below) were in the beech woods, just by the path.

These pretty fungi (see below) were in the beech woods, just by the path.

I did well to photograph the little red mushrooms without Tilly’s snout dominating the shot. She was fascinated. According to an identification website, they are called Elf Cups (Sarcoscypha coccinea) and are quite common, although I have never seen them before. They are described as edible but I think I’ll give them a miss.