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Friday 01 November 2013

Photography in the Rain

Earlier on in the week the forecast for Friday looked promising with a good deal of sunshine. We decided to visit RSPB Old Moor as it always helps if the weather is bright when trying to photograph the wildlife. Even early on Friday morning the forecast still looked okay but as we set of for Old Moor the first few spots of rain hit the car windscreen. Not to be put off we continued on.

It was still raining after we’d driven the twenty miles or so to Old Moor. We had some lunch hoping the weather might improve a little but it didn’t. It wasn’t raining too heavily and we set off for one of the hides to see what we could see. Having got there the rain became much heavier making photography rather difficult. The birds however keep doing their thing even in the poring rain.

Despite the pouring rain this heron was still fishing but it was at the far end of the lake in the above landscape picture and difficult to photograph in the dull wet conditions.

This redshank (that’s our best educated guess) was a little more accommodating wading through the water much nearer the hide. Once the rain eased a little we headed back to the car park. It was still raining by the time we arrived back home in the middle of the afternoon.




Saturday 02 November 2013

More Rain and Windy for Good Measure

Saturday wasn’t an improvement on Friday’s weather. It was generally better through the daytime but much worse late into the evening when the gale force wind and rain arrived. The worst of the rain fell before midnight Saturday with the strongest gale force gusts of winds in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The winds weren't especially bad as November is often a windy month.  

Sunday 03 November 2013

Out of the Blue

After a mild start to the autumn it was a bit of a shock to get a frost overnight Sunday into Monday. On Sunday night the writing was on the wall (well my web cam) as I had this shot from my web cam shown on my desktop.

You might think that there’s nothing too unusual just a picture of a setting sun in a mostly clear blue sky except that my web cam faces north east rather than into the west. So it must be the setting sun being reflected back off what few clouds there are in the sky. Either that or something extremely worrying has happened!

The cloud didn’t return overnight and the result was that the temperature fell to 0.1°C giving us our first frost of the autumn.

This grape vine is probably wishing it hadn’t made a break for freedom through the greenhouse window during summer.

Monday 04 November 2013

Given the Hurry Up

After its frosty start Monday turned out to be an excellent sunny day if a bit on the nippy side but then it is November. The frosty morning was an urgent reminder that the carrots on our plot hadn’t been given their usual winter protection of straw. The mild weather had lulled me into a false sense of security but this morning was a real reminder that cold and frosty mornings can happen any time now.

As a result we made a trip to the allotment in the afternoon with a stop at the local farm to pick up a couple of bales of straw to use as carrot and beetroot protection over winter.

The environmesh protecting the carrots from the dreaded carrot root fly had been removed a few weeks ago. The left over timber frame for supporting this was removed first to give easier access for getting some straw down amongst the carrot foliage. The best part of two bales of straw later and the carrots now looked like this.

Just a few tops left exposed to the elements. If any frost is severe enough to penetrate through all that straw there’s a fair chance I won’t be going harvesting on the plot in any case.

The remainder of the straw was used to protect our beetroot. You’ll have to trust me that our beetroot is under there somewhere as I forgot to take a before shot.

If you have a little peek at the top left hand corner of this picture you can just about see a row of Little Gem lettuces which somehow managed to survive the frost.

If we can continue harvesting carrots like the ones below, which were dug just before the great cover up, then I reckon it’s worth investing a little bit of time and money to give them some winter protection.

These carrots are a variety called St Valery and were sown on 20 April 2013 along with all the rest of our carrots. Our first roots were pulled on the 24 July and since then we’ve harvested some regularly with a total of 15.6kg so far made up of Chantenay Royal, Early Nantes and St Valery.

Tuesday 05 November 2013

A Visit to York

Tuesday was a dull murky day but it didn’t stop us making a planned visit to York’s National Railway Museum to see “The Great Gathering”. This is to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the record breaking run by the steam locomotive 4468 Mallard On 3 July 1938. The A4 class locomotive raced down Stoke Bank at 126mph to set a new steam locomotive world speed record which still holds good today.

To celebrate the event the National Railway Museum have brought together all six of the surviving A4 class locomotives. Might not sound like much but 4489 Dominion of Canada has been brought back from the Canadian Railway Museum near Montreal in Canada and 4496 Dwight D Eisenhower from the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay Wisconsin. As you can see the Great Gathering is proving to be a popular attraction.

After a look around the museum we headed for the Shambles in the centre of York to find some lunch.

We managed to find time to have a look around the market and the famous York Minster too.

After visiting the Minster it was time to find our way back to the park and ride bus stop to take us back to our car. After a few little hiccups we managed to find the stop.

By late afternoon the weather had brightened up a little but it felt cold in the wind as we headed back over the River Ouse.

Wednesday 06 November 2013

A Thorny Issue

Wednesday was dull, dry and not too cold so I decided it was time to try and get our blackberry thug under control on the allotment. It’s a thug in more ways than one as it has vicious thorns which grab clothing or skin refusing to let go at any cost and it grows rampant taking over a large part of the plot. Sue cuts back all the old canes every spring and ties in all the new shoots.

The only reason the bush hasn’t been consigned to the compost heap years ago is that it produces an excellent crop of large juicy berries. This year we picked just over 4kg with plenty left over for the birds. The problem is come autumn time this is what we are left with.

We do our best to keep it clear of the path on the right as this shared with our plot neighbours. Those vicious thorns make it a bush not to be messed with through summer especially on a warm day with sleeves rolled up. The result is it get left to its own devices.

We’ve decided to make a determined effort to try to improve the situation over winter so we don’t end up in this situation next autumn. The plan is to cut down the blackberry to ground level, remove the supporting wires and dig the ground beneath before replacing with a new set of supporting wires and using weed control fabric around the roots of the blackberry itself. It more than likely means we will have to accept that we won’t get any fruit next year.

After a couple of hours I’d manage to cut back about two thirds of the blackberry bush. Not only were there the blackberry thorns to avoid but tall nettles which had grown up through the stems of the bush.

There’s going to be a rather large pile of debris to burn once the job is finished. I’m not really keen on having garden fires but in this case with all the thorny prunings to get rid of in that’s what I intend to do.

Thursday 07 November 2013

Up In Smoke

Thursday was as good as we’re going to get in November with almost unbroken sunshine all day. It was a little breezy through the morning which seemed to disappear during the afternoon.

We decided on a plot visit to do a little bit more tidying up and I thought I might try to make a little bit more progress on refurbishing our blackberry bed. I decided I needed a bonfire to burn some of the rubbish sooner rather than later as the pile of debris was taking up lots of room in an area I needed to work on.

First job of the afternoon to get a bonfire going with some shredded paper, left over cardboard boxes and bits of timber. I wasn’t too sure that all the material piled up from yesterday would be dry enough to burn but there was only one way to find out.

Now I thought that the westerly breeze that was blowing in the morning would blow the smoke away from where I wanted to work but once my fire was burning the wind rather miraculously disappeared.  The smoke didn’t go in any particular direction.

Despite my reservations about the dampness of the material my bonfire burnt  nicely and I spent a couple of hours swapping between stoking up the bonfire and cutting back more old blackberry canes.

By the time the light was fading I’d managed to burn virtually all the rubbish I’d created over the last two days. There’s quite a bit of wonderful bonfire ash beneath that final heap of green material still left to burn.

As for the blackberry, well that’s now all cut down to ground level and I’ve taken down the old fencing and started to dig out the old posts.

The bed is already starting to take shape. It will be 1.6m wide and about 14.0m long. Digging will be hard work as I can’t remember the last time this area was turned over. This is the first plot we rented and the blackberry was probably the first fruit we planted back in the mid 1980’s. The ground is full of nettle and blackberry roots and is going to take a bit of clearing. Just as well I don’t mind a bit of a challenge.