Saturday, 25 February 2012

A local wander

The weather on Friday morning wasn't too appealing when I thought of going for a walk, but after lunch things improved and became a very sunny day.  So much so that going for a wander up to the site of the old castle which overlooks the village to stretch the legs and get some fresh air into Will and I seemed the thing to do.

Just outside of the village is the orchard I rent so we called in there to see how the girls were doing.  I'm pleased to say they were very active with good amounts of pollen going in the hives which shows the queen is actively laying eggs.

On down the track with much splashing in puddles as befits a four year old and his dad.  The muddy track often has evidence of some of our less common animals and sure enough I spotted these badger tracks.

Both my boys now take an interest in the tracks in the mud here, though dog, tractor and horse being the most usual.

This is the place we were heading for.  The site of an old wooden castle/fort, burnt to the ground over a lovers tiff and according to local legend has tunnels filled with gold and jewels, or perhaps that was a tale told by the farmers wife to keep her children from under her feet.

We poddled along and the track starts to run alongside a less tended hedge, site of some good blackthorn trees which yield decent quantities of sloes.  The little buds on the blackthorn are just showing signs of breaking, so I expect it'll not be long before there's a mass of white blossom.  Honeysuckle is also showing it first sets of leaves and the hawthorn is also showing signs of moving.

One of my favourite things at this time of year is to see the male and female hazel flowers.

The bright scarlet, while tiny, is such a lovely splash of colour.

A little further on from the hazel I spotted some cones on the ground, some showing signs of squirrles feeding.  Here's a couple to give a before and after shot.

Here's something that I struggle with, it could be chervil, otherwise known as Anthriscus sylvestris, but at this stage I'm uncertain and have no intention of risking eating it as it's part of the carrot family and for all I know it could be part of the Dropwort cousins or similar.

At the steepest part of the climb up the hill we passed a large sycamore, the sunlight on the bark was quite pleasing so here it is for you to enjoy too.

We made our way up through the trees in true explorer style, occasionally slipping and sliding as we made our way past the bluebells poking through the leaf-litter.  Finally reaching the summit, all of a few hundred feet, but still an achievement when you're four.

We had a good look around and talked about coming back another day, I suggested a picnic, but Will was straight in there with can we camp here!  Sounds good to me, but we'll have to run that one past the farmer.

Looking back towards home we tried to spot our house, but it's hidden by the pub, so while we couldn't see it we knew where it was.

As nice as it was there, I knew we couldn't stay long as Will's little legs don't cover ground very quickly and we had to get back to meet his big brother from school.  We did spot these roe deer tracks on the way back.

All in all a very nice walk, rounded off with a nice mug of hot chocolate a piece at home.  Definitately take the brew kit next time.  That camping idea might have some milage too, I'm sure we could find some suitable trees to swing from.

Thanks for looking!


Sunday, 19 February 2012

First post to get going

Hi folks,

I've decided to start this blog to share with you our adventures while camping as a family.  While that will usually be the four of us, it might well be just Charlie and myself at times, or maybe me on my own.  Sometimes it's nice to escape and re-charge my batteries on my own, but generally I'd rather be with the family.

We're not keen on the sort of campsite which involves queueing in the morning to use the toilets with folks in dressing gowns and fluffy slippers.   We're more comfortable with tiny sites where a toilet and tap are luxury items.  This is usually a farmers field with the owner kindly allowing us to camp for a modest fee.

Sometimes our trips out will be as the full family with a big tent, but it could just as easily be two of us under a tarp or even sleeping in a debris shelter.  It all changes to suit the time of year and the number of us and the place we're staying at.  This year should see us adding another style of camping with a small sailing dinghy being set up to stay in for exploring the local waterway network.

It may take a little time to find my feet with blogging, but bear with me and I'll be back soon to add some more interesting things.