Keeping it local

Green and verdant view of Dancersend NR
Green and verdant view of Dancersend NR

After a very busy weekend last weekend we are having a quiet one. The plan get up not too early have some breakfast (reading the paper?), a bit of a tinker with the blog, a short local walk, then see if we can catch the Queens Jubilee fly past over Halton, finally cook pasta for Helen’s parents, and watch the Chelsea v Munich match.

Things got off to a great start, Helen was up first and then as I came down stairs at about 08:00 she was walking in the door with the papers. I usually have toast and expresso for breakfast at the weekend, and save my home made muesli for weekdays. Today was not exception I finished off the Bonne Maman cherry jam I have been working my way through for some weeks.

The record shot of the fly pass

I have tweaked the blog a bit, by moving all the panoramas about as the menu they were on is getting a bit long. I also noticed that was getting more Google juice than the blog, even though it is more or less just a holding page for a Drupal site. So I fixed it once and for all, it now redirects to the blog address at so that will fix that small issue. I think as the blog is the site than changes the most  will not keep the two domains separate, and if I do want a content sites then I will just create sub-domains for them which should keep things much simpler.

The fly past was due soon after 12:30 so we headed about of the house at about 10:30, and drove up to the BBOWT reserve at Dancersend which is in the hills sort of between Tring and Aston Clinton. It is between two valleys and can be a really nice place to just sit, relax and take everything in, as the hills shelter it from noise apart from the odd aircraft.

The local squirrel

There were plenty of birds singing when we got there, the usual suspects Tits and Chaffinch but also a couple of Warblers we thought most likely Blackcaps from the song. It was a bit early for orchids but there were a few early Butterfly Orchids just starting to bloom, and the usual Pyramid orchids could be identified by their black spotted leaves. We wandered around and Helen took control of the camera with the big lens and I scouted round from some bugs and plants to photo with the LX3. We heard some tawny owl calls in the distance.

WARNING RANT — As we entered the reserve from the “pond on the bend entrance” we noticed that there was a lot of dog shit on the path in, it was pretty obvious that one dog was regularly walked up the path and the owner could not be bothered to clear up after their dog or make sure the dog did it business away from the path. Helen described it as “playing dog shit hopscotch”. Helen and discussed putting up a “there is not such thing as a dog poo fairy poster” next time we go up there. — RANT OVER

At about 12:10 we headed back down to the village park to watch the fly past. Basically as part of the Queen’s Jubilee celebration today was the armed forces day to show off, and a fly past of about 60 aircraft had been arranged to fly over Windsor park and as is usual when these things happen many of the aircraft get routed to and from the event over RAF airfields. Halton being fairly close to London often gets a fly past, today was no exception.

Max the cat from next door

Down at the park there were other people who had obviously come to see the spectacle, as well as Helen’s uncle who turned up soon after we did. We did not have to wait long after 12:30 for the flypast, in all probably about 15-20 planes passed over. At first we thought we were at the wrong end of the air field as we say some jets pass over the other end in the distance, but they were followed by three groups of fight looking jets, blue in colour. I had the setting on my lens not quite appropriate for the shot so did not get any decent pictures but I have included the one you can see here, as you can tell the light was pretty crap and it was very hazy.

After it was obvious that the rest of the fly past was not coming we wished Helen’s uncle farewell and headed home for a light lunch. I spent the rest of the after noon tinkering with Bigshot VR which I have not given up on yet, but which I sill can’t get to the panorama thing. I can get it to display basic Deep Zoom format pictures, but that is about it. I also took some pictures of the wildlife in the garden.

Later on we will be preparing pasta and garlic bread to eat before the football. I’ll spare you the details and end the blog post here.



Rose bedeguar gall (Diplolepis rosae)

On my way to work this morning I noticed a Rose bedeguar gall, so I thought I would tell you all about it. What it is is a sort of ball of hairy growth found on rose plants, in this case I think it was a Dog Rose in the hedge row.

Apparently they are created by a type of wasp called  the gall wasp (Diplolepis rosae), they lay eggs in the leaf buds and when the larvae (almost all female) hatch and they start to eat the leaf bud then some magic happens. It is not full understood but it is belived that a chemical is realesed that causes the plant to grow in the strange way it does, which provides more food for the growing larvae.

The fully developed gall was used in days gone by a a medicine, to cure baldness, and cure a toothache.

If you want to know more why not check out Wikipedia. Picture blow show a new one from this year and an old one from a previous season.

Gall wasp new
Gall wasp old